Sunday, January 27, 2013

Have an Alice Kind of a Day!

Happy Birthday Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Didgson:  Jan. 27, 1832 - Jan. 14, 1898), master of literary nonsense. I love your creations, especially Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Jabberwocky.  
From a young age, Dodgson wrote poetry and short stories. In July 1855, he said, "I do not think I have written anything worthy of real publication, but I do not despair of doing so someday." In 1965, he published Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Macmillan Press) under the pen-name of
Lewis Carroll.

Have an Alice Kind of a Day with Lots of Adventures!




Thursday, January 24, 2013

What to do About an Unhealthy Nation?

I was waiting in line to check out books at the library last week when I overheard a conversation about a study on Americans and health. The news was bad. The U.S.A. was ranked seventeenth on a list of seventeen countries in the area of fitness. That’s right—dead last! I needed to learn more, so did a Google search when I arrived home. Here’s what I found:
According to Livestrong, seventy-nine percent of Americans are overweight or obese. With the exception of some tiny island nations, the United States is the fattest country in the world. We all know what that means—more heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, etc. I’m not passing judgment. After all, losing fifteen pounds is once again on my list of New Year’s resolutions.
That being said, I’m puzzled by the fat epidemic in my homeland. Most people don’t want to be overweight and most people know what to do to maintain a healthy weight. It's pretty simple: don’t take in more calories than you burn; eat plenty of fruits and vegetables; limit the amount of fat and sugar that you eat; exercise. If we have trouble following these guidelines, we have plenty of tools to help us with the battle of the bulge including apps, programs like Weight Watchers, gyms, and books. Just look at what I saw when I entered Barnes & Noble the other day:

In fact, as I write this, there are ten diet books on Amazon’s top fifty list including the number one spot, Shred: The Revolutionary Diet: 6 weeks 4 inches 2 sizes by Ian K. Smith. The #40 spot is The Virgin Diet: Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 Pounds, Just 7 Days by JJ Virgin. Those darn titles make dieting sound so easy, but it can’t be. Otherwise we’d all be thin.
What's the problem???
The conclusion from this non-expert is: American food tastes so darn good and it’s so available. It makes us feel good. It helps us celebrate. Cooking luscious treats for those special people in our lives makes us happy. Surprise a loved one with a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies when he/she comes home and be rewarded with a smile and a grateful hug. That doesn’t happen when offering a bowl of celery sticks.
When friends call to invite us out for dinner, do we choose the new place that sells cauliflower broth or that restaurant that makes incredible chicken wings? Are any of us disciplined enough to consistently make the healthy choice during that moment of temptation?
The obvious answer is, “No,” and that is why we are a fat, unhealthy nation.

In fact, I was just at the YMCA cranking away on the elliptical and what was right in front of me on a theater sized TV? Barefoot Contessa enticing me with lemon bars. Take a quick peek at this video of a chef making a decadent artery clogging treat:  

Couldn't believe a health facility offered its members this viewing option. It made me want to head over to the gourmet food market in town, that really does make fantastic lemon bars, after my workout, but I didn't.  

I truly am going to try and gear up to get rid of that final fifteen pounds in 2013. I know I will look and feel better. It should take me about two months if I’m stellar about diet, exercise, and swear off the Food Network for a little while. Will I have moments of temptation?
 Without a doubt.
 Will I give in sometimes?
 Very good chance.
But I really don't like being from the unhealthiest nation in the world. With all of the resources available, I should be able to accomplish this deceivingly simple goal. What will be my biggest challenge?
Probably beer (or wine) and pizza on Thursday night with my husband at our favorite Italian restaurant. Do I really have to order the vegetable salad with oil and vinegar? Maybe if I take that 5:00 a.m. boot camp class before work, I can have one or two of the smallest slices in the pan? What do you think?
When, or If, you diet, what’s your biggest challenge?   What food generally wins when tempting you to take a five minute diet break?


Had to share this excerpt from my novel, A Stop in the Park. The female lead character, Jamie, uses peanut butter cups to help her forget problems. Here's part of a scene where she confronts the sweet, little morsels:

"Jamie needed comfort so she went to the vegetable bin in the refrigerator, seized the bag of peanut butter cups, and headed to the living room to work on her puzzle. She walked a few feet then stopped.The wise woman was back. Will that candy make you feel happier if you eat it or if you put it back? 

"Hmm," Jamie said.

She held the bag up and looked at it.What would happen if she ate them? All of the sugar and hydrogenated oil would clog up her arteries, she'd gain more weight, and she'd feel sad again five minutes after she devoured the treats.

What would happen if she put them back? She'd keep her blood flowing, maybe lose weight, but she wouldn't get a five-minute break from distress, and she really needed a five-minute break from distress. The flimsy plastic felt cold on her fingertips. Jamie shivered. A minute passed, or was it ten minutes? Whatever, it was long enough for beads of sweat to form on her forehead. Her throat felt heavy, like it had been plastered with cement. She couldn't swallow. Jamie darted to the kitchen sink, set the peanut butter cups on the counter, and filled a glass with water. She gulped and gulped until the glass was empty; then she breathed in and out. For the love of God, she was having an anxiety attack over candy."—
Peggy Strack
A Stop in the Park



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Gift of Two Hours

It was a typical work day morning. Woke up early. Spent some time writing. Checked my email and Facebook feed. Looked out the window. Yay! Snow!

As many of you know, I work for a school district, so my next step was to check the school closings. Yay! A two hour delay!

What does that mean to those of you who aren't lucky enough to experience this joy?

It means... blizzard, which warrants a full day off, but the snowfall is heavy and you shouldn't be driving on slippery roads quite yet. employer wants me and my students home until we can safely venture out. more cup of coffee.

...a little more robe and fuzzy socks time.

...several more words added to my new novel.

...a slower beat to my day.

...a smile.

I wish all employers would give their employees the gift of two hours on a snowy morning. It sends a message of caring and respect. It sends a message that all of those urgent issues can wait two hours. The time is yours to do whatever you like.

What would you do if you were just handed two hours? 

A Fun Video With Many Great Snow Images:

    Let it Snow!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Step in a Puddle and Splash Your Friend Day

January 11 is the official Step in a Puddle and Splash Your Friend Day and I'm celebrating! After a summer rain, my young sons and I would often take puddle walks. Max and Greg, wearing bathing suits and water shoes, would squeal in delight as they jumped in puddles that pooled at the end of neighbors' driveways. It's one of my favorite memories of cherished days with my little ones. Just because Max and Greg are now 22 and 24, doesn't mean the fun has to stop.

 Max stepping in a puddle at the end of our driveway 22 years ago.
Don't worry! Low traffic street and Mom was close by.

Here's what I found out about this obscure celebration day:

Not much.

Step in a Puddle and Splash Your Friends Day is undoubtedly a day just for mischievous fun. After all, any kid knows that splashing and jumping into puddles is a blast. And, when that results in splashing a friend, your joy is complete. 

Let's be real though. In many parts of the world, including mine, it's not stepping in a puddle kind of weather. We could alter the rules, however, and step in snow. I mean, snow is just cold water. And even if you can't find a puddle or snow, the idea is to step away from the seriousness of your life and into a bit of fun. Go for it!

 Greg & Max step in snow 

In celebration of this day, I'm having a weekend sale and offering A Stop in the Park for $.99 as a Kindle download from 1/11/13 - 1/13/13. After all, my book does emphasize that in the contemporary world we need to slow the pace of our lives and yes, have a little more fun.

$.99 Kindle Downloads
January 11-13, 2013
Already have a copy?
Gift a Friend!
Click Here:

 "A man is getting old when he walks around a puddle instead of through it."
                                                                                                                   R.C. Ferguson


Sunday, January 6, 2013

525,600 Minutes Per Year

I've heard it at least one hundred times and it's only January 6—"2013 is going to be a great year." Well...maybe, and maybe not. We can say it, but can we make it happen? It really is up to us, isn't it? On January 1, we had 525,600 minutes handed to us. Next December 31, we'll be thinking about how we spent it.The time to start planning is now.

My supervisor at work gave me this article filled with brilliant ideas and I had to share it with you. So here it is compliments of Todd Durkin ( based on a poem by Gail Lynne Goodwin.

Spend time with people you love. — Cherish family and friends. When we look back at a year, the things that usually stand out are times spent with loved ones, and moments of connection with one another.

Let go of the past. — Don't waste a good minute worrying about a bad one. Know that everything is perfect exactly as it is. Trust that there is a reason, even when you can't see it.

Be positive. — Realize that you do have a choice, and choose to be positive in your thoughts and your actions. Take baby steps and don't give up! Keep moving in the right direction. Trust yourself and your abilities. Just because something didn't yet work out as planned, doesn't mean it won't work out. There is always a way and you can't lose unless you give up.

Embrace change. — Resisting change is like trying to swim upstream. Instead, embrace it and go with the flow.

Connect with nature. — Watch sunsets. Talk to a tree. Listen to the wind. Taste the sweetness of a fresh apple. Study a leaf. Play with a dog. In all things, find your connection to something bigger than you.

Love life! — Do what you love. Love what you do. Happiness comes from spending minutes doing things that bring you joy.

Laugh!— Relax, be playful and remember, life is meant to be fun.

Expand your world. — Learn about other cultures, celebrate our differences and find common ground.

Create a vision. — Write down 100 things you want to accomplish this year and share it with someone you love. Create a vision board to keep your dream alive.

Dream Big! — Dream big dreams and trust that you're on the right path to make them happen. You deserve the very best in life—claim it!

Listen to your inner voice. — Many times, wisdom comes to us in silence.

Spread Kindness. — Connect with one another. Share a smile. Perform random acts of kindness. Choose love. In all things, love now.

Exercise your mind and your body. — We only grow old when we're stagnant. Move and grow.

Pause. — Breathe. Take time for yourself. Know that you matter and remember, you must first fill your own cup before you can give to others.

Pass it on. — Give. Share. Give away things you don't need. Share love and resources with others, remembering that blessing flows more easily through a stream without a dam.

Pay attention to serendipity. — Live connected to something greater than yourself. Open unto and into the possibility of life. Live with faith and hope as a part of your life instead of a part from them.

Be Grateful. — No matter where you are, express gratitude, knowing that what you focus on grows. If you're going to create more of something, let it be gratitude.

Be conscious of your thoughts. — Know that your thoughts have the power to create tomorrow's reality. So think good thoughts. Dream big dreams. Celebrate the moments of your life.

Be you! — You are so very beautiful; so let your light shine. You are an unlimited being with infinite potential. You have no limitations except those that you place on yourself.

This is the very moment you have the chance to start anew. Embrace the opportunity, whether it be calling someone you care about, starting, or finishing, a dream project, changing a habit—the possibilities are endless. Celebrate life. A new year filled with more than 525,000 minutes is waiting for you. 
Make it magnificent!