Thursday, February 15, 2018

We Need To Break Up

I just finished my second week of my 28 Day Challenge. I didn't lose any weight this week, and even fell off the wagon once. Considering I lost a lot of weight my first week, I'm not too concerned by the lack of weight loss. Falling off the wagon concerns me more.

One of the things I'm trying to accomplish in my 28 Day Challenge is to adjust my relationship to and with food.

And it is complicated.

We use food to celebrate. We use food to remind us of childhood memories. We use food to comfort us in times of disappointment, anger, and loneliness.

I'm an emotional eater. I tend to eat more when my world is shaken or rocked. The more upset I am, the more likely I am to overeat, and when I'm in that state, I NEVER choose salad or fruit. It's more likely to be pizza, mac 'n cheese, pie, or ice cream. What adds insult to injury is that I'm never happy with just a slice or a cup or a scoop. Having a really bad day means decimating a half bag of Oreos.

Odelia Grey, the main protagonist in my Odelia Grey mystery series, is an emotional eater. She will stuff down a carton of Ben and Jerry's or a box of Thin Mints or cheesecake while stuffing down her true feelings or emotions. But that's a character in a book and it's funny. It's not so cute and funny in real life.

"Put down the cheesecake and no one gets hurt."
Zee to Odelia in Too Big to Miss.

So one of my goals during this month is to break up with food. It can't be a complete break up, of course. I need to eat to live. I just don't need to live to eat.

I did have one night the first week when I received some bad news and was very close to doing the backstroke in a half gallon of ice cream.

But I didn't.

I stood strong again the emotions and long bad habits whispering in my ear to just go for it.

Who will know.
 
Who will care?

But, you see, I will know. And I will care.

Last night my fall from grace was face-first into a bacon burger and fries, and I know it was because I was so upset over the shooting in Florida. Not that eating that crap would have made things any better for anyone, but I knew I didn't want to go home and cook, and I knew I needed to calm my stress. Seeing that in the past I'd always done that with food, I made the easy choice. But on the bright side, I only ate half of the burger and fries, and I did not have a soda. Baby steps.

My exercise this week was spotty but improved on last week.

I vowed that in 2018 I would fall in love with my life, and this is part of that journey. I like my life, but I need to care for it and truly, deeply, love it. Eating healthy and getting exercise is part of that. And it's never to late to start.


Thursday, February 08, 2018

One Week Like A Boss!

On February 1st I began a personal 28 day challenge.  The challenge was to eat healthy and increase my exercise for the entire month. Yesterday marked the end of my first week - 7 days - and I'm proud to say I did it. YAY! But it wasn't without some close calls.

For the food challenge, for 28 days I vowed to not eat fried foods, fast food, sugar, or dairy. This last one I shouldn't eat anyway because of an allergy to it, but I can't seem to keep my hands off dairy in spite of the horrible rashes, sometimes painful, it gives me, but I'm too much of a dolt to listen to my body.

But I digress..

Anyway, my first near stumble came on the very first day when on my way home, tired and grumpy, I started to point my car in the direction of a fast food drive-thru. But in the end turned the car for home and a healthy dinner. Win!

Later in the week, I received some really disappointing news that put me in a bad funk. I had to go to the grocery store on my way home and once there battled the urge to fill my cart with mac 'n cheese and ice cream - my two favorite comfort foods, along with pizza (notice the dairy theme here, and YES, I am aware of all of the yummy non-dairy substitutes, so no need to be a nag and remind me).  Like with the first day, my strong, determined side, slapped my weak side upside the head. I left the grocery store with only what was on my list, along with a basket of strawberries. Win!

Another challenge for the week was adjusting portion control, even with healthy foods. I fought the urge for second helpings and kept to normal portions. Win!

For the exercise, I didn't jump right into anything strenuous, but I did do senior yoga several mornings and I brought my Fitbit out of retirement and fired it up. I try every day to add a few more steps to those of the day before and have mostly managed that.

Sleep, it's what's good for you. Another health challenge for me is getting enough sleep. I tend to burn the candle at both ends. I get up early and often go to bed late. This week I was asleep no later that 10:30 pm each night, sometimes earlier.  I would get up usually at 5:30, but if I was still tired (and not just being lazy), allowed myself to sleep in a bit.

And the proof is in the pudding! After 7 days of healthy eating and moderate exercise, I am down 5.6 lbs and feel better overall. And I'm much more productive, both at work and in my writing. Do I still want all that yummy fattening food? Yes! But I'm taking one challenge day at a time.

So, what's up for the 2nd week? Incorporating more exercise.

See you in a week!


Thursday, February 01, 2018

28 Days - Go!

One of the attorneys at my law firm who, in spite of having four children and juggling a busy career, is carving out time to challenge herself physically.  For the last several months she has been doing personal challenges such as 30 days clean eating, 30 days of intense exercise/yoga, etc. She's always been one of my favorites and most inspirational bosses and yesterday she left the firm, along with another favorite attorney, to pursue a new opportunity.  I am deeply saddened, but happy for both of them.

Any way, I was lamenting to Hope about how I used to be much more focused on my physical well being. When I challenged myself to do the Camp Pendleton Mud Run in 2009 I set my sights on training for this grueling undertaking, knowing that my doughy out of shape body would be chewed up and spit out. I knew I could not run the course with my gimpy knees, but I did walk the entire course and finished. In preparation, I walked 2-3 miles a day, and on weekends 5-6 miles on a day. I trained for hills and distance. I lost weight and I got stronger.

Okay, I know that was 9 years ago, and I was younger and about 45 lbs lighter than I am today, but more than the weight, I am mourning my lack of focus on my physical care. Last year my doctor diagnosed me with high blood pressure and pre-diabetes.  The blood pressure is now under control and I've lost weight since then, but I'm still depressed/angry that I can't focus on this or take it as seriously as I should. Frankly, I'm pissed off at myself.

Right now I'm focused on packing up my apartment and getting my RV for my retirement next year. I'm also focused on building an independent writing career. But there should still be time to take care of my physical well being. It's especially important as I head into retirement that I be stronger and self-sufficient physically, considering my plan is to hit the road and travel full-time. I need to be the best I can be for that endeavor.

In the movie 28 Days, Sandra Bullock goes to court appointed rehab for drugs and alcohol. Fortunately, I don't have a problem with either substance, and when motivated I eat extremely well. But I still need rehab of sorts.

Beginning today, February 1st I'm putting myself in "rehab."  For the next 28 days I'm going to eat healthy (i.e., no fast food or sweets or fried foods), and I'm going to exercise at least 6 days a week.  There is absolutely no reason why I cannot do this. No reason on earth, considering the other goals I've set and met in my life.

I know you've all heard me say this before, and I'll keep saying it and setting these challenges until I get it right or die trying.

Women like Hope and super athletes like Jessie Graff can be my inspiration, but only I can be my own superhero. And it's never too late in life to be a superhero.

Monday, January 01, 2018

2018 - Fall In Love With Your Own Life

My friend Christopher Hudson sent me this after finding it on a FB page. I loved it immediately, and decided to adopt it for my 2018 mantra.

2017 was a year of turmoil, uncertainty, anger and division, and I don't see much of that ending as 2018 opens.  We can't control a lot of what happens around us, but we can control how we react to it and how we allow it to affect us.

In 2018 I'm sure I'll still be anti-Trump and voicing that opinion. I'm sure I'll be speaking out against things I find unjust. I'm sure I will be disappointed in some of the people around me, and even in myself. And I'm sure I will disappoint others. But in 2018 I vow to think more about other's feelings, and I vow to not let others' bad attitudes and behavior be destructive to my life and thinking.

I have a lot to do in 2018 as I ready for retirement and plunge into my new independent author role. I'll need a clear head and clear path to make those goals a reality, and negativity, whether it comes from others or from my own mind, just gets in the way. No one has time for that!

Every year I make New Year Resolutions. For 2018 I vow to fall in love with my own life. I already like my life and love my friends and family, but in 2018 I'm going to do whatever I can to make my life better, whether that be eating healthier, getting more exercise, managing commitments better, or pushing negativity to the background. 

I will love my life and treat it with respect and kindness. I will protect it, not just physically, but emotionally. If not me, then who will do it?

In 2018 let's all put the hurt and insults behind and fall in love with our lives and grow together.


Sunday, December 31, 2017

What I Read In 2017

Reading-wise, I'm saying goodbye to 2017 a bit disappointed. I had pledged on the Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge to read 40 books this year, and that's doable in a normal year, but 2017 didn't turn out to be a normal year and I only had time to read/listen to 22 books.

I like to mix up my reading with fiction and non-fiction, with the fiction divided between mystery and general fiction.  This year half of my completed books were non-fiction and four of those were autobiographies.

So what were my favorite reads of 2017:

Nonfiction:  Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming.  It was almost edged out by Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. It really was a photo finish, and I highly recommend both books.

Fiction: IQ and Righteous, both by Joe IdeThis is a two-fer because both books are by the same author and are his first and second books in his new mystery series.  Don't miss these!

Book that made me laugh my ass off: When You Are Engulfed In Flames by David Sedaris.  Honorable mention goes to Human Resources by Bill Fitzhugh.

Book that touched my heart: Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder. A moving book about a growing and serious trend.

I'm looking forward to 2018, and am pledging again to read at least 40 books in the upcoming year. You can always check my progress in the bar to the right of the blog.

Currently I'm reading Stone Cold Dead by James Ziskin and The Rooster Bar by John Grisham.  On my 2018 list already are more by James Ziskin, a couple by Matt Coyle, and definitely Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson.


So let's all get reading in 2018!


Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Stress-Free Christmas

As I wrote back in 2015, I keep my Christmas celebrations very simple and have for years.

But this Christmas has been even more simple and stress-free. You see, this was the first Christmas I have not been facing down the barrel of a writing deadline - or two.

I went to parties. I did my shopping, sent off packages. Watched holiday movies, and planned outings with friends. All without guilt. What a concept!

The only fly in the ointment was a knee injury at the beginning of the month that kept me from one party and from doing a few more active things. But the knee is much better, and I've cast aside the cane to resume festivities.

Today is a Christmas brunch with dear friends. Christmas Eve I'm going to a party. Christmas Day I'm going to make myself a nice meal and relax. And write. But not because I have to. Because I want to. And I will enjoy the process more because there won't be a gun to my head.

Everyone have a lovely Christmas!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

12 In Cat Years

This week on Life In Pieces, one of my favorite sitcoms, one of the characters turned 35 and was having a meltdown over it, especially when a cake arrived at the dinner table with the number candles reversed to say 53.

Hey, I'll take 53!

You see, this week I turn not 35 (ha!) or 53 (I wish!) but 65.

Yes, 65, that magic year when you have to sign up for Medicare, and retirement becomes a real possibility. It's an age when you're eligible for all of the senior menus and discounts.

My mother died at 52 of heart disease. My father passed away at 79 from a stroke. If you average their ages, it comes out to 65.5. This birthday, I'm smack between the two ages when they died. My brother died in his 60s due to liver disease. It definitely makes me pause to reflect, even though I'm pretty healthy for an old broad.

But I digress, which, by the way, is part of getting old. As I pause on the brink of turning 65, I don't want to bemoan lost years, growing old, or creaky knees. I want to celebrate what's ahead of me, and when I turn my head away from the past and focus on the future, I flutter with excitement. 

As most people wind down, I'm starting a new adventure. Soon I'll be retiring and making my goal of becoming a wandering writer a reality. I have places to go and people to meet, as well as connecting with long-time friends scattered around the country.

I have about 26 published novels under my belt. Time to quit and rest on an impressive body of work? No way! In the next two years the plan is to write and publish at least 4 more novels.

I'm so excited, I could widdle!  By the way, another problem with getting older.


Monday, December 11, 2017

A Modern Grapes of Wrath?


I recently finished reading Nomadland by Jessica Bruder. This book was recommended to me because I'm planning on hitting the road on a continuous writing and book tour when I retire.

I highly recommend Nomadland, but not for the reasons you might think.

This book did not chronicle the life I expect to live in a well appointment and fancy camper van. Instead, Nomandland tells the story of a modern exodus and shrinking middle class, something on the minds of most of us who follow the news and worry about the future.

Author Jessica Bruder meets, follows, and interviews people who, for the most part, once lived in nice homes and had good jobs, who found themselves broke and homeless due to the economy, health care costs, and layoffs. They could no longer afford to keep a home or an apartment and job prospects were slim, so they gathered up what money they had left and hit the road in a variety of wheeled domiciles. Some moved into RVs, trailers and vans, also known as wheel-estate. Others lived out of their SUVs and cars with no facilities.  Most of the people she met during her research were over 60 years of age, living off meager Social Security, sometimes as little as $400-$500 a month, after losing everything in the economy crash of a decade ago.

For work, many of these modern nomads go from job to job. They have become itinerant workers driving from seasonal job to seasonal job, like the Amazon Camperforce, during which these workers walk as much as 15-20 miles in 12 hour days on concrete floors filling orders for the holiday season, while living in their homes on wheels in freezing temperatures. Others migrate to the sugar beet crops or take on camp hosting positions. These are not glamorous jobs. They are physically demanding, low paying, and have zero benefits. But it is all most of these people have to supply food and shelter. More than once during the book, I was reminded of Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

This book hit close to home. You see, when I was in my late forties I was laid off from a job due to a merger. I did find another fairly quickly, but a couple of years later found myself unemployed again when that company was sold. That time I wasn't so lucky. I was out of work six months, taking on part-time short-term gigs when I could while I looked for full-time work. By the time I landed a job, my savings was gone and my credit cards were maxed out. My new job was in a truly awful and abusive law firm for about half of what I was making before, but it was enough to keep the wolves from the door, barely. A year later I got another job in another law firm for a bit more money. It was another awful job, but more stable and I moved to Los Angeles from the suburbs to cut down my commute. Three years later I got another job offer and gave notice, but that new job fell through and I was left with nothing again. For six months I took low paying temp jobs. I cleaned apartments for people. I was just starting to get published when this happened, so while I wasn't making any royalties yet, I was, at least, getting some meager advance money. I hadn't quite recovered from the layoffs of earlier, so when this hit, I had no choice but to declare bankruptcy.

But all was not bleak. I wrote, worked hard at anything that could pay the rent, and held myself together. Some friends knew of my hardship and loaned me money.  Finally, I landed the job I have now and have held for over twelve years. It's a great job in a great firm. It has allowed me to rebuild my paralegal career and become financially stable again. Loans were all paid and now I'm looking forward to retirement. I won't be flush with cash when I retire, but I won't be in the same boat as the people in Nomadland. And thanks to my writing career, I won't have to work itinerant, physically difficult jobs.  But I have felt their desperation.

While often pretty bleak, Nomadland also reflects on the strength and strong spirit of this wandering population. Long lasting friendships are built on the road and fluid communities come together. Many see it as a means to eventually re-establish themselves in the mainstream population. Others come to enjoy and thrive on the freedom and independence that comes with having few encumbrances. Some never manage to shake off hopelessness and despair. None consider themselves homeless.

After reading this book, I wondered,  had I known living on the road was a possibility when I was going through my hardships, would I have chosen such a life? I'm choosing it now as a fun adventure after retirement, but could I have tackled such an undertaking twelve-fifteen years ago when I hit bottom? I'm not sure I had the fortitude then to do it, so I take my hat off to these brave people.

As the middle-class continues to be squeezed out by government policies and an unfriendly economy, I predict we'll see more and more of these modern nomads on the road. It has become the new reality for many.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgiving is Da Bomb!

Growing up, I wasn't that fond of holidays. The idea of holidays, yes, but not the actual getting together stuff. You see, my family fought a lot. When we were kids, Mom and Dad would mix it up pretty good. As we got older, my bother and I were thrown into the mix. Before my mid to late twenties, I honestly can't remember that many enjoyable Thanksgivings, Christmases, Easters, even Fourth of July cookouts, that didn't involve yelling, swearing, and people getting pissed off at each other. Holidays meant drama, and not the good kind. And we were not alone. Holidays seem to bring out the worst in a lot of families. The stress of having a big gathering, perfect food, and pretending to be happy, cracks many foundations several times a year.

I really enjoy holidays now. Some I spend with friends; some I'm prefer to be alone; during some I travel. I even have my own holiday traditions for each.  I keep them simple and as stress-free as possible.  I celebrate them as I wish, and do not allow other people's expectations to interfere.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year, hands down. It doesn't matter if I spend it alone or with friends or on a beach or in a mountain cabin. Thanksgiving is da bomb!

Why?

1. It takes place in my favorite season - fall.
2. There's no direct religious or political connection.
3. There's no gift-giving, unless you bring a hostess gift when you're a guest.
4. It involves good food - a single hearty meal and, if you're lucky, leftovers.
5. No one is setting off fireworks that scare the crap out of my cat.

Thanksgiving has one purpose: to give thanks.
 
It's a day of giving thanks for the good things in your life - your family, friends, good health, love, food, and shelter. And it's a day to remember that not everyone has these basic needs.
 
It's a day of putting greed, differences, and sense of entitlement aside, and being humble in the face of your good fortunes and blessings.
 
HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE!

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Committing Murder For The Sake of My Craft

I commit murder on the page quite often. Sometimes multiple murders. As a crime writer, it's what I do. An old boyfriend used to ask me: Is this book a LBC or HBC? Meaning, does this book have a low body count or a high body count.

Today I committed a different type of murder. It wasn't on the page as much as the page or pages themselves. Basically, I killed an entire short story in progress. Why? Because it wasn't living up to its potential.

Yeah, I'm a bad ass in that way.

I've been working on this particular short story for months. Longer than it often takes me to write a novel. It's a departure from what I normally write and I found it laborious and dull. Usually writing comes easy to me. I'm a fast writer, often speeding through words with ease as the story flows from my head and out my fingers. But this story was like lugging a bag of rocks up Mt. Everest. So today, I had to really take a good long look at the work. Was the drudgery of it trying to tell me something? Was it the story line itself? Was it the main character?

What? What? What?

Over the past few months, I've sat in front of the computer screen staring at the page, begging it to tell me what was wrong. When I got no answer, I'd push ahead, putting words to the page in the hope it would spring to life. But no. It was as flat a cardboard and just as compelling. Finally, out of desperation, this morning, armed with strong coffee, I thought long and hard about it. I didn't think about what was wrong with the story itself, but whether or not the story deserved to live at all.

I was contemplating killing off my darling.

I've killed darlings before. It's a term used for deleting scenes and phrases in your writing that you're particularly pleased with, but that don't move the story along or don't work at all, no matter how well written. In this case it was fourteen pages of worthlessness. A trophy to wasted time and a wrong vision.

But here's the thing... once I decided that, yes, it was time to murder this travesty of fiction, a new story started peeking out from behind the naked bones of the story I'd been writing.  A different story with a totally different feel, but with some similarities. For example, while the main protagonist had to go, another character could stay and even thrive. The setting stayed, too. Intrigued by this new idea, I started a new short story.

Guess what? YES! out of the remains of the old story emerged a wonderfully funny and entertaining story. I've only written a few paragraphs so far, but those words are singing loud and clear. I can't wait to see where it leads.

So, dear ones, don't be afraid to kill your darlings. On the page, that is.  Because behind that carcass might be a beautiful new life just waiting to spring forth and take its place. A fabulous phoenix rising from the ashes.

November is National Novel Writing Month. I figure if people can complete a novel in a month, I sure can finish this new short story!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Food and Drink - Hawaiian Style

I love trying new foods. I watch a lot of cooking shows and always make mental notes of things to be on the lookout for in my travels or even at the market.

I just got back from a wonderful 5-day trip to Hawaii where I tried several new foods and drinks:

Food

  • Portuguese sausage - I really liked this, even though I generally don't eat much meat. I had it a few mornings with eggs and found the mildly spicy flavor a nice change from the usual sausage.
  • Korean Bibimbap - a rice bowl with a lot of veggies topped with a fried egg and served with different sauces. The veggies were all familiar to me except for the sea asparagus. This was a nice light dinner my first night at my hotel, the Moana Surfrider.
  • Sea Asparagus - although in the Bibimbap, this also came as a side salad at dinner one evening with my fish. They had blanched it and added it to thin sliced onion and halved cherry tomatoes tossed with a very light dressing. It was fresh and tasty.
  • Watermelon radishes - I see these a lot on cooking shows, so when faced with them on a salad bar, just had to go for it. They were a lot less intense than a regular radish and wonderful on my salad.
  • Onaga - which is a Hawaiian red snapper. This was one of my favorite meals on the island, which I had at The House Without A Key restaurant, named for the Charlie Chan mystery of the same name. It was steamed with bok choy and shiitake mushrooms in a very light sesame sauce. It came with white rice, which I used to soak up the sauce. Excellent food and restaurant. 
  • Moonfish - my other very memorable meal, had at Duke's Waikiki. This was sauteed with a macadamia crust and served with the sea asparagus salad mentioned above and a lovely bastmati wheatberry rice.
  • Mango ranch dressing - This came on one of the best salads I've tasted anywhere. I had it at my hotel in the Beach Bar. It was a chopped salad with beautiful big grilled shrimp. There was nothing unusual about the salad veggie-wise, but it was exceptionally fresh and served with mango ranch dressing. I'm not a big ranch dressing fan, but I'm so glad I didn't ask them to hold the dressing this time. Mango ranch dressing is much lighter and tastier than regular ranch and brought the salad together.  I could eat that salad every day!

I'm sure there are some of you thinking: Wait, you didn't try Spam? No, I didn't, for two reasons: 1) We ate a lot of Spam growing up, so it wasn't new to me; 2) I hate Spam!

Coconut Mojito!
Drinks

I'm not much of a drinker in my daily life, but I do LOVE my vacation tropical drinks, my favorite being a mai tai, and I had several during this vacation at different locations. My favorite of those I tried was that made at my hotel. It was heavy on the rum and not too sweet. But I tried a couple of other drinks during the week too:

  • Spiked sangria - this was at my hotel.  Normally I enjoy a nicely done sangria, but this was on the sour side from the hard alcohol in it.
  • Cucumber ginger cooler - this was an interesting concoction of cucumber vodka, sake and ginger ale. At first it was really yummy and refreshing, but about halfway through it wore out its welcome and became kind of odd tasting with an unpleasant finish. It might have been the sake that caused this. Hard to tell.
  • Coconut mojito - OMG, this is now my favorite tropical drink, although I wonder if I could get one outside of Duke's. I enjoyed it so much at dinner, that instead of dessert, I ordered another. It was refreshing and tasty and the mint wasn't overpowering.
  • Duke's Signature Mimosa - enjoyed on my last day in Hawaii at breakfast, this was a super tasty twist to the normal mimosa.  In fact, I liked it much better than the usual champagne and orange juice because it was more refreshing and less sweet. It was champagne with lilikoi (passion fruit) juice. 

Dessert Tree
Desserts

I didn't indulge much in desserts since I was sucking down calorie-laden sweet tropical drinks, but I did try the signature coconut cake at The House Without A Key and it rocked.  My first day at my hotel, I couldn't make up my mind on a desert with lunch, but knew I wanted one. The Veranda restaurant is known for their afternoon teas, and one of the desserts on their regular menu was a tree of miniature desserts, which is part of the tea service. It seemed silly and indulgent to order it since I was dining alone, but did anyway. It consisted of eight different dessert bites and each was amazing. My favorite was the mango mousse on top of a sponge cake square. I ate a couple at lunch and they boxed up the others for me to take back to my room. So except for the coconut cake, these took care of my sweet tooth.

So now I'm back home and on the wagon, both drink and food-wise. Back to eating mostly vegan, and watching the calories. But I sure had fun tossing all that aside in Hawaii!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Minimize Me!

It's time to officially start downsizing my apartment to fit into an RV. All my book contracts are behind me. I'm on the verge of buying the van. It's time.

I leave for vacation in 2 days, but except for packing my duds and a little writing, I have this weekend free. So why not start the downsizing of my stuff by tossing out things I know belong in the trash. Getting rid of a lot of that will leave behind the items I need to donate and sell.

I began last night by getting a good size box and tossing stuff into it that I know needs to go and would be of no use to anyone. As each item went into the box, I wondered why I'd even hung on to it at all. This morning I took the box down to the dumpster and emptied it, bringing it back upstairs to repeat the process.

Over the last few months I've also started downsizing my clothing.  I have this large walk-in closet jam-packed with clothes, of which I probably only wear 20-25%. If something hasn't been worn in the past year or two, it's going to Goodwill or some other charity. I mean, I have almost a dozen pairs of pants that I haven't been able to get into for almost twenty years.  Seriously! That's carrying wishful thinking to ridiculous! Let's not even discuss the clothing I bought thinking it was perfect for me when it was anything but. After a few wearings, they too ended up in the back of the closet.  And then there's the forgotten items. A few weeks ago I wore something to work I had forgotten I owned. Someone asked me if it was new. Ha! No, I just found it in the closet smooshed between the stuff I can't wear.

I also have two chest of drawers to clean out. My trick for these is to pull out a drawer and drag it into the living room.  While watching TV, I sort the drawer contents into keep, donate, and toss piles. Do I really need forty scarves? Forty-two to be exact! I got that whittled down to ten and might even re-think those. And bras! So many bought only to be so uncomfortable they were never worn more than a couple of times. I must have a dozen of those too, along with three dozen pairs of socks I never wear.  I have two drawers of tee shirts. That drawer is next on my hit list, along with the drawers in my bathroom vanity.

And books... let's talk about books. Over the years I had already pared down the number of my physical books because of space limitations, and now only read e-books or listen to audio books. In the van, there will be no room for books, except for the inventory of my books that I'll keep on hand to sell at events. And a couple of cookbooks. I don't like using cookbooks on my Kindle. The rest of my books will be donated to my local library, with a few special ones going to my great nephew and nieces.

Once I get back from vacation, I'll be on hardcore downsize mode. The kitchen will be next, and that's going to be the biggest job. I might just put all my nice things I once used for entertaining in boxes and tell people it's theirs if they just come get it. My goal is to be almost completely finished with this project by Christmas. I want to get to the point where all that's left is basic furniture and the things I'll need in retirement, not a stitch or stick more.

A friend recently asked me if getting rid of my things saddens me. Honestly, except for a couple of items, no. I'm actually starting to feel a sense of freedom and lightness as the process continues.

It's shedding the past to face my future.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Patient, Heal Thyself

This week I had my annual physical, which is really a misnomer since my doctor reminded me that I hadn't had an annual physical since early 2015.  Anywhoooo, this physical was prompted by a couple of things:

1) I've been feeling like crap most of this year. Nothing earth shattering, just generally yucky, mixed with body aches, dizziness, nausea and headaches, all of which I pinned on stress.

2) The doctor noticed I hadn't had a physical in over two years when I went in two weeks ago to finally complain about all of the above, and promptly squeezed me in for one.

In the first visit the doctor diagnosed me with vertigo and recommended I take Bonine, an over-the-counter motion sickness medication, for a while and see if it would go away.  I'm pleased to say the Bonine worked. I take a half tablet in the morning and half at night, and after next week may stop it and see if all is good again, or just take it as needed.  I gotta say, going through the day without being dizzy and nauseous is life changing.

In the second visit, the doctor examined me head to toe, drew blood, and made me pee in a cup. He also scheduled a couple of routine tests I still need to take, like a mammogram. At the end of my visit, he told me I have high blood pressure and prescribed medication.

Now here's the thing. When I fussed over the medication, because I hate taking drugs, my very sweet doctor looked me in the eye and said something like this:

If you manage your stress, eat healthy, and get regular exercise, you might be able to go off the meds.

Huh? My eyebrows shot up in disbelief, and he caught the gesture, following up with this gem:

Barring anything that crops up in the tests, there is nothing wrong with you that you can't fix yourself.

Hmmmm. Nothing I can't fix myself.

I'm not exactly a do-it-yourselfer, but I know a personal challenge when I hear one. We've all read about people who were sick, some near dying, and then recovered when they changed their lifestyle. Now I was faced with that forked path: do nothing and continue to gain weight and feel yucky, or get back to regular exercise and a healthy diet. Not that I do recreational drugs or drink much alcohol, but I sure could exercise more, lose weight, and stop binge eating under pressure.

Like he said, barring test results, I'm pretty healthy, and feel very lucky about that at my age. And blood pressure can be managed. He wants me to take my meds, and monitor my blood pressure three times a week and journal it. When I go back around the end of the year for a follow-up, he'll decide if I'm on the right path for being medication-free again.

I have about 500 days until I retire and hit the road in an RV. I certainly don't want to be sick when I do it, or have a health issue that prevents it.

And I love a good challenge...

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Finishing Strong!


2017 has been a hard year for me so far, physically and emotionally. Basically, it's felt like I've been stuck on a Tilt-a-Whirl for the past nine months.

I overextended myself with obligations, all of which I met, but it about killed me with stress to hit them all and do it well. But this past Monday I turned in the final edits of my final book under contract, so I no longer have any hard publishing deadlines. I also completed my last big time commitment for the year, and the extra work they piled on at the day job will be lessening.

Physically, my body is getting back to normal. Aches and pains, including those scary chest pains from June, caused from too much stress have diminished and hopefully will stop altogether. I was diagnosed with vertigo and am taking medication for it, which has stopped the dizziness and nausea I've had for the past several months. Even the pounds I gained from stress eating junk food are beginning to leave the building. Everything is looking up.

As for my retirement plans, I had a monkey-wrench thrown into those too this year. I'm still on track, but have learned I must be patient about getting my RV, and have put that off until I'm much closer to my actually retirement date. All in it's proper time.

There are three months left in 2017 and I intend to finish the year strong.

On the agenda:

Finishing two short stories, one of which I've been working on forever!
Finishing up a non-mystery novel which is almost finished.
Launching The Novel RV imprint for future self-published work.
Re-releasing The Ghost In The Polka Dot Bikini.
Get back to regular exercising and better eating - already in progress.
A lovely and well-earned vacation in Hawaii around the end of October.
Getting the tattoo I've wanted ... it's my 65th birthday gift to myself.
Saying NO to requests that suck up my time and energy needlessly.

That last one is a biggie.

2017, at the end of this year, one of us will still be standing, and I'm betting it will be me!