Monthly Archives: January 2012

Are coffeemakers smarter than a 5th grader?

 

So here’s the deal.  Before Christmas, I broke the carafe on our old coffee maker.  Much to my husband’s skepticism, I did not do this on purpose. Yes, I had mentioned a time or two-dozen that I wanted a new coffee maker. I felt it was time to kick it up a notch. For this reason, I felt it prudent, once the carafe accidentally (it really was an accident) broke, that husband and I do some research and put some thought into the purchase of a new machine.  I mean, we’re talking coffee here people. This was serious business unlike buying a flat screen TV bundle pack, which some people think is the most important purchase ever.  But I digress!

I knew what I wanted. I was told it didn’t exist.  I refused to believe this bit of malarkey.  I was on the hunt.

What machine of coffee-magic did I want?  I’ll tell you.  I wanted to be able to push a button and get a cup of exactly what I desired. I do not think this is unreasonable. I wanted to be able to froth up something impressive for a friend, without the need for a stainless steel jug and frother spout, and gazing into a haze of steam that would melt my mascara.  If I had a crowd over for impromptu frivolity, (it could happen some day!), I wanted to be able to brew a POT of coffee so I could mingle in my fashion wedges and not spend the night playing barista.  I didn’t mind using a pod-thingy or a k-cup thing-a-bob, but I did want to be able to use my own ground coffee should the mood strike.

Did I find what I wanted? No.

 

I know, I’m still in shock and therapy is not out of the question.  But I did find almost what a wanted and learned a few things in the process.

Husband and I sojourned to one of my favorite stores, Sur La Table. I could spend hours in this store.  These kids know all things kitchen.  In the back corner are all the coffee makers.  They’re on display, plugged in and ready to wow you.  I tried  to test one, (the sign said I could) and of course it didn’t work. This did not come as a surprise to me, nor would it to anyone who knows me.  The helpful coffee-expert swooped over to save the day and brewed me a sample. Not sure why it worked for her since it appeared she pushed the same button I did.

It was DIVINE!  No need to look any further, that was the one. I wanted it.  I needed it.

 

It cost $2,899.00.  Wow.

*Cue inner-debate with self and outer-debate with husband* Coffee maker or car for soon-to-be 16-year old son.  Really swayed towards the coffee-magic-maker, I have to tell you.  It was that good. But even I could concede that nearly three grand was a tad excessive.

I licked the trace of cappuccino-nirvana off my lip and inquired why this machine is so expensive, not that wasn’t not worth it, I assured the sales woman, as I buried my nose into my Dixie cup-sized of hot goodness.

“Oh!”, the expert swooned. Ok, maybe I swooned, but she proceeded to explain what every penny of that $2,899 provided.  Basically, it was like Rosie from the Jetsons.

 

It did everything for you, before you needed it done and how you needed it done … should you have thought of it first. Should the mere thought of taking your coffee on the road cross your mind, it switched from 4 oz to 12 in an instant. You stifle a yawn, and your coffee would switch from Café au Lait to a triple-shot Americano.

How did it know? No clue! Which is how I decided right then that this was not the coffee maker for me.  Anything that plugged into a wall and had far-greater brainpower and reasoning that I did, was bound to end in a power struggle. And, sadly, I didn’t think I stood a chance.

What happened to scooping coffee into a paper filter? What happened to pulling the pot out mid-brew to pour a cup because you couldn’t wait and being thankful for pause-n-serve brewing?  What happened to instant coffee? Ok, instant coffee is gross, never mind that last bit.

Wait, this was about kicking it up a notch. Focus, Ginger!  I consulted my list of things I wanted in a new coffee maker and … I made a teensy compromise and I think I’m going to get almost exactly what I wanted.

 

I’ll be ordering this little Breville beauty.  It does everything I want except make a pot.  I’ll just buy a cheap Mr. Coffee to keep under my counter in case I get surprised by a crowd of revelers and I’m all dolled up in my party-girl clothes. It does brew a cup a time but in 5 size choices.  I can use a k-cup thingy OR I can use my own coffee in the included other cup-thingy. I can even have hot water for tea. It was easy to use and it’ll look all pretty on my counter.

How about you? Do you think technology sometimes thinks too much? Are we sharing too much brain-power with our household electronics? Does it even matter as long as we get a great cup of coffee?

WritersButt-Let’s talk SLEEP!

Hello my WritersButt Lovelies! Before we get to what we did last week, I’m going to jump right in and talk about sleep and WHY YOU NEED MORE OF IT! Today’s blog is longer than I’d normally post, but I really wanted to share with you all how important sleep is for your physical and creative self!

Getting enough sleep literally recharges your brain.  Getting enough hours of quality sleep a night allows your brain to pass through all the different phases of sleep, giving you multiple trips through that dreamy (literally) REM state.  Picture our creativity soaring, stories unfolding, you finally getting your Hogwarts letter, packing your trunk, buying your owl … well, you get the idea!

 

Let’s talk for a moment about the importance of dreaming and how they are connected to your creativity and writing.  In Kelly L. Stone’s great book Thinking Write, she has a whole section on dreams and how they connect to our creativity and of course, our stories.  I loved this book as well as the two others in the series, Time to Write and Living Write, and highly recommend them.  From Thinking Write, Kelly says:

“For the writer, dreams are a powerful source of creativity and a venue to problem solving.  They are often rich in symbolism, metaphor, and creative inspiration. When you learn to utilize the dream mechanism of subconscious communication, you can use them to generate ideas for plots, create new characters, and get guidance when you are stuck.”

How Much Sleep Do You Need?  Well from this article about Sleep and the Brain, it says:

Most adult people seem to need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. This is an average, and it is also subjective. You, for example, probably know how much sleep you need in an average night to feel your best.

The amount of sleep you need decreases with age. A newborn baby might sleep 20 hours a day. By age four, the average is 12 hours a day. By age 10, the average falls to 10 hours a day. Senior citizens can often get by with six or seven hours a day.

If you don’t get enough sleep, the ramifications on a cognitive level are immense.  There is a plethora of articles out there that will, in very scientific terms with much mumbo-jumbo tell what exactly happens to your brain with continual lack of sleep.  Hey, if you can’t fall asleep, just start reading all of those!  Or just trust me, do what you can to get more sleep.

In addition to affecting your brain activity, memory, reasoning and creativity, not getting enough sleep has negative side effects to your physical body as well, in terms of your metabolism, growth hormones and controlling hunger.  A website that I love for nutritional information, among other fantastic things, is Whole9Life and within that website, one of the co-owners, Dallas Harwig, wrote a great article for a wonderful online magazine for athletes, Performance Menu, about the undervalued aspects of getting enough sleep.  Here’s a quote from that article:

From a hunger regulation and weight management perspective, reductions in slow wave sleep (common with chronic sleep loss) cause significant decreases in insulin sensitivity, and tend to increase cortisol levels. In addition, sleep loss causes decreased levels of leptin (a hormone that tells your brain that you’re not hungry) and increased levels of ghrelin (a hormone which stimulates hunger and appetite), and as such, is associated with obesity. Depressed leptin and increased ghrelin contribute to an uptick in appetite, particularly cravings for carbohydrates. Being sleep deprived means that you’re more likely to make poor choices about which foods you eat and how much of them you consume, especially in the hours after dinner when elevated cortisol has you “tired but wired”. Combined with the direct effects of sleep loss on insulin sensitivity, this can be a destructive situation for one’s metabolic state.

Now, the focus of WritersButt is not about weight loss, but it is about health.  I believe we can all agree that part of being healthy is to be physically fit.  Hence, it’s not a stretch to say that if you’re not getting adequate sleep, and that causes you to crave unhealthy foods, which will wreck havoc with your insulin, which brings you a slew of negative side-effects, you will be less healthy and therefore not be in the best position to utilize your cognitive abilities, right?

I mean, this is GOOD NEWS! I’m telling you to sleep more. Yay!  You can nap too. Woo Hoo.  Ginger Rocks!

Alright, let’s settle down. I suspect many of you are shaking your heads and are going to tweet me that you have crazy schedules that are not conducive to more sleep time.  I don’t know each of you, or what demands or responsibilities you have in your life, but I do feel you have a responsibility to your own health. Examine your schedule.  See if you can shift some things around to give you more sleep at night. If you are able to do this, I truly believe you’ll feel the difference if you’ve been living in a state of sleep deprivation.  Most of us are sleep-deprived, myself included.

Here are some tips to improve your sleep:

*Get regular exercise. All you WritersButt warriors are doing this. It helps to tire and relax your body. Note—vigorous exercise can, as I pointed out in a previous WB blog, release endorphins that will give you a high.  For some, vigorous exercise later in the day might make it harder to fall sleep.  Experiment with this.

*Reduce caffeine and other stimulants after mid-afternoon. (3-4 pm)

*Avoid alcohol before bedtime. Alcohol disrupts the brain’s normal patterns during sleep. Drink at breakfast and lunch.  KIDDING!!!  Just making sure you’re still reading.  It’s true that drinking alcohol may get you to sleep faster, but it does wonky things with the sleep phases. Ye be warned. I won’t tell on you if you won’t tell on me, K?  J

*Create and stick to a pattern of regular bedtime and wakeup times, even on the weekends.  There will be exceptions to this but staying on schedule as much as possible will allow your body to follow its own cues and you’ll find yourself getting sleepy when you’re supposed to and waking up automatically at around the same time every morning.

Here’s to all of us getting more ZZZZZ’s this week!

Moving along … last week one of the challenges I presented to you was to do at least 3 days of food journaling?  Did any of you do it? If so, what did you see? Anything surprise you? As I promised, if you did your food-journal and would like a chance for me to personally examine it and give you feedback on how it can be tweaked, tell me in the comments that you did it and from all those (2) people, I’ll randomly pick one (of their) name.  I’ll pick the name tomorrow night at 9pm.

In the meantime, I’d like you to think about the nutritional advice I gave you last week and see if there is something in your food journal, or if you didn’t do one, something you KNOW you need to cut back on.  I want you to make that effort this week.  Are you a soda drinker, say 3 a day.  Try 1 or 2 a day instead, or only 3 per week, you pick when.  Are you a sugar-addict with a sweet tooth that rivals Willy Wonka? Find ways to cut back. It’s time to start detoxing off the items that are wrecking havoc with your body and mind.  If you have any questions about how to go about cutting back, ask me. I know all sorts of tricks!

Next week, I’ll be discussing dairy and/or grains at greater length.

What’s in store for you this week?  Well, you’re going to get a break from push-ups.  Again we all cheer, Ginger Rocks!!  And, you only have to do 1 mini-workout a day this week. Who’s your favorite?  In addition to your 100 oz of water (consider this part of your life forever!) and your gratitude journal, I want you to do the following workout once every day.

5 Rounds of:

10 Walking Lunge Steps

5 Up-Downs (otherwise known in my world as a burpee w/out a push-up—we’ll get to burpees later, be afraid!)

Below is a video on the proper technique on how to do a walking lunge:

And here is a video showing an UP-Down. Now, when you see this, don’t freak out that you have to do it just like that. You can modify it, taking out the ‘jumping’ and just stepping your feet back to the plank and again back up to your ‘frog/squat’ position.  Questions?  Ask me in the comments!

Recap:

100 oz water

3-5 Gratitudes daily

Specifically cut back or eliminate an unhealthy food choice

1 mini-workout every day

Examine schedule and find a way to get over 8 hours of sleep at night.

Love ya!!!

~ginger~

What the … WHAT?

Occasionally I run across a product that truly baffles me, not to mention an image I’d like to erase from my memory back.  This happened recently when I stumbled upon this doozy of a product, The bedazzled crack-patch.

**photo removed, unfortunately because it was a doozy of a pretty lady with her low-slung jeans, covering her crack with a denim bedazzled ‘patch’.  It defied the imagination, really!**

 

Yeah, that’s what I thought too.  I mean, wouldn’t you just wear pants that didn’t show off your crack?  Or how about seeing thong underwear proudly on display over the waistband of jeans.  A. Your shirt is too short. B. It’s just wrong, WRONG!

Or how about the male equivalent or this look …

**Picture young guy with all of her boxer-clad rear on display and belt tight around high thighs. UGH!!**

 

Sadly, I can tell you the trend in underwear for teenage boys in our town.  One trip to the middle school or high school and it’s all bagging out the top of their skinny jeans for all to see.

Now before you think I’m an out-of-touch prude, I’m totally down with low-rider jeans.  I have a closet full of them and have dutifully gotten rid of all my 80’s jeans.  But, I’m still not showing off my panties or my hiney and I sure as heck am not going to bedazzle my crack.

What do you think?

WritersButt — Nutrition Basics

Hello-Hello my wonderful WritersButt friends.  How are you doing? How are you feeling?  We are two weeks into this journey. If you’ve been participating in the challenge, you should be getting acclimated to the changes you’ve made to your routine.  Your body should be adapting to getting 100 oz of water daily and perhaps you’re making fewer trips to the bathroom. You may have experienced some sore muscles this week from all those push-ups. I know I did! If you’ve kept up with your gratitude journal, you should be recognizing things during your day, which immediately resonates with you, and you experience a grateful moment.

I found the image below from a great site called Creative with Kids – check out another take on the gratitude journal and linking it with creativity.

 

~~  We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle ~~

They say that it takes 21 days to create a habit. 3 weeks. For this reason, I’m going to force encourage you to continue to drink your 100 oz of water daily and still work on your gratitude journal this week. Before you celebrate the fact that I didn’t mention potty squats or push-ups, I’m not DONE yet.  You are going to work out this week. Stop groaning! I’m going to change it up a bit for you and not make you do something every time you go to the bathroom.  No more squatting or doing push-ups at Starbucks!  Woo!  You’ll be doing fewer ‘mini-workouts’ throughout the day, but I’m going to increase the intensity a bit. I’ll explain below, it’s going to be great.

I promised you a nutrition post this week so let’s get to it.

 (Delaney very happy with the contents of our first Greenling Box)

Here’s the deal guys, we all have a body and we demand a lot from that body, physically, emotionally and cerebrally. Our body is our machine, our vehicle, for everything that we do. Our nutrition, everything we consume, is the fuel we are giving our body to run on.  It makes sound sense that we would offer our body the highest quality fuel so that it will perform at its best.

I like to make the analogy of a car. I bet the majority of us own a car. Whether it’s a sports car, a pick-up truck, or a mini-van, it needs gas and oil to run. (For simplicity’s sake, let’s keep electric cars out of picture for a moment.) If you put watered-down gas into the tank (lacking nutrients!), your car will suffer. If you put gas in the car that has been altered significantly to make it cheaper to make and cheaper to purchase (processed junk!), your car will get clogged up with all that crap. If you don’t keep oil in your car and keep it fresh (quality fat), it will struggle and poop-out on you. (I’m not even going to say anything about poop-out – you’re welcome!)

It is the same thing with the food and drinks you consume.  The better quality nutrients you feed your body, the better your body will perform for you. For today, I’m not going to go into a long, detailed explanation on which foods are bad for you and specifically why.  I will save those closer examinations of the biggest culprits for later posts.  But here is what I will tell you … keep your food as close to its original state as possible. What this means is that you should try very hard to stay away from processed foods.

You might immediately think, candy and other sweets, soda, etc. and you’d be right.  But there is a plethora of products out there marketed as being healthy, whole foods and they aren’t! Read the labels.  If the ingredient list is long, like over 5 ingredients, that’s a red flag. If there are ingredients on the list that you can’t pronounce or you aren’t certain what it is … red flag!

If you regularly feed your body crap, you can’t expect it to feel better than crappy.  Sorry!

Keep it simple!

 

Found an image from NaturaLife – another great article about why this plate is better than the government designed one.

The healthiest diet is one that consists of healthy proteins (lean meats and eggs), complex carbohydrates (veggies and fruit) and good quality fats (raw nuts, olive and coconut oils, avocados, etc.).

What you did not see on that list were grains. And, I’m not going to tell you that you’re now allowed to eat them. (Right now, my good friend Julie O’Connell is thrilled I’m not confiscating her toast.) But I will suggest that a diet without these simple carbs (breads, pasta, cereals, rice, crackers, chips, tortillas, sugars!) is healthier for most people.  Some people can handle some whole grains. Some can’t. It’s a matter of controlling your insulin response and processed grains can set your insulin levels off on a roller coaster ride.  Another week, I will blog in more detail about what processed grains might be doing to your body, such as inflammation & bloating, acerbating allergies, acne, mood swings, anxiety, depression, and fatigue. For now, I’d like you to be aware that they may not be healthy for you and it might be worth it to you to cut back on them.  🙂

Did you know there are some foods that literally are power foods or brain fuel? Cool right? Much research has been done that suggests that certain foods will help keep your brain sharp. I found this great little article on Gaiam Life about the Top 6 Foods that Boost Brain Power. I encourage you to read the whole article but the gist of it is:

“…foods that promote healthy brain function are rich in healthy fats (omega-3 fatty acids), inflammation-reducing B vitamins and disease-fighting antioxidants.”

The article’s list of the top 6 foods for brainpower is a Rock-Star list of food. And, this list is not exhaustive, but it’s a great start. I’m going to list them below but go to the article to read the explanations of each food and why it’s such a powerhouse.

  1. Salmon
  2. Eggs
  3. Almonds
  4. Blueberries
  5. Dark greens
  6. Green tea or coffee (YES!)

So what’s your challenge this week? Thank you for asking Go-Getter! I have a few things I want you all to do this week. I’m going to break them down.

–Ongoing daily: 100 oz of water and 3-5 gratitudes in your journal every night.

–Nutrition: I would like you all to really be hyper-aware of what you are eating. The best way to do this is to keep a food-log. Do I hear complaining? Just stop it! Keeping a food-log will make you very cognizant of each thing you ingest. Even 3 typical days is enough to examine what sort of FUEL you are feeding your body. You will be able to see if it’s quality. Is it boosting your brainpower? Is it making you sluggish? Are you crashing every afternoon — something in your food journal might show why. This is not about seeing how many calories you’re eating or for any purpose of weight loss. (Although if that is an issue for some of you, your food journal will tell me ways you can refine your diet to help in that area too!) This is truly about seeing if you’re putting watered-down, processed-crap gas in your car (body!) and then expecting it to run you around town, take care of your children, do all your chores, be a cheerful and considerate spouse, CREATE STORIES, concentrate and solve world peace.  You’re not a robot with a battery you can change out.  You are a human being who craves quality fuel to function at your best in everything you do!  SO—at least 3 days in a food journal. (Hey, you can use your gratitude journal!!)

–Fitness: Instead of working out each time you go to the bathroom, I’m going to challenge you to take two breaks during the day (this whole week) for a mini-workout. You get to choose the time for your workout.  I suggest after you’ve been sitting/inactive for a long time, or before you plan to sit for a long stretch.  I bet you’ll know when you need this break and a little shot of endorphins.

The workout is:

3 rounds of:

10 squats

10 push-ups

*This means you will squat 10 times (use a low stool, a low chair/bench, no stool if you can keep your form correct) and then 10 push-ups (using whatever modification you need to) and then repeat 2 MORE times.  You will get 30 squats and 30 push-ups when you’re finished.  This will not take a long time.  For kicks, I’m going to stop typing right now and do this and tell you how long it takes me.  Don’t go anywhere!

~~picture Ginger knocking out mini-workout next to desk with Gia the Wonder-Schnauzer watching ~~

Whew, done!  It took me 1 minute and 7 seconds.  Seriously, just over 1 MINUTE!  Not too much to ask, right?  Now, I’ve got one under my belt and I’ll do another one later.

This WILL feel harder than the 10 potty squats or the 5-10 push-ups I’ve asked of you.  But it will take you less than 2 minutes, twice a day. I don’t know a single person who can’t spare 4 MINUTES out of their day for their fitness. Totally Doable!

Recap:

100 oz water a day

3-5 written gratitudes a day

3-day food-journal

2 mini-workouts a day

BONUS:  I really think doing the food journal is important. It’s not fun but it will give you information that is vital.  To encourage you to do this, I’m offering to personally go through someone’s journal.  In the comments next week, tell me that you completed the challenge and I will randomly choose one of you and you can email me your log and I’ll go through it and give you my feedback. Remember, at least 3 ‘typical’ days, not just random days chosen in which you were really ‘good’.  ~grin~ The more honest and complete the journal is, the more it will tell me.

Don’t forget that we can chat on our WritersButt Facebook Page, and on Twitter using the hashtag: #writersbutt.

That’s it peeps!!  Have a GREAT week!!

Stop Censorship!! Stop the SOPA/PIPA bills!

 

Hi everyone.  I am compelled to blog about something today because I feel it is very important.  If you’ve known me for even a small amount of time, you’ll have likely learned that I don’t usually get involved in politics. But, I am now because there’s something going on in U.S. politics right now that I need to make sure you know about and understand, because it affects us all.

On Jan 24th, Congress will vote to pass internet censorship in the Senate, even though the vast majority of Americans are opposed. We need to kill the bill – PIPA in the Senate and SOPA in the House – to protect our rights to free speech, privacy, and prosperity.

The website, Strike Against SOPA has encouraged us to take action! What kind of action? Read on!

On January 18th, 2012 the internet is going on strike to stop the web censorship bills in Congress! Now is our moment— we need you to do everything you can, whether you have a website or not.  

Well, I have a website (more than one in fact) and I’m choosing to take this action! For this reason, my blog will be inactive tomorrow.  I will somehow figure out a way to ‘black out’ my blog or show that I’m participating.  I won’t be accepting comments tomorrow (so make them today if you’re inclined!).  I’m a new blogger and one little person, but it is my right to express myself in this moment on this issue.  I value that right!

Both blogs that I keep are WordPress blogs.  I love wordpress and when I saw that they were joining in on this cause, along with a slew of others, (<–scroll down this page to see!!) it confirmed my conviction to take action.

You can TAKE ACTION TOO!

On Jan 10th WordPress made an announcement about this issue with which I agree completely.  They said it so well, I encourage you to read it.  Highlights quoted from within their announcement are:

  • In the U.S. our legal system maintains that the burden of proof is on the accuser, and that people are innocent until proven guilty. This tenet seems to be on the chopping block when it comes to the web if these bills pass, as companies could shut down sites based on accusation alone.
  • Laws are not like lines of PHP; they are not easily reverted if someone wakes up and realizes there is a better way to do things. We should not be so quick to codify something this far-reaching.
  • The people writing these laws are not the people writing the independent web, and they are not out to protect it. We have to stand up for it ourselves.

Blogging is a form of activism. You can be an agent of change. Some people will tell you that taking action is useless, that online petitions, phone calls to representatives, and other actions won’t change a single mind, especially one that’s been convinced of something by lobbyist dollars. To those people, I repeat the words of Margaret Mead:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.  

Please watch this video to learn more (by Fight for the Future).

Until Thursday!!

The scam of Friday 13th

Dear Friday the 13th.

You don’t scare me! I have other things to worry about, like this salt I just spilled.

Bravely yours, Ginger.

 

Superstitions are funny things. The fact that today is Friday the 13th has been mentioned all over the social media sites.  I even ran across this site with 5 songs about superstitions. Since Friday the 13th is going to roll around 3 times in 2012, exactly 13 weeks apart incidentally, I thought I’d find out what all the fuss is about and see if I could get to the bottom of this. So, in the effort of procrastination research, I Googled it.

I found this tidbit from this Wikipedia site:

The fear of Friday the 13th is called friggatriskaidekaphobia (Frigga being the name of the Norse goddess for whom “Friday” is named and triskaidekaphobia meaning fear of the number thirteen), or paraskevidekatriaphobia[1][2] a concatenation of the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή, meaning “Friday”), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς, meaning “thirteen”) attached to phobía (φοβία, from phóbos, φόβος, meaning “fear”). The latter word was derived in 1911[citation needed] and first appeared in a mainstream source in 1953.[3]

What in TARNATION does all that gobblygook mean?  You don’t know either? Thank goodness.  I’ll search further then.

From this urban legends site I found these facts about the number 13 and Friday:

Legend has it: If 13 people sit down to dinner together, one will die within the year. The Turks so disliked the number 13 that it was practically expunged from their vocabulary (Brewer, 1894). Many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue. Many buildings don’t have a 13th floor. If you have 13 letters in your name, you will have the devil’s luck (Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo all have 13 letters in their names). There are 13 witches in a coven.

This sounds a bit wishy-washy to me.  I even read that the fear of the number 13 may have roots reaching back as far as ancient civilization and the act of counting.  Apparently the primitive man (and surely not woman ~grin~) only had his 10 fingers and 2 feet with which to count, so 12 was the highest number. Anything beyond was unfathomable and mysterious and therefore an object of fear.  This begs the question … did he not have toes?

The fear of Friday has some interesting facts and origins.

Some say Friday’s bad reputation goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. It was on a Friday, supposedly, that Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit. Adam bit, as we all learned in Sunday School, and they were both ejected from Paradise. Tradition also holds that the Great Flood began on a Friday; God tongue-tied the builders of the Tower of Babel on a Friday; the Temple of Solomon was destroyed on a Friday; and, of course, Friday was the day of the week on which Christ was crucified. It is therefore a day of penance for Christians.

If that is enough proof for you that Friday is Bad, you might want to take notes on the following warnings.

Legend has it: Never change your bed on Friday; it will bring bad dreams. If you cut your nails on Friday, you cut them for sorrow. Don’t start a trip on Friday or you will encounter misfortune. Ships that set sail on a Friday will have bad luck, as in the tale of H.M.S. Friday. One hundred years ago, the British government sought to quell the longstanding superstition among seamen that setting sail on Fridays was unlucky. A special ship was commissioned and given the name “H.M.S. Friday.” They laid her keel on a Friday, launched her on a Friday, selected her crew on a Friday, and hired a man named Jim Friday to be her captain. To top it off, H.M.S. Friday embarked on her maiden voyage on a Friday — and was never seen or heard from again.

Interestingly enough, I read that in Spanish-speaking countries, instead of Friday, Tuesday the 13th (martes trece) is considered a day of bad luck. The Greeks also consider Tuesday (and especially the 13th) to be an unlucky day. Tuesday is considered to be dominated by the influence of Ares (Mars), the God of war.

Anyone else feel all of this is a bit of a stretch? While I do find all of this interesting, I’m still not afraid of Friday the 13th.  Why? Because I don’t like to let something I can’t control have power over me.  Every week, Friday is going to roll around.  Every month, we’re going to have a 13th day.  In 2012, we are apparently going to have 3 times where these two things collide and send legions into fear and apoplexy. No, I’d rather be ornery and stubborn and decide that Friday the 13th is indeed lucky and fun.  Or maybe it’s just another day like Monday the 3rd or Thursday the 25th.

In the effort of full disclosure, I do happen to be a superstition person, just not about Friday the 13th.

My superstitions:

–I’m not sure about the whole spilling salt thing and the devil over your shoulder, but you never know, so I ere on the side of caution. I don’t even have to spill the salt, I just throw a salt over my left shoulder for good measure. Guaranteed to get in the eye of the devil should he be there and give me more to vacuum off my kitchen floor besides dog hair.

–I never open an umbrella inside. Apparently it curses the whole house. This sounds overly dramatic but I’m not taking any chances.

–Never walk under a ladder. I didn’t know why this was bad so a quick Google search shows that apparently the triangle the ladder forms represents the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) and to walk under it shows a disbelief in the Holy Trinity and aligns you with Satan.  Well, that can’t be good at all! I think I’ll continue to avoid these ladder bridges. At the very least, should the ladder break at an inopportune moment, I might get taken down and how embarrassing!

–Breaking a mirror brings seven years bad luck. Apparently it represents you breaking your soul, or that your soul will be trapped inside the broken mirror pieces. That sounds quite ominous.  But apparently if you happen to break a mirror, you can counteract the curse by grinding the pieces to dust, obliterating any reflection and burying it. Well, that will give you a good workout, so all is not lost and you might even get your soul back.

–Knocking on wood when you say something that might temp fate is said to ward off evil spirits.  Now that just makes good sense!   🙂

What you about all?  Are you superstitious?  Tell me about them.

WritersButt Wednesday — Week 2

Hello my lovely WritersButt Warriors!  You have survived the first week.

 

I have to thank you all so much for the enthusiasm, the Tweets and ReTweets, the FB love, and the decision to join Linda and me on this journey.  Anyone can join at ANY time, there is no cut-off date, so spread the word because as they say, the more the merrier!

If you’ve participated this past week, you should have consumed at least 100 ounces of water every day, done 10 ‘potty’-squats every time you tinkled (grin) and jotted down 3-5 gratitudes, things you were grateful for that day, in a journal every night.

How’d you do? How do you feel? Give me some feedback?

Here’s how I did:  I drank my 100 oz daily. Well, I ‘may’ have been a little shy on Sunday. I was driving back from Houston and wanted to get home and not make a million pit stops like I did the day before on the way TO Houston. I did my squats, even during the writer’s workshop at attended on Saturday and when there was a line of women waiting to get into my stall.  I just did them faster and attempted to be quiet so as not to cause bizarre speculation.  Gratitudes: Started off great and then failed the last couple days, so I will need to be better next week.

You might have wondered why I picked ‘potty’ squats.  I have to confess something. I didn’t pick squats simply because they are a great exercise to do. They are great, true, but they are much more than that, they are fundamental! I’ve heard of doctors who tell their patients not to squat because it’s bad for them. When a client tells me they’ve been warned of the ‘dangers’ of squatting, I ask them if they sit down to eat a meal, sit on a bench in the park to read, ever sit on the toilet to … you get the picture.  Of course they do and they are SQUATTING! Squats help develop lean muscle in your legs, specifically butt, hamstrings and quads. Done correctly they promote a healthy, strong back position and they also work your core.  Here’s a fact you may not know. One of the requirements to live on your own, as in to avoid assisted-living as a senior for instance, is if you can get up off a chair or the toilet without help. Lose the ability to do that and you could lose your independence.  Who wants to do more squats?

 

 I’ve had some emails and questions about knee strain.  Squats done correctly can be done safely without hurting your knees.  That said, you may already have knee issues which are getting flared up by this new thing you’ve added into your day. The key is to strengthen your large leg muscles so they not only do the work of the squat, but also work efficiently to keep the strain off the knee.  In some cases, this will take time, but your muscles are in there, big, strong hamstrings, quads and glutes. It’s time to make them pull their weight, literally! Any knee pain/strain is to be taken seriously.  You can use your hands to support yourself in a doorframe, or on the edge of the counter if your legs need a little help from your upper body until it gets stronger.  If you have specific questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments, or on the WritersButt Facebook Page or send me a direct message on Twitter.

Was last week hard for you? Or, did it surprise you as being more doable than you expected? The idea is to entwine these healthy habits into your life so you do them automatically and you feel good and energetic. The goal is to tap into and fire off endorphins throughout the day. Say what? Ok, let’s talk endorphins a minute.

What is an endorphin?

The word “Endorphin” comes from the two words, “endogenous + morphine.” Endorphins are small, protein molecules that are produced by cells in your nervous system and other parts of your body.

What have endorphins been knows to do:

  • Control persistent pain
  • Control the craving for chocolate and potentially addictive substances
  • Control feelings of stress and frustration
  • Regulate the production of growth and sex hormones
  • Reduce symptoms associated with eating disorders

Who’s your endorphin now?  Ok, seriously, these puppies are the bomb guys. Let’s imagine that middle benefit above; control feelings of stress and frustration.  It’s not hard to imagine that if you had less stress and frustration that you’d feel better, be calmer, be happier, right? In turn, your mind wouldn’t be scrambling to handle the stress and frustrations of your life and would be ready for another more productive, more creative task!  Hello best-seller!!

There are numerous ways to release them, one of which is EXERCISE!  You will find many articles that tell you that you have to run or perform some aerobic exercise in excess of 20 minutes to tap into these little gems but that’s not true. While that is one way, you can also do short, intense bouts of exercise and release your own little army of endorphins.

This is why I’m going to be giving you weekly challenges and I’m going to make them harder and progressively more intense as we go along. I will do this gradually so your body adapts to this activity.

Often people ask me what is the best workout program. My answer is the one that you will continue to do. I hope to make working out accessible, fun, efficient and effective so you’ll continue to do it because you’ll have experienced all the benefits it adds to your life and your writing.

This Week’s Challenges and a bonus homework assignment:

*Drink your 100 oz of water daily

*Write 3-5 gratitudes in your journal daily

(This will be a constant going forward so embrace it!)

*5 – 10 push-ups every time you go to the bathroom.

We’re going to switch gears and work our upper body a bit more this week.  I’m sticking with the bathroom breaks because I know you’re still going to be in there numerous times. Some of you may be Tweeting me right now telling me you can’t do a push-up. Yes you can! Every movement is scalable and can be modified to any fitness level.

Here is a picture of a classic push-up position. Body straight, hands on the floor under or just outside the shoulders. You go down, letting chest gently touch the floor, you push back up to full extension without looking like an undulating wave.

You can do this exact push-up while on your knees.  Key is to keep a nice straight line from knees to shoulder. (don’t let butt poke up or dip to the floor)

You can ALSO do this against your bathtub, or counter, or the wall.  The higher your hands are, the easier the push up. EVERYONE can do these!

Extra Homework:

Next week I’m going to introduce the topic of nutrition and how it plays a VITAL role in not only your physical fitness, but your moods, energy, and brain power.  If you’d like to be ahead of the game, I challenge you to keep a food journal.  Just 3 typical days at the minimum.  If you’ve never kept a food-journal before, it’s exactly how it sounds.  You keep a log of exactly what you eat. If you grab 5 grapes off your friend’s lunch plate, it goes in the journal. A bite or pint of rocky road ice cream…write it down.  Obviously I can’t make you do this.  But when I talk nutrition next week, those who have a food journal in front of them will be able to see things on it that might be negatively affecting their lives.

Have a great week everyone!  I’ll be cheering you on.

Guest Blogger Jessica O’Neal — (Mis) Adventures In Eating

I am so excited about my very first Guest Blog and I’m thrilled to have the very fun and adorable, Jessica O’Neal here today. Jessica is not afraid to try new things, as you’ll soon read. She even has her own bow and arrow!  If that wasn’t enough to know she was uber-cool, she and I share a love of Harry Potter.  Check our her great posts about the boy who lived and they loyal friends in his life, and get her opinion on Snape!

Let me hand it over to Jessica!!

*

I have always heard that ones tastebuds change every seven years. I don’t have a clue whether or not this is true (I suppose I could google it…nah), but I do know that my tastebuds have certainly changed over the years. As I get older my palate continues to expand. I now enjoy foods that I used to loathe, such as fish. With my food horizons growing so quickly I have also become much more adventurous in the things I will try.

Which brings me to my story (well, actually stories).

My husband and I invited a friend of ours over recently to have a broil. She had recently visited her mother and had a bunch of fresh crabs that she wanted to eat, so she brought them with her. I had eaten crab before, but never while the meat was still in a very much whole crab shell.

I should probably take the time to mention that I am very squeamish when it comes to things that I deem “critters”. Bugs, frogs, lizards…you get the idea. I don’t do well with those types of things. In fact, when my husband and I went through our premarital counseling one of our exercises was to come up with a list of expectations we had for each other. At the top of my list: I expect you to take care of all bugs, reptiles, amphibians, and rodents.

What does this have to do with our crab broil? Well, about a month prior to this I discovered that this squeamishness extended to foods that still looked like an animal. We were eating freshly caught shrimp and when I picked the first one up and saw that it was still covered in soft, squiggly legs I nearly gagged. My husband, being the nice man that he is, proceeded to peel all the shrimp I wanted to eat for me.

Back to the crab.

I was very excited for this meal. We had broiled potatoes, corn on the cob, sausage, and (peeled) shrimp along with the crab and it looked amazing. So I boldly reach in and picked up my first crab. Obviously I knew that they still looked like crabs since they were broiled shell and all, but what I did not account for were the eyes.

I turned that crab around to face me and saw two creepy black eyes staring back at me with what looked like small whiskers sticking out of them. I promptly dropped the crab and screamed, “OHMYGOD, it has eyes!” Naturally, everyone at the table erupted into hysterical laughter at my outburst.

 

It took a few seconds, but I was able to get past my shock and dig in. I cracked that bad boy open, scraped all the gray yucky out, and dug for the meat. It was delicious.

When I was thinking about this story and my much mocked exclamation it reminded me of another adventure in food I suffered.

Two years ago my sister got married. It was a destination wedding at the most spectacular all-inclusive resort in Mexico you can imagine. This place had multiple five star restaurants on its property and we ate at as many of them as we could. Since it was an all-inclusive resort I decided to be adventurous and try things I would normally be afraid to spend money on in case I didn’t like them. Most of what I tried I really enjoyed. But not all.

For the rehearsal dinner we ate at one of these amazing restaurants and since it was a special event they served us a bunch of special appetizer size dishes between courses. I had a really hard time understanding the waiter who was serving these dishes, so unless I could tell by looking at it, I had no idea what I was eating.

One of these little dishes was impossible to figure out. It was served in what looked like a miniature gravy boat and was this strange looking whitish blob with different seasonings sitting in some sort of liquid marinade. It made me very nervous, but I had determined I would try it all, so I picked up that boat and poured the unknown contents into my mouth. It was not good.

I didn’t really think about it again until after the meal. I went to talk to some of my sister’s friends and find out what they had eaten. They were discussing all the food and the things they tried when one of them came out with, “It was all good, but I just couldn’t even attempt to try the shark eyes.”

Me: “Um, what? Did you just say shark eyes?”

Friend: “Yeah. You know, what was in the silver boat.”

Me: “That was SHARK EYES??!!?!”

Yep. I ate the eyes of a shark.

What about you? Have you ever eaten something crazy or exotic? Do you have any funny food stories to share? Let me know in the comments!

**

Ginger here again.  Thank you so much, Jessica for sharing your (mis)adventures in food.  I’d like to add two photos of my own from a long ago crab boil we had when my kids were little.
  

The boys aren’t sure how they’re going to eat it.                       Or maybe it will eat them instead.  🙂

I’m looking forward to hearing about YOUR food adventures!

The BIG, Exciting, Fabulous Wana1011 BlogFest

Welcome to the WANA1011 Blogfest Awards!

First, you might not know what ‘wana1011’ stands for so let me clarify. A group of 100 writers took a blogging/branding online workshop with the social media Goddess herself, Kristen Lamb. The class is based on her book We Are Not Alone (wana) and we were the class from October (10) 20(11).  There is also a wana711 class and one that just started, wana112.  We are ALL in this together!  How about a group hug!

Why is this a party, you ask? Well, let me tell you. I, along with these great writers, Karen McFarland, Fabio Bueno, Louise Behiel, and Jansen Schmidt, have decided to spread the blog love collectively to our fellow wana1011 classmates. Since taking this amazing class, we have all seen such great success in our blogs and have made amazing connections in the exciting world of social media. In addition and because we all love and support each other, there have been some awards circulating.  The five of us got together, prompted by Karen (*high five*), and cooked up this blog fest so that we could pay-it-forward en masse and make sure every one of the wana1011 group had been given an award.

Without further adieu, let the Fabulous BlogFest Friday commence!

I have been honored with The Versatile blogger award from Diana Murdock, Lena Corazon, and Jessica O’Neal. Thank you so much!

I was also honored with the Liebster Blog award by Myndi Shafer. *HEART* Thank you and you know I adore you!

I could not be more thrilled and humbled because I admire each of these women and love reading their blogs. They inspire me. What they all have in common is that each of them is a ‘wana’ graduate.  See, I told you the wana-peeps were awesome!

Being recognized with these awards comes with a few instructions. First, you recognize, thank, and link back to the wonderful person who awarded you the blog. Then you get to share 7 random facts about yourself. (I know you’re all dying to learn weird stuff about me, right?) Then, the best part is that you have the fantastic opportunity to pay it forward and pass along your award to other bloggers you would like to recognize. Trust me … it will MAKE THEIR DAY!   And you get to put the award image on your own blog!  How cool, right?

But before I get to passing out my awards, here are 7 facts about me that you might not already know.

1. I’ve had to break into a hotel when I got home too late and the doors had been locked.

2. I’ve done a ballet act on a water ski (while skiing mind you) in a prom dress and tiara.

3. As a toddler, I fell onto an open tennis ball can and nearly sliced the end of my nose off and have the hairline scar to show for it.

4. I used to read my beloved Harry Potter books during church congregation meetings because they were far more interesting and taught me better values (at the time).

5. I want to go on Amazing Race with my dad because I know we’ll win the million.

6. I have never tried an illegal drug.

7. I took part in a water ski exhibition where we built a pyramid and skied down the Rhine River. (Very fun! But water was kind of gross.)

And now, I would like to award the Liebster Blog to:

Sharon K. Owen, who just published her first novel; Thicker than Water: Brands Crossing Series

Susan Bishchoff, author of the Talent Chronicles series and has such a cool blog. Check it out!

Roxanne St. Claire, who just self-published Space in his Heart a month ago.

And the Versatile Blogger to:

Teresa M. Owen – With a log line of ‘Putting dancing nuns to good use since 2007’, you KNOW you’re going to get witty, fun and fabulous with her blog.

YiShaun Yang, author of the AdoraPet children’s picture book series. Her blog is so cute and fun.

Thea Atkinson – Lots of great information on this blog about writing and books.

Stuart Jaffe – Who could resist a book titled, 10 Bits of My Brain?

But …

That’s not all, though. On behalf of the WANA1011 community, “the lucky hundred,” we’re awarding a special edition blog award. A unique accolade, bestowed just once, to a unique person.

Kristen Lamb, our instructor and leader by example, author of “Were Are Not Alone”,  Queen of Social Media, Patron Saint of Lost Bloggers, Beacon By The Online Sea, you’re awarded the first—and only—Goddess of Awesomeness Blog Award!

Since nothing could really express our gratitude to you, please accept this token of appreciation—from all of us WANA1011 fellows. It’s yours, and only yours.

Don’t forget to visit, Karen McFarlandFabio BuenoLouise Behiel, and Jansen Schmidt‘s blogs today to see who they bestowed their awards to.  It’s a BlogFest after all.  Let’s all celebrate together!!

Have a wonderful, festival kind of day!

WritersButt

Back in October, one of my good friends and fellow critique partner, Linda Gerber, approached me about a project. The idea was to help writers, who often sit at their desks or huddled someplace with a laptop nestled on their knees, to get up and move and become healthier. But, more than the goal of achieving a higher level of fitness (which should always be at the top of a priority list!), including a regular fitness routine into your daily life can improve your mental output and make your creativity soar!

Why did Linda approach me for this project? I have no idea.  Kidding!  I think I know. I am a fellow writer but I’m also a certified fitness trainer (CrossFit Level 1).  My husband and I own and operate CrossFit Georgetown, a strength and conditioning gym in my hometown. Since Oct. Linda has been the beta-tester for WritersButt with the idea that we’d launch at the beginning of the New Year.

And here we are!

 

New Years Resolutions are flying all over the place as they usually do with the dawn of a new year. On the majority of those lists is some item relating to getting healthier. Also on many of the lists I’ve read, especially from my writer friends, is to be more productive, write more stories, do more projects, blog more, publish more books!

WritersButt is going to help.  It is going to connect physical activity to creative output. This will undoubtedly improve one’s fitness and in turn help anyone to focus better and tap into a higher cognitive level.  It’s like the kids who can’t focus in class but after recess or P.E. they are able to settle their mind and get some work done.

“For artists, entrepreneurs, and any other driven creators, exercise is a powerful tool in the quest to help transform the persistent uncertainty, fear, and anxiety that accompanies the quest to create from a source of suffering into something less toxic, then potentially even into fuel.” Quoted from this great article titled The Creative Brain on Exercise:

Now listen, I suspect many of you are already saying; “I don’t have time to exercise.” or “I can’t take away writing time to work out.”  What I’m proposing is that you don’t have time NOT to.

The physical state of our bodies can either serve or subvert the quest to create genius. We all know this intuitively. But with rare exceptions, because life seems to value output over the humanity of the process and the ability to sustain genius, attention to health, fitness, and exercise almost always take a back seat. That’s tragic. Choosing art over health rather than art fueled by health kills you faster; it also makes the process so much more miserable and leads to poorer, slower, less innovative, and shallower creative output.” Quote again from The Creative Brain on Exercise.

Important note: The project is called WritersButt but you don’t have to be a writer to join in. Anyone who wants to be healthier and is struggling with how to incorporate physical fitness into his or her day will benefit.  It can just as easily be called AccountantsButt, TeachersButt, ProgrammersButt. The idea is to physically get up OFF your butt and move your body to reap the physical health benefits as well as the mental and emotional ones.

Some questions you may have right about now:

What is WritersButt going to do?

We are going to show you how to implement physical activity into your daily life. This will NOT be time intensive.  We are going to work smarter, not longer.

Will it involve ‘dieting’?

The food you consume every day is your diet, so you are ‘dieting’ but I know what you mean. 😉 I will be suggesting some healthy food choices and a diet that will boost your energy, keep your insulin in check (combat mood swings and energy-crashes) and will promote fat loss.

Do I have to join a gym?

No! Everything I’ll be suggesting can be done in your home and will almost never take longer than about 10 minutes. You will not need machines because you’ll learn to appreciate your body as a machine. Your body is what gets your around your home and town, your body participates in various activities, your body is what you put your clothes on … let’s get it functioning at a higher level!

How will all the cool WritersButt people communicate?

This is my favorite part! First, I plan to blog here on my blog every Wednesday about WritersButt.  I will give you a weekly challenge. I might share a recipe and any online sources I’ve run across that might be of interest. Second, much of our chatter will take place on Twitter using the hashtag #writersbutt.  I have already set up a column on my Tweetdeck so I don’t miss any questions you might have. I also want to cheer on your success, so don’t be shy! Third, it’s my plan in the next week or two to create a Facebook page for us so that we can chat in excess of 140 characters.  🙂  We can also share pictures. (Don’t gasp – I won’t MAKE you!) I think the WritersButt FB page will be a huge hub for us.

Finally, you may be wondering, how do we start?  Yay!  It’s time for your first weekly challenge. I’m going to ask 3 things of you this week to get you going. Stay with me here, I’m not going to make you run a marathon or do any cage-fighting.  But, if you DO any cage fighting, I want you to Tweet the pictures to prove it!

Week 1:

  1. Drink 100 oz of water a day.  YES—I said 100.  Find a water bottle that shows you the ounces.  Lately I’ve been using the one shown.  It is 20 oz and on the side it has a counter so every time I fill it up, I move it over to the next number. I know I have to hit 5 by the end of the day.   
  2. 10 squats every time you go to the bathroom. If you are not used to drinking this much water, you will be going to the bathroom a LOT. (Your body will adjust to this but be prepared to pee-pee quite a bit for a few days.)  Because you’ll be in the bathroom a lot, after you are finished, and after you close the lid to the potty, I want you to sit down and stand up from the toilet 10 times. Obviously if you have a low stool in your bathroom or house, you can use that. A kitchen chair might be taller than I’d like. I’m choosing the toilet not to gross you out but because I KNOW you’ll be in there a lot and I want you to get a lot of squatting done. I’m sneaky that way.
  3. Write 3-5 ‘Gratitudes’ into a journal every night before bed. What the heck does this have to do with fitness? We’re not just working on our bodies; we are also hoping to increase our mental and even our emotional fitness as well.

“…exercise isn’t just about physical health and appearance. It also has a profound effect on your brain chemistry, physiology, and neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to literally rewire itself). It affects not only your ability to think, create, and solve, but your mood and ability to lean into uncertainty, risk, judgment, and anxiety in a substantial, measurable way, …”  ~quote~

I’ve kept a gratitude journal before and it had a profound effect on my appreciation of everything around me throughout the day. Just try it!  Hey, I’m giving you an excuse to go to the office supply aisle and buy a brandy-new notebook and even a cool pen. You’re welcome!

That’s it!  Doable for the first week, right?  Also, I will be doing this with you so rest assured I’ll be walking the WritersButt journey right along any of you who want to join in.  I think we’re going to have a lot of fun, make friends, improve our fitness, our moods, our productivity and our creativity will be able to spread its wings and soar with abandon.

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