Monthly Archives: April 2012

WritersButt Wednesday: Road Trip!!

Happy WritersButt Wednesday. I hope everyone has had a great week.  Today, I promise not to rant at you like I did last week. I totally got that out of my system. That is, until I see something else ridiculous and you know I can’t promise to keep my little soapbox tucked away.  But today we’re going on a road trip! Or at least, we’re going to talk about how to take road trips and not completely sabotage your nutrition along the way.

 

Summer is the season for road trips. Kids are out of school and grandparents want to see their babies!  Beaches and lakes call out to those sun-worshipping and action-craving families. It’s the time to get away, even if it’s only for a long weekend, from your normal routine and environment. Adventures await us and we have to find them!!

We are a big road trip family.  My husband and I have been taking cross-country road trips since before we were married and our child was a dog.

(Sebastian with our daughter when she was a toddler. Sebastian was our baby before we had babies. 🙂 RIP Saby–we still miss you!)

We lived in San Diego (where I’m from) and his family is in Texas (where I’m now from), so we did that long 20+ hour trek numerous times. After marriage and kids, we started spending our summers in TN at the lake, which is about a 16+ hour trip. We’ve been making that summer trip for over a decade now.

All of this to say that I’m declaring myself — you can’t stop me! — an expert on cross-country road trips.  Over the years, adding in 3 kids, we made a bunch of bad choices, for which we paid in a multitude of stomach issues and headaches. Now I’ve got it down to a science.  I’m going to give you some of my best tips for eating healthy on the road – what to pack in your cooler, what to avoid and one item not to forget, ever!

It’s very easy to head down the ‘snack’ aisle of the grocery store and stock up on chips, cookies, and candy and fill the cooler with soda and juice. STOP! Back away from the crunch-n-munch and Oreos.  Spending a couple of days in the car eating that crap will only make you arrive at your destination bloated, grouchy, sluggish and I guarantee you’ll either be stopped up or racing to the toilet in emergency-mode.  Also, do yourself a favor and skip the fast food joints, or at the very least, choose the best options, like a salad with grilled chicken or perhaps a grilled chicken wrap. There are good choices out there, find them, so when you show up at your destination, you’re ready to get down to the fun instead of being parked on the john.

Here’s what the Calems pack for a two-day road trip:

Hard boiled eggs: I boil (actually I steam my eggs, makes peeling a breeze!) at least a dozen eggs, peel them, pop into a zip-bag. Perfect protein snack. Tip: put a couple paper towels in the bag to soak up any moisture.

Sliced apples: I slice up 6 huge apples. I do this at the last minute to minimize browning. They are great for at least 2 days in a zip-bag.

Sliced cheese: Even though I normally avoid dairy, we always have cheese with our apples on road trips. (I just don’t overdo it so that my stomach won’t hurt.)

Fruit/Veggies: Sometimes we’ve had grapes or strawberries.  And, for a couple years I had a huge bag of veggies with a plastic container of homemade dip or you could have hummus.

Chicken Salad: For the last few years, the favorite ‘meal’ on the road is chicken salad. I usually get canned chicken, (premium chicken breast packed in water – or you could certainly make your own chicken or get a rotisserie one and cut it up yourself)

Recipe:

2-3 large cans of chicken (family of 5 here!)

lots of grapes, cut in half (green or red, your choice)

Slivered almonds that you toast up to yummy goodness!

mayo to your liking – need I say to use full-fat mayo!  🙂

pepper and a little salt

Combine it all.  We use to have this as a sandwich but now I get those cheap plastic containers and make up a few of those so we eat this as a salad. Pack some plastic forks. Eat and discard.

Protein bars: I usually pack some good quality protein bars.

Trail mix: You can buy a premade one or make your own. My grocery store has a great bulk-food section, so I can choose the nuts I like (and avoid raisins which I do not like at all) and I make a big bag of awesome!

We rarely stop at fast food places. For one thing, we have the dog, so we can’t all go into eat anywhere, so I find a rest stop or gas station with a grassy area.  We eat our salad while we take turns running Gia around.

Our ‘treat’ stop is usually Starbucks. Kids get whatever they want and the adults are usually clamoring for espresso, multiple shots!

Lifesaver snack: One thing we’ve had from day one and always have is a bag of sunflower seeds still in the shell.  This is a lifesaver for the driver getting a bit sleepy. It takes work to get the seeds out of the shell so it kind of keeps you occupied with something as you drive.  TIP: Transfer the seeds from the package to a zip-bag. I go through a LOT of zip-bags on our trips!  Bigger Tip: Pack some plastic cups to put your shells into!

My extra special tip: Pack booze! Yes, you read that right. If you’re taking a trip that is more than one day, as in, you’re staying in a hotel, pack a bottle of wine and/or a few beers in the cooler so when you finally get to your hotel, after being trapped spending long hours enjoying the company of your family, there’s not much that tastes better and will be more welcome than a drink, a good one!

Now, before ya’ll tell me that booze is not part of a healthy road trip. I disagree. Here on WritersButt Wednesday, we focus on  the mind/body connection and after 14 hours in the car, my mind/sanity needs a drink.

On that note, my one item to pack and not to forget is a bottle/wine opener. This is very important. Forgetting this item will force you to get creative.  On a positive note, there are many things in a hotel room that will open an ice cold corona. Just sayin’!

Now, even though I’m a self-proclaimed expert, I don’t know everything. Stop pretending to be shocked!! I want to know what tips you all have?  Please share any tips in the comments so we can all have fun and nutritious road trips and be ready to hit the ground running when we get to our destination!

Here’s to some fun road trips this summer. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to pack the car and get outta here.

Anna DeStefano – What’s at the Heart of Your Fear?

I am so excited today because I have the honor of having the talented and lovely Anna DeStefano in the house today.  Anna, I’m thrilled you are here in my little slice of the blogosphere and let me tell you, I can’t wait – like hardly stand to wait one more second – for the release of your book. Can’t you just let me read it now? I won’t tell anyone, I promise. Pinky-swear?

Alright, before I get ahead of myself, let me properly introduce Anna and her upcoming release and let her have the mic, so to speak.

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Her Forgotten Betrayal

What’s at the Heart of Your Fear?


Best-selling, award-winning author Anna DeStefano wants to you stop, look, and keep digging, until you find the soul of your own fantasies. Her latest release, Her Forgotten Betrayal (available digitally and in print on June 15th), one of the launch books for Entangled Publishing’s Dead Sexy romantic suspense line, the Nina Bruhns Collection, is a psychological thriller she hopes will creep you out (she’s really playing up the Gothic imagery and spooky nightmares with this one). But she’s also dying (heh) to inspire you with another of the happily-ever-after romance ending she’s famous for. No matter how moody the setting or impossible the dilemma, Anna’s characters and stories challenge you to hope and dream for your own exciting future, the way her strong heroines and hunky heroes do!

Today, she’s discussing Her Forgotten Betrayal’s heroine, how fear of the truth might destroy Shaw Cassidy’s world, and why Anna loves to write deeply into the heart of emotionally-charged stories.

Join the conversation! A free digital download goes to one randomly selected commenter, compliments of Entangled Publishing. For more about Anna’s unique brand of storytelling, follow her blog (http://www.annawrites.com/blog), which she updates several times a week on a range of topics such as The Soul of the Matter, Dream Theories, How We Write, and Things My Teenager Says.

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In Her Forgotten Betrayal, remembering could save Shaw Cassidy’s life, but will the truth destroy her love forever?

Thanks for having me over to visit, Ginger ;o) I’m a dark and angsty writer who loves happily ever after endings…

Actually, I’m not that dark. I just enjoy putting characters into as difficult a situation as I can at the beginning of a novel, so their journey through their problems and on to the amazing new life they deserve, is as thrilling and satisfying as it can be. I live for readers to feel and experience everything my characters do. And in the relatively safe world of contemporary romance, we all know that things are going to work out well in the end. What could be better than that?

Naturally, my job then becomes making you suspend disbelief, particularly in a suspense novel, and beguiling you into believing for as long as possible that everything isn’t going to be okay. While I spook and surprise and test my heroine and hero to the limits of their endurance. Let me give you an idea of what I mean.

In Shaw Cassidy’s case, she’s not only injured and being stalked, but she has no memory. She doesn’t know who’s after her, and actually, no one really believes anyone’s after her at all. Why? Because she’s quite possibly, as far as the authorities are concerned, the villain herself. Oh, and the key to her memory is her childhood love, our hero, Cole Marinos, whom she wronged as a teenager. It’s quite possible he’ll never trust her enough to believe what she thinks is happening either, even though he’s a federal agent and sworn to protect her—on an isolated mountain estate in the dead of winter. And…what else? Oh, yeah. Most of the book happens at night, since the plot unfolds in less than forty-eight hours, beginning at midnight. Bwahahahah…

So, we have amnesia, stalkers, second-chance at love, treason and espionage (what Shaw’s being investigated for doing at her global research corporation, and many believe doesn’t want to remember), a creepy gothic setting, nightmares, and a house that’s literally, or so it seems, trying to kill her—unless there really is a threat to her life, but there’s no evidence to back up her claims. Fun, right??? ;o)

But, really, all that’s just back drop. It’s all about the characters for me—and bringing the emotional conflict at the very heart of their problems to life. What’s most important to them? What are their greatest fears? How will these driving forces behind the decisions they make resonate with readers? How can I use my setting and back story and plot to draw you into the non-stop action, the psychological journey, that I’m inflicting on my long-lost lovers?

Because that’s what we read for, right? That hit of awareness and identification and escape that comes with a story or a character. We want it to feel so real, so close to what we want to believe we can feel and do and conquer ourselves, that our hearts beat and bend and soar, too. What better place to find all that, than a creepy, gothic suspense with an over-the top, happy ending waiting for you to land softly in? You know, once you survive the harrowing, exciting race for the truth that Shaw and Cole face as they confront their villain AND the relationship hurdles that might keep them apart forever. Sigh…

See? Aren’t romance’s lovely!

So, without revealing too much about a book that won’t launch for a couple of months, those are some of my favorite things about Her Forgotten Betrayal’s heroine. My challenge for you today, should you choose to accept it, is to share what’s at the very soul of your current battle. Whether it’s a battle of the heart, or within your career, or even in your own writing journey, what’s your greatest fear, what’s your secret dream, and how are these essential pieces of who you are driving the choices you’re making?

Like Shaw and Cole, what is that very hard, impossible, choice you need to make, in order to have everything you’ve ever dreamed of at the end of your exciting journey? And if you’re a die-hard reader like me, how does experiencing a thrilling new story with a happily-ever-after ending help you believe in the possibility of your own success?

Thanks again for having me over to visit, everyone. In addition to blogging regularly and being obscenely addicted to Facebook (Anna’s FB Page), I’m also loving Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/annadestefano/), where you’ll find boards for The Soul of the Matter, Her Forgotten Betrayal, What Do You See?, and lots of other fun stuff—including my popular Shoes Are My Heroin pins ;o) Pop over and play whenever you get the chance. I’d love to hear from you.

And look for more updates soon on Her Forgotten Betrayal’s June 15thLaunch!

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Anna, as I mentioned above, you’re book sounds amazing and I truly can’t wait to read it.  I’m sure I’m not alone.  What a challenge you’ve set before us in recognizing and facing our greatest fear!  I’m really looking forward to reading the comments.  Thank you again for guest blogging today. It’s been a huge pleasure for me.

Power Plotting and Row80

I literally just came home from a wonderful and intense Power Plotting weekend with the incomparable Mary Buckham.  She does numerous online classes from which there is not a single one to be missed if you’re serious about your writing. Yes, she’s that good!! This past weekend I participated in her Break Into Fiction (BIF) Power Plotting weekend workshop, based on her book with Diana Love, where you literally plot a book (or in my case 2 or 3 books in my series) in just two days!

To say my mind is whirling, and yet, drained and fried at the same time is an understatement. If you can get to one of these weekend workshops, DO IT! At the very least, I highly recommend the book to help any writer create an air-tight roadmap for a story that will sell!

I want to give a huge shout out to my classmates from this weekend. I was in the company of 7 talented writers with amazing stories.  All you readers and lovers of a great book out there — be ready for some killer stories to come out of this group!  So, hats off and cheers to, Peggy, Karen, Wendy, Lori, Elizabeth, Jamie and Loy! It was pleasure to meet and work with you all.

As a writer, there is nothing quite like spending time with other writers working on our craft. Nothing! It’s hard to explain outside of the fact that … we all just GET each other!

Love and hugs from me!!

So, it’s Sunday and that means I’m supposed to post my ROW80 (round of words in 80 days) goals! I missed this last week simply because it fell off my radar. I actually did the work but new routines don’t come easy for me.

Strategic Plan for LAST 2 weeks:

*Watch Cassablaca for workshop DONE

*Conflict template for workshop  DONE

*De-clutter and organize desk  Done enough for now  😉

*Post 2 blogs + Row80 check-in  DONE

*Read 2 more chapters of Vogler’s WJ.  DONE

*Social Media—10-15 blogs w/ comments, RT, Shares, etc.  DONE and then some

*Minimum 1 random act of kindness  I’ve been nice and at times, that was hard. :-/

 

Strategic plan for week starting 4/23

 

*fill out beat sheet (just bullet points) for Ninja book just plotted this weekend

*note cards w/ scene/sequel notes for Ninja from start to crossing threshold

*complete 2 things I’ve been avoiding off of to-do list

*social media – minimum 20 blogs read/comments/shares/RTs

 

WritersButt Wednesday: Ravishing Tube-Feeding Bride?

Happy Wednesday, WritersButt Warriors!  I’ve missed ya this past week. So, fess up, who stepped out of their comfort zone this past week?  I want to hear what you did!  You want me to fess up too? Fine. I had plans to try a new sport last weekend with my husband. Our plans were derailed by weather so we’ve rescheduled them for this weekend. In the meantime, I raced down wild-idea, exciting-adventure road and am about to take a leap of faith! I’m not going to tell you yet. I’m cruel that way. But I can’t wait to share it with you because it ties in perfectly with WritersButt, so stay tuned! Not like you’re going anywhere. I know ya’ll are getting attached to me by now, right?

Ok, so listen, I try to keep WritersButt fun and light.  This feels like a party to me and I love hanging out with you all. If I encourage one person to treat their body and mind with the love and attention they deserve, I’m happy.  That is why I feel compelled to warn you that I might in a rant-mode today, so I’m sorry in advance, but sometimes, a RANT needs to happen.

 

Each morning I have the Today Show on as I get my house-natives up for school, prepare their lunches and even try to sneak into my inbox and check emails. I’ll admit that I don’t need anyone in the room for me to talk out loud. I speak to Matt and Ann like they can hear me. It’s like I’m part of the Today Show, you know, like my opinion counts. On Monday, one segment sure got an earful from me. I couldn’t figure out how to embed this segment so go check it out, I’ll wait.

(Ginger tries some deep-breathing, centers self, all in the effort for rant not to get out of hand.)

Oh cool, you’re back. Please tell me you all are as incredibly appalled as I am! For those who didn’t have the time to check out the video, it’s about how brides are shedding up to 20 pounds in 10 days before their wedding by being fed solely through a feeding tube, through their nose.

That. Is. Crazy.

Period!

These tube-feeding women can’t eat at all, nothing, for 10 days. All they get is their 800 calories (that is starving, people!) of liquid which they carry around with them 24/7 in a bag.

From this TIME article, the doctor is quoted:

People use it drop significant amounts of weight or just to trim off a couple of extra pounds before a big event. “At first I decided not to do it for people who just want to lose a few pounds,” Dr. Oliver Di Pietro, who offers 10-day versions of the diet for $1,500 at his Bay Harbor Islands, Fla., office, told the New York Times. “But then I thought, why should I say 5 or 10 pounds are not enough? People want to be perfect.”

This pisses me off on so many levels, I don’t even know where to start. I’ll try really hard to keep focused here, by starting with the obvious.

Losing 5, 10, 20, 100 pounds will NOT MAKE ANYONE PERFECT!

You all know I work out hard. I eat healthy. You could say much of my life is about fitness and staying in shape, inside and out. I like to look good. But, nowhere in my day do I think ANY of that makes me perfect. It’s freaking ridiculous for that man to say that by shoving a tube up someone’s nose and starving them, he’s helping them achieve their goal of being perfect. Seriously gross!

This past February, my husband and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary.  Still, I can think back with perfect clarity to the weeks preceding my wedding. Bridal showers. Girls day at the spa. Family gatherings. Rehearsal dinner at the Spaghetti Factory!  YUM! I can’t fathom all of that walking around with a damn tube up my nose, that I chose to put there, to shed some pounds.

Alright, I’ll try to calm down and get back to some facts. Again, I quote from this great Time article:

Di Pietro says he monitors his patients for possible side effects, which include constipation, dizziness and bad breath.

Can anyone say, “Now you may kiss the bride?”  Sounds like a sexy wedding night too!

Or how about these possible side effects:

Dr. David Heber, director of the UCLA Risk Factor Obesity Program, says complications can also include aspiration, infection of the lung, kidney failure and erosion of tissues in the nose and throat.

It boggles my mind that anyone would risk all of this to drop some pounds. It doesn’t even matter if this is done for a big wedding day or just because.  This extreme weight-loss measure reminds me of another diet fad that I find nuts, the HCG diet. Have you heard of it? It’s a diet where someone injects (or uses drops) of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), a hormone found in the urine of pregnant women, into their bodies. It drastically reduces your appetite, which is a good thing because the diet prescribes that you only eat 500 calories a day.

Here’s a great article from WebMD about the dangers of the HCG diet in which it says:

Not only will you waste your money on hCG, but there are also potential consequences — from side effects of the product and self-injections to nutritional deficiencies.

It is virtually impossible to meet your nutritional needs for carbohydrates, protein, fats, and fiber with less than 500 calories per day and the diet will most likely result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Not only that, but let me tell you a story.  Months ago I was at a lunch with a large group. One of my friends was ordering her lunch in such a way, that I could tell she was on a specific diet. This does not bother me because I do this all the time when I remove dairy and simple carbs out of meals when ordering out.  But someone at the table asked ‘what she was doing’.  Her response was that she was a diet where she could only have 500 calories a day.  I immediately knew she was on the HCG diet. For the record, I got huge brownie points from my husband that day for holding my damn tongue and not hauling out my soapbox. (I have a great little portable one for those ‘just in case’ needs!)

Anyway, this was a friend of mind and I would never have insulted her or made her feel bad for her choices. They are her choices, not mine. The only thing I said, (you know I had to say something) was that I could not survive on 500 calories a day and that in fact, I didn’t think I’d make it through even one workout. Her response was that no, I couldn’t. One part of the diet was that you couldn’t work out.

See Ginger’s bloody, clamped-down tongue!

Really? Any diet where part of the guidelines are that you are not supposed to work out should equate to a Texas-sized, bright red flag waving in your face.  You don’t have to workout like a maniac, like I sometimes do.  You don’t have to join a gym or ever Zumba your mumba. But, everyone should be moving his or her body, doing something.

We are given these bodies. It’s time to love on them and treat them as AWESOME as they are!  Feed tubing, starvation, pregnant pee injections, lack of physical movement is equivalent to hating on your body! It’s a mistreatment. It’s mean and I want everyone to stop it!

Here’s a deal I’ll make with you. Next week, non-ranting Ginger will be back with recipes and tips on traveling healthy with your kids on road trips. Trust me, I have experience with this.  What I want from you all is to go through this week and seriously consider your body and your mind a gift.  This gift is precious. Picture it ad the best prezzie you’ve ever been given, because that is true. What would you do without your body or mind? I want you to treat this wonderful gift as if you’ve been handed yourself, as a newborn.

What do we do with newborns? We marvel at them! We smile at them, we feed them, keep them clean, and stimulate them with color and music. We wrap them up in soft blankets to be comforted and secure. We are amazed at their pure existence.

I want you to treat your bodies and your minds just like that this week.  I bet if you do, you’ll have a whole lot of things to put in your gratitude journals every single night.

Sorry if I was too cranky. I’m tucking away my soapbox for another time. Have an awesome week. Love you all! Really, I do.

Caption this photo from the vault

Happy Friday my friends.  And, it’s not just Friday, it’s Friday the 13th.  AAACCCKKKKK!!!  Actually, I don’t quiver in fear over Friday the 13th, and back in January, for our last Friday the 13th, I even blogged about all the hoopla surrounding this much feared occurrence.

Today, in case some of you are hiding at home so you don’t walk under ladders or chance a run in with a black kitty, I thought I’d try to give you a smile.

Back in November we had a garage sale and in the process of clearing out our junk treasures so others could deal with love and appreciate them, I unearthed a huge stash of old photos.  I now call all those photos, The Vault, and occasionally I’ll pull one out to laugh my ass off remember a special moment.  Because I’m the sharing kind of person and no one likes to laugh at themselves alone, I’m going to share with you.

This photo is circa 1985 and was taken in Cervia, Italy.  That summer, I was performing in a water ski show in Germany and my dad was crazy enough to allow me uber-smart and Mr. Awesomesauce and sent me on a month long road show in Italy. I was 15.  The rest of the skiers were in their 20’s. There was no drinking age and no curfew.  I told you my dad was awesome!  This was one of the most amazing months of my life and it had nothing to do with The Cotton Club.

We had two shows a day, both in the evening, one after dark by spotlight.  (SO cool!!)  That meant we didn’t have to be at work until like 3 or 4 pm.  Our hotel was down the street from the ocean. The town never slept.  We stayed up all night, we slept until mid-day.  Can I go back?  One of my favorite parts of the summer was the bike I rented, The Pink Flamingo.

(Sorry it’s not only a distant pic but scanned crooked as well. Pretend it adds to the charm.)

I rode this bike everywhere, including to and from work.  All the skiers rented bikes.  We were like a street-bike gang. We had contests to see who could ride the longest without hands. You try that with your pink wicker basket loaded down with your work bag, water bottle and who knows what else.  For the record, I made it all the way to work one day with no hands, numerous miles, many turns, across busy streets and around the round-abouts with crazy Italian drivers, by the whistling construction workers and all the way to the large trailer that was our ‘locker room’ which used to be used as the elephant trailer for a circus.

One day between shows, the girls, all 3 of us, decided to take a picture. Why we staged it this way, I’ll never remember. I’ve blocked it from my memory bank. Who needs a jump helmet and vest in a canoe?  And, is that more or less intriguing than the park-worker in the background on his smoke break?

You tell me.

Caption this photo!

I’m in the middle.

Have a great weekend. And remember, if you venture out in a canoe, don’t forget your helmet!

WritersButt Wednesday – Eviction Notice

 

Hello WritersButt team!  I hope you’ve had a great week.  You may wonder why I titled this blog, Eviction Notice.  Eviction from where?  I’m going to try to evict you from your comfort zone.  We all love to be comfortable, to feel secure in our routines. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as we aren’t cemented there.  How do you even know what you’re missing out on if you never experience anything outside of the boundaries of your little comfort-haven?

A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future. You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown.”  ~Denis Waitley

Trying new things, presenting yourself with challenges, can improve many aspects of your life. I’ll address the two areas that relate to WritersButt since that’s why you’re here. That is why you’re here, right?  Let’s take a look at the benefits of being uncomfortable in terms of your fitness and your writing.

Does your fitness routine consist of a walk every day, probably taking the same route? Or maybe you go to the gym three times a week, same days every week, (so you see the same people) and you do your pre-determined time on the treadmill or elliptical, then maybe you’ll go through the machines, in the same order as always, perhaps with little to no variance in the weights.  I bet some of you love spin class or yoga, so you attend those classes each week, hop on the same bike, set your mat in the part of the room, next to your friend … every time.

 

It’s time to stop it.  No, I don’t mean never take a walk or go to yoga with a friend, but add in something different. About a year ago, I was visiting a good friend of mine in Oregon.  She had been doing Zumba and wanted me to join her for a class.  Many of you know that I own a CrossFit gym and there’s not much Zumba-ing going on. But I was game.  I had a GREAT time. I laughed (at myself) and pretty much boogied my rear for an hour.

I know many people who are afraid of weightlifting, the kind away from machines, where you use bars and plates. It can be intimidating.  At CrossFit, we do a lot of Olympic and power weightlifting.  I can’t tell you how many clients come in and are nervous about this, especially the women, but they try and soon they are HOOKED. What if they had never tried? They would never know the elation of squatting while holding a heavy weighted bar over their head. Let me tell you, that is a freaking awesome feeling!

New things start off scary and that’s a good thing.  Challenge your body and mind to new stressors and let it adapt. You’re doing yourself a favor by giving your body a chance to learn, expand, be efficient and adaptable with what it can handle. Plus, you’re obliterating the boredom factor.

In terms of writing, let me ask you this. What is the most boring writing ever, the biggest mistake in poorly written books? I suspect most of you said, ‘No conflict’. Every book on the craft of writing, all the online workshops, the agents and editors reading your submissions … across the board will tell you, MORE CONFLICT.

What creates conflict? Conflict is created by feeling uncomfortable. The feeling of being challenged, by the unknown, by fearing you can’t do something but you have to.  We put our characters through it all the time because we’re all such amazing writers. We give our characters conflict so their story is interesting, intense and rewarding. We also give them moments of reprieve, to enjoy a breather.

Don’t cheat yourself out of what you give to your characters. Don’t you deserve a fun, challenging, rewarding and compelling life?  I say we all do!  Please don’t cheat yourself out of amazing experiences because you don’t want to feel uncomfortable.

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”  ~Andre Gide

Consider this as well.  If you don’t know the feeling of being uncomfortable, of facing the unknown or scary challenge, how can you authentically write that for your characters?  Let’s say you have a character who is totally tone-deaf. I mean, she can’t carry a tune in a Texas-sized bucket.  You can relate because you’ve channeled this trait from yourself. For you and your character, I bet being forced to sing karaoke would make you want to shrivel up and die … or worse, pee your pants in public. You’re going to have to make your character do it, because that would be an intensely conflicted scene (not to mention hilarious) and you’re an awesome writer.  So, I say, make yourself go through it.  Do it!  Your character will thank you for sticking with her, through the good times and the bad.

Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.” ~Raymond Lindquist

So this week, my number one challenge is to evict yourself out of your comfort zone. Try at least one new thing.  Maybe a sport, or different type of workout. Maybe sign up for a class to learn a new skill.  If the thought of dancing out on a dance floor makes you want to hide behind the mechanical bull, grab your partner or some friends and go to a dance bar and make yourself get out there and boogie.

If something makes you nervous or gives you that electric zing of fear, face it and try it. Even if you fail, your attempt is a victory!

But I warn you, you might have some fun. So, proceed with a total, utter, lack of caution.

Go. For. It!!  I double-dog-wizard-dare you!

Recipe Corner:

This past weekend was my son’s 14th birthday. Every year he requests his favorite meal; Sloppy Joes. Even though I’m not a huge fan of sloppy joes, I can’t refuse his blond cuteness or those darn irresistible dimples.  I asked him if I could kick it up a notch this year. Since he’s super awesome, he said yes.  I Googled and found this Rachael Ray recipe for Sloppy Buffalo Joes. They were a huge hit. Some people had buns, some ate the filling with the coleslaw like a salad and a couple of us had ours piled on top of a seared portobello mushroom cap.  De-Lish!

Workout of the Week:

We have a CrossFit workout called “Griff”. My sister reminded me of it yesterday so I thought I’d share if with you all to see if anyone was up for the challenge.

Note: A quick explanation of why this workout has a name and why it’s Griff.  Many CrossFit workouts have names, and the ones named for men are called Hero Workouts because they are named after CrossFitters who were in the armed forces or law enforcement who died in the line of duty.  “Griff” is in honor of USAF SSgt Travis L. Griffin, 28, who was killed April 3, 2008 in the Rasheed district of Baghdad by an IED strike to his vehicle. Travis is survived by his son Elijah.

Griff

800m running forward

400m running backward

800m running forward

400m running backward

*Ok, I’ve done this workout a couple times and it’s tough! Quite frankly, since I really don’t love running, I thought the 800m (1/2 a mile) forward running would be the hardest. Boy, was I wrong. Running backward is way harder than it seems. My quads were ON FIRE!  Don’t let me scare you away from trying this.  You can scale it in half using 400m and 200m.  You can fast-walk this too if you have to.  Just give it a try!

So, talk to me!  In the comments, tell me something you’ve done which was totally out of your comfort zone.  How did it make you feel? Did you do it voluntarily or were you forced?

Row80 Week 2 check-in

 

Happy Monday everyone!  Or is it?  Well, sure it is but for me it’s a sluggish one.  Had a big holiday weekend which included my son’s 14th birthday.  Yesterday was Easter fun all day, including food I normally do not eat.  Hence, today, I’m dragging.  So, here’s my Row80 check-in a day late. The first thing of my to-do list, followed by much laundry, grocery store trip, and basically tucking Easter up until next year.  I might need more coffee!

My second check-in for this ROW80:

For those of you who read my blog, (and I appreciate every one of you) who don’t know what I’m talking about, Row80 (Round of Words in 80 days) is a writing challenge. I will declare my goals here on my blog. This will help keep me accountable as well as give me an opportunity to go to other blogs of awesome writers and support them in their round of Row80!

WEEK TWO April 9th:

Writing Goals:

*Use my daily NOTEBOOK to stay on track. It works – just do it, Ginger! — DONE

*Finish plotting Ninja Chick through plotting workshop on weekend of April 21/22 – Not 4/21-22 yet.

*Finally learn out to use Scrivener – Did not read how-to book yet.

*Starting NO later than May 1st, write minimum of 500 words x 6 days a week in Ninja Chick – this one waiting in the wings until end of month.

*Blog 2-3 times a week, plus Row80 check in on Sundays (On Wednesdays my blog is dedicated to WritersButt Wednesday, so I’ll start with one Row80 check in per week for starters) – Almost done. I did my WritersButt blog, but failed to blog again on Friday with the kids and husband off work, it was the start of our holiday weekend. This is example of why it’s so important for me to have blogs already ready to go ahead of time. Will work on this diligently!

*Social Media fun and support: Read and comment on minimum of 10-15 blogs per week. Already exceed this, so totally doable. Continue to create connections and make friends on Twitter and support my fellow writers. – Totally DONE and then some. Easiest goal to meet!

*Honor my writing space by getting rid of clutter and making it special – Fake-done!  I’ve moved some stuff around to make it look like I did something but really I didn’t.  Must get this done because the clutter around me is making me antsy!

Life Goals:

*Keep up with house so I don’t get buried in clutter and dog hair which steals my creative drive. —  Sort of did this in main areas because we had family over. 🙂  But, threw a lot of stuff into my bedroom which now looks like aftermath of tornado.

*End each day by writing 3-5 things in my Notebook for which I felt grateful during the day – Did this most days. Love when I am consistent with this one.

*Bonus Challenge: Once a week, do something unexpected to make someone else feel appreciated and special. – Yep, did this at least 3 times.

**

Strategic Plan for week:

*Watch Cassablaca for workshop

*Conflict template for workshop

*De-clutter and organize desk

*Post 2 blogs + Row80 check-in

*Read 2 more chapters of Vogler’s WJ.

*Social Media—10-15 blogs w/ comments, RT, Shares, etc.

*Minimum 1 random act of kindness

Have a great week!

WritersButt Wednesday-Time to kick the Sugar-Crack habit

Happy WritersButt Wednesday!
I have a special treat for you all today — our first WritersButt Guest Blogger!  It’s my pleasure to introduce you to one of my best friends, Sandra Brougher. Sandra is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor.  She works hard helping others achieve optimum health and inner beauty through clean eating and positive experiences.  You can like her on Facebook at Whole Health by Sandra and follow her on Twitter — @wholehealthgirl.  
I asked Sandra to be here today because I wanted to talk about sugar. Earlier this week, I tweeted about this great 60-minute piece on the negative effects of sugar.  It’s worth a look, trust me. Because I occasionally work smarter and not harder, I remembered that earlier this year, Sandra wrote a fabulous and informative blog about sugar. So, instead of reinventing the sugar-blog, so to speak, I’m going to hand this over to Sandra and let her share her wisdom.
((Note: I will come back in below to show you my grilled salad like I promised last week and give you some workouts for the week.))
~*~

Sugar is Sugar, Really???

This past Sunday night I took some time for myself and sat down to watch a couple hours of mindless t.v.  I love having the room to myself, nobody talking to me, watching a few of my favorite shows.

This particular night ended with me arguing at the t.v. and wanting to throw my shoe at the screen.

What had me so upset?  The endless repetitive commercials for the Corn Sugar industry touting how corn syrup is just sugar and sugar is sugar.  OMG!  I could have had a coronary right then and there if it weren’t for my 9 yr. old trying to calm me down with my saying, “What you see on t.v. is not always the truth!”

The following sentences are taken from their website, CornSugar.com:

High fructose corn syrup is simply a kind of corn sugar that is metabolized by your body the same as sugar or honey.

A sugar is a sugar whether it comes from corn sugar or cane sugar. All are safe and natural. Your body can’t tell the difference.

Sounds perfectly ok, right? So what is my issue with all of this? Though your body may not be able to tell the difference between different sweeteners, I am here to tell you that sugar is wrecking havoc on your insides.

There is an assumption out there that wheat should be the first thing to eliminate from ones diet if one is trying to get healthy. True, wheat causes inflammation of the cells, the gut lining, joints, etc.  If one is consuming wheat with gluten the list grows even longer in terms of side effects.  With that said, I am an advocate for elimination of wheat, but here is the deal. Wheat can and does wreck havoc, but not everyone is affected by the side affects of wheat.

Sugar on the other hand, is a different story.  Sugar is the silent killer of our society and unfortunately if you eat the Standard American Diet, it is in everything you consume.  It is a cheap commodity(especially if made by corn) and thanks to the food industry slowly adding it to everything processed, our bodies have become accustomed to our food being sweetened.

What are the affects of sugar on your body?
Diabetes  – High LDL levels – Stress – Candida/yeast infections – PMS – Cancer – Allergies – Anxiety – Depression – Constipation – Fatigue – Headaches – Gas/bloating – Hyperactivity – Metabolic Syndrome – Obesity – Mood Swings – and craving for more Sugar!
Horrid, right?  These are just the major issues, there are many more I could list.

A good, easy, cheap test to see if you are addicted to sugar is to do the following:
Purchase a serving of full fat plain milk yogurt and sample it.  If you think it tastes great plain, then you passed.  If you gag and want to spit it out because it has no flavor, you failed.
You see, milk has a sweet flavor to it because of the natural sugars in milk.  If you are unable to taste the natural sugar, your body has become accustomed to too much sugar.

Can we survive without sugar?  No, our bodies need some sugar for survival. Our bodies use glucose to supply energy to our brain, etc.  What we do not need is the level of sugar that is consumed in today’s world. By eating a whole food based diet rich in vegetables and fruit, your body will get the amount of sugar it needs to thrive.

If you have to have sugar for your tea or coffee, whatever you do PLEASE DO NOT use an artifical sweetener.  These alone keep you from losing weight and they are made up of horrible chemicals and poisons.

Switch to organic stevia for your drinks, and if you must bake, look into coconut palm sugar.  Both natural plant sources and both low on the glycemix index.

If you are having cravings for sugar, try eating more sweet vegetables like sweet potatoes, beets and parsnips.  You may also be nutrient deficient in chromium or tryptophan.

So, now you have a better idea of why I was arguing and wanting to throw my shoe at the t.v.  If the idea of cutting sugar out of your diet overwhelms you, it is a step by step process, but it can be done.
I personally use an 8 week system with clients and I can attest to the fact that one can say NO to SUGAR.

As a certified Nutritional Health Coach, I can help.  If you are interested in one-on-one Nutritional Health & Wellness Coaching, I would love to help you on the road to healthy living.

As always, please feel free to email me with any comments or questions atsdbrougher@gmail.com.

To your health,
Sandra
~*~
Thank you so much, Sandra.  If you have any questions for Sandra, feel free to ask them in the comments and I know she’ll answer them. She’s uber cool like that. 🙂
Alright, I promised to show you all my grilled salad.  I also tried a recipe I saw on the Greenling Facebook page.  I’m getting their local box delivered again and it’s above awesome!  Oh, the recipe was grilled avocados. Oh my gosh, you guys — To. Die. For!
Here’s what it all looked like.
Here is everything cooked and ready to be plated.  To make the grilled salad you see on the left, cut a full romaine heart in half, leaving the core intact. Drizzle with olive oil and your preferred seasonings.  Place on grill cut side down for a 2-3 minutes. Watch it! Flip it when it has wilted a bit and has some lovely grill marks.  Cook other side a bit and it’s done.  You can eat is just like that, no dressing or toppings.  Or, sprinkle on other veggies like bell peppers, olives, tomatoes, etc. For a special treat, maybe some feta cheese! Swoon!!  My kids LOVE this salad!
Grilled pineapple and Grilled Avocado.
My plate: Turkey burger topped with pineapple, grilled avo with my version of the relish (tomatoes, jalapeno, little balsamic and olive oil and spices) and of course my salad.  Now remember, I’m not a professional cook so I just wing it most of the time. Have fun with your food. Get creative! Make it beautiful.  Dig in!!  🙂
 Workouts this week:
I’m going to give you 3 workouts this week that you can try if you choose. If you have additional questions about these, ask me in the comments.
#1:
4 Rounds for time of–
200m run (If you can’t run for any reason, speed walk, slow-jog, — figure it out.)
10 x Box Jumps or step-ups (see if you can find a park bench, or bring a steady chair outside, get creative!)
200m run
10 x Push-Ups
**Note: This a great field trip workout to a park or a school track. One trip around the track is 400m, so halfway around, you do your jumps (even without a chair — just do tuck jumps — think outside the ‘box’ if needed), then run back to the beginning, 10 push-ups, etc.  If you do this workout, when you’re done, you will have done 40 jumps or step-ups, 40 push-ups and run a mile! Awesome, right?
#2:
4 Rounds for time of —
20 x Walking Lunge steps (extra credit if you use your dumbbells for weight!)
25 x Jumping Jacks
#3:
4 Rounds of time of —
5 Burpees
15 Sit-ups (FULL range sit-ups please. No crunches because those are just a partial sit-up. Let’s work your entire abdominal wall.)
**Keep up with your 100 oz of water, your potty squats, your 3-5 Gratitudes in your journal at night.
I’m cheering you on!!!  Have a great week.

I’m aboard the Row80 train! Choo choo!!!

I did it. I made it aboard the Row80 train! Ok, so I’m hanging onto the caboose by the very tips of my fingers, but hey, I ran hard to catch the train and was determined to jump on. I understand I was supposed to post my goals yesterday, but I didn’t know that. Clearly I need the remedial class.  I’ll catch up, I promise.

Oh, for those of you who read my blog, (and I appreciate every one of you) who don’t know what I’m talking about, Row80 (Round of Words in 80 days) is a writing challenge. I will declare my goals here on my blog. This will help keep me accountable as well as give me an opportunity to go to other blogs of awesome writers and support them in their round of Row80!

Goals for Round 2 Row80 à April 1st through June 21st, 2012:

Writing Goals:

*Use my daily NOTEBOOK to stay on track. It works – just do it, Ginger!

*Finish plotting Ninja Chick through plotting workshop on weekend of April 21/22

*Finally learn out to use Scrivener — read ‘How to’ book and start using program.

*Starting NO later than May 1st, write minimum of 500 words x 6 days a week in Ninja Chick

*Blog 2-3 times a week, plus Row80 check in on Sundays (On Wednesdays my blog is dedicated to WritersButt Wednesday, so I’ll start with one Row80 check in per week for starters)

*Social Media fun and support: Read and comment on minimum of 10-15 blogs per week. Already exceed this, so totally doable. Continue to create connections and make friends on Twitter and support my fellow writers.

*Honor my writing space by getting rid of clutter and making it special

Life Goals:

*Keep up with house so I don’t get buried in clutter and dog hair which steals my creative drive.

*End each day by writing 3-5 things in my Notebook for which I felt grateful during the day

*Bonus Challenge: Once a week, do something unexpected to make someone else feel appreciated and special.

I think that’s a good start. I will adjust if I found I didn’t challenge myself enough or I was totally unrealistic.  Looking forward to 80 days of AWESOMESAUCE!

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