The Writer and Balance

balance ground relaxation rock balancing
Photo by Pixabay on

The days have grown dramatically shorter in my mountain home.  The sun was setting as we walked the dogs.  The Autumn Equinox is upon us and it at this time of year that I think of what I will banish my from my life.  The idea is to banish something in the fall that holds me back from balance.

There are a lot of things on this list; debt, self-doubt, along with a few bad habits that no longer serve as even inadequate coping mechanisms.

The truth is that I have gotten to the point a lot of American’s do in their forty’s.  I am talking about the middle aged crisis.  Life has started to slow down or at least I have. The aches and pains have grown into MRI’s and iced knees after every walk.  The weekends are too short to recover from the work week.

I haven’t been so lost and so happy at the same time.  My home life isn’t perfect, but I love my family.  I love the jokes we make and how we work together. I love my boyfriend and the freedom that our relationship gives me to be myself.  A year into dating and it is only getting better.

Things are good and they are bad at the same time.  An ex used to tell me that I needed to get my shit together. He meant it as an insult.  But,  The thing I realized is that adulthood is a continuous cycle of getting my shit together, watching and predicting obstacles, trying to avoid them and then the crash as everything comes down. Balance isn’t an easy thing.   It requires a lot of re-balancing and adjustments.  Yes, I do need to get my shit together just like everyone else.

No one has the perfect life.

I don’t have an answer for the one thing that is going to bring me closer to balance once I cast it out.  This equinox, I think is going to be hectic.

Or maybe I do.

I think I will work on banishing the idea that I can do everything, that I should do everything and there is time to do everything.  Writing is happening more and more.  I am not writing as much as I would like, but progress is being made.  Exercise is happening on a daily basis even if it is only walking the dogs. I am getting more sleep than in the past.  My life is good.  My art is developing.







Five Resolutions to Keep

1486871_633317343381861_1056690583_nSome believe that resolutions are trite, especially New Year’s resolutions.   And with the prodigious rate that New Year’s Resolutions are dropped and forgotten those holding that opinion are completely justified.

A resolution without conviction and a back-up plan is destined to fail.

You know the saying that “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  Well, if you say you are going to lose weight in the New Year and make only vague plans to join a gym then you have just planned to fail.

This year my plan is to be successful.  Success being defined here as a healthier and happier Lu.

Lu’s New Year’s Resolutions.

1.       Walk three to five miles a day. 

I said "Walk, not car ride, Luke."
I said “Walk, not car ride, Luke.”

Plan:  As soon as I wake up take Luke for a walk around the block if not further. When I get home take Luke for another walk which helps him stretch his legs after napping much of the day and helps me detox.   Yes, it is time consuming, but after mapping and timing the walk for the last two week it only takes at most ten minutes.  Around eight o’clock, I will take Luke for the big walk of the night.

Following this plan, I have walked nearly twenty miles in the last two weeks. It does involve me making sure that I get up on time and working at least an hour of exercise time into my day, but results so far have been great.  I am sleeping better and generally feel better.

How I will measure this goal:  I use two apps for this. The first is Habit List by Scott Dunlap.   I have had this one for the last six months or so and use it to both track my progress and help keep me on track with other tasks that need to be completed on a regular basis.  My longest streak of walking Luke in the morning is 194 walks in a row which was only broken by a migraine.  I also use the app to remind me to change the house’s air filter and when it is time to take Luke to the groomer.

The second app is Map My Run.   This is what I used to figure out that walking around my block is .40 miles and takes less than ten minutes even with stops.  I have also used it to pre-plan walks so that I know which routes will take me to my goal.

Anywhere between 21 to 35 miles a week, I will have achieved this goal.  I am also giving myself another month to work my way up to it.  The wiggle room is necessary because my schedule with three jobs can vary and at least twice a week I don’t get home until nearly nine o’clock at night.

*Both Apps are available in the I-tunes store.

2.       Move my diet closer to the Mediterranean diet that my cardiologist recommended while eating out less.

Nummy Salmon soon to be appearing at my house.
Nummy Salmon soon to be appearing at my house.

Plan: Use the Amazon gift card a friend gave me to purchase a new cookbook.  Adapt at least one new recipe every week and make a shopping list to stay on target.    Replace butter with Olive Oil and east more fish.  Eat less processed foods and making more use out of my garden space.

As a Celiac, I find that a lot of the traditional foods I grew up eating are heavily processed and high in sodium.  Plus, as gluten free because more popular there are a lot of companies offering “gluten free” options that aren’t safe for people like me thanks to cross contamination.  Shopping for safe products can be a headache even with my Shopwise app. (Yep, there is an app for that.)  So I try and cook most of my meals.

Following this plan is relatively easy because I have gotten used to cooking for myself more and more over the last year and my diet is pretty close to it as it is right now.  Red Curry with fish or chicken and veggies is easy for me to prepare in advance for lunch so is fish with pineapple salsa.  I made cooked my lunch this morning while I was in the shower.

The hard part is going through all of the materials on what a Mediterranean diet is and incorporating more nuts into my diet. I am not a big fan of nuts since I am allergic to walnuts and get a bit tired of almonds. And forgiving myself for emergency gluten free burritos.

How I will measure this goal:  This is going to be tough since the reason I am not going on the diet to lose weight but to help out my heart.  My weight has actually never coming into the conversation with my cardiologist. He suggested the diet because it has been shown to reduce heart related symptoms.  It won’t make my floppy heart (see The Heart of the Matter) go away, but anything to keep the bouncy heart beat down time to a minimum is worth trying.

I will share new recipes that work on Twitter and monitor how I am feeling in my journal.  This week’s recipe is Pesto Glazed Chicken.  (Follow me on Twitter to see how it turns out)

3.       Cook more for friends.  

Plan:  Cook for my parents at least twice a month and friends at least once a month.  Why? Well, my folks have been feeding me all my life and it is time I paid them back. Plus, cooking is one of the things that relaxes me. In addition, it giving me the opportunity to try out new recipes.

Following this plan involves a lot of the same things as goal #2 because I will be planning out what I eat and using a shopping list more often.  Building in social time is good for my mental and physical health and keeps me from becoming a complete hermit.

Blood Child
Coverart by Steven Warrick

How I will measure this goal: Well, more than a few of my friend read this blog so they will be expecting invitations and can feel free to harass me about this.  (That includes you, Momma) I will keep track with my calendar and again journal.

4.       Finish Formatting and Publish Blood Child.

Plan: Spend the rest of my Kickstarter budget plus some of my own money and have the book professional formatted. Read up more on the rest of the steps involved in self-publishing and marketing.

How I will measure this goal: This is the easiest goal because the outcome is so tangible.

5.       Transform my dining room into an office.

Couch Office even with puppy assistance just isn't cutting it.
Couch Office even with puppy assistance just isn’t cutting it.

Plan: Replace my current dining room table with something smaller (still allowing me to have guests) and purchase a larger desk and chair.  A rug is also a needed addition as well as some sort of filling system.  It is just too hard to write in the living room all the time and not get seduced into napping or the wiles of the internet.  All of this can be done slowly over the course of the next couple of months with the money that I will be saving by not eating out and watching Craigslist.

The hardest part will be remaining patience and not trying to do everything at once which would blow my carefully planned budget.

How I will measure this goal:  By sitting in my new office space and writing up next year’s resolution blog.

Resolutions not on my list.

Losing Weight.  – It comes back and no matter how many times I set this goal, something always happens.  I have been the same weight for about three years now.   Saying that I am going to reach such and such weight by x-date hasn’t worked out.  I don’t drink soda except once a blue moon and fast food has been off the menu for a while which is why instead of a weight goal I have two this year to help me be a better me.  Since adopting this policy, I have been told that I am loosing weight at least once a week.  The scale hasn’t changed much, but my body has.

Get out of debt – It took years to get my finances where they are and it is going to take years to get them in to shape.  Besides, my debt load is pretty bearable and what I really mean by that statement is I want money to do the things I enjoy like going to conventions, buying books and shoes and traveling. All of which I have been able to do this past year as well as pay off two of my outstanding bills.

This next year, I plan to do much the same by taking at least half the money my roommate gives me and saving it. This way, I have bill money for the summer and cushion for the next time my car breaks down.  It also means that I will be able to work less and save more.

Finishing my next novel – It took nearly two years to write and edit Blood Child  finishing my next novel make take even longer.  Yes, I have a daily writing goal but the ups and downs of writing part time with multiple jobs has taught me that make such promises to myself is setting myself up for failure.

Getting a new tattoo – This will happen, but maybe not in the next year. Money and trust have to coincide; the money for the tattoo and an artist that I trust. So far it hasn’t happened and I refuse to frustrate myself.  Rushing into something that I am going to have for the rest of my life doesn’t seem like a good plan. 

Oh, it will be. I am planning on it.
Oh, it will be. I am planning on it.

Downward Facing Dog Day

6 A.M. ~ Sunday Morning and I am falling off my yoga mat in my living room.  Literally.  Thankful that it is just me, the puppies and my friend, Sonia.  It was Sonia’s brilliant idea to wake up and early and work out.  She also took mercy on me and ended our experiment shortly the warm-up.

I love yoga and have always dreamed of being able to attend classes on a regular basis where I could glide with pride to the back of the class.

The downward facing dog pose doesn’t look hard, but my muscles seem to reject it as soon as maneuver myself up.

Kermit the Froy
Kermit the Frog showing me how it is done.

The day went south as I raced off to work only to have the check engine light come on with a wicked engine rattle.  After work plans were canceled thanks to the rain or should I say  mini-monsoon, which closed rides at park for nearly two hours. Dropping my car off at the shop, I came home to find my new roommate sitting in a tub on the front porch with the door wide open talking to guy with pants down to his ankles. I felt like suddenly I was the parent of a teenager when the young man skidded off the porch.  It was a bit weird.  Especially, when you are used to either living alone or with a quiet sedate roommate who keeps to himself.

The day was just like the pose, a tumble of events with laughter intermixed.  Today, I am going to downward facing dog again and everyday until I get it the form right.  I am also going to work on keeping the philosophy that my days will always be right so long as I continue to mix them with laughter, gratitude and humility.

Bicycle Zen

Dew not yet dry as we roll down the street

rolling, gliding, flowing our way through the morning rush,

hardly noticed at all by traffic beeping and buzzing

without thought

hardly noticed at all, until we stop and wait

entering and exiting their domain with push, a pedal

Down goes the pedal, pushing pumping towards something

more than a destination

Otters dance through the waters as we pass

An Egret preens it’s feathery glory

Nothing more than a push, a breathe, pedal

rolling on, centered in the now & only now

Peace with each push of the pedal

Peace with each push of the pedal

Missing Something….

Yep, no Friday book review.  I fell short of my goal.

Normally, I would be kicking myself  and re-examining the last week so I could do better the next go round.  With this failure however, I realize I set myself up with a task that was unrealistic.

Yesterday, when I would have been finalizing the review, I was in a doctor’s office trying to fight with the insurance company.  Before that I was reconnecting with one of my best friends sleeping due to neck pain and celebrating my sister’s birthday. None of those were things that I regret or would change.

Then there is the matter of my own novel which has sadly been neglected.

All of this, including my own professional work, has lead me to realize that I, myself, set up a fail.  I love reviewing books, writing and teaching are my passions.  It is in those two areas where I will be sinking my energy.

As a result, the schedule will be modified, so that you, my dear readers,  get what you like and I can work on my goals.  Book reviews will be published bi-monthly at a minimum; more as life allows.