A Little Spring Fling Writing Challenge

I often feel stuck when I’m writing. When I first started pursuing writing as a possible career, sometimes I would walk away when I got stuck. But more often than not, I would get lured by the lovely promise of writing something new. So of course I wound up with lots of beginnings of stories, but very few middles or endings. I’ve since learned to ignore the siren songs of new stories in favor of powering through the current story and, as a result, I now have a few manuscripts under my belt. In fact, this month I am participating in Candace Havens’s Fast Draft and am powering through another story.

But as I’m sitting here on my back deck working, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and after the awful winter we’ve just had, I feel like celebrating spring with just a little bit of something new. And I’m inviting you to join me. I’ve picked four words at random and am going to write something using those four words. My time limit is fifteen minutes. I’ll share what I come up with in the comments section below and hope you will do the same. The words I picked are: ostrich, carnage, melancholy, August. Don’t worry if you don’t use all of them, or even any of them. They’re just to get you started. And if you can’t spare fifteen minutes, try ten or five. No hard and fast rules here. Just go for it and have fun. I’m off to do mine now. See you on the other side. 🙂


A Fresh Start

Wow. I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I put up a blog post. I knew it had been a long time but I hadn’t realized it was that long. I’m not really surprised, though. 2013 was sort of a crappy year for me. Toward the end of 2012 I lost my mother, and at the beginning of 2013 I almost lost my husband. It took him close to four months to recover and needless to say I was completely fried by the end of them. For a while I was good, focusing on being thankful for his recovery, but I was tired. And slowly but surely some depression crept in. Nothing serious, but it wreaked havoc with my motivation. I had trouble finishing anything. Perhaps it was belated mourning for my mother – I’d barely had time to deal with her passing before my husband got sick, and it seemed memories and images of her would pop up out of nowhere all year long. Sometimes they made me smile, sometimes they made me sad.

I will always miss my mother, I know that. But I also know she would not want me walking around like a zombie. So I’m shaking off the dust of 2013 and looking forward to an invigorating 2014. My first step was to dive into my 31 in 31 plan. For each day of January, I am getting rid of at least one item from my house, either to trash or donation. I’m a bit of a hoarder so it’s often a struggle for me to purge items. But I’m off to a good start today, having placed two shirts and two plastic sports bottles in a box for Goodwill. So I’m ahead of the game already. Go me! 🙂

Writing, dieting, and exercise are all going to be addressed with more enthusiasm this year. But I’ll save the details on those for another post.  This post is getting long enough already. So Happy New Year to all, and let’s all have a magical and fulfilling 2014!

Q3 Non-Resolutions Update!

A little late with my third quarter check-in for my “non-resolutions” but since the nature of this is to focus on positives rather than negatives, we’re just not going to worry about that.  🙂

1 – Weight Loss – Still going strong on this one. I’ve lost 53 pounds and am just seven away from my goal. Maybe. It might be a little more or less than seven because now I am more focused on tightening up some jiggly areas than I am on losing more weight. So it’s more about inches and pants sizes now than it is about pounds. But I am so close to the end game and couldn’t be happier about it.  🙂

2 – Exercise – Still doing well on this, too. I’ve signed up for a 5K road race at the end of this month, and will be signing up for another one at the end of October. And I have set my sights on a half marathon in the spring. I can’t believe I’m even considering something like that, but I know I can do it if I set my mind to it. And I’ve started doing more regular weight workouts.

3 – Yarn busting – Slowly but surely, I am whittling it down. I may allow myself to buy some more soon…..maybe…..

4 – Writing – Still working on the manuscript and happy with the choices I’ve made about it. And I’ve submitted another non-fiction article.

5 – De-cluttering – Thanks to the weight loss, I am getting rid of clothes. And, oh, how I dance with joy as I place them in the donation box, knowing that the reason I am getting rid of them is because they are too big!

So that’s what I’ve been up to. How about you? Feel free to share your accomplishments. Big or small, I’d love to hear about them!

If This Were A Sign, What Would It Mean?

Before I get started, I need to give credit for the above title to Sally Felt. She and I took an online website design class together, part of which had all the students looking at each others shiny new web pages. In her class post, she mentioned this is a game she plays to help get her creative juices flowing. I loved the idea of it and have kicked it around in my head ever since she mentioned it.

This spring and summer, I’ve really been asking the question a lot lately and all because of feathers. That’s right, I said feathers. For some reason, since winter ended, I have been seeing an unusual amount of bird feathers. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep count of how many. I wish I had but, trust me, it’s been a lot. I see them everywhere – on my deck, on my lawn, on my windshield, on the street. There have been a few in the parking lot at the library, and there was even one just inside the entrance to the supermarket. I picked up a beautiful brown and white one a few weeks ago. I am assuming it is a hawk’s feather, and it now resides in my desktop pencil holder. My dog, Spike, was snuffling around the edge of the yard the other day and came up with a pretty little white one stuck to his nose.

But mostly they’ve been large black ones, which makes it all sort of spooky. And thus what has really prompted me into asking if this were a sign, what would it mean? Having spent many an hour during my formative years reading Stephen King novels, you can guess what kind of path my mind is wandering. Just what are those crows up to? Are they leaving each other signals? I recently saw a Nature episode on PBS demonstrating how intelligent crows are, complete with problem solving skills, so the prospect of them leaving feathers around for a purpose does not seem too far-fetched to me. Perhaps they are letting each other know where the next meeting of the revolution will be held (can you say Hitchcock?).

Does this look like an innocent grouping of feathers to you? I think not!

So I put it to you. Share your creativity and tell me what you think the feathers mean. Or maybe you’ve got some signs of your own to share. Either way, let’s figure out what they mean before the crows take over the world…..

My (non)Resolutions Update

Three months ago I wrote a post about the fact that I didn’t actually make any New Year’s Resolutions this year, instead choosing to focus on my accomplishments as they have happened, whether they were goals I set in January or not. This method has been much more successful for me, so much so that I find myself trying harder to add things to the “done” column. I don’t know why doing it this way works better (I suppose a psychologist would be able to explain it) but I’m just glad that it does. So here’s my updated list of accomplishments:

1 – Weight Loss – I’m still sticking to the Weight Watcher plan and it is still working so well for me. As of my last weigh in, I’ve lost 38 pounds so far this year. I feel great, and I am thrilled to be getting my body back in shape.

2 – Exercise – Now that I’ve lost so much weight, exercise is no longer the ugly, difficult chore it used to be. I won’t say I love doing it, but I definitely don’t hate it like I used to. And I am seeing major improvements in just a short time. For example, just this past Friday I was able to run three miles on the treadmill in just under 29 minutes. No way I could have done that six months ago.

3 – My manuscript – I’ve been working hard on it, applying a storyboard method to help me figure out where it’s going and where the weak points are. It’s been going very well and I think I’ll be ready to tackle the final draft fairly soon.

4 – Yarn busting – I’m still plowing through the stash, although that has stalled a little bit because one of my current projects is a slow and tedious one. But the stash is diminishing, bit by bit.

So how about you? What can you crow about so far this year? Doesn’t matter if it’s a big accomplishment or a small one. They all count here! 🙂

Five Little Dresses

So I went to the mall last Thursday to buy a graduation present for my niece. I found something for her rather quickly and thus had some time to kill before I was scheduled to meet with some friends afterward. I wandered into Macy’s and was just browsing around when I found myself in the dressy dress department. The last time I had been in there had been last December when I was looking for something to wear to my husband’s company’s holiday party.  I’d picked out several pretty, sparkly dresses to try on and then was faced once again with the awful truth that no matter how pretty and sparkly the dress, no matter what style,  my obesity would allow nothing to look nice on me. NOT a happy day.

But, oh, how Thursday was a different story. On a whim, I picked up five very differently styled dresses and tried them on. I was happy with each and every one of them. They fit well, and if I sucked my tummy in, they looked great. For the first time I believed that if I wore some sort of girdle or spanx type undergarment, it might actually make a difference. I can’t tell you what a jubilant feeling this was. I was even able to (mostly) ignore the obnoxious young girl who came into the fitting room next to mine and did nothing but LOUDLY complain about how the size 6 dress she was trying on made her realize how fat and out of shape she was. Her less loud and less obnoxious girlfriend dutifully told her she looked fine (I didn’t see her, but I’m sure she did look fine) but all she could do was go on and on about how “disgusting” she was. I’m sorry, but unless you’re less than five feet tall, you are not looking fat in a size 6. After my initial annoyance, I really didn’t even care about her vain rudeness. I was too busy reveling in the fact that I actually LIKED HOW I LOOKED in the dresses! I can’t remember the last time that happened

I almost bought one of them. It was a casual denim sundress that I would get a lot more use out of than the party dresses. But I didn’t get it. It was a tad pricey, and plus I want to lose another twenty or so pounds to get to my goal weight. But I did make up my mind that when I do get to my goal weight, I’m buying myself something new to wear, whether I really need it or not. I’ll deserve it. And who knows? Maybe that sundress will be on sale by then and I can get it for a bargain….and in a smaller size. 🙂

It’s Puppy Love!

Meet my new pal, Spike. He’s a two year old “morkie,” meaning he’s half Yorkshire Terrier and half Maltese.  Spike used to live with one of my sisters, but she had to move recently and couldn’t keep him in the new apartment. So he has come to live with me and my husband. This works out so well because my sister can still see him, and she can rest easy knowing he’s in good hands. Not to mention that she knows I am going to spoil the heck out of him!

I can’t believe how head over heels in love with this little guy I am. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a dog (traveling for work made it impractical for many years) and I had almost forgotten how wonderful the unconditional love of a beloved canine is. He’s affectionate and cuddly, and he makes me smile every day.

Having said that, I also have to admit that it’s not all affection and cuddles. In addition to his friendly and loving personality, Spike is also quite the mischief maker. He  is wickedly smart, a master of stealth, and has pretty remarkable problem-solving skills. Small as he is, he tries very hard to figure out ways to get something he wants that’s out of his reach, and in a way that will not alert me or my husband to what he is up to. He is often successful. I’ll spare you the several stories of his secret agent-like talents, but I will tell you that if he had opposable thumbs, I’d be afraid to sleep at night.

But, really, it’s all good. Spike is a great addition to our little family. I may be dressing him up as a little devil come Halloween, but deep in my heart he’s my little angel. 🙂

Give Her An Inch….

…and I’ll run a mile.

Let’s back up a little. The “her” in question in the title is the young, perky, but totally fabulous salesgirl, Courtney, at the New Balance running shoe store. I stopped by there yesterday after my Weight Watcher (WW) meeting because I was in desperate need of new sneakers. My old ones were so old they were just about ready to disintegrate off my feet.

Now, I was planning on getting a pair of “walking” shoes because I more or less figured my running days were behind me. I just never do it consistently enough, always talking myself out of it with astonishing ease. But Courtney steered me toward the running shoes, declaring I could wear them for walking as well. I wondered if a hot and heavy sales pitch was coming at me, but seeing as how the above mentioned disintegraters were my old, retired running shoes, I had to concede she had a point.

After completely evaluating my feet and stride, Courtney declared me a neutral pronator and brought me two different shoes to try on.  She carefully checked the fit of each and watched me walk and jog in them to make sure they were working for me. I, in the meantime, was just enjoying the sheer Nirvana of having actual cushioning in my shoes again.

But something else was happening to me, too. My buddy, Carla Kempert (aka “God”), has been posting regularly on her blog about her running goals and accomplishments and I was thinking of her as I was heading into the store. And as I was jogging around the showroom in these lighter than air shoes, I was thinking “Why not run again? Carla and I can cyber-cheer each other on.”

So I bought a pair of running shoes and got into my car ready to take on the running world. But as I drove home, I got to thinking about how I always do things like this – make lofty goals and then not follow through.  But as luck would have it, the topic of the WW meeting had been all about breaking big goals down into smaller, much more manageable goals. So I promised myself that today I would run for a minimum of five minutes. Anything more than that would be gravy and I was not allowed to beat myself up if that’s all I did.

Sure enough, first thing this morning, the devil on my shoulder was whispering all sorts of excuses in my ear not to run. Surprisingly, though, the angel on my other shoulder showed up fairly quickly, marched across the back of my neck and drop-kicked the devil into oblivion. Running shoes donned, I headed out the door.

And boy, was I glad I did! I won’t say it was easy as pie, but I have lost 36 pounds since the last time I went running, and what a difference that makes. I wound up running one mile round trip in ten minutes, six seconds. More importantly, I wanted to keep going. I made myself stop, though, because I wanted to end on a high note rather than push too much and wind up sore.

I can’t remember the last time I ran a solid mile without stopping to walk. I feel so good and so proud of myself that I am daring to set one of those lofty goals now. By Autumn, I want to complete a 5K without walking. There’s a fun one held in the neighboring town around Halloween, so that’s the one I’m shooting for. A secondary goal would be to do it in under 30 minutes. If I take small steps along the way, I’m confident I can do it.

So, Courtney may have taken more than an inch when she nudged me into running shoes…but I’m the one who took the mile. 🙂

I’ve Got Way Too Much Yarn


And I’ve promised myself I won’t buy anymore until I use up my stash. It’s hard, though. There are so many beautiful yarns and patterns out there, I have trouble resisting. I can almost never walk by a Michael’s or Joann’s without going inside to browse. My husband gave me a gift certificate to a local independent yarn store and I am dying to cash it in. Just the thought of seeing all those wonderful colors and feeling those soft textures makes me go a little weak in the knees.

But I must remain strong. I’m just about out of room to store the stuff I already have. If I don’t exercise a little self control, I swear I’m going to wind up on one of those hoarding shows. My yarn will bury me alive. Not necessarily a bad way to go, but still….

So I’m on a mission to whittle down my stash. In fact, I’m hoping to give a lot of home knit items for  birthdays and Christmas this year. I’ve made a dent, but I’ve got a ways to go. I love to knit and crochet, though, so the mission should be a fun one. And there are definitely worse ways to spend an evening than prowling through patterns.

I know that resisting the sweet siren song of yarn shops is going to be difficult, so wish me luck. And if you’ve got some secret stash of your own to get through, let me know. Perhaps we will tame our unruly piles together.   🙂

Yay!! My Name In Print!!

Okay, it’s not on the spine of a novel….yet. But it’s a step closer to that goal. And I can honestly tell you that seeing my name in a by-line for the first time is an absolutely magical experience. I haven’t stopped smiling since I saw it.

🙂 <– See?

It has also provided me with fresh motivation. I can do this. To quote Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen) of Galaxy Quest: "Never give up. Never surrender!"

So here’s the link to my article. It’s called Tightening the Knot. http://sasee.com/2012/04/01/tightening-the-knot/

And now I’m off to go work on the next project. I’m looking forward to sharing the news of it’s publication with you soon! 🙂