Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Life Shift

In the past few years, my life has shifted from totally focusing on writing, editing, and reviewing, to now doing barely any of this. Writing was a way of escaping my reality, but now I needed to give reality my full attention. I tried to get back into writing, or even just editing or reviewing, but I didn't have the drive to do it. My mind wasn't focused on those things anymore. There were more pressing issues that required all my attention, questions I didn't have answers for, dilemmas I needed to resolve.

So I turned inward. I studied many New Age concepts, such as the law of attraction, vibrational frequency, living in the moment, mindfulness meditation, A Course in Miracles, and even quantum mechanics. I became fascinated by the double slit experiment, and how just observing an experiment changes the outcome. I've always believed in the power of the mind and positive thinking, but I immersed myself in the concept so I could learn how to influence my reality and create a better future.

I also turned to nature. Hiking has become my favorite activity, and I often escape to my mountain to refresh my mind and get a good workout. I also joined group hikes and met wonderful people while having a great time and indulging in breathtaking views.

So I'm giving writing a break, focusing on tuning in with my inner power. Maybe all this will be good material for writing later on, who knows? For now, I'm learning to be happy with where I am right now, without pursuing future goals, without resisting what is, but just accepting my life as it is and being okay with my circumstances. That doesn't mean I won't take action to change things, but the first step is to accept and let go of any resistance, then follow my inner guidance to take action, instead of reacting to everything life throws at me. Let's see how it goes!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

New Website, Hiking, and a Patch of Blue Sky

I took a break from writing for the past few years. Real life sometimes has a way of bringing me back from the world of fiction, and I just needed to focus on my own reality for a while rather than creating fictional ones.

This period of my life feels like driving in a storm: just focus on the road ahead and do nothing else.

It wasn't all bad, though. I just needed to spend quality time with my three kids, who are now all teens (enough said!). Just a few more years and they'll be all gone! And I have to take care of my health and personal well-being, if I want to live a long, healthy, happy life.

So I took my kids to explore caves, visit a zoo, have fun at Dave & Buster's, and I'm planning to do more fun stuff with them this year.

It's the year of the fire monkey, so it should be filled with fun and excitement, right?

On a personal level, I've been losing weight, renovating my room, and getting rid of a chronic backache. And I joined a new gym:

Hiking is such a good way to workout and replenish. I love being in nature. Way better than a treadmill!

I'm playing around with the idea of a website where I can link not only this writing blog but also other projects I've been into. I'm thinking about starting a nature blog and posting hiking pictures there. Starting a new blog will help me get back into writing and networking.

Eventually I want to start writing short stories and novels again, but I'm not sure when my muse will come back from vacation, probably once the storm is over. I think the patch of blue sky I spotted is getting bigger...

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

My Little Room Renovation Project

Our tenant's daughter was using one of the attic rooms as a bedroom, but since she left for college and doesn't need it anymore, I took it over as my home office. I needed my own private space to write and edit in peace. But after years of being used and abused by a teenage girl, the room needed ... a little work.


I had never done a painting job all on my own before. I've helped painting a few times, long ago, but that's about it. Most of the time, when a room needed painting, I was busy keeping our three young kids away from the paint, so I didn't take part in the painting jobs. But now that they're old enough, I decided to give it a try. I did every step, from spackling to sanding to painting to retouching.

... During ...

I was a little nervous about the results. How would it turn out once all done? Would it be as beautiful as I imagined? Or would it look as a total newbie project? Well, see for yourself. What do you think?

... After!

There's only one problem. Now that my husband knows I can paint, he wants me to finish his numerous unfinished painting projects around the house! What did I get myself into?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Coffee Detox, Yoga Challenge, and Other Non-Writing Stuff

This winter, I took a break from setting goals about writing, reading, and editing and began the year with some health goals instead, starting with a three-week coffee detox in January.

Three-Week Coffee Detox

I searched the internet for different detox methods, but I couldn't find one that fit my needs perfectly, so I came up with my own:

- Replacing my morning coffee with hot water, freshly pressed lemon, and honey
- Replacing my afternoon coffee with green tea
- Drinking any herbal tea of my choice in the evening
- Drinking two water bottles throughout the day

Why? Because I noticed that drinking coffee didn't have any effect on me anymore. I was just as tired after drinking a cup of coffee, so what's the point? And I felt like my body could use a good detox from all the junk I'd been eating during the holidays.

Drinking no coffee was the main thing, but I also made a conscious effort to eat a lot more vegetables and a lot less carbs during those three weeks. I also used an exfoliating body wash every day and even tried a hot-cold shower twice a week to detox at every level.

The result: I had headaches and leg cramps during the first week. I'm guessing it's because my body was used to having caffeine every day. That surprised me, because I only drink two coffees per day, sometimes less.

The other two weeks were a lot better. I had more energy (although sometimes I could really have used an afternoon coffee), and I lost four pounds! And best of all, I got used to eating healthier, so it's easier to keep up with the good habits. And now, when I drink a cup of coffee, it keeps me awake a lot more. So I'm planning to keep it that way: just drink coffee occasionally, when I really need it, instead of every day out of habit.

Thirty-Day Yoga Challenge

My next goal was to complete the Thirty-Day Yoga Challenge. This is perfect for exercising at home during the cold winter months. All you need is a yoga mat and a computer to watch the daily 10-20-minute video by Erin Motz. And it's free!

I thought yoga was a mild form of exercise, but man, the abs workout was intense! The videos are for beginners, but she also gives tips for those who need a little more. Every day is different. One video focuses on stretching the wrists and hand muscles. Perfect for writers!

Mindful in May

I've already registered for Mindful in May, which is a one-month online meditation course. I did it last year and gained a lot from it. Every day in May, you get an e-mail with links to videos and articles about mindfulness and meditation, and a ten-minute audio meditation download each week for your daily meditation practice. It costs money to register, but it goes to a good cause: building water wells in Ethiopia.

The program was founded by Elise Bialylew, an Australian lady with a beautiful accent, which you can hear on the audio meditation downloads.

Chiro Treatments

I've been having backaches on and off for years, but it got worse after I fell on a slippery sidewalk while walking my dog a few months back. The pain just didn't go away on its own after weeks, so I did something I hadn't done since I was about seven: visit a chiro.

The methods have changed a lot since I was a little kid! First, I lie down with a heating pad and a electric muscle stimulation machine (two electrodes delivering a mild electric current to my back muscles) for ten minutes. Then Dr. Eickhoff uses an Activator, a little instrument to realign the bones in my spine and my body. No smelly ointment or cracking bones or twisting neck involved. It doesn't hurt at all, and it's interesting how he can see exactly which bones need to be adjusted just by looking at me and shaking my feet.

At my first visit, they used a scanner connected to a computer to scan my spine and detect the areas where there is tension. My upper back and neck area showed up as red. I learned that my bad posture might have contributed to the problem, so I raised my laptop to be at eye level, and I have to remember to take breaks once in a while.

Now I have some stretching and strengthening exercises to do every day. I'm hoping my back will be better—permanently—once I'm done with all the treatments. One thing I like about chiros: they don't just remove the symptoms, they fix the cause and educate you in the process.


Hopefully, being healthier and more focused will help me gain inspiration for writing, which I haven't done much lately. Sometimes it's good to just take a break and do something totally different.

What are your non-writing goals?

Monday, February 2, 2015

MG Book Review: Zero Tolerance, by Claudia Mills

General Information
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Year of publication: 2013
# of chapters: 40
# of pages: 231
Genre: Contemporary
Website: www.claudiamillsauthor.com

Plot summary (from Amazon):
Seventh-grader Sierra Shepard has always been the perfect student, so when she sees that she accidentally brought her mother's lunch bag to school, including a paring knife, she immediately turns in the knife at the school office. Much to her surprise, her beloved principal places her in in-school suspension and sets a hearing for her expulsion, citing the school's ironclad no weapons policy. While there, Sierra spends time with Luke, a boy who's known as a troublemaker, and discovers that he's not the person she assumed he would be--and that the lines between good and bad aren't as clear as she once thought. Claudia Mills brings another compelling school story to life with Zero Tolerance.

Positive Points
Because of the deep POV style, I could really connect with Sierra's thoughts and emotions. She sounded just like a twelve-year-old. I also love the character growth in this story. Sierra is going through a lot and is growing in the process. In the end, she's a little older, a little more open-minded, a little bolder.

This book was very well written. It kept me interested from beginning to end, although the beginning was a bit slow. But from the middle on, I couldn't stop reading.

I was a bit like Sierra as a kid, never getting in trouble at school, proud of my good grades, horrified at the thought of doing something bad, like missing a class or failing a test. It made me laugh to remember those school days and how I used to be. It was interesting to see this kind of character getting in trouble for bringing a knife to school by mistake and facing detention, and even possible expulsion!

Negative Points
I really can't find anything negative to say about this book. Except maybe that the beginning was a little slow.

Oh, and there were a few swear words, including calling the school secretary a bitch. But even Sierra is uncomfortable with this word, although she's now using it for the first time. In this case, it kind of goes with the plot and I would say it's acceptable. I normally don't like swear words in middle grade books, but in this particular book, there was a reason for using them.

What makes this book unique
Not many stories have a model student as a main character.

Overall Impression
I saw a review of this book on a blog I follow, and it was on my to-read list for a long time. I'm glad I finally got to read it. Claudia Mills is one talented author.

My Rating:

Thinking of purchasing this book? I'll make it easy for you: