Quickie #27 Fit as a fiddle

PROMPT: Have you even been significantly less or more physically fit than you are today? What was different about that? What was easier? Harder? Did others treat you differently? 

I was really fit as a teen. Wasn’t nearly everyone though? I walked two miles to school and home, lifted a 30 lbs back pack most of the day, ran around like a nut bar at lunch and was invited to go do active things with my friends like camping, theme parks, and bonfires at the beach. I was also “blessed” genetically with an hourglass figure so I had a tiny waist, and larger hips and breasts. (I can tell you for a FACT that having an hourglass figure is NOT ideal, no matter what people say. Clothes never fit right >_>) You could count my ribs when I stretched. I was about 110 lbs back then and ate whatever I wanted. I looked good in a bikini even. Life was carefree.

Two kids and ten years later, I’ve still maintained my hourglass shape although it has a significant amount of meat around it now. I gained 50 lbs and still eat whatever I want but that’s mainly due to the depression.

I don’t think that weight gain has changed how people treat me. I married my high school sweet heart so it’s not like I needed a hawt body to gain lovers. He prefers more meaty women anyway (although he admits when I force him to that I have an unhealthy weight at the moment). More cushion for the pushin’. My friends have gained a fair bit of weight themselves so it’s not like they can legit judge me (not that they would). The only bad association I have with my body is my own dissatisfaction with it.

It’s hard to see how over weight I am. I absolutely hate posing for pictures and wearing form-fitting clothing. My knees have a lot of strain on them from the excess weight and I tire easily while hiking or walking places. My strength is at its limit carrying one flat of water from the car to the house. My body is weak and flabby and it adds to the depression.

I’ve tried with increasing success to get into an exercise routine over the years. It hasn’t stuck for one reason or another but I have whittled down all the thousands of variables out there to a few that I consistently come back to.

First one is a free channel on YouTube called FITNESS BLENDER. I love Daniel and Kelli! They’re real people, no gimmicks. Trained professionals without any flash or pomp. Their videos aren’t fakey and peppy with clapping and shouting and loud music. They often do modifications for low impact needs in their videos and they always remind you to breathe and keep proper form. I tell ya, I LIVE for the “Workout complete” at the end. They have hundreds of free videos of all types to choose from. Yoga, HIIT, Tabata, Bored Easily, Strength training, Cardio, Pilates, Stretching, Kettle bell, Weight lifting…there’s something for everyone. You can also buy put-together programs from their website if you need more direction. Super helpful and focused routines. I discovered I love weight lifting because of these videos. And I dislike cardio. Haaa.

Second is a two fold variable that’s a no brainer. 1) Get rid of 90% of the junk food in the house. Candy, cookies, Kool-Aide, soda, ice cream, donuts, muffins…you know, all the good stuff. I do keep some dark chocolate around for those days where I need a sweet treat but the rest is gone. If my kids want a treat we’ll go out and buy a candy bar or an ice cream. Put the effort for the reward. 2) clean eating. Duh. But not all at once!

I’ve found that trying to do whole grains, veggies at every mean, no added salt, no red meat, no packaged dinner, etc is over whelming all at once, especially while trying to make changes for the whole family. It’s basically a one way track to a table flip and binge eating. Instead, do ONE thing first for a few weeks then add something to it.

It’s better to sustain a healthy diet gradually than to completely change your diet all at once. Your body is programmed to want as much food as possible as a survival instinct leftover from the cave man days. (It’s a true fact!) So it won’t like that you’re depriving it or giving it rabbit food at first. But if you give it little bits of things and force it to accept this is OK, then it will be easier to do more in the future. This method works well for me by adding more veggies first. I found out I LOVE Bell Peppers this way. I ate them cooked all the time but now eating them raw is one of my favorite snacks. Throw in some pepper jack cheese and MMMM YUMMY! I found my teeth can handle baby carrots better than regular full carrots and my girls prefer the smaller carrots as well (psychological trick for their brains smaller=less but really it’s one regular sized carrot broken down into littler chunks.) I’d eat broccoli at every meal if I could. Seriously. And I’m down for a salad as long as I have all the stuff to make one.

Exercise really is about sustainability. Humans are “Instant gratification” creatures, which is how we get fat in the first place. It’s not easy to change, no matter what road you take. But make little changes first and you’ll find you’ll beat yourself up a little less when you cheat or fall off the wagon for a bit. Redemption is only a Carrot stick away 😉 Focus on maintenance rather than end results.

And so at the conclusion of this blog post, I want to say I am getting back ON the band wagon. I’m going to try to meet my bestie Owen in May for his graduation. He’s a hard-core fitness buff Kineseologist going to college to be an Athletic Trainer. So I’m a little self-conscious. But major changes can happen in two months with moderate exercise and cutting out half the “Good stuff” from my diet.

Or so he says. We’ll see.


Quickie #26 Magick with a K

PROMPT: What is something about you someone might misinterpret that you want to explain? 

Well! I am one whole mess of misinterpretation to be honest.

My family spoils me by seeing past my someone tactless dialogue to the meaning of my words. I have to back pedal a lot with strangers because they don’t quite understand my particular brand of communication. This is why writing is so much easier. Backspace button, YEAH!!

I cry at everything, even when I’m not sad. I cry at dog rescue videos on Facebook. I cry during movies, sometimes at the same part every time I re-watch it. I cry when people do nice things for each other. I cry sometimes when people compliment me. (I blame this on my tear ducts being probed a couple of times as a kid. They’re extra-large now, ya know?)

But for this particular prompt I wanted to talk about something that is passingly familiar to most people and yet widely debated.

The Tarot.

Quickie history lesson:

A set of divination cards most commonly used by pagans and occult groups but there are variations used in many different cultures. They originated as a simple card game called “Triumph” or “Tarocchi” brought over from the Islamic countries into Europe. Then certain occult groups saw further meaning in the cards and adapted them into their philosophy.

The deck has 22 major arcana cards and 4 suits of minor arcana 1-10 plus 4 court cards. The suits are the cups, swords, wands and pentacles. Each suit has a general meaning and each card an individual one, which play an important part in interpreting the layout of the cards in a reading.

Now I get why there’s so much controversy surrounding the Tarot. I’ve heard all the arguments and I’m not going to get into them. What I want to tell you is how I use them and how they’re helpful for me.

I’ve been interested in Tarot since I was a kid. I came across a young adult book series called Circle of Three by Isobel Bird (FABULOUS! I’m re-reading it now.) It follows three girls as they explore Witchcraft for a year and a day and one of the things they learned about was Tarot. I read about them in books but I was never given my own deck (because Tarot works best when gifted and not bought.) As an adult I remedied that. But I don’t really use the tarot to try and divine my future, as is the common misunderstood use for them.

What I use tarot for is to focus my thoughts.

Sometimes my head gets so muddled and confused about an issue I feel my brain is going to wring itself to death. So when I get out my deck it’s with the intention of trying to focus on the heart of the issue, which is the first step. How do I put what I want to know into a single question? This intention stops my brain from being a headless chicken for a second and it’s forced to think of a single line of words.

While I think, I shuffle the deck, which has always been a long time relaxation method for me. I would sit for hours in my room just shuffling cards as a kid and letting the rush and thwack of the plastic lull my mind into quietude. Then, when I felt the cards had been sufficiently shuffled and my question was clear in my head, I would lay out the cards.

There are different kinds of “spreads” you can do in Tarot depending on how in depth you want to go with a question and what kind of question it is. If it’s a simple advice question like “What do I need to be reminded of today?” then usually a one card draw is sufficient. If one needs to ask a question that has choices, it might be better to use a two or three card draw. If one has an in-depth soul-searching question like “Why do I have so much anger?” then a larger spread might yield more answers.

Now I’m not proficient at reading the individual cards yet. I still need google to help me figure out what they all mean. But this, again, helps me focus my mind in an orderly and step by step fashion. Even if some folks believe Tarot manipulates people into believing in generalized advice (like horoscopes), I still like to use it. It often gets me to realize things I didn’t notice before; a branch of thought that may be the lynch pin for all my turmoil. Plus, the illustrations are beautiful and soothing, adding another layer of distraction.

I find that after doing a reading, my mind is a lot calmer and I feel less stressed. So isn’t that a good thing? I don’t care about controversy. I care about a peaceful mind. Tarot is my counselor and trust me, it’s a lot cheaper. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

(P.S. Were you wondering why magick with a ‘K’? To differentiate from sleight-of-hand magic 😉 The image featured is the tarot deck I use drawn by the super talented Stephanie Pui-Mun Law)

Quickie #25 Writer’s gonna Write

Prompt: Does writing Change you? How does writing make you a better person? 

I’ve been writing since I was in grade school and I’ve always found it to be beneficial.

At first it was just fun. School assignments or characters I would make up. Poems and plays for my friends. Super hero girl power stories and doomed romance stories with secret crushes. The summer going into my sixth grade year was also when I started to hand write my very first novel. It got up to 900 pages of lined college ruled paper before I moved on. (I spent a lot of time in my room avoiding my step dad.)

Then it was therapy in middle school. I would write about the turmoil of boyfriends and catty jealous girls. I would write about my abusive step dad and my vagrant sister. Problems with my friends, school dances, summer vacations, shocking revelations (Like when I could finally reach the top shelf of the cupboards and my first kiss). All this sprinkled with various stories snippets and pieces of dialogue. Middle school was when I first started to write my Silver Sun novel and I wrote a couple of poems that got published.

High School was when I first started to realize that my dream really was to become an author. Glimmers of it would waft through my mind while teachers and college reps touted science and math majors at me. (As if!) I was still too shy to share my ugly baby stories with the world but I would lose myself in writing. I got my first (used) computer in high school and I still remember the huge clunky keyboard and the loud clacking keys. Floppy Disks! The huge boxy monitor barely fit on my small fold out table but I loved it. I would spend hours on it, hunched over, totally absorbed in writing.

Taking English and literary classes in college was what really sold me on the idea of writing and publishing. I’ve been writing steadily ever since and the journey has culminated in this blog.

Writing got me through the trials of having two young girls at home alone with me. It got me through rough patches in my marriage. It got me through my isolation and anger and loneliness.

I would say, without a doubt, that writing is the thing that saved me from myself. I would not be Jessica Jordan without my love of books and writing. I don’t even want to know that person. It’s too terrifying to contemplate o_o

Quickie #24 Benched

PROMPT: When was the last time you felt needed?

Any parent of young children will tell you that they are never NOT needed. It’s a given. Making food, helping with homework, walking them to school, putting band-aids on scrapes and staying up late into the night when they have a nightmare. There’s cleaning and laundry and doctor’s appointments. Tantrums and time outs. It can seem exhausting and frustrating (and often is) but then when they STOP needing you–it’s like a kick in the gut.

Suddenly they can walk themselves to school and don’t want to be seen in public kissing their parents. Or with their parents period. You turn around one day and they’re reaching the top shelf to get the cereal box down without having to stand on their tippy toes. They’re doing homework YOU don’t understand. You’ve become obsolete.

So what happens after that? What happens when parents became bystanders instead of active players? How does one go about feeling needed?

You find a new role.

I witnessed my mom do it with me in middle school. One day she wasn’t just Mom anymore. She was my counselor, my friend, my teacher. It’s like my eyes opened a little wider and I saw her more clearly as someone more than just a cook and a housekeeper. She took an interest in my interests and there were something things we shared together as a young adult and a friend.

I think I opened her eyes a little bit too because suddenly I had my own opinions that refuted hers and we had calm and rational discussions about it. I defended my choices against her and I knew it was hard for her not to assert her authority over me and say “BECAUSE I SAID SO”. We still have a good relationship to this day as two grown women trying to make it in the world. It’s still a little weird to talk about sex and intimacy with my mom sometimes but she’s still my mom. I trust her more than anyone in the world.

For those of you who aren’t parents, in order for you to feel needed, I recommend volunteering or joining a group that shares your interests. I volunteer at an Animal Shelter with my free time. Shelters ALWAYS need help and you get paid in doggie kisses. There ain’t nothing better! But if you’re not an animal person you can volunteer at a political campaign or help an environmentalist group clean up a park. You can join a Book club or a bowling league or take a photography class.

Try anything. Because you can.

It’s really not about needing to be needed. It’s about finding contentment in your own life ASIDE from being needed. Some people feel bereft without someone depending on them. I feel that this is an excuse to look away from one’s own deep-seated problems; using distractions to keep them busy. It takes a while to realize this and to take appropriate action but I’m here to tell you, this is how it is. If you can’t be content being by yourself, in your own life, nothing else will give you true happiness. You’ll always be looking for someone else to fill your cup and you really should be filling your own.

Share your happiness with others. Don’t depend on them to do it for you.

The little Writer that Could

So I’ve been going at this whole blog thing for a good year now. YAY ME! Wait, has it been over a year? Has it really almost been two years? Nahhh. Maybe? I’ll have to check on that later. I took a break in the middle to ruminate on my depressing life and schtuff hit the fan but I came back, like a beaten but loyal dog. I guess that really says something about me since I never stick to ANYTHING.

But I did start this blog because I want to be a published author and that is still my end goal, even if life throws wrecking balls in my way. What’s life without a few random steel balls blowing through your path, am I right? (You’re welcome for the ear worm.)

Wow. That’s actually a good analogy for what I wanted to write about today. Wrecking balls in writing. I’m taking the next step!

Lemme ‘splain…

See, I’ve gotten over the initial fear of failure that had hindered me when I first started this journey. I was afraid of people not liking my stories or not caring what I have to say. I was afraid of not sticking with it, of giving up on it, of being WRONG about what I wanted. Not so much anymore. I’ve gotten used to writing on the blogosphere and putting my vulnerable self out there.

I’m starting to settle into a writing voice that sounds somewhat like me. My entries have mostly been consistent in that department though someone else would have to tell me yay or nay. I can’t really judge that for myself yet.

I’ve even gotten a little writing routine down for myself (a friggin’ miracle if you knew me at all). Get up, get kids breakfast, sit down and start an entry, get first daughter on the bus, come back for another twenty minutes and write, then walk second daughter to school, then come back and finish. I try to write until at least 10 am. Even more amazing is that I start to get anxious when I can’t write any given day or a miss a blog entry. It feels like back sliding and that cannot be permitted!!

I had never written a short story before and now I’ve written a dozen or more. I’ve even written ongoing stories, divided into parts. Bonus too is that I write stories I actually ENJOY re-reading. (That almost never used to happen.)

There are all mini goals I had set for myself early on and I’ve met them. I’ve gotten used to them and they no longer intimidate me.

Now it’s time to ramp it up.

What brought this on? Fame and money did of course. “Published” is the name of the game remember? NO, I’m kidding! Actually, I read an article on pinterest about writing (what else?) and I realized that I needed to break past the comfortable once again. The article talked about putting conflict in stories and using character development to solve their problems. Conflict sells readers. I am NOT a confrontational person by nature so this is a goal I know I’m going to struggle with.

I mean, I don’t enjoy reading stories with no conflict, obviously. Boring! So why would I write them? It’s one of those things I think takes time to develop in a writer brain. How much is too much? What conflicts are relevant to plot continuation? How does one narrow down the infinite possibilities to make a great read? My brain aches just thinking about all the details. But I’ll do it, dad gummit!

Another thing I really ought to start doing is outlining. I thought to be a complete panster writer before, just punching keys willy-nilly and letting the characters tell the story. But that doesn’t work because of the aforementioned problem of being a pacifist. And the fact that I get so lost in the details I completely forget why I’m even writing the story. I lose the forest through the trees. So having an outline, even a basic one, will help me keep track and remind me of the big picture.

To help with this situation I’ve decided to ramp up my iPod Shuffle Short Story or “iPod S.S.S.” entries. These are blog entries you might’ve seen sporadically on my page where I put my iPod on shuffle and write down the first 5 songs that pop up. I’ll analyze them, write down thoughts and feelings and then come up with a story for them, using the Plot Structure diagram to write the story. It stretches creative muscles in the way that I don’t like using clichés so trying to make a story that’s outside the box is a double challenge.

The next goal I want to set for myself is to be on my Facebook bakalove page more often to get a wider reader base. I mean, I literally only have to cut and paste what I write on WordPress over onto Facebook but I find that task exhausting some days. Probably cuz Facebook is exhausting with all the drama. And it sucks me in for HOURS catching up on all that I missed and IMing friends. Bleh.

It’s gratifying to know that I was right about the most important thing: The Journey. It’s rare that a person can write a best seller right out of the gate but it happens. The rest of us have to toil and do the hard work and sharpen ourselves against the stones of adversity before we can even THINK about publishing. We’re so vastly rewarded by this though! We’re building a solid foundation of creativity and logic so that we may succeed in any writing endeavor we choose.

We’re the Little Writers that Could!! CHOO CHOOOOOOO!!!!!!

I’m more glad than I am frustrated by my progress I think so it’s with a happy heart I end this blog. To be able to reflect on my progress, meet my goals, and make new ones is very humbling and encouraging.

I hope your goals are within reach as well! Keep chugging little Writers! ;*

Quickie #23 Fear not, gentle citizens

PROMPT: How do you act when you’re afraid? 

I haven’t been afraid in a long time.

I actually find that kind of depressing. I know that sounds weird but the fact that my life holds no panic instinct I think means it’s too safe. I’m not saying I’ll move to Johannesburg, Africa or something but a health dose of fear keeps us on our toes, no?

After thinking about it some, I realized there’s different kinds of fear and different reactions to it. There’s the Fight or Flight instantaneous fear like a car is speeding toward you or you misstep on the stairwell and pitch forward. This is handled by pure instinct and the conscious brain has little to do with the outcome.

This is the most common type of fear I think and I deal with this just about the same way everyone does. I think I’m going to die for about 2.5 seconds, scramble out of harms way, cling to something while my body freezes and tries to unlock my frozen muscles and I breath through the heart attack. Maybe I need to change my underwear too, depending on the severity of the scare.

There’s the kind of fear that’s controlled. It’s the CHOICE to be scared, like going into a haunted house or on a roller coaster. That’s more of a laugh/cry kind of scared that’s exhilarating and adrenaline-fueled. I actually am pretty unphased by this kind of fear. Once I decide to do it I’m like…meh. It’s here. I’m quiet, usually, even when monsters are coming at me or I’m doing a corkscrew. I don’t scream or cry or laugh. It’s stoicism at it’s finest. Sort of.

The last time I was truly, heart stoppingly afraid was the day my neck closed up and I had to be rushed into surgery. I remember laying on the couch a couple hours before, starving, dehydrated and barely breathing, trying not to go insane or cry. It would only make things worse.

I laid there, trying to sleep, to go into oblivion for awhile to stop the silent torture my body was inflicting on me.

“You’re okay. Don’t panic. Breathe in, and out. Do it again. Don’t panic. In through your nose, out through your mouth. Keep doing that. You’re not going to stop breathing. You’re not going to die. In and out.” 

This was actual dialogue from my head at the time. FOR HOURS. DAYS! It was all I could do not to scream, trapped in a slowly suffocating body with my heart beating so hard on my ribs it moved my body on the couch. As if I could scream though. I couldn’t even talk or breathe.

I wasn’t scared when they told me they might have to trach me. I wasn’t scared of the drugs not working or not waking up or the pain afterward. But the feeling of slowly having my air tube close over days, especially when the doctors had already looked at it and sent me home, was terrifying.

My faith in health care capabilities was shaken to the very core.

I find that my dislike of hospitals has increased, despite my life being saved. I’ve found that any blockage in my throat or nose now makes that panic resurge. And I found that in time of extreme duress, I don’t lose my damn mind. That’s how I deal with extreme fear. I’m calm until I don’t have to be anymore.

“A woman is a lot like tea. You don’t know how strong she can be until you put her in hot water.”

Quickie #22 Shinies and Sparklies

PROMPT: Write about a piece of jewelry you own. Where did it come from? When do you wear it?

Sadly the piece of jewelry I own I don’t wear anymore.

I’ve never really been one for jewelry in the first place. I wore the occasional necklace and I got the obligatory ear piercings when I was 14 but I quickly found my body rejected metal. It simple wouldn’t tolerate it. The feel of it, the hardness of it, the violation of it. It irritates my skin, especially earrings. My class ring I got in yellow gold before I found out I was allergic to yellow gold.

Yeah that was a hefty $120 down the drain.

But today I’m going to talk about my engagement ring. It’s broken now. It broke on Mother’s day about 7 years ago, which I just found ironic and appropriate. It was a nice ring, not something I suspected I would like, but I did. The stone in the middle was sapphire (I hated everything blue at the time) which is my husband’s birthstone. There were two smaller diamonds on either side of the sapphire (I vehemently hated diamonds) and two little metal hearts on either side of those that blended into the band seamlessly. It was white gold, something my skin could passibly tolerate.

I looked at a similar ring with a pidgeon’s blood ruby in it (my birth stone) and I liked it took but I kept coming back to the damn sapphire. It fit perfect when I tried it on. It was $250. Eh. At least now I knew right? The experience was thrilling, walking up to a case of brightly lit sparklies and actually trying some on. I encourage every woman to try it, even if you don’t buy anything. It’s a special kind of feeling.

I moved on from it though, buying other things more important.

Little did I know that ring would become my circle of doom one blustery January when my boyfriend decided to propose. In the cold. On my college campus. When I was already late to class, unprepared for it and unwilling.

I suppose he wanted it to be romantic but it really wasn’t. He was charmingly clumsy though. He forced me to sit on a bench in the freezing cold and tugged the ring out from a ribbon around his neck (a move he stole from me that I pulled on our one year dating anniversary).

“What is THAT?” I said, my voice rising in alarm.

“I think you know.” he replied.

“A promise ring?”

I could almost hear the pleading in my voice.

“Not quite.”

I said “Oh my god” about 12 times, trying to think of something to say. But what do all young people caught up in the moment say?

Yes. Of course. Because I was never a girl to say no and hurt someone’s feelings, even at the expense of my own.

And almost 11 years later… I’d like to say we’re still going strong but it’s more like slogging through a rut, just trying to make it through to whatever end is there. The engagement ring broke on mother’s day and my wedding ring I stopped wearing altogether because I use my hands too much. Crud and food and baby spit up got caught in and around the engravings on the ring so I just stopped wearing it. My husband had to stop wearing his too because he couldn’t wear it at his job, working with resistance welders and fusion welders. So now we’re two people who don’t wear wedding rings.

Funny how symbolic NOT wearing symbols of union can be. Although my husband would have a different opinion I’m sure.