Sugar & Spice and Everything Nice

sugarandspice(Courtesy of Kate Gabrielle)

Wait. Isn’t that what girls are made of?

You better believe it!

Yet today, I decided I’m not going to focus on the sweet part. Although, when it comes to my brand new baby granddaughters, that my friends, goes without saying. Sugary sweet! ☺

No, I thought I would take a moment to focus on Spice.

And no, I’m not talking about the Spice Girls. I’m talking about adding a little zest and zing to those blustery, wintery days. I’m talking about something that will make everything nice, something special for those day’s when the wind howls and heavily darkened clouds pepper the endless sky.

Burrrr. Baby, it’s cold outside.

Yeah, it is. And that’s my point.

Colder weather means saying goodbye to the summery things we love. Bright beautiful flowers. Tender green leaves on trees. And all our favorite fruits and vegetables that keep our health at an optimum.

Fruits and Vegetables --- Image by © Fukuhara, Inc./CORBIS

(Fruits and Vegetables — Image by © Fukuhara, Inc./CORBIS)

Part of the reason why we love those gorgeous colorful produce is because of their deep vibrant color. But did you know it is the color that gives fruit and vegetables their rich antioxidant character?

Antioxidant, you say? What exactly is that?

It’s a Spicy buzzword denoting a substance that inhibits oxidation. And oxidation my friend leads to nasty harmful molecules called free radicals. Yeah, they’re rad man. They’re so powerful they can spread and cause infection and disease.

Like a cold. Or the flu. Or something more serious, which I hope is not the case with you.

But here’s the cool part.

When we add those antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies into our daily diet, it will strengthen our ability to ward off infection and fight disease.

Say wahoo to antioxidants! They’re almost as sexy as Kale. Oh wait. Kale is loaded with antioxidants. See what I mean? Sexy!

But what do we do now that those beautiful fresh Superfoods we ate over the summer are gone?

We spice things up!

That means, instead of eating Peppers, Berries, Cherries, Cucumbers and juicy Beefsteak Tomatoes, we make the switch to more understated winter varieties of fruits and vegetables. Several which are known to be the most powerful antioxidants to compliment our cold weather foods.

376950340_d74a902609_z(Curtesy of Brian Snelson)
 
And that includes Spices. Spices so valuable, they brought Christopher Columbus across the ocean blue.

Did you know spices and herbs are among the highest of antioxidant foods? This in turn helps to lower the risk of inflammation, cancer, degeneration and other diseases.

Including the common cold, which is very common indeed!

Think warm flavors such as Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Allspice, Ground Ginger, Cardamom, Cloves, Peppercorns, Rosemary and Sage. Any one of those lovely spices on a chilly day can pack more antioxidant punch than our highly coveted Blueberries!

8191301586_61b213ed11_z(Curtesy of Emsi Production)
 
So warm up the soup, casseroles and stews people! Make your own chai tea with loads of yummy spices like Cloves, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Anise, Peppercorns and Vanilla Bean. Dash the Cinnamon on those sweet potatoes and squash. Rub Rosemary and Sage on that succulent roast.

Because even though girls may be sugary sweet, it’s the spice that makes everything nice.

Nice and healthy, that is.

So what do you think? Are you ready to add a little Zest and Zing to your blistery winter days? What do you do to Spice things up in your neck of the woods? Do you prefer soups, stews or casseroles? What is your go to recipe to warm things up? Tea anyone?

Cheers everyone! I hope that life is treating you well. And, as always, thank you so much for all your support and wonderful comments!
Karen

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I’m Not Complaining!

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Nope, I’m not complaining.

Well, maybe I am.

No, I’m not.

Okay, you caught me. Yes, I’m complaining.

Although I’m not speaking about complaining in the sense that something was underdelivered or overpromised, as if my hamburger was still mooing on the plate or charred to perfection like an overcooked hockey puck.

Even if that were the case, I’m not certain it ever feels good to complain. Do we really enjoy listening to one another complain all the time?

So why do we do it? Why do we allow ourselves to be sucked in by something so destructive, when all it seems to do is tear us down?

Well, it could be we don’t feel well. I sure know what that’s like. I seem to have caught the cold of the century. Almost everyone has had it or is presently consumed by it. It just won’t go away.

Or perhaps someone incited a negative thought. Check! Been there, done that.

Or unrealistic expectations may also provoke a feeling of pessimism.

Uh, do we really have to talk about this?

If we’re truly tired of hearing ourselves whine and moan, than maybe we do.

You see, when we complain, what we’re really saying is we’re not happy with the way things are.

Maybe we’re not happy with ourselves. Maybe we’re not happy with others. It doesn’t really matter. Because for the most part, this “thing” is something we are unable to control. Yes, there are some things in life that are beyond our control. And for those control freaks out there, myself included, it is the one “thing” that can drive us nuts!

But there is something we can control. That is our perspective. We, and only we, control what we choose to focus on. So every time this underhanded need to complain bubbles forth, we can make the conscious effort to change our attitude and how we view “things”.

And it will also help us gain a greater sense of gratitude.

Gratitude.

Now there’s an interesting word.

It is a feeling of acknowledgment that one has received or will receive something to their benefit. It is an emotion that expresses thankfulness for what we have. It is an attitude that will generate acceptance and appreciation.

When we adopt this outlook, we are less likely to become frustrated, stressed and overwhelmed. We seize the opportunity to feel empowered rather than disempowered.

In a nutshell, we’re less apt to complain.

And that thought inspires me.

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Forget the cold. Forget the negativity. Forget unrealistic expectations. I want to remain grateful. Grateful for my family. Grateful for my friends. Grateful for this day, this new year, no matter the uncertainty it will bring.

But I’m not complaining.

Well, maybe I am.

No, I’m not.

How about you? Do you feel like the grass is always greener? Is it easy for you to fall into the sinister throws of complaining? If so, what do you do to stop the cycle? And what are you grateful for?
 
Cheers everyone! I hope that life is treating you well. And, as always, thank you so much for all your support and wonderful comments!
Karen

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Hello!

Yep, it’s me.

We are at the brink of winter with cooler temperatures.

14942170017_4acdcb505e_z (Photo Curtesy of Kevin Schaer)
 
Time to get out the sweaters, hot cocoa, scarfs, parkas and boots people. (Yay!). It’s exciting. Especially here in the Sonoran Desert since this means we’ve made it through another hot, scorching summer.

Let’s hear another big “Yay” for that one!

I. Am. Thrilled.

Meanwhile, what have I been up to?

Well, that’s a good question.

It seems this girl finally got her act together and polished up the manuscript enough to send it out to beta readers. Now, considering I’m a beta virgin, I took every precaution necessary so the reader would not be thrown out of the story.

That doesn’t mean it’s perfect! I do realize things could get a bit ugly around here. I don’t expect it to come back to me without being tattered and bruised.

Yet, I did hear from my first beta reader earlier this week. (Yay!) It made my day. My whole day actually since the message came on my 40th wedding anniversary. It was a cause for celebration all on its own.

I thought I’d share the highlights from my first response. What do you think? Would you like to know what was said?

I thought so.

Okay, here it goes…

“I really wanted to read your story, because I always enjoy your voice on your blog, etc.”

That’s cool!

As a writer, you always hope that your words come across in the manner in which they are intended. Of course, there is this small matter known as “subjective.” Everyone has their own likes and dislikes where entertainment is concerned. So to find someone who actually likes my voice is remarkable. (Yay!)

Here’s the rest of what was said…

“You have a lovely story here. I have to agree with Marcy (the editor), the tone does remind me of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ And I also got the Debbie Macomber vibe as well. Your writing really evokes your setting and the time period, I especially got a beach vibe. I can “see” the entire story. I read in three nights, probably would have finished sooner had my Kindle cooperated!! Congrats, Karen! I know this has been a labor of love, I really like what you’ve done here.”

I. Am. Thrilled.

Let’s hear another big Yay for that one!

Who knew?

So the very next night, hubby and I watched the Adele concert on TV. We happened to like Adele. Maybe not everything Adele. But for the most part, we like her voice and style of music.

Here’s the kicker: It had been four years since Adele had been in concert here in the U.S. Lots of things have happened since her last performance. She had a baby and has a new boyfriend. But she also had surgery on her vocal cords.

I think we all remember how well that turned out for Julie Andrews, right?

So this made Adele beyond terrified. She mentioned the surgery had influenced her range of pitch. She could now sing higher highs and lower lows. Which in her case worked to her advantage. So (yay), things came out better than anticipated. Still, she expressed relief that she had made it through her concert without breaking down.

Oh, there were a few tears, mind you. I cannot conceive the pressure that woman must have felt while she grappled for any measure of composure during each song. Yet, at the end, when she walked off stage, she threw herself into her boyfriend’s arms as she entered the elevator and cried.

I just know I’ll react the same way.

At this point, I am not expecting the rest of my betas to come back with the same result. No, that would be just a little too perfect. IYKWIM. *wink*

And that makes me nervous. Though I’m determined to keep pressing forward no matter the outcome, tears and all that goes with it.

Like Adele.

Hello!

Yep, it’s me.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to start singing. But you may enjoy watching this.


So what do you think? Are you ready for Old Man Winter? How do you feel about Adele and her music? What is your writing process? Do you participate in a critique group? How does the Beta process work for you and what’s been the response from your feedback?

You have my sympathies my friends! This is all quite stressful. I’m taking lots of deep breaths.

Cheers everyone! I hope that life is treating you well. And, as always, thank you so much for all your support and wonderful comments!
Karen

  

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Forgiveness

FORGIVE Written In Old Metal Typeset

Forgiveness is something we all grapple with everyday. And, for the most part, we immediately relate to applying this when dealing with others.

But what about ourselves?

Are we able to apply forgiveness as easily when we gaze in the mirror?

How do we feel about the person looking back at us?

Are we content with what we see? Or do we feel regret or frustration over something that perhaps may not be as big as we perceive it to be. Things may become closer, distorted, the longer we focus and get blown out of proportion. You know, the side view mirror aspect of life.

Hate when that happens. Don’t you?

Periodically, I like to take an assessment of my goals and achievements. They say it’s a healthy thing to do. So I ponder over what I’ve accomplished and what adjustments may need to be made. I must say it’s not always easy. It’s not always glitter and glee. Not always does it take me to my happy place where I prefer to be.

Why?

Because I start to compare myself to others.

And that is one slippery slope my friends. Because everyone is different. Everyone works at a different pace. Everyone has different habits. What works for one person may not always work for another.

The other day I ran across an interesting article that really resonated with me.

“Writing Begins With Forgiveness: Why One of the Most Common Pieces of Writing Advice Is Wrong,” written by author Daniel José Older. Until this post, I had never heard of Mr. Older, but he brought out some interesting points that I’d like to share with you.

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He starts out with the mantra: Write every single day.

“It’s one of the most common pieces of writing advice and it’s wildly off base. I get it: The idea is to stay on your grind no matter what, don’t get discouraged, don’t slow down even when the muse isn’t cooperating and non-writing life tugs at your sleeve. In this convoluted, simplified version of the truly complex nature of creativity, missing a day is tantamount to giving up, the gateway drug to joining the masses of non-writing slouches.

Nonsense.”

Nonsense?

Wait just a minute! *shakes head* What did he just say? Has this not been drummed into us since…well, I don’t know. Forever maybe?

I realize I may be approaching a dangerous precipice on this subject, but I thought his words were enlightening.

“Here’s what stops more people from writing than anything else: shame. That creeping, nagging sense of ‘should be,’ ‘should have been,’ and ‘if only I had…’ Shame lives in the body, it clenches our muscles when we sit at the keyboard, takes up valuable mental space with useless, repetitive conversations. Shame, and the resulting paralysis, are what happen when the whole world drills into you that you should be writing every day and you’re not.”

Whoa!!

How did he know that?

I haven’t been writing every day. It’s impossible for me to write every day. It’s just not possible. And…don’t tell anyone this, but…I feel…guilty. Yes, I feel like a scumbag, despicable. Well, maybe not despicable. But I haven’t felt worthy of calling myself a writer.

Then Mr. Older adds, “Every writer has their rhythm. It seems basic, but clearly it must be said: There is no one way. Finding our path through the complex landscape of craft, process, and different versions of success is a deeply personal, often painful journey. It is a very real example of making the road by walking. Mentors and fellow travelers can point you towards new possibilities, challenge you and expand your imagination, but no one can tell you how to manage your writing process. I’ve been writing steadily since 2009 and I’m still figuring mine out. I probably will be for the rest of my life. It’s a growing, organic, frustrating, inspiring, messy adventure, and it’s all mine.”

Okay. Does this mean that I might be…normal?

“We read a lot about different writers’ eccentric processes – but what about those crucial moments before we put pen to paper? For me, writing always begins with self-forgiveness. I don’t sit down and rush headlong into the blank page. I make coffee. I put on a song I like. I drink the coffee, listen to the song. I don’t write. Beginning with forgiveness revolutionizes the writing process, returns it being to a journey of creativity rather than an exercise in self-flagellation. I forgive myself for not sitting down to write sooner, for taking yesterday off, for living my life. That shame? I release it. My body unclenches; a new lightness takes over once that burden has floated off. There is room, now, for story, idea, life.”

So, after reading the article, I took another look in the mirror. And guess what? I am now able to forgive myself. I can now forgive myself for not writing every single day. I can now forgive myself for not fitting into a certain mold.

Yes, having the intent of writing every day is a wonderful goal. And one that gives us great purpose.

Yet, I want to thank you Daniel José Older, whoever you are!

I think this may enable us to forgive ourselves for being unique!

I feel better already.

How about you?
 

So what do you think? Are you able to write every day? If so, please share with us what is it that has helped you to attain success? If not, how has this made you feel? Do you feel guilty? Or have you accepted your personal limitations and established new goals? What affect do you think your writing schedule has had on your productivity?
 

If you wish to read Mr. Older’s article in it’s entirety, please click here or on the link above.
 

Cheers everyone! I hope that life is treating you well. And as always, thank you so much for all your support and wonderful comments!
Karen

 

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Bite Me!

As you all know, Murphy is our correspondent for all things beachy in Southern California. Well, I must say the post he sent over was nothing less than a bunch of chicken scratch! It was all I could do to decipher what he had written. Yet, I think I was able to translate his unique Pelican language into something we could all comprehend. At least, I hope I did.

Enjoy everyone!
 

Is it just me or have you noticed an increase in shark sightings lately?

It seems like almost every week there’s been a report that has raised concerns as to whether it’s safe to dip our toes into the water. Some say it’s due to the rise of temperature in the ocean, while others feel it’s because there are more cell phones capturing this phenomenon that has brought this to our attention

Regardless of the cause, this topic made me think about surfing and how this has affected those who participate in that immensely competitive sport, although we at times may also feel like we are “swimming with the sharks.”

This week there is a surfing event called “Swatch Women’s Pro” at Lower Trestles in San Clemente, California. Lower Trestles is perhaps better known for the men’s Hurley Pro surfing competition verses the women’s event. Because, well, there are more male surfers than there are women that participate in the sport.

But the reason why I chose to focus on this particular event wasn’t because of women per se, but specifically one woman, that of Bethany Hamilton, a wildcard participant in this year’s “Swatch Women’s Pro” competition.

You may recall a tragic incident back in 2003 when a teenage girl got bitten while surfing off the shores of Kauai by a 15’ Tiger Shark that resulted in amputation, leaving the girl with only one arm.

That girl was Bethany Hamilton.

The interesting thing about Bethany isn’t the fact that she’s a survivor. But it’s the motivation that she demonstrated during her recovery. She didn’t focus on the attack, or her missing arm. In fact, she was back in the water three weeks later and has spent the past decade living her dream of surfing professionally.

You may remember the movie a few years ago called “Soul Surfer” starring Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid. It was an extraordinary story that portrayed Bethany’s strength, fortitude and courage while dealing with the loss of her left arm after the attack.

Yet, the most powerful testimony is the way Bethany approaches her life. She is one highly respected surfer. And when she competes, other women are not thinking about the fact that she’s missing an arm. Bethany Hamilton is a force to be reckoned with and surfs with the same intensity and skill of someone who has both arms.

But here’s something you may not know. Bethany and her husband just had their first child in June. So now she’s scheduled to surf just three months after giving birth against those who have competed throughout the summer and while she was pregnant, although she did continue to surf up until her sixth month.

Bethany put it this way, “I often forget that I have one arm…I think there’s going to be things that will be very challenging with one arm, but I’ll just have to find my own way to take care of the baby…I’ll have to figure it out and be creative.”

And here’s what eleven time ASP World Tour Champion surfer Kelly Slater had to say, “I think it would be a real wakeup if everyone had to go out with one arm and catch these waves—and she doesn’t have a problem with it. On top of that, she just had a kid three months ago, I mean she is…she’s unbelievable.”

Yet, the biggest impression Bethany has made with her peers is her kindness.

She’s truly an inspiration in and out of the water.

So the next time you feel like you’re under a shark attack…

Tell him to “Bite me!” Apparently, it’s not the end of the world.
 

Way to go Bethany!

(World Surf League with Kelly Slater and Bethany Hamilton at Lower Trestles
Bethany Hamilton & Kelly Slater freesurfing together at Lower Trestles this weekend.
‪#‎HurleyPro‬ ‪#‎SwatchWomensPro‬ September 9 – 20)
 

So what do you think? Swim with any sharks lately? Had you heard of Bethany Hamilton? Did you and your family have the opportunity to see “Soul Surfer?” In a scale from 1 to 10, what was your opinion of Murphy’s reporting skills? Do you think the Pelican has a future or should we tell him to go take a dive off a long pier? :)
 

Cheers everyone! I hope that life is treating you well. And as always, thank you so much for all your support and wonderful comments!
Karen

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