Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Would You Eat Your Yoga Mat? (You probably already have)

Happiness is still hot. This time last year, I was delving into the book The Happiness Project. I found so much gold there I led several book discussions on it and even developed a retreat utilizing the research presented in the book. This year my new favorite, dog-eared book is The Happiness Diet.

I was driven to purchase a diet book by the weather. Really. This eternal, maddening deep freeze that is holding my state in its clutches is seriously limiting my running and has led me to put on a few extra pounds. I’m not a good dieter. It makes me grumpy, so this “Diet” seemed like it had potential. The subtititle: “A Nutritional Prescription for a Sharp Brain, Balanced Mood, and Lean, Energized Body” hooked me immediately. Who doesn’t want all that?
I spent the majority of the book muttering, “Uh, huh,” “Amen,” and “Wow- I could use that on the blog.”  Which means that you good people are going to vicariously read this book whether you like it or not. You might as well go out and buy a copy.

The book makes a huge case for avoiding processed food. In fact, it lists 100 solid reasons why you should put down your twinkie and Super-sized coke. Being the skeptic, I looked up many of them. The authors are definitely playing on your fears, but for good reason. Here are a few of my favorites –

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Top Ten Things I want MORE of in 2014

1. Kale, black strap molasses, grapefruit, clams, coconut oil, and eggs. 
But maybe not all together in
the same dish. These are just a few of the super foods I’m reading about lately. Watch for future blogs that will make you want MORE of them too. For example, Kale has magnesium, calcium, Vitamin D, folate, and fiber – five of the twelve essential elements for a balanced mood, sharp brain, and energized body. Eggs have Vitamin B6 and B12,  folate, iodine, magnesium, iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, cholesterol, and omega 3 – all essential elements for a happier self and all found in a free-range chicken egg.

2. Time
I have no idea how I can get more of this, but I’m thinking if I run fewer errands, agree to fewer obligations, and clean my house less (if this is possible), I’ll scrape up a few more minutes.

3. Subscribers, Commentors, Followers
The blog does fairly well averaging 250-300 unique visits per week, but it could do better. I plan to explore those possibilities to increase my subscribers. Somehow I also need to find a way to conquer Blogspot's security system which rarely allows anyone to comment directly on the blog. I’d also like to get A LOT MORE followers on Facebook. Aside from nagging my friends, I’ll try to figure out other ways to increase my likes. And I’m toying with starting a new blog to support my memoir, Cowboy Mom, which I’m currently shopping to agents. I’m still hot and cold on Twitter and Pinterest, but maybe this year I’ll finally figure out what to do with them.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Top Ten Things I Want Less of in 2014

1. Screens. This won’t be easy. My default mode when bored, waiting for anything (children, food to cook, program to start, appointments) is to open my phone and start fiddling. I used to be religious about checking my e-mail only once daily, but slowly I’ve begun opening it at any opportunity. It’s a distraction and a time-suck, and let’s not even talk about Facebook. I will set parameters for recreational screen time.

2. White sugar and white flour. I’ve just begun reading a fabulous book called The Happiness Diet which 
explains how to eat better for your brain so that you are more focused, have more energy, and feel happier. Sugar is by far the worst thing for your body and soul. Only a few chapters in and I can see that I’ll be changing the way I eat. I’ve allowed small amounts of BAD FOOD to creep into my diet. Change is a comin’…I’m sure you’ll hear more about what this book has to say in future posts. (And if you want to jump onboard – go grab a copy of this fabulous book today!)

3. Mindless eating. I tend to read while I eat and this leads to mindless eating. I become engrossed in the story in front of me and forget that I’m feeding my face at the same time. I need to pay attention to what I am putting in my body. Not just what I eat, but how much. I want to enjoy my food more. I’m certain I can’t give up my morning newspaper with breakfast, but I can stop reading during lunch. It’s a start.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Top Ten Things I Want to Learn in 2014

What do YOU want to learn this year? I’ve been giving this some serious thought. Generally, I just wait for a topic, hobby, adventure to hit me and then I go figure it out. But this year I’m being intentional. Here’s my working list of what I want to learn this year -

1. How to sell a book. I’ve got so many books in me. Three that are already written. What I don’t have is somebody to help me sell them to a publisher. Oh, I know I could self-publish, and it may come to that, but before I do that I want to do everything I can to get a real, live agent. This means learning how to perfect my query, pitch, and angle. This means trying some new tactics and not sitting here waiting to be discovered.

2. How to make soup. I’ve never been a big soup person, but I want to be. I’m not going to force myself to eat soups I already know I don’t like – split pea, squash based soups, clam chowder – I’m going to learn how to make soups I do like. For Christmas I bought myself a fancy new Cuisinart Soup maker with the gift cards I received, so now I can get down to business. Very excited about this project.

3. How to pick a college. The first of my three very bright children is beginning this adventure. I will accompany him to many campuses, peruse catalogs, meet with admissions counselors and find scholarship possibilities. And I will learn the game. I promise to pass along any great wisdom I collect in case you are headed down this road yourself.

4. How to be truly present. I am very good at doing ten things at once. But I don’t want to continue this crazy habit. I’m ready to experience my moments, pay attention to the person in front of me, and listen to my own heart. I haven’t figured out my strategy yet for challenging this lifelong habit, but it is something I want to work on this year.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Top Ten Things I Learned in 2013

We usually have a bonfire on New Year’s Day to burn the things we want to leave in the past. This is mostly symbolic with everyone writing things on paper and tossing them into the fire, but sometimes there are actual items to burn. I used to burn rejection letters from agents and magazines, but these days those lovely missives arrive via e-mail, so it would seem a backward step for the environment if I printed them out and then burned them. It’s much easier to toss them in the virtual trash.

Pinpointing what I’d like to leave behind forces me to evaluate the previous year. This year New Year's Day was cold and we were tired and still digging out from our party the night before. There was a game on and the kids were embracing their last day of unlimited screens. No one mustered up any enthusiasm for the annual tradition. Hopefully we’ll get to it sometime this month as there are several boxes of old bills and insurance papers we unearthed during our basement clean up that await the flame.

But I digress, as usual. This month I’m planning a Top Ten List theme. I like to take time at New Year’s to think about what went well and what didn’t during the past year. Creating these Top Ten lists will help me sort through the past year and make resolutions for the new one. My four themes are:

Top Ten Things I learned this past year.
Top Ten Things I’d like to learn in the new year.
Top Ten Things I’ll avoid in the coming year.
Top Ten Things I’ll indulge more in this year.

I’d welcome your lists if you’re inspired to create your own. I’d also welcome ideas for other Top Ten Lists.

So without further ado…..