Daily Prompts

Thoughts: 1:2:20

Have you ever made a New Year’s Resolution that you kept?

No and here’s why.

I think my resolutions have always been someone else’s resolutions. Not to say I haven’t wanted those things I’ve resolved to do but rather, they were goals that weren’t that important or realistic for my lifestyle.

Not to mention, I just get bored with trying after a while.

I’m lazy. I really am. And I’m terribly selfish with my time. I think that selfishness stems from the fact that I spend the majority of my time helping/serving others. I work in the medical field so my day comprises of being available to our patients and at my doctor’s beck and call.

I don’t feel like I truly have time for ME. Because given the choice, I WOULDN’T do this job – it goes against every grain of my body – but somehow, I’m good at it. And I’ve gotten to the point where I feel comfortable doing the job and I like my co-workers so I don’t see myself starting over any time soon.

Plus, I’m just too old to start over. I could, but I don’t think it would be a good thing, overall, to do that.

I think if alternate day fasting has taught me anything, (and yes, I’m still doing that), it’s that I need to do what works for ME. Granted, I don’t know what that is until I try different things but I need to stop and recognize when something is not working and try something else. And NOT beat myself up over failing.

Ultimately, I’m scared of failing. I’m scared of wasting precious time because again, I don’t have a lot of time TO waste. I think that’s my biggest hang up with writing – I’m scared to fail. But how can I succeed if I don’t fail?

So, though it’s good to have goals, I think it’s more important to have REALISTIC goals for YOU and YOUR life.

Daily Prompts

Thoughts: 1:1:20

I’m asking the obligatory first of the year question:

What goals do you have for this year?

I want to write more and finish a novel. Notice I didn’t say it has to be a GOOD novel, but something tangible, something workable.

I want to do a better job of balancing my work/personal life and take more days off. Life is too short.

I want to blog more.

I want to successfully complete a bullet journal. (More on that later).

I want to take more pictures.

I want to improve my mental/physical self.

I want to make money from my writing … somehow.

I want to cash in our frequent flyer miles and take a long weekend trip with Kevin (in addition to our yearly cruise).

Your turn: What goals do you have for this year?

 

Book Corner

Book Review: Verity

Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.

Oh my words, dear readers, the  premise of this book … THE PREMISE! This was a really interesting, disturbing and thought provoking read. At first, your sympathies lie with Verity – poor Verity. She was involved in an accident that left her basically a shell of a woman. She’s present, but she’s not. And though I understand Lowen’s situation and the temptation of taking the job of becoming one of her favorite author’s ghostwriter, I find myself disgusted with her for taking the job and for developing feelings for Jeremy, Verity’s husband.

So, I’m not a fan of Lowen’s at first.

But then Lowen finds Verity’s autobiography and now Verity is not who we all think she is.

Bit by bit, the reader learns more about Verity and the evil that resides inside this shallow, selfish, apathetic woman. Now, I’m cheering Lowen and Jeremy along because it’s clear that Verity is crazy and doesn’t deserve Jeremy.

I love how Hoover alternates between what is happening and Lowen’s gradual read through Verity’s autobiography. Though I wanted Lowen to read faster, I’m really glad Hoover resisted the temptation because the drawn out suspense was what really pulled me in.

I love that this was a suspenseful book without the usual suspense elements. Perhaps suspense is the wrong word, tension is a better word and the growing tension between all of the characters kept me immersed in the story. In the meantime, Lowen and Jeremy are trying to fight their attraction for each other but the reader is cheering them on.

There is a lot of creepy factor in this story, too. Is Verity faking it? Or is Lowen’s over-active imagination playing tricks on her?

The climax of the story is pretty great but what shoves it into five stars for me is the very ending where Lowen finds a letter and it throws her, and the reader, into utter disbelief and confusion; did it really happen that way, or didn’t it? Was it a writing exercise or did it really happen the way Verity portrays in her autobiography?

My theory is, it really happened and Verity wrote that letter as a way of further manipulating her gullible husband and as a last-ditch effort of trying to disguise the evil that seeped from every pore of Verity’s body.

The only thing I wasn’t a fan of was how the book opened and how Lowen and Jeremy met. I think beginning the book at the office would have been sufficient and I felt like Hoover’s opening felt out of place to the rest of the story and not necessary though it didn’t really put me off – just felt like a strange decision on Hoover’s part. Then again, maybe that opening had a deeper meaning and went completely over my head – the whole story was so full of unexpected surprises.

One last thing – I couldn’t figure out why my spellchecker didn’t put a red line under Verity’s name.  I’ve never heard that word before and to my knowledge, it wasn’t a word. Oh, contraire readers. I looked it up – Verity means truth. Holy shit, I love this book even more because there wasn’t a truthful bone in Verity’s body – or was there?!

Highly recommend you read it. It’s a great spin on a twisted premise. It’s a story that stays with you long after you read it and makes you go HMMMMM….

___________________________________________

I finished my GoodReads challenge for 2019! I read 100 books! That is a personal best for me and I probably could have made it to 105 but I decided to give myself a break from reading for a few weeks before diving into next year’s challenge. I will try my best to write reviews on all the books I read next year. I’d still like to start a reading group, in fact, I started one way back when on GoodReads but never did anything with it, but it just seems like so much organizing … I’ve had a few peeps at work express interest so maybe I’ll do something with it at some point. Would this be something you would be interested in? Leave me a comment below!

Abundant Life

Spiritual Fads Are a Waste of Time

Breathwork, really? I guess this is the newest “fad” to try and find inner peace.

I have a theory – people are constantly searching for peace, meaning of life, purpose. I feel like “restless souls”, or people who feel the need to constantly move, whether that’s in their daily lives or physically move locations, are simply searching for … something.

I think that “something” is different for everyone and maybe most people can’t define it, but it makes me sad. So when I see videos like this one, I can’t help but roll my eyes because to me, it’s simply another “fad” where people are trying to once again, SEARCH for the elusive SOMETHING.

I believe that “something” is spiritual, in essence. People who don’t believe in a higher being, or have faith in something outside of themselves, are generally unhappy with themselves, with their lives and dissatisfied by life in general.

This is simply my opinion coming from a Christian who likes to observe people and analyze motivations. For example, why are some people into tarot cards? Or Scientology? Or witchcraft? Or any other beliefs outside Christianity? To me, the essence of those beliefs are not any more strange to believe in than the “fate” or messages from cards that a person randomly flips over, or from aliens or from a super natural power than it is to believe in a kind, loving God who started all of this by creating humans to inhabit a world He specifically made for humans. I just don’t understand – if people are willing to put so much FAITH in these alternate beliefs, then why NOT believe in God?

To me, people who participate in alternative rituals or beliefs are almost making a conscious effort NOT to believe in Christianity. As if they are saying, “Nope, I’m not believing in Christianity because it’s an old and antiquated way to believe and the majority of people are Christians and I’m enlightened and different and there MUST be something else out there that I will work hard to try and find just so I can prove EVERYONE else wrong.’

I’m not saying this to insult anyone who is not a Christian, believe what you want, it’s called free will, but as an observer of life and looking at these various “fads” and “religions” from the outside, it truly baffles me that people put so much time and effort into something other than Christianity.

What’s the end goal here? If you’re looking for peace or the meaning of life, or the purpose of YOUR life, the Bible has those answers. Are the answers not good enough? Do they not satisfy a deeply embedded need? Is it not enough? Is it too simple? Do people think it can’t surely be this simplistic and reject it to pursue new and different?

I truly want to know.

Matt talks about “hallucinogenic’ effects of breathwork whenever he would participate. Could it be simply that you’re depriving your brain of oxygen and that’s why you’re feeling this way and it has nothing to do with any spiritual experience? And the fact that he admits to feeling emotional at the retreat, where his wife was present, and not having that feeling when he tried it at home by himself. Could you have had that emotional experience because you heard your wife cry out and empathized with her struggles because you love her and that’s what we do when we love someone? Perhaps it had nothing to do with a spiritual experience and more to do with the fact that you were forced to still your mind and body and be more aware of your surroundings, your thoughts and feelings.

I think breathwork is bogus, but I do appreciate, yet again, an attempt to MAKE people stop and disconnect with technology and appreciate stillness. I think anything that makes us do that is important, especially nowadays where it’s trendy to be “busy” and “connected” through all of these crazy social media outlets.

Don’t you find it ironic that we’re more “connected” than we’ve ever been in the history of man and yet so many people are lonely, sad and unhappy?

We are more connected to “each other through electronics” but more and more people are being persuaded to get away from God because it’s not “cool” to be a Christian and you must be crazy to believe in an invisible, all-knowing, and all-powerful creator.

You don’t think there is some correlation there? Because I do.

All I’m saying is, why not forego these crazy new spiritual “fads” and desperate attempts to create something that brings people peace and fulfillment and just go back to what has been available this entire time: God?

Just a thought.

Food, Getting into Shape

Alternate Day Fasting: Two-Week Update

Good day, everyone!

As the title suggests, yes, I’m still doing the alternate day fasting. I’m heading into my third week.

I’m currently fasting on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. I have figured out those are the best days for me to fast. I routinely have clinics on Mondays/Wednesdays and I have found that if I’m fasting on one of these days, I lose patience with patients more easily and I’m on my feet all day so I’m burning calories and feel more hungry. In addition, we have a lot of food days and I didn’t want to miss out on those days with my doctor and mid-level.

My feeding days are, Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Again, these days work best for me. Fridays and Saturdays are the days that Kevin and I go out to dinner and again, I didn’t want to miss these “dates.”

I’m only fasting three days of the week because I’ve been reading (I’ve done A LOT of reading up on this topic) that if you fast for too long, your body goes into starvation mode and instead of releasing your fat reserves for energy, it holds on to your fat because it doesn’t know when it’s getting it’s next fuel. I don’t want that to happen because if I’m going to put myself through this, I want to maximize the benefits.

So far, so good. It’s been a struggle, I won’t lie, but mainly with my Ghrelin hormone, i.e., your hunger hormone. This hormone kicks in when your body is used to eating, breakfast, lunch and dinner times. I have to keep busy and drink lots of water when that hormone rears its ugly head. But it’s manageable and not too uncomfortable, more annoying than anything else.

There have been two occasions, around 6 in the evening, where I feel like my stomach starts turning inside out and is eating itself. It’s terribly uncomfortable and borderline painful. When those times occurred, I cried uncle and ate a spoonful of peanut butter which helped calmed it down enough I could handle it. Yes, I broke my fast, but I worked hard to keep my calories under 500 calories during those times. This is not ideal and I felt like I failed when I gave in and ate just a bit, but I honestly couldn’t think of anything else, the feeling was THAT powerful. So, though not ideal, you have to do what is best for your body and at that time, I felt like I needed to do that. However, I’m going to try very hard NOT to let that happen again.

After the second time of this happening, I looked up what I could do to avoid that feeling in the future. The information I’ve found said to eat a lot of protein before your next fasting period. So, this past Wednesday night, I ate dinner, as usual, and then, before I went to bed, I heated up some frozen cauliflower, broccoli and carrots in the microwave and ate that whole bag, (well, nearly all of it) and a can of tuna and when I fasted on Thursday, I felt no hunger pangs, at all. In fact, that day was the most comfortable I’ve felt fasting. It was a breeze.

Yes. My body is getting used to these fasting periods, but I really think eating the vegetables and tuna really helped get me through the 36 hours of fasting. Because that’s what it ends up being, 36 hours of fasting. For example, tomorrow is a fasting day. So, I will eat breakfast, lunch and dinner today, won’t eat anything at all tomorrow and will break my fast at breakfast on Monday. That is roughly 36 hours of not eating anything.

I worried at first that I would want to binge eat on my feeding days after coming off a fast but so far, I haven’t experienced that. Yes, I’m hungry, but not ravenous. And I can feel my stomach has shrunk so when I do eat, I’m not gorging myself. I’m also more focused on making sure I’m eating good foods as opposed to junk food. Yes, I still eat the occasional slice of bread or sugary snack, but I’m not going overboard and quite honestly, I’m not really craving junk food that much; I find that I’m craving more good foods and they are tasting better as well.

I’m so lazy that I didn’t take my body measurements when I started this and I certainly haven’t weighed myself because I stress too much about numbers when I do that, but instead I’m focusing more on how my clothes fit. I have noticed that my scrub tops are fitting looser. I don’t have to tug on them quite as much to give myself breathing room, though they are not hanging off of me I definitely think they are looser.

I think the biggest indicator for me will be when it comes time to do my health screening with work again in the summer, when they take my blood pressure and weigh me. I’m hoping my weight drastically shows a difference, but other than that, I’m not interested in weighing myself.

Speaking of vitals, I have noticed a DRASTIC change in my resting heart rate since fasting. My resting heart rate would typically run in the high 70’s but I’ve been noticing that my Garmin is charting low 60’s now. Granted, I don’t know how accurate my Garmin tracking is, but in the three years I’ve been wearing my Garmin, my resting heart rate has NEVER been that low.

I haven’t noticed any changes in my energy levels so far. I don’t feel like I’m more tired than I was before though I do feel like my mental clarity is a bit better; I don’t feel as sluggish as I used to. And I feel like the quality of sleep I’m getting is a bit better, too, but it’s still early days.

My next plan is to start making it a goal to get 10,000 steps per day. I typically average about 7/8,000 steps on a clinic day so reaching 10,000 on those days won’t be too hard but when I’m not in clinic and sitting all day doing computer work and answering phones, I only get about 4,000 steps. I need to get back in the habit of getting right back on the treadmill when I get off work instead of changing into comfy sweats and sitting down to veg on YouTube videos. Everything I’ve been reading about fasting cautioned you about not really attempting any “hardcore” (not that I’m ever a hardcore fitness geek) exercise program right after fasting but to give yourself a few weeks to adjust to the changes before starting anything outside your normal day-to-day stuff and I feel like I’m ready to incorporate more physical activity now. So I will dust off my treadmill and start walking again.

I also plan on trying Keto coffee to see if that helps suppress my appetite on fasting days. Keto coffee is coffee, coconut oil and butter blended together. I bought coconut oil and butter last night and I just bought a foam frother on Amazon to take to work and use.  I’m excited to see if the Keto coffee hype lives up to the name.

I was talking to my brother-in-law about fasting on Thanksgiving and he let me borrow his “Complete Guide to Fasting” book. I haven’t read it yet, I feel like I’ve gotten so much information about fasting from YouTube, but he says he’s done five-day water fasts before. I don’t think I’ll ever get that hardcore about fasting, but then again, I never though I would be doing what I’m doing now, so you never know.

I also downloaded an app on my phone, it’s called “My Net Diary” just to keep track of what I’m eating on my feeding days. Though I have no intention of counting calories, this has been interesting to see and it does motivate me to keep my calories under my “ideal” calorie intake in order to reach my ideal weight goal. It has become a game, of sorts, to keep my caloric intake within range. I’m hoping this, along with fasting three days a week, will accelerate my weight loss goals.

I’ll check in with you all again in a few months on my fasting journey and let you know how it’s going.

Overall, I’m very happy and excited to fast. I feel better, I will hopefully, eventually, catch sight of my chin again someday and I hope all of the research I’ve read is correct and I’m preventing Alzheimers and extending my life expectancy by fasting.

Writing Stuff

Catching Creative Ideas

Drama is anticipation mingled with uncertainty. – William Archer

I’ve read 99 of 100 books so far this year. I’m almost to my goal. And the more I read, the more I’m convinced my own story ideas suck rocks.

Because the last few books I have read have been spectacular when it comes to surprising the reader with a twisted premise.

I’m currently working on trying to come up with a story idea that will do the same thing. These are the types of stories I like to read and I want to write a story like this.

I like to pride myself on being able to write from any prompt, but I’d like to come up with my own idea and truly write something organic.

The only problem is, I SUCK at ideas.

So what do I do? I turn to trusty YouTube and search for “coming up with plot ideas.”

And I watched this video. Mr. Herzog offers some great insights on how to generate ideas:

1. conceiving
2. developing
3. conveying

I need to train myself to be more observant and ask more questions. What if needs to be my mantra.

I’m not giving up on this writing gig, but I do need to learn patience.

Which I’m pretty sure is a trait I was NOT born with.

Book Corner

Book Review: Losing Leah Holloway

Five years ago, Claire Fletcher escaped her abductor. But some scars never fade, and surviving was just the beginning…

When Claire sees a car full of children careen into a river, she rushes to the rescue. But the driver, a mother named Leah Holloway, prefers to drown. For Claire and her ex, Detective Connor Parks, it doesn’t add up. What would motivate a woman with a beautiful family and a successful career to resort to such unspeakable extremes? What Connor finds out confirms Claire’s suspicions of something dreadful behind Holloway’s picture-perfect facade: a link between the terrified mother and a serial strangler targeting Sacramento soccer moms.

As Claire and Connor are drawn back together, their investigation leads them to unearth everything Holloway was hiding. What they find could be the only way to stop a killer from striking again.

First of all, if you haven’t read Finding Claire Fletcher, I would highly recommend it. Though Losing Leah Holloway is not about Claire, she is a character in this story that gets pushed into the drama and to understand her character and her struggles, reading Finding Claire Fletcher will help you understand Claire better.

I gave this story four stars but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, I just didn’t love it. And I think I didn’t love it because the “main” characters played more of a secondary role in the story, which makes no sense and on the surface sounds really weird, but in this story, it worked, I just wish the story centered more on the main characters and less on Claire.

Though Claire is an interesting character and the reader feels like she knows Claire through the previous book and she is central to the beginning of the story, (her and her sister witness the car driving off the bridge and Claire is the one who saves the children), she’s not really who the story is about. She is a character who keeps things moving – the glue that makes the story stick together.

This story is not about Claire specifically, it’s about the story that happens around Claire – on her peripheral, and it’s …… interesting.

Once again, the premise is different and disturbing. Though I ultimately predicted where the story was going I wasn’t quite sure how it would end. It was somehow satisfying for Claire to be the catalyst at the beginning of the story and then be the inhibitor at the end of the story as well. That approach felt well rounded and complete, somehow, even though the main story wasn’t really about her.

I know this sounds confusing, but Ms. Regan does a good job of making it work and I appreciated the creative approach to this story. It was almost as if Leah’s story was told through Claire.

And though interesting and entertaining, I still felt like it missed something. Though the author takes us back in time and you can see Leah’s rationale for doing what she did, I still felt like I didn’t really know her, D.J. or Rachel. I would have like to get inside their heads a bit more just to fully flesh out the story.

But I understand why Ms. Regan didn’t approach it this way because again, it was a story that happened TO Claire, it wasn’t Claire’s story.

At any rate, I really enjoyed the bread crumbs that Regan dropped into the story. Things are definitely not as they appear and Leah’s life is all about appearances. I find this concept fascinating because it makes me wonder what sort of lives people are TRULY living when they drop their facade.

We all have a public face, a public persona, but who are we, truly? I can tell you with 100% conviction my public face is NOT who I really am.

What goes on behind closed doors? What are people really thinking? How exhausting is it to maintain that facade? What is the thing that makes that carefully constructed castle finally crumble?

This is really what this story is about. Human endurance and reaching the breaking point. It’s a story about desperation and depression and the lengths people will go to mask those feelings and fake normal. It’s about finally opening the “forbidden” drawers in your psyche, pulling out the horrors folded within and allowing them out to air dry.

And if that doesn’t sound pretty, it’s because it’s not.