#WoofWednesday: Action and Adventure!


LASSIEToday’s Dog Park Drama courtesy Jill Scheilbaum.

Metaphysics of Gratitude


It’s Thanksgiving. Count your blessings. What are you grateful for?

We’ve heard it all our lives. When I was younger, I thought it was just a way to make yourself feel better. It’s more than that. There’s magic in the phrase “thank you.”

Masaru Emoto photographs water crystals formed after water is exposed to different words, pictures, music and conditions. His most beautiful crystals  occur after exposure to the words, “thank you.” To my mind, that makes “thank you” the most important words you can say. If you are not familiar with Emoto, check out his work. I’s awe-inspiring.

Gratitude is transformative. Many years ago, I read one of those “how to be a real woman and manipulate your husband into giving you everything you want” books. I forget which one. And I was only reading it for my personal amusement. Honest!

The author said that you should thank your husband for every gift he gives you, even if you don’t like it. Why? Because if you make him feel successful at gifting you, he will do more of it. and if you criticize his effort, he won’t want to try again. Praise gets you more and better stuff.

I’m not going to share my feelings about this as marital advice. But it works on a cosmic level. The catch? You have to mean it.

What ever life hands you, find the gift in it and give thanks. It may come wrapped in newspaper and duct tape, but don’t be fooled. There are blessings inside. Honoring those blessings will make them multiply.

Master your situation and find happiness in it. The irony in this is, when you find that mastery and happiness and are perfectly willing to keep your situation, the Universe will decide you are ready for more of its special brand of blessings and propel you into a new one.

Catch number 2: Many of these situations involve lessons. To master the situation, you need to grow in a way specific to your situation. Mastering it may mean to come to love it. But it may also mean to see it for what it is and reject it, as in toxic relationships. The trick is in telling the difference.

How can you be grateful for a toxic situation? For my no-longer co-dependent self, I was grateful for the opportunity to re-experience childhood dynamics as an adult. It gave me the opportunity to see those relationships for what they were, change my behavior and let go. It freed me from the past.

That’s just one item on my gratitude list. I’ll publish more later this week. Until then, peek under the duct tape in your life. What blessings in disguise are lurking there?

Gotta Brag! A Shot in the Bark is #1!


Doing the happy dance here! I never thought I’d see #1 in the Free Kindle Store. Shot is free through Monday. If you don’t have your copy yet, click the cover in the sidebar to get yours.

BONUS: Shot is part of the whispersync program with Audible. If you own the Kindle edition, you can get the audio, with Jane Boyer’s wonderful narration, for $1.99. How cool is that?

Maximum Security Launch Party


Just a reminder – Maximum Security is going live today (or it’d better be!) It’s supposed to be up on Amazon by 7 pm but it’s running late!

Book or no book, I’m still having a party, with some fun (silly) dog related activities and lots of prizes: eBooks, audiobooks, 3 astrology readings (because Lia and Peter get a reading in the book) and the grand prize is an oil portrait of your dog from photos you supply.

The fun starts at 7 pm and lasts till 11. Join me at the Maximum Security Launch Party on Facebook.

#WoofWednesday – Behind Closed Doors


Turmeric and Weight Loss: Cautiously Optimistic

On October 19, I wrote about the purported weight-loss benefits of turmeric.  Since then I have been experimenting with the spice. Below are my observations so far.

Please keep in mind that my particular case is difficult. I take medications that contribute to weight gain, I suffer from overwhelming fatigue and can’t exercise, and I need to consume a fair amount of healthy fats for proper mood management and brain function. My results so far have been interesting but not stellar. A person without my deficiencies may well have significantly better results.

I started with a teaspoon of turmeric in hot water, taken as tea. This had a mildly disorienting effect on me, so I decided to take it at bed time. In 3 days, I lost two pounds. I got cute and wondered if this would still work if I ate a bunch of carbs and sugar (well, the magazine said it would!) and gained it back immediately.

I became discouraged and decided to stop the turmeric until I had a new tin of it. For all I knew, the turmeric that I had been using came out of King Tut’s tomb.

I started up again November 5. That was 12 days ago. In addition to taking turmeric at bedtime, I am drinking 1/2 lemon squeezed into hot water first thing in the morning to promote good liver function. I’m also sticking to a reasonable diet, watching carbs and avoiding junk food. I am not controlling portions or counting calories.

In 12 days I have lost 2.2 pounds.

Not exciting. But wait! These have been very stubborn pounds, and the weight loss was steady, without the usual bobbing around on the scale. My friend, Desiree, also made the point that herbal treatments often have to build up in the system, and to give it more time.

Today I realized I have been measuring pounds, but not inches. So I got out the tape measure, and it appears I have dropped some bulk. I can’t say for certain, because I did not measure when I started this experiment. I dragged on a pair of pants that haven’t fit in a few years, and while they are not the lovely, baggy fit I enjoy, I can wear them again.

I am no longer craving junk and I am feeling fuller on less food.

I had dental surgery a few days before I started the turmeric, and turmeric eased the pain significantly. It is a terrific anti-inflammatory. and of course, I am racking up all that cancer-prevention, liver-cleansing and cholesterol-lowering power.

Bonus: I am waking up alert in the morning.

I am tolerating the turmeric well, so 2 days ago, I increased from 1 tsp. to 1 tbsp. Note: if you want to try this, please see my initial post regarding potential issues with turmeric use.

I am cautiously optimistic. I’ll keep you posted.

#Woof Wednesday: At the Dog Park


Tempering Those Great Expectations

I was talking to Jessica today about everything I’ve been doing for the past week, preparing to launch Maximum Security – as I spoke, this familiar tide of excitement rose up in me along with visions resulting from the thought, “I could get a gazillion guests at my launch party, and . . . .”

And I squashed it. Like a cockroach.

Why? I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve only been writing for 3 years, but I’ve been painting for 40, and put on countless art exhibitions. I’ve learned one thing: God rains down sudden abundance on people like Colleen Hoover mostly to test the faith and commitment of everyone else (Okay, maybe Colleen being really talented and nice and totally awesome and deserving had a little, teeny bit to do with it).

My progress comes in inches and any big leap is followed by a setback. I feel like I’m doing the Cha-Cha-Cha. This is typical. Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, talks about the many obstacles he had to overcome to get the book published (144 rejections? A gross of rejections? Sheesh!) and then get it noticed.

The excitement I was talking about is that lottery ticket moment, when they call out the numbers and the first one matches your ticket. Then number two matches. All of a sudden, all things become possible and you feel like you might burst.

Then the third number doesn’t match.

When I buy lottery tickets, I put them in my wallet and forget about them until the next week. When it’s time to buy a new ticket, I pull out the old one and let the machine scan it. That way the anticipation is minimized and the let down is miniscule.

I try to approach launches the same way. Do the best I can to promote the book and don’t think about the results. Today it snuck up on me. Why did I squash it? It’s fun to think about having a runaway best seller and having the Big Six duking it out over you, and movie rights, and, and . . . .

Save your fantasies for your books. Fantasizing about personal success is like a drug. It sets you up for a crash when things don’t play out the way you imagined, and it keeps you from appreciating the results you do get. And like any drug, you always want more.

I read something many years ago that always stuck with me. You know how Van Halen (remember them?) got their record contract? One day this record producer (I think it was a record producer. It was someone important, anyway) wandered into an almost empty bar. There was this band playing their hearts out like they were in front of 1,000 people instead of 3. He knew right then and there that they were the real deal and he had to have them.

Imagine if the band had been focused on how they wanted a big crowd? Then nobody shows up and they get bummed, and their playing shows it, and the VIP isn’t impressed and heads out the door, leaving a half-full beer on the bar. Instead, they had an attitude that was something like, “Hey, this is so cool because we’re musicians and we’ve got a stage and we get to play music,and we love playing music.”

What if someone told them someone who could make their careers was in the audience? Ever blow something because you were putting too much importance on it? Ever focus so hard on winning big that you couldn’t enjoy what you were doing or the success you did have?

Remember Sarah Hughes? She won the Olympic Gold Medal in women’s figure skating the first time she competed. I’ll never forget her. Her performance was amazing. Why? Because she entered that competition in fourth place and thought she didn’t have a skating rink’s chance in you-know-where to win against her idols. She later said she decided to just appreciate skating in the Olympic finals and enjoy herself. I don’t think she was more talented than the other skaters. The three world-class veterans ahead of her were too grimly focused on winning. It showed in their tense and mistake-riddled performances. Sarah focused on skating and radiated pure joy during a perfect performance.

Pretending success isn’t important isn’t a tactic to get the money men knocking on your door. If Van Halen didn’t get the contract, if Sarah Hughes hadn’t won a medal, they would have still enjoyed that moment for all it was worth. It doesn’t hurt that being relaxed and in the moment is likely to result in better performance, and a better performance is more likely to attract attention.

Enjoy what you’re doing. Do the work, but focus on the process and leave the results to come as they will.

The Power of Good Enough

I’ve read amazing authors, from Ken Kesey and John Steinbeck to James Lee Burke and Harper Lee, whose perfect, seamless prose carried me away to those wonderful, far places where books transport us. I never imagined I could be one of them. They never inspired me to write.

My inspiration came from a very forgettable culinary mystery I got from the library. So forgettable that I can’t recall the name of the book or the author. I only remember reading it and (after I figured out who dun it and why, say a chapter in) thinking, “This got printed, and the library bought it. I could do w-a-a-a-y better than this.”

I thought about Tami Hoag, who started out writing mediocre romantic suspense and who now pens first-rate thrillers. I had a bit of a “Doh” moment. “Just because you start poorly doesn’t mean you have to stay that way. You can get better.”

These two instances gave me the courage to proceed when I dared myself to write a novel. They created a benchmark I could beat. “I don’t have to be perfect. I just have to be better than that.That will be good enough.”

It got me through my first novel, which is now in the same library with the nameless culinary mystery.

It’s important to have such a benchmark when you’re writing a book because a book is never finished. You just stop tweaking it and decide to let it go. Painting doesn’t have the same problem. You can only paint so much before you ruin your work with over-painting. The skill in painting lies in learning to stop before you hit that mark. Not so with writing. You can revise until Judgement Day and beyond.

“Good enough” gets published. “Not perfect yet” grows old with you, never leaving home.

I’m in a dangerous place. I proved I could write an engaging novel with A Shot in the Bark. I proved it wasn’t a one-off with Drool Baby. Now I’m in the final hours with Maximum Security and I want to make it better than ever. I’m being lured by the idea of perfection on my nth pass, goaded by my editor’s challenges to my creative genius suggestions.

I haven’t found my new benchmark, my new standard to beat, and it’s driving me a little crazy. But the calendar comes to my rescue. In 13 days, I’ve got to stop. I have a launch party to host. Maximum Security is already better than my past work. It will be good enough.

#WoofWednesday Shine a Light