Archive for the ‘Running’ Category

Apr

19

2016

Mind and Matter

Filed under: Drafting, Pondering, Revision, Running, Writing

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I can’t run right now. *growls* I mind and it matters.

The weather is perfect.

And up until last week, I was kicking milage butt. I was on track for one of my best months of running to date.

And now–not so much.

It started with some mild leg pain. But it wasn’t too bad, more like a sore muscle, so I was running through it. And it always felt better after the run. But even so, I started to notice my runs were getting slower. And instead of the leg warming up over the course of the run and feeling better, it began to hurt throughout the whole run. Clearly I was compensating for something wrong by changing my gait and now more of my leg was beginning to hurt. At this point I realized “running it out” wasn’t going to be the answer.

Boo!

I was going to have to stop running and rest the leg, which means I need to find other ways to keep up with staying in shape and eating right. Exercise is essential, because I may be willing to count those calories and hold myself accountable, but I’m not capable of doing it without some extra calories providing me with real food in moderation.

But here’s the problem…running is the quickest, most efficient way I know of, to stay in shape. I’m not saying there aren’t others, but this is the one that works for me. So, this means I’m now stuck finding other ways–more time consuming ways–to get a somewhat comparable burn. And I also have to go to a podiatrist and get my inserts checked. *sigh* And all of this takes time. Time I need for my writing.

You see where this is going, right?

WRONG!

And while all the changes have been inconvenient, the truth is that I’ve committed to writing at least a little bit every day this month with #WriteDaily30 a challenge run by Linda Urban. And because I’ve eliminated my excuses and decided that a little is better than nothing at all–I’m making daily progress on my writing. Really good progress that makes me happy.

So, what I’m trying to tell you is that I’m really grumpy because I can’t run and my leg is being a pain in the leg. But I’m also really excited because I got retrained on the nautilus machines at the gym and some day I’m going to be kinda buff. And then the pup is  dog-wagging excited that I’m taking him for longer walks. And despite it all, the writing is getting done because as I was recently reminded that it’s all about mind over matter…if you don’t mind being flexible, it won’t matter.

When has mind over matter worked for you? Have you had to cope with a running or sports injury? Were you climbing the walls?

 

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Feb

25

2016

Know Your Process

Filed under: Drafting, Pondering, Revision, Running, Writing, Writing Style

Yesterday I headed to the gym to run on the treadmill. While I was there, I learned it was an advantage to know your process. I went to the gym, not because I hate running in the rain, I kind of like it actually. But I didn’t think I’d want to run in the rain AND THEN go back out and play ball IN THE RAIN with the dog. Plus, I may have wanted a strawberry smoothie with flax afterwards.

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But, I digress.

As you may have heard me mention in the past, running on the treadmill is not ideal for me. Why?

  1. I get bored.
  2. I spend a large amount of my run trying to convince myself not to get off earlier than I should.
  3. I get a strawberry smoothie with flax afterwards. Yum! But let’s be honest, it’s not a lunch replacement.

Know your process. Running outside combats these three treadmill challenges rather nicely.

  1. Lots to see–nature and wildlife–never bored.
  2. If I run out as far as I can, I still have to come back. No one is going to give me a lift back home. I’ll get there quicker if I just run it out.
  3. After running, I’m way too lazy to make a smoothie. And the dog isn’t going to wait for more than a shower and pouring a cup of coffee to go out and play ball.

So, in general I’m aware of what works for me–I know my process. But sometimes, even when I know what’s good for me, I end up on the treadmill, despite my best intentions. As I listened to music I could barely hear in my broken headphones (asking for new ones for my birthday) while watching the really bizarre closed captioning that used to be so much better when humans did things, I realized that it helped to know my  process in a different way. Or maybe the best way to phrase it is I needed to create a process for the situation I couldn’t avoid.

As I pushed myself through my treadmill run, I pictured my favorite outdoor run route–the one that I do so often I no longer need to hear a voice in my ears telling what mile I’m at. Envisioning this was helpful to me. Instead of selling myself on the benefits of getting off the treadmill, I over layed my outdoor run process, on top of the treadmill run I was struggling with. I knew When I hit the one mile mark I knew I’d only gotten to the top of the very first hill and quite honestly, I’ve never in my life run that route and turned around at that point. Or the two mile mark for that matter. Why would I do it now? There was no reason to stop running.

I made it to 6.3 miles by knowing my successful outdoor process and using it to inform my treadmill process. Hey–whatever gets it done, right?

Additionally, part of my process when I’m running outside is to think. I realized I could still do that if I stopped some of the noise pollution around me, like the Live with Kelly and Michael Show subtitles which looked something like this…

Kelly: That tat two back is Adam Levine.

Michael: 6 mthdsa….hurt…xdhxdnl

Kelly: Never had–

Michael: Pain…

Kelly: Yeah, Buddy–childbirth! yahdl.,,sxsss

You get the picture. Or maybe you don’t. Instead of trying to follow the Adam Levine, tattoo, childbirth indecipherable subtitled conversation, I started planning this blog post. And the more I thought about my running process, the more I also thought about my writing process. How could I carry over the idea of…know your process…from one activity to another.

Here’s the facts. I’ve heard hundreds of authors, more experienced than me, talk about how every book is hard in it’s own way. I believe that.

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We all struggle at some point–or at many points in the journey.

But I also think that if you know your process–your writing process–you have a template you can use to help get you through any manuscript. It’s all about being aware of your mile markers. Do you struggle with getting started? Do middles make you mad? Is the wrap-up your biggest hurdle? Is character development killing you? Or maybe the plot fairy never shows up to your house. Knowing what obstacles make you want to get off the writing treadmill isn’t a quick fix for your speed bumps, you’ll have to put in the work in the area that challenges you, but it is still helpful. The more you know about where you get stuck, why you get stuck and how you got unstuck in the past–the more likely you are to keep pushing through the miles of drafting and revision you have ahead of you–no matter how much they make you feel like a turkey on a treadmill…

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Do you know your process? How does it help you through the tough spots? Is your process always evolving? How does it change with each manuscript you write? Any runners in the house? Treadmill or open road? And by the way, who likes strawberry smoothies????

 

 

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Feb

2

2016

2,000 Miles!!!!

Filed under: Check-it-out, Community, In the Wild, Pondering, Running, Stuff I Love

Woo Hoo!!!! On Sunday (January 31, 2016) I hit a HUGE running milestone. I’ve officially traveled over 2,000 miles since I started running. I’m probably irrationally proud of this feat, but I don’t care. If you’re a runner you probably understand, but if you’re not, I’ll try to show you how epic this felt to me.

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First off, I didn’t start running until May 21, 2010, which means that I didn’t start until I was 40 years old. So, yes–you CAN teach an old dog new tricks. Over the years I’ve grown as a runner, and my runs now are much longer than they were in the early years (especially when my kids were younger–#runlikeamother) but ultimately I reached this goal in 403 runs and averaged 4.9 miles in the approximate 6 years and 8 months that it took me to do it. This was something I’ve stuck with, even when it was hard and it often was. Sometimes it still is.

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I was also able to learn some other interesting things about my almost 7 years of running…

*I wasn’t fast, but I wasn’t slow either–averaging 10’15” miles.

*I burned a grand total of 204,241 calories which was still not the right amount according to my butt and my fascination with chocolate.

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*I’ve run on every single day of the week, but Monday is my get it done day. And I don’t have a graphic for it, but I believe I’ve run more outside miles than treadmill miles.

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*I’ve also become a morning runner which was not what I preferred when I first started. Now it’s how I like to start off my day, especially in the hotter months.

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And the big question…how far would running 2,000 miles actually get me???

The closest match I could find would be an epic run from New York’s Empire State Building to Albuquerque, New Mexico which means that I could have passed out after getting a high five from my fellow writer/runner bud Caroline Starr Rose <3 How awesome is that????

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THIS!!!!!! SERIOUSLY—THIS!!!!!

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And since I’m still having fun and don’t plan to stop, here are my future running goals…

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*It’s 326 miles to the 2nd and my next Purple Milestone.

*It’s less than 1,000 miles until I hit 3,000!!!! Hopefully it won’t take me 3 plus years to get there.

*It’s 1,103 miles until I hit the black level on Nike+running.

And…

*It’s another 3,106 miles until I hit VOLT status. *shakes with intimidation*

But what the heck–I’m planning on giving it a shot. If you had once asked me if I could run 2,000 miles I would have said you’re out of your mind. But I did it. So, I’ll keep shaking those rocks out of my socks and keep on moving. I wonder where it will take me next…

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Jan

7

2016

Taking the Extra Step

Filed under: Blogging, Check-it-out, In the Wild, Pondering, Running, Uncategorized

Usually, taking the extra step is a good thing. It’s about attention to detail and getting things done. It’s all about taking it to the next level, unless your me. *sigh* A couple days ago I headed up to bed, in the dark, carrying an armful of stuff. It’s dangerous to leave junk on the stairs where people can trip, right?

Well, it’s also dangerous to put it away.  The only way I can explain how it went down, is to suggest that my internal navigation system for climbing the stairs was off line. Clearly, the auto-pilot button was in the off position.

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I thought there was ONE MORE STEP. And I took that step. Which really threw me for a loop (literally) when my foot came down and that extra step wasn’t actually there. I sort of lost my balance.

The good news is I didn’t fall down the stairs. Instead I bounced across the landing while smacking my left hip against the corner of the next set of steps. The other good news is that I didn’t drop a thing–not even the mushy wet bowl of cat food I was carrying. Impressed with that feat, I stood up, shook it all off–I’m a Bumble–I bounce.

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Fast forward a couple days…

My butt cheek has a bruise that looks like a rorschach ink blot test. The chiropractor is observing one leg being a wee bit shorter than usual making me kinda crooked. And I’m not supposed to run until the whole compressed and rather tight area in my lower back gets a little break.

Not cool at all. I’ve been in the mood to run. Instead…I’ll be stretching and resting my backside. Haha–I guess it’s the extra step I need to get back on my running feet again.

Looking on the bright side, I’ve got more time to keep those blog posts coming.  You have noticed how diligent I’ve been in keeping up in 2016? It’s not really a resolution–more like me stepping up LOL!

What’s the most entertaining thing you’ve managed to do when your internal navigation system went off line?

 

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Jul

23

2015

Disney Wonder and Alaska

Filed under: Check-it-out, Family, Fun and Games, In the Wild, Pondering, Running, Stuff I Love, Touching the Surface, Vacation Madness

GRATEFUL EXPANSION: Vancouver, Disney Wonder and Alaska

I’m home! And it’s been a fabulous vacation and I want to blog about it for a couple reasons. First of all, I know a ton of people that are going on an Alaskan cruise in the next few weeks and a few are even headed out on the Disney Wonder. Since it was my first cruise and trip to Alaska, I would have loved a heads up on packing and protocol. Now that I know “stuff”  I’m happy to share what I’ve learned with everyone else. My second reason for wanting to blog about the experience is what I call grateful expansion. Many of you know that when I was first married, my husband and I were stationed in Augsburg, Germany for four years.

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Those four years were expansive for me. I learned to see the world and the people in it through a completely different filter and I am so grateful for that experience. Since then, this trip was the closest I’ve come to replicating that feeling. I saw amazing things. I met incredible people. And I was immersed in the experience with people I loved. Now I’d like to share a bit of it with you…

Vancouver, British Columbia is awesome. I swear the nicest people in the world live there. From the moment we stepped off the plane, people were friendly, helpful and welcoming. In addition to that, there are a million fabulous things to do. My favorite was to bike around Stanley Park. Bikes are easily available for rent and it’s worth the cost. But check with your hotel first because ours had a limited amount of free bikes available to sign out.

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The trip around Stanley Park takes roughly an hour and a half if you rent from near the conference center. But, there is more to do in Stanley Park than ride bikes. 

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The aquarium. (Buy your tickets at the booth where you can purchase horse and buggy rides–then you don’t have to wait on line at the aquarium. Score!)

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Check out the totem pole park. This was our favorite pole.

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And as I mentioned above, take the horse ride around the park. You learn so much interesting information.

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Just don’t expect it to be fast LOL! The walkers were passing us.

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But the horses were awesome of course.

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There’s also a gorgeous rose garden.

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And watch for the regrowth. The new trees spring forth from the old stumps.

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And don’t forget to walk through those majestic trees (off the exterior bike path, deeper into the park) to find Prospect Point. It’s an amazing view and there are refreshments up there too.

Stretching outside of the park into Coal Harbour there are lots more amazing sights…

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The view is gorgeous day or night. Watch the sea planes take off and land. If you’re hungry, be sure to eat here…

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The Cactus Club has the best buffalo chicken wings and lettuce wraps!

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And the view from inside is pretty amazing.

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Here’s the view of the outside looking in. Just like the Vancouver Conference Center, the Cactus Club has a living roof and you can climb up top and check it out after you’re full of yummy stuff. Other to-die-for restaurants in Vancouver were the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel. They had an amazing breakfast. We also loved Gotham Steakhouse, Cin Cin and Black + Blue.

On the other side is the Olympic Cauldron and on your way to the Cactus Club Loo you can check out three Olympic Torches on display.

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You also don’t want to miss some fabulous gelato…

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Bella Gelateria was the 2014 North American Gelato World Tour Champion! Expect to wait in a long line if you go in the evenings, especially if the weather is nice. As you might have guessed, it was worth the wait.

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And at the end of the day, don’t forget to put on your plush hotel robe and take it easy. Because before you know it, your ship will have come in…

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This is Canada Place and the spot where two cruise ships are parked every day. It’s right next to the conference center. Outside of Canada Place is the tourist center with lots of helpful people, internet access and free shuttles and transportation hubs to all kinds of fabulous local places. We took a shuttle to the  Capilano Suspension Bridge, Tree Top Adventure and Cliffwalk. We bought our tickets right in the visitor’s center before we got on the shuttle.

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But now it’s time to get your head out of the trees and put your feet on the ship because you are going to ALASKA!!!!!!

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I was worried about checking in, but the Disney Wonder made it easy. Be sure to read the booklet you are sent by Disney ahead of time and fill out all your paperwork online and print it out in advance. Also don’t forget to sign up for your port excursions on line. Some of them will sell out before you get to the boat.

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If you have the chance, get a room with a balcony, it was lovely. We spent lots of time on deck, but we also used the balcony on a daily basis.

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The bathroom is small (and in our case happily divided into two separate areas) but things can roll. I recommend packing things in small Ziplock bags so you can group things together but are still  able to see what you have. A hair dryer was provided in the desk drawer. No need to bring one.

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The space is tight without luggage, so be sure keep that in mind when you are packing.

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Disney gives you all the information you need to know what’s going on on the boat. It shows up on your bed every night along with an origami towel creature AND CHOCOLATE!!!!

There is also a Disney Cruise app that you NEED to download ahead of time. Once you hit the ocean, internet and wifi is sketchy at best and expensive on the boat. Download the app NOW (the 12yo didn’t do this and it took us forever and some extra cash to get him straightened out) and when you get on board just follow the directions to get hooked up on Disney’s Navigator system. This is also great because in addition to activities, weather, and dinning menus there is a CHAT component on the app. THIS IS HOW YOU STAY IN TOUCH ON THE BOAT! Someone can help you set it up if you need assistance. But it’s pretty easy and once you have someone’s ID number you can chat with them. The only negative was you couldn’t group chat, so I spent a lot of time repeating my messages to each child. But that’s what copy and paste is for. Also, my 10 yo doesn’t have a phone, but he was able to use an old phone of mine as a fancy iPod.

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Space is used very wisely on the boat, so come prepared to use it as smartly as you can. The trick I used to survive five people in a tiny area was to be organized. The boy’s suitcases were completely unpacked and each child had a shelf that fit all their stuff. Their suitcases were stored open (they didn’t quite fit closed) below the master bed. Their beds were convertible and were taken down every evening and put up every morning for space. The 0pen suitcases worked out really well because that’s where the boys then put their dirty laundry after I yelled at them. *shakes head* I do have a fabulous tip I’m going to pass on to you. Put an XXL Ziplock bag in everyone’s suitcase for dirty laundry (when you get home, just drop all the bags in the laundry room) and bring an extra for a laundry bag because there are laundry facilities on this boat! This will help you pack lighter which is important because there are so many weather possibilities.

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Everything is done with a swipe of your card. Easy peasy, but I don’t recommend doing laundry ALL THE TIME. Don’t spend your fun time doing chores–trying to go home with a clean suitcase. It’s just nice to know your stinky workout clothes can be washed. It’s also great if you spill something on your only jacket or if you run out of a particular item.

Here are my best tips…

*Watch the times and the machines and be prompt or your laundry will get pulled out and dumped on the ironing boards, which I think is completely fair with so many people needing to use the machines.

*Use a bag for a laundry basket and check your machines twice for runaway socks.

*Detergent is available in the machines. Just swipe your card to purchase. But I guess you can bring your own, especially if you’re scent sensitive. I am, but did okay with the Tide.

*Try to use the laundry at unusual times for the best results. My kids were out late doing activities and it was a good time to get it done while I was trying not to fall asleep. That ship air knocks you out.

But let’s talk about what to pack. The weather is unpredictable and you’re told you need dinner clothing and excursion clothing and coats and swim suits etc… It was enough to make me want to pull my hair out. Grrrrr I talked to people who had been on an Alaskan Cruise the week before us and the weather was in the 80’s and they were in shorts. I’ve also heard about trips with lots of cold and rainy weather the whole time. Our cruise was somewhere in between but erring on the side of good weather. But since you’ve got washers and driers, in my humble opinion, this is what I would bring if I were doing it all over again…

*For outdoor gear–think layers. I brought a mid weight sweat shirt that I ended up using all the time. And then a heavier fleece that I also used a lot. Then over either of those, or both if needed, I had a thin, packable down jacket and a thin, water proof rain jacket. Along with a hat and gloves and fingerless gloves for extra photo mobility– I had endless combinations I could layer and peel off. I also recommend you bring a small waterproof backpack to carry those layers and other small items during excursions. I found a lot of success with these Geckobrand Waterproof bags I found at Dick’s Sporting goods.

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We all had one and the boys used them as carry on bags for the plane. They were inexpensive and every time we went out they packed up what they needed for the day and I ended up carrying less and everything stayed dry.

*I also had a lot of success with packing thin, versatile sports/hiking style pants. My personal faves are Athleta’s Shasta pants. I own them in every color. They can be full length or capri and they have multiple pockets with some that zip and are big enough to hold my iPhone 6. The pants are on the expensive side, but I asked for gift cards for Christmas and my birthday and they are worth every penny. You can also find other similar type pants at LL Bean, Lands End and Title Nine. But I think you can get them in lots of places if you look. Having said that, I did bring one pair of jeans and one pair of knee socks and I wore those on the days I had colder excursions. This was when the laundry came in hands.

*I didn’t wear any of my shorts, but I’d still throw a pair or two in knowing I had the washers if needed.

*Shirts–I wore a mix of short and long sleeves depending on the day and my layering.

*I went nuts, bringing the boys and myself enough dress casual dinner wear for the dinning rooms. In my opinion, a total waste of my time and packing space. We had one dress up night and then the rest of the time we all wore whatever we were wearing that day. BUT…having said that, there were some families that did dress up a little bit more because they wanted to but there were plenty of people in dress that was even move casual than mine. Whatever floats your boat is what you should do. My boat floats in comfy casual wear and sneakers.

*Speaking of footwear. This was my go to shoe…

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These are my running shoes and they were perfect for walking around on deck, running the track, going on excursions or even to dinner. I also brought a pair of flip flops for the pool and one pair of dressier shoes. I’d leave the other three pairs I packed home if I was doing it again. The boys had dress shoes, flip flops and sneakers with them.

*I never used my swim suit, but there were adults in the pools pretty regularly–especially on the warmer days. My kids went in often. I would still bring my suit on the off chance I decided to take a dunk, but I preferred running and reading on deck in my free time.

*Speaking of running, there is a gym and a running deck so feel free to bring a couple work out outfits. I brought two and had planned to rinse in the sink, but was happy for those washers again.

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Also, when you run on deck 4, in addition to the amazing sights of British Columbia and Alaska, you get to see all the incredible people who work to keep the ship clean and safe. These folks are amazing.

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Part of the run includes this room at the front of the boat which appears to function as a work room for repairs. It was always fascinating to watch and someone was always waving at me or smiling.

*Bring magnets! I should have taken a picture, but ALL of the doors in the endless hallways of rooms look almost identical. My kids tried to join other families on several occasions. The doors of the rooms are magnetic and lots of people decorate their doors with magnets or pictures hung with magnets so they could find their room. Brilliant!

*You also get a Key to the World card (kids too!) and that’s your room key, credit card and ID for entering and exiting the ship. Most kids wear lanyards with card holders around their necks. You can buy these at the gift shop (once you hit open water) but if you have a lanyard at home–bring that puppy and save yourself some bucks. You can see my 12 yo’s lanyard around his neck as he grabs a selfie with Mickey LOL!

 

 

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Now it’s time to go on some excursions!!!! First up was Tracy Arm Alaska and the South Sawyer Glacier. AMAZING!!!!

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We hit the opening of the Tracy Arm Fjord at lunch time, so we were on deck having a BBQ when I SAW TWO ORCA WHALES IN THE WILD!!!!

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I miraculously caught a picture (not as easy to see this small) but they are there. Start watching for those orcas as you enter and leave Tracy Arm. It’s my understanding that this is the best time to spot them.

Can’t you see how happy I was to have witnessed those beautiful creatures in the wild???? Bucket List–CHECK!

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Keep your eyes open all the time because everything is amazing.

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The further in you get the more icebergs you’re going to see.

And then you’re going to see the South Sawyer Glacier…

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All I can tell you is that these little pictures do not do it justice. You will be in awe. Be sure to get to the front of the boat early so you have a prime spot for watching as you approach the glacier. And be sure to dress warmly because it was cold, especially with the wind. Bonus, the fabulous Disney staff came around with coffee, hot chocolate and soup in bread bowls to help keep you warm. I love them. <3

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Can you see all the layers I’ve added as we’ve moved closer to the glacier? We made it to .6 of a mile, the closest the Wonder has gotten so far this season.

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If you can’t take the wind, there is a break in the front, but I was outside in front of the glass. I was willing to be chilly to fully enjoy this once in a lifetime experience.

And while my kids thought the whole thing was amazing, they were also entertained by being able to play on the sports deck with the glacier in the background. The 10 yo would score a goal and then take a selfie with the glacier in the background. *head thunk*

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Disney also grabs a 200 yo piece if iceberg that had calved off of the glacier. Then they brought it aboard for the kids and *clears throat* me to touch and explore.

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And lastly, after a perfect day, don’t forget to look for the iceberg at the end of the rainbow. It’s magical.

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Our next excursion was to Skagway, which was our first trip off the Disney Wonder.

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Skagway is a tiny little town that I loved.

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Our first stop of the day was the White Pass & Yukon Route train ride. Learn all about the history of folks racing to Dawson City for the gold rush.

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Our train car came with a stove, bathroom and complimentary water bottles. This was also the first time we had phone service since we departed Vancouver (unless you bought a plan on the boat.)

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Each car had a platform so you could get outside pictures. Some of the drop offs were very high and steep, making me really glad I didn’t have the job of building that rail line.

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Gahhh!!! We are headed to THAT bridge and tunnel way up there!!!!

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Here we are–ready to go in.

And don’t forget to look backwards from time to time. The view is incredible.

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The ship to the left is the Disney Wonder.

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Near the summit, keep an eye out for the Trail of ’98. This was an original, primary route to the Dawson gold fields.

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On the way back down from Fraser (the stopping place for the White Pass) you get to freeze your butt off in front of 1 of the 5 Welcome to Alaska signs in the state. *fist pump*

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And once you get back to Skagway, known as The Place Where the North Wind Blows, it is much warmer than at the higher elevations.

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We decided this is about as far as we’d happily travel the Yukon Trail LOL! And just so you know the folks who made the trip were carrying enough food and supplies with them to last a year. (Canadian entrance requirements) Which meant that each person was toting 2,000 lbs of supplies.

Even though Skagway is small, it’s BIG in history and you’ll learn all about it.

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And if you get hungry from all that history and shopping, stop by the Red Onion Saloon for some awesome nachos. I’ve never seen food disappear as fast as those did LOL!

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And last but not least…

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Don’t forget to get back to your ship for all aboard–THEY WILL LEAVE YOU IN SKAGWAY WITHOUT 2,000LBS OF SUPPLIES AND YOU’LL HAVE TO FIND YOUR WAY TO JUNEAU ON YOUR OWN.

Next up on our trip was Juneau. Juneau is super cool because the only way you can get there is by boat or plane. You can not drive a car to Juneau. In fact they have one 60mile road in town that dead ends. It’s called *drum roll* The Road. They also have The Bridge and The Channel. Juneau is also in the rainforest, so they get approximately 42 non-precipitation days a year. Unfortunately for us,  I was told that they’d already used them all up for the year LOL!

Make sure you get out early in Juneau because the all aboard time is very early due to the distance the ship has to cover that night. To compensate for the early departure, we went into town for two hours before our 10:30 excursion meet up. My only frustration with this plan was that we still didn’t have enough time to explore the town the way I wanted to.

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But I did find a book store!!!! And of course I stopped in to say hello to the wonderful folks at Hearthside Books. Make sure you support Indie Bookstores and stop by when you visit. I’m sure they would love to see you.

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Next up was our excursion to the Mendenhall Glacier in Tongass National Park.

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We only had an hour here, so we didn’t have time to go to the museum and see the movie. Bummer. But we did hike out to Nugget Falls for an up close look.

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I also want to give a shout out to the best bus driver ever–Whitney Houston!!!! It was totally NOT your fault that those 10 people didn’t make it back to the bus on time. ((((hugs)))) She also taught us the five finger method for remembering Alaska’s salmon. You can quiz me later. And so many hysterical stories I may never love another bus driver more. Forever.

Next up was whale watching and lots of singing of the Gilligan’s Island theme song…a three hour tour. LOL!

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I may have been so hungry I ate a reindeer dog on the boat. So, an FYI, limited snacks are available on board. I suggest you grab them right when you get on the boat if you’re starving because the line can get long and then the whales start showing up and you keep jumping out of line…

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Even with the rainy weather we saw a ton of whales, including two mom’s with their calves. <3

And then there’s me with some of mine.

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Of course there’s the argument…seen one whale, seen them all.

Teenagers.

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As a reward for surviving our wet and hectic day, we set the kids free on the boat. (Okay–we did that every day and they loved it.) But this time, while they were ignoring us for more fun things to do, we headed out for an adults only dinner at Palo. YUM, YUM, YUMMITY, YUM. Do not miss this dinning experience.  All the food and service is top notch. Ask for Leo to be your server, he was amazing and tell him Kim Sabatini sent you. <3 All the food was incredible, but the gnocchi was heavenly and the white bean soup was delicious. I may have tasted the tomato caprese and fallen in love, too.

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But the star of the Palo show was the chocolate souffle. It’s to die for and let’s face it–I know my chocolate. Luckily calories don’t count on cruises, right? If they did, I’m sure I could have gained weight just sniffing this treat.

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Our last excursion was to Ketchikan. Rain was predicted but we ended up with gorgeous, perfect weather. So first on the agenda was zip lining in the rainforest of Tongass National Forrest.

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Safety before beauty :o) I’ve also got my Shasta pants on again.

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We had an amazing time and the staff of Alaska Canopy Zip Lining were wonderful and fun. It was the boy’s favorite excursion of the trip. Then it was into Ketchikan to hang out for the rest of the day. The weather was so gorgeous it was impossible to stop taking pictures.

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We even headed down to historic Creek Street.

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And of course I found another independent bookstore. <3 Parnassus Books, run by the sweetest former children’s librarian. I wish I had hours to roam the store.

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I found this book on their shelves and I can’t wait to begin reading it with the boys. A Tale of Gold by Thelma Hatch Wyss.

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After finding out the Fish House was closed, on recommendation we heard the Burger Queen was king. Unfortunately we were there on a Sunday and the food barge doesn’t come in until Tuesday and this burger joint was out of burgers. Boo! If you end up going and getting a burger I want a full report. We did make it to Annabelle’s for some clam chowder. Yum!

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But sadly, all good things must come to an end and packing and laundry must begin. *sob*

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With our nose pointed home, we headed back to Vancouver, but not without our last day at sea being extraordinary.

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Over the course of the trip I saw two orca whales, numerous bald eagles, humpback whales and sea lions. And then of course there were glaciers, mountains, sunsets, the ocean, captivating history, new friends and so much more. It is beyond words or pictures.

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This was my favorite lounge chair on deck and I spent hours reading and watching an endless amount of beauty go by. I shall miss that chair.

It was also time to say goodbye to…

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Giant Jenga

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The 24 hour coffee and hot chocolate machine. And the soft serve ice cream machine. *moans in despair*

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It was also goodbye to first run Disney movies (Ant Man and Inside Out) and movies outdoors on deck. So much fun.

The hardest goodbye was to Quinten and Oscar, our servers for the whole entire trip. Table #70 RULES!!!!

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They were the BEST and we miss them already.

If you are going on the Disney Wonder, you MUST request to be at the table of Quinten (India) and Oscar (Columbia). Call ahead if you must. Or as you board the ship, go immediately to Triton restaurant and ask to speak to someone who can make that happen. Then be sure to hug them both for me. Twice if you can manage it. I consider them friends now.

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Phew I think it’s time to put a fork in it–this trip is done.

I’m going to be honest–this post has taken me two days to write and my brain is fried. I covered as much helpful information as I could think of, but I’d be happy to answer any additional questions that show up in the comments. Feel free to ask away.

I’d also like to take a moment to let you know about my YA novel TOUCHING THE SURFACE since people likely to be researching a cruise on the Disney Wonder have kids who are YA readers.

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Touching the Surface
October 30, 2012
Simon Pulse – Simon and Schuster
Experience the afterlife in this lyrical, paranormal debut novel that will send your heart soaring.When Elliot finds herself dead for the third time, she knows she must have messed up, big-time. She doesn’t remember how she landed in the afterlife again, but she knows this is her last chance to get things right.

Elliot just wants to move on, but first she will be forced to face her past and delve into the painful memories she’d rather keep buried. Memories of people she’s hurt, people she’s betrayed…and people she’s killed.

As she pieces together the secrets and mistakes of her past, Elliot must find a way to earn the forgiveness of the person she’s hurt most, and reveal the truth about herself to the two boys she loves…even if it means losing them both forever.

“Sabatini creates an exquisitely tangible alternate reality, ordering the cosmos with impressive authorial derring-do, crafting answers to ontological questions with grace, disarming simplicity, and nary a trace of dogma. All while believable teens–teen souls, that is–tangle with affection, selfishness, and doubt. Thought-provoking and romantic, Touching the Surface takes risks with narrative and form, and succeeds on multiple levels.” –RBW (Chronogram)

“Soulful and inventive. A thoroughly original vision for what happens next.” –Daisy Whitney, author of The Mockingbirds

“This gorgeous, lyrical read will sweep you away.” –Jessica Verday, bestselling author of The Hollow trilogy

TOUCHING THE SURFACE is available here:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

IndieBound

Book Depository

If you would like a free signed book plate and a bookmark for your copy of TOUCHING THE SURFACE please drop me a line HERE and I’ll get one out to you asap.

If you would like a signed hardcover or paper back edition of TOUCHING THE SURFACE you can request one at my local independent bookstore Oblong Books and Music. If they do not have any signed copies in stock, I’ll be sure to make a special trip to the bookstore just for you.

And on a side note, I’ll also be sending out signed copies of TTS to the public schools in Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan. This way, at least a little bit of me will get to stay in Alaska. <3

I hope this blog post helps you have your very own grateful expansion. If you get the chance, let me know how it went.

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Jun

9

2015

Lived Instead of Captured

Filed under: Check-it-out, Community, In the Wild, Pondering, Running, Stuff I Love

As most of you might remember, I run outside whenever I get the chance. And because I live in a wooded area, it’s not unusual for me to cross paths with a variety of wild life, including deer, wild turkeys, squirrels, chipmunks, wood chucks, ducks, hawks and even eagles. Yesterday’s run will be one I never forget.

The weather was cool, in the 60’s and it had begun to rain. I was running on an unpaved road and I was enjoying the texture of damp rocks and earth beneath my feet while I was listening to Bill Bryson’s I’m a Stranger Here Myself. I was about 4 miles into my route and even though the sky was looking like it was going to truly open up any minute, I had all my big hills behind me and was headed back.

Rounding a small corner, I came to an abrupt stop. No more than 15 feet away from me was the tiniest baby fawn I’d ever seen, just standing there on the side of the road. Mom wasn’t more than ten feet away from her little one, but she was positioned in a way that a wire fence and brush were between her and her babe. My plan was to stay quiet and watch. Maybe even get a picture to show the boys if I could get my phone out of my belt without alarming them.

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That’s when it happened…the already large eyes of the fawn lit up. I’m not kidding. This itty, bitty creature, not much taller than my thigh, grew excited at the sight of me and toddled over on wobbly legs. It’s poor mother was having a heart attack. I prayed Mama wouldn’t jump the fence and land on me as her little one then came up and put his or her nose against my hand. I’m sure I would have been privileged to pet the little one, if at that moment, the near hysterical mother hadn’t given a loud snort of warning and chastisement to her child. Once again the fawns face changed–registering that it had possibly made a huge mistake. On pencil thin legs, it turned away from me and teetered into the woods on the other side of the road. Mom was out of the meadow and after it before I could blink. And then they were gone.

With a huge smile on my face, I ran on with Bill Bryson in my ear phones. He was talking about the ever growing, weird phenomenon of people living their lives in temperature controlled houses, malls and cars. I listened to his humorous, but sadly true observations on how we’ve become a society of people who find it too easy to remove ourselves from nature and the connections it has to offer. It felt incredibly timely and ironic all in the same breath.

But that wasn’t my only deep thought as I moved down the road. As my mind replayed this once in a life time experience over and over again, I also couldn’t help but think about how the littlest creatures of the world, animal or human, seem to be born without prejudice. Even now, I keep seeing those eyes and that moment when a fawn looked excited to see me. I’ve never felt so connected to an animal in the wild before. It gave me a flush of hope for bigger things–kinder things.

It also made me so glad I’d stopped everything to enjoy that particular moment–instead of trying to capture it with a camera. I love taking incredible pictures, but some experiences are meant to be lived instead of captured. And perhaps if I’d had a picture, I would have posted that, instead of taking the time to paint you one with my words. Writing this down was it’s own kind of pleasure.

I can’t wait to go running again…

Have you ever had a moment like this? You must tell me about it.

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Oct

7

2014

October’s Accountability Calendar-I’m a Star

Filed under: Check-it-out, Community, Drafting, NaNoWriMo, Reading, Running, Writing, Writing Style

When I kicked off September, I told you of my sticker/calendar plan for being more accountable in my writing. #writesticky The original goal was to shoot for a very reasonable, attainable daily word count. I started off working on two very different WIP’s so I split my goal to at least 200 word on each piece, but I also gave myself room for revising. Ultimately my first month using stickers was successful, but over the course of the last few weeks I’ve made a few changes. I’m going to tell you what they are and why I made them, but first a look at September.

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Woo hoo! I earned 20/30 of my adorable stickers. There were a few days were I got in some writing, but real world distractions kept me from getting my reward. So close… *sob* But there were also days where I wrote way more than my goal. As I mentioned earlier, I quickly started seeing ways in which I wanted to modify this accountability system to suit me better. The first thing I discovered was that I didn’t always want to work on both manuscripts. When everything is clicking with one WIP, it was counter productive to stop one project to hit my word count in another. So, shortly into the month, I gave myself the option of writing 400 words for the manuscript of my choice and I was really happy with that.

Next I decided that I didn’t want to count revision towards this goal. I have a tendency to let my inner editor have too much room in the drafting process (which isn’t always good) so I decided that I could revise all I wanted, but I still needed to hit my 400 word count. I was all set to do even better in October than September when outside forces really made me reevaluate how I wanted to use my calendar and stickers. I saw everyone abuzz on FB and Tumblr. Victoria Schwab started doing this neat little calendar with stars. You can check it out HERE! I LOVED it!

In a nut shell, she did this…

Basically, I get a calendar and a variety of colored stars, and make a key each month based on what I need to accomplish.

Usually it’s:

1) 500 words written

2) 100 pages read

3) exercise

4) school

I loved the idea immediately! But I also needed to individualize it for me. I didn’t want to keep track of my reading, because I do that on Goodreads and I’m happy with my reading output anyway. I also didn’t want to track my running on the calendar because I keep track of my miles religiously on Nike. It seemed like overkill. But I found I did want to give myself a bit of an incentive for writing more words above the baseline. So, my October calendar now looks like this…

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My key looks something like this…

*Blue Star-500 words

*Green Star-1,000 words

*Red Star-1,500 words

*Silver Star-2,000 words

*Gold Star-2,500+ words

And I’m also writing in the actual word count. Because let’s face it, 1,643 is different than 1,500 when you’re counting words. And I loved how Victoria was able to see what her total was at the end of the month. That’s motivational. So, that’s what I’m doing now and as you can see, I’m doing pretty good so far. *fist pump* Almost 5,000 words in 6 days and only one day I didn’t get to write at all. Although, I’m thinking of throwing a notebook in my bag when I’m on the move and seeing if I can get those mobile words in. Sometimes I forget I’m not surgically attached to my lap top LOL!

What’s also great about what I’ve been doing is I also feel like September and October are getting me prepared for NaNoWriMo. I really want to do this again. So…if I can get far enough in the draft of the book I’m working on, I might feel comfortable putting the MS away for a much needed break and starting a draft of something else that’s been brewing. Something I’ve been scratching out notes on. Something that’s been tugging at the corners of my brain when I run and when I’m dozing. I don’t know if it will make sense to drop what I’m doing. If I’ll be far enough along to switch gears. But we shall see. Part of me thinks it would be delicious–having two drafts to revise. Drafting is always the hardest part for me and the NaNo momentum is just amazing. I loved it last year. I learned so much about myself and my writing process. But I think my October calendar will tell me what I need to know as I get closer.

And what about you? Hope you’re having a lot of success with your calendar or whatever form of accountability you’ve chosen to get the words on the page. I’ve been re-listening to WRITING DOWN THE BONES and I just caught a segment today about how writing is like running, which you know made me smile. The gist of it was that people who want to be good at something train. They show up. They do the practice. Running is hard, but if you do it enough, you start to get into a rhythm that gets you back out on a regular basis. You learn to love the practice. And I believe that. In August I ran 7 miles, I don’t think I ran much more than that in the stretch of months before that. A long stretch. But in September I ran just over 75 miles and I’m sticking to around a 20 mile a week pace as I’m hitting October. It feels good to be showing up to my runs and my writing. Tell me what you’re practicing.

 

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Sep

25

2014

I Read for Ten Miles

Filed under: Check-it-out, In the Wild, Reading, Running

I read for 10 miles yesterday!!! Wait that sounds a little weird. Let me clarify–I ran my longest run ever and the whole time I was running I was listening to a really awesome audiobook!!!!!! There are not enough exclamation points for a sentence like that. LOL! And it gets even better because I’ve acclimated to having a brain where half my attention is completely absorbed in the awesomeness of the story, but the other half is studying writing technique. *fist pump*

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So, if I wasn’t clear about the awesomeness of what was going on, I spent about two hours of my busy day multitasking in the best of ways. I got to exercise while being simultaneously entertained and educated. And the bonus plan was that I didn’t have to feel bad about my Wednesday night bowl of ice cream because I burned 1,000 calories on that run. The only thing that was kinda tough was staying awake long enough to get my own writing done for the day–especially when everything (including my fingers) hurt LOL! I think today I’ll read the old fashioned way…snuggled up on the couch.

Anyone else reading for distance? Any audiobook lovers in the crowd? They are great in the car (can still be measured in miles) LOL! And they also make folding laundry a much better experience. Any guess about what book I finished on my run? I’ll give you a hint…it’s an adult apocalyptic novel getting a lot of well earned buzz. I really loved it.

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Sep

16

2014

The Novelty Has Worn Off

Filed under: Check-it-out, Pondering, Running, Writing

Ohhhhh! Bright and shiny and new! Isn’t that how things always start off?

Think about back to school–everyone starts off perky and excited and about two weeks in the fluffy, fun, get-to-know you stuff is over and the focus is work. I’m not trying to say fun things won’t happen over the course of the school year–but lets be truthful–people are already posting on FB about having kids frustrated and in tears. Two weeks in and parents already need wine to get through their child’s homework challenges or to recover from the after school activity schedule. I know that even though mine are loving so much of what’s going on, they would trade it all in for homework free lazy summer days in a heart beat. And the novelty of making school lunches is sooooo over? Oh, wait–that was NEVER fun!thumbnail-1.aspx

And then there’s running. I am determined to get back into shape and my best way of doing that is planning on running right after I get the kids off to school. Can’t go home until I’m put in some miles. (I don’t run everyday so this is a reasonable plan) And it’s been working. I’ve logged 33 miles so far this month when I only logged 7 in August! But let’s be honest, even though the more I run, the easier it gets physically, the more I run, the harder it gets because the first blush of young running love has turned into a kind of hum, drum begrudging relationship. *sigh* BUT once I start, I don’t feel that way. In fact, I feel great, but the starting–almost as bad as making lunches.

And let me tell you, the novelty of the 11yo’s fish tank has worn off completely. Now that I have two hamsters that are pretty low maintenance by comparison, I kind of wish that all the fish would peacefully die of old age in their sleep–tonight. Does that make me mean? Since all the fish are still alive, I prefer honest with the potential to write an aquatic thriller some day.

And speaking of writing. The novelty of a shiny new story ALWAYS wears off at some point in the process. But since I’m a more experienced writer than I used to be, I’ve also come to realize that the novelty of crying writer’s block has also worn off. I know too much to be able to shut myself down completely. So, here’s what I do when the novelty of a manuscript has worn off. These options may not be as good as writing 2,000 fresh and exciting words a day, but I think they are the bridges we use to carry us to the next high.

*Write at least a small amount of bad words even if you don’t want to. You might find something salvageable. You might jiggle loose a flood of good words. You never know. But at the very least, you’ll feel like you didn’t step away from the project for too long.

*Make a playlist, a Pinterest board, a map of your world, a character outline or take road trip to research something related to your manuscript. This is creative fuel for the road ahead and it helps to clarify your thoughts. It shines a light on your vision in a different way.

*Participate in mindless exercise and let your thoughts just float and see what happens. I’m a runner and this is a great brainstorming time for me. I never underestimate what comes out when I let my subconscious take the lead.

*Work on a different project. Be careful with this one. You can’t let the secondary project be a thing that allows you to never finish the original piece. But sometimes I find that I need to feel productive with something–any thing. And I do know that I will return to the MS at hand and get it finished. So I’ve been able to trust this method.

*Give yourself a break. Really. A day off here and there isn’t the end of the world. Just be working most of the time. Every once in awhile I notice that the dishes and laundry and all the other house and boy stuff has built up and it feels like Mt Everest is sitting on my chest. I’ve learned that taking a day off to right my world is better for my writing than trying to work while sitting in the shadow of a mountain of guilt.

*Be hard and flexible at the same time. Be tough–ask yourself to be professional and hard working and you’ll be happy you did. But don’t beat yourself up when something doesn’t go according to plan. It never does for ANYBODY. It’s never about always being right–doing things perfectly. It’s all about how you pick yourself up and drive forward, even when the novelty has worn off.

 

Got any other tips for what to do when the novelty wears off? Time to share–I can always use a few more.

 

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Jan

1

2014

The Secret Life of Richie Stanulwich

Filed under: Family, Pondering, Running

Today it’s 9 years since my dad died. Every New Year’s Eve, after watching the ball drop, I sit down and write a post for him. This year I knew I wanted to include a certain song in the post, so I toyed for weeks with the idea of writing it down ahead of time. No matter what I did,  I couldn’t quite make the words come together the way I wanted them to. I didn’t know exactly what I was supposed to say–until I went to the movies tonight and saw The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It was amazing. And it brought it all together for me.

First the song…

It’s a Miracle by Barry Manilow

I keep this song on my run list and whenever it comes up I yell “Hey Daddy” at the top of my lungs and point to the sky. I’m embarrassingly loud but not really embarrassed at all. Of course, when I’m at the gym I give it up with a whisper, but he still gets a fist pump. It just feels right.

But why does this song remind me of him so much? Why does it pump me up every time I hear it? I think it’s because I’ve always thought of my Dad as having a secret life like Walter Mitty.

My dad was a gentle, complex and wonderful man who had all these crazy wants and dreams tucked away at his core, but he buried those wants and dreams  because he didn’t know how to balance them with being a good husband or a good father. He was responsible and obligated. He just did his jobs. He led his life the best way he knew how. Sometimes he zoned out.

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Just like Walter Mitty, my dad was a “ghost cat.”

(I won’t spoil it for you with an explanation of what that means–go see the movie.)

My world was a really good place because of all the choices my dad made and all the things he did for me, but I often wonder what he would have been like if he would have allowed himself more of the real life magic while he was here. But despite that, I’ve stopped thinking of him as having missed out. Now when I hear that song, I always get the strangest feeling he’s off having adventures and he doesn’t have to zone out to do it. I have an overwhelming sense he’s now joyful and he’s doing all the things  he never did before. He’s going to the most amazing places. This is how I picture him when we’re running together.

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When I hear that song, I know he HAS found his way home and I am always thankful that it’s still right next to me.

Happy 9th Anniversary Daddy. I heard you tonight…

“But the message here was plain to see
Believe me…”

Love’s Divine.

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