Category Archives: Life

Wednesday Inspiration: A Me Day!

Yes, I took today off!

Aside from replying to emails and messages, I didn’t do any work at all. Instead, I started my day off with my morning read (Madeleine L’Engle’s Circle of Quiet) and then some journaling. And then I went shopping! I woke up later than I’d intended—so instead of going for my morning walk, I walked to where I wanted to go shopping.

It took about 4300 steps altogether, there and back. Not great, but not too bad.

I’ve had a ton of stuff I needed to buy for myself—small things I needed, the kind of things it’s so hard to make shopping time for, because on their own they’re so, well, small, and the time it would take to find a store specifically to get the thing just never seems worth it. Today, though, it was like a quest, and since it was the morning of a weekday, the shops weren’t crowded and I had such a good time.

And once those little things were seen to, I bought some summer clothes! I can’t remember the last time I went clothes shopping. I think it was snowing at the time.

But it wasn’t really the shopping that made it a Me Day. It was leaving the guilt at home, wandering through the aisles of the store, just browsing. Seeing what caught my eye.

When I got back I had a lovely late lunch of shawarma chicken salad which my husband brought back (he and Dylan went for a visit with my mom today), and then I spent the rest of the day sprawled on my bed, playing a fun quest kind of game on my Android.

As for tonight? A glass of Malbec and then it’s early to bed. A perfect way to end a Me Day, catching up on much needed sleep.

It feels strange to have spent the day like this. But I feel both refreshed and revived. And on my way home today, I thought to myself, I need to take Me Days more often!

Snapshot: May 26, 2015

Time: 8:08 p.m.

Feeling: Pretty good – yay! This early morning walking has really been making a difference. I love it, and I feel so energized for much of the day. Mind you, I end up going to bed earlier than normal, but that’s a good thing, since it’s something I’ve been trying to accomplish for a while now.

Eating: I’ve got spinach and ricotta sausages in the oven. Will pair them with stir fried cabbage and stir fried spinach.

Drinking: Water! Loving my water. But also looking forward to my nightly glass of Malbec.

Reading: Lots of things! I’ve been peckishly bookish all day—ever have that, when you find yourself jumping from book to book? So I’ve basically read a little bit of everything I’ve got going.

the damned

Sped through the first part of Andrew Pyper’s The Damned this afternoon. Very readable, although things kind of slowed down a bit towards the end of part I. I’ll probably finish this one fairly quickly, as long as it picks up speed again.

disclaimer

I’m also reading Disclaimer, by Renée Knight, for a book tour scheduled for next week. The story is compelling. The writing? Not so much. Still quite readable though.

Listening: I finished Jurassic Park in audio last week, so I moved on to Lost World this week. Unfortunately, I fell asleep while listening to it the other night, so a whole lot of rewinding is in order. My falling asleep while listening to it shouldn’t be held against it—I was just really, really tired that night (all that walking, right?) So far, though, it’s as interesting as I remembered.

Writing: Well, I’ve been thinking about it, so that counts, right?

Working: Finished off an indexing deadline last night, and have four articles to write this week and next, but otherwise the deadlines are light. Which is great because it gives me time to work on the book marketing stuff for Booktrope. And I still have to create a website and Twitter account for that particular hat.

Exercise: I’ve now gone for my early morning walk five days in a row! I’m really really excited and pleased and happy about this new routine. The best part is, I’m even sneaking in some running!

I don’t love running enough to wake up in the morning eager to go for a run, but walking’s a totally different thing. So what I’ve been doing is running just a little bit when I start my walk—and when I say a little, I mean a little! Like, maybe two minutes! Okay, I might be up to three minutes by now. What I’m doing is going just a tiny bit further every day. Building up my stamina bit by bit. Eventually I’d love to be running for half of my walking hour, but I’m quite willing to take it slow.

Saturday Random: Walking Gear, Anyone?

Time for a bit of self-congratulations (or should that be self-congratulation?): I went for another walk today, first thing in the morning! So that’s two for two, right? Fifty-seven minutes and one more tick on the ole habit chart. With any luck I’ll be able to say, “Yay! New walking habit firmly established!” once I add another 64 ticks to the habit chart (because science tells us it takes 66 days to create a new habit, rather than the 21 days of myth).

So now that I’m thinking I may be on my way to daily exercise via walking, I’ve also been pondering all the gear I need. And you thought all one needed for walking was a pair of good shoes, right?

Well, okay, that’s true, but the consumerist in me wants a bit of fun, too. (Confession: the consumerist in me often wants a bit of fun.)

I already bought a bigger walking pouch yesterday; I could barely squeeze my phone and my keys into the old one I had. The bigger pouch lets me carry a small bottle of contact lens solution plus a lens case (in case something gets into my eyes), my sunglasses (which I don’t like to wear but if I’m walking past construction sites with mounds of dirt I need them on to keep stuff from flying into my eyes … are you noticing a trend here?); my earbuds, my debit card (for, you know, in case I get thirsty for an iced decaf Americano or get the munchies) and a loonie and a toonie—for non-Canadians, the Canadian dollar coin and two-dollar coin (for places that don’t take debit cards).

So what’s on my want list, you’re wondering? (I’m sure it’s more likely you’re thinking, what on earth else do you want to lug around with you, Belle?) No worries. I’m feeling only a little bit consumerist, so there are just a couple of things on my list.

First, I’d like a wide-brimmed a sun visor because unfortunately, when I get too much sun on my face my freckles now like to multiply into brown spots, even when I’m wearing zinc oxide sunscreen. My baseball cap doesn’t have a wide enough brim to do the trick of shading more than just my eyes. I do have a big floppy straw hat but I look kind of ridiculous wearing it with my t-shirt and workout pants. Plus it tends to fly off when things get even a little windy.

Second, I’d like a bottle to hold my water, with a handy dandy wrist strap. So much better than carrying bottled water (more environmentally friendly, too). Plus, as I know already from my walk today, it means I won’t have to juggle holding a water bottle plus a decaf Americano while trying to fish my keys out of my walking pouch. (I have no willpower when I smell coffee.)

I’m also thinking about trying one of these walking apps, too. Luckily, they all seem to be free for the basic versions.

Not that I’m going to let the lack of these things deter me from developing a new morning walking habit. Which is a good thing, because I’m the kind of consumerist who likes to add things to her want list but doesn’t like to actually head out to the stores to find and buy them. (It’s the “find” part that puts even the consumerist in me off.)

Now that I think about it, though, a Fitbit would be nice, too. And easily available online …

Do you like to go for long walks? What’s your favourite walking gear?

So I Said Those Fateful Words Today …

roadway

I managed to get up bright and early for my walk with my friend Christy—I actually woke up before my alarm was supposed to go off! And while 7:15 a.m. probably sounds like a normal wake-up time to a lot of people, I can’t remember the last time I was up so early in the day, as in up and about and doing things like, you know, moving around.

We met at 8:10 a.m. and walked together for a little over an hour. Then I race walked the ten minutes it took me to get home. It’s just a little after 10:30 a.m. right now and I am absolutely bursting with energy!

It was SO much fun, we’ve decided to meet up every Friday morning. Plus I want to walk every morning, so I’m planning on walking by myself all the other days, too. This energy I’m feeling is just amazing!

But for Christy, our walk today was really later than she’d like. She runs a food business and usually has meetings scheduled on Friday mornings.

So yes, as we were discussing  meeting up next Friday, I said those fateful words.

“Why, yes, I can meet you at 7:15 am on Fridays.”

I know, right? I ACTUALLY SAID THIS.

But you know what? I think I can do it. I really think I can start getting up at 6:30 am.

But just in case, if you all could send early-morning-wakefulness vibes my way, it would be much appreciated.

Photo credit: Pixabay

Snapshot: May 21, 2015

The Victoria Day long weekend really threw me off—I normally write my Snapshot posts on Tuesdays, but when Tuesday came around I thought it was Monday, and on Wednesday I wanted to write about something else so I’m doing my Snapshot post today. Whew. That was a long, and probably unnecessary explanation!

Time: 2:09 pm

Feeling: I wish I could say refreshed, because I’ve been feeling quite refreshed the past few days, but wouldn’t you just know it, since I’m writing a Snapshot post of course today I’m feeling tired.

Eating: I’m about to make my anything-goes veggie soup. So delicious, and with heaps of veggies in it. And parmesan cheese.

Drinking: Water. Lots and lots of water. It’s my latest thing, drinking water, and I’m really liking how it makes me feel. Plus I’m starting to recognize again when I’m thirsty (which is fairly often).

Reading: Still working my way through Good Omens; it’s been mostly in my bag, so I’m not getting through it as fast as I would if it was an “at home” read. It’s good and funny and just a great read for when I’m out and about.

I also started A Game of ThronesI just couldn’t resist the temptation. But I only read the first couple of pages, because I’m just not ready yet to be caught up in a whirl of down-the-rabbit-hole book addiction the series promises to be. I’m witnessing that firsthand anyway: my older son is still working through the series; he started book 4 yesterday.

Listening: I’m almost finished Ready Player One and am wondering WHY it took me so long to get to this book. It’s so good, and Wil Wheaton is perfect narrating as Wade Watts.

ready player one

And some slightly related fun: Dylan downloaded the Akinator app on the weekend, and yesterday we had a such a fun time with it. Akinator is a genie who’s able to guess the character you’re thinking of, simply by asking you a bunch of questions. I was slightly awed by how he managed to guess Wade Watts. I did manage to stump him several times, though, with characters from and authors of some of my favourite, but older, reads. If you want to give it a whirl, here’s the web version. Warning, though: it can be slightly addictive!

Writing: Yes, I’ve been writing! Yay! So okay, it’s only been a few paragraphs to start off a couple of short stories, but I also pulled out my half-completed manuscript for the dark fantasy I’ll be workshopping this summer in Kelley Armstrong’s writing class. I have the next scene in mind, and in the meantime I’m rereading it to get reacquainted with all my characters. It’s progress!

Working: The indexing load has been nice and even, which helps a lot when it comes to my stress levels. I just finished an indexing deadline, and have another one next week, plus an article. In other news, I’ve signed on as the marketing manager for my first author at Booktrope, and it’s been such fun working with her.

Creating: Nothing yet. *sob* So much for being creative every day, right?

Exercising: I’ve been trying my best to keep moving throughout my day, and I’ve also been using my standing desk, too. Tomorrow is my first walking date with my friend; we’re meeting at 8:00 a.m., a time at which I’m usually still sleeping, so wish me luck!

So that’s the Snapshot of this past week. All my focusing on stress reduction seems to be working so far – yay! How has your week been?

A Long Weekend Monday

It’s the long weekend here in Canada: Victoria’s Day weekend. And as often happens—it’s one of the dangers of living the freelance life—it really snuck up on me.

In the future, I’m hoping to develop a work schedule where I don’t work on the weekends. Hopefully if I do this, I’ll actually know when a long weekend is coming up! But for now, I usually do quite a lot of work over the weekends, long weekend or not, and this weekend has been no exception.

But! Fireworks!

fireworks

Fireworks are a part of the usual round of Victoria Day weekend celebrations around here, and tonight we’re hoping to catch the fireworks show at Ashbridges Bay—I love fireworks. They’re so beautiful and so celebratory. Perfect for lifting funky moods out of the funk.

Dylan also has friends over for a sleepover, so things are quite busy today. Nothing like a bunch of pre-teen boys to liven up the place!

Happy Victoria Day to all my Canadian friends!

Photo credit: Pixabay

Snapshot: May 12, 2015

Time: 10:42 p.m.

Feeling: Tired. And you know, it occurs to me I’ve been saying this in every one of my Snapshot posts lately. Really need to do something about that!

Eating: I’ve decided that this month of small healthy changes should include eating more veggies. Starting today. For lunch I had zucchini and mushroom soup and for dinner I had celery, green pepper and mushrooms (with a chicken burger, no bun). So I think I can say I did pretty well today.

Drinking: A glass of malbec.

Reading: I finished The Fifth Gospel and now Ward is reading it (I’m no longer calling him the book-reading demon because after that first month of being a super reader, he’s not been anywhere near as diligent and in fact can be found most nights watching something on his laptop rather than curled up with a good book. Ah well, it was good while it lasted).

The Fifth Gospel was really good, so now I’m looking for a good novel to follow in its footsteps.

And I am woefully behind on each of the three readalongs I was doing. So far behind, my reading of each of the books has been virtually non-existent.

Listening: I just finished listening to Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography, which was a very fun audiobook. As with most celebrity memoirs in audio where the celebrity is also the narrator, I’m very glad I did this one in audio format.

And today I started listening to this:

jurassic park

A couple of months ago I was looking around for an audio version of Jurassic Park, both on my library’s digital reads site and also at Audible. And it turned out it wasn’t available as an audiobook (other than as a CD set). Then I noticed Audible had a pre-order notice on it—and today I received an email saying it was now available. Of course I just had to get it, since it’s been on my mind for a few months now.

I’m not too thrilled with the narrator, who reads in a manner that’s a little too dramatic for my taste. But the story itself is pulling me in; it’s been a long time since I read this book, so I’m really looking forward to this reread.

Writing: Need I say it? Nothing. But I’m hoping my new mechanical keyboard will make a difference over the coming days.

Working: I’ve got an index due tomorrow, and I’ve finally stepped fully into my new book marketing position—I’ll post more about it later this week. So right now I’m knee deep in developing marketing and social media plans, and it’s so much fun coming up with ideas.

Creating: Nothing, but I’m hoping that will change. When I get a bit more time.

And about that zombie apocalypse: So on our way home from his hip hop classes, I had the following conversation with Dylan:

Dylan: I’ve been learning how to eat slowly.

Me: Oh, that’s good. Why?

Dylan: In case there might potentially be a zombie apocalypse.

Me: Why would you need to eat slowly if there’s a zombie apocalypse?

Dylan: Because there won’t be any stores or anything. So if you get an apple or something, you can’t eat it all at once. You have to make it last.

Me: Ah. I see.

So that’s been my day/week. How has yours been?

Saturday Random: A Birthday, Rainbow Candles and The Avengers

It was Dylan’s birthday today. He turned 12, but in many ways he’s still such a little boy—one of his favourite presents was a Hot Wheels track set. We had a busy day today since he still had dance classes all afternoon. Forgetful parents that we are, we didn’t remember to make reservations for dinner until around lunch time today, so ended up going for a late dinner at his favourite Japanese restaurant, where he got to have five pieces of salmon sushi and udon noodles.

Since our reservations weren’t until 9:00 pm, we decided to have the birthday cake before we went out for dinner. The coolest thing about his cake were the rainbow flamed birthday candles we used. The pictures we took didn’t turn out at all, and looking around online it looks like it’s not easy getting a good picture of these lovely candles in their full glory. The flames were different colours and one candle actually had a two-coloured flame! They looked a lot like these Rainbow Moments candles:

rainbow moments

Aren’t they just lovely?

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It looks like the entire family—all five of us—are going to see The Avengers movie for Mother’s Day tomorrow. Rather fitting, since for my birthday last year the five of us went to see Guardians of the Galaxy—it’s not too often we get the five of us together, now that my two older kids are in their 20s, so it’s nice when we can do something like go to a movie together. I don’t go to see a lot of movies, but The Avengers sounds like it will be quite fun.

********

That’s my Saturday Random! How was your Saturday?

Walking plans

walking.jpg

Going out for dinner with a healthy friend can be a little dangerous. You end up getting excited about things and then suddenly you find you’ve just committed to something that will require you to get up much earlier than you normally do.

That’s what happened to me tonight. I was having dinner with my friend Christy and she started telling me about this Harvard article she’d read which listed a bunch of studies about how good walking is for you. One study found that walking a mile a day reduced risks of cardiovascular events by 81%.

I’ve been wanting to start getting fit again, and I really enjoy walking. So I asked her how much walking she’s been doing. It turns out, lately it’s been quite a lot—8 kilometres, which translates to approximately five miles.

Since I’ve been thinking a lot about adding more exercise to my life, and since Christy is the kind of person who always makes me feel motivated or inspired about something whenever I see her, I blurted out, “We should go walking together!”

And that’s how it all started. At first we thought we’d pick a midway point between us, and walk there so we could do more walking together before we walked back. But Christy lives across the city from me, which would make for a lot of walking for a getting-back-into-fitness walker like me.

She also bikes everywhere, too, though. So we’ve decided we’ll start by having her bike to where I am, and I’d meet her for a nice long walk, and then she’d bike back home.

It sounded good to me. I like planning things. It’s just when you start putting, well, you know, dates on plans that things get a little scary.

I was just about to get on the streetcar to head back home after dinner when she said, “We should pick a day to start. How about this Friday?”

I looked back at her, panic in my eyes. She laughed. “Okay, how about next Friday?”

So I now have two weeks to get used to waking up early, since Christy needs to be finished her morning exercise by 8:30 in the morning so she can start in on her work. I know I can handle the walking, it’s the waking up early bit that scares me. I’ve written before about my quest to become a morning person, but I haven’t made such great strides in that direction yet.  This walking commitment is definitely motivation to get there!

Photo credit: Pixabay

Snapshot: May 5, 2015

Time: 9:38 pm

Feeling: Tired, but in a good way—I actually worked out today! Yay! While I’ve been talking about doing ten minute workouts, I decided to go with Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred. Figured I might as well go with the tried and true. We’ll see how it goes.

When I’m exercising, I have this tendency to visualize my body getting into shape (by this I mean I actually see in my mind’s eye, for example, my upper arms getting toned, as if I’m watching a time-lapse video)—I don’t do this intentionally, it just kind of happens. It’s good in that it keeps me motivated, but not so good because I end up with very high expectations! I actually expected my pants to be a bit loose today when I put them on. Which they weren’t, of course.

Eating: I was so good all day! Had a banana for breakfast, spinach and green peppers with a chicken burger (no bun) for lunch. Then souvlaki made with chicken, a big Greek salad and a small portion of Greek rice for dinner. But (you knew this was coming, right?) I was still hungry when I finished (it was only one stick of souvlaki—that’s my excuse, anyway) so now I’m noshing on a slice of cheese pizza. Sigh.

Drinking: A glass of wine. Ahhhh. Yes, it does go well with pizza!

Reading: I finished Lowcountry Boneyard by Susan M. Boyer on the weekend (review coming this Thursday). It was a good read, and as usually happens after a good read, I dived into a number of books to find the right one for my next read.

Here’s what I decided to read next:

fifthgospel.jpg

I’m just in the first chapter but it’s looking pretty good so far.

Listening: I just finished a reread of John Grisham’s The Pelican Brief; it was published back in 1992 but doesn’t feel too outdated. I must admit, though, I didn’t quite get why Darby was still being targeted by the bad guys once it was clear that her brief (the pelican brief) had been circulated among several FBI agents plus the White House. I don’t remember pondering such a question way back when I originally read it in print, so perhaps I missed something in my listening of it this time around (it happens sometimes—I find when you’re listening to an audiobook, you can get distracted for 30 seconds and miss something quite important). The version I listened to is narrated by the lovely Lorelei King, one of my favourite narrators.

Writing: Nope. Nothing. But I’m hopeful, as always.

Working: I had a big index due last week, and some articles due this week. But things are looking pretty clear for the next week or so, which is good since my mom’s being discharged from the rehab facility on Thursday and she’s decided to go back to her place rather than stay with me. So I’m not too sure what my days will be like for the next little while, and not having too many deadlines will let me figure out my time without too much stress.

Excited about: A while back I signed up for the SmithsonianX course “The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact On Pop Culture” on edX, and it started today! Stan Lee is one of the instructors. Yes.

Now I just have to figure out how to make time for it …