Posted in Personal, Writing

The Writing Life…

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy week of work and writing. My neck is feeling much better and I’m thinking about getting back into my exercise routine, but I won’t be running on the treadmill. There won’t be another treadmill season in the Orchard house. In my opinion, I need to run on harder surfaces if I’m going to run. So, I’m going to have to find another form of exercise during the winter months.

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about the writing life. I haven’t spoken about this in a while, so I felt that I should address it today.

Writing is a solitary endeavor. We writers create by ourselves and work with editors and beta readers to produce a viable product. It’s time consuming and takes us away from our families and friends.

Sometimes, it can be discouraging. The waiting for an acceptance or rejection of a manuscript can take a long time. It can get downright lonely.

So, it’s important to have a creative community who supports you. They don’t all have to be writers. They can be artists, or sculptors, or photographers. These people will understand your struggle. They will support you in ways your family can’t because they don’t understand.  I have an artist friend who I get together maybe once or twice a month and paint with her. I’m no artist, but it’s always good to take a break and do something different. I support her art, and she supports my writing.

Another way to combat the anxiety of waiting is to start another project. Work on something else. If you do get an acceptance, you’ll be a step ahead of the game because you have another project to offer.

Still another way, is to take a break from writing all together. Spend time with your family. Go on a trip and enjoy some down time. Maybe even read. 😉

Exercise is another great way to deal with the stress of writing. Get out of the chair and move your body. Get those endorphins moving, it’ll help with the creative process. Trust me.

So, there you have it. Some ways to combat the loneliness and stress of writing. How about you, how do you deal with it? Leave a comment! I love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal, Writing

Self Care: It’s a Choice

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. Because of the pinched nerve in my neck, I’ve been doing more editing and reading this week while I wait for my neck to heal. It’s getting much better thanks to my chiropractor, but I believe my treadmill days are over. There will no longer be treadmill season at the Orchard’s.

I’m not upset about that. I’ve always disliked running on a treadmill. But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about self-care. I know I’ve talked about this before, but I feel it’s important. Sometimes we get stretched too thin, and we need to take a moment and regroup.

There’s nothing wrong with that. We can’t be going full tilt all the time. I can always tell when I hit the wall. I get tired and cranky, and I don’t enjoy the things I usually enjoy.

Here are my go-to self-care activities.

  1. Reading. I grab a good book and curl up on the couch. I do this during the winter more because it’s too cold to go outside. Did you know reading for just fifteen minutes reduces your stress level by 60%?
  • Exercise. Exercise is a great stress reliever, and it gets those endorphins going. Even a walk is good for you. Especially if you’re a writer and you sit at a desk all day.
  • Hiking. Hiking is also good for you. I love hiking in the woods, and if you hike in the woods, you get the added benefit of receiving phytoncides from the trees. In Japan, this is called forest-bathing and it’s a real thing.
  • Painting. I’m learning to paint, and it’s a great way to take a break. I’m still creating something, but it’s just for me, so I don’t have to worry about what anyone else thinks about it.
  • Yoga. Yoga is another great way to create calmness within yourself. You stretch your muscles, and you relax while becoming more aware. It’s a great feeling.

So, there you have it. Five things I do when I’m in need of some self-care. I know there are more. What do you do for self-care?  Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Reading

Technology’s Effect on Our Health

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week with work and writing. I’m editing my second work in progress, and I’m happy with the results so far. This story is flowing smoothly and I’m enjoying it.

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about technology’s effect on our health, both mental and physical. When I think back to my own childhood, I remember being extremely active. I rode my bike everywhere. I remember going to my friend’s house and swimming in her pool. We’d play games like Yahtzee and Monopoly, or we’d go for long bike rides. When I look back, I realize how wonderful my childhood was. My friends and I had a connection.

Then I look at my kids, and I’m frustrated. They’re glued to their computers. If they’re not playing games, they’re chatting with friends online. The face-to-face interaction isn’t there. I know they get that at school, but I feel something is lost for our kids. They’re missing out on that special connection that I treasured in my younger years.

I also feel that we’re losing some of our vocabulary. I mean when you can communicate with an emoji, what do you need words for? Is our technology dumbing down society?

I think so. Instead of reading books, kids are looking at their phones. Social Media’s goal is to keep everyone engaged. So, they have complicated logarithms that keep track of the things you like so they can show you more. This keeps you engaged longer. I suppose you could argue that they’re reading, but they’re reading posts, and as we all know, posts on social media are usually a way for the individual writing it to receive acknowledgement from their followers.

Right now, kids need to read stories that teach them empathy and compassion. They need stories they can connect with and relate to. The teen years are the hardest years in my opinion because there are so many firsts. First loves, first rejections, first successes, and first failures.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for kids between the ages of ten and twenty-four. I’ve always felt that the reason for that is disconnection. They feel disconnected from family, friends, and community.

We need to make the family bonds stronger and protect our children. We need to bring story-telling back. It has always been a way to connect with our family members. We need to sit around the campfire and tell stories of our youth, so our children can bond with us.

Stories are more important than ever now. I know when I was a teen, I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. It was a self-inflicted kind of pressure. I was afraid to make the wrong decision. I couldn’t articulate this pressure to my parents, so I wasn’t able to talk to them about it. I felt so alone.

To escape this pressure, I’d read. When I was finished reading, I’d feel better. The pressure wasn’t so bad, and I was calmer, so I could look at my issues more objectively.

In my opinion instead of more technology, our kids need more physical exercise, and they need to spend more time reading stories not social media posts. Not only will reading stories relieve stress, but it’ll teach empathy and compassion. So, writers keep writing. We need your stories now more than ever.

How about you? Do you feel our kids need to feel more connection? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Personal, Writing

Avoiding Burnout

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of hard work and writing. The weather has turned colder and I’m putting off my outdoor run by writing this post. I’m hoping if I wait a little longer, it will warm up a little more. I think I’m hoping in vain, though.

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about creative cycles. Sometimes, we get a little burned out with our writing and we need to switch gears to get our creative juices flowing again. What I’m talking about is ways to avoid full-blown burnout because none of us wants to lose that creative spark we have. So, below is a list I’ve put together to avoid burnout and have a long fruitful creative life.

Exercise

I put this one first because it’s one of the most important ways to keep creative juices flowing. Exercise is not only good for your body it’s good for your brain. Whenever, I get stuck in my writing, I go for a walk or a hike through the woods. It gets your blood flowing and gets your mind off your plot hole for a while, and many times I find that taking a step away from my work usually helps me figure out the plot hole.

I’m also talking about regular exercise as well. I think it’s important to have a regular exercise routine especially writers who tend to sit all day working on their manuscripts.

Other Creative Pursuits

It’s great to branch out into other areas of the arts. I’ve started painting with an artist friend. She’s giving me pointers and helping me develop a painting style. I’ve also started taking pictures. I used to love photography when I was younger. My passion is writing, but these other artistic endeavors help me take my creativity to a new level. That can only be good for my writing.

Balance

Balance is important because we all have more than one goal. Some of us have families and we want to be good parents, so we must balance our need to be there for our children with our creative endeavors. We have to parcel out our time. For myself I need to write, or I get cranky. So, it’s in my family’s best interest that I make time to write. No one likes a cranky Mom. But I also get cranky if the needs of my family are neglected. So, I’m always working to balance family needs with creative needs.

Creative Family

The last one on my list is creating a Creative Family. This is important because your biological family may be supportive, but they probably don’t understand the blood, sweat, and tears, that go into developing your craft like other creatives do. So, having a creative family is important when you need support or guidance in your endeavors. They keep you from hanging it up when the going gets tough.  

So, there you have the four key ingredients to help fight burn-out. How about you, how do you keep your creative juices flowing? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal

The Importance of Self-Care

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of writing and work. It was a tough week, there were little fires everywhere that I had to put out. I had a breakthrough with my story, though, so I’m excited about that. Small wins are still victories, and they must be celebrated, right?    

So, enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about self-care. It’s the buzzword lately and everyone seems to be talking about it, but even so, it’s important.

Sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves. We become so busy doing and putting others or our projects first we forget to take care of ourselves. And really, our health should be our first priority.

I’m not just talking about our physical health either, I’m talking about our mental health as well. The two are inter-related. When we take care of ourselves physically it boosts us mentally, too.  Have you ever noticed that after you exercise, you feel better mentally? I know my problems aren’t so big after I exercise. They are manageable and not overwhelming.

Sometimes our mental health requires us to take a break from the hustle and bustle of life. Sometimes we need to hibernate and spend time with ourselves to become balanced again. Sometimes our mental health requires us to get out and connect with like-minded people. It’s important to have a support system too.

It’s important to have people in your life other than your spouse who support you in your goals and dreams. I’m fortunate to have those people. What I appreciate about them is they help me see things from a different perspective. This helps your mental health, too. Hearing a different perspective pulls you out of the mental loop you get into when you’re trying to solve a problem but can’t see a solution. These people help me switch gears.

Our diet is just as important to our physical and mental health too. Not only does a good diet help our bodies stay strong and healthy, but our minds, too. Anxiety and depression are exacerbated by a poor diet. So, if you’re dealing with one of these conditions, start eating healthier and go for walks. The combination will help you manage your condition.

Writers especially need to make sure they get enough exercise. It’s very easy to get lost in our work and forget about our health. So, go hiking with a friend and get that socializing need taken care of at the same time.

Everyone’s different, so we all need different amounts of food, exercise, solitude, and social interaction. Take time with yourself and figure out what your needs are. Take a few minutes every day and focus on what you might need. Then take care of it.

What are some of the things you do for self-care? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal, Writing

Writing and Exercise Go Hand in Hand

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of vacationing and writing. We took the boys to a water park. It was fun, but we were ready to come home. Family vacations are important. They give us an opportunity to connect with our kids again. They’re especially important this year because of the pandemic. I’m so glad things are finally starting to open, and we can travel now.

But enough about that. Today I’d like to talk about staying active, especially for writers or people who sit at a desk for eight hours a day. It’s so important to get up and move. I’m trying to exercise at least five days a week. I was able to achieve that goal last week, but it’s harder when I’m working.

It’s important for writers to get up and move because writing is such a sedentary occupation. Did you know that sitting more than three hours a day can take two years off your life? Even if you exercise regularly, you still need to get up and move around every couple of hours. Take a break and go for a quick walk. Get the blood flowing again.

The benefits of exercise are not just physical. It helps with depression and anxiety. Exercise increases serotonin levels and dopamine levels which explains the fact you’re happier after you work out. I find that when I’m feeling anxious, going for a quick run helps reduce my angst.

I’ve also found that when I get stuck in my manuscript, if I step away from my work and go for a run or a hike, I can usually work out the problem. When I’m running, my brain works differently and I’m able to work out solutions to my story problems.

Any type of exercise will do. I run and do palates, but you could do Yoga or Zumba. Anything that gets your blood flowing. I used to do Yoga when I was younger and I’m going to start it up again just because I need the variety. How about you? What kind of exercise do you do? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, Personal

Time to Get Moving

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of work and writing. I’m working on my second WIP while I query my first one. I have to change my query to reflect the changes I made in my WIP, so I’ll be doing that today, but enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about exercise.

It is so important for your health to make time to exercise. I know everyone knows this, but I don’t think it’s sinking in with people. Did you know that being overweight or obese leads to many diseases like diabetes and cancer? When my doctor told me, I was close to being pre-diabetic, I knew I had to do something, so I made it a priority to start running again. I had to lose some weight. I did and got my numbers back down, but I have to keep this up to keep the weight off.

A study done in 2018 shows that 10.4% of the population has been diagnosed with Diabetes. That is disturbing. I believe part of the problem is because of the food industry. I’m starting to believe anything man made isn’t good for us. Food manufacturers add sugar to their processed foods, so they taste better which leads us to be addicted to sugar, but enough about that. To learn more about that click this link. https://lisaorchard.wordpress.com/2017/07/15/is-processed-food-poisoning-us/

Sorry for my digression. Now, back to exercise. I run but walking will also help along with any type of exercise. Did you know that a walk after dinner helps keep your blood sugar down? We just need to get moving again folks. Exercise is also a great stress reliever. So, it’s good for your mental health, too.

Diet is also important. I saw a meme once that said, “you can’t exercise off a bad diet.” This is so true. However, I didn’t really believe this until just recently. When I was younger, I figured I could eat what I wanted because I was exercising. This may have been true back then, but now I pay attention to the carbs I’m eating, and I try to stay away from sweets. I do indulge occasionally because deprivation can lead to binge eating and that’s worse than an indulgence in my opinion.

Writers need to be very careful because they’re work is so sedentary, but that can be said for anyone who sits in front of a computer for work every day. Get up and get moving, you’ll be glad you did.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. What do you do to stay active?

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal

Balance and Perspective

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of working and working on my craft. I took some time off to read a craft book this week and I’m glad I did. It was a good book. It’s titled “The Secrets of Story.” If you’re looking for a book to help you with your writing, this book is for you.

The Secrets of Story: Innovative Tools for Perfecting Your Fiction and Captivating Readers by [Matt Bird]

But enough about that. Today I’d like to talk about finding balance and perspective. I struggle with these issues daily because my passion is my writing, but I have a passion for my family, a passion for my work, and I also need to take care of my health by exercising and eating right.

Sometimes, I get frustrated because I can’t write. I have to take care of my kids, fix a meal, or work my day job. Then I have to fit in time for exercise. This is what I struggle with. Many times, I have to choose between exercising and writing. Sometimes I choose writing and feel guilty because I know I should be exercising for my health. It’s a constant battle. Sometimes I do exercise and wish I were writing instead. These negative emotions I experience detract from the enjoyment of my exercising or my writing.

Since I don’t want to have deal with negative emotions, I’ve got to change my attitude, because with my hectic schedule, I’m always going to have to choose between the two. So, when I choose to exercise, I tell myself I’m doing something that’s good for my body, my soul, and my brain. Exercise is a great way to fight depression, burn calories, and get your blood flowing so your brain gets the oxygen it needs. Instead of telling myself I must do this because I want to keep my weight under control or because I ate pizza for dinner, I tell myself my writing will be better if I exercise. This one little change in my perspective allows me to enjoy my exercise and my writing. After I exercise, I have the rest of the evening to write. Therefore, I don’t feel guilty when I’m writing because I know I already exercised.

I’ve also gotten better at defining exercise. I used to feel like I had to run four to six miles at a time before I could call it a workout. That’s not entirely true. I can do strength training and that’s exercise. I can do Pilates and that’s exercise. So is yoga. I’ve been adding these activities to my exercise routine to help build the muscle I’m losing as I age. By adding Pilates and Yoga to my regime, I’ve eliminated my sciatica pain. The difference is amazing, and my writing has improved.

So, there you have it. By changing my perspective about exercise and writing, I’ve been able to enjoy my exercise more. I don’t enjoy it in the beginning. It’s always hard to get started, but by the end, I’m always glad I did it.

I also enjoy my writing more. I don’t feel guilty when I sit down and take some time for my stories. How about you? How do you balance it all? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal

Get Outside, it’s good for You

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy week with work and writing, but I managed to get out with a gal pal and hike along the lakeshore. That hike was just what I needed since I haven’t been able to get out because of the pandemic. I’ve been working at home, working out at home, and socializing via the internet at home.

We have become the indoor generation. So, when the opportunity arose for me to get out for a hike, I jumped at the opportunity. It was gorgeous, but cold. The wind coming off the lake was invigorating. Now, more than ever we need to get out into nature. Being by the beach was so good for me. It cleared my head and got me back on track as far as my goals are concerned.

You see, being inside so much can be a little demotivating. I’ve found when I travel from the bedroom, that I’ve turned into an office, to the living room where I relax, and I get a little down. I do this every single day.

On a more positive note, I’ve been doing pretty good about keeping up with my exercise goals. Since I don’t have to drive to work, the time I would’ve spent on the road, I’ve turned to exercising. So, there is that. However, it’s the treadmill season right now because it’s too cold for me to run outside.

Like I said earlier, we have become the indoor generation. We’re losing our connection to nature and that’s not a good thing. We get so many positive things from nature. Just being out in it is a stress reliever.

It also strengthens our immune system. Did you know that being in the woods is good for us? The trees and plants release phytoncides. These molecules are released by the foliage as a defense mechanism against fungus, bacteria, and even animals. These compounds are good for humans as well. According to one study, they enhanced the destructive mechanism in our cells that kill the cell when its time has run out. It also enhances the anti-cancer protein production.

Even going to the beach is good for you. Especially, if you can get to the ocean or the sea. Saltwater has many positive benefits. The salt air is charged with negative ions that allow us to absorb more oxygen, but you don’t have to travel all the way to the ocean to get the health benefits of the beach. Just being near a body of water is stress relieving. It releases serotonin, which is good for our mood, and let’s not forget about that vitamin D. A vitamin our bones need, and if you live in the north, you probably don’t get enough of it.

So, this year, I’m planning to get outside more often. I plan on going hiking and going to the beach more often. Our bodies were meant to move not sit at computers all day.

Exercising outside is like a double whammy of health benefits for our bodies and minds. So, get out there and get moving! It’s good for you!

How about you? What kind of exercises do you like to do outside? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal

Is Yoga the new Wonder Drug for our Health?

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week at work, writing, and reading. Yes, I needed to decompress a little bit this week and what better way to decompress than to read, right?

I thought you’d agree. 😉

Anyway, more about that later. Today, I’d like to talk about stress and how to deal with it. There are many stressors in life that we have to handle. Back in the olden days, when we had to run from predators, our body would send out the stress hormone cortisol and it’d get us moving.

Now, our greatest stress isn’t running from predators, it’s dealing with stress from work, stress from over-commitment, family stress, and so on. In the past, when we’d get that rush of cortisol in our system, we’d run to escape the predator chasing us and we’d burn up the cortisol in our system. We’d run to safety, usually a short distance.

In today’s world, we can’t run from our stressors, so the cortisol builds up in our system. This leads to high cortisol levels, which leads to increased amounts of belly fat, which leads to diabetes, a life-threatening disease. So, the question is, how do we keep cortisol levels down when we can’t change the stressors in our lives?

My first thought was exercise. So, I’ve been running on the treadmill at least two to three times a week. I usually run about four miles, which is hard to do on a treadmill. (It’s winter right now and I don’t run outside in the winter because of the cold and ice.) While running is good, I did some research to find out what was the best way to reduce cortisol, and I learned some interesting facts.

First, extended exercise (more than sixty minutes) increased cortisol levels. It seems that too much exercise depletes our stored glycogen and when that happens our bodies release cortisol. So, what’s the best way to reduce cortisol when we’re dealing with stressful situations?

Short, high intensity workouts, such as sprints, HITT, or weight training are proven ways to reduce cortisol in your system. Another way is doing yoga. Yes, yoga has been scientifically proven to reduce cortisol levels. This is good news because yoga is a great way to quiet your mind as well. It’s good for you mentally, physically, and physiologically. Who knew?

It’s my understanding that you must make sure it’s restorative yoga and not hot yoga, or Ashtanga yoga. Anything that makes your body work hard will raise cortisol levels.

 So, there you have it. Yoga is the wonder drug when it comes to reducing cortisol levels in your body, and reduced cortisol levels means less belly fat. Less belly fat means lower risk for diabetes. Like I said earlier, it’s good for you mentally, physically, and physiologically.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. How do you feel about yoga? Have you ever tried it? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!