Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal, Writing

Exercise: An excellent way to combat Writer’s Block

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week at work. I’m still noodling an idea for another story and sending queries. I’m also running to stay in shape, and I got to tell you there’s nothing like that runner’s high. When I run in the morning before work, I have a better mental attitude throughout the day.

Exercise is important for everyone. It keeps you in shape and lowers the risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer. It’s especially important for writers because writing is such a sedentary activity. When I’m in the midst of creating a story, I could write all day. I have to force myself to take a break and exercise. I make sure and do it though because it also helps my writing. I’ve solved many plot holes while I’m running, and exercise keeps my creative juices flowing.

To keep me from getting bored, I also engage in Yoga and Hiking. Both provide not only physical benefits, but emotional ones as well. Yoga is a great way to focus on yourself. It brings me clarity when I’m dealing with complicated issues. I’m allowed to focus on my needs and find solutions to difficult dynamics. Sometimes we run into issues with family members, and we have to be creative to solve problems that arise.

Hiking is another terrific way to exercise. It’s also a great stress reliever, too. I’ve also found that when I’m writing, if I take time out for a hike through the woods or the beach, I solve plot holes and come up with creative stories. Noodling ideas in the woods is an excellent way to improve a great story.

So, if your stuck in a story and not sure how to move it forward. Step away from your work and go for a run or a hike. I guarantee you’ll either solve your problem while you’re exercising, or you’ll feel better about your story, and you’ll come back to it with a fresh attitude and solve it that way.

How about you? How do you deal with your writing when you’re stuck? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in inspiration, Personal

Where do you find your Inspiration?

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week at work and polishing up my manuscript. I also went to an art fund raiser and bought some amazing pieces. It was a fund raiser for Ukraine, and my good friend and artist organized it.

It was an amazing event. Of course, she is part of my creative community. She’s an inspiration to myself and many others. I have a group of friends that are my creative community and I love them dearly. They are artists, photographers, and writers. They inspire me and help me grow in my craft and I’m grateful to have them in my life. Today, I’m talking about inspiration. Where do you get yours from?

My kids inspire me. The thought of leaving something behind for them keeps me writing. When they were younger, they loved the Super Spies stories, and it did my heart good to talk about those stories with them.

There are other things that inspire me, like walking alone in the woods. There’s nothing like a hike to clear your head and allow story ideas to come to the surface.

Other stories inspire me. When I read a story that touches my soul it inspires me to improve my writing. I try to learn new skills and improve my voice. I try to take on grittier stories that will touch other people.

I also get inspiration from the past. Sometimes, it’s something I went through that inspires a story and sometimes it’s an historical event. Our past is important. I’ve got a rich past I can pull from as I’m sure every other writer does.

Movies also inspire me. When I see a good movie or a good Netflix series, like “Breaking Bad,” or “Better Call Saul,” or the “Ozarks.” It inspires me to write more interesting characters with strong backstories.

How about you, where do you find your inspiration? Leave a comment, I love to hear from you!

Posted in Personal, Writing

What do you do when the Burnout Bug Bites?

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. We were lucky yesterday and had a sixty-degree day where I was able to get out and go for a walk. My pinched nerve is still bothering me, so I was only able to go a couple of miles. Even so, it was nice to get some fresh air.

But enough about that, today I thought I’d talk about burnout. Burnout for writers or anyone really happens when you don’t pace yourself. Like a runner who sprints to early in the race, you can run out of gas. The joy you used to feel while creating your work just isn’t there, and the ideas are stagnant.

You’ve hit the wall and the only thing you can do is stop and take a break. When this happens, I have a few go-to activities that help ease the stress of burnout, because not producing something can be just as stressful as producing something, right?

I go for a run and get those endorphins going. Nothing beats a run for handling the stress of burnout.

I go for a hike. A hike through the woods is good for you mentally and physically. Forest bathing is really a thing and there’s nothing like a walk through the woods to calm the static in your head. FYI walking along the beach is just as good for you.

Reading is another way to beat burnout. Just reading for fifteen minutes reduces stress by sixty percent, and you get the added bonus of opening up your mind to new ideas. Most authors are voracious readers. It’s one way to improve your craft and beat stress all at the same time.

Get together with your creative community. I get together with mine and they’re so good at building up my confidence. We go hiking or paint. Sometimes we just go out for a bite to eat.

Shopping. Sometimes a little retail therapy is all you need to get those creative juices flowing again.

So, there you have it. Five things you can do when the burnout bug hits. How about you? What are some of the activities you do when you get bitten by the bug?

Leave a comment! I’d 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 community, friendship, Personal, Writing

Finding your Community

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve been busy this week with work, writing, and family. Now that winter is almost upon us, I’ve been preparing by making sure my kids have coats and gloves that fit. I’ve also taken some time off to go hiking. I’m hoping to get a couple more hikes in before the snow flies and we start hibernating.

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about friendship and connection. I remember in my teen years, many moons ago, I had a group of friends that I hung out with constantly. We did everything together. Bike rides, skateboarding, sleepovers, and slumber parties. They were my support group and I supported them.

I miss those days. I feel women need their groups of friends to feel connected and part of a community. We need to get back to that in our society. I know social media allows us to stay connected over long distances, but it’s not the same kind of connection. Something gets lost over the internet. The ability to read facial expressions and get a hug. The ability to actually touch someone is gone. This is something that’s desperately needed in our society. Remember the old quilting circles? We need to bring them back.

So, how do we do that in our bustling world? We go back to those days of quilting circles and start anew. If you don’t like quilting, you could get a group of friends together to play cards, or do something creative like painting, or join a writing group.

These are all ways to recreate a community. It’s always good to create one around an activity, or common goal. That way everyone is focused on something positive, and they can forget about their troubles for a while. Whenever I get together with my group of friends, I always come away from the gathering inspired and motivated. It’s refreshing to be with like-minded people.

This last week, I got together with my artist friends and we went on a hike then painted together. Even though we were all working on our own paintings there was a sense of community and support. I left that group inspired to keep working on my writing. Sometimes we time away to refresh so we can continue working on a long project such as writing a novel.

So, there you have it, need something to boost your mood? Start your own community. Create your own quilting circle, or writing group, or hiking group. You’ll be glad you did. It’s cheaper than therapy. 😉

How do you find support? What kind of groups would you like to create? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in friendship, Personal

In Real Life Connections

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week of writing and work. I did take a day off and spend some time hiking with one of my gal pals. It was so nice to meet in real life with a friend and go hiking. I appreciate these moments together and the deepening of our connection.

I appreciate my gal pals. It’s so important to make time with your friends. I’ve found through the years some friends leave to travel their own paths. Sometimes there’s a falling out that makes us sad, but inevitably, we find new friends whose energy is closer to our own. I feel we develop more authentic friendships instead of situational ones as we grow older.  I’ve found some awesome friends who support me, and I support their endeavors. The friends I’ve kept along the way are the ones I just clicked with. They get my wacky sense of humor and enjoy the same things I do.

We have to honor the ebb and flow of these friendships. Sometimes, we can be extremely close and get together often. Other times life takes us in another direction for a while. The bond is still there, but it’s stretched to accommodate the distance we have to put between us. There are friends who’ve left me to pursue another path, I honor the history we have together and if we were ever to come back into contact, I’m sure we’d pick up right where we left off.

The circle of friends I have now, I value with all my heart. I have an artist friend who I’ve been spending a lot of time with. She’s showing me how to create some beautiful art. This is good for me because it’s another avenue for me to express my creativity. In our moments in her studio, I’ve shared details of my life and she’s shared details of hers. What I’ve noticed is that we’ve had similar experiences along the way, so we understand each other. She is wise beyond her years and I appreciate her wisdom.

I feel with the age of the computer, we’ve lost some of the ways we connect with our friends. Just working on a project together is immensely satisfying. There’s something to be said for those old quilting circles and I remember years ago getting together to play cards. I miss those days. I feel we’ve become lazy because we connect on social media now. It’s not the same. I believe this kind of loose connection is one of the reasons the suicide rate is rising. I worry about how future generations will interact. How will they make real connections over the internet?

I hope they’ll see the positives of the internet but also the negatives. I feel fortunate that I have the friends I have and we’re able to get together in person as well as connect on the internet. How about you? Do you have a circle of friends you connect with? What do you do when you get together? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal

Staying in the Present Moment

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week of writing and working. I’m so excited because spring is finally here. I’ve been able to run outside a couple of times this week and it was wonderful. My tulips are starting to come up and I am so ready for summer it isn’t funny.

But enough about that. Today I’d like to talk about staying in the present moment and appreciating it. We’re so busy trying to achieve our goals that we keep our eyes on the prize and don’t always appreciate the moment we’re in.

I find that when I focus on the outcome I’m trying to achieve; I get frustrated when things don’t go quite as planned or I run into obstacles. I have to remind myself that I need to focus on my goals for the day only. I know what the big goal is, but I have to focus on the steps I need to take to get there. That way I won’t get frustrated because I haven’t gotten to the big goal yet.

By doing this, I’m going to be happier with my present moment and I’ll appreciate it more. That way I won’t be missing any moments with my family and friends.

It’s hard to change the habit of always striving and focusing on the outcome of my actions. So, when I catch myself growing frustrated because I haven’t reached my goal yet, I take a moment and slow myself down. It’s going to happen just not yet. Then if I can, I practice some self-care. I drink some water or take a few minutes and just breathe. This is the way I reset my thinking and change my emotions from being frustrated to peaceful.

How about you? What do you do to change your mindset? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

Posted in Personal

Two of my Favorite Things

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I thought I’d do something fun. I thought I’d share two of my favorite things with all of you today. I like to do these two things to relieve stress. The first one, is reading. I love to read and it’s a great way to unwind after a hectic day at work.

I just finished a great story by an incredible author.  That story is: “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult. The cover and blurb are below.

Small Great Things: A Novel by [Jodi Picoult]

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • With richly layered characters and a gripping moral dilemma that will lead readers to question everything they know about privilege, power, and race, Small Great Things is the stunning new page-turner from Jodi Picoult.

SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE

“[Picoult] offers a thought-provoking examination of racism in America today, both overt and subtle. Her many readers will find much to discuss in the pages of this topical, moving book.”—Booklist (starred review)

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

My Thoughts:

This was a thought-provoking and timely story. It’s about an Afro-American nurse and a skinhead. Ruth Jefferson is the nurse who helps in the care of Turk’s newborn son. Turk is a white supremist and he insists he does not want Ruth to touch his son.

When his son has complications after a routine circumcision and Ruth is the only nurse available to administer to him, all hell breaks loose when he dies. Ruth is sued by Turk and his family and the story goes on from there. I don’t want to ruin it for you, so I won’t tell you what happens, but it is definitely worth the read. It will have you looking into your own heart to see where your prejudices lie.

This story was amazing just like most of Ms. Picoult’s stories are. It’s definitely worth the read.

The next favorite thing I like to do is hike. I’ve been taking some time this winter to get out of the house more. I usually hibernate during the winter, but since I’ve been working from home, I’ve needed to get out of the house. I’ve been hiking with either some gal pals or my hubby. It’s great to get outside and get some fresh air and the sunsets are amazing this time of year. I’ve witnessed some amazing colors and it’s so peaceful.

Amazing Sunset from A Hike
Amazing Sunset in Grand Haven

Hiking is another great way to relieve stress and get some exercise. It’s good for your mind and body.

So, there you have it! Two of my favorite things, reading and hiking. How about you? What are two of your favorite things? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Ageism, Health, Personal

Ageism in Our Society

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week of writing and working. The weather is turning warmer and the sun has been shining brightly which makes me hopeful for spring. I’m ready for some warm weather where I can get back to running outside. I like that much better than running on a treadmill.

I have been able to hike a little more this winter. Spurred on by my need to get fresh air, I’ve hiked with the hubby a couple of times and with a friend a couple of times. Which is about four or five more times than I hiked last winter. I’ve needed to get out of the house because I’ve been working from home, and those hikes by the beach have been a wonderful way to get some exercise and get some time with a gal pal or my hubby.

But enough about that, today I’d like to talk about ageism in today’s world. Almost 35 million Americans are over the age of 65 and this number keeps growing. In fact, studies have been conducted and that age group is supposed to reach over 20 percent of the population by 2030. I would think companies that manufacture products would heed these findings, but I don’t find evidence of this today.

In fact, I see evidence of the opposite. I find manufacturer’s targeting the younger generations. Especially clothing and makeup companies. They’re spouting the rhetoric that you need to look younger and feel younger to stay in the game.

This just isn’t true, but many older people are buying into this philosophy. Plastic surgeries have been on the rise for the last five years. This saddens me. We should be celebrating the fact we can grow old. It is a privilege denied to many. We should be honoring our elderly and respecting their wisdom. Just like many indigenous tribes did back in the day.

Instead of focusing on looking young, we should be focusing on staying healthy. We should be focusing on the internal and not the external. Experts say the best way to stay healthy is to get as much sunshine, fresh air, exercise, water, healthy foods, and sleep as we can. I agree. It really is that simple.

This would be a great time for a vitamin company to create a product that helps your body and brain stay resilient to the ravages of time. If I had the know-how, that’s what I’d be doing. I would take the focus off of staying younger, and focus on improving the quality of my life as I get older.

How about you? How do you feel about ageism in our society? Has it affected your life? If so, how? 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.