Catching up (Krissie)

2015-08-16 21.22.14 I’ve been ACTING! Jill Purinton can attest to it, though in Hamlet (pictured here with my grandchildren’s maternal grandfather) I was sort of like a cuckoo clock, popping in and out of a small door with the priest, reacting, and then popping back in.
I had more to do in Kiss Me Kate — lots of singing (even solos) and even a little dancing until I screwed up my knee on the last weekend. We ended up doing 16 performances — 8 of each play — and what with rehearsals and brush-ups it was pretty exhausting but so much fun. What I love about theater … well, there’s not much I don’t love. But mainly it’s the sense of family. It’s all the hugs and touches and people working toward the same thing and all generations and the laughter. In our group there’s no pecking order – possibly because we bring in professionals for most of the major roles, and almost all of them are fabulous. There are a couple of stick-in-the-muds but I just ignore ’em when I can and am nice when I have to talk to them.
But mostly it’s working hard and throwing together last minute parties and just having the most wonderful time.

It’s quite a change from winter, where I don’t see anyone and work in solitude and deal with the wretched weather. The theater is one of many things I really don’t want to leave!

But now it’s time to hunker down to my real responsibilities, and I just found out I’ll see my grandchildren in a couple of weeks, so I’m a happy camper! And you’ll see me around here a bit more often. Except that I haven’t cleaned the house since June, so I suppose I ought to do something about that.

And I do have to deal with a funky rotator cuff (had an MRI but am waiting for results) and finally having knee surgery, plus the Never-Ending-Root-Canal (I’m going in for my 5th attempt!). Good thing I decided to stopped getting older a few years ago, or this would be really exhausting.

Barbara: Little things

Fairy Tale Series by

Fairy Tale Series by

Long time, no see!*

Traditionally, we all want to make big sweeping changes in January.  Out with the old, in with the new–so you toss out all the pasta and the cookies and resolve to work out four times a week and walk 500 miles per month.  Anyone who belongs to a gym dreads the January crowds and endures, knowing everything will be back to normal by February at the latest.

One of my spiritual teachers is a Native American healer who advised us to observe nature and follow the wisdom of the natural cycles. In winter, the daylight hours are short, which means we should be sleeping more, resting more, storing up energy for the coming spring.  Because of that natural cycle, it’s quite difficult to actually make big sweeping changes in January.  We want to rest, and we should rest.

This was never an easy thing for me to hear.  I’m a resolutions kind of gal–make plans, set goals, work hard, that’s me. I like having lists and goals and direction. But I do believe in the wisdom of nature. I do believe in the wisdom of the body and the cycles of the year, and I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how to make small, easy changes.  Here are a few I’ve come up with for myself.

1. Sleep more, just until spring. I’m going to aim for a whopping ten hours, because I’ve noticed that my joints feel better, my skin looks clearer, and I’m much more productive when I actually sleep that much. It’s a lot, I know. In America, that’s kind of a lazy amount of sleeping, but I don’t care. My body likes it. In truth, I probably only sleep around 8 1/2 to 9, because I take a book to bed with me and read for a long time before I sleep.

2. Swim more.  I keep saying I’m going to blog about my experiences with swimming and haven’t done it. This is another teaser. I like swimming and it has given Christopher Robin impressive muscles in his chest and shoulders. It doesn’t hurt my knees and feet. It makes me sleep like a lazy log. More swimming. Eventually, someday, I’d like to be able to swim a leisurely mile without stopping.

3. Be consistent with my little changes.  Consistency was a word that showed up for me at the end of last year, and it’s been helpful.  Every long time writer knows that showing up is the real battle, not the actual writing. We learn, early on, to show up and write even when it’s not exactly the thing we’d choose to do right that minute. Same thing with good habits. I might not want to haul myself out in the wind to walk the dog, but I’ve promised myself to be consistent, so I do.

4. Do more of the things I love. We went snowshoeing in Breckenridge last week and I had one of the best days I’ve had in ages (even though I was coughing through my scarf much of the time). I love hiking and snowshoeing and I haven’t been doing enough of them. I’m going to add in a really good hike or snowshoeing day at least once a month, more when summer comes.

5. Be loving toward my tender, lovely body. Feed it as if it were my toddler grandchild–good food, healthy food, nourishing food, and a few little treats. I sometimes give up wine and beer for January or February, and I’m doing that this month.  Clean eating and drinking.

That’s it for my resolves for this month.  This year, I’m trying something new by taking the seasons one at a time, seeing how it goes, listening, and making the next ones.

Can you come up with a few minor things to try this month? Maybe adding something like sleep or some new sweet habit that makes you feel happy? 

*Sorry to be so absent. I was knocked absolutely sideways by a flu that has been very hard to kick, followed by the Christmas joy/madness. Just now getting back on my feet. Promise to be here every other week for the coming season.

Barbara: Getting back on track

Here is my confession: I have not been very healthy the past week.  I’ve been guzzling alcohol, consuming the things I never let myself have like berry pies and nachos and eggs. If I slept six hours a night, it was a good night. There wasn’t a hint of exercise, although I have friends who got up and walked or worked out before the day started.

Uh, yeah. Never gonna happen.

I’ve just returned from the RWA conference, where I happily got to meet some of you (and you said you were eating more vegetables! And walking sometimes!).  I let most of my good habits go while I was there, because my focus is on the fun to be had with my friends, on the business information I might be picking up, and the roar that is the national confrence.  I love it. This year, I had dresses I loved, and good friends I felt comfortable with, and lots of good news, so it was an especially great time.

Now I’m home again, getting back on the wagon, and thinking about what makes us healthy.  Is it bad for me to eat all that fat and drink all that booze?  Yeah, kinda.  But I have rules even when I travel.  Here are some of those modifications.

#1  Sleep. I don’t have breakfast meetings unless I just cannot possibly avoid it, and I never schedule anything before 9, period.  I am a big sleeper and at the conference, I don’t go to bed early. At all. So if I want to function without all the crashing sobbing depression that comes from too much emotional overload combined with a lack of sleep, I have to give myself the morning hours to re-enter. I have to be able to sleep in, like a college student.

#2 Drinking. I love wine on a normal basis, bphotout it goes to my head pretty fast, and I don’t know if it’s the sugar or some additive, but it can give me headaches.  So I stick to beer.  It takes longer to drink beer.  I like the refreshing nature of it, and these days, there’s great craft beer everywhere you go.  Yes, it would be healthier to leave the alcohol alone, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon.  I LIKE beer.

#3 I bring healthy snacks with me and keep them in my room.  I asked a friend to take me to the grocery store when I arrived and brought pistachios, hummus, bananas and pita bread. Nothing brilliant, but it was better than eating eggs every morning.

#4 If there were vegetables in any form on a dinner or lunch menu, I ordered some of them.  Sometimes, as this was Atlanta, this was sometimes only a salad or some lightly prepared potatoes. It still counts.

#5 I skipped desserts.  Mostly. (There was that one dinner at bacchanalia with the peach empanada….but seriously, would you expect me to skip all of them?) I also don’t keep sweets in my room.  It’s easy to gobble down sugar under stressful circumstances and then crash, eat sugar, then crash, eat sugar, then crash.

#6 Whenever possible, I checked out the menus ahead of time to see what I could eat. I got into the habit of this when I became a vegetarian, but it works on all levels—it’s easy to get overwhelmed by a menu and then end up ordering some impossible rich thing you don’t even really want

It’s also possible, if one so desires, to check the calorie count of things ahead of time.  I do this for Starbucks, which is omnipresent in the US, and where a glazed doughnut is 450 bloody calories.  Not worth it when I can get a normal pastry for a couple hundred.

#7 Walk if possible to every outside event. Swim if I can. Don’t sweat it too much—just walking around such big hotels all day long every day is a lot of exercise.

#8 Give myself a pass if I have an indulgent day and get back on the healthy train when I get home.  Now that I’m back, I’m eating fresh fruits and veggies and my lentils and beans. Even though it was really difficult, I went to see Tabor the Trainer on Monday, partly to get more red blood cells back into my body after being at low altitude, but partly to honor the habit of trying to be healthy.  The reward was a deep sleep and a sense of confidence.

How about you? How do you handle vacations—and what are your biggest challenges? Food prepared by people you love? Habits that are hard to keep on the road?  What is your best trick? 


Barbara: Eat The Veggies!

We all know we’re supposed to eat more veggies, but it often feels like another chore, another bothersome, unenjoyable thing to add to our list of bothersome, annoying chores.

The weather here has finally been cool and rainy, which we really needed to put out fires and fire danger.  I needed it so that I could get into my garden and pull weeds and check the progress of various things.  The heat and smoke has meant the tomatoes and cucumbers are still stunted, the corn is only calf high, and most of the other veggies are hardly even appearing.  I grow flowers, too, all mixed into my hippie-suburban backyard, though the cats put their collective paws down over chickens.

The wonder of the garden is that many things are still doing well. Beneath the growing vines of some scarlet runner beans were some leftover radishes, fresh radishesand the last of the monster spinach, looking as robust and healthy as Popeye himself. This is an heirloom variety I decided to try, and the leaves are as big as my forearm and very smooth so they’re easy to clean.

As I stood in my kitchen, washing the veggies, I thought about the days and nights, the sunlight and the wind, even the smoke, that had gone into the molecules of the vegetables. How amazing! I took a bite of that big, beautiful purple radish and thought about how the hours of sunlight, the water, the earth and worms moving around it to produce this one radish. By eating it, I was taking in that sunlight, that rain, the days just passed, the moonlight, the birdsong twittering in there. I mixed the spinach into orzo with lemon and garlic for lunch–feeling magnificent about my eating choices.  Who could ever feel badly about eating that food? How nourishing!

That’s how it is with veggies, especially when you can visit the local farm stand or farmers market or grow some in your backyard. Continue reading

Barbara: Wellness Wednesday–Just Put One Foot In Front Of The Other

When I was in the midst of a wretched divorce (and they are all wretched), my friend came by every morning to go walking. 9 days out of 10, I did not want to go. I was nuts, really, up too late at night writing endless journals, fighting with my soon-to-be ex, worrying about everything.  I had headaches and random physical pains and—oh, yeah. Depressed.  Shocking, I know.

10 days out of 10, she calmly and cheerfully insisted that we go anyway.  We’d walk four miles around my neighborhood and then she’d go on her way, and I’d discover that—quite to my astonishment—I was actually alive and breathing for one more day.  All thanks to Sue, dragging me out. (May the saints sing her name.)

Walking seems like an absurdly simple exercise, doesn’t it? We often discount it because it is simple, and yet, experts say it’s one of the single best things we can do for ourselves, right up there with eating vegetables and giving up the smokes. I am of the belief that even if you smoke and haven’t touched a vegetable in five years, you ought to be walking.  Maybe even more so.

Not everyone is capable, I get that.  My father has diabetic feet issues and walking is excruciating for friends walkinghim.  There are other conditions, too.  You know if you are one of the people that absolutely should not walk.

If you’re suffering knee or hip or back problems, however, you might find that walking will help.  I had such severe lower back issues when my boys were small that I would sometimes have to sit in a chair to cook breakfast, and as soon as I got them out of the house to school, I’d break down in tears. I resisted anything physical because it hurt. A lot.

A massage therapist who was treating me asked me to start walking around the block a few times a day.  I agreed, tearfully. (I was pretty much tearful about everything.) It was embarrassing, hobbling around my block, Continue reading

Krissie: Trapped

Photo on 5-7-13 at 10.09 AM All I do is work, and my spirit and body are protesting. I have a lovely spot, I’m loving my book, but I’m being really brutal on myself and everything is rebelling. TMI information time — I pee slowly. Runs in the family, and it’s worse after the hysterectomy. No problem,it’s just leisurely. So I have a handheld solitaire game in the bathroom. Nowadays when I take a pee break my hands shake when I play solitaire.
Now my hands tend to shake anyway — not sure why. They shake more in times of stress or depending what meds I’m on. In fact, they may shake because of the meds. But this shaking is a lot worse.
And I’m so tired. All the time. I need a break. The weather’s been gorgeous, and I can see it out my window (I’ll take pictures, I promise) and feel the breeze, but I’m still trapped up here.
I gave up for a while, went downstairs, cut and filed my very long fingernails which are one of my genetically gifted pieces of real beauty. They’re long and oval Photo on 5-7-13 at 10.15 AM (that might not be clear because, duh, my hands are shaking). Anyway, those are some seriously fine natural fingernails. Problem is, they’re a bitch to play guitar with. It’s hard to get enough pad at the top of the nail to press down on the strings.
But I digress —
So I went out on the deck and tuned the old Guild guitar and played it. My voice was shit, which is interesting. I can belt out “Columbia the Gem of the Ocean” in faux operatic splendor for the tryouts for Music Man, I could sing my solo nun parts quite nicely. But my country voice is shot to hell. And I couldn’t remember lyrics. Jeesh!
So I gotta find my old music notebook, because the Guild is easier to play than the acoustic or my Martin. And sitting on the deck playing and singing is a very good idea.
But even that wasn’t good enough to make me sane again. It’s Deadline Dementia, and there’s not a damned thing I can do but work my ass off and try not to go insane.
I did start a new shawl (the Amita shawl in soft yellow yarn, compliments of Crusie) while I watched the Voice and lusted after Adam Levine, who I like because of his self-deprecating sense of humor (and his tats). So that started to relax me.
We’re getting days of rain starting on Thursday, which we badly need, but tomorrow is going to be another glorious day. I haven’t had a day off in more than a week, and i really need to get some food in, etc. So I think I will try to rise early and then go shopping. I have to get to the point where I’m ready to soar on through to the end (I’m still revising) and then the long drive (65 miles to Costco) will be great for brainstorming.
I just hate how I tend to make myself sick when I finish a book. It’s not fabulous of me.
Okay, a new goal. How to re-imagine my way of working so I don’t become a little puddle of exhaustion and hurt by the end. How do I control what I can’t control (the girls in the basement?). How do I say no to all the distractions that call my name?
How do I find a little balance in all this?
And don’t I have truly great fingernails?