Posted in New Year's

My 2019 Bucket List

Wishing all my readers and friends a Happy New Year. For 2019, instead of resolutions, I decided to make a bucket list of 19 items and am featuring them in this post. Feel free to share any of your own 2019 bucket-list items in the comments.

These items are not in priority order because they are all of equal importance to me.

My 2019 Bucket List

  • Make new friends. I’ve been blessed with many new friendships over the past years from people I’ve met at my new church to fellow writers I’ve made the acquaintance of online and at local events, as well as patrons at my library. Friendships are vital in today’s world, and you’re never too old to make new friends.
  •  Maintain healthy habits. I’m thankful that I was able to lose over 30 pounds this year (making my total 70 pounds since I’ve been on the Jenny Craig program). I hope to maintain that loss and maybe lose a few more pounds. In addition, I’m striving to keep up my 30-minute daily exercise routine.
  • Work Smarter, not Harder. I’ve been having some difficulty balancing my writing and book promotion time. I hope to make some changes in 2019 to fit both in without sacrificing my free time.
  • Focus on What’s Important. Along with balancing my writing and promoting time, I’d like to focus on certain priority areas in my life — my family, friends, and pets.
  • Pinpoint Bad Habits and Eliminate or Curb Them. I don’t smoke or drink; but, like everyone, I have some habits that  stand in the way of my personal growth.
  • Read new authors, start a new series, and explore other genres. One of my perks as a librarian  is having access to a wide range of books.  Although my time is limited, I will try to allot reading time and diversify my selections.
  •  Expand my Horizons with educational and informative classes, webinars, and workshops. I’ve already taken many of the free, online course offerings available through my library’s  Gale Courses database, but there are many other opportunities for learning through a variety of sources online and in schools.
  • Attend writer’s conferences. Most writer’s groups hold annual conferences. Although cost is a factor when traveling to some of these, the experience and networking opportunities often outweigh the expense. I’d like to attend at least one a year. This year I’m hoping to go to St. Louis in May to speak on a panel at the Cat Writer’s Association. I’d also like one day to attend Malice Domestic, a cozy mystery convention that many fellow members of Sisters-in-Crime and their guppies group attend annually.
  • Volunteer and seek out ways to help others. I will try to make time to volunteer whether it’s through my church, a pet shelter, a senior center, or other organization that serves those in need. I’ll also look for opportunities to lend a hand. For instance, I can help an old person cross the street, carry grocery bags for a pregnant neighbor, offer to babysit for a couple on their anniversary.
  • Organize my Home, Work, and Life. It’s not easy maintaining a home when you work full-time and also write. However, having things in place helps make this easier.
  • Unclutter. There are many items that accumulate that my family no longer uses. I plan to give away those that others might find useful through donations to charity groups that collect them such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, United War Veterans, etc.
  • Have More Fun and Live Life Fully. You only live once, and we all should enjoy our short time in this world by doing the things we like and being with the people we love.
  • Smile and Laugh More. People who can see the lighter side of things enjoy better health and luck and share that gift with others.
  • Be Optimistic. I’m guilty of viewing the glass half empty. I need to see that I’m lucky to have a good life and that my glass is almost always half full.
  • Give Compliments. Everyone likes to be acknowledged. Finding nice things to say about someone can brighten their day.
  • Have More Patience. In this fast-paced, multi-tasking world, it’s not easy to slow down and wait, but rushing only causes frustration and doesn’t make time or people move any faster.
  • Gift my friends and family with my time. There’s nothing more valuable than spending time with a loved one. I  lost my mother this year and a special cat. While  I have wonderful memories of them, I wish I’d had more quality time to spend with both of them.
  • Plan for the Future. Although it’s good to live in the moment, time passes quickly. We all need to keep our goals in sight whether they are financial, career-related, or personal.
  • Be Kind Always. Even when I’m mad at someone or am involved in an argument, I need to respect their views by treating them with common courtesy while stating my own feelings and views without animosity.

What are your bucket list items for this year? Do you share any of mine? Whether or not you follow your New Year’s resolutions or accomplish all of your 2019 bucket list items, I hope you have 365 happy and healthy days ahead.

Posted in Monday Blog

Do you want to be happy, lose weight, and have a better memory?

sports-1050966_1280I started an exercise program a few months ago. I’d tried to make exercise a habit many other times in my life, but I always ended up making excuses and falling back into a sedentary lifestyle. A few factors made it harder for me to adopt a fitness routine. The first was that I grew up in a family that didn’t exercise regularly. My father’s favorite activity when he was home was sitting in front of the television watching his favorite shows. My mother enjoyed walking but had some issues with her legs and couldn’t keep it up. Another strike against me was my weight. I was an obese child and, although I lost weight in my teens and early twenties, the pounds crept back on as I entered my 30’s.

I became a member of a gym, but like most people, wasted the money by always finding a reason not to go. I purchased a treadmill and only used it a few times. I even hired a personal trainer to come to my house, but I found it too costly and could barely do the exercises she suggested. When I joined Jenny Craig to try to lose weight, I expected the program to include exercise. However, they stressed following the diet first. As the pounds started to come off, I felt more able to perform even the basic moves of getting up from a chair, walking up and down stairs, etc. When my counselor suggested I try some Leslie Sansone walk-at-home videos, I took the beginner ones out of the library and then purchased a few that I liked. I alternated them and, as my counselor suggested, followed the recording twenty-minutes three times a week to start. When it was nice, I also took walks outside. Eventually, I felt that I could exercise longer and increase my pace. I also started to add short jogs to my walks.

After 18 months on the Jenny Craig program and having lost 60+ pounds, my weight loss is slowing down, but I’m now walking 30 minutes every day. There are days I have to push myself and days I can hardly make it through the half hour, but most of the time I feel great afterwards. I especially like a morning routine that helps wake me up and get my day to a nice start.

jackbenimbleBesides helping to keep one’s metabolism high to help weight maintenance and loss, exercising has many side benefits. Everyone knows it’s good for you, but not everyone is aware of all its benefits. Like the nursery rhyme, “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jump over the candlestick,” exercise can truly help you clear any hurdle. It’s a safer stress reliever and mood lightener than any anti-anxiety pill or anti-depressant. It has even proven to aid one’s recall and brain function. It is even believed to slow aging and prevent many illnesses from heart attacks to strokes to high blood pressue and even cancer.

circleI’m not a doctor, but I recommend starting slow and always consulting your physician before you start an exercise program. If you are severely overweight or lead a very sedentary life, you need to build up your endurance slowly. The  main thing is to keep at it. Set up a routine. Schedule a time to work out. Thirty minutes a day is all it takes, even if you break it up or begin with 20 minutes three times a week as I did. Another important tip is to keep moving throughout the day, not only when you exercise. I have one of the Apple watches that monitors your daily activity. It requires you to try to close three circles that measure the amount of exercise you’ve completed: the additional calories you’ve burned through activity; and the optimum of standing you do during the time you wear the watch. It even alerts you when you’ve spent too much time sitting which has also been found unhealthy even for people who exercise regularly.

Below are some links to articles about exercise benefits. After reading them, I hope you consider making exercise part of your life so that you live a longer, more productive one.

http://greatist.com/fitness/13-awesome-mental-health-benefits-exercise

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389

https://go4life.nia.nih.gov/how-exercise-can-help-you

http://www.iphoneincanada.ca/news/apple-watch-activity-circles-motivate-users/

 

 

 

Posted in Monday Blog

What do you think I want for my birthday?

Happy BirthdayIt happens every year. Before my birthday, I know a dozens gifts I can use, but as the time to celebrate grows closer, I can’t think of one thing that I actually want. My husband, a last-minute shopper who nevertheless likes to present me with gifts early, starts to email me links to suggestions a month before.

This year, as that special day approaches on May 9th, he proposed buying me an Apple Watch because he thinks I would like one. He offered to take me shopping to look at some, and I agreed. But, before committing, I considered other things I might want instead. After all, Apple watches aren’t cheap and, although I’m worth the expense one day a year, there might be something even better I might like.

I rack my brain but, of course, I come up with nothing. Sure, I could use anything to do with writing which is my current passion. I already purchased myself a gift, the “Get a Book Deal 101” course given by Kathy Ver Eecke that I hope will help me land an agent for my work-in-progress. I can always use new clothes, especially since I’ve gone down ten sizes and lost over 60 pounds since last year on Jenny Craig. It’s probably best then that I avoid my favorite Black Forest birthday cake, but maybe I can splurge on a healthful dinner at Seasons 52, a restaurant my husband and I had dinner at for our anniversary last July and vowed to try again but have yet to do so.  Speaking of food, it just so happens I’ve been invited by a co-worker to a lunch buffet at an Kiran Palace, an Indian restaurant, on my birthday. Since it’s a cuisine I have yet to sample, I’m looking forward to a new culinary experience. Maybe I can check it off my bucket list. That night I’ll be attending a concert when my daughter sings in the chorus for the Middle School concert.

So what else would I want for my birthday? Another year of good health is always welcome. Enough money to pay my bills is also nice. My pre-teen daughter talking to me for more than five minutes and agreeing with just one thing I say would be awesome. Even cooler would be her dad taking me out for a date night. If I think bigger, winning the lottery would be a super gift. Being able to control time so I have just as much as I need to complete everything I want and need to do would be another perfect present. Getting on the New York Times Bestseller list would be the icing on my cake.

Fantasies aside, I really have everything I need already, but I’ll try the Apple Watch, anyway. By the way, my husband’s birthday is just two days after mine, but I’m not asking him what he wants.

Here  are a few links to birthday gift ideas for those who are stumped as to what to give their spouses, parents, friends, or even what to ask for themselves:

From the Dallas South News: http://www.dallassouthnews.org/2013/04/01/5-most-common-birthday-gifts/

From dgreetings: http://www.dgreetings.com/gift-ideas/birthday-gifts/for-friends.html

DIY birthday gift ideas from Topdreamer: http://www.topdreamer.com/23-diy-birthday-gift-ideas/

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Monday Blog

How to Cook Fresh Meals Even a Husband Can Make

blueapron2My husband has a plan to retire in four years. The first step of that is to learn how to cook, so he can prepare meals while I’m still working. He recently subscribed to a service called Blue Apron that delivers fresh ingredients and recipe cards to the home. Following the instructions and using the items in the stay-fresh box, he creates two dinners a week of four adult servings that allows leftovers for lunch blueapron1for our family of three.  So far, he has prepared Baked Empanadas de Picadillo with Arugula, Queso Fesco & Pickled Onion Salad and Spiced Checken Souvlaki with Tahini-Yogurt Sauce & Roasted Potato Wedges. Next week, he’ll be cooking sirloin steak and turkey burgers. While the meals require a bit of preparation, my husband is enjoying the experience. Even better, he is cleaning up.

Since I’m still on Jenny Craig food trying to lose a few more pounds, I was told I can eat some of the Blue Apron meals as long as I watch the calories. This isn’t hard because the recipe cards include calorie counts and portion sizes.

I was also curious about HelloFresh, a similar meal preparation company, but my husband opted to try Blue Apron first. We use Peapod for our grocery deliveries, and they have started to feature recipes on their website, although it’s not quite the same as having pre-packaged meal kits.

In an attempt to also involve our 11-year old daughter in learning to cook, I gave her a Kidstir breakfast kit for Christmas.  She has yet to try it. The kit didn’t include any food but had complete recipes for four dishes with simple instructions for children. It also featured some games and a kid-sized kitchen utensil. Subscriptions for monthly kits are available. I guess Holly considers herself too old for these, although they would make a fun activity for mothers with younger kids.

I’m sure there are more meal kit services, so if other husbands, wives, single people, or teens are interested in trying these all-in-one cooking packages, they can shop around and compare prices, menus, and other options.

Next on Anthony’s agenda is a trip to Arizona or another warm-weather state where we can afford to retire. Like any goal, There are many steps to take before reaching it. For now, I can spend more time writing, reading, or with my cats while my husband, Chef Anthony, takes care of dinner twice a week.

Since writing this article, I’ve discovered two more meal preparation companies: HomeChef and DinnerThyme. I offer no recommendations, but here is the complete list with links of the companies I’ve found so far:

Blue Apron

HelloFresh

HomeChef

DinnerThyme

Posted in A Stone's Throw

Giving Thanks for Being a Loser

thankfulI’m especially thankful this year as I just released my second novel, “A Stone’s Throw.” I am posting this to thank my followers and the awesome authors I have met from Limitless Publishing and elsewhere. I  want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and share some personal thoughts about this past year. This post also appeared as a guest post on Ayden K. Morgen’s blog, and I read it at a Jenny Craig open house on Thursday night.

A year ago this November, I made a decision that changed my life, and it happened in an unexpected way. A co-worker at the library where I work had lost some weight on Weight Watchers. Having been on many diets on and off all my life and gaining the weight back plus more, I was hesitant to try dieting again. But seeing this co-worker and realizing I was at my top weight, 200+ pounds that is considered obese for a woman my height, 5 feet 3, I knew I had to do something. I was more concerned with my health than my looks at this point. I’d never had high blood pressure, but I was beginning to get borderline results. I also didn’t have diabetes, but it ran in my family.

Considering what weight loss program to give another try, I was close to enrolling in Weight Watchers. But before I did, I visited my credit union to make a deposit (I rarely do this in person, but I had to make some changes on the account that required me to go into the office). When I walked through the doors, I was greeted by a woman distributing a coupon for a free-month trial of Jenny Craig. I’d tried both Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig years ago with short-term results, but I figured I had nothing to lose by trying a free month. I took the coupon and made the appointment with a counselor to start my program. Having a center close to my home made it easier to attend the weekly sessions with a very nice woman named Lauren who made me feel welcome and was very supportive.

jennycraigFollowing the program, I lost 10 pounds the first month and really didn’t feel hungry, but I knew that initial weight loss is usually high and tends to taper off. I was also not convinced I would continue to follow the program. The cost was also a bit prohibitive. In addition to the price of the food and the monthly program fee, it made a dent in our family budget, but my husband encouraged me to continue. He said that I couldn’t put a price on my health, and we would just have to cut back in other areas.

A few months into the program, I was losing steadily between the 1 to 2 pounds that Jenny Craig indicated was the norm for dieters following the plan. I began to have more energy, my blood pressure was no longer borderline, and I found myself writing again. I had stopped after self-publishing a novel several years back and hadn’t been able to find the time or inspiration to write another. I started with short stories and even enrolled in some online writing classes offered by Gale Courses that my library offered. Then I got an idea for another romantic suspense novel. In February of 2015, three months into my Jenny Craig program, I began writing “A Stone’s Throw.” Meanwhile, my weight loss continued. As the book grew, my body shrunk. My husband and Jenny Craig counselor were very proud, and I was feeling so much better.

diet2diet3I find it hard to believe, when I look in the mirror, that I’ve actually lost nearly 60 pounds and 12 clothing sizes this year. I can now shop in a regular department store instead of online through the specialty “large women” shops. I’ve also added exercise to my regimen and walk a mile a day to help burn up more calories as I get closer to my goal weight.

“A Stone’s Throw” was just released by Limitless Publishing.  I’m not sure if I owe its publication to the creative energy I developed as a result of my weight loss or if it’s just another sign of what you can accomplish if you are determined and have the support of others. I only know I’m thankful for having gone to my credit union that day last November, that I decided to give Jenny Craig another try, and that my husband and counselor were so supportive. In addition, the support of my fellow authors has been amazing. My Thanksreader’s Release party this past Friday was a great success with 25 authors participating and offering prizes and giveaways. There were scrumptious recipes included, and readers were actively involved in the contests and discussion. I am truly blessed and thankful to have had so many people help and support my book’s release.

Debbie’s blog/website: https://debbiedelouise.wordpress.com

Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/debbie.delouise.author