Posted in holidays, New Year's

Welcoming 2021 with Hopes, Dreams, and Goals

This has been a tough year, and one that we were all glad to see end.

In my holiday blog post (https://wp.me/p6m4z7-2W6)  I spoke about some challenges and triumphs I’ve encountered this past year. For New Year’s, I’d like to share my goals for 2021 and would love to hear yours. Goals are hopes and dreams put into action and are more important than resolutions because they’re within our control. Here are my top 3:

Goal 1: Diet and Exercise:

I’ve been on the Jenny Craig diet for several years now and have been exercising daily with Leslie Sansone’s Walk-at-Home videos; and, although I’m over 70 pounds lower than when I started, I’d still like to lose at least 15 pounds more. The holidays are a tough time to diet, and I’m a big snacker. I enjoy sweets especially chocolates. While I don’t expect to lose much over the winter, I’ve signed up for a virtual fitness challenge from a company called Run the Edge. My challenge, Run the Year 2021, is a year-long exercise challenge beginning January 1st where participants can run, walk, or step their way to a goal they set from 1,000 to 2021 “miles.” In December I’d also participated in the Run from 2020–Zoom into 2021 Challenge to run/walk 100 miles until January 1st. I came in 4th place out of 156 virtual participants with 131.01 miles walked. It’s a great motivation to keep fit.

Goal 2: Writing Projects

I have a ton of writing projects in various stages of development. I’ve recently resurrected a time-travel novel that I would like to edit and publish. I’m also considering a sequel to Sea Scope which was so well received and won a silver medal from Reader’s Favorite and placed as a finalist in TopShelf Magazine’s 2020 Awards contest (the eBook is on sale for 99 cents until January 3). Of course, I have plans for a 6th Cobble Cove cozy mystery, although I may publish a spring Sneaky the Library Cat story first. I may also try my hand at another non-fiction book after Pet Posts: The Cat Chats. I have an idea for this but will keep it to myself for now, although I can say that it will involve cats.

Goal 3: Continuing Education

As a librarian and an author, I know the value of lifetime learning. I’m hoping to take more online writing courses and attend virtual and, if available, in-person conferences. In addition, I’ll be leading a Zoom writing group for my library called First Draft Writer’s Club that kicks off this January and a virtual book club called Fun with Fiction that will feature monthly reading themes. I plan to share information from those groups in upcoming posts. In February, Long Island University’s Alumni Association, has asked me to host a one-hour zoom writing workshop, From Blogs to Books: Publishing for Pleasure or Profit, where I’ll be discussing various types of writing and publishingThe writing group, book club, and workshop will be open to all but will require registration. I’ll post details about them in a future blog and share on my Facebook author page.

Thank you all for your support this year. I wish you a happy, safe, and healthy New Year, and best wishes for accomplishing all your goals for 2021.

Posted in Uncategorized

Ten Tips for Coping with the Coronavirus Pandemic

I hope you are all well and hanging in there whether you are working from home, providing an essential service, or on the front lines with health and medical personnel. These are tough times, but we are assured we will get through them. And, like all challenging experiences, we will be stronger from having overcome this situation, but what do you do in the meantime if you’re social distancing at home and are sick of binge watching tv shows?

Here are some suggestions on how to make your time at home less stressful. I’d also recommend trying to keep as close to your normal routine as possible. You can get up, go to bed, and eat meals a little later, but try not to vary those times too much and make sure to shower and dress each day.

  1. Pray. Even if your house of worship is closed to services, check to see if they are offering online sermons or prayer sessions. If not, view the others that are available and/or pray on your own. It will boost your spirit and help calm you. If you don’t believe in prayer, meditation is also helpful.
  2. Learn. There are daily updates about the Coronavirus, but be careful to tune into the trusted sites. There’s a lot of misinformation on the Internet. The main site you should check is https://www.cdc.gov/.  Check your local library’s website for other links and information sources. Take advantage of online education. There are many online courses, some of which are free.
  3. Read. Do you have a pile of To-be-read books? Now’s the time to explore them. If you own an e-reader, you can download free books from Overdrive or Amazon. Many authors, including myself, are offering free copies of their books. If you like mysteries, my psychological mystery, Sea Scope is free until Monday, March 23.
  4. Exercise. Don’t skip your workout. Even if you can’t go to the gym, there are many YouTube video exercise classes. I recommend Leslie Sansone’s Walk at Home program, but there are a variety of others. Put on your favorite music and dance. Walking outside is also good for the spirit. If you have a dog, he will enjoy laps around the neighborhood, and it will refresh and energize you.
  5. Eat. Don’t skip meals or binge snack because you’re upset, bored, or frightened by what’s happening. Fill yourself with healthy choices — fruits and vegetables. They will keep your immune system strong.
  6. Write. If you keep a journal, continue to write it. If you don’t, it might help to start one. Record your daily feelings, thoughts, ideas. If you prefer creative writing to journaling, write a story or start a book. Keep inspired. Stretch your imagination muscles.
  7. Call. Phone your friends, co-workers, relatives and check in on them. If you’ve been leading a busy life and haven’t had time to keep in touch with people often, now you have the chance. You can also text, chat, Facetime, or write letters.
  8. Play. If you’re home with kids or there are others in your house, take out the Monopoly, Scrabble, or other board game or plug in the XBox and challenge them to a match. Have some fun and destress. If you’re alone, there are online games such as Solitaire. Or you can find some virtual opponents. You might even consider checking out a virtual world such as Second Life. If you have pets,  cats and dogs are wonderful companions. Your kitty and/or dog will enjoy some extra snuggle and playtime with you.
  9. Clean. It’s spring. Why not jumpstart your spring cleaning and organizing? It will provide you with exercise and a feeling of accomplishment.
    10. Laugh. Humor always helps in tense situations. Check out some of the funny photos and messages on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Check out YouTube for funny videos.

I hope some of these tips help you. If you have any others, please post them in the comments.

Posted in Authors, blog challenge

#LifeBooksWriting Blog Challenge: A Day in My Life

blogchallengegraphicupdatedThis week’s blog challenge is about A Day in My Life. Sophia Valentine of Lifestyle and Literature created this challenge (see graphic for topics and dates if you have a blog and would like to participate. If you’re a reader, I’m sure you’ll enjoy learning about some of the great participating authors).

My day usually begins at 5 a.m. when I wake up, feed my cats, and make coffee for my husband in that order. Then I check my computer for emails, Facebook messages, and my handy Google calendar, so I know what else is on the agenda for that day. I spend the next hour writing and eating breakfast which is usually a high fiber cereal with bananas or blueberries and coffee with skim milk. At 6 a.m., after my husband is out of the shower, I wake up my 6th-grade daughter who takes an hour dressing and using the bathroom. While she is getting ready, I put one of my Leslie Sansone walk-at-home DVD’s into my computer and exercise for a half hour. I then make breakfast for my daughter who, like my husband, grabs something quick because they are both running late all the time.

hicksvillelibraryWhen everyone is gone, I shower and dress for work. I like to get there at 8:30 even though I start at 9. I work at my local library as a librarian. The best part of my job is ordering the new fiction and mystery books, but it’s also the hardest because I want to read them all and don’t have the time. I also enjoy helping people find new books and authors. I’ve been writing and editing the library’s monthly staff picks newsletter for the last three years.

2016-05-09 20.39.46I work at the library from 9 to 5 four days a week and from 1 to 9 once a week. I also work two Saturdays a month. When I work a Saturday, I usually get a Friday off. On my days off and on weekends, I try to catch up on household chores and social media/writing. But if my daughter is home, too, I try to spend time with her. She’s at the age where she’d rather be with her friends than her mother, so I usually take her out somewhere with a friend. Last weekend, we went to Old Westbury Gardens, a place she particularly likes, as she’s into nature. However, it was so hot that both she and her friend wanted to leave before we were there long. A week ago, my daughter unexpectedly asked me to read a book with her. We used to read together all the time when she was younger but, as she started getting more homework and I became involved in writing, there was less time for us to do so. The book she chose, The Bad Unicorn, is one of those pre-teen dramatic works with a mysterious ancient codex and a seventh-grade hero. I had to admit I found some of the parts funny, and she laughed through a lot of it, too. Despite its crazy plot, the book was written on a level that would help increase a middle-schooler’s vocabulary, and I was glad it was something we could share.

maseThis weekend, I’m headed to Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut for MASE (Mystic Author Signing Event) where I’ll be meeting authors and readers and signing both of my books, A Stone’s Throw and Cloudy Rainbow. My husband is coming along, so we’ll also try to fit in some much-needed together time. Most of the time we’re both too busy with our jobs and daughter. The single exception is the one night a week, usually on a weekend I’m not working, that we watch a movie or TV show together on Netflix while our daughter plays virtual games on her computer with her friends.

There’s not much more to know about my days except that I try to fit in reading and some time with my cats.2016-02-24 10.18.29

 

 

 

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/