Monthly Archives: October 2014

Writers write

These past few months have been crazy. The launch of my debut novel. A complete rewrite of my second. And amid all that, life. Friends and family and house and dogs and workouts and parties and showers and hair and travel. Like I said, crazy. Looking back, I wonder how any of us survived it. How I remembered to pick up the kids and cook the family dinner and show up on time for anything.

And then, somewhere in the middle of all the insanity, I told my husband (okay, so maybe I promised and swore) I would take the rest of the year off from writing and just be.

Already I regret it.

Because now that my second book is turned in to my editor, now that I’ve got time to read and think and yes, take daily showers again, my third novel is reeling me back in with a force I can’t ignore. I hear the characters in my head, telling me their new thoughts, suggesting new and unexpected twists to their stories. I see the new scenes play out like a movie across my brain, a whole new plotline that will make the others pop. I want to hole myself up in a cabin somewhere and get it out. I don’t want to just be. I want to be and write.

Maybe that’s the lesson here, that I need to figure out a way to do both. To spend a good chunk of the day getting words onto the page but then learn to close my laptop at a decent hour and enjoy the evening with my family and friends. To not get so caught up in my story that I shove aside everything else, including personal grooming, to get it out. To give myself time and permission to be while I write.

Because ultimately, no matter how funny and irresistible the characters are in my head, the ones who star in my my real, everyday life matter so much more.

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Migraine Free (No Whammies!)

A week ago today—because you bet I’ve been keeping track—marked six months since I’ve had a migraine. This is a BIG deal, friends. After a sixteen-year struggle with the things, which would come on at semi-regular intervals and render me incapacitated for 24-36 hours, this is a freedom I have to acknowledge and celebrate.

:throws confetti:

My triggers were many over the years. Most significantly was every woman’s bosom buddy: hormones. But sometimes stress, overstimulation, extended periods of sunlight or noise. A delayed meal, dehydration. Other times my susceptibility was inexplicable. (Say that five times super-fast.)

I charted food, MSG, caffeine, but could never pinpoint something I was (or wasn’t) ingesting as a cause. My doc put me on a regimen of proven-to-help vitamins, which only leveled out my “normal” everyday headaches. I tried innumerable tricks and suggested remedies.

ID-10018289

This photo doesn’t look like confetti to me, but it’s what popped up when I was searching images for some. And I like it. (freedigitalphotos.net)

Prescription medications either didn’t touch ’em or sharpened the suffering or, in one case, brought on allergic reaction. There really was no relief to be had. All I could do was bury myself in bed, in a dark and quiet room, pillow over my head, earplugs in place. I had to block out all of the things, but even then I could only wait out the pain (nausea sometimes, too), praying for numbing sleep, getting very little.

Until April, that is. That’s when the migraines stopped, and — do you believe this? — because of no one thing I can explain. I wish I could say, “I did this on that day, and it’s what healed me.” But I can’t.

There are some identifiable differences in my life, though. A handful of things, actually, and so is it the combination? One small change which is overshadowed by the others? A fluke?

* I’ve improved both my diet and exercise.

* I’m on a blood pressure medication. I never had any precursors or symptoms, but HBP runs in my family and after several months of risky numbers, I started taking a common Rx.

* I get a regular shot now, too, which controls my hormones — thereby eliminating (huzzah!) the menstrual migraines.

* I drink ounces and ounces of water, and have mostly eliminated carbonated drinks. (And I thought I’d never give up Dr Pepper.)

* Since the start of 2014 — but especially in the last six months — I have let go of a lot (and gained so much more). There is a ton to be said for personal progress, healing, finding peace (and truth), and giving up stress. A ton. I mean it.

I suppose it’s not coincidence that these changes all took effect at the same time, springtime, though I didn’t coordinate them, I certainly didn’t plan for them to commence together.

I guess therein lies the magic.

And I’m celebrating it!

To keep up with me on my personal blog, go to Woman, Determined. I also have a new Facebook page, if you’d like to come see me there.

Summer’s End

Halloween is almost upon us. In our house, we’re attempting to avoid the temptation of those itsy-bites of delicious Halloween chocolate bars. Instead our time is filled work and family…but what else is new? 🙂

Fall arrived, and with it, Mom came home from the hospital. Her arrival home coincided with a visit from our European cousins who spent the first two weeks of their Canadian vacation cruising through the mountains, and arrived at our house for the September long weekend. After they left, it snowed, and they got caught in Calgary in about six inches of snow.

Obviously they didn’t believe me when I told them that our late August, early September weather could be rather unpredictable. Here’s a picture from the kitchen of our youngest son’s house.

Surprise snowfall

Fortunately for us, the snow melted, the temperatures climbed, and we’ve been alternating between summer-like weather and the coolness of fall. Our trees have dropped most of their leaves by now, with only a few stubborn ones hanging to the branches.

Here’s a gorgeous picture of the mountain ash tree in our front yard.

Sheila's mountain ash


And a picture of the boy’s yard and the piles of leaves we’ve gathered there.

Raking leaves

My mom is recovering beautifully from her knee operation. We’ve finally figured out where the boy inherited his ramjet personality from. She’s determined to do almost everything herself, but with her knee still healing, at least she’s resisted the urge to climb the tree in her backyard.

I hope you’ve all had as an amazing fall in your part of the world. I also hope our fall weather continues well into the winter months.

An early happy Halloween to you all!

Life is a Blessing

I read the following blog post last Thursday, written by Chris Norton, the young man whose story I have the privilege of turning into a book. This post exemplifies the best of human nature. His life changed four years ago without any warning or any time to prepare. Instead of wallowing in grief and dismay, he considers every day a blessing and teaches others how to do the same.life

If this post resonates with you, do yourself a favor and read his blog and follow his journey. You won’t be sorry!

Today, marks the four year anniversary of my spinal cord injury and I think it is a good time to reflect on everything. However, I do not need a date or anniversary to remind me of the event that took place four years ago as I am reminded every morning when I wake up in need of assistance to get out of bed.

At times it all seems insurmountable, but I constantly remind myself of where I have come from. I went from the most prime shape of my 18 years of life to having no mobility, no independence; I had hit rock bottom, but to see where I am now feels like so much more than what I had as that 18 year old athlete. I have acquired a greater appreciation for the little things that I could have never gained until my injury. Simple things like feeding yourself or brushing your own teeth.

I have found my purpose in life. Helping others with disabilities and motivational speaking. I’m in a better place in life now than I have ever been before.

October 16, 2010, seems like an eternity ago. In all honesty, I feel reborn like I am living a second life, one lifetime pre-injury and another post-injury. I do not reflect on this day in mourning but in appreciation and happiness like one would view a birthday. It is a day that started something special in my life. In fact, I couldn’t be more happy than where I am now. I have a loving supportive family, the kindest girlfriend, and the most loyal friends. I have my mind, my strength, and my will. With these things with me I feel that anything is possible. And for that I am forever grateful.

My message to everyone: appreciate the little things in life and do not take anything for granted. Do not wait until something is taken from you to appreciate it. Life is a blessing, do not waste your time stressing over it!
Chris Norton
CBS 2011 Courage in Sports Award Recipient
Motivational Speaker
Founder SCI CAN Foundation
scicanfoundation.com

Navy Blue Stripes via photopin cc

Get Ready for NaNoWriMo!

keyboard and coffeeNovember is National Novel Writing Month, better known as  NaNoWriMo. The goal is to quick draft 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days, which comes out to about 1,667 words a day. That’s roughly two hours of writing per day, if you don’t stop and edit your work. NaNoWriMo is about unleashing your muse, hammering out a manuscript, and giving your internal editor a month’s vacation.

To maximize writing time during NaNoWriMo, it’s best to do some prep work. The organization’s website has got some great tools for planning your novel. Other sites offer tips for establishing good writing habits and increasing your productivity.

This year, since I’m currently writing novellas, my goal is to complete two 25,000-word novellas in November. Will I make it? Time will tell.

Whether you’re already writing fiction or have always wanted to, NaNoWriMo is a good way to set a challenging but achievable goal, and create a first draft that you can mold from raw clay into a masterpiece. Why not give it a try?

What are your plans for NaNoWriMo?

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