Staying Positive in Strange Times

woman sitting while showing heart sign hands

Photo by Hassan OUAJBIR on Pexels.com

Hi everyone!  It’s been a while.

I hope you and your loved ones are well.

I have started a number of posts over the last month and have deleted each one.  I haven’t had anything to say because sharing quotes about following your dreams, or tips about writing, or what I’ve watched all seem rather trite given the circumstances.

I give my fellow bloggers props for being able to continue in light of everything.

But then I thought, at some point, we’ll get past this pandemic and some sort of new normal will begin, and so I should probably come out of the shadows.  Staying positive during these strange times has been a running theme from a lot of what I’ve seen, and the creative, funny, inspiring sides of humanity have prevailed, mostly – there is always, of course, a flip side – but I like to be positive too.

Sometimes that’s difficult.

I have long struggled with my writing.  Blogging too, obviously.  While my writing should be an escape from the real world, and it’s what I want to do in life, there are too many times when my writing has taken a back seat.  I have discovered that I often feel guilty for wanting to write when there are other pressing matters, like planning a move out of state (or abroad) or starting an Etsy shop to alleviate some our burden and aid in the move.

For the last few months I couldn’t turn my mind to writing as it felt like a reward I didn’t deserve.

Strange, right?!

I willingly quit my job late last year.  I was deeply dissatisfied, and because our move was to take place only a couple of months later, I didn’t seek out another one.  My plan was to organize the house, sell or donate what I could, and get us ready for the next move.  I think not having a job, made me feel like I needed to overcompensate in the other areas of my life so that I didn’t seem like I was taking advantage of the situation.  For the first couple of months, I didn’t even take a “day off”.

Then the virus happened.

Not much happened to me, personally, to change my day to day but because I was already in this particular mindset, the extra time so many people were given started a trend that I found sort of infuriating.  You may have seen them, they said things like this:

If you don’t find the time to write now, you’re not really a writer.

Ugh.

People are already struggling enough with a myriad of issues, and then to throw this into the mix, to make one feel defeated…argh.  Thankfully, wiser people countered with responses like the “boat” analogy.

We are sailing in the same storm, but not in the same boat.

*If you’d like to read the whole thing, let me know and I’ll post it in the comments.

Eventually, with the move decided upon, the Etsy shop open, and enough organizational projects completed, I finally felt like I had “permission” to write.

Permission to create…permission to follow my dream…sigh.  And I have.  Not everyday, but more than I have in months.

And it’s not like I wasn’t thinking about writing all this time.  I’ve been reading, watching the MasterClass series, I’ve been keeping my journal, and I’ve had story ideas.  So while the physical act of writing may not be happening consistently, the other aspects of a writer’s life are, and with that understanding, I’ve stopped being so hard on myself.

Do you know how hard it is to ignore that nagging “you should be writing” feeling?!  You can only do it for so long before it drives you mad.

Writers are so hard on themselves.

When I came to this realization, I figured there may be others who feel the same way, and maybe need to hear this too.

Hi!  You’re not alone!

So whether you’re writing everyday, or just thinking about it, cut yourself a little slack.  As writers, we’ve already chosen a lonely, difficult path, and we have to remember to be kind to ourselves. There are plenty of other people, always at the ready, to knock us down.  Ourselves included.  Compound this with a global pandemic, and the need for some positivity, something I enjoy, is needed more than ever!

So here’s one of my Quote Mondays from the past.

Persevere1

If you need support, in any way, please let me know and let’s stick together!

xx, Rach

 

 

The 5 Things I Learned About Myself by Journaling (nearly) Everyday in Just a Month

JounalI joined the site Medium last year after coming across a number of articles linked to it.  It’s free to use if you only read about 3 articles a month.  I was finding so many that I had a back log of nearly 75 saved articles.  Knowing I would never have a chance to read them all at that rate, I joined.

Feeling at a crossroads with a big-number-impending-birthday (yes, it’s that time of year again), I was looking at articles related to self-help, following your passion, goal setting, keeping momentum and focus, etc. and I read a number of articles about journaling.  Growing up, I had friends who kept diaries.  I was not one of them.  It’s just never worked for me to remain consistent, but after seeing how people were discovering things about themselves through this process, I decided to give it a try.

A real try.

I started mid-December and wrote everyday, almost, for a month.  I decided not to review anything I had written during that time, to see what would repeat.  I wanted to learn if there were areas in my life that were seeking attention and needed it.  Then we took a mini break to California, so nothing happened for about a week.  When we returned home, I decided to look back on what I had written to look for patterns.  Here’s what I discovered about myself.

  1. My writing is important to me and I have a lot of things I want to accomplish.  When I quit my job at the end of November, a panic set in about our next steps.  Were we ready to move overseas?  How could we do it?  Where would we live?  What about our pups?  What about all our stuff?  I created an Etsy store after weeks of research and narrowed down our possible move, but all of it was so consuming I couldn’t write.  But being away from it for a couple of months gives me anxiety as well, so it was enlightening to learn how important it is to my life.
  2. This lead to a new idea.  I want to obtain my Master’s Degree.  In my research for the move, a student visa was one easy way in.  I started looking at schools with film and screenwriting programs, and I got excited at the prospect.  I wasn’t a great student the first time around but I enjoy learning new things now, so I’m interested in pursuing this further.
  3. But one thing that did keep coming up was my lack of focus or motivation.  I go on binges and then lose steam.  I know this has been an issue, but finding it written down, repeatedly, made it more relevant.  At this point in my life, I either need to do it or move on.  This half-assing nonsense must come to an end.
  4. I need therapy.  I had a turbulent childhood – an alcoholic abusive step-father, for one.  While on our mini break, we watched old home movies and I realized that my faulty memory is most likely due to self-preservation.  There are enormous chunks of my childhood and even teen years that are complete blanks.  Watching myself on the videos was like watching someone else.  There is nearly no connection to anything we watched.  That was a startling discovery.
  5. I want to buy a home.  The Sis and I have been renting for about 13 years now and I’m tired of it.  For a couple of years now, maybe it’s because I’m in my 40s, I’ve wanted to “settle down”.  I want to paint my walls and grow a garden.  I want to pull up the crappy carpet and put in a farmhouse sink.  I want to stop hoarding Amazon boxes like a doomsday-prepper and not feel like we’re always in limbo.  It’s hard to start things if you’re always thinking about the next move.  I haven’t bought things, like a dining room table because I don’t want to move it.  Kitchen appliances are on hold because I don’t want to move it.  A new dresser…because I don’t want to move it.  This has been our life for a long time and I’m over it.  Such a simple thing, and yet the tendrils associated with it are long reaching.

This is just in one month.

I’ve continued on in the same vein, I’m not reading what I’ve written this past month.  With my 45th birthday just having passed, I felt like these weighty issues were becoming amplified at my own displeasure for not making more out of my life at this point.  I was feeling a writer’s mid-life crisis looming, but because I’ve articulated so many things that have been bothering me through journaling, I have a better path laid out before me to make some changes.

A random discovery from such a simple act.  Thank you to all those writers who shared the positive impact journaling can have on your life!

Do you journal?  How has it helped you?

The 2019 “One Movie A Week” Challenge Completed

MovieReelI did it!  I accomplished my goal of one new movie a week!  I actually slightly exceeded it with 53 movies, the last just narrowly sneaking in on New Year’s Eve.

I’m sticking with the “ABC” grading scale and will give just a simple overview as many of my posts recently have been rather long and involved.  Looking back on all I’ve watched this year, it’s rather sad to find how few of them were stellar endeavors.

31. What Happened to Monday: An interesting premise of septuplets born when overpopulation has mandated a one child per regulation.  Noomi Rapace plays all the siblings who must discover what happened when one goes missing.  My rating: B-

32. Ralph Breaks the Internet: When Vanellope’s vintage game is broken, she and Ralph must find the part to keep her racing.  A cute follow-up to the original, with some clever references to keep all ages entertained; I just didn’t think it had as much heart as the first.  My rating: B

33. Crazy Rich Asians: The clichéd story of a woman marrying a wealthy man and concerns about the family not accepting her is exactly that.  While everyone was thrilled with the representation, that shouldn’t overshadow the lack of a well rounded story.  It’s also a bit too long, and feels it.  My rating: C

34. Aquaman: What can be said about the origin story of one of the least liked DC characters nobody asked for?  The movie is too long, too convoluted, and an assault of CGI “magic”.  The only reason anyone even bothered is Jason Momoa.  My rating: D

35. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: Every once in a while you just need a sweet movie without a lot of substance, which is surprising given its setting.  Set after the German occupation of Guernsey, a Channel Island during WWII, a young writer befriends villagers who started a book club and of course, finds love.  My rating: B

36. Bad Times at the El Royale: I didn’t know what to expect, but it certainly wasn’t what I got.  Desperate to follow in Tarantino’s footsteps, this film about strangers converging at a strange motel that straddles state lines is a bit of mess that doesn’t tie up all its loose ends.  My rating: C-

37. Bohemian Rhapsody: There is no dismissing Rami Malek’s performance as the charismatic lead of the band Queen, but it felt like the filmmakers played it safe.  Not wanting to, possibly, turn people off from any negativity associated with Freddie’s life, they jump cut around instead, showcasing the music, without a lot of substance.  My rating: B

38. Fighting with My Family: I grew up watching the WWF, now WWE, with my grandfather.  I still tune in every now and then, and Paige, for whom the film is based on, is among one of my “newer” favorites.  As the youngest wrestler to be signed, it was touching to see how it all began.  My rating: B

39. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum: Not my favorite in the franchise, but still a pretty entertaining shoot ’em up movie with a few new twists to keep it interesting.  Since the films continue in sequence, it’s hard not to appreciate Wick’s skill as the formidable hit man on the run.  My rating: B-

40. Tall Girl: I, myself, am a tall girl.  I’m 6′ and have been since I was 16 years old.  I’ve heard all the same jokes, and had to deal with feeling like the jolly Green Giant among pretty much everyone I know while wearing men’s jeans because they had an inseam measurement.  While I appreciate the message of accepting who you are, because you really can’t do anything about your height, the movie is just…blah.  My rating: C-

41. The Favourite: Courts are notorious for their backstabbing and conniving, but I was hoping for more from this film than just that.  Women have a reputation where other women are concerned, and in a time when we need to be more supportive, on the whole, this film about taking advantage of an already fragile person, was uncomfortable to watch at times.  Olivia Colman is an amazing actress, and fully deserving of the accolades.  My rating: B

42. Spider-Man: Far From Home: First off, I want to put Tom Holland in my pocket.  In the wake of Avengers: Endgame, poor Peter is struggling to find his place and just wants to spend some time with his friends, but where superheroes travel, chaos is soon to follow.  An entertaining follow-up in the MCU and development for a beloved character as he comes into his own.  My rating: B+

43. Mary Queen of Scots:  If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you know I’m fascinated with Queen Elizabeth I.  This film takes a look at the relationship between the queen and one of her biggest rivals, Queen Mary of Scotland, played by two wonderful actresses, Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie.  I’ll watch anything where the Queen is concerned, in spite of uneven storytelling.  My rating: B-

44. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part: Another sequel that lacked the heart of the first.  The Lego citizens face a new threat and must find a way of coexisting with their “enemy”.  While still a cute movie with a sweet message, it was fun to watch, if not sort of forgettable.  My rating: B

45. Glass: Having not seen the original in this strange trilogy, Unbreakable, I don’t have all the information to grade this film as part of a whole.  I found some aspects entertaining, a film with a variation on the comic book figure, and I appreciate some of the risks taken, but overall there felt like there was something missing.  My rating: B-

46. Fallen: I knew this was going to be a bad movie, and it was.  I’ve always enjoyed the tale of the star crossed lovers, but this story, based on a YA series of novels was unmoving, the actors were dull, and just when it started to move in a slightly interesting direction, it was over.  My rating: D

47. Shazam: I was unfamiliar with this superhero character prior to the film.  My only reference was from the TV show Archer on a few occasions. The story of a young boy who gains powers which transform him into a fully grown, muscle bound man was more interesting than I would have guessed.  There’s also a sweet message about family.  My rating: B

48. It Chapter 2: The story of the child eating clown continues as the Losers, now grown up, must return to the beginning to finish what they started as a new cycle begins.  Casting did a great job with the grown versions of the children, but this movie failed to recapture the fun of the first one.  My rating: B-

49. Dumplin’:  I love me a drag queen, and in the preview for this movie, a few help to inspire a teen girl overcome body image issues and compete in a beauty contest run by her once beauty queen mother.  My rating: B+

50. Let it Snow: This teen holiday film about a group of friends finding love was a story that didn’t really do anything different and was actually fairly dull and forgettable.  My rating: D

51. Knight Before Christmas: I followed one bad movie with another.  A knight is sent forward in time on a quest and finds love with a modern day woman who’s been romance deprived.  Meh.  My rating: D

52. Star Wars Episode IX: Rise of the Skywalker: Oh, where to begin…if you’re not a fan, you’ve probably still seen some of the reviews, or heard the hubbub over how fans are disappointed.  This fan included.  The final episode in the latest trilogy initially seemed better than reviewed but as I continued to think on it, I realized how much was missing among so many other things.  My rating: C

53. Love and Friendship: A Jane Austen story I wasn’t familiar with, Lady Susan – surprising, I know.  Upon the viewing, I wish I did know more because the way it was filmed was a bit confusing.  Lady Susan is conniving and manipulating.  It appears as if she’s out for herself, which she is, but she also is looking out for her daughter, in a strange way.  I’ll give it another watch after a read and see if it improves.  My rating: B-

If you’d like to see what else I watched this year, here are parts One and Two of the series.  Do you agree with my ratings?  Would you like to offer any recommendations as I endeavor into the new year?

Writing Prompt #112

I came across this prompt while cleaning up my email.  Somewhere along the way, I emailed myself this idea, and that’s where it ended.

So I share it today in the hopes it inspires us.

IMG_1472

Who wants to take on the challenge?  I look forward to reading your creations!

I also share writing prompts on Instagram, so if you’re looking for more inspiration, take a gander.  Happy Writing!

Welcome to 2020

20202Happy New Year, friends!

Can you believe it?  Not only has another year ended, but we’re now in a new decade.  I’m still of the mindset that the 90s were the last decade because to think otherwise is just ridiculous.  How could it be, now, 20+ years ago?!

I tend to bring in the new year doing the one thing I hope to be doing the rest of it, writing, but I’ll come clean, I haven’t been able to write since quitting my job.  I, instead chose to spend it with one of my favorite people, Jane Austen.  I completed my “One New Movie-a-Week” Challenge last week with Rise of the Skywalker, but I thought it might be a nice motivator to watch a movie, a world I want to be a part of, instead.  I had not seen the film Love and Friendship, based on the novella, Lady Susan, and while I’ll have more to say on it in my next post about my movie challenge, it got me thinking about my own writing.  So at least there’s that.

I nearly finished my Goodreads reading challenge of 12 books, a despicably low number, I know.  I kept seeing these posts that if you want to be a writer and don’t make the time to read you can’t really be a writer.  I was a much better reader a few years ago when my schedule permitted me to do things in a particular order.  Now, I’m trying to implement that old schedule into my new daily routine.  When I realized the end of the year was nigh and I wasn’t going to make my goal, I had to reevaluate a few things.

In that reevaluation was the thought that maybe I had set myself up for failure by expecting too much of myself throughout the year.  I already knew the job was not allowing me to accomplish much, so achieving some of those goals was always going to be difficult, if not impossible.  While I did complete a few of the tasks I had set out to do, like attending my first screenwriter’s conference, others, like the reading challenge, fell by the wayside.  How could I possibly expect so much when days, weeks, and even months passed without a glance towards my passions?

I have to look at this year’s goal setting a bit differently.  Remember, I don’t like resolutions, and I don’t think January 1st is a magic reset button, but it is an unavoidable marker for moving forward and starting anew.  The outside world has dates and seasons for meeting goals, and a new year puts much of that into perspective.  But there are things that I continue to carry over each year that I want to do that, while time consuming, are still worthy goals to pursue.  It’s just going to take some patience and clever maneuvering, and not be at the forefront while more pressing matters are attended to.

What do you want to accomplish this year?  How will you set out to ensure you reach that goal?

set and reach goal concept

Here’s one of my favorite goal setting images for inspiration.  Now let’s go crush 2020!

The Benefits of the Whole30 “Diet”

Whole30 imageThis is not the kind of post I would typically write about, but as part of “The Journey”, it felt like something I needed to talk about.

Writers have a bad rap of being alcoholic-lazy-caffeine addled-bad eating habit having-delusionals.  I, personally, am only two of those things.  I’ll let you wonder which two.

I didn’t personally need to put myself in the challenge.  When I became vegetarian, it was easy for me to discover the foods that didn’t agree with me.  Example – I learned I was lactose intolerant.  But I did need to change my habits.

We gave this challenge a shot because The Sis had been suffering from stomach problems, and we wanted to determine for ourselves the culprit before heading to a doctor.

If you’re unfamiliar with Whole30, it’s not one of the fad diets making the rounds, it’s actually a way of eliminating the foods that have adverse effects on your system.  Not only with stomach aches, but fatigue, skin problems, body pains, and a number of other ailments.

So we started by buying the book about two weeks in advance.  It was fairly inexpensive on Amazon ($16).  You may be able to get it at the library, I’m not sure, but we wanted to be able to keep the recipes and continue to reference it.  Then came the purge.

Whole30Rules

Sugar is one of the biggest offenders, and you’ll soon discover that it is in everything, so the removal of it does have positive side effects.  One of them being weight loss.  Unlike some of the other plans floating around, you can still eat fruit.  It took some time to prep for this new way of eating, so removing things from sight and weening off of the non-compliant foods began about a week out.  I didn’t want a shock to the system when we could no longer enjoy sweetener in our tea or coffee, or had to give up bread and goodies.

Let me start by saying one thing.  This is a rather time consuming process.  Many of the recipes only make enough food for one meal for two.  So there is a great deal of cooking involved.  If you find a dish you enjoy, double it in the future to save time.  Make a few things in advance and freeze portions to save yourself some stress when you realize you don’t have time to cook, yet again.

I am by no means exaggerating.  There is a lot of cooking involved.

It is also a bit costly at the start, but when you consider that you’re making food at home, that you can stretch into multiple meals versus eating out many times a week, that really isn’t a drawback.

The book is great at explaining the phases of physical and emotional highs and lows you’ll endure over the thirty days.  It even describes the dreams you may have because of the fear you will eat sugar unknowingly and have to start all over.  The Sis had a few of these dreams.  For my fellow vegetarians, you will not experience the full benefits of the “diet” as seitan and soy are staples for us as a source of protein, but for meat eaters in the challenge, they are both non-compliant.

The positive side effects of this challenge are the variety of new recipes you’ll discover.  Pinterest is great at finding even more.  Shocker, I got in a Pinterest reference.  You won’t need to snack, not really, because you’re eating 3 complete meals a day.  If I was peckish, I’d eat some walnuts or pistachios.  It makes you look at food differently, and the improvements are quickly obvious.  Even more so if you work out.  We did not.  So without that added benefit, The Sis lost about 14 lbs. and I lost 10 lbs.

We’re now at the end of the reintroduction phase.  After thirty days, you slowly introduce the big offenders back into your diet to analyze how they effect you for the following 10 days.  One day you have grains, or dairy, or gluten then go back to the Whole30 for the following two days.  This gives you time to see how you react.  My reintroduction was shorter because I was already having both gluten and soy products.

I’m going to continue to limit my exposure to sugar, in particular.  One thing I realized was that after quitting my job, I no longer had the desire to drink alcohol.  I was only having a drink or two a night at most, but it had become a coping mechanism and that is a horrible discovery.  It was also one of the major contributors to my weight gain and hence the removal increased its loss.  I don’t need sugar in my morning tea anymore, and I’m not compelled to seek sweets out like I once did, although I am having a hankering for some junk food now that the 40+ days has come to an end.  Oh, pizza.  How I’ve missed you.

Side note, if you’re a Costco or similar warehouse member you can buy bulk spinach, fruit and veggies, avocado oil, coconut milk, almond butter, coconut aminos (a soy sauce alternative) and a few other items there, which will help offset some costs.  I even found ghee, a clarified butter which is Whole30 compliant at a better price.  I also discovered, as a lactose intolerant, that I’m okay with ghee.

If you’re interested in trying Whole30 for yourself, here are a handful of our favorite recipes beyond the cookbook to get you started.

  1. For breakfast, we enjoyed a Pumpkin Bake.  Easy to make and a delicious alternative to eggs every morning.  I’ve made it every week, and it hasn’t bored me.
  2. Egg Roll in a Bowl was another easy and delicious meal.  Mayo has sugar, so you will have to make your own for the topping, but it is worth it.  We used avocado oil for our mayo versus olive oil which has a much more distinct flavor.  Made it twice, and the second time doubled it.
  3. The Mexican Crispy Potato Bowl was a surprise hit late in the 30 days.  It sounded simple, but it was flavorful and I’ve since made it again.
  4. Chinese Pepper Steak was one of the first dishes we made and I’m planning on making it again.
  5. If you’re missing your end of the night treat, aka dessert, this 3 item sweet will help you stave off your sugar demon.  Coconut Cashew Bars are easy, last for some time in the fridge, and go well with fruit.

If you’re considering Whole30 and need support, tips, other recipe recommendations, or how to make it more vegetarian friendly, please let me know and good luck!  It seems a bit overwhelming initially but it’s really not difficult and you’ll reap the benefits.

Quote Monday

Everyone’s posting year end reviews and goal updates, and even as I, myself, am doing some reflection, if you’ve followed me for a while, you know I don’t like resolutions, one can’t help but look back on what’s been accomplished in the course of a year.  It’s also the end of a decade, so there’s even more to think on.

While the beginning of a new year is a great jumping off point, you can start something new or achieve a goal at any time.

Start where you are quote

I’m sure I’ve used this quote before, but as The Sis and I begin to prepare for a new journey, this quote seemed rather apropos.

Happy Monday!