Yes, how's that for a strange blog title! And it gets even stranger. I had a great time with my dermatologist this week. How's that for an odd statement? Let me clarify. I had an odd little dot on my arm. Actually, these days I'm getting a lot of odd little dots on my arm. Not enough protection during those years teaching tennis under a summer sun. But this one worried me. And then I found a mole - and everyone knows moles can become cancerous. And then there was that odd rough patch on my forehead. Let me tell you, we writers are creative. We can jump from "a dot" to "death" in under twenty seconds. Not that I expect to live forever, but I'm hoping when it's time to leave the stage I get to go as painlessly and pleasantly as possible. (Yes, don't we all!) So, visions of something icky started dancing in my head like demented sugar plums and I decided it was time to go to the doc. As it was everything was normal or weirdly hereditary. And that mole? Well, some people call them barnacles but my doctor calls them wisdom spots. Don't you love it? I came home and told Gerhardt I'm so smart it's coming out my skin. And the moral of this story? Well, perhaps it's that worry accomplishes nothing. Better to act and know what you're facing. Meet the concerns of life head on and deal with them, whether they be health related, financial, or relational. And pray. That's Doctor Sheila's prescription. And, if you have health related questions or conc, may I suggest one more thing? Don't go poking around the medical sites on the web. A web page can't run the tests you need but it can certainly alarm you. How do I know this? I bet you can guess!
Yes, I know in the original song the guy left his heart in San Francisco, but I'm thinking maybe he hadn't been to San Diego yet. (No offense Frisco!) This last weekend I had the opportunity of hanging out at the American Library Association's mid-winter conference and Gerhardt and I had a chance to explore the city a little. We barely scratched the surface and I hated to leave... especially since I returned to snow. (I've got nothing against the lovely white stuff as long as it stays where it belongs: in the mountains and off the road!) San Diego was downright balmy and it was great to be able to stroll around the Gas Lamp district with no winter coats. Part of that strolling involved shops and restaurants. Okay, most of that strolling involved shops and restaurants.
These ladies rock!
One of my favorite shops was Carolyn's Designer Resale, where a girl can find every designer purse known to womankind and some fabulous clothes. Oh, those gals are nice! And they didn't laugh at me when I realized, even at a bargain, I couldn't quite afford that Coach purse that kept calling, "Buy me, Sheila!" I resisted, but it was hard. And they tried hard to find me a bargain I could take home. I left empty-handed, but like the Terminator said, "I'll be back!"
I'll take one of each... and a bottle of Tums.
Remember the scene from "The Family Man" when our hero wandered into the men's department at the mall and stood poised on the verge of purchasing a designer suit? His wife consoled him with the promise of a funnel cake. Well, since I couldn't swing the designer purse I consoled myself with cake, also - a cupcake from Heavenly Cupcakes. And the one I chose (vanilla-caramel) was, indeed heavenly. It was hard to make a selection though. So many choices, so little calories to spare!
A message that I should spend money?
So, in spite of strong temptation in the shop windows, I managed to limit my spending to fine dining. San Diego is restaurant city, let me tell you, and offers a range of dining experiences from "We have to sell a child to pay for this" to "I'm going to die in this hole in the wall with a smile on my face." We pretty opted for the small authentic holes in the wall and burned out our taste buds on Mexican food.
So, do I have you yearning for a trip to San Diego yet? I'm sure ready to go back and thinking some California book signing parties might be in order in sunny CA later this fall when my next Christmas book comes out. (Yes, I am becoming the queen of Christmas!) So, a big thanks to St. Martin's Press for letting my hang out at their booth and give away books. And a big thanks to all those librarians for making sure that anyone in America can have access to the wealth of knowledge and adventure that can be found in books.
How fun to meet so many wonderful librarians!
Happy New Year one and all! Don't you love that moment when we do the big countdown to the new year? Gerhardt and I were on the Washington coast for New Year's Eve, whooping it up with old friends Eric and Bernadette. It was way too cold to venture out to the beach to watch fireworks so we tuned in at the last minute to see them on TV from the comfort of their cozy beach home living room. I loved watching the fireworks go off at the Space Needle Seattle, the city where I was born and raised. Got a bonus thrown in afterward - the TV station shot to different cities around the country and the world to give us glimpses of other celebrations. We saw New York, of course, but also London, Sydney (which was amazing), and Paris. We even got a shot of people in China, using a giant gong to mark the march of time into a new year. Interesting, isn't it? No matter where you go, people love to celebrate the approach of a new year. It's exciting to think of the possible adventure and blessing that lies ahead. That fresh, untrammeled year is a chance to wipe the slate clean and start over, to put behind us the mistakes of the past and move forward to become better people.
And that's where those pesky new year's resolutions come in. There is something about that seeing that clean slate, that new, unspent year, that makes us want to do better and be better. And so we take stock (always a good thing) and make all kinds of promises to ourselves. Often we start out with a bang, jumping into a new diet, running off to the gym, starting that great American novel. The problem with those big bangs is they can take so much energy we wind up pooping out with a fizzle. The chocolate calls us, the gym is too much work. And the novel? Well, who knew it would take so much of our time?! In spite of those problems I'm still a fan of new year's resolutions and new beginnings. I do think we have to find a way to maintain them though, so here are some suggestions that might help us all.
1. Make it realistic
Getting your first book published and then optioned by a big Hollywood producer might not be a realistic goal for 2011. Finishing your first book and finding an agent? That's more realistic. Cutting out everything you love and eating nothing but vegetables and vitamins? Very noble. But maybe start with stopping your evening snacking.
2. Break it down into doable steps
If you're wanting to write that great American novel, let's start by planning to spend January coming up with an idea and an outline. Then maybe plan to designate a couple of evenings or some mornings a week as your writing time for the next few months. Plan to write a certain amount of pages every week, say ten or twenty. That doesn't sound like much but it will add up. It's doable. How about getting more exercise? Boy, there's one we all vow to do. And there's one vow a lot of us break. Our local Rotary Club holds a giant auction-garage sale every summer. There is always an entire corner of the middle-school's parking lot filled with workout equipment, probably much of it purchased in January. (Proof that the best laid plans of mice and men and would-be fitness freaks often go astray.) Go easy on yourself and plan a workout routine you know you'll maintain. Maybe start by signing up for a water aerobics class or planning to walk one day a week with your neighbor. One day a week - that's doable for most of us. Both these strategies lead us to suggestion number three...
3. Find a way to glue your resolution to your life
Just thinking, "Boy, am I going to change" won't necessarily alter you. Most of us, when forming new habits, need some training wheels to keep us moving down the road. Paying for something often motivates us to follow through. ("I paid for those darned aerobics classes - I'm going to get my money's worth.") Paying doesn't always do it though. Otherwise, there would be no work-out equipment at the annual Rotary event. Many people buy gym memberships in January which they're not using come June. When it comes to making improvements we often need to bring in reinforcements. Find someone to hold you accountable. Get a walking buddy. Join an exercise class with a friend (and carpool to it together). If you're trying to lose weight, find someone to attend Weight Watchers with you. This will help you stay on track. At least I've found this to be true in my own life. When Me is in charge of little Sheila's behavior, well, good old Me lets little Sheila get away with a lot. Another way we glue that resolution to our every day life is to make sure our environment isn't sabotaging us. Remember what Dr. Phil says: create a fail-proof environment. If you want to lose weight, keeping Ding Dongs in the cupboard is a bad idea. Same goes for all that Christmas candy you got on sale December 26th. I know, I know. It was I'm sale. I'm just sayin'.
4. Be patient with yourself
We all fall off the wagon once in awhile. Some of us several times in a while. (Ask me how I know this!) Don't beat yourself up. Instead, haul yourself back up on that wagon and keep on truckin'. Failing doesn't make you a failure. Quitting makes you a failure. (Unless you're trying to quit smoking. - in that case I hope you become a quitter!)
5. Celebrate every success
Congratulate yourself when you get a pile of pages done on that great American novel. Crow about it. Go out to lunch and celebrate when you finish the book. Take a picture of that lovely pile of pages. Buy a bottle of champagne. If you lose twenty pounds reward yourself with a couple of new items of clothing. (Heck, if you lose twenty pounds you'll need new clothes - your old ones will be falling off. And won't that be a great problem to have!) Those little celebrations when we master a step that takes us closer to our goal are our positive reinforcement. They make us feel good. And when we feel good, well, we want to keep doing what makes us feel good. That makes for a great cycle of success.
I don't know about you but I've already made some resolutions for the new year - one of them being to eat better. Which means it's probably time for the Hershey's kisses I got on sale to go in the freezer. At least there they won't be sitting right under my nose. (Yes, like many of you, I got candy on sale after Christmas!) Of course, I have some other resolutions floating around at the back of my head. I want to be more generous, I want to be an encouragement to my family and friends, I want to do a better job of living out my faith on a daily basis. Those are all lofty goals but obviously, I'm going to have to break them down into real, everyday life actions - with some specific goals and behaviors. But, hey, it's January 1 and I have high hopes. I hope you do, too.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!