Monday, March 9, 2015

My Kids are Addicts...Are Yours?

Sugar addiction. It's a real thing and my house has it BAD! It all started last Halloween when the Halloween Fairy got lazy and the kids got sneaky. See, she's the one who typically visits a week after Halloween and leaves cash whilst magically removing the remaining candy in the house. The kids get a week of indulgence and then POOF, we go back to our more healthy habits.

Unfortunately, the Halloween Fairy forgot to visit the Hales at the same time that the Hale kids figured out the game. And for the last several months, my kids have had their own secret stashes of candy tucked away in drawers and cubbies and locked-away troves.

How did I find this out? Well, I was fighting a migraine last week and in one of my rants I cried out "Make it stop!" and "I really need chocolate!!" At that exact time, my two boys looked at each other. It was a look without words. It was a silent message of great import. It was a realization of high stakes. And my youngest, I swear he loves me the most, decided to be the sacrifice.

"Mom, my lovely, hurting mom. I have what you need..." he said sweetly before rushing off.

"He's going to his secret stash," Logan told Bella. They looked worried and avoided my eyes. I think they wanted to run but, like moths drawn to the flame, they HAD to stick around and stand witness to their little brother who, at that moment, returned with a selection of mini candy bars.

"Here you go, mom. I hope you feel better soon." Noah sealed his gift with a smile that could melt the polar ice caps.

"Thank you, Noah. That's so sweet of you." I unwrapped my first Twix. My kids twitched nervously. "Is this leftover from Valentine's Day?" I asked while looking through the pile for a Snickers.

"Um, well..." he glanced nervously at his siblings, "No. I think that one's from Halloween."

Though Logan and Bella sat in silence, their faces contorted and their eyes pleaded: "Noah, STOP! Say no more! Maybe we can salvage this!!"

"So you still have Halloween candy? It must be almost gone, right?" I calmly continue the interrogation.

"Well..." that kid can't tell a lie, "I think I have some from Christmas and Valentine's Day too. And I bought some from my friends at school..."

By now, Noah won't look at his brother and sister, both shaking their heads certain the hammer's about to fall. But he can't look at me either because even though having a little bit of leftover candy around the house isn't a crime, having a secret collection along with free and easy access to it, feels like quite a betrayal.

"Does everyone in this house have a secret stash Noah?" Bella and Logan sunk a little lower in their seats.

"Okay, tell the truth. Do you have candy every day?" I addressed them all.

Nods all around.

"Even on days when we have ice cream or some other dessert?"

More nods.

"And last week when I bought you Cinnamon Toast Crunch and you fought over the last bowl?" (True story. I think they would've actually come to blows had Michael not intervened.)

Affirmative.

"You guys have a problem. And it's WAY bigger than me finding out about your hidden candy...You are addicted to sugar."

Then we had a long discussion about the way sugar changes your brain chemistry and takes the tastiness out of other foods and messes with your metabolism and lowers your immune system and causes you to act like crazy, deceitful children. We talked about the risks of addiction and the benefits of having control of your body and mind. And how moderation is the key, for most things, at least. The conversation took lots of turns and dips but it ended up being the best family intervention ever.

Maybe you feel like there's an unhealthy habit in your home that needs to be addressed. You're definitely NOT alone. Don't let those secret stashes get out of control, whatever they may be. Seek them out and reign them in. If I can kick the D.C. habit, and my kids can overcome their sugar addictions, for the love, there's HOPE for all.

Be well.

{J}

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Time to Remember, A Time to Love

Ash Wednesday is upon us. For Christians, it marks the beginning of Lent, a period of solemn, spiritual preparation for Holy Week and the celebration of Easter. It is a time to remember and imitate the life and ministry of Jesus and it leads up to the commemoration of his death and resurrection. That’s what Christians celebrate.

But we don’t have to stop there. I have friends of varying faiths that use this time to bring into mind their own values and beliefs, to remember the reasons behind the rituals, to contemplate. And what a gift. Every morning, we have the great opportunity to start anew. To think about how our mark on this earth can be just a little bit sweeter and to DO something about it. To be more kind, more disciplined, more gracious, more present, more faithful, more loving.

When I think about some of the recent atrocities brought upon our fellow believers, fellow human beings, around the world, it’s hard to ignore the fact that our world is in dire need of grace and love. Sometimes, I forget that THAT’s my job - in the midst of carpools and craziness, in spite of the terror on every news channel, especially when it's not easy or convenient – my job is to spread forgiveness and understanding and love.

People, my prayer this Lent is that each of us takes advantage of the opportunity to remember our God, regardless of the name we call him, and to contemplate how we can each shower great LOVE upon the world, like HE did. What a privilege it is that we even get that chance.

So on this blessed Ash Wednesday, I leave you with the profound words of Sister Joan Chittister:

"It is very easy to forget the wonders God has done for us. God often performs these marvels when we are least hopeful they will happen, least sure they can happen.

Out of death, after pain diminishes and numbness fades, new life so often comes forth. After the loss of one direction, another more vibrant than the first so often emerges. Beyond what the world says are our best years, comes a fullness of life unmatched by any other stage.

These are the miracles of life. These are the wonders we stumble into, so obviously not our own making that they must be of God. These are the things that must be remembered in the midst of the daily, dull, depressing moments of life.

Good has so often come out of even the more shabby parts of our own life. We retreat from religion because it disappoints, only to find no better answers elsewhere and return more spiritual than ever before. We fail ourselves miserably, then find new life when we discover that people loved us for ourselves, not our images. We get stopped in our indulgent, dishonest, ambitious, shiftless tracks and become newer, better selves. These are the wonders of life.

Every life is filled with a series of small miracles designed to carry us through dark days, up steep mountains, down into the valley of death, beyond every boundary.

One of the spiritual disciplines of Lent is to recognize these, to let praise raise in our hearts. We need to see the miracles of our lives as signs along the way that no path is too twisted, no burden so heavy, no social system so impenetrable as to confound us utterly. The God who has sustained us in the past will not desert us in the present.

Praise and memory take us into tomorrow with open minds and certain hearts."

Love to you!

{J}

(Passage from Ideas in Passing - benetvision.org)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Spoonful of Inspiration

The thing about the writing craft is that it can easily be a misunderstood, solitary and isolating. But, when you collect aspiring and accomplished writers, agents, editors and industry professionals in a beautiful San Diego hotel for a weekend, friends, that's when the MAGIC happens.

Last weekend, Holly and I had the great privilege to attend the San Diego State University Writers' Conference. Our schedule was full of invaluable break-out sessions, key notes, agent meetings and networking functions. We floated from one activity to another, soaking up unlimited knowledge and inspiration and sunshine. Here are just a few of the take-aways:

--The publishing industry is still changing

--People are still buying physical books, especially young adult and middle grade and best sellers

--Writers have to do MORE to earn and maintain the loyalty of their audience

--Agents have to do MORE to earn a spot at the publishing table

--Publishers have to do MORE to bring a book to market

--Readers have to sift through MORE books to find the gems

--But despite all the changes, true GEMS are still being written and produced every day

--If you want to have a successful writing career, this fundamental truth remains the same: write a great book

While working on book one of our Power of 7 series, we have made these important steps: we've finished our second draft, we've partnered with an incredible editor and this past weekend, we've decided to make a pretty substantial shift with our final revision. It was a BIG decision but we're up to the challenge and believe these edits will give P7 its best shot to reach our readers one day.

Some fun bits about this change: character names. Meet Benjamin and Chloe (last name TBD). They're siblings. Benjamin can influence the physical realm with his mind and Chloe can see events before they occur.

We adore them!!

Thanks for joining us on this journey. We will keep you close by as we venture onward into the wild and magical publishing landscape.

{J & H}

Actors Michael Hudson (courtesy of rpfashionista.tumblr.com) and Amber Midthunder (courtesy of polyvore.com) pictured here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

D.C. Update

A few of you have asked for an update on my anti-D.C. campaign. Well, it's been twelve loooonnnggg days and I'm feeling GREAT! Except for the fact that I miss my friend like the summer misses its long, lingering days. Like a mother misses her youngest on the first day of preschool. Like a fourteen year old misses her iPhone when she's grounded. I MISS D.C. that much!

But, I don't miss the fear of cancer with every sip. I don't miss the sugar cravings that D.C. seemed to exacerbate. And I don't miss the headaches that came if I waited too long for my fix. It's nice that I don't have to play that game with my health. I'm staying focused on the upsides. They say that helps.

So I hope your outlining and goal-setting helped you close in on something that's making you a BETTER you. Whatever it may be, keep on keeping on. I believe in you!

{J}

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015...The Year of the Outline

It's a NEW YEAR! 2015! A clean slate. The ultimate refresh button. So what're you gonna do about it? I, for one, will not be intimidated by resolutions and the fear of falling short. I'm going to establish a few solid goals and then really think about what it will take to achieve those goals.

During the last year, I've learned to appreciate the usefullness of outlining. I really used to hate it but as a writer, you MUST embrace the outline. So I have decided to simply apply the outlining model to my 2015 goal-setting. It looks something like this:

GOAL: Limit my Diet Coke consumption

1. When do I most desire a Diet Coke?

A. Morning

B. Afternoon

C. Night

2. When do I feed that desire?

A. Mostly mid-morning, only after drinking a FULL glass of water.

B. Sometimes in the afternoon for a pick-me-up.

C. In the evening if out for a meal. (It's rude to decline refills, that's a real thing.)

3. What can I do to limit/change this unhealthy habit?

A. Nothing. (Except my doctor is watching me so that's probably not an option.)

B. Drink Diet Coke only every other day, and only one. (Hmmm...seems reasonable.)

C. Allow my indulgence only on the weekends. (Ouch! Does Friday count as the weekend?)

D. Research healthier options. (A good idea anyway.)

Okay, I know I've shared my Diet Coke issue with you before...it's my truest and most unrelenting vice. Writing about it here helps me with accountability so thank you. But I won't stop there. I will also outline my plan of attack for other goals like writing and exercising more, nurturing family ties and friendships, and other holistic pursuits. Wish me luck.

Whatever you do on this dawn of the new year, I hope you have a chance to set some goals and pave the way for a productive and fulfilling 2015.

Happy New Year! You're wished health and happiness and love.

{J}

Monday, November 10, 2014

What's In A Name?

Sooooo...we survived the first week of NaNoWriMo and logged 7458 words, roughly 30 pages. Good progress for a week that included (between us) two birthdays, end of year football and volleyball games for the freshmen, Halloween sugar detox and the general duties of mommyhood and wifedom. We're pretty pleased with ourselves.

The highlight of the week was seeing the "Graveyard" shift-change at Corky's while contemplating how bad our antagonists should be. Holly is much better at that than I am. I really don't want to dislike any of our characters so I come up with crazy justifications like, a demon made him do it or she's hormonal and brain-damaged. You'll have to read the book to see how we reconcile those little details. It's so much fun!

The best part was when our waitress witnessed our creative tool for character profiling. What can I say, we're visual writers. We had our phones propped up, facing each other, with these images to help us hash out the details of two of our male characters. I'll leave you with this visual:

It's all part of the process, friends.

And we need YOUR help. We're looking for names for these two inspiring specimens. (Ian and Colin are out.) Try not to get distracted by the eyes. MERCY!

Thank you! Writing on!

{J&H}

Saturday, November 1, 2014

#NaNoWriMo-Day 1

National Novel Writing Month is here!! And we are taking advantage of the NaNoWriMo campaign to finish Power of 7 and prepare for pitching it at some upcoming writers' conferences.

If you've ever considered writing anything, visit www.nanowrimo.org to get inspired. It's and AMAZING conglomeration of talent and motivation.

Our NaNoWriMo novel page begins with our short synopsis:

POWER OF 7 is best described as new adult contemporary fantasy with elements of romance and historical fiction. Told from the points of view of Emily and John, P7 follows the "Healer" and the "Listener" and five other gifted college students, as they discover that they've been brought to Yale for a very specific purpose. Together, they are tasked with finding the source of their powers in order to confront a force of evil that only they can overcome. As Emily begins to accept the benefits of being different, John only sees his power as a curse, one that threatens the emerging love between them. In an atmosphere riddled with spirits, demons and centuries-old legends, these seven will find that by embracing that which makes them ordinary, they have the power to restore humanity.

Is this something you think you would read? We'll share more throughout the month and are happily accepting feedback.

Happy NaNoWriMo2014!

{H&J}