The Search for the Fountain of Youth

Okay, I finally did it. I broke down and bought one of those facial exercise programs. You know, the ones where you can look up to 15 years younger in as little as 15 minutes a day. It all started like this:

My older daughter, son-in-law and grandkids came down for the holidays. One morning, Kristi and I were discussing hair, specifically coloring and highlighting. Mine has gone completely gray, except for the very bottom layer, which is still brown. Kristi said my long, gray hair would look really cool with some blue or purple tint. Uh, seriously?

Long gray hair

Actually, I need to backtrack a little further. About a year ago, I noticed some sagging along my jawline. Disturbing, to say the least. I’ve been a little over-the-top on health and fitness through the years, so I guess I felt all that healthy living should have stopped the aging process, or at least slowed it down more than what it has. I look in the mirror, touch my cheeks and lift ever so slightly, and voila! My skin is smooth. Unfortunately, the moment I drop my hands, gravity takes over again, and it’s pretty cruel. That, coupled with the fact that I’m coming up on one of those decade birthdays, has me a little bit freaked out.

Okay, now back to my hair conversation with my daughter. Purple tint…

Girl with purple hair
Image by Mikayla Rivers from Pixabay

Or blue…

Girl with blue hair
Image by Khusen Rustamov from Pixabay

Or why not go all out and do purple on one side and pink on the other?

pink and purple hair
Image by Matteo Venturella from Pixabay

Hmm, sounds intriguing. For someone in their 20s or 30s. Maybe even 40s. But for a woman who’s almost *clears throat loudly*?

I said, “Wouldn’t that look weird on someone my age?” Both my daughter and son-in-law said, “Absolutely not.” My daughter furthered her cause by telling me I don’t have any wrinkles. I showed her what happens when I clench my jaw and don’t smile. Instead of acting shocked, she said, “I know what you can do for that.”

She then told me she’d purchased Carolyn’s Facial Fitness program some time back and started doing the exercises. (Apparently, it’s easier to work on prevention than try to fix what has already gone wrong.) I got online and ordered the full kit, which includes a pacing CD (it counts through each exercise with you), the final CD (same, but doesn’t have the counting), DVD video that demonstrates step by step how to do each of the 28 exercises, a workbook and flashcards. There are even bonus exercises for those of us who need a little additional help, a three-times magnifying mirror for an up-close-and-personal look for anyone brave enough to use it, and samples of the moisturizer, balancing facial cleanser and hydrating creme masque.

How to prevent wrinkles

So I’m giving it a shot. The exercises, anyway. The tint? That’s a topic for a later post. Much later.

It’s Zaturday – Kitty Hidey-Holes!

It’s Zaturday, the day we (Ziggy and Zorro) take over Mommy’s blog.

Ziggy here. We’re back in Florida after that two-day car ride. Or maybe it was just one. Whatever it was, it felt like FOREVER!

After breakfast this morning, I settled in for the first of my naps. When Mommy went looking for me, she couldn’t find me. I stayed where I was and listened to her call, because…well, that’s what cats do. It’s one of the things that makes us different from dogs. (Unless there’s food involved. I always make an exception at mealtime.) In this case, my tummy was full and I was quite comfy. I still don’t know what all the excitement was about. I knew where I was the entire time. I was in one of my favorite hidey spots. (I’m not telling where in case Mommy reads this.)

Cat in closetWhen it comes to cool places to hide out, humans have no creativity at all. Mommy and Daddy are always so easy to find. They could take some lessons from me. My buddy Zorro is good at disappearing, too. Sometimes even I can’t find him. Like when he got in the closet and went to sleep on the towels.

Laundry baskets are pretty cool, too. Especially when they’re full of fresh laundry. Zorro beat me to this one, so I was stuck with having to lie in front of it.

We both love boxes and bags. Here, Zorro thinks he’s camouflaged—black cat in a black bag. But I can see him.

Cat in bag

Now I’m off to find a new hidey-hole.

It’s Zaturday – Road Trip!

It’s Zaturday, the day we (Ziggy and Zorro) take over Mommy’s blog.

Image by Roland Kuck from Pixabay

Zorro here. Ziggy and I have spent the past two weeks in North Carolina. It’s a lot different here from our home in Florida. First, there’s more people, like Aunt Kim and Grandma (who are sort of like two other mommies). There are no lizards to chase, but awhile back, Ziggy tried to steal a mouse I caught. (I didn’t let him have it.) Mommy took it away from me, though, and put it back outside, which wasn’t very nice.

Black cats in carToday we’re heading back to Florida, so we’ll be in the car all day. It doesn’t sound like fun, but it’s really not bad. A litter box on the back floorboard. A bowl of food halfway home. A warm lap to curl up on. What more could a kitty ask? Ziggy isn’t as experienced as me at this whole traveling thing, though, so he sometimes starts hollering. I’ve tried to tell him it’s all cool, but he doesn’t believe me. He’ll figure it out eventually. Okay, time for a nap.

New Year’s Resolutions – Succeed by Keeping them Realistic

2020 goals
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I just googled “Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions” and found several that appeared on almost everyone’s list.

  1. Lose weight (on every list I checked)
  2. Get in shape (a/k/a exercise more)
  3. Get organized
  4. Spend less/save more
  5. Quit smoking
  6. Learn a new skill or hobby
  7. Spend more time with family and friends
  8. Travel more
  9. Enjoy/live life to the fullest
  10. Adopt a healthier lifestyle (i.e., reduce stress, sleep more, eat healthier)

These are all great goals. Unfortunately, for most people, they fall by the wayside pretty early in the year. (Strava, the social network for athletes, analyzed 31.5 million global activities online and found that January 12 is the date when most people report failing their resolution.)

To-do list
Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

I’m more of a planner than a resolutions kind of girl. I live by to-do lists. We all hear that goals need to be S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely). I’m great at goal-setting, but not so hot at the “attainable” and “realistic” parts of the formula. So I take my to-do lists a step further and put everything into daily schedules. Extreme, I know, but it works for me. I tend to be overly optimistic on what I can accomplish, and when I break the day or week down by hours, it becomes quite clear that I’ve got way more on my to-do list than can possibly be accomplished by one person (and still hope to get any sleep). I also find that some of the items on the resolutions list above, like exercise, spending time with family and friends and enjoying life to the fullest, don’t happen if I don’t consciously schedule them in.

My New Year’s routine starts with making a list of what I hope to accomplish during the year. I’m currently in the midst of three different writing projects. I’ve plotted and done research for a series for Love Inspired Suspense set in Pensacola, Florida. I’ve discussed it with my editor and was in the process of putting together the official proposal when I was asked to write a book for a K-9 search and rescue series (also Love Inspired Suspense). So the Pensacola one will be put on the back burner until I finish the SAR book. I also got my rights back to my first Love Inspired Suspense series and will be editing those books and writing two more, expanding the original three-book series into five books, then indie publishing them.

Here’s what my “Year at a Glance” tab looks like.

Yearly schedule

Three of the column headings are the projects I mentioned above. The others are social media/promo, business, and other engagements. During this initial planning process, I realize that about one third of what I hope to accomplish will have to be pushed into the following year.

When I finish a rough overview of each month, I move to the next stage. Using a calendar, I plug in appointments, speaking engagements, recreation, etc., then figure my daily output on my writing projects, allowing for knocking off at a reasonable time to go bike riding or hit the gym with hubby. This is the point at which I realize I’m still being overly optimistic and have to spread the tasks out a little further. I’m now finished with the first three months. I won’t complete the calendar for the second quarter until I see what has to be moved from the first.

Strategic planning, 1st quarter

So there you have it. I’m making it public. During 2020, I hope to complete two and a half books for Love Inspired Suspense. In my indie-pubbed series, I plan to finish revisions on two books and write one new book. That is all barring the unexpected. Unfortunately, there is ALWAYS the unexpected. That’s what the “cut and paste” function is for.

Event of a Lifetime (or at least a decade)

Last week, most of America tuned in for a spectacular celestial show. I don’t remember ever being this excited about an eclipse. Then again, I’ve never had the opportunity to experience a total one.

I was blessed to have family right in the path of totality. So the Saturday before the big event, hubby and I loaded up the cat and dog and our solar glasses and headed for Murphy, North Carolina. When we hit Atlanta, it looked like everyone else was doing the same thing.

 

 

The next day, the rest of the crew arrived—my daughter and son-in-law from Connecticut, my son-in-law’s parents from Louisiana, and my two critique partners from Florida. Karen, my one CP, bought T-shirts to commemorate the event, so the day of the eclipse, we three writers were decked out in our matching eclipse T-shirts.

By noon on Monday, the whole gang was ready with our lawn chairs and NASA-approved solar glasses. We’d even cut some of the extra glasses apart and used the filters for our cameras.

 

 

 

Then it started, the first bite out of the sun. It didn’t take long to notice an appreciable difference in temperature. When we were setting up the lawn chairs, it was blazing hot. It felt more like Florida than North Carolina. But once the eclipse started, the temperature became quite comfortable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sliver of sun got smaller and smaller. Then came totality, and we were able to take our glasses off. All that was visible was the corona around the sun, which can be viewed with the naked eye. It’s only visible during a total eclipse.

The difference between partial and total is like night and day. Literally. For almost two and a half minutes, it was dark. The cicadas even got confused and all started chirping. Then the sun started to reappear, and the glasses went back on.

In the seconds preceding and following totality, if you lay a white sheet on the ground, you can see light waves moving across it. While we were filming it, my daughter’s dog had to get in on the action.

I have to say, I didn’t stay outside for all of the last half of the eclipse. It was the same thing we had already witnessed, except in reverse. But that two and a half minutes of totality is something I’ll never forget. In fact, we’re already making plans for our next one, which will take place on April 8, 2024. Unfortunately, I don’t have family in the path of this one. But we’re thinking about Hot Springs, Arkansas…

Freedom is Never Free

 

All gave some; some gave all

Today, all over America people will honor the brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. With a son-in-law who is in his 20th year with the Navy, a brother-in-law who retired from the Air Force, and a dear friend who finished 27 years with the Army, I am especially touched by the sacrifices our soldiers and their families make on a daily basis.

One especially poignant picture that gets posted frequently around this time of year makes me cry every time I see it. It depicts Katherine Cathey lying on an air mattress in front of her fallen Marine’s casket. She’s staring at her laptop screen, listening to songs that remind her of him. She had asked to sleep near him one last time before his burial the following day. The Marines made a bed for her and, at her request, stood watch through the night.

As we participate in our Memorial Day activities–cookouts, parades  and other commemorative events–let’s remember not only those who have fallen, but also those who are still serving. Pray for our soldiers.

Meanwhile, I hope you’ll grab a tissue and check out these seven heartwarming veterans stories in honor of Memorial Day.

Help for Rough Times

Whenever I’m going through rough times, I often think, “Will this even be an issue a year from now? Usually the answer is no. Oftentimes the things that worry me and so occupy my thoughts today have resolved themselves within six, two, even one month, and new concerns have taken their place.

Julie Jobe has a better question, which is represented by the acronym DIME–“Does it matter eternally?” Yesterday, on her blog, “Redeemed Hope Dweller,” she shared about one of those kinds of days we’ve all had, where everything seems to go wrong, and how a radio program unexpectedly put everything into perspective. It was a great post that really made me think. You can check it out here.