How Do You Get Out of a Slump?

My writing has suffered as of late, but I refuse to give up.  I can tell that it’s suffering because not as many people are reading it either.  I’m mentally preparing for some pretty big decisions in my life and that has launched a grenade into my creative thinking brain space.  I’ve learned that there are few things that don’t fix this struggle:

  1. An ice cream and cookie diet.  One, it makes everything feel messy, like my keyboard, my phone, my face.  I’m not a slob; I think that eating unhealthy food just makes everything feel gross; including the extra pound or five.  It’s really only made me feel worse about myself and worry more.  This does not lead to creative brain activity.
  2. Diving into a romance trilogy.  As hereditarily impatient as I am, I must finish a book immediately after starting it.  So, last week I cracked open a romance trilogy about Irish sisters and it’s consumed my free time.  I honestly find solace in reading things like that now and then because I get a cheap giggle and get all sappy without making my husband watch a terrible chick flick.  Plus, I’ve always been one of the guys, so these allow me to be a girl without publicly announcing it.  Oh wait, I just did.  Regardless, these books only make me long for something, which makes me restless.  This one is making me Ireland-sick.  It’s not my home, just a place we’ve spent a month, and that I long for regularly.  This could lead to daydreaming and hence inspiration though, let me mull over this one.
  3. Neglecting friends.  This is never a good idea.  When I’m feeling uninspired though, I become a hermit and increasingly lazy.  Do not think about looking at my house right now either.  Where did all these clothes come from by the way?  Have I always shedded this much?  What a mess.
  4. Lacking a theme.  Months ago, I initially hoped to focus on being an old soul.  It has made an appearance through several posts, but for the most part, this blog has lacked consistency.  It most likely just emulates my mind’s patterns. I simply have too many interests.  That should be the biggest goal, to lay down a solid foundation and finish out the rest of the year right.  If you’re been reading this, I’m more than open to any ideas or inspiring thoughts on how to do that without creating a mundane goal.

Well, as one not to dwell too long, tomorrow I’m going to hesitantly go to a happy hour, socialize with some friends, eat healthy and finish that trilogy before I go to bed so I have free time this weekend.  Ok, that last part is a lame attempt to justify staying up late and appease my curiosity.  But I do it for my craft.  Maybe I’ll even dust on Saturday.

Then, with a clear mind, I’ll recreate myself.  How do you find inspiration, especially if you’re writing a 365 blog?

Yogi: I Say “Bear” and You Say “Namaste”

When life is chaotic and non-stop, we all need a moment to sit and relax.  My mind is always going, even when I get that opportunity.  I’m in total envy of those people who can sit and meditate or just focus on one’s breath.  My mind just jumps from one thing to another.  And although my Evernote app has taken a fair share of constant “to do” lists out of constant rotation in my brain, I can’t get the wheels to stop spinning.

Groupon had a great deal on a set of ten yoga classes at a studio near my house; such a great deal that it would be like paying for three regular priced classes.  Who doesn’t need an hour to just sit on the floor and zone out?  I always liked the idea of yoga as a hobby, because I’m realistic to know that I’m not the kind of girl who could become a true yogi and live that naturally peaceful lifestyle on a day to day basis.  As appealing as it would be, I’d be kidding myself to think that was likely.  But I did like the idea of keeping my mat in the car and wearing my cute yoga pants to class here and there, and getting a nice and exaggerated session of stretching to calming music.

I aspire to practice a regular activity that calms me rather than burdens me.

I was given three months to use these 10 classes.  Guess who used half my classes and has a little less than two weeks left to keep going?  This gal.  I truly think I psyche myself out when it comes to yoga.  The fact that I can’t get my mind to relax and focus on the ultimate goal of yoga is so frustrating for me.  Though I am usually proud that I’m more flexible than I thought, I’m also a klutz.  I also don’t follow verbal directions well since I’m a visual learner.  That being said, I always get an outgoing teacher who wants to try some new and complex activity during a beginner class, which causes me to strain my neck to focus on where my body parts should be.  Oh yeah, and meanwhile I can’t forget to focus on my breathing.  Before you know it, I’m slightly stressed, my hands are slippery and I can barely stay in the downward facing dog without panicking that I’ll face plant into my mat.

This is not relaxing.

There is a meditation class option coming up.  I think this could be a possibility.  The less focus on movement and the more focus on easing the mind there is, the better off I will be.  I respect what yoga is and the practice, I think maybe it’s not my thing.  My biggest takeaway from my last class what getting the instrutor to give me the artists on her playlist, because it had been driving me crazy the entire session. Maybe I could just go back to listening to a peaceful album with headphones on to mentally drift, like I could in high school.  I’ll even throw in a stretch once or twice to make it a little healthier.

Image courtesy of yogaworkouthq.com

I Can Eat a Quart of Ice Cream Because I Ate an Apple Yesterday (and Other Excuses)

I did it again.  I woke up in the middle of the night, eyes wide open.

“Damn, I didn’t post!”

But, Tuesday hasn’t technically started for me, even though its 3:00am, so I can write now and it will still count for yesterday.  It’s still Monday night, right?  I mean, I didn’t mean to fall asleep, I had plans to write.

Then I starting thinking how late I’ll be if I woke up now and became functional, only to go back to sleep for two hours until my work alarm goes off.  So I got up, turned the TV off, lights off and hit the shower.  Better to get ahead of the game, plus I do some of my best thinking in the shower; except that I usually get on a mental “roll” in there and forget what I was going to write by the time I’m done.  I started thinking that I should keep a recorder outside of the tub in case I have any ideas that are earth shattering.  Then, because it’s 3am, I came up with a silly line about I can make a joke about those plastic flute-like recorders 4th graders get, and how that wouldn’t help my blog writing.  Sure glad I didn’t use that one.  Whew.

But really, I’m sure I’m not alone in the incessant excuse making.  I don’t think I use them when it comes to others, pretty much just for myself.  I’m a selfish excuse maker.  Here are some of the best I’ve come up with in the last week.

  • I’m not going to the gym.  Those people who never go and make a New Year’s resolution go and it gets too crowded.
  • I’ve gained a few pounds.  It’s probably because I’m stressed at work or my metabolism is starting to slow down at 28.  It can’t be because I’ve been on a cookie diet since Christmas.
  • (To my husband)  Yes, I saw the apples went bad.  Why didn’t YOU eat them?  I didn’t eat them because I didn’t want leave you without any.  (Ok, so maybe I’m not so selfish with myexcuses after all.)
  • I had to buy those boots, because they sent me a $10 coupon and then there was another sale ad for 20% off.  It would be like wasting money if I didn’t use them.
  • I know we just bought the Girl Scout cookies, but if we don’t eat them it’ll be like the tragedy of 2011, when we forgot about a box of shortbreads on top of the fridge and they got stale.  (Reference second excuse here)

At least I’m not murdering people or doing harm to others with my excuses.  They are really harmless.  Oh man, I just tried to validate my excuses.

Time Is Not Always On Our Side

No one likes to listen to a whiner; particularly in January.

“Wahhh, I’m having trouble keeping my new goals!”

There are so many people who are out of work, starving and struggling for a normal existence.  All I really need is sleep and time.  I suppose at times like these, they are just as much a luxury as diamonds.  Who am I to ask for more?

Still, there are days I truly understand why writers and artists end up single and starving.  Creativity simply takes time, some days more than others, and time is so valuable.  I struggle with how to divide it and how to decide if I can take any of newly discovered free time for myself or when I’m supposed to share it.  Sharing makes me happy, but it can also be draining.

Sometimes I don’t mind writing my daily blog two hours after the day actually ends, even when I find myself waking up on the couch at 1AM, still needing to compose thoughts and words, only to wake up in 4.5 hours.  Today I mind, and today I feel like I have nothing left to give.  Even though it is late and certainly not earth shattering, at least I kept my goal.

I still didn’t make those damned Christmas cookies though…*

*Post-Christmas Cookie baking took a backseat to sharing my time with Grandmom on Saturday, forgive me?

As Our Christmas Cookies Go Stale

December went entirely too fast.  I never even got a chance to make my cookies, though our scale showed no regrets.

I decided that the Christmas season is not going to put a timeline on when I can bake and I will use any color sprinkles I want to.  Besides, there’s so much more time to create tasty confections when the holiday sales have past and the wrapping paper fills the recycle bin.

There’s a cookie I remember eating when I was about five.  It was pale pink, and in cut-outs like a regular sugar cookie, but it had a distinct taste that I now know to be rose water.  I always hoped to find them again.  Believe it or not, I recently found the recipe my Mom had copied from that lady who made them, when flipping through a stack of photocopied recipes she gave to us.  So not only do I get to relive a sensory memory, but the oven will do wonders to heat our little house this weekend.

If you’d like to give them a shot – I think it would be a perfect treat for Valentine’s Day in the form of hearts too.  The recipe states that it is originally from French origin.

Petticoat Tails Recipe

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 & 3/4 cups flour (Do not use self-rising flour)
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. rose water
  • red & yellow food coloring (no particular measurement)
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • Sugar-nut topping or Confectioners’ sugar icing (below)

Cream butter and sugar; add egg and mix well.  Stir together flour and salt; mix into creamed mixture.  Divide in half.  To one half, add the rose water and red food coloring.  Mix well.  To the remaining half, add the almond extract and yellow food coloring.  Mix well.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Roll dough 1/8” thick on well-floured cloth-covered board.  Cut into desired shapes.  Place on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake 6-8 minutes.  Cookies may be sprinkled with sugar-nut topping before baking or may be decorated with confectioners’ sugar icing when cool.

*Sugar nut topping: Mix 6 tbsp. finely chopped nuts with ¼ cup granulated sugar.  Sprinkle over cookies before baking.

*Confectioners’ sugar icing: Blend 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla and 2-3 tbsp. cream (or evaporated milk), adding cream in small amounts.  Stir in food coloring.

Despite the recipe, my memory recalls a dusting of confectioners’ sugar and those small silver balls that threaten to break your teeth, as opposed to these two options.  I don’t care what anyone says, those are not edible.  I hope to make these tomorrow and share pictures and results, with teeth in tact of course.

Christmas time is here

image

For those of us who celebrate Christmas, it really is the best time of the year.  There is a warm and sentimental feeling that encompasses the soul.  But like everything else, time passes so quickly and before you know it, the lights are gone and the cookies stale.

This year, we didn’t wait to celebrate.  And I wouldn’t let the Grinches force us to hide our spirit, with their “Are you serious? The mall is decorated for Christmas already?” comments.  Well, excuse my French, but screw them.  As a matter of fact, we’ve been watching Elf since September.  (Who am I kidding, we watch it all the time really.)

I learned my lesson from this summer, when too many tomorrows passed us by and my plans for making real fresh jam went by the wayside.  I’m going to dig out the most sentimental family cookie recipes I have and get going.  Even the ones that seem too complicated and require odd ingredients will get a fair shot. 

As we hang our handblown ornaments and get out the old cookie press, we wish you a Merry Christmas.  Don’t forget  that “the best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear”.