Life Changes, Pt. 1: Deciding on Change

Sometimes it is a good idea to sit down and decide what you want to change about your life. We all have something that we want to change. We just need to identify the things that we can change and work out a plan to do just that. the first step is to sit down and list the things that you wish were different. Then figure out if you can change them or not. Then take that shorter list, because I know that I will never be taller, so I’m sure that there will be things on your list that you won’t be able to change either. Here’s part of my list:

I realized last year that I was too heavy for my health. I went to the doctor’s and confirmed that. Now, I’m in the process of doing that. I’ll go into detail on that in my next blog. Right now, I’m looking at my life and deciding what else I want to change.

I would like to reconnect with my family, I seem to be splintering off from them. That’s not good. Your family is your best support group.

Like a lot of other people, I’m experiencing a money problem. I would like to change that.

I’m also going through the change in life, not something I can change. All I can do there is wait it out. That’ll change on its own.

There are things in my house that need repairing – I don’t know how to fix them. That’s something I can change.

The list is getting longer, but there are things on it that I have control over and things that I can’t. The problem is telling the difference. I’m not in complete control over every aspect of my life and that’s something else I would like to change. I’m not a control freak or anything, I would welcome control over my finances – I can do that. for example, I would like to control my relationship with my family – never going to happen. Controlling relationships is not something you can do completely. Not total control anyway.

However there are aspects in reconnecting with my family that I can control, namely I can open lines of communication. This is what I’m talking about when I talk of finding what you can and can’t change. My nieces and nephews all have their own lives and reconnecting with them can be hard, but not impossible. We just have to find times when we will all be in the same general location and get together. That’s what I mean when I say to find the changes that you can make.

Don’t expect to control everything. life doesn’t work that way. Find the little things that you can control – how much money you spend, how much you eat, things like that. you’ll find change easier to accomplish if you do. good luck with your changes, if you decide to make any. Next week, I’ll be letting you know how I’m doing on making the major change of adopting a healthy diet and exercise regimen.

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Posted in General Opinion

Walking in the Park

I walk two miles every morning. I walk down my street and go a park in my neighborhood. It has an asphalt path that meanders through it. The path is a mile long. I walk around it twice. Then I walk home. It’s early in the morning when I walk. It’s usually just before dawn on the days that I start work around eight o’clock in the morning. I leave for my walk at about quarter to six in the morning. It takes me almost an hour to walk to the park and around the path twice. This morning, as I walked, I could see the early dawn breaking. The sky was black overhead; the eastern sky was a band of red, with orange bands across the eastern sky. It was a beautiful site. The sun was just below the horizon, which accounted for the beautiful bands of red and orange. As the sun rose over the horizon, I made my way home. I will walk again tomorrow at around the same time. I hope to see that orange and red band of sky behind the trees again.

Overhead there were stars in the sky and the moon is often bright in the black sky. The sky lightened as my walk progressed. It was a mild morning and the walk invigorated me. I enjoy my mornings in the park. I often have it to myself and that can be quite enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge it when others come into the park. It’s just that i enjoy the time to myself.

The mornings are my time. I walk a little later when my workday starts later. I wait until the sun is up to walk then. I am still in my own little world when I walk at that time, but the time just before dawn is special. I see the animals that you don’t often see, rabbits and, yes, skunks. I don’t mess with either animal, with an emphasis on not messing with the skunk. I make sure that they know that I’m not after them.

It’s not always the same thing every day. Today, for example, the bands of color in the easter weren’t that distinct this morning. I guess it’s all down to the clouds on the horizon when the bands of color appear. On the other hand, I was up and out a little bit early. I fed the cat and cleaned out her litter box. Then I went for the walk. it was dark with stars overhead for a good portion of the walk. it had rained overnight and that lent something to the air, the smell of damp earth and worms. Maybe it’s just damp earth, but I also smelled something that I associate with worms. It wasn’t unpleasant, just that wormy smell you get around the night crawler kind of fishing bait. That’s what I associate with that particular scent. I saw no small animals, they have better eyesight in that low light than I have. they were able to avoid me.

My morning walks are not just increasing my physical fitness; they also increase my mental fitness. I can think while I walk. I walk and think about things, sometimes fiction and sometime I plan scenarios. The mind can wander on my walks and that is good. So, I am walking my way to physical and mental fitness. Walking may not do it for you; we all find our own way to our fitness. If we can do it while looking at something beautiful, it’s a bonus.

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Posted in General Opinion

Dieting

Dieting is a matter of watching what you eat. Every diet ever created does it. I belong to Weight Watchers and they have a food tracking tool that gives you points for each food item you eat. It’s all based on portions. Like most Americans, I didn’t pay much attention to portion sizes. Now that I’m considered obese and trying to reverse that, I realize just how many portions of a food item that I eat in a sitting.

The correct portions seem so small. A half a cup of Cheerios® cereal is the right size? It looks so small. When did we train ourselves to eat so much? Why did we train ourselves to eat so much? It was insidious, the portion size creep. It’s very hard to reverse that trend as well.

I’m working on that, measuring out the food that I eat. I’m losing weight. In the last year, I have lost thirty pounds and I’m still considered obese. I have another twenty-eight and a half pounds to go before I am considered merely overweight. It’s a hard haul, but I’m working on it.

Dieting alone won’t do it any more than exercising alone will. The two go hand in hand and you have to decide that this is what you want. So you have to reduce your calorie intake even as you ramp up your activity. An active life and smaller portions will get you to your target weight. That’s only half the battle. Once you reach your target weight, how do you keep from gaining again? maintain your activity level and portion size. You can never go back to the way you lived before you began dieting. Once you accept that, you will start succeeding in your quest for a healthy life.

You can splurge now and then, but you will need to make up for it either by planning for the splurge or trying to repair it. “A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips,” is a cliché because it is true. You do not want to go backward, if you can avoid it, so you have to decide if you really want to waste your calorie budget on that chocolate bar or not. It’s the same thing as with your finances. You have to decide between a roof over your head or some shiny toy. If you are smart, you can live without the shiny toy, but how long would you last without a roof over your head. Dieting is the same thing. Sometimes it is a matter of life and death, although for most people it’s more a matter of quality of life rather than life and death.

Try to get the people around you on board with your diet. If they can sympathize with your need to stay within your calorie budget, they will be less likely to sabotage you unintentionally. Remember, you can’t change them, you can only change yourself. So keep working on yourself and don’t worry about the next guy. You’ll feel better for it.

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Posted in General Opinion

Feline Freedom League May 2015 Report

From: Agent Pica To: Mr. Whiskers Date: 3 May 2015
Subject: Mission Report

I am under attack here. I have been having issues with my fur. My skin itches and the fur is falling out. I have bald spots and the female comes at me every so often with a diabolical device. It squirts me. she squirts my back side and the base of my tail. I do my best to escape but she is relentless until she gets the area soaked. I have no defense and no one to help me by running interference so that I can hide. I really miss Agent Trouble.

I really feel the pinch of the budget cuts that don’t allow me to have a partner. This place is too big for one cat alone to cover. Still I will do my best.

They have changed my food. I like the new food and enjoy it. the litter situation has changed as well. I have only one box that really works now. the one that used to be on its own is in the larger room with the smaller of the two that were in there. the largest one is gone. I suppose the humans feel that I don’t need much more than that. I suppose they are right, but I did like the variety.

I haven’t had an outside agent come by in a while. they must not have much to report. On the other paw, I can feel the cold through the stiff stuff that covers the wall. A few times during this cold time, the humans have blocked off the small litter room where they do their litter operations. I could feel heat from under the door that they close when they go in. they smelled as though they hadn’t groomed themselves. then they let it be open and they were grooming themselves again. I don’t know what that means, but I heard something about a bathtub drain thawing. I don’t know quite what that means, but things are back to as normal as they can be without Agent Trouble.

If you are able to find any money in the budget to replace her, I would appreciate it. I miss having another cat to talk to. I can only hope that that outside agents have been able to make it through the cold to come and report. I will let you know who doesn’t appear. They may have been taken by the humans or perhaps they have perished. The cold time is not a friend to our kind. Please provide the instructions you would like me to pass on to the agents who will come. I would like to be prepared.

 

Michigan Humane Society: Somebody here needs you.

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Posted in Feline Freedom League Report

Positive Thinking

I ask the same question every day. Will today be a good one? Sometimes the answers are ambiguous.That’s OK, because the answer really isn’t important. What is important is the frame of mind with which you face the day. If you are in a lousy frame of mind, your day will most likely go sour. It all boils down to attitude. If you have a good one, you will do well. If you have a bad one, you likely won’t do as well. The question or the answer doesn’t make the day good; it’s the power of suggestion. We have a lot more influence on our lives than we think. If you think it will be a good day, you will make it good. Or you will consider it a good day when it is done.

Now, I’m not saying that a positive attitude will make you rich in the monetary sense. It will help you achieve goals because you will believe that you can and that will make you try. Of course, there is an element of luck in our lives, but we can influence things in our favor, if we try. Positive thinking won’t prevent unexpected accidents, but it can help you get past the temporary roadblocks that life seems to always have on hand.

A lot of those roadblocks are things we place in our own path, usually because we are scared to go there. We blame it on life or fate, but it is really our own fear. Overcoming fear is hard, but it can be worth the trouble. It isn’t easy, but nothing worthwhile is easy. If it were, we wouldn’t value it so much. Sometimes all it takes is a little push to get you moving past your roadblock to the goal.

I self published my first novel, Accidental Colony, a couple of years ago. I wouldn’t have written it if it weren’t for NaNoWriMo. I hemmed and hawed about doing NaNoWriMo for a few years before I took the plunge and the challenge, because I worried that I wouldn’t be able to do it. I conquered it. I did a trial run, and learned that I could write sixteen hundred sixty-seven words in a single day. That gave me the confidence to write the story. The point is that I didn’t do NaNoWriMo for those years because I didn’t think I could.

Fear of failure keeps many people from even trying to achieve goals. I conquered that fear. I decided that I could write a novel in thirty days. As a result, I have published two novels and a novella to prove that I can write stories. I have more novels to edit into a publishable condition. I’m working on revising the third one. I’m also considering editing the Feline Freedom League blogs into a series of short stories. I just need to find the time to do that. I think I can. That’s the power of positive thinking. So shove those roadblocks out of your way and forge ahead to your goal, whatever it may be.

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Posted in General Opinion

Compelling Characters

What makes a compelling character? The reader has to engage with the character. They have to have some flaws. No one is perfect and a character shouldn’t be either. Each character in a story should have a mix of good and bad, even the villain. Just as no one is perfect, neither is there a person who has no good qualities at all. You could have a cold-blooded killer who loves and protects puppies and kittens. Sometimes the contract between the good qualities and the bad make the bad seem so much worse. Adolph Hitler had a dog that he loved, yet he was the leader of the Nazis who were responsible for the slaughter of millions of people.

In my writing, I use this Fiction Writer’s Character Chart that I found on the Internet. It is long with lots of questions. I usually complete them as a paragraph in a document. It works well to allow me to get to know my characters. Getting to know the characters you are writing about, makes them real to you. If they are real to you, then they have a better chance of becoming real to your readers.

Some people just sit down and interview their characters. That would work as well, as long as you know what questions you want the answers to. Just take a blank piece of paper or word processor document and put the character’s name at the top. Then follow your instincts on what to write. The chart I use has questions that I answer. I don’t always answer all the questions. That is not the point of the chart. It’s a tool to use to get to know your character. If you like, you can take that chart and complete what you can on someone you know well, then ask them the questions you couldn’t answer. You might be surprised at how much you didn’t actually know about the person. That’s the purpose of the chart.

That chart’s questions are vague on purpose. The charts won’t produce cookie cutter characters, all the same character. The character development depends on the whole, not the parts, so don’t worry about that. You don’t even have to answer all the questions, if you can’t think of an answer to a particular question, leave it out. Not everyone plays computer games, so if you can’t think of the answer to questions in that section, don’t. It’s good for your characters have blanks spots, they are supposed to change in the story after all. what the chart is supposed to do is to help you determine if the change is for the good or not.

Scrivener has a template that is more vague, but covers the same ground. It gives you a place to start with your character. Once you get your characters developed, by whatever means, it will be easier to bring them to life on the page. so, sit down, open a word processor, or get a sheet of paper and a pencil or pen, and start interviewing your characters. Your work will be stronger for it.

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Posted in Writing Fiction, Writing Techniques

Time

Time is a human thing. We humans are obsessed with it. We are ruled by it, at least here in the United States, we are. It’s Big Business that does it. In our quest to make a living, we have enslaved ourselves to Time. We take little time for ourselves. That makes me wonder if we are at the top of the intelligence chart of the bottom. You don’t see any other animals constructing clocks or watches.

Time is money. We need money now to survive. That’s the problem. We didn’t always need money. Time was important, but on a much larger scale than it is now. Now we count the minutes we are away from work. When humans were hunter-gatherers, we measured time by the season. We went from reckoning seasons to reckoning minutes in only a few thousand years. What is wrong with us? Why did we do that to ourselves? When did we do it to ourselves?

We invented money. We divided time. We equated time with money. That’s where we went wrong. We began gathering things, rather than food. Sure life as a hunter-gatherer was no picnic, but are we really any better off now? Life is still not a picnic. Well maybe it is for a chosen few, but not for the majority of people. We have screwed ourselves. In the mid twentieth century, the fear was that humans would use nuclear weapons to go extinct. In the latter half of the twentieth century, the fear was that humans would poison themselves into extinction. Those are real fear. We could still do that to ourselves, but the reality is that we will likely nickel and dime ourselves into extinction by chasing dollars, or your currency of choice.

It’s a real danger. Here in the States we’ve become pampered pets of Time. We work our tails off to keep a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs. In the days of hunting and gathering, we moved south when it snowed. We followed the things that fed us. We didn’t kill each other for our possessions, because we didn’t have anything more than the next person had. OK, there were probably fights over hunting and gathering territories, but there were no weapons of mass destruction. There were no real toxins that we made and casually tossed into our own water supply. We traded things we made for foodstuff we didn’t have or foodstuff for things that we needed. There’s a lot to be said for the barter system. We have circumvented a number of checks on our population growth and that is another place where we went wrong. That’s another blog though. I don’t know if there is any hope of reversing this trend we have towards timing ourselves into extinction, which, given the stress that we load on ourselves is a possibility. Perhaps Mother Nature is trying to get our attention. She may be trying to tell us to stop behaving so high and mighty because she is still in charge. I think that she is. What do you think?

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Posted in General Opinion
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