Temptation makes victory taste ever more sweet

There they lay, within reach, and yet to do so was entirely forbidden. It would be so easy, I told myself. All I had to do was open up one of kiddo’s packaged snacks from the basket in the pantry and chew. All those delicious salty treats were mine for the taking. But I’d made a promise to myself to limit my carb intake, particularly over the next thirty days, as the scale had taken issue with my summer beach excesses.

“She’d started taking up a lot of bad habits”, I imagined its snide electronic voice justifying itself to my toothbrush and my towel as they discussed my morning routine. “You both just help her stay hygienic. I, however, am helping her make better lifestyle choices.” I am sure both towel and brush would roll their eyes if they had them, but that awful scale had a point. I had enjoyed my summer a wee bit too much and it was starting to show.

You know what the secret to weight loss is? Don’t eat much.” – Simon Cowell
(Gee thanks, Simon)

It came to a head one Tuesday evening. There, on the table, were all the fixings for tacos which had become our weekly staple since the Lego Movie first introduced the children to the concept of Taco Tuesday. A pair of tortillas waited for me to add lettuce, beef, and cheese, with a dollop of yogurt just as I had done the Tuesday before and the Tuesday before that.

“After today I am going to limit my sugar and bread for awhile,” I announced to the hubby. “At least for the next thirty days.” Lamont looked at his own plate and agreed to support me by doing the same. We both were in the mood to change up the dietary cycle. We wouldn’t cut it out altogether, we agreed, as that was next to impossible seeing as both ingredients were hidden in way too much. To avoid them altogether would involve *gasp* actually reading labels. But we would try not to intentionally consume either.

I’m not going to lie. It wasn’t easy. I’d gotten into a habit of having a bit of ice cream in the evening after tucking the boys in their beds. A reward for successfully surviving another day. Suddenly I was out my reward. The cravings started to chip away at my resolve.

“Lead us not into temptation. Just tell us where it is; we’ll find it.” – Sam Levenson

Brilliantly (at least in our opinion), we decided to make our own dessert. We had plenty of plain greek yogurt in the fridge. Add a few berries and some honey and poof. Instant ice cream substitute. We even added a little cinnamon to give it a bit more pizzaz!

And other meal times took on a bit more excitement as we managed to break away from our weekly routine, replacing the stand-bys with things like zucchini pasta or eggs poached inside an avocado. This whole “sacrifice” wasn’t one.

Then my mom’s birthday came along with a visit by my sister. After a celebratory dinner, the smell of a fruit pie tempted my nose. A bit more of my resolve chipped away. But still, I remained strong, empowered by what I had accomplished before. There was nothing to this goal. Or so I thought until I entered the final days of my self-imposed thirty-day challenge.

Then the air began to change. Fall has arrived and with it will be the assault on my senses that is pumpkin spice. I do so love the smell of Fall. If you listen very carefully, you might yet hear the sound of my scale crying. If my resolve started out as a mighty oak tree, it is now only a splinter of its former self.

“What makes resisting temptation difficult for many people is they don’t want to discourage it completely.” Franklin P. Jones

A friend of mine suggested I read Stephen Pressfield’s book The War of Art in which the author theorizes that our brains are somehow wired to resist completing goals. While I haven’t yet read the book (though fully intend to) I can’t help thinking he might be on to something. I was so close to writing End of Book Two in this current draft, and yet my characters keep drawing out the action. No matter how much I wrote, there was still more to do. More to say.

It was so very tempting to simply type THE END before the story is ready and short circuit the process. And if I did? Would it really matter? This is not my final draft. I’ll be rewriting an editing next. I could grab those chips as well. One small bag on day 29 isn’t going to make a difference in the scheme of things. Who would know?

I would.

And so, while my resolve may only be a splinter, that splinter wedged itself deeply under my skin. I can’t ignore it. I can’t make a move without feeling its pain.

And so, I stood fast over these final few days. What’s a couple hundred more words compared to the many I’ve written thus far? Certainly not enough to lose heart now. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote until the words END OF BOOK TWO were no longer words in my head but words on a screen. Yes. You read that right. This draft is finished. Now on to round two.

I pull back from the pantry and fixed a salad instead. It might not taste quite as good to my sugar biased tastes, but victory continues to be more satisfying.

As a reminder, I will be on the air Friday, September 23rd at 6pm Eastern time. The link to follow is http://www.blogtalkradio.com/writestream/2016/09/23/the-speculative-fiction-cantina-with-madeleine-holly-rosing-and-allie-potts

There are sharks in the water

One of the benefits of my day job is that I get exposed to any number of gadgets and electronics through customer interaction and trade journals. Last Fall, I came across a device (essentially a big magnet you strap onto your wrist or ankle) designed to repeal certain species of sharks, especially in shallow water. As I have no intention of going deep-sea cage diving with Great Whites (why does anyone do this?), I placed the device on my Christmas wish list as more of a joke than anything else. The hubby, however, obliged (this year give the gift of peace of mind) and the device joined our beach bag supplies.

Shark Attack Prevention Infographic
If you must swim in the ocean at least swim safely

I was enjoying my vacation when I heard the news about a shark attack off the coast of North Carolina – a few dozen miles away. This sort of headline alarms most people (myself included), but I must confess, this time, a part of me was somewhat relieved to hear it (although I do still feel terrible for the victim). Sharks terrify me (and yet I am obsessed with them). Acting and plot aside, Sharknado is my worst nightmare. I have to remind myself every time I visit the ocean how unlikely an attack is just to dabble my toes in the water (see infographic below). Therefore, because there had already been one attack, I convinced myself the laws of probability would protect me and my family for the balance of our trip. Confidence bolstered by statistics and ankle decorated by the newest (yet affordable) tech money could buy, I stunned my hubby by grabbing a boogie board to join the rest of the family in the waves.

On the way home, learned about the additional two separate nearby attacks. It would seem the laws of nature trump the laws of probability. The news made me glad that I had my ankle based backup plan, until I realized that the fact I didn’t demand my son (who hasn’t inherited my healthy fear of the ocean) wear it while swimming rather than me potentially cost me the mother of the year award (there’s always next year). I am now tempted to buy one for the whole family.

For the moment, I am fighting the urge. I remember that the summer of 2001 was dubbed the Summer of the Shark (I am a tad obsessed with my phobia) before the September 11th attacks gave us all something larger to fear. That year, just like this year, there were multiple attacks in a relatively short period of time in relatively similar locations, however, there weren’t really any more attacks than previous years with more sensational news stories like a presidential election or the Simpson murder trial. In fact, there proved to be fewer attacks in 2001 than there were in 2000.

The nightly news this week is beginning to sound much the same way. Thinking positively (which is what I try to do) this could mean that we are entering a slow news cycle. What a relief! After the last several months, a slow news cycle is good news indeed. With how the news has been lately, it is a wonder more people haven’t bunkered down in their homes and stocked up on years worth of canned foods and toilet paper. But while bad things can happen to even the best of us, life has to go on.

The beaches are still open. Yes, there are sharks in the water drawn to fear and or weakness, but just I am not going to allow my fear of these prehistoric killing machines keep me from enjoying future vacations, just as I do not allow the news to prevent me from enjoying my life.

Shark Attack Infographic



Consistency is more than a personal habit

Talk about getting hopes up. We weren’t allowed to even come close to a live launch pad. SpaceCamp Movie poster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was a teenager I was lucky enough to get to go to Space Camp, a summer camp option made even more exciting after seeing the movie, SpaceCamp. While neither of my ‘missions’ accidentally launched a rag-tag group of teenagers into outer space, the camp at least introduced me to several other nerds like minded individuals from across the country.

The internet wasn’t accessible to the masses for a few more years (yes, yes, I recognized that I just aged myself for my millennial audience.) We didn’t have unlimited nationwide calls or data either (It is a wonder I managed to graduate high school with such limitations). I wanted to stay in touch with my new-found friends which meant using old-fashioned pen and paper along with a roll of stamps (oh the horror!)

Some were better correspondents than others. Eventually the count of my pen pals dropped to one, but even though several weeks would pass in between letters, we were still writing each other two years later. Until one day the letters stopped arriving.

Considering the age difference, I’d like to think that she graduated and things like trading occasional hand written notes simply fell by the wayside as she took on more adult responsibilities (stamps can get expensive) or perhaps reading about the day-to-day happenings of a kid several states over gradually lost its appeal. Maybe my last letter caused some offense, or didn’t arrive at all. But on darker days I’ve wondered if something worse happened. My friend could have taken ill or been in an accident and I would have no way of knowing. (If you are reading this Tiff, please send me a note if only to say you are okay).

I am at the beach. The sun is shining. The waves are crashing, and it is now my son’s turn to enjoy his first summer break from school. I could have (should have) written something in advance or scheduled a guest author but I didn’t. Yes, I might be forgiven for missing a week. After all, everyone deserves a little vacation now and then, but I could no longer say that I was consistent.

Creative types will often scoff at consistency. Its inflexibility is counter to the process. Invention can’t be scheduled. Art can’t be forced. But writers want readers, artists want patrons, and business innovators want customers.

“People like consistency. Whether it’s a store or a restaurant, they want to come in and see what you are famous for.” – Millard Drexler

asilomar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Consistency then isn’t a simply a personal habit. It’s about more than just you, just like the ocean is made up of more than a few waves. I appreciate everyday that you stumbled across my writing and found it worth reading. Therefore I have no intention of damaging your trust or causing unnecessary worry over something so slight as working on my tan.

“The force of waves is in their perseverance.” – Gila Guri.

It would be nice if I had found my sea legs

Sunset at Lake Norman
Red skies at night, sailors delight. Red skies at morning, sailors take warning

Growing up, my dad would occasionally take us out sailing on a nearby lake. There were days the water was as still as glass and the wind refused to fill the sails. On those days we would bake above deck while the boat inched along at a snail’s pace. We could cool off by hopping in the water, but for the most part, those trips were rather boring. We could have swum just as easily at the shore. Other days, the wind would gust. The boat would heave up and down as well as from side to side. On those days, I would worry that we might capsize at any moment, or that I might lose my lunch.

I was taught to look out at the horizon as a way to combat seasickness.

Seasickness is caused by your brain not being able to find equilibrium due to the motion of the vessel. However as much as you rock from side to side, the horizon remains flat and motionless. It provides your brain with a mental anchor point. By keeping your eyes focused on the distance your body is able to subconsciously anticipate where you will be as the boat moves through the water. This can be the difference between enjoying the ride and turning a lovely shade of green.

Several years ago, I heard a song by a band called the Immaculate Machine entitled “C’mon Sea Legs.” The singer is basically giving himself a pep talk throughout the entire song, begging his legs to adjust to the sway of the boat. I particularly like the refrain:

C’mon sea legs, pull yourself together
you’re gonna have to learn to like the rockin of waves
whatever, c’mon now it’s not meant to be easy
but you’re not gonna spend your life bein’ sick over the side

The past week, I’ve experienced a number of up and downs. I was one of several presenters asked to speak in front of eighty people who had come from various points around the globe. Leading up to the event my stomach twisted. I forgot several lines from my prepared script, but what I did remember hit home. I ended my speech to applause, and several attendees approached me later with their compliments on a job well done.

Then I received my manuscript back from my editor. I wanted his honest assessment, and I got it. To say he thinks it needs some more work is an understatement. Based on his recommendations, I am going to have to re-write a significant portion of it, an undertaking that is daunting. A part of me wants to bury the entire manuscript in a drawer and move on to a new idea. A part of me wants to give up altogether.

We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations. — Charles Swindoll

I have to remember that calm seas are boring, and destinations don’t get any closer without a little wind to help push along the way.

I have to stay above deck and keep my eyes on the horizon. I am going have learn to like the rockin of the waves. I have to accept the lows as well as the highs in pursuit of my dream.