Where There’s a Will There’s a … What?

Hello, delicious food.

As I prepare to expand my writing horizons with a new blog, here’s another “blast from the past” post from my original marathon training blog!

Alas, this one shows just how weak-willed I can be. Sometimes, when the flapjack calls, I just have to answer.

These are the very habits I’m hoping to break, actually!

But, here’s another oldie but goodie from January 2006.


January 10th, 2006 at 8:41am

Well, getting to the gym sort of fell through.

I went for pancakes with my mother instead. The call of the flapjack was just a little stronger than the call of the leg press.

Or maybe it was just that my mom was driving, and she didn’t feel like dropping me off at the gym.

“You’re wasting away! Here, let’s go eat pancakes.”

I could have struggled. I could have fought. I could have hurled myself from the moving car and out onto the six-lane highway. I could have dodged and weaved through traffic and ran to the gym screaming “Blessed weights, I come for you!”

Instead, I sat in a booth and and shoveled a plate full of buttermilk pancakes into my mouth.

All hail the flapjack, covered in butter and maple syrup with a tall glass of ice cold milk on the side.

There you have it! My breakfast food addiction in black and white. Being gluten-free has helped me cut down the amount of IHOP runs to zero, but I still struggle with will-power.

See you next time! I hope to launch “The Writer’s Fitness Plan” within the next week.

In the meantime, you can follow my rambling here (this blog isn’t going anywhere) and find me writing “How To” articles at ComputerGeeks2Go!

Photo Credit: iStockphoto

A Fitness Blast from the Past

Me running the 2010 Law Enforcement Torch Run to benefit the Special Olympics
Me running the 2010 Law Enforcement Torch Run to benefit the Special Olympics.

I’m about to launch a new site/blog focusing on fitness and nutrition and it’s made me a bit nostalgic.

You see, when my sister and I first started running nearly a decade ago, we chronicled our training attempts in a blog called “Marathon Ho!”

Just for fun, every once in a while, I’m going to share some of those early posts here, starting with the one below from October 27, 2005. It’s funny to see how far we’ve come as runners.

And for the record, while we never ran the original marathon we started training for (the Chicago), I’ve run a few Disney’s and Tracy’s run races all over Florida and Georgia and recently completed her first 50k. She’s a running machine and I couldn’t be more proud to have her as my inspiration!


5K Day!
October 27th, 2005 at 8:20pm

I have no strength left in my arms.

Wow. With a statement like that following the title, you’d think I ran the 5K on my hands today! No, well, maybe I should start at the beginning!

Today was our FSECC kick-off thing-a-magiggy, which included a 5K. I’d tell you what FSECC stands for, but I sort of have to figure it out myself. I’ll get back to you on it. Basically, it’s the United Way charity thing.

Anyway, back to the 5K. We all, those of us crazy enough to run/walk one of these during work, gather out in the butta** cold at 8:30 to warm up to “YMCA”. Yeah… that was attractive. But fun!

Then police flash their sirens at 9:00 (they sort of frown on gun use in the office complex) and the runners are off! There I was, near the back of the pack of runners with a whole lot of dedicated walkers behind me…and that’s where I stayed! Watching my breath wheeze out of me in little clouds for 35 minutes!

But, I’m proud! I beat my normal 12:00 minute mile times and finished in 35 minutes!

Plus! I was sweaty and stinky! So people avoided me when I got back into the office! Actually, they didn’t. They’re brave, hardy souls and I love working with them!

I’m rambling…

On to why I have no strength in my arms.

Today was upper body workout day. Now, running doesn’t interfere with my workouts! Neither did bronchitis, really. Anyway…rambling again.

Uber-trainer Stephanie had me doing a bunch of new exercises, one of which was called “The Skull-Crusher”… how fitting for Halloween.

I had to lay on a bench and hold a barbell above me, then lower my forearms down until the bar touched my forhead. Then, keeping my elbows inward, I had to push the barbell back up.

It wasn’t easy. As a matter of fact, she kinda had to assist me on the last three or four of the final set. My entire arms were shaking. And when I got up off the bench, I couldn’t apply any strength at all in wiping down the bench! I had to lay the towel on it and use my foot to clean my stinky sweat off the bench.

The poor guy working out next to me nearly dropped the weights he was lifting on his foot when he started laughing at me. (Sorry dude…)

My kids thought it was funny when I had to bend over at the waist to drink out of my water bottle because I couldn’t lift it to my mouth.

Careful there kiddos… some day, this will be YOU!

There you go. One of my early attempts at fitness blogging!

And speaking of blogging, you’ll be able to find me (soon) at “The Writer’s Fitness Plan” and now at ComputerGeeks2Go. Not to mention here. I’ll always come back here!

2012 Wrap-up: Nifty Finds and Favorite Things

OK, so we’re a few days into 2013, but I still want to share some of the nifty things I found over the course of 2012 in the hopes that someone else may find them useful.

So here it is; my list of nifty finds and favorite things.

Writing Books & Tools:

  • Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success – This book by K.M Weiland has become somewhat of my pre-writing Bible. I fell so much in love with it and talked about it so much, my sister ended up buying a copy. Don’t let the “Outlining” part of the title fool you; this book has so much more. It covers brainstorming your ideas, developing your characters, setting, conflict and story premise and how to turn all of that work into one big story map. And yeah, it covers outlining too.
  • Evernote – This free and nifty tool was my introduction to Cloud Storage. I have it on my computer, my tablet and my phone and use it on all three. It allows you to store photos, scanned images, PDFs, collaborate with others through “shared” notebooks, and store your favorite websites with the click of a button or swipe of a finger. My sister and I are currently using it to collaborate on a project. One note about the shared folders: you can share a folder and allow a person (or persons) to view the notes within, but if you want him or her to modify those notes, that requires the “Sharer” to have the premium version of Evernote.
  • yWriter – Another free tool that became an obsession this year is Spacejock’s “yWriter.” It’s a word-processing program designed specifically for fiction writers by novelist and computer programmer, Simon Haynes. It acts as a digital story bible that keeps track of all the pertinent details of your Character Sketches, Setting Sketches, Plot Sketches, Summaries and, of course, your story itself. If you’re interested in taking a peek at it, you can find it here: http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter5.html

Favorite Writing Blogs:

  • Terribleminds – Chuck Wendig  Ok, this one needs a slight disclaimer. It contains some foul language. If you find the “f-bomb” offensive, you may want to pass over this one. But don’t let it scare you if you can stomach a little “colorful metaphor” mixed in with top-notch writing advice. According to his bio, Chuck Wendig has done a little bit of everything: Screenwriting, fiction, game design, zombie hunting… Ok, I added the Zombie hunting myself. But I can totally see him doing it. Catch the action at: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/
  • Make a Living Writing – Carol Tice – Carol Tice is a successful freelance writer and she started “Make a Living Writing” as a way to pay it forward. Her site and blog are full of years worth of experience in how to make it was a freelance writer. She’s not shy about sharing the secrets of her success with other aspiring and professional freelance writers. I stumbled on her blog (from another blog) over Christmas 2011 and have been a faithful reader since. Read all of the great advice at: http://www.makealivingwriting.com/ 
  • Wordplay: Helping Writers Become Authors – K.M. Weiland –  Wordplay is author K.M. Weiland’s blog. The same, in my opinion, genius, that brought us the “Outlining Your Novel” book mentioned above. ‘Nuff said! You can find her blog at: http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com

Gluten-Free Goodness:

  • This first favorite is a combo Gluten-Free blog and Cookbook find. Gluten-Free on a Shoestring is the brain child of ex-attorney and mom of a Celiac child, Nicole Hunn. She has this crazy notion that gluten free food should be a) affordable and b) not taste like flip-flops with a coating of beach sand. After sampling some of the recipes on her blog, and loving them, I found both of her cookbooks under the Anniversary Tree (thank you, Husband!)

That’s it for now; some of the things I’ve stumbled on over the year. Thank you for reading and feel free to all “Sound of Music” on me in the comments below and share a few of your favorite things!

Disclaimer: I’m nearly positive that none of the people I mention above know that I exist. These reviews were not solicited by any of them. I share these things because I either found them incredibly cool or incredibly useful. Though, if any of the above mentioned folks do know that I exist, that would border on nearly cosmically cool. Also, those boxes are Amazon affiliate links. If you happen to click and buy, it will NOT raise the price of the product for you.

3 Things Walking My Dog Taught Me About Writing

My current furry friend, Ares.
Ares, my current furry companion and scent-sniffer extraordinaire.

I love dogs. Whether they’re yappy ankle-biters or floppy-eared, soulful-eyed, behemoths, they’ve got a place in my heart.

But a special place is reserved for my favorite breed, the Beagle, and I’ve been lucky enough to have been adopted by a few in my lifetime. And just like my two-legged companions, my four-legged furry friends have had a wide range of personality types.

For example, my second beagle, Tiger, was Westminster Show Dog good and loyal beyond a fault. My mom got many a phone call from the school because Tiger escaped from the yard and pulled a B & E on my first grade classroom so he could spend the day with me.

Then there was Mystic, whose approach to life was “I wouldn’t behave if you rolled a squirrel in bacon and presented it to me in a silver dog-dish.” She was a laugh a minute and sweet as could be, but she could also chew through a crate that the “experts” claimed was chew-proof.

Now there’s Ares, my current furry companion. He lies somewhere smack in the middle of that spectrum. He’ll behave for about five seconds if I bribe him with bacon (minus the squirrel, thank goodness) but if his mind or nose gets set on something, nothing short of the Kraft factory’s stock of cheese will change his course.

However, some of his more “unbehaved” traits have given me a few interesting insights on being a writer.

Race, Sniff, and Leg Lift

Say the word “walk” and Ares howls and runs for the door. He’ll even plant his furry butt on the mat and impatiently wait for you to clip on the leash. Whatever you do though, make sure you brace yourself before opening that front door. The sitting all cute with his tail wagging thing is just for show. The moment that door is opened, he’s through it like the Black Friday crowd at Walmart.

That same tree he peed on yesterday is a brand new tree to race to, sniff and pee on again today. Same goes with the patch of grass next to the tree, the gutter next to the mailbox and the mailbox itself. Then, finally, we make it out of the yard. For the first few minutes it’s “race here and smell!” then “race there and sniff!” There’s so much to explore and he’s got to sniff it all.

After a few minutes of racing, sniffing and leg-lifting, he’s either worn himself out or notices that he’s dragging me face first down the sidewalk and slows down to a sedate walk. At this point, he becomes a little more choosy about where he sticks his nose.

But I’ve learned something from the daily bi-polar dog walk.

When I first sit down for that day’s writing session, I need let my fingers fly and mind race from the gate. Don’t worry about mistakes or if what I’m writing sounds stupid. Revisit the same mental ground I saw yesterday if I want to. It may smell better today. And if it does, I should just let my mind lift its leg and mark that spot.

Afterwards though, it’s time to reign in my brain and put on my critical thinking cap. At this point, I need to be choosy about what from those mental explorations to keep.

The time to suck on purpose is over.

Let Thy Nose Guide Thee

Ares can smell a slice of cheese from a backyard away. And he’ll try to find it.

As a matter of fact, that dog lives by his nose. Our walks are usually wild trails through the neighborhood. One second, we’re on the sidewalk and the next he’s caught the scent of something and I’m on my hands and knees trying to drag him out from under a bush (thank goodness for awesome, dog-loving neighbors and no skunk encounters). If he’s curious about a smell, he’s off to investigate.

I’ve learned to do the same, in a manner of speaking. I’m no longer so worried about the “write what you know” rule. I let my curiosity be my guide and if something strikes my fancy, I learn about it so I can write about it.

Also, if my mind starts to wander as I write, I let it. I’ve found that my brain can lead me down some very interesting pathways; places I may not have gone had I been consciously thinking about it. There are definitely times when I have to back-track and run from a mind-skunk. But that’s part of the fun.

Don’t Forget My Treat – I’ll Take Bacon

Once we’ve finished our walk, we’re back and both chugging water. Ares is also usually staring me down, ready for his post-exploration treat. Hey, after that many leg lifts, I might be a little hungry too.

So out comes his all-natural, bacon flavored cookie. (Don’t tell him his treats are actually good for him. He’ll go all ninja on the fridge while I’m asleep if you do.) Hard work deserves a reward.

Same with writing. If I make my goal for the day or week, I give myself a pat on the back and a little treat. Whether it’s cracking open a new book, taking a dog-free walk to enjoy the sunshine, or 30 minutes of smiting the Horde, I try to make sure I reward myself for putting my backside in the chair and getting my work done. Positive reinforcement does wonders for my enthusiasm and work product.

What has your pet (if you have one) taught you about your work or life’s passion? And do you know of a good “beagle training book…”

Photo Credit: Karen Bristow