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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! Regardless of where you are, who you are with or what hardships you are facing, take a moment to find that one thing in life that shines, and send a little prayer of thanks to the Universe.

I'm thinking of my mother's classic BMW touring car. It was a 2002 Tii model and only a handful were imported to the US. She drove that car for well over 20 years. When she and my father divorced, she got it in the settlement and my father was furious. 

Eventually, we were rear-ended by a truck and while the damage wasn't that bad, the insurance company totaled it. Cretins.

A physical therapist at the clinic Mom went to was familiar with the car knew just what a gem it was. Mom wrangled with the insurance company to sell it to him rather than scrap it, and Bryan spent a couple years restoring it. Finally, we got to see the Beemer. He'd changed it from the ugly stock orange to gleaming white and had rebuilt it top to bottom. It was his pride and joy. I wish I have a photo of what it looks like now.

Losing that car was brutal. Mom and I had divorced our respective husbands within months of each other and we'd marshaled our forces to raise my baby girls and get back on our feet. Neither of us saw any alimony and in my case, no child support either. The car was once repossessed and we scrambled to bail it out. The engine blew, we paid to repair it. It was our symbol of winning. Surviving. Even though we scrounged change from the couch cushions to buy milk, Mom still had that car.

But life is about change. We lost the Beemer. But when we saw that car restored, Mom knew she'd made the right decision about letting it go. It was a burden we didn't realize we were carrying.  Not only financial, but emotional.

Both my girls came home from the hospital in that car. I can still remember the their car seats in the back, and scrubbing dried milk and pulverized cereal out of the leather cushions. We'd take the little ones to Taco Bell and eat cheap tacos while sitting by the Sacramento River. It took us from one end of the state to the other, camping, on road trips and vacations. When I was little, I rode in it while my brother drove, tearing down the highway at over 100mph while I hung on, terrified and exhilarated. 

I remember how nasty my father was about that car. (he picked the orange color) He wanted that car and my mother got it.

When the car was gone, the memories stayed, but the burden lifted.

Life is about change. Sometimes good and sometimes bad. We have to be brave enough to accept change when it comes and humble enough to recognize that sometimes something painful is necessary, and even beneficial. I will always miss that car, and I'll always be thankful that so much of my life revolved around it. And I'm very grateful to know that its the pride and joy of someone who appreciates it.

But at the end of the day, its a car. Just a car. 

I still have my mother, my sister and my children. I have a grandson and another grand baby on the way. That is what I'm truly thankful for.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and if you're not in the US, take a moment to think on something that gives you joy, and send your thanks out to the Universe. :)

Love,
Belinda

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Pets in Space! New Anthology!

The Pets Are Back!

"Hot sexy heroes, heroines who know how to take care of themselves,
and the pets who bring them together.”

Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2, featuring twelve of today’s
leading Science Fiction Romance authors, brings you a dozen original
stories written just for you! Join in the fun, from the Dragon Lords
of Valdier by SE Smith to RITA Award-winning author, Susan Grant’s
Star Series world, to journeying back to Luda where Grim is King, for
stories that will take you out of this world! Join New York Times, USA
TODAY, and Award-winning authors S.E. Smith, M.K. Eidem, Susan Grant,
Michelle Howard, Cara Bristol, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones,
Laurie A. Green, Sabine Priestley, Jessica E. Subject, Carol Van
Natta, and Alexis Glynn Latner as they share action-packed SFR stories
and help out Hero-Dogs.org [1], a charity that supports our veterans!
The contributing authors are dedicated to supporting US Veterans, and
have committed to donating 10% of the first month’s profits to
Hero-Dogs.org [1], an organization that raises and trains service dogs
and places them free of charge with US Veterans to improve quality of
life and restore independence.
Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 is available from these
retailers:

Amazon—

https://www.amazon.com/Embrace-Romance-Pets-Space-2-ebook/dp/B073W5WQBH

Barnes and Noble—



https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/embrace-the-romance-mk-eidem/1126974793?ean=2940158587139

iBooks—

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/embrace-the-romance/id1248937950?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Kobo—

https://www.kobo.com/au/en/ebook/embrace-the-romance-pets-in-space-2

Google Play —

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/S_E_Smith_Embrace_the_Romance_Pets_in_Space_2?id=Jp8rDwAAQBAJ

Hero Dogs: http://www.hero-dogs.org/

Hashtags: Please use #PetsInSpace in your social media so we can join
in the discussion!

***
As a vet, the daughter of a vet, and the mom of an active duty service
member, Susan enjoys writing stories about those who serve. Her
contributions to last year’s Pets in Space 1 and this year’s
Embrace the Romance, Pets in Space 2 are so special she wrote them in
support of a project she feels very strongly about, Hero-Dogs. Her
story in Pets in Space 1 tackled the difficult topic of how the
struggles of PTSD affect not only the vet but the people around them.
This year, her contribution is lighter in tone but still focuses on
those serving in the military and the sacrifices they make. Just as
they did in 2016, the authors of Pets in Space 2 will donate 10% of
the first month’s sales to Hero Dogs, which places services dogs
with vets free of charge.
Links:
------
[1] http://Hero-Dogs.org

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Reasons to be Cheerful, Part Two

Food is fuel. Food is nutrition. Food is medicine.
Food is not love or acceptance or a drug. It doesn't soothe loneliness or stress or depression. It can become a crutch or a habit or a compulsion. The best way I deal with it is to become analytical (which admittedly drives people crazy when I do that.) But when I approach food as a tool, as something necessary, I can separate myself from obsessive behavior. I have to teach myself again and again to be mindful in what I eat, and to eat when hungry. Right now, I'd love some popcorn, but my stomach is full. So I'm sipping on green tea instead.
Some of the best eating programs are just common sense. I was once put on a diabetic diet and I've never felt so much natural energy in my life! Spark People is an online tool where you can track your daily calories, and it also analyzes your nutrition. For free. Its got a great community and a lot of support. I'll be heading back there soon. Weight Watchers teaches portion sizes and accountability. These are tools you can use, and there are more out there.
I'm not a nutritionist, but I worked with a slew of them for five years when I was with Public Health. My daughter is a chef who specializes in medical diets and my other daughter is a dental hygienist, and had to study nutrition for her degree. 
Here's some of what I learned from my experience, and from their expertise:

  • Don't skimp on protein. If you remove protein from your diet, your body will rob from your muscles. 
  • Don't cut out grains unless you are intolerant. Without the B vitamins and omegas that whole grains provide, you are robbing your brain. 
  • Don't fall into that "Fruits and Vegetables are just sugar" trap. They are higher in carbs, but they are complex carbohydrates. Go easy on juice, as its doesn't have the fiber that is necessary to slow digestion. 
  • Do fill your plate with color. Seek out vegetable proteins to take the place of animal proteins. On another note, fruits, vegetables and fiber are your best weapons in the fight against certain cancers. Use them.
  • Don't go on starvation programs, extended fasts, detox programs or fad diets. (I remember in the '70s, my sister used to go on crash diets. Ugh.) And for God's sake, don't try to put yourself into a state of ketosis. I don't care what Atkins said, its not safe for most people.
  • Drink water. Keep hydrated. Your skin, kidneys, liver and digestive tract are your detox system. Treat them well. Water is your friend. And fiber...
  • Avoid "white" foods: processed sugars, flour, bread, pasta. Look for whole grain, unprocessed alternatives. Generally, white foods are processed and are simple carbs. Whole grain, unprocessed foods are complex carbs. I suspect when people lose weight by going gluten free, its largely because they are cutting out simple carbs.
  • Do indulge. There's no harm in treating yourself...in moderation. I love pizza. I can eat one slice as a meal. When I was seriously losing, I allowed myself two Hershey's Kisses a day. Unfortunately, two turned into four, then eight, then a dozen...LOL!
  • If you're going for a real lifestyle change, cut or reduce one unnecessary item at a time. For me, I totally eliminated soda and alcohol. I had about an ounce of Coke the other day and that was enough. Likewise, I'll have one drink at an event...maybe four a year. At this point, I'll be halving the sugar I put in my tea and getting a grip on my candy compulsions. Sugar is my devil and must be wrangled back under control.
  • Don't hurry. The optimum amount of weight you should lose...for permanent loss, is one to two and a half pounds per week. Sometimes you might lose nothing. Sometimes you might drop quite a lot. Bodies are weird that way.
  • Be realistic in your expectations. Calm down. Meditate. Journal your feelings. By the time I lost about 40 pounds, my appearance changed so drastically that I went through a true emotional crisis. I couldn't look into a mirror because I didn't know myself. I reached out to others who'd lost a lot of weight and found that wasn't unusual.
  • Take care of yourself. Love yourself and accept yourself, even as you are making changes.
  • Exercise. Ugh. Yes. It helps. Take three ten minute walks a day, or whatever gets you to that thirty minutes. FYI, I have a gym membership I've never used. LOL! But someday I will!
There's a reason nutritions and dietitians study "food science." Its complicated and is rooted in chemistry. They are the experts. I used to have a doctor that urged me to live on apples and cheese sticks. Really. If you're having problems or need expert advice, try to find a practice that will refer you to a nutritionist.
Sometimes you can get away with a short term diet plan, but unless you alter your lifestyle, that ten or fifteen pounds will come back. For me, and for so many people, losing, and then managing weight is a total lifestyle overhaul. Don't fall prey to depression or despair. Earlier today, I was literally down on my back, thinking about how my world sucked. Then I found those old pants. And they gave me a reason to be cheerful.


Me in my happy place (Bath, UK) and at my happiest weight. Take note, that wasn't when I was at my thinnest, just my most comfortable.