Sad Day for FSU Fans

Bobby Bowden, former coach and head of the FSU Seminole football program, passed away yesterday from pancreatic cancer.

It wasn’t unexpected. It wasn’t a surprise. But I found myself incredibly saddened.

I never met him, but I admired and respected him as did many fans, sports writers, commentators, analysts, players, opponents, etc… The teams he coached were from all walks of life, were incredible on the field, and produced some amazing men off the field. I read a lot of the tributes from former players and other college football coaches and was moved by the stories of the lives he touched and changed. He lived his life with a purpose bigger than himself.

Football season for FSU begins in a month, on September 5th. I don’t know what the team will look like or play like. We’re on our 3rd coach since Bobby Bowden retired in 2009. Before that, he’d been the coach at FSU since 1976. In 34 years, he had 1 losing season. The first season. Under Coach Bowden, the Seminoles appeared in bowl games for 28 of those season and won 2 national championships, and for 14 straight won at least 10 games in each and finished ranked in the top 5. That’s the kind of powerhouse program Bobby Bowden built and the kind of powerhouse program we haven’t seen in years coming out of Tallahassee. I hope that changes soon.

For today though, my thoughts are with his family and friends and the lives of all those he touched. He was revered and respected on and off the field, and he made us all proud to be fans.

Rest in Peace, Coach.

July Changes and Challenges

First of all, look at this picture! Isn’t it pretty?

I took this yesterday morning just before sunrise.

We also saw a deer for the first time coming out of the trees. To the other side of the yard, there’s a large field with a pond and there’s usually seven to nine cows multiple times a day. This is all very different than being in Charlotte where there was a really busy road on the other side of our backyard. Here, there’s a pond and trees and cows and well, now deer.

It’s August. In my mind, that means we’re on the downhill slide from Summer and headed into Fall. I realize we still have a while yet until we see temperatures below a hundred with equal humidity, but a girl can dream and dream I shall until it becomes a reality that I’m able to open the windows or sit outside by the fire pit and roast marshmallows while watching football.

But back to July for a few minutes…

It started out with me deleting Instagram from my phone. I missed it for a few days in the beginning, but as the month went on, I stopped missing it. I stopped looking for it. I haven’t been on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. I have had no voices in my head save my own. I haven’t compared myself or my progress to anyone else. I haven’t spent countless hours scrolling and living vicariously through other authors, publishers, editors, readers, food bloggers, coffee companies, etc… The only social media I’ve had anything to do with has been Pinterest and YouTube.

Pinterest has been something I hadn’t paid attention to in a long while, until the past few weeks when I needed some new recipes.

YouTube is where I go for videos on writing, food, and exercise. And all three of those things changed for me in July.

I wrote a lot. Not by anyone’s standards but mine, but still, I wrote a lot. I didn’t meet my Camp NaNoWriMo goal by any stretch, but I did write. I also added a lot of new story ideas. I mean… Y’all  just have no idea. My brain is constantly coming up with new ideas on the daily. Sometimes more than one a day. There are some started, and there are others percolating in the back of my head. I typically have to write at least one page so I remember what the idea was. I haven’t had this happen in YEARS!

My diet changed. Not because I wanted it to, but because my body decided it wanted it. The change it picked? Dairy. I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t want to do it. But I did… And I started with coffee because of course I did. I figured that if I could find a way to drink coffee without dairy, then I could pretty much handle anything else without dairy. So, I went to Sprouts Farmer’s Market. They are amazing and I love them. I am beyond grateful Greenville has one. They have a large assortment of non-dairy creamer and half and half. I bought several and have been experimenting with them. I can do this. I also began switching out other products that contained to dairy to ones that don’t. Slowly, I’m adjusting and adapting. And there have been a few benefits beyond my stomach not being upset every time I ate… My joints haven’t been hurting as much. A lot of sluggishness and bloating has disappeared. I’m enjoying cooking again. I’ve found a lot of dairy-free information on YouTube that has helped me and recipes on Pinterest. I have a friend who is dairy-free and one who has a daughter who is. They have helped me a lot, as well. I am learning in the kitchen and finding things that work for me. My goal is health and to feel better and to have a little fun with it.

And finally, I am exercising again. I had been walking a lot when we first moved here, but as it became increasingly hotter, that stopped. I don’t want to walk at nine o’clock at night or six in the morning. I don’t want to gasp for breath because the humidity is such that I can’t fight it. I used to do yoga through YouTube videos and walking from home through YouTube videos, so why not try other workouts. I found one that is for women 50 and over who are going through menopause and while the woman is beyond perky and grates on my nerves every so often, her workouts are moderate and short and fairly enjoyable. I like them and they’re helping me get my heart rate up, get my resting heart rate down, move easier, and in general feel better. I haven’t lost any weight, but that isn’t the point for me. The point is health and yes, I do believe you can be healthy at any size if you’re moving, eating balanced, and enjoying the majority of things in your life, laughing and smiling more.

And now that we’re in August, I’m still exercising, still learning all the ins and outs of dairy-free which is a lot plant based, too, and still writing.

I hope you had a good July and while I know some of you love Summer, I know some of you are like me and you’re looking forward to Fall.

I’ll chat with you later.

My Favorite Channels

I watch a little bit of everything on YouTube. Movie reviews, technology reviews, interviews with actors or authors or musicians, day in the life, coffee making or coffee products, music videos, creative life, writing advice/motivation/inspiration, how-to’s, productivity, meditation, exercise, and some what-i-eat-in-a-day…

One of my favorite channels is called The Cottage Fairy. She lives in a rural area in the Pacific Northwest. She’s young and talented and lives a life I wish I had been brave enough to embark on myself. Her videos are beautiful and full of gorgeous music and images, full of nature and slow, intentional living, and creativity.

Another favorite is Chris Fox‘s channel. He’s a science fiction and fantasy author who puts many things about being an author, having a business as an author into perspective and into terms that are easy to understand. He’s got a couple of courses, a non-fiction book series on writing and marketing, and his videos are short and educational. He’s got an approachable way about him and his content that isn’t a my way or the highway style. I appreciate him and have learned a lot from him over the years. Of course, I should put some of that into practice and I might be able to turn this writer ship around.

Mel Robbins is a motivational speaker and author. She puts short videos out there that are often very pointed in the message they’re trying to convey. They are actionable. They give you, me, whoever is watching an action to take to get out of our own way. She doesn’t sugar coat and I like that she’s my age and when I listen to her, I don’t feel like I’m too late to the party. Her thing is do the things you don’t want to do… Just get up and do it. Her book is called The Five-Second Rule. Count backwards… 5-4-3-2-1. And when you get to one, get moving. This hack has helped me a lot.

Morgan Drinks Coffee… She’s lively and fun and makes coffee drinks. She’s a barista in real life and loves what she does, loves coffee. She’s not a snob about it, she’s not pretentious. She’s fun and her videos are both educational and just plain fun. Another coffee channel I follow is James Hoffman and he is pretentious, he is a snob, and he is delightful and fun and I learn a lot from him, too.

And my favorite movie/television review channel is The Critical Drinker… He’s not family friendly. He’s not woke and he’s not politically correct. But he picks apart movies and shows from the perspective of a writer because he is one. He’s not kind or generous with his thoughts unless it’s deserved. Some of his opinions are hard to hear if he’s taking apart one of your favorite movies, but I’ve found a lot of times, that that’s not a bad thing. He’s funny and direct and he seriously doesn’t give a fuck. I like that about him. He’s not pandering to anyone. Plus, his accent is just…delightful. And that is the only thing delightful about his channels.

I love YouTube. It’s currently the only social-type media that I visit and spend any time on. I don’t feel any sort of comparison or stress when I’m there. I do feel a bit of ‘Wow. I wish I could do that. I wish I wasn’t scared to try. I wish…’ I try to watch a variety of channels because there’s so much good information, so much relevant information, so much incredible creativity and inspiration and motivation to be found on YouTube.

I used to only use the site for music videos, or movie trailers, or Ted Talks. But then I began exploring other things that were of interest to me and found a viewing home for myself. I often have videos playing in the background while I’m doing something else, like writing this blog or cleaning or the dreaded eating while watching.

Here are the links to a few other channels I really like and subscribe to… Trust me, there are many, many, many more than this.

Amy Landino…productivity and motivation

Gabe Bult…minimalism

KDP Univeristy @ Home…publishing

Kate Cavanaugh…writing

Becca Syme…writing, motivation

Exploring With Josh…exploring and documenting abandoned places

I Am Athlete…podcast with four NFL players who interview other athletes and talk life.

Taylor Swift…do I really need to say anything here?

Therapy in a Nutshell…mental health

Abbey Sharp…food, what i eat in a day reviews, general nutrition knowledge

vlogbrothers…authors John and Hank Green who also run the fantastic Crash Course series of educational videos.

And with that, I don’t have anything else for today. Well, nothing else here. I do have revisions, writing, and a few other things to do. I’ll catch you on the flip side.

 

Coffee On The Porch…

If there’s anything I’ve missed posting on Instagram, it’s coffee. It should’ve been books, right? I’m a writer, after all. But I didn’t talk a lot about writing and when I was uber prolific when I started out more than 10 years ago, I didn’t talk a lot about it then…especially what I was working on. I kept all of it close to the vest, so to speak, but coffee? Yeah, I can talk about coffee all day every day and twice on Sundays.

Coffee is one of my love languages…

Pictures from my back porch or from day trips up into the mountains are other parts of my love languages.

And I decided that this series needed a little collage action…

You can’t get the full scope from these, but there’s a lot of green, a lot of growth, a lot that’s new, and a lot of roots setting in.

Thank you for indulging this love of mine.

Some Updates and Thoughts

Earlier this year I read a book called Deep Work by Cal Newport. I loved it so much that I decided to read another of his books, Digital Minimalism. I’m still in the process of that one, but so far, I’m loving it, too.

I know productivity gets a bad rap, but I love learning how to improve, how to be better at, more efficient at, and yes, more productive at because I haven’t been in such a fucking long time that everything and everyone has shot right on by me in this world of being a romance writer. And though comparison is a bad thing… I know this first hand and I know what it can do to creativity and mental health, it’s not hard not to see that my writing career stuttered to less than a crawl in the last…too many years.

I am not satisfied with this.

I am no where done with telling stories.

So, for me to apply deep work (focus) to my writing, I needed to go on a digital minimalistic journey (eliminate some or all of the distractions that had me reaching for my phone or the tablet or the remote control…social media on my phone, in my case). Has it helped? Some, yes.

Without spending time scrolling Instagram, I’ve recovered some hours in my day. I’ve started exercising with a little bit more focus, caught up on household chores that I’d let slide, relaxed more (physically and mentally), and have had an increase in book ideas, story fixes, and overall the creative thoughts have begun to return.

I haven’t written as much as I hoped by this time of the month, but honestly, I’m still happy with the small progress because I’m enjoying writing again. I’m not influenced, nor am I concerned with what anyone else is writing or reading. I’m not listening to any you should or shouldn’t advice unless I’m specifically seeking out information on certain things. I’m just concerning myself with…me in this writing space.

When I started out way back when, I wrote the stories I wanted to write without thinking about marketability, or reader interest. Is this the smart way to do it? Most would say no, especially if publishing is the goal. But here’s the thing I’ve learned… If there’s no love in it, if there’s no joy in it, if I’m not interested in reading it, then there’s not going to be any writing. And the reader I used to write for was me, which means, the reader I need to write for now is me.

I’m listening to music, using a timer for sprints, and just writing where my heart and head lead me. I’m more focused on just telling the story I want to tell and deleting Instagram has helped me do this. My brain and spirit needed a bit of a break.

So… We’re basically halfway through July and I’ve read a few more books than previously, and I have something like…13 active stories that I’m writing on with each in various stages of completion. A couple of them are around the 2/3 – 3/4 mark, some are nearing the 1/2 way mark, and a number of them are in the early chapters. There are novels, novellas, and short 5K word stories (I have plans for these short pieces that I’ll share soon). All of this… I was so distracted from it all and now that I’m not, I’m in a happy place, mentally and creatively.

Not being on social media… Facebook has a lot of author and publishing and collaboration information and I know I’ve missed out on a lot, but I couldn’t trust myself to just stick to boundaries I set for myself. Will that always be the case? I hope not because I’d love to be part of a community of writers who learn and encourage and support and share with each other, but the drama shit was too mentally draining. Book Twitter became a place for judgment and gatekeeping and it was no longer enjoyable for me. Instagram just made me feel like I wasn’t pretty enough, skinny enough, extroverted enough, productive enough, or anything else enough.

I was hella distracted by all of these and with each one I deleted, I gained more of myself back.

I’m digitally minimal right now with regards to social media. I don’t know when or how that’ll change going forward, but for the time being, it’s what I need.

I’m learning to apply deep work to the things I want to get done with regards to my writing career, focusing on the things that will get me where I want to go, and learning to enjoy the journey again without the distraction of shiny things or the creativity killer, comparison.

I’ll talk to y’all soon.

 

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