Friday, March 27, 2009

Playing in the Snow

We woke up this morning, put on our snow gear and trekked out into the park by our house.  
We had so much FUN!

The snow was pretty deep - up to Axle's chest in some parts of the park.  
He was running as fast as he could, rolling in the snow, plowing through it, throwing it up in the air and catching it in his mouth.  So funny.  He's never been in snow this deep before.    

It hasn't snowed very much this year, and it FINALLY really came down yesterday.    

Me and Axle having fun:

Axle and Matt playing in the snow:

He looks so cute in his puppy pack!

Matt and Axle running in the park.

When we got home, we shook out the pine tree on ourselves with Axle close by.  I wish I had a picture of that with all of our lashes white with snow and the dog looking a little bewildered.  What a great start to our day!    

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Beyonce Defending Her Curves??

Are you serious? 
Is someone out there actually demanding that a sexy, beautiful and talented star like Beyonce defend the shape of her body?!? 

I am saddened that this is such an issue, but it will give me a chance to speak out against a sickness that has been plaguing our country.  Our obsession defining beauty only being in the form of rail-thin women must stop.

Since when is "curvy" a four-letter word?  Since when is size 10 considered "plus sized?" Well, that's what it is in the modeling industry, which is just ridiculous.  And I love how people use the P.C. phrase "full figured," to describe a woman they feel is a bit overweight.  It doesn't mean "overweight," of course, but it's the way people say it that clues me in to their real meaning.  

Why are people not judging us by our character?  Why are we subjected to public scrutiny if our body does not fit a very tiny "ideal."  Who comes up with these ideals anyway? 
I can see wanting to be healthy and toned by not over eating and maintaining regular exercise, but demanding that we are a certain size?  That's like saying, oh, I'm sorry, you're not a blond or you don't have blue eyes.  Or, your skin is too light or too dark.  Can we say Nazis?  

Hello!  Women are SUPPOSED to have fat.  Women are SUPPOSED to have curves.  Ever wonder why super skinny / super active women do not have regular periods?  It's because they do not have enough fat on their bodies!  When a woman's body fat drops below a certain critical level, her body changes.  The estrogen production actually decreases to pre-puberty levels!    

You may say - well, this is just the rant of a woman who doesn't fit the size 4 and below ideal.  I have to say I have never been a size 4 and will never be that small no matter what.  I am not built that way.  But I also have a pretty positive body image.  Sure, I want to be healthier and stronger, and yes, as a result, less cellulite and a lower percentage of body fat.  But my size does not define who I am or my self-worth.  

I believe that as long as I strive to take care of myself:  feeding my body good food; giving my body good exercise; feeding my mind; being true to myself; knowing who I am and what I want; that makes me a woman, a force to be reckoned with, not some weight-obsessed waif who only believes her worth lies in the hands of those who care nothing more for her than what she looks like.  Yes!  I blame women for giving others this power to tell us how we should feel about ourselves.      

Ahem.  My rant is almost over.  I only have left to say that so many of our nation's youth and adults, for that matter, struggle with their self-image as a result of people telling them they aren't good enough because of their weight.  Look at all the people with eating disorders.  I can't deny that I believe there would be eating disorders regardless of the media objectifying women and telling us that we need to look a certain way to be beautiful, but I think that it is multiplied exponentially by the images we see and the opinions of those we look to for guidance.  

It makes me furious that people out there actually believe that they are qualified and entitled to judge people like that.  And then the rest of us tend to follow suit and think it's okay for us to make these kinds of deductions.  I myself have been guilty of saying things like "whoa, she should not be wearing that," when I've seen an overweight woman wearing a bikini and strutting her stuff on a beach.  What I should have been saying is "good for you!"  If she feels confident and beautiful in her own skin and wants a good tan, more power to her.  
If "skinny" is all people use as a template for judging a person's worth, then I believe their own insecurities are being transferred to those they pass judgement on and that's sad.  

Hey, for those of you who need a reminder of what the world through the ages has thought about women with full figures:  

Venus of Willendorf:  24,000-22,000 B.C. - a representation of fertility, femininity and beauty.

Marilyn Monroe:  reportedly a size 12-14 - a woman just oozing sex appeal.

And of course, the woman who should remain exactly as she is: (tell me she doesn't look good).

Looking good at every angle ... Beyonce

I'm not going to say that "real women have curves," because it's not about your exterior that defines who you are as a person.  

I think that statement is just as shallow as believing that you have to be thin.  Some women are thin no matter what they eat; it's their genetics AND it doesn't mean they're healthy.   

Some people may think that it's not realistic to focus only on inner beauty, and perhaps they're right because that's not the only thing we see when we initially look at a person - but there has to be a way to keep young women from believing that they would be much better off in this world if they were outwardly beautiful instead of smart, kind or talented.  We should be teaching our kids about their contribution to this world and how to make it a better place, not just praising them on how pretty or how handsome they are.  

I read something a long time ago that discussed the psychology of influence; and a woman was more persuasive if she had an attractive personality rather than if she was physically attractive. 

Just stuck with me.    

BTW, I think what Dove has been doing with their current "Campaign for Real Beauty" really hits a sweet spot for women out there.  The advertising side of me realizes that their using this emotional connection to sell product.  But when a company really understands their market and takes steps to walk their talk (like putting programs in place to boost teen self-esteem) - they deserve to sell more soap!


Monday, March 16, 2009

Puppy Has a Seizure

I am still flustered.  
My puppy, Axle, had a seizure today.  
It was the first one I've ever seen a dog have.  

When I realized something was wrong, I thought he was just scratching his belly, but the tags on his collar were jingling too much.  I called his name.  He didn't respond.  I went over to him.  
His legs were sticking out and rigid.  He was on his bed, his mouth was open, he was gasping for breath, his head was under the couch and he had peed all over the place.  I moved him out into the open so he wouldn't hurt himself under the couch.  

We rushed him to the Animal Hospital.  We had blood work done - and the results showed no abnormalities in the blood or his urine.  Everything was normal, which indicates an exterior cause or no real "cause" at all.  Apparently, that happens a lot more often than not.  

We need to watch him now and keep a "Puppy Journal," to make sure we track EVERYTHING that happened today with the dog in case it happens again.  That way, they might be able to deduce a possible cause from any common factors.          

It was really scary and I hope it never happens again.  
But we'll be watching him extra close for a while.  He's at my feet right now.  I think the smell of his bed/ the area where his bed has some bad memories.    

I'm still pretty shaken up...and Matt is too.  

Even our cat Ty, seems to be acting a little more vigilant around the dog.  

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Antibacterial Soap

Yes!  Once again my hubby is HOME! 
He was only gone for a week and a half this time, but I was sick for a week of that time, which made our separation feel like forever!  
When we talked on the phone, we swore we wouldn't kiss each other either so he doesn't catch anything - but once we saw each other, that was out the window.  
He says it was worth it, and that's so sweet, but I wonder if he really knows what he might be in for.  

I still have a sore throat.  
I went out ONE night with my girlfriends and apparently picked something up while in Denver because three days later I had the beginnings of an illness that kicked my butt.  I should have washed my hands more.  Grrrr.  
Since I've been staying home a lot, my immune system isn't used to outside germs anymore.  So, it's kind of like being a kindergarten teacher, I guess.  You know, when they start teaching, they're sick all the time because they're around little kids that have no concept of hygiene?
Yes, if only my sickness was because I was hanging out with fun little kids.  

It was no fun lying in bed for four days straight and then "taking it easy" on the couch on day five.  My poor puppy was full of energy and just begging for me to play with him.  
I did for maybe five minutes when I felt like I could manage; but it made me so tired that it never lasted for long and landed me right back in bed needing a nap. 
My girlfriend Keely and her mom Jennifer came over like the angels they are walked the dog right in the middle of being out of commission.  
How sweet is that? 

My Mom came over and made me potato soup a
nd cornbread and watched a movie with me on day five.  Hopefully I don't get her sick, but the fever was long gone and I wasn't coughing much.  We disinfected all the surfaces and light switches and everything with wipes that supposedly kill cold and flu viruses.  I sprayed everything down with Lysol before she came over too, so it better work!  I repeated the routine today before I left for the airport to pick up Matt - but what's the point if he kisses me and sleeps next to me?  

The men in his family supposedly have impenetrable immune systems (not entirely true), but they don't get sick very often.  I think it's because a) they don't wash their hands very much or b) they don't wash their fruits or veggies before they eat them.  
I guess that would expose you to all kinds of things:  people picking their noses; sneezing; coughing; and God knows what else on the produce!!  I don't care if it does help with the immunities - I am going to continue to wash my veggies!! 

But it brings up an interesting idea that we've probably all heard rumor about:  do we live in a society that is too sterile?  And as a result, when we are exposed to some bacteria or virus, our bodies can't fight it off.  I've heard that antibacterial soap is a big no-no and that it does more harm than good to keep our lives so clean.  

On the other hand, my Mom is a dental hygienist and she is in people's mouths all the time.  She is very clean and germ-conscious.  She's always washing her hands and rarely ever gets sick.  Once, when I was in elementary school, strep throat was going around and almost every kid had been sick with it, and then it started going around a second time.  My Mom got tired of it and went in their to disinfect all of the desks and wash the classroom water bottles (everyone had their own).  I guess kids kept re-exposing themselves to the virus.  The teachers thought she was a "crazy germaphobe;" but it worked.  (Just as an aside:  I have never had strep; but my brother used to get it all the time.  Go figure.)  

So which way is better?  

To wash with antibacterial soap or not?

I guess that since I'm not an uber-clean person, I'll still get my share of germs in the house.  That and I'm sure the hubby'll sneak them in somehow.  ; )   He'll probably use my keyboard or something after touching unwashed fruit!

So for now, my routine will stay the same - except that when I go out to public places, I'll probably wash my hands a little more to be on the safe side.  


Monday, March 2, 2009

Writer's Group

So last week I went to my writer's group and it was really great.  
I was able to ask a lot of questions of the group leader (who has more than 30 books published), and connect with other writers - some who want to write a book but don't know what they're writing about, some who are in the process of writing, some who are getting published as we speak - so it's a good mix and there's a lot of encouragement and excitement about getting our books published.
I'm sure that as we all get to know each other better, there will be a lot of cross pollination with ideas as well.   

There are many things to consider when wanting to publish a book.  There are lots of new things that are happening in the book industry right now - for one, the printed word is becoming less and less.  People are buying digital books and downloads.  What does this mean for the author?  Less profit, of course, but also presents some new opportunities of how books get out there.  The sad thing is, bookstores are dying.  I really love the smell of books and the stiff creak a brand new book has and you open it up and the pages are straining against the binding.  I love love love going into book stores and just hanging out for hours, browsing, reading, dreaming.  Will that still be available in the future?  I hope so.  I don't want to read all of my books from a screen.  I want to feel the weight of the book in my hands and hear the turning of the pages!  Granted, the digital book option is more green, so that is a huge plus.  But why can't I have it all?  Why can't we use recycled paper for book pages or something?  

In all of the books I read about writing books, they ask you about what your motive as a writer is.  Do you want to be famous?  Do you want to make money?  Do you want to satisfy some personal goal.  Things like that.  It helps the writer determine what kind of book they are writing and their audience.  Are they writing to a small, academic community or trying to appeal to the large mass-market?   

The only thing is, in my group, I feel like I am one of the only ones who is dreaming as big as I am about my book.  I mean, in private, I'm secretly hoping about the possibility of getting a whole series of books picked up, movie options - a whole franchise, really.  I wonder though if I am being naive, or if I just have a lot of confidence in myself right now.  

But for me, this is not my motive.  I guess more than anything, the book I'm writing is for me and my future kids.  I have sort of bought into the idea of selling my book for money and actually making at least a little money.  But more than that, I want to entertain.  I think that is the primary goal.  So if I don't make money or become so wildly famous author, I'm okay with that.  But it would be pretty awesome.  ; )  

It's funny when I tell people that I'm writing a book.  They're all amazed.  I usually get raised eyebrows and a "really?" or a "wow, that's a really competitive thing to get into," or something like that.  But really, anyone could write a book.  I'd do a little market research first on what you're wanting to write, but other than that, have at it!  Who knows if my book will be any kind of success, but I can tell you, someone out there will probably want to read it.  If no one else, my friends and family - just to satisfy their curiosity about what I've been doing with my time.    
My first novel is about the ocean.  It includes myth, history and my research / imagination about the ocean. So far though, most of the imagination applies to the characters.  Some of the real creatures that live in the ocean are so strange that I wonder if I could even dream up something as weird as what is really out there.  I know I'm going to go back in my second draft and polish and add some more imagination in there - I'm just getting the skeleton of the story down for now...34,000 words so far (about 1/3 of the way through the first draft).  Crazy.  I've never done a project like this before in my life.  But it makes me happy.  

Especially because it's for me.  No one else is demanding a product from me by a certain deadline.  Pretty cool.  That would be an amazing lifestyle, but much like becoming an actor or something that is a highly desired profession, only a few really make it big and the rest have to keep their day jobs.  Many continue to write or act or paint, but as a creative outlet, as a passion rather than profession.  So, if that is what this turns into for me, so be it.  I'll have something that really makes me happy to think about and immerse myself in after a stressful day.  
This is a bit random, but I'm going to try and take people through the writing process as I see it and the one thing I wish I could control in this process is no more 4 A.M. brain storms that I can't turn off.  My brain wakes me up and is like, "OK, I've got this great idea.  Want to hear it?" and then, without waiting for my sleepy response of "no," my brain begins to babble and make crazy connections and change things in the book without permission - and if I don't write it down, it's lost forever.

So, I'm at the mercy of the strange state of between sleep and awake where things sort of become clear.  I love and hate these times - I just wish I could control when these moments decide to show up!   If you've ever had a big project due and you lose sleep about it / dream about it, you know what I'm talking about!  

Here's to my love/hate relationship with my crazy brain!