Tag: dogs


Self-Care is no mystery

 I’ve been focused on taking better care of myself these past couple of months, thanks to tangible evidence from my doctor that my sedentary lifestyle was putting me at risk for some serious health issues. My test results made me become more conscious of the need to take care of me. Now, I’m eating less and I’m making the time to exercise. I asked my fellow Missdemeanors, We spend lots of time writing, marketing, networking, going to conferences and book signings, taking care of family, working day jobs for some of us… How do you take care of yourself? Or do you? SusanI try to walk in the woods every day, and for the most part I succeed, unless it’s really icy. Though I have actually crawled up the slope leading into the woods on occasion.  I usually follow the same route, and there’s always something to see. My mind frees up and I invariably come up with ideas, but I’m not even trying. I always feel restored afterwards. RobinNo matter where I am, at home or traveling, I wake up an hour earlier than I have to in order to have a couple of cups of coffee in bed. It’s something my dad used to do when I was growing up. I didn’t understand why he did it until I started doing it, too. It’s a small luxury that’s easy to pull off. Once I get up, I typically operate at full-throttle so it’s nice to ease into the day. It’s like a morning meditation with a side of wake-up juice.
CateAgree about the Zen coffee thing.  AlisonAlexia, I love that you’re focusing us on self-care. I meditate every morning and manage to do some yoga most evenings. Both which have had major impact on my ability to be a calmer and more compassionate person. One other activity that I once saw as wickedly indulgent, but now realize is critical to taking care of myself, is going to sleep when I’m tired. My brain works better, by body feels better, and my mood is happier when I’m well rested. MicheleOne of the things I’ve learned is to honor my biological inner clock. I get up and rise and shine early in the morning when I am bursting with energy. I also go to bed early because I need to refuel. As simple as it sounds, it is the single best thing I do for me. I don’t eat junk food as a rule, which not to say I don’t indulge in good food. I also have a list of things I know help to de-stress me. Being near the ocean always works for me, but so can pulling weeks, cooking something that requires me to chop and smell the ingredients, and flipping through magazines with beautiful photos. I love yoga and solitary walks. And this is when I remember how much I miss my dog because a walk with her or just the feel of her coat as I patted her made me feel even better than she did.That should be pulling “weeds” not “weeks.” It simply proves my point that I am increasingly incompetent as the day goes on. It must be close to my bedtime. TraceePaying attention to ourselves, that seems to be the common theme. Whether it’s walking the dogs (which is an important part of my day) or getting up early when the mind is active or going to bed ‘on time’ let’s keep taking care of ourselves. That’s how we also make sure we can take care of the other important people in our lives. RobinAmen sister! PaulaFor me it’s all about building in time to rest and relax, and when I don’t have time for that, at least recognizing when I’m dangerously exhausted, and need to stop and chill out.A regular yoga practice helps. I do yoga at home, and I do it on the road in hotel rooms. I also go to a yoga studio for classes.If I’m not on the road, I give myself Sundays as a real day off. Which means that I only have to do what I want to do. That could mean binge watching HBO, or making a pot of chili, or reading something just for fun.Sometimes I want to work and so I do. But only if I feel like it. How do you take care of you? Share your ideas here or join the discussion on Facebook.

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I Miss My Dog and Other Laments

  One of the advantages of being a writer is that you can express yourself, ad nauseam. As I sit watching wet snow fall during the fourth storm in 22 days instead of being on a plane to St. John, I plan to play the writer’s card and do just that. No one reads blogs (or newsletters) anyway.Here’s my list of laments: 1.  I miss my dog. Terribly. Cheddar was the last in a line of lovely golden retrievers to join our family. While I loved them all dearly, Cheddar has left a hole in my heart the size of Cleveland. She had the sweetest disposition, gladly joined me on any adventure, and forgave me in a way no human being could ever match. “Want to go for a walk?” got her tail wagging. “Want to go for a ride with Mummy?” made her ecstatic because she knew we were heading for uncharted territory. Maybe a visit to friends who would feed her biscuits without even pretending to consult me. Or a hike through the trail that let to the marsh where she could run wild and flop on her back and scratch against the sea grass in pure dog bliss. As my husband and I travel more, having a dog seems unfair.  We’ve opted to go dogless while we traipse around the planet. But sometimes I miss having a dog more than I love to travel.  2.   I wish I could figure out how to knit. Well, I can knit and even purl a little. But that damn casting on which is the foundation for knitting confounds me and challenges my dexterity skills. I understand that the first row you cast on is as important as the first sentence you write in a book, which is probably why I am so intimidated by it. I’ve watched countless YouTube videos, read tons of chapters, articles, and challenged a few friendships trying to learn to cast on. The crazy thing is I’m not sure I even want to knit a sweater or any other article. I just want to be able to cast on and have the choice.  3.  I long for things to be simple. I know, that makes me sound old. I don’t care. I just want to turn a knob and have whatever damn “device” it is attached to function. I don’t want to worry about blue tooth, Wi-Fi, hot spots, etc. I just want to watch the news (a lament in itself and for another day) or listen to music or a book. I want to call my hairdresser, doctor, or bank and talk to a person, instead of being told to log on to their websites. I want to do laundry without having to read the instruction manual for the washer and dryer each time. Even my freaking toothbrush requires a degree in electronic technology to operate.  4. I’d like to eat food for pure pleasure and sustenance without worrying I am risking death or disease. A small piece of birthday cake shouldn’t invoke terror. Wheat, sugar, butter, we’re all doomed. When did food become evil or virtuous? How did the avocado become a saint and brown rice the arsenic tinged devil? I’d like to stop being fed fear with my food.  Well, there. I feel better. It’s your turn.What are your laments? Is writing about them soothing? Share in the comments or join the discussion on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/missdemeanorsbooks/  

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Of Cockapoos and cars

When I was young, I desperately wanted a Peugeot sports car. I kept talking and talking about it until finally my dear friend said, “You don’t even know what a Peugeot is. You just like the name. ”   She was right, and I thought of her when I acquired two cockapoos, for much the same reason. How could you not want something called a cockapoo? Every time I say the word, I laugh. My phone keeps auto-correcting it to cockatoo, which I don’t think is nearly as funny. So I have two of these silly dogs. The oldest, Buster, is very nervous. He’s a very gentle soul, but watchful. He keeps his head still and his eyes just follow me wherever I go. He’s also very flexible, and when he’s tired, he stands like a tripod and slowly sinks to the ground. He also tends to tilt. He always makes think he looks like he’s on the Titanic, sinking. He’s the sort of dog who’s perfect with kids. You can do anything to him, and my son has, and he doesn’t get upset. He just looks forlorn, as though in a perfect world, such things would not happen. My younger dog, Bailey, is much more high maintenance.  When we went to pick her up at the breeder, my daughter said, “Give us your most lively one.” That dog never sits still. She’s always twitching about, scratching and licking. She’s probably not the most attractive dog. Her face always makes me think of a revolver, and yet she has very high self-esteem. She’s also devoted to me, and follows me around no matter where I go. My two little friends keep me company when I write, which can be a lonely occupation. They are also great to practice dialogue on. Mainly they are my cheering squad. Whatever I do, they think it’s fabulous.

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Medieval dogs

 While doing research on my new mystery, I came across a completely irrelevant bit of information that I found charming. It was in a lecture by historian Toni Mount on medieval nuns. The lecture started off interesting, and then she began talking about wayward nuns. Immediately I was more interested. Then she started talking about wayward nuns and their dogs. I was hooked. Nuns were allowed to keep cats, evidently, because they took care of the mice. But they were not supposed to have dogs, because they served no purpose!!! Of course these medieval nuns led a very difficult life. They prayed and worked constantly, and with little human affection, and so it’s not surprising that they became passionately attached to little dogs, so much so that they would sneak them into church. At one point a bishop had to pass an injunction against bringing dogs and puppies into the choir, Mount points out. For those who were caught, in one particular parish, there was a punishment: the nun had to fast on bread and water on one Saturday. (A small price to pay, I suspect.)  I spend a fair amount of time holed up with my dogs. Being a 21st century writer is not quite like being a medieval  nun, but there is a fair amount of solitary work, and I am up early, and I felt like learning about their dogs gave me a richer understanding of who they were. On such small details are stories built! (If the course sounds interesting, you can find it at www.medeivalcourses.com.)

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Writer's Best Friend

Writing is a lonely job. Your only friends are the voices in your head and, if you’re a mystery writer, at least half of those voices are not the kind of people you want to encounter on the street. The other half are supremely stressed out about something dramatically awful. As a domestic suspense writer, I often feel that I spend all day sympathizing with someone who is having the worst day/week/month of their lives. It’s exhausting. And, after I’m done spending all day with my main character-in-crisis, I need time to recharge before I deal with people who expect me NOT to act like someone who has been talking to a woman running from, say, human traffickers.  Wine helps me destress. But nothing compares to my dog.  If I am writing an intense scene, my dog seems to know. He’ll come by and put his head on the knee not balancing my laptop, reminding me that no matter where I am in my head, my physical person is safe in my house with a furry companion. Petting him after a marathon writing session brings me back to reality. Walking him gets my muscles moving after sitting for hours, hunched over a laptop. Apparently, moving major muscles helps the mind. (More research on that here.) So, here’s to my dog. You’re cheaper than a shrink and you work for food.   

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