Monday, November 27, 2017

The Canary: Artificial Fragrances and Environmental Toxins: Are They Making You Sick?

by Lisa Rector

Canaries are vulnerable and highly sensitive to toxins, making them useful as early detectors of toxic gases. Because of this, miners would take them underground. If a canary became sick or died in the mine, the miners knew to put on protective respirators or to get out of there.

I know you've seen this in movies.

The reality is toxic gases aren’t just underground.

You may have heard of fragrance allergies or sensitivities. You may have friends who declare they get headaches from smells. That’s because something in the environment is toxic and is reacting with their system.

Don’t just ignore them or brush their symptoms off. They are one of the unlucky few that are cueing the rest of the world to how toxic it really is. They are real life canaries.

Are we listening to the canaries?

Take it from a real life canary who is highly sensitive. Every synthetic fragrance makes me sick. This canary is ill on a regular basis and is “sick” of it.

I had a recent exposure to some sort of fragrance. The following is a simple timeline after exposure. At the time, I didn’t connect my symptoms with the cause. Only when I was standing right next to the source and my symptoms dramatically became worse did I realize what the cause was.

My first clue should have been the ringing in my ears.


Within five minutes after entering the area, while waiting for guests to arrive, I said, “Whoa, my ears are ringing. That’s weird.”


Within fifteen to twenty minutes, I had a blotchy circular rainbow-colored patch in my vision.


Five minutes later, the blotchy circle shifted to a wavy rainbow of color diagonally across one-third of my vision. Reading because difficult. Concentration was impossible. I couldn’t focus on anything anyone was saying.


At this point I was worried I was having a stroke. I was prepared to interrupt the goings-on and have someone call 911. But my speech wasn’t garbled. So instead I sat there and prayed quietly to myself.


A few seconds after I finished my prayer, a fan came on, creating airflow. This is when the wavy rainbow lifted upward until it left my field of vision. Feeling shaky and disoriented still.


As event concludes, vision is clear, but flulike symptoms begin to increase. Disorientation. Headache. General feeling of malaise.


Make it home. Awake for most of the night because of extreme side effects. Mostly pounding head. Body aches. Brain fog. Edgy.


As I am writing this, I am still having side effects. Typing is really hard. I have to correct every other word because my fingers keep hitting the wrong keys.

Toxins are in our environment. They are everywhere. They are making people sick, causing things from ADHD and behavior issues to migraines to dementia and Alzheimer’s to Parkinson’s. Even headaches, flulike symptoms, malaise, and disorientation. Who knows what else. If you’re chronically sick, consider getting rid of the toxins in your environment.

Here is a list of some of the things that affect me and should be avoided. Baby wipes, plugins, Febreeze and other sprays, dryer sheets, hand sanitizer, perfumes, household cleaners, cigarette smoke, and scented candles, diffusers, and warmers using artificial fragrances.

I am the canary. You may not be feeling the effects, but the toxins are getting into your system. Do you really want to expose your children to this stuff?

Think about it.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Giving Thanks

Today’s the day we remember to be thankful. It’s common to go around the table and mention what we’re thankful for. It’s usually the big things, Mom & Dad, healing, food, modern conveniences, health, a child’s teddy bear, home, and so forth.
This post will point out different ways to find gratitude. For one week, notice everyone and everything that helps, encourages, or lifts your spirits in any way: The clerk in the store that smiles at you, the spouse that says “good morning,” the Face Book post that makes you smile, birds singing in the trees, trees, the sun shining, the Face Book post that inspires you, the clouds that bring needed rain or snow, and on and on. See how many you can find in one day. It doesn’t matter if it gets silly, nobody will know except you.
Living a life filled with gratitude will make us happier. Look for that silver lining in the cloud hanging over you. Even if you have lost a loved one, ponder the joys they brought into your life. Find someone else with trials, and lift their spirits. Lift the person you think least needs it. Chances are they also have a heavy load to carry.
Joy and happiness are born of Gratitude. Gordon T. Watts

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Struggle is Real

By Lisa Rector

I’ve been dealing with several different health problems this year, and I’m about crushed with exhaustion. Having health issues is very isolating and often people don’t understand. But I do. I haven’t really been questioning why, but more really, how much longer can I endure? 

I have many moments when I have felt God’s help, and it has been humbling. I don’t blame him, and I’m not angry at him, but I’m frustrated. I’m putting forth so much effort every day just to stay mobile, and it’s tiring. I have felt the spirit guiding me with things I need to do to help myself. There are some areas where I had to give up things, and this leaves a lot of guilt, so I am trying not to be too hard on myself. 

A sister missionary said in church one Sunday that she always says the phrase, “The struggle is real,” but conference helped her see it in a new light. Now she says, “The struggle is really good for us.” I wanted to get up and leave the meeting, but I mostly choked back tears. I have had many struggles in my life. Mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and now physically, which I think is the hardest one for me to bear. I try to look at how my struggles might help me grow, and I wonder what I agreed to in the spirit realm when I said, “Yeah, I will tackle that trial.” 

What was I thinking? 

I’m questioning my strength to endure. But I was reminded today through a song called “King of the World” by Natalie Grant that God is in control. I at least know that he will multiply whatever little effort we can put forth.

And so here I am, slugging along for another day. Whatever I have to give will be enough, because it has to be, because it’s all I have.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Writers' Preparedness

No matter where we live, we’ve been told to prepare for natural disasters whether hurricane, flood, fire, earthquake, blizzard or something else. Most often having a 72 hour kit and with the necessities for 3 days on top of the list. We don’t usually think about being prepared with our writing in mind.
            I’m sure you know the first rule. Backup. Backup. Backup. But do you backup consistently?
My preferred method is using the cloud if you can afford it. It isn’t that expensive. I have several reasons why it works for me. First of all, it’s automatic. Every time I make changes—boom it’s there. Secondly, it’s not in my house. An external hard drive, won’t do you any good if it’s near the computer when disaster strikes and you aren’t home, or don’t have time to take anything but the clothes on your back.
Another method is sending your writing to an out of town/state/country contact. I did this in 2003 when the Cedar Fire hit our area. We self-evacuated because we lived a couple of blocks south and west of the cross roads for the evacuation area. I sent all of my writing to a writing buddy in England who happened to be on-line at the time. This became valuable a few years later when I couldn’t find the most current outline for the semi-autobiography I dabble in between novels. He salvaged it out of his old computer.
You can also use thumb drives, re-writable CD’s & DVD’s. Whatever you do, backup often, and have it somewhere besides in your house.
Also, keep your favorite books on writing with your grab and go items in case you have a few minutes to gather important papers, pictures and such. Especially if they are out of print, marked, or hard to find. Keep a list of the books you have and the authors so you can replace them if needed. This can be on paper with the important books, or on your chosen backup device.
In short, a clear safe backup plan can save you tears and that hollow feeling of losing hours of work. You may attempt to re-write what you have, after all those are your stories, but they will never be the same. I know about that too. In the long ago days BC (before computer) I had several hand written chapters of a speculative fiction novel that was tossed out. I’ve tried to re-write it, and have done some of it, but it isn’t the same. The characters aren’t the same. I may or may not ever finish it. It’s especially true for non-fiction and research.
So my friends protect your work. Have a plan in case Murphy takes his hand at your work. Foil him with preparedness.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Because I’m Happy

by Lisa Rector

When I was a young single adult, I had a friend who constantly told me I wasn’t happy. This shocked me. I couldn’t comprehend, for one, how he could determine this in me, and two, I didn’t see how I wasn’t happy. Maybe, because I was a big flirt, he thought I was seeking for happiness in all the wrong places. The truth was, when I was single, I was living it up and enjoying life. I had so many pressures and stressors while I went through nursing school that on the weekends, I was a hopeless flirtatious bomb.

I didn’t care.

Then I married. Then I had children. I became a hostage to hormones running amuck in my body. I hated my daughter for the first six months of her life. I resented my husband for some unknown reason. All because chemicals told me I was unhappy. Until I experienced seven years in a mix of chemical and postpartum depression, I didn’t know what happiness truly was.

From the darkest abyss and wishing for death, to indescribable, the-only-way-to-understand-would-be-to-plug-your-spirit-into-mine-with-some-sort-of-mind-meld happiness. It’s not something you can express. When you’re happy, you feel it throughout your whole soul.

What’s my secret? I can explain it in a few phrases that will make you want to throw your tablet across the room, because you will say, “Duh. I’ve heard all this, but it’s not working for me.” Well, until the moment when you experience the change from unhappiness to bliss, you won’t really know what it means to be inexplicably happy.

Ready to throw your device?

The Light of Christ
The Atonement
The Plan of Salvation
Effort
Enjoy the moment
Find your purpose
Let it go
Count your blessings
If my God is with me, whom then shall I fear?

The formula is different for every single soul. But I will tell you. Because of the atonement, I conquered chemical depression. Because of my testimony in the Savior, I live each day with hope and peace. Because of the atonement, I am clean and light and free. Because I work my butt off every day to be still and let peace and beauty soak through me, I can breathe. I don’t fear evil. I rejoice in all that is good in life. I have purpose, even if it is only to get up every morning and hug my daughters. Even if it is just to lay beside my snoring husband and listen to his heartbeat.

My soul—my heart and spirit—want to rupture on occasion. The feeling is so hard to contain.

My daughters scream in embarrassment when I crank the music loud and dance in my kitchen, when I roll the window down and wave at everyone who drives by. When I make silly faces or when I start in on a lecture about how amazing the sunrise looks or how the rain makes everything look like a fairyland. Or how the squirrels and the rabbits bounce through the yard. I tell them to look at every good thing, look at every small moment, SEE what God has given us.

My only regret is that not everyone sees and not everyone feels this happiness.

The world would be so different if they did.

“Men are that they might have joy.” Be in that joy.

Now watch this.


Monday, September 25, 2017

A Well Worth Read...

Valerie Steimle

I don't normally put book reviews here but I have had the pleasure of reviewing a book from a friend that I absolutely adore!  The name of this marvelous book is: 

The Efficiency Playbook: Your tactical Game Plan to Getting More for Less

This book is a phenomenon in of itself.  With over 25 years of experience, Michael Andrew has pinpointed a plan for anyone wanting to improve their personal life as well as their employed life by leaps and bounds. I was blown away at how much information was packed into this book. A jewel of a find if you are interested in how to make accurate decisions in seconds, measuring your own personal time value, cutting through clutter and even measuring your own thought processes and much more. There are written assignments after many of the chapters where we can write our own thoughts about the ideas presented in the book which gives this book an air of classroom learning.

With a football playbook set up, there are countless great quotes and ideas to help everyone improve their life exponentially. One of my favorite lessons taught is the idea of consolidating two or more problems into a single course of action called using the double-edged sword in solving our problems.

This should be required reading for every business manager as there are so many great ideas and opportunities to create more efficient experiences for ourselves through the experiences and thoughts in this book from running our own companies to improving our own habits. Well worth the time to read a great gift for any CEO or business manager.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

God's Hand: The Nonflat Tire

by Lisa Rector

Let me see if I can sum up this highly emotional day. While on 15 north, heading toward Gettysburg, my low tire-pressure light comes on. I’m not driving bumpy so I proceed to the next exit and get off. There’s no gas station so I pull into an RV place to check my tires.

Right away I see a screw in my rear tire. It doesn’t even look low so I am baffled as to why my tire light came on. I consider driving on or using the can of air in the back (but the tire wasn’t really flat), but decide to call AAA, feeling slightly stupid.

The AAA lady sends someone anyway, which was fine. Better safe than sorry. Guy comes, changes the tire, and tells me how to get to a tire place so they can patch my tire so I don’t have to drive like a turtle on a donut. Great.

Get to car place. Dude removes screw. Tire is not flat. Screw didn’t go all the way through.

What? What the heck?

I’m beyond tired, so I’m like, whatever. They put the tire back on, check the air in all the tires and send me on my way.

I have no idea why the strange detour in my life today happened. I do know that after being away from home for a week, traveling, and having jet lag that I was beyond my limits emotionally and physically. I probably shouldn’t have undertaken the short 40-minute trip I had planned today. I do know that in our family prayers this morning, my daughter asked that we be safe in all our travels today. So even though I have no idea why things played out the way they did, I know God was watching over me. I had an hour less to spend with my cousin, but as I reflected on things on my way home, I’m just so grateful that, once again, Heavenly Father was mindful of me. He kept me safe as I followed the promptings to exit where I did. Everyone was super helpful and efficient. Even though I was a mess and cried, everything was okay.


The mysterious nonflat tire could have been a way of avoiding further calamity up the road or it could have been to remind me of God’s hand in my life. Either way, I know He’s there.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Seventeen is Just the Beginning

Valerie J. Steimle

Six years ago, I wrote this little piece for what is no longer online.  It was an early form of a blog and there were many contributors.  My youngest and also a son is now 17 so these thoughts could be helpful but for a boy it's different. Nevertheless, here is what I thought six years ago. It seems like a life time because so much has happened but it's only been 6 years.

Seventeen is Just the Beginning:

            My youngest daughter turned seventeen this week and I thought it would be advantageous for her and fun for me to listen to the song sung by Janis Ian: At Seventeen. As we listened, I was teleported back to when the song first played on the radio. I was sixteen at the time and thought it described my life so completely.

I learned the truth at seventeen
That love was meant for beauty queens
And high school girls with clear skinned smiles
Who married young and then retired….

But after listening, I realized the whole song was a pity party for anyone thinking they fit those words.  I could just imagine teen girls thinking: “there is no use trying to be better, it’s all over at seventeen”.

And those of us with ravaged faces
Lacking in the social graces
Desperately remained at home
Inventing lovers on the phone….

 There were comments posted by other listeners and the remarks opened with “woe is me... my life is terrible” like the song and ended with “these words don’t mean anything in the real life, it’s so much better.”  Those who agreed with the song didn’t really have a clue to what was in store for them. Those who didn’t agree with the song knew there was more to life than a pity party and encouraged all teen girls that they will enjoy a wonderful life ahead of them regardless of what they looked like.

It was long ago and far away
The world was younger than today
When dreams were all they gave for free
To ugly duckling girls like me…..

Lives filled with abuse, poverty, racism or crime can climb out of the hole they find themselves and be successful.  It is difficult but with determination, anyone can do it.  I didn’t live through most of those social ills, although I considered myself an ugly duckling, I didn’t have the confidence to do some of those goals I set out to accomplish.  Since those folly days of youth, I have become more determined to follow my dream and keep plugging away.

So what happened to all those “beauty queens” and “high school girls with clear skinned smiles” as Janis Ian assumed to be so successful? Thirty years later, they are ordinary people living their ordinary lives. That’s just great if you want ordinary, but for those who want more, like me, you can have more.

At the age of 20, 30, 40, 50, and beyond, we can still pick up a goal and work towards success. We don’t have to have the perfect body, the perfect face, or the perfect lifestyle to accomplish great feats. We can do this with our own inner strength and determination.

I have given birth to nine children and home schooled them all, suffered through an early death of my husband at 46, written and published four books, I’m writing my own newspaper column and now tackling the remodel of a 6,000 square foot 1920 hotel.  We can do anything.

So the next time I hear Janis Ian’s song, I will listen to those words with a grain of salt.  At seventeen or fifty, we can work towards whatever life we want and be happy that we accomplished so much.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Writing Through the Pain

by Lisa Rector

Last night my restless leg syndrome was so bad that my left arm was also antsy. Anyone who suffers from RLS knows that the unstoppable desire to move your legs and arms is neither pleasant nor to be ignored. My legs thrashed on my sheets, and my arm ached with ferocity so much so that I jumped out of bed in the middle of the night and started dancing around my bedroom, trying to give my legs and arm the relief they sought.

I felt as if I had ants marching one-by-one, up and down, inside my veins. The feeling was more unpleasant than you could imagine. I also wondered what I had done wrong with my day that resulted in such an attack. Did I sit too long because of the epic board game I played with my children, or did I eat too much sugar because my daughters insisted on eating s’mores before bedtime and I had already indulged in sweets earlier in the day?

I eventually exhausted my spastic limbs enough so that I could sleep, but vowed, as I drifted off, to take better care of my body. Starting with exercise the next day.

The following morning, after being prompted by the Spirit to rise early, after breakfast and an hour of scripture study, I put in a 10 minute DVD of body sculpting. I became so weary and my hips throbbed so horribly after my work out that I crumbled in tears. (This after I learned my daughter left my flexible, rice ice pack out of the freezer last night, so I didn’t have it to apply to my hips.) I choked down a protein bar while pulling out my church magazine; I could think of nothing else to do in my run-down state.

As I read I prayed. I couldn’t deal with my hip pain anymore. I couldn’t deal with the weakness in my body anymore. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I poured out my sorrows to my Father in Heaven.

And of course, the words from one of God’s chosen spoke to me and comforted me.

Even the Savior asked for relief as He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane. “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”

It is okay to ask for relief (even if the relief doesn’t come) and then submit to God’s will (whether we are healed).

The Spirit also whispered that though I ask for relief, I must do all in my power to take care of myself. Which I had vowed to do the night before, which I had vowed in the past. But I needed to revamp my efforts because I was failing.

I also learned that I could still receive spiritual refinement despite my suffering, and because of my suffering—because it will humble me and draw me closer to the Lord.

I even had a crazy thought that I would still carry on through my suffering. An image of me crawling to the dishwasher to unload the dishes came to my mind. As odd as that seemed, it gave me comfort to know that I wouldn’t give up, and I knew that God would help me do the seemingly impossible.

And I could ask for help as I needed; I don’t have to struggle on my own.

I haven’t been able to write steadily because of my declining health, but I haven’t completely given up. I do what I can. I know God knows me and my struggles. He doesn’t have to prove these things, but He shows me daily as He answers my prayers and sends peace to my heart.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A New Life: Discovering My New Life Path



Valerie J. Steimle

My life has changed drastically over the last nine months and I am happy to say that I am doing well.  I haven’t written any kind of blog post since September but I am working on discovering my new life path. 

I live on the opposite side of the country now in the Phoenix area, working a new job and I am with my last child living in an apartment.  Quite the change from the last 24 years where I lived in my own home on half an acre of green grass and trees in Alabama. 

Now I look out the window to the desert of Arizona with cactus and palm trees. It's really a good life and I'm happy to be closer to my first born with her family close by. My new ward opened their life to me and I can visit more of my children, my brother and his family and my 91 year old Dad on this side of the country. 

Image result for sunriseMajor life changes causes one to ponder their life path and what accomplishments are most important.  I have been doing this for the past six months and have come to the conclusion that I should finish something I started a long time ago: my bachelor's degree at Brigham Young University. 

I graduated from Ricks College (Now Brigham Young University Idaho Campus) with an Associated Degree in 1979, intending to finish in Communicative Disorders and Special Education at Brigham Young University Provo campus, but I got the worst case of "senioritis" in my 4th year of classes, was engaged to be married and just didn't have the drive to accomplish what I set out to do.  My mother was livid and I don't blame her. I should have finished but hind sight is everything and now as I am helping my youngest get on his mission and I will have the time and the funds to finish what I started.  It's exciting to think about. What's more, I am switching gears from educating children to writing for a living.  

My goal is to finish my degree in English/Journalism online since I have enough "on campus" credit to do the work without having to travel back to Provo. I will then start searching for a writing job so I can write until I cannot use my hands to type any longer.  This will be what I do for the rest of my life and that is so very thrilling for me.  It's what I love to do.

I have been writing journal entries since I was 12 years old, the idea coming from a lesson I learned at church and I now have 10 volumes of journals plus other notebooks filled with my thoughts and dreams. Writing is so therapeutic; not typing in a computer but actual writing by hand. There is something to be said about hand writing in a journal that helps sooth the soul.

Image result for writingFrom the website, Self Growth it states that we can improve ourselves in confidence by just practicing our handwriting. This really makes a difference and I know from reading The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, writing in a journal by hand every day helps clear the mind of junk from the day before. It's really amazing. Julia Cameron calls it her "Morning Pages" and for several years I wrote at least 4 times a week in my morning pages journal which now are close to twenty notebooks.

My life goal is developing into something I am really excited about and this will help me become a better person in expressing myself to the world. I see more published books on the horizon as well and time to travel. Life is really great for me now with new perspectives and choices to make. Of course more grandchildren adding to the adorable ones I have already which makes me very happy. 
God is good.









Monday, June 26, 2017

Having the Power of God with Us


by Lisa Rector

It is paramount that we draw near to the Spirit each and every day. Our lives become drowned with the noises of the world. Satan whispers every second into our minds and hearts. If we don't remind ourselves of our eternal perspective and the blessings that come when we are obedient, slipping into worldly ways becomes too easy. Contention will spring forth like a caustic fountain.

We can have access to the Priesthood power, which is God's power. "Personal righteousness is imperative to having priesthood power." (Linda K. Burton) Don't let life distract you in your righteous pursuits. Keep reading your scriptures and other religious articles to bring light into your life. We must remember our divine nature and our birthright. And we must stand with our personal standards branded on our souls so we do not falter and always have the power of God with us.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Writing Delima

A potter finishes his/her pot, paints it, and puts it in a kiln. Once fired, it’s done. Once an artist applies the last stroke to a painting, it’s finished. When I create counted cross stitch or Swedish weaving projects, after working the pattern, it’s complete. Not so with writing. Writing is never finished. There simply comes a time the author sends it out. There are always improvements to be made. That brings me to my current novel.
            I’m at a crossroads with my Latter-day Saint romance, Hidden Heritage. Do I send it out next month, or wait until I go to Time Out for Writers conference in September and make even more changes? Either way I’ll work on something else this summer.
That presents another dilemma. Do I edit the completed Escape from Fire, or fill in the partial Car Crash? Maybe I could even dig out Divine Love and its sequel Diane’s Story. Then there’s always my semi-autobiography.
            But I digress, back to the topic. With writing, like in music, there’s always room for improvement: This sentence might be better if I use a fancier word. Perhaps that sentence sounds too pompous. A paragraph may need more description. Another one slows down the narrative with too much description. Would this scene work better later in the story? Does that dialogue sound realistic? The list goes on without end.
            Beta readers are valuable with their opinions, but they’re just that—opinions. Don’t get me wrong, I love the improvements made when I have beta readers.
Whether novel, or note I find better ways to say things nearly every time I go over stuff, even my Face Book posts. One of my college professors said, “Writing is never finished. Just send it out there.” He told us about a famous poet that had 2 or 3 versions of the same poem in print. How do I know if it’s time for Hidden Heritage?
            I don’t expect the reader of this post to tell me. You haven’t read it. I’ll decide when I finish this time going through it. I already have the dreaded Synopsis, query letter, and such because I’ve sent it out before. Naturally I made changes in those as well.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

How to Stay Underwhelmed in an Overwhelming Author World.


by Lisa Rector

I haven’t been able to write steady for about six months. Too many author voices are in my head and bogging me down. It’s not that they are telling me I can’t measure up; it’s just that everything seems too much. Social media has added demands to my author life that I never thought possible. How do I get back to writing and not letting the world overwhelm me?

I’ve considered quitting Facebook and Twitter altogether, but don’t want to abandon them. I don’t mind retweeting. I’m in a Facebook book club, so I want enjoy that. But suddenly I’m finding my beta-reading group and other writing groups too exhausting. My Facebook feed and Twitter feed will never stop. I’m also in charge of setting up blog posts for an up-and-coming LDS beta reader group, so I have to stay connected for that.

Here’s what I’ve been doing, other than taking a break from the world and hiding in a corner.

I’ve unfollowed many friends and family on Facebook. I follow those who don’t share every. single. thing. I stay away from people who post recipes. I follow those who offer great interaction and posts that help me as an author. What’s great about FB is that you don’t have to unfriend people. Just unfollow them for a time. You can always hop over to their profile if you want to catch up.

I don’t scroll my Twitter feed. Often porn pops up, despite my attempts to block it. I created lists of people who I want to engage with and who I want to retweet and scroll those. I click on followers to see who else I want to follow, and I post maybe once a day.

I just don’t have time for anything else in the social media world.

About the author voices in my head. Every author I’ve engaged with seems to have their own opinion about how to do things as an author, and they seem to think they are right. I just stopped listening for a while. Yes, I surface for critiques and feedback, but when I start scrolling posts about other authors and what they are doing, I get overwhelmed, thinking I have to do what they are doing now or learn what they are learning now. I had to stop and tell myself I’m in a different place. And that’s ok.

There’s a time for engagement and a time to work things out on your own. When I’m drafting, I have to turn everything off. I can’t focus if someone is spouting story structure over here and character arcs over there. Write the story first, without the other voices. Revisions are the time to get opinions.


As always, write for yourself, and only write the parts people want to read. That is the best writing advice above all.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Finding Time to Write

This blog is called LDS Mommy Writers. The staff has allowed this LDS grandma writer to join in with a monthly post. You might think I’d have all the time in the world to write—no children to interrupt, no carpools to drive, relatively little laundry to do, only one other person to cook for, no homework to help with, the list goes on and on.
I remember laughing at (not in front of her) at my older sister when she and her husband retired and she said she was as busy as ever. She’s eighteen years older, and I was in the middle of raising our eight children.
I’m not laughing any more. I serve the mid-day shift at the temple on Wednesdays, babysit grandchildren, serve as an assistant compassionate service leader, substitute teach on occasion, have Toastmaster speeches to write and practice, and more.
Yes, most days I do have more time to write than a busy mother, but it’s easy to find distractions—books to read, okay; I’ll admit it; Face Book to check out, blogs to read, needlework to create (TV while doing that), I'm only up to 1999 on scrap booking my pictures along with the normal cooking, errands, and cleaning.
I need to find my writing time during the day and early evening. I can look over other writers’ projects later in the evening, but can’t work on my own stuff after 7:30-8:00 pm or I’ll have problems sleeping because my mind won’t turn off.
It takes self-discipline to make myself sit at the computer, especially when I hit a brick wall in my WIP. I think of other things that need to be done—oh dear I haven’t watered and cared for my vegetable garden in a couple of days. Gotta run.

A Day in the Life of an Indie Author

An ideal writing day is one where I sit at home and tackle my WIP, and I’m not interrupted by errands or life. I try to set aside the hours between ten a.m. and two p.m. to write a rough draft, revise, or edit.

So what about the rest of my life?

I wake in the wee hours of the mornin’. I have two and a half hours from the time I wake until the time I send the last nugget off to school. In those hours, I accomplish amazing things.

I eat. Wow. I pack lunches and wake kids. I either load or unload the dishwasher. Counters and floors are wiped down (everyday). Within those bustling minutes, I make time to stretch and tone and time to read spiritually uplifting material, often a religious magazine or book. Somehow I get dressed and ready for the day.

I slink back to the house after carpool and give myself an hour of electronic housekeeping. This is updating my blog and the two other blogs I post on. I clean out files and make memes or graphic images. Emails are dealt with.

It’s ten o’clock. Lunchtime. I’ve been awake for four hours. Need to fuel up.

Now I dive into my works in progress. I set a timer for forty-two minutes. In the middle of wherever I might be, when that screaming bomb goes off, I jump up and hightail it to my kitchen. “Not to eat again?” you ask. Nope. To dance. I crank up the music in the room that has the most open floor space and shake out the stiffness in my body. This is great and energizing before I get back to the grind.

My dance-a-thon happens three more times.

Then the best part of my day happens. A steaming hot shower followed by an hour-long nap.

Crunch time has arrived. If I haven’t thought of what to make for dinner, I palm through the frozen foods in my freezer and invent something. I usually preheat my oven and prep before running off to scoop kids up from school.

We’re all home. Dinner ensues. Now it’s me time. I either catch up on my shows or curl up with a good book while interspersing time with the kids and homework.

But this is a best-scenario day. Often anything flies.

What does your writing day look like?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Rejuvination



Everyone needs a break: writers, moms, hospital staff, kids, teachers, doctors, garbage men, artists, etc. You get the idea. 

Spring Break came really late this year. This means a couple of things: warmer weather at the beach and less school until the end of the year. 


Image result for image of the outer banks



Back to that beach. I LOVE the beach. All times, all weathers, all seasons. A bad day at the beach is 
still a day at the beach. 

Flying kites, Duck donuts (if you vacation at OBX you know what I'm talking about), eating out, beachcombing for shells, watching movies, board games . . . you get the picture. 

Of course, I still have writing/publishing deadlines to meet, which I'll squeeze in between everything else. 

Rejuvination is part of balance and promoting creativity. 

Maybe you can't take off a whole week to go to the beach. So take a day to do something that rejuvinates you: a museum, art show, hike in the mountains, visit a garden, see a movie, have lunch with a friend, paint that room or furniture piece you keep putting off, etc. 

Can't take a day? An hour will do. Read a book. Watch an episode of your favorite show. Talk a walk and chat with a friend. Yoga. 

Rejuvination is only limited by your imagination (and sometimes your budget ;) ). 

Even Christ took time to be apart from his disciples and demands for balance and peace. If the Savior can find the time to do it, so can you. 

What will you do today, this week, to rejuvinate your life?

                                                                    

Monday, March 27, 2017

Being Steadfast and Immovable

by Lisa Rector

I’m a firm believer in being able to find a lesson or reason for every chapter of scripture in the Book of Mormon, even the war chapters. It’s the same with fiction; only write the parts people want to read, so there must be a reason God wanted some parts included in the scriptures, even if we think they are boring. If we prayerfully seek, we can find hidden meanings.

I had to look carefully to find the meaning for me in Alma 1. The chapter is about Nehor, who goes about teaching false doctrine. His teachings led many in the church astray, and they started persecuting their own brethren of the gospel because of their pride. The hearts of many saints hardened, and they withdrew from the church. 

Did the trial of their persecution cause their hearts to harden because they were unable to bear their afflictions? What could have been done to prevent this?

Many saints remained steadfast in the faith. How?

Alma 1:25 says, “They were steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of God, and they bore with patience the persecution which was heaped upon them.” The rest of the chapter goes on to tell how the saints were blessed for their selflessness and obedience.

We can have peace, despite persecution. Our steadfastness will lead to blessings and prosperity, but our persecutions can harden our hearts if we are not careful and don’t humble ourselves.

The key is being steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments. The saints also worked hard, laboring to have the necessities of life. And through their efforts, they were blessed.

I feel comfort in knowing that, though trials in life may come, my determination and diligence in keeping the commandments of the Lord gives me peace. Everything I do is an extra buffer of protection; my heart is less likely to harden when faced with overwhelming adversity. And patience with persecution is not something to frown upon. It is a blessing beyond measure.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Even as I Am

by Lisa Rector

While struggling with my own shortcomings, and feeling as if I fall short of the mark every day, I was touched by a video I recently watched in church.

The video begins with this scripture.

“Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.” 3 Nephi 27:27

The video goes on to list the attributes of Christ.

Humble                      Obedient                       Healer                 Kind                 Teacher            Courageous            Servant               Submissive                Selfless                       Full of love

 As I watched the Savior in all these roles, which the video portrayed, one thought crossed my mind. He’s genuine. In every role, in displaying whichever attribute, the Savior was Himself. He always expressed His true feelings, which were based on true motivations and love—Christlike love, which is charity.

And I realized that in my life, I only ever want to be genuine, even when I fall short and despite my shortcomings. I want to exhibit these Christlike behaviors with all my soul. I don’t want to grumble through life. I don’t want to complain when asked to do something. I don’t want to wallow in my sins. I want to be happy when I serve.

I want [to] “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny [myself] of all ungodliness; and if [I] shall deny [myself] of all ungodliness, and love God with all [my] might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for [me], that by his grace [I] may be perfect in Christ . . .” Moroni 10:32

I might have shortcomings, but perhaps the good in me can outshine the bad as I “come unto Christ” and be “even as [He is].”




Thursday, February 23, 2017

Writing Life

Writing is something we do alone, at least most of the time. The Internet has changed that a bit. We have writing groups, UTube videos, research options, and other helps earlier writers couldn’t imagine.

Gone are the days when publishers picked up stories they liked or loved then cleaned them up for the author. Today we are expected to have “beta readers” those lovely writers that look over our work and suggest changes, correct grammar or spelling, and improve our work immensely. A word of caution here, we can’t make all changes anybody suggests. That came into clear focus in a short story writing class I took. We had seventeen in that class and everyone critiqued each others’ three stories. More often than not, what one person liked, another one disliked. Yet when taken as a whole, when the author saw a majority agree on some point or the other, he or she needed to take notice.

I can’t speak about UTube writing videos, I haven’t used them very much, but I’ve heard some mentioned from time to time, and I’m sure some are helpful, and others not so much.

I’m not going to delve into the glories of researching on the Internet, except to say—be cautious. It may come as a surprise to some people, but not everything on the Internet is true. There is as much misinformation as good information out there. Cross reference, and double check.

I’m especially sold on writing groups on-line or in person. I still have a few friends I’ve never met from the old days of AOL’s Writers’ Club. That was a well oiled machine with many controlled weekly chats. I’ll admit I went to too many of them and they did steal writing time, but I got good information that helped me in various aspects of writing.

I currently belong to a fantastic writing organization. We have monthly meetings. I belong to an on-line chapter, but there are live chapters also. This organization has an annual writing conference where writers of all types get to learn from those who have gone before.

In short, today’s writers have it both harder and easier than ever before. Harder because we have to perfect our work more before being published, but easier because we have the tools to do so.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Working Resolutions Your Way

by Lisa Rector

I’m pretty sure the root of all my problems is lack of sleep.


Actually, I am absolutely sure.





I suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). If you have it, you know exactly what I mean. My legs run in my sleep, wearing holes in my sheets; I go through two sets of sheets a year. My legs spasm during the day if I don’t get enough movement or if I overwork my legs. I have to have the perfect amount of exercise. My legs will “tweak out” on long car rides. How do I describe that? Because car space is so tight, even in the front passenger seat, if my legs can’t move how they want, they freak out. The sensation is much like ants using my blood vessels as a highway. Sometimes the sensation is like mild electric jolts.

And don’t get me started on plane flights. I take nerve medication to dull the pain.
Even though I take medication at night, getting a restful night’s sleep is still a miracle.


What does this have to do with my resolutions? 

Number one resolution is to get enough sleep. Why? Because if I don’t, I am a serious disaster, and my brain is foggy. I was worried I was suffering from short-term memory loss. I leave notes right in the middle of the counter so I can remember things for the next day. Sometimes the next hour.
Yeah, it’s that bad.

But once I made the connection of my irritability and my poor memory to my lack of sleep, I felt hope.

I can work with this.

Number one is to take my medication regularly. I don’t like taking prescription pills, but I have to suck it up and just do it for my sanity.

Number two to counter my foggy memory, make a lovely graphic of the things I want to accomplish every day, but also realize that I don’t have to do all of the things on the list every day. With the list, then in those moments when I stand there thinking I should be doing something but I can’t remember, I can consult the list.

Many of the things on my list are non-fiction books I want to read, mostly pertaining to my spirituality. I was getting discouraged with my scriptural reading and with keeping up with Sunday school lessons. I feel more power with a list. Plus, instead of feeling as if I need to do a marathon sprint with any particular book of scripture or other religious material, I can read a little of each every day.

I’m doing this with my writing education as well. I really want to read Chicago’s Manual of Style and my Emotional Thesaurus and Character Traits books, but just a few pages each day. That way I feel like I am moving forward.

Another thing about my resolutions. A few years ago I ran a half-marathon. The marathon destroyed my body and triggered an all over inflammatory response where my body attacks itself. My body still is and, I’m pretty sure, will always be messed up. An excess of anything, including inflammatory foods and too much exercise makes me swell, and my body shuts down. What? Yeah. How do I overcome that?

It sucks. I feel like I have an autoimmune disease. And who knows, maybe I do. I don’t plan on going to the doctor to find out. But I have noticed that tasks I could accomplish are growing more difficult. My husband has to dig the holes in our hard clay soil for me now when I garden. I can’t walk as an exercise for more than twenty minutes. Thirty minutes pushes it big time, and by the end of the day, I am nonfunctional. I can’t go clothing shopping or grocery shopping for more than two hours. And I have to come home and rest for half the day when that’s over.

But at least I know my limits.

What does this have to do with resolutions?

I discovered what works for me. I sit a lot, but I have to get up and move because of my nerve pain in my lower back and neck and my lymphedema in my ankles. But movement relieves all of these. Whenever I know I am going to be sitting for a while, I set a timer for forty-two minutes. Why forty-two minutes? That’s the length of a TV show or that’s how long it takes me to pluck out a scene. That’s also how I break up my reading tasks. Read Chicago for forty-two minutes or read my church materials for forty-two minutes. It’s a perfect amount of time. I read just a few pages, an article, or a whole chapter if it’s short, but I break things up if sections are too long. That way I don’t feel overloaded by spending too much time in one particular area.

And then I jump up and either tackle a chore like vacuuming or

I crank some music in my kitchen and dance like a crazy fool (while incorporating some hand weights). The dancing is my preferred form of movement. The Lindsey Sterling tracks I listen to are anywhere from three to five minutes and get my heart pumping. Plus the music inspires my writing, and I sit down ready to dive back in.

So, in the end, what matters is that you set up your resolutions so they work for you.

I have a mantra I like to follow. It’s posted on my blog side bar. “When you cannot do what you have always done, then you only do what matters most.”