Talking Writer Wellness, Creativity and Balance

This review has been such a long time coming—thank you, Joy, for being so patient.

Way back in February, Joy E. Held, author of Writer Wellness: A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity, guest-posted here. Later, she kindly offered me a copy of her book and asked if I’d share my thoughts on it when I was done. Being swamped with schoolwork at the time, I told her I’d probably be able to do so come June. Well…that came and went (as did July), and here I am trying to get this done before August (and summer) go.

         Direct from her website (and FYI): My online writer-friend Joy is a college educator and award winning published author who knew at age ten she was going to be a writer.

In a recent post about Kristen Lamb’s We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, I mentioned how I tend to be a reader of fiction. I’ll read self-help books here and there but unless there is a story tied in, I tend to wander to the latest novel I may have downloaded. (This is where print books have it over digital, especially on a Nook Color. With print book in hand, all I can do is read the book. Wi-fi connections feed seamlessly into the AADD (as in Acquired Attention Deficit Disorder—my made-up term, lol) and off I go…

See? Exactly like that. Okay, back to Joy…

Joy E. Held’s Writer Wellness outlines a simple but effective plan for overall wellness geared to those who write and/or create. She suggests a variety of very practical, easy-to-apply/adapt/adopt ideas, activities and exercises to promote creativity, balance, relaxed state and health of mind and body. (I am so not good at that ‘relaxed state’ part!)

Every chapter is a quick, easy, relatable read. Each is wrapped up with a summary (outline-style) that reiterates chapter highlights and “sends home” the chapter’s message. She follows this with simple “hands-on” tasks, some specifically geared for completion at the workplace. Joy also incorporates easy directions for creating great visual and/or tangible “aids” to help integration points made. Ideas for journaling, along with specific exercises, relaxation techniques, nutrition tips and activities for creating (at home and at work) round out each chapter. She also includes a chapter dedicated to hatha yoga (geared to writers) complete with photos illustrating key poses and followed by a typical yoga workout. (Think I might benefit from taking some time to look at this one in depth! ;))

What I liked best about this book was its simplicity. Joy offered support to those of us who believe we are “too busy” to adopt (and subsequently reap the benefits of) Writer Wellness principles and strategies. I felt particularly encouraged by her thoughts on writer’s block and loved the schematic approach for working through a problem via “trouble bubbles.” I also enjoyed reading “Sheila’s” story; how, over time, her circumstances changed via the guidance she followed during Ms. Held’s six week Writer Wellness Workshop.

Allow me to leave you with a quote from Writer Wellness (p. 67):

“The simple act of commending words to paper inspires the universe to cooperate with our minds and hearts to allow our dreams to find us.”

So glad Joy found me! Learn more about her at her website. While you’re there, take advantage of a special triple e-book offer including the wonderful resource we just discussed!

As always, thanks to all of you who took the time to drop by! Those of you already familiar with Joy’s work, please feel free to chime in with your thoughts and/or experiences related to Writer Wellness. Everyone else, just say ‘hi’ and if you would, kindly click on one of the share buttons below to help share the word about Joy and Writer Wellness!

Until next time,


Newsflash: Bloghopping Can Cause Inspiration! (Part 2)

Yesterday I talked weight, exercise, motivation and what’s been working for me for a while now. My goal is no longer the number on the scale, in fact I very rarely weigh myself. (I stopped bothering when the numbers held their place but my clothing was fitting better and even getting loose. And let’s not forget: muscle mass is denser and heavier than fat. ‘Nough said.) It’s keeping up this lifestyle of exercise and moderate eating for the rest of my life, one workout at a time. The second I decide I’ve “arrived”, I may as well toss my sneakers, weights and music. That’s the moment all I’ve done so far is doomed.

My other big change came in my attitude toward eating. (Mindshift, remember?) Let me state for the record I’d do pretty much anything to be one of those people who can eat whatever s/he wants. (And I’ll even come clean and state that cravings took over the other night and I packed away a lot more sesame sticks than I should have while watching my nasal girl.)  I’ve found that by cutting out a lot of white flour—I can live w/o bread (but not cake :)) and cutting back on starchy foods in general, I seem to have happened on a balance. And since I’d rather eat kettle chips every day, I keep a bag in the car and stick to a lunch of salad and half a sandwich, a smaller portion of something left over from the previous night’s dinner, etc. and eat those chips mid-afternoon. (I also break them into little pieces so that I can reach into the bag more often.)

I divide meals. Two years ago, I’d start the day with PBJ on two slices. By making it open-faced, I’d get two pieces out of one slice of bread for breakfast. If I’m still hungry a couple of hours later, I’d just make the second half. Adding fruit helps curb the appetite, as does milk or some other source of protein. Eggs rock.  And my absolute best trick of all? Whenever possible, BRUSH YOUR TEETH AS SOON AS YOU CAN ONCE YOU’RE DONE EATING. (Keep a toothbrush and toothpaste in your purse.) That changes the taste in your mouth and signals the brain in a most definite manner that food is done for now.

Back to mindshifts: Valerie Bertinelli, actor and Jenny Craig spokesperson, who lost at least forty pounds and so far seems to have kept it off stated in an article: “There are no bad foods, just bad food behaviors.”  That freed me. Cake, cookies and chips aren’t necessarily bad but eating three to four portions at once ain’t my best choice now, is it? Splitting up those choices and eating them over three to four days in another thing entirely. Now I literally get to have my cake and eat it too—right?

Then there is self-talk. A couple of years ago, I attended a workshop on sensory integration. Did this occupational therapist know the mouth is a center of arousal (as in alertness)? And in school, what do we use to get kids more awake and aware? Crunchy foods. BING!!! Suddenly, a puzzle piece falls into place. I, who would forego sleep in a heartbeat to gain more hours in a day, am chowing down on Cheez-Its at night to stay awake longer—now there’s a revelation! The self-talk part? At night when I do the wash-up routine I know if I brush my teeth I’m done eating for the night. Know how many times I’ve said aloud, “This is a choice,” when wavering about sticking that toothbrush in my mouth?

Anyway, those are some ideas sparked by Riley’s post. (Thanks, Riley! Can you imagine me posting all this in a comment at your blog, lol?) What works for you? (And I’d love to hear from those of you lovely lurkers who are always in the background being supportive—always MUCH, MUCH appreciated—but never make yourselves known. Use a pseudonym :)!)

Until next time!

Joanna (and Screwball, aka, Kitty)

Newsflash: Blog-Hopping Can Result in Inspiration!

How Screwball (aka Kitty) helps hubby puts away the laundry 🙂

A post I read earlier this week at Riley Quinn’s blog spoke to me big-time. Riley very candidly and bravely discussed putting herself out there and being accountable for her weight. I’m pear-shaped and, since childhood, have struggled with the yo-yo thing, too. My pattern includes losing weight and keeping it off until some inciting incident comes along that throws my routine off completely (i.e, my father getting sick, getting pregnant, a small house fire that led to 10 weeks of hotel living and eating out almost every night). Next thing I know, I’m well beyond where I started out. Age doesn’t help (even if I, just like my favorite Fran Fine–The Nanny–can’t seem to age past 29 :)), and every time it’s that much harder to start on the road to loss AGAIN.

So there I am leaving a comment at Riley’s blog. Of course, I got long-winded—me?—and realized I had a post of my own on hand. And since the subject matter ties in nicely with my last post, I figured, why not share what’s been working for me—barring any inciting incidents—ptooey, ptooey! Far from here! The best part is, my current mindset is part of a process that started as a coincidence.

Y’all know I like to get up early and of my obsession with tennis and my current favorite, Rafa Nadal (currently the world’s Number One, thank you very much). Well, last January (2009), I happened on early morning coverage of the Australian Open. Being the restless, multi-tasking sort that I am, I exercised as I watched and continued to do so as the next program started, Kiana Tom’s Flex Appeal.

What do you know? Kiana teaches easy weight-lifting/exercise routines targeted at being done home w/a minimum of equipment. I began watching at least three times/week and incorporating her moves into a routine of my own. I also made sure to include lunges—so incredibly effective when done right—and some abdominal work. With two sets of hand weights (3- and 4-lb each), four 1-lb wrist/ankle weights, an inclined surfaced (old aerobic stepper propped up at one end with 3-inch-high garden bricks) and regular walking (up to 4x/week, up and down hills while wearing shape-up type shoes) I have changed my body proportions enough to have created much more of a balance between my shoulders and my hips (i.e., I’ve the former are a bit bigger and the latter somewhat smaller). As I stated before, I’ll never be thin, but guess what? Those little efforts and short workouts added up! I’m still shy of my goal weight but  figure I’m at least twenty pounds closer than I was before Kiana and I hooked up.

Let’s get one more confession out there: exercise is NOT my favorite thing. When I’m in the groove I don’t mind it and even enjoy it (among the reasons I try very hard to keep the routine). Having a background in anatomy helps; visualizing exactly how a given muscle works increases the effectiveness of the movement. I also look forward to a monthly five-day break, though I often think of female athletes and having to play regardless of where they are in their cycles. Another HUGE plus I recently realized (nothing new or earth-shattering to those who body-build or work out regularly): more muscle mass equals better metabolism equals I can eat those no-no foods (in moderation) more often and not worry about it (overmuch).

How do I stay (or get) motivated on any given day? Most of the time, I’m doomed if I don’t get my exercise out of the way first thing. Once the family is up or it’s time for kids to get ready for school, I get distracted and there goes that window of time, especially on a school day when I get to go to work for pay. I have found ways around that. Since I’m too restless anyway, if it’s during my favorite Dancing with the Stars season, I’ll work out while watching the show.  (I’ll save my filing for that time too—aren’t I great at relaxing?)

I’ve also broken up my workout into shorter segments and spread them over two mornings instead of one. (A plus to that is getting your metabolism moving more often.) Last January I started out with about twenty minutes. As strength and endurance improved, I started adding some different moves to my routine but ended up doubling the amount of time I needed. Breaking up the workout has worked well so far.

I’ve had to find a way around setbacks. A recent fall has literally grounded me from my weight routine for close to three weeks now. (Those darn shape-up shoes can catch the concrete when one doesn’t lift the foot high enough to clear the ground—think I bruised a rib and even had trouble breathing for a week.) I consider that an ‘inciting incident’ that can mess with my dearly-protected routine. I’ve chosen to forego the weights until the pain is completely gone, but try to do two walks a day—even shorter ones—to compensate. (Hey! There’s that metabolism part again!)

Today’s final thought: everyone struggles with something. At some totally unexpected point though, expect to hear something that will stick with you and either get (or keep) you on your way.

Two quick point illustrations: my husband the heart patient smoked for most of his life, including close to six years after a six-bypass open-heart surgery and at least four follow-up procedures since then. The morning of his most recent procedure (March of this year), someone from the quit-smoking department showed. His line to hubby worked a miracle: “You’ve smoked every cigarette you’ve been allotted in your lifetime.” Don’t ask me why that worked. August 25 marks his FIFTH smoke-free month :)!

My magic line came outside the school doors while chatting with another mom, a runner. Her husband had to be out the door and off to work by 6:30 AM. “I put my sneakers next to the bed at night. My feet were in my shoes before my eyes were open.” Five years ago I heard that. I can still hear her say it and it still works! (Thanks, MC!)

Anyway, I have more to share but I’ll leave it at this for now and post the rest tomorrow. (See what you started, Riley?)

Thanks for reading my ramblings. What motivates or works for you? Open up a discussion of your own and we’ll pick it up tomorrow!

Have a great day,