Traditions, Old and New

Holidays invariably evoke a sense of tradition, regardless of the form our family takes. That’s certainly the case with Thanksgiving, and probably more so with the upcoming Christmas (or whichever winter holiday you celebrate).

One thing nice about traditions is they make planning easy. For Thanksgiving every year, I know I’ll be cooking green beans (just like my grandma used to make them), biscuits, and gravy. My mom knows she’ll be bringing mashed potatoes, deviled eggs, vegetables, and cranberry.

But other traditions have changed. Some of that is due to family members no longer with us–for example, my Grandma Powell used to fix the things I now do–and some is due to shifts in kids growing up, marriages, or divorce. One person who’s soon to be an ex used to bring the desserts. My daughter has grown to love cooking and baking, so that’s now her contribution, along with stuffing balls. A cranberry salad recipe that my other grandma used to bring, seems to have passed on along with her. My mom couldn’t find it, so she tried a different one last year. Funny thing is, most of us like that one much better!

The turkey’s also gone through some changes. Mom used to get up early to get it in the oven every year. But about 15 years ago, a friend introduced my husband to deep fried turkey, and he’s refused to touch baked turkey since. For a while, we had two–my mom still baked one, since a fried turkey requires marinating, and all of the marinades seem to be Cajun spiced–and half our family can’t eat or doesn’t like spicy stuff. Then my husband tried injecting half the turkey with plain melted butter. It was a hit!

Some of my friends have gone even further in changing traditions–they’ve ordered their entire meal out! I wouldn’t mind this at all, especially the reduced cleanup. But for now, I do enjoy my family’s way–and knowing it can change when it needs to.

Probably the best current tradition, though, is having my daughter home for a few days. Isis seems to agree:

Isis Thanksgiving

book-smallWhat I read this week: The Adrenal Fatigue Solution, by Fawne Hansen and Dr. Eric Wood. Ms. Hansen emailed me a few weeks ago after seeing my blog, and offered me a free copy of her book. When I clicked over to her website, www.adrenalfatiguesolution.com, I recognized it as one I’d found several good articles on while researching adrenal fatigue earlier this year. This is one of the newer and more comprehensive books on the subject, and while much of the same information can be found in the earlier books, it’s put together in a clear form that’s easy to understand for someone who’s not a healthcare professional, and is also neatly tied together at the end to help the reader put together his/her own plan for recovery. Some of the other books I’ve read focus more on reducing stress, or on diet, almost to the exclusion of everything else. Many don’t even mention hormone replacement therapy, which is important because all of these systems work together, and may be the missing piece, particularly for people of a certain age. This book is nicely balanced, and what I really liked was its reasonable approach to exercise that recognizes that someone with adrenal fatigue is too tired to do much physical activity. This book gives a good baby-steps way to begin a workout routine that won’t overtax the adrenal glands, and even gives some simple deep-breathing starter exercises. Recommended for anyone who thinks they may be dealing with adrenal fatigue, or who simply wants to learn more about it.

I also am almost done with the novel, but this is getting long so I’ll share that next week. I’m still working on The Indie Author Power Pack, too, which is why the novel’s going so slowly.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: I got almost halfway through my book in fixing the big-picture changes required by the big plot change I started 3/4 through. I don’t feel like I did much, but I did meet my goal. This week, I have to finally start shopping and doing holiday stuff, but I still am going to shoot for working the big-picture changes through the rest of it.

What about you–what are some of your holiday traditions, whether for Thanksgiving, or an upcoming holiday? Have you started your winter festivities preparations yet? How are you doing on whatever goals you might have, whether writing or otherwise? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

How NaNoWriMo can Hurt Your Health… and How to Avoid it

Regular readers of this blog (all three or four of you) might recall that for most of this year, I’ve been fighting adrenal fatigue. A quick recap for the rest of you, what this basically means is, I’m tired all the time, even after getting a good night’s sleep. And that’s something that’s also hard to come by, as insomnia is a symptom of adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue also weakens our immune system, as the adrenal hormones are a key part of it, and when we get sick, it takes more out of us, and takes us longer to recover.

Adrenal fatigue is caused by stress, either acute (such as by being in an accident, injury or being ill) or long-term (stressful job, drawn-out divorce, you name it). Our adrenal glands produce cortisol, the fight-or-flight hormone. It’s also the stress hormone, but we need a certain amount of it to function and have energy. In a normal person, cortisol spikes a couple of hours after rising, then gradually tapers off throughout the day. When I did the 24-hour hormone testing, my cortisol only went up in a very shallow curve.

Our adrenal glands can’t tell the difference between running from a tiger, or coping with a dozen clients all wanting their projects at once, or trying to get 1,667 words done late at night. Go on like this for too long, adrenal fatigue can result. Putting my writing off until the time I should have been going to bed, then forcing myself to get the words down anyway, was a big contributor to my adrenal fatigue.

The NaNoWriMo forums and blogs are full of references to sleep deprivation, drinking lots of coffee, and pulling all-nighters to get those words in, as if these things are some kind of badge of honor. (For the non-writers out there, NaNoWriMo is an international challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.) I’ve done NaNoWriMo three times, and won (i.e., completed 50,000 words in the month) three times. Doing the all-nighter once or twice, or staying up extra late now and then to get the words in is fine, but last year, I was doing the latter almost every day. I won, but it wasn’t worth it–especially because it shouldn’t have been necessary.

I could have avoided all the sleep deprivation if I’d just gotten back into one habit that got me my win the two other times I’d done it: do the writing first. In my case, that means as soon as I get home from work on the weekdays. But last year, I let fear and the inner editor keep me from even getting started until I had to start, or I wouldn’t get my words in at all.

There are tons of resources and blogs out there to help us quash fear and the inner editor while writing, so look those up if you need to. We need to remember to keep these evils at bay when we’re not writing, too, or they’ll keep us from writing at all–or until it’s way late in the day.

50,000 words in a month sounds like a lot. It’s not. When I can keep fear and the inner editor away, I can write that much in about an hour and a half, usually broken up into two or three sessions. Professional fiction writers write this much or more all the time. So if you’re doing NaNoWriMo this month, here are my suggestions:

  • Do the writing first (whether that’s first thing in the day, or first after you get home from work)
  • Ask yourself what do you have to be afraid of? And see how silly most of our fears are.
  • Focus your fears instead on the dangers of not getting enough sleep, and get your writing done early.
  • Kick the inner editor to the curb.

My adrenal fatigue is finally improving. I caught a cold right after my husband broke his arm, so that slowed things a good bit. But he is getting better, and I’m finally starting to get a bit of energy. One thing we like to do is take Isis for a walk. There is a big drainage basin near our house, and when it’s dry, my husband has started taking Isis there to throw balls to her with the ball launcher. It is great exercise for her and she loves it! When she’s tired, she lies down and waits for us to start walking home.

Isis ball 1

Isis ball 2   Isis ball 3

Isis lying down

What I read this week: the short stories and serial portions in Dean Wesley Smith’s Smith’s Monthly #7. His story “A Bubble for a Minute” was absolutely fabulous and gave me chills–in a very good way. It was sort of a time travel thing where, when a certain song was played on a record player, a detail in the past changed. A character was trying to “fix” something in the past, with devastating consequences. This is the kind of thing I write in my Saturn Society stories, and this story reminded me why I love writing them. Worth the price of the magazine alone, but there are also some always fun and entertaining Poker Boy stories, as well as the serials which I’m really liking. I’m reading the novel in the magazine now, which I’ll discuss next week.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: Our offer on the student rental house was accepted–yay!–and at least for now, the paperwork done. I also finished getting the notes on Dean Wesley Smith’s Productivity workshop, so those are two big tasks done, and now I’m getting back to writing more. I did meet my goal this week of finishing the scene and started the next, which netted me about 2,000 words. I averaged 200 words for four days, and wrote about 1200 yesterday. Now it’s time to up the goals–I want to hit 500 words for four days, and get at least one 1,000-word day, for a total of 3,000 words, and write five days out of seven. Oh, and I want to finish the current scene, too. Hopefully I will do more than that.

What about you–have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo? Did you win? Whether or not you’re a writer, have you sacrificed sleep for a goal–and was it worth it? We are having some great fall weather here in Ohio for walking–how is it where you are? And what do you like to do for exercise? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.