Category Archives: Living Ideology

The importance of my morning yoga!

frog-1109792_1280I learned much over the last three weeks while I dealt with a severe ear infection. Due to fluid moving around in my ear, it was quite painful and I couldn’t move my head around or down towards the floor, or even lie down for that matter without some sort of pain. So, my regular workout routine became nul and void. No yoga, no gym. I did continue to walk the dogs two miles each day, until it snowed again… (I’m a total suck when it comes to the cold, but so are my dogs.)

For the first several days I was still able to maintain watching my diet and spent a lot of time sleeping. After the first round of meds did nothing, I started my second round of stronger meds and noticed that by then it had been 10 days where my schedule was kyboshed and slowly, my healthy eating habits had diminished. Not completely, but slowly it became easier to make a quick processed food supper or it was too much effort to cut veggies for a salad. My calorie intake on My Fitness Pal was rising, slowly – not a lot, but enough to notice my good habits slipping. And most importantly my blood sugar readings moved up a number or two. All small changes, but significant to me. I had experienced so much success that this was bothering me greatly.  And a note of interest – my last blood tests with my doctor showed ALL of my numbers in the normal range, plus I’m down forty pounds. I was so proud of myself, this was not the time to get sick. All my work has my diabetes under control, all within four months of diagnosis. So, seeing those numbers change on my daily tests, even though they were small, sent up a red flag.

Being true to my analytical self, I looked at the scope of what was going on. I couldn’t do my usual workout, but why was I struggling to stick to my diet decisions. I determined that my morning yoga was the key.

pavilion-1660462_1280My usual routine being the following:

  • get up
  • get the boys off to school
  • do 35 minutes of yoga
  • drink a raw vegan smoothie
  • work
  • creative raw vegan salad for lunch
  • work
  • workout at gym
  • work
  • make supper (based around salad)
  • walk the dogs with the boys
  • bedtime for them
  • write
  • unwind with Netflix
  • bedtime for me and repeat… somewhat.

But the all important key was starting my day with yoga – it created my mindset for the rest of the day. Even if I didn’t feel like doing my yoga, on those days I picked a slightly easier flow, but I still did it. And always, always, I was ready to face my day, I felt good, my mind was clear, focused and I could go on. But that 35 minutes set me up for my success for the day. Without it, evidently, frog-1109789_1280complacency nudged in.

With my ear 95% better, yesterday morning I woke up, got the boys off to school, completed 35 mins of yoga, made a smoothie, and got on about my day. Today, the same, but this afternoon I’m looking forward to getting back to the gym. And just like that, my mood is better, my day is brighter, I’m focused and ready.

I understand that at times I’m going to get hit with an illness and that will disrupt my routine, but this was a real eye-opener into how important my morning fitness routine is to maintaining my overall well being.

A paradigm shift in thinking about “books for boys.”

I’ve been paying attention to what it means when we say “books for boys.” As authors and conference attendees we hear the following:

  • There is a shortage of books for boys.
  • Boys are more reluctant readers than girls.
  • Due to number 2 above, publishers lean towards “books for girls” for better sales.
  • If we don’t capture a boy’s attention within the first 5 pages, they’ll put the book down. Girls will read to the end, hoping the book gets better.

What makes a book a “boy” book?

statue-1641760_1280I came up with an answer recently that really bothered me A LOT – adults. Parents, teachers, librarians place judgement and the first and foremost reason for a selecting a book is the main character. Is our protagonist a boy or a girl? And this is the determination of who should read a book. . .  really? Is that where most (not all, but most) of the weight is put on determining what we feed our kids to read?

For the most part a girl will read both “boy” and “girl” books, girls are considered more open minded. Or, is it that boys are considered un-boylike if they read a book with a female protagonist?

My son, age 19, read my book, Empty Cup, for his grade 12 choice reading project last year. Empty Cup would be considered a “girl book” due to the protagonist being a girl. But when I consider the social issues addressed in the book, shouldn’t boys be enlightened also? Anyway, at the time when he read it, my son said that he liked my book . . .yes, I realize I’m his mom. . .

Recently, I chatted with him about how he felt reading Empty Cup. Excluding the fact that I’m his mom, is it a book he’d read or recommend to his male friends. He said sure. Kids today read whatever they want, it doesn’t matter who the main character is. Basically, kids aren’t judged for exercising their individuality, because it’s cool to be different. So his answer confirmed my thinking that adults place too much judgement on what would be appropriate for boys.

Gabe Red Stone CoverConsidered my friend Gabriele Goldstone’s historical novel series. Red Stone and Broken Stone are set during Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Germany and tell the story of Katya, the main character based on her mother and the true events that happened to her during that time. These books should absolutely be read by both girls and boys as they tell an important story from history in Gabe’s beautiful prose.

Image result for chanda's secretsWhat about Allan Stratton’s books? Several of his stories have a female protagonist – Chanda’s Secrets and Leslie’s Journal for example. Both books very appropriate for boy readers.

Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series – each book has a main female lead character, but the series is appropriate for both boys and girls.

Also consider the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, loved by many girls and boys.

Image result for night gardenerThe Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier has a female protagonist, the best middle grade horror… sorry, let’s go with “thriller,” I have ever read! Totally recommend for both boys and girls.

And of course the list goes on…

I’d like to ask you to really think about your book recommendations and consider the pre-judgements you make when you recommend them. What are you basing your opinion on? Is it a valid judgement? Could you make the recommendation differently? Scrutinize why you feel the way you do about the recommendation with regard to boy readers.


I was recently participating in a reading with a teen writers workshop and a boy in the class said he read “anything but romance.” I don’t think boys are as picky as we adults: parents, teachers, librarians — make them out to be. We haven’t given them a chance. We’ve been too quick to judge. Our boys are more open-minded than we give them credit for, and we need to take this into account with our book recommendations. Its time for a shift!


photo credits:

TED Talks Recommendations 3

Image result for ted talks

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve watched several TED Talks while doing my cardio workout.

Here’s three that I’d recommend:

Art that Craves Your Attention – Aparna Rao
Original eye-catching art that you have to look at. Light and humourous.

The Paradox of Choice – Barry Schwartz
Does more choice really equal freedom?

Is Religion Good or Bad? (This is a Trick Question) – Kwame Anthony Appiah
Looking at the idea of religion from different points of view.




Super Cleanse by Adina Niemerow


Sunny was so cute, sunning himself, he just screamed – must take picture with book! Really, the book has nothing to do with adorable senior cats.

Super Cleanse by Adina Niemerow explains “the nitty gritty on cleansing” with down-to-earth advice that includes daily routines.

The book has a unique set up as well. Instead of separating recipes by typical categories: beverages, snacks, entrees, etc. She”s set it up by cleanse. For example:

“Some Like it Raw” (5-7 day) All your meals options are laid out and all the recipes are “raw.” (In this one I particularly recommend “Angel Hair Pesto” pg 103 – amazing! I used butternut squash instead of zucchini.)

A few years ago, my daughter and I did the “Three-Day Face-Lift Cleanse” on a weekend camping excursion. Much fun!

And, I just had a laugh flipping through the book as I write notes beside the recipes, if I liked it, didn’t like it, made substitutions, etc… and “The Green Buzz Cleanse” is riddled with comments beside each recipe including statements like, “Shockingly Yummy!” beside Pirate’s Potion (pg 171) and “Holy Cow Batman!” beside Rainbow Blend (pg 172) followed by several recipes with “Yummy” written beside them. Apparently, some of these surprised me and I’m thinking it’s time I try this cleanse again! 😀

There are also recipes for self-care products such as bath salts, lip balm, foot baths, and even household cleaners that are all environmentally organically friendly.





Killing Cardio Time with TED

Image result for i hate cardioI hate cardio workouts. I basically hate anything repetitive (and this stretches from mundane data entry jobs to music that repeats a line over and over, to my seven-year-old making car racing noises with his Hot Wheels – I freak out inside.)

I came to realize that walking on a treadmill, cycling on a stationary bike, or skiing on an elliptical is just not going to cut it for me. I’m also too uncoordinated (aka embarrassed) to join a class. Cardio workouts are a real dilemma and I mostly just avoid them. But, as I can no longer ignore this part of my exercise routine, I had to find a solution. And, me, being a problem solver extraordinaire 😉 – found one. Image result for ted talk logo

I love TED Talks, but rarely sit around watching them. “I don’t have time.” But I do have time if I’m bored out of my tree on an Arc Trainer (similar to an elliptical). Watching a TED Talk while I “ski” has proved to be an excellent solution.

At the gym, I do my weight routine and then pick my TED Talk and use an Arc Trainer for the duration of the talk. The time goes much faster and I’m not bored. I still watch the clock a bit — I really do hate cardio — but the time ticks along by minutes instead of seconds.

Here are TED Talks I’ve watched that are worth checking out:

Do you have tricks to get through the things you don’t like doing? Please share your ideas with me.

Keeping the Outside World Out

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the WorldI hear that writers often create soundtracks for their current work-in-progress. It helps to set the mood, get them in the zone, hear their characters speak to them.

I have been asked if I create soundtracks for my books, I do not.

However, I do write to music and it has to be a specific type – instrumental movie soundtracks. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

I wrote Empty Cup to the soundtrack for Master and Commander. I must have listened to that CD hundreds of times. And I still love it. Three-quarters of the way through the first track is the most beautiful piece of music I have ever heard. But, I digress…

Image result for jurassic world soundtrackI always choose movie soundtrack music that is instrumental. I find the singing distracting when I’m trying to focus on words, but the music helps me zone out any other noise (headphones help too!) The music doesn’t need to reflect anything in my novel, it’s sole purpose is to keep the outside world out.

ThorI’m currently working on a middle grade fantasy novel and I’ve expanded my listening selection. My current CDs of choice are:

  • Master and Commander (always)
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Jurassic World
  • Thor

Did You Like the Last Book You Read?

Did you like the last book you read? Maybe you told your friends about it. Word of mouth advertising is the best sales tool around.

stone-figure-1464796_640When you read a book you like, consider leaving a rating and review of it on,, GoodReads or 49th Shelf (for Canadian books).

Maybe you’re thinking, I don’t know how to write a review. That’s okay! A sentence or two on why you liked it is all that’s necessary. I’ll even help you out — your second sentence is “Highly Recommend!” See, now you just need one sentence. You don’t need a full on book report, this isn’t high school. 🙂

Ratings on Amazon, GoodReads, and 49th Shelf go a long way to help books get noticed. These organizations help to promote books to readers, the more reviews and ratings the book gets, the more they promote them. You are able to directly help spread the word about your favourite books and authors!

One of my new commitments is to be more thoughtful of the books I read and leave reviews where they can matter.




Getting a Handle on Type 2 Diabetes

I am not a doctor, or a diabetes specialist. I am learning about being diabetic as a recently diagnosed person. Please always check with your doctor before adapting any information to your personal situation.

I met with a diabetes specialist last week. If you are diabetic and haven’t talked to a specialist, I encourage you to do so. I feel so empowered after that appointment. And I learned three important things.bear-1863992_640

  1. I asked her about all the contradictory information online – one site says you can eat “fill in the blank.” Another site says the complete opposite. Plus, I eat a high vegan diet. How am I supposed to know what to eat?

The answer – If foods affected each person the same way, this would be an easy fix! But it’s not. Everyone processes each food differently. What one diabetic can eat, another may not be able to, regardless of what the Internet says. The one agreement – carbohydrates (“carbs”) are consistently an issue. That doesn’t mean you can’t eat any carbs, but low-carb diets are highly recommended.

I was testing my blood morning and night as requested by my doctor. The specialist recommended testing my blood morning (not sleeping well affects your blood sugar), before lunch (to test for breakfast), before supper (to test for lunch) and bedtime (to test for supper). (I’m not a big “snacker” and sometimes struggle to get lunch in.) This will tell me how my glucose is after the meal I last ate. If the number is within a normal range, then what I ate was fine and my body was able to process the food with no glucose issues. If the number is high, then I need to assess what I ate and make accommodations. Over time I will get a very clear idea of what my body can and can’t process in terms of blood glucose levels.

2. How do I get a handle on all this, it’s a bit overwhelming?

There are three ways to control my diabetes.

a) Diet
b) Exercise
c) Medication

And the guideline was pretty simple. If you don’t want to change your diet then increase exercise and increase meds. If you don’t want to exercise then control diet and increase meds. If you don’t want meds, then control diet and increase exercise. It just makes sense, right?!

I’m in the “I want off the meds” group. (I am not on insulin.) I feel like I have my diet in control right now and I’m really proud of myself for that step. Now that I’m tracking my glucose levels for each meal, I can really get this right.

She taught me that low carb doesn’t mean no carb and it also doesn’t mean I can’t ever have food from my “no” list. If I want popcorn when I go to the movies (I LOVE move popcorn… layered please!) – no problem, I just need to add in extra exercise before or after to make up for it. Essentially, there is no “no” list, it just depends how much exercise I want to put in. However…

pavilion-1660462_640exercise is my struggle. It always has been. But, I want off the meds!

So, I have consistently being practicing yoga for 20 mins every morning, since November. (I absolutely love the series) I purchased the DVDs and do one episode every morning.

I have some other things in mind, and will slowly add them into my schedule. I find I work best with baby steps. Too many changes at once equals failure. Plus, with Spring coming in a couple of months, I know that I get energized to be outside walking and riding my bike. (And now that I live in the country, I will actually ride my bike!)

3) Can I really be off medication for life?

Yes. Once I get my readings consistent for six months, I can discuss with my doctor about reducing one of the meds (I’m on two) and again after another six months of consistent readings, I can try to reduce the second. As long as my blood glucose responds favourably to being off medication, my diabetes would be in remission. Cured? Nope, but I can control it. If I falter in diet or exercise it will come back. It’s up to me.

I watched this Ted Talk recently, about reversing Type 2 diabetes. It’s a real eye opener and I suggest giving it some of your time.

It’s all about life long changes.

Being “Flexitarian”

Grail Springs Holistic Detox for Body, Mind & Spirit by Madeleine Marentette, was the first book I read about detoxing. I read it about five years ago and to this day it holds spot number one for me for explaining the detox process, and includes fantastic recipes.

I once ate a strictly raw vegan diet for an entire summer, five months (I’m in Manitoba so that includes spring and fall.) One of my friends asked me how I was feeling and my answer – “Invincible!” Truly, I could have jumped over a building if I’d set my mind to it, I felt like a superhero. I slept well, woke up alert, needed less sleep, my mind was clear and my body was energized. Then winter set in and slowly but surely comfort foods worked their way back in to my diet. But I never forgot how I felt when I was clean eating.


Learning how my body responds to food has been a long process dealing with a whole life of weight issues. I now own a whole shelf of raw vegan and detox cookbooks.

Five years and a diabetes diagnosis later, I would likely be classified under “flexitarian.” I eat about 85% vegan, most of that being raw with lots of greens, however it’s cold right now, so I do heat up some recipes. The other 15% is the flexitarian part – I eat some meat (mostly chicken or fish), some carbs and snacky foods in strict moderation. And by strict, I do mean strict! I also have no sugar unless it’s natural out of a fruit. And I’m feeling great!

I tried and failed many times at maintaining a full on raw vegan diet. Living in a house where I’d end up making two meals all the time (“mine” and “theirs”), it would get frustrating. So, I had to resolve to adapt a bit. It’s taken years to get it honed to what it is right now, and it’s always in flux.I’m still learning.

If you too are struggling with eating healthy and what works for you, don’t give up. Keep reading and researching and make small changes that you can stick with. Over time, following a long and winding road that occasionally doubles back on itself, the changes will become habit and the benefits will show.


Living Ideology – Fitting in Self-Care

I’m a busy person, looking after a busy family. With eight people and seven four-legged creatures living under one roof, it makes for chaos at the best of times. Try 20141216_205547planning dinner — who’s here? who’s working? what time is each person home? What activities are we rushing to? Did I make enough? … Nope (oops!) It happens. . . (sorry David!)

Always being on the run, “chauffeur” should be on my resume — along with “master time manager.” 🙂

We make sure that James and I get us-time. (Special thanks to our respite workers!) It’s a relationship saver.

But sometimes… just sometimes… I need me time. I did some thinking on my self-care tactics and realized that I’ve actually developed some good habits at taking time when I need it. I’m also pretty good at sneaking in me time even when I’m hanging out with the family – it’s always possible if the TV is on!

Sometimes I create a self-spa with a bubble bath, music, candles and a good book. 20141227_223504See you in a couple hours.


You’re all well aware that I love photography. I like to take my camera and go by myself somewhere. Getting a great shot is a huge rush for me. And I mean a great shot by my standards, not someone else’s. Self-care isn’t about what others think, it’s about enjoying yourself immensely.

I read a lot.

I enjoy absolute silence. (When all the kids are at school and pets are all napping.) This is actually rare.

I accomplish self-care while hanging out with the family usually during TV/movie time. I’m in the room, I’m interacting with others, but I’m also fawn - Copybeing creative at the same time. I have “my” corner of the sofa. Near it I have my “tools” – whatever it is I’m into at the time. (Important to note: It’s OK for interests to change!)

I’ve been creating photo albums for about fifteen years. I used to make actual Creative Memories (TM) scrapbooks with real developed photos – you know, back in the day… but now, I use online services and once or twice a year,  photo books appear in our home. I’m still about two years behind in general family 20150515_143246_resizedphotos, however, I make sure our holidays are recorded as soon as possible. Disney/Universal took me about six months, committing about three to four hours per week to the project. The important thing is that when it felt like a chore, I stopped. Self-care, remember!


I occasionally teach myself zen-tangling:

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A few minutes getting a cuddle from Mr. Stevens definitely counts as self-care. 20141114_135740

Recently, I’m into “adult” colouring books — not X-rated!! I mean highly detailed!

20150515_143007_resizedEven bought myself my own set of pencil crayons and a sharpener that no one else is allowed to use.

That’s something else I’ve noted is important. I need to have the right tools in order to not be stressed. No sense trying to do something unless you have everything you need to make it fun. My kids have their own bin of crayons. They don’t need to use mine. Against popular demand – mothers do not need to sacrifice everything for their children. Those are my crayons dammit. 🙂

Anyway, where was I… oh, yes. I’ve also recently discovered a fabulous nail polish brand. My other new thing is painting my nails. (I get ideas from Laura at Fun Lovin’ Travelers and then add my own twist.) I’m particularly proud of these ones and thought they were photo-worthy.

20150513_135410_resizedYou may be waiting for me to add writing to my list. Novel writing is now my “job,” so not a self-care activity. I should mention however that I love my writing job!

Oh, and I should mention my favourite self-care activity – napping. Sometimes at 2:00 p.m. I just can’t focus any more, so twenty minutes on the sofa does wonders. Yes, one of the luxuries of working from home, I know.

I hope you have several ways of taking care of yourself, or are inspired to start if you aren’t making some time. I’d love to hear how you spend your one-on-one you time. Leave a comment. 🙂