Quote of the Week – May 4

Today is Star Wars Day. May the Force be with you….

The story being told in ‘Star Wars’ is a classic one. Every few hundred years, the story is retold because we have a tendency to do the same things over and over again. Power corrupts, and when you’re in charge, you start doing things that you think are right, but they’re actually not. ~ George Lucas 

Recipe of the Month – Pink Leilani

IMG_4441On our honeymoon to Disney World, the waitress at the Kona cafe recommended the pink Leilani drink to me at breakfast. It was wonderful (as was the Tonga Toast – banana-stuffed French toast). A few years later, I picked up Mickey’s Gourmet Cookbook and as luck with have it, the recipe for the Pink Leilani was included.

Ingredients

2 cups fresh strawberries

3 cups orange juice

1 T. grenadine

crushed ice

Directions

Puree berries in a blender. Add orange juice and grenadine. Pour into a tall glass over crushed ice.

Counting Calories/Weight Loss Update

Back in February, I posted that once again I was back to counting calories to lose weight. (At the end of 2015, I found myself about 18 pounds heavier than I wanted to be.)

So I began counting calories which I had done before and successfully used as a weight-loss method. (It is maintaining the weight loss that seems to be a problem.)

There has been bad news and bad news…and of course some good? results.

Bad News #1

livestrongIn March, the My Plate app that I was using had an update that caused my information to merge with someone else’s info. While they did fix it finally part of the fix included logging out of the program. I had been using this app for such a long time that it was connected to an old email address and when the typical passwords didn’t work, I couldn’t ask it to send me the password as it would go to my old e-mail address!

In other words, I logged out and couldn’t get back in!

I sent the company an e-mail that they obviously didn’t read as they just sent back the instructions to log out of the app and log back in. By this time a week had gone by without me using the app to count my calories. It was also Spring Break for the kids and we were doing more activities and the calorie watching became harder.

My Fitness PalFed up, I decided to try a different calorie counting app – My Fitness Pal. I don’t know what it was about this app but I didn’t like it as well as My Plate even though it had great reviews. I guess I missed being able to look up my past foods with ease or the calories from a meal at a restaurant.

So here it is May and I have not been logging my calories. I keep saying I will get back into it but never do. Maybe I will have to give My Plate or My Fitness Pal another try.

Bad News #2

Well as you can guess, if I am not counting my calories, I am not losing weight. It became hard to stick to the calorie counting when after Spring Break we had my brother visiting. That included a Spurs basketball game, going to a gaming place with the kids and Easter dinner. None of those are conducive with dieting.

After that, our PTA put on a huge festival. It is a lot of work and again, not the time to be watching the calories. You eat whatever you can when you can. But after the festival, I have not had any excuse. I just have fallen off the calorie counting wagon. I am however still periodically weighing myself.

Good? Results

Woman holding her mouth uid 1461141On those weigh in sessions, my weight is fluctuating about 3-4 pounds. So I have either loss about 10 pounds or as much as 14. While this is good, I am losing weight at a much slower pace. In the first 5 weeks, I lost 6 pounds. In the next 12, I have lost 8 at the most.

I guess I should count myself lucky for not having gained back what I have lost. But as we head into May and June, I am hoping to get back into counting calories and lose those last few pounds. So starting today, I am back to counting calories (using My Fitness App).

Z is for Zeus #AtoZChallenge

For the A to Z Challenge, I have chosen the theme of characters. On my normal blogging days, Monday – parenting, Wednesday – quotes, and Thursday – writing/publishing, I will focus on characteristics. On the other days (Tuesday, Friday and Saturday), I will write about characters from movies, TVs or books.

ZToday the letter is Z for Zeus, the Greek god of the sky and thunder and ruler of the gods of Mount Olympus. He is the youngest child of Cronus and Rhea and has fathered many godly and heroic offsprings, including Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, Perseus, Heracles and the Muses. Zeus_Otricoli_Pio-Clementino_Inv257He was also married to his sister Hera but was not faithful. He easily fell in love and had many affairs with various women – both moral and immortal.

While some regarded Zeus as wise, fair and just, he also was unpredictable and easy to anger. He wielded a thunder bolt like a weapon of mass destruction. He was respected and awed by all Gods and mortals. Many kings boasted that they were descended from Zeus.

If you missed the other days in the A to Z Challenge:

A is for Alice

B is for Belgarath 

C is for Cautious Child

D is for Dana Scully

E is for Enthusiasm (Quote) and Southwestern Eggrolls (Recipe)

F is for Flaky Character 

G is for Gandalf 

H is for Huckleberry Finn

I is for Independence 

J is for Jason Bourne

K is for Kind (Quote)

L is for Lazy Characters

M is for Merlin

N is for Nancy Clancy

O is for Organized

P is for Puss in Boots

Q is for Quiet

R is for Rebellious Characters

S is for Sherlock Holmes

T is for Thor

U is for Unselfish

V is for Voldemort

W is for Wise (Quote)

 

Y is for Yoda

Y is for Yoda #AtoZChallenge

For the A to Z Challenge, I have chosen the theme of characters. On my normal blogging days, Monday – parenting, Wednesday – quotes, and Thursday – writing/publishing, I will focus on characteristics. On the other days (Tuesday, Friday and Saturday), I will write about characters from movies, TVs or books.

YToday the letter is Y for Yoda. The Grand Master of the Jedi Order is among the oldest of the Jedi in the Star Wars universe. He first appears in 1980’s Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes back as Luke Skywalker’s reluctant instructor in the ways of the Force.

Yoda is one of those characters that you should not underestimate. Even though he is small (and green), he is immensely powerful and knowledgeable in the ways of the Force. yodaHe has spent eight centuries training Jedi. Wielding a green-bladed lightsaber, Yoda can hold his own in combat as he has proved in numerous battles.

Yoda appears in all of the Star Wars movies except Episode IV: A New Hope. (His voice can even be heard in the latest Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.) He also appears in both The Clone Wars & Star Wars Rebels animated series as well as many books that were part of the Star Wars Expanded Universe (or now known as Star Wars Legends after Disney declared the expanded universe as non-canon.)

If you missed the other days in the A to Z Challenge:

A is for Alice

B is for Belgarath 

C is for Cautious Child

D is for Dana Scully

E is for Enthusiasm (Quote) and Southwestern Eggrolls (Recipe)

F is for Flaky Character 

G is for Gandalf 

H is for Huckleberry Finn

I is for Independence 

J is for Jason Bourne

K is for Kind (Quote)

L is for Lazy Characters

M is for Merlin

N is for Nancy Clancy

O is for Organized

P is for Puss in Boots

Q is for Quiet

R is for Rebellious Characters

S is for Sherlock Holmes

T is for Thor

U is for Unselfish

V is for Voldemort

W is for Wise (Quote)

Today’s Featured Author – Kevin A. Hall

Today I welcome author Kevin A. Hall to my blog. Kevin released his first book, Black Sails White Rabbits, in December 2015.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.  

I tend to be an all-or-nothing guy, which seems to carry into my moods sometimes too. It’s a double edged sword, like so many things. It can be fantastic to be immersed and effective, and it can be crippling to feel like I’m half-assing something and would be better off never having started it. I’m trying to learn to be able to be 100% comfortable with doing some things only part way!

What or who inspired you to start writing? 

My very first class in college (8 am Monday morning – OUCH!) was a creative writing class. I’ve always loved writing, but when I started living with manic episodes and depressions, it became part of my literal survival to write open, honest letters to friends, and to journal extensively. I taught myself to be honest during my early twenties, at least on paper. So maybe the answer is “I did.”

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

The best thing about being a writer is the click, the engagement of whole self and the completely disorienting evaporation of time. I have looked up from a writing session and realized it was five hours later. In no other activity does that happen to me. A few other things make time stop, but they don’t last for five hours! The worst thing about being a writer is that it is lonely. No water cooler jokes, nobody to give you a funny look when you arrive to work late the second day in a row, nobody dragging you out of the office on Friday afternoon for a few beers. Just you, the page, and your hopes and fears.

How did you come up with the title? 

It started as “Words, Words, Words; Accept My Life” which is a way-too-cute nod to my worship of Hamlet. I had written in the memoir about once quipping that I wanted to some day write a book called “Cancer Was the Easy Part”. That became the subtitle. The main title spent quite a bit of time as White Jackets, White Rabbits; (I’m a Herman Melville fan and White Jacket; or, The World in a Man of War is one of his other novels. Plus, there’s the double entendre with doctors in white coats. The Melville book is also how I legitimize the semicolon in my title. It’s a nod to both Melville and to Project Semicolon, a very beautiful mental health awareness initiative.) Finally I realized it really needs the “Black” to go with “White Rabbits”, and between carbon fiber sails and Tristan and Isolde, I had my title.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

The last chapter was incredibly difficult. I had quite a few threads open, and I desperately wanted them to come back together in a positive, but not forced way. I have four outtake final chapters, which led me to realize I couldn’t do it all in one chapter. I closed a few threads before the final chapter. Eventually, I got really lucky one morning while reading, and had some specific words from David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King remind me of a Tom Waits song which has the exact same five words: “East of East Saint Louis”. That spark gave me what I needed to illustrate the delicate nature of maintaining a difference between “inside” and “outside” thoughts. I love that I hear voices, and writing the last chapter finally allowed me to express how it works a little bit, and to make peace with the challenges and blessings that my mind brings me.

What inspired you to write this book?

After toiling for a year and a half on a novel that just doesn’t work yet, my writing coach Stephanie Gisondi-Little suggested I try my hand at telling my story. I started by going back to my old journals and love letters (the love of my life at the time saved them, and we share a garage among other things now). Transcribing the journals and letters was so much more powerful than just re-reading them. The thoughts had to pass back through me and out my typing fingers, which helped me create the world in which Black Sails White Rabbits; takes place. From there I was off.

Excerpt

There are two ways to look at what happened to me in the fall of 1989. The safe, sanctioned explanation is to simply say my body attacked my brain, like this:

I got a fever of 104° F. My skin erupted in a violent rash all over my back, legs, and face. My brain swelled and pressed against the inside of my skull. My neurons short circuited. My brain caught fire. I went mad. It wasn’t MY fault, it was my body’s.

The damage done by those tempestuous weeks of fever and rash left my brain vulnerable. My previously dormant biological psychiatric illness never slept again. I was born manicdepressive. It was only a matter of time. My fate was always to make a scene. The diagnosis was simply the last one on stage.

It’s a forgiving perspective, which explains everything. This is helpful.

How I am is not me. It’s my Illness. It has a name, symptoms, and cure.

The other way to look at my challenges used to be unthinkable to me. Now, I see it as part of a wider perspective on a very complicated picture.

I had two academic passions. Mathematics, and French literature. I know, a bit schizo right? Backing up, I had only applied to two colleges. Brown University, and the United States Naval Academy. Not exactly sister schools. I was accepted for admission by both. Navy was an efficient path to having the Government pay for my fuel to fly jets. The easiest way to boil down the decision is to say that I didn’t want to be told when to brush my teeth or cut my hair.

I really liked math. But I was used to being the best thinker in math class. Not anymore. Not at Brown. As the leaves turned to reds and golds the fall semester of my junior year, I enrolled in two upper‑level math classes. Differential Geometry and Topology conspired to shunt me away from my handful of exceptionally bright classmates into the dunce’s corner of Euclid fans.

I adored French literature. When I opened a French book, I fell ass over teakettle into imaginary worlds two steps removed from waking, Anglophone life. Seventeenth century, nineteenth, twentieth…didn’t matter. A dreamer is freer in a second language. (Samuel Beckett, though Irish, wrote much of his best stuff in French.)

A description of my two majors as “bipolar” isn’t silly. Math: practical, precise, proven to be helpful in a world of men and money. French Lit: navel‑gazing, or escapist. Or else super‑serious Absurdism.

Not long before I was to graduate from Brown, I got ambushed picking up a girlfriend in New York City for one of our early dates. The whole clan was there in her parents’ Upper East‑Side apartment to size up the new tribeless boyfriend. Some had driven in from halfway out on Long Island. As I stepped through the front door, my date’s aunt fired point‑blank: “What are you gonna do with a degree in math and French literatchuh?”

So here’s the second, more complicated way to look at my meltdown: I was disintegrating, right down to my core. I wanted to continue to pursue math, I loved it. But it was becoming clear that I sucked. I also wanted to pursue French Lit, I loved it, but Aunt Mary‑Bette was right to ask. What, exactly, would I do with a degree in French literature?

I used to cling to the absolution that came with putting all my struggles down to bad luck, to a body playing mean tricks on me, and to a trendy diagnosis. However, I now believe that my mind—or perhaps my Soul—made sure I didn’t miss the invitation to see that I might be barking in the middle of a forest of hollow trees.

Joseph Campbell talks about the seat of the soul being that place where the outer world and one’s inner world meet. My outer and inner worlds were colliding head‑on when I dragged myself to the infirmary with a violent rash. I had midterms the following week, and I was going to fail.

Instead of stepping down, resting, and reflecting, I did the opposite. The second I got off the IV drip, I doubled down on the stress, tripled up on the caffeine, and went for broke on the determination. Then, I cracked.

Did my stress divert all remaining powers from my sanity force field?  Did madness pass into me from a fraternity party sneeze, or maybe the morning dew? Once inside my body, did the insurgents give me a fever, swell my brain, and cause me to lose track of what was real and what wasn’t? Maybe. That’s the chicken theory.

The egg theory is messy. It’s jagged. It has taken me twenty five years to swallow: the arrow points the other direction.

I was in trouble. I was smacked from peacock to feather‑duster when I realized that in the world of math I was barely a guppy in an ocean of white whales. There was no map for passing through magic French doors which led to a roof over my head and food on the table. At least, not a table set with the silver and privilege to which I had become accustomed.

In a world where “what do you do?” and “who are you?” seem to be interchangeable to potential future in‑laws, I couldn’t answer either question. I went insane fighting to keep the ideas of who I was and what I did separate. My mind was well on its way to splitting—which would have shown up soon enough—when my body flinched first with a fever and a rash. A few short weeks later, I played the madman and the fool, got arrested, then locked up to sit still and drool.

The Western, medical model had the cause outside the patient. So, give him pills, restore the neuro‑electrico‑biochemical balance, and get him back in the game. Job done. Case closed.

As soon as I stopped drooling, moved out of the locked ward, and caught my breath, I ran right back out on the field. Like nothing with spiritual or self‑identity implications had happened. I didn’t slow down. Not in class, not in training, not on the racecourse.

Well, my body tried its hand again at getting my Soul’s attention. This time, instead of crazy, it was cancer.

Book Blurb

Black Sails CoverYoung sailor and aspiring Olympic competitor Kevin A. Hall’s biggest dream was to raise a family. But within the space of three years, he was diagnosed with both testicular cancer and bipolar disorder, putting his family and Olympic dreams on hold. He soon found that surviving cancer was the easy part. Now a renowned Olympic and America’s Cup sailor with a wonderful wife and family, Hall shares a behind-the-scenes look at his struggles with mental illness in his riveting memoir.

About the Author 

AuthorKevinAHall_B&WKevin A.  Hall is an Ivy League graduate of Brown University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and French literature. Despite being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1989, he went on to become a world-champion Olympic sailor, as well as racing navigator for Emirates Team New Zealand in the 2007 America’s Cup match. A two-time testicular cancer survivor, Hall has spent a successful 25 years as a racing navigator, speed testing manager, and sailing performance and racing instruments expert .A brief version of his story was featured in Joel and Ian Gold’s book Suspicious Minds: How Culture Shapes Madness, as the only non-anonymous case study of a patient with Truman Show delusion. Hall currently lives in Auckland, New Zealand with his wife and their three children.  Black Sails White Rabbits is his first book.

You can find out more about Kevin on his website or you can follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase Black Sails White Rabbits on Amazon.

X is for XOXO #AtoZChallenge

For the A to Z Challenge, I have chosen the theme of characters. On my normal blogging days, Monday – parenting, Wednesday – quotes, and Thursday – writing/publishing, I will focus on characteristics. On the other days (Tuesday, Friday and Saturday), I will write about characters from movies, TVs or books.

XToday on the A to Z blogging challenge, the letter is X. Oh my, the letter X is always a hard one. I was trying to stick to characteristics for the days I write on a writing/publishing topic but I could not think of one that began with X.

So instead, I am writing about the short hand for hugs and kisses – XOXO. This is most commonly used at the end of letters, text or e-mails to express love, sincerity of friendship.

The X represents kisses and the O hugs.

Signing letters with an X dates back to the Middle Ages. For those who could not read or write, this was an easy way to sign documents. The X represented the Christian Cross so basically they were signing “In Christ’s name, I assert this is true.” Some who signed with then kiss the “cross.”

The history of O representing hugs is less clear. There are some who say it started in replace of the X by members of the Jewish communities in North America who needed to sign a document. Of course how that came to mean hugs under that theory is very unclear. Rather some people think the O means hugs because it looks like two sets of arms in a hug.

If you missed the other days in the A to Z Challenge:

A is for Alice

B is for Belgarath 

C is for Cautious Child

D is for Dana Scully

E is for Enthusiasm (Quote) and Southwestern Eggrolls (Recipe)

F is for Flaky Character 

G is for Gandalf 

H is for Huckleberry Finn

I is for Independence 

J is for Jason Bourne

K is for Kind (Quote)

L is for Lazy Characters

M is for Merlin

N is for Nancy Clancy

O is for Organized

P is for Puss in Boots

Q is for Quiet

R is for Rebellious Characters

S is for Sherlock Holmes

T is for Thor

U is for Unselfish

V is for Voldemort

W is for Wise (Quote)