Friday, July 27, 2012

Breaking up is hard on the knees

It's not you, Diet Coke...

Actually it is.

After more than 25 years of loyal consumerism, I've come to realize Diet Coke isn't really that good for me - and I've decided it's time to part ways.

* pauses for dramatic effect *

Our on-again-off-again relationship began in high school, when my then Coca Cola habit was adding more body curves than thirst satisfaction. I switched to "diet" and drank almost a six pack a day, usually in the cafeteria where I skipped classes to write. Oh yeah, I was a big time party girl, let me tell you.

Somehow, Diet Coke became synonymous with writing - to the point that I once filled an empty can with water to try and psyche myself out. I barely wrote a solid paragraph. My muse is not easily foiled.

And now I'm on a 12-day cleanse where Diet Coke is one of the big forbidden items, and I realize my dependency on it can't be healthy. Yes, I've read the research on aspartame and caffeine, but that's not why I'm breaking up with Diet Coke this time. I'm kind of a bitch without it.

No really.

Ever since I started this cleanse, I've been on a roller coaster of withdrawal. I claw back my self control,  only to have it yanked from my hands with even the slightest hint of stress. I can't write. (Well, not anything good, anyway.) And okay, I admit I haven't been the easiest person to live with. Headaches. Body shakes. Complete exhaustion. That can't be good.

But breaking up is so hard, because I really love Diet Coke. Coke Zero. Diet Coke with Lime. Cherry Diet Coke. Vanilla Diet Coke. I love them all. I really, really, do.

And I have some great Diet Coke memories.

Like sipping DC and Jack Daniels in Hawaii, until Jamie taught me about Gibson's and Grey Goose, far smoother companions. Better than Mai Tai's any day - and best paired with a turkey burger. (Groan...take me back...)

Or, how about biking 1000 km in the heat, gulping down water while dreaming of the GIANT Diet Coke I'd reward myself with at the end of a 100 km day? Good times.

And just a few weeks ago, I sat at my kitchen table with Karen sucking back an ice cold DC, and a few days later, Sue and I played with puppies in the back yard and drank sangria - and then Diet Coke. (Because Sangria is really really good, too.) What will we drink if I give old faithful the boot?

I'm rather well known as the Diet Coke lady - and my family and friends would never dare offer a substitute. (Diet Pepsi is immediate grounds for friendship divorce.)

The thing is, I don't actually know if I'm ready to quit Diet Coke. For the past 7 days, I've been on my knees begging family, friends, and heck, random strangers for a small sip of their Diet Coke, or even a quick smell. Creepy, right?

Twice I have even cracked a can of Diet Coke with Lime, poured it over a glass of ice, just to feel the bubbles tickle my nose. I know, my willpower is to be commended (*accepts pat on back*) but just who am I kidding? When this 12 days of torture is finished, will I be ready to welcome Diet Coke back into my arms?

Chances are good.

But for now, I'm suffering through the separation. Weighing the pros and cons. Trying to figure out where Diet Coke ranks in the "bad boys" of my dating continuum. Is it too much to hope that DC isn't really that terrible?

Wait. Don't answer that. I'm fragile.

And bitchy.

Got a break up story?  How did you avoid going back?

- Dawn

The Book In My Bag Today: The Next Always, Nora Roberts

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cleansing mind, body

I'm on day 5 of a 12-day herbal cleanse which essentially consists of taking these disgusting herbs twice a day, swilling awful drops twice a day (instant gag reflex), and eating a restricted diet that does not include dairy, flour, vinegar, alcohol, some fruits and, gasp, Diet Coke.

For those of you who know me, you understand how a regime that doesn't include Diet Coke might be somewhat traumatizing. Drinking it has never been about weight loss for me - I actually enjoy the taste.

But more than that, I associate Diet Coke with my creative side, convincing myself that I can't write, edit, or pretty much function without it. Not going to lie, I haven't been super productive in the writing department in the last five days, but I think it has as much to do with the draining after effects of the cleanse as it does my lack of Diet Coke.

I'm not doing the cleanse for weight loss either, though "temporary" shrinkage is certainly a happy side benefit. I started the Wild Rose D-Tox at my doctor's suggestion after we came up blank - again - on how to rid my body of this nagging cough I've had for more than a month. It's the kind of cough that keeps you up all night.

And it's viral - which means antibiotics and cough syrups don't work. But I've also hit an all-time unhealthy stage of my life. I've gained back all of the weight I lost last year, and though there are exciting things happening in my professional life, there's a lot of stress, too, which doesn't help in exorcising this nasty cough.

So, I'm cleansing.

I'm not even half way through, but already I feel a difference.

My Diet Coke cravings have subsided (Sunday was a bad day, my friends), and I feel lighter, less bloated. My energy levels aren't quite up to par, but I'm managing my daily workouts. My skin is clearer, my hair a bit shinier, and I'm not going to bed with that full feeling. I'm not going to bed feeling hungry, either. Because there are a number of foods I CAN eat.

But most importantly, that nagging cough? Almost gone.

While it's tempting to quit the program early and indulge in a morning coffee (with sweets Southern Butter Pecan cream), I'm going to stick it out. Maybe as my body cleans out all of the toxins, my mind will feel clearer too - and I won't need Diet Coke to get me through the creative day.

- Dawn

The Book In My Bag Today: The Last Boyfriend, Nora Roberts

Monday, July 23, 2012

An original muse

All this TV (it's for a good cause, honest!) over the past few weeks has reminded me of the original show that introduced me to binge watching -- 24.

I watched the first two seasons in two weekends, enough time to catch me up to the third season, whereby for the next four years, Mondays became almost a religious occasion. Shows like Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, Lost Girl or even True Blood don't hold a candle to the kind of obsession I had for 24 - missing an episode wasn't an option.

It's been two years since Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) saved the last President on 24, but I often watch random episodes thanks to the full DVD collection gifted to me by my awesome mother-in-law over the past few Christmases and birthdays.

Jack Bauer is a spectacular character. Of course, I'm a huge Kiefer fan (he was one of my original muse avatars) but there was something so kick-ass about Jack. I love his vulnerabilities, his tough-guy routine, his failed relationships, his heroism in the face of adversity. Jack Bauer is about as three-dimensional as they come.

I'm working on my own multi-dimensional character right now for HEARTLESS, the first book in a series featuring Jagger Valentine. You'll be hearing a lot about Jagger over the next couple of months - heck, maybe years - but I'm sure having fun with her right now.

I'm on a (soft) deadline with Jagger so she's my main goal as I had into the week, with the hope of finishing this first book by end of month latest. While I'm at it, I'm going to think of Jack Bauer. Well, probably Kiefer Sutherland if I'm being truthful. Either as himself, or in Jack's clothes, I'm sure this week's Muse Avatar will help me power through.

- Dawn

The Book In My Bag This Week: The Last Boyfriend, Nora Roberts

Monday, July 16, 2012

I'd be lost without this muse

I've always had an eclectic selection of Muse Avatars. After all, TV and movie stars don't have a monopoly on inspiration. But in light of recent developments in my life, I've been more glued to the TV than ever and thus my muse selections lean more towards some of TV's leading men.

I have a slight obsession with Chris Holden Reid.

I discovered him about six months ago when I found the TV show Lost Girl, a hidden gem in the supernatural genre of series. Seriously, the first season blew my mind (Go Canada!), and while I'm not all ga ga over the female protagonist, Bo, the show has a seriously awesome supporting cast.

In fact, if I ever had the opportunity to cast a TV show, I'd steal two of their actors - including Chris Holden Reid.

On Lost Girl, Chris plays Dyson, a gritty cop who also just happens to be fae. Dyson. I just love that name. I pretty much love everything about him, though.

The photo doesn't do him justice. There's something ultra sexy and raw about his acting, and though the show hooked me in the first season, I'm betting I'll only stick it out as long as Chris does.

This week, I'm sticking him in the role of muse avatar - because I've got a lot on the go. Shocking, right? Here's hoping Chris can help all of us out in the inspiration department. Happy Monday!

- Dawn

The Book In My Bag Today: The Last Boyfriend, Nora Roberts

Monday, July 9, 2012

A MUSE worth repeating

I know it's only been a few weeks since I cast Joe Manganiello as muse avatar, but after a couple of "incidents" last week, I'm convinced he needs a repeat appearance.

The first "incident?" I saw Magic Mike with a couple of ladies from work. Total chick flick, total eye candy, and frankly, a total revision of how I'd originally pegged Joe. In True Blood, he's a  a hulking, alpha male werewolf and that's hot.

In Magic Mike, he's a stripper with a (Seriously!) I love the funny side of Joe, and I even love him in his glasses and slicked back hair.

(Sidenote: Magic Mike also reaffirmed how much I DISLIKE Matthew McConaughey. Yuck. He's so sleezy...especially in THIS movie.)

Back to Joe.

The second thing that happened this week is that I've recommitted to a healthier lifestyle. Yep, it's that time of year again...when I realize I've gained way too much weight and lost track of my overall fitness.  I'm sleeping too much. My immune system is low. Blah blah blah. Not good.

So I'm dedicating the rest of the summer (and beyond) to getting back into shape. Which is really about making sure my brain is healthy, too.

So what does this mean? Well...I've cut out coffee creamer to start. Basically, that means I'm cutting back on coffee, because I've never been a fan of that coffee taste. I'm also cutting out sugar. Gulp. Boosting my veggies and fruits, etc. All stuff that makes common sense.

And then I'm training for a triathalon.

Ok, I confess. It's not a REAL triathalon. I live in the country where there's miles of open road. And in our backyard, we have a 16 feet across pool (a Wal-Mart special). I know, not much swimming space, BUT, I discovered yesterday that I CAN do laps in it...sort of. I just go in circles. Many. Many. Times.

My plan is to hit the road sometime today - when it's not TOO hot. I'm going to start with a 10 min run. Hop on my bike and do about 20 minutes of cycling. And then come back and hop in the pool for a swim. Every week, I'll increase the times for each activity. (Unless it pours rain...then I might avoid the pool...)

I've always wanted to try a maybe this experiment will work. Regardless, I'll be looking to my ultra fit muse avatar, Joe for inspiration.

- Dawn

The Book In My Bag Today: Crossed, Allie McCondie

Monday, July 2, 2012

50 Shades of aMUSEment

A co-worker sent me a link to this fascinating Pinterest site.

Even if you're not one of the millions of women reading the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy, I'm sure you can appreciate the, ahem, effort that went into this compilation of potential candidates for the lead role of Christian Grey.

I'm way behind on my reading, with very little chance I'll finish the 100 Books in 2012 Reading Challenge, but 50 Shades of Grey and 50 Shades Darker are books 16 and 17 on the completed list - like I said, way behind.

If you're not on the Grey bandwagon, don't judge. The books were loaned to me by a friend, and despite the questionable subject matter and the bad (really bad) writing style, I couldn't resist seeing what all of the fuss is about.

There's a whole bunch of theories going around the water coolers in offices around the world, about deeper meanings, hard limits, and indeed, who will be cast as the handsome (the author's words, not mine) and ridiculously rich Christian Grey. Yes, they're making a movie out of it. Apparently Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood's Eric Northman) is on the shortlist...I'd probably pay to see that...

While I could go on and on about how much the books annoyed me ("I love you, Ana," he breathes. Seriously, have you tried talking while breathing? Is he exhaling? Inhaling? It's almost as ridiculous as "I love you," he ground out. Gag.) I'll skip to the part where I admit I couldn't put the first book down.

The subject matter didn't shock me, I'm not totally in love with Christian Grey, or wishing I could be Ana (whatever her last name is...does she even have one?) but like Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series, author E.L James has created a similar chemistry between her main characters. Indeed, the "mommy porn" books have been dubbed Twilight fan fiction - likely why it has broken all fiction sales records (outselling even Harry Potter!) and admittedly why I read it so quickly.

50 Shades is about as commercial as it gets.

And many businesses - from hotels to sex toy stores - are cashing in on the its success.

The writerly girl in me is disgusted by the commercial appeal of a book so poorly written, and the marketer in me is in awe of the sheer brilliance behind the marketing engine that runs this machine.

That said, I was bored by the middle of the second book, and it's doubtful I'll read the third. At least not right away.

I will, however, steal a 50 Shades man from that Pinterest link above for this week's muse avatar. Nope, I don't have a clue who the guy in the picture is, but if he doesn't fulfil the role, there's at least 49 other Christian Grey hopefuls to choose from.

Okay...fess up. Read 50 Shades? Who have YOU cast in the lead role?

- Dawn

The Book In My Bag Today: Crossed, Ally Condole