Joy Held's Writer Wellness

"Be well, write well."

Friday Feast: ‘Shrooms Va-va-voom and Friends

Not everybody is a mushroom fan, but this baked stuffed portabella has been known to win over a few non-fungus eaters!

‘Shrooms Va-va-voom

Recipe by Joy Held

2 large portabella mushrooms, wiped clean with the stems cut out and the gills scraped out

¾ cup fresh spelt bread crumbs

½ cup low fat mozzarella cheese

¼ cup grated parmesan

¼ cup minced onion

¼ cup finely chopped parsley

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp dried thyme

2 Tbls melted butter, salt free

1 Tbls olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix the bread crumbs, parmesan, onion, parsley, butter, and spices together well in a bowl. Cave out the mushrooms a little if necessary to make room for the filling. Divide filling evenly between the caps  and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. In the last five minutes, turn off the oven and turn broiler on high. Sprinkle mushrooms with mozzarella and broil to desired melty deliciousness. Don’t take your eyes off! Burns quickly!

After this treat, take a walk around the block then settle down and visit these web friends of mine. Tell ‘em I said hello. And feel free to share this recipe and spread the fungus among us (couldn’t resist.)

Writer mom NATALIE MARKEY

http://pentopublish.blogspot.com/2011/07/understanding-writing-mommy-mind-with.html

Hot romance scribe MEREDITH ELLSWORTH

http://www.meredithellsworth.com/

Fav social media chicka KRISTEN LAMB

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/big-six-publishing-is-dead-welcome-the-massive-three/#comments

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Cool Gus Publishing.

Have you subscribed to this Writer Wellness blog yet? Get email updates when a new post is added. Click “subscribe” and leave your email. That’s it and thanks in advance!

Be well, write well.

Joy E. Held

joyeheld@gmail.com

http://twitter.com/Joy_E_Held

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Thursday Thot: My Idea Of Hell

DAY SEVEN WITHOUT POWER. THIRD NIGHT IN A HOTEL. I write this from a hotel room for the third night in a row after losing electricity like a million other people in last Friday night’s storm. Some of you have been waiting to hear from me for one reason or another (contracts, proposals, grades!) and I had every intention of getting it all to you until my 114 year-old house was slammed head-on by high winds and rain. I’m still waiting on the power company to restore my electricity, the insurance adjuster to come and tell me what I already know (You have a mess to clean up here,) and the tree removal fellow to spend about six hours to chop, drop, and chip ALOT of trees from my yard. We have fence, roof, gutter, trees, and power damage. A piece of slate roof was hurled downward so fast it’s impaled on the prongs of our antique iron fence. No one was hurt, but we are pretty bothered by it all. And apparently this many trees hitting the ground all at once has unleased a boat-load of pollen. I can hardly breathe or see through my red, itchy eyes.

But I found out in the last six days that what I thought was my idea of hell (no utilities, no cash, no gas in either car, one day of cat food, no ice, very little technology) was more empowering than over whelming. Yeah, I’m exhausted, and I’m pretty tired of playing “pioneer woman” with the candles and oil lamps, but I discovered a resourse I was unaware of. I’m coping and working with what I have instead of grabbing for what I don’t have. It took a couple of days but food, water, and ice trickled in, and while I waited I journaled and journarled and journaled. It obviously has kept me calm and rational and given me a record of what’s been going on.

Everybody is fine. It hasn’t been a picnic by any stretch of the imagination, and many people are dealing with worse than what my husband and I experienced. But I’ll be damned if I don’t own a gi-normous generator by this weekend. Keeping the wine cold was near impossible without any ice.

Be well, write well.

Joyeheld@gmail.com

http://www.joyeheld.com

 

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Monday Meditation: The Mindful Writer Is A Must Read

Summer is when I tackle the TBR (to be read) pile of books and magazines I’ve accumulated during the school year. My teaching schedule is lighter in the summer and like a lot of writers, I use the summer to catch up on my reading. And go to writing cons!

 

One book in particular has captivated my attention early, and even though I’ve read it twice already (it’s a small book,) I just keep coming back to it. The newest book from creative non-fiction writing professor Dinty W. Moore, THE MINDFUL WRITER, NOBLE TRUTHS OF THE WRITING LIFE, is a pocket-sized treasure full of good stuff I’ve found insightful, thought provoking, and entertaining. This is not a book review, by the way. It’s just a blog about what’s on my mind. And since books in many forms are usually always on my mind (a common writer’s affliction,) I’m tying Moore’s book in with today’s topic of meditation.

 

The Mindful WriterTHE MINDFUL WRITER is a clever weaving together of the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths with the writing life. Moore’s inventive perspective has created “The Four Noble Truths For Writers.” But first the Buddha’s list:

1.Life is dukkha (suffering, dissatisfaction.)

2.The cause of dukkha is our desire.

3.It is possible, however, to end this desire.

4.The way to end it is through the Eightfold Path: right views, right aim, right speech, right action, right living, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.

 

Moore’s list (abbreviated because I highly recommend this book be read by all writers at any level):

1.The writing life is difficult,…

2.Much of this dissatisfaction comes from…

3.There is a way to lessen the disappointment…

4.The way to accomplish this is to make both the practice of writing and the work…

 

At first glance, many writers might pass over this small epistle in favor of something else more “relevant.” What is more relevant to a writer, or to anyone for that matter, than a manageable size helping of gentle guidance and goodwill written by a writer who knows what we all know. It’s a journey. Wear comfortable shoes and pause every once in a while to savor the moment.

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Cool Gus Publishing, http://www.coolguspublishing.com.

Have you subscribed to this Writer Wellness blog yet? Get email updates when a new post is added. Click “subscribe” and leave your email. That’s it and thanks in advance!

Be well, write well.

 

http://www.joyeheld.com

joyeheld@gmail.com

Copyright Joy Held 2012. All rights reserved.

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Thursday Thot: Graduation Gifts

If you ask the graduate, the last thing they want is another book. After years of studying and taking tests, many graduates associate books with stress. But after the dust settles on the cap and gown and the tassel swings happily from the rear view mirror, the grad will appreciate having these books on the shelf when they look around for guidance and inspiration. Every graduate wants money, work, and fun while they follow their chosen path of endeavor. Here are three titles that would make great gifts for the new graduate.

Money

Product DetailsThe Prosperous Heart by Julia Cameron is her latest book meant to emphasize and streamline our relationships with money. We learn our money matters from the modeling we witness in family settings as we grow up. How our parents and siblings handled money has a great impact on the decisions we make about making, spending, and saving money as adults. It isn’t as simple as seeing a parent save money and then we in turn save money the same way. A lot of the time we act in reverse of what we experienced with money and family. Cameron’s book details a twelve step process to help anyone grow a new relationship with money. Simple practices such as writing down every single penny spent every single waking day for the duration of the twelve weeks demands discipline and the willingness to look back on what we spend our money on. It’s a step that indelibly engraves on one’s psyche the words, “Do I want this, or do I need this?” Knowing the answer can save a lot of money.

Work

The Mindful WriterThe Mindful Writer, Noble Truths of the Writing Life by Dinty W. Moore is a concise and wonderfully compact book that anybody can appreciate. Writers are everybody and everywhere. If the graduate is going into any professional setting for work they will eventually be asked to write something; a report, an email, a letter. This little book is inspiring and handy. It’s great for writers who will love the many quotes from other writers. Moore’s comments on each quote are centered around the sense that his study of Buddhism has influenced his writing more than his writing has influenced his study of Buddhism. The Noble Truths are a twist on Buddha’s principles aimed at the writing crowd. But who wouldn’t be better off taking the sound advice to avoid disappointment by grasping and being satisfied with what we have rather than what we don’t have? “Do I want this, or do I need this?” Knowing the answer can save a lot of stress.

Fun

Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity by yours truly has the disadvantage sometimes of having a title by my own design that makes the book appear limited in application. There is much in the book that anybody can enjoy and use to add creativity to life and work. Ideas about journaling, fitness, relaxation, nutrition, and creative play are good for the soul.  

Of course, it won’t hurt to slip a twenty dollar bill between the pages of the books before you gift the grad.

Did you get a book for graduation that has served you well? Please leave a comment and tell us about it.

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at

Cool Gus Publishing.

Have you subscribed to this Writer Wellness blog yet? Get email updates when a new post is added. Click “subscribe” and leave your email. That’s it and thanks in advance!

Be well, write well.

Joy E. Held

joyeheld@gmail.com

http://twitter.com/Joy_E_Held

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Wednesday Workout: Walking Meditation to Achieve Balance

It’s National Meditation Month and it’s Wednesday Workout day here at Writer Wellness, and I’ve been able to combine the two ideas. Have you ever tried walking meditation? It can be simple and effective and a real test for the type A personality. That’s a good thing. The hyper person needs to work on achieving a balanced state of being by slowing down more often in a conscientious way. The laid back type B individual could do with a bit more pep in their step on a regular basis to work towards the same goal: balance. Both bodies can learn a new value from the practice of walking meditation.

Walking meditation is pretty agreeable to just about any way you want to go about it. Just walk and be aware of your surroundings and your breath. Go outside for the fifteen minute excursion where you notice everything in small detail and intentionally appreciate it in your mind and even in your journal pages later. For me, I have an issue with graffiti. Defacement of other people’s property doesn’t sit right with me. Since I live in the city, graffiti is everywhere. On walking meditation trips I take in the painted scrawl and intentionally identify it as art and writing with a spray can of paint. It truly is a bold statement of territorialism and sends a multi-faceted message. I think to myself, “A writer wrote that.” At least I’m trying.

Walking meditation can also be a slow, patient, meticulous walk around the room gingerly placing one foot in front of the other. Make an intentional effort to match your breath to each step. It’s amazing how intense walking meditation can become and how internal this practice can turn out to be just by focusing your attention on every step and the sensation of the soles of your feet gradually connecting to the floor in a slow, patterned manner. It provides a wake-up call for comprehending time because it’s amazing how little space you can cover in ten minutes of slow, detailed walking. And it’s a good exercise break although admittedly you’ll need to schedule the cardio session another time. Not much sweat builds up during walking meditation if done properly.

And then there is appreciation. Regardless of personality type, taking a few moments to intentionally appreciate what your mind and body have helped you achieved to date takes the edge off of what you still need to get done in life…one slow, meticulous, detailed step at a time.

Have you ever tried walking meditation? What did you notice?

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Cool Gus Publishing.

Have you subscribed to this Writer Wellness blog yet? Get email updates when a new post is added. Click “subscribe” and leave your email. That’s it and thanks in advance!

Be well, write well.

Joy E. Held

 

joyeheld@gmail.com

 

http://twitter.com/Joy_E_Held

 

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Tuesday Tickle: Summer Health and Safety Tips for Writers

Summer creates a host of diversions and dangers to writers. To prepare you to guard against the pitfalls, I’ve designed some summer health and safety tips for writers. Just because we are a solitary group (do oxymorons distract you like they do me?) nonetheless we have to be careful in the summer just like anyone else.

 

 

Sunburn

While it’s okay to get some vitamin D rays from the extra potent sun, don’t overdo it. Go ahead and take the lap top or the notepad and pen outside, but stay out of the sun. Writers in the zone always lose track of time and trying to keep on a deadline while your burned skin is flaking away painfully is not my idea of summer fun. Research sun screens (look at the Blue Lizard line of products) and enjoy the healthful benefits of the sun but don’t stay out too long.

Caffeine Overdose

While coffee is the writer’s drink of choice, the caffeine is extra problematic in the warm months. It acts as a diuretic, that is, it increases the body’s inclination to release fluids. In the summer this can inadvertently contribute to dehydration. Drink more alternative fluids in the summer such as those that replace electrolytes (think: what do they dump on the winning coach at football games?) Try iced coffee for the caffeine buzz but double up on the good, pure water for every glass of caffeinated beverage you inject just to be safe. Self-check your hydration level by pinching the skin on your forearm. If it snaps back into place quickly and does NOT remain pale, then you’re doing okay. If the whiteness where you pinched yourself remains white, get some more fluids quickly.

Eye Strain

With the extra daylight hours comes the desire to read more. That’s good! Read more in places where other people can see you read. It helps keep reading on people’s front burner to-do list. Summer reading lists are great but added to your regular writing workload could increase eye strain. Take regular breaks, meditate with an eye mask on (like the one you wear to sleep) or take a short power nap with a rice filled eye pillow over your eyes to relieve the tension in your eyes.

Writers need extra care and attention in the summer. Please leave a comment about what do you do to avoid summer troubles and keep safe as a writer.

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Cool Gus Publishing.

Have you subscribed to this Writer Wellness blog yet? Get email updates when a new post is added. Click “subscribe” and leave your email. That’s it and thanks in advance!

Be well, write well.

 

Joy E. Held

joyeheld@gmail.com

http://twitter.com/Joy_E_Held

 

 

 

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Monday Meditation: “Easy” Cross-legged Seat?

In yoga, life is considered a series of “dukha” or sufferings one after the other, but the lessons of yoga are principally about teaching us to cope with suffering through relaxations or “sukha”. This is the art of relaxing and to yoga this means being comfortable and at ease. It means stillness (sukha) in the body and mind purposely practiced to counter act the opposite feelings of stress (dukha.) Therefore, the “easy pose” is taught as a physical position to take when trying to relax. But for some people the “easy pose” is anything but easy, so why is it called “easy”?

 

The “easy” translation simply means being the opposite of uneasy or busy and stressed. Although the specific sitting position known as the “easy pose” is traditional, the mere act of sitting or semi-reclining and being motionless can be considered an easy pose. After all, not everyone can sit on the floor with their legs crossed at the ankles for an extended period of time. It would take human or mechanical intervention to get some of them back to standing contradicting the “easy” part.

 

An “easy pose” is one that allows us to be at ease with ourselves without the urge to fall completely asleep. Most of us are conditioned to begin snoring within a few minutes if we find ourselves lying flat on our backs. Happens all the time in yoga. Corpse pose at the end of class is regularly mistaken by some exhausted individual as nap time and the rest of us are serenaded by the heavy, unburdened breath of someone who has fallen asleep on the mat. That’s okay, but as I’ve said before, sleep is not meditation. Sleep is sleep and meditation is an easy, comfortable state of relaxed alertness.

 

In meditation we are without the normal business of our bodies and minds (thoughts, movements, sounds.) Instead we are physically still. The only movement is what’s necessary to breathe. And our thoughts are fewer and slower. Thoughts are normal but they bring with them varying degrees of stress, so during meditation the fewer the better. It requires a low level of consciousness or awareness to “quiet the mind” as desired by meditation. The lack of thoughts equals fewer opportunities to be stressed by thinking which equates to feeling at ease—without stress. An easy pose is one that is comfortable enough to bring on the sensation of ease without allowing us to fall asleep.

 

Sitting cross-legged on the floor, a stack of blankets, or a meditation cushion IS a comfortable pose for some. Others may need to sit in a chair with feet flat on the floor or lie back on a stack of pillows or a bolster to keep the body from lying completely flat. As long as we are physically at ease, our breath and thoughts will eventually join in and calm down. This is “sukha” or being without the suffering implied by the stress or “dukha” of physical movement and mental stimulation.

 

The honest challenge is developing the stamina to remain in this position of ease for a particular length of time. Practice, practice, practice and the body will gradually remember its state of comfort and be more cooperative when asked to be still. Remember our bodies and minds are very practiced at zooming all the time. The opposite is challenging (dukha) but rewarding (sukha.) This is balance.

 

What is your “easy pose”?

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

Have you subscribed to this Writer Wellness blog yet? Get email updates when a new post is added. Click “subscribe” and leave your email. That’s it and thanks in advance!

Be well, write well.

 

Joy E. Held

 

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Wednesday Workout: Bodybuilding Between the Books?

National Library Week, you belong at your library, April 8-14, 2012

National Library Week 2012

I don’t see many exercise classes taught at libraries, do you? If you know of a library that sponsors a regular exercise class, send us the link. The lack of workouts at the library doesn’t surprise me because most facilities don’t have the space or equipment. Some do not want to run anything longterm because it keeps other patrons from accessing the space. This all makes sense, but so does offering courses on hatha yoga, meditation, and walking at your local library.

Here’s an example of a hatha yoga class in a library http://www.myacpl.org/events/yoga-people-50-and-2012-04-11. The course is ongoing and has been a success for several years. However, like most library settings, the space is limited. Namaste to instructor Linda Cochran for continuing this great program in the Athens Public Library, Athens, Ohio.

Here’s a very good article about the rationale for libraries extending their services to include fitness courses http://www.governing.com/topics/health-human-services/Libraries-Now-Offering-Books-and-Workouts.html

Put this way, it makes a great deal of sense in spite of the limitations and hesitations to blend your books with your bodybuilding by getting it all at the local library. In his fab book SPARK, Dr. John J. Ratey with Eric Hagerman, (a book I require in my college courses,) explains the benefits of exercise to brain health and overall wellbeing when he recommends exercise first then hitting the books. Exercise improves brain elasticity and grows new brain cells capable of absorbing new information.

So the next time you’re at the library, look around for a fitness offering and let me know what you find.

“Be well, write well.”

Joy E. Held

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Tuesday Tickle: National Library Workers Day

National Library Week, you belong at your library, April 8-14, 2012

National Library Week 2012

It’s National Library Workers Day. Be nice. Make them smile by returning your books on time and by clicking over to the archived site of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions for some really fun humor to share with your favorite library worker today!

***

Overheard from two library workers going into the library.

“Are you going out with the library staff tonight to celebrate the director’s birthday?”

“No. I’m going to book it home right after work.”

***

A chicken walks into the library. It goes up to the circulation desk and says: “book, bok, bok, boook”.

The librarian hands the chicken a book. It tucks it under his wing and runs out. A while later, the chicken runs back in, throws the first book into the return bin and goes back to the librarian saying: “book, bok, bok, bok, boook”. Again the librarian gives it a book, and the chicken runs out. The librarian shakes her head.

Within a few minutes, the chicken is back, returns the book and starts all over again: “boook, book, bok bok boook”. The librarian gives him yet a third book, but this time as the chicken is running out the door, she follows it.

The chicken runs down the street, through the park and down to the riverbank. There, sitting on a lily pad is a big, green frog. The chicken holds up the book and shows it to the frog, saying: “Book, bok, bok, boook”. The frog blinks, and croaks: “read-it, read-it, read-it”. 

Be well, write well!

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Monday Meditation: National Library Week 2012

National Library Week, you belong at your library, April 8-14, 2012

“You belong at your library” is an appropriate slogan for this year’s National Library Week celebration. Honestly, go to the library and once you get past the humility of the massive collection of knowledge and ideas all in the same place, look around at everything available to everybody from the casual reader catching up on the daily news to the college professor checking on resources for a class he’s teaching next semester. The point is that EVERYBODY belongs at the library. Everybody, that is, who respects the principle of freedom to access information. Lack of respect for the contents, the people, the equipment, the facilities, or the ideas will get you rightfully tossed out the front door by the gatekeeper known as the Librarian. It’s a tough job monitoring knowledge, keeping it as safe as possible from abuse, staying on top of current information techniques, and exploding technology. But most librarians are fantastic people with a lot on their plates but always willing to help when asked a question. Granted, we’ve all run into the crusty book warden who is a bit ragged around the edges, but the librarian is a jewel and should be treated like the most precious brooch in the collection. After all, she opens the doors everyday and believes in the same thing writers do: knowledge and ideas are only valuable when they are shared.

 

I have soooo many great librarian stories to share that one week isn’t enough. So here is a brevity list of all the ways libraries and librarians have been a great help to my careers as teacher and writer.

 

#A librarian near my hometown helped me access a primary source that inspired my first romance novel. If it weren’t for this particular special collections and this wonderful woman who let me read “The Message to Garcia” by Elbert Hubbard (1899), my novel wouldn’t have the historical accuracies it does.

 

#When my children were young and learning to love reading and writing, a wonderful junior librarian named Brenda made a point to find out what interested them and ordered books year after year that kept them coming back until they moved away for college.

 

#My favorite aunt is a school librarian.

 

#Doug at the college library where I teach never fails to amaze me at how quickly and efficiently he responds to my requests for materials no matter where on Earth they’re located.

 

I’ll save more library/librarian kudos for the rest of the week. What’s your library story?

 

Happy National Library Week 2012. Hug a library every day.

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

 

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.

Be well, write well.

Joy E. Held

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