Author Archives: Cynthia Lenz

Stephen King Never Liked Carrie

I am reading Stephen King’s book titled, On Writing.  I was surprised to learn that he didn’t like Carrie, the character that is- it’s clear he was ecstatic over the money he earned from that blockbuster. He writes, “I didn’t much like the lead character.  Carrie White seemed thick and passive, a ready-made victim.”

He goes on to mention that Carrie is based on two real girls from his high school. He reports with no emotion that both these girls were dead by the time he began writing Carrie in his early to mid-twenties. One passed during an epileptic seizure. The other took her own life shortly after the birth of her second child. He ends the chapter with:

“I never liked Carrie, that female version of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold but through Sondra and Dodie I came at last to understand her a little. I pitied her and I pitied her classmates as well, because I had been one of them once upon a time.”

I find this interesting for two reasons: 1. It appears the young Stephen King was a bit of a bully himself. 2. Carrie, the story, shows maybe he didn’t quite to terms with his own participation in tormenting the two girls from his past. So, he ended his story by turning this tortured girl into a mass murderer.

It seemed to me that if there were ever a case where a temporary insanity plea would have stuck-Carrie White’s telekinetic killing spree after the prom would have been it.  She wasn’t like Harris and Klebold because she didn’t plan to hurt anyone. That poor girl was tormented at home by her religious fanatic mother and then subjected to her classmates’ cruelty at school. She had no safe place.  Just when it seemed her luck was changing and she was actually having a good time at the prom with the most popular boy in school -who in the book was a writer- go figure, she gets covered in a vat-full of pig’s blood.  It would take a very strong person to not go over the edge after that.

To be completely honest, my tendency to cut this anti-heroine a break might be because I was no stranger to bullying in Junior High.  Seventh Grade was a very hard year for me.  I was always different than other kids.  I didn’t dress like anyone else.  Had I worn the requisite jeans-boots-sweatshirt uniform of the time and permed my hair, I might have looked like everyone else but I still wouldn’t have fit in.  I was more interested in the Middle Ages than Culture Club (Was it spelled Kulture Klub on the album?) Anyway… kids can always sniff out who is different. And for some reason, the tendency is to mock that person.

Thankfully, I wasn’t a “thick, ready-made victim.”  Although, I did plenty of feeling sorry for myself, I did fight back – as my friends, Sylvia and AnnMarie like to remind to this day.  When I couldn’t take any more abuse, I got into the habit I of smacking my tormentors upside the head with my pocketbook.  Mr. C, my homeroom teacher, never said a word.  He seemed hip to what was going on and probably figured that these mean boys deserved it.

Oddly enough, the jocks were highly amused by my method of defense.  After a while, it seemed like, it was less about actually making fun of me than it was about getting me to wallop them. It was like a bizarre badge of honor to be hit by my bag.  I got so used to this that I barely looked up from whatever I was reading. At the moment of abuse, I’d reach behind me, pull my long-strapped purse off the back of my chair, whack the offending party and then hang it back up again.

I wonder if either of those girls from Stephen King’s High School had smacked him with their purse, would Carrie still have been written? Hmmm?

How to Master Life

I am a life-long procrastinator. It’s something I am really trying to tackle in 2019. I had an epiphany about it this morning and realized I have been going about it all wrong.

I have been trying to overcome procrastination by becoming more efficient. I have been studying how to establish good habits. I have been watching endless videos on effective morning, evening and writing routines. I have been trying to establish these good habits and efficient routines, only to get derailed by life events and end up feeling like a failure.

Oddly enough, it was my new favorite hobby that led to this epiphany that changed everything. I started learning how to crochet last April and I LOVE it! It’s one of my favorite things to do. Although, I realized that when I crocheted for a long time, as much I enjoy it, there was still something amiss.  There was a little nagging voice in the back of my head saying, “you know, you haven’t written anything in a really long time!”

It was then that it occurred to me that there are things you need to do like eat, sleep and maintain good hygiene, things you love to do like crochet and then there are things you are meant to do- and for me- this is writing.  The things we are meant to do, often, seem to be what we resist the most to our own detriment.

The truth is when I don’t write anything at all, I don’t feel quite well.  Life is literally draining out of me. I realize that sounds dramatic but there is probably something in your life that produces the same effect.  I enjoy crocheting and it adds a lot to my existence but nothing makes me feel quite as alive and purposeful as having written.

So, why do I avoid it?  Why do I procrastinate? Steven Pressfield writes about resistance in the War of Art as if it is a real life bogeyman who quite literally wants to kill us. Whether this is actually the case or not, it’s really the only compelling explanation I have found to demystify the phenomenon of procrastination.

What are you meant to do? What have you been resisting?

Enjoy The Donut!

This past Thursday, Valentine’s Day, I stopped off to pick up a coffee cake for the breakfast we were having at work. While completing that task, I spied a package full of beautifully-baked, perfectly-sugared jelly donuts.

I am not usually someone who is drawn to sweets. I am more of a savory kind of gal. However, there is something about donuts that I find utterly irresistible! I turn into Homer Simpson. (“Doooooo-nut…!”) Normally, I avoid places that sell them for this reason. I tried to summon up my will power to avoid them even in this instance but after circling them three times, I pounced and they were gathered up with the coffee cake.

I scarfed one down in the car on the way to the office. I felt immensely joyful afterward. Then I became concerned that I might be using food to control my mood. I shared this with a few people at the office, who said, “It’s Valentine’s Day! It’s okay to have a sweet once in a while.”

I think they’re right. Since I am interested in nutrition and self-improvement, I tend to review a lot of content by people who seem perfect in their habits. They live on salads, green smoothies and kale and nary a bit of refined sugar ever seems to cross their lips. While that’s admirable, I think as long as I am making the effort to avoid the bakery 90% of the time, it’s okay to enjoy a donut every once in a while. So far, I haven’t started putting on a scarf and sunglasses to sneak into donut shops on the daily, weekly or even monthly yet… So, I can probably cut myself a break.

Do you have a not-so-healthy food that you find too tempting to pass up?

Have Extra Time? Do Something Meaningful.

I woke up at 4 AM. For me, this was a good thing. As an often insomniac, I frequently wake up between 2:00 AM and 2:45 AM and then spend three hours trying to go back to sleep, only to doze off for 15 minutes or so before I need to get up.

So, waking up at 4 AM and getting the better part of seven hours of sleep was like winning a little lottery this morning. Having some quiet time to myself while the rest of the world is still sleeping felt like quite a treat.  How best to savor it?

I wrote for over an hour.  I have a new book idea and I wanted to start getting it down.  So, it was the perfect time to do it. Will it be a best-seller or get published for that matter… I don’t know.  I do know that it was time better spent than on watching TV or clicking around social media.  How you start the day is important.  It can set the tone for the rest of the day.  So, it’s the best time to do what matters the most to you.

 

 

NANOWRIMO…to do or not to do.

NANOWRIMO starts today.  Many aspiring novelists around the world will begin writing their books.  They have until the end of November to write 50,000 words in order to be considered a NANWRIMO contest winner.

Last year, 402,142 people participated in this annual online contest. They filled out a profile on nanowrimo.org and started writing.  Throughout the month, they had the opportunity to earn badges for hitting certain word counts. 34,214 participants completed first drafts of their novels. Relatively few of these novels ever get published but I am not sure that matters. I think it would be an accomplishment just to complete a novel regardless of how many people read it.

So, will I be participating this year? Although, I feel like I have a novel in me, I won’t be a NANOWRIMO-er this year. It’s simply because I know a novel is not a sprint for me.  It’s a marathon and I have not trained properly.  It’s been a challenging year and I have had a lot of distractions which have kept me  from writing.

I am inspired to start getting my writing chops back though.  So, NANOWRIMO may have already helped me with its mere existence.  I’ll be happy if I have completed a novel by the end of NEXT November!

Good luck to all the NANOWRIMO-ers who are getting started today.  May you exceed your daily words counts and complete your first drafts by November 30th!  You can do it!

Delish Healthy Chocolate Chip Coconut Walnut Cookies

I like cookies! They are the perfect treat, delicious and portable. The problem I was running into was that I was really trying to stick to a Whole Foods diet. Also, I find that even though I love cookies; ones made with white flour and sugar don’t always sit so well in my belly. It looked liked my cookie days were numbered until I came across this Superfood Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe on The Whole Food Plant-based Cooking show’s channel on YouTube.

I was inspired by that recipe when I came up with this one:

Healthy Chocolate Chip Coconut Walnut Cookies

Dry Ingredients:

1 cup Glutenfree Oats (ground into flour)

1 cup Walnuts (ground or chopped very fine- think bread crumbs, as opposed  to flour)

Half cup Flaxseed (ground)

Half Cup Chocolate Chips (You can use vegan chips for fully vegan cookies. Use stevia sweetened chips if you want to avoid processed sugar altogether.)

Half Cup unsweetened Coconut Shreds or Flakes

Wet Ingredients:

Half cup Peanut butter

5 pitted Dates

Half Cup Soy or Nut Milk

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1 Ripe Banana

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Combine the oats, ground flaxseed and walnuts in a large bowl and set aside. Whirl up all the wet ingredients in a blender or food processor and then combine with the dry ingredients. Fold in your chocolate chips and coconut flakes.

These cookies do not spread when you bake them because there is no baking powder in them. So, whatever they look like when they hit the pan is what they will look like when they are done. Sometimes, I just drop spoonfuls and flatten them with the backside of the spoon. I also like to wet my hands with a little water and make balls. Then I flatten them with the palm of my hand for a smoother cookie. Depends on my mood!

Put the pans in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes. Watch them. They brown up quickly. Mine are usually done in 10. Yours might be closer to 20, depending on your oven. Let cool and enjoy.

I usually get 18-20 decent sized cookies out of this recipe.

I hope you enjoy this recipe.  Let me know what you think or ask any questions by leaving a comment.

Time to Get this Garden Started!

It’s that time again!  One of my favorite things about gardening is watching seeds turn into plants. I am really excited about this year’s seeds because I purchased them from Seed Savers Exchange.

Seed Savers was founded by Diane Ott Whealy and Ken Whealy in 1975.  The mission of this nonprofit organization is to save and share seeds in order to preserve biodiversity for generations to come. They maintain a collection of more than 20,000 heirloom and open-pollinated vegetable, herb, and plant varieties, including over 1,000 varieties of heritage apple trees.  Their collection includes many organic seeds.

I am happy to support an organization with such a great purpose.  I have to admit though, I am even more excited about seeing what comes out of these seeds!  My tomato plants this year have names like Velvet Red and Black Krim! The peppers are Jimmy Nardello’s and King of The North. How cool is that?

Check out this description for Redfield Beauty Tomatoes: “Historic Variety introduced circa 1889 by H.G. Hastings & Co. of Interlachen, Florida. Flattened pink 3″ inch fruits with excellent full flavor.” When was the last time you ate a tomato from the Supermarket that matched that description? Never.

I think that one of the most marvelous things about gardening is the opportunity to discover something new (and delicious!) right in your own yard. There is a romance to gardening. You nurture these plants along on the promise of the rewards to come when they bear fruit.  The prize you end up with is largely determined by the seeds you have when you begin… like all great romances!

Are you starting your garden from seeds? Have you used Seed Savers Exchange? Please leave me a comment. I would love to hear from you.

 

Have You Got Hygge in Your Home?

Not that long ago, after many years of thinking I knew my ancestry, I discovered that my father actually has a rather substantial amount of Scandinavian blood coursing through his veins.  So, it stands to reason, my siblings and I do too. Perhaps, this is why I took to the concept of Hygge like a cod to water.

Hygge (pronounced hue-ga) is a danish word with no direct english translation.  According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it means:

A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture.)

I can get down with being cozy especially this time of year.  I am a Spring-Summer kind of gal.  Winter makes me want to hibernate!  Since I can’t actually sleep all season, the next best thing is having little comforts to keep me warm and cozy inside when it’s cold outside.  Here are some of my Hygge-ly tips:

1. LIGHTING can make a big difference in creating a warm and nurturing atmosphere.  I like the soft orange glow from this Himalayan salt lamp my sister gave me for Christmas.  Candles can also provide beautiful soft light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. SCENTS provide a mood-lifting experience.  I like blending different essential oils in a diffuser.  This candle-powered one is great because it has  the added benefit of lovely candlelight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. A WARM TREAT can be just the right balm for a weary soul on a chilly day.  No further explanation needed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. CUDDLY FRIENDS are great any time of year but they are definitely more inclined to snuggle up in the winter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. DREAMING of Spring can help too.  Winter is a great time to plan what you would like to do in the balmier days to come.  Gardeners start planning months before the ground is warm enough to work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you got any Hygge-like rituals to help get you through the winter?  Please share them by leaving a comment.

Learning to Love Life Again

I mentioned in my last post that my luck has not been so good lately.  As the saying goes, “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.”  At least, that’s how it has felt.  So, when I saw a workshop titled, Love Your Life, I thought, “I should probably take that.”

Love Your Life is based on a book, The Passion Test, by Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood.  The gist of both the workshop and book is to help you gain clarity on what you are passionate about.  This is achieved through an exercise where you identify 10 things that would make your life ideal.  With the help of a partner you narrow it down to five through a questioning exercise.  You then set goals or markers to achieve those five items.

While I found that part of the workshop interesting, identifying my passions has never really been my problem.  The second half of the workshop was about commitment and overcoming obstacles.  I found this very interesting because I often get distracted from goals because of life circumstances and-this is hard to admit- fear.

Our facilitator, Christina Loggia, had us write down our negative self-talk.  Then she had us “re-language” these sentences into something more positive. As a writer one of my fears is that no one cares about what I have to share.  I re-languaged that negative statement into “the right audience finds and appreciates my work.”  I felt my mood shift when I read this new statement.  Feeling better about it, somehow, made it seem more possible it could be true.  Affirmations are not new to me but I had never made one that was so goal-specific before.  It was like a little fear-seeking missile!

My other big takeaway from the workshop was about committing the time and energy to achieve what I am passionate about.  Christina shared with the group that one of her passions is yoga.  She said that everyone in her life knows when she practices and teaches yoga and that they know better than to ask her to do something during those times.  I have been very sloppy when it comes to setting boundaries around my passions.  I intend to change that going forward.

The last point I wanted to mention was that I realized nothing has to be achieved overnight.  I think I have been inclined not to set goals in the past because I didn’t think I would have the time or financial resources to achieve them.  Our society is so inclined toward instant gratification, it can be hard to work toward something if you don’t when exactly it will come to fruition.      Christina gave an example about trying to sell her house and how it was taking longer than hoped.  It doesn’t mean it will never sell.  It just hasn’t been the right time yet.  The important thing is to stay clear on what you want even when success seems elusive.

 

My Reiki Experience

I was looking for a free QiGong class when I saw an event listed at a nearby library:

REIKI

Reiki is a Japanese technique for reducing stress and promotes healing.  Wear comfortabe clothing.

I thought with my luck lately, I could use all the stress reduction and healing I could get. As a student of yoga and meditation, I am somewhat familiar with energy healing but not Reiki per se. So, I really didn’t know what to expect in a group session.

I arrived at the library meeting room with the other early birds.  While we waited, our Reiki Instructor warned us about the dangers of consuming food a day after it is cooked, as well as processed food.  Something about nighttime altering the subtle energy of food.  Although, I agree about the processed food, today was the first time in months I bought soy ice cream!  I was looking forward to a little treat and really wasn’t in the mood for a lecture.

After everyone arrived, we silenced our phones as the lights were lowered.  We were told to sit with our spines straight in a comfortable position.  It was important to not cross our arms or legs; as this would interfere with the flow of energy.  Then we were asked to visualize a silvery-white cosmic energy a few feet above our heads.  A ball of this energy was to enter our crown chakra- “Wait a minute! Chakra? I thought this was a Reiki session.  Reiki is Japanese.  I know chakras from yoga and Ayurveda.  That’s Indian. Does Reiki use chakras too?”

Then I reminded myself that maybe it would be better to focus on the meditation.  I was after stress reduction and healing. It didn’t really matter how I got it.  So, I settled in and let her words guide my mind as she described this cosmic healing energy cleansing each chakra from root to crown.  It was very relaxing.  I also noticed that the cough from my allergies had abated during the meditation.  Pretty cool!

After the session was over, I thanked our instructor. I also mentioned I was surprised when she started talking about chakras and didn’t realize they were part of Reiki.  She said something like she does the Reiki and that was one of the forms she chooses to use.  I took this to mean that Reiki is the healing energy and you can put it in any vehicle you want.  She used a chakra meditation. Someone else might use sound and vibration for example.  Apparently, there are numerous ways to transmit this energy.  I am not sure.  Perhaps, I can write a follow-up if I learn more about it after a future session.  I do plan to go back.

I did find a QiGong class.  So, I will let you know how that goes.