Breckenridge’s Short-Lived Masterpieces – Photo Essay

breck snow sculpture

Last weekend the International Snow Sculpture Championship began in Breckenridge, Colorado. Sculptors from around the world came to compete. They all started with the same block of snow.

These were my favorites. Continue reading

The Boob Report – A Comedy of Terrors

After being diagnosed with breast cancer, all doctor appointments become a big deal especially since the drugs I’ve been on have side effects. It can be terrifying.

hot as hellLast week, I went to an OB/GYN appointment and a wrist and knee follow-up. I worried they all could go south, like in the Deep South of hell where it is as hot as hell since that’s what it is. After having several surgeries, I want to avoid any more of them at all cost. I scheduled a facial afterward, my first in years, as a reward.

OB?? Yeah. I got my period for the first time in three years on December 29th. My OB/GYN had told me to come right in if I had ANY kind of bleeding after ONE year. Full on sad, depressing PMS for two days should have been my first clue.

I’d been on Tamoxifen which can mess with hormones and is why my period probably stopped in the first place. I switched to Anastrozole this August since my oncologist believed I was post-menopausal and Tamoxifen has some cancer-causing side-affects. It caused night sweats and hot flashes.

After being off Tamoxifen for a week, the pit in my anxiety-filled stomach disappeared along with the other symptoms. To say I was stoked was an understatement. Anastrozole can cause osteoporosis. Not as bad, but still bad. Did you hear I broke my wrist?

The whoosh of bleeding and my “Oh, shit!” moment happened at night while binge-watching Homeland. I wasn’t about to go anywhere. Instead I did what anyone would do to calm her nerves.

I Googled it.

OH, MY GOD. WHAT A MISTAKE! I freaked and thought I would bleed out while sleeping that night. I almost called my family to say my goodbyes, but figured that would be way too dramatic and they would be annoyed if they worried all night and I survived.

When I was still alive the next day, I called my doctor. He and the phone nurse assured me as long as the bleeding wasn’t uncontrollable, I was probably okay.

It turned out to be a period, complete with a trip to the grocery where I was tempted to proudly tell people, “This box of tampons isn’t for my daughter. It’s for me. Haha!”

Humorous breast cancer storiesYeah, I know the bleeding could indicate a lot of bad things. But I had an endometrial biopsy last September. Don’t worry. It came back negative. Last week’s appointment was scheduled back then. My doctor was taking precautions. According to him, a biopsy is usually good for one year.

Doctors don’t fool around if cancer is on your permanent record. That is a very good thing. I like the pro-active approach.

During my follow up appointment, my doctor said he would be amazed if I started getting regular periods after all I’ve been through. You should have seen his face when I said, “I hope I’m getting my periods again. My wrinkles won’t come in as fast.” I must be in the minority…of one.

Did I mention that he rescued me during last summer’s biopsy?

Last summer I had a routine pap and pelvic. My OB-GYN Physician’s Assistant thought my uterus seemed larger when examining my womanly innard skinnards. She ordered a pelvic ultrasound.

Well, how do I describe this? Hmm. They put a condom on it. Continue reading

THINK BIG!

Think (1)

Monday morning, I drank my first cup of coffee of the day and alternated between checking blog stats and answering comments. Then a very loud voice shouted in my head.

“THINK BIG!”

I stopped what I was doing. What did you say? Think big?

“YOU’RE THINKING TOO SMALL,” the voice bellowed again.

I sat up and pondered this scream from my sub-conscious self.

It usually criticized and said cruel things like, “Are you ever going to stop surfing the Internet and get something done today?” Or “You are such a gimp. You wouldn’t have broken your wrist if you had gotten into shape after knee surgery last year.” Or, “You have no life. Make a plan.”

I immediately thought of how my voice was right. I was thinking too small. As part of my resolutions I had committed to blogging more frequently and have been working to get into a daily routine to finish old and new projects.

IDEAL SCHEDULE:

  1. Catch up on blogging and social media.
  2. Write new blog post.
  3. Hit exercise bike.
  4. Write a few chapters in my new book
  5. Work on querying first book series.

Like I said, I had been working on it, but hadn’t quite mastered the routine.

MONDAY’S ACTUAL SCHEDULE:

  1. Checked on blog and social media.
  2. Wrote new blog post.
  3. Checked on blog and Twitter.
  4. Postponed hitting exercise bike until afternoon.
  5. Checked on blog, Twitter and Facebook.
  6. Wrote one new chapter.
  7. Checked on blog stats and social media.
  8. Thought about hitting the exercise bike.
  9. Rewrote blog post.
  10. Checked blog stats and comments.
  11. Finally rode a few miles while reading a book.
  12. Watched The Bachelor while checking my blog stats, answering comments, live tweeting, and rewriting my blog post and then checked stats again.

Do you see a vicious cycle occurring?

Tuesday morning, I had a conversation in my head. Yes. I’ve embraced talking to myself:

ME: So how can I think bigger?

THOUGHTS: How about planning to hike Everest?

ME: Too big and I think you were talking about something more career related, right? Continue reading

When People Think You’re Crazy

You’ve seen them, disheveled and disoriented people who mutter or sometimes curse at no one in particular. They are upset by others, both invisible and only seen in their mind. Their conversation may have taken place years ago only to be acted out again and again.

I talk to myself all the time. I blame my kids. When they were babies, I talked to them all the time even though they probably didn’t understand much of what I said. I had read an article claiming this would improve their intelligence. I remember taking them to the store and asking them what kind of baby food they would like to eat or which tampons I should buy. I got all kinds of amused looks from strangers who thought I was out of my mind. Although I looked like a fool, my kids grew up to be very intelligent adults. People think you're crazy

When I became a writer, I discovered reading what I had written aloud helped me find errors and create realistic conversation. It works! I don’t think I had completely gotten out of the habit of talking to myself, so writing compounded the issue.

I would catch myself muttering, “Where’s my car?” in the parking lot, or “Man, this is way too much laundry,” or “Oh, my God. This line is going to take forever,” while waiting at Costco.

In the movie, Blue Jasmine, Cate Blanchett nails the role of an unstable woman who lives out her socialite lifestyle in her imagination. She takes talking to yourself to a whole new level. I realize there is a big difference between saying your thoughts out loud and being in an altered state of mind. I loved that movie, but it made me more conscious of my occasional habit.

Last winter, I drove to King Soopers grocery store late in the day. I ran into my friend, Jack, who works in the produce department. We chatted until I sensed that I had taken up enough of his time, yammering on about the weather and the price of beans.

I said goodbye and pushed my cart forward. Someone to my right muttered something unintelligible. My cart hadn’t bumped into to anyone, but I said, “Sorry,” just in case I had impeded their progress between the bins of potatoes and the mushroom display. Continue reading

BEWARE of Cyberspace Snake Oil!

Have you been bought?

Seduced by the glitz, the glam, attracting paparazzi like steel filings to a magnet, and for some, the bouffant hairdo their personal stylist creates, many are in a full-out sprint to the top. They don’t care what they have to do to get there. Nothing is comparable to feeling adored and having screaming fans shout out, “We want more! We want more!” They sneeze and fans applaud.

Beware of snake oil salesmen

 

Most of us, like 99.99%, will never experience this. But what if you could buy this feeling?

Would you consider buying people to like you?

Continue reading

An Open Letter to My Left Hand

Dear Left Hand,

I am sincerely sorry for falling on you and breaking one of Wrist’s bones. It was painful. What might have been worse was the relief I felt when realizing your superior twin, Right Hand didn’t break, because it’s like my, never mind. You have been in a rivalry since birth, but that isn’t what I meant.

An open letLet me start by thanking you for not waking me up at night. It must be difficult while being restricted by the air cast. You’ve never complained, except for when you reflexively tried to grasp the lettuce box as it slipped from Right Hand. I felt that yelp of pain.

I’m sure you think I like Right Hand best. I use it a lot more often than you and the truth is I find it stronger and more dexterous. So I’ll admit that I am guilty of this favoritism.

I shouldn’t have been so insensitive when frustrated by your limitations in the past.

When I heard that it was good for you to be used, I let you blow-dry my hair. You missed my head altogether. Then you tried to brush it, but couldn’t get the angle of the bristles into the strands. The worst was when you bruised my gums when brushing my teeth.

I oftentimes have no idea what you are doing. Continue reading

Blogging Tips from a Wild Rider: How to Hook Readers

Blogging tips

I’ve been to spam prison and the school of ‘We’ll Knock Your Ass Down and See How Fast You Get Up, Sucker,’ but through it all I’ve been that long-lasting sponge that soaks up information without the nasty smell. So I will begin 2016 with a new series. One that will help you transform into “Super Blogger” without the unwieldy cape and tights. Okay. You can wear what you want.

Credentials:

Although I haven’t made a dime from this blog, not even a penny, I’ve learned a ton over nearly five years and writing 460 posts. Yep. If you disregard my lack of income, you could say I was something of a professional.

Where did I learn these valuable lessons I am willing to impart? Why through zillions of blog posts read online as well as the aforementioned ‘School Of Hard Knocks’ or SOHK. If you’ve been blogging for a while, you have probably been there too. It’s located in a war zone where IEDs explode all around you. You hide inside a windowless, bombed-out shelter in the middle of a sandy desert wilderness exposed in all directions. Afraid to step, you fear blowing your beloved blog to smithereens. You remain inside, trapped, naked and afraid, and with no way out until you solve the problem. I’ve been there many times.

I have a designated parking spot with my name on it.

Lesson #1 a.

You may be unaware of this simple trick to bring readers to your blog. No. Not by using the word, ‘sex, boobs, or I’m cheating on my husband’ in the title. I’ll get to that another day. This trick is solved by simply pushing a button. NOT THE RED BUTTON! Continue reading

Discovering the Past to Understand the Future

Sometimes discoveries from our past can help us understand our journey to the present and the road between. No matter how we envision our future, it never turns out like we imagined.

When retrieving my daughter’s birthday presents, I discovered a long ago forgotten and deteriorating cardboard box hidden in the dark corner of my art room closet. It was filled with Badger Herald Newspapers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I had illustrated the top stories for a few issues when I was an art student. I pulled out the first three.

Badger Herald

Nostalgia washed over me with a glimpse into my college days and memories associated with some of my drawings. At that time, I imagined illustrating for an advertising agency after graduation. I hadn’t dreamed of becoming a medical illustrator. Like the golden hue of the old newsprint, I remembered popcorn for dinner, skip-and-go-nakeds (beer, vodka and lemonade), and all-nighters spent in creating art projects and cramming for blue book exams. I found them too.

I thought about how much my life has changed in those thirty-five years. I worked as a professional illustrator, married, moved to Colorado, have two amazing kids and only recently found my passion in writing. Talk about wildest dreams.

It’s funny how ironic life can be. I gasped when this flash from my past peeked out from the box. I had totally forgotten that I had drawn it. Back then The Empire Strikes Back was the newest movie in the Star Wars franchise. Finding my old illustration coincided with the new release. The two movies echoed my life with changes of their own.

The Empire Strikes Back
My name has changed from ‘Sue McCartan’ to Susie Lindau.

When attending a premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it struck me how the thirty-five years had been melted down and recast to reflect changes in our society. Instead of the typical male lead, the movie began with a badass female protagonist, Rey, who meets her black sidekick named Finn. Their romcom chemistry sizzled on the screen similar to the attraction between Han Solo and Princess Leia.

Star wars geek

That’s a pretend light saber in my hands. A real one is too dangerous.

Compared to Leia’s confining robe, Rey’s leggings and layered garb proved to be a better choice for fighting and running. She could take care of herself and didn’t need to be rescued. Another role reversal duly noted.

Instead of Yoda, we meet Maz Kanata, another female to balance out the male cast. She is the leathery, wizened counterpart without the strange manner of speaking.

When my favorite characters, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, R2D2, C3PO, and finally Luke Skywalker, appeared on screen, it was like reuniting with old friends. I slipped into the comfort of their easy banter and one-liners like my college hoody. We had all grown older, hopefully wiser and wore more smile lines than frown. I didn’t want it to end.

When the credits rolled, my shoulders slumped. This spectacular feature film ended in the ultimate cliffhanger. Another new episode won’t premier until May 26th, 2017. Just like when my college days had ended and I packed up that cardboard box, I wondered what the future would bring. This I know. It will be different than I imagine.

Are there characters from a movie you would like to see again? Did you see The Force Awakens? Are you looking forward to your next class reunion?

For more stories click here!

 

Want to change your luck?

How lucky are you? Lightning has struck my pointy head several times in my life. I’m that person, but believe you have to play in order to win. So when I drove to pick up Danny after skiing late Saturday afternoon, I made a pitstop at City Market to buy a Powerball ticket. I assumed there would be a long line and was glad he waited inside the Grand Lodge at Peak 7. The sun had set behind the Ten Mile Range and the temperature dove.

primark line

I thought the line would be as long as this one.

Across the country, hopeful winners waited in long lines to purchase their winning tickets. Not at this Breckenridge grocery store. No line existed.

I haven’t played in over a year and messed up the first two tickets. Luckily, no one waited behind me. When I finally filled in the little empty squares properly, the clerk asked, “So if you win, will you take the lump sum or a yearly payout? They take about sixty percent in taxes.”

The sound of a needle scratching a record drowned out the hum of bustling shoppers and Muzak playing from overhead speakers.

Whoa. That’s a lot of money for Uncle Sam. It doesn’t really seem fair since he doesn’t buy a ticket and then sweat while looking up the winning numbers.

“I don’t know. Probably a yearly payout.”

Chances were 1 out of 292,000,000 and nobody won. If you lived in an unplugged world for the last few days, you probably don’t know the jackpot grew to 1.3 BILLION!

I Googled the tax. They take 40% of the one-time payout. You would pay 4% in taxes if you live in Colorado and choose the thirty-year payout. Would I want Sammy boy to hang on to my money? I’m not sure. I would LOVE to have that problem.

There is quite a range of taxes. It depends on where you live. I got this from the USA Mega Millions Site: Continue reading

When Best Laid Plans Go Wrong

While waiting for my name to be called in urgent care, I thought about the last two days. No matter how much you plan, life has its own ideas. And why do they call it urgent care? There never seems to be any urgency at all.

me

It all started on Monday. Taking my own advice from A Tiny Tale of Terror, I purchased a planner and jotted down to-do lists for the week. It felt satisfying to cross off small steps toward my 2016 goals, but I was up in the air about Wednesday. Our mountain house is in the midst of a remodel and my husband, Danny, planned to drive up to check it out.

Angst formed in my gut. I considered going, but the round-trip drive would take four hours out of my day. “Why are you going?” I asked. “We’re paying a contractor to handle all of this for us.”

He shrugged and said, “You don’t have to go.” Unhindered by my concerns, he drove up. I decided to work at home. The angst in my gut twisted into a tight knot.

After working all morning, the Colorado warm before the storm drew me outside to take down Christmas decorations. It was another chore on my list and forecasters predicted snow to roll in late Thursday.

Angst evaporated in the afternoon sun. I made progress.

As I turned a corner to continue stuffing artificial garlands into a container, I slipped.

My brain went into s l o w  m o t i o n. That has never happened to me before. It’s always in hyperdrive. Talk about a crazy feeling.

One second slowed down to thirty.

THOUGHT PROCESS: Continue reading

When There Are No Words

I never have writer’s block. Words pop into my mind all day and all night in my dreams. They pop out of my mouth when I least expect it. Ask anyone.

Tell me to pick ONE word to symbolize 2016 and I go blank.

words

Diana S. Schwenk from Talk to Diana and The Bloggess brought the one word challenge to my attention. Diana chose “tenacity” in 2014, “service” in 2015 and “love” for 2016. The Bloggess chose “simple.”

Those were the words I was going to choose. GAH! Several other words crossed my mind and then swirled away in the wind like January snowflakes.

I’m pretty stoked for the new year, so “go” came to mind. It seemed a little too high energy. I don’t want to burn out by February.

Several Aries horoscopes suggested writing down goals and checking them off lists to keep me grounded and feeling like I accomplish something this year. This was after my last post about the SAME THING! Great astrological minds think alike. Wait. I don’t have one of those... Anyway, “grounded” seemed too blah or like I would be in “time-out” for a year. Not good.

When driving down from the mountains took longer than expected, I tuned into the week’s Top 40 Countdown. 

And then this happened. Continue reading

A Tiny Tale of Terror or How to Train Your Resolutions

Many of you will innocently make resolutions for 2016 not realizing the kind of monsters they will become or the terror they will wreak. Be forewarned. This is not a tale for the faint of heart. This could happen to you.

On the first day of the year, many of us make a list comprised of all the goals we would like to accomplish. At that moment, our New Year’s resolutions are born. We point them in the right direction with a compass and strict orders to focus on the path and most of us don’t give them another thought. We assume they will find their way to achieving our goals by the end of the year. Sometimes they have other ideas.

new resolutions 2016

Many lose their way while meandering through the early months of the year without a care or a clue. Being young, restless and irresponsible they take breaks, play games, and socialize since they have an entire year to cross the finish line.

By May, Continue reading

How do you know if you’re ready?

The New Year is only days away, but how do you know if you’re ready? Don’t worry. I’ve made a list for you. If you can relate to five or more of them, then you are ready for 2016.

You are ready for 2016…

when your goals for 2015 are not only unattainable, but laughable.

laughing

when going to the gym next year seems like a lot more fun.

fun with balls

when 2K15 has been so overdone, you just can’t. Continue reading

My 50 Faves and How to Join!

After losing my dad in October, my poor mother had looked forward to coming to our home for the holidays. She hadn’t traveled since his heart attack in 2009 and thoroughly enjoyed her trip to our house over Thanksgiving.

She wasn’t feeling well last week, but packed her bags. My family had driven to ski Breckenridge when I got the call. She was diagnosed with shingles. GAH!

I had to go into hyperdrive to gather and send her gifts.

While preparing for a Wild day, I caught up on blog posts. Darla from She’s A Maineiac posted 50 Things to Be Grateful For. I told her that if there was a Christmas miracle and there was no line at the Post Office, I would post one too. What were the chances?

I scrambled to put together a package for her and my brother and then drove to the Post Office. As expected, cars lined both sides of the street. There would be a long wait. I sighed and grabbed my box.

When I entered, my eyes widened. A line did NOT exist! It was a Christmas miracle.

$28 later, I am praying for another one: That my package is delivered by Christmas Eve and my mom recovers quickly.

I’m setting my timer. Here goes nothing, Darla…

I Am Grateful for These 50 Things:

  1. My family. I know. It’s so cliché and yet I would be nowhere without them and that’s not because I’m directionally challenged.
  2. My husband. I held on tight through my health setbacks. (Sorry about those bruises, Danny!) He is my super fan and my rock. Mostly he rocks. Not literally. That would be weird.gapers cheat summer
  3. My dog Roxy because COMIC RELIEF and she is fearless.
  4. My friends. They have been there for me and continue to inspire.
  5. My blogging friends. I have been so lucky to meet some in real life. One of my dreams is meet many more of you! They lifted me up and saved me. I will always believe that.
  6. Coffee. Without it I wood meek alot more erors in comments then I alredy do.
  7. Chocolate because chocolate.
  8. Colorado because there are unlimited adventures right outside my door. I think Roxy read my mind.Roxy wants to go outside
  9. My health. For those of you who read my blog, I’ve had a few surgeries in the last few years. Yes. My boobs are bionic, but after two years, I am cancer-free. *happy dances around kitchen*
  10. My new knee parts. Yep. The cartilage in my left knee is metal and a plastic disk resides behind my kneecap. It’s all good. I went skiing yesterday.
  11. Our mountain house. We bought it during a fire sale. No. It wasn’t on fire, but they sold it like it was.
  12. Our remodel. After owning aforementioned mountain house for nearly twenty years, the first floor is gutted. It’s another big art project. Right now it’s riddled with landmines of nail heads. You have to keep your head down or YOUCH!
  13. Snow! Nothing gets my heart beating faster. Well that’s not true, but where there’s snow out here in the West, there is…
  14. Skiing! I found out yesterday, I started skiing earlier than Danny. Ha! Wait. How come I’m not as good as him? *scratches head* skiing breckenridge
  15. Hiking, biking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, sledding, tobogganing because more adventure.
  16. My Christmas cards, because they are done.
  17. Fleece jammies. Santa brought them last year and they are snuggly soft.
  18. My laptop. It is so much easier to carry around.
  19. Cell phone. No explanation needed.
  20. My home in Boulder County. I can look out any window and enjoy the views.
  21. Traveling. I really have enjoyed our trips around the US and hope to make it back to Europe one day.
  22. My friend, Wendi’s, cookie exchange because it wouldn’t be Christmas without it and I don’t have to spend a week in the kitchen baking. BONUS!
  23. Discovering my passion. I always thought of myself as an artist. Now I tell people I’m a writer. My happy place is sitting anywhere while typing.
  24. MUS – Making Up Shit, a term coined by my husband who indulges in MUS too.
  25. My Highlander. It is a beast in the snow.
  26. Driving in the snow. Yep. Love it!
  27. My lookout tower office. I had to move my desk to face the wall in timeout or I’d get nothing done but daydream out the window because it’s so beautiful and I can see the mountains and little rabbits hopping around and an occasional coyote and neighbors and dogs walk by and…. look at the time!
  28. My bed. There is nothing softer.
  29. A good book. I love being swept away into another world especially one with tons of suspense!
  30. Parties. Being a party girl, I always look forward to them. NOTE TO SELF: host a few in 2016.photo (49)
  31. The New Year. I love the do-over, starting fresh kinda feeling at the beginning of the year. I’m already pretty much over the top optimistic, but the first few weeks put me at a whole new manic level.
  32. Being spiritual. I was raised Catholic, but am open-minded about all religions. Hey, I could swear I was a ballerina in Paris in one of my past lives.
  33. My blog. I love my Wild Ride and having a place to spew my thoughts.
  34. CARBS! Should have been higher on my list. WHAT WAS I THINKING?
  35. Speaking of higher on my list – DANCING!
  36. My camera! Whether on my phone or my digital SLR, I love taking pictures.

     

  37. The Force Awakens! I was super pumped after that movie.
  38. Homeland. Carrie is the bad-ass I want to be without terrorism, guns, explosives or bi-polar disorder.
  39. Music from alternative to pop to classical to house.
  40. My imagination. My brain holds a pretty crazy environment, but it is so entertaining. Danny often hears me laughing and asks, “What are you laughing at, now?”
  41. My imaginary friends. I wrote half of Funeral Beenes then death happened. (That sounds very ironic.) I needed to quit for a few weeks. I was putting books away two weeks ago and BAM! An idea for a new novel popped into my head. I wrote the first chapter on my phone while waiting for a hair appointment. The main character doesn’t play well with others, but is hugely fun to hang out with.
  42. Drawing. Sometimes an illustration is the only way to convey the voices in my head. boy and girl fighting
  43. Challenges. I’m always up for them like trying to find an agent. Know anyone who wants to represent a Wild Rider?
  44. Going out for breakfast. That is my favorite! Bring on the tators, fruit and eggs Benedict and I am one happy girl.
  45. Sparkly things. Wait. What was I saying? See! There it is again!!!
  46. My out-going personality. I’ve tried to fit in as a writer and be an introvert. Wait. I can hear you laughing. I know. I only lasted 45 seconds. Okay. 15. OKAY. 5 SECONDS!mustachemarch
  47. My own or anyone else’s sense of humor. I hate cracking jokes and only hearing the sound of crickets. Lighten up people.
  48. Slang. Even if I have to use the totes adorbs Urban Dictionary to understand it. Slang is my bae. I even make some up every January. (see #24. MUS)
  49. Talking to strangers. I HAD to approach the costumed families eating dinner together before The Force Awakens. We made new friends in NOLA too! Why is my mouth always open in pictures?selfie on Bourbon Street
  50. My Wild Life. It keeps surprising me and gets WILDER every year!

Continue reading

The Big Reveal and WINNERS!

Holiday traditions are different for everyone. Some cut down their own Christmas trees while others host huge holiday gatherings. I don’t have time for that. I’m too busy crafting my greeting cards.

IMG_1346 (1)

Now that most of them are in the mail, I can relax and focus on the rest of my Christmas traditions, like shopping, baking, shopping, trimming the trees, shopping, wrapping gifts, shopping…

And DANCING!

I thought I would return to my old-fashioned printed cards, but not this year. It’s really hard for me to settle for something less. I’ve never settled in my life. Why start now? This card is another pop-up.

I confided in a friend about the stress involved in making them. She asked why I bothered.

I had to think about that. Continue reading