The Boob Report – The Sun Rises After Cancer Drugs

Sunrise over Breckenridge

Shy of three weeks into 2017, I thought I’d check in and let you know how The Year of the Big Chill is going. It’s all about working hard, but playing harder. Little did I know these lifestyle changes would affect me in a different way. It banished a horrible side effect of my anti-cancer drug.

Two simple changes have made a HUGE impact. So Huge, I have to tell you about it.

I meditate for ten minutes a day.

After attending the Wanderlust Yoga Festival in Whistler, I felt super chill and grounded for about a week. Then that fantastic feeling disappeared. I figured I had to go to another festival to regain it.

Meditation clears my mind for new ideas. Practicing ten minutes before I write unlocks my creative flow. It helps me focus. I’m less distracted by sparkly things. I love sparkly things.

I write for three hours (or more, depending on my groove) and then shut my laptop to go on an adventure. That may be anything from skiing to taking a hike to going to the grocery store. It doesn’t matter, as long as I get out of the house to do something.

The isolation of writing books and screenplays was a downer for me last year. I’m an adventure junkie. It’s my rocket fuel. Now I get out every day. Ideas pop into my tiny cranium out of nowhere.

The combination of both of these changes resulted in the coolest thing ever.

After my double boobectomities, my radiologist prescribed Tamoxifen. I felt a low grade sluggish, PMS, blues. It would clench my gut with anxiety upon waking and follow me like a shadow during the day. I attributed it to normal worry any cancer patient goes through. Nope. It’s a side-effect of anti-estrogen drugs. I had to keep taking it. My cancer ate estrogen like a starved pig at a Las Vegas buffet.

the-sun-rises-after-cancer-drugsWhen my doctor took me off Tamoxifen over a year ago, I went pill-free for two weeks. I was so excited!! I felt super charged upon waking!! My Susie Sunshine self was BACK!! Yes, this warrants lots of exclamation points. (My baseline normal is like other people’s most optimistic and best days.) But after two weeks on Anastrozole, that same guilty, worried, clench my gut feeling returned. GAH. 

By the way, my diet hasn’t changed, except for one thing. I stopped eating pizza. Once a month or so, I’d indulge in a pan style veggie lovers, then I would crash the next day. I mentioned it to my daughter, Courtney, who is a personal trainer. She said that pizza is the worst. With so much cheese and carbs, it becomes greasy glop in our stomachs and sends our bodies into detox overload.

I haven’t drank alcohol for two and a half years after finding out the correlation between it and seven different cancers. (Check out this post about that dirty little secret. Alcohol means any kind of alcohol, including wine.) It also causes osteoporosis. Bummer.

Here’s the good news:

After meditating and going outside every day for about ten days, I noticed that same grounded, peaceful feeling in my gut had reappeared. The anxiety from Anastrozole had VANISHED! Ten minutes to zen. How cool is that?

Okay, so the super-hopped up, excited me may have to wait another eighteen months when I’ll be off the drugs forever. But, that low grade, I must have done something wrong feeling, is history! Who knows? Maybe my over-endorphined self will return with a couple more weeks of this new lifestyle. People who know me will read this and say, “You will be even more manic?”

I wonder if Danny will hide my yoga mat?

This could help you too!

Ever feel a little down? I would think this combination of getting outside to do something away from the computer and ten minute meditation would work for others, especially mid-winter when lack of Vitamin D slows us down and causes the blues. You should try it. It truly works! If nothing else, life is a lot more fun.

What do you think? What lifestyle changes have you made over the years? How are the sunrises in your neighborhood?

How La La Land Inspires Writers and Artists

Have you seen La La Land? You should. It will inspire you. Here’s why:

Writers and artists can be sensitive people, right? We tack our work up on the wall for everyone to judge and hope someone, anyone, even if they’re in the back of the room, gets what we were trying to do. It’s hard when we hear whispers and a few giggles. It’s all the H words; humbling, humiliating, horrifying and hell. So why do we keep doing it? Because of all the P words. It’s our passion. The potential to reach the precipitous peak of all our pleasurable dreams by perseverance would be pure paradise. Okay, so I’m pushing it.

la-la-land

La La Land is a vibrant musical film. It shows how Hollywood can suck hope from a person unless they’re willing to take a risk and persevere through all those H words.

The following paragraph includes SPOILERS: I watched Mia, played by Emma Stone, appear in front of stoney-faced production heads while she auditioned her heart out. Time after time, she faced rejections. Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling, sells out to play his piano just about anywhere, even though his heart belongs to jazz. The odds are against them.

Three things really hit me:

A teacher at Icon Collective Music Production School recently told my son, Kelly, all artists face horrible rejection at some point. Most give up. Successful artists persevere, take risks, and follow their passion no matter what happens.

The second takeaway? Support. Surrounding yourself with people who “get what you’re trying to do,” is imperative. We have to make the effort to find them. All it takes is one.

The last message I got from the movie was about sacrifice and choices.  Sometimes we have to choose what’s uncomfortable in order to grow as an artist. Following a passion may not be convenient and can be isolating. Most of us won’t be faced with the choices Mia and Sebastian had to make, but I think the message in the ending was clear.

SPOILER ALERT! They chose their passion over passion. Watch the movie and you’ll see what I mean.

End of spoilers.

la_la_land_film

The irony of La La Land? It took all those P words and six years in order to make this film, according to writer and director, Damian Chazelle. No one believed a musical would make any money. He said this while accepting awards on stage at the Golden Globes. His film took seven of them, including Best Picture. He embodied his film’s message. He dedicated his first award “to all the musical theater geeks out there.”

Watching this movie after posting about my failed resolutions really hit me.

As a writer, rejections pile up. Writing books, screenplays, and blog posts take most of my free time. I’ve already faced cancer and freaked out over how short life can be. I asked myself point blank. “Is this really how I want to spend the rest of it?”

In that moment, I wondered what life would have been like if I hadn’t started writing almost six years ago. No books. No screenplays. No blogging communities or conferences or writer friends. There are other ways I could create, after all, I graduated in art, but it comes down to passion. I couldn’t imagine that alternate universe. I love writing. I can’t give it up.

So bring it on, H words! I will continue to ignore the whispers and giggles. It’s part of the process of following my passion. I’ll reach that precipitous peak, someday.

Have you seen La La Land? What’s your passion? Do you eat popcorn with or without butter?

My Resolution Failures and Why You Should Join The Big Chill in 2017

When I realized I would fail to reach my 2016 resolutions, disappointment kicked me in the gut and I landed on the floor. While gasping for breath, I discovered lots of dust bunnies under the furniture. Sheesh.

The plan had been set. I had stayed on target. Very few sparkly things led me astray. In fact, I worked harder, maybe twice as hard as any other year. I would sit down to write and find myself in a telephone booth where the universe would expand and I’d be transported into the lives of my characters. Many hours later, owls hooting on my chimney would be like, “Whoooo. Doooode, I’ve never known a human whoooo could sit so long.” I’d snap out of my time warped daze and stretch, then gape at the time. Balance between work and play crashed and burned. I needed to chill, big time.

Resolution failures and why you should join the big chill in 2017

So, what happened?

No matter how hard I worked, I depended on too many outside forces to complete my 2016 goals. The other problem seems counter-intuitive, but I needed more play time. Really!  

#2016 Failure One:

To find an agent and contract my book with a publisher. I planned to finish querying my long list of agents by June 2016. If I didn’t find one, I would hit up mid-sized publishers and work my way through that list. Then, I would query independent publishers and pull the trigger. My first book would be scheduled for publication in 2017.

This seemed like a reasonable and logical progression to a goal. I could have reached it, but I forgot one tiny factor. Agents’ response time can be reeeeeally slooooowww.

When a few agents didn’t respond at all, I retired their queries after ten weeks. I could have exhausted all of my lists by June if I had used the shotgun technique – When you write a query letter then copy and paste the names of the agents, blasting 20-100 at a time. No freakin’ way. That’s not my style. I spend hours researching each agent and then personalize each letter. I usually send out five at a time. Why only five? Because I’ve gotten amazing advice in rejection letters. When an agent’s criticism enlightened me and I could see how it would improve my project, I revised my book, rewrote the query letter, or both. I mean, this criticism came from professional in the publishing business. I never ignore it.

By mid-June, I panicked. Unless I got an offer with the few I sent, I wouldn’t reach my goal. I kept a positive outlook for that lucky break.

Well, that hasn’t happen…yet.

But I made some decent progress. A few top agents requested full submissions. It was super exciting.

By the end of July, I wondered if I should blow off my first book and focus on other projects. I put the question out into “the Universe.” Days later, it became a finalist in a contest. The bonus? Receiving amazing feedback from neutral judges.

I shelved querying, but continued working on my first book, rebuilding and remodeling. I’m hoping to shape its structure so the storyline draws you into a place where you find a comfy chair and hang out for a while hopefully, in a Dr. Who phone booth. I’m glad I didn’t set a bundle of dynamite in its basement and plug my ears. It will get published someday. What’s the rush?

Failure Two:

Finish two other novels and a screenplay. Yep, I’ve got a lot on my plate.

I’m close, but I ran out of time. I could have worked through the holiday to cross one off the list, but I focused on family instead. It’s weird, but I needed to forget about my projects for a while. It’s a Wild Writing Technique that I’ll explore in 2017 as a part of the Big Chill.

2017 Resolutions:

Take the Big Chill with me and CHILLAX! 

After working my butt off in 2016, I am scheduling PLAYTIME to chill the hell out. Yes. It warrants all caps as a reminder. I worked too hard and inefficiently in 2016. Didn’t you? This break time will be written into my planner’s schedule like any other appointment, in pen! I’ll spend less time dinking around on the Internet like a monkey on crack tapping on a keyboard. It’s easy and unhealthy to sit for hours on end. Instead, my chilling time will be spent AWAY from my computer. It’s magical. You should try it too. 

Get ripped again.

Look at my Boob Report photo. Even though I’m sick with cancer, I have defined arm muscles. Scheduling exercise will be a part of playtime. I’m in control of this goal, so let the Wild Rumpus begin!

susie lindau boob report picture

Take yoga and meditation classes.

Clearing a cluttered and over-active brain while meditating makes room for new ideas. The benefits carry over into all aspects of life. I can’t wait for more of that. My friend just told me about HeadSpace. She listens to the app on her phone and meditates every morning. Cool!

Find balance in 2017.

Recently, while face-planted and counting the dust bunnies drifting across the wood floors, I had an AHA moment. I needed the dust bunny perspective of break time to look at my projects and life in general from a more objective distance. I didn’t play hard enough in 2016. I picked myself up and brushed the lint from my yoga pants.

After a few weeks off to prepare for the holidays, my brain exploded with new ideas. These were next level, oh, My God, ideas. I don’t think they would have popped into my pea brain without a break. Here’s the thing. I kept writing. My Dear Holiday Diary posts exercised the crazy technicolor film festival running in my brain so ideas wouldn’t become puny, lazy roadies who hung out smoking cigarettes behind my frontal lobe.

Regardless of whether taking breaks accomplishes anything in 2017, enjoying and experiencing life is imperative to any well-rounded, Wild Rider’s life. Work super hard, play even harder. I’m sure some face-planting will be involved, but at least I’ll be out there trying.

What about those owls? They can jolt someone else from Dr. Who’s telephone booth time machine. I plan to have fun at the end of the day.

Oh, yeah, and once in a while, I promise to dust under the furniture.

What do you think of adding more playtime to your life? What is your top goal for 2017?

Dear Holiday Diary, The concept of time escapes me…

Dear Holiday Diary,

I sat down this morning for the first time in weeks. My butt was like, “What are we doing? We’re not sitting in a car driving to town to Christmas shop. FOR GOD’S SAKE. WE DON’T HAVE TIME TO SIT, DO WE?” Switching gears after pushing myself for weeks is harder than you think. My brain still isn’t wrapping itself around the fact that it’s Christmas Eve and I may actually be ready and can enjoy it this year. That would be a first. Although, I’m not there yet. There’s lots of time for human error. I’m more human than most.

One thing I would LOVE for Christmas is the ability to know how long each task will take leading up to Christmas day. Wouldn’t that be a great app? It would calculate the time it takes for transportation, shopping, sending personalized greeting cards, decorating, and preparing meals, to name a few of the tasks on my list. It always takes me twice as long, so I end up stressed and behind schedule. Why is that? I feel like I give myself plenty of time. I must be super slow when I do things. I do get distracted easily by sparkly things. There are lots of sparkly things around these days. Like yesterday, when I walked to a shop on the Pearl Street Mall, I just had to take in the Boulder Court House light display and then window shop down the block a ways until I realized I should drive to my next destination a mile away to save time.

Twice, I spent hours hoofing around in stores to purchase gifts I couldn’t find online only to find them on super sale the next day. GAH! At least returning those items didn’t take very long. I’m not sure an app could predict that.

Being an optimist has its drawbacks and can be very hazardous to time management during the holidays. When illustrating my Christmas cards, I only remembered the times when the ideas and likenesses came easily. I didn’t create popup cards this year. That eliminated days of cutting and pasting. I planned on two hours a drawing. I thought I’d get the cards done in two days. Ha! They took so much longer than expected.

It would have helped if I had an idea in mind. Instead, I used a technique for writers’ block. I started sketching without an idea and hoped for a burst of light in the darkness of my cavelike cranium. After a few drawings, the lightbulb blew up in my head. You know that sound that makes you jump when it pops right above you?

Being a slow learner can be frustrating too. Printing them became a nightmare with my antique printer for a lot of reasons. The drawings were too big and the printer’s plantain was super small. After redrawing them to barely fit, I placed my left hand on top to raise the lid with my right and shut it off, EVERY FREAKIN’ TIME!

Baking and cooking recipes include the amount of time it should take, but for some reason, it always takes me longer. Maybe it’s because I tend to double or triple recipes. I don’t adjust for the time it will take to bake six dozen cookies instead of two. Other times, I don’t wear my reading glasses, add too much of an ingredient, and then have to adjust the entire recipe. Starting over would take less time.

Someone recently asked me if I recreate all of my swags and decorations every year. Nope. When I carefully take them down, I label them so they easily go back up the exact same way. Not this year. I must have been extremely sleep-deprived and angry-faced. Nothing was labeled. It was as if I stuffed them in a box to be donated. I had to redo everything! I would enter my own category to the app. Time for decorating: Four hours to two full weeks.

No concept of time Christmas decorations

I would definitely turn off the app on Christmas day. Being adults, our family rises much later than those who Santa visits. We start with coffee and cinnamon rolls. By the time the last sleepy strangler arrives in the kitchen for their first cup of Joe, it’s after 9:00. For some reason time slows. My quiche always seems to take two hours in the oven. The full court press to get the brunch out stretches through the morning while we work in slow motion. We finally peek in our stockings at noon!

But there’s a time for the frantic frenzy spent racing against time and there’s the time for cocooning. I should have been a set designer. My hope is to create a warm place where everyone relaxes in a twinkling Christmas atmosphere from your wildest dreams. The house is decorated to the nines. (Nine what? Ninth floor? Nine gates of hell? Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall? I never understood that expression.) The shopping will be done and the presents will be wrapped, even if stuffed in a gift bag at the last minute with the wrong name on it. We will go to church on Christmas Eve. Christmas will arrive. We will enjoy every minute of our holiday, no matter what we went through to prepare for it. Okay, so nothing is perfect and we can’t be happy for hours on end, but I will count my blessings and try to live in the moment..

Merry Christmas! May the time with your family and friends be more memorable than the crazy month preparing for it.

Are you planning on enjoying the holidays or are you still in a last-minute frenzy?

My Christmas Card Drawings Revealed

In three days Christmas will arrive whether we are ready or not. Three days! I’m psyching up for my last lap around Boulder for holiday gifts. I need to bake my annual cinnamon rolls and make a list to hit the grocery store. The good news? The illustrated Christmas cards are done and in the mail. YES! I’m always relieved when this tradition is complete.

I sketched my family skiing and boarding on the slopes, but I didn’t get into it. Then I drew Danny hanging an ornament on the tree. When I cracked up laughing, the decision was made.

As most of you know, I’ve created popup cards for the last few years. My internal conversation over whether to cut and paste this year, turned into a raging argument. I really wanted to make it a booklet, but I didn’t have time. After printing out a few boring black and white cards to give to friends at a holiday lunch, I settled on a compromise.

I added a tinge of color to the last illustration and ran the cards through the printer a couple more times to add borders.

Ted Strutz guessed what my family is doing and won one a Christmas card! Way to go Ted! He blogs flash fiction for the Friday Fictioneers on Ted Book and slice of life photography on Ted Book Daily Pics. Be sure to check out his blog.

Yep. We are decorating the Christmas tree, but it’s a little on the wild side.

So here’s the scary part. The big reveal…

2016 Christmas Card

 

Happy accidents during Christmas

 

2016 Christmas Card reveal - illustration

It’s all about happy accidents.

We all experience them throughout the holidays. We run into old friends at celebrations or make new ones while looking for dog coats at Petsmart. We may think of the perfect gift while searching for something completely different. It seems like good stuff happens when we are putting out that positive vibe.

It’s all about recognizing the beauty around us and keeping the meaning of the season in our hearts. Keep counting your blessings!

The #Blessed Projects were a happy accident.

I needed something to pull me out of a funk one day, so I made a list of my blessing. The blues faded like the fog in Scrooge’s cemetery. I had to share the idea and the #Blessed Projects were born. If you need something to uplift you, look no further. Click on the link above. There are many to choose from. Make sure to check out Being Thankful, by Words from Anneli. I failed to link her fantastic #Blessed Project when I posted. Another happy accident since she is featured here today.

Another illustrated card is finished. Onto that last-minute Christmas shopping, oh, yeah, and then wrapping everything. *yawn* I still have three days…

Have you experienced any happy accidents lately? Are you feeling blessed or stressed?

The #Blessed Projects are in! You will laugh and cry…

breckenridge-10-mile-range

As I read The #Blessed Projects over the last few weeks, my heart was filled with joy. Each project was so different and a reflection of the writer’s heart. I had thought writing them would be a great exercise in positivity and banishing the blues, but I didn’t realize reading others would give me the same uplifting feeling. I smiled while reading all of them. Some made me laugh. One made me cry.

Those who linked up to my original Blessed Project post are listed below. Click to read them. Enjoy! Believe me. They will lift you up.

Thank you for sharing your blessings!

A Family Album of Thanksgiving, by Al from The Cvillean.

Everyday Awesome: A Blessed Project, by Angela Noel Author.

Blessed One, by Maggie C. from What Rhymes with Stanza.

Being Thankful, by Words from Anneli.

Blessed Two, by Maggie C. from What Rhymes with Stanza.

My Blessed Project, by Suze from Obsolete Childhood.

#Blessed Project, by Danny Ray from Dream Big Dream Often.

#Blessed Project, by Deb was Here.

#Blessed Project, by Shannon from MSnuButterflies.

Blessed Project, by Miriam from Out an’ About.

Susie’s Christmas Wish, by BW Carey from Paddy Picasso.

Blessed Project, by The Guat.

The Blessed Project, by Lisa from Life with the Top Down.

Blessed Three – by Maggie C. from What Rhymes with Stanza?

52 Weeks of Thankfulness – Week 25, by Watching the Daisies.

Join the #Blessed Project! – My #Blessed Project is included in the original post.

It’s not too late to count your blessings. Would you like to write a post about why you feel blessed? Write a list, blog it, and link it up here in the comments! We would love to read your #Blessed Project.

Don’t have a blog? Post your list on Facebook or Tumblr. Post a photo on Instagram. Write it out and post it on your bulletin board. It’s a super positive experience. Everyone who sees them will feel it too!

Please share this post and spread the joy.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Are you feeling blessed or stressed?

Win a Handmade Christmas Card!

It’s time to guess and win a card!

One of my Christmas traditions is to draw a family Christmas Card. It’s almost done. I’m toying with adding something to the last drawing. Yes, there are three illustrations this year. No popups. Whew! I had to draw a line (pun intended) to save my sanity. A couple of years ago, I spent close to 80 hours just pasting them together.

Last year, I made a modified popup.

tobogganing Christmas Card

Christmas Card 2015

I’m having a hard time with my “no cutting or pasting rule” for the year. I look at these cards and their so much prettier than a plain white one. I still have time to assemble something, don’t I? Maybe not.

The card from 2014.

christmas card with tree punch

illustrated christmas card

Guess what we are doing in this year’s card. Leave a comment and win!

Merry Christmas!