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?

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?

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?

Dear Diary, Please make it stop!

Dear Holiday Diary,

After a week of decorating, I still am surrounded by doodads and ditzies just begging to be made into some form of centerpiece, swag or other holiday shimmery thing. It doesn’t help that I keep looking up at my cupboards with the memory of this ceiling I spied while in Denver.

oxford-hotel-christmas-decor

Thanks a lot, Oxford Hotel. I’m still trying to forget the images of Patsy Ramsey’s house. Now I want to buy gold ribbon to swing from above my cupboards to the top of my chandelier. As if I don’t already have enough to do –

  1. Finish sketching the Christmas card.
  2. Note to self: Ask Danny to hide all the scissors in the house. NO POPUPS!
  3. Ink the illustration.
  4. Blog the contest to win a Christmas card.
  5. Put away crafting supplies and duct tape the containers shut. Danny should hide them too.
  6. Start baking.
  7. Get outside! It’s supposed to drop from the 50’s to below zero by Wednesday. Maybe I can add one more string of lights to the outdoor display, I mean, take a hike.

Ideas keep popping into my mind. I need to make them stop. I’ll let you know how I manage.

Have you started your holiday traditions? Are you scrambling like I am?

Need a Susie Whisperer? Random Acts of Chat

This photo is begging for a caption dogs begging for treats

My husband, Danny, and I watched the Dog Whisperer on TV last Saturday. An aggressive Ridgeback named George needed to learn submissive behavior. When leashed, he disobeyed his owners and picked up rocks along the trail.

So the dog picks up a rock and that’s a terrible thing because… I sipped my coffee and half-listened while skimming the newspaper.

The show’s host, Caesar Millan, explained the root problem for most aggressive behavior: Insecurity.

My ears perked up. That sounded a lot like human behavior.

Caesar planned to introduce George to a huge pack of similar size dogs including Rottweilers and Pit Bulls. He mentioned if he didn’t show control over George when introduced to the pack, the Ridgeback would be attacked and torn apart.

Well, that seemed risky. More than twenty humongous dogs circled Caesar and poor George inside the enclosure, but I trusted Caesar. *gulp*

Caesar unsnapped George’s leash and the dog’s tail and ears descended. George snarled. Caesar sprang to action and cornered George. He commanded him to lay down. He never touched the dog or praised it.

When George showed calm behavior, ears and tail up, he was allowed to check out the group. The pack took turns sniffing the new dog in all the best smelly dog places. Accepted, the Ridgeback had a wild romp with others in the pack.

Later, Caesar introduced rocks to George. The Ridgeback looked at him like, why would I want to play with those stupid things when I have all these fine canine friends?”

Reunited with his owners, George walked down a rocky trail and ignored rocks and other dogs. His owners couldn’t believe the dog’s transformation.

Credits rolled at the end of the show.

ME: Wow! Did you see that? One minute he was freaking out and the next, the dog was having a blast. He just needed to know Caesar was in control.

DANNY: I need a Susie Whisperer.

ME: I have one. They’re called writers conferences. *wags tail*

 

Being Haunted… A True Story in Time for Halloween

Being Haunted

Most think being haunted requires a creaky old house where a person died unexpectedly. The shock of a fall, suicide, or murder traps them between our world and the next. They believe these lost souls spend their days shackled to a place and a moment in time.

That’s not always how it happens.

My house wasn’t haunted. I was.

A while ago, a high school friend recounted her experience with shadowy ghosts in their turn-of-the-century home. I envied her. I thought it would be cool to see something so extraordinary. I wondered if I would scream and lay awake night after night knowing I was watched by sleepless souls.

Be careful what you wish for.

My own experiences started with a trip to Wisconsin around 2002. Since the drive back to Colorado would take eighteen hours or more, we planned to get an early start. My husband, Danny, set the alarm for 4:30 AM and we went to sleep in the twin beds in my parents’ Victorian home built in 1901. I woke up around 4:10. Since I had to get up in twenty minutes, I decided to stay awake. A thunderstorm brewed outside and lightning flickered. Then one of our kids opened the door to the bedroom. A dark silhouette of a child could clearly be seen against the hall light. Whoever it was walked into the room and between the beds. Something was very peculiar about this shadow. I tried to focus on a face, but couldn’t see one.

I sat up. “Who’s there?” I asked, “Kelly or Courtney?” As I reached out, the shadow disappeared. I looked at the space between the bed. Not even a child could fit between. I lay back down. My heart remained steady as I recounted what had happened. It didn’t make any sense. Someone was there and then disappeared. I hadn’t imagined it. I was wide awake when I sat up. I looked at the clock again. 4:20.

“Danny. Are you awake?”

“Yes.”

“I think I just saw a ghost.”

“I think you did too,” he said.

“Why? What did you see?” I turned toward him, fully awake now.

“When you asked if it was Kelly or Courtney, I saw light fly toward the window.”

Excited, my heart really pounded. Was it a ghost? What else could it be? I dressed and walked across the hall.

“I saw the door to your bedroom open and thought you were getting up,” said Courtney.

Crazy or what?

The other bed was empty. “Where’s Kelly?” My heart skipped a beat. I had seen enough horror movies to know what happens next.

Steps fell on the stairs behind me. My shoulders relaxed as Kelly joined us in the hallway.

“I couldn’t sleep, so I went downstairs,” he said. “I saw a light streak up the steps.”

We all experienced something strange that night. My brain couldn’t comprehend what I saw, so I wasn’t frightened. That would come later.

I assumed that would be the end of it until the next time we visited Wisconsin. My parents’ house had to be haunted. Not so.

Months later back in Boulder, I heard a shuffling in my bedroom and woke up. A woman dressed in black lace with a veil on her head stood on the other side of the bed and locked eyes with me. Her pale face wore a severe and angry expression. I sat up and yelled, “Danny! Look!” but she faded away.

A few nights later the same sound woke me up. I opened my eyes and gazed up at that woman’s scowling face looming above me. She stood right next to my bed. I could hear the crinoline shift underneath her skirt as she bent down toward me. I gasped and covered my head with the blanket.

These unexplainable occurrences always happened upon waking in the night because of a noise they made. Afterward, I would stare at the ceiling and wonder why me? My house couldn’t be haunted. We built it in 2000. We didn’t excavate an ancient Native American burial ground nor was a graveyard nearby.

Sightings would come in waves of three or four then there would be no activity for months up to a year. Then it would start up again. Doors would bang. Twice I saw bright orbs of light on the wall where none could reflect. A plant hanging from a hook would swing.

I continued to question what I was seeing until my night at The Stanley Hotel.

When my sister, Patty, her friends from Wisconsin, and I spent a night there on Friday the 13th, I told them nothing would happen. For one thing the date was so cliché. Come on. Friday the 13th! In the years I’d experienced ghosts, I could never summon them like they do on TV. When they wanted to be seen, they would wake me up. There was no way they would appear. Ironically, I was the only one who had seen them and the skeptic of the bunch.

There was a group from a ghost-busting TV show who also stayed at The Stanley that night. When I asked them what I was seeing if they weren’t ghosts, one of the hosts told me I was experiencing sleep paralysis. But I was neither asleep, nor paralyzed. A woman overheard us talking. After they left, she told me I was seeing ghosts and explained they are most often seen right after waking before we are fully conscious. I wasn’t sure what to think.

Everything that could happen in that haunted hotel did happen. Looking back, people probably held séances to summon the dead. It wasn’t sleep paralysis that pulled my coat down to the end of the closet or that banged overhead all night. It was unexplainable. Paranormal. Ghosts.

Days after my Stanley experience, someone pinched me when I lay down to go to sleep. It happened for the next three nights. I figured it was one of the ghostly children who ran the halls that night. In a photograph taken at the time, a huge orb appeared next to me. I’m still not sure how I feel about orbs in photos, but it’s there nonetheless.

At one point someone told me I should take classes to amp up my ability. What??? I was intrigued, but didn’t want to become obsessed. Nor did I want the responsibility of a medium. That was a life for someone else.

It was the banger who finally ended my interest in ghosts.

It, (I sensed it was a man) would bang on the dresser, the TV, then the ceiling. It had a peculiar sound to it. More like a snap than a tap. Danny said if he went to bed first it wouldn’t start until I came into the room. Yes. He heard it too. It would end after 11:00 then start up around 4:00 AM. I tried talking and then shouted at it to leave us alone and then gave up. This went on for almost three years. I even have a recording of the taps and knocks.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I really needed my sleep. I remembered something about salt. Armed with crystal bowls and a container of Morton’s, I placed several filled dishes around the bedroom. In two weeks the banger stopped. Why didn’t I think of that earlier?

At the Colorado Gold Writers Conference, I met someone who worked at a psychic center. I told him my book, The Foreboding, was based on some of my own paranormal experiences. He said I was in a minority of people sensitive to ghosts. Once I signaled my fascination and started to see them, I became a beacon to other entities. That explained why I’d several different ghosts over the years. Once I shut the door with the last ghost, they left me alone.

It has been almost three years since I’ve witnessed any paranormal activity. It occurred to me it should be considered normal. I didn’t hallucinate them, nor do I have sleep paralysis. Energy can’t be destroyed so where does it go when we die? I would say with some conviction sometimes it sticks around. We call them ghosts.

But remember what I learned. Trapped souls hunt those who can see them in the middle of the night.

Would you like to have a paranormal experience someday?

Be careful what you wish.

Have you ever seen or sensed a ghost?