So…how about that little thing called a Pandemic, eh?
Mother of Dragons, this has been an interesting time.
That’s not the word I wanted to use. You can imagine the word I wanted to use and just insert it there instead.
Btw, I’m not proud of this but last night my sixteen-year-old said, “Mom, since we’ve been quarantined, you sure do cuss a lot more.”
Note to damn self.
Alrighty then, so, in an effort to distract you from looking at the news, or the inside of your house for another 4 hours, here are some things that have been keeping me busy. Maybe you will find something here to help keep you busy, too.
Oops! How did that get on the list?
Planning and Planting a Garden
If you have a sunny spot in your yard, this is your year to shine, girlfriend.
And no, you don’t need a huge plot. You don’t even need real ground. If you have a patio or a deck or a spot outside at all, you can grow a great little garden in pots and random containers you might have around the house already (empty cardboard milk jugs cut in half, for example). And all you need is a bag of potting soil.
And guess what else? You don’t even need seeds most of the time. Did you know you can regrow many vegetables and herbs with basically a bowl of water, some duct tape (just kidding) and some sunshine? It’s true. Here’s how
If you need a guide on what to plant and when, check this book out.
It’s been the gardening bible since, well, like forever. And it’s not just for vegetables. This is all plants and flowers and information on zones and hardiness. Yes, it’s mainly to do with the Western states, however, I know you could use this book no matter where you live. If nothing else, it’s an excellent resource for information on plant names (including the Latin names) and how-to’s.
It’s worth the money.
If you do decide to use seeds, this is my favorite seed company ever. Be sure to request a catalog too. And then, in the winter, you’ll have something fun to drool over.
I recently subscribed to the cutest, more darling art box ever, and you have to see it now too. LOL. No, honestly, I’m so impressed with this service.
It’s called “Let’s Make Art”. It’s a watercolor art subscription box service (they also offer art journaling, and lettering boxes, too) and it is darling! Each monthly box comes with 4 projects (one for each week), an instruction card, watercolor paper, graphite paper (for tracing the outline of the design), extra watercolor paper, and of course, the paints.
It also comes with a little self-addressed, stamped postcard with a story of an artist and a request that you make some art on the postcard and send it to the address listed on the card. This month’s postcard commemorated an elderly artist that had passed away. The postcard was addressed to her family so they could memorialize her.
They also have video tutorials, a private Facebook group, and of course all the other social channels.
This is definitely something my teens and I can do together, and could even be incorporated as a homeschooling Art class if you find you are doing that now too.
The virus caused my gym to close, so I’ve been looking for ways to stay active. On sunny days I walk my labradoodle, Henry, around our neighborhood. But even Henry is starting to look at me like, “another walk? seriously mom?”.
So what else can be done? Here are some ideas:
Resistance bands. These little babies have saved my bootie. You can use them to work your legs, your arms, your butt, your chest…any part of the body, really. This is the set I use and I’ve been really happy with them.
They have actually updated their package since I purchased. Now it comes with instructions, an eBook, and access to online videos. This is a great deal for under $20.00. But the best part about these bands is that they are low impact, which has been super great for me after a herniated disc injury.
There are also some great accounts on Instagram that outline workout routines you can do at home. One that I really like is @homeworkouts_4u. This account is a terrific compilation of all kinds of workouts you can do in your house. I look at it daily.
The key, of course, is to actually implement a workout. I find that if I save a workout idea from this account (once you find a video you like, just click the bookmark tab on the post and it will save), the night before I plan to workout, then I’m already set to go the next morning. Having a plan, and your workout clothes set out the night before, is half the battle.
If you need new workout clothes, (guys, this is KEY to motivating you to workout, I swear!), here are some inexpensive, quality options.
Yoga is another great option during this quarantine time because, hello? Stress. Anxiety. Fears. Yeah, I got all those. Yoga is a great way to focus on releasing all of that, learning how to relax, and, bonus: you can actually gain muscle tone doing Yoga. You might be surprised at how sore you are after just doing some basic stretching.
I follow two yoga programs: one for traditional, beginning to intermediate levels of practice, and one for intermediate to advanced (with some extra dietary tips thrown in as well.)
Here is the beginning to intermediate
Yoga with Adriene (small screen shot of some of her videos below)
And here is the intermediate to advanced
Staying active is a great way to use this quarantine time. If you can, get outside so you are also having exposure to fresh air, and sunshine. And don’t forget to take your Vitamin D supplement (especially if you live in the Pacific Northwest).
This virus epidemic hit our family right at the start of Spring Break, so we were already on vacation mode. However, now our school district has cancelled school until April 29th.
Hellooooo homeschool. Did I mention it was always my secret dream to homeschool my kids? It’s true. They just never wanted to cooperate, LOL.
Actually, as I write this we don’t yet know what the education plan is going forward. The school district may in fact provide some online learning resources for us, but for those that want, or need, to supplement, here are some great resources.
Khan Academy // math, science, computer programming, history, art history, economics, and more. All ages.
Discovery K12 // all subjects, all grades, non-common core math. This is a complete on-line homeschool program and even includes P.E.
Duolingo // learn a new language! Also has an app.
Mystery Science // K-5th grade science exploration. Very interesting, engaging website.
Yoga for Teens // It’s Adriene again here. She also teaches adults (see above) and she has a great segment for teens as well.
Spelling lessons // K12reader.com is a website that has a lot of ads, but it also has a ton of free K-12 grammar and spelling lessons; sadly, topics that aren’t taught in our schools much today.
Art lessons // all ages, but probably geared mostly toward middle and high school age. Covers a wide variety of art mediums. Also see the “Let’s Make Art” section above.
Good luck my friends! And remember, Pinterest is a huge source of information too. I think the key is to just get started and a natural system of organization and flow will evolve.
Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard and Monica Padman is my most favorite podcast these days. Dax is a celebrity on his own okay, but he’s also a GREAT interviewer! He’s so likable, he asks the hard questions, and he brings a lot of humor to the whole show. And Monica is so cute and helps keep Dax on track because he sometimes gets pretty sideways. Fun, easy, informative listening for walks, folding laundry, grocery shopping, or doing dishes. Good stuff here, folks.
My favorite episodes so far are the most recent one with Dr. Sanjay Gupta — he talks about COVID-19 and answers a lot of of my own questions, and the episode with Gwyneth Paltrow. I don’t even know why I enjoy listening to her so much; maybe it’s because we are about the same age and were pregnant with our first children about the same time, but I’ve always enjoyed what she brings to the world. When I heard her mother read her Jane Eyre when she was age 12, I was like, “Dang. No wonder she’s such a smarty pants.” I love her.
Arguably this topic should have been first. I am after all, an avid reader and *kind of* an author. I don’t think I listed it first because I’ve noticed it’s been hard for me to concentrate during this pandemic. I find myself scrolling the news sites, looking for quick answers, and trying to figure out how we are going to manage the next weeks of our lives. I kinda want to build a fort out of couch cushions and call my mom.
However, I did actually read a book in March. But you guys…it was based in Italy, and I had a hard time finishing it because of all the grim news from that country right now.
That said, it was actually pretty decent. A romance novel with a lot of steamy love scenes, a so-so heroine and a mediocre setting work up, but the hero was a great, über alpha character. Fun to read and one of the best covers I’ve seen yet.
The Italian, by T.L. Swan
It’s free on Kindle Unlimited right now. Check it out! Psst: Kindle Unlimited will save your life during this quarantine. You know you want to get lost in a story.
I did it. I actually did it.
I completed the first draft edits of my new story, “Definitely, Maybe”. Here’s a mock cover I created.
Why did it take so long? Well, a couple of reasons.
First of all, I decided mid-way through the novel that I needed to change the perspective from third person to first. And then, after I edited the entire manuscript, I changed my mind again. I dunno? Pre-menopause?
Anyway, just under 80k words is a lot to rewrite. Twice.
So that took forever to complete.
But now it’s done and I’m happy with the third person perspective. So next it’s round two of real editing and making sure the characters are fully developed, and all plot lines are solid.
The second reason I’ve stalled with this book is because I feel like the story was sort of stolen from me. I guess.
You guys have heard of Nanowrimo, right? The National Novel Writing in a Month program? It’s basically a website you join that helps keep you accountable for a daily word count. It’s a fun community and did absolutely help me feel motivated to complete my manuscript in 30 days.
Now, in order to “win” the challenge you have to submit your manuscript to the website so they can verify you didn’t just write a bunch of words that don’t make sense. It’s a simple upload and it takes about 2 minutes.
So I did that.
And shortly after that I received an email with my “certificate” that I’d finished and
“won”. I should mention that anyone who submits a manuscript before the deadline and is verified is considered a “winner”. But still, there is a real satisfaction about winning that is 100% fulfilling.
Anyway, fast forward a few months after submission — maybe 4 or 5? I can’t remember now. Anyway, I’m scrolling Facebook and I see this ad for a movie. Come to think of it I can’t remember the last time I saw an ad on Facebook for a movie. That might literally have been the only one I’ve ever seen. hmm.
So I see it’s two of my favorite actors, Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves and of course, I click on it.
And then my mouth dropped open. And then I cried.
It was essentially my story. My same story.
Same basic plot (a destination wedding where two strangers find out they both know the bride and groom), same enemies to lovers troupe.
Even some of the same freakin’ character names. My heroine was originally named Lindsey and the hero was named John. The movie version has Lindsey as the heroine and Frank as the hero. I’ve since changed my character names.
Even the name was almost the same. The movie is called “Destination Wedding”. My submitted title was “Definitely, Maybe”.
The director changed the location from my snowy Timberline Lodge to his sunny wine country. He also made changes to the story that were big enough that no one could say it was mine. The conversations were different, the character arcs were different. It was enough that it couldn’t be pinned as stolen.
The good news (?) is the movie, in my opinion, was terrible.
The bad news is, is that I think it was horrible because it was put together way too fast. I’ve never seen these actors act so poorly, and I LOVE them both! The story just did not flow at all, and in fact the two actors were the only ones that had speaking roles in the whole movie.
By the way, I looked at the movie on IMDB just now and here’s a quote from the trivia section,
“The film wasn’t announced until after it had already finished filming and entered post-production.”
“It was filmed in ten days.”
No kidding. Wonder why.
In the end, who knows if it was truly stolen. I’m sure I’m not the only one that has suspected this of happening before, and to be honest, it feels really pompous of me to even say these things out loud. It just seems so strange that only months after I submitted a complete (albeit, ugly mess) manuscript, I see an ad for a movie that’s the same story.
I’m sure it’s just a really bizarre, timely, coincidence.
Anyway, there’s nothing really I could do about it so I just sort of left my story alone for a long time. My heart for the story kind of evaporated, and to be honest I’ve never really recovered it. BUT, I’m going to publish the damn thing anyway because it’s taken two years of my life. And at this point I am considering giving it away for free as a way for me to let go of the discontent and bring some GD good karma into my life.
And good karma, folks, is a good thing.
Gosh, thanks for hanging in there this long with me. This was definitely longer than a 5-minute read.
Happy April. Happy Easter. Here’s to a healthy population and being social again very soon. I miss you all so much!