#writerslife

#Review: The Good Place

Sometimes, entertainment comes from the most unexpected places.

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When I saw a promo for The Good Place, I thought there was no way it could be anything but stupid. I continued on, hopping around #Neflix and as is often the case, 247 clicks later I hadn’t found anything that I wanted to see. Desperate, I took a deep breath and returned to The Good Place. I’m glad I did.

The premise of the series is that after we die, we experience one of two possibilities: We either go to The Bad Place and endure a hell made especially for us, or we go to The Good Place where whatever we desire is available to us. The story centers around Eleanor, convincingly played by Kristen Bell. She lands in The Good Place, only to realize she is there by mistake. Ted Danson also plays a pivotal role, but it is an ensemble cast with no weak players.

To my great surprise, the show is Laugh Out Loud funny. The humor is witty, with a humorous take on the human condition. I laughed because I could relate. It is also an emotional journey, with characters who are flawed, broken, with deep wounds that impact their choices and their beliefs more than they have realized. Moreover, the story arcs are creative and unexpected in that, “ did that really just happen” sort of a way, while still being true to the characters personalities.

I hope Netflix renews the series. I’m already addicted. 5/5 Stars

My 600lb Life and Me

I have been trying to lose weight for a few years now. I’ve joined Weight Watchers, Tops, followed Atkins, Body Clutter, and the Body type diet. You name it, I tried it. I might have lost a pound or two but always gained it back. The desire for sweets and potato chips was stronger than my desire for fitness.

I also have the bad habit of watching TV while I eat. This adds to my tendency to overeat because I’m not paying attention to the food. Then I discovered the TV show My 600 Pound Life, which follows a patient for one year in their weight loss journey. Now, if I watch TV while I am eating, I watch this show. Trust me, this makes me acutely aware of how much food I eat.

I binge watched every season in their entirety, fascinated with the success stories and in awe that the doctor, renown bariatric surgeon Dr. Nowzaradan, didn’t throw in the towel with several of these patients. I certainly would have. 

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The show is mesmerizing, and I believe it’s at least partially responsible for the combined 64 pounds my partner and I have lost since starting this “Program”. I recommend it to anyone who is struggling with their weight.

As a writer, I also realized that the show closely follows the Hero’s Journey. Each episode begins with the ordinary world of the patient. We see the patients at home sharing their backstories. It’s a bit of an info dump but it works.  Next, they are offered the chance of help, but something stands in their way. Transportation to Houston where the doctor is located can pose a huge issue. Finally, a call to adventure forces the patient to make the trip and they meet the mentor, Dr Nowzaradan. Entering Houston, they cross the first threshold to become his patient. Win, lose or draw, their lives are never the same.

After the call is answered, we follow the patient through a series of tests and challenges. The doctor’s first order is to go on a very low-calorie diet and lose a large number of pounds in a month. Most patients fail this test and fall prey to temptation, some several times. They receive assistance from nutritionists, physical therapists, counseling for their emotional issues, and sometimes drug rehabilitation. With the help of these allies they deal with their issues (or not), and experience a revelation. Their reward is weight loss surgery. But the surgery is not the magic elixir many of them believe it will be.  

Now the patient must learn to eat properly and increase their activity using all they’ve learned. There is usually a setback but with the mentor’s help, they pull things together and begin to lose again. The show ends on a hopeful note with the patient making progress towards their transformation.

Over the course of their multi-year journeys, these heroes can loose 400-500 pounds. By their example, I’m reminded that I too can reach my weight loss and fitness goals.

#Review:John Wick 3 5/5 Stars

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As usual, when going to see an action movie that’s been in the theater a while, my partner and I were the only women in the audience for John Wick 3. Not that it matters; I just find it interesting.

Keanu Reeves did not disappoint. As Wick, a classic “bad guy that you root for”, he swaggers. And smolders. Moreover, he made all of the improbable fight and torture scenes believable. And there were many such scenes. The action seemed unrelenting, and created fast pacing that skirted the edge of being too much. Exhilarating.

The situation the protagonist found himself in was interesting. He’d been excommunicated from the ruling order of bad guys and forfeited his life. His quest was to get his life back.

Unfortunately, a situation(or set-up) is not a plot. Stuff happened. No rising action, no darkest moment, no arc of growth for Wick.

Still, Keanu on the screen for two hours kicking ass and not taking names is worth the price of admission. Add to his presence a couple of well trained, beautiful attack dogs and you have a blockbuster. My rating:5/5 stars.

Grateful for Everyday

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Last Christmas, festivities ended for us when we came home from a family dinner and discovered Chloe, our 15-year-old puppy had thrown up and was acting lethargic.   She is a tough as nails terrier mix so this was totally out of character.

We were at our vet first thing the next morning. Our vet ran blood work and found some of her scores were well above normal and her liver enzymes were so high their instruments could not measure them.  Arrangements were made to have her seen by a specialist the following day. He did an ultrasound and found masses on her liver and pancreas. He took samples and we went home to wait for results. The passing days were excruciating. In reality, we thought we were bringing her home to die.

At the end of the week, we were told that no cancer cells or massive infection were detected.  Next stage would be surgery to take bigger samples. There were no guarantees that anything we found would be treatable or even that she would survive the samples being taken considering her blood work.

Since then we have been afraid to leave her for more than a couple of hours.  She has gotten all the attention she wanted, special food.  She cried and whimpered at night and since she sleeps in our room, that was problematic for those who had to get up early and go to work.

So, Chloe and I became night owls.  She slept peacefully in front of the fireplace until I made an attempt to go to bed.  Then she was would waken and cry.  As the weeks went on, she felt better, not crying as much.  But still wanted our nightly routine. She would sleep but periodically raise up to make sure I was on the sofa and then go back to sleep. That progressed to me being able to go to bed at some point as long as the light was left on for her.

For the record, I can’t seem to catch up on sleep.  I fall asleep if I close my eyes and sometimes even while I am talking.  Concentration is nonexistent. But that’s okay. She’s worth it.

Last week we went back for lab work. Her tests we much improved, some were actually normal.  She did have a UTI and was given antibiotic. She immediately perked up. She started playing with her toys. She steals things again, daring us to chase her and play tag.  She sleeps through the night and no longer needs a light.

Often, we have medical decisions to make and don’t get to find out if we made the right choice.   She still has one test that is too high and is not out of the woods. But for now, we have our puppy back.  And we are grateful for every day.

Bad Habits Require New Habits

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Those of you following my newsletter know that I’ve embarking on a journey this year to achieve a few goals. Not resolutions, but concrete, measurable goals. Many of you’ve joined me. So far, we’ve set goals and crafted them for maximum effectiveness using the SMART goal strategy. 

Sometimes, resolutions or SMART goals involve creating new habits. You’ve probably heard the adage it takes 21 days to create a new habit. Unfortunately, it is rarely that simple. New habits can take much, much longer to develop. A quick Google search will guide you to interesting and more accurate information. (Suffice to say establishing a new habit requires dedication, persistence (including a promise to yourself to never give up), and an overarching desire to win. Did I mention persistence? 

Other goals involve eliminating longstanding habits. Here is something to think about: It is far easier to get rid of a bad or maladaptive habit when you find something to replace it. For instance, one of my 2019 goals is to eat less and better-for-me food. I can replace bad-for-me food with foods that are better—easy. Sort of. But if I want to eat less, what can I do with the desire to eat more? I replace the habit of snacking with behaviors that are incompatible with snacking. For example, crocheting. I can’t eat and crochet at the same time. I also can’t brush my teeth and snack.

(You know what I mean. Doesn’t everyone like the feeling of freshly brushed teeth?)

At times, it is also important to think about WHY you engage in the not-good-for-you behavior. For example, let’s say you want desperately to stop picking your fingernails. It’s more than a habit; you understand you do this when you’re anxious. With this knowledge, you can find other things to do when you’re nervous, things designed to soothe you. Drinking a cup of tea? Deep breathing exercises? Calling your BFF? One of these options would always be available to you. When you finally make the commitment to stop picking your fingernails, you’ll have these other tools at your disposal.

The point is, when you are trying to stop doing something, you have to replace it with something else. In fact, start doing the new, positive thing BEFORE you tackle stopping the old thing.

Make sense? What habits do you want to change?