Thursday, April 19, 2018

Fad Diets - The Saga of Lyndsie - Part 26

I’d like to take this time to talk a little bit about “fad diets” or in other words, “Why other people’s eating habits offend you”.

I had never considered myself a “dieter”. I love food. I love eating. I love trying new things, especially “weird” things.  Now, I can’t say that I enjoy all food because I have definitely tried some stuff that just tastes wrong (like natto). However, overall, I would definitely say that I’m an eater. That is why it took me a long time to finally admit to myself that I may have sensitivities to food or, at the very least, that some foods make me feel worse than others. The main offender food – whether insensitivity or no – is a food that has recently been cited as “the root of all dietary problems”.  However I thought, that while cutting this food out may help me feel better, it would also hopefully have the side effect of helping me lose weight. And, when I had decided to limit this food, I knew that I was going to be lumped into the “fad diet” crowd. 

A crowd that I will admit, used to draw scoffs and subdued eye-rolls from myself as well.

Originally, I entertained the idea of going on the Whole 30 diet or the Keto diet, but when I proposed those ideas to the manfriend he was like “no way in hell.” This would mean that I would be cooking all my own food while I watched him eat his “bachelor diet” of mac’and’cheese, hot dogs, cereal, & chips and salsa. All the while secretly hating him for 1. Not having to deal with (or admit to) the fact that food makes him sick. And 2. Not having a negative body image about himself. Thus, my next thought was, “what can I eliminate that will still allow James and I to eat the same food at home.”

So I went there, I decided to cut gluten. Or at least, the most obvious sources of gluten in my life: pasta, bread products, & pizza. Now, if we make hamburgers, manfriend can have a sandwich while I just eat the meat and toppings. It works mostly OK. Every now and then I plan to cheat or eat something with just a little gluten, but overall I wanted to see if I would feel better: happier, more energetic, & with less gastrointestinal issues.

The week I decided to really focus on this, one of our regional directors was visiting from Montreal and offered to buy us all pizza for lunch. When I thanked him and apologized that I wouldn’t be able to partake in this, one of my coworkers proceeded to lecture me about why the gluten-free diet was a fad.

She went on to explain to me that I will always crave stuff like pizza because I grew up on it and I’m used to it.
And that gluten wasn’t my problem, but eating meat was.
And how I needed those carbs because I work on a computer and carbs fuel brainpower. This she based on a study from two doctors showed that carbs prevent diabetes more than fat did.
Oh and that if I wanted to lose weight, I needed to count calories rather than cut gluten.
That I should just eat more vegetables in general.
And that sugar is also a problem, including fruit, so I should stop that too.
Oh and why haven’t I gone to the doctor to get tested (note: I have an appointment but it’s not even just that. I could not biologically have a sensitivity but can still feel bloated/depressed from eating 3 slices of pizza.)

Pretty much she gave me the impression that my choices deeply offended her and that I was completely stupid.

But you know what? After having spent a lot of time around people who are “gluten-free by choice”, have celiacs, have allergies, are vegetarians by choice, are vegetarians w/o a choice…etc. I realized something…

It’s really none of my business what these people want to eat unless I make it my business.

Most of the people I know who have these preferences/requirements, are generally very flexible and do not expect you to accommodate them. But there are time when I do want to accommodate them. For instance, in regards to SCA camping & meal plans, I have invited people w/ limited diets to participate. This is because I want the company of people and certain food issues, including gluten-free, are easy enough to work around. (Now, if you have too many food allergies, you’re probably on your own b/c I don’t want to accidentally kill you).

So, here is my question: Why is food seen as such a personal issue? This is one of the things that really irks me.
Why do people feel the need to press you into eating the donuts/cookies/bagels they made/bought for the office? 
Why do you have to make me feel guilty for not eating those things?
And, why do they think they know better than you what your diet should be?

For me, feeding people is a joy. As an Italian, I express love through food. Food brings community. I will admit, if someone turned something I made down, I would assume that they didn’t like it and feel a little bummed. However, I would feel a lot worse if someone ate something I made/offered and then got sick from it.  That is kind of the opposite of building community.

One could argue that people worry about the dieter. And yeah, some fad diets are probably not good for you, but we are all adults and thus, we don’t really need other adults telling us what we should/shouldn’t eat. If you are really concerned for someone and their “diet” choice, maybe you should just ask them questions to ensure that they’ve done the necessary research. It’s kind of crummy to get all up in arms about someone doing/eating something that don’t or won’t do. Make sure you think about how hard this may be for them already.

During that meeting, the one where the director bought pizza, I was literally trapped in a room full of pizza-enjoyers, stuck with the shittiest salad in all of creation: lettuce, shredded cheddar, tomatoes, banana peppers & onions. I know he tried to support my choice but honestly, if one person had given me shit for not eating the delicious-smelling pizza, I probably would have just started bawling.  I <3 o:p="" pizza.="">

So, the next time you want to judge someone’s diet choices, please be sensitive. They may be jumping on the bandwagon, or they may be trying to be healthier but either way, they are making sacrifices that they may not exactly want to make. Unless they are asking for advice, or asking you to cook for them, it really shouldn’t affect you what they choose to or not to eat.

For me, personally, the plan is to cut out ­gluten-y things and replace it with more vegetables and whole grains of other types. I may not look it, but I am nearing my mid-30s and have realized that my body doesn’t play as nice as it used to. I am not as active as I was in my 20s because I’m not hiking across campus all day long with a 30lb backpack. I am also more financially comfortable and YET more responsible. This means that I can afford to eat out more often, but also that I have a lot more bills as well. Eating out is terrible for the wallet and definitely gives you more options for temptation (fried everything, pizza, mac & cheese at every restaurant).

What I want to do is build a habit of healthier eating rather than just dieting to lose weight. I want to do this for manfriend as well because he’s also in his mid-30s (though he refused to admit it) and it couldn’t hurt but also because it’s easier to eat together if we eat the same food. I’m hoping the main effect of this is that I will feel better: less-bloated, less upset stomachs, less lethargic, less depressed. If I lose weight also – yay! If we get used to eating ½ plate of veggies (yes, that’s 2-3 “servings” in 1 meal), then all the more successful it’ll be!

That being said, I would appreciate support for my endeavor. And, if I break down and have a piece of pizza or a cookie now and then, please don’t judge me. We’re all human, afterall.

 Image result for vegetables

Friday, April 6, 2018

Adrenaline & Endorphins - The Saga of Lyndsie - Part 25

At this point in my life, every time I get to the gym, it feels like an accomplishment. Every morning I get to the gym, it feels like a great accomplishment.

Sure, sleeping is nice. Laying in bed lazily on a relaxing Sunday morning is amazing. However, stubbornly trying to get in those last 5 or 15 or 30 minutes of alarm interrupted sleep on a dark, weekday morning is just… Painful. Conversely, getting up immediately when the alarm rings and your eyes and legs don’t want to work, is almost as bad.

If you knew me at all, you’d know that I am not a morning person. AT ALL. So the fact that I’ve been working to make a routine of snoozing for 15 minutes or less Is probably about as hard a job as landing a man on the moon. But dammit, I need to start  getting up to be productive. Some days, that might mean getting into work early. Other days, it should mean being able to go to the gym. Right!?

Well I e been trying. This has happened in the last month less that I would have liked. Ideally, I would like to have one day a week where I get up early and go. (I know, that more than one day is probably better, and 3 to 4 days is ideal). However, good freaking luck with that one LOL! One day, maybe at least make it a habit I hope…

I mean, when I do make it to the gym in the morning everything else feels amazing. My body, while tired, feels energized. My mind seems to work with more clarity and my mood definitely increases. You would think these benefits would be enough to get me going every day. Unfortunately, not Quite yet.

However, mornings when I’m stumbling awake is really the best free time I have for the gym. After work, I’m always running errands and trying to do something like hang out with my boyfriend. And honestly, there really aren’t enough hours in the evening to do all the things that I want to do. Again, you would think all of these reasons would be easy motivation to get to the gym in the morning. It’s not like I need sleep anyway… Unfortunately, that’s still not enough.

Ugh... how do I work up my resolve to just get my lazy ass out of bed and get gym ready? Telling myself to do so seems to be the only thing that works and only works about half the time. Maybe I need to be hypnotized… LOL.

So this is the other thing I'm trying to do...capture this amazing post gym feeling. The heightened senses, quick thinking, positive mood and energized feeling. If I could bottle that up so I could revisit it in the wee hours of the morning, I'm sure that would help. As I can't do that, then maybe, re-reading this post occasionally will convince me that it’s totally worth it.

So, dear Lyndsie, future Lyndsie, if you’re reading this… Get yo ass up! Do something good for your body and mind.
Love, past Lyndsie 

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Welcome to Anamnesis (a.k.a. the title change) - Anamnesis The Novel

What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

- Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

As some of you may already know, I have had to make a minor (monumental) change to my completed cyberpunk novel, "Insignia". I had to change the name.

Back in 2012 when I had started writing this novel, I searched the name to make sure there wasn't a similar novel with the same one. At that point in time, there was not. However, the problem with sitting on a novel for six years means that the world of literature changes and someone steals your title....Yes, I'm looking at you, S.J. Kincaid. (Ok, ok, I also bought your book).

Insignia by S.J. Kincaid was released as the 1st in a series, in 2013. Nice going Lyndsie, way to get on that. :-\

Needless to say, not to be overshadowed by an already prolific author, I needed to find a new title. It's sad, too, because Insignia is very pertinent to my book, easy to say, and most people can figure it out. I wanted to stick to the one-word title because it captured the feel of my story - the spartan, dark world. Unfortunately, all the other more common key words just didn't have as much oomph as "Insignia". Or they were taken.

Timeseer (already a book with that name anyway)
Savant (already a book here too)

And then there were multi-word titles that I debated on though they seemed to be a stretch:

The Memory Code
The Mech Wars (I didn't even bother looking this one up because I'm sure there's already something out there)
Being Human
Bright Star

Finally, I turned to synonyms of the two words I like the most: Insignia & Memory. I didn't find anything good for insignia except "colophon"which is a bookmakers symbol. Specifically,

a statement at the end of a book, typically with a printer's emblem, giving information about its authorship and printing.

However, there are a lot of great words for "Memory": Remembrance, Flashback, Reminiscence, Retrospection, Cognizance, Mindfulness, Anamnesis....

That's when I fell upon that last one and said to myself, "That seems like sci-fi." When I looked it up, it hit home even further:

Anamnesis [an-am-nee-sis] (n): the recollection of the Ideas, which the soul had known in a previous existence, especially by means of reasoning.
- Platonism 

Honestly, there's no more perfect title for this novel. 

So now I just need to get it published before someone else steals it.....

Monday, March 26, 2018

Indie vs. Traditional Publishing - The Saga of Lyndsie - Part 24

In 2012, I began to write a book as some of you may know (ok, I am kidding. If you are one of those that still doesn't know that I am/have been writing a book for a while now, then you must have been living under a rock).

Anyway, in 2013, 2015, 2016, & 2017, I have finished this book. Yes, I finished it multiple times because it has undergone some edits every time I want to declare it officially "finished".

However, I have sat and sat and sat on this book. What was I going to do with it? The idea of submitting to traditional publishers literally paralyzed me. Though, I couldn't really place my finger on why.

Most people would just say that I'm lazy and/or not committed enough to my writing to work really hard and do research 45 hours/day and get 1000 rejections before finally getting accepted somewhere. But in actuality, I think my feet-dragging was really related to other things.

- I wasn't sure I was even good enough to be a writer.
- I didn't feel like I was good enough to be a writer.
- Thus, why put a ton of work into trying to get published when I wasn't really worth it?
- Also, I was overwhelmed and didn't know where to start.
- Losing control over much of my writing via contracts was not appealing
- Conflicting information
- This highlighted one of my WORST skills: doing research

 However, I have realized that NOT getting my work out there was kind of killing my self-worth too. That was when a friend of mine opportunistically started this online writer group with bi-weekly meetups. Then from that, I learned of the Angry Robot publishing open door which encouraged me to fine tune my story for publication. THEN I found CIPA (Colorado Independent Publishers Association).

I have been to two CIPA meetings so far and have found them very inspiring. And I learned one very great thing about Indie Publishing - It really relies on networking. One of my BEST skills.  This last meeting was a presentation on Traditional vs. Indie publishing and couldn't have been more enlightening. I have weighed this decision in my head for a long time, and think I've finally come to a decision.

First of all, I am going to weigh out the Pros & cons of both styles of publishing. Now, let me tell you, this is only what I understand (and the result of 4 years of research) but it could be incomplete or plain wrong. However, if it's the latter, I would blame the websites and "respectable people" i have gotten it from.

Traditional Publishing
- (perceived as) More respectable
- Less work in promotion/marketing for the author
- (generally) Provides cover art, editing, typsetting etc.
- Access to a wider network
- Advances and contracts to ensure work
- Take a larger % of your earnings
- Shady contracts/contracts that can affect you long term
- Less control over cover art and edits
- Some of the pros above are inconsistent between publishers (like some require the author to do a lot more marketing etc).
- Slower to publication/printing
- Competing against many other books

Indie Pub (formerly-known as Self Publishing)
- Keep more of your earnings
- More control over story, art, and distribution area
- Your own schedule
- More overall Freedom
- Faster to publication/printing/distribution
- More investment financially from author
- More time required to "get big" with marketing/promos
- Quality may be perceived lower
- Competing with a lot of other authors

So the more I have looked these over, the more I have begun to feel that Indie Pub is going to be the future. Books come out quicker and they are more to the taste of the author. And since it seems that everyone is an author these days, making a living off of it may not be as easy as it used to be.

For me, I think it's the better step. I mean, don't get me wrong, I would love to be a professional writer where writing IS my day job. However, at this point, it doesn't feel like possibility from either route. Because, even if I did get picked up by a Trad Pub, it is no guarantee that I will be able to live off that. In fact, it's almost guaranteed to be the opposite at first. I would still have to work my day job while simultaneously churning out works to stay relevant. That seems more stressful than I would like.

Right now, I just want my story to be read. To be loved (and hated), shared and talked about. I want to hold a copy in my hands and say "This...this is mine".  So, I have taken the initial steps to become a published author - I bought business cards, a web domain, and have begun thinking about crowdfunding for cover art and editing fees.

I WILL have a finished, fucking, novel. Even if it takes me 10 years to do so.

P.S. OMG YOU GUYZ, I'm super excited about my business cards.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Fight Like A Girl (and Kick Butt!!) - The Saga of Lyndsie - Part 23

I had written this post in honor of International Women's Day, but have not had a chance to post it until now. Better late than never, I suppose!!

This day has been significant for me since I was living in Italy at the age of 20. I remember walking around Perugia during my lunch break from school, shopping and getting coffee, and a couple of men handed me some flowers. It was a bunch of purple flower and something else that reminded me of a daisy.

At first I said, “No grazie. Non ho soldi.” (No, thank you. I don’t have money.”
But the man insisted, “Prego, prego. É la festa delle donne.” (Please, please. It’s Women’s Day. )
At the time, I didn’t understand.  I had never heard of “Women’s Day.” I had to ask a shopkeeper what Women’s Day was.
“You Americans don’t know International Women’s day?”

And I hadn’t known. It was never something that was ever mentioned when I was growing up (or if it was, it wasn’t made enough of a big deal that I remember it).  I remember thinking at the time how great it was to have a day that is recognized internationally to celebrate women.
As there are many influential women in my life, I would spend some time celebrating them here. Please be aware, this will not be an exhaustive list because time and practicality dictate that I will not get to them all.

However, before I start, let me briefly share a short history of International Women’s Day from Wikipedia. The first women's day was observed in February 1909 when 15,000 women marched through the streets of New York demanding improved pay, shorter hours and voting rights. The day was mostly celebrated by socialist movements and communist countries in the following decades. In 1975, the United Nations proclaimed the year International Women’s Year and christened March 8 as Women’s Day. There is a much richer history of this event, but you can find all that information on the Interwebz.

Influential Women to me: 

1.       My Grandmother, Leslie Jagiello: All the women in my family are amazing and I am proud to know them. However, if you want to see someone that has a fire burning inside her, you just need to turn to my grandmother. She is over 90 years old and keeps saying she’ll live to be 100. She is stubborn, silly, intelligent, a hard worker, and very loving parent & grandparent.  She loves babies and bourbon. She took me on so many adventures when I was a child from cruises through Annapolis harbor, to farther away retreats in the Bahamas. 
She has showed me just how strong a woman can be even after enduring heartbreaking hardships. She inspires me every day with her actions – she never acts her age – and her (sometimes) outspoken-ness. She is never afraid to be herself. And, even at 91, she is beautiful. I am looking forward to being a feisty, whisky-drinking, laughing, travelling old lady, just as she is. 

2.       My Mom, Marian (Jagiello) Clark:  If knowing my grandmother wasn’t enough to understand the strength women have in my family, then knowing my mom would hit it home. She is definitely one of the strongest women that I know. I mean, after all, she had to deal with ME as a child. :P As ½ of the pair that raised me, I learned a lot from her including how to be open-minded, tolerant, kind, loving, fashion-forward, and to take care of myself (emotionally, physically, and in life).  Her continuous challenging has made me strive to be a better person and has set my own expectations of myself high. She’s silly as hell and I kind of love it when she gets drunk at social gatherings and dances.  She’s also seriously good at sewing – a trait that I unfortunately didn’t inherit.  Again, she’s beautiful. I got good genes!

3.       Women Fighters: I want to say first that I am always in awe of women fighters (fencers, heavies, martial artists, MMA etc.) but I would like to highlight three in this post from the SCA.
-          Tatiana Bonieux (Goss): Tatiana is an inspiration for so many reasons. She is a five-foot-nothin’ fencer who is just totally fierce.  She will stab you in the face before you realize she’s even moved. More than once she’s stabbed me and I have fought on for a few moments before I realized that I was dead. Much how I imagine a real sword fight going with her in fact…Recently, she got her Master of Defense peerage and since then she has just exploded. I am so excited to see her living up to the role with both her mentoring and her personal growth.  Not that she didn’t have these qualities before – she always has – but since the MoD-ding she is no longer just a (very) skilled fighter but has grown into a peer.  Her support of the fencing community and fencers individually is inspiring. Every time she says “Good job, Lana!” I know she means it. And every time she apologizes for maybe missing something, I know she means it. Tatiana, in addition to being fierce & fast, is also earnest, humble and very positive. All of these qualities are those that I fully admire.

-          Mahara Vandale (Jennifer Thomson): Mahara has been an inspiration, not only for me, but for an entire household.  House Vandale was formed in 2013 but the formation was really only official in name. Before that time, people flocked around Mahara and her husband, Tom, and they created a community. Any who knows me, would know that community is something that I value very highly. Mahara is inspiring because she is always welcoming to anyone who wants to be a part of her life.  She is also a talented fencer and artisan. She’s always willing to help and support her friends and even her acquaintances. The most notable thing about her personality is that she is easily delighted and excited about the cool things in the world, and that her friends are interested in. I have learned a lot from her in her prowess and positive attitude.

-          Yazida bint Zarif (Yaz Ostrowski): A true renaissance woman: talented, creative, martial, generous, sarcastic, and kind. She taught me so much when I was a punk kid just starting out. To this day I still have some of her hand me down garb! She showed me the joy that was the SCA with a healthy dose of reliquaries, cooked babies, cat training, and other shenanigans.

Future Blog Topics

1. Shut Up and Let People Enjoy Things
2. No means No
3. Livin' the American Dream
4. Why do We Hate Ourselves?
5. She/Him/He/Her/It
6. Just Label It!
7. You Should Dance
8. Culturally Mis-Appropriate Post
9. People are All Secretly Voyeuristic - they want to know shit about your life
10. Talk Dirty to Me
11. Food Talks - Why are people so offended when you refuse food from them?
12. Say it to my face - Sarahah and all its bullshit
13. SCA Vs. Steampunk vs. Cosplay
14. Lunch breaks
15. My first camping event
16. My first midwinter

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Life Before My AoA - The Saga of Lana (SCA Newcomers addition) - Part 1

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about newcomers to the SCA and how to recruit and retain them. In trying to come up with ideas on this topic, I have started thinking back to when I was a newbie. I have also been analyzing conversations I've been having to people not in the society. 

So, I have decided to write a series of blog posts about my experiences as a newcomer in the SCA and my thoughts around the subject. Here is part 1!

I recently got in touch with an old friend through Facebook. After a brief exchange of pleasantries, “Where are you living now?” “What do you do?” “How’s life?”, I started talking about the SCA. After a few messages where I rambled to her about events, fencing, and the arts I was doing, I had a striking realization.

What I do for fun isn’t normal.

Normal people play baseball and make quilts. Normal people watch football, sing in choirs, go to shopping malls, collect knick-knacks from vacation, and read books.

Normal people do not dress up in “funny clothes” that they made with their own hands and hit their friends with sticks on the weekends. Normal people don’t research historical recipes for glue and then go make it in their basement after buying exotic material on the internet. Normal people don’t even realize that something like the SCA could exist.

My physical therapist is one of those normal people. She likes skiing and travelling. She reads non-fiction biographies. She is also incredibly fascinated by my pursuits in the SCA. So much so that she asks me about it almost every time I see her.  And while she always is excited to hear my tales, there is something about how all the pieces interact that doesn’t quite register with her. To her, the SCA is this gigantic exotic thing that people don’t really do—like being in a play all the time.  

The individual aspects of the SCA seem to be easier for her to understand. For instance, fencing. That’s a sport in the Olympics, so she can picture it. There’s also costuming. Everyone has done Halloween, right? But the moment that you put costumes together with fencing…the imagination starts to become stretched. Then add costumes + fencing + medieval rapiers + alternate names & personas + honorific titles + fictional place names that overlaps a real city? Mind. Blown.

You know what? I bet this is how newcomers feel when they dip their pinky-toe into the Society. Thinking back to my own beginnings in the SCA, I realize that I was a much more reticent participant than many newcomers these days. I fenced for a year—a year—before I went to my first event (Caer Galen Midwinter!). This means one year in a Triplette fencing jacket. One year with a pistol grip, cup-hilt epee.  One year without garb.

Before my first event, I realized that I needed a medieval dress and name. I had no idea how to make any of that stuff. Or even where to go to learn. Luckily for me, my mom liked to sew and had years of Halloween-costume experience. So we went out and bought a bunch of the prettiest synthetic fabric we could find and a McCalls or Butterick pattern and set to work making the epic dress.

This is me and a friend in my first 2 SCA dresses that I ever made (she's in #1, I'm in #2).

Note: Not actual boyfriend
For a name: I spent about 5 minutes researching a period version of “Lana” because it sounded cool. And I wanted a tiger on my device. Cuz Tigers. Also swords. Cuz Swords.  I didn’t think at all how hard that would be to reproduce or even that I would do such a thing, because…who does these things?

Apparently people in the SCA!

I have come a long way since then (currently one of the heirs to the baronial coronet of Caerthe) that I have almost forgotten what this beginning feels like. That is, until I talk to anyone outside of the SCA.

I appreciate these interactions because it allows me to almost see the SCA from an outsider’s perspective. It helps me come down to their level (not implying that they're stupid but it gives me compassion for their lack of understanding) and explain things in a way that a non-Scadian would understand. This comes down to even the wording that I use. Instead of saying “baron/baroness” I will start with “local leaders” etc. until the concept of medieval reenactment actually begins to sink in.

In the SCA’s drive for recruitment and retention, I will ask all members to do one thing. Think about your first time in the SCA…your first 5 times…your first year. How overwhelmed did you feel?
Then, take those understanding and apply them to newcomers. The next time you are talking to a newcomer or potential recruit, be mindful that this could be their first time hearing about any of these concepts. Even if they have been coming around for a little while, the Society is so vast that there are probably parts of the SCA that will still be completely new. Have patience with them. Understand that their questions on topics you’ve already explained are not because they don’t care or are lazy, but because they may not have grasped it the first time around.  

We want to set up all potential members with enough knowledge to entice them back but not with some much that they feel like they can’t commit to it all.  Save that for their peerage. ;-)