Category Archives: Brainwaves

Learning Curves

and Earning Curves.

Curves2 About a month ago, I decided that eating right and losing weight wasn’t enough to make me healthy, so I started doing something I haven’t done in at least twenty-five years.

I started working out regularly. Five days a week. Yes, you read that right. Robin, the queen of avoiding exercise, is paying to work out.Curves3

That’s one of my cute little coaches checking out my progress at the laptop. (Curves has machines that spy on you and report back to the coaches. Very 1984.) I want to look like her. Can they make me lose about forty years?

My workouts take between 45 and 50 minutes and consist of 30 seconds on each machine, 30 seconds of aerobic motion between machines, and stretches. I do the entire circle twice, and all the major muscle groups are involved. The final machine tells me my workout is over by flashing “END.” How’s that for propping up a weak short-term memory?

CurvesHere are my results from Thursday. Green dots are great, yellow dots are okay but not great, and red dots are BAD. (Sort of like the colors on traffic lights, but I digress.)

And now for the life lessons.

  1. I have to pay for workouts to be properly motivated to do them. It’s just like everything else. We don’t usually fully appreciate anything that has cost us nothing.
  2. Most of the time, lack of progress is my own fault. My first two weeks of working out, I made very little headway. I wasn’t sore afterwards, and I didn’t sweat. At first, I thought the machines were too easy, but then I realized maybe, just maybe, the problem was me. I started pushing harder for range of motion and more reps. Guess what? I had no trouble working up a sweat, and I was plenty sore. It wasn’t the machines. IT WAS ME. Just like in every other aspect of life, when I have a difficulty, I should examine myself first.
  3. The harder I work, the more I achieve. Though music is my strongest intelligence, I didn’t learn to play the piano really well until I began to practice regularly. (Props to Austen’s Lady Catherine on this one. She was right.) I don’t succeed at anything without putting effort into it.
  4. Sometimes, good intentions aren’t enough. I thought I was doing everything right at Curves, but all my muscle groups weren’t sore. My abdomen wasn’t sore at all. I started paying more attention to the muscles which were supposed to be worked at specific machines. I isolated them and focused on using them, adjusting my body until I felt them. Guess what? It worked. My sore abdomen can attest to it.
  5. Don’t jump to conclusions. A few days ago, I noticed a lump on my arm and nearly freaked out, thinking it was a tumor. Then I realized it was a muscle! I hadn’t seen a defined muscle anywhere on my body in years. I’m flexing now!

Here’s some encouragement for you, lovely readers. Set your goals and go for them.

You can do it!


Why is it …


in the summer, when it finally cools down,
the thermometer reads 60-something, I’m perfectly happy
sitting around in short sleeves and barefeet?

flip flopsSM


But, in winter when the thermostat reads 60-something,
I dress as if I’m taking the serum to Nome by dogsled?





For the new year, a single word

EngageThis year I’m skipping the New Year’s resolutions. Mine don’t last long. A week, maybe. Or until the plate of fudge is passed round. (Diet? What diet?)

Instead, I’m choosing one word for the year. The idea is to have clarity and sustained focus. Plus, a single word is easier to remember.

My word for 2014 was READY. Instead of something passive like CONTENTMENT or COPING, I chose something proactive and expectant. After all, I’d been asking God for success. If I pray for wind (like Hudson Taylor did when that ship was becalmed), then I ought to put up the sails.

Did READY change my life? Not in a dramatic way, but yes. It highlighted my need to do more than tread water and be patient. READY challenged the way I approached my in-progress novel, too. It pushed me to keep moving forward, and as a result the book is set for an early-April release.

My word for 2015 is ENGAGE. It’s another “step-up” word. No hanging back, no sitting on my hands, no remaining in my “safe” introvert corner. ENGAGE brings me into contact with people and prods me to join the conversation. I’m in for an exciting ride.

An encouraging word from Aslan  (Image: Lancia Smith)

An encouraging word from our friend, Aslan. Because choosing to ENGAGE involves courage,oh yes.
(Image Credit: Lancia E Smith. Photo links to her website)

How about you? Would you like to choose a word for 2015? Check out

Peppers or Horses?

chocolate-covered-jalapenos-3023Valentine’s Day is drawing near, so I went looking around the web for gift possibilities. I had my eye out for something that is not the same old thing.

First I discovered this unusual treat: chocolate-covered jalapenos. They’re touted as perfect for one’s Valentine, being both hot and sweet.

Um, okay. Definitely different. (Have you tasted these? I think I’ll stick with strawberries.)

And then I stumbled upon Trotify, a device that makes your bike sound like a horse.

Trotify-2-537x358Yes, you read that right, like a horse. (Who thinks of these things?)

And how great is this? Because it’s a gift for someone who has everything!

Even a nerd, for some assembly is required.

Perfect for the hipster, recalling the charm of urban horsemanship without the fuss or bother.

Just right for the history buff too … if she rides a bicycle. And doesn’t mind a making little noise.

Golly, what would Jane think of this whimsical device? (What would my school principal think, if I rode my Trotified bike through the halls?)

So which would you prefer to receive for Valentine’s, the pepper or the horse?

Before you answer, watch the little video.

Catvertising! Who knew?

“Because no one wants to see ads anymore. They want to see cat videos.”

Well, okay then. So how do we at JSI market our books using cats?

Problem: I don’t have cats these days, just writing students. Can THEY sell my books?

2013 students-1

Well, maybe. If I can get them to hold the books right side up!

2013 Students-2

And quit laughing! 🙂

2013 Students-3

(Goodness, it looks like these poor fellows can’t even read!)

Well, it was worth a try. The cat wins! Meow!cats-with-thumbs-cravendale-military-strategy

Music, the “Quickening Art” – Kant

If you don’t believe in the power of music, watch this video of Henry, a man who has spent the last ten years in a nursing home.

This clip is from a new documentary called Alive Inside which follows the “awakening” that occurs when people who exhibit memory loss and Alzheimer’s are given music to which they have a strong emotional connection — often, music they grew up with. In the video clip, Henry is barely responsive before one of his caretakers puts headphones on him and starts up one of his favorite tunes on an iPod. Almost instantly, Henry begins to sway from side to side and sing with his eyes wide open.

After his headphones are removed, Henry is excited and answers questions about his favorite music, recalling memories. “I’m crazy about music, and you played beautiful music, beautiful sounds,” he says. “Cab Calloway was my number one band—guy I liked,” he remembers, before breaking into a vibrant rendition of “I’ll be Home for Christmas.”

According to neurologist, Dr. Oliver Sacks, “Music imprints itself on the brain deeper than any other human experience. Music evokes emotion and emotion can bring with it memory.” He adds, “Music brings back the feeling of life when nothing else can.”

The interviewer asks Henry, “What does music do to you?” and he responds, “It gives me the feeling of love, romance! … The Lord came to me and he made me a holy man, so he gave me these sounds.”

What is your favorite music? What will awaken you when your memory seems to be gone?

“The Guys Have It” Romance Short Story Contest

Could one of these fellows be the next Nicholas Sparks?
YOU decide!

As promised (see Write Like A Girl?), here is your chance to find out what really goes on in my high school Creative Writing class! These fine gents, under duress, have each produced a 6-8 page Romance short story.

And now one of them will win a $10 Starbucks card. It’s up to you to choose! Links to the stories—and the all-important “poll” for voting—are below.

Sadly, you can vote only once. (Even if you’re his mom. 🙂 But hey, bring your friends!) The poll will remain open until May 19, 2012.

Naturally, they LOVE Mercy's Embrace!

Standing: Sensei Swag, Peter Gray, Tom C. Fordil, Raúl B. Phantomhive
Seated: Hill Brown, Saul Tee, Sam Sprichwörter

To read a story, click on the title.

• Tom C. Fordil, Perfect
• Sam Sprichwörter, Shattered
• Saul Tee, Upon the Dawn of Two Suns
• Raúl Phantomhive, Adventurous Love
• Hill Brown, Peril in the PACEs
• Peter Gray, The Heart of the Honest
• Sensei Swag, Friend Request