Laugh and Live Longer

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Welcome to Health and Wellness Wednesday. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “Laughter is the best medicine,” but do you know how important laughter actually is to your well-being?

My fourth Toastmasters speech is about laughter. Here’s the video, but for those of you who don’t have time to view it or can’t access it, the speech is typed out below.

You buy a week’s worth of groceries, load them in the trunk, hop into the passenger seat, and wait for your husband to get in and drive, only to realize you’re by yourself.

You’re working at your desk. The phone rings and you press it to your ear, but there’s no sound because you grabbed the stapler.

You pay to fill up your tank at the gas station, get a few miles down the freeway and notice you’re almost on empty. Ding-dong! You forgot to pump the gas after you paid for it.

It’s good to poke fun at ourselves.

Comedian Milton Berle said, “Laughter is an instant vacation.”

We all need a little giggle get-away, and everyday life is full of hilarious stuff.

My friend, Jennette Marie Powell, told me a lot of the guests at her wedding had a hard time not busting up when she and her husband knelt at the altar. It turned out the groomsmen had put tape on the bottoms of her husband’s shoes with HELP ME written on the tape!

Another friend, Jolene Navarro, shared some real-life stories: “My family has a dark sense of humor,” she said. “My father was only 49 when he was killed in a plane crash. Heavy sadness, lots of tears and grief, but also lots of laughter for a life lived without regret.”

Jolene’s mother was talking to the funeral director and couldn’t stop laughing when he offered her the more expensive urns. “Roger would die if I spent that much on a vase,” she said.

Jolene continued, “Ten years later, we followed our mother’s wishes and had her cremated. At her memorial we got notice that the urn would not be there on time. They asked if we wanted to wait.

“We cracked up. A few hundred people looked at us like we were crazy. My dad had always said Cindy would be late to her own funeral. Well, we went ahead and started without her.

I love how Jolene summed it all up: “Life has deep, dark moments of tears. You have to balance it with humor, even at inappropriate times. Maybe especially at inappropriate times.”

I found a cool quote by Michael Pritchard: “You don’t stop laughing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop laughing.”

Medical studies reveal how laughter promotes longevity. It boosts our immune systems, reduces stress, lowers high blood pressure, is good for our hearts, relaxes muscles, can lessen pain, helps bond relationships, and gives us strength to deal with rough times.

Children laugh an average of 300 times a day, but for adults, it’s only 15 times.

What can we grownups do about that?

My online research yielded some good guidelines. For instance, get a pet.

Join a laughing yoga class. Yes, there really is such a thing!

Writer Winsome Coutts says, “Laughter is a valuable part of your authentic happiness! Laughing each and every day is as good for you physically, emotionally and spiritually as taking your vitamins and getting exercise.”

Here are a few of his suggestions: “Play and be silly with small children.

“Look into laughing therapy. There are schools and therapists out there that will help you ‘learn’ to laugh.

“Play fun games that induce laughing. Games like charades and Pictionary™ are good examples.” (My personal favorite is Balderdash.)

“Watch funny movies or TV programs.”

Of course, humor is subjective. What’s funny to me might not be funny to you.

Are there certain things that always make you smile? There are some things that never fail to tickle my funny bone, like silly animal flicks, baby laughter, and when people imitate their pets.

The world is full of comedy. YouTube has tons of humorous clips.

Do any of you remember the episode on The Mary Tyler Moore Show about the funeral of Chuckles the Clown? Before the funeral began, Lou looked around. “I wonder which ones are the other clowns?”

Murray said, “We’ll know soon because they’re all going to jump out of a little hearse.”

Mary scolded them for being disrespectful when a man had just died.

Then the minister talked about the characters created by Chuckles, such as Peter Peanut, Billy Banana, Aunt Yoo-Hoo, and Mr. Fee Fi Fo, who had a little catch phrase whenever he got knocked down and would pick himself up and dust himself off. He’d say, “I hurt my foo-foo.”

Mary got the giggles and couldn’t hold them in. Then she tried to cover up when people looked at her. (Cough, cough – press lips together, gesture.) You have to watch it on YouTube to get the full impact. It’s seriously funny! I had tears streaming down my cheeks.

There’s another video clip that I bust up over. Maybe you’ve heard it? A woman called in to a radio station to complain about the placement of deer crossing signs.

She said, “I mean, why are we encouraging deers to cross at the interstate? I don’t get it. That’s such a high-traffic area.”

The DJ was speechless.

The woman continued: “It’s so irresponsible of us to allow these deer crossings to be in areas where they are likely to be struck by oncoming traffic. You’d think they’d put deer crossings in smaller towns, maybe like at a school crossing. It would be a safer place for them to cross.”

Finally, the DJ responded: “They aren’t telling deer to cross there. It’s just more of an alert for drivers so they know it’s a high deer population.”

The woman: “The government put the deer crossing there. They can direct the deer population anywhere they want to by moving that deer crossing sign.”

DJ: “You seem to be under the misunderstanding that the deer are attracted to the deer crossing sign.”

Woman: “Well, yeah, the deer crossing sign is there to let the deer know that’s where they need to cross.”

DJ: “Right. And all these accidents you had occurred after you saw a deer crossing sign?”

Woman: “Exactly.”

See what I mean?

And then there are the one-liners that always lift our spirits:

If at first you don’t succeed, then skydiving isn’t for you.

(Long pause.) I just got lost in thought. It was unfamiliar territory.

On the other hand, you have different fingers.

Remember what Dr. Seuss said: “From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.”

I wholeheartedly agree, folks, so be sure that each and every day you Get your giggle on!

That was a fun speech. I hope you enjoyed it.

For more info on the fascinating benefits of laughter, check out this super informative and interesting article on Health and Families. It’s worth taking a few moments to read.

My friend, Steve Attkisson, suggests reading this funny book: Anatomy of an Illness by Norman Cousins.

The best-selling, groundbreaking classic by Norman Cousins on combating life-threatening illness through humor and patient participation in care.

“Anatomy of an Illness was the first book by a patient that spoke to our current interest in taking charge of our own health. It started the revolution in patients working with their doctors and using humor to boost their bodies’ capacity for healing. When Norman Cousins was diagnosed with a crippling and irreversible disease, he forged an unusual collaboration with his physician, and together they were able to beat the odds. The doctor’s genius was in helping his patient to use his own powers: laughter, courage, and tenacity. The patient’s talent was in mobilizing his body’s own natural resources, proving what an effective healing tool the mind can be. This remarkable story of the triumph of the human spirit is truly inspirational reading.”

Sounds like a wonderful book to me!

Buy the Twentieth Anniversary Edition on Amazon
Anatomy of an Illness: As Perceived by the Patient (Twentieth Anniversary Edition)

Do you think laughter is healthy? Do you have a favorite one-liner you’d like to share? Has laughter helped you deal with difficult times? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you!

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Posted in Funny, Health and Wellness, Humor, Jokes and Pranks, Toastmasters | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Free Paranormal Mystery Thriller eBook – The Decomposer: Fallow

If you’re a fan of paranormal mystery thrillers, you’re going to love C. Sonberg Larson’s debut novel, The Decomposer: Fallow, Part 1.

Free eBook download available from April 10th through the 14th
Save $9.99!

This one’s not for kids. Nope. This is an edgy page turner.

Jonathan Thornton Flynn owns a billion-dollar diamond corporation, has a strong marriage, and two children. He’s at the top of the proverbial ‘food chain’ of human society.

A backfired scheme costs Johnny the person he loves most, and he decides to end things once and for all. His plan goes off without a hitch… until Auster finds him.

Now Johnny has a new body, a new life, and a new purpose, whether he likes it or not.

Johnny struggles to discover who, or what, he is now, and why Auster brought him back.

The Decomposer: Fallow

Free eBook download – Friday, April 10th through Tuesday, April 14th
Also available in paperback

I gave this book five stars. A unique, well-written thriller, which is both plot and character driven. The Decomposer is compelling and fast-paced with multiple layers of intrigue, mystery, horror, paranormal, time travel, and more, all brilliantly interwoven into an original tale that left me wanting more, more, more. Larson’s debut novel is sure to garner a huge fan base that begs to get their hands on Book 2 ASAP.

Joanna Woods gives it five stars. “I’m not a horror junkie, but this book is more about relationships and the ramifications of one’s actions as stories are woven within Jonathan Flynn’s story. The creepy aspects are written so well that it felt like my skin was decomposing with the main character.”

About the Author: C. Sonberg Larson lives in Southern California and has been writing stories since the age of seven. Larson’s stories and poetry have received awards and recognition. Larson also wrote several chilling tales that were featured in the annual Ghost Walk in Riverside, California. Visit www.csonberglarson.com

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Spring Break Sale on Curse at Zala Manor – Monster Moon Mysteries Book 1

“This tale will rattle yer timbers, squiffie,
and chill ye to the bone!” ~Vlad

eBook – 99 cents
For kids ages 8 to 12

Spring Break Special

Curse at Zala Manor by BBH McChiller
 Curse at Zala Manor (Monster Moon Book 1)

(Also available in paperback)

Book 1 in the fun, spooky Monster Moon Mystery series for ages 8 – 12. It’s almost Halloween, and twelve-year-old AJ Zantony’s world is threatened by an ancient curse that releases wicked pirates who had been trapped for centuries in his Aunt Zsofia’s creepy mansion, Zala Manor.

The pirates–a vampire count, a pegleg skeleton, and a zombie–have three goals: to find a lost treasure, unleash the restless dead from their graves, and to settle a very old score by destroying the Zantony bloodline.

AJ has to stop them before midnight during Aunt Zsofia’s annual Halloween party. Except he has a big problem–monster phobia! He’s scared to death of monsters. But if he doesn’t act fast, the streets of Craggy Cove will be crawling with zombies.

Will AJ overcome his fear and stop the monsters or bail out? Will Craggy Cove become Zombie Central? Who will be alive when midnight tolls?

Get Books 2 and 3, too!

Secret of Haunted Bog, Monster Moon mysteries, Lynn Kelley, Lynn Kelley Author, BBH McChiller

Secret of Haunted Bog (Monster Moon Book 2)

Legend of Monster Island, Monster Moon Mysteries, Book 3, BBH McChiller, Lynn Kelley Author, Mikey Brooks

Legend of Monster Island (Monster Moon Book 3)

Reviews of Curse at Zala Manor:

In the vein of The Goonies and There’s a Batwing in My Lunchbox comes Monster Moon: Curse at Zala Manor…. This book has it all: secret tunnels and talking animals, mad science and real monsters. This is the perfect…book for in-class reading in elementary schools and early middle schools. Equal parts scary, mysterious, gross and silly, it’s pure fun. It’s definitely recommended for all collections aimed at fostering a love of reading.         ~Monster Librarian

Fun, silly, creepy, gross kiddo read.
If I were a teacher, this is what I [would] read my class…. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
~Michele Lee, Booklove

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Happy Saint Patrick’s Day – Photo Essay

kilt, Irish festival, L.A. County Fairgrounds, St. Patrick's Day, Lynn Kelley, Lynn Kelley author

Me and a random leprechaun in a camouflage kilt.

This was two years ago at the Los Angeles County Irish Fair and Music Festival, L.A. County Fairgrounds in Pomona, California. It was a blast!

Irish Festival, Los Angeles County Fairgrounds, St. Patrick's Day, Lynn Kelley, Lynn Kelley author, http://lynnkelleyauthor.wordpress.com

A family affair at the Irish Festival with my husband, three of our four kids,
their spouses, and our two grandchildren

Entertainers and visitors alike wore kilts.

kilts, Irish dancers, bagpipes, argyle socks, Irish festival, Los Angeles County Fairgrounds, Lynn Kelley, Lynn Kelley author, St. Patrick's Day, http://lynnkelleyauthor.wordpress.com

Color this day green! 

In the fountains, in the beer, 

on shirts, baby strollers, and people’s hair!

Irish festival, L.A. County Fairgrounds, St. Patrick's Day, pony ride, green water in fountains, green beer, bagpipe, Lynn Kelley, Lynn Kelley author, http://lynnkelleyauthor.wordpress.com

This was our first Irish festival and it had everything we hoped for (lively music, dancers, good food) and then some: Carnival rides, ponies, elephants, a petting zoo,  sheep herding demonstrations, plus much more.

St. Patrick's Day, leprechaun, Irish saying, Irish festival, L.A. County Fairgrounds, Lynn Kelley, Lynn Kelley author, http://lynnkelleyauthor.wordpress.com

Flag of Ireland, Irish Festival, kilts, L.A. County Fairgrounds, St. Patrick's Day, Lynn Kelley, Lynn Kelley author, http://lynnkelleyauthor.wordpress.com

The Irish tunes worked their magic on some of us, so we danced a jig or two!

I added to my bucket list: Learn how to Riverdance.

St. Patrick's Day, Irish Festival, L.A. County Fairgrounds, elephants, petting zoo, dancing, Lynn Kelley, Lynn Kelley author, http://lynnkelleyauthor.wordpress.com

Do you know the history of Saint Patrick? If not, watch this cute video.

I was going to save this Riverdance flashmob video for next year,

but for those who enjoy Irish dancing as much as I do,

I hope this will lift ye spirits and bestow the luck o’ the Irish upon ye, too!

You’re not buying that accent, are you? 

I didn’t think so, but, hey, I tried. 

leprechaun, Irish festival, L.A. County Fairgrounds, Lynn Kelley, Lynn Kelley author, http://lynnkelleyauthor.wordpress.com

Do you celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day? Cheers to good luck, good friends, and good health! 

Posted in Holidays, Photo Essay, Saint Patrick's Day | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Reaching Goals Using Creative Visualization

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This is a different kind of post on health and wellness. Dreaming, setting goals, and working toward those goals plays an important role in our overall well-being.

I have a lot of goals these days, and I’m applying creative visualization as I work to achieve them. Here’s a Toastmaster speech I gave a few months ago. If you can’t access the video, the text is below.

Have you ever dared to dream an impossible dream, or did your dream seem so far reaching that you buried it deep within your heart, where it left its mark in the form of a little crack, a reminder that it still claims a piece of who you are?

Did you try for that dream, but failed? Or are you one of the few who achieved their impossible dream? Why does one person fail yet another succeed? How do the successful ones do it?

Does the old saying “practice makes perfect” apply? Yes. But there are various ways to practice. Take Jim Thorpe, for example, a Native American who proved to be one of the greatest athletes of all time. In 1912, Jim and the other American athletes who qualified to compete in the summer Olympics headed to Stockholm on a voyage across the Atlantic.

While the other athletes trained on deck, Jim kicked back in a lounge chair, relaxing with his eyes closed. A reporter named Francis Albertani asked, “What are you doing, Jim? Thinking of your Uncle Sitting Bull?”

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Jim Thorpe – 1912 Olympics Photo via Wikimedia Commons

“No,” Jim said. “I’m practicing the broad jump. I’ve just jumped 23 feet, eight inches. I think I can win it.” He did win, taking the gold in both the decathlon and pentathlon.

Jim Thorpe practiced creative visualization. I have no doubt it played a huge role in his success as an Olympian, a star NFL running back, and a major league baseball player. I don’t know if he was a pioneer in visualization for athletes, but nowadays, it’s a common technique athletes use to perfect their skills.

First, what is creative visualization? It’s similar to day dreaming. We use the power of the mind to achieve goals, become successful, be healed of an illness or disease, manage pain, grow spiritually, or pretty much accomplish anything we wish by envisioning the desired result in our mind’s eye.

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Photo via Wikimedia Commons

According to Rich Avery of Life Compass Blog, “It’s not just about seeing it clearly, but hearing it, smelling it, and tasting it, too.” He explains, “When you continuously focus on an idea or image in your mind, you program every cell in your body and mind to work toward achieving that idea or image. Once you impress it into the subconscious part of you, it eventually becomes ‘fixed’ and you automatically attract and move towards that which you desire.”

Some may consider this nonsense. Others think of it as mind over matter or the power of positive thinking. Still, others call it the law of attraction, but the law of attraction, in my opinion, takes matters to a higher level than mind over matter or the power of positive thinking.

Rhonda Byrne, Author of the book, The Secret explains, “Law of attraction is forming your entire life experience and it is doing that through your thoughts. When you are visualizing, you are emitting a powerful frequency out into the Universe.”

Buy The Secret on Amazon.


The law of attraction can have positive or negative effects, depending on what kind of thoughts people dwell on. If you’re around negative people, chances are you’ll adapt similar thinking.

Naysayers are dream stealers. Tune them out. Let them consider themselves practical thinkers, but let them apply those thoughts to their own lives, not yours. And certainly not mine.

Research reveals how powerful our minds are. Not only do our thoughts and beliefs affect our moods and behavior, but thoughts physiologically affect our bodies.

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Dreamstime copyrighted photo

For instance, there have been studies done on people with multiple personality disorder, which I found to be fascinating. Various personalities in one patient exhibited distinct illnesses or conditions from the other personalities. So Patient A had a persona who had diabetes and his blood sugar levels were different from the blood sugar levels in the other personas of Patient A.

Patient B had a personality who wore eyeglasses, and that personality had different eye pressure readings than the other personalities in Patient B.

There are also instances of people who have discovered wounds or scars on their bodies after dreaming they suffered an injury, such as some people who dreamed they were caught in a fire and then discovered burn marks on their skin when they woke up.

Our thoughts hold power and can affect not only our own bodies. For example, some Tibetan Monks viewed an ultrasound of a cancerous tumor in a woman and then prayed it out of existence.

Does that blow your mind or what? There’s even a video of it on YouTube.

(The healing can be viewed about five minutes into this video. He explains it before that.)

Successful people from all walks of life practice creative visualization to achieve their goals. You might be surprised to learn many famous people throughout history have gained success by applying this same method.

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“Albert Einstein 1947″ by Photograph by Oren Jack Turner, Princeton, N.J. – The Library of Congress. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Albert Einstein visualized each stage on the way to his goals. He said, “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”

Shakespeare said, “Nothing is, unless our thinking makes it so.”

The concept of visualization can even be found in the Bible under Mark 11:24: “What things so ever you desire, when you pray, believe that you received them, and you shall have them.”

When I practice creative visualization, I like to make it a prayer because I believe it’s is a gift from God, just as life itself is a gift from God.

Dig up those dreams, those buried dreams, and breathe life back into them. You can use creative visualization to become the person you’re meant to be. So dare to dream the impossible dream, over and over and over…until it’s no longer a dream, but becomes your reality.

* * *

Do you have goals you’re working toward? How do you go about it? Have you ever tried creative visualization? Please share how you fulfill your dreams. We’d love to hear what you have to say!

If you enjoyed this post, I’d love it if you would sign up to receive future posts. Fill in your email address in the Subscribe window near the top of the right-hand sidebar.

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The Skinny on Kale

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Welcome to the second Health and Wellness Wednesday. Today, I’m honored to have Karen McFarland guest posting. She’s got lots of tips and great info to share with us about kale.

Take it away Karen.

Thanks, Lynn.

It seems that some of our friends have health concerns that have caused them to be very sick with headaches, food allergies, inflammation, acid reflux, and toxins—yeah, you got it—nasty stuff.

Are you having those issues, too?

I’m here to share the skinny on something that can help you feel better. It might not be on your list of favorites, but when I share with you some of its awesome benefits, you may just change your mind.

What am I talking about?

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Home grown Kale, upper left corner. Photo via Jenny Hansen.

I’m talking about Kale.

Kale?

Yes, kale.

Kale is the sexiest of all vegetables. Yeah, I said sexy. Why? Because it provides a rich earthy succulent flavor and packs more nutritional value with fewer calories than almost any other food on earth. And the cool thing is, it can be found in markets throughout the year with its season reaching a peak from the middle of winter through the beginning of spring when it has a sweeter taste, especially the Tuscan variety, and it’s more widely available.

Like its cousins the broccoli, cauliflower, and collards, kale is a descendent of the wild cabbage, a plant that is thought to have originated in Asia Minor and brought to Europe around 600 B.C. by a faction of crazy Celtics.

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Photo by Jenny Hansen

Curly kale played an important role in early Europe, having been an important crop during ancient Rome and a popular vegetable eaten by peasants throughout the Middle Ages. It was English settlers who brought kale to North America in the 17th century.

So let’s take a look at the benefits of this sexy vegetable, shall we?

First of all, this bad boy Kale has some of the best cholesterol–lowering benefits of any vegetable around. It has recently been proven to lower the risk of certain types of malignancy such as cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate.

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Photo via Diana Beebe – WANA Commons

It is now recognized as promoting comprehensive support for our body’s detoxification system, even helping to regulate detox at a genetic level, whoa…while playing a major dietary role as respects to both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Okay, now that I’ve convinced you, how do I eat it, you say?

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Photo via Jenny Hansen

 

Well, if you want to heat it up–I mean cook it, you will want to prepare it properly. To do this you want to ensure quick and even cooking by cutting the leaves into ½” slices and ¼” stems then let them sit for approximately 5 minutes to enhance its health promoting properties, then steam it for another 5. Voila, you’re done.

But one of the best ways to enjoy Kale is fresh in a salad. And the most desirable trick is to give it a massage. Yes, I mean you need to get in there and give that sexy green vegetable a deep tissue massage. You can feel it relax as the leaves darken and shrink to almost half its volume. The flavor changes as well. In fact the color and texture will change and soften with its pre-massaged bitterness replaced by a sweet green flavor.

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Photo by Jenny Hansen

Your taste buds won’t lie, people. They will sing because it really is the king of the salad. And because you’ve massaged its leaves, *shivers*, it will have an amazing texture and just the right amount of sweet and bitter flavor so you don’t need much salad dressing. It’s suggested that all you need is a little extra virgin olive oil along with a pinch of salt and vinegar or lemon juice and you have a perfectly composed salad.

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Photo by Lynn Kelley – WANA Commons

Now, if you really want to turn things up a notch, you can juice it! That’s right. Kale gets even sexier when it’s mixed in a juice with some beets and cucumber in a carrot base. Or perhaps you might prefer an apple base instead for an even sweeter experience.

Whatever the case, you can always bank on its delicious flavor along with its awesome fresh nutritional benefits. And don’t let not having a juicer stop you. Most health markets now have juice bars which makes drinking down that bad boy that much easier and affordable.

So what do you think? Have you been in a slump? Feeling a little funky and sluggish lately? Fighting a flu or cold? Or heaven forbid you have a more serious illness? Could you be using some of that sexy Kale?

(As a sidenote: Kale is rich in vitamin K, so if you’re one that’s prone to blood clots, please eat in moderation and eat lots of garlic because it’s a natural blood thinner.)

Lg-Twitter-ShotKaren McFarland resides along the Southern California coastline as an author of literary fiction whose previous background as an accomplished interior designer made it possible for her to have worked with clients from all over the world. She is married and has two sons. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, getting lost in a book, walks along the beach, great food and conversation, shopping, smooth jazz and rock ‘n roll, driving along PCH, top fuel drags and travel.

Vist her blog here.

Are you familiar with the Dirty Dozen list and the Clean Fifteen list? Kale is on the Dirty Dozen list.

“These lists were compiled using data from the United States Department of Agriculture on the amount of pesticide residue found in non-organic fruits and vegetables after they had been washed.” Here’s the 2015 Dirty Dozen list.

 

 

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Mystery Mayhem– Make Readers Crave More

Welcome, Lois D. Brown!

Lois is here to share valuable tips for writing a good mystery. Be sure to enter the rafflecopter for a vacation getaway!

Take it away, Lois.

Thank you, Lynn!

Robbed of Soul collageEvery story is a mystery in its own right. If there is no mystery, readers won’t invest the time. They want answers.

Will the girl fall for the right guy? Will the alien kill the human? Will the idiot teenager work through her pubescent angst? Will the protagonist find the murderer before she herself is killed?

I just released Robbed of Soul, an adult mystery that combines a modern-day murder with the 150-year-old legend of Montezuma’s treasure in Utah. While this is the fifth novel I’ve published, before writing it I boned up on some elements of writing an effective mystery.

Here are six of my favorites:

Point #1: A mystery is really a collection of smaller mysteries with one “biggie” that carries through the entire book. For example, there may be a murder investigation going on, but don’t forget about the unsigned note, the threatening phone call, an unidentified skeleton, a missing person, etc. 
 
Point #2: Once you know your plot, make a list of clues you can use in your story. And don’t forget the one “crucial clue” carefully hidden so readers will remember it only when the reveal is finally given.
 
Point #3: You have to have  red herrings—bits of information designed to mislead readers. If you don’t, your reader may figure out the mystery mid book. The is the kiss of death to any novel.
 
Point #4: Motive, motive, motive. For Robbed of Soul, I interviewed a veteran police investigator. He said in real life there are only a  handful of reasons people commit crime (besides mental illness). These are: revenge, jealousy, self-protection, personal gain, and love (or hate).
 
Point #5: Have the “right” number of suspects. Some say no more than six or seven serious suspects. Any more than that and you lose your reader.

Point #6: Unlike an “action” story, mysteries must contain promises to reveal more
information. These “promises” are what make your reader turn the page. Not the
car chase or the fist fight. Don’t forget that once you make a promise of information, you must deliver or incur the wrath of your reader and collect bad reviews.

Do you like books? Do you like Zions National Park? Join the ROBBED OF SOUL book launch giveaway and you may win 3 nights in a vacation townhome in Kanab, Utah.
(Thirty minutes from Zions.) A $450 value!
(Or a $100 Amazon gift card if preferred.) 
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rescued but psychologically damaged from a failed mission, ex-CIA officer Maria Branson takes the job of police chief in the quiet town of Kanab, Utah. Rest and relaxation are the doctor’s orders. She gets neither. Instead, a missing mayor, the spirit of a dead Aztec warrior, and the over-confident-yet-attractive head of Search and Rescue await her in a town whose past has almost as many secrets as her own. As Maria investigates a modern-day murder, she disturbs a world of ancient legends and deadly curses. Yet most lethal of all is Maria’s fear someone will discover just how empty her soul really is. 

Available at Smashwords, Google Play,
and Amazon – Robbed of Soul: Legends of Treasure Book1

 

 

Thank you, Lois. Those are wonderful tips for writing a mystery novel. Congratulations on your new release. Sounds like a great mystery!

 

Posted in Books, Giveaways, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Cheers for Chickpeas – Garbanzo Beans

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Welcome to the first post in my new blog series, “Health and Wellness Wednesday.”

I’m on a wonderful adventure cruising down the road to optimal health and well-being. Wow, what a difference to actually feel good and have a normal, active life! Adios, brain fog and chronic fatigue.

I’m excited to share my journey and what I’m learning with you. My three-year-old grandson, Grasshopper, is chemically sensitive to foods and things in the environment.

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Ninja Doll, Me, and Grasshopper

His mother has been playing detective, putting all the pieces of the puzzle together to eliminate and avoid things that compromise his health, and she’ll be writing some guest posts here.

As caregiver for Grasshopper and his little sister, I play an important role in working with his parents in a united effort to help him.

Many of these posts will highlight Grasshopper’s progression, plus my daughter and I will share about our own journeys to health and fitness with the hope that others can benefit from our experiences.

For this first post, let’s focus on a super healthy recipe.

I should let you know up front that I hate to cook, and if it isn’t simple, I won’t attempt it.

Homemade Hummus

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Hummus is made from chickpeas, aka garbanzo beans. Whatever you call them, they’re an amazing food that can be eaten alone, in soups, salads, curries, and other dishes.

This is a fairly easy procedure, and considering how nutritious and healthy chickpeas are, it’s worth the effort. Here are some of their benefits:

  • Helps you feel fuller so you eat less in between meals
  • Helps regulate blood sugar
  • Great source of fiber that aids your digestive system
  • Supports the cardiovascular system and can help lower your LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides
  • A good antioxidant
  • Good source of protein

For more details, check out The World’s Healthiest Foods link,

Ingredients you will need:

DSC039831 teaspoon tahini
Juice from one lemon (or lime)
Two cups cooked chickpeas
¼ cup olive oil
Dash of sea salt
5 peperoncinis
¼ cup peperoncini juice (from the jar of    peperoncinis)
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup water

You can buy canned garbanzo beans (already cooked), but first you might want to read about possible health issues HERE and HERE.

I got my dry garbanzo beans (about three cups) from the bulk bin at Sprouts.

DSC03955First, rinse them. Next, presoak them for about eight hours. I soaked mine in the fridge overnight. For the quicker method, read about it below.

Presoaking helps reduce raffinose-type oligosaccharides. Say what? Basically, it will help minimize flatulence. Presoaking also cuts down on cooking time.

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While soaking, the chickpeas will absorb water and expand.

Rinse, then place in a pot and fill with water about one to two inches above the chickpeas. Bring to a boil.

 

DSC03965If any film/foam bubbles up, skim it off.

DSC03968Turn the heat down, cover partially with lid, and simmer approximately an hour and a half or until the chickpeas are soft. If all the water is absorbed before they’re fully cooked, add another cup of water and continue cooking until they’re done.

Quicker method of soaking according to The World’s Healthiest Foods: Boil the beans for two minutes, take pan off the heat, cover and allow it to stand for two hours. They recommend soaking for at least four hours minimum, though.

You can also cook them in a slow cooker on high heat for 4 hours or low heat for 8 to 9 hours. Cook until they’re tender. Read about it here.

Or cook in a pressure cooker about 45 minutes. Read about it here.

Rinse. Pick out any loose hulls and throw them away.

In food processor, blender, or Nutribullet, add tahini and lemon juice and blend together.

Add the rest of the ingredients and blend well. If the mixture is too thick, add more water or other liquid (such as peperoncini juice). That’s it!

DSC03988Use for dipping chips or vegetables or as a spread.

My hummus turned out pretty good. Next time I’ll use jalapenos instead of peperoncinis.

It tasted better the next day, so setting in the fridge overnight helped bring out more flavor.

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Because I like spicy foods, I added some of the remaining chickpeas to the jar of peperoncinis to marinate them in the juice.

Later, I added them to my salad, and they tasted great! Actually, fantastic!

A brilliant idea. Try it!

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One cup of chickpeas is about 270 calories.

Chickpeas can be stored in the freezer for up to six months.

 

Other Recipes:

http://www.inspiredtaste.net/15938/easy-and-smooth-hummus-recipe/

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/hummus-for-real-recipe.html

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/hummus-recipe.html

DSC03985For roasted chickpeas, go here.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/557013-how-to-roast-dry-chickpeas/

If you roast them, keep an eye on ‘em. I baked mine at 350 degrees for 35 minutes and some burned. Darn!

As you can see, I’m new at this and have a lot to learn. It’s going to be a fun journey. I hope you’ll be a part of it and share your thoughts.

Do you like chickpeas? Have you ever made hummus? Do you have a favorite chickpea recipe to share with us? Any tips? Favorite healthy seasonings?

If you enjoyed this post, I’d love it if you would sign up to receive future posts. Fill in your email address in the Subscribe window near the top of the right-hand sidebar.

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Car-free Living in Los Angeles

Please welcome my guest blogger, Harvey Slater. Harvey is a unique individual who is making a difference in our world. He’s set some noble goals and is here to share them with us.

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Take it away, Harvey.

Thanks, Lynn, for inviting me to connect with your readers today.

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Photo by Lynn Kelley Author, WANA Commons

Hi Everyone! Have you spent countless hours commuting, inching along bumper-to-bumper, staring at the automobile in front of you and thinking about all the other things you could be doing? Do you ever ask yourself, “What exactly am I doing in this car, sitting on this freeway in traffic?”

I had asked myself this question for many years. As a native Southern Californian, I slowly became resentful at being told, “If you live in LA you MUST have a car to survive.”

Despite knowing all the negative impacts of operating a motor vehicle—carbon emissions, noise, dependency on crude oil, legal mandate to participate in the insurance industry, time wasted sitting in traffic—I remained programmed to think that driving a car was the only way to go.

This reliance on cars in Los Angeles is actually quite bizarre. We have probably the most perfect annual weather record globally, and plenty of space, money, and resources to develop a green transportation infrastructure.

Instead, we remain dependent on our vehicles and continue traveling on the widest freeways we can squeeze between two neighborhoods. We drive to our exercise appointments, usually indoors, and once there, we drive in circles to find the parking space nearest the front door.

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Photo credit: Harvey Slater

For me, this started to look and feel like insanity. Then, a couple of years ago, I received a unique opportunity to explore some new business and career ideas.

Everything changed when I broke up with my catering business partner and handed him the keys to my company vehicle.

At first, I thought, “Oh, no, now I have to buy a new a car.” But something inside told me to hold off. I started using the Metro, and for about two weeks, I got by pretty well. After that, I incorporated the bicycle into my commuting by using the bike to connect between Metro rail and busses or just riding my bike the entire distance, if possible.

Then I had the epiphany that there was an opportunity right in front of me to stop the insanity and finally do something to make a difference: I would not replace the car.

Lynn Kelley Author, Monster Moon Mysteries, BBH McChiller

Metrolink Photo by Lynn Kelley Author – WANA Commons

Instead of spending hours stuck in traffic, I’m able to read, write, and complete tasks using my computer and personal devices while city busses and Metro trains whisk me around town. I am in the best physical health I have been in since my 20s, and I am living a real dream that I hold for the future of my city.

I’m pretty sure some people are scratching their heads, thinking I am crazy. I have often wondered whether I would be taken seriously in business, showing up to meetings on a bicycle. I have often wondered if I need to have that “status” of a fancy car in order to be a valid, credible professional and member of society. At the end of the day, staying true to my principles and passions gives me credibility…with myself.

This spring, I am cycling more than 775 miles to raise funds for a greener future. I will take a solo ride from LA to Las Vegas, then participate in Climate Ride in Northern California with more than 100 other cyclists.

I would be thrilled and grateful if you make a donation to support my beneficiary, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. The organization works to improve safety and better alternative and active transportation infrastructure for the entire Los Angeles region.

My fundraising goal is $20,000, and I have about $16,000 to go. 100% of your donation will support the cause. You can learn more and make a donation at Climate Ride.

Hope to see you outside!

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Photo credit: Jessie Harrell, WANA Commons

Thank you, Harvey. It’s been a pleasure to have you guest post. What a fascinating life you lead. Your story is inspiring. Good luck with the fundraising. I’d like to see more bicycle paths in our cities, and safety for bicyclists is a huge concern. I applaud you for raising more awareness about this.

The bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine.
~ John Howard

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Harvey Slater is a chef and creative entrepreneur residing in Los Angeles. Most of Harvey’s career has been devoted to operating his catering business in Los Angeles. He recently launched a healthy eating blog, and is currently studying to earn his designation as a Holistic Nutrition Coach, with the intention of using his food knowledge to help people achieve optimal health, by teaching them how to create an enjoyable, nutritiously balanced, whole food lifestyle.

 

Follow Harvey’s car-free journey on A Guy Without a Car
Check out Harvey’s food blog at The Whole Dish

Please consider donating to this worthy project or helping to spread the word. 

Do you ride a bicycle? Do you have a long commute to work? Have you ever been in a traffic jam? I’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts with us in a comment. 

If you enjoyed this post, I’d love it if you would sign up to receive future posts. Fill in your email address in the Subscribe window near the top of the right-hand sidebar.

Posted in Interesting People, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Water – Weird, Wonderful, and What Else

IMG_3415Wow, it’s good to be back. My last post was in October. I’ve been dealing with a lot of “life stuff” in addition to caring for two of my grandchildren (ages 3 and 1), working on new books and a short story, building up my new business as an independent consultant for Arbonne International, a health and wellness company, and taking part in meetings at my local Toastmasters International club.

I’d like to share my latest speech with you. This is the third speech I’ve given. I recorded it at home using a makeshift green screen background (green fabric hung over the shower rod) and then added some cool backgrounds and music.

For those who can’t view the video, the speech is below, with some added links for anyone who’s interested in learning more.

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Photo by Laura Ritchie, L.M. Ritchie, WANA Commons

 

Life originated in water. All living things, regardless of size, require H2O to survive.

In the U.S. and other industrialized countries, water is easily accessible with the turn of a knob. It’s so simple and convenient, we may take water for granted as just another ordinary part of our day.

Water is anything but ordinary.

Earth’s water has been in continuous motion for millions of years and is a repeating cycle. Water from streams, rivers, and oceans evaporates and becomes vapor. Once it cools, it condensates into clouds.

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Low Thunderclouds, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma photo by Kristen Nador, WANA Commons

Next, it might fall back to Earth in the form of rain, hail, sleet, or snow. It may soak into the soil where plants draw it in, then release it back into the air or it may find its way into a natural aquifer. Perhaps it runs into a river, then into a reservoir, goes through underground pipes, flows out of your faucet and into your teacup.

An amazing fact is that those drops in your cup may have once been dew on a leaf that was eaten by a brachiosaurus, digested, and deposited back to the Earth, or may have been part of a glacier that carved out Yosemite Valley, or perhaps it flowed in the Nile River, which was used for Cleopatra’s bath.

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El Porto Sunset, photo by Jenny Kaczorowski, Cellar Door Films, WANA Commons

Another amazing fact is that the exact same amount of water that existed in prehistoric times still exists today. No more. No less. Just as water continuously moves through its cycle, so, too, it flows through our bodies where it helps maintain the balance of body fluids.

Our bodies are approximately 70% water, and because of that, we are part of the water cycle. Whatever amount of fluid is lost must be replaced by that same amount or we are in danger of becoming dehydrated, which can cause problems such as fatigue, muscle cramps, headaches, and even death.

We are able to live approximately three days without water.

In addition to keeping us alive, drinking enough water has many benefits. It regulates body temperature, helps us lose unwanted weight by drinking it before a meal, gets the digestive tract moving, washes out our kidneys and flushes out toxins, to name a few.

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Rain on Grass, photo by Jenny Kaczorowski, Cellar Door Films, WANA Commons

The Chinese sage, Lao Tzu, said, “There is nothing softer and weaker than water, and yet there is nothing better for attacking hard and strong things.”

Water’s soothing properties can be experienced by soaking in a bathtub or natural hot springs. It can calm and relax us if we listen to or meditate on the sound of it splashing and flowing over pebbles in a stream or cascading down a small waterfall. The rhythm of ocean waves breaking upon a shore can lull us to sleep.

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Niagara Falls Photo by Lisa Hall-Wilson, WANA Commons

The strength and power of water can be seen in Niagara Falls and places like the Grand Canyon, which was slowly carved out by the Colorado River.

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Grand Canyon photo by Jenny Kaczorowski, Cellar Door Films, WANA Commons

So, water is gentle and nourishing, yet powerful and destructive. It has many properties that aren’t fully understood by scientists. Instead of solving its mysteries, recent studies reveal new mysteries.

Masaru Emoto, a Japanese scientist, conducted research on the effect of ideas, words, and music on the molecules of water. He published his findings in a book titled, The Hidden Messages in Water. (You can learn more here.)

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Lily Pads photo by A. Marie Silver, WANA Commons

He found that water from clear mountain streams has beautifully formed crystalline structures, while the crystals of polluted water are deformed and distorted. He also found that distilled water takes on delicate, symmetrical crystalline shapes when exposed to classical music.

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Iceberg photo by Prudence MacLeod, WANA Commons

I have a feeling these new mysteries uncovered in recent studies are just the tip of the iceberg.

Water is fascinating stuff. Its importance in our lives cannot be overstated. Millions of people don’t have the luxury of turning on a faucet for a drink of water or a shower. Many women in Africa and Asia have to walk an average of 3.7 miles to collect water.

 

Benjamin Franklin said, “When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.”

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Wishing Well Bucket photo by Natasha Hanova, WANA Commons

How about a shout out to water? Its life-giving source refreshes our bodies and quenches our thirst! It’s soothing, yet powerful, and its mysteries run deep.

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Photo by Lynn Kelley Author, WANA Commons

Three cheers for water! Bottoms up!

* * *

That’s the end of the speech. I wanted to include facts about the cool water tricks in this video, 8 Water Tricks That’ll Melt Your Mind, but the speech could only cover so much in five to eight minutes. Kids will especially love this video.

Here’s another site with facts about water: 40 Shocking Facts About Water – Matador Network.

Do you like to drink water? Love water sports? Ever lived through a drought? A flood? Hurricane? Tsunami? What do you think about this amazing liquid that plays such an important role in our lives? 

Posted in Speech, YouTube Video | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments