Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Peace Gardens as English Country Garden

The book-cover is on it's way.  Yes...that book cover!  One Thread Pulled: The Dance with Mr. Darcy is the name in case you forgot it (or never knew it), and we are closing in on finalizing the last big obstacle to publication.

When I say closing in, what I mean is that we have had the photo-shoot - step one in the process.  The photographer, Elizabeth Taylor Frandsen, is a phenomenal talent - she's primarily a wedding photographer, so I'm lucky that she agreed to step outside her typical genre to help me with the image for the book cover.  The model in the role of Elizabeth Bennet is my own lovely daughter.  I dressed her up in a pretty empire-waist dress and styled her hair in a ringlet-y updo.  We brought along some fun Regency period props to play with.  I very much wanted a "real" person for the cover rather than stock photography.  I am so glad we went this route.

The evening was breezy, so her curls were tossed to and fro by the wind until her hair was a little mussed-up - just as I imagine Elizabeth's would be.  The park was bathed in the soft light of a spring evening.  We were at the International Peace Gardens in Salt Lake City.  The park is full of old trees and ivy-covered brick and stone structures, hedges, bridges, stone benches, and an arbor of wisteria in full bloom.  There are far too many architectural structures to detail, but I think this little spot is one of the jewels of our city, and it's free to the public!  It will have to do as an English country garden since it just wasn't in the budget to fly us all out to England.  

The book cover itself is to be a surprise, but as a teaser - just a little taste of what you might expect to see on the upcoming cover, I am going to share just a couple of images with you.  The first one has the title of this blog on it - the second is a sweet little sepia-toned photo of lovely Lizzy.  I hope these will help you share my excitement for the upcoming release of the book, which will hopefully happen sometime this month.  In the meantime, you can still read the story for free on darcyandlizzy.com or fanfiction.net.  

And yes, the sequel, Constant as the Sun is underway - I won't be posting it until after the wedding, but sometime this summer, the fun will begin anew!


Saturday, May 5, 2012

On Losing Weight

Today, I marked off pound number 60 of my weight loss journey, so I am going to talk about the weight-loss thing.  It isn't my favorite topic, but it is a part of my daily reality now that I have made health one of my highest priorities. 

I weigh 60 pounds less today than I did on June 18 of last year when I took the leap. For those among us who don't measure in pounds, that's 4.29 stone or 27.22 kilograms!  Nothing else in my life has changed very much except for when it comes to what I eat, how much I eat, and how much I move.  Oh... and my wardrobe.  I have been FORCED to buy new clothes.

I started off with a 6-day "cleanse" that I got from the Tahitian Noni company.  The other new tools in the arsenal I started out also came from the FIT line they offer.  Protein powders, snack bars, vitamins, probiotics and a fiber-filled lemonade drink that helps you feel full and keeps things, um, moving.  They also offered some guidance on calorie restriction and exercise.  UGH!  There is no magic pill or powder that will ever remove the  diet and exercise part of the equation.

I knew that if I was going to be 'all in' on this venture, I had to give the calorie restriction a try.  I have always resisted the idea of counting calories - it was just too hard.  I'd taken a brief stab at it years ago, and had a dictionary size paperback calorie guide that I had used to look everything up.  To be honest, it was a huge pain to manage, so I gave it up fairly quickly.  This time around however, I was the owner of a new iPhone, and I thought that I might be able to find a calorie counting app that would assist me in tracking the calories.  I thought correctly, and downloaded the free My Fitness Pal iPhone app.  Unlike many of the other free apps I had downloaded, this one didn't have advertising, and it was powerful, easy to use, and had cool tools I liked, as well as a companion website with even more features.  I have always been a sucker for FREE.

I had some products, that although gimmicky did help me feel equipped to do this thing, coupled with an application that made tracking my diet and exercise simple.  It was a good start, but it was my determination that actually launched the venture.  Had I not been firm in my resolve to do it this time, I would have given up the first week - it was so hard!  I was hungry and in pain all the time.  I had started walking for exercise, but it made my feet hurt so badly that even a short walk made me feel like a cripple.  I would slather my feet with Aspercreme just to get them to stop spasming and throbbing. 

I decided to try the treadmill since I could stop walking whenever I felt like I needed to.  10 minutes at a 1.5 incline going 2.0 mph and I was dripping sweat and panting like a dog on a hot day.   Yes, that's incredibly out of shape.  Once I got up to 30 minutes on the treadmill, I tried walking outdoors again, and with the aid of a lovely parkway that has benches I could rest on when needed, I eventually built up to a route of 3.1 miles. It was many months before I could walk it without rest-stops, and many pounds before I realized that my feet no longer hurt at the end of a walk, but I am there now, and I LOVE walking, especially outdoors. 

I set my target weight to something in the upper range of a healthy BMI, and on day 1, I had 117 pounds to lose in order to achieve that weight.  I am generally an optimistic person, but I must admit to being pessimistic about the possibility of losing that much weight, yet it seemed self-defeating to set my goal for something higher.  If I was going to do this, I should at least aim to be healthy, right?  My goal weight just happens to be the same amount I weighed on my wedding day 30 years ago.   I have 57 pounds to go until I reach that weight.  

Somewhere along the way, my pessimism has evolved into certainty - I know I can do this.  I don't care how long it takes me to get there, as long as I am making progress toward it, I will be fine even if it takes me years to get there. I think that I finally became okay with that thought the day I accepted that I will always have to be mindful of what I was putting in my body, and that I will always have to make it a point to get up and move.  I'm cool with that.

So in the end, the key to weight loss turned out to be:  Eat less.  Move more.



Friday, May 4, 2012

Marrying Off a Daughter

I hope that I am not a great deal like Mrs. Bennet, but I do have one thing in common with her - we both find ourselves in the enviable position of marrying off a daughter.  In her case, she took it upon herself to seek husbands for multiple daughters - I have but one daughter, who is to be married this month, and there was no 'seeking' on this mother's part.  She met him at church. 

I find myself contemplating their story and their relationship, and recently I realized that when I consider these events through the lens of Jane Austen, I find just a little bit of insight I believe, into Mrs. Bennet's motives and behavior.  Just a little.

I understand for one thing, why Mr. Bingley's amiability and charm was so appealing to Mrs. Bennet.  None of us have a crystal ball with which we can discern the future, so all we can do to gain some assurance of future happiness and felicity in the marriage of a child is to examine the personality and character of the prospective mate as markers of the probable outcome.  Mr. Bingley seems to be everything she hopes for in a son-in-law.  He is financially secure, he is pleasant, he is handsome, he is generous.  One does not observe him brooding or having fits of temper.  He is incredibly patient with his own sisters, and obviously allows the one sister who is still dependent on him financially a great deal of latitude in her expenditures.  None of this is lost on Mrs. Bennet - or Mr. Bennet for that matter.  Mrs. Bennet sees nothing but fancy clothes, jewels and carriages in her daughter's future - obviously things she values, perhaps because she is deprived of them herself.  Mr. Bennet on the other hand, predicts financial trouble ahead when he jokes that they will always exceed their income.  While it is treated lightly in the book, the truth is that he has observed a character flaw in Mr. Bingley that concerns him.  Indebtedness is never a good thing.

Mr. Darcy on the other hand, has but one positive in the eyes of Mrs. Bennet, and that is his wealth.  I find it interesting that although she values riches very highly, she fairly quickly rules Mr. Darcy out as a contender for any of her daughters.  She harps on his pride, how cold and disagreeable he is, and she snubs and cuts him on every occasion, barely tolerating his presence.  I think perhaps that she feels inadequate around him, and supposes that he is judging her - and in reality, he is doing exactly that, and she gives him plenty of negative behavior to feed his judgement.  Her only recourse is to judge him back.

So, when I look at my own future son-in-law, what do I see?  I see that he makes my daughter happy.  I see that he is kind, he is intelligent, and he is not the least bit shallow.  He is reserved, he is funny, he is sweet.  He is not rich, but he is well-educated and careful and wise with money, so I do not worry on that score - I suspect my daughter will ultimately enjoy a higher standard of living than she was raised with.  He is not perfect, but he is a good and wonderful man.  In the end, I think that is what we all want for our daughters.