18

Deb Elise’s Weird Compulsion for Self-Torture… a.k.a. Deb Elise’s Hobby

Disneyland Half Marathon!

Consider this my 12-Step Group intro:

Hi. I’m Deb Elise, and I have a sick penchant for running marathons.

All together now:

Hi, Deb Elise.

I know for many people, running isn’t strange at all. There are people who love running, gazelle-like people built for speed who float out the door and glide along for miles without a care in the world.

I am not one of these people. I come from hardy Russian peasant stock. I’m built for toiling in the fields and popping out children. After ten years in the sport, running is still as much of a hideous grind as it was when I began. More of a grind, in fact, because for the past two years I’ve been dealing with a nagging pain in the butt I can’t seem to shake (insert your favorite joke here). Even a single mile for me is torture without the distraction of very loud music and/or great conversations with my running partners. The truth of the matter is I actually hate running…

…but I love doing marathons. It seems twisted, but my main reasons are pretty simple, and have a lot to do with writing.

1) There’s instant gratification. Everyone who finishes gets a medal. Usually a really cool medal. Writing can be a pretty solitary experience, without a lot of pats on the back. When we do get our work out there, it’s nerve-wracking. I can pour my soul into something I adore, but that doesn’t mean anyone else will respond to it at all. In a marathon, it’s cut and dried: you put in the miles, you get the reward.

2) You can’t give up. Okay, you can, but not if you want to finish and get that medal. You have to keep going, even though you’ll have moments when you dream longingly of cardiac arrest, purely because it’ll get you off the course. You have to fight the pain in your body, the tedium of 26.2 long miles, and the voice in your head that screams the whole process is madness, and if you had half a brain you’d be doing something easier, like bringing peace to the Middle East. For me, writing is a similar struggle. I have to fight against a lack of time, passages that don’t work and need to be wrestled into submission, and the insidious voice in my head that tells me I’m not good enough and I should just give up. The beauty of those hurdles is that in both cases, when I do push through and finish, I feel like a superhero.

3) After running 26.2 miles, you feel completely justified in eating whatever the heck you want. This has nothing to do with writing, I just like it. A lot.

So here I am, fifteen marathons down and no sign of stopping. The picture above is from this morning’s (I’m writing this on Sunday) Disneyland Half Marathon. I hadn’t trained, and a lot of it was tough to get through, but in every picture I have a big smile on my face. My next race will be the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World in January (I have a major thing for Disney). Come join me! We’ll absolutely loathe it… and we’ll have the time of our lives.

~ Deb Elise

12

Making Time for the Things You Love, by Deb Meredith

_mg_4081_ppHobbies? Who has time for hobbies when there are all these books to write?

I was asked in an interview several weeks ago how I did it all—parenting, marriage, freelance work, novel writing… The question exhausted me, and I considered lying down and taking a nap. But who has time?

All kidding aside, I make time nearly every day for one of my favorite hobbies—swimming. Not only does this keep me fit, but it’s also necessary for my happiness and well-being. For a half an hour, I am alone in the water. I find the steady breathing in and out to be similar to yoga exercises. After swimming, I feel both relaxed and energized, and ready to tackle all my writing challenges. It also helps get rid of that strange knot I get between my shoulder blades after sitting at a computer for hours at a time.

I used to have more hobbies before acquiring the biggest time suck of all—a kid. BC (before child), I knit hats for everyone in my family one Christmas. I made a small collage every week about current events as an art project for a whole year. I even made a quilt once, and occasionally would sew clothes for myself. But that seems so long ago. Now I feel triumphant when I wash all the dishes.

But really my biggest hobby of all is reading. Reading relaxes me, informs me, and is necessary for me. The biggest panic attacks I have are over having nothing to read, and I always carry a book with me on the subway and to appointments. I’m always shocked when I hear how few people read nowadays. Don’t they know what they’re missing? Reading takes you places you could never go yourself. You walk in someone else’s shoes and see the world through someone else’s eyes. Maybe video games do that, too (I really wouldn’t know), but I don’t think they could possibly have the same eloquence. And a writer who doesn’t read or have time to read seems very sad to me.

We should do what we love, and I am happy to be writing something that I would enjoy reading myself.

What hobbies do you make time for?

18

Lisa Daily, unlikely supermodel.

Today was one of the weirdest days of my life.

I woke up in New York city, in a hotel room, and I had miraculously transformed into a supermodel.

Okay, so that’s not exactly how it happened. In actuality, I participated in something that Woman’s World magazine is calling the Deskside Diet. For one week after Thanksgiving, I ate a reasonable diet and used a little bicycle pedaler that fit under my desk while I worked.

I used it for two hours a day, mostly while I was blogging or gabbing on the phone, and I lost 5 pounds in a week.

This was especially meaningful for me, as I have been battling a thyroid problem for the last several years, and my previous exercise and diet efforts have resulted in a steady and utterly depressing weight gain. (Sometimes so depressing I would occasionally be forced to eat ice cream for therapeutic reasons.) Work out three times a week with a personal trainer? Gained 8 pounds. Walk 5 days a week for an hour a day? Gained 3 pounds. Power-snack with Cheetos while trying to make my deadline for Fifteen Minutes of Shame? You don’t want to know.

After I lost the 5 pounds, Woman’s World asked me if I’d like to fly to NYC to be a model for their Valentine’s Day cover.

After I stopped jumping up and down and screaming, I said, “why yes, I’d love to.”

So, after an emergency hair appointment, an emergency body wrap, an emergency eyebrow waxing, and an emergency pedicure, I jetted off to the Big Apple.

I have been especially motivated to lose that last 10 pounds because I’ll be going on tour at the end of March for Fifteen Minutes of Shame and the last thing I want is to feel frumpy and flabby as I shlep myself through twenty cities. Mostly, I don’t want to look like I might eat one of the cute little TV hosts I’ll be sitting next to in every city.

(And as my friend and fellow author Lisa McLeod always says, “The only thing that will keep a writer from eating is the threat of an impending book tour.”)

So, this morning, I rolled out of bed at a leisurely 8:30, took a quick shower, ordered an omelet from room service and headed over to the photographer’s studio.

10 am — I arrive at the Pat Hill studio with clean hair and no makeup whatsoever, as per instructions. I also have a small welt over my eye where the woman who waxed my eyebrows yesterday accidentally yanked off a little skin with the stray hairs. I have been getting my eyebrows waxed for fifteen years, and have never before had any problems. I’m hoping that this is not a bad omen.

10:05 — I ask to use the restroom and when I’m finished, the toilet will not flush. (Not my fault, I swear.) Also hoping this is not a bad omen.

10:15 — My luck improves as I spot the craft services table, loaded with eggs, fruit, sweets, and a tray of beverages. I momentarily regret spending $34 for the omelette back at the hotel. (Welcome to New York.)

10:30 — Cynthia, the stylist (I have a stylist!) shows me the long rack of blouses and jeans for me to try on, all red and pink for Valentine’s day. I try on every piece of clothing, we pick the best ones, and wait for the Creative Director, Richie’s final decision. There are no skirts or dresses, (my staple!) only jeans. I usually avoid jeans because I am high-waisted and don’t find them flattering. But, we supermodels wear what we’re told, so I put the jeans on with a smile.

10:45 — Pascal, the fabulous French hairstylist begins straightening and styling my hair as Berta, the makeup artist attempts to manufacture cheekbones using only powder and magic. Lisa Daily, getting primped Berta is used to working on celebrities and musicians, and was mentored by Kevyn Aucoin, the only makeup artist I’ve ever heard of. (Well, him and Max Factor.) I am feeling pretty damned glamorous, and spend the next half hour trying to figure out how I can squeeze the word “dahling” into the conversation.

11:00 — Richie has selected my first outfit, and wonders out loud whether or not I might have any Spanx. I do, and they work their elastic miracle, keeping the muffin top under control for the moment. (I’m REALLY high-waisted. My jeans would pretty much have to come up to my underwire for me to avoid any lumps.)

11:15 — They start the fan, which blows my hair gently, and makes me feel like a real-life cover girl. (Who knew? I’m thinking of installing one in my bedroom.)

Lisa Daily, getting primped

11:30 — 2:00. I stand in front of the camera for the first time, as Berta, Pascal, and Cynthia do their final touch-ups under the lights. Richie shows me how to balance on one leg, with the other foot thrust out, angling my hips to the side, with my shoulders facing the camera, my shoulders relaxed, my hands precisely placed at my sides, my elbow pointed forward, sucking in my stomach (but not so much that my chest sticks out,) smiling in such a way that my mouth is open enough that there is a one-inch space between my upper and lower teeth, but my forehead doesn’t wrinkle.

And of course, looking natural.

Lisa Daily, getting primped

It was a strange day, a fun day, a thrilling day.
It was a day I’ll never forget, especially on the week of February 11th, when the issue hits a grocery store near you.

LisaFifteen Minutes of Shame by Lisa Daily

Lisa Daily, unlikely supermodel.