5 Things I'm Into This Month (June 2017)

5 Things I'm Into This Month

Wireless Headphones

I have always preferred wired headphones because of the sound quality. I have an over-ear set of Bose for airplanes, and a noise-cancelling pair of Beats for the gym. But the technology has improved so much that I decided to give the some inexpensive wireless ones a try.

After a few fails, I settled on these from SoundPEATS. They are comfortable, the sound is good, the battery life is okay, and it frees me up to wander my house without the phone when I’m cleaning or folding. Win, win.


Deli Tray

Deli Trays

I have so much on my plate that food prep is the last thing on my priority list. Enter: the deli party tray. Fruit, cheese, meats, precut and ready to eat. I grab a bowl, dump in what I want, and voilà, lunch is served. 30 seconds from fridge to plate is my kind of set up. 


Eileen Fisher Women's Sport Platform Sandal

Like my ongoing search for the perfect bag, I am constantly looking for the perfect summer shoe to wear with dresses and pants. I have very sensitive feet with high arches, so heels have to be really, really comfortable (i.e.: Dansko clog-style sandals, which are clunky) and flats must have some sort of support. Tieks just haven’t been the answer for me. I wear a lot of Toms, but they are sometimes too casual for business casual.

Enter Eileen Fisher. My last royalty check, I splurged majorly and got myself a pair of these. 

They are possibly the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn. The neutral color, the suede, the funky sole — all serve to be a great, stylish, fun summer conference shoe. I plan to be in these beauties at ALA!


Yoga with Adriene

My guru suggested Adriene as a stop gap between our session and she is simply wonderful. Yoga for everyone, she is fun, irreverent, with just the right amount of spiritual. No hard sell, heck, she’s free on YouTube and her website. I’ve now become a member so I can have access through the app, and I love it.


Photo Credit:  Huntingdon Spa

Photo Credit:
Huntingdon Spa

Lash Tinting

I’m a blonde, and that means I have the ubiquitous problem of most blondes — our lashes disappear. I have plenty of them, you just can’t see them without mascara. I have friends who do extensions, but I’m so sensitive to chemicals I’m sure I’ll be allergic to the glue. The solution? Tinting.

I just did this for the first time this week, and I can’t tell you how cool it is to be able to skip mascara for day-to-day! FACE Nashville has a specialist, Kara, and it is quick, inexpensive, and worth every dime.

 

What are you into this month?

On Lent, and Doing Good Things for Ourselves and Others

It’s that time of year, when I give up social media for Lent. For the next six weeks, I will be turning inward, and stepping back from all things online.

I’ll still have blogs here, and since I have a release in two weeks (!) I will certainly pop up to say “Hey, buy mah book,” but otherwise, I will be silent.

Lent is just that for me, a time to reflect, to go silent. To look away from the world. It is incredibly difficult for me, which is why this is my Lenten abstinence of choice. I’ve given up Starbucks in the past, smoking, wine, chocolate, but none of those things (outside of smoking — that was a good one, it stuck) truly feel like a sacrifice.

Social media, on the other hand, does. I don’t like not having ready contact with people. I don’t like missing out on photos and news. I certainly don’t like not chatting with folks about books.

Which is why this is the right thing for me to give up. It really does affect me, puts me in a different mind space, where I can contemplate life and creativity and my spiritual nature. I was raised Episcopal, which is why I celebrate Lent in the first place, but over the years I’ve brought a number of tenets from various religions into my daily life, especially Buddhism. I’ve always felt everyone is right, and every religion and belief structure has something worth exploring.

So the weeks stretch ahead of me, unformed, open. There will be a lot of yoga, and meditation. And writing. Of course, there will be writing.

Whether you celebrate or not, may I offer this blessing for your next six weeks? That you have moments of quiet gratitude. That you are showered with kindness from strangers, and in turn have some to spare for others. We have all been put through the wringer over the past six months, and I can only hope that things calm down, that everyone feels less threatened and upset, and we can all work together to keep making our lives, and the lives of others, wonderful.

Blessed be!

What I'm Into (February 2017)

Here’s the roundup of what’s turning my crank this month:
 

Cobalt Blue Betty teapot

My ten-year-old teapot finally bit the dust, and I’ve been wanting a Brown Betty forever. This glazed blue is a prettier version of the classic. The first one I ordered came with a broken handle (but pot itself intact) so I was thrilled when they drop shipped another. I’ve found it to be the best teapot ever. Nice and big inside, lots of room for water to move through the leaves, and it stays hot under the cosy for at least an extra two hours. Highly recommended.
 

UGG slippers

My old LL Bean moccasins are on their last legs, and I’ve had my eye on a pair of UGG Dakotas. But they’re pricey, so I was holding off. Then, lo and behold, I had an issue with a different pair of shoes from Zappos and they kindly gave me a big credit for my trouble. Boom — into the cart went the Dakotas. Cozy warm, wonderfully made, I am in heaven trotting around the house in these beauties. 
 

No/No Bird Feeders

Wanting to entertain the kittens, I decided to get some bird feeders I could perch close to the porch for their viewing pleasure. I’ve always had wooden feeders, but they rot and make the feed gross. Imagine my delight at finding the No/No brand—No Wood, No Plastic. I bought three different ones — the big red cardinal feeder, a small round ball, and the bronze wild bird feeder. And then I filled them with safflower seeds instead of black-oil sunflower, to discourage squirrel takeovers. We are happily overrun with chickadees and cardinals now, and I even spotted a tufted titmouse couple yesterday. The squirrels are NOT interested, either. Wonder who is getting more pleasure out of these feeders, me, or the cats?
 

yoga

Friday morning yoga

I committed to reinvigorating my yoga practice this year, and have stuck to that promise by going to an actual class. It’s wonderful, kind and nurturing, exactly what I needed to get back on the wagon. 
 


 

Constant Comment tea

Do you remember this one? I wanted a quick cuppa the other day and opened my drawer to see these beauties sitting there. The moment I ripped open the package, I was transported back to childhood. So fun. (And yes, I’ve been a life-long tea drinker…) 
 

Vintner’s Daughter Botanical Face Serum

I am allergic to everything, so I am very careful what I put on my face. Since I’ve switched to completely natural makeups and shampoo, I’ve seen a big difference, and this awesome serum is the keystone to it all. Great story, great product, great results. What more can I say?

 

Late night dancing to The Clash

Especially my all time favorite, "Rock the Casbah." No explanation necessary.

 

 


What are you into this month?

4.7.16 - On Having That All Is Lost Moment

don't try to steer the river

Several years ago, during a very trying time in my life, I was watching a documentary on the Buddha. Ostensibly, I was doing research on a novel I was planning to write. But something happened to me that day. I heard the following quote:

“There is no knowledge won without sacrifice,
and this is one of the hard truths of human existence: 
in order to gain anything, you must first lose everything.”

It stuck with me.

I was having an "all is lost" moment, and I felt such peace when I realized:

Okay, I have to do this, I have to hit bottom in order to find a way to rise any further. 

This idea compelled me to find a way to drag myself back to the page, and I ended up reading THE ARTIST’S WAY, which I’ve discussed here before.

Slowly but surely, I pushed myself back into a seated, then standing, position and started writing again.

I found my lost voice. 

It was soon after this that I found yoga, in the form of a lovely writer friend who offered to teach me privately in her home.

To say the experience was revelatory is an understatement.

My body did things I wasn’t aware it could do. My guru was kind and gentle and calm and funny, and I was hooked. Absolutely hooked. I felt like I’d connected with myself, with the universe, with the bloody earth, in a way I never had before. I could actually feel my feet touching the floor for the first time. The third session, as I lay weeping on her floor in savasana (a rather common thing, I’ve learned), I felt lighter than I had in years. 

That particular session, my guru told me something wildly profound — the universe will give you what you’re seeking. Not only that, the universe wants to give you what you’re seeking.

Had I gained this wisdom when my world was falling apart, there was no way I would have been able to understand or appreciate it. On the other side of the empty crevasse, it was more than inspiration. It was the path back.

I watched a stunningly beautiful short video this week about a dog named Denali, and the impact he had on his master-human person-best friend’s life. The video is from Denali’s point of view. It is about loss, the kind of soul-wrenching loss reserved for losing best friends, whether human or animal. It is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. 

We are all marked by loss. We are made by loss.

It is how we handle loss that allows us a path forward when we get mired. It is how we bear loss that proves to us we’re capable of anything.

We will not be broken. We will not be torn asunder. We will breathe through this pain, hug those we love, and fight our way back to the page and share our feelings with another. In that, we will conquer loss. 

If you can find your peace, wherever it might be — meditation, yoga, a book, a song, sex, pizza—if you find your peace, you will find your voice. Find your voice, you will find your heart. Find your heart, you will be able to share it. Share it, and you’ve done your job on this earth — to love, and be loved. To care and be cared for. To breathe. To create.

My guru lost her best friend today. I know she is in pain, is beyond devastated. I dedicate this piece to her, and to her Sunnie, in the hope that this loss gives her another path to her incredible voice.

As she once told me, when I was holding on by a thread, “Don’t try to steer the river.”

Wise words for us all. 

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J.T. Ellison

New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison writes dark psychological thrillers starring Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens, and pens the Nicholas Drummond series with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. Cohost of the premier literary television show, A Word on Words, Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens.

For more insight into her wicked imagination, join J.T.’s email list at jtellison.com/subscribe, or follow her online at Facebook.com/JTEllison14 or on Twitter @thrillerchick.

Failure Is Not An Option. (Or Is It?)

Failure Is Not An Option. (Or Is It?)

My yoga instructor constantly reminds me that how you do yoga is how you live your life.

She generally makes this casual statement when I'm knee deep in a difficult pose, gritting my teeth, forgetting my breath, unwilling to admit I'm killing myself trying to stay in the pose. There's a rule for when this happens - you're supposed to drop out of the pose and take rest in child's pose.

But to me, that would be admitting failure.

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