Now on to the blog entry!
Every now and then, you come across advice that seems strange, but it actually works. Today, I’d like to share a few tidbits of wisdom that seemed odd at first hearing, but have paid off in spades. Ready for some wacky, wonderful tips and tricks? Here we go:
The magical power of socks. I still remember the day my senior year in high school when the heat went out in the auditorium during region band practice. The first weekend in February 1993 was NOT as mild as this past winter has been, and we felt the chill quickly. I remember the band director stopping rehearsal and putting down his baton. “I see that a lot of you ladies have on those cute ballet flats and sandals, so let me give you a tip: that’s your problem. If your feet are cold, you’ll never warm up the rest of you. Get some socks during our rehearsal break, and I guarantee you’ll be more comfortable for the rest of practice.” I wasn’t one of those fashionistas, but the ones who took his advice swore that it was worth it’s weight in gold. “I didn’t realize what a huge difference it made!” My sensation and perception class in college a few years later confirmed this fact: if your head or feet are cold, then you won’t warm up no matter how much you bundle up, due to how heat escapes the body. No, socks may not be pretty or fashionable on a cold day, but it beats freezing.
Dead sea salt scrub. I was pretty sure that the salesperson in Arizona that wanted to sell us Dead Sea Salt was selling us a line, but it turns out that they were on to something. This stuff is better on dry hands than any moisturizer I’ve ever tried! Best of all, you don’t have to spend a fortune on it. If you can’t find it at Ross or T.J. Maxx, then click here to get a jar of magic for dry hands. Trust me, it works. I’ve been using it for four years!
Saline irrigations. The concept of flushing out my sinuses with salt water was scary, and my first experience with it seemed to justify my fear: it was awkward and disgusting. But the results were phenomenal, and I kept doing it until I got used to it (which didn’t take long). Why does it work? Mucus forms at the back of your nose, so irrigating your nose flushes out the excess that usually stays stuck in your head, or drips down your throat and causes that irritating cough. If you do it regularly, it also helps your body keep that mucus production in check, so you don’t have excess clogging up your sinuses. Yes, it can be gross if you’ve been sick or are having allergy problems, but it’s totally worth it. It works so well that it’s part of my daily routine now.
Cutting back on soft drinks. The person who told me that you can lose five pounds if you quit drinking soft drinks had a casual relationship with the truth, so I wasn’t inclined to believe it. But when I heard it again from a physical trainer when embarking on my diet and exercise routine two years ago, I figured why not try it? It turns out that it’s true: soft drinks have a ton of sugar, and I really did lose five pounds within two weeks of quitting them. Sure, I have one every now and then, but I mainly get my caffeine fix from coffee and low-fat creamer now, and stick to water with meals. And ironically, I do feel better since cutting the soft drinks too. I don’t get bloated or have that caffeine “crash” after meals anymore.
Fiction journal. This idea was introduced to me as “writing exercises.” All writers have a number of stories flying through their heads at any point in time, but not all of them are good, or go anywhere. Too often, we let them go because we don’t have the time or patience to write something bad or pointless, because it seems a waste. The problem is, you occasionally have it come back to haunt you when working on a project where that tidbit might have actually worked. Enter, the “fiction journal.” The suggestion: if something happens or you have an idea rattling around that won’t leave you alone, create a fictional character and write it as a flash fiction or short story piece. I have to admit that it’s worked much better for me since I call it a “journal,” because I remember that it doesn’t have to be good, it just has to get this slice of life story out of my head, and it preserves it for possible future use. No, I don’t write every day. In fact, I didn’t do any entries at all last week, but that’s the beauty of journaling: you’re free to do it whenever inspiration hits, and it’s a great place to keep all those random characters and pieces for potential use. I already have two or three stories that I hope have potential for development in a future novel, and who knows where some of the others will go?
Another plus to the fiction journal is that it’s less incriminating, because it’s clearly fiction stories. Sure, the stories reflect your internal state, but they don’t explicitly say it, so it can’t be used against you. You’re a writer, after all. To nosy Nelly peekers, this stuff is nothing but writing exercises.
Meditation. Everything I read on the power of positive thinking extolled the virtues of meditation to clear your mind and focus on proper things. I rejected this as New Age nonsense at first, until I started seeing this suggestion in Christian circles as well. It seems that quieting your mind doesn’t just solve your anxiety, but it clears your mind and opens your perception as well. I don’t do long periods and usually do it at bedtime, but I have to admit that I sleep better and have been more perceptive and creative since I started doing it. I think it’s because clearing your mind requires a higher level of focus and self discipline than most of us are used to employing on a day to day basis, so it opens you to being more mindful of your thoughts. It isn’t easy at first (like everything else in life), but it does work.
Strange stuff? Maybe, but I’ve tried it and can attest to it’s effectiveness. Give these things a shot. You may be as amazed at the results as I am.
That’s all today. Take care, and have a great week.