Sunday, July 20, 2008

It's No Secret: I Went Fishing!

Like many folks, I put some extra thought into choosing what to read at the beach. Oddly, I'm not now, and never have been, a fiction reader. (I know, I know. Believe me, I know. The rest of my family are voracious fiction readers. And they all think I'm weird.)

Although I'm a little slow picking up the trend, I chose The Secret And before I left home, I even downloaded the movie.

The book poses some interesting theories, which I had plenty of time to ponder while drifting a few feet from shore on my neon green raft:
* If our entire bodies are replaced within a few years, as science has proven, the how can it be that degeneration or illness remains in our bodies for years?

* Think of a car driving through the night. The headlights only go a couple of hundred feet forward, but you can make it all the way from California to New York driving through the dark, because all you have to see is the next 200 feet. And that's how life tends to unfold before us. If we just trust that the next 200 feet will unfold after that, and the next 200 feet will unfold after that, your life will keep unfolding. And it eventually get you to the destination of whatever it is you truly want, because you want it.

* To lose weight, don't focus on "losing weight." Instead, focus on your perfect weight. Feel the feelings of your perfect weight, and you will summon it to you.
Well, one of the things I wanted to unfold for me was a fishing trip with Dale Woodruff, captain of a charter boat called Class Act.

A call last week to book a reservation left little hope for going fishing this week. Capt. Woodruff told me he had no charters on the books - partly because many travelers are having to spending more of their vacation budget on gasoline.

Why not use "The Secret" to manifest the fishing trip, I thought. Using the Creative Process involves three steps: ask, believe and receive. Simple enough? Sure.

Wednesday afternoon, Capt. Dale called to announce he had a charter going out Thursday morning. Less than 12 hours hours later, I was aboard Class Act for a six-hour trip with 11 men - a grandfather, his three grown sons, his three sons-in-law and four grandsons.

Not only did we have an absolute ball catching fish - red snapper, bonita and trigger fish - but we also had plenty to take home for dinner Thursday night.

And once again, the Universe confirmed what I have always believed: Life is good, especially when the fish are biting.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Free and the Brave

Alright, all you other brave ones who have posted your "works-in-progress" photos. Here's mine, taken today at The Beach Club Resort in Gulf Shores, Ala.

As you recall, this vacation represents several "firsts":

* The first vacation I've taken in over seven years when I have finished all my writing assignments ahead of time so that I have
NO WORK to do while I'm on vacation!

* The first time I've put on a bathing suit in public in over 10 years.

Although I'm still 13 pounds from goal weight, I have thoroughly enjoyed doing what I love again...being suited up on the beach!

More to come...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Strong Beginning to Week in Paradise

We're heeeere, and life is good at The Beach Club Resort in Gulf Shores, Ala. So far, I've used the fitness center, attended a church service on the veranda and listed to live music by the pool.

On our way down from Arkansas Saturday, we stopped on Highway 59 at Burris Farm Market, a fabulous stand in Loxley. This spacious, open-sided building is lined with hampers of Alabama-grown goodies ranging from asparagus and broccoli to summer squash and zucchini. We loaded up all of that, plus gorgeous vine-ripened tomatoes, plump juicy peaches, the sweetest sweet corn and a couple of watermelons that "thumped" just right.

Our schedule is loose enough for plenty of time on the beach. Yesterday, we rented a set of beach rental lounging chairs shaded by an umbrella for the entire week. I spent most of the morning riding the waves on a neon green raft, laughing with children and loving the day. Later, I took a nap to the lullaby of a pleasant morning breeze while Myron played a round of golf.

By the time late afternoon clouds exploded into a thunderstorm, we were safely tucked under the tin-roofed patio at Lulu's Homeport Marina. On the banks of the Intercoastal Waterway, Lucy Anne Buffett has carved out a niche with far more than the "Cheeseburger in Paradise," made famous by her ballad-singing brother. LuLu's new cookbook, "Crazy Sista Cooking: Cuisine & Conversation With Lucy Buffettis already in its second printing.

And if the Summer Shrimp Salad wasn't enough, we crooned "Brown Eyed Girl" and other crowd favorites with singer/songwriter Greg Brown.

By sundown, boasting the firstfruits of our tan, we slept soundly - looking forward to our spa appointments this morning!

P.S. Pictures of me coming later today!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Get Human

Hardly anything is more annoying than trying to fix a virtual problem with virtually no human help.

Recently, I signed up for a one-month-trial-and-cancel-if-you-don't-like-it subscription to (Warning: Step away from the copy and paste.) The service obviously had no problem debiting my account through PayPal. But when I try to use the site, they don't recognize me at all.

Trying to cancel my subscription generated this automatic email response: "For all inquiries regarding cancelling your paid membership of Freelance Work Exchange, please visit our dedicated cancellation page here." (Try that link. I couldn't even get the page to load. Duh.)

Well, the good folks at PayPal heard my complaint and came to my rescue, blocking future payments to and also furnishing me a telephone number (in Australia!) to follow up with the lazy service provider.

Ever wish you could talk to a REAL PERSON when you need help to fix a problem?? is one of the best places to start.

Sick of pressing 10 or more options and spending valuable time on hold? Right now, you can search GetHuman's free database of secret phone numbers and codes that get an actual, live person on the line for customer service at nearly 1000 major companies.

This friendly tip brought to you by beach-bound Ready Maid.
Stay tuned for updates from Gulf Shores, Ala.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Beach Club - Here We Come!

If you've been reading Ready Maid for any length of time, you've probably scrolled past this image in the sidebar. Dr. Wayne Dyer says every thought is like a ticket to purchase more of the same. Think about frustration; you'll get more. Think about lack; you'll get more. Think about love; you'll get more.

"The most important tool to being in balance is knowing that you and you alone are responsible for the imbalance between what you dream your life is meant to be, and the daily habits that drain life from that dream," he instructs. "In the early stages of the rebalancing process, concentrate on this awareness: You get what you think about, whether you want it or not. Commit to thinking about what you want, rather than how impossible or difficult that dream may seem."

In the last four years, we've been to the beach three times. I love to go to the beach. I dream of the beach. I could live on the beach.

But can you believe the last three times I've been to the beach, I never even put on a swimsuit to enjoy being at the beach?! In fact, the last time I was there in June of 2006, I didn't even walk on the beach. Why? I didn't like the way I looked. But I told everybody I couldn't go out because I had to work. So I sat at my computer and wrote stories I could have finished before I left home.

Well, heads up everybody. Write this one down: When I get to The Beach Club Resort Saturday, the first thing I'll do is put on my swimsuit and head for the water. And I promise to put on my swimsuit every day I'm there. I'll post pictures. And I will milk next week for all it's beachy worth...outside, in the sun, enjoying what I love!

From now on, I will NOT be denied. I've visualized this moment since January 15, and I'm ready to make up for lost time!

Quotes from Being In Balance: 9 Principles for Creating Habits to Match Your Desires

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

It's Not Over Till YOU Win!

Yesterday, several of my favorite HYC bloggers shared personal struggles - either to stay on track, to get back on track, or to figure out what the heck a track is. Isn't it comforting to have friends who share our struggles as well as our successes?

A few days ago, I told you about Staci Wallace, a remarkable woman whose equally talented husband has joined her to found an online community called Their goal is to equip a million women to make positive life changes in the areas of faith, family, finances, fitness and philanthropy in order to change the world.

Although the couple looks like Barbie and Ken, each of them has overcome unique circumstances to pursue their dream. Behind those perfect smiles are real people whose strength of character has been sifted on the threshing floor, tested in the valley and tried in the fire.

Throughout history, songs have helped to solidify purpose in people united by a common vision. Staci's song, "It's Not Over Till I Win," speaks to every person who's ever had to overcome an obstacle, jump a hurdle, straighten out a mess or just plain start over.

Now, turn up your speakers click this link to listen. (The music has more impact if you're standing up, pumping two fists overhead.)

I woke up this morning stumbled out of my bed
So many questions rolling round in my head
Can I really make it?
Should I just give in?
I know that's not the answer
Cause it's not over till I win

I'm not giving up I'm not givin' in
I've gotta keep believing
I'm not giving up I'm not givin' in
I've gotta keep on reaching
I'm not giving up I'm not givin' in
Cause it's not over till I win

People had me thinking I was losing the war
They looked at me and said girl, you just can't take it no more
You might as well just give up you're gonna fail again
But they don't understand
It's not over till I win
No, it's not over till I win

I'm not giving up I'm not givin in
I've gotta keep believing
I'm not giving up I'm not givin in
I've gotta keep on reaching
There's so much more that I can give
There's so much more of life to live.

I'm not giving up I'm not givin' in
Cause It's not over till I win

No I won't give up this time
There's not a single doubt in my mind
This time I'm gonna win.
I'm not givin in

I'm not giving up I'm not givin in
I've gotta keep believing
I'm not giving up I'm not givin in
I've gotta keep on reaching
There's so much more that I can give
There's so much more of life to live.
I'm not giving up I'm not givin' in
Cause it's not over till I win

Monday, July 7, 2008

One Inch Goes a Long Way

It's probably happened to everybody who has lost a significant amount of weight: You finally reach a point where, even though you're a certain number of pounds from goal weight, people start saying you don't need to lose any more. You look fine now, they insist.

Still, something on the inside of you pushes you to stay on track, keep pushing, don't give up.

After it happened to me a few times, I questioned the BMI chart, which still categorized me as overweight. "I'm not even in the normal range yet," I told my husband over dinner last night.

"Well, how's that BMI figure calculated, anyway?" he asked with a slight edge to his voice.

"The score is a function of height and weight," I answered calmly between bites.

"Well, what height are you using?" he questioned, even more sarcastically.

"Five foot, six inches," I replied.

"Nonsense!" Myron retorted. "You're 5'7" if you're an inch. How did you measure?"

Grabbing the 60" tape measure from my office, I thrust it in his direction as I backed up against the wall to let him confirm my calculations.

"Okay, step away from the wall," he said, holding the sewing notion with his thumb while pointing toward the floor. "Now, mark where it ends, then drop it down to add the number of inches to five feet."

Suddenly confused, I remarked, "It shows only five additional inches. Are you sure you marked my height at a 90-degree angle?"

One look at his face told me I was about to be wrong.

"See that blank space just past the 60-inch mark?" he said, eyebrows lifted. "You have to add two more inches to make it accurate. That means you're five foot seven inches. Now,
let's finish eating."

Here's the good news. One more inch added to my height finally puts me in the normal BMI range (24.9)!

And on top of that, I'm happy to report one pound lost this week, keeping me on track toward reaching goal weight by August 12.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Smell the Coffee and Wake Up

Coffee is part of the morning wake-up ritual for millions of people worldwide. But recent research by South Korean scientists indicates you might not have to drink it to get that "pick-me-up" effect.

When sleep-deprived rats were exposed to coffee aromas, researchers found activity of some genes in the rats' brains changed, reducing the effects of sleeplessness.

I can't testify to rat brain gene activity. What I do know is this: Programming my Cuisinart Grind and Brew Coffee Maker to deliver a fresh pot of joe 10 minutes before my alarm sounds allows just enough time for the delectable aroma to reach my bedroom.

The promise of a fresh cup of coffee is often just the motivation I need to get out of bed 45 minutes early to squeeze in a morning jog before the workday officially begins.

What tricks to you use to motivate yourself?

(Source: Live Science)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Personal Revolution

For us, and many families like us whose loved ones have served in the military, the Fourth of July means far more than a day off from work. Our son, First Sgt. Wayne West, served active duty with the Army National Guard as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom during 2004-2005.

Note this interesting exerpt from our 2005 Fourth of July post, quoted from David McCoullough's award-winning book, "1776":
By 1779, there were more Americans fighting with the British than with Washington! There were no less than 21 regiments of loyalists - estimated to total 6,500-8,000 men - in the British army. Washington reported a field army of 3,468. About a third of Americans opposed the Revolution.
In our own way, each of us HYC participants is in a personal revolution to reclaim our health. With the spirit of patriots, we resist armies of temptation. With dogged determination, we refuse to give up ground we have already taken. Undaunted by fear, we resolve to leave a legacy of bodily health, emotional balance and spiritual wholeness.

Happy Independence Day!

Quote from 1776: The Illustrated Edition

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Yesterday, I interviewed nationally acclaimed motivational speaker, author and life coach Staci Wallace for a magazine article to be published in August.

"I'm convinced women are our greatest and most underdeveloped natural resource," she said. "Understanding that we control over 80 percent of the nation's consumer purchases helps us realize that women are greatly influencing the current economic situation of our homes and the U.S. at large."

Staci makes these sobering observations:

* Because over 60 percent of American homes struggle with excessive debt, women need help learning to prioritize their spending.
* Because over 66 percent of our population is either overweight or obese, women must be educated how to make more nutritional food purchases.
* Because single-parent homes outnumber two-parent families in America, women need wisdom, encouragement and practical life skills needed to establish peaceful and healthy families.

To address these and other concerns, Staci and her husband have founded EMwomen, an organization dedicated to gathering a million women with a passion to change their world.

"Each week, we cover dynamic strategies to help empower you in the areas of finance, family, fitness, faith and philanthropy," she explains. "Our goal is to equip you with the tools, wisdom and confidence you need to become a world changer."

"We also know you can't change the world around you until you’ve changed the world within you," she adds. "EMcircles are a source of life-changing wisdom, hope and inspiration that will radically challenge you in every area of life."

For us Healthy You Challenge participants, Staci's free online EmCafe is full of great recipes, each under 10 grams of fat.

Be sure to check out the EMwomen conference and expo to be held here in Hot Springs, Ark., August 23. We might even tag in a HYC get-together!


P.S. Need a good warm-up song for your treadmill workout?
Try Staci's "It's Not Over Til I Win!"

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tuesday Weigh-in

During the past few weeks, blog posts have been sparse. Strength training has been lax. And did you notice both the previous sentences were written in the "passive" voice?

Is it any surprise all those weeks were BestLife “red weeks?” Recent trips were the first all year that absolutely didn’t jive with any sort of organized exercise plan other than walking. Without the strength training component, my computer coach simply will not reward the week with a green face. And I confess, once you get out of the habit, it takes focus to regain the momentum.

Ummm, a more accurate account is that I didn't put forth the effort to exercise in my hotel room after being "on tour" for 12 hours. I could have done three basic exercises in the morning and three more before bed. I just didn't.

According to my original plan, we are still ahead of schedule – although only one week, not two – and only 15 pounds from goal weight, targeted for
August 2.

Here’s where we are now:
Total pounds lost: 50
Total inches lost: 42.5
Bust: 10”
Waist: 12”
Hips: 8.25”
Upper arms: 3.75”
Upper thighs: 6”
Calves: 2.5”