The $5.00 Solution

Sitting is supposedly the new smoking. In other words, the more you sit, the greater your health is at risk. For a writer, this is bad news indeed.

get up and moveBut there is good news! To counteract the evil effects of prolonged sitting, you don’t need to sprint the low hurdles at four-minute-mile pace. All you need to do is GET UP. Stand, stretch, stomp your feet, play your favorite Pointer Sisters tune and move around even a little.

toadGET UP, every thirty minutes or so. That won’t guarantee vibrant health until age 100, but it will light a candle against the darkness of heart disease, stroke, obesity, chronic lower back pain, and all those other best friends of the Undertoad.

Well, says I, then I don’t have a problem, because I’m always hopping up and down—let this cat in and that dog out. Top up my tea cup, and have an inspirational bite of Ghiradelli dark chocolate. I’m pretty active in a sedentary way, says I.

Am I BSing myself about this?

What’s needed here is good information. My health is a significant limiting factor on a lot of the fun I intend to have in coming years. It’s hard to tromp around Scotland if my back is in bad shape, hard to even write a steamy hot scene if sitting has become uncomfortable. I really, really, really need every ounce of health I can beg, borrow, or maintain.

So I bought a $5.00 mechanical timer, plopped it down among the cats, sticky notes, books and incense holders on my writing table, and set it to 30 minutes.

timerWell, drat. I don’t get up as much as I thought I did. When I’m cooking on a scene, I’m happy to sit transfixed before the computer for well over an hour. When I’m in the writing zone, two hours is nothing…

This is a problem—with a $5.00 solution. So often in my life, though, I overlook this critical step: What is the magnitude of the problem I’m facing? Is it a big problem, a little problem, a different problem than I thought I had? Is it a problem at all?

knightThe last thing we want to do when we’re hit with the anxiety of a difficult situation is DO NOTHING to solve the problem, but instead, figure out what we need to know about it first. And yet, that simple, take-a-deep-breath, resistance to tearing off in the direction of a solution can spare us a LOT of misery and wasted resources.

I battle the same impulse when I’m writing. As soon as I have characters in my head, I want to write the story—even if I don’t know what the story is. The hardest part about writing for me, is turning the computer OFF, and giving the story space and time to develop.

lady_450Can you think of a time when you resisted the impulse to charge ahead, and instead gave yourself permission to stop and consider, gather a few facts, marshal your resources, and THEN decide what direction to charge in? Maybe you counseled a kid or a co-worker to give a situation time, or you withheld judgment and were later glad you did?

We’re celebrating the release of The MacGregor’s Lady later this week, so to one commenter (do NOT hesitate to comment), I’ll give an iPad with iBookstore gift card and trimmings or the e-reader of your choice.  

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114 comments on “The $5.00 Solution

  1. When I have so many things to do that I feel overwhelmed, I make a list. Makes me feel like I’ve at least accomplished “something”.

    I just finished reading DOUGLAS. Loved it! But I had to go back and reread THE HEIR. That was the first of your books that I read, and although I loved it also, there was parts of it that I found confusing. I felt like I was reading a book from the middle of a series rather than the first one. Reading DOUGLAS cleared up a few things. Did you write DOUGLAS before or after you wrote THE HEIR?

    Whatever your creative process is, I love the end result (even if I do get a little confused).

    • Another list tactic that works for me: Make a to do list, if you must, but at the end of the day, make a “Got Done” list. We accomplish so much more than we put on that To DO list, no wonder we’re done in by the end of the day.

      And as for Douglas, yes, he was written before The Heir, but in a prestigious contest, The Heir nudged Douglas out by one slot (The Heir won), so when we sorted through my stack of MS to look for a starting place, we chose The Heir. I tried to keep the backstory to a minimum, but many readers were left feeling like they missed the prequel…

  2. When I get overwhelmed at work, I like to take stock of everything I have on my plate and prioritize it. Then I look and see if any of it is something I can ask for help with from co-workers or my boss. That usually results in a much more manageable to-do list and prevents me from getting overwhelmed.

    • I saw that my best friend had lost over 60 pounds in weight and thought about it for a while and realized if she could do it so could I as I had constant back ache and didn’t do much exercise and as I have 2 young children so i need to be healthy for them . I was lucky as I had only about 28 pounds to lose . I made the decision and joined Weight watchers and have now about 6 pounds to lose . I feel much better.

      • WHAT an accomplishment, Jayne! You say “only 28 pounds to lose,” but some people would find that an impossible task. You’re right, you need to be healthy for your kids, but you also deserve to feel much better for yourself, too. CONGRATULATIONS!

    • Delegate, delegate, dance to the music…! Took me a LONG time to learn to do this, and I’m still not good at it. Hats off to you for being an good team player in a sense that’s not natural for me.

      • For me it’s still a work in progress. I’m kind of a control freak, so it has not been an easy thing for me to learn.

  3. I am a known procrastinator especially when it comes to writing my school papers, I tend to put everything I don’t want to do on the back burner and focus on everything else. My solution to this is simply to force myself to buckle down and get whatever it is that needs to be done finished. I too am a list maker, and I tick the items off one at a time as I complete them. This then opens time to do the things I want to do.

    • Misty, is there a college student on the face of the earth who isn’t a procrastinator? I realized pretty early on that when I’m tired, it’s hard to get together the focus and the energy to attack anything. Once I started getting enough sleep, the procrastination diminished.

      I also learned to put fewer items on the list. MUCH can afford to wait its turn in this life.

  4. Oh, like Mary T I’m prone to making a list (at work especially) when I feel like I just have soooo many things to accomplish. And I am that person that puts things on the list that I’ve already done so I can mark them off.

    I actually feel like I’m pretty good about sitting back and watching things unfold…in some situations. Someone asked me the other day what I thought about Common Core. I said I wasn’t really all that worried about it because this is the State of Tennessee. We’ll do it for about 4 years and then they’ll move on to something “NEW”, something “BETTER”, something “SURE TO PUT US AHEAD OF THE WORLD”.

    When things go into a tizzy I do try and take a deep breath and get my bearings. That doesn’t mean I always do it, but I try I really do. And when that doesn’t work, I’ll just cry about it and *then* take a deep breath and start pulling myself together.

    • I love that last part, about just crying, just giving the emotional reality its deserved acknowledgement. Sometimes I DO feel better for saying, “This is really a pain in the backside. I hate dealing with it, and I hate that nobody will rescue me from it.”

      And then, a square of Ghiradelli dark chocolate…

  5. I often have to resist the urge to charge ahead. I’ve been working on not doing that as often, especially now that I have small children. I’ve learned not to jump in every time there is a disagreement and let them learn to work through things on their own. I’ve also had to do this in my adult relationships as well. It’s actually been a great thing for dealing with my anxiety which usually has me jumping in without stepping back and thinking things through.

    • Elizabeth, my mom got to the point with her seven children where we knew, “If you’re not passed out, choking, or bleeding from an artery, DO NOT BOTHER MOM.” Not sure that standard was the healthiest, but we turned out OK enough.

      I’m particularly anxious to help, and I think that comes in my case from being No. 6 in the kid pile, and feeling fairly invisible and passed over. Maybe if I just save the day often enough…

      I only look like I’m in my fifties.

  6. I have to admit I actually think TOO MUCH. I have always overthought things and this is a huge problem for me in all areas of my life. Plus, I hate change so double trouble. I have never been the spontaneous type and this is something I have not liked about myself. So I have no answers. 🙂

    • I think a lot too, Maria, usually when I should be sleeping. My commute is more than twenty miles, mostly over country roads, and that helps–I can mentally change gears over that distance.

      But don’t sell yourself short. Coupled with somebody who’s like my mom, “Let’s DO something,” whether we know what will help or not, you’d make a good team… if you didn’t drive each other batty first.

  7. I’m finding that these days with my 15 year old, I’m no longer just discussing everything that comes up immediately. I’ve learned that with some topics, I need to think about it, and decide my approach and what I want to say and not just spout things off the top of my head. So, much easier when the boys were little and the easy answers were all that was needed.

    • Then too, the little dears delight in dropping hot topics right in our laps, just to watch us do the Parent Dance, and make sure we’re still paying attention.

      Big hats off to you, though, because in addition to giving thoughtful, reasoned responses, you’re modeling for your adolescents that the impulse of the moment need not always rule the moment. Adults think things through, PARTICULARLY when emotions run high.

      Mom of the year, that’s you!

    • I also get “slapped” (excellent word choice) with a lack of confidence: Look what you got yourself into last time, Miss Gracie Pants. How ’bout you sit on your hands and ponder this for at least 24 hours?

      I’ve seldom regretted the pondering, I often regret the charging forth.

    • I always want to jump in & “fix it” when somebody I care for is having trouble. It has taken a while but I have discovered that offering a supportive ear but not taking action right away is better for everyone in the long run. There are times when it is really hard to do but sometimes the best fix is allowing somebody work it out on their own or fail so they can learn from their mistake.

  8. I am a list maker.
    Writing a list works for me. I can prioritize my day both at home and work and set goals.
    I have several lists going at the same time. Work, Home and Dogs. Several lists. Colored Sticky notes.

    Last April, I transitioned to a new department at work. There was a huge learning curve. I was part of a transition team for a new client. I made a list for each new product I needed to master and a timeline list for the new client. Several people criticized me for my lists but, I was able to keep on track and everything worked out smoothly.

    My daughter is going back to college today with a list. She is a fantastic person and student but details slip by her. She wants to study abroad and needs a timeline. She needs to check in with her adviser about an internship and with the financial aid office. My daughter is overwhelmed. We are going to talk, gather facts and create a Must Do List. Creating a list will ease her mind and help her sort out her priorities.

    I am thinking her list will be written on an index card, not on my fancy lined sticky notes!

    • Sue, I find in any office situation, there are people whose job description is “dodging the buck.” They’re often charming, articulate, critical of others, and gone for lunch. Those are the kind of people who will not fare well in comparison to your lists. They shrink from accountability, which can also result in a lack of productivity.

      I’d hire YOU, I’d want to be on your team. I’d want my daughter sharing a dorm room with yours. I’d ask for you if I were the customer.

  9. When I’m at work – a desk job where I sit in front of my computer most of the time – I usually get up every hour or so. To get a drink or go to the loo. When I’m in the middle of something it is hard to stop.

    A friend of mine was having a lot of problems at work & I think just talking it out helped put it in perspective for him.

    • Excellent point. It’s often not how long we sit and think through a problem that helps yield a solution, it’s how creatively, and nothing helps with that like a friendly listening ear.

  10. I have loved your books from the first one that I read, The Soldier. Once I read the first one, I had to have more from this new-to-me author. I have had so many wonderful hours of reading and met such wonderful characters…. and I still have to have the next “Grace Burrowes” book ASAP! I have this one pre-ordered and am looking forward to reading it! Sooooo, thank you for all those wonderful hours you have spent sitting and writing at your computer!

    • Betty I don’t feel so bad now that I know I’m not the only person to read The Soldier before reading The Heir and I’ve continued on with them pretty much in order. I’m such a fan of Grace’s books that I have all I know about preordered through Amazon. I’ve loved getting a new book every month from her and will have to learn patience this year as I’m not sure I’ll be getting one every month.

  11. I work at the local high school, working with a large variety and types of kids. I have learned that I have to take my time to form an opinion of the student. I can’t always go by what another adult has said. I also have to give my students space to see what they can accomplish on their own. It is my job to help them and I think this is also done, by letting them help themselves, sometimes. I think some kids are surprised at what they can do. It may take them longer and it may not be as great as some of the other kids, buy THEY did it. I sometimes have to hold back, it is hard to see them struggle at times or wait while they work on something. But I have surprised myself by holding back and I think some of my kids have surprised themselves.

    • You have faith in them, maybe that’s part of the surprise. You have faith that they can solve problems, find solutions, make progress, know when to ask for help… you’re probably teaching them so much more than the subject matter, Sabrina. Good for you!

  12. I always make lists and consider. Impulsive actions have never actually been the best for me, even though I have had some really fun times being spontaneous. I am so busy though that I find that I I stop for a minute and write it all down that it gives me a chance to get organized and makes it easier for me to adapt on the fly later if the need arises.

    • I don’t think of my headlong dashes for a solution as being spontaneous–I’ll go for a spontaneous walk, sometimes–I think of that response (in me) as impulsive, an attempt to use sheer activity to reduce my anxiety, to FEEL like I’m working on the problem when I may in fact be making it worse.

      Activity has been my mother’s solution for every worry, and when you’re looking after a household of nine people, it’s a way to feel in control and productive, even if you’re only folding clothes. Makes me think about my mom to consider this, and how few options she felt she had.

  13. Lists, lists and more lists….I have note pads and post-its in all shapes and sizes all over the house, in my purse and in my car. I also try to plan out every little thing I need to do as soon as I get up in the morning. I think it has more to do with being retired and having more time for myself to make and stick to a schedule. When I was out in the work force, I was constantly hit with “surprises” when I thought I knew exactly what my plans were for the day.

    I did make an impulsive decision one time in my job career, accepting a job that I thought would be a great step up for me. However, after “sleeping” on it, I realized that it really wasn’t the right choice for me and once I made that decision, it was like the world had lifted a super-heavy weight off my shoulders.

    On a side note, haven’t read Douglas yet, but he is closing in on being the top position in my TBR pile! Loved all the other Lonely Lords and have no doubt that Douglas will become another keeper!

    • Sharon, I know what you mean, about a weight being lifted when you step back from a decision that didn’t hold up to closer scrutiny. My first experience with it was dropping an accounting class–my gracious, you’d think I’d received a writ of manumission, and that told me a LOT about where my passion lay, and where it did not.

  14. i’m a doer – its get it done – i make lists – then lose them – i get in trouble at work becvause I get up and move around outside my cube – sometimes you need that break to walk over to the window to clear your head. without anyone to delegate to, i think prioritizing is the key. also to accept accomplishment no matter how small – because if you don’t get it done today there is always tomorrow

    • Spot on Vickie–nobody steals your work, nobody steals your dirty dishes, nobody steals the scenes you didn’t get written today. They all wait for you, like patient, understanding friends.

  15. I might have to “steal” your timer idea as I now spend more and more time sitting when I am at home not running the boys here, there and every where.

    There are so many comments on here that I can relate to like the procrastination, over thinking so many things and not trying to get in between every argument the boys have. I think along the lines of the boys I had to imply the often used “choose your battles” to get through daily life. So the twins can’t sit at the table and eat dinner without getting up and wandering. My thoughts became as long as they are eating dinner I am happy, even if they do make several trips to and from the table. Jonathan wants to wear shorts all year long, well that is okay because he is dressed and it’s not like we live in an area that actually gets cold, although, I did get some stares last year when dropping him off at school in shorts in 20 degree weather. Matthew wants to wear long pants all year, well every where we go has A/C and if he not complaining about being hot in 110 degree weather it’s okay. With special needs kids who get easily upset with change it’s best just to choose what’s really worth fighting about.

  16. I am pretty good about getting things done, but when it comes to working out, in any way, shape or form, well not so much… I know I need to, because at 51 it is more important than ever. I am sure I will die sitting in my bed, while reading a great book. 😉 I just finished reading “Gareth” and of course I loved it!

    • Mary John, I bought the treadmill desk, expecting that like other treadmills, it would become an expensive coat rack. To my surprise, I’m past the one month mark and still making use of it.

      The key to it’s (relative) success has been that I have so few excuses, or grounds for resistance, that even I–even I–can get to it fairly often. It’s never too hot or too cold, never too windy or dark. I’m never in the wrong clothes, I never have to commit to a specific distance or time. My excuses fall away, one by one, and them I’m in my bare feet and jammies, toddling away while I answer blog posts.

      It’s as if I’ve found a way to trick myself into moving… which is kinda cool.

      • That’s what I need, something that tricks my brain into thinking I am not really exercising…

  17. Generally I need to take a break or a step back for a while when I am faced with a discussion I don’t really want to have or have confidence in. When I was a student and in my first career having to sell myself took much more confidence than I generally had at the time. It took a lot of building up to approach or confront those I needed to speak to. When I was a Mgr. critiquing others work always felt like I was hurting someone’s feelings so that would give me pause as well. As to the getting up to move around that’s always a good idea. We want you to stay as healthy as you can to continue to bring us all the future wonderful stories you have yet to write! So move around, dance, run, or just walk in place but keep on writing 🙂

    • Lisa, the Pointers Sisters and I did a couple miles on the treadmill last night, then Wham and Marshal Crenshaw came along… Might have to find some Dave Brubeck for tonight, or Allman Brothers Band…

      Thanks for the kind words. For all sorts of reasons, we should all be protecting our health.

  18. Congratulations Grace.

    There have been times when frustration has got the better of me, especially at work. It is impossible to wait days for a job to be completed so I have found myself taking charge and doing it myself only to discover that in the end, the person given the assignment had no plans to complete knowing I would have pulled up the slack. Sadly, this happened too many times but when a client needs the information, it must be done.

    • Oh, that’s low, for a coworker to set you up for overwork. I wonder what the manager thinks of this situation, and if they’re tacitly complicit.

      And yet, the jobs get done right, don’t they, and on time. If I were the customer, that’s what I’d focus on, and the customers (readers, for me) are the ones paying our freight.

  19. I try to keep my mouth shut when it comes to people at work and their various complaints. They will usually ask my opinion on different things going on when them. Trust me when I say that I WANT to put my two cents in, but I have learned not to get involved in those things. Feelings get hurt and then it’s hard to deal with the fall out at work. I keep my mouth shut, it is the best thing.

    • The office politics games can be insidious. Somebody once told me that the object of creating a triangle–let’s you and me talk about HIM–is to try to address a weakness in the relationship between you and me, and the gossip is really just a means to an end.

      But it can be a very destructive means, can’t it? You’re smart to stay on the bench. It’s a game with a lot more losers than winners.

  20. A very good friend of mine told me her 14 year old had been raped by two men and told me some in her family blamed her. Since I also had experienced what her daughter had, after thinking about it I offered to help and I glad I did because I was able to help her.I made sure I thoughtfully went through about what I was going to say and give her the unconditional support because you need to make sure you get it right the first time.

  21. I have the opposite problem at my job, but could probably benefit from the same $5 solution. I run from procedure to procedure, sometimes not even taking the 30 seconds to take a sip of water. I’ve gone entire shifts without going pee! And honestly it’s not impossible to take those minutes or seconds to take care of myself (some nurses may beg to differ) — but my focus just isn’t on those particular things most of the time. I think we should all remind ourselves to take those short, vital time-outs to take care of ourselves a little better — whether it’s getting up from the laptop and stretching out the creaky lower back, or pausing to drink one of the recommended 8-a-day.

    I struggle with resisting the impulse to just charge ahead in almost all aspects of my life. Right now, it’s resisting the urge to force pre-k reading activities on my kid. I don’t want her to fall behind her peers, but I know that she needs to take in the information at her own pace. So I’m working on learning how to teach (funny, that), and just making learning activities accessible to her and as fun as possible. Better for her, and better for my sanity!

    • I could not read a word before kindergarten, and my siblings taught me the ABC song because they thought it was funny when I sang L-M-N-O as one letter. This whole “learning readiness” push leaves me scratching my head.


      I think your approach is the only sane one: Make learning fun, saturate the environment with learning opportunities, praise the daylights out of the kid for her curiosity and accomplishments.

      And as for you, Missy…you must love your job on some level, but really–take time for the occasional pit stop!

  22. I use a timer too. I get so much more done now. Chores and other tedious tasks don’t seem so awful to do if it’s only for a short while. And the intervals remind me to stop and think as I decide how to spend my precious free time.

    I love the idea of a Got Done list.

  23. I have a hard time moving during the day too (never was one for exercise & a desk job doesn’t help) & though I try to get up regularly & move, its amazing how quickly an hour or so can disappear without you realizing it. using a timer is an clever idea. when it comes do decision making, particularly larger ones, I tend to make it a habit to take a step back & a moment or two to think about it before making that final decision. I’ve even said others “even though I’m almost positive this is what I want, I need to take a moment and really think this through to be sure” it makes it much easier to avoid regrets later that way. those close to me would be more surprised by my doing something big impulsively.

    • One of my friends has a rule that I like: If it involves money, ALWAYS wait 24 hours before responding. He’s looking at a very comfortable retirement, and his rule is probably part of the reason.

  24. You always have the most thought-provoking blogs, Grace! I like your solution of the $5 timer to encourage you to get up and move. I keep a daily calendar which helps focus my use of time. What is especially wonderful about my purse-sized calendar is that it contains prayers. Frequently, when I check the calendar, I also take a brief personal time out to read through a couple of selections and center myself. I know, I know–more sedentary reading isn’t going to improve any of my physical health issues; but it sure boosts my mental health!

    • My mom has a calendar like that, with a lot of quotes from Hildegard von Bingen and other Catholic saints. Interesting, that these wise and good folk from centuries gone by have so much to say that’s up to the minute relevant.

  25. Most of the time these days I try to stop and think before I charge ahead. It usually works out much better if I have most of the facts and think things through rather than act on impulse. Of course that wasn’t the case when I was younger, but with age has come a bit more circumspection, and I think that’s a good thing. As far as moving, I can get wrapped up in what I’m doing and not get up that often, but one thing about being older is that I have to get up to use the bathroom more frequently, so that gets me up. 😀

    • Revenge of the aging kidneys… I drink a lot of decaf tea, and that keeps me popping up and down too, but not as much as I thought.

      And I’m less impulsive than I was as a younger woman, also less judgmental. No matter how thorough a grasp I might think I have of a situation, my information is usually limited, and thus my judgment is limited too.

  26. I sit for hours on end – always have lol. I did a lot of reading or painting as a child. Then I ended up in the secretarial field which meant a lot of sitting. And I’m at my computer a lot now. I like your timer idea. Although I do get up for various things, I am curious too if it’s as often as I think. Most of my activities like bowling and bocci are not very demanding lol. Probably running my vacuum (which I do a lot with all my cats) is the most active I get. Luckily, I’m not a big eater and just have the usual 5 or so pounds I should lose. But, yeah, my heart probably could use more stimulation.

    • My sister is a type I diabetic, and thus acutely aware of what burns calories and what does not. She claims vacuuming is a lot more rigorous than we give it credit for.

      I don’t get my heart rate up much, but I can at least stand, shake my booty, waves my arms, (scare the cats), and stomp my feet.

  27. My friend uses her Samsung tablet with a 30-minute alarm set to let her know she needs to set aside her knitting to walk around and stretch her hands. 🙂

    As a retiree, my husband has perfected the practice of contemplating first about a project he’s working on before making the cut (wood) or turning a screw (motor repair). He says it saves time and/or mistakes in the long run.

    I’m writing on my list of desired character improvements to practice reserving judgment for later!

  28. First where is your desk on tread or wheels thought you bought like Julia Quinn? Am I crazy again, did I mix you with another writer? Drat! If I can’t keep my blogs straight, what hope is there for me. Now I work a lot in a small locked room. Kinda like a padded cell with no pads and anyone with a key can come in and does. Those visitors usually whistle or sing as they come to the door, I tell them repeatedly just walk in, if I’m blowing my nose I really don’t care….I’ve lived most of my life under camera and it doesn’t bother me. I walk around as I do my job I may only move 3 ‘ in any direction in a circle all the time. But I move. I have trouble getting off the floor when I am Fixing things but I’m still getting up. Truthfully an exercise program with partners would keep me more mobile, I taught that program in my younger days and the ladies in my group were able to move more easily at all ages. Movement is the key. On my day off I might collapse In My lazy chair, and you are right, if I stay there too long my back hurts badly. Moved too many appliances in my days as a appliance sales person. Movement is the key. But I am a reader! You know how many books I read, I will spend time In my lazy chair. I wrote this on my phone keyboard so typos are here to stay. I love you Grace Burrowes.

  29. More often than not, I contemplate before charging in, perhaps discuss with a friend or write it out…then take a stand. More Elinor that Marianne. Life seems less black & white, am seeing more perspectives as I live longer. That my way isn’t the only way or even right/best way.

    Right with you on the thinking I’m active versus really more cat-like in my ability to be utterly still for extended lengths of time. Going to try the timer solution! Thank you for the idea Grace!

  30. I like your $5 solution to the need to get up ever so often. I seldom have that problem for the simple fact at my age, mid 60’s, I have to get up ever so often to go to the bathroom. lol. I’ve not only got some weight to lose, I need to bring my cholesterol down. I’ve been given 6 months in which to do this and I’m working at it slowly but surely.
    Late last year I signed up for the senior walking program at the local VA hospital where I get most of my medical care and was given a pedometer that I now wear daily. I haven’t been putting as many steps on it as I should but I did go out today, even though it was cold, cloudy, windy, and occasionally rainy, and I’ve been able to put just over 7,000 steps on it. I’ll be going out again tomorrow to do some more walking, I’ve found Walmart is an excellent place to do it in bad weather as it’s a very large, sprawling store and I can usually put in at least 3,000 steps. I’m even making some much needed dietary changes that I hope will work to my benefit.

    • Walking is good for you and getting outside is good for you–not so sure about touring Walmart.

      And as for that cholesterol deal… as I understand it, you can only affect that number by ten percent through diet, but it can be an important ten percent.

  31. Our son is a Quid and because he is an incomplete he is often in a lot of pain. There are times like last night that I was up 6 times to see what he wanted and when the pain gets to him it gets to me. I have to step back leave the room and just go sit somewhere and quite my mind and pray.

    • A tough situation, Becky, for you, for him, for everybody. You’re smart to take space for yourself. In a perfect world, you’d be only his mom, but you’re put in the role of care provider too, and either role is tremendously demanding.

      Wishing you fourteen tons of support, and much love.

  32. I am often in over my head. And I need to remind myself to stop. Just stop for a minute.
    We all can get there.
    And just one more bit of my two cents.
    I am sick of the experts always telling me what I am doing is wrong wrong wrong.
    All the years my kids were growing up and I barely had time for any reading.
    Now, I stopped smoking 5 years ago. But I have feel guilty now about sitting down to read. Or what light bulb I am using. Or how I get my groceries home. Blah blah blah.
    My favorite thing about reading my lovely wonderful romance.
    No moral lesson. No one telling me I am doing it wrong. No one telling me I am not a good enough mom, wife, friend, woman, American……always something.
    Sorry. Rant over.

    • I read for the same reason–for the peace and quiet, for the place where I know in less than 400 pages, everything can come right, the guilty are punished, the innocent rewarded, and courage justified. It’s not too much to ask, that one place in life offer that sanctuary.

  33. I have a teenage – almost legal adult daughter ( and a young adult son). I have to force myself to stop and not say anything or show my initial reaction right away fairly often just so I can get the entire story and really find out what is really happening or what did happen. If I jump in with a reaction, I might not even give the right advice — or know if advice would be warrented or welcome.

    Sometimes the hardest part of being a mom is NOT saying anything or getting involved. Some lessons have to be learned the hard way.

    • And sometimes, the hardest part about being a parent is keeping a straight face. Kids say the darnedest things, and get themselves into the darnedest scrapes.

      And then, without even meaning to, you overhear a dialogue between two teenagers, and you practically snurt your tea…. such a bunch of little experts.

  34. Your $5.00 solution is brilliant! The simple ones often are.

    I read the same thing about sitting about a year ago on (no affiliation) so I just started paying attention to the clock on my computer and every half hour, I walked up the stairs (the office I work in is in a beautiful, old converted home) – and they are a beautiful, looong and winding flight like are usually described in HRs.

    I also stopped eating all grain and sugar about 12 years ago after spending a good year researching the issue (I really, really didn’t want to give up my hot, buttered toast until I had to!).

    I honestly don’t particularly care how many years I live, but I don’t want to be 90 or so and think, “Gosh, if I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself!”

    • My parents ARE 90, and glad they took as good care of themselves and each other as they did. As for me, I already wish I’d been more aggressive about finding a competent thyroid doctor fifteen years ago… but this is my year, right?

      • Absolutely! Never too late to start taking even better care of yourself (says the selfishly-vested reader/fan).

  35. I can’t think of any specific examples, but in general find it wise to think before we speak. Great piece of advice about the timer. Thank you for the contest, and congratulations on the new book!

  36. Oftentimes I find myself thoroughly researching everything I come across; be it health matters, a product one is contemplating purchasing, places to visit, restaurants to eat at. Too often my answer is “let’s google it!” when faced with a bump in the road, with the result being information overload just as often as meaningful information being gathered. Perhaps, a better question for me to muse over is, “Can you think of a time when you resisted the impulse to stop and consider, gather a few facts, marshal your resources, and THEN decide what direction to charge in, and instead gave yourself permission to simply charge ahead?”. Hmm.

    • Anastasia, your answer points to a dichotomy in how and why we gather information. My dad’s a scientist, and to him, you gathered information to test a hypothesis. Does light alter flavor compounds in milk? (Yes.) Is there a nutritional requirement for colchesine in dairy cows? (I dunno.) Then I dated a guy who worked for the National Transportation Safety Board, who pointed out that you can also gather data in order to CREATE a hypothesis, which is how accident investigations go forward.

      We tend to find the information that supports our hypotheses, but if we start out without preconceived notions, we’re more likely to find new truths. Sometimes, “Let’s google it!” is the smartest thing you can do!

  37. First of all I LOVE your books (I am pretty sure I have read them all)! I just read the first page of The MacGregor’s Lady – and I have to put it down until this evening – because if I read any more I will not get anything else done today! You are amazing – thank you so much for doing what you do!! 🙂 I have a job that requires me to be at a desk in front of a computer all day. I wear a fitbit (an activity tracker) every day – and strive for 6000 steps. The fitbit really helps me keep track of how much time I spend on my butt and how much time I am active. More expensive than a $5 timer – but it works for me! I am at times more active – and what really works for me when I am is scheduling the time into my calendar each day. Even just 30 minutes on the treadmill makes a huge difference. Or during the warmer months (like when it’s above zero – preferably above 30) I will walk outside. As far as being impulsive is concerned – I’m really not what I would call a “jumper” – I have no problem taking time to think things through before making a decision. I can also take that to an extreme and be a big time procrastinator – so I think there has to be a middle ground there that works. Excuse my punctuation (or lack thereof), run-on sentences and poor grammar! Again – I SO admire your work and SO enjoy your writing style and the way you make a story come to life. Thank you for sharing your talent!!

    • Thank you, Jill! I hope you find the time to review some of those books you enjoy so much–not only mine, but all the authors you delight in

      My brother has a fit-bit, and says diabetics in particular find them useful. Sometimes, they’ll think they’re low for no reason, then check the fit bit and realize they’ve been tearing around all morning, or a high correlates with a busy morning that as, alas, still spent behind the desk… it only FELT busy.

      My treadmill desk counts my steps, and that’s very helpful. I rarely make that 10,000 step mark, but I am impressed with how attainable 6000 steps is.

  38. I ALWAYS forget to take breaks and I basically live on my computer! This was such a great reminder. Thanks so much, Grace! Congratulations on the new book. I am VERY excited to read it! 🙂 🙂

  39. LOL – when I started reading the posting I thought she needs a timer. I’ve used one for years to remind me to do all kinds of things. Works like a charm.

    Recently, I’ve had to do a lot of weighing around going or staying. Each comes with it’s own “evils”. Life sure does take us in some directions we hadn’t anticipated and don’t want to travel and it’s not always easy to figure out the yes and the no.

    • My dad gave me some good advice once: If you don’t know what to do, then took a good hard look at the things you know for certain you do NOT want to do, or deal with. You can sometimes back into a good decision.

  40. I like to make lists. I’m a planner, almost to a fault – I plan and research things to death. I probably could lighten up and charge ahead a little more instead 😉

  41. I totally understand. Not only is my day job sedentary, but with the exception of one, all of my hobbies require sitting and a steady hand. It is nothing for me to focus for hours without getting up to eat, drink, etc. I’m afraid that if I stop, I’ll lose my groove/mojo. I do like to garden, but that hardly gets the heart up to a workout heart rate. I have an appointment with a new doctor for a physical tomorrow and have decided to focus on a healthy lifestyle. Oh…and that gym membership I have? It turns out you have to actually show up and use the machines to get any benefit! No Harold Hill think method here.

    • I’ve wasted more money at gyms… You do have to be there, and all the gyms in the world won’t address thyroid resistance. I’ve ended up with one injury, infection, sprain… nope, nope, nope. Gimme a timer and my tread desk, and we’ll see what we can do.

  42. I use a timer,too! I spend my day writing and reading so I use it to not only move, but to do my chores. Set the timer for 30 minutes and clean the bathroom…30 minutes to read…30 minutes to make the bed then vacuum…etc, etc. It works!

  43. Just love your books!!!! Bought one of the Windham sister Christmas books a few years ago, and immediately bought your entire backlist at that time. I second the reader who said they had to go back and read The Heir after reading Douglas. In fact I re-read all of the Windham books, I really enjoy the repeated characters. Now I get all of your books pre ordered! It is a quiet, sweet joy in my exhausting, chaotic life. Thank you!

    • Thank you, Deirdre. The writing is the same for me, at least when I’m creating a new story. I go play with my latest set of imaginary friends, and all the late bills, pending cases, and dust bunnies cease to exist for a time.

      • I’m an attorney too (and a mom). Sometimes the pressure is just relentless. Your books are a reliable source of relaxation and joy to me. Keep up the good work!

    • If I get your drift, bn, you’re referring that moment when you see what you’re supposed to write about, often on a test or final exam, and at first, the question seems un-answerable, as if it wants connections where they don’t exist, or compare and contrast two things that seemed exactly the same.

      Then you take a moment to consider, to turn it over in your mind, and ideas start to flow.

      I could not agree more. That’s exactly the kind of situation where a few moments of cogitation will lead to a much better result.

  44. I just finished Macgregors Lady. I cried. That, to my mind makes it a great book. If I can become so involved, and engaged in the characters that their heartbreak is mine, I am satisfied. Who doesn’t love a good cry…..especially when also expecting that all will turn out well in the end. Well done Grace!!
    Thank you.

  45. I vacillate between planning and punting, lists and laisez-faire. I used to be able to juggle lots of disparate responsibilities and interests, but the older I get, the more things not only slip, they completely vanish. And I’m only 48!

    I actually think there’s a time for all approaches – jumping in, mulling it over, planning, guessing … I’m found of the phrases “analysis paralysis” AND “what the hell”. Oh, and “plan early, plan twice” and “just do it”.

    • Good point, Karen. There are times to damn the torpedoes, and times to make haste slowly. I started hearing “you’re getting older” baloney when I was in my late thirties. The problem was not aging, but thyroid disease and thyroid resistance. Mental fog is a hallmark of the condition, along with weight gain, dry skin, disappearing eyebrows, Oh, I could go on…

  46. This was inspirational, because it’s all about feeling empowered to problem solve. Too often we get stuck, without feeling like we are capable of coming up with a solution. I love the practicality of this.

    • And even if we can’t problem solve (I have an eighty pound weight problem), we can light candles in the darkness, and pitch a single starfish. That sense of making some progress–a baby-baby step–can lead to more dynamic changes, and THAT can create visible progress toward a goal.

  47. Hi Grace,
    I am just reading Douglas and of course I love it… oh such a sensible man… too bad there are not many around…. oh the joy of at least reading about a men like that… when I first started reading The Lonely Lords – I kept thinking Nick was my favorite lord (love all the books don’t take me wrong!!) but then – even if I had a really spot in my heart for Darius… oh but now I am all confused. I think I would like one of each! ha what does that makes of me I wonder!!!???

    I confess that my latest treatment against anxiety and when life get hard to face really is a romance book. I have no romance in my life … haven’t had for the longest time so I do live vicariously by the stories I read… some are such good stories that really give me a venue to go online and research some things and places that I would not if I haven’t even think about unless I read the book.

    So in a way I feel like that validates my time… but in a way I think specially when reading a good story – even if it is fiction – it has somewhat of positive way to look at a problem and someone spent time solving the problem… I don’t know but in the hundreds of books I have read (yes, just on my nook I have more than 700) I have found some encouragement.

    Regarding your $5.00 solutions – being a nurse I have to tell people to do it… and I am the first one to have to do it… I visit my clients and some are old, have serious foot/shoes issues and I know that if they move they really would feel better but sometimes its so hard to get the message across. I am right now studying for an exam (Foot Care Nursing Certification) and studying and reviewing all that involves our legs and feet. The other day it just dawned on me what I was doing… so even if I was totally in the mood to remain sited I got up and took a walk… but it was hard to come back and study again… darn it… some habits are hard to break…


    • We changed my parents’ doctor in part because the guy they were seeing four times a year didn’t bother to take off their shoes and socks and LOOK AT THEIR FEET. These people are 90 years old, they’re scared of the shower anymore, they never go barefoot, they can’t see to clip their own toenails… I’m ranting now. He was their primary care provider, their first line of defense against medical problems, and he didn’t know enough to look at their feet?

      No foot, no horse. How could a medical profession not know this? You get the certification, Kassia, and save the world one little piggy at a time.

      And as for the vicarious romance, we could start a club…

      • Grace,
        I am so sick and tired of feeling powerless regarding my patients toe nails. What happened to your parents is basically today’s practice. Good for you to change their doctor!
        I tell my patients to make sure they take off their shoes EVERY visit to their PCP.
        The worse of the worse is when they visit their Podiatrist and they do a horrible job trimming their nails, sometime to the point of bleeding (yep I had to take of it later!) and the MD just do nothing besides putting a band aid on it… oh I could rant forever about this. As a visiting nurse I can’t provide foot care. I can recommend, teach but actually wash their feet and trim their nails? No I can’t even if I am certified. Its not part of my agency services…

        I love my elderly patients. Some are so easy to love… I get attached to them … it may not be very professional but some will be my friends for life.