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You Don’t Have to be Perfect

I am one of those people who strives to be a perfectionist. I say strive, because I’m clearly not. I have to hire amazing editors to check my novels because my grammar is pretty terrible, I strive to “place” in any race I enter and I usually don’t, I try to create videos that go viral and I’m lucky I get a few people to like them.

BUT THAT IS OK. At least I tried. I was fortunate to take a class my job offered me, by Brian Parsley, who is a motivational speaker. Something he said really stuck with me. It was all about communication and perceptions, but there was one thing he said that stood out. “Stop trying to be perfect.”

You see, I’ll write a letter to a client for my job and I’ll obsess over it. I’ll check the wording over and over. Let it sit sometimes for a spell and then finally, after another eyeball, I will finally send it out. Well, if this letter is not a proposal, does not have rates or anything that will bite me in the tush, I now will give it maybe a “two eyeball” review and launch it to the world. I’m not going to obsess over a comma any longer. My goal and intention is there, clear as a bell.

I’m trying to use this philosophy in other aspects of my life right now. I just started taking an amazing free class on how to place ads on Amazon. I sort of stumbled upon it and in the first few days of viewing the first video, I made and published three Amazon ads for THE HUNT FOR XANADU. I’ve done some amazon ads before, completely failing at them, and after this class I learned every selection I did, was wrong. I bid wrong. I wrote the wrong type of copy, the wrong type of ad, the wrong targeting! Fingers crossed this one shows some promise. I’ll do some future posts about my experience once I learn enough to speak with a bit of educated clarity on it.

So I leave you with this. Stop always trying to be perfect. Keep trying, but don’t let that idea of perfection be what stops you from trying something new. Every single person started out as a beginner. Every single person has their own path, their own goals, and their own abilities. You be you. Let’s stop comparing ourselves to others.

We are winners for just getting out there.

2020 The Lost Year

Hi everyone. I don’t know about you, but 2020 was probably the most challenging year of my life, both mentally, emotionally and physically. I started the year like I always do, with so many goals. I was going to train and sign up for an Olympic distance triathlon, I was going to publish a book, travel, join some new social groups.

And then the Pandemic hit. In early March everyone in NY was in a tizzy about grocery stores doing away with plastic bags. People were so upset about that, and then Covid hit. Quarantine. Life absolutely changed.

As a Gen X girl, I handled quarantine really well. My generation is super good at keeping ourselves busy. I spent quarantine outside – most times by myself, biking, swimming, jogging. I was able to keep my brain busy exercising.

I also published Book 6 in my Kelsey Porter series, called THE JOURNEY BACK. I love this book. For those invested in the series, it gives you insight into the characters that you didn’t see in the other books. One note of caution – don’t read book 6 unless you read book 5, THE SEARCH FOR STARLIGHT. Just trust me on this.

Probably the biggest and saddest part for me for 2020, was the friendships that seemed to go by the wayside. I learned the true nature of so many people. It was as if a blinder was pulled off my eyes and you could see that the values of many people were clearly not my own. I had to decide how I felt about that. Did I want to interact with people that said derogatory things? That made racist comments as if it meant nothing. That didn’t believe science? That said hateful things about the LGBT community? And don’t get me started on politics. I refuse to go into it. It’s just too darn sad. It was like 2020 said, “Let it rip folks and I simply don’t care anymore.”

AND THEN… to end this horrible year, my family of four got Covid. We are diligent folks. For 10 months we wore our masks everywhere and anytime we did anything it was with the conscious thought of safety. And yet, all it takes is one person to take down a family. This virus is rough, folks. My children thankfully breezed through it like rockstars, but me and my husband are struggling a bit. Weeks out I still have congestion and exhaustion at times. But I am taking it one day at a time and have incorporated some herbal inhalation treatments (filled with everything from cinnamon sticks and red onions and other fruits and veggies) along with juicing. It seems to be helping a little bit every day.

I have never been so glad for a new year in my life. 2021, please be gentle with us. We could use it. Be safe my friends.

Training for Triathlons – Thank you Lifetime Gym

In March, 2018, I joined Lifetime Gym. I was actually at the time looking for a place that had great wi-fi, a cafe and a place for me to work since I was working from home for my job and was getting way “too distracted.” Kids calling from school: “Can you bring me my backpack, my homework, food…” to “is dinner ready? Can you bring up the laundry,” etc. So, I needed to get out of the house and I thought maybe I’d take some classes, too, while I’m there. Figured a monthly membership was cheaper than renting an office!

It turned out to be GREAT. I’d go super early, take a cycle class, or workout class, go to the café and eat breakfast and then work for a few hours and then take a lunch class, shower and then head home, where I’d work for the rest of the day.

While there, I heard about Lifetime’s indoor triathlon and I so wanted to try it. I’d never attempted three events for a race and I was intrigued. It’s a sprint tri and all indoors, so I felt safe starting with that. I started cycling and running and (gulp) getting myself in the pool. I got a swim instructor lesson to test my stroke. Well, it was pathetic. I could not go ONE lap in the pool without gasping for air and having to stop to rest. Not one. She fixed a few things and told me to just do a lap at a time and build strength.

Fast forward 2+ years and the other night I just swam 1 mile in open water with a swim group. I can cycle 20 miles easily and can run about 3-4 pretty consistently. I’ll be honest, my sciatica flares up when I run, but I can do it. Everything is hard, but like life, anything you want to do takes work. I really don’t like to hear the word “no.” I hate more hearing “you’re getting too old to do this.” And while it might take me longer to get out of bed in the morning, and there are days my back is screaming, I try to tell this body to give me one more push. I refuse to go into old age quietly.

It’s like my writing. I’ve been working it for 14 years. It’s been so hard getting my books out to the world with the sheer amount of content out there, but hey, you don’t try, you will never win. So, to end this, if you are interested in a smart, female driven thriller series that I worked incredibly hard on, please give THE HUNT FOR XANADU a look. It’s just 99 cents on ebook. It was actually a Jeopardy! question back in October 2016 and the amazing author Douglas Preston wrote a review on Amazon for it – look under Editorial Reviews. Purchase here or even just read the first few pages for free! https://amzn.to/2EKG8fk

Ok, off to play tennis! Where’s my ibuprofen?? LOL!

How Invested My Family is in ASL from Writing a YA Book

Millneck Book Talk

When I was in college at Stony Brook University, I took American Sign Language, for two years. It was just something that always fascinated me and I thought the language was beautiful.

Many years later, I had the idea to write a book with a young deaf boy as the main lead. That is how FLYING TO THE LIGHT was born. It is about a deaf child who knows a secret so big that everyone in the country is after him. I then began to do school talks about the novel and had the good fortune to be able to sit with students at a few different deaf schools. But, I didn’t want to just go into the school and have an interpreter. I wanted to be able to speak to the students myself. So I started classes at The Sign Language Center in NYC to refresh what I had learned so many years ago.

I did a few talks, some at Millneck Manor and St Joseph’s School for the Deaf. I did have an interpreter at

Me and my wonderful interpreter at St Joseph’s School for the Deaf

both events, but I did try my best to use my skills when I could. Both of those visits were eye opening for me. While in my novel the young boy, named Danny, is deaf and does not speak, I have his entire family using sign language to communicate with him. It didn’t occur to me that a parent would not learn sign language to speak to their child. Unfortunately, I heard from the students that most families DO NOT learn sign language to speak to their deaf children. We spoke about a lot of other things, but this really hit home. The conversations really helped me in writing the sequel called, FLYING TO THE FIRE. I changed some content of that novel specifically because of my conversations with the students at these schools.

FLYING – Young Adult Series

But what is really interesting is now my children are interested in ASL and both took the language for four years in high school. And now my son is continuing his education in Deaf Studies with the hope to either be an ASL Interpreter one day or perhaps work in a Deaf School.

I’ve been written up by so many different deaf websites and I thought it might be nice to list some here so you can learn about them. Please click on each one and it will take you right to the articles.

Sharon Pajka’s Blog – a professor at Gallaudet
able2uk
DeafNetwork
Michael Thal Review

Keeping Busy during the Pandemic

Hi everyone,
It’s been so very long since I posted. I don’t know about you, but when the world seemed to close up in March, it was as if a part of my brain closed off, too. It seemed all I could do was try to keep my family safe and happy, keep my job from combusting, and simply put one foot in front of the other.

Open Water Swimming

As the weeks went by, my kids came home from college and online classes began, I told myself I needed to set some goals, get active and keep myself busy. I had to get back to life. So, I decided I was going to finish THE JOURNEY BACK, Book #6 in the Kelsey Porter series, train for triathlon races as if they were still happening, and lose 20 lbs. Ok, I know I don’t quite need to lose that much weight, but some of the Pandemic carb load would have been nice to take off.

While I didn’t lose 20 lbs, I did lose 6, which allowed me BACK into a pair of jeans I’ve not worn in quite some time, I published THE JOURNEY BACK to great fanfare and I started Open Water Swimming at the local beach (on the bay side, not the ocean – no sharks for me!). (all social distancing in effect) In fact, this very weekend I swam my first one mile mock race in under 40 minutes. And it was raining. And there were waves going over my head. I won’t lie, I’d been scared to do that race, but I did it. The nice part was there were kayakers and paddleboarders watching us, so I felt relatively safe. I’m a “face my fears” type of person for sure. Next? A 10K run… we shall see!

Now, for those who have read the first 5 books in the Kelsey Porter thriller series, THE JOURNEY BACK will allow you a peek into Kelsey’s teen years. If you are invested in this character, I guarantee you that you will enjoy this. But, trust me – don’t read this until you’ve read the first 5 books. Too many spoilers.

I’ll start posting more, I promise. So tell me, what have you been doing this summer to keep busy? I’d love to hear.

Working from the Gym (and I don’t mean exercise)

This is the amazing cafe where I get breakfast, smoothies or lunch. Outlets at the big long tables.

So, I have a job where I have the opportunity to work from home and then commute to clients when I have meetings. It’s a great set up. My attic has been transformed to an office with a desk, printer, filing cabinets, a great ergonomic chair, laptop table, a couch… you get the idea. The only thing it doesn’t have is the ability to escape completely from other people if they happen to be in my house as well.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my family, but as the “mom,” it’s too easy at times to look for me… “can you help me find this? Can you make me something to eat? Can you take me somewhere?” The list goes on and on and yes, while I can stop what I’m doing, I find it very distracting.

One of the private manager’s offices they’ve let me use if no one is there.

So, I searched for an office space and found my local gym has ample room! It’s called Lifetime Fitness and it’s been really great so far. They have a fantastic wi-fi, a huge cafe, a conference room that when no one is in I can use. They’ve even let me use their private offices when I’ve had a conference call. I simply pack up my laptop bag with all my power cords, notebooks and head to the gym and work! I even squeeze a class in now and again.

It’s funny. I thought I’d be the only one working, but it’s hardly the case. A few days ago, a guy was walking around the lobby in the gym with his tank top and workout shorts, pacing and speaking on his headset having a conference call. Another time I was in the conference room and another guy asked if he could use the table next to me and it was like a “We Works” situation! Last week all of the conference rooms were being used and there were just too many little kids in the cafe, so I hunkered down in the empty cycle room. Literally sat on the floor and had a nice conference call and did a proposal for over an hour.

Besides helping me with my job at times, this gym is so amazing. They have a few swimming pools, I take cycle and yoga classes all the time and I even did my first indoor triathlon with them.

One of the salespeople there told me the new Lifetime gyms are actually putting in business centers for people like me. I sure hope they do that here. Not sure how, but it would be fantastic.

Not that working from the outside pool is such a bad thing… Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do, right?

My Paleo Journey So Far to Reduce Inflammation

Just cooking up some cauliflower rice!

About six years ago, I herniated my L4/L5 doing a pretty aggressive bootcamp exercise (let’s just say doing jumping jacks with a heavy bar over my head is not any part of my future plans). Add in being over 45 years old at the time, and I was ripe for a big injury and a boatload of pain. In fact, I suffer from inflammation and the inflamed muscles would press on those nerves surrounding the injury, sending sciatica pain down my legs. For nearly two years I was unable to really even exercise.

Fast forward five years later and I’m a lot better, though not perfect. I’ve spent the past few years strengthening my core, getting back into shape and now I can jog 3 miles at a time and do yoga a few times a week. But, I’m still plagued with inflammation issues. You know the drill, swollen belly, aches and pains at the injury site.

Last July I cut all artificial sweeteners in my coffee and that made a drastic difference. Three weeks after doing that, I was able to do burpees. (something I was never able to do before and here’s a good video example from Bowflex). I’d drop something on the floor and just cry that it was “so far away.” The idea of bending was horrific. Now, I’m 1000X better. But I could be even better. So that’s why I started Paleo.

I was never a big bread eater to begin with and I have a lactose intolerance, so this diet appeals to me. I love bacon. I love steak. I love vegetables. What could be bad? I do miss the pasta and rice, but this “diet” allows a few cheats in moderation a week, so I had a piece of birthday pie, and had a soup and didn’t freak that there were beans in it.

Steak, eggs and cauliflower/sweet potato mix

This diet has been easy and pretty clear cut. No grains, no legumes, no dairy. There’s a few other things to watch out for, but this is a great start for me. With a wee bit of planning, I have food in the house to keep me stocked and I simply modify my meals so they are paleo compliant.The trick has been to keep myself filled and to actually have “fat” at night so I stay filled, so at the dreaded 10:00 PM I don’t go downstairs and raid the refrigerator. I’ve not snacked at night for over a week and a cup of water helps me to sway those old bad habits.

I’ve made a few mistakes along the way so far. Adding some corn to a salad, which I learned was a no no, or adding a dressing to a compliant salad, and learned it had yogurt in it. I try not to freak about it and know that I’ve done my best. Everything is a learning experience and so far, just removing dairy (well, most of it) and grains has already reduced my inflammation and the sciatica pain I was experiencing recently has ceased again. I haven’t lost any weight yet, but I’m hopeful that will be an added benefit at some point.

So if you’d like to follow my journey and see the recipes I’m making on instagram, follow me @paleoinspired_

Love to hear how you are doing on your own dieting or paleo journey.

My Journey to Writing a Thriller Series

The Kelsey Porter Series

Ten years ago I set out on a journey to swallow my fears and publish my novels. After launching my quirky YA and fantasy books to some modest success, I decided I wanted to push myself and develop a new adult thriller series. But, I used my favorite authors, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, as my bar. Why? Because their books move me in ways other novels don’t. It takes a great writer to make me obsess about a character, and this series puts me squarely in the camp of my obsession with Aloysius Pendergast. Now, these authors also write novels on their own, but together, their Pendergast series is simply amazing. The novels are smart, savvy, with well-developed characters you want to love… and despise. I’m intrigued that they purposely add complicated words so that people will have to look up their meaning. I asked Douglas about this at a signing I went to of his and he said that it’s a conscious decision. They want readers to learn as they read their books and you can tell that everything they do, and every plot line, is researched meticulously.

Well, I wanted to develop a series like that, and one I thought they personally might enjoy. My goal was to hit on something different from what was in the field. Something spiritual, smart, singularly unique, and something that required a ton of research. While I’m no Preston/Child, I’m proud of myself. Four books into this series and I’m excited to say these authors DID like it. Douglas Preston actually read and reviewed Book #1 and it’s a great review you can read in “editorial reviews” for The Hunt For Xanadu on Amazon. Here it is here:

The Hunt for Xanadu by Elyse Salpeter is a remarkable novel, a fascinating and fantastical journey in time and space, and one of the most gripping novels I’ve read in a long time. It flies along at the pace of a thriller, with plenty of murder and mayhem along the way. But behind the thrill-ride is a spiritual story, an archetypal tale of mystery and darkness,riddled with fascinating and esoteric concepts in Tibetan Buddhism. Vivid characters, a truly appealing protagonist, unexpected twists, and crisp writing complete this unforgettable book. I can’t wait to read the next one in the series!

–Douglas Preston, #1 bestselling author and co-creator, with Lincoln Child, of the Pendergast series

So now there are four books in the series, they all have a Buddhist thriller flare, and they take you across the globe, from New York City and Colombia, to Alaska, Egypt and the monasteries of Tibet.

If you’d like to check them out, please click here to my author page on Amazon!

Today is my Birthday. Embracing myself, and my Curls.

Embracing my Curls

Embracing my Curls

Today I turned 49.

I have a hard time saying that without wanting to throw up a little in my mouth. 49. That means I’ll be 50 next year. When I was younger, I considered that old. But I don’t feel old. I feel like I’m 30. Not younger, because I’ve had kids, I’ve had jobs, I’ve lost people I loved. Life has afforded me the luxury to feel like I’m 30, but my body sometimes tells another story.

Those daily aches and pains getting up in the morning. (when did I start groaning when I got out of bed?) How I need to watch my sugar, watch my artificial sweetener intake, moisturize my skin, make sure I exercise and do everything I can so I “don’t get old.” I don’t want to become that person that just sits in a chair all day and watches the world go by. I don’t want to be that person that says, “I want to live my life the way I want to live and if that means eating jelly donuts when I have diabetes, that’s quality of life!” No it isn’t. That’s denial and I don’t want to live sickly and then die early because I chose to continually make choices that hurt me.

When I get to 50, I want to be fit. I want to be healthy. I want to do a photo shoot for everyone IN A BIKINI saying “This is 50!” (not that I ever really wore a bikini, nor probably should at that age, but I’d like to try). And I’d like to learn to embrace my curls instead of flat-ironing them all the time. I live in New York and straight hair is golden here. Heck, there are Dry Bars all over where you can go in and get a blow-out. But, it’s time to be me every now and then. For my birthday I just went out and bought all these Deva products for curly hair. Spent a small fortune, but NY humidity in summer is nothing to joke about, folks.

Boot Camp RopeI made a bunch of goals for myself when I turned 40. I was going to start publishing my books. (I did, and now have 9 out!), I wanted a famous author to read one of my books AND LIKE IT! (Douglas Preston gave me a review for THE HUNT FOR XANADU!), I was going to start Tae Kwon Do. (I did and 5 years later got my black belt!). I took a serious boot camp class for five months and wanted to be able to climb up the rope to the ceiling (did it!) And I wanted to travel someplace crazy with my family. (we went on an Alaskan cruise!)

But now I want to conquer a whole new group of goals. Some will take a few years, but some I want to do before my next birthday. So here they are:

I want to run a 1/2 marathon. I want to lose 15 lbs and get in good enough shape to do that bikini shot for my next birthday. I want to go to Italy and other places around the world I’ve never been. I want to visit my mom more. I want to take my daughter on a vacation somewhere, just the two of us. I want to be a raging success at my new job, and I want to publish the next book in my Kelsey Porter Series. I’d also LOVE to take singing lessons. I want to go to Karaoke one day and surprisingly be able to belt out a song by Celine Dion or Kelly Clarkson and shock the people around me who never thought I could sing. I think that would be a hoot.

So, remember… bikini shot at 50 next year. Put it out to the universe, do the work and just maybe it will happen. And what do you think of the curls? They work? I think they may be a keeper!

Getting Off Artificial Sweeteners… Without Ruining my Coffee!

coffee1So, recently I posted on Facebook how I “was totally ruining my perfectly good cup of coffee by forgoing any artificial sweeteners.” You see, the day before I was telling my co-worker about my “4 Splenda a day” habit. (which I thought was perfectly acceptable) She suffers from ulcerative colitis and was horrified I’d put two Splenda in my morning coffee, and then another two at about 3:00 pm. She literally begged me to get off artificial sweeteners. That “you’ll hate your coffee for a few days, but I promise you that you’ll get used to it.”

Sigh… I didn’t want to “get used” to any unsweetened coffee. I LIKED my morning cup just fine! But that said, I tend to get bloating, I tend to have joint pain and I tend to get high and low crashes during the day. Apparently all caused by artificial sweeteners.

I was told to just use regular sugar (turbinado, agave, etc), but I’ve been advised to cut my sugar as much as I can because a) it’s causing me to gain weight around my middle and b) my extended family is diabetic and I’m trying to be cognizant of adding sugar to anything.

So, I posted this on FB and “WOW” the conversations that followed! Apparently this is a very heated topic. But people were great and gave me a ton of suggestions on what to use instead of sweeteners and I’ll give you my feedback on what I tried this week.

Drink: Coffee (usually Starbucks made at home or a Keurig-like coffee in the office)… I use a generous serving of milk, creamer or almond milk.

Now, what I’ve added:

1) Cinnamon: I put a few generous shakes in and stir and stir and stir. Cinnamon is supposedly a natural sweetener and an anti-inflammatory. This is a fine addition.

2) Organic Butter: This is just okay. I used a pat of butter, though Kerrygold was suggested. I just didn’t have that brand handy. It seems fine, a bit fatty and not extremely tasty or sweet enough for me to add this regularly.

3) Coconut Oil: The flavor is good, but I find that it leaves a thick film of paste on my lips and I really don’t like that at all. Reminiscent of dousing my lips with vaseline. It was suggested to use a blender for this addition, but it’s way too much trouble and too loud at 5:30 am.

4) Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice: This is strangely good. My office has a squeezer and fresh oranges available. So, for my afternoon cup, I squeeze in fresh orange juice (sometimes a half, sometimes a whole). It is not bad at all and I may bring in cinnamon to add to this. One note, I find I now do not finish my afternoon cup, either. Now, it sort of sits on my desk and I do a few sips until I finish about half. Interesting.

5) Honey: This is also fine, but gives me a bit of a tea aftertaste. I don’t love it as much.

6) Cayenne Pepper: I added that this morning with my cinnamon. I love spicy food but I don’t quite like it with my coffee. I’m looking for sweet and this gives the exact opposite effect.

So, how has the full week been without sweeteners? Well, I still don’t LOVE and crave my coffee as much as I did, but now I don’t dislike it either. I like cinnamon as my additive of choice.

But, have I noticed anything with my health? Actually… YES!

The Crash: I don’t crash during the day any longer. Usually I’m dying for that 5:30 am cup and the 3:00 pm cup and desperately wanting this weird “rush” each cup gives me. I swear the sweeteners are playing some weird havoc with my body. Now I’m enjoying the coffee, but not getting that odd, hyper feeling each time I drink it.

Joint Pain: 50% of my joint pain has vanished. I was having pain in my hips, knees, sometimes wrists. That is pretty much gone. Oh, I still have aches and pains, but they are seriously cut in half. I was having an Aleve a few times a week. Maybe I took it once this week.

Bloating: It’s lessened. I still have to lose weight, but I got back into a pair of jeans that weren’t fitting me.

Queasiness: Nearly every night at around 10:00 pm I was getting rather queasy and “off.” I attributed it to the long day. The fact is, my stomach would be hurting a bit, my upper stomach would be a bit bloated and I just seemed “off.” That is nearly gone as well. Not completely, but definitely less.

So, my skeptical brain wants to say this is all coincidence, but I don’t think it is. I’m going to keep doing this because if it helps all of these conditions, why wouldn’t I do what’s better for my body, right?

As for my coffee enjoyment, I still have a ways to go, but it’s getting better. I still find I miss that sweet, yummy taste and that rush, but I can handle this just fine.

I’d love to hear other things I should put in to try! Please let me know what YOU use as an alternative to sweeteners. I’d love to hear.