To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time. ~~Leonard Bernstein


A few weeks ago, at the DFW Writers Conference, as I listened to Kevin J. Anderson speak, I was particularly struck by one story he told, probably because I could relate to it.

He preceded the story with a question:

“I have a question,” he said. “But before I ask, let me say there’s always a wise cracker in the crowd who raises his hand.” The audience hummed with laughter. “Okay. Here’s the question. Is there anyone out there who feels he has all the time he needs to write?”

Though I didn’t want to be a wise cracker, I raised my hand. Because I’m one of the fortunate few who, for the last two years, has truly had every bit of time I’ve needed to write. In fact, I probably should have finished several books by now.

So now for the story. Mr. Anderson began to tell us about a friend who became a bestselling author while working full time for Hewlett Packard. He went on to tell us the friend’s wife also worked for HP.

Then, the cliffhanger:

“And then, the most awful thing happened,” he said.

The audience hushed, waiting.

“His wife got a big promotion,” he continued. “And she came home one day and said, ‘Honey, now that I make more money, I think I can support us both. Why don’t you quit your job so you can write full time?'”

Why was that the “most awful thing?” Because this friend never finished another book. Instead, he took up painting, bonsai tree trimming, etc., etc. With so much time on his hands, he found too many things to distract him from his writing.

That’s what’s happened to me. My first thought is to say I’m burned out on writing. But that’s not exactly true. I still love to write. What I’m burned out on is trying to make a living from my writing.

Social media and marketing. Those two things on their own have distracted me from my writing, not to mention painting, bonsai tree trimming, etc.

Too much time. Too many distractions.

So, for the first time in twelve years, I’m going back to an 8:00-5:00 job with a regular paycheck. Sure I’m a little nervous about this very major change in my life:

  • A loss of so much free time
  • Not being able to watch Tommy during the week
  • Putting off the dream of generating enough income through writing or painting to support myself. (Note, I say “putting off,” not forgetting.)

But I’m looking forward to a lot, too:

  • A regular paycheck
  • A sense of accomplishment
  • Making new friends
  • Better familiarizing myself with Dallas

Maybe my writing will be significantly impacted, maybe not. But I have always worked better with too little time, as opposed to too much time. So who knows?

Perhaps my story will have a different twist to the one Mr. Anderson told, and I’ll go back to work full time and come away with a bestseller.

Posted in Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Being Trumped


After a week of conflict with someone I love and hold dear, my feelings about Donald Trump are even stronger. That may not make much sense to you now, but I hope it will as you read further.

I’ve always hated conflict and have done what I can to avoid it. But in the last few days, I’ve realized it’s not conflict itself I don’t like, but the KIND of conflict that, upon disagreement, turns angry, sarcastic and disrespectful.

For the purposes of making my point, I don’t need to go into a lot of detail. But, I will say, as is often the case, this particular disagreement/conflict/argument began over something small, relative to how it turned out.

  • We disagreed on how (or even if) a project should be done.
  • Because of this person’s past reactions to conflict, as well as my aversion to conflict, I may not have communicated as well as I could have about the project.
  • As a result, I received a sarcastic, cutting email about how the matter was being handled.
  • Against my better judgement, I replied more assertively than I typically do, in defense of myself and others.
  • This began a downward spiral of correspondence filled with criticism and expressions of anger and resentment.

Classic “unhealthy” conflict resolution.


It stings that this could happen with someone I love. However, I’m guessing you, too, have seen this kind of reaction to conflict, at least on social media, where an expression of opposition about something–politics, religion, race (you get the picture)–can lead to a roller coaster ride filled with vitriolic thrills and spills. I take that back. It’s not really a roller coaster ride, because it only goes downhill.

And that brings me to Donald Trump, the bloviating billionaire who loves himself and his money far more than he loves this country.

Here are some of his more publicized quotes:

  • “When was the last time anybody saw us beating, let’s say, China in a trade deal? They kill us. I beat China all the time. All the time.”
  • “I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me —and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”


  • “If I were running ‘The View,’ I’d fire Rosie [O’Donnell]. I mean, I’d look her right in that fat, ugly face of hers, I’d say, ‘Rosie, you’re fired.'”
  • “We build a school, we build a road, they blow up the school, we build another school, we build another road they blow them up, we build again, in the meantime we can’t get a f—— school in Brooklyn.”


  • “I saw a report yesterday. There’s so much oil, all over the world, they don’t know where to dump it. And Saudi Arabia says, ‘Oh, there’s too much oil.’ Do you think they’re our friends? They’re not our friends.”
  • “Free trade is terrible. Free trade can be wonderful if you have smart people. But we have stupid people [in office].”

So, what does Donald Trump have to do with the conflict I had this week?

We’ve become a nation of bullies. We seem to have lost our ability to negotiate, to resolve conflict, and therefore, it’s not okay to disagree. If you don’t think the same way someone else thinks, you may be berated, criticized, chastised, called names.

We don’t discuss the issues themselves, because we (and the media) are too busy sensationalizing the emotions surrounding the issues. Worst of all, we only “win” if we come out on top.

Sure, it’s entertaining to cheer on a “fresh voice” who, rather than conducting himself as a serious and thoughtful candidate, displays his television persona. But he’s not vying for CEO of a corporation. He’s running for President of the United States.

How will Trump work with others in government and around the world? He’s not a king or a god, even though he talks like he thinks he is. In reality, he will have to work within the framework of the Constitution, no matter how “right” he thinks he is. What will the leaders of other countries think about negotiating with a president who is only interested in winning the “battle,” a president who will use every weapon of snide insults within his vast arsenal?

The conflict in my own little world, between two people who love each other, spiraled downhill fast. Things were said that may never be taken back, which damages any opportunities for negotiation–not to mention, relationship–down the road.

I can’t imagine what Trump’s idea of conflict resolution would do to our already-hurting image around the world.


No amount of bullying will resolve conflict. No amount of bullying will
“Make America Great Again.”

Posted in politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

Never Too Late

A month ago, if you had told me I’d be working with a personal fitness trainer, I might have said, “Yeah, right. At my age?”

But, when a new fitness facility went in only a two miles away, when the Dallas temps soared past the century mark and it was too hot for this wimp to walk outside, when I felt my muscles tightening up, (and not in the good way), and finally when I received a discount card in the mail, I decided to go have a look.

youfitAs soon as I walked in to YouFit Health Club, it brought back memories of the days when I got up at 5:00 a.m. to go to the gym, every single weekday before going to work. Well, that’s not exactly the part of the memory it brought back. What it brought back was the memory of how good I felt–how much energy I had.

And so, I joined…and got myself a personal trainer, Mitch Heaslip.

I’ve never had a personal trainer before, but thought at my age, it would benefit me to have someone who knows what he’s doing telling me what I need to be doing.

I thought you might like to meet him…just in case you’ve thought about doing the same thing.

By the way, I highly recommend it. There have been many times Mitch has pushed me past the, “I don’t want to do this” stage. One day, after two sets of push ups, as I groaned and grunted, grateful to finally get that last painful push up over with, he smiled and said, “Okay, one more set.”

“Whaaat? Seriously?” I thought. But, I didn’t say it out loud.

I did it. Another set.

Oh, and let’s not count the time I was sitting at the pool with my sister and had an appointment with Mitch. If I hadn’t had that appointment, I guarantee I would have stayed at the pool, sipping margaritas between my naps.

So, here’s a little bit about Mitch, followed by a Q & A.


What’s up guys? I’m Mitch of Mitch Heaslip Fitness and I’m extremely honored to be interviewed by Jan here on her blog and I’m excited to be here.

A little about me; I’m currently living in Dallas, Texas with my new wife Maria but I’m originally from Ottawa, Ontario Canada. I’ve been in Texas for about one year and I’m loving it. I’m also lucky enough to make my living training clients in-person as well as online.

Let me backtrack a little bit. I got started in the fitness industry at 19 years old in a tiny town called Petawawa. Here I began assisting in the training of Canadian soldiers in a group setting for the purpose of job performance. This was an amazing start to my career in fitness and exposed me to a huge variety of clients.

From there I moved onto a commercial gym setting in Ottawa, Ontario where I worked with clients in one-on-one and group settings.

mitch1There came a time when I felt I wanted to diversify a little, so I became a certified firefighter/EMT. I worked as an Oilfield Firefighter for two years. And while this was an incredible experience, I never really let go of the fitness industry, and maintained online clients throughout this time.

I eventually realized that training, teaching and coaching are my passions, and dove right back in head first.

This brings us to current times, where I am lucky enough to train wonderful clients like Jan in-person at a club called YouFit Health Clubs. I also coach clients online, planning their training and nutrition and helping every step of the way during their fitness journey.


Thanks again, Jan, for the opportunity to interview on your blog!

Mitch Heaslip Fitness


JAN: Can you give us three benefits to having a personal trainer?

MITCH: Absolutely! The first benefit would be the accountability. This comes in many forms, depending on what the client needs. I can’t tell you how many clients have told me that they would NOT be at the gym if they didn’t know I was there waiting for them. Showing up is a huge part of the battle, and setting an appointment with a trainer will make sure you show up. Clients also tend to work a little harder with their trainer than they do by themselves. This is true whether or not the trainer verbally pushes the client.

The second would be that the knowledge and experience of the trainer is now at your disposal. We live in a very interesting time where information is in the palm of our hand at any given time, but even with that, you can’t replace many years of experience with Google. Regardless of the obstacles you come across in your training, nutrition or lifestyle, you can pretty much bet that your trainer has helped many others work through that obstacle, and they’ll help you too. This keeps you on track, and gets your results as quickly as possible.

Finally, the third would be the fact you can outsource some of your decisions and planning. In 2015 we are all busy, hustling our faces off, working long hours and making decisions all day long. Hiring a trainer places a very important aspect of your life in the hands of an expert, and it means you don’t need to plan your training or your nutrition. Your trainer will take that on, and you just need to shut off your mind and execute the plan. This means you can save your mental and emotional energy for your family, friends, and work.

JAN: What is the one piece of advice you can give us to make our workout routines a success?

MITCH: This is far and away my best piece of advice for making sure your fitness routines are a success. Learn to love the process, and focus on daily execution. This means once you establish your end goal, and plan out your path to that goal, forget about the goal, and focus on the small daily steps that keep you on that path. Focusing on the end goal can cause anxiety realising how much work needs to be done, and it takes your mind off of the things that will get you there. Consistently hit your workouts, eat the right foods, and keep going. And love the process!

JAN: List the top three most beneficial exercises.

MITCH: This answer may vary from client to client, but I can certainly think of a few that will apply to most people. The first would be the squat. The squat will teach proper posture, glute activation, hip function which tends to be lost in adulthood, and serves as a foundation for all other exercises. The squat also strengthens your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors, and to a lesser extent, your abs and upper back. This means a huge bang for your buck.

The second movement I would go with is the lunge, and this could be any variation of the lunge. This exercise has many of the same benefits as a squat, but because it is a single leg exercise it will also improve muscular balance between the legs, activate the glutes a little more than a squat, and teach some more balance and coordination which is very helpful in the gym and everyday life.

Finally, I’ve got to show the upper body some love with the push up. This is like the squat of the upper body. You’re going to strengthen your pecs (chest), triceps (back of your arms) and your deltoids (shoulders). Unlike a bench press, in the push up your shoulder blades are free to glide across your back as nature intended, which encourages healthy shoulder function and shoulder stability. Just an amazing movement in general.

JAN: I’m 57 and you’re the first personal trainer I’ve had in my life. Any words of wisdom?

MITCH: Absolutely, and it is the same piece of advice I would give to most people who are just getting started. Be patient with yourself. Focus on progress and not perfection. If you’re eating a little better today than you were yesterday, or doing a little more in the gym this week than you did last week, then you’re on the right path. Give yourself the pat on the back you deserve, focus on what you’re doing well, not on what you perceive as failures because positivity breeds more positivity.

Finally, when you engage in self talk in your mind, speak to yourself like you are your best friend, not your worst enemy. Be gentle, and encouraging. That’s it! Adherence is more important than anything, and making sure the experience is positive is vital for long term adherence.

See? I’ll bet you can tell by Mitch’s answers what a positive influence he is. In less than a month, I can already feel a difference. I highly recommend having a personal trainer, at least to get you started.

Here are some of Mitch’s links. He even has an app that can help you if you’re not in the Dallas area.


Twitter: @MitchHeaslip
Instagram: mitchheaslipfitness

Posted in Physical fitness | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Origami Cranes and Hiroshima

Jan Morrill:


In remembrance of the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, I am reblogging a post from March, 2012 and including an excerpt from The Red Kimono. In this scene, Sachi is wondering about the impact of the bomb.



AUGUST 9, 1945

A giant bomb dropped
In a land far away, yet
Close enough to hurt.

Of course, Sachi knew what a bomb was. But Papa said the one that fell on Hiroshima was an atomic bomb. She had never heard that word before—atomic. He wouldn’t tell her much, but she knew something very bad had happened. If only he understood; wondering was much worse than knowing.

So many things told Sachi this was something too terrible to talk about—at least to children. But she wasn’t a child! She was almost twelve. When would they trust her to understand grown-up things?

She would never forget what had happened the day before, when she returned to camp from Jubie’s house. As soon as she walked through the gate, she heard women crying inside the barracks. Men were walking up and down the barracks’ rows with strange, sad looks on their faces. Sometimes they stopped and whispered in small groups; other times, they shuffled along in a daze.

That day, she’d walked into their dark apartment and found Mama and Papa sitting across from each other at the table. The only light in the room came from a candle flickering between them. Incense burned next to it. She noticed Papa wore the very same grim expression he had worn the day he heard about Japan attacking Pearl Harbor.
Mama’s o-juzu beads made clicking noises as she tousled them in her hands. Her eyes red and puffy, she shook her head and whimpered.

“Okaasan. Otosan.” Mama. Papa.

Papa took her hand and walked with her to her room behind the curtain. They sat on the bed. “Sachi, something terrible has happened. But, do not be afraid. We will be fine,” he said, patting her leg.

“What, Papa? What happened?”

“It appears the United States dropped a bomb on Hiroshima.”

She shrugged her shoulders, confused. “But don’t they drop bombs all the time in a war?”

“This was a bomb that does even more damage. An atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, where your obaasan and ojiisan live.”

Sachi gasped. No wonder Mama was so sad.

“Many people had family in Hiroshima. If it is true, it will be a very long time before we know who might have been hurt there.”

She had heard the others talking. Papa was protecting her. It wasn’t only injuries that worried everyone. Though they always whispered when children were around, she heard the whispers about a city the size of San Francisco being completely destroyed. They said that hundreds of thousands might have died. She imagined San Francisco completely destroyed and suddenly understood the horror of the atomic bomb.

The whispers turned to talk of Japan’s surrender. She didn’t know a lot about war, but if the United States was at war with Japan, wouldn’t surrender be a good thing? Then why were the women crying? And why did some of the men look so angry?

If the war was over, wouldn’t everyone get to go home, at last?


Originally posted on Jan Morrill Writes:

Thank you to Google for its March 14, 2012 Google Doodle that reminded me of Akira Yoshizawa‘s 101st birthday. Though I’ve always enjoyed origami, before today, I never really thought about who inspired its popularity.

Happy birthday, Yoshizawa-san!

Thinking about origami reminded me of a trip my mother, sisters and daughter took to Japan a few years ago.

There, we visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.

Of course I’d read the history of Hiroshima. But, even six decades later, the vision of what remains of the damage is startling. My first reaction was to deny to myself that our nation could have been responsible for such destruction. But of course, how could I deny it?

As we walked around the memorial site, a group of Japanese boys approached us, and asked if we would let them walk with us and answer any questions we might have about the memorial…

View original 196 more words

Posted in History, peace, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment


Photo courtesy Pierre Selim on Wikipedia

Photo courtesy Pierre Selim on Wikipedia

July was Freedom from Fear of Speaking month. I know. It’s August now, but that’s okay, because Freedom from Fear of Speaking is not what I’m writing about.

But, in July, I was invited to write a six-word story about fear of speaking. Thinking back to the times I’ve experienced “the jitters,” I wrote:

Such anticipation for my words? Breathe.

However, when I read the “6-word stories” written by others on Coach Daddy’s blog, I found that I apparently misunderstood the context of the prompt: What’s We’d Say Without Fear, because most other contributors wrote about what they’d say to the world if they had no fear, not about fear specific to public speaking.

So, I amended my six words in the comments of Coach Daddy’s blog, because though I admit to fears about some things, one of those is not a fear of changing my mind. Here’s my amended six-words:

Quit being so easily offended!

It’s these six words I’m writing about in this post, because more and more I see examples of people being too easily offended by something someone says. Here are some examples:

1) KimonoGate: A small group of Asian Americans (most were not Japanese Americans, mind you) were so offended by non-Japanese visitors to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts trying on a kimono (see my post, “Outrage Over a Red Kimono?) that they managed to get the museum to disallow visitors to try it on any longer. Instead, the museum now allows visitors to experience the kimono through touch.

The protesters continue to be offended. Here’s an excerpt from their manifesto on their “Decolonize Our Museums” Tumblr page:

However, the updated event, which invites people to “touch and engage with [the kimonos],” continues to be inappropriate without proper mediation and acknowledgement of the Orientalism of cultural appropriation of dress and the implications of the Orientalist gaze on often-exotified and thus dehumanized feminine bodies – especially given the past three weeks of museum-facilitated Orientalism.

They’re offended by “implications of the Orientalist gaze on often-exotified dehumanized feminine bodies??”

Kudos to the National Coalition Against Censorship, for their letter to the museum. Here’s an excerpt:

Museums and other public institutions cannot serve as vital centers of cultural engagement if they feel compelled to avoid controversy, or to respond to it by giving in to demands that represent a specific viewpoint at the expense of others. Art often engages audiences over emotionally charged issues, and frequently reveals an uncomfortable history of  past events and attitudes. These debates require a considered, consistent, and principled response if a museum is to serve its essential functions effectively. The small but energetic group that protested “Kimono Wednesdays” as racist have the right to their views. But should the museum respond to these views by canceling the program and apologizing?

2) Cecil the Lion: Most of you have, by now, heard about the killing of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe, and the associated social media “storm.” After a few days, I began to see posts on Facebook and Twitter that asked how people could be angered by Cecil’s death and not by #BlackLivesMatter or the deaths of unborn children:

3) God Bless America: Several years ago, after 9/11, I had a license plate that said, “God Bless America.” I meant nothing by this license plate, except that I knew our country had turned a terrible corner, and that in many ways, our lives would never be the same again. I still remember the day a friend of mine, who was not American, asked me, “Why should God only bless America?”

Did my license plate say anything about “God Bless ONLY America?” No.

Our interests and passions are not based on “either or,” but on “and.” As a writer, I try to develop characters who are multi-dimensional with a variety of interests and passions. “Real life” is no different.

We are multi-dimensional. We can care deeply about more than one thing.

There was a time when trying on a kimono was “safe”–seen as nothing more than a desire to experience something from a different culture. And, there was a time when a person didn’t have to think twice about expressing sadness or outrage over the death of an animal without a concern they might offend someone.

Now, it’s as if people look for things to be offended by. And, because they’re offended, many of us shut down our expressions and opinions, as the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston did with the kimono exhibit.

And there you have political correctness.

If done with respect, it’s okay to disagree, to think differently from each other–to be passionate about more than one thing, even if it leads to someone being offended.

As far as I’m concerned, the resulting political correctness–the insidious assumption that we should all think alike–is worse.

Posted in political correctness | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment