Peggy Lea Baker

Taking Things to the Next Level

Posted in Basic Thoughts, Encouragement, Insights, Personal opinion, Sharing by Peggy Lea Baker on June 17, 2013

We live in exciting times!  And as I continue to transition to a more aggressive level of writing and publishing,  I recently decided to take down another website (bearing my name).  Maintaining it and this site was time consuming (so I wasn’t doing a good job at keeping up with either site) and at times, redundant.  Besides, time is precious.  I chose to keep this website/blog, since I’ve had it longer, and  I chose to rename it, Peggy Lea Baker, with the tagline, and my personal motto, “Pursue Your Dreams…Whatever They Are…Just Never Give Up!”  This is my passion and I consistently strive to instill it in others.  Too often our hopes and dreams are scoffed at or downright shattered by others…those who generally don’t seem to have any aspirations at all other than to wander through a routine day and wrap it up sitting in front of the TV for hours on end.

For me, like so many of you, a monotonous daily ritual isn’t part of our game plan.  We want more.  We hope for more.  We dream of more.  A familiar phrase, popularized by a movie a few years back, is “bucket list.”  Although not exactly a glamorous term, it does serve an important purpose.  What is on your bucket list?

I have a few things on mine, such as being a successful novelist, getting a private pilot’s license, setting my own schedule, sleeping in when I feel like it, and having the freedom to take a few days to go visit my mom or a distant friend on the spur of the moment.

I want to travel to parts of the United States I’ve never seen before.  I want to talk to people, hear their stories, find out what they hope to achieve in life.  It  can be anything!  Doesn’t matter what…just as long as they look forward to something.  I love to create interesting characters for my books, based on people I’ve met.  Whenever I’ve asked someone if I can use either their first or last name, or simply the essence of who they are as a character in one of my stories, everyone, so far, has said yes!  In fact, some have even asked to be a villain, believe it or not!

To achieve success as a writer (or anything for that matter), requires a plan.  Part of my strategy is to begin a more routine program of blogging.  I want to strengthen that discipline for a number of good reasons, but specifically to keep me more accountable to my writing, as a whole, and making the absolute best use of my time.  Although I do have a regimine I currently follow when working on a book, I want to connect with more people who love to explore life in a variety of ways.  You don’t have to travel the world to discover fascinating people, places, and things of interest…at the very least, connect with all kinds of people via the power of the internet.  Life is all around us.  So, as I continue to blog more, finding new friends and fellow creators as I go, I look forward to learning, growing, and sharing.   I promise, however, to continue to keep my posts infrequent, just more frequently…infrequent.

As my writing career continues to develop and grow, the dream of becoming a private pilot also gets closer to reality, and then so does increased opportunities to actually travel beyond Google Maps and my task chair.  Even if everything on my bucket list does not come to fruition, I can at least feel good that I didn’t just try… I did all I could.  Remember Yoda?  I like to remind others to adhere to, what I call, the Yoda Motto:  “Do.  Or do not.  There is no try.”  So stop trying to do something and just make up your mind to do it!

I recently enjoyed a post written by Marya Jan, author of the blog, Writing Happiness, which I follow.   The post was entitled, “Why You Don’t Need to Become a Popular Blogger.”   She pointed out quite well that blogging, as a hobby, is very much different than blogging for business purposes.  I love to write, and fully expect my passion…which is to create interesting stories for others to enjoy…to eventually become my business…my livelihood.

Over the next weeks, months…years…one part of my plan is to maintain and track my writing journey with more diligence.  It should be interesting, even fun in most instances, to see the progress, the achievements, and milestones, as well as deal with the glitches, the setbacks…and the ongoing learning curve.  I look forward to experiencing more and more satisfying moments where that creative essence culminates into something wonderful and exciting.

I want to continue to connect with others who, like you, either have or continue to, travel a similar journey.  I want to hear your wonderful and exciting experiences.  I want to embrace our shared, and varied, passions.  I want to provide encouragement and share ideas, as well as glean wisdom from you.  I want to help teach others the value of believing in dreams…those ambitious desires…and help cheer you on to achieve the things that inspire and excite you!

So, to all those who have one or more dreams, excellent!  Keep dreaming!  And again, to repeat my personal motto, which you are welcome to embrace and share…

“Pursue your dreams, whatever they are…just never give up!”

Connect at LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/peggyleabaker

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Thoughts from the Infrequent Blogger

Posted in Basic Thoughts by Peggy Lea Baker on May 27, 2013

I’ve spent so much time the past few months getting my next novel ready to publish, that I never seemed to find the time here and there to ‘blog.’  Good?  Bad?  I don’t know.  I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules regarding blogging frequency.  Although I am a subscriber to several other blogs, on occasion I will just skim them for content.  The good thing is that many of them offer valuable information I can use, so I appreciate getting them.  At the same time, it can be time-consuming trying to keep up.

Blogging.  It’s not that I don’t have information to share, or an opinion about things…I do…about lot of things, actually, but I’m not so sure I need to blog about all of them.  For instance, I’m not ready (probably never will be) to plaster every detail of my whole life all over the internet.  I’d like to keep most of my personal stuff…personal…you know.  Seriously, does anyone really care what I ate for dinner last night?  I doubt it.  So, as I reviewed some of my previous blogs, I noticed that my last post was waaaaaay back in August 2012 (Really?  It’s been that long ago?).  At that time I was lamenting about being without the internet for a short period of time.  As of this writing, however I’ve not re-experienced that challenge.  Good thing, since I do so much research online when I’m working on a manuscript.

Writing.  Now that’s something to chat about.  I love to write, in spite of my lackluster blogging, but I’m a story-teller and excited that my next novel is nearing its publishing date.  I love the story, and so do my test readers, as well as my editor.  It’s always a good thing when your editor, in particular, likes your work!  As such, Hunter Blake will be making his debut and the intrigue will begin.  So, if mystery, suspense, and intrigue – with a splash of romance thrown in for added interest – happens to be among some of your favorite reading genres, stay tuned.  As with my other publications, this next novel will be available at www.smashwords.com.

Website Hosting.  I recently switched hosts (for my book writing website – not this blog site) but I think I’m going to switch again.  I need more behind-the-scenes access to my site, which my previous host let me do.  I would have stayed with them, but unfortunately they were making some changes that necessitated I make a switch.  My current hosting company doesn’t provide me that kind of access.  In fact, they only allow me 60 minutes a month to add stuff or make changes.  One hour a month isn’t much time to dink around, and besides, they’re expensive.  I have no idea what possessed me to sign up with them.  Well, maybe it was the pitch that they would design a website for me for free.  Yeah, okay, but in the meantime, I think I’ve found a much better hosting company so we’ll see how that goes.

Politics.  I could offer my opinion on the current state of affairs, politically speaking, like how I think We the People should have the power to orchestrate an immediate election, fire all our elected officials and start over without going through the mess of months (even years) of traditional campaigning, empty promises, and media-controlled elections.  Maybe I’ve missed something somewhere, but I thought they (the elected officials) were supposed to be working for us, not the other way around.  Public servants, right?  Or wait!  Maybe that was a typo and it’s supposed be ‘self-serving.’

Airlines.  I recently flew out of San Francisco to the middle of Texas to visit with my oldest son and his family.  I was so danged excited!  I love to fly…usually…but not this time.  It was the first time I had a chance to fly anywhere, since they introduced those confounded body scanners.  So I stepped inside the thing, raised my hands up high in that ‘stick ‘em up!’ position while this contraption whirled around me.  I stepped out and they pulled me aside.  There was something suspicious about my right knee, I was told.  My knee?  Seriously? Yeah, so a female TSA person felt my knee and finally announced to a fellow TSA person, “Nope.  It’s her knee.”  And I said, “Yup, it’s the same one I’ve had all my life.”  They let me move along.

That wouldn’t have been so bad if it were the only inconvenience of my trip.  Turns out (I found out later that day) that the air traffic controllers were short-handed due to a bunch of lay-offs that had just occurred, or something like that.  So, as a result, hundreds of thousands of happy travelers, such as myself, were suddenly affected while in transit to our vast and varied locations.  Well, there’s nothing like hanging around an airport waiting for your delayed flight to finally take off.  You get to meet other equally frustrated and tired travelers, watch cable network news sites on giant monitors, and worry about your next meal.   Have you noticed how much the vendors charge for food in airports?!  We’re at their mercy…except there is no mercy!  Pay or go hungry.  Glad I took snacks.

I had to make a connection going and coming, but coming home was more of an adventure.  My first flight was delayed twice, which meant I missed my connection (and prized window seat) back to San Francisco.  I was re-booked, but once I touched down in SF, I nearly missed the last airport shuttle bus back home.  At that time of night, and as tired and frustrated as I was, spending the night in the airport wasn’t on my top ten list of things to do before I die.

Okay, I’ve taken up enough of your time.  Besides, I need to get back to work on the final edits of my novel.  The plan is to start posting updates regarding Hunter Blake in the first book of a series.  It all begins with Unwitting Alliances.  If this one generates the volume of downloads as my other two at Smashwords, I will be ecstatic!  Oh, and did I mention that the first books of any of my series are free?  Yes, it’s a marketing strategy, but if you like the book, you’ll be happy to pay for the next ones.  On the other hand, if you don’t like it…no loss…just delete it.

Okay.  I think I’m done for now.  Happy reading, everyone!

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End of Smartphones…Already?

Posted in Basic Thoughts by Peggy Lea Baker on November 26, 2012

Just this afternoon, while sipping apple cinnamon tea to sooth an otherwise irritated throat (’tis the season), I happened upon an article at Business Insider online, by Nicholas Carlson.  He shared some interesting insights regarding Smartphones and the future of communication and computer technology.  In fact, he is predicting that the “era” of the Smartphone is already on the way out as new technology continues to roll forth.

According to his article, both Google and Microsoft have developed and patented some pretty sophisticated computer designs that you actually wear like a pair of glasses.  Expect Apple and others to do likewise (probably already are…).  Anyway, you can read the article at http://www.businessinsider.com, until it is replaced with something more current (since links of this type are often temporary).

I was intrigued with the article and had to agree with the author that we have, indeed, come a long way in the development of computer technology.  Mr. Carlson pointed out how we’ve gone from room-sized computers to hand-held Smartphones in a relatively short period of time, historically speaking.  Now with the new technology he described, we’ve progressed yet one step further.  He also predicts that we might also expect to eventually end up with computers as part of our brains (I thought our brain was a computer).

Okay…hello Borg!  With an additional “computer” somehow attached to our brain, would we be setting ourselves up to become part of a “collective”?  Do I really want to be identified as number 5 of something?  Anybody else out there former (or maybe still current) Star Trek fans?

Let me back up a bit and take a look at the “glasses” aspect of this latest advent of computer technology first.  Again, let’s take a look at Star Trek.  On November 10, 1991, Season Five of Star Trek: The Next Generation aired episode 106, entitled “The Game”.  As the episode begins, First Officer, Riker, has just returned from vacationing on the planet Risa, bringing with him an intriguing game.  It is a small headset with protruding eye pieces aimed at the wearer’s eyes.  Completely hands-free, anyone could wear the contraption, play the game (as a stress reliever), and presumably stick to their normal tasks and assigned duties.  With the convenient ability to replicate just about anything on board the Enterprise, it wasn’t long before this so called game was strapped to the heads of just about everyone on the ship.  Unfortunately the game was highly addictive to the point of effectively disabling the entire crew.

Turns out, the game was designed by the Kitarian’s as a cleverly disguised weapon intended to effectively render the entire crew incapable of performing their critical duties.  Being thus disarmed, the Kitraian’s plan was to overtake and commandeer the Enterprise along with all hands, with the ultimate goal to distribute the game everywhere in a galactic move to overtake the entire United Federation of Planets!  Fortunately young Wesley Crusher and Commander Data (yes, I know…he is a computerized android, but that’s not the same as a flesh and bone human with a computer implant) together save the day.

Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, was quite a visionary man.  Cell phones, alone, are representative of his impressively imagined communication and technological advances anticipated for the 23rd century (‘beam me up Scotty’).  I do applaud his vision and creativity.  No complaints about that.  I enjoy using my computer to explore the internet.  That much I admitted to in my previous post, “Life Without the Internet”.   But I don’t want the computer stuck in my head.

We already ‘wear’ our phones via Blue Tooth and similar gadgets.  We’re addicted to the internet via computers of all sizes and shapes including Smartphones.  So the idea and simplicity of wearing a computer via glasses is most certainly intriguing, besides many of us already wear glasses just so we can see what we’re doing!  And with the aid of computer glasses how much easier it would be to continue to feed our already addictive inclinations toward the internet!   Then just think of all the classy and unique optical eye-wear the fashion guru’s of the day could design!

My greatest concern, however, was Mr Carlson’s prediction of potential computer implants.  A Blue Tooth gadget is removable.  But computer implants in our brains?  Sounds rather permanent to me.  How else, other than some type of implant, would they become a part of our brains?  Unless…we’d have a USB port implanted behind an ear capable of hooking us up to something we’d wear clipped to a belt.  Heck, I don’t know.

But if it were truly an implant, how would you turn the thing off?  Could you turn it off?  Would it interfere with sleep?  How about  normal conversations, or day-to-day essential activity?  Would it be able to record everything you do and say and then pass that information on to others?  What kinds of devious crimes could be executed via a computer brain implant (need blueprints to a sophisticated bank vault?  Sure thing, I’ll just stick my finger into a specially designed socket and download them!  But wait!  Who needs bank vault blueprints?  Everything is electronic!  People are already hacking into personal bank accounts.  Just siphon accounts electronically via our brain computers!).

I am not opposed to technology, not really.  Lots of marvelous things have occurred due to technological advances,  but shouldn’t we draw the line somewhere?  Years ago, I can remember a story about a person hearing a radio station playing in their head and come to find out, that person had undergone some recent dental work.  Somehow all that metal turned them into a walking radio receiver.  Talk about portable!  Yeah, well, I don’t want to be a walking, talking, programmable, portable computer.

Like I said at the beginning, we already have computers in our heads.  They are called brains!  They are the most sophisticated biological ‘devices’ ever created.  They can be programmed through education, reading, mingling with other people…all kinds of ways.  Why mess them up with some kind of deviant man-made implant, similar to add-on software that invariably has a glitch or two…or more?  Would these implants be subject to computer viruses and “infect” our body’s ability to function properly?   Would they (or could they) be electronically programmed (by someone else unknown to us) to affect how we think and behave?  Can’t we do this already with the brain we have?  People are persuaded by others all the time to think and act and do…whatever and whenever…or not.  With the computers we already have (brains) we can choose NOT to do something someone else tries to persuade us to do.  We think and act for ourselves.

But with computer implants, would there be some central control complex capable of feeding us information whether or not it’s good for us or even true?  Who would be in charge of that control center?  The government?  Would someone have the ability to ‘shut down’ our organic systems (a cyber way of ‘unplugging’ someone)?  How would you protect people from either being cyber-hacked, or remotely cyber-hacking the computer brain of someone else?  Would you ever be able to believe if a person were lying or telling the truth (maybe they’ve been successfully programmed to lie about something and how would we know)?   “Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, provided you’ve not been electronically compromised?”  There has to be some kind of a moral or ethical issue at stake here.

Okay, this is getting a little creepy.  For some, the idea of this type of technology may be exciting, but personally, I’m not so sure.   I think that mankind is getting just a little to smart for its own good sometimes.   I don’t know…maybe I’ll tackle this whole concept in my own way in one of my Hunter Blake novels.  I’m delving into some intriguing things to use as I develop that series, so we’ll see.  But in the meantime, once I’m done for the day at my desktop computer, I just shut everything down.  It gets to rest undisturbed…and so do I.

Peggy Lea Baker is a writer, artist, and entrepreneur whose ongoing literary work can be found at www.smashwords.com with periodic updates at www.peggyleabaker.com.  Her artistic endeavors can be found at www.zazzle.com/artambiance and www.flickr.com/photos/peggyleabaker.  Connect with her at www.linkedin.com/in/peggyleabaker.

Life Without the Internet…

Posted in Basic Thoughts by Peggy Lea Baker on August 28, 2012

My husband and I recently relocated back home…which for us is Napa Valley, California.  We’ve enjoyed a wonderful journey living in and exploring several other places in the western United States the past nearly fourteen years, but it’s good to be home again!

With that said, we have been trying to get connected to the internet for the past two or three weeks, which ordinarily shouldn’t be a problem but we’re living in a very unique environment on a picturesque campus of a state veteran’s  facility in the heart of Napa Valley.  The architecture is fabulous, probably of the 1930′s or 1940′s era…with some additional unique characteristics which has posed some challenges.  As a result, getting reconnected to the internet has been  frustrating.

Who’d have ever thought that we, as a society, would become so derned dependent on this global network of electronic, wireless, and orbitally essential utility?  Beam me up Scotty?  Almost!

As we have fidgeted and fumed and fussed and fretted over the lack of a connection, my attempts to access familiar networking sites from work (email in particular) have been summarily thwarted by the agency I currently work for.  So although I can access back accounts, news sites, and current weather conditions, not being able to jump into email and occasionally Facebook, not to mention online television programs have been a killer!

We were on the verge of driving a distance to a public library, getting new library cards, and signing up for an hour’s worth of time just to see what we’ve been missing!  My beloved Aunt Nell, for instance, is a trooper when it comes to keeping me up-to-date with all the latest and greatest political stuff!  And Sue…sweet Sue with her myriad of forwarded jokes, pictures, and funny stories…

Well, today was a day of celebration!  After various attempts by the agency’s onsite technical guys and gals, in addition to the local phone service carrier’s awesome dude (who suffered an attack by a yellow jacket, unfortunately! Ouch!), we now have the internet once again!  I have been relishing every one of Aunt Nell’s emails, have double checked various “can’t be missed” offers from a variety of businesses (realizing that several of them had already expired!  NO!); was reminded of a few people I need to respond to, including a few very important forwarded messages from my sweetie who loves to email me about interesting things he sees…he is adorable…  It’s not that we don’t talk to each other, we definitely do, but as he peruses his various emails, he likes to pass some along to me as well.

Ah, yes…the internet…

Oh, and for those of you who are wondering why we didn’t simply access our accounts via cell phones…we haven’t exactly stepped into that era yet.  We’re a little concerned that those phones are actually smarter than we are, although my husband’s laptop operates wirelessly…I guess that’s kind of smart.  Well, we will get there…eventually!  In the meantime, I’m in my office pounding out this blog and getting ready to get back to work on my current novel, while he’s in the living room looking at vintage cars, new cars, and previously owned cars (he likes cars).

I guess you could say we’re both pretty content catching up on everything we’ve managed to live without for the past little while.  How did we manage?

The Beautiful Dead Movie and more

Posted in Basic Thoughts by Peggy Lea Baker on July 21, 2012

Kyle Rynicki is well on his way to Hollywood, with the his recent successful The Beautiful Dead campaign at Kickstarter.com.  Now, along with the talent of some very key people, expect to hear about Kyle and see the results of his passion for film-making in the not-so-distant future.

First to line up on Kyle teams is Michael May, of Visual FX, Los Angeles.  His most recent credits as a film stereo coordinator include “The Avengers” (2012) completing 2,832 stereo shots, and  “Captain America: The First Avenger” (2011), completing 2,270 stereo shots.  He has worked for Marvel Studios, Creative Cartel, Walt Disney Feature Animation, and Sony Pictures Imageworks, to name a few.

Next is Eric Fox’s team from MORB-X of Orange County, CA.  “MORB-X is a special effects and make-up studio specializing in providing high quality practical effects” for the film industry…or anyone else who wants it.  When you visit Kyle’s website, he explains in one of his blogs the need for this guy and his team of craftsmen! Check it out!

Finally, Robert Allaire, of Los Angeles, who is orchestrating an original musical score for the project.  Robert is “a composer of acoustic and electronic music for the concert hall, film, and interactive media…His film scores have garnered accolades from LA Weekly, New York Times, and Animation Magazine.”

If you love a good thriller, bookmark Kyle’s site and stay tuned!

“The Beautiful Dead” – a film project from Rhino Productions

Posted in Promoting by Peggy Lea Baker on April 23, 2012

 

Okay…I’m putting the important stuff right up front to start with:  Kyle Rynicki, his thriller/suspense Rhino Productions film project “The Beautiful Dead,” and a website to find out more: http://kck.st/HEJfRw.

 

Now for my pitch!  I love helping people.  I love doing what I can to encourage and “cheer on” anyone who has a dream and a desire to achieve something they are passionate about.  Kyle Rynicki is one of those people.

 

Kyle and I formed an acquaintanceship a couple of years ago.  Since then, we’ve spent a lot of time sharing what we’re doing with our own particular projects…his being film making, and mine, of course, writing.  As I’ve listened to him and felt his passion and excitement for film and photography, I’ve had the opportunity to see the development of some of his other film projects.  Impressive.  I know I am watching a future film writer/director/producer in the making!  He has the vision, the skills, the drive and ambition…and yes, the gift to make it all happen.  I believe that with all my heart!

 

I really want to help and now that Kyle has made the decision to put his skills to the test in a huge way, and I’m asking friends and fellow entrepreneurs to help as well.  He has chosen to use www.Kickstarter.com, a website specifically designed to assist individuals and groups raise much needed funding for their individual projects, whatever they are.  Up to now, Kyle has been paying out-of-pocket for his project’s expenses, but with his personal resources nearly depleted, he now needs financial support from others.  In order to have a viable product ready to pitch and get the attention of the movie industry moguls he needs to complete his film trailer.  He has already gotten outstanding feedback from companies who professionally review this type of work…and that was based just on the script alone!

 

So, sure, I want you to go take a peek, and possibly make a donation, but beyond that, he is an amazing and extremely talented young man which is evident just with the photography he’s posted!  Kyle has also included a short video where he makes his impassioned pitch to potential donors, including clips of the film, a glimpse at some of the storyboards, shots of the crew at work, and so forth.  Not only that, everyone involved in this film project was a volunteer!  Yup, even the actors!  The expense has been the acquisition of high quality, professional equipment, necessary supplies, transportation costs, and a myriad of other expenses all associated with the entire film making process.

 

What I am asking is for you, and anyone else you feel inclined to share this with, to simply visit the site.  I’ve been impressed with the response so far – and in just a short time from its launch at Kickstarter, (as of this posting) Kyle had already received pledges for over 30% of the total he needs, and that was without any serious intentional advertising on his part other than an email blast to his contacts.  Most of these pledges are from people he’s never met!  He was just tickled to get his promo up and running!  But 30% of his goal isn’t enough and the days are ticking down to the deadline of June 11, 2012.

 

Yes, of course it would be cool if everyone and his cousin would make a pledge…even a dollar…but at the very least, please share this information with people you know who appreciates the time and effort an entrepreneur puts into their work, but especially folks you know who love great thriller/suspense films!

 

He has until June 11, 2012, 9:25 pm EDT to meet his goal and to be eligible to receive the pledged funding.  Help make it happen by visiting http://kck.st/HEJfRw.  View his photography and “The Beautiful Dead” video clip to see for yourself what Kyle Rynicki has to offer.

My Very Best Friend in the Whole Wide World

Posted in Basic Thoughts by Peggy Lea Baker on March 12, 2012

My very best friend.  That would be Betty.  We’ve known each other for so long we might as well be sisters…so we made the decision years ago just to tell everyone we are…so we are. We’re sisters.  Some people have, on occasion, said we look alike, kinda, so that makes our friendship even more special.

My very-best-friend-in-the-whole-wide-world is good to me.  Always good to me.  I cannot think of one time …in the forty-plus years that Betty and I have known each other, that she hasn’t been there for me.  Not once.  That’s a rare quality, I think.  In fact, we visited last night, shared a few personal challenges, laughed over silly stupid stuff, cried a little, but mostly just enjoyed the couple of hours we were able to pull together, before calling it a night.

I value good friendships.  I enjoy maintaining relationships with people I’ve met in the various places I’ve lived over the years.  For those who choose to stay in touch, even if only a few times a year…thank you!  Sure, we can Facebook…but the phone calls, emails (not just forwards, but personal messages), and visits mean so much more to me.

I suppose that’s why I like to create characters that are good friends and best friends in the novels I write like the one who risks her own life to rescue her best friend!  I know Betty would do the same for me.  In fact, I created a supporting character named Betty for my new series.  What better way for me to honor my very-best-friend-in-the-whole-wide-world!  So that’s what I did.

Best friends are important…not just having one, but being one as well.  I hope I treat Betty as well as she treats me.  I hope her estimation of me is nearly as tender and heartfelt as is the way I feel about her…my best friend…my sister.  It’s important to be a good friend…and not just to one or two people, but to lots of people.

I won’t be best friends with everyone I meet, because being a best friend is a unique honor earned over time and through many shared trials and triumphs, but I can be a good friend to others.  I work at it.  Kindness, in any form, needs to be sincerely developed, practiced, and nurtured in order to sustain true friendships.

So, here’s to good people everywhere, but especially to very-best-friends-in-the-whole-wide-world!  Thank you for being there.  Thank you for caring.  Thank you for those unexpected cards and phone calls.  Thank you for listening tirelessly.  Thank you for hugs and words of encouragement. Thank you for saying I love you.  But most of all, thank you…for simply being you.

New Year’s Observation…One Size Does NOT Fit All!

Posted in Insights, Personal opinion by Peggy Lea Baker on January 6, 2012

It’s one thing to wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and eager to face the new day.  But it’s quite another when your first thoughts center around what you had for dinner last night and the feedback I will get as I perform that daily ritual of worshiping at the almighty and unforgiving scale.

I think its even worse now that we have digital scales.  Where once we stood on a bulky device watching a needle whip around a dial a few times before finally bouncing between a couple of faint lines and leaning to one side just enough to make that needle go down one slash, we now see precise digital readouts of our weight loss or gain.

“YES!” I shouted joyfully two days ago. “Down .2 pounds!  Okay!”  Yesterday, however, it was, “Dang! Up .6!”  I knew I shouldn’t have had that extra helping of mashed potatoes and gravy!

These days, when I log on to one of my many email accounts…yes…many…because I have many reasons for having multiple ones, most of the current streaming “news” items tend to focus on either sports or food (sure, okay, maybe ‘nutrition’ sorta) but who, really… actually…for certain knows what the best nutritional advice is for all of us?

I can remember soooo many years ago when pantyhose manufacturers produced what they called “one-size-fits-all” stockings for women.  Ya-huh.  One size, eh?  For all? Are you kidding me?  There was no way that my rather voluptuous mother and I (at the time a not-so-voluptuous college gal), were gonna fit in the same size pantyhose!  No way!

Then t-shirts were being touted as one-size-fits-all.  Oh, come on!  All of what?  You could toss one of those shirts onto my little 8-year-old neighbor, Katie, synch it up with a belt, add a string of plastic beads and put a bow in her hair, giving her that “I’m ready for my 3rd grade prom” look, or yank it over the head of my fifteen-year-old brother so he could sweat it up shooting hoops with his pals.  Or better yet, give it to my dad, complete with his trademark beer belly, and stretch that double-knit fabric to the max!  Right.  One size fits all.

So what does all of this have to do with weight?  Well, I’m rather inclined any more, to question this similar ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy when it comes to planning meals, regulating portion sizes and calorie intake, with regard to eating in general.

Yeah.  Food.  Portions of food.  How often we should eat food.  How-many-minutes-after-waking-up we should start eating food.  What time in the evening we should stop eating food.  Fake food (that reduced, low, and nonfat-stuff). And not only that (and I’m coming out of the pantry with this next statement)…I hate raw vegetables!  Hate ‘em!  I want mine sautéed, steamed, chopped up and added to an omelet or immersed in a great soup with some kind of meat included in that soup!  You know, like split pea with ham or vegetables with beef soup.

As for ‘fake food’ I discovered that eating reduced-fat, low-fat, and non-fat foods actually made me gain weight!  Yup!  I was packing on the pounds.  Why?  Because my cute but cranky body kept looking for something that, it was convinced, should be in a glass of milk but wasn’t.  So my craving for milk was intense.  As a result I drank more of that low-fat, non-fat stuff.  Guess what?  You may not be getting as much fat, but you sure are getting lots of extra calories instead!  And guess what else?  What my body really wanted was the milk fat!  So we switched to whole milk.  One glass.  I’m good.  Weight dropped.  Hmmm…who’da thought?

So what’s the difference between cravings and addiction?  Good question.  I think it is entirely possible to be ‘addicted’ to sugar and salt, for instance.  I said possible.  I’m not a dietician or expert in the field of nutrition (if there really is such an animal).  Expert.  Hey!  You want a really cool definition for the word ‘expert.’  Okay, in math, ‘x’ is an unknown factor, and in science ‘spurt’ is a drop of water under extreme pressure.  Just thought I’d share that.

Yes, well when I was pregnant with each of my children, I experienced food cravings…all different, but cravings none-the-less.  During one pregnancy in particular I couldn’t get enough butter-sautéed mushrooms accompanied with chocolate milkshakes.  But once my son was born, the cravings ceased.  So I deduced that I was not addicted to those foods.

Then I don’t like to use a lot of salt when I’m cooking, and we don’t add salt at the table very often, but every once in a while I crave salty, and really crunchy, potato chips.  Once that craving is satisfied, I’m done with the chips for quite a while.

I can come home from a stressful meeting or event and one of the first things I do is grab a jar of natural crunchy peanut butter from the fridge, and a container of mildly sweet dark chocolate chips.  A spoonful of peanut butter, with a bunch of those chocolate chips crammed on top and I’m good to go.  But just one spoonful is plenty.

As for sweet stuff, I like to mix sweet flavors with tangy and salty ones at meals.  Give me some grilled chicken and garlic, with seasoned, buttered rice, and a serving of apple-cranberry chutney and I’m one very happy lady!

I’ve learned to by-pass the really sweet stuff for the most part.  I can look at donuts and generous slices of chocolate cake and say no…however…once I get a taste of either, look out!  Yup.  My taste buds go bonkers and the fight is on!

Okay, so this morning I said, “Enough!”  I’m tired of worrying about my calorie intake, the morning scale readout ritual, clothing sizes…all of that.  I feel good.  I recently celebrated another birthday – and it was a celebration.  At my age, every moment is worth celebrating!

I can still get around in a vertical and upright position…while breathing in and out at the same time.  I can hop around and occasionally, when no one is looking, will skip down a public hallway just for the heck of it.  It’s fun.  Well, maybe someone is watching if they’ve got those ever-present security cameras spying on me.  But whatever, life should be enjoyed and I really don’t have time to worry about what I’m eating, when I’m eating, how much I’m eating, and what size clothing I’m wearing.

If it feels good and I’m okay with how I look, that’s good enough for me…at least for now.

Social Networking…What’s the Point?

Posted in Basic Thoughts by Peggy Lea Baker on December 31, 2011

I just got back from visiting with some friends.  We discussed all the neat stuff about the recent holidays and wished each other a Happy New Year as we look forward to 2012.  Amidst  the various topics we explored for a short while, including writing and blogging, the three of us ended up in a short chat about social networking sites, such as Facebook, and came to a similar conclusion – “What’s the point?”

   My friend began with the remark, “It seems that all we do these days, whether we use email, text on our phones, or type something at Facebook is share snippets or soundbites of information, but don’t share much that’s really substantial.  “No one talks about anything of real interest…like how they are doing or what they’ve been up to.  Not really.”
   “I agree,”
her husband said.  “In fact I rarely visit my Facebook page anymore, unless I want to send someone a private message or jump on an instant chat with someone.  But I can go weeks without ‘checking in.’  It just isn’t worth my time anymore.”
   I added,  “Yeah.  I find it interesting that I have all these “Friends” but they never say anything much other than what time they get up, when they go to bed, what they had for dinner, how many diapers they had to change, or post a bunch of family photos with generic captions that don’t say much.  
   “I will say that a couple of years ago, someone posted a detailed itinerary of an upcoming Thanksgiving trip out of town.  I sent her a private message suggesting she not let the whole world know when they were going to be away from home.  I have this thing about making it easy for ‘ne’er-do-wells’ to take advantage.  The result, however, was that she stopped talking to me, even though we’re still “Friends.”  
   “Other than that, I’m connected to people from my past who never communicate with me about anything.  They don’t ask what I’ve been up to for the past ‘up-teen’ years, even though I asked that about them and got nothing back.  So what’s the point of being “Friends” if you aren’t gonna stay in touch?”  
   “Exactly!” my friend exclaimed.  “Even close family members don’t stay in touch with me, good grief!”
   I concluded,  “I think for a lot of folks, the total number of “Friends” they tally up is more important to them than actually communicating with anyone.  I guess it’s a way to validate our existence.  There’s either a level of prestige that accompanies the number of Friends you have,” I said.  “Or else it lends a measure of comfort to someone to know they have 552 Friends.  I don’t know.”

So, I’m posing three questions to any of you who are associated with a social network of any kind, “Why are you?  How do you use it?  And, what is its value to you?”

Holiday Recipe Exchanges…

Posted in Amuzing, Sharing by Peggy Lea Baker on December 20, 2011

Once again…I’ve received multiple requests to participate in a the annual Recipe Exchange activity which is intended to mark the season by promoting “peace on earth, good will toward men”…and woman, and guarantee without a doubt, the addition of, not just a few, but many more pounds of joy and jubilee.

The rules are simple…you send a quick and easy recipe to the person on line 1 of the email you received from the person whose name is on line 2, then copy and past the request into a new email, delete the person’s name on line 1, move the person from line 2 to line 1, add your name to line 2 and send the request to 20 people!

Yeah, well I decided to pass this time around because last year I didn’t get one single recipe back from anyone…so much for holiday cheer…but then I thought, why not give it one more shot?  So…okay…the instructions said share something quick and easy, that is already “in your head” so you wouldn’t have to get up, check your recipe books and files, amble back to the computer, write it down…yadda-yadda.

So here’s my recipe…right from my head…and really easy!

PEG’S PERKY PICK-ME-UP!

Ingredients:

1 TBSP – Hershey’s Special Dark
chocolate chips
1 TBSP – Adams All Natural crunchy peanut butter. 

Directions:

While standing at your kitchen counter (and with your back turned to anyone else in the vicinity):

  1. Dig 1 TBSP of peanut butter out of the jar with a generously-sized-spoon (very important).
  2. Cram 1/2 of the chocolate chips on top of the peanut butter (reason for the generously-sized-spoon…don’t want to lose any of those chocolate chips!).
  3. Look around to make sure you are completely alone, then open wide (how wide depends on the size of your mouth and the generously-sized-spoon) and carefully shove the generously-sized-spoon into your mouth (but don’t lean over the open jar of peanut butter…in case you slurp and drop a few chips into it…potential contamination is a concern here, or worse…leaving evidence of your activity with a slimy stray chocolate chip imbedded in the jar of peanut butter for someone else to find later!).
  4. Chew slowly to savor the flavors (or quickly if you are in a hurry to get to the next spoonful or to avoid any annoying questions from others who may unnexpectedly come upon you in the process).
  5. Repeat once (or twice if you have a deep craving for more…just don’t get carried away!).
  6. Quietly put away the chocolate chip bag and jar of peanut butter.
  7. Thoroughly lick clean the generously-sized-spoon and place in the dishwasher (or where ever).
  8. Take a moment to reflect on your experience.
  9. Return to whatever you were doing previously but be sure to couch your smile of satisfaction sufficiently so as not to arouse suspicious and unwanted queries from anyone else.

Can be accompanied with a glass of milk or other favorite beverage, especially if you are alone at the time. Otherwise, discreetly wipe your mouth and go on about your business.

Feel free to share this recipe with others(but only if you feel comfortable doing so.  I’d hate for you to get a stigma or anything…a few unwanted pounds, sure…why not?  But a stigma?  No way!).

 Merry Christmas!

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