WRITING CHALLENGE: Ellen Mulholland’s Extra Fun with Words

Through a fortunate chain of events, I stumbled upon a delightful author, Ellen Mulholland, with an amazing website sure to inspire budding writers.  I can’t say that I’ve read her books yet, but will report back when Amazon delivers the books to me this week! *(YAY!)*  Still, part of becoming a writer involves writing and she offers a wonderful section on her website called “Extra Fun with Words!”  This month she held a writing contest with a variety of writing prompts.

While I’m not between the ages of 12 – 18, I have a thing for writing prompts and accepted the challenge for my own practice. Since I am at least twice that age, I allowed myself twice the amount of words too. Below you’ll see the writing prompts I chose (In Purple) and the story that filled in the gaps. I welcome your feedback and for sure, share any additional writing challenge websites that I should try!

Photo borrowed from www.glamour.com

Photo borrowed from http://www.glamour.com

     She never loved winter, but it was different now since the events of the past summer. After feeling guilty for lying to family and friends, and being protective of the reason for it, she and her husband had announced her pregnancy.
     Due to her family history, her regimented summer and fall monitored everything she did or ate. She embraced the journey, carefully logging everything. Her husband provided unwavering support and, together, their confidence and excitement grew with each doctor appointment.
     Reaching the 36-week “full-term” milestone, on the winter solstice, gave her goose bumps. They found themselves in uncharted territory having never dreamed of making it this far. While hospitals urge parents to create one’s “Birth Plan,” she never put it in writing, so as to not jinx things. She rode this wave of energy like a chariot, pre-washing baby clothes, assembling bouncy seats, and decking the halls for waves potential visitors.
     Though their large family holiday celebration kicked off Christmas morning, they cooked a special multi-course feast together for their own Christmas Eve.
     “Babe, it’s our last Christmas as a couple!” She smiled to her husband, while artistically placing rosemary on the roast. “Will you still dream up meals like this after the baby comes?”
     He proudly held up her special celebratory juice spritzer. “Sleep deprivation may force me to buy a cookbook. An easy one with 3 steps or less.”
     “Delicious plan!”
After a relaxing dinner, and cleaning up together, she sent him to start the fire. She slipped into her nightgown, adding a large red satin bow around her tummy. She tried to massage out the stiffness in her back from the active week. Before leaving the bedroom, she mused at her reflection, draped in the nightie that had gone from short to scandalous as the fabric tried to cover her belly.
     Rejoining him in the warm firelight, one motive drove her. “Have you ever wanted something SOOO badly that if you don’t get it you may die?” She sat with her back to him on the couch, moving her hair aside, inviting a massage.
     “Keep talking.” He put the remote down, now that the screen displayed the warmest crackling flames. Gently, he worked on her shoulders.
     “Lower back, Baby, please.” She fanned herself with one hand while rubbing her belly with the other.
     He blew lightly on the back of her neck, to cool her off and heat her up. “What do you want me to do?”
     Her breath quickened and she leaned forward. As she threw her head back. “I need ice cream,” she exclaimed to the gods.
     “But it’s snowing…” As he wrapped his arms around her, a kick from the bottom of her belly punctuated the urgency.
     A low moan escaped from her lips. “Unh, I think the baby wants out!”
     “No fair ganging up on me!”
     “I mean it, we need to go!”
     “Fine! I’ll go!”
     “Us! To the hospital! Now!”
     He jumped off couch, immediately into upright position. “But what’s our plan?!”
     Between patterned breaths, she briefed him, “You get the car, we drive down Magnolia – there’s a 31 Flavors, and we go have this baby!”
     He raced to the bedroom, grabbed his wife some pants, and scooted her down the snowy path to the car. He ran back, grabbing his shoes, wallet and their suitcase, already packed. Nerves tied his feet together, stopping him at the door. Seeing his wife sitting in the car, still tied with the bow, he knew the gift of a calm husband was better than a plan for any new directions.
“Rocky Road!” She exclaimed from the car!
     He took a deep breath, exhaled, and walked out the door.

15. DRINK AS MUCH WATER AS COFFEE FOR A WEEK

8 glasses a day minimum

8 glasses a day minimum

Many victories in a little 30-day Healthy Eating challenge:

  • Finding new ways – hidden or not – to incorporate more fruits/veggies into my kids’ diet
  • I drank more water than coffee every day and didn’t scar anyone else psychologically
  • Our complexions cleared up Day 5 and remained more stable overall
  • 90% of fruits/veggies were fresh, not frozen (besides me freezing bananas for smoothies)
Only 1-2 cups a day now, no quad lattes

Only 1-2 cups a day now, no quad lattes

A little discomfort:

  • Shocking reality that fresh produce may be a luxury item - No wonder we battle schools for improved menus or health issues as a country. Adding good stuff in addition to filling stuff adds extra money to the bottom line. Grow your own or check out the 99c store – who knew?
  • It’s all in the presentation – After stuffing 6 cups of fruits/veggies into my son daily, he still won’t eat a chicken sandwich with 1 slice of lettuce and tomato on it
  • Hiring dishwasher/sous chef: I’ll wean my kids into it gradually, I didn’t want to incorporate the discomfort of cut fingers or broken glasses to the challenge.
6 cups of fruits and veggies

6 cups of fruits and veggies – WTF: Way too full!

The real success story was how easy it was to adopt this lifestyle (despite all the whiny debates from when I announced our challenge):

  • Early adopters – The first 3 days of diets usually suck until you embrace the idea and feel benefits to motivate you – Sept. 1, we started with a bang and never slowed down. I’m sure the $1 a day bribe I offered helped, but bottom line, $1 isn’t going to make kids eat anything they don’t want to.
  • Doing it together rocked – Mom’s kitchen is not a restaurant with multiple entrees per night.
  • Didn’t feel deprived – Nothing was off-limits, we ate all fruits/veggies before dessert.  If we had parties, we were aware and got in the daily allotment later. If anything, it was hard to get it all in. The only thing the kids vocalized was drinking less milk to get water in.
  • Super easy-to-visualize plan – “Deck of cards” or “Fist-sized” portions confuse me but eyeballing ½ your plate filled with fruits/veggies – no matter how much you eat –  is easy

The true success will be how long we keep going in October, but at this point, we’re really optimistic!

WHO’S KILLING WHOM?

The Dallas Safari Club wants to save Black Rhinos with this auction.

The Dallas Safari Club wants to save
Black Rhinos with an auction to hunt one.

If you haven’t heard, a famous Texan hunter, Corey Knowlton, paid $350,000 to hunt an endangered black rhino in Nambia. I’m guessing your initial reaction includes: RAGE that someone would consider killing an animal from a species with only 5,000 members worldwide; SADNESS that an animal’s life is a prize; HOPE that this bidder paid to pardon the rhino and keep another hunter from killing him.  From Knowlton’s Facebook page and his interviews, he’s looking forward to the challenge.

Corey Knowlton

Corey Knowlton

Before you make Corey the hunted, let’s check out his MOTIVE beyond the once-in-a-lifetime prize.  He makes a case for the fact that:

A) This money goes to the Nambian government to help conserve the 1,700 black rhinos they care for.

B) The government singles out older rhinos that have become a threat to the rest of the herd as the ones that are “suitable” to kill.

C) The animal meat will be donated to local Nambian’s and the hide will be preserved by Knowlton.

D) His kill, he claims, would be faster than fighting to near-death only to have lions or wild dogs finish the job

WTF: Wrinkly Tender-tough face!

WTF: Wrinkly Tender-tough face!

Here’s why I don’t totally buy that:

A)   Why not just make a donation to the Nambian government? Period.

B)   It’s hard to believe that a hunter with the challenging kills that he’s done (according to Facebook pictures) would settle for an older, probably slower rhino.  Or they’re just spinning the truth because he says repeatedly how much danger he’ll be in hunting such a rhino.

C)   While meat will be donated, the hide and head will be in Knowlton’s house.

D)   I don’t know how accurate his shot is but I can’t imagine the kill will be without suffering.

Nature is truly amazing!

Nature is truly amazing!

True, I’m not a hunter. I suppose I am sometimes ok with it if people hunt with cross-bows for food, not for trophies. I’m totally creeped out by taxidermummified animals.

But, people! Under no circumstances is it ok to bombard him and his family – his children! – with death threats over this. Haven’t we learned that when you get all crazy people will just dismiss your rant as, well, crazy!  Find a more intelligent way to make the world better.

Shooting the Rhino with a camera would be a bucket list item!

http://www.causes.com had a petition to stop the permit to hunt but sadly, it was put through. On a positive note, it created a lot more awareness for the plight of the black rhinos. 

NOTE:  Obviously this is a heated topic and I welcome your thoughts, but if you comment on this post, I ask that you please remain respectful. Any threatening comments will not be published.

10,000 QUESTIONS ABOUT 10,000 STEPS

10,000 ways to leave your lovin’ lard ass – or something like that.  At work, we’re doing a 10,000 steps per day challenge. While losing weight could be a side-effect, the goal is simply to get our bums up out of chairs, take some time to quiet our minds and get those creative juices flowing!

My OCD tendencies' best friend!

My OCD tendencies’ best friend!
WTF – Walk to Fitness!

The weekend before the challenge started, I practiced for perspective of just how many steps 10,000 is.  We were walking (2,500 steps) through downtown to pick up my race packet for the 3.5 mile mini marathon (approximately 4,600 steps) and found ourselves sitting down for lunch at the Original Pantry Restaurant.  When my pedometer leaped off of my purse in protest I saw it as a warning that clearly there is no way 10K steps would walk off what we ate there.

Thanks for the photo AlbanyKid, we should meet for breakfast! Mine were too blurry as I ate too fast.

Thanks for the photo AlbanyKid, we should meet for breakfast! Mine were too blurry as I ate too fast.

My patron saint of wellness sent me 2 more pedometers on Monday and I was back on track without a-breakin’ my stride.  It’s 550 steps from my car to my office; 160 steps to the coffee shop; 60 steps across the middle of our floor end to end.

Well guess what, they’re right! The creative barriers become much looser and I have questions flooding my head like an inquisitive 3-year old.

Because I said so...

Because I said so…

Now there are some things that are troubling my one track, 10,000 step mind:

1) In the order of the universe, is it better to walk farther (more steps) to ride the elevator up or is it better to walk a
shorter distance to walk up the stairs (but less steps overall)? See my conundrum?!

2) Isn’t choosing salad over paninis worth an instant 1000 steps?

3) Why aren’t stairs worth 2 steps each automatically?

Check it out, we have a name! Workshifters!

Check it out, we have a name! Workshifters!

Here are some additional steps that I am having trouble reconciling:

Steps racked up during a cake-walk

Back and forth to the all-you-can-eat buffet in Vegas

Chasing down the ice cream man

OK, this kid is helping me reconsider

OK, this kid is helping me reconsider

Scurrying down the hall to the free leftover lunch at work

Steps getting up and going to the loo – we’re going to do that anyway, no extra walk effort

Racing after people to kiss their ass – have some dignity!

Who you callin' an...

Who you callin’ an…

Now that I managed to make it more complicated, please join/help me?

 

NOBODY WALKS IN LA – WE ROCK ‘N’ ROLL!

Before iTunes song previews, when one considered buying an album, we bought 45rpm singles featuring a few songs to help us decide. Side A boasted the desired song, flip Side B carried hidden gems!

Would you even know what to do with this?

Would you even know what to do with this?

Before Competitor sports eventertainment, when one considered running a street race, we relied on friends to lure us to the start. Once leaving the starting crowds, we roamed lost in the cement jungle until we miraculously stumbled across a finish line (or is that just me?). Though finishing was an accomplishment, on the flip side, it was boring with no hidden gems.

Where is the snack bar, I mean aid station?!

Where is the snack bar, I mean aid station?!

In 1997, Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathons (RNR) took solitary sports and made them funtastic times with friends followed by a rockin’ after party! Runners or walkers enjoy different music every mile, enthusiastic cheer squads, and join an audience of thousands of music lovers!

What a rush to be a rock star in a crowd!

What a rush to be a rock star in a crowd of fans!
Image from Competitor. 

I understand, considering a half or full marathon may make you sweat. If one never considered the full distance, could a few miles help persuade you?!

Plus these days, you never know who'll be rocking next to you!   Paul McDonald and Nikki Reed ran Vegas!

Plus, you never know who’ll be rocking next to you!
Paul McDonald and Nikki Reed ran Vegas!

Although many of my friends had front row seats to rock the LA ½ marathon, I hadn’t trained and planned to skip it. Though I dig the vibe of the RNR events, it wasn’t enough to make me want to do the smaller version. I’d seen races treating 5Ks like the warm-up band knowing all the cool kids were at the main show.  Then, not wanting to be left out, I jumped in last minute for the mini-marathon (“only” 3.5 miles).

Getting ready to rock! WTF: Wings to fly!

Getting ready to rock! WTF: Wings to fly!

Turns out, for Rock ‘n’ Roll events, showing up earns you rock star treatment! The start, course and rocking bands – all the same gig (until halfers go farther). The shirts swag and medal bling were equally cool!   For this Halloween run, costumes amused us as bands quickened our pace!

Aahs! store now features a whole section of  "running" costumes! Love it!

Aahs! store now features a whole section of
“running” costumes! Love it!

Skeptics argue “Why pay to see live artists when you hear them well enough at home?” I say, “Run alone anytime! RNR events celebrate your efforts racking up miles. Come bond with like-minded fun-seeking people on their best morning run ever!”

Awesome bands along the way and waiting for you at the finish line!

Awesome bands along the way and
waiting for you at the finish line!

This race snippet made me eager for the next street date – San Diego! One day I’ll tour with the band!

The coolest part is that it benefitted the ASPCA!

The coolest part is that it benefitted the ASPCA!
This starts my new medal group – my encore running career!

Come with me – let’s hit the road!

Maybe you haven't really raced if you haven't raced as Elvis!

Maybe you haven’t really raced if you
haven’t raced as Elvis!

VIRGIN HANDBOOK

His radiant smile attracts one’s gaze as the wind flutters through his hair. His British accent draws one in rendering people far less willing to resist. His irresistible confidence, magnetic energy and passion for everything he touches keeps us unable to avert our gaze! In a minute, I would turn myself completely over to him. I want to live inside his mind and see things through his eyes.  Richard Branson fearlessly leads the Virgin Empire with 400 company conquests worldwide. His experience and philosophy makes people yearn to be Virgin.

From Richard’s mouth to your heart, here’s how he stays on top:

BreakRecords

1.    Don’t be afraid to try anything at least once
Live life to its fullest – do what is fun! Test the boundaries so long as you won’t be embarrassed or imprisoned. Forge new paths where previously none existed! Don’t be afraid to take to the air!  Set your eyes on the most apparently impossible challenges then you’ll be forced

Here is how Branson waterskiis

Here is how Branson water skiis

2.    Let others watch: Restricting someone excites them more!
When people tell you something isn’t possible, become more enthusiastic and determined to show them they’re wrong.  Don’t let failure dissuade you: Identify the flaw, find a solution, and try again… and again.

The most attractive point - an open mind!

3.    It’s what’s inside that matters
Trust your gut.  Consider your customer’s first time – planning how to make a good first impression and keep them coming back for more could be far better than complicated, impersonal analysis.

Don't be afraid to redefine what's possible!

WTF: Wave to Fishies
Don’t be afraid to redefine what’s doable!

4.    Know who’s at your backside
Businesses are like busses, there’s always another one coming. Take the competition seriously (but not yourself).  If someone isn’t sure how to do it – or not doing it well – take control, make him or her over as your new pet project

ValueofRisk

5.    Don’t pay money for love
Follow your passion in a way that serves the world and you. If it’s just about the money, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Don’t separate work and play – it’s all living. Don’t do anything with the feeling that one must do it – enjoy every minute!

As a child, someone labeled Branson as a future prisoner or millionaire. Branson blew past both predictions and never looked back.

“Screw it, let’s do it!”

Bucket List: Go to Necker Island!  Bonus: When Richard is hanging out!

Bucket List: Go to Necker Island!
Bonus: When Richard is hanging out!

91 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS – 6 Days to get Custom Santa Letters from the North Pole!

When I told Santa Claus I was fundraising for a cure, he said, “Tell me how I can help!”
Back by popular demand, Santa is writing:

Personalized Santa Letters
Mailed from the North Pole!

Imagine the smile and surprise on your child’s face
(or the big kid in your life or at school, work or next door)
when they receive a personalized letter from Santa!

Santa's writing each letter!

Santa’s writing each letter! WTF: With True Fondness!

Santa will write a personalized letter with their personal details including:
name, hometown, age, accomplishment, present and best friend’s name.

With a $15 donation to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS)
($10/each if you get more than 1)

your child will get their very own letter to cherish.
All donations benefit LLS! (please note “Letter – who referred you” in notes section)

I’ll send you an email to fill out to update Santa’s records in order to help Santa write his letter.
LIMITED TIME ONLY: I’m only taking letter orders through the month of September
because after that, the elves must switch gears to double up on toy production.

Your child will be thrilled to get their letter in the mail the first week of December.

Believer Testimonials:

“How’d he know all that about me?”
–BL, Age 10

“I’m putting out extra cookies for Santa this year!”
–LH, Age 9

“Oh Wow!!!”
–AH, Age 8

Please help spread the holiday goodwill by sharing this with your friends and families!
I am fundraising for LLS in honor of my buddy, Tom Scruggs.  

He is currently battling Myeloma.
His wife (my college roommate) is due in about 7 weeks with their 2nd child.

If you aren’t interested in a letter or can’t donate,
ensure your place on the “NICE” list by sharing my post with others.
Or, consider making a donation of any size.  Every $1 counts.

THANK YOU and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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