Laughter is the Best Medicine

I love a good belly laugh.  The kind that leaves me doubled over in pain  The kind of laughter where tears are streaming down my face and I can’t catch my breath.  I’m sure you’ve had similar experiences. We all have and we can probably recall exactly what prompted it too. For me, it was the first time I saw “My Cousin Vinny” in the movie theater. Maybe it’s because I’m a native New Yorker, but I identified with the characters in that movie and the hilarious situations depicted (if you’ve never seen it, please rent it, You won’t regret it). I can tell you I never laughed as much as I did than when I first watched Joe Pesci on the big screen and it was so cathartic, better than any therapy session I could have paid for and much cheaper too!  

Humor is my tonic. I think it’s true for a lot of people. I know that no matter what kind of a day I’m having, a good laugh will always make me feel better.  It’s the best remedy for anything that ails me.  A funny text from a friend can turn my mood completely around. Even my husband knows this and uses it against me (like Lex Luther uses kryptonite against Superman).  Whenever we have a fight, he somehow manages to crack a joke and I quickly forget why I was so angry at him in the first place.

Laughter is the reason why, I think, I’m so drawn to romantic comedies. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good love story and I will confess to swooning whenever I read a book with a devastatingly handsome and sexy leading man in the storyline. I sigh (like everyone else) when Noah kisses Allie in the pouring rain and scoops her up the stairs to his bedroom in “The Notebook” and I cheer when Harry finally gets together with Sally at the stroke of midnight. 

Love like that makes my heart beat faster. Love like that makes it all worthwhile.  It gives me faith that all is right with the world.  But give me love plus laughter and you have a fan for life. I certainly appreciate the brooding Fitzwilliam Darcy in “Pride and Prejudice.”  But I won’t lie. I would have loved Fitz from Pemberley, even more, had he made Lizzy laugh every once in a while. 

When I find that right combination of looks and humor in a man, I feel like I’ve struck gold. It’s like winning the Mega Millions jackpot (well, maybe not exactly) or finding my favorite pair of boots on clearance (cough, cough… Uggs.  Don’t judge me.  They are so comfy) or stepping on the scale to discover that all of my dieting and excruciatingly painful exercising has finally paid off (two pounds lost and counting).

So give me a gorgeous leading man who can make me laugh too and I’ve found the promised land!  Heck, give me an average looking man that can make me laugh and he’s a Greek god in my eyes. There’s nothing sexier to me than a sense of humor. In fact, that’s a must-have in all of my novels. If he can’t make me laugh, he can’t be in my book. It’s that simple. 

So tonight instead of watching a movie that makes my heart swell with love, I think I’ll rent one that leaves me gasping for breath, doubled over in pain with tears streaming down my face.  I think I’ll take a visit to Alabama with my favorite Brooklyn attorney and his hairdresser fiancee. After all, my biological clock is ticking here!

Dieting and Writing

 

I had a dreaded epiphany last week. Yes, you heard me right. I used the words “epiphany” and “dreaded” in the same sentence. Now, most people would consider an epiphany to be something positive. But not me. I call my epiphany dreaded because that’s exactly what it was. You see, last Monday, I woke up like every other day, and dragged my tired self into the shower.  Once I got out of the tub, I confronted a stark, ugly reality staring back at me from my full-length mirror. There was no denying it anymore. No excusing it. No ignoring it. I have apparently been wearing my “fuzzy food” googles for way too long. It seems my holiday binging (from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day) has finally caught up with me and I couldn’t avoid the undeniable, hard truth. I needed to lose weight … a lot of weight.  You see! I told you it was dreaded! 

The fact that summer’s bathing suit season is only a mere four months away is causing me massive anxiety attacks. The thought of trying to squeeze into anything latex that highlights my problem areas like a flashing neon sign is making me sweat at night (and not of the menopausal kind). It seems that writing all day while sitting on my squishy behind has certainly not helped my cause. In fact, it’s made it worse. So I decided right then and there, while pointing an accusatory finger at my much fuller self in the mirror, that I would get up off of my very comfortable chair (did I mention it has lumbar support?) and do something about my “junk in the trunk.”

I knew the only way to start my quest was to do my research. Any good writer worth her weight in gold (no pun intended) knows that it all starts with research. In trying to find the perfect combo of dieting and exercising, I came across the idea of carb cycling. It immediately grabbed my attention and I was excited at first. Finally, a diet I could stick to! Imagine, eating spaghetti or munching on a loaf of french baguette while peddling miles away on a stationary bike.  Now that’s my kind of weight-loss program. Where do I sign up?  But after I did a little more digging, I found out what carb cycling is really all about. Poof went my vision of stuffing my face with pastries while running. I knew it was too good to be true.  What carb cycling involves is a system of rotating or cycling the carbs you eat over the course of several weeks.  Now what is the fun in that, I tell you. But I decided to give it a try, along with a moderate exercise regime. I set a goal to lose weight and I was not going to back down.

Five days in and I can tell you it’s been hard to stay on track! I would be lying if I said I didn’t think about quitting. In fact, I think about it all the time: every second of every minute of every day. I desperately want to pack it all in and fling my diet out the window (along with my gym membership), especially when there are boxes of Girl Scouts cookies calling out my name from the kitchen counter. But I will not be swayed or tempted or cajoled.

Then it hit me. Dieting is a lot like writing. Now before you tell me otherwise. Let me explain. Taking an idea for a story and trying to put it on paper is very difficult. Starting a novel is hard work. It takes a lot of self-discipline like losing weight does. I’ve often found myself staring at a blank computer screen waiting for inspiration to hit me.  Like dieting, it’s so easy to be distracted away from doing what you set out to do (I have a love/hate relationship with the internet like I do with my food). But I find once I get going and the words flow out, it’s exhilarating.  Exactly like when I step on my scale and see that I’ve lost a few pounds. At that moment, I feel like I can do anything!  It’s a natural high and it keeps you from giving up. 

So I vow to keep up with my quest to lose weight while bringing to life the idea for my next book. I’m cautiously optimistic that in a few months, I’ll have a smaller waist and a finished novel. If not, it’s back to carbs for me (without the cycling, thank you very much).

Erin

How Much is That Doggie in the Window?

 

Last summer, I spent a week on a writing retreat in the heart of Manhattan. Along with two of my closest friends, we spent the time living it up in the lap of luxury while writing and brainstorming new book ideas. We were fortunate enough to be staying in a beautiful penthouse apartment in Soho (courtesy of a friend who was traveling for work) with sweeping views of lower Manhattan.  It was the first time I’d ever stayed in a penthouse and if there’s one thing I can tell you, it’s that I had a hard time going back to my humdrum life at the end of the week.  It was intoxicating. Like like flying first class or shopping for shoes at Chanel.  Once you get a taste of first class, you never want to go back to coach! And, once you slip your feet into a pair of Louboutin’s, you can never imagine wearing anything else, or so I’ve been told, anyway. I guess the same can be said of my six days last summer living the high life in a penthouse with a hot tub. With a hot tub! I felt just like a movie star (minus the paparazzi following me around and the extra zeros in my bank account). Of course, I wouldn’t want you to get the wrong idea.  We were working hard, busy writing and knocking out our next novel (in between soaking up the sun while relaxing in the hot tub). 

But more importantly, we were also charged with watching the penthouse owner’s dog, Roxy. Mind you, I’ve never taken care of a dog before (proud owner of one cat and a parakeet) so there was quite a bit of on-the-job training (with detailed instructions from Roxy’s mommy).  I can tell you that at the time, I had no idea how much work went into caring for a dog. Who knew? Between the feedings, scheduled walks, and grooming appointments, to the neighborhood play date, it was like having a toddler except with more fur and fewer temper tantrums. 

Yet with all the work that went into dog sitting Roxy, there was an upside I hadn’t counted on. Because it turned out to be much more fun than I thought it would be.  No one warned me that I’d fall in love with her big brown eyes and soft velvety tongue! Three days into my dog sitting, I was surprised by how I grew to love my furry charge, Roxy.  And, what I learned, was that a dog loves unconditionally. It’s the kind of love I’ve spent years writing about in my books.   The kind of love most people spend a lifetime looking for. We crave it, don’t we and when we find it, we celebrate it. I mean, don’t we all just want someone to love us unconditionally? To love us not just during the best of times, but during the worst of times, too. And, that’s exactly what Roxy did.  She didn’t mind if I was in a bad mood or if I hadn’t brushed my teeth yet.  She couldn’t care less if I binged on chips and salsa all day and didn’t go to the gym to work it off. She didn’t judge me when I had too much to drink and spent the entire next morning in bed, nursing a hangover. She loved me despite all of those things.

So, during that week I spent with Roxy, I decided to write a book with my friend Gina McBride, about our experience dog sitting.  Many of the scenes in The Dog Walker really happened (the trellis, Roxy’s nervous breakdown, and the chocolate scare. I’m still recovering from that one). And like most romantic comedies, there’s a leading man and a misunderstanding that gets in the way of true love. But more importantly, this book is really about my love affair with Roxy.  A love affair that has me considering becoming a dog owner. Perhaps it’s time to start looking into doggy adoptions?

Erin