Dropped Another Half a Pound!

 

Woke up this morning, got on the scale – which I do every morning now. Another half a pound gone! Just…48 more to go.

I can do this.

How am I shedding pounds? E-Diets for food. And exercise. Yesterday I ran half a mile with the dog at the park. Then I did 55 minutes of hardcore cardio at Planet Fitness – 25 minutes on the elliptical, 30 on the treadmill.

I did not get any weight training in, but that will happen today, along with yoga, which I’m about to do.

Please note: I love my curves. I’m not aiming to be tiny. But last month, for the first time in my life, my doctor told me I was technically obese. Obese! I was 194 pounds. Now I’m 188. I’d like to reach 140. For my health. For my son.

Let’s do this!

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Important! Moving This Blog

Hi everyone!

I’m moving this blog, and would love for you to come along with me! From now on, I will be blogging at http://www.alisavaldes.com, under the tabs “writing tips” “recipes” and “diary”.

I hope to see you there! Please make sure to sign up for my newsletter to get all blog updates. Thank you!

Alisa

PS – Today’s writing tip is up! Go see it!

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Your Yawning Dog Isn’t Tired — She Just Loves You!

Empathy. It’s that amazing gift that allows us to feel for others — and, I’d argue, one of the essential qualities needed to write compelling fiction. But is empathy limited, as many scientists have long argued, only to human beings among all the animals?

According to a new study out about dogs, the answer is a resounding NO. Dogs are also great empathizers, both within their own species, and beyond — and especially with their human “owners”.

For years, human empathy has been measured in the laboratory by observing whether or not a person yawns in response to the yawn of someone else. A contagious yawn indicates the presence and functionality of “mirror neurons” in the second yawner’s brain, which take outside information about others and internalize it in ways that actually allow us to “feel” what others feel.

Interestingly, sociopaths and autistics tend to lack functional mirror neurons and tend not to yawn when other people yawn. I wish I’d known this a few years ago, because I would have just yawned in front of The Cowboy and known right off the bat that he lacked empathy, instead of having to witness him beating his dogs before it hit me. The Cowboy, like so many sociopaths, enjoyed justifying his own blind brutality by saying that’s just how nature does things. But science is proving abusive idiots like him wrong.

Now, researchers in Japan have found that dogs also yawn in response to seeing their owners yawn — but not so much to seeing others yawn. This means that dogs love us, and feel our feelings. Dogs have empathy. I’ve long suspected this, because my own dog Topaz will always try to comfort me when I’m sick or sad. She’s amazing like that.

Bonobos comfort friends in distress.

Similar research among primates shows that all apes have empathy, with bonobos actually having MORE empathy than human beings. In other words, it is no longer correct just to say someone who is compassionate and kind is “humane.” Rather, empathy is the norm among mammals, and as many have long observed, human beings could learn a lot about kindness from their fellow creatures, including their dogs.

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Postcard From El Paso, Texas

I was standing onstage before a packed auditorium at the El Paso International Museum of Art yesterday, getting toward the end of my keynote presentation for the Wise Latinas International Mujeres & Amigas Conference. I was talking about the plans to make my first novel into a film, and about how one of the important marketing pieces we are putting together for this venture is assembling an email list of people who pledge to attend the film on the first weekend it is in theaters. I mentioned that the African American film community had done something similar 20 years ago when they created the First Friday movement.

Suddenly, a woman stood up in the back of the room. “I want everyone here who plans to go to this movie the first weekend to stand up, right now!” she cried. Without hesitation, hundreds of people, mostly Latinas who, like me, are sick and tired of their lack of non-stereotypical representation in US film and TV, got to their feet. Some were senior citizens, others were adolescents. As I stood there, I got goose bumps. My heart raced. Tears formed in my eyes. I have known, logically, that there is a tremendous audience for this project, and this knowledge has propelled me forward as I formed my own production company, put together a kickass advisory board, and have begun to solicit investors and sponsors. But it was not until that moment, that incredible moment, with all of those women demonstrating their solidarity with me and my vision, that it REALLY hit me: We are on to something that is not just big, but HUGE.

This moment came shortly before another women asked me my opinion on Devious Maids. When I answered, simply, that I found the show pathetic, “not because there’s anything wrong with being a maid, but because there is something pathological about an entertainment industry that seems to think that’s all we are,” this same crowd broke into thunderous applause.

There are nearly 60 million Latinos in the United States, with $1.3 trillion in buying power. There are zero movies being made about us, and the few films that feature us show us as sickening stereotypes. I see you, all of you beautiful Latinas waiting for someone to tell a story of you that makes you proud, that gives you hope, that reflects you as you really are. And after these magical moments in El Paso, I know that you guys see me, too.

Let’s do this.

 

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Saturday Sucia Celebration: Kim Trujillo

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Every Saturday I pick a fabulous, inspiring woman to celebrate as an example of what it means to be a “sucia” in the Dirty Girls Social Club sense of the word — which is to say a fierce, fun, educated, professional woman who doesn’t let anyone hold her back! The term sucia is used ironically in the book and film, to poke fun at those in traditional Latino society who’d say such awesome women were “dirty” or scandalous. I pick each week’s sucia from names nominated through my Facebook page. To nominate someone you know, be sure to “like” my author page on Facebook and join the conversation! Click here to like my author page!

This week’s amazing and inspiring woman is Kim Trujillo, nominated by her sister Sharon. Kim is a former TV reporter here in New Mexico, a talented actress and model, a great mom and a tireless crusader for film and the arts. Yay, you, Kim! Thanks for inspiring us, for being strong and letting your light shine.

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Film Update: The Gorgeous and Talented Gina Rodriguez Signs On To The Dirty Girls Social Club Film

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I’m pleased to announce that the gorgeous and talented actress Gina Rodriguez has signed on to star in the Valdes Entertainment Enterprises film adaptation of my bestselling female friendship novel, THE DIRTY GIRLS SOCIAL CLUB!

Gina is a rising star, a fascinating woman, and we are honored that she has decided to join our team!

We will be posting exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes updates with Gina and the other DGSC stars via a special email list just for people who sign up to pledge that they will see the movie on opening weekend!

If you are interested in receiving these emails, please make sure to subscribe to this blog to get notified when we’re ready for you to sign up!

Thanks again, Gina, and welcome aboard!

Please help support this film, either emotionally (by clicking “support”) or financially (with a donation) by visiting our Fundly page! Thanks, guys!

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What Good Writing and Good People Have in Common

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In thinking about what makes writing good, I realized that many of the same qualities exist in good people.

1. Clarity. Good writing is clear. It makes its point without confusing you or weighing you down. Clear writing comes from people who’ve put time and energy into learning to write just enough. Good people are also clear — clear about their vision, their goals, their beliefs, and clear about what is right and wrong. Clarity in people means a strong moral compass.

2. Honesty. Good writing is honest. In nonfiction, this means it is true — or as true as the biases of the reporter will allow. In fiction, this means emotionally true — a story that makes you feel something real. Good people are honest, with themselves, with you, with the world. You cannot have a good story without emotional truth, and you cannot have a good life without honest companions.

3. Empathy/Compassion. In order to connect with readers, good writing has empathy and compassion, both for its characters and also for the reader herself. Good writing takes into account the feelings of its subjects as well as the needs of its readers. Good people are empathic and compassionate, too. They feel for others and they care. This is why sociopaths, while superficially charming, can never be good writers…or good people.

4. Unselfconscious. Good writing doesn’t get in its own way; it paints a picture, describes a scene or feeling, and then steps back and lets the reader experience grace. Self-conscious writing tries too hard to impress everyone with how smart and snarky it is, and makes sure the writer, the egotist, gets in the way. So too for people. Those who are self-conscious are too focused upon themselves and “impressing” you to actually be present in the moment or even to hear what you’ve said; interaction with them is painful and awkward.

5. Relaxed. Good writing is able to relax. I’m reading a great book right now, by an accomplished academic. He writes casually about complex subjects, because his compassion and empathy drive him write for a broad audience, in a fun and engaging way. Good people can also be quite busy, and famously accomplished, but they don’t let this stress them out. Good people know how to relax.

What do you think? Are there any other similarities you can see between good writing and good people? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Posted in Alisa Valdes, Diary, Tips for Writers, Writing, Writing & Books | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment