Life

It’s about to go down: literally

For those of you who have been following me for a while, you’ll remember that I have Ulcerative Colitis. I’ve had it for about 16 years. There have been many ups and downs, medication switches, trips to the hospital, and, yes, colonoscopies.

Because of my illness, I have them every two years. I know. I’m lucky like that. And instead of having 4 biopsies done, I get about 40 which makes my recovery time all that much more enjoyable. But, due to the pandemic, the last one I had was in 2018. They pushed them back, and rightfully so.

It is now my turn to get the once over. A recent test indicated my illness might be active again (though I feel okay.) The meds I’m currently on are only usually good for about 10 years before their effectiveness wanes. It’s been twelve. There are other medications, but they are a higher class of drugs and come with more side effects, blood tests, etc., so we’ve been trying to stay on my current meds for as long as we can. This colonoscopy will determine if that course of treatment is over. If it is, a whole new treatment (and potential rough few months as we try doses out.)

For those of you who have had colonoscopies, you know that the prep is the worst. But up until this one, it was a prep I knew well. Miralax mixed with Gatorade and a 4 dose of Dulcolax. And then, get comfortable in the bathroom. I had a system. This year, however, I have a new GI doc, with a new prep.

If it’s lemon, why does it have a green label? I got excited that it was lime. The jerks.

Drinking this much fluid isn’t daunting to me. I drink a LOT of water usually. It’s the speed at which you have to drink it that is challenging. If it were just water, no problem. I drink water fast normally, but this is gonna have a flavor. Probably a strong one to cover the taste of the med. I mean, lemon’s okay, but THAT much lemon? With the old prep, I could change up the flavors so it wasn’t so gagging at the taste. This time, it’s all lemon, all of the time. I should be grateful it wasn’t pineapple like my mother’s was. *shivers. (Update: I did half the prep last night. There was NO lemon taste. It tastes like watered-down salt water. Nasty.)

My son will drive me to the procedure where I hope things go as smoothly as one can expect. Mercifully, I have the day off and work from home, so my week-long recovery from so many biopsies should be as comfortable as it can possibly be. (Yes, I have a donut pillow and a sitz bath. This may be part of the reason I’m still single…)

Afterward, it’s a waiting game to hear from the doc about what the future holds. She’s guessing it is gonna be a monthly iv medication. Oh, joy. Stay tuned.


Danielle/Dani Bannister author and drinker of all the gross stuff

Life

My MCU rankings of Phase Four (so far)

I know Phase Four is still going, and there is much more to come, but as an MCU fan, I thought it might be fun to take a look at what’s come out so far and rank them accordingly. I realize that my scores likely will not be in the majority, and that’s okay. Projects that didn’t work for me, could very well have worked for you. That’s the beauty of art. It resonates differently with different people. It’s supposed to.

There WILL be spoilers ahead so use caution.

The Movies

6. Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness I went into more detail about why this movie upset me so much here if you want to read more, but basically, the film delivered too much telling of plot points and not showing us them. Not to mention the blatant disregard for character arcs that have come before it.

5. Black Widow Look, I love me some Natasha Romanoff. She defined the term ‘bad ass’ for me. But her movie… well, she deserved a better script and earlier in the release rollout. Giving her a solo move AFTER you kill her off is not great, Bob. To add insult to injury, this film turned out to be Yelena’s movie and it should have been Natasha’s. I think most of us were hoping for her origin story to land shortly after Avengers. After that movie, people were pumped to hear about her backstory. Why wait until she was dead to give it to us, Marvel?

4. Thor: Love & Thunder I won’t go into too much detail yet. I’m saving that for another post once more people have had time to see it. Briefly, I’ll say this. It’s not as bad as Thor: The Dark World but nowhere as good as Thor: Ragnarock. Ultimately, it fell in the ‘meh’ category. Too many cheap jokes and not enough stakes/heart. Not the typical Marvel formula.

3. Eternals Despite what some people thought, I did enjoy this movie (and not just because of the Harry Styles’ cameo.) I enjoyed the gorgeous cinematography, but because there were ten new characters to introduce us to, a movie time frame doesn’t give us enough room to care properly for all of them. Personally, I think this project should have been a series. That would have given more space to develop all of these new players. That said, I will be curious to see where they go with them. There is some great potential, and visually, it was stunning.

2. Shang-Chi I was pleasantly surprised by this one. While I’m not one for a lot of fight sequences, the ones in this were so original and compelling that you couldn’t look away. The cinematography and CGI were great and the story was fresh. Plus, Morris!

1. Spider-Man: No Way Home Sure, some people call this movie ‘fan-service’ and it was, but it was done in the best possible way (unlike that scene in Multiverse of Maddess.) I hadn’t cheered, cried, and been so invested in an MCU project since Endgame. That was a community-shared experience and one I won’t likely forget.

My rank will NOT reflect your rank. And that’s okay. They shouldn’t.

The Series

6. What If Just because it’s last doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy this series. I did. They were different, funny, and could take writing/character risks the movies and shows can’t. I will say this though, Episode 4 did a better job with Dr. Strange than either of his solo movies did. I said what I said.

5. Loki I have a feeling I’m going to get some slack for this. Look, I love Tom Hiddleston as much as the next person. He IS Loki. I really liked the plot, the story, all of it. Owen Wilson was a perfect addition. I just like the others in this phase better, that’s all. I still really loved the show and eagerly awaiting Season 2.

4. Hawkeye Yes, I put this before Loki. Again, nothing against Tom Hiddleston. I adore what he does with Loki. I just think Hawkeye was more enjoyable in repeat viewings. And I’ve always wanted to have more Clint in the movies so, this scratched a particular itch for me.

3. WandaVision I’ll be honest, I almost didn’t finish this one. That first episode had me so confused. I didn’t understand what they were doing. How did this black and white sitcom make ANY sense in the MC? I am so glad I stuck it out because it was really fun guessing week-to-week what the heck they were up to. Solid storytelling, and intrigue, except for that last episode. Yikes. Cringe fest. However, this show has one of the greatest lines ever too: What is grief, if not love persevering?

2. The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Don’t come at me. I love Bucky. No shame. Episodes 4 and 5 were epic in terms of writing/acting so that is another reason to put it so high. I’m an actor myself and these guys brought it. Yes, even Walker. You have to be a great actor to get that much hate. The Flag Smashers plot line was the real weak link in this one.

1. Moon Knight How did the MCU get me to care/obsess over a hero I’d never heard of before? Two words. Oscar Isaac. His performance in this is a chef’s kiss. Give this man ALL of the awards. Seriously. He’s that good. I also love that it’s a stand-alone and can act as an entry point for non-MCU watchers. More character-driven stories like this please, Mr. Feige.

(Note: I haven’t finished Ms. Marvel at the time of this writing so it will be included in the final ranking when Phase 4 completes.)

Who knows if this order will hold at the end of this run but that’s where I’m at now. How would you rank the projects? Let me know!

Danielle/Dani Bannister author and MCU lover despite a few of Phase 4s rocky entries

Life, writing

Work/Life Balance-Pt. 2

With a full three months at my new remote gig at athenahealth (I work in an app coding medical articles. Me. A coder. Who would have thunk it?) I have a better grasp of what my job entails and where my writing fits in this new reality.

Let me just say, it’s a good thing I’m single because there is literally NO time for those shenanigans. At least not with this current release schedule. Perhaps doing a rapid-release series while starting a new job was not the best plan? To be fair, I got the job after the first book was already out.

So with a full 3 months of this new balancing act, what has changed, and what has stayed the same?

The Same

  • I still do my yoga every day. 10 min to stretch out all the things. Especially my hands and back. I’m still not very bendy, but at least I can still get down off the floor. I call that a win.
  • I still use a goals/gratitude journal in the morning and at night.
  • I still have a writing a power hour M-F (7:00-8:00 AM) in which I write/edit whatever manuscript needs the most attention.
  • I still use the weekend to prep the content for the following week: 2 blog posts, a newsletter, TikTok videos, etc.
  • I still use Sunday to write my suspense (while the series Where You Left Me Vol. 1-5 takes over M-F.)
“Make the plan. Execute the plan. Expect the plan to go rails… Throw away the plan” -Captain Cold

The Change

  • I don’t stress as much about the housework getting done right away. It really IS okay if the floors don’t get vacuumed until Sunday. The laundry CAN sit another day. It’s fine. I promise.
  • Reading more. Sounds strange, but prior to this work shift, there never seemed to be TIME to read. Now, I MAKE time. I need the escape from the screen and the daily stress of a 9-5. Since starting the day gig a few months, I’ve read four books. That’s more than I used to read in a year. Hmm. A boyfriend would come in handy as a soft pillow to lean against as I read, now that I think of it…
  • Taking breaks. Prior to the day job, I would sit for hours on the screen, typing away, doing this or that, and neglect my body (and eyes.) Now, I make a point step away. Stretch. Make a cup of tea. Take a walk. Brain breaks are good.
  • Naps have become a distant memory. I miss them. Naps used to be a daily thing for me. A quick 10 min power nap around 2pm. Having an autoimmune illness takes it out of you. Now, there simply isn’t time to take that power nap. Instead, I rely on Vitamin Water to help me power through. Weekend naps, however, still are very much a thing, thank you very much.

One thing I haven’t been able to even entertain yet is getting back into theater. I can’t even IMAGINE being in a show right now. There would be NO time to have dinner, and I’d have to stay up past 9:30! *gasp. As much as I ADORE acting, at this point, I don’t see how it’s possible. Maybe with time, I’ll get better at the balance and be able to get back on a stage. But for now, I’ll have to live vicariously through the characters I put on the page. You know, the flawed and frazzled heroine who is struggling to get her life in order and maybe find a guy to snuggle up with to read on.

Ah, fiction, you mirror, you.

Until next time!

Danielle/Dani Bannister, author and WIP balancing act

Life, writing

Cha-cha-changes!

Tomorrow, I start a new position working in a new field, transitioning out of the educational realm and into the healthcare world. I have two days of virtual orientation to the company and then I will transition into my team who will further train me on my new remote position.

On Friday, they sent me the computer I will be using for my job. A Mac. I’ve never used a Mac, PC girl through and through, so not only will I be learning a whole new job skillset, I’ll need to learn a whole new operating system. I anticipate my brain feeling like mush for at least a few weeks as I watch some YouTube Mac tutorials to get me as prepared as I can be.

Apple, why are you like this? Not even ONE USB port?
Adapter purchased.

I bought a new journal to take handwritten notes, because, yes, I am that person. I have my lunches/snacks thought out because, for the first time in 16 years, I’ll have set breaks and lunches. While I’ll still be working remotely, there will now be an hourly timeframe to work within. A stark contrast to how I worked before, which was basically all day.

Because I knew this month would be one of change and having to learn a whole new set of skills, I worked ahead on my writing plan so that I wouldn’t burn myself out the rest of March. Today, I’ll finish up my final personal edits of Where You Met Me, Vol. 2 edits that will go to my editor soon. Vol. 3’s first draft is written and I’ll dive into draft two of that in April (when, hopefully, I have a better sense of what the day job flow is.)

That means, my next two releases for this year are still on target. And my 4th set for the end of the year is just waiting for my editor and cover design. I have done all I can to set this writing year up for success. Now, all I need to do is learn a whole new job, in a whole new operating system, with completely different work hours. Easy peasy. I got this.

With my one day off before I start a new gig, am I taking over GLOBAL GIRLS ONLINE BOOK CLUB AS THEIR AUTHOR FOR THE DAY. I will be there basically all day so if you wanna visit feel free! I’d love to ‘see’ you there.

Super excited to hang out here today!

If I don’t blog again this week, it’s because my brain is broken, but I’ll be back!

Danielle/Dani Bannister, author and embracer of changes.

Life, writing

Ask it. Believe it. Receive it.

For year’s I’ve had a little painted trinket on my desk that says: Dream it. Believe it. Do it. It was my mantra for years.

But something I’ve come to wonder in the last few days is this. Is that the right mantra?

I’ve long believed in Karma, and getting back what you put into the Universe. But what if what you put into the Universe is snark and self-deprecation? (Yikes. My go-to spirit animals.)

How far will that energy take you? Spoiler alert, not very far. That said, it IS possible with someone with snark and self-deprecation to have dreams. To believe in those dreams. And to do the work to follow those dreams. But will the dreams come true if the dreamer is constantly downplaying said dream? Belittling the thing they want to come true?

Probably not.

This is not an easy realization to come to. And those who know me well know that the FIRST person to trash my work is, wait for it… ME. How do I ever expect others to value my writing if I don’t?

Ouch. Life lessons are painful to learn.

Now, removing those negative instant thoughts won’t be easy to correct in myself. I know this. But the first step to solving a problem is admitting it, yes?

Therefore, starting today, August 24, 2021, I’m going to begin the process of re-wiring my thoughts. And that starts with changing my mantra.

The first thing I’m going to do each day is ask the universe for what I want. Not just the dream of something vague and unobtainable, but for something specific I want to happen.

The second step is still to believe it. Believe you will achieve the thing you ask for. By far, the hardest step for me. That fear of success is a real thing. But you must believe it, or it won’t happen. Ask the Universe for something and trust that it will provide it for you. The how isn’t important. Your belief that it WILL happen is what matters.

Finally, Receive the doors the Universe opens up. I think we often ask for something, then when an opportunity comes to get that thing we asked for, we ignore the opened door. Step three requires that we keep our eyes open when the Universe responds to what we’ve asked for and latching onto it.

To help me stay focused, I’ve started a journal where, for the next 30 days, I plan to write down that trifecta. I will ask the universe for the things I want. I will believe that they will come true. And I will receive the gratitude when the doors open.

Is it possible this journey will end in a few days with nothing more than a few wishful thoughts to show for it? Of course. Anything is possible. But then again…

Anything is possible.

Now, if you’ll excuse me. It’s time to repaint my mantra.

Danielle Bannister, author and changer of my own destiny

Life

The crazy reason I just ordered a smart TV.

Buying a TV isn’t a big deal to most people. For me, it’s a once in a ten year purchase. Needless to say, my current television is not great. In fact, the picture is so bad, I never use it, opting instead to use my laptop and grumbling because the sound quality is crap.

Um… just by a new TV, Danielle. A smart person would. But honestly, I didn’t really think of it. The laptop is handy. I didn’t see the need to bother with such a massive living room shuffle just to get a bigger TV.

So what changed? I had a simple conversation with my daughter about what we might do over April break. I suggested a Twilight Movie marathon, which she vetoed. Not sure HOW she is my daughter and doesn’t want to watch Robert Pattinson sparkle, but I digress. Figuring she was going to veto any idea, I took a shot and asked her if she’d be down for a Marvel Movie. She didn’t immediately say no. Instead she said, that would be hard to watch together on your laptop. Yes, yes it would. I heard myself ask, “Would you watch it with me if we got a better TV?” AND SHE SAID SHE WOULD.

Boom. TV purchased on the spot. It arrives in a few days where we will need to rearrange the ENTIRE living room in order to fit this beast but it will be WORTH IT.

Now, I know my daughter. She’ll give me one chance. If she doesn’t like it, she won’t want to watch any more, so I get ONE opportunity to lure her into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She’s seen two of them on her own Iron Man and The Guardians of The Galaxy. Those did not pull her in, (she watched them too young to really get) so I’m going to start her where I got sucked in.

The Avengers. That will introduce her to several hero’s, including a woman, and it’s the first movie where the humor really takes a front seat. If she ends up liking that one, then, of course, I have an order. (Again, I don’t think she’ll be down for 22 movies, so I streamlined them in to the essential ones needed for Endgame to hit.)

  1. The Avengers
  2. Captain America 1: The First Avenger (Up until the Red Skull cause he’s creepy)
  3. Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier (She better like Bucky!)
  4. The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron
  5. Captain America 3: Civil War (even more Bucky!)
  6. Spider-Man: Homecoming (just because I know she’ll like Spider-Man)
  7. Thor: Ragnarok
  8. Black Panther (go Bucky for 2 seconds!)
  9. The Avengers 3: Infinity War
  10. The Avengers 4: Endgame
  11. Spider-Man: Far from Home (if only to give her something light after Endgame)

THEN, if she likes that, there is WandaVison and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier (swoon!)

Now, there is a very real danger that she will not like Avengers, and this TV purchase may be for naught… but will it be? Because now I can watch all those Marvel Movies on the glorious big screen that they were intended. Win win in my book. Stay tuned…

Danielle Bannister and Bucky Barnes Lover

Life

One Year Later-The doctor’s report

It was back in late February, before we went into lockdown, that I went in for my annual physical. I already knew what my doctor was going to say. You’ve gained some weight, your cholesterol’s a little high, you should watch what you eat/exercise. And I already knew that I’d try for like a week but then go right back to what I always do.

EXCEPT…

Unbeknownst to me or the doctor, the finger prick machine to check my cholesterol level malfunctioned that day. And because we didn’t KNOW it was busted, my doctor presented me with numbers that were so bad that the machine couldn’t even register them. I remember, they did it twice to be sure. My doctor’s tone was serious. Lifestyle changes HAD to made and made NOW if I wanted to see my kids graduate high school. HOLY SHIT. Not the appointment I was planning on.

I listened. I listened hard. I agreed to do everything she asked me to do.

  1. Keep a food journal and write down EVERYTHING I ate/drank for one week and show her that log the following week.
  2. Start exercising. I already HAD a treadmill. I needed to start using it for something other than a coat rack.

After that appointment, I went out and bought a journal and started logging. And after two days I was HORRIFIED by my results. I was over my daily calorie intake before lunch because of how I drank my coffee. Whoops.

Now, the super scary cholesterol test ended up being a machine malfunction, and after getting a proper fasting blood draw, my numbers were not at imminent danger levels, but they weren’t great either. By that point, I’d committed to making a change. With the food journal, I could SEE why I was gaining weight. I was drinking way too many calories in a day. But I worried it would be yet another phase. I’d do well for a few weeks then fall back to my norms.

Well, it’s a year later and I just had my follow-up appointment. Guess who broke their finger prick machine again? Ha. That thing HATES me. I’ll go for a fasting blood draw next week to get the real number, BUT…

I’m down 32 pounds and all of my other risk factors, have come WAY down. She was pleased as punch. She wanted to know what changed. I told her I listened to my doctor. 😉 Which is 100% true.

  1. I started paying attention to what I was eating. Gone are the multiple 300+ calorie cups of coffee a day. In its place? 1 cup of 120 calorie coffee (I NEED some cream and sugar) and then green/chai or peppermint tea the rest of the day. No cream or sugar added.
  2. I gave up wine. GULP. I was a 1-2 glass-a-night wine drinker to help me sleep. I swapped the wine out for Melatonin and haven’t looked back. Gone are the late-night snacks that the wine convinced me I needed. Thus, fewer calories in my belly right before bed when they stood no chance of being burned off.
  3. I curbed my reliance on fast food and am learning how to cook REAL food with EveryPlate.
  4. I started to exercise. This was the hardest because I don’t enjoy pain. And I equated exercise with pain. Which, of course, it doesn’t need to be. I went with an easy plan. 10 min of yoga doing ONLY seated or laying down positions. I picked moves that felt good to stretch my body and were good for my low back issues. Then, after that, for ten minutes more, I either go on my treadmill for a brisk walk, do weights for my arms (I’m up from 2lbs to 6lbs!), or squats/leg lifts. I don’t allow myself breakfast until I move. If I want to eat, I have to move. And trust me, I want to eat.
yum…

Now, what happens if I go in for this blood draw next week and my cholesterol levels are still high? Well, then we’ll try meds because my doctor has seen that I’ve done the work to bring it down naturally. Will I have regretted doing all this work for nothing? Of course not, because it wasn’t for nothing. I’m a different person than I was last year. A healthier one too.

It wasn’t easy, and it certainly wasn’t overnight, but the food log is an EXCELLENT place to start for anyone struggling. Sometimes seeing what you’re eating makes you rethink. It sure did for me.

Danielle Bannister, Author and thirty-two pounds thinner