A Little Like Chocolate Covered Pretzels: 3 book to series stories to enjoy

I love stories that have a high degree of both romance and adventure. Rom Coms satisfy my need for a happy ending but can be saccharin. Straight adventures boost my adrenalin, but often leave me feeling annoyed by the improbabilities and/or lack of character development.

The pandemic has given me time to watch a lot more television and read books so I thought I’d share my top three SciFi/Fantasy adventure-romance book/series combos. Like a good bag of Flipz, I found these to have the right combination of intelligent plausibility, interesting characters and relationship development, suspense and thrills. As a plus, all the shows had actors of various ethnicities playing major characters.

The Expanse:

Image owned by Amazon

The Expanse is a (now) Amazon series that is based on a series of books by two D&D masters who turned their love of creating stories to writing novels under the pen name James S. A. Corey. I watched the series before the books, so I’m a little partial to the show, but it’s riveting, smart and the women are kick ass. The costumes that the Indian character Chrisjen Avarasala wears were so cool, I went through my sari and Indian jewelry collection to see what I could copy.

Altered Carbon:

Image owned by Netflix

Though my initial attraction to this cyberpunk series may have been influenced by the abundance of eye candy (hello, Joel Kinnaman) on this Netflix series,

Image from IMDB

I was quickly sucked in by its interesting premise of long gone alien technology modified by humans to allow interchangeable “stacks”– that carry personality and “sleeves”– the body that carries the stack. It’s a rich and complex world set in a gorgeous Blade Runner-esque setting, with very sexy, multicultural characters. Incidentally, Renee Elise Goldsberry, also known for portraying Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton, plays Quellchrist Falconer, the heroine. It’s an impressive range of acting. The romance is a time, space and sleeve spanning love. The edgy costuming by Ann Foley, again had me delving into my closet for combat boots and leather jackets. I devoured the books by Richard K. Morgan, but much preferred the satisfying ending of Season 2 penned by Alison Shapker. In fact it was so satisfying, that I didn’t mind that the show was cancelled. I would have like more, of course, but while there was room for more, there were no annoying cliffhangers.

A Discovery Of Witches:

Image from Amazon

I read this series of books by Deborah Harkness, a USC professor, as they came out. She manages to combine her knowledge of history and modern day university life with a secret world of supernatural Creatures hidden within ours. Witches with astonishing powers, handsome, brooding vampires, forbidden love, English countrysides, libraries full of magic and the ever romantic Venice…does it get more lush than that? I originally watched this on Sundance, but you can now watch it on Amazon. While the series departs slightly from the books, I appreciated upgrade of the Northern European characters of the books to a multicultural cast and the natural way the heart of the story is captured. Medieval history was never this sexy before, and a Season 2 is coming… with time travel.

Are there any books or series you are enjoying? Share below in the comments!

Why Isn’t Always A Good Question

I was recently taking a yoga workshop and part of the time we spent talking to another student about goals we have set but haven’t reached. “I just need to figure out why I don’t like to post,” my partner said, referring to her goal about growing her Instagram followers and her habit of procrastinating about putting out content. I had already shared my many mini-procrastinations on various things: meditating more, exercising more, writing more. Neither of us had good reasons why we didn’t do what we wanted to.

“Does it scare you to be visible?” I asked my partner.

“Maybe,” she said reluctantly.

“Are you afraid of failing?” I asked her.

“A little,” she said. “I just can’t figure it out.”

That’s when it struck me. “What if we stopped trying to figure out why,” I said. “What if we just did it anyway?”

We had made our trying to figure out why another form of procrastination. I realized trying to figure out why was simply holding me back. I’ve started to try to ask better questions to reach my goals:

How can I make this easy?

Where would be a good place to do this?

When do I want to start and finish?

Who are people who can help me?

Asking myself these questions have been much more helpful in making progress. They are concrete and allow me to take the next step. Why questions, of course, have their place, but when you get stuck…ask better questions.

If I only had the time…

I’ve always assumed that if I had unlimited time, I would be amazingly productive. I’d meditate regularly, I’d do lots of yoga, I’d work out, my makeup would be perfect and I’d wear perfectly coordinated, well accessorized outfits. For sure, I thought I’d write.

Instead of running to the gym for cardio or Pilates or a swim, instead of running to the barn for a ride, instead of running errands or grocery shopping, instead of running home to take clothes out of the dryer, fold and put away the laundry then cook dinner…if only I was able to get off the endless treadmill of running around, I’d be much so much more: more creative, more introspective, more efficient…I’d be the best me ever!

Now that we’ve collectively gotten more time, especially like me, you’re furloughed and unable to do the majority of activities that made up your days prior to quarantine, you might find yourself feeling oddly adrift. I find myself living the life of an indoor house cat. Sleeping, eating make up my day. Time is broken up to root through the fridge for a snack, then it’s time for another nap. Everything else takes effort.

Not that I’ve totally succumbed to lethargy. Since the quarantine, with no escape from the mess, I’ve cleaned out five closets, reorganized the pantry and spices, organized the essentials to survive sheltering in place. I’ve cooked meals, baked batches of chocolate chip cookies, learned to make whipped coffee and boba tea. I’ve even mastered the elusive capsule wardrobe touted by every influencer and fashionista. My less than 33 item essentials it turns out, consists of four rotating t shirts, three sweats, two leggings, a few PJs. Rounding it off are Ugg slippers, Ugg boots, a robe and my ultimate accessory, the homemade mask.

Coronavirus has stopped us collectively in our tracks. All around the world, streets are empty, stores are shuttered, six feet separates us from all but the most intimate contacts. People are hoarding food, hoarding toilet paper, staring suspiciously at strangers. Packages are sprayed down until they are devoid of living organisms. Hands are washed obsessively. Most connections outside of home are done masked and feel furtive.

Being forced to stay home has eliminated much from our lives. The subtraction of busyness, the distraction of outside activities, the sudden silence of mental and physical noise is a huge change psychologically and physiologically. It takes an adjustment period to get used to this new normal.

All our past activities, even for pleasure, taxed our sympathetic nervous system. The simple act of driving to the drugstore is fraught with tension. The grocery store, with even the currently limited array of goods is an assault on the senses. It’s something I never realized until I hadn’t done it for awhile. All these activities have kept us habituated in adrenal overdrive, amping up, in some good ways and in some bad ways, our stress levels.

This sudden space, time and solitude, is a detox for our nervous system. Maybe even a withdrawal. It’s natural to feel tired, unmotivated and that lying in bed all day with a spoon and a hoarded bottle Nutella, watching YouTube videos on the your phone is a good way to pass the time.

With all the unknowns in the world right now, it’s normal to be anxious. There are some anxieties that we have no control over, and some that we do.

Even now I’ve had fomo– not participating in all the Zoom cocktail parties everyone else seems to be doing. I feel inferior to all the people doing three cardio videos a day, while cooking gourmet meals, gardening and learning three foreign languages while homeschooling children and ironing shirts. Sure, my closets are cleaner, but I’m a sloth in PJs with no desire to wash my hair, much less wear mascara.

It’s time to let go of all that old, self judgmental stuff. It’s time to relax into this new normal, soften the chronically embedded mental, physical, emotional tightness into a new of being. It’s time to let the parasympathetic mode, the part of the nervous system that allows the body to relax, release and reset to do its thing. It’s time to exhale.

I’ve decided that now, since I have the time, I will take my time. I will rest, as much as I need. I will let my body and spirit heal. I will be gentle with my expectations. I will connect with who and what I need to, organically. I will let things grow, unforced, and see where and what blossoms.

The Journey Begins

Welcome to LindaHansenRajWrites.  On this site you’ll find my thoughts on the journey, on yoga, Star Wars, horses and style. Some of the fiction in progress. I adore your comments and feedback. So sit back, buckle up, and let the adventure begin!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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