The Writing Process

Oh how I love to hear from you guys, and get a chance to lend a helping hand! Today’s post is an answer to this reader’s question about the writing process:

the writing process

First off I want to say superb blog!
I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your head before writing.
I have had a hard time clearing my mind in getting my ideas out. I truly do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or hints? Many thanks!   – Sally

Here’s my answer, via YouTube. The writing process is totally unique to each writer, and many of us have all kinds of rituals and OCD habits that we need to indulge before we can get our creative juices flowing.

If you have any questions you’d like me to answer about writing, relationships, sex, parenting, or anything else you can find me at I promise to always protect your anonymity, and if I use your question as a post, I’ll be sure to send you a token of my gratitude!

Kisses on your nose,

cat skinner

Why I Broke Up With Sugar

(Photo: Some no sugar added housewarming treats to enjoy (in moderation) on the occasional carb up day, courtesy of my friend Sally B.)

My relationship with sugar was a sick, life-long obsession. When I would feed my addiction, it would feel good for a few moments, but every encounter would make me feel bad about myself – filled with regret and self-loathing, overly emotional and wired. Sugar was an epic, bad-for-me love affair of Twilight proportions, and I didn’t even realize how firmly that addiction had taken hold. As our family became more and more educated about the long-term effects of sugar and the lies that corporate food pushers are telling us, it became clear that I had to end this relationship. We’ve adopted a largely Ketogenic lifestyle for us adults, and a hybrid Paleo and Keto diet for the kids. We’ve been eating this way since mid May, and there’s no going back.  For some links to both styles of eating (I don’t like the word ‘diet’) see the end of this post, but in the meanwhile, here’s why I broke up with sugar, and why I also cut it off from my kids.

* p.s. I had to cut things off with sugar’s bestie, gluten, too. They run in the same circles and attract the same kind of trouble, and I couldn’t see gluten without longing for sugar.

A Family History of Cancer

Those of you who know me know that I’ve lost three aunts and one uncle to cancer, all on my mother’s side. What’s more, my mom herself is a breast cancer survivor. Even though my own adventures in genetic counselling concluded that there wasn’t a clear genetic link to the disease, these numbers were unsettling enough to encourage more legit health consciousness on my part. My hubby is a science nut, and as he sourced more and more research proving that sugar feeds cancerous and pre-cancerous cells, I really had to ask myself why I needed so much sugar in the first place?

A Family History of Type Two Diabetes

My dear old dad can’t live without sugar. He’s loved sweet treats, particularly those of the chocolate variety, since I can remember. That love has landed him with type two diabetes. He hasn’t cut back on sugar, not at all. His addiction is deep and powerful. So was mine, and I didn’t want to inherit this particular family trait. I sneak him sugar-free treats all the time. He rarely notices the difference, and if he does, he doesn’t complain. I believe he can kick the habit, but addiction runs strong on both sides of the family. He’s got to want to kick it first.

My Depression

I could have easily been medicated for the clinical depression and anxiety I’ve been dealing with. I have zero judgment of anyone who is on meds to help with their own mental illness, but before I took this step, I agreed with my therapist that I wanted to try to manage my mental health with diet and lifestyle changes. She had advised these steps before meds because she felt very strongly that my cognitive therapy and trauma work would be easier without medication. She was right. Cutting gluten and sugar from my diet and increasing my daily intake of omega 3, vitamin D, and B12 has made a HUGE difference in my ability to regulate my emotions. PMS week is still a war zone, but I’m hoping with increased exercise and meditation, I’ll be right as rain.

My Addiction

I honestly felt panicky when my partner first stated that he thought we needed to kick sugar. I LOVE sweets. All of them. I used to crave them so intensely, I felt powerless to stop myself from indulging whenever they were around. I hated that anything had that kind of power over me, and I realized that my huge resistance to the idea of living without sugar was a big indicator that I should probably give it up. Because I’m an addict, there was no “maybe sometimes I’ll have it” or “I’ll just have it in fruit”. If my blood glucose is elevated, my fiendish nature takes over again, and I’m right back to where I started. It’s got to be an all or nothing thing for me, which is not to say I won’t join in with someone’s birthday cake. On those rare social occasions, I have a bit, but usually end up regretting it because of how it makes me feel, and how it triggers the desire to have more and more. Not unlike any type of addiction recovery. Don’t be surprised if I turn up at your event with my own dessert. I promise to share.

My Children

Addiction is genetic. My toddler was already exhibiting the signs of a sugar addict, (irritability, constant cravings, huge emotional swings – okay, sure these are also normal toddler traits) and our two older daughters were caught in the clutches of the beast. I grew up on Pop Tarts and Fruit Loops for breakfast, and so did my partners. Our parents didn’t know that sugar is poison. Many of you reading this will scoff at the notion too, and roll your eyes. “Everything is bad for you!” or “I don’t over-indulge my kids with sweets.” We didn’t either. We were never a ‘dessert every day’ family, even though that’s how we three grown ups were raised. But guess what? Even if you don’t have a ‘sweet treat’ every day, SUGAR IS IN EVERYTHING. Every-goddamned-thing.

Dying Too Young Is Harder 

I won’t lie, changing our lifestyle so radically has been hard. Not because there are lots of foods that I miss, because there aren’t many at this point, but because of social pressure and time. Every gathering we attend, every trip to the grocery store, fills our kids with the same kind of frustration and longing for foods that are poison. The marketing machines behind the food industry have done their jobs well. Only yesterday, we had to fend off a well-intentioned sample lady trying to foist her last three ice cream sandwiches off on our kids. She stared, bewildered, as we explained that we didn’t eat gluten and sugar, and all three of our kids began to protest. Loudly. It’s hard to be different. To turn away from foods that we have associated with fun, and comfort, and even love. This isn’t the first time our family has had to re-invent the wheel, and so with the same kind of creativity and conviction, we are building new memories and attitudes towards our relationships with food. It’s been hard to constantly manage and sympathize with the kids’ disappointment. I’m planning to Halloween party to end all Halloween parties to make up for the heartbreak of not being able to trick-or-treat, but if our positive steps can give any one of us a few more years together, it’s totally worth it. I’ve seen too many people die before their time, and I’m going to do everything I can to protect my family from the few variables I have control over.

I’m Not Going to Preach

We all do the best we can to feed and love our families. I’m passionate about our new path, but I know it’s not for everyone. We are very fortunate to have two parents who have schedules flexible enough to shop and bake and be really creative with meals and lunches. I’m not here to convert you, but I hope to inspire you and share some of my wealth of resources too. I’ve logged a lot of time on Pinterest, and have become addicted to listening to Podcasts. If you are trying to make similar changes, or are just curious about this kind of lifestyle, please come back and visit for some recipes and links to great info and research. Better yet, sign up for my mailing list to receive my monthly newsletter, with my favorite recipe finds.

The Lies the ‘Experts’ Are Telling

The food guides we follow were created by the same people who are trying to sell the foods they are recommending. The research on the evils of fats in our diets was skewed and is now archaic. The drug industry is booming because of the number of people on cholesterol medications. I could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea…

Some Resources for You

I’m not a doctor, and by no means recommend starting any kind of new lifestyle without first consulting your trusted physician. Please note, some physicians are sadly misinformed or ill-equipped with current diet and nutrition information. If your doctor is pushing the national food guide on you, that’s a problem.

Here’s some great links about Ketogenics and the Low Carb, High Fat Lifestyle (LCHF):

Ketogenic Diet Resource is an incredible website with a very comprehensive explanation of Ketosis and the health benefits therein. I particularly liked the Keto Diet Myths section, and the section called ‘KD and Cancer’. The menu for this site is on the left, if you are on a computer:

I’m not sure how useful the Keto Diet App is, but the blog for this app has been a great tool for me. I was able to figure out what my daily nutritional requirements should be, and I found lots and lots of interesting articles, and so many delicious recipes.

Hands down, this has been the greatest resource for recipes. I love this site!

This site, and the ‘Ask the Low Carb Experts’ podcast will totally appeal to all of you science-minded folk who want more than a pretty food picture clipped on Pinterest to convince you to make some changes. Be warned, the site is pretty dated looking, but the information is great, and Jimmy Moore is a very sweet personality with a great real-life story of his own process.

As for Paleo, I’m crushing equally on the handsome and articulate Able James, and his adorable wife Alyson Rose who have started something of an empire on his site, Fat Burning Man. The podcast is amazing too. Ladies, have a listen to this episode with Dr. Sara Gottfried. The stuff about cortisol blew my mind.

Digging this info? Want more? Tell me what you want to know, and I’ll post about it!




Ask Mommy: Dating Enthusiastically

Hi Lovers,

Today I invite you to witness my spectacular dorkiness as I attempt to answer a real reader question about dating. Enjoy!

If you would like to email me for your own loving batch of fresh-baked advice, you can email me at

Dating Too Enthusiastically?


Hi Lovers,

Every now and then I like to step in front of the camera to get up close and personal with you. When you’re a member of the Cat Skinner Club, you get to pick my brain and have me weigh in on those life matters that might be keeping you up at night. It’s always nice to have an unbiased two cents, isn’t it?

View Post

When You Fail

We try so hard sometimes, with the best of intentions, but despite this things don’t work out the way we hope. How do we accept defeat? How do you move forward with grace when you fail?

I will be the first to admit that when we got the green light for a family dog from my in-laws, who we were living with at the time, we moved too fast. In hindsight, I can see that we were looking for a balm to soothe a lot of wounds. A bit like those people who think a baby will make everything better (in our case, a human baby actually did, but that’s another story). We thought we knew what we were doing. We even planned to bring our dear friend and amazing dog trainer with us to choose the puppy, but a scheduling burp on our part messed that up, and we ended up with a very beautiful, and very deaf dog. We had her nearly a week before we realized she was deaf. That’s how puppy savvy I am.

Then some things happened, and I had to be away from home, and the dog for a week or two. During some pivotal training and bonding opportunities. We had lots of hands trying to puppy wrangle, and no real clear alpha. And she was so damned mouthy – something I had never really even thought about in a puppy. Soon the kids, one of whom is only two years old, were too afraid to go near her.

Then we found a place of our own, a place we really needed, with a landlady who is passionately against dogs in her house, though ironically a dog owner herself. Yes, this is illegal in this province. But yes, it’s been a huge source of stress/nightmares for me. I know, I need to learn to let go.

Then, with the dog finally in our care full time, we learned she cannot settle unless she’s crated, she continues to teethe and chew and bite things we don’t want her to, she needs lots of hands-on attention and special training with a vibrating collar. Like any puppy, she needs as much attention as my toddler, and I’m the only adult who has the time and space to give it to her, and I. Just. Don’t.

I’m trying to be brave when my landlady threatens to call her lawyer.

I’m trying to transition my son into his own bed/room and so I’m not sleeping through the night. My adult time is entirely gone. I’m exhausted.

I’m trying to run our household while my poor wife drives nearly five hours each day to commute to work and my husband is pouring his blood sweat and tears into a start up.

I’m trying to be patient, and realistic about my nine and almost twelve year old daughters who can really only do a little to help with this high energy pooch.

I’m trying to prove myself to everyone, to show them I can do this, I can handle it. I’m a dog person after all! I’m trying, I’m trying, I’m trying.

The dog flops at my feet as I’m working. She gazes up at me with huge, dark green eyes. That look of love and trust that only a dog can bless you with. I feel that I am failing her, and that I am failing my entire family by insisting that I can be the person she needs in her life. I am not that person.

She needs someone who can give her a vigorous walk each day.

She needs someone who can spend lots of time helping her learn her hand signals. We got her to learn ‘sit’ and ‘lay down’ and she’s getting better and better at ‘stay’. Now she needs someone who can teach her that her vibe collar means ‘look at me’ or ‘come to me’. I just don’t have the time each day to do this.

She needs a family with people who can be dedicated to her training, and not so distracted and busy with all the other stuff of life.

She would greatly benefit from a home with another dog who is tolerant of puppies.

She needs lots of things she can chew because she lost almost four bottom teeth at once and the adult teeth are all coming in. Too many toddler toys, shoes, and rocks have been pressed into service for this at our home.

She needs a little patch of earth to dig and to bury all of the various bull pizzels and greenies she is given, to save for a rainy day.

She’s a wonderful dog. She loves people, loves kids, LOVES other dogs. She’s happy to rest in her crate when she’s worn out, she’s house broken, and we’re going to turn her over to a rescue through our trainer so she can find a home that is better for her. Where she can get the attention that she deserves.

Tonight we’re going to talk to our children and tell them about our decision. You will read this post the morning after. My heart is breaking because I know how empowering this dog has been for our middle daughter, who really needed something to feel proud of. They have a beautiful bond, and I feel sick about separating them. I remember when my own childhood puppy became too much for our family, and she had to be turned over to a family friend. I was devastated, but now I really understand what my poor mom was going through.

Our life just isn’t meant for pets right now, so what do we do when we are faced with the hard realities of our failure? We take a deep breath and listen to our hearts. We face the truth and push away the fear of failure. We reach out with vulnerability to friends who can help. We accept and try to empathize with all of the feelings from all of the people. We take each moment slowly. We practice self-care and self-love instead of allowing guilt and regret to take over. We feel grateful that we have options, that there can still be a happy ending for this beautiful four-legged soul that we crossed paths with.

Now, if any of you are looking for a deeply loving animal companion, and you have the time and energy for a smart and energetic puppy. Please let me know with an email and I’ll put you in touch with the rescue organization.