Friday, July 25, 2014

A Molly Moment

I think I had a Molly Moment. I did something stupid and embarrassing like the situations I write for my character. But I say if you’re going to do stupid embarrassing things the least you can do is talk about them so people can get a chuckle out of it.

Let me set the scene. I went to the gym for the Tuesday morning cardio class. They call it cardio, but it is really dancing around though it is really beside the point. A bunch of people I know where hanging around the locker room, talking. Somehow the subject of skylights came up and I mentioned leaving a container of mini peanut butter cups on my kitchen counter. The sun came through the skylight and melted the whole thing into a big lump which is now in my refrigerator waiting to be figured out what to do with.

I went to put my stuff in a locker. I guess we are all creatures of habit and I seemed to always go for a certain locker. Only this time, someone had left their stuff in, but put no lock on the locker. Not such a good idea. Hard to believe but it is true, things have disappeared in the gym. Like let’s just say they had to glue the soap dispensers to the sink because they went missing. Finally, even the glued down ones took a powder, probably in somebody’s gym bag. Now they have ugly things attached to the wall you’d need a crowbar to get loose. They seem to be lasting.

So, I thought how foolish it was for whoever to leave her stuff in an open locker. Meanwhile I simply took the one next to it. I shut the locker and used my keys to unlock my lock. A few moments later, I snapped on the lock, locked it and left to explore the deluxe locker room at the gym. There is an extra charge to use it and I’d never seen the inside, but the door had been left open, so why not.

I don’t know how much extra they charge to add the special locker room to your membership, but anything above free is too much. What’s so deluxe? The lockers are strained a slightly darker color and instead of the blah benches in our locker room, it has a couple of cushiony individual benches. It has a sink that looks like a glass bowl and free standing dispensers of soap and lotion. I wonder if they’ve disappeared in the past?

Then I went to the class. Halfway through,my endorphins had taken over and I was a regular dancing machine. Who knew I could jump up and down and twist that much? By the end of the class, I was sweaty and looking forward to going home and having a belated breakfast.

I went to fetch my stuff, but when I looked for my familiar red lock on the line of lockers, it wasn’t there. My lock was gone? I opened the locker I’d used and my stuff was in it and after a quick check saw that everything was still there. A woman was standing near me and said someone had come in and cut off a lock a while ago. Huh?

Sweaty and upset, I rushed to the front desk and asked, er maybe demanded to know why my lock had been removed. It turns out I had put my lock on the wrong locker. The woman who’d left her stuff in an unlocked locker had come back to find my lock on her locker. (This is beginning to sound like a tongue twister) I started to get all huffy about it until reality clicked in and I changed my tune to an oops it was my mistake.

I can only imagine the look at that woman’s face when she found out that someone had padlockd her belongings. I’ll apologize if I ever find out who she is.

Hers hoping you got a chuckle out of my misadventure. Once I got over the egg on my face, I know I did.

There is still time to stop by to check out my guest post. If you leave a comment you’ll get a chance to win a copy of SILENCE OF THE LAMB’S WOOL.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Meditations to Decrease Stress and Inflammation!

yogi doing meditation
A recent study at UCLA’s Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences demonstrated once again that even short meditations, when done consistently, have positive effects on both the body and the mind. The study evaluated 49 caregivers of patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Almost 50% of these caregivers experience clinical depression, and they are also twice as likely as the general population to report high levels of stress.
The study divided the caregivers (who ranged in ages from 45 to 91) into two groups: one that practiced a 12-minute meditation daily for 8 weeks, and one that spent 12 minutes each day for 8 weeks relaxing while listening to a relaxation CD.

The meditation group showed several benefits over the group that listened to the music:
  • Significantly lower levels of depressive symptoms
  • Improvements in reported mental health
  • Improvements in cognitive functioning
  • Increased telomerase activity in the blood (an indication of decreased cellular aging)
  • Significant decreases in blood proteins associated with inflammation.
All these benefits from just 12 minutes of meditation a day!

This specific study examined a chant and meditation practice called Kirtan Kriya, but prior studies on meditation have shown similar mind-body benefits with a variety of meditations. In short, any meditation practice you do for 10 minutes or more daily is likely to achieve similar results.

The meditation below has been used in other studies on meditation’s “relaxation response.” But remember, the most effective meditation practice is one you will actually do. Hundreds, if not thousands, of meditation techniques exist and are easily found on the web. Experiment and find the one that works best for you.

Simple Counting Meditation:
  • Sit comfortably, with your spine erect and the crown of your head floating up
    to the ceiling.
  • Allow your eyes to close, and notice your breath—without intentionally trying to
    change it. Bring your attention to the warmth and coolness of the breath
    at the tip of your nostrils.
  • After 2 – 3 minutes, or whenever you are ready, start counting each exhalation.
    For example, when you exhale the first time, think "one." The next time you exhale, count "two."  Keep counting silently to yourself, until you get to ten. After you reach ten, then start over again from "one."
  • You’ll know your mind has wandered because you’ll lose count or notice that you’re thinking about something else. When that happens, (and it will!) try not to get frustrated. Instead, simply start over again by counting from “one.”  Without judgment or frustration, notice how often you need to restart counting.   The goal isn’t to get to 10, but to keep refocusing whenever your mind wanders.
  • Continue this meditation for 10 minutes or longer if you’d like.
I’ve outlined two other methods in prior blog articles: a simple Meditation for Inner Peace and a Breath Focused Meditation. I will post additional meditations in the future, so keep checking back. Remember not to worry about "being good" at mediation--just by the act of meditating, you are inherently good at it regardless of how often your mind wanders as long as you keep bringing it back.


Tracy Weber

          A Killer Retreat

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT is available for preorder now from Whole Life Yoga. MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble,  and book sellers everywhere! 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Meeting a Deadline

Last week, I mentioned my August 1 deadline for the first book in another new mystery series.  That date is fast approaching, and so's my trip to San Antonio for the Romance Writers of America National Conference. 

The good thing is that I've finished an edited draft that I think is about ready to go.  But I didn't want to feel rushed so I'll wait till I come back and take another look at it before I send it off. 

I also need to finish the related parts such as an acknowledgment and dedication.  And in this one I include recipes, so I need to polish them a bit, too! 

Then I'll need to look at my calendar to figure out when my next deadline is--December 1, I think.  And then I've got another on February 1, 2015.  In the meantime, I'll be doing a lot of promoting on my upcoming Superstition Mystery as well as family stuff.  But I take deadlines seriously and never want to have to ask for an extension, at least not if I can avoid it. 

How about you--what are the deadlines in your life?  And, BTW, because of my travel plans I may not be able to respond to your comments for a while...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I Must Set Sail

Captain E. Griffin died in 1767 in Madison, CT.  His grave is marked with this little poem:
Tho Broeas’ blasts and Boistrous waves
Have tost me to and fro
In spite of both, by God’s decree
I harbor here below
While I do not At Anchor ride
With many of our Fleet
Yet once again I must set Sail
My Admiral Christ to meet.

Ellen did not come home last week, but probably will tomorrow or Thursday.  I have been getting the apartment ready, having ordered from a rental company a shower bench and a “lift chair” – you know, one of those lounge chairs that gently rises to put you on your feet – and other things.  Today our maintenance man will come in to install grab bars in the bathrooms.

She looks and acts completely well, and I have to remind myself that she’s still healing, and held together with staples, stitches and a steel wire.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to get back into writing mode, and finding it a little difficult.  I’m still distracted.  I played a really bad golf game last Thursday and that made me realize I’m not back from this episode any more than Ellen is.

But I’m going to go to Chicago in August, to attend a regional meeting of the National Needlepoint Guild and made a short speech at the start, sign some books, visit the Art Institute and do a little sightseeing.