Finding Inspiration

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I’ve been feeling uninspired lately. Lots of reasons, none all that compelling.  But compelling or not, they have temporarily eclipsed my drive to write.  So today’s blog will draw from the words of two people much wiser than me.  Two people who have influenced my yoga style, my teaching, and my philosophy of life, even though I never studied with either of them directly.  Those of you who follow my yoga teacher/sleuth Kate’s adventures, these are the same people who influence her.

If you’re curious about Viniyoga and its key tenants, the words of Krishnamacharya and his son Desikachar (both who devoted their lives to this work) express its power better than I can ever hope to.

Teacher training students and grads, hopefully some of this sounds familiar.

Enjoy.

On the Purpose of Yoga:

  • “Anybody can breathe. Therefore anybody can practice yoga.” — T.K.V. Desikachar.
  • “The success of yoga must not be measured by how flexible your body becomes, but rather by how much it opens your heart.” — T.K.V. Desikachar.
  • “Yoga, unlike dance or mime, is not an expression of form for others to watch.” — T.K.V. Desikachar.
  • “The success of yoga does not like in the ability to perform postures but in how it positively changes the way we live our life and relationships.” T.K.V. Desikachar.

On Teaching:

  • “Teach what is inside you. Not as it applies to you, to yourself, but as it applies to the other.” — Tirumalai Krishnamacharya
  • “A good teacher sees the commonality of all human beings and helps each individual find his uniqueness.” — T.K.V. Desikachar.

On Life:

  • “Whether things get better or worse depends to a considerable extent on our own actions.” — T.K.V. Desikachar.
  • “The way that we see things today does not have to be the way we saw them yesterday. This is because the situations, our relationships to them, and we ourselves have changed in the interim.” — T.K.V. Desikachar.
  • “However powerful or disturbing something may appear to be, it is our reaction to it that determines its effects.” — T.K.V. Desikachar.
  • “Let your speech be true and sweet.” — Tirumalai Krishnamacharya
  • “Meditation results in marvels.” — T.K.V. Desikachar.

May each of you find inspiration wherever you can.

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Lessons from Tasha

Last week I wrote about the loss of one of the greatest loves of my life, my German shepherd, Tasha, who was the inspiration for my Downward Dog Mystery Series.  Specifically, I wrote about how through her bravery, I learned how to love again.  Today I’d like to share some of the lessons she taught me. I actually wrote this to Tasha as we lay in bed together on one of her last nights, but I waited to post it until now.  Wherever she is, I hope she doesn’t mind my sharing.

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Tasha Dog–still happy ten days before she passed. There’s a lesson in that, too.

Lessons You Taught Me.

As we lay here together, we both know our time left together is short.  Being with you now is a privilege, and it reminds me of all of the lessons you’ve taught me over our past twelve years together.

  1. I am able to love–and be loved–without condition. I know, it seems like this should be a given, and it probably is.  But somehow I needed your presence in my life to prove it to me. This will always be your greatest gift.
  2. Love is hard–but so very worth it. I feel sorry for people who experience loss and then give up on love. Nothing is more powerful. Nothing is more worth doing. Over and over and over again.
  3. We all make mistakes. Lord knows, I’ve made plenty, especially in your earlier years. Frankly, my sweet, you made some doozies. It never changed my commitment to you, or yours to me.  Not once. There’s incredible beauty in that.
  4. When you make a friend, you love them for life. You didn’t trust many people, but when you bonded with someone, you did so completely. You never forgot their names, and you recognized them years later. In your last days, those same friends came to see you, some after having not been with you for a very long time.  You see, they loved you for life, too.
  5. It’s never to late to make new lifelong friends. As you aged, you grew sweeter. Your circle of friends broadened. I met some of the best people in my life in the last two years of yours–and all because of you.  In those friendships you live on for me.
  6. You can live with chronic illness and pain and be happy. Both of us have imperfect bodies, but you never complained about yours.  You accepted it and were happy in spite of it. I’m still working on that one.
  7. The mailman is not to be trusted.  OK, Sweetie.  If you say so.  I promise, I’ll keep an eye on him. You can relax now.  Your guard dog days are over. You did your job well.

I have a few requests for you as you move on to your next journey.

  1. Don’t wait for me. I don’t know if there’s a life beyond this one, but if there is, live it. Without regret, without reservation. Enjoy it. Relish it. I will join you when it’s my time. Come get me then, but feel free to forget about me in the meantime.
  2. That said, if you want to visit, I’ll be here. Writing about you. Thinking about you. Loving you. I am here for you. Always.
  3. I will be OK without you. That doesn’t at all reduce my love for you. In fact, it shows how very strong that love is. You don’t have to worry about me anymore. You made me strong enough to survive on my own.

Goodbye Puppy Girl, my sweetheart, my love. Thank you for gifting me with almost twelve years of your presence. I will always love you; always miss you. But I am forever grateful for the gift of you in my life.

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Uncertainty, Loss, and Learning to Love Again

I recently asked my Facebook followers what they’d like to read about on my blog. Not surprisingly, they wanted to hear about Ana.  She’s been a huge part of my life since I adopted her in August, and of course people want to hear more about her and her antics.  Her penchant for eating $20 bills. Her Houdini-like escape maneuvers. Her ability to outsmart me (and her trainers) at literally every turn.

A couple of people asked me to write about something that surprised me, though. They wanted me to share how I got over the death of my heart-dog, Tasha, so that I could so fully commit to Ana.

13603638_10154556966443268_8986993429120975080_o1Tasha, you see, was my life for twelve years, and anyone who spoke to me for more than ten seconds knew it. I adored her. I lived for her. I built my life around her. I didn’t think I could survive without her. Literally. I told my husband that when Tasha passed, he’d have to take time off from work to put me on a suicide watch. He believed me. He even warned his boss.

But when Tasha passed, life went on.

I spoke about it with Marc over dinner tonight, and I honestly don’t know how I healed from Tasha’s death. Maybe I didn’t. Or maybe I grieved early. I worried so much about Tasha’s passing—lived it in my head for the last years of her life—that when it actually happened, I was devastated, but not lost, at least not permanently. I fought and fought and fought and fought to keep her with me.  So hard, that when the battle was over …

It was just over.

Maybe I was saved because her death was so beautiful. At home, with those she loved, without intervention, without suffering.  The most important people in her life came to visit during her last week to say their goodbyes. She ate a meal three hours before her death and jumped up to bark at her vet—who made a weekend house call to check on her—a half hour after that. In her final ten minutes, my husband held her head while I rubbed her feet and assured her.  No one could hope for a better goodbye.

Then again, maybe it’s because I knew that I’d have to go on without Tasha someday. In spite of a savings account worth of tests, we never found out what was wrong with Tasha during those final months. But as I examined and re-examined all of those “normal” test results, I couldn’t feel reassured. I knew deep in my heart that something was wrong with my love. Absent a diagnosis, the only thing I could control was what I’d do if she left me.

So I planned for the future. I spoke with about a dozen German shepherd breeders, not feeling any more reassured than I did from Tasha’s medical tests. I had lingering concerns about all of them.

14632999_10154857647418268_4750400350699038905_n1Two days before Tasha passed, I was referred to a breeder who was perfect. Miraculously so. She normally had a long waiting list, but given my circumstances, she agreed to hold a four-week-old puppy for me, even though we knew I might not be able to take her. I sat down with Tasha that same day and told her, “I don’t want you to leave. I want you to stay with me forever. But if you’re tired—if you’re ready to go now—I’ll be OK.”

I think Tasha had held on for me until that moment. In fact, I know she did.

A few people—one quite unkindly—have told me that I didn’t adequately grieve before I got a new puppy.

They’re wrong.

After all, Tasha sacrificed so much for me. How could I not honor her? How could I not fall in love with the puppy she’d waited so long for me to find?

I hope this post doesn’t sound dismal, because I certainly don’t feel that way. I feel content. Next week, I’ll post  some of the lessons Tasha taught me. For now, let me say this: The greatest lesson of all is that love is worthwhile, in spite of the inevitability of loss. And the best way to honor the one that you’ve loved is to do it all over again.

And maybe, just maybe, you don’t have a single heart dog. Maybe you have two.

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Killer Book Launches

I had so much fun during my book launch this month! Below are a few photos and highlights from early book reviewers. Thanks to those of you who joined me. If you haven’t read A Fatal Twist yet, I hope you’ll give it a try!

Edmonds Bookshop Art Walk: The Edmonds Bookshop is truly my favorite little gem of a community book store.  Be sure to check it out the next time you’re in the area.  Ask them about the book of poems by dogs.  So cute!

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Seattle Mystery Bookshop—hanging out with the awesome Gigi Pandian!  Look at all of those pretty books!

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Whole Life Yoga Book Birthday Party.  What a bunch of awesome fans and killer prizes!

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Blog Tour Reviews:  I’m so pleased with the initial reviews of my newest book.  Loving it!

…a funny story and the author does a wonderful job with the characters and scenes. ~Bab’s Book Bistro

With Tracy Weber we get an abundance of education while having fun…The action and troubles seem to never cease. ~Laura’s Interests

The author has created characters that are fun and entertaining…I highly recommend this book (and series) to all readers! ~A Date With A Book

Kate is the main character in this cozy mystery. She has a great sense of empathy for others and I loved how she was determined to make sure the right killer was charged. ~Texas Book-aholic

The characters are all well-written and have depth to them. The plot is captivating with so many different possible outcomes. ~Socrates’ Book Reviews…

I have several reasons for loving these stories, there is always a great mystery, the characters are genuine and continue to grow, relationships are fluid, there is humor in all the right places and I always learn something new. ~Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book

Definitely a great series for those who love yoga, babies, and puppies. I found myself unable to put this book down and don’t think you will either! ~Community Bookstop

Writing each Downward Dog Mystery takes about a year, and involves more hours than you can even imagine. I’m already looking forward to next year’s launch events!

Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere

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Chair Yoga for Readers

Yoga is truly for everyone, but especially for readers, who tend to sit in slouched, hunched positions for hours at a time. I teach this class at library events and book signings, but even those of you too far away to attend my in-person events can benefit from the practice.

1.  Sit in the middle of your chair with both feet planted firmly on the floor and your head extended up to the ceiling. Notice your body. Are there any areas that feel tight or achy? How do the sensations in your body reflect the stress or relaxation of your day?

2.  Progressively lengthen your breath. As you inhale, lengthen your spine and feel the crown of your head extend up toward the ceiling. Gently contract your abdominal muscles with each exhale, which will gently flatten your low back.  Allow the abdominal muscles to relax with each inhale. Take 6 – 10 breaths in this manner.

3.  As you inhale, sweep both arms to the side and overhead, with the palms facing inward, toward the ears. As you exhale, sweep your arms back to your side and gently tilt the chin  toward the pit of your throat. Do this 4 – 6 times.

4.  Grasp the sides of the back of your chair with the palms facing inward. On inhale, gently squeeze the shoulder blades together as you lean your rib cage forward and away from the chair. This should have a gentle back bend quality.  On exhale, release back up to sitting. Do this 6 times, then stay leaning forward for 4 breaths, lifting the ribs with each inhale.

5.  Starting from your original seated position in posture 1, bring your palms to the tops of your thighs. On inhale, extend the crown of your head to the ceiling. On exhale, slide the hands down your legs and bend forward.  Each subsequent inhale, use the hands to help you lift the ribs and come through a flattened back up to sitting again. Do this 6 – 8 times.

6.  From your original seated position in posture 1, on inhale sweep both arms to the side and up to the ceiling, lacing the fingers together and pressing the palms up toward the ceiling. On exhale, lean toward the side, stretching the rib cage. Keep your belly lightly contracted and try to keep the shoulders directly in line with each other. On inhale, bring the torso back to the center and exhale to the opposite side. Do this 4 times each side, alternating sides.

7.  Repeat posture number 5, but this time on inhale, sweep both arms to the side and up to the ceiling on inhale, and sweep the arms to the side as you fold forward on exhale.  After 6 repetitions, stay folded forward for 6 breaths. Totally relax any tension in your body. On inhale, return to sitting.

8.  Come back to the comfortable seated position in posture number 1, with both feet planted firmly on the floor and the crown of your head extended up to the ceiling.   Notice your body again, without judgment.  What were the effects of these movements on your body, your breath, your emotional state, your sense of focus?

Enjoy the practice and let me know what you think!

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

A Fatal Twist launched January 8!

 

Happy Book Launch!

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I’m so excited! A Fatal Twist, the fourth book in my Downward Dog Mystery series, launched on Sunday, January 8!

As always, it’s going to be a month of celebrations. The Facebook Launch party was yesterday, but there are still lots of ways you can join in the fun.

Blog Tour:

Great Escapes is hosting me again for a fabulous nineteen-stop tour. Book blasts, reviews and a few articles written by yours truly.  I hear there will even be a prize or two!

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Details at http://www.escapewithdollycas.com/great-escapes-virtual-book-tours/upcoming-great-escapes-book-tours/fatal-twist-tracy-weber/

Book signing events:

I’m scaling back a bit this year on the book events, so mark your calendar for one of these three:

Edmonds Bookshop

Thursday, January 19th, 5:00 – 8:00 PM.

Make an evening of it in this delightful Western Washington city. Participating businesses feature local artists, and there are even wine tastings.  This is one of my favorite places to hang out with readers!

http://www.edmondsbookshop.com/events.htm

Seattle Mystery Bookshop

Saturday, January 28th, 12:15 – 1:15 PM.

This time I’m doing a joint signing with author and friend, Gigi Pandian, so you get two authors for the price of one! (aka free!)  This lovely mystery shop is a Seattle gem, so please join me and help support it.

http://www.seattlemystery.com/event/tracy-weber-signing-fatal-twist

Whole Life Yoga Book Birthday Party!

Sunday, January 29th, 12:30 – 2:00 PM.

No, we don’t do yoga at the party, but we do have music, prizes, yummy vegan desserts, and a bottle of bubbly or two. I generally talk or read for about 15 minutes at 1:00, then it’s all party and prizes all the time!

http://www.wholelifeyoga.com/bookLaunch.html

I hope to see you at one or more of the events. Please know that I adore each and every one of my readers.  Without you I would have given up on writing years ago.

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

A Fatal Twist can be found at Amazon and Booksellers everywhere!

A Book’s Worth of Thank Yous

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My Fourth Downward Dog Mystery, A Fatal Twist will officially launch this Sunday.  I’m never sure how many people will read the book.  A smaller subset will look at the acknowledgement pages.  So today’s blog article features those pages, in hopes that my gratitude for those individuals will spread further.  Here’s to all of the wonderful people who influence and inspire me.  I appreciate you all.

 

Dedication:

To Michelle. Of all of my lifelong friends, you influenced me the most. I miss you.

Acknowledgements:

Publishing can be a brutal industry. Most writers have days in which we wonder why we continue storytelling. For me, the answer is simple: my readers. Thank you for each e-mail, Facebook post, letter, blog comment, tweet, and review. Without you, I’d have given up long ago.

A Fatal Twist has a special cast of supporters I’d like to acknowledge.

As always, thanks to my agent, Margaret Bail, editors Terri Bischoff and Sandy Sullivan at Midnight Ink, and freelance editor Marta Tanrikulu, who all give me invaluable help and feedback.

Special thanks go to three awesome readers: James D. Haviland, who came up with the book’s title, Penny Ehrenkranz, who named the puppies in this book, and Becky Muth, who named Rene’s twins.

My husband, Marc, and my real-life Bella, Tasha, will always be the lights of my life. We lost Tasha this year, but she continues to be my inspiration.  Without her, this series would never have come to fruition. My new baby German shepherd, Ana, is teaching me how to write about puppies, and I’m grateful for the belly laughs she gives me each day, even when she chews up my manuscript. Marc gets extra kudos for designing and maintaining my author website, as well as for listening to all of my grumbles.

Finally, thanks go to my mother, Marcia, who was always my biggest fan and my best friend, Michelle, who inspired Rene in the series. You are both missed.

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

A Fatal Twist can be found at Amazon and Booksellers everywhere!

Inspirations in Fiction

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Today’s my day to blog at Inkspot, the blog for authors of Midnight Ink.  I’m discussing two of my character inspirations for the Downward Dog Mystery Series, including my most recent installment, A Fatal Twist.

http://midnightwriters.blogspot.com/2016/12/inspirations-in-fiction.html

Enjoy!

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!

Ana Ear Watch 2016!

Unless this is the first time you’ve visited my blog, you probably know that my husband and I adopted an all-black German shepherd pup named Ana this past August.  One of the many joys of puppy ownership is watching how fast they mature and grow.  In Ana’s case, it’s all about the ears.   Below I share a 3-month timeline.

To make it a little more fun, let’s make it a contest!  Comment on the blog with your favorite by midnight on Midnight on December 25.  Santa will send one lucky winner their choice of any of the four books in my Downward Dog Mystery series, including A Fatal Twist, which launches on January 8!

Good luck!

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Ana ears 1: August 4th–almost six weeks old!

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Ana ears 2: August 15–the day she arrived at our home. The carpet hasn’t been clean since!

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Ana ears 3: August 29. Starting to look perky!

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Ana ears 4: September 6th. Maybe I should have named her Ivy!

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Ana ears 5: September 18. One up, one at half mast.

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Ana ears 6: September 28. The crossed-ears days.

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Ana ears 7: October 5. More like a steeple now.

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Ana ears 8: October 16. One up, one leaning.

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Ana ears 9: October 26. It’s hard to hide when your ears are so big!

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Ana ears 10: November 6. Right ear straight up, left a little floppy.

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Ana ears 11: November 20: Kind of like windshield wipers, don’t you think?

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Ana ears 12: December 4th. Ah, perfection. And just in time for the holidays!

Isn’t the speed of her development amazing?  Don’t forget to vote on your favorite in the comments.  Include your e-mail address (i.e. Tracy(at)WholeLifeYoga(dot)com) so I can contact you if you win.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Tracy Weber

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All four books in the Downward Dog Mystery Series are available at booksellers everywhere!