Category Archives: Gratitude

Dedications, and Thank Yous and Acknowledgements, Oh My!

Until I was a writer, I rarely read the acknowledgements section at the beginning of a book, but I know now that it represents the village of people it takes to write a novel. So, for your reading pleasure, here is a pre-view of the kudos coming when my book is released this Friday. I’m sad that my mom never got to see the dedication, but I was able to tell her about it before she passed. 

Dedication:

To my mom, Marcia. Your support of my writing means the world to me.

Acknowledgements:

First of all, I’d like to thank every reader who has contacted me to tell me that they enjoy my work. Each e-mail, Facebook post, and letter makes my day. Without you, I’m not sure I’d have the fortitude to continue writing.

Karma’s a Killer has a special cast of supporters I want to acknowledge.

My yoga students continue to listen to my grumblings, join in my cheering, attend my events, and support my writing in more ways than I could ever have hoped for. Special thanks to Katie West, who addressed and mailed a seemingly infinite number of packages to my street team members, and Katie Burns, who proofed the manuscript before I submitted it to Midnight Ink.  Thanks also to my agent, Margaret Bail, editors Terri Bischoff and Sandy Sullivan at Midnight Ink, and freelance editor Marta Tanrikulu, who all continue to give me invaluable help and feedback.

Special thanks go to Michael Westerfield, author of The Language of Crows. Michael graciously answered my many questions about crow behavior. His insights about crows raised as fledglings and released to the wild were invaluable.  Of course, if there are any errors in this work—about crows or anything else—they are completely mine.

My husband, Marc, and my real-life Bella, Tasha, continue to be the lights of my life. Anything I accomplish is only possible through their love and support.  Marc gets extra kudos for designing and maintaining my author website.  Tasha gets credit for introducing me to her crow friends and fueling my fascination for these intelligent, underappreciated creatures.

Finally, thank you to all of my street team members. These dedicated individuals spread the word about my writing, pass out my bookmarks, and make me smile on days that otherwise seem glum.  The best part of writing has been connecting with all of you.

Tracy Weber

Karmas a Killer (4)Purchase my newest mystery, KARMA’S A KILLER, now at Amazon Barnes and Noble, or a bookstore near you!

Check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT and MURDER STRIKES A POSE are available at book sellers everywhere

A Wish for the Holidays

On Thursday I taught my annual Yoga of Thanksgiving workshop at Whole Life Yoga.  This year’s class was special, because it took place so soon after the death of my mother.  Rather than allow my first holiday without parents to be a sad one, I decided to make it a gift. I gave to my students the qualities I was personally seeking during this time of transition.  Our practice revolved around embodying those qualities.

    • Peace: Both existential peace in our often-crazy world and security in ourselves, our homes, and our relationships. Symbolized by our connection to the earth and the root chakra, which is the seat of security and safety.
  • Joy: Which comes from creativity and play. Symbolized by the belly, which houses the seed of all that is creative within us. Joy is so important, because when we have it, we can share it with others.
  • Hope: Which, I believe, comes from courage.  Finding hope during tough times isn’t a gift or a given. It’s a practice that takes concerted effort. Hope, to me, is symbolized by the solar plexus, the seed of confidence and courage.
  • Love: The ability to both give and receive love, not only to others, but also to ourselves. Symbolized by the heart.
  • Faith: This is a loaded word for many, but it represents the ability to connect with something beyond ourselves—something that gives us guidance and helps us strive to be better. It’s symbolized by the crown of the head, seen as the connection point with all that is beyond us.
  • Light: Which provides guidance to find our way in the world, but also serves as a reminder that even in the darkest days of winter, we have within ourselves a clear blinding light. We symbolized that light by reaching our arms out to the side.

At the end of the practice, each student selected one or more stones that I had specially created for that day. Each was engraved with one of the qualities we had embodied in our practice. That stone will hopefully serve as a reminder to live the above qualities on those not-always-easy days outside of the yoga studio.

The true power of yoga lies not in the postures.  It lies in intention.  The meaning we give to our practice.  I hope the Thanksgiving practice helped my students plant seeds that will guide them, not only during the holiday season, but for the rest of their lives.

May those qualities live within you, too.

Namaste

Tracy Weber

Preorder my newest mystery, KARMA’S A KILLER, now at Amazon Barnes and Noble or a bookstore near you!

Check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT and MURDER STRIKES A POSE are available at book sellers everywhere

Five Tips for a Happy and Healthy Plant-Based Thanksgiving

Hi all!  Please welcome Vanessa Chamberlin to the Whole Life Blog today.  A vegetarian Thanksgiving has been my tradition for well over a decade.  I highly recommend it, and these tips can help you figure out how!  Of course my yoga teacher/sleuth Kate is also vegetarian, so she would approve as well. Neither of us cooks, so please let us know how the recipe turns out!

Tracy

Thanksgiving is such a great holiday. We take time to be with our loved ones and be thankful for our relationships, our health, and our opportunities. It’s a time to celebrate the harvest and all of the wonderful flavors and colors and textures of autumnal foods – and the best part? All of the best fall foods are plant-based! And there are plenty of ways to celebrate and incorporate them into the holiday season.

With Thanksgiving approaching, I wanted to give some of my best holiday tips so that you can feel joyous about the holiday and celebrate what Thanksgiving means to you while still doing what feels good for your body.

Here are five tips for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving:

  1. Have fun planning a menu. Don’t limit yourself by thinking only of traditional foods. If you’re cooking for a larger group and they’re expecting their holiday favorites, there are ways you can emulate those foods with a healthier recipe, like mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes. But if your guests are adventurous, go outside the box! There are tons of amazing seasonal recipes you can make to celebrate harvest time without loading them full of meat and dairy, but you could also look to other cultural dishes to really explore the world in your menu.
  2. Invite people who share your values. This might be easier said than done! It can be a fun way to recharge with people who actually share your values and will appreciate every second you put into planning and cooking for them. People are often busy visiting their families, but with many people living far away from loved ones, an invitation to a fun plant-based holiday gathering can be a great thing.
  3. Start a new tradition. I love this! Traditions can be anything, whether it’s Frisbee in the park, watching a certain movie, or silly things like hiding something that everyone has to try and find. Have fun with it. If you’re not sure what to do, look up traditions of other cultures and use it as a teaching lesson for your kids.
  4. Spend time with your loved ones creating memories. What may just be a silly song or movie time or a walk through a pumpkin patch today, could end up being one of our most cherished memories. Remember that the holidays aren’t just about food. It’s about spending time with your loved ones, celebrating the reason you can come together, and being thankful for what your blessings.
  5. Take time for yourself! It’s not uncommon for us to spend so much time trying to make an enjoyable experience for our children and loved ones that we end up exhausted at the end of the day or weekend. Make sure that you have time to unwind. Get in a workout, meditate, and relax. Whether you enlist help making food or spend some time prepping for your meal in the days before, do what you need to do to keep from getting burned out and overscheduled during the holiday.

Keep in mind that your holiday can still incorporate your healthy habits. There’s no reason why post-Thanksgiving fun can’t be a walk around the block or an hour at the park. You can even pick up a football and play together! The most important thing is to take this time to recharge and take time to feel the joy of gratitude for your blessings, the things you’ve worked hard for, and the people who love you.

Here’s my favorite holiday recipe for Cauliflower Mash to get you inspired for your plant-based Thanksgiving!

Cauliflower Mash

Cauliflower Mash

• 1 lb. bag frozen or fresh cauliflower
• 1/4 cup fat-free soymilk
• 1 clove garlic, chopped
• 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
• 1 tsp poultry seasoning
• 1 tsp nutritional yeast
• 2 Tbsp cornstarch
• 2 Tbsp water to mix with corn starch
• 1 Tbsp fresh parsley

In a pot, steam cauliflower for 10-12 minutes or until very soft. Drain well using a colander. In a saucepan, combine soymilk, garlic, 1/4 cup water, Italian seasoning, poultry seasoning and yeast over medium heat. When it begins to boil, slowly mix the cornstarch/water mixture into the sauce, stirring constantly until thickened.

When cauliflower is cool enough, squeeze as much water out as possible. Place the cauliflower in the processor or high-powered blender and blend for about a minute. Add sauce and fresh parsley to cauliflower and process until creamy and smooth. If it’s too thick, you may adjust the consistency by adding a little bit of soymilk. Makes 4 servings.

Vanessa Chamberlin 2

 

Vanessa Chamberlin is a Certified Holistic Health Practitioner and Lifestyle Coach and author of The Fire-Driven Life: How to Ignite the Fire of Self-Worth, Health, and Happiness with a Plant-Based Diet. For more information, please visit, www.vanessachamberlin.com and connect with her on Twitter, @vkchamberlin.

Home Again, Forever Changed

12186365_10153951716228268_2715667569508046441_o[1]

I suspect that most of you already know, but I’ve spent most of the past two weeks unexpectedly out of town, and not for a fun reason.

Just before Christmas ten months ago, a nurse convinced my mother—who had refused to have a mammogram since her first one thirty years ago—to finally get the lump she’d been ignoring scanned. The mastectomy to remove the cancerous breast took place a few days later. A week after that, we learned that the cancer had spread to both of Mom’s lungs. Since her cancer—which we now knew was stage IV—was aggressive, she went through equally aggressive chemotherapy.

Who knew all of that would be the easy part?

Time went on; the roughest of the chemotherapy treatments were completed. Mom’s hair, fingernails, and toenails started growing back. About five weeks ago, we celebrated her second completely clear scan. We all breathed a sigh of relief knowing that we had more time, hopefully years.

A few days later, Mom started to act confused.

When she told me three weeks ago that the cancer had spread to her brain, she had already completed ten of her thirteen radiation treatments. I knew time was short, but I still thought we had it. At least a few months. I decided to spend her last Christmas with her.

Later that same night, she was hospitalized for a severe nosebleed. I won’t go into any more specifics other than to say that a few weeks after Mom’s clear scans, I found myself on an airplane to Montana with a single goal: get her out of the hospital so she could die at home.

If I’m honest, the week I spent getting her home and sharing her last days was beyond brutal. But I did find a few gifts. Someday I’ll write more about that time and the dichotomy that was my mother. For now, as I fly back to Seattle on my way home from her funeral, I mainly want to say thank you to the Whole Life Yoga teachers and teacher training students who have both helped me and had patience with me during the past two weeks. As I said at her funeral, the world permanently changed the day my mother was born. Mine permanently changed the day she died. I don’t know where any of this will lead me—yet—but I’m open to figuring it out.

To everyone reading this blog, I offer two learnings:

  • Life on this earth is a loaner, and we don’t know how long we can keep it. Live today as if it will end tomorrow.
  • Women, get your mammograms. I honestly don’t know if my mother’s story would have had a different ending with early detection, but at least she would have had a fighting chance. Life is too precious to waste due to embarrassment or fear. You owe yourself better than that.

To Mom: I’m sorry your life ended this way and that you never got to visit Hawaii or live in that little house in Seaside. Our relationship was never easy, for so many reasons. But I can say with absolute honesty, I loved you. You will be missed.

Tracy Weber

Karmas a Killer (4)My newest mystery, KARMA’S A KILLER, is now available for pre-order from Amazon Barnes and Noble.

 

Every Day’s a Gift

mri2

Today is my weekly posting for Inkspot, the blog for authors of Midnight Ink.  I’ve thought about writing this blog post for years. I finally did it the other day while I was sitting at the vet with Tasha (the inspiration for my mystery series) and waiting for her to go in for an MRI.  The lesson was powerful for me, and I hope it someday helps you, too. Then again, perhaps you’re smarter than I am and don’t need it.  😉

http://midnightwriters.blogspot.com/2015/10/every-days-gift.html

Namaste

Tracy Weber

Karmas a Killer (4)And if you want to show me some love, you can preorder my newest mystery, KARMA’S A KILLER, now at Amazon Barnes and Noble.

Yee haw, yippee, and yahooey!

Check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  A KILLER RETREAT and MURDER STRIKES A POSE are available at book sellers everywhere

 

 

Sunsets, Suffering, and Finding Peace

blog (2)

Why is it that every time I write about life’s suffering, I’m thinking about my dog? I adopted Tasha-dog eleven years ago this week. I was missing something in my life, though I wasn’t sure what, exactly.  I had a lovely husband, a fulfilling career, four (yes four!) cats, and lots of friends.

But I was still lonely. I had been pining for a German shepherd for approximately thirty years, since my family rehomed the German shepherd of my childhood. My visions of Tasha were laughable, in hindsight.  Perfectly behaved, she’s not. Healthy, she’s not. Cat loving…well, let’s not even go there. She was everything I thought I didn’t want, but ended up being exactly what I needed, and more.

She is the biggest source of joy in my life.

And the source of my most debilitating anxiety.

The other night, I was thinking about how many times Marc and I have almost lost her, due to the many diseases she’s had to live with or overcome.  Her imminent death has been predicted countless times, by vets I usually ended up firing.

But now that she’s eleven years old in a breed whose average lifespan is ten to twelve, even I have to admit, she’s approaching the sunset time of her life.  In the past three weeks, she’s been plagued by a neurological issue of unknown origin.  It may resolve; it may not. It may stay the same as it is now, or it may decline until we have no choice but to end her suffering.  We continue to do tests, but as of this writing, all is one big unknown.

Oddly enough, the most challenging part of this for me is that her neurological status cycles, and my mental health seems to cycle with it.  One day she seems better, the next worse. One day I’m optimistic and happy, the next, devastated.

The Yoga Sutras clearly predict my suffering. You see, I’m attached to this girl. I hesitate to say she’s like my child, because that’s not how I think of her.  But she is as important to me as any living being has ever been.  And I will inevitably have to say goodbye. I knew that the day I adopted her.  As crazy as it seems, I signed up for this.

My work now, as Tasha and I walk down this sunset path together, is to not be attached to the good days, because the good days won’t last forever.  If I can somehow learn to be present without gripping the good, perhaps I’ll have more peace during the inevitable challenges.

Then again, maybe I won’t.

Maybe grief is simply part of life’s process. Another obstacle to overcome that helps us appreciate the blessings of life while we have them.

Regardless, the Sutras say that meditation helps overcome suffering, so it’s time for me to reignite my practice.  If you care to join me, this is one of my favorites.

If you’re willing, please send Tasha happiness, her doctors wisdom, and me peace.

Namaste

Tracy Weber

Karmas a Killer (4)And if you want to show me some love, you can preorder my newest mystery, KARMA’S A KILLER, now at Amazon Barnes and Noble.

Yee haw, yippee, and yahooey!

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 and MURDER STRIKES A POSE are available at book sellers everywhere

How I Spent My Summer Vacation (AKA Sabbatical Ain’t for Wimps, Baby!)

summer

Not long ago I lamented to my husband how exhausted I was.  He looked at me oddly and reminded me that I’d been on sabbatical for the past six weeks.   I understand his confusion.  I reminded him, in a very kind and gentle way 😉 that I was, indeed, still working.  In many ways harder than normal.

I call my time off from teaching every August a sabbatical, but really I should call it a time of refocus.  These days, that refocus is around writing.   So for those of you wondering what I did on sabbatical, here’s a partial list of things both fun, not-so-fun, and surprising.  I don’t feel like as much of a slacker when I read it!

What I did on my summer sabbatical:

  1. Wrote the 2nd and 3rd drafts of my fourth book, tentatively titled A FATAL TWIST, including the laborious process of outlining and fixing timing and consistency errors.  Normally this would take over three months! (Yippee, yahoo, and wahooey!)
  2. Served on jury duty. Have you done your civic duty lately?
  3. Took Tasha dog to 24 rehab appointments: 7 massages, 11 physical therapy sessions, 3 acupuncture treatments, and 3 chiropractor/osteopath appointments. (I actually thought it was more than that! It’s a good thing she enjoys them.)summer treadmill
  4. Set up my winter, 2016 book signing tour.  6 stops and 5 cities so far—more to come!
  5. Spent waaaaaay too much time on Facebook.  Need I say more?
  6. Wrote 7 blog articles.
  7. Created the studio’s fall schedule. (A three-times-a-year project that always makes my head spin.)
  8. Wrote 6 newsletters. 4 for the studio and 2 author newsletters.
  9. Ate dinner out approximately 36 times. Hence the need for new clothes, below.
  10. Walked the Tasha-dog.  Approximately 65 walks in all, many at our favorite walking destination, Green Lake!summer1
  11. Watched all 39 episodes of Orange is the New Black.  For the record, I already had a character named Crazy Eyes in my third book before I saw the series.
  12. Finished the production edits and started sending out advanced copies of Karma’s a Killer. summerbooks
  13. Read and wrote endorsements for 3 fabulous books by authors Susan Obrien, Sharon St. George, and Colleen Shogan. Do yourself a favor and pre-order them now!
  14. Put together Tasha’s wheelchair (the chariot!) all by myself.  Hopefully she won’t need it for a very long time. In the meantime, her pal Froggert will keep it warm for her.summer chair
  15. Harassed hubby until he finally finished my new mobile friendly author website!
  16. Scheduled and created the catalogues, contracts and other registration materials for Whole Life Yoga’s 2016 yoga teacher training! Information sessions start in October!

What I didn’t do that I planned:

  1. Get even one massage myself.
  2. Go on a single trip.
  3. Correct teacher training homework.  (Sorry guys.  Today, I promise!)
  4. Clean house.  (But that’s no surprise.)
  5. Catch up on sleep.
  6. Cook a meal that didn’t go from a cardboard box straight to the microwave. (This is a nice continuation of my several-year streak.)
  7. Finish the book proposal for my meditation book.
  8. Go to a movie.
  9. Shop for clothes.  Since I often mess up and wear them inside out, maybe that will double my wardrobe!
  10. Start the second mystery series I have rattling around in my head. But if my writing continues to speed up, I may just start it soon!

So, all, I’ve missed you, but I’ve been busy!  I look forward to being back teaching starting tonight.  I hope you all had a fantastic summer, filled with love, joy, and lots of play.

How did you spend your summer vacation?

Tracy Weber

My newest mystery, KARMA’S A KILLER, is now available for pre-order at at Amazon Barnes and Noble, and Whole Life Yoga!

Yee haw, yippee, and yahooey!

 

 

A Blogger’s Top Five

Top 5 Concept Metal Letterpress Type

As part of my teaching sabbatical, every August I look back at the blog to see what people have found the most useful over the past 365 days.  I’m always a little surprised.  The list below has some of my personal favorites as well as one that warms my heart!

Here’s my summary:

Two of the top five discuss form in asana in two of our most common poses, which is both good news and bad news.  The good news is that people want to learn how to do them “right.”  The bad news is that they don’t already know.  😉

One discusses the meaning of Namaste, arguably the most common Sanskrit word used in yoga classes. Again, I hope this means that our students are searching for meaning, not that we’re sprouting off terms in class without defining them.

One that always makes the top five is how we can use yoga to decrease belly fat.  Need I say more about that one?

The surprise this year is the 50 ways to show authors some love article.  Published relatively recently compared to the others, it hasn’t had as many days to collect hits, yet there it sits solidly at #3.  That one warms my heart a little.

There they are below, for your enjoyment.  As we head into fall, may you have many enjoyable blog reading moments in the future!

Tracy’s Whole Life Blog’s  Top Five Blog Articles for the Past Year:

  1. Proper Form and Adaptations of Child’s Pose
  2. The Meaning of Namaste
  3. Fifty Ways to Love Your Favorite Author
  4. Does Yoga Reduce Belly Fat?
  5. Cakravakasana: The “Un”Cat-Cow

Namaste

Tracy Weber

Karmas a Killer (4)And if you want to show me some love, you can preorder my newest mystery, KARMA’S A KILLER, now at Amazon Barnes and Noble.

Yee haw, yippee, and yahooey!

 

 

 

 

 

Fifty Ways to Show Readers Some Love (Part 3)

book pages

Today is my weekly posting for Inkspot, the blog for authors of Midnight Ink.  This week I post the final in my three-part series outlining over 50 ways authors can show their readers that they appreciate them.  Check it out, please share, and add to the list.  Above all else, rest assured that I love you!

http://midnightwriters.blogspot.com/2015/08/fifty-ways-to-show-readers-some-love.html

Namaste

Tracy Weber

Karmas a Killer (4)And if you want to show me some love, you can preorder my newest mystery, KARMA’S A KILLER, now at Amazon Barnes and Noble.

Yee haw, yippee, and yahooey!

They’re Here, They’re Here, They’re Here!

a

August is an exciting time for me on so many levels.  I’m on sabbatical from teaching yoga, which means I can concentrate on my writing. Sounds simple, right? It’s significantly more complex than you might think.  Just as I was ready to dive into the second draft of my fourth novel, tentatively titled A TWISTED DEATH, I got requests to read and endorse two new fabulous mysteries, and my second editor at Midnight Ink got back to me with edits on my current novel, Karma’s a Killer.

This is the first time I’ve worked with Sandy, and I must say she’s AWESOME!  She brings an attention to detail that my work has rarely seen before. And, if I have to brag, I guess this is the time:  Karma’s a Killer is my best book so far. I truly believe it.  Even better, it’s definitely by far my best cover!

Just when I thought my excitement couldn’t get any higher, the advanced copies and press release for Karma’s a Killer arrived on Wednesday.  I keep burying my nose in the books, inhaling their new book smell.  Can you tell I’m excited or what?

Here’s an excerpt from the press release for this newest installment in the series.

The latest mystery by award-winning novelist Tracy Weber, Karma’s a Killer is a fun, fresh, feisty new mystery featuring Seattle yoga teacher Kate Davidson and her trusty canine companion Bella. 

About Karma’s a Killer: Yoga instructor Kate Davidson is about to discover that when it comes to murder, there’s no place like om.  When she agrees to teach doga—yoga for dogs—at a fundraiser for Dogma, a local animal rescue, Kate believes the only real damage will be to her reputation. But when an animal rights protest at the event leads to a suspicious fire and a drowning, a few downward-facing dogs will be the least of Kate’s problems…

The police arrest Dharma, a woman claiming to be Kate’s estranged mother, and charge her with murder. To prove Dharma’s innocence, Kate, her boyfriend Michael, and her German shepherd sidekick Bella dive deeply into the worlds of animal activism, organizational politics, and the dangerous obsessions that drive them.

And if solving a murder weren’t complicated enough, Kate will also have to decide whether or not to reconcile with the estranged mother who abandoned her over thirty years ago.  Not to mention having to contend with an almost-bankrupt animal rescue, a cantankerous crow, an unwanted pigeon houseguest, and a rabbit in a doga class. What could possibly go wrong?

A taut tale with more twists and turns than a vinyasa yoga class, Karma’s a Killer brims with suspense, wit and whimsy.  With a to-die-for plot, sensational storyline, and charming characters—of both the two- and four-legged varieties—Karma’s a Killer is a clever, colorful, and utterly captivating cozy mystery.”

Sounds like a book I’d actually like to read.  How about you?

Time to get working on scheduling those book launch events!

Namaste

Tracy Weber

 A Killer RetreatKarmas a Killer (4)

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 and MURDER STRIKES A POSE are available at book sellers everywhere! KARMA’S A KILLER is available for pre-order now!