Zane’s Landing: a writer’s paradise

For our 30th Anniversary, our children gifted us with a vacation in a cabin near Manistee, Michigan. Andrea found it on Airbnb and sent me the link way back in March. Well, I scrutinized every detail of the pictures and read all the reviews. Could it be that wonderful?

Spoiler: Yes. Yes, it was. It exceeded our expectations.

About five miles before we reached the cabin, we had no cell service. I knew this going in and prepared a map ahead of time. Frankly, after the first day of cell phone detox, I embraced not using it except to take pictures.

We arrived and were thrilled with the cozy place. Lilac and woodsy scents greeted us. A gift basket filled with nuts, crackers, chocolate, and two cans of Birdwalker Blonde from local StormCloud Brewing Company welcomed us.

The two-bedroom cabin had an attached screen porch, a deck, and a fire pit nearby.

Beyond the rustic wooden gate, steps and boardwalk lead us to a screened shelter next to the Little Manistee River known for its Brown Trout and Steelhead. Farther along the bank, we found another fire pit, chairs, and pile of wood.

With all the amazing places on the grounds, I didn’t know where to sit and write first. My husband, Kraig, loves to fish so he was in heaven planning his attack. I had shade, no bugs around me, and a comfy chair. I was near enough to Kraig to throw out a “ooh” and “aah” once in a while at his fishing prowess.

With my notebook and pen on my lap, my mind focused more on the chirping birds, rustling underbrush, and flowing river. I gave myself permission to meditate the first day and soak it all in. Just listening and breathing.

I counted twenty-one chairs throughout the cabin and property each with an inspiring view. (I only sat in five spots during the week.) For the next few days, my notebook filled up fast. At night, Kraig read Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files while I continued to write. The TV remained off.

Many birds visited us and we identified them from the Birds of Michigan Field Guide found on my nightstand: a Baltimore Oriole, a Goldfinch, a huge Pileated Woodpecker, and a Bald Eagle.

Although Kraig and I did our own thing near each other, (I think it’s called Parallel Play) we still talked about our past, our future, and our dream to retire to a place like this someday.

As you can tell, I highly recommend Zane’s Landing. (By the way, the first draft of my next novel is almost complete.) Michael and Lindsay, thank you for hosting us.

SIX STARS OUT OF FIVE

Andrea and David, thank you for this thoughtful gift. We love you so much and would love to have you join us next time. Believe me when I say, there will be a next time.

 

Book your vacation at Zane’s Landing.

You will not be disappointed!

 

Chemistry: a Holistic Science?

My background in biology gave me a love of science and an insight into the physical realm of the body. My holistic understanding of Traditional Chinese Medicine taught me that LOVE affects the body in powerful ways.

As a retired acupuncturist, I now enjoy writing about the physical science, the emotional workings of our mind and heart, and the spiritual energy that taps into our passions. I think Chemistry can be considered Holistic Science. What do you think?

 

Enjoy this excerpt from Chemical Attraction

Joe would investigate her suspicions into the company, which would pair them together for the next few days. How exciting! Who would have guessed Aunt Sylvia’s mystery man was Eva’s brother and the FBI agent sent to help her?

In a formal dance position, Madeline shivered slightly at Joe’s warm hand on her waist. His other holding hers set a wave of heat to her face. She craved more of his touch. She gently squeezed his bicep and shoulder. Even through his suit jacket, she felt his taut muscles.

She inhaled his cologne mixed with his sweat from drumming earlier. He oozed a chemical attraction. As a neuroscientist, she had read about the effects of pheromones. Fascinated, she wanted to lean in closer to taste his neck. She blinked and stiffened slightly. Calm down! Joe was here officially as an agent of the FBI. And she would not become one of those women in his phone.

But, it had been a year since she danced in a man’s arms, her uncle’s arms. Most men couldn’t dance, not that she bothered to find out for sure. It didn’t surprise her that Joe knew how. She supposed it was another way of impressing women. And, damn, if it wasn’t working.

Joe moved her around the dance floor with ease as if they were the only ones there. His body heat lulled her into a fantasy world … the envy of all the young women who had flirted with him earlier. Yes, she had kept track.

When the next song’s tempo increased, he moved her so quickly that her bun began to unravel. She laughed. Was this what fun was like?

 

 

What Surrounds You?

feng-shui-blog-picture

I still tap into my holistic training with my writing. It’s a theme throughout my novels because the healing power of Love is incredibly profound. I’m constantly in awe of the mind, body, and spirit connection especially when our environment is involved. I’m talking about Feng Shui, one of the eight modalities of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Feng Shui is the enhancement of the energy (Qi) in your surroundings to attract prosperity. Flowing through all living things, Qi is the spirit or vital force that carries your body—the way you appear, act, move, talk. When you’re healthy, your Qi flows gently within your body. Problems occur when the Qi is blocked or moves too swiftly along its pathways.

Your environment affects your Personal Qi. Has someone’s mean comment ever soured your mood? Qi becomes blocked. How did you feel after receiving praise from your boss? Your positive energy increases. Your Home Qi also affects you. When stressed do you ever reach for your favorite warm blanket, put on your favorite sweatshirt, or fix a cup of tea using your favorite mug? The things that surround you can either comfort you or stress you.

Are you skeptical? Is it too New Agey for you? Let me put it in another context. Professional sports teams rely on Feng Shui, paying millions of dollars to make improvements. What? I’m talking about Home Field Advantage. “The energy of the crowd …” “The cheers energizing the players …” If you’ve ever been to a home game for any sport, you know what I’m talking about. How do you explain it?

Well, with Feng Shui, you surround yourself with the things that make you feel good. Your favorite chair overlooking the backyard full of trees is calming and relaxing. Your child’s artwork on the refrigerator puts a smile on your face. On the other hand, do you still have a piece of furniture you bought with your ex? How do you feel when you see it? If you remember the good times, keep it. If it brings up feelings of bitterness and resentment, get rid of it, and then see how you feel. There’s an intangible reason we shove all our ex’s things into a box to give back. Negativity does not attract abundance.

You don’t have to rearrange your whole house or dangle chimes at an angle from your southeast corner. Surrounding yourself with those favorite things creates positive energy.

Look around. What do you see? How does it make you feel?

Massage for Two: Part 1

zen basalt stones and bamboo with dew

I believe massage is therapeutic whether it’s a rub-a-dub between friends or a formal one with a professional. With over twenty years of experience as a massage therapist and acupuncturist, I’d like to share four key points on giving and receiving a massage as well as specific techniques for headaches.

1) COMMUNICATION

Communication is the MOST important aspect in massage. For example, I’m working on my husband, Kraig, and he says, “Wow, that’s really sore.” What exactly does that mean? Well, it could mean a couple of things:

A) That’s too hard. It hurts. Stop.

B) That’s the area bothering me. Keep rubbing.

As a receiver, if the pressure is too hard, say so. If it’s not quite in the right spot, say so. HOWEVER, try not to over direct so much that you don’t enjoy the touch of the massage. Be in the moment, take slow deep breaths, feel, and enjoy.

As the giver, every so often ask about the pressure. Try not to get offended if your partner gets bossy. Gently say, “Okay, now try and relax,” or “Okay, I think your time is almost up.” The latter will usually shut him or her up … just ask Kraig.

You each need to make the experience pleasant for the other, so it doesn’t seem like a chore. Oohs, aahs, and moans are permitted and encouraged.

2) QUALITY NOT QUANTITY

You don’t have to do an hour massage to be beneficial. A ten or fifteen minute head, shoulder, or neck massage works wonders. The massage can be done on a bed/massage table in a quiet room with relaxation music or sitting in front of the TV watching your favorite show.

3) ALTERNATE YOUR PRESSURE

During the massage, start with a light touch, work deeper, and then lessen your pressure again. For the receiver, it’s more comfortable. For the giver, you don’t need a lot of hand strength to be effective. The routine doesn’t have to be perfect as long as you remember to alternate between light and deep pressure.

4) THE DEEPER YOU WORK; THE SLOWER YOU WORK

This technique causes less pain because you’re gradually working into troublesome areas. Some may want more neck massage while others want shoulder massage. Your partner may want only light pressure while you want her to use her elbow and body weight to dig into that sore spot. Massage is specific to the person. Always ask and always say. We’re not mind readers, right?

With these key points in mind, let’s get started. At home, Kraig usually sits on the floor while I sit on the sofa. I’ve also had him sit in a chair while I stand behind him, and I’ve even had him stretch out face up at the foot of the bed where I can sit comfortably in a chair.

Today, I’ll describe the headache routine as if standing behind the seated person. You’ll massage the different aspects of the head with this routine. Then, you can concentrate on the specific pain areas later.

FRONTAL HEADACHES:

1) For comfort and stability, have your partner lean back against you. With your fingers, use gliding strokes above the eyebrows on the forehead. Start in the center, gently pull up slightly, and work towards the sides.

Massage for two Picture 1-001

2) Press on Yintang (located between the two eyebrows) for headaches, insomnia and nasal congestion.

3) Massage or thumb glide from the sides of the nose under the cheekbones towards the ears.  Bitong (located beside the sides of the nose) is used for nasal congestion. For sinus pain, press on Yintang and Bitong, pinch along the eyebrows, and press just below the inner point of the eyebrow.

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4) Finger glide from the sides of the chin along the jaw line.

5) Use your thumbs to slide down from the ear/cheekbone area.

6) Rub in a circular motion (round rub) at the corner of the jaw. Stress, headaches, and a clenched jaw all seem to go together.

TEMPLES & PARIETAL HEADACHES:

1) Round rub the temple area. Taiyang (located in the depression to the side of the eye and eyebrow) cools and clears the eyes and relieves sinus pain.

2) Massage along the sides of the head above the ears. Start in the front and work towards the back of the head. The muscles in this area are connected with chewing and clenching of the jaw, so it will be tender. Start light.

3) Massage the ears. Gently pull upward, outward, and downward.

VERTEX HEADACHES:

1) Press along the top of the head starting at the hairline (or in the case of my bald hubby the upper forehead) to the vertex of the head.

2) Press on Baihui located at the vertex where many sutures meet. It’s also considered the soft spot for infants. In adults, pressing on this point relieves headache, vertigo, tinnitus, nasal congestion and even hemorrhoids. (This point has an up-lifting effect hence the reason it helps with hemorrhoids.)

3) Press or round rub Sishencong the four points surrounding Baihui. These help headaches, vertigo, insomnia, and poor memory. Tap this area while studying or taking an exam. I’ve seen a room full of acupuncture students doing this during a test. Yes, I’ve done it, too.

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OCCIPITAL HEADACHES:

1) Stand to the side of your seated partner. Placing your hand on the forehead to support his head, use your thumb and fingers to squeeze along the back of the neck at the base of the head.

2) Next locate Fengchi in the depression at the occiput between the neck muscles. It’s the midpoint between the ear and the vertebrae. Pressing or rubbing this area helps with headaches, vertigo, insomnia, pain, and neck stiffness.

In Part II, I’ll share the general massage routine for your neck and shoulders. Until then, practice the four key aspects for massage and have fun. A special thanks to Kraig for being my demo person for the pictures. Although with the promise of a shoulder rub, it didn’t take much arm twisting.

Past Lives & Writing

dry grassy hill 3

Some holistic practitioners believe the history of the soul’s journey is recorded and stored in the unconscious mind, available for retrieval at any time.  Looking at your past lives is thought to bring insights to your present life. All we need to do is put aside our analytical minds for a time and open our hearts. Years ago, my first past life regression (PLR) experience broke my heart.

During my session, the practitioner put me in a relaxed trance. Then she had me visualize my feet. What I saw was the tan, dirty feet of a young Hispanic woman. I was observing her surroundings through her eyes. In the mid-1800s, she lived on a poor dirt farm with her elderly father. At this particular moment in time, she watched her beloved disappear over the top of a dry grassy hill in the distance.

During my session, I sobbed at the deep sorrow I felt coming from her. She had spent hours watching the hill, her emotions fluctuating between the desperate hope that he would come back for her and the consuming grief that he had moved on without her. Every day for the rest of her lonely life, she awaited the return of this man. With no friends and no love in her life, she had only her father, who worked her to the bone. Every day was the same. As an old woman, she died not knowing if the man had ever loved her at all.

After the session, I felt a profound sadness. My body trembled in pain for this person. The only thing she wanted in her simple life was to be loved. Her story still haunts me, and I cry every time I tell her story. Was this woman made up from my imagination or was she a true past life? I don’t know. Real or not, it affects my writing.

I strive to write about those emotions that transcend all lives—to love and be loved. I’m compelled to write characters with deep backstories. I want readers to step into these lives and feel the power of their emotions as I did during my PLR session. I’d like to think the experience has made me a better writer.

Have you ever had a Past Life Regression (PLR) session? How did it affect you?

 

Holistic Science

Red Books

We are awesome. Not just me although I am! I mean our bodies are awesome. We have an innate ability to heal ourselves. A cut on our finger makes a scab for protection. A rise in our temperature kills viruses. Broken bones mend. In an amazing way, our bodies somehow know what to do.

Stress creates havoc within our bodies that can worsen into a vicious cycle. For example, stress may cause a headache, which, in turn, makes it hard to sleep. The lack of rest makes us tired. Fatigue prevents us from eating right or exercising, which causes more stress with more aches and pains.

Let’s start from the beginning. If stress causes a headache, the first thing we do is rub the area whether the headache is at the temples or the bridge of the nose. We do it automatically. Our bodies intuitively know what to do. We may then crave a cool washcloth or the heating pad.

From a science standpoint, we have four different types of nerve endings across the skin. Some detect heat and cold. Others detect pressure and pain. One type can override another. For instant, hot and cold packs or the Icy-Hot gels lessen pain just as finger pressure may override pain. Kids know that kissing the boo-boo actually works—the pressure over the pain.

Sometimes that helps. Sometimes that relief is temporary and we need a little extra help. Drugs help but usually have side effects that cause problems elsewhere. Doctors also recommend exercise or physical therapy. Many holistic modalities help break the stress cycle, so the body can heal naturally—like a reboot.

In Chinese acupuncture, the channels or meridians carry Qi (energy) throughout the body. Stress and pain can block energy causing other symptoms. The emptiness of energy in front of the blockage creates deficient symptoms like fatigue or depression while the buildup of energy behind the blockage creates excess symptoms like indigestion or insomnia. Acupuncture breaks it up and moves the Qi.

Stimulating reflexes on the hands and feet in Reflexology can help relieve stress and tension. Reiki helps replenish the positive energy. Massage over stimulates muscles which makes them relax. These modalities work on different levels—physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual—to create a healthy and balanced person.

Personally, I love reflexology or a good old fashion foot massage. Do you have a favorite? What works for you?