Monday, April 27, 2015

W is for...WALK IT OUT

A to Z Blogging Challenge


Growing up, I hated any form of exercise, even leisurely walking, unless that leisurely walk took me to the ice cream store or bookstore. Or both.

I started walking when my kids were small because if I put them in the stroller and gave them a lollipop (I know—bad, bad mommy), they wouldn’t scream or otherwise make my
nerves go taught as a violin string for at least 20 minutes. I knew for at least 20 minutes every morning I would have peace and quiet, time to gather my frazzled thoughts. Soon, those walks became addictive. Sometimes, I went for two walks a day. Sometimes even three, depending on whether or not the Alien Toddlers felt like napping.

I soon learned another benefit of daily walking. It was a great way to work out the kinks in my WIP. Almost like magic, for the scene I was having so much trouble with, the one that had me staring at the blinking cursor until I could see it in my sleep, the solution would pop into my head. Oftentimes, my mind would be overflowing with so many great ideas, I’d extend the walk (with more lollipops) until I couldn’t wait to get home and onto the computer (after Alien Toddlers were napping, of course).

Creativity guru Julia Cameron urges all of us artsy fartsy types to take daily walks to restore our spirit and nourish our creativity. In her book, Walking in this World, she says, “The truth is that walking holds our solutions.” Before the walk, we’re stuck. After the walk, we’re miraculously unstuck.

Walking clears your head and focuses your thinking, it pulls your awareness away from relentless mind chatter to the gentle rhythm of the walk. The repetitiveness of each step after step gradually brings you into an almost meditative, deeper state. And this deeper state is where your creative mind is free to let go, to explore the possibilities and all the “what if’s.” This is when the magic happens.

It’s no secret that exercise and creativity go hand in hand. Stephen King is known to be an avid walker (unfortunately, he didn’t have eyes in the back of his head when he was hit by that car…). Henry David Thoreau wrote a book about it. And St. Augustine said, Solvitur ambulando—“it is solved by walking.” The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”

Great minds, great walkers.

I’m not telling you to go out there and walk as fast as you can until you’re all hot and sweaty and cursing my name. I’m talking slow and leisurely, people. Easy does it. Nourish that inner muse, don’t give it a heart attack.

Next time you’re stuck with your writing, instead of beating the tar out of your computer, calling your muse foul names, or scarfing a bag of Hershey’s Kisses, trying going for a walk instead. Your muse—not to mention your waistline—will thank you.

Rebecca J. Clark walks almost daily but swears her internal critic is following her. 


Friday, April 24, 2015

V is for VIDEO

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Today, V stands for Video. Because I couldn't think of anything to post on V-day other than Vacuum (boring!) I thought I'd post a funny video. This is some 80s style aerobics with Taylor Swift's recent release, Shake It Off dubbed over it. Good stuff. But OMG, did we really think those hair styles and outfits looked cool????


U is for... UP

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Today, U stands for UP, as in Legs Up the Wall Pose. It's a restorative yoga pose that feels SO good. It's great for your back. It's great for achy legs and feet. Great if you suffer from
varicose veins. It's super simple, too. Anyone can do it. 

Find a bare wall. Lie on the floor with your hips scooted right up to the place where the floor meets the wall. Your legs rest on the wall in front of you. Now, if your hamstrings are really tight, you might need to scoot your hips back away from the wall a bit to be more comfortable.

Once you're in position, just relax, breathe and enjoy! Spend at least five minutes a day in Legs Up the Wall Pose. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S is for... SUMMER ON MAIN STREET

A to Z Blogging Challenge

SUMMER ON MAIN STREET

I'm so excited to be a part of this new boxed set with these amazing authors. Several of the books (including mine) are
brand new, never released. 

The book I'm including is LEAD-OFF BRIDE, book 1 of my new Take Me Out to the Wedding series, about weddings and baseball. Of course.

Summer on Main Street is available now for pre-orders and releases June 23.



Available now to pre-order
Just 99 cents!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R is for... RUNNING

A to Z Blogging Challenge

7-Week Beginning Runner Program
(Personal trainer since 2003, NSCA & ISSA certified)

Thinking of starting a running program? Here's an easy one to try. Yes, I said "easy." There are a lot of great beginning running programs out there, but most of them are still too advanced for a lot of people.

One mistake many beginning runners make is starting off too fast, too long, too soon. It's going to take a while for your bones and joints to get used to the work, so take your time. Personally, I need to start out really slow & easy because I have foot and back issues to work around. If I do too much, too fast, I hurt. Bad.

So, I thought I'd share with you the program I created for myself. It works for me. Maybe it'll work for you, too.

You're going to work in five minute bundles. You'll do 4 bundles in a workout, plus warm up and cool down.  After the warm up, you'll run for the allotted time, then walk for the remainder of your 5-minute bundle. You'll repeat that combination until your workout is done. Then you'll walk for five minutes at the end to cool down. 

The running/jogging times are a suggestion. Don't do more than I suggested, but you can certainly do less and increase at a pace that's better for you.

You'll want to do this workout three times a week. No more than that. On off days, cross train by lifting weights, taking a class, etc.

Don't forget: 5 minute warm up walk to begin, and a 5 minute cool down walk to finish. Not optional. :)

Week 1
30 seconds--run/jog
4.5 minutes--walk
Repeat this bundle 4x
*If 30 seconds is too long, start with 15 seconds. Or 10 seconds. Then walk the remainder of the five-minute bundle.

Week 2
45 seconds--run/jog
4.25 minutes--walk
Repeat this bundle 4x

Week 3
1 minute--run/jog
4 minutes--walk
Repeat this bundle 4x


Week 4
1.5 minutes--run/jog
3.5 minutes--walk
Repeat this bundle 4x

Week 5
2 minutes--run/jog
3 minutes--walk
Repeat this bundle 4x


Week 6
3 minutes--run/jog
2 minutes--walk
Repeat this bundle 4x

Week 7
4 minutes--run/jog
1 minute--walk
Repeat this bundle 4x

This level is where I stay. Running/jogging continuously hurts my feet and back, but if I walk for 4 minutes and run for 1 minute over and over, that works for me. But if you get to this point and want to run for longer times, keep adding 1 minute to your running times each week, until you're at the level you want to be at. Perhaps your goal is to run 20 minutes straight. Or 30 minutes straight. Or to run 2 miles without stopping. 

You can do it. Try this program and let me know what you think. :)



Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is for... POSTURE

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Today we’re talking about posture. All of us know what good posture is—we can probably still hear our moms and grandmas and teachers telling us to “Stand up straight!” or “Sit up straight,” or “Don’t slouch!”
But now that we’re adults and don’t have our moms, grandmas and teachers around constantly to tell us what to do, we may have developed some bad postural habits.
Good posture is important for everyone, because it makes you look better (ie: taller and leaner), and it’s good for your health. Poor posture puts excessive stress and wear on certain joints and muscles. It looks bad and it causes pain. How many times have you spent a lot of time at the computer or behind the wheel only to have horrible back pain as you finally stood up? Better posture could help eliminate that pain.
This is of particular importance to writers because poor posture can hurt our creativity. I’ll explain.
Let’s try something. Stop what you’re doing and give me your worst posture, all slumped over and slouched. Staying in that position, take a deep breath and let it out. Now straighten up, shoulders back, chest out and take another deep breath. Notice the difference? Your breathing was much easier when you were sitting up straight, wasn’t it?
Slumping requires more muscle activity so it uses up more of our precious energy. Poor posture inhibits circulation, which means your body isn’t getting the oxygen it needs to function at its best. And if you remember from my last blog about exercise and creativity, your muse doesn’t do well without plenty of oxygen.
So, what is good posture?
When you’re seated, whether at the computer or behind the wheel, it’s sitting up straight, belly gently in, shoulders back and down, chin tucked slightly. When you’re standing, it’s balancing your weight evenly between both of your feet, pelvis just slightly tucked, belly in, shoulders relaxed and not hunched by your ears, chin not jutting forward.
You might find that holding good posture is not comfortable, maybe even it hurts a bit. This is probably because your chest muscles are so tight from hunching forward.
Here are some good chest openers:
Stand or sit with your back tall and straight. Clasp your hands behind your back, straighten your arms and raise your hands. Hold for 20-30 seconds while taking deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Stand in a doorway and lift your arms out to the side, your forearms resting on the frame. Lean forward into your arms, feeling the stretch through your chest. Hold for 20-30 seconds while breathing deeply.
If you have one of those big exercise balls, sit on one and walk your feet forward until you’re lying backward over the ball. Stretch your arms overhead or out to the side. Hold for as long as you want, at least 30 seconds.
Roll up a beach towel, yoga mat or exercise mat. Lie back on it, the roll centered along your spine, length-wise. Let your arms fall open to the sides. Straighten or bend your legs, whatever is most comfortable. Hold this position, breathing deeply for 3-5 minutes. It feels fabulous—you’ll love it.
Have I convinced you yet to work on your posture? No? How ‘bout this? Good posture will make you look 10 pounds lighter.
Now, stand up straight! Don’t slouch!




Friday, April 17, 2015

O is for...OLYMPIA BEER

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Olympia Beer? If you're younger than I am, you probably don't remember it. (You're not

missing much.)

I grew up in Olympia, home of the Olympia Brewery from 1896 to 1983 (then it became Pabst until the brewery closed in 2003). We used ride our bikes there and suffer through boring tours (we were kids) just to visit the tasting room at the end of the tour. No, they didn't serve kids beer. But we did get free pop, which was a treat back then. 

Eventually, we figured out how to sneak in at the end of the tour, so we could get free pop without having to endure yet another hideously boring tour. 

When I was in college, I found out my younger brother and his friends would sometimes sneak into the brewery...not for
the pop, but into the vat rooms for beer. I mentioned this to a couple of my guy friends at school and they insisted on coming home with me one weekend, and made my little brother take us with him.

So one night, we waited until it was late (after midnight). We pulled my car up next to one of the buildings under a fire escape. We stood on top of my car, reached up for the ladder, pulled ourselves up to it, then climbed up to the second or third floor (can't remember which one). That door was never locked for some reason. How my brother and his friends figured this out, I have no idea.

Anyway, inside was the vat room (don't know what it was actually called, but that's what we called it). Each of the many vats was full of beer. We had our thermoses and containers with us. We opened the vats, leaned way inside, and filled all the containers. Then we climbed back down the fire escape, back into my car, and drove away.

Yikes. Looking back, we could've gotten into SO much trouble. I was a good kid. I didn't break rules. I got good grades. I barely even drank. AND I hated beer. Luckily, the statute of limitations has long since come and gone. I feel safe sharing my story. LOL.

That's the only time I broke into the brewery (or anywhere for that matter), but I'm pretty sure my brother and his friends were regular visitors there in their dead of night vat dipping escapades.

P.S. I still hate beer.


"OlympiaBrewery1989" by Minnaert - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. "Olympia Beer label 1914" by Olympia Brewing Company - http://brewerygems.com/images/1914%20Olympia%20label.jpg. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.