“There are times when we stop, we sit still. We listen and breezes from a whole other world begin to whisper.” -James Carroll
There is an abundance of peace in Caroll's words, and many more words and thoughts just like it are needed now, possibly more than ever before.
It feels, to me, that though our world appears more at peace than a century, two, or more ago, that there is an underlying vibration of growing stress and anxiety, and it continues to escalate.
We seek comfort in a variety of ways and places, such as home, family, hobbies, the outdoors, or whatever brings each of us a sense of calm.
“Within you, there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.” -Hermann Hesse
For me, nature is the greatest stress reliever, and as you notice from my blog, spending time in the kitchen is also a relaxing pastime. However, coming in neck and neck is getting lost in a fictional world. Add in tea, which even the act of preparing is known to help reduce stress, and you have the recipe for instant anxiety relief.
What about writing you might ask? Writing is immensely enjoyable, and I relish every second I spend with my characters, but it is also a tremendous amount of work, and we writers need time away from our own fictional words to recharge. But that is okay because visiting the worlds other authors have created allows us to still spend time in our imaginations.
"Reading has been shown to put our brains into a pleasurable trance-like state, similar to meditation, and it brings the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm. Regular readers sleep better, have lower stress, high self esteem, and lower rates of depression than non-readers." —The New Yorker
Of course, we readers already know the vast benefits of reading fiction. Sip a cup of tea, enjoy a tasty treat, and feel your body and mind disconnect from your troubles while you escape into a terrific tale.
When I'm feeling especially at odds with the world, I retreat into familiar stories. I may know everything that is going to happen, yet there is comfort in revisiting old friends and traveling to well-loved places in times past or present.
Other times, a new book and a new adventure are exactly what is needed. On a break earlier today, I started The Postmistress by Allison Stuart, set in 1871 Australia. I was quickly drawn into the story and can't wait to return.
The past few months have been spent heavily on research, which I tend to enjoy, but there have also been great changes with more to come, and while change is good, I do not always embrace it with grace and excitement.
And so, into the kitchen I will go. Perhaps kneading bread dough is what I need most in that moment, or whipping up a bit of chocolate or fresh berry sweet until I start to unwind. Then it is time to select a delicious herbal tea and sit down to read. This ritual has been enjoyed more in my mind rather in practice, but I hope it becomes a daily habit.
What relaxes you? Books? Cooking? A long walk in nature? I am in a more tranquil state of mind just from writing this post. It seems the mere thought of reading and sipping tea offers a bit of serenity.
Reading awaits me later, but for now it is time to take my recharged mine and return to writing. Before I go, let's talk coffee cake . . .
Since nothing was changed from the listed ingredients (just in the process), I'm not posting it here, but follow the link below and you can easily print it off. This was the first time making it, and the only thing I would have changed is to broil it for 3-5 minutes at the end for a crisper finish on the topping.
Get the Recipe >> Fresh Strawberry Coffee Cake
This coffee cake isn't too sweet, and like most desserts, a small serving is quite satisfying. The tea served with the cake is Cup of Calm from Traditional Medicinals. In fact, I'm enjoying a cup of the lavender and mint tea as I write this post.
“Set peace of mind as your highest goal, and organize your life around it.” —Brian Tracy
Now, for those who have made it this far, there is a . . .
Enter below to win a free copy of my next book (title TBA; a McKenzie Sisters Mystery) when it releases later this spring, plus Samantha St. Claire's next book in the same series!
Autographed copies are available for US addresses; e-book for international. Giveaway closes to entries April 18, 2021 just before midnight. One winner will be randomly drawn by the following week. Earn a bonus entry by commenting and sharing what you enjoy most about springtime.
Sneak a Peek Inside the Book!
This book is still in progress, so the excerpt might contain errors, and may change slightly before publication. This is a scene between Quinn and Cassandra shortly after they kind of meet. It's a brief snippet, and contains no spoilers. In fact, you'll be hard pressed to guess what happened before . . . and what happens next. These two are so much fun!
Quinn handed the derelict over to the sheriff. “I believe he’ll find your jail comfortable enough for tonight.”
The sheriff tipped his hat and hauled the man away.
“It’s a cold night.”
Quinn grinned. “Some might think it’s too cold for anything but long underwear.” Miss McKenzie—he’d really like to know her given name—pulled and overlapped the edges of her duster. “Might help.”
She narrowed her gaze at him. “I’ve seen you before. The restaurant.”
“You did see me, and I saw you.”
“Are you following me?”
“You mean, did I contrive to have the foolish deputy leave a wagon with gun powder across from the hotel in the hopes that a drunk imbecile would strike too many matches, thus causing one to hit the powder and—”
Quinn swore he heard her growl, but to be safe, he cast a quick glance around to make sure they were still alone, or as alone as two people can be in an open street. The water-soaked wagon and ruined powder stood between them and everyone else. He soothed his grin into a straight line and held up both hands in defense. “My apologies, Miss McKenzie.” He held out on of his hands to her. “Quinn Morgan.”
His mouth quirked. “An unusual forename. Your parents had an odd sense of humor.” This time Quinn was certain the growl came from her.
End of Excerpt. That's all you get for now! Stay tuned for the pre-order notification and more details as the story unfolds.
Thank you for visiting!
Be well, be kind, and stay safe.