9 Authors on hope

I had the good fortune of being invited to contribute to a Writer Unboxed article on hope. ❤️

Coronavirus has turned the world upside-down and wrecked havoc on life as we know it. Businesses have closed and employees have been furloughed. Few industries, including the publishing industry, have been spared.

With limited distribution, cancelled tours, decreased marketing dollars, and possibly decreased publisher support, Anne-Marie Nieves of Get Red PR realized that many authors launching books between March and May were likely struggling and feeling less than hopeful. But Ann-Marie had recently had a conversation with a client who, having lived through WWII, reiterated the importance of having hope each day. So Anne-Marie reached out to the book community and asked several authors (myself included!) to share–beyond family and faith–what gives us hope for our books and our launches during this uncertain time.

My response to what gives me hope each day is below, but if you want to read the full article you can find it here: 9 Authors on hope

“I’ve always considered myself to be a realist, someone who, by definition, accepts a situation as it is and is prepared to deal with it accordingly. Yet I also maintain a generally optimistic outlook with positive expectations for each day.

But I never imagined a situation where a virus would wreak havoc on life as we know it, where I’d be launching my debut novel in the midst of a worldwide pandemic.

Whenever stress, disappointment, frustration or sadness threatens to overwhelm, I hit the trails. Being in nature lifts my spirits, calms my mind and keeps me grounded. When I’m hiking or trail running, the rhythm of my feet hitting the earth brings me a sense of peace. I connect with my breath and shift my focus to the energy and beauty that surrounds me. Bright green blades of grass shoot from the ground and the wind whispers through the trees. Birds sing, flowers bloom and the stream trickles as it carves its serpentine path into the dirt. I always emerge from the trails feeling rejuvenated, my sense of purpose and hopefulness restored.

In What’s Left Untold, Anna, my main character, turns to running to find herself after becoming lost in the depths of depression and the demands of motherhood. Running empowers Anna to heal and to find hope.

During this uncertain time, it’s important to focus on things that make us feel happy and hopeful. Reading provides a specific type of contentment that comes from curling up with a good book and escaping into an imaginary world. I hope my book will find its way into the hands of readers at a time when they need to escape, to heal, to hope and to believe in better days ahead.” — Sherri Leimkuhler, What’s Left Untold, May 19

Coming to terms with coronavirus

green and brown coral reef

We are in the midst of a global health crisis the likes of which our generation has never seen. Yet, unlike the events of 9/11, when most everyone remembered exactly where they were and what they were doing when terrorists crashed two passenger jets into the twin towers, it’s almost impossible to pinpoint the exact moment the current Coronavirus pandemic derailed life as we know it.

In late 2019—seventeen years after a respiratory virus known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) first appeared in China—reports of a new, yet similar viral illness originating in Wuhan, China began to trickle into the news. The first death associated with this new virus was reported in January.

Around the world this news may have initially been met with some measure of detached sympathy and curiosity. We had seen this before. SARS—despite quickly traveling to 29 countries, causing large outbreaks throughout the world, and ultimately causing the death of 774 of the 8,098 infected people—was contained relatively rapidly, caused no deaths in the U.S., and has had no known transmissions since 2004. And so, upon learning about this new virus, the general public may not have felt any real sense of urgency. Rather, many of us may have responded to the news with a collective shrug and simply carried on with our busy lives.

44 Americans On The Diamond Princess Cruise Ship Diagnosed With ...

Then, in early February, news outlets reported that The Diamond Princess, a cruise ship with more than 3,000 people aboard, had been quarantined in Japan. While the ship was docked in Yokohama, Japan, businessinsider.com reported that the initial ten cases of the novel coronavirus ballooned to more than 700 over the course of its two-week quarantine, including 44 passengers who were flown back to the U.S. and were required to undergo and additional 14-day quarantine.

News of the cruise ship in Japan is what initially caught my attention. My daughter, an Ohio University freshman and a member of the university’s world-renowned marching band, the Marching 110, was slated for a 10-day tour of Japan in May with stops in Kyoto and Tokyo, and a performance in Disneyland. The rapid spread of the virus on the cruise ship gave me the first inkling that the 110’s trip abroad might be in jeopardy. By the end of the month, it was a certainty. 

Marching 110 Announces Japan Tour The... - The Ohio University ...

On February 27, Japan announced it had closed schools until the end of March and, the next day, Tokyo Disney Resorts reported that it had closed both of its parks due to the coronavirus. I sent my daughter a text with a link to the article on the park closures and asked if there had been any updates regarding the band’s highly anticipated tour. At the time, the tour was still a go, the band directors echoing the naïve hopes and expectations of many: that the situation would likely resolve itself within a few months.

Instead, the virus triggered massive outbreaks in South Korea, Iran and Italy, and by February 29th the U.S. had reported its first death on American soil. Five days later, on March 5th, Ohio University officially canceled the band’s tour, along with all other international programs, and, from there, the dominoes quickly began to fall.

On March 8th, 60 million Italian residents were placed on lockdown. Three days later, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a pandemic and President Trump banned travel from 26 European countries. By March 13th, the U.S. had declared a national emergency over the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Meanwhile, many colleges had already commenced their spring breaks. By the time Italy was on lockdown, my daughter and three of her friends were already in Florida. Four days into their trip, WHO declared the pandemic and Ohio University instructed students not to return to campus.

With the university closed and spring break extended, it made no sense for my daughter to drive back to her Ohio with her friends—all of whom are Ohio residents—so she decided to remain in Florida with her grandparents, who had hosted the group during their spring break. Adding to that decision was the fact that we had a recently purchased a car in Florida that needed to be driven back to Maryland.

While some people were ransacking store shelves—panic-buying hand sanitizer and stockpiling toilet paper—I was mulling how best to get my daughter, and the new car, home. Various driving and flying options were considered, but when my own trip to Sedona, Arizona was canceled out of an “abundance of caution”—a phrase which, given the circumstances, has quickly become part of our nation’s vernacular—my schedule was suddenly wide open.

For better or worse, and possibly because, like many, we were still operating in a state of denial—we were, after all, still four days away from nearly all U.S. states declaring a State of Emergency—I changed my Southwest reservation from Phoenix to Tampa. When Maryland announced it would be closing its public schools, I booked two additional tickets for my younger daughters and the three of us breezed through a deserted BWI terminal and were among a mere 40 passengers aboard the nearly-empty 175-seat aircraft. Throughout our travels, we bathed in hand gel and wore gloves on the flight as a reminder not to touch our faces or eat with our hands, and arrived in sunny Florida where, it seemed, the majority of residents were oblivious or indifferent to the rapidly evolving health crisis.

Editor’s note: This column is the first of three in a series about the coronavirus.


The many benefits of Yoga

Centering in Peru

The benefits of yoga are many and varied. Though not typically considered a “cardio” workout, cardiovascular fitness is indeed one of the many attributes of a regular yoga practice, along with increased flexibility, strength, balance, lung capacity and metabolism; improved posture, mood, immune system function, and mind-body awareness; lower stress levels and blood pressure; reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety; and an overall sense of fitness and well-being. 

Yoga is an ancient mind-body practice that is currently enjoyed by nearly 11 million Americans.  While some yoga practices are designed purely for relaxation and meditation, others, such as Ashtanga yoga, which health.usnews.com deemed vigorous enough to count as a cardio workout, are more powerful, athletic practices that emphasize strength and stamina and provide better cardiovascular workouts than the more common, gentler practices, such as Hatha yoga.

Group yoga class; balancing and bonding over books 🙂

Ashtanga yoga synchronizes theb reath with postures to detoxify the body and improve circulation. Ashtanga-yoga-canada.com notes that the practice strengthens the cardiovascular system, promotes weight loss and weight regulation, and improves athletic performance in all endeavors, adding that “when you actively engage in its process, Ashtanga Yoga will greatly improve the quality of life.” But there’s more to cardiovascular fitness then torching calories and losing weight. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. In the United States, approximately 600,000 people die of heart disease each year and nearly 935,000 suffer heart attacks. Most victims of cardiovascular disease are overweight, post-menopausal, or sedentary. Livestrong.com recommends yoga as a “gentle, beginner-friendly cardiovascular exercise—about as intense as taking a walk—that offers a host of other benefits and easily fits into a busy schedule.”

Practicing yoga lowers your resting heart rate and blood pressure, and reduces hypertension while strengthening the cardiovascular system. Stretching your body through a series of poses exercises the heart by forcing it to work harder to pump blood throughout the body, and breathing exercises improve circulation and lung capacity. A 2003 article in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology confirmed that regular yoga practice slows the normal age-induced rise in heart rate and blood pressure, and a report by the Lerner Research Institute notes that while anxiety and depression can cause or worsen cardiovascular disease, the calming effects of yoga can prevent heart problems from occurring or intensifying.

Additionally, Livestrong.com cited a research review published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine that found that for both healthy and unhealthy people, yoga provides the same, or better, protective cardiovascular benefits as other types of exercise.

Despite the many cardiovascular benefits of yoga, the practice alone is not necessarily sufficient for you to remain fit and reach your specific fitness goals. According to yogajournal.com, “If you are just doing 15 minutes of gentle yoga stretches three to four times a week, you will also need to do some other form of exercise to stay fit,”

As webmd.com suggests, “the only way to be certain of all that yoga can do for you is to try it for yourself and see.”


Transitioning from treadmill to the tarmac

Image result for treadmill running pic >>>    website SLS3 run

When it comes to weather, there are two types of runners: those who run outside year-round, and those who retreat to the treadmill when rain and snow and temperatures begin to fall.

For those like me who abide by the U.S. Postal Service’s unofficial motto that “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” will keep us from logging our miles outside, the changing seasons amount to little more than a minor blip on our running radars.


But if weather, daylight, childcare or other circumstances forces you to run indoors for long periods of time, transitioning to outdoor running can be a shock to the system. One reason for this is because, while running on a treadmill mimics the same mechanical motions as running outdoors, it doesn’t condition the body to withstand the same level of impact created when landing on pavement. Another is that the treadmill doesn’t require the extra muscle power needed to push your body forward without the assistance of a moving belt.

According canadianliving.com, fitness expert and Sporting Life 10K ambassador Brent Bishop notes, “It’s very easy for a seasoned runner to go from running inside to outside and to end up with joint issues.”

Simply put, running on a treadmill is easier than running outdoors. In addition to a treadmill belt, which assists with leg turnover and makes it easier to run faster, treadmill runners do not have to grapple with elements such as hills, wind, temperature and variable surfaces that impact outdoor running.

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The first and most important step to transitioning to outdoor running is to start slowly. Before heading outdoors, canadianliving.com recommends “raising the incline of your treadmill to about 1.5 percent to replicate the difficulty of running outdoors,” and adding workouts that “intersperse intense intervals of very fast running on an incline with short periods of walking” to increase running pace and endurance.

When running outdoors, it’s also important to remember that what goes up must come down, and downhill running exerts more force and pressure on your muscles which is why, according to Bishop, “downhill running will make you very sore the next day.”

It is also unrealistic to expect to maintain the same pace outdoors that you’ve become accustomed to on the treadmill. Without a moving belt to control your speed and help propel your body every time your foot touches the ground, canadianliving.com cautions that, when transitioning to outdoor running, “it’s easy to overestimate what speed you can sustain, then burn out before the run is over.”

In addition to decreasing pace and mileage to ease the transition, runnersworld.com recommends adding a one minute walking interval for every mile of outdoor running to “cut the impact forces and allow you to cover the distance with less risk of soreness.”

If you’ve decided to swap the treadmill for tarmac, you may also want to consider hitting the trails. Running on soft surfaces such as grass or dirt is easier on your body, aids in recovery from longer, tougher runs, and is a beautiful and peaceful escape from busy roads and noisy cities. However, for added safety, womensrunning.com recommends sticking to well-marked areas and bringing a friend.


Also, weather you’re running on roads or trails, it’s important to carry some additional essentials with you such as identification, a cell phone, and some cash or a credit card. Womensrunning.com also suggest bringing a transit card if you live in a city “in case you end up further from home than anticipated.”

An additional perk of running outside is having the opportunity to swap isolation for socialization. Consider joining a running group, training for a race, or planning a destination run with friends to a favorite coffee shop, brew pub or restaurant.

Allison run

It’s always a good idea to drink plenty of water when you exercise, but especially when running outdoors. “The warmer it is, the more you sweat and the more water you need,” canadianliving.com notes. And eating plenty of protein is also important, the site adds, because exercise tends to damage your muscles to a small degree. “When you’re running, you’re going to get microscopic tears in your muscles,” Bishop explains, so eating protein, particularly after a run, can help repair muscles and prepare them for the next workout.

So as the days grow longer and the temperatures get warmer, tempting indoor runners to trade treadmills for tarmac, remember to make the move gradually, be patient with the pace, listen to your body and, most importantly, be safe and have fun.



What’s Left Untold: A novel — coming Spring 2020

What’s Left Untold: A novel

Coming Spring 2020

What's-Left-Untold Cover 1877x3000

Every secret has its price.
Anna Clark and Lia Clay were unlikely best friends in high school, their yin-and-yang personalities drawing them together in a sister-like bond. But during college, Lia inexplicably walks out on their friendship and disappears, leaving Anna hurt, confused, and disillusioned.
Twenty years later, Anna discovers a letter Lia wrote the summer after high school; a letter containing a cryptic postscript concealing a devastating truth. With her twenty-year high school reunion approaching, Anna moves closer to uncovering the secret in Lia’s letter and the devastating consequences it set in motion.
As the layers of deceit and betrayal begin to unravel, Anna is forced to question everything she believes and come to terms with what it means to forgive the one person who hurt her in the worst way imaginable.

Your wheels can keep spinning indoors

Triathlon pics

When it comes to cycling, I love to feel the sun on my skin and the wind in my hair, and I relish the exhilarating thrill of a fast and furious downhill after a long, arduous climb. But as a fair weather cyclist, even mild winter conditions is enough for me to give outdoor riding the cold shoulder.

Image result for sherri leimkuhler cycling

So whenever the weather or other obstacles—such as work or available daylight or childcare—would get in the way of riding outdoors, I’d hop on the bike trainer to get my cycling fix. In fact, I have known several triathletes who’ve trained almost exclusively on a bike trainer and have gone on to successfully complete their races, including those who were training for an Ironman distance triathlon, which includes a 112-mile bike ride.

website IMAZ finish

While spinning indoors on a stationary bike is undoubtedly a good workout, the biggest benefit of using a bike trainer is that you can use your own bike; the same bike you use for riding outdoors. As healthyliving.azcentral.com notes, this is important because “spending time on your outdoor bike in an indoor setting also conditions you to the seat, which can be very different than the wider, cushier models often featured by stationary upright bikes. Your outdoor bike is fit exactly to your measurements to optimize your riding form and power. You can approximate a good fit on a stationary, upright bike, but it won’t be as precise as your own ride.”

When using a bike trainer, the back wheel of your bike is attached to a mount while your front wheel rests on a block. “You shift your gears just as you would out on the road to make your pedaling more challenging,” the site adds, which allows you to practice efficient shifting techniques and adjust the resistance as needed to practice strength and power intervals. A trainer is also small and easy to transport, which makes it an excellent option if you like to train when you travel or warm up on your bike before races.

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An alternative to an indoor bike trainer is to use bike rollers, an option that still allows you to use your own bike but one that requires more balance and concentration.

According to cyclingtips.com.au, using rollers is an excellent way to perfect spinning technique because “once you get sloppy with your spinning, you’ll quickly become unstable and you’ll be forced to correct it.” Rollers will not, however, allow you to perform all-out sprints or power intervals while standing as this can knock you off balance.

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With rollers, the faster you pedal, the more stable you are and, for some, the added concentration required to remain balanced makes rollers a less boring option when you are forced to train indoors. Also, as using rollers requires continuous perfect technique, the absence of any downtime makes for very efficient training.

If you’re unsure whether a trainer or rollers is the right indoor option for you, cyclingtips.com.au suggests going for a trainer if you want variable resistance workouts that require a lot of power, and rollers if you want to improve your spinning technique and base fitness.