Too Busy To Take a Vacation? Think Again by Taylor Lee

Can you buy a ticket to a better mood? Hop a flight to a healthier heart? The travel industry would say yes—and increasingly, so does science. And so do I. My guy and I just returned from four weeks in Grand Junction, Colorado. If you haven’t been there, add it to your must-visit list. Breathtaking mountain cliffs, red rock canyons, the hub of  Colorado’s wine country, beautiful golf courses nestled in canyons (check out my photo below)… and peaches!  I promise you once you eat a Palisade peach, you’ll never be satisfied with grocery store peaches again.

Vacation

Back to the benefits of vacations. For decades, researchers have been probing the benefits of vacations. Almost across the board, they’ve found evidence that vacations can positively impact everything from blood pressure to energy levels. But you do need to take those days off, a challenge for many Americans. “We’re one of the only advanced economies that does not guarantee paid leave,” says Brigid Schulte, author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time, and director of the Better Life Lab at the think tank New America. One in four Americans has no access to paid vacation, and those who do often don’t use it, she says. See her reasons below confirming why and how vacations positively affect our health.

Seven health benefits of taking a vacation

Studies have shown that taking time away from the job can have physical and mental health benefits. People who take vacations have lower stress, less risk of heart disease, a better outlook on life, and more motivation to achieve goals. If you still need a little convincing, here is a list of some of the additional benefits of taking time away from work.

  1. Improved physical health Stress can contribute to heart disease and high blood pressure. For both men and women, the New York Times reported, taking a vacation every two years compared to every six will lessen the risk of coronary heart disease or heart attacks.
  2. Improved mental health Neuroscientists have found that chronic exposure to stress can alter your brain structure and bring on anxiety and depression. When you take a vacation, feelings of calm arise and relieve stress, which allows the body and mind to heal in ways that it couldn’t if it were still under pressure.
  3. Greater well-being According to a Gallup study, people who “always make time for regular trips” had a 68.4 score on the Gallup-Heathway’s Well-Being Index, in comparison to a 51.4 Well-Being score for less frequent travelers. One study found that three days after vacation, subjects’ physical complaints, quality of sleep, and mood had improved compared to before vacation. These gains were still present five weeks later, especially in those who had more personal time and overall satisfaction during their vacation.
  4. Increased mental motivation Many who return from vacation are more focused and productive. Studies have found that chronic stress can make it difficult to achieve certain tasks and cause memory problems. Taking time off can be like getting a tune-up for the brain, improving your mental health and cognition.
  5. Improved family relationships Spending time enjoying life with loved ones can keep relationships strong. A study by the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services found that women who took vacations were more satisfied with their marriages.
  6. Decreased burnout Employees who take regular time to relax are less likely to experience burnout, making them more creative and productive than their overworked, under-rested counterparts. Another way to manage burnout is through the Oxygen Mask Rule: “Secure your masks before assisting others.” In other words, address your mental, physical and spiritual needs before committing to responsibilities benefitting others outside of your immediate family.
  7. Boosted happiness Research shows planning a vacation can boost your happiness. Some people experience an elevated mood up to eight weeks before the trip. The bottom line is, take a vacation if you can. When you take time away from the stresses of work and daily life, it can improve our physical and mental health, motivation, relationships, job performance and perspective. A vacation can help you feel refreshed and more prepared to handle whatever comes when you return.

As you plan your next vacation, be sure and add these great books to your “must take-along”.

EXPOSED

Exposed

FREE September 26-27

  • A renegade police officer infiltrates a dangerous cartel intending to take down its leader.•Little does she know that the handsome Drug Lord is a special operative hotshot heading up a mission two years in the making.

    •Learning who the outrageous woman is, the undercover commander does the only thing he can to protect the mission, and her. He claims her for his own.

And add to your must-read list our Author’s Billboard sensation:
Unforgettable Loyalty: Craving and Devotion

Unforgettable Loyalty

Is there anything more important in a relationship than loyalty from the one you love…

My book in the set is:

Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

Knockin On Heaven's Door

She’s a go-it-alone detective. He’s a psychiatrist and FBI profiler. A serial killer brings them together. In more ways than one.

Deacon Walsh has more degrees than any one man should. A former Special Ops physician, psychiatrist, and now FBI profiler, the stunning black agent has spent a year tracking the serial killer of four Colorado girls. When the trail goes cold, a brutal murder of an Albuquerque girl with all the marks of his victims convinces Deacon his killer is responsible.

Unfortunately, in addition to being brilliant, Deacon is also charming. And to Tyra’s dismay, as accomplished a lover as he is an agent.

Fellow Floridians, Beware of toilet lizard and iguana aggression

From Dave Barry– Miami Herald

Here in South Florida we’re accustomed to lizards, of course; they’re everywhere. When I moved here decades ago, the lizards were one of the things I had to adjust to, along with the hurricanes, the 250 percent humidity, and the fact that Miami drivers actually speed up for stop signs. But the lizards didn’t bother me, because even though there were a lot of them, they were small and cute and non-threatening. They seemed to spend most of their time just standing around doing nothing, like members of a miniature highway-repair crew.

The most aggressive lizard behavior I’d see was the occasional male lizard trying to attract a sex partner by displaying the skin flap under his chin, which is called a “dewlap.” Apparently it is a strongly held belief among male lizards that the chicks really go for a guy with a big dewlap. It’s kind of like weight-lifter human males who believe human females are attracted to large biceps and consequently wear tank tops everywhere, including funerals. But I was not threatened — nor, for the record, attracted — by the dewlap displays. I left the lizards alone, and the lizards left me alone. If I encountered lizards, say, on a sidewalk, they always respectfully skittered out of the way, in recognition of the fact that I was, compared to them, Godzilla.

But lately the lizards are different. I don’t know what’s causing it. Maybe it’s global climate change. But what’s really disturbing is that many of these appear to be a new kind of lizard: They’re bigger, and they’re uglier. They’re not the cute li’l Geico Gecko types. They’re
more along the lines of junior-varsity velociraptors. And they have an attitude. More and more, when I encounter sidewalk lizards, they do not skitter away. At best they casually saunter off in an insolent manner. Sometimes these lizards don’t move at all: They just stand there defiantly, giving me that beady lizard eyeball, clearly conveying, by their body language, the
message: “Why should I fear YOU? You have a small dewlap!” Which, much as it pains me to admit it, is true.

Perhaps you think I’m overreacting. Perhaps you’re thinking, “OK, maybe the lizards are getting bigger and more aggressive. But why should I care? I spend most of my time indoors anyway, so this issue doesn’t really affect ME.”
Oh really? Let me ask you a question: While you’re indoors, do you ever have occasion to use a toilet? I ask because of an alarming report I saw July 8 on NBC6 TV news. The report begins with a camera shot looking down into a toilet bowl, which contains a large iguana. This exchange introduces a report concerning retirees Janet and Bruce Bleier, who, since moving to Hollywood, FL. from Long Island, have encountered not one, but TWO commode iguanas. The first time was in October, when Bruce went to use the bathroom late one night.

Janet discovered the second iguana. She offers this advice to NBC6 viewers: “Look before you sit.” In both cases, the Bleiers called Harold Rondan, proprietor of a company called Iguana Lifestyles, who came and took the iguana away. (Iguana removal is a major industry in South Florida.) Perhaps at this point you’re thinking, “OK, so this one couple had two iguanas show up in their toilet. It’s probably just a fluke. It’s not like it’s an epidemic.”

Oh really? Well perhaps you would be interested to know that on July 10, just two days after the NBC6 report about the Bleiers, another local station, WSVN 7News, carried a report about another Hollywood resident, Michelle Reynolds, who came downstairs one evening and looked into her toilet. Guess what she found? She found an iguana. A LARGE iguana. “He took up most of the toilet bowl,” she tells 7News. There’s video of the iguana being removed, again by Harold Rondan of Iguana Lifestyles, who identifies it as a Mexican spiny-tailed iguana. Even by iguana standards, this is an ugly animal, and it does not look happy. You can tell by its facial expression that its goal in life is to grow much bigger so that one day it can come back and eat Harold Rondan of Iguana Lifestyles.

And that’s not the end of our story. On July 11, one day later, the Bleiers were once again on the local TV news. It turns out they had yet another toilet iguana. This was their THIRD.
So please don’t try to tell me this isn’t an epidemic.
I spoke by phone with Janet Bleier, who said she and her husband are trying, with the help of Hollywood authorities, to figure out how the iguanas are getting in, but so far they’ve had no luck. “We never, ever, walk into one of our bathrooms any more without checking. Even if we’re not going to use the toilet, we look.”

In case you think this epidemic is confined to Hollywood, I urge you to Google “toilet lizards.” You’ll discover that this has been going on for a while now, and not just in Florida; it’s happening in warmer climates all over the world.
So I repeat: The lizards are up to something. But what? Are they planning some
kind of coordinated attack?
I don’t have the answers. But for now we all need to do our part. This means keeping our toilet lids down, of course, but it also means standing up to the lizards and letting them know we’re not afraid of them, even though we actually are. The next time you encounter a lizard, either on the sidewalk or, God forbid, in your bathroom, look it straight in whichever eyeball is closest to you and tell it, in a firm, clear voice:
“We know what you’re up to.“ If it’s a Mexican spiny-tailed iguana, you should say this in Spanish.
Also, if you have a dewlap, you should display it. They respect that.

I was lounging peacefully on my chair, admiring the ocean, but something was rubbing right under my …
Try to imagine my scream when I saw that big iguana
coming from under my lounge chair.

I hope you enjoyed Dave Barry’s article, especially if you don’t live in South Florida!!!

I have two gifts for you–a free book BABY PLANS and a new book, published yesterday, HEALING PLANS.

HEALING PLANS
He’s a widowed surgeon, with two adopted minority children. She’s a lovely surgeon dedicated to her career, and she can bring him love, passion, and… a miracle.
FREE TodayBABY PLANS
Competing colleagues and past lovers, they meet at the artificial insemination clinic. Zach is researching the procedure for his article. Audrey is secretly getting a baby. When her secret explodes, all hell breaks loose,
but artificial insemination works in many ways…

How to deal with Stress

At some point, anxiety and stress affect everyone. They can manifest differently in different people, and the level of anxiety one experiences can vary. According to professionals, there are ways to manage anxiety, even if it feels out of control.

According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, here are some easy ways to cope when you’re feeling anxious or stressed:

  • Take a time-out. Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head. [Yoga and swimming in the pool do wonders for me]
  • Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals. Do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand. [ During the pandemic, I snacked on dry fruit and nuts, and added 10lbs].
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks. [When stressed, I increase my intake of alcohol and coffee]
  • Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
  • Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health. Check out the fitness tips below. [How come I feel so tired when stressed?]
  • Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly. [Easy]
  • Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary. [Easy]
  • Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn’t possible, be proud of however close you get. [Who cares about perfection when stressed?]
  • Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think? [When I’m stressed, everything is bad!]
  • Welcome humor. A good laugh goes a long way. [Yes, please. Give us a daily joke]
  • Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. [Positive thoughts come from daydreaming a new plot for a book]
  • Get involved. Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stress. [I did. It added a new stress!]
  • Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern. [All of the above]
  • Talk to someone. Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. [I often do, and then they complain I’ve managed to stress them]
  •  
  • If the above don’t work, talk to a physician or therapist for professional help.
  • OR READ A GOOD BOOK!!!

New Release KISSING PLANS (Love Plans Series, book 6)

From best friend to lovers. But she’s engaged. What better way to get rid of the undesired fiancé? Finding him a girlfriend.

To be Released on August 25 FAMILY PLANS (Love Plans Series, book 7)

The plane crash devastated two families and revealed painful secrets. Can a brighter future arise from those ashes at Christmas time?

FREE on August 18, 19, 20, 21 DATING PLANS (Love Plans Series, book 2)

Attraction sizzles between Matt and Brenda, and he bonds with Mia. Happiness finally seems within grasp for mother and daughter until the bullies in Mia’s class pull her into their web again.
Brenda’s past return to haunt her when Mia’s father enters the picture. Crushed by this new betrayal, Matt steps away. Is there any hope left for Matt and Brenda to build a future together?

Travel with Mona to Ancient Egypt

After a non-stop flight of about ten hours, we had a glimpse of the pyramids from the plane and landed at Cairo International airport. My husband had spent a month organizing our April trip with an Egyptian travel agent from the comfort of our home. He even booked a car with an English-speaking driver for the time spent in Cairo.

Our driver received us at the airport and drove us to Le Meridien, a five-star hotel, at about a mile from the airport. We were spending only one night, and flying early next day to Luxor. We had a delicious dinner of shish-kabob, avoided salad and fruits and sipped a cold Stella beer. We’ve been advised to stay away from any food that wasn’t grilled or fried, and drink sparkling water, to make sure the bottles weren’t filled with tap water.

After a night of rest we badly deserved, our driver took us back to the airport before dawn, and we flew to Luxor in Upper Egypt where the temperature could reach 110o at mid-day in summer. A new driver sent by the cruise-line met us at the Luxor Airport, loaded our luggage, and drove us to the first historic site.

In the time of the Pharaohs, Luxor was called Thebes, the most important capital of the civilized world. The Colossi of Memnon are two monumental statues representing Amenhotep III (1386-1353 BCE) of the 18th Dynasty of Egypt. They are located west of the modern city of Luxor and face east looking toward the Nile River.

The figures rise 60 ft (18 meters) high and weigh 720 tons each; both carved from single blocks of sandstone.
The statues depict the seated king on a throne ornamented with imagery of his mother, his wife, the god Hapy, and other symbolic engravings.

Temple of Hatshepsut was a funerary shrine to Queen Hatshepsut, a place for people to appreciate her power. The temple is cut into the stone of the cliff-side to make it seem as though it is a part of nature. Queen Hatshepsut was the the most powerful, female pharaoh.

You must walk up a long ramp to enter into the temple (reminiscent of the horizon).
We can see the symmetry of the columns (Egyptians didn’t know how else to hold up a roof!)
Though we can tell that she is female, she has many male physical features: her breasts are de-emphasized, she has the classic beard of the pharaohs, and wears the royal male headdress. Her masculine depiction is consistent with the upkeep of continuity and stability for Egyptian rulers (there is no word for “queen” in Pharaonic language–she truly saw herself as a king). 

By the time we finished visiting the Temple of Hatshepsut it was so hot we couldn’t wait to hide in a shady place. Our driver took us straight to the Nile River and our cruise ship.

During a pharaonic festival, the procession of gods would begin at Karnak and end at the temple of Luxor. Each god or goddess was carried in a separate barge towed by smaller boats along the Nile River. Large crowds consisting of soldiers, dancers, musicians and high ranking officials accompanied the barge by walking along the banks of the river. The people were allowed to ask favors of the statues of the kings or gods that were on the barges.

Cruising the Nile River
Aboard our comfortable ship
Along the Nile River
I bought table clothes and robes (galabeyas) embroidered with pharaonic designs. The merchants would throw them up to the ship and we threw the money in plastic bags. They were so cheap.

We spent two days in Luxor walking or rather rushing from one temple to another until I begged our guide to slow down. We could have easily spent four days for a more relaxed tour of the monuments.

Inside a ruined temple
One of several obelisks

The Luxor temple was not built in adoration to a god or to a god figure of the kings and pharaohs; instead, Luxor Temple was built in dedication to the rejuvenation of kingship.

One of the entrance with pharaohs statues.
An entrance with an obelisk

Its construction began by Pharaoh Amenhotep III and was completed by Pharaoh Tutankhamun.

A statue of Ramses II with
his beautiful wife Nerfertari standing by his feet
The Alley of the Sphinxes, the path of pharaohs, once connected Karnak to Luxor. It was a 2.7 km long road, with 250 lamb-headed and 807 human-headed sphinxes on both sides of the alley. In total, there are more than 1000 statues whose age exceeds 3000 years. The avenue was built during the reign of the 18th dynasty of pharaohs (about XVI century BC) and was used for the solemn processions of the rulers. It had been covered with sand for thousands of years. Its restoration began in the middle of the XX century.

On Day two, we visited the Great Temple of Amon at Karnak, This great national monument of Egypt has no equal. Built around 2055 BC, it is not a single temple, but temple within temple, shrine within shrine, pylons, chapels, and other buildings where almost all the pharaohs, particularly of the New Kingdom, wished to record their names and deeds for posterity.

As the new pharaohs changed entrance pylons, erected colonnades and constructed temples, they often reused valuable blocks from earlier periods. In the core of the Third Pylon built by Amenhotep III, for example, there were blocks of no less than ten temples and shrines from earlier periods. Though most of the structures were built in honor of Amon-Ra, his consort Mut and son Khonsu, there were numerous shrines within the complex dedicated to what might be called “guest deities’, like Ptah of Memphis and Osiris of Abydos.

In addition to the temples of Luxor and Karnak, Luxor boasts the famous Valley of the King that harbored more seventy tombs, including the tomb of Tutankhamen—famous King Tut. It is assumed that many more tombs are still hidden under the desert in this area. We visited four of the tombs going down the steps under the rock to admire the incredibly well preserved sculptured and painted walls. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures.

Tomb of Tutankhamen: White color: gypsum, calcium carbonate. Black color: carbon suit and coal. Red color: red ochre and red iron oxide. Blue color: from a mixture of copper, calcium and sand. Green color: malachite

To visit the Temple of Edfu, where the god Horus is honored, the cruise provided a horse carriage for our transportation. It was a lovely ride.

At night, we stop in a town called Kom Ombo and climbed a hill right out of the ship to visit a double temple dedicated to two different deities: the local crocodile-headed god Sobek (or Set) , and the first “god of the Kingdom”, the falcon-headed god Horus.

Set (with the crocodile head) and his wife
Horus (with the falcon head)

The next day we stepped from the ship into small boats that took us to the island of Philae, and the lovely temple of Isis, goddess of fertility. Built during the reign of Ptolemy II (Egypt’s Greco-Roman Period), the Temple of Isis at Philae is dedicated to Isis, Osiris, and Horus. The temple walls contain scenes from Egyptian mythology of Isis bringing Osiris back to life, giving birth to Horus, and mummifying Osiris after his death.

On Day 5, we disembarked at 4:00 am. A new driver led us to his car and waited with a convoy of 100 cars, with several police cars driving ahead, beside and behind us for tourist protection. After a two-hour drive, we arrive to Abu Simbel, site of two temples built by the Egyptian king Ramses II.

In the 1960’s CE, the Egyptian government planned to build the Aswan High Dam on the Nile which would have submerged both temples (and the Temple of Philae). Between 1964 and 1968 CE, a massive undertaking was carried out in which both temples were dismantled and moved 213 feet up onto the plateau of a cliff. We were not allowed to take pictures inside the temples where the statues and paintings beat everything we have seen before.

If you have a chance to take a cruise on the Nile River, you’ll never regret it. The sceneries are fabulous, the monuments unbelievable, and the shopping so inexpensive.

My book THE GODS OF DARK LOVE is the story of Isis and Osiris. It’s part of the box: Tangled Paranormal Nights which is free.

The Gods of Dark Love: The jealous god of storms Seth killed his brother Osiris and chopped his body. The goddess Isis, who loves Osiris, brings him back to life, and searches for one last missing part. But Osiris’s past threatens to separate them more than Seth’s mayhem and curses.

NEW RELEASE on August 2nd

KISSING PLANS, (Love Plans Series, book 6) available at Amazon

From best friend to lovers. But she’s engaged. What better way to get rid of the undesired fiancé? Finding him a girlfriend.