How I started my blog

I AM a Writer

I have always been a writer.

Writing is just part of what I am made to do. It is in my DNA.

When I was growing up, I wrote poetry just because it made me feel good.

As I started having children, beginning at the age of eighteen, I abandoned writing for the most part. Five children and forty-four years later, I was left with some time and space and suddenly felt overwhelmed with ideas about all that I could write about.

My experiences had taught me so much!

I could write a book about parenting. I could write a book about autism. I could write a book about emotional healing. I could write a book about anxiety (I had even taught a class on anxiety relief). I had already written a short memoir about my brief experience with cancer. A couple of these books I had already started, but finishing a whole book just sounded too daunting at the time.

Feeling lost after the beginning of this year, I had been doing some very earnest praying about how to find some kind of specific intention and the motivation to stay on a path, instead of wandering from one project to another, never really making too much progress on anything.

One Thing Leads to Another

I can’t possibly tell you how many times in my life on this spiritual path I have come upon the answers to my questions in very unexpected ways. In fact, most often, what I need the most just shows up in front of me when I have completely given up on trying to figure it out.

Nothing happens by mistake. Every little detail of life is a preparation for the “something” that is coming. The perfect orchestration of the Divine Intelligence amazes and delights me every time, even though I have seen it at work countless times through out my life, especially the last 30 years.

I was sitting on the love seat feeling at a complete loss about where to put my intention. All of my guidance was telling me to focus my intention, but I didn’t know what I wanted my intention to be! I was in that space of surrendering, opening my mind, and just breathing in and out.

As I looked across the room into the dining room where I  pile boxes of music, and baskets and totes from various things that I participate it, I spotted a canvas tote that a friend had loaned me to carry the materials around for my anxiety class. Well, I thought, I will just sort out that bag for now and return it to my friend. 

I pulled the black bag with large white and gray spots across the room and sat on the floor in front of the television. Removing all the contents and sorting them on the floor, I was reminded of the success of my anxiety class even though I live in a rather small city and the attendance was only a few people at best.

The last thing I pulled from the tote was a spiral notebook with a few pages of notes I had written about an online seminar I had watched. This seminar was about blogging. I can’t recall why I watched it or when. Maybe it was months ago, or even a year. It was given by Jeff Goins, a man I had never heard of prior to the seminar, nor paid much attention to since.


I browsed the notes I had taken about building an email list and other details involved in a successful blog.

At the end of my notes, there was a notation that said matt@30dayblogchallenge. As I like to say, that was the moment when the cosmic tumblers fell into place, I felt the click, and I knew it was what I was looking for, and the very reason I was finally cleaning out the totebag. I knew that this was the help I needed to do some small and manageable writing pieces to get me going for the larger projects.

I started the next day, and I am beyond glad that I did. Matt and the 30 day blog challenge have proven to be the godsend I was waiting for.

A friend once told me about a place I could go to start a blog and I attempted to do it, but wading through the technical parts always became the obstacle for me. As soon as I hit a wall with laying the necessary ground work, I would give up and walk away.

The 30 Day Blog Challenge gave me everything I needed. They sent an email with an educational and motivational video every day. Lydia of Screw the Cubicle is in all of the videos, and she is just delightful. I looked forward to getting up every day and listening to Lydia.

All of the set up was explained in detail. Step-by-step, I have been able to make progress on wading through the technical steps in getting this blog going. The writing is the easy part for me, but I can see how this 30 day blog challenge will be great help for those who may not have very much inherent know how.

I still have a lot to work out in terms of making my page(s) attractive and using things like the email list and forms to get people reading my blogs, but in the meantime, I am just grateful to be doing some writing.

I used to watch my chocolate lab when I would throw the stick into the water for him to swim out and retrieve. When he got back on the grass, he would jump and frolic and shake water all over. It was almost like he couldn’t contain the joy he was feeling. “That,” I said, “is what it feels like to do what you are made to do.”

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, to MATT  and LYDIA, and the              30 DAY BLOG CHALLENGE for helping me do what I am made to do!



Three simple steps to deal with panic

The Three Simplest Steps to Deal

There are many levels of anxiety, from a nagging uneasiness to full blown freak-out. You may have only one level of anxiety, a low-level but constant tension and feeling that something bad is going to happen, or you might sometimes go from perfectly fine to that state where you are sure you are going to die. (If you are at this place right now, scroll down to the three ways to deal)

It may help you to use an anxiety scale to measure how you are feeling. This will help you to be able to quantify where you are in each moment, and measure your progress as we go along. You might use this scale, or modify it in any way that will work better for you.

  1. Mild – somewhat uneasy
  2. Moderate – noticeable tension and other symptoms; still able to  function
  3. Severe – The need to “get outta here” increases; ability to focus decreases
  4. Panic- feeling of complete helplessness, increased physical symptoms

When we talk about “physical symptoms,” what are we referring to? Not everyone has the same physical symptoms caused by anxiety, but there are some that are often common. Sweating palms was a big one for me. Rapid heart beat, or, a perceived heart attack is another. Shortness of breath, nausea, tremors, headache, and fatigue are a few more symptoms that may occur with high anxiety. Some people even get attacks of irritable bowel  during panic attacks.

Quick Visit to the Doc?

Before we go any further, I want to assert that if you are having any or all of these physical symptoms, it is never a bad idea to consult with the physician of your choice. Though the thought of going to the doctor may be one of the things that causes you anxiety, finding out if there is something physically wrong with your body is extremely important.

A visit to the doc can rule out other conditions and set your mind at rest so you can say with conviction (and evidence from a professional) to yourself, “This is only anxiety.” If you are not wanting to use any medications for anxiety, just remember that the choice is yours, and you have the right to tackle this in the way that you see fit. If you decide to try medications later, a change of mind and another visit is OK.

The Voice of Panic

Panic has a script; things that is may be telling you, that, by the way, are not even true.  Again, everyone is not alike, but here are some examples of what might be going through your mind when (and after) panic begins:

  • I need to get out of here.
  • I can’t handle this.
  • I might be having a heart attack
  • My head hurts, I bet I have a brain tumor
  • Here it goes again
  • My life is horrible
  • I will never be okay

Everything in the body speeds up and the more these thoughts continue, the more the panic escalates. What next?



Breathe as slowly as it is possible at the moment from deep in your belly, inhaling through your nose. Keep your attention on your abdomen; put your hand on your abdomen just above the belly button; it may help to feel the expansion as you breathe in.

Count slowly to four as you inhale…………One thousand one……… thousand two………… thousand three………………………… thousand four.

Don’t worry if your breaths don’t match the count, just do it as slowly as you can; it will slow down as you go.

Now exhale, slowly, through pursed lips, as if through a straw.

With calming breathing, the exhale is the part we want to focus on the most.

Let the shoulders drop as you slowly count the exhale ………..One thousand one………….. one thousand two……………… thousand three……………one thousand four ………………one thousand five.

Exhale completely and think of letting everything go, slightly rolling your neck, unclenching your hands, sending relaxing messages to your lower back.

The next inhale will automatically come, you don’t have to gasp for it.

Continue this breathe. If you get more light-headed, remember to focus on your belly or even your feet. Thinking about your lower body helps move your energy out of your head.


Think of being at a crossroads. There is a stop sign . One path takes you to more anxiety, the other to a place of calm.

Say this to yourself:

  • This is only anxiety
  • I can choose a different path
  • I will breathe and think positive thoughts

Now take two more slow, deep breaths, expanding the belly and letting the body go “rag doll” as much as possible.


When I first learned about using calming self-talk and began using it in times of high anxiety, I chose the shortest affirmative sentences I could find (I would expand on them later, in times of a lower level of anxiety).

I bought square sticky notes and wrote just three simple sentences on each one. I posted them in locations where I would need them the most. For me, the main place for panic was in the car.

I knew that in times of great panic, I wouldn’t even remember what a positive thought was, so I posted the stickies where they would be easily found. Even this small act gave me a slight sense of security.

I started with these:

  • I am calm
  • I am relaxed
  • I am safe

another of my favorites:

  • I am calm
  • I am peaceful
  • My mind is quiet now    (then I would always laugh because my mind was anything but quiet; over time, though, my mind would become quiet)

Following are some other choices for calming affirmations. You might pick three of them that work best for you, or, if reading the whole list of them slowly helps you, you may do it that way. If you are really ambitious, you could make a recording of your own voice with some calming music that you can play for yourself.

Remember to breathe! (I like to inhale, then say the phrase on the exhale)

  • This won’t last forever
  • I can handle this
  • I can calm my body and mind
  • I am okay
  • I am able to let go of panic
  • I will get through this
  • I am safe and secure
  • I have confidence
  • I breathe easily and naturally
  • I am in control of my mind
  • I am feeling more relaxed

You might notice that the above affirmations are all in the present tense. Speaking present tense to the mind indicates that what we are affirming is happening now.

During calmer times, when not much is going on, you might work with some of these affirmations in the future tense; reassuring you and imprinting on your subconsious mind that panic will  become a thing of the past and projects your calm way of being into the future.

Remember to breathe consciously as you say these. Sometimes saying them outloud is of great benefit (Obviously, if you are affirming in public, you want to keep it in your mind).

  • I will eliminate panic attacks
  • I will feel more relaxed in my life each day
  • I will stay calm under pressure
  • I will control my breathing
  • I will be okay
  • I will stay in control of my mind
  • I will remind myself that I am safe
  • I will maintain focus and control
  • I will overcome feelings of panic

There are many, many videos on YouTube that can be easily accessed and help guide you to a more relaxed place in just a few minutes. I usually type in something like “relaxing meditations” or “calming panic” and check to see how long they are before I start one. The high strung part of me will get up and walk away if something is going to take an hour. For me, if someone is going to give a long lecture, it is far less helpful than 5 – 15 minutes of calming music and simple, soothing sentences.

If you find some favorite recordings to listen to and use the same one regularly, your body actually develops a sort of “muscle memory” response with them. I began listening to the same relaxation recording twice daily for many months.

As I have mentioned before, new habits can be tricky.

Be nice to yourself. There is no perfect way to do this. Let’s stay away from beating ourselves up or overwhelming ourselves.

It’s okay if progress is in baby steps. 

Remember to try something long enough to see if it works.

Here’s to a more peaceful life for all of us!





Your #1 Anti-Anxiety Tool – Breathing

Do I really need to be taught to breathe?

As I may or may not have mentioned in my previous blog, I did see more than one therapist along with a couple of doctors for my anxiety. One of the therapists gave me a couple of breathing and relaxation tapes to try out.

Since I already had a regular prayer/meditation practice, I could hardly see the use in these tapes, so I really didn’t listen to them until I had stopped seeing this therapist and she called to ask for them back (then I listened to them once before returning them). Now I understand that what she failed to tell me (and maybe she didn’t really know) was that the breathing was all important in calming anxiety, and that it would have to be done repeatedly and regularly to show results. 

When I think of this, I am always reminded of something I once heard a counselor say in a treatment center I was visiting for a family member. He said: “Try something long enough to see if it works.” 

Many of us have developed a shallow and ungrounded way of breathing, and this type of breathing can be a big contributor to anxiety. Deep breathing is  the key that unlocks the door to the mind/body connection that will help us recover.

Shallow breathing sometimes unconsciously takes hold as a way that the body strives to minimize the intensity of traumatic experiences. Think of how we sometimes “hold our breath” when we are afraid of something, consciously or unconsciously. Children or adults living in a violent or less than harmonious environment are able to facilitate a partial shut down by altering the breath. This usually happens unconsciously as a defense mechanism. The body adapts to the circumstances by going into survival mode, and this is part of it.

Another big influence is cultural. Media can get us fixated on the “flat stomach” being the desirable look for our bodies. Sometimes we even raise our shoulders toward our ears and suck in our tummies thinking that this constitutes a deep breath and looks good at the same time. The opposite is actually true.

Breathing well supplies oxygen to all the organs and systems of our bodies. Knowing this, you can see a big reason why a regular breathing practice will not only calm short term anxiety, but, by assisting all the organs and systems to work in a more balanced way, breathing makes the body feel like a safe place.

Confining breath to only the top part of the lungs creates a breath that doesn’t really fill the lungs. That sort of upper body breathing can actually produce a light-headedness, which, of course,  lends to a feeling of anxiety.

Breathing is one of the autonomic functions of the body, that is, it happens without us really thinking about it. Breathing can, however, be consciously controlled for periods of time to bring certain conditions within the body.

When we learn how to breathe deeply, it doesn’t mean that we want to be breathing this way all the time. BUT, practicing deep breathing regularly will not only calm our systems in the short term, but will cumulatively make our “at rest” breathing much more functional.

    OK, so how do I breathe to calm anxiety or panic?

If you have ever practiced yoga, been a vocal student, or been trained to play a musical instrument that you blow into, you already know some principals about deep breathing. You may be surprised to learn that this breathing is wonderful in calming anxiety, though you may have noticed that these activities have always made you feel “better” without knowing exactly why.

First of all, we want to begin this breath from deep in the belly (no, I am not saying that you breathe with your stomach; I use the word “belly” to indicate that we will let the abdomen expand. The breath is regulated by the diaphragm, and putting consciousness in this area, we allow it to function).

If you place a hand on your abdomen on or just above the belly button, you will feel that area expand when you are taking a proper deep breath. If it doesn’t expand much when you first try, or it feels weird to do it this way, don’t worry about it. Observing your breath and working with it may be completely new, so don’t agonize on how it goes.

Remember to keep your attention on the belly when inhaling, and remember the key word “slowly.” Thinking of this key word will have an effect as well. Anxiety equals urgency. Anxiety says I gotta get outta here. The idea here is to slow things down so that the body can feel safe.

Breathe in through your nose slo-o-o-owly and from your belly. Begin counting slowly. One……………………..two………………………..three……………four. If it helps to count this way – one thousand one (short pause), one thousand two (short pause), one thousand three (short pause), one thousand four – by all means do it that way. Remember: no pressure about doing it right or wrong. You can adjust your counts to the way your breathing is working at the time and make the efforts for a small change as you go along.

The Exhale

For anxiety, the main focus should be on the exhale. I remember movies or TV shows where they show the person who is freaking out at the emergency room breathing into a paper bag. There is something meaningful to this attention on the exhale. It reverses the body from gasping for air, and allows the body to let go. 

I encourage anxiety students to exhale as if blowing through a straw. We do this slo-o-o-o-owly,  of course. It isn’t about blowing the little pigs house down or getting your wish on your birthday. It’s about letting the breath out of the body, and paying attention to that process.

Again, slo-o-o-o-owly is the key word. Blow through pursed lips and count. Count slowly for as many seconds as it takes to exhale completely. One…………two…………………three…………………four………………………five…………..six. I like to make the sound of the wind as I exhale. I find the sound comforting.

As you exhale (it can be very useful to close your eyes and use your “inside eyes” for body awareness if you are comfortable doing that), be aware of your body. Let everything go “rag doll.” Roll your head a little from side to side like a bobble head. Let your shoulders drop. Place your attention on your lower back or anywhere else you may typically store tension – maybe your stomach. Send a mental message to the tense body parts to “relax.”

Internal Messages

Your mind and body are undeniably connected. With breath and gentle messages from your brain to a body part, great results can be achieved. The more you practice this, the stronger and more effective this connection will become.

I will spend lots of time in following blogs talking about self-talk and how we can use it to melt away anxiety and do many other things.

This is the most simple set of mental messages that I used a lot:                                      (for anxiety, especially panic, things have to be kept simple)

I AM CALM.                                                                                                                               I AM PEACEFUL.                                                                                                                       I AM SAFE.                                                                                                                                  (repeat slowly as needed)

When the exhale is complete, you may begin to notice that your body will automatically begin to inhale on it’s own if you just let it. Again, focus on your abdomen and slowly inhale. The slow and conscious exhaling will probably make each inhalation to follow a little slower and more relaxed.

This is a simple and basic practice you can try out for awhile. I suggest to students to think of a 3×3 practice. Three calming breaths three times a day.  Of course, if you are having panic attacks, you will want to practice it when the episodes happen and in between as well.

Remember to try it long enough to see if it works, and use it regularly if you want to see results.

Til next time, Happy day and Cheers!








Why Am I Writing About Anxiety?

         Why am I writing about anxiety?

Before I move on to impart the skills I have learned, I would like to tell you a little bit about why I have this burning desire to write about the subject of anxiety.

It was in 2001 that I began to experience constant anxiety accompanied by frequent panic attacks. Anxiety was something I was quite accustomed to, though I didn’t realize until these recurring episodes that I had been living with some level of anxiety for most of my life. One day in March of that year, I went to the emergency room, sure that I must be having a heart attack because I thought my left arm wouldn’t move. After an EKG and a short examination, they told me I was having anxiety, gave me a Xanax and sent me home.
From that point on, every time I heard or thought the word “anxiety” the symptoms would increase. I couldn’t sleep more than an hour or two at the most at a time.
The next five months were spent visiting a mental health office, becoming acquainted with a counselor and a psychiatrist. Along with the Xanax, used for quick relief, I was introduced to several other long acting anti-anxiety medications. Every single one of them made my anxiety worse. After a couple of days, I would call the doctor’s office in complete panic and ultimately stop taking whatever it was I was trying until I could get in and let the doctor take another shot at it.
It was near the end of summer when I decided that I would stick with one of the medications longer and see if I got used to it and let it work. It did not. With each passing day, I became more debilitated. My body simply did not like the feeling of those chemicals in my body. I don’t remember which medication it was or how many days I actually took it, but my feet and hands were sweating, I could focus on nothing, and was afraid of everything, and my mind just kept repeating, “I can’t do this, I can’t do this.”
I was living twenty-two miles out of town at the time, and I was scared to death of driving into town. I called my son, and he came with his girlfriend to drive my small children and me into town to stay with them for “a few days.” The psychiatrist had no more answers for me. We gave up the ghost on trying medications, and his only suggestion was for me to go to the local “state” hospital – a mental institution. Fortunately, my counselor was not in agreement with this idea. Even though I had no idea what to try next, I was not in agreement either. The Dr. took a long look at my chart and said, “I don’t know. Maybe do yoga. Oh. Wait! It says here you already do.”
It was during our stay at my son’s house, praying for answers daily, that I heard an advertisement on the radio. I was up prowling around at night eating left over pizza (food was the only thing that seemed to calm me just a little bit), and I heard Lucinda Basset of the Midwest Center for Anxiety and Depression. I believe the name is currently Midwest Center for Stress and Anxiety, located in Cleveland, Ohio.

             Finally!  Something that could work!

 I decided to purchase the home course. A few days later, I was on my way to working my way toward a more peaceful life. Slowly. But I was determined. First of all, I learned about what was really happening that caused my anxiety. In short, my sensitive body was responding to the thoughts in my very strong mind. My thoughts were mostly negative. I had no idea!  I had heard and read about negative thinking versus positive thinking, but had never really related those ideas to myself.

Because of my hyper-vigilance (which was heightening my anxiety and thus causing exhaustion) combined with a constant stream of negative thoughts, my body was stuck in a “fight or flight” mode more and more often. Fight or flight is a natural function of the mind/body designed to give a person the ability to run from danger or deal with a threat to one’s survival in a “pumped up” way.
In other words, if there is a tiger at the door, your sympathetic nervous system will send out hormones that will cause changes within the body so that you can either run from the tiger or quickly grab a gun to shoot it. The amygdala, the part of the brain that initiates the automatic part of this response, unfortunately can’t distinguish a real danger from a perceived danger. Therefore, if the mind is feeding the amygdala thoughts of perceived danger (fearful, negative thoughts), it reacts as if something is really wrong, setting off the physical response resulting in the physical symptoms of anxiety.
Even though listening to facts about anxiety seemed to increase my anxiety a bit, it was the knowledge that the woman talking to me had found a solution to her anxiety that made me feel just a little bit more in control. She was telling me that there was something I could do about it. I began to believe in the solution. Being highly motivated to not spend the rest of my life feeling that way, I embarked with extreme dedication to whatever she would put in front of me.

     Beginning with breathing. The cornerstone.

I accepted that my progress might come in baby steps, but focusing on that progress would be one of the positive ways to move myself forward. The first step was to practice breathing and relaxation daily. I used the cassette tape (yes, it was that long ago) in the morning and in the evening. At first, I even played the exercise while I was doing things around the house. Even though it was desirable to do it reclining or sitting and undisturbed, I found that listening to the relaxing suggestions through the day had a positive effect.
Identifying the specific negative thoughts generated by my “anxiety mind,” as I began calling it, was the next step. A lot of my negativity stemmed from worrying and imagining everything that could go wrong. Another large part of my negativity focused on mistakes I thought I had made, making mental notes every time I did anything that I perceived as “wrong” and scolding myself for it.
Again, I had no overview, really, of the nature of my thoughts until the anxiety program I purchased got me looking at them. The materials gave examples of different types of negative thinking; worry, scary thoughts, self-abusive monologues, fearful beliefs about how the world works. Then it gave examples of how to turn those thoughts to positive ones.
All that would be needed then was the willingness to observe the thoughts and redirect the mind to the new thought substitutions.

                                      Lifestyle Changes

There are some lifestyle changes that can help reduce anxiety substantially. Establishing boundaries with others is a very big issue with some anxiety sufferers. Learning to slow down is another. Additionally, there are some substances that may exacerbate the over-active nervous system.

The important thing is this: Don’t worry about all of these things right now. There is plenty of time to learn and practice new things. We have to learn how to keep ourselves from becoming overwhelmed. Trying to do too many things at once just feeds the anxiety mind more of the food it loves. I have found it best to focus on learning and implementing one thing before taking on the second thing.  So,first of all, let’s just focus on one thing; the most important thing. BREATHE.

                       Anti-anxiety Breathing

Let’s talk about breath. Breath is Life. Breath is our connection to our Source. Regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs, or even if you don’t have any, you will find that proper breathing connects you to a place inside of yourself where there resides a peace and quiet.

I will discuss in finer detail facts about breathing in my next blog, but for now:

Inhale slowly, from deep in your belly………..Let your tummy expand………count to 4 slowly…………………two……….three…..four..

Now exhale very slowly through pursed lips as if blowing through a straw.


exhale all of the air out and let everything go.  Drop your shoulders. Repeat three times and enjoy the feeling…….




How to Recover From Anxiety Without Drugs

My journey through constant anxiety, panic attacks, emergency room visits, medical doctor visits, counseling and psychiatric sessions before I found the solution that worked for me is a long story. It is all a story worth the telling and one that I’m sure many of you will relate to. I will touch on the details of those times in future blogs but for now, I just want to reassure you that for many people, finding relief from anxiety without the use of medication is possible.

I do not claim that the tools I have used to eliminate anxiety from my life will work for everyone. I will assert that everyone is different. If you use the methods that I have used to ease that ever present (or even occasional) fear from life, your condition may improve faster than mine did, or it may take a little longer. It is important to know at the outset that overcoming anxiety in the ways that I will write about takes commitment, determination, and a strong desire to feel better. This is not a quick fix.

There are no quick fixes for anxiety. Even most medications don’t work instantly and consistently. If you think that watching an anti-anxiety video on YouTube  once will fix things forever – think again. There are many great resources from many great people on YouTube and other sites; I encourage people in my classes to use them. The fact is, though, it has to become a regular practice. Try something long enough to see if it works!  Anxiety free living is a process and a lifestyle, not an event.

Before I go any futher, I also want to emphasize that if you are already taking medication for anxiety, please do not stop taking it without asking your doctor the safest way to accomplish tapering off, if that is what you choose to do. I will also add that sometimes people will work with the breathing, relaxation, and changing of thought patterns I will share while they are STILL using their medications, and still see results. In some cases, it might be ideal to get some tools at hand and work with them regularly before you may decide to decrease  or eliminate any anti-anxiety drugs you may be using. Using both medications AND the tools I teach may be what is right for you. In addition, I will never make suggestions or recommendations concerning your relationship with your doctor(s), but I will always  remind you that your choices are your own.

My program for anxiety includes 3 basic elements:

  • Breathing and relaxation
  • Cultivating positive self-talk
  • Emotional awareness

I will explain my understanding of how anxiety works in future blogs, describe how to use the elements listed above, and tie it in eventually with total emotional healing. My own experience with anxiety suggests that  some people prefer shorter items to read and digest as opposed to a long article that numbs the mind before it is over. I will gear my writing in concert with this notion. A little bit at a time; one of the main rules in anxiety recovery is “Learn how to avoid overwhelming yourself.” There are ways to do that, and we have control over them more than we might think.  I will do my best to follow this rule in my writing.

I thank you for visiting my site, and I hope to see you again.

Please feel free to email me at