A couple weeks ago my lawnmower broke.  I’ve been struggling with it most of the season because I’ve had trouble starting it.  The upshot has been a summer of physical therapy due to bicep tendonitis.  Ouch!!

The good news is I’ve found great professional support for my bicep tendinitis.

My physical therapist, Curtis at Assessment Rehabilitation Management (ARM), is incredibly skilled at teaching me exercises that really help.  I’ve also found an amazing massage therapist, Tish Heath,  who uses many healing modalities leaving me pain free when she’s done.

Pausing here for a moment to invite you to think of your own health as I relay this story and see if you can substitute your own set of issues (or those of your loved one) for mine as I continue my story.

The bad news is that the lawn mower couldn’t be fixed.  I really appreciated having it because it was lightweight and easy to use.

However, here’s the silver lining.  Midwest Power Equipment is a locally owned company and they have bent over backwards to help me.  John, one of the owners, has been to my home three times bringing with him 4 lawnmowers for me to try out to find one to suit my needs.

I felt really embarassed about being such a “weakling”; the story I told myself was I am way too high maintenance which of course just made me feel even more ashamed about not being able to just work with any lawnmower.  Though my son is home off and on, I hate asking for help – I guess my pride gets in the way.  I choose to mow it myself as I’ve got bigger financial priorities.

Most people think of lawnmowers in terms of how they cut their grass.  Because of my tendonitis, I think of lawnmowers in terms of how heavy they are and whether I can manage them without feeling like I’m being tortured.  I also know better than to think that I’m the only one who has issues like this and yet I still feel so ashamed to admit that I need help.

And isn’t that why we’re all here on this earth together?  We’re here to help each other and that’s exactly what has happened to me.

John has been endlessly patient with me as I’ve given him feedback.  One was too heavy, another almost pulled my arms out of the sockets as it dragged me across the lawn (we had a good laugh on that one), and  another had a pull cord which I absolutely refuse to ever deal with again.  We finally found one that is a battery powered lawnmower with no pull cord that meets my needs.

When we struggle with our physical or mental health, not only do we need good healthcare providers but we need help with the practical things of life.  How we handle daily life, including maintaining our homes and taking care of our loved ones, deeply affects our self esteem and sense of independence.

John would love to help more people like me who need to take care of their lawns and have health issues. He said he learned a lot from dealing with me because he never realized how painful mowing a lawn can be.  I found his attitude welcoming and refreshing.

I am passionate about helping those struggling with their health find ways to mow their lawn, play with their kids and enjoy their lives in ways that matter to them, without injuring themselves. 

I want to introduce John to my healthcare providers so they can link their patients up with Midwest Power Equipment so they can get personalized service at reasonable prices.  I want all local healthcare providers to know Curtis and the staff of Assessment Rehabilitation Management (ARM) and also Tish Heath.

I’m not sure how to link up great professionals with each other – because I sense there is a big network of good people who should know about each other – but I’m very open to suggestions.  In the meantime, I’ll be making some phone calls to introduce these three to each other.

I have been blessed with some amazingly talented resourceful professionals as I deal with my own health issues.

Finding the good in other people and our own circumstances is often overlooked.   It’s been hard having hand and arm pain; it truly cramps my style.  I won’t tell you it’s a picnic to mow my lawn.  However, I will tell you that my team of healthcare professionals as well as John from Midwest Power Equipment has truly been a Godsend to me and for that I’m very grateful.

Although I’ve shared my own story, I invite you to think about yourself or someone you love who may be struggling with a health issue.  What comes to mind as I say that?  What’s been hard about this?  What’s the silver lining?   Is there someone who has made your experience a little bit easier?  It would be great if you’d like to share your resources here by leaving a comment below.  You may also want to tell those kind people how grateful you feel – I know they will appreciate your feedback.

I’m a huge fan of Survivor and, for those of you who don’t know, they just began a new season.  There are many reasons I love this show but one of the biggest is that there are some valuable life lessons.

Because I’m so enamored with how we manage our health and communicating clearly with our providers, I see almost everything in life as in some way analogous to healthcare.

So, without further ado, here’s are the life lessons I noticed along with the analogy to your health issues:

1.  What’s the biggest obstacle for the team?  Trust!  This was the assessment that the host, Jeff Probst, made at tribal council about the losing team.  Their biggest obstacle was trusting each other.

The Healthcare Analogy:  When you’re trying to understand what’s going on with your mental or physical health, trusting the people who are helping you is your biggest obstacle.  That includes not only trusting that they have the expertise you’re looking for but also trusting that they are the right provider for you.  I suggest you read this on choosing the right healthcare provider for you to help figure out what you’re truly looking for in terms of support.

2.  Find people who are loyal with you and stick with them:  This is Coach’s approach to the game so he says.  His game is built on loyalty and integrity, though he doesn’t define those terms clearly.

The Healthcare Analogy:  Finding healthcare provider’s can be tricky.  If you’ve been struggling with your health for a while and have had an ongoing relationship with your healthcare provider, even if it’s been less than perfect, you may feel loyal because you share so much history together.  On the other hand, it’s important to always look out for what’s in your best interest (since your healthcare provider works for you) and explore what’s going on when things feel unsettled

3.  Don’t shoot  yourself in the foot:  Brandon wants to get rid of a very strong player, Mikayla, because she represents a threat to him.  It seems he feels attracted to her, equates her with Pavrati who was a villain on a previous series and can’t get past it.  It would not be in the best interest of the team to get rid of a strong player at this point in the game as it would affect their ability to win challenges.

The Healthcare Analogy:  If you have a healthcare provider who is a good fit but something feels unsettling, I suggest you do your best to talk with your provider about what’s not working to see if you can address the issue together.  For example, if your doctor does a great job of diagnosing your problem and offering good options that work for you but you’re having trouble getting prescription refills, ask whether she’d be willing to put a refill on the original prescription rather than having to get a new one.  If you find that things are really not working out and that you need a new provider, I invite you to create your own Patient Power Manifesto and then interview professionals to see if they are able to offer what you’re looking for.

If you follow Survivor, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.   What life lessons did you see demonstrated in the show?  Do you see any analogies to how you handle your health and what you saw?

Tune in next week for life lessons and healthcare analogies from  episode 3 of season 23 Survivor South Pacific!!




I’m a huge fan of Survivor and, for those of you who don’t know, they just began a new season.  There are many reasons I love this show but one of the biggest is that there are some valuable life lessons.

Because I’m so enamored with how we manage our health and communicating clearly with our providers, I see almost everything in life as in some way analogous to healthcare.

So, without further ado, here’s are the life lessons I noticed along with the analogy to your health issues:

1.  Use the twitter version to explain your story:  During Tribal Council (where a player is eliminated) one of the characters, Cochran, explained how he may be perceived as a nerd, but despite his translucent skin, sweater vest, and blah blah blah he is an asset to the tribe.  You could see on the faces of his tribe that his explaining wasn’t helping to keep him on the tribe.

The healthcare analogyUse the free Appointment Preparation Worksheet from my website to explain what’s going on with you when you go to see your healthcare provider.  By thinking through your situation ahead of time, you’ll be able to focus on what you most want to get resolved.

2.  Don’t try and hide your tattoo:  One of the characters. Brandon. is the nephew of Russell, a previous cast member on Survivor who was notorious for being a villain.  His last name, Hanz, is literally tattooed on his back and on his upper arm.  His strategy is to make an excuse for never taking off his shirt despite the fact that they are in the South Pacific where it’s hot, and the tasks are grueling.

The healthcare analogy:  Be honest with your healthcare provider about what’s going on with you.   For example, if you’re going to see your psychiatrist and you’ve been really struggling with depression, you may also feel a “tattoo of shame”.  You so wish it wasn’t true; you don’t want to associate yourself with it.  It’s been my experience that the more honest we are with our healthcare provider’s about what we’re truly struggling with (rather than hiding that “”tattoo of shame), while also being succinct, the more likely it is that they can address our needs appropriately.

3.  Ask for help and work as a team:  The first challenge was between Ozzy and Coach, who are well known cast-members who were brought back to join the show this season.  This began as an individual dual and Ozzy quickly turned it into a team dual when he had to put a puzzle together and couldn’t see the big picture.  He did this by saying:  “Help me out guys!”

The healthcare analogy:  When you have chronic pain or a mental health issue, it’s absolutely vital that you ask for help and work as a team with your healthcare provider as well as close family and friends who want to be supportive.  Other people who are on the outside looking in can often see the big picture and offer you a perspective on things when you’re too close to see it yourself.

If you follow Survivor, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.   What life lessons did you see demonstrated in the show?  Do you see any analogies to how you handle your health and what you saw?

Tune in next week for life lessons and healthcare analogies from  episode 2 of season 23 Survivor South Pacific!!



A Prescription for Life

September 9th, 2011

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen


I hope this provides a source of nourishment and focus for your day.

If you’re living with pain , my wish for you is to find a way to understand your needs, express them in a way that you can be heard and know that there is hope.

If you want support or a listening ear, contact me.

Sending you love, light and many blessings.

It’s hard to be sick. Whether you’re struggling with feeling anxious, sad, or having back pain, it’s even harder if you’re the only one who really knows what you’re going through and others just don’t get it.

What I’ve come to realize with my own physical and mental health is that I’m the first one to know when something’s not quite right and the best one to help myself through it.

I’ve come to embrace that I’m responsible for my health. And, as I offer Your Health Your Way, you have the same opportunity: to realize you’re the first one to know how you’re feeling and the best one to help yourself through it.

One thing I want to be very clear about is that being responsible for your health doesn’t mean beating yourself up because you’re struggling. That’s cruel and unnecessary. And PS – it doesn’t make you feel better anyway.

You are not weak. You’re doing the best you can. Also, if you’re thinking that willpower is what you need more of and if you’d just “do what you know you need to do” this would go away, that’s just one more way of beating up on yourself.

For example, you may realize that exercise first thing in the morning really works to life your mood. Yet, at the same time, perhaps you wake up with such paralyzing anxiety that you can’t get out of bed much less exercise. You know it works, but you can’t do it.

There may be many mornings where you force yourself through it and notice that yes, it worked.

But, what I’ve learned over time is that strong-arming yourself through anything is just one more way to be mean to yourself. Eventually, most people rebel and get discouraged and quit doing the things that help.

So, what do you do when you already know what helps but can’t get yourself to do it? We’ll take that question, and others, and answer them in Your Health Your Way.

Depression, by it’s nature, is so insipid that one of the lies it tells us is “we’ve always felt this way and it’s never been any different.” Physical pain works the same way: whether it’s intense, comes and goes erratically or is chronic, the lie it tells is it’s always been that way and will never let up.

What I want you to know is that you are so much more than whatever you are going through right now, regardless of what you think. And there are simple tools that can help you feel better.

There is hope and help for you. It’s right here.

There may be legitimate things that have you worried. The economy, your health, your loved ones – all of those very real circumstances can cause you to feel sad, hopeless, anxious, frustrated, and create back pain among other things.

This class won’t solve your specific problems – but you will. It will give you the tools to feel better and, as you feel better, you will be able to think more clearly. You will find yourself taking action about whatever has you worried like the economy, your health or you loved ones. That’s the power of Your Health Your Way.

I truly believe that life is a series of small steps, taken one at a time. The first step (which is also the name of my business as you know!) is to find that part of you that cares so much about your well being. Ask your heart whether Your Health Your Way is right for you. Sign up for the teleclasses; you’ll get recordings if you can’t attend live.

Or, maybe as you’re reading this, you know I’m not talking about your situation. But, perhaps, you wonder whether one of your friends or family members are going through this. If you’ve been feeling frustrated and helpless because you don’t know what to do to help them, send them this blog post, with a note that says you thought of them and wondered if they may be interested.

Whether you choose to look at the course for yourself or send it on to someone you care about, I promise that I will share some do-able ways to feel better in ways you simply can’t anticipate. Questions? Concerns? Let me know – I’m here to help you manage your daily life in ways that work for you.

My work with mental health has been developed from my own school of hard knocks.  Sparing you the details, I’ve struggled with the ups and downs of depression, anxiety and pain for a good part of my life.

It has been my life’s work to develop the Home Depot store of tools to help me find ways to feel better. From a simple screwdriver (sometimes that means exercise or a deep breath) to a complete remodelling project (that may include a meltdown and rebuilding myself from the ground up) – I am a work in progress when it comes to this stuff.

I believe I’m being asked by God to share my tools with you so that you can feel better.

That why I developed Your Health Your Way.

This morning I woke up with the all too familiar morning anxiety.  Here’s a snippet of it:  “Oh Jeez, what am I going to do about Borat (my furry friend), who has no voice ?  I can’t take it anymore.  What’s the use?  Why bother? There is no use.  And I’m so sick of all this stuff happening over and over again.  Why?????”  I felt my jaw clenched, noticed I was  holding my breath, and couldn’t move.

I should be used to this by now yet it always takes me by surprise even though the messages I get are the same repetitive ones that reverberate in very familiar patterns throughout my body.  As this went on for a bit and I was able to recognize the familiar tone (because the plotline changes but not the theme) an image appeared.  I saw myself standing on a bridge watching these thoughts pass below in the form of a very long train.

Then, I remembered these three simple word:  I Choose Peace.

I Choose Peace and that means. . . .  A deep breath, moving my left foot onto the floor.  Then one foot in front of the other.  If you’re reading this and you don’t deal with these particular issues, feel free to substitute whatever you may be struggling with. 

You can borrow my image of standing on the bridge looking at your train of thoughts and feelings, and see if the phrase “I choose peace” provides some insight.  Or maybe you have a different phrase or word that you’d like to use instead.

As I write this, there’s that familiar kernel of shame that says don’t be this honest and no one else feels this way.  What’s wrong with you?  Whenever I hear that phrase “what’s wrong with you?”, I know something’s up.  It’s my way of  kicking myself when I’m down.  Because I’ve had way too much practice with that phrase than I’d like to admit,  it’s easier for me to  remember my core belief that there’s nothing wrong with any of us.   Some thoughts and feelings may be twisted, but that’s not a sign that I’m a failure or an idiot.

As my husband used to say, “We’re all bozos on this bus doing the best we can.”

Your Health Your Way is my personal invitation to you to befriend those parts of yourself that are struggling with anxiety, pain or depression with some tools that we will customize to work for you, and adapt to wherever life takes you. Whether you choose to attend the calls live and participate or listen to the recordings, you’ll find practical ways to get through the ups and downs of dealing with changes in your health or mood  and feel better.  If you’re seeing a therapist or other healthcare provider, I believe the structure I provide will be really helpful to those times in between where life happens.

Sign up now and you can get the earlybird price.

If you’re reading this and you know someone who is struggling with these issues, you may feel helpless because you don’t know what to say or do to help.   On the other hand, you may be feeling guilty because it’s no fun being around your loved one and you’re tired of the whole thing.  Perhaps they’ve worn out their welcome with you though neither one of you wants to acknowledge it.  

Perhaps, as a family member or friend,  you’ve offered advice or tried to fix the problem for your loved one, and that hasn’t worked for either of you. It’s also possible that both you and your loved one aren’t acknowledging this giant elephant in the room called depression, pain or anxiety  hoping that it will just disappear.

It’s hard being the loving friend or family member who feels so frustrated, helpless and depleted watching this go on and on.   I understand.   You want what’s best for your loved one and you don’t know how to truly be helpful.

Here’s another option.  Send your loved one the link to Your Health Your Way and follow up with them to see what they think. Trust that through this class, they will be able to hear themselves think through what’s going on and find ways to work with it.    If money is an issue and you have the means, you can offer to pay for it.   You could also offer to attend the classes with them or listen to the recordings and talk about it.

What questions do you have about Your Health Your Way?  Feel free to comment below or contact me.





Today’s post is reprinted in its entirety  from Susan Piver’s blog.  Susan is a gifted author, meditation instructor,and I can’t say enough good things about her.  You can find out more about Susan here.   Since the name of my work is The First Step, when I read this article I had a big aha moment because starting and taking a first step are so integrally related to managing the ups and downs of your mental and physical health.

So, without further ado- here’s Susan!!!

When it comes to creating real change in your life, there is only one action item that is critical. The most brilliant organizational strategies and profound insights into human behavior are 100% meaningless without it. If you are not doing this one thing, nothing else matters. I’m not being poetically licentious; I’m telling you the truth. That thing? Start.

Begin. Commence. Initiate. Leap. Whether you want to become a meditator, artist, CEO, friend, athlete, or simply the best you of all time, you just have to take the very first step. What is that step? Write it down. Then do it. Don’t worry about the step after that.




Forget about sweeping gestures–they’re irrelevant and confusing 95% of the time. Instead, make small, graceful, clear gesture after gesture. This is the way.

And PS here is the key piece of advice on starting: you have to do it all over again tomorrow. And the next day. Every day, in fact.

Starting is a sacred act. It requires opening without knowing what is going to happen. If you “know” how it’s going to go or what is going to result, you’re actually somewhere in the middle, not the beginning. So give up all notions. Turn toward this very moment. Open your heart to yourself, your day, your loved ones and your enemies–which simply means not having preconceived notions about any of it–and then start.

Char’s Postscript:

What are you willing to start right now, knowing you have no clue how it’s going to turn out?  For me, it was making a phone call I’d been procrastinating on not knowing how it would go.  How about you?



If you’re struggling with depression, anxiety or pain, feeling isolated is often a part of the picture.  It’s not your fault – it just kinda comes with the territory for many people.   I understand how difficult it can be to reach out.

On the other hand, part of you may realize how you long to feel productive.   But figuring out how to be productive and what to do can leave you spinning in circles and getting nowhere. Again, that’s so understandable – especially when there’s this grey worry of depression or anxiety that is flavoring your day.

That’s where I come in.  I’m here to help you find ways to feel better that work for you.

Both my kids are active volunteers.  Aaron works for the Humane Society as well as the Mid Michigan Commission on Aging.  Zach  finds about two causes a month to be part of.  Volunteering is a big part of their lives.

This got me thinking about how volunteering may be good for everyone’s mental health:  the volunteer’s who participate working together as a team and those who benefit from their combined efforts.

If you want to feel inspired, read this letter from Zach which describes the Tough Mudder obstacle course he’s in which will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.

Hi Family and Friends:

Oh boy what did I get myself into?

I recently signed up for the Tough Mudder: a 10-mile obstacle course on April 10th. Together with my team, we will test our physical and mental toughness while passing through 17 challenges over 10 miles. In addition to being a great opportunity to build teamwork and leadership skills, the Tough Mudder is a chance to help a wonderful organization like the Wounded Warrior Project. The Wounded Warrior Project is a extremely important cause whose mission is to honor and empower wounded service men and women.

Donate Here — Donate one dollar, donate one hundred dollars — whatever you can give will help this great organization. Every donation you make will go directly to help those wounded recover and readjust to life after they serve.

WWP’s works to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded warriors in this nation’s history. They aim to raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members, to help injured service members aid and assist each other and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members.  Every bit counts. Visit my page to donate directly via Visa or Mastercard at :
http://www.raceit.com/fundraising/fundraise.aspx?event=2837&fundraiser=1665.Feel free to spread the word!

That spirit of helping others as part of being a team can be yourt antidote to isolation that often comes with depression, anxiety and pain.

Needless to say, I donated to this cause because I believe in the spirit of giving to others who have truly done their best to serve our country and are now faced with the daunting task of re-adjusting to life here after going through such trauma.  The best I can offer them is my prayers and money.And, if you’re interested in donating, by all means use the links above.  Zach and the Wounded Warriors will appreciate any financial contribution you would like to make.

If you’ve got more time on your hands than money, consider volunteering locally.  Consider checking this link to www.serve.org or www.1800volunteer.org for more opportunities in your local area where you can help others.

Since I’m not particularly computer savvy, I suggest you just put in your zip code and areas of interest (if you know them) and see what comes up.  I also encourage you to limit your time researching to 30 minutes max to avoid overwhelm.

I’m giving this a try in my own do-able way by volunteering to do inventory at our local food coop.  I love having fresh organic food available, the coop staff are always helpful and I want to give back in a meaningful way.  I know that the way they keep their food stocked is by doing inventory and they don’t have the resources to do inventory with their limited staff.

The key ingredients are to volunteering in a way that works for me are:

  • It’s a cause I believe in
  • I’ll be working as part of a team
  • The hours work for me

Feel free to borrow these criteria if you decide to volunteer your time.

Is volunteering  your time a fit in your life right now?  If it feels like one more “should”, perhaps the answer is no.

On the other hand, maybe you’re overwhelmed – as I was – by how much the world needs our help right now, and what you can really do that would be useful.  I can help you sort that out.  Just ask your questions here, I’ll lead you through and together we’ll find out if this helps you feel better.

Never Never Give Up

March 23rd, 2011

Wiinston Churchill once said, “Never, Never Give Up.”  I couldn’t agree more.

In this time of great unrest and uncertainty in our world, those of us who struggle with anxiety or depression can feel particularly affected.  Not only is it hard to be you in your own personal life, but the world may in some ways confirm your worst nightmares.  Some of mine are that no one wants what I have to offer and there’s no way that I can truly be of service in the world.

Maybe your fears are the same. . . or totally different.

Perhaps you have so many fears and they feel like they are so much a part of you, that there actually aren’t words for it.  There’s just a feeling that is kinda indescribable yet pervasive, that slips in through the cracks of your life in ways you can’t even define.  I’ve been there too. . . often, in fact.

And, at some point, I come back to this very important phrase:  “Never, Never Give Up”.

I also believe that when you change any small thing about your life, you change everything.

For example, when you put your feet flat on the floor while you’re sitting at your desk and sink into them, it has a chain reaction.  You may notice yourself sinking into your hips more, lowering your shoulders, raising the crown of your head, releasing your jaw, and letting your eyes sink inward.  That just happened for me.  What do you notice?

When I remind myself to never never give up, I ask myself a couple questions:

  • What’s a baby step that I can take? Whether it’s putting my feet flat on the floor or reading a poem or doing some act of kindness like calling one of my relatives, there is always something that I can do.
  • Can I work on something else while thinking about the bigger issue that has me all stirred up? It’s amazing how therapeutic it can be to do the simple things of life llike the dishes, cleaning out a drawer, or taking a shower and pondering what I can do about the bigger issue
  • Putting words on my feelings always helps me – that may look like journalizing or talking out-loud or taking a walk and thinking it through.  Again, it’s a way to engage with all the noise in my head so I can understand myself better, which almost always leads to a change in my mood and actions.

The world. . . . ahhh, the world, is filled with despair and stories of hardship everywhere it seems.  What I’ve learned is I can either be paralyzed by these things or do some baby steps.

I truly believe that baby steps, taken by many people, become big steps that create change in the world.

If you’re looking for some tangible ways to make a difference in the world, here’s a few of my favorite things:

  • Teach Now is a series of teleclasses for anyone wants to share ideas, energy and information in the world in a way that makes a difference.  That includes parents, caregivers, people struggling with mood issues – it includes every one of us. To sign up for the free call which will be recorded if you can’t make it, go here.
  • Americorps is one of my favorite causes and the Senate is threatening to cut its budget.  I believe that Americorps is a win win for everyone involved:  it helps people in the US who are struck by hardship and it also helps the volunteers who learn skills such as working as a team and how to be of service to others.  Go here to find out how to  help us Save Service and keep Americorps alive!
  • I get calls all the time asking for donations and have never found a do-able way to choose who to contribute to. Here’s a way to contribute to many different worthwhile causes, everything from the American Red Cross to today’s charity which is KidPower which helps kids learn how to defend themselves with self confidence as well as martial arts, by contributing $1 a day.  Find out more at www.philanthroper.com.

Whether we are helping ourselves by putting our feet flat on the floor which affects our posture or helping each other by giving a $1 a day to a good cause, it is evidence that we never never give up.  And by not giving up, we take steps forward – in our own lives – which affects not just us, but the lives of all those around us.

If you feel like you want to give up, tell me more.  And if you have other ways that you take care of yourself or serve the world, please share them as well.    I truly believe that one baby step leads to another, providing momentum, that does make a difference to each of us personally as well as the world.  I believe in you . . . and in us!


Picture one of these all too common scenes:

  • Despite your best efforts, you find yourself rushing and running late.   Sound familiar?  (Those of you who know me will know I’m a recovering late-aholic.)
  • First, the toilet  breaks, then the next thing, and then the next minor or major inconvenience annoys you.  You’re ready to tear your hear out.
  • You’re sick or someone you care about is sick and you’re struggling with feeling anxious in general and this just exacerbates it
  • You’ve got this nagging pain that is sometimes here and sometimes not in your back, that keeps you up at night, and you wonder about getting it checked out and by the time  morning comes, you’re so glad to get up and move around. . . but you’re exhausted and running on empty

Or, perhaps, you’d like to substitute some combination of the above – or something entirely different – that feels like it’s what’s true for you in your own life.  Right now.

I find that in order to savor the good parts of life, I choose to work with the things that aren’t working so well. Like anxiety – that doesn’t work too well for me UNLESS I work with it.  And the same thing is true  with physical pain.

If I try and run and hide from anxiety, it finds me anyway and keeps me down.  If I pretend my knee doesn’t hurt, it gets louder and more insistent on being acknowledged. Maybe that is true for you too.

So, when I find myself stressed out,, frustrated, resentful, angry, or depressed – I have a little bag of tricks that I use.

Most of these things take  under 10 seconds to do and, by doing them, I find that whatever has me twisted up somehow gets unkinked.  Even if it only gets un-kinked for 15 seconds, it’s enough room to start my juices flowing so I can create some space for my feelings so I don’t feel so overwhelmed.

I thank my mentors (and I won’t mention all of them because I may forget someone – but you know who you are!) who have lovingly introduced many of these things to me and encouraged me to practice them.  Without your support, I may still be tearing my hair out.

So without further ado . . . . here’s my bag of 10 second tricks to create a bit of space for you when the going gets tough. Choose any one or a combination of them or make up your own and see what happens the next time one of these frustrating situations makes you wanna scream.  I’ve used an asterisk bythe ones that are my very favorites!

  • Put your hands on your belly and breathe*
  • Grab a glass of water and drink it, imagining love and energy coming through it (yes, I know it sounds weird but it really works!!)*
  • Tilt your chin down and raise through the crown of your head
  • Feel your feet planted into the floor
  • Open your mouth wide, stick out your tongue and exhale
  • Stomp your feet
  • Turn on a piece of music and let your body move
  • Ask yourself what you’d love to do and even if you can’t do it, let yourself feel it and make a date with yourself later
  • Give yourself a hug
  • Make a cup of tea*
  • Write a few words about where you feel the tension in your body i.e. head throbbing, heart beating fast, shallow breath.  Let your attention go to all those places and let go of the reasons why*
  • Notice what’s right in front of you – use all your senses.  What do you see, hear, taste, touch and smell?
  • Lovingly apply hand lotion or moisturizer to yourself or someone you love
  • Find another person or animal to hug and talk to
  • Call, text, or email someone you love and tell them
  • Grab a hairbrush and gently stroke your own hair
  • Read a poem (I keep a book of them handy in office)
  • If you’re driving and you get stopped by a train or a red light, sink into your seat, relax your grip on the wheel and breathe – take a mini break.*

If you’re anything like me, when I’m triggered I don’t remember to do these things.  That’s where practice makes imperfect – I keep working with this stuff and I’m so amazed how the little-est shifts, like drinking a glass of water when I’ve had it up to here with whatever the drama du jour is, open the space in me for more goodness to flow in.

I invite you to choose one of these tools right now – no matter what is going on – and just notice what, if anything, happens for you when you try it.  And, since we all learn from each other, feel free to comment if you want.