A New Chapter

Hey Blog Friends,

Happy Friday!! Hope you all had a most excellent week and have some good plans for the weekend.

As for me, I did something truly radical this week. I made a decision to temporarily put this blog on hold and concentrate on writing. Could Have Been Holly Wood is in a bit of a limbo at the moment. I have been getting some nibbles of interest from the publishing world, but nothing solid as of yet. My dad always tells me, a watched pot never boils. So, rather than waiting and obsessing, I am going to let things percolate while I get back to work on another project.

I started a really fun desperate housewives sort of novel about a year ago and just picked it back up this week. I wrote a juicy chapter and it really sucked me back in. I had forgotten just how much I truly enjoyed writing – not promoting, not sending out query letters to agents and publishers, just writing…me, my pen, and my wild imagination.

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I will be sure to drop in a post if I read a great book and need to share with you all the details, or if I get some exciting news on Could Have Been Holly Wood.

In the meantime, I wish you all well.

Live in Love!

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Author Talk

Happy Friday blog friends! I can not believe we are already heading in to the month of February. For those of you who made New Year resolutions, I hope you are all finding great success.

In honor of Fearless Friday, I have invited my good friend and fellow editor-in-arms, Shelly Tegen, to guest blog today. Shelly is a phenomenal writing coach and she is here to share some tips with us on Public Speaking 101.

So without further ado, the following is a post from Shelly Tegen:

On Sunday, my husband and I went to listen to an author speak about her book and the concepts behind it. A brief synopsis of the book let us know the topic was of interest, and we drove to the event with great enthusiasm. Sitting in a room with a captive audience of 30+ other interested souls, we found ourselves struggling to follow the author’s monotone reading of her written speech.

boring

The lady behind me yawned repeatedly, my husband used metaphorical tooth picks to keep his eyes open. I did my very best to pay attention. At the end of the speech came a Q&A session. I felt the host begin to panic as the crickets prepared to chirp. Finally, someone asked a question and the audience began a discussion aimed more towards engaging each other than the author.

I left the event wondering if the author sold very many books. While she seemed knowledgeable, I also wondered if her writing lacked the same passion as her speech.

We don’t all have the gift of being comfortable speaking in front of groups of people, however, as promoters of our hard work, we owe it to ourselves to learn some basic public speaking skills.

1) Writing out your speech is fine. Reading it to a group isn’t. Memorize your speech to the best of your ability and then make notecards with key points to help you stay on track.

2) Vary your tone of voice. Let your passion for your work shine through. I recommend practicing in front of others and getting their honest feedback, or recording yourself and listening to it objectively.

3) Every few seconds, make and hold eye contact with a different person in the audience.

4) Smile. It lightens the tone in your voice, as well as brightens your face.

5) Have fun!! People came out to hear you. You are that special and so is your work!

Shelly Tegen is a Development/Content Editor, who works closely with authors on areas such as language, story flow, character development, consistency, plot and pace. She works with both fiction and nonfiction authors across a variety of genres, with clients such as Barnes & Noble Best Seller Jessica Therrien. Outside of the book world, she edits newsletters, sale and marketing materials, websites, college papers…any written words she can get my hands on! To learn more about her work, you can contact Shelly at shelly@tegen.net or look her up on LinkedIn.

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Sick Girl

sick girl

I just wrapped up a difficult memoir.

Sick Girl, written by Amy Silverstein, is described on the back cover as a story that has ignited controversy and put the author at the center of an ongoing debate on patient rights, the omnipotent power of doctors, and the challenges of living with chronic illness. Beginning with the onset of her symptoms when she was a twenty-four-year-old law student, Sick girl chronicles Amy’s medical journey from the first misdiagnosis to her astonishing and ongoing recovery after heart transplant surgery.

As one would expect, Amy is grateful for her new heart. But her life is not flowers and butterflies. She has to take nausea inducing medicine every day to suppress her healthy immune system so that it can’t attack her new heart as a foreign invader. In essence she gets a healthy heart, but lives almost like an AIDS patient, with a dangerously low immune system, susceptible to disease, infection, and chronic illness.

Sick Girl is not a feel-good memoir. The author did not write this book to teach tender life-lessons the reader could apply to their own lives. This is NOT Eat, Pray, Love.

Sick Girl is an education in the reality of life after a transplant. It shows the fog of medicine from a patient’s perspective. It is often painful to read.

I’m glad Amy Silverstein wrote her story, and I’m glad I went along on her journey. I could relate to her struggle of feeling different. More importantly, I walked away with a whole new level of compassion for the chronically ill.

This was a fascinating story and I feel smarter and more well-rounded for witnessing her struggle. Amy Silverstein is a smart, determined, often bitter and resentful soldier in a constant fight for her life. This is not a book for the tender-hearted (no pun intended), but it is a book worth reading. I give it 3 1/2 out of five stars.

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Live!

We’re doing things a little differently for this post.  I would like to introduce you to Lisa Work, today’s guest blogger.  Lisa is the Cultivator of Awesome over at VisionaryMom.com ~ which is a place to get the tools, motivation and support you need to make your big ideas happen.  

Lisa posted a tribute blog this week to a woman we both knew and loved, and she has agreed to share her inspirational story with you here.  It’s beautiful, and uplifting, and if you only take away one thing from this post, I hope it is this: Live!

The following is Lisa’s blog post…

Passing On A Lesson From A Very Wise Woman

My Aunt died yesterday.  She’s my great aunt actually and I didn’t really know her very well until last year.

Last summer we spent a long weekend together for a family reunion, sharing stories, deep from the heart kind of stories and I fell in love with this amazing woman who is the sister to my late grandfather.

Aunt Bonny was this radiant soul who cared for people deeply.  She was with her wife for 25 or so years, both out lesbians since they became one, both working for the public school system.  COURAGE!  They worked hard to fight for gay rights and to make a difference in big and small ways in their community.

Sitting with my aunt, hearing her tell me their story and sharing with me about her life, I was so blown away by the way that she lived:  with love, courage, humility, compassion, beauty and grace.  I left our reunion so happy that this woman was of my blood and that I got to know her and her wife the way family should know each other: seeing each other for who we really are and cherishing that deeply.

Thanks to facebook, after our time together, I got to know both of these awesome women more.  To see them speak out about things that matter to them, to see them share their love for each other and this great big, giant love affair with life.  WOW!  Bold living and such inspiration!

I can’t even really express how awed I became of my aunt and her wife.  Two magical spirits living life in a big way.

And then, we got the news.  The C word.  Just 6 or 7 months later, she is gone.

The last few weeks, I have gotten to see what a true champion for humanity my aunt was.  Even on her death bed, waiting to let go, she did so with courage and love and grace.  I’m sure there were ugly moments, but I know, without question that her unbelievable spirit shone through every step of the way.

And so did the big love held in the heart of my Aunt Jan, her wife.  We should all be so lucky to have someone at our side in our final days, loving us the way Jan loved Bonny.  Breathtaking.   Goose bump worthy.  What love stories are made of.

Why am I sharing this with you?

Because as I sit here coming to terms with her death, it’s making me think about life and LIVING.

Or more accurately, how we live and the legacy that we leave behind.

I’m sure that my aunt was not perfect.  She made mistakes and pissed people off and stubbornly did her own thing.  I’m sure she rocked a boat or two.

But what is remarkable now is seeing this huge tidal wave of love that is stirring me to the core… people sharing the impact my aunt had on their lives, the love they have for her, the way she inspired and touched people.

She lived life in a way that made a difference, that made an impact.  She lived courageously, she stood for things that mattered to her and spoke out about them.  And most importantly, she loved with a big heart.  Only she knows the answer to this, but my guess is that she lived completely true to herself.

And isn’t that what it’s all about?  Living in a way that is true, that matters, that celebrates what is possible as we go about our day to day living?

So, today, in honor of my beautiful aunt, I ask you to go live YOUR truth, live in a big way, stand for things, take bold action, open your heart a wee bit wider, and don’t settle for just going through the motions.

Live your dreams.

Today, not someday.  Get started.  We don’t know how much longer we have here.

Just last summer my aunt was jumping on the trampoline, swinging on a swing over a river and spending quiet precious moments making nature art projects with my kids.  And now she is gone.

So, please, I beg you.  Stop waiting, stop trying to figure things out and stop trying to be perfect.  And please stop waiting for your courage.  Just go for it and trust that the courage will come.

LIVE!!  Live your life in a way that will leave a giant tidal wave of people talking about you after you pass on.  But don’t do it for me or my aunt or all those people that will be talking about you, do it for YOU!!

Go live your life in way that inspires YOU and that will surely inspire those around you.

I am going to miss my aunt terribly.  My heart aches for her wife, who loves her in such a gorgeous way.  But I am also grateful that she is here with me, her blood flows through my veins, we are family.  And her spirit will live on in the way I go about my day to day living, making my own difference in the big and small ways.

Right now, take a moment and think about your life.  What impact do you want to make?  What do you want to leave behind?  Write it down, share it and most importantly go live it.

For me.. this is what my life is about:  Bold living, truth and profound love.

xo, Lisa

Lisa can be found at http://visionarymom.com/.  Whatever your dreams are: from starting your own visionary business to making magnificent art to moving abroad – Lisa can help you get there AND do it while being an inspiring mama.”

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Mayberry on Acid

In my memoir, Could Have Been Holly Wood, I wrote a scene about my hometown.  I lived in Fairfax, CA, a charming little hippie enclave located in Northern California.  It’s a place the locals refer to as Mayberry on Acid

In my memories, Fairfax was a magical wonderland. 

On the weekends we explored Marin County’s Mount Tamalpais together. Dad called it a holy mountain, and I was sure he was right. We trekked through soft green meadows with blades of grass that tickled my elbows and explored secret forests crowded with towering redwoods standing like shaggy dragon’s legs. I danced around the mossy trunks with my arms spread out wide, imagining myself as a beautiful fairy with delicate purple wings. When Dad said we had to leave, I floated through the wet layers of mist to pick the prettiest wild flowers I could find.

 With such fond memories, I was a little nervous to drive north last weekend with my husband and two boys to revisit Fairfax.  What if it wasn’t the same? Thirty plus years have gone by, not to mention I now view life through an adult’s eyes. Surely I was in for a disappointment.

We went anyway. 

Curiosity and my need to face all worries head-on insured we would take the trip.

 On a gray, wet Saturday, we ventured across the architectural masterpiece that is the Golden Gate Bridge, and through the rainbow tunnels of my childhood.  We drove past signs for Stinson Beach where I used to collect sand dollars and traversed the weekend traffic through San Anselmo.  When we hit Fairfax my boys spotted a family of geese waddling along the broken suburban sidewalk, chubby pets belonging to one of residents.  We stopped to take pictures and a friendly woman said we had only two more turns until my old house. So far, everything seemed just as I remembered it.

We made a couple of wrong turns before pulling the car over on a narrow, nearly vertical road, and staring up at my first home. 

San Fran 048

I climbed a steep flight of stairs and knocked on the door.  A middle aged woman with silver hair and a stylish knit cap answered.  She offered us tea and welcomed my husband, two young boys, myself, and my dog Darby, in for a tour. This neighborhood and especially this lovely woman, were just as kind and warm as I could have hoped for. The house was much bigger. Jane, the new homeowner, is a successful artist, and she had built on several additions including a large artist studio, but the feel was the same – that safe, comforting haven I remembered. The backyard was equally impressive.  Jane had cultivated a garden complete with trails and spots to sit and imagine.

San Fran 045

When we left Jane’s house, we walked to the top of the road that ended in a dense forest. Mossy trunks and lush ferns lined the dirt path. The scent of marijuana wafted by and my boys floated through wet layers of mist.

Who says you can’t go home…At least for one day.

San Fran 059

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Rain Runner

Holy Shizzlesticks of coldness.  This Southern California Sunshine Queen is freezing in the brutal tundra of Northern California. Burrrrrrrr.

Okay, so perhaps it gets a wee bit colder in other parts of the country…say North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Kansas, Utah, Iowa, Illinois, etc. etc. etc.  But still, it’s been pouring rain here for almost a week straight, the skies have been a dark grey on most days, and I had to scrape some ice off my windshield last week. 

Such a sad, sad story.  That said, we all need a bit of consistency in our lives.  This is especially true for anyone with an anxiety disorder or any other mood issue.  People need routine.  It’s what regulates our bodies and keep us in balance.

For me, part of my routine, is running.  I have had to learn to push aside my not-so-inner-princess, and get out in the cold. Three days a week, my dog Darby and I pound the concrete and get working on our fitness. This week that meant keeping our heads down so the rain didn’t pelt us in the eyes. It meant sloshing through deep puddles and running with wet fur and soaking socks. Halfway through our 30 minute trek, Darby’s little pink belly was muddy brown and my clothes were heavy with water. 

runner

But there was more. Our endorphins kicked in.  The rain, the wind, the whizzing of cars racing past us became invigorating.  Darby pulled me harder. I ran faster. The downpour made me feel tough and alive.

I realized that a little change in the seasons can be a good thing – as long as one is willing to surrender to the storm.  We don’t have to like the cold, or the wet, or the darkness, but we need to stick to our most basic routines, do what is right for our souls, and push through.  The outcome can be beautiful.

rain runner

Have your surrendered to any storms lately?  What was the outcome?

 

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Loose Girl

promiscuous

Some peer through binoculars and watch birds, some follow sports, others study the stars.  What fascinates me the most, is people. I wonder what they are really thinking, and why human beings behave the way they do. People are complex. We rarely know for sure what is going through someone else’s head.

That’s why I love memoirs, they let us inside.  They give us a true glimpse into the interior of another person’s mind.

For this very reason, I recently picked up the memoir, Loose Girl by Keri Cohen.

Loose Girl

A piece of me, especially back in my twenties (ah, the Glory Days), wanted to be a loose girl…the kind of girl who I imagined could throw caution and anxiety to the wind.  I wondered what it felt like to be that kind of girl.  The kind of girl who did whatever and whoever she pleased, no worries about disease, rape, loyalties, or awkward moments.

Turns out, I got it all wrong.  For Cohen anyway, being a loose girl had nothing to with feeling carefree. She was not a sexually empowered woman with a strong libido, unafraid to take what she wanted. She was not having sex because she felt like it. Cohen was a frantically insecure, emotionally needy woman, desperate for attention. She believed that having a man, any man, in her life, made her a better, more lovable, more relevant person. 

When a man was on top of her, she felt whole.  When he pulled out, she was empty. For Cohen, sex was not about pleasure – most of the time she didn’t even seem to enjoy it – it was about feeling wanted. She grasped for attention the way a junkie scrambles for their next hit.

Loose Girl is a fascinating look into a sex addict’s mind.  I was honestly surprised by the amount of value she put on male attention.  I had no idea how little a sex addict’s addiction was about the actual sex.  In this regard, I learned a lot from this book, and I’m glad I read it.

What I didn’t like, was that Cohen repeated her desperate acts over and over and over.  Less than halfway through the book, I was more than ready for her to figure it all out, to have her “aha moment” and love herself.  Her desperation was painful and after a while, so very predictable.  I wouldn’t recommend this book to everybody.  It is easy to get frustrated with the author and her mistakes.  It is easy to forget that this is real life, and in real life, it can take a long time for us to learn our lessons.

In the end, however, I got what I was looking for from this book.  The back cover promised:

For everyone who was that girl.

For everyone who knew that girl.

For everyone who wondered who that girl was.

When it comes to this, Loose Girl certainly delivers.

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Alpha Female

So I did something I have never done before. 

I wrote a blatantly honest negative review. I wrote it because my friend pointed out to me that I worry too much, that I don’t stand up for myself. I looked back on my history and realized, she was right.

I think that those of us with anxiety disorders, or heck, many of us with an XX chromosome, spend far too much time trying to be nice to the point of it being to our detriment.

For the most part, I’ve been lucky. The majority of the ladies in my life are what I would describe as Alpha Females.  They don’t take crap. Ever. If something is going wrong, they stand tall and make their presence known. I adore these strong women. I also use them as an shield. When I was young, my mama did the fighting for me. As a teenager, my BFF, Dani, took over that role.

Angelina-Jolie-13

In college, and the years following, I was on my own. I laughed and said nothing when higher-ups in the newsroom grabbed my behind. I walked away quietly when a female boss fired me unexpectedly after I told her I was pregnant. I’m not saying I was a complete doormat. I’m just saying, I like to avoid conflict.

So when a company on Amazon repeatedly promised my order for a therapy blanket for my son was on the way, I waited.  I waited from October until December. Three months of waiting, a charge on my credit card…and I was still checking my mail. Surely it would show up any time now.

That’s when my good friend, Shelly, pointed out that I was getting a little old for this baloney. I needed to stand up for myself and for my son.

Anxiety disorder or no anxiety disorder, polite or not, we need to speak up when someone or something has done us wrong. We don’t need to worry about what the person/company thinks of us. It’s unnecessary to stress about them fighting back and hurting our feelings.

I wrote a bad review – a really bad review. 

It may be a baby step, but it felt good.

What have you done lately to say enough is enough?

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Wild – A book review

I may have just completed a near perfect memoir.

It was beautifully written and told with deep honesty from beginning to end. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, is not your typical bestseller. It is not page-turner. It doesn’t leave you needing to know what exactly happens next. What it does do, is deeper than that. It made me cry (often), it made me laugh (out loud), it made me wish I could tough it out and hike the Pacific Crest Trail…alone.

I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t relate to Strayed’s story in some way. Her book was so good, I scanned through the internet looking for reviews. I needed to know what other people thought of this well-crafted tale of loss and acceptance. Fortunately, readers loved this book as much as I did.  Below is a great article published in the New York Times by Author Dani Shapiro. I think she did a fantastic job of reviewing this riveting book.

The High Road

‘Wild,’ a Hiking Memoir by Cheryl Strayed

By DANI SHAPIRO
Published: March 30, 2012

In the summer of 1995, a 26-year-old woman who had never been backpacking before set out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. She had already separated from her husband, quit her waitressing job and sold most of her belongings. Now she went to the outdoors store REI to purchase almost everything she could possibly think of for her three-month journey: fleece pants and an anorak, a thermal shirt, two pairs of wool socks and underwear, a sleeping bag, a camp chair, a head lamp, five bungee cords, a water purifier, a tiny collapsible stove, a canister of gas and a small pink lighter, two cooking pots, utensils, a thermometer, a tarp, a snakebite kit, a Swiss Army knife, binoculars, a compass, a book called “Staying Found” to teach herself how to use the compass, a first-aid kit, toiletries, a menstrual sponge, a lantern, water bottles, iodine pills, a foldable saw (“for what, I did not know”), two pens and three books in addition to “Staying Found”: “The Pacific Crest Trail, Vol. 1: California,” William Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying” and Adrienne Rich’s “Dream of a Common Language.” She also bought a 200-page sketchbook to use as a journal.

wild

To begin to understand something about Cheryl Strayed, know that Strayed is not her given name. We never find out the name she was born with, but we are made to understand with absolute clarity why she chose to change it, and just how well her new name suits her. Contemplating divorce, she realized that she couldn’t continue to use the hyphenated married name she’d shared with her husband, “nor could I go back to having the name I had had in high school and be the girl I used to be. . . . I pondered the question of my last name, mentally scanning words that sounded good with Cheryl. . . . Nothing fit until one day when the word strayed came into my mind. Immediately I looked it up in the dictionary and knew it was mine. Its layered definitions spoke directly to my life and also struck a poetic chord: to wander from the proper path, to deviate from the direct course, to be lost, to become wild, to be without a mother or father, to be without a home, to move about aimlessly in search of something, to diverge or digress. I had diverged, digressed, wandered and become wild. . . . I saw the power of the darkness. Saw that, in fact, I had strayed and that I was a stray and that from the wild ­places my straying had brought me, I knew things I couldn’t have known before.”

Cheryl Strayed’s load is both literal and metaphorical — so heavy that she staggers beneath its weight. Her mother has died (lung cancer, age 45); her father is long gone (“a liar and a charmer, a heartbreak and a brute”). In what is for her a stunning act of filial betrayal, her brother and sister find it too painful to come to the hospital as Strayed’s mother is fading, leaving her, then 22, to prop up the pillows so that her mother could die, as had been her wish, sitting up. Strayed’s stepfather, whom she had loved, disengaged himself from the family and quickly found new love, unwilling even to take care of his late wife’s beloved mare, who became so enfeebled that — in one of the book’s most harrowing scenes — Strayed and her brother are forced to put her down. They do this the old-fashioned way, by shooting her between the eyes. Beside herself with grief, Strayed abandons her kind and loving husband, gets involved with a heroin addict and becomes an addict herself. Just before leaving for the Pacific trail, even after six months off drugs, she shoots up once more, “the little bruise on my ankle that I’d gotten from shooting heroin in Portland” now “faded to a faint morose yellow.” Beneath her wool socks and too-small hiking boots, that bruise was a continuing reminder of her “own ludicrousness.”

Often when narratives are structured in parallel arcs, the two stories compete and one dominates. The reader skims the less-favored one, eager to get back to the other. But in “Wild,” the two tales Strayed tells, of her difficult past and challenging present, are delivered in perfect balance. Not only am I not an adventurer myself, but I am not typically a reader of wilderness stories. Yet I was riveted step by precarious step through Strayed’s encounters with bears, rattlesnakes, mountain lion scat, ice, record snow and predatory men. She lost six toenails, suffered countless bruises and scabs, improvised bootees made of socks wrapped in duct tape, woke up one time covered in frogs and met strangers who were extraordinarily kind to her.

Perhaps her adventure is so gripping because Strayed relates its gritty, visceral details not out of a desire to milk its obviously dramatic circumstances but out of a powerful, yet understated, imperative to understand its meaning. We come to feel how her actions and her internal struggles intertwine, and appreciate the lessons she finds embedded in the natural world. In a brief meditation on mountains, for example, she writes: “They were, I now realized, layered and complex, inexplicable and analogous to nothing. Each time I reached the place that I thought was the top . . . there was still more up to go. . . . I was entirely in new terrain.” “Wild” isn’t a concept-generated book, that is, one of those projects that began as a good, salable idea. Rather, it started out as an experience that was lived, digested and deeply understood. Only then was it fashioned into a book — one that is both a literary and human triumph.

Cheryl

What allows us to survive? To lose and then find ourselves? How do we learn to accept grief instead of permitting it to obliterate us? How can a young woman who describes herself as having a “hole in her heart” (a mother-shaped hole, I thought to myself) transform herself through solitude and high-octane risk and the comforts of literature (along the way she picked up books like “The Complete Stories” of Flannery O’Connor and J. M. Coetzee’s “Waiting for the Barbarians”) into a clearheaded, scarred, human, powerful and enormously talented writer who is secure enough to confess she does not have all the answers? “It was enough,” she tells us as she reaches the poetically named Bridge of the Gods, which connects Oregon to Washington, “to trust that what I’d done was true.”

Perhaps a clue can be found in the words of Strayed’s mother, and the legacy she left her daughter. “‘The first thing I did when each of you was born was kiss every part of you,’ my mother used to say to my siblings and me. ‘I’d count every finger and toe and eyelash,’ she’d say. ‘I’d trace the lines in your hands.’” Strayed writes that “I didn’t remember it, and yet I’d never forgotten it. It was as much a part of me as my father saying he’d throw me out the window. More.”

As Strayed’s mother grew sicker, she would repeat the sentence “I’m with you always” again and again. And, in a way, she was her daughter’s constant companion through it all. In the end, it was this: not the loss, not the abandonment, not the rebellion, but the love itself. The love won out.

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Master Of My Domain

A big part of my anxiety disorder is that I suffer from obsessive thoughts. I get stuck on something important to me and think about it non-stop until I either A) manage to somehow achieve my goal, or B) make myself sick.

When I was 11 I used to sit on my family porch, and wait for my mother to get home. I could stay there well past sunset, counting cars, telling myself that by the time I counted 100 green cars, my mother would be home. When that didn’t work, I would wish on stars. When she still didn’t show up, I made deals with myself. For instance, I would promise to make my bed each morning for 10 straight days or floss my teeth twice daily for three weeks if my mother would show up in the next ten minutes. I would then proceed to count to 60 very slowly ten times.

My son’s therapist compares this relentless type of thinking to a hamster on the wheel. The hamster runs, and runs, and runs, and wears itself down, but it never gets anywhere.

In the case of waiting for my mother, she eventually turned up. As I got older, my obsessive thoughts became more slippery, harder to attain. I wanted straight A’s. I wanted to control my jean size. I wanted to become a television reporter, and I pushed and shoved and worked odd hours until I became one. In many ways, and for many people, obsessive thoughts can be a great motivator. After all, I might not have achieved so many of my goals in life if I wasn’t giving them 100% of my attention.

On the other hand, obsessive thoughts can be physically painful and quite literally begin to drive a woman crazy. My latest obsessive thought has become a real beast.

Fortunately there are techniques – tricks that can make those thoughts go away. I sat down with a good friend of mine last week while I was visiting San Diego, and she reminded me of a very useful tool we had both learned from cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s a very simple trick, but it works.  Over time, it teaches your brain to let go. Since it’s likely that we all suffer from obsessive thoughts every now and again, I wanted to share this strategy with you.

When you start to have that same old worry or doubt about something you can’t fix or control, imagine a stop sign.

stop sign

See it, say it out loud if it helps – tell your brain to S T O P. Then force yourself to think about something that makes you happy. 

For my friend, she thinks about her adorable nieces. Those two little girls make her feel warm and fuzzy. For me, I go to Holly Land, a gorgeous deserted island with perfect weather. A lazy hammock hangs between two tall trees that edge the pristine beach. My husband is always cooking something delicious on an open fire. The sun is setting, allowing just enough light to watch the waves crash onto shore. I usually take a last minute dive into the ocean before dinner. Holly Land is beautiful and peaceful, it’s the ideal place to escape.

I’ve been visualizing that Stop sign several times a day this past week, and taking innumerable trips to Holly Land. The unhealthy worry keeps coming back, and I keep pushing it away.

As they said in one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes, we are the masters of our domain. We control our thoughts. We can literally rewire our own brains.

It takes time, consistency, and a whole lot of persistence. It is well worth the effort. I can tell you from personal experience, visiting my happy place is a heck of lot more fun than sitting on a cold porch counting green cars.

 hammock

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