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Holler Orchids~

Quiet beauty.

For difficult days.

Fragile.

Strong.

Like you,

and I.

Orchids grow,

in volcanic rock.

Beauty blooms from fire.

Cheers to you and keep on blooming~

Hunca Munca & Brothers~

I was watering The Holler flowers,

daydreaming, not paying attention,

when out of the corner of my eye, I spied,

baby Hunca Munca and her three little brothers,

desperately climbing and clinging to the fountain grass.

I had inadvertently flooded their nest!

Needless to say, I gave watering a rest.

Cheers to you from all the living creatures at The Holler~

Note: For more about Hunca Munca see, “The Classic Tale of Two Bad Mice,” by Beatrix Potter.

Dancing Duet~

The Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney Australia are an urban bird paradise.

I found this pair of magpie larks singing and dancing happily in the park.

The name magpie lark is a misnomer as these handsome birds are neither magpies nor larks, but are members of the giant monarch flycatcher family.

Magpie larks are musical prodigies who sing co-ordinated duets together, timed by the metronomic movements of their synchronized dancing. See: http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20160803-the-strange-reason-magpie-larks-dance-when-nobody-is-looking

Cheers to you from the magical birdies of Oz~

Herbert at The Holler~

Herbert the cat,

is quite content in quarantine.

He watches the Holler burst in bloom! Rock Roses show off.

Bearded Iris,

and Matijila Poppies,

reach for the sky.

Cactus flowers are everywhere,

while Mexican Evening Primrose blanket the slopes.

Southern California Wild Grape vines are producing bumper crops.

Cheers to you from The Blooming Holler~

Anxiety Management During Pandemic Days~

Many of us are experiencing emotional distress from the pandemic which can affect each of us in different ways, but often presents as increasing anxiety, worry, sleep disruption, feelings of helplessness, panic, and/or depression.

The shrieking headlines don’t help do they? So what can we do to manage these feelings and feel stronger emotionally and psychologically as we prepare ourselves to face the difficult days ahead?

As a psychotherapist who has practiced for many decades, I have some ideas that can help. So if you are interested, read on.

We are going to make a customized anxiety toolbox. One approach doesn’t work for everyone, pick and choose what feels right for you. Of course I’m including relaxing photos intermixed in this post because looking at positive images is an objective and powerful anxiety reducer. What you perceive influences how you think and feel.

ANXIETY TOOLBOX:

Self Talk Reframing (Cognitive Therapy)

Guided Imagination/Visualization

Exposure Management

Progressive Relaxation

Distraction in Action

Self Soothing

Spiritual Meditation/Prayer

Second Voice

Exercise, Diet & Good Health Practices

This topic will be broken up into separate posts, and start with Self Talk, Guided Imagination and Exposure Limitation. These are the tools I use most frequently to manage my anxiety. Yes, I have anxiety, and now pandemic anxiety, and I don’t like any of it, so I have learned over the years to better manage all of it.

Self Talk is one of your most powerful anxiety busting tools. It can be best understood through the ABC Model:

A: is an objective event that occurs (Covid 19 for example).

B: is what you immediately and silently say to yourself, sometimes many times a day, about this event, usually without conscious awareness (“Oh no, we’re in a high risk group, we’re gonna die, badly,” is my example). Insert your personal pandemic negative self talk here.

C: are the feelings that immediately arise in response to our self talk (Anxiety, pandemic preoccupation, worry and/or panic)

In this case my self talk was awfulizing , which is the tendency to assume the worst possible outcomes will happen to me or the people I love. I can challenge and change this self talk by making it more realistic. An example for me might be, “Stop thinking the worst. Most high risk people survive. You can take steps to improve your chances.”

I use self talk reframing in combination with guided imagination everyday. These are two of my most trusty tools and they work synergistically with each other to reduce anxiety, each making the other more effective. Like any learned skill, the more you practice it, the better you get at it.

Guided imagination is exactly what it says it is. When you are resting, napping, or going to sleep, don’t let your imagination run you. You run your imagination. Guide it to a place, a story, a visualization, that engages your mind, and is positive, happy and fun. Challenge yourself to come up with imaginative stories that involve you. This is wonderful for your mental and physical health. Make yourself a central character in your story. I have ongoing stories that I return to everynight before I fall asleep. I come up with new stories when the old ones start to lose interest.

This kind of guided imagination reduces stress hormone levels, aids sleep and reduces anxiety. It can even positively influence, or guide, our dreams which is beneficial to our mental and physical health. It is harnessing the creative power of your brain to control its own production. Long term prison inmates report using this technique to escape their cells and fly free. If they can do this, so can you and I.

And finally, reduce your exposure to news. Yes, it is important to stay well informed and safe, especially in a pandemic. But constant media onslaught can be psychologically overwhelming and add to an unhealthy level of anxiety. So take charge of the news in your own best interest. Consciously limit your exposure according to your best choice about how much you can absorb without becoming overwhelmed. This is truly important in managing your anxiety during pandemic times, and really at all times.

Switch from the news after you’ve had enough to stay informed, and read blogs or a book. Watch a movie. Look for positive imagery. Write blogs and stories. After all, you are bloggers! You have awesome creative imaginations. Use your imaginations in positive ways to help you, and your readers, stay on even keel during the coming stressful days.

Cheers & calm to you from me at The Holler~

Note: Australian birds in order, New Holland Honey Eater, Gouldian Finch, Superb Fairy Wren.

Summers End~

Late summer blooms,

invite afternoon strolls,

in Riding Mountain National Park.

Flutters follow,

your fragrant footsteps.

Flowers rejoice,

in September sun.

We are home now but it is still, cheers to you from Riding Mountain National Park~

Holler Hummer Portrait Day~

It was a big day at The Holler!

The hummers wanted their portraits taken.

First, there was lots of primping,

and fluffing.

A hummer’s feathers need to look their very best,

for such an auspicious occasion.

After their photo shoot, they got back to their favorite activity,

eating!

Cheers to you from The Holler Hummers~

Floribunda~

The flower is
the stem’s cry of beauty
to the universe.
-Vassilis Comporozos

Thimbleberry flower, Washington State.

These pink and red poppies

were also found bursting in bloom in Washington state.

We can’t grow peonies at The Holler, but I buy them in season,

to display in bouquets.

Holler white rose.

Holler sweet peas.

We had loads of blooms this year due to the wonderful rain.

Rhododendron Washington State.

Cheers to you from summer’s smiling flowers~

Dublin’s Fair City~


Is really so pretty!

The historic old pubs are lovely,

and fun to explore,

on a good, old-fashioned Irish pub-crawl.

You are guaranteed to make friends because the people are warm, friendly, and often just a tad tipsy!

Dublin is a vibrant, colorful city,

justifiably proud,

of its artistic and literary history.

I am still home at The Holler, but it’s cheers to you from beautiful Dublin~

Holler Hot Summer Blooms~


Spring time blooms,

have long since passed,

as summer sun bakes the land.

Prickly cacti,

wake and yawn.

Emboldened by the heat,

they burst with blooms.

Delicate blossoms,

grace the garden.

Cheers to you from The Holler’s Summer Bloomers~