Archives

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.

Inner Inn (Pt. II)

The Mission Inn in Riverside California, built over a sixty year period beginning in 1876, is a living museum full of priceless art and antiquities. It has two onsite chapels, one is dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi and has glass works designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany in 1906 for a chapel in New York.

Many Della Robbia style ceramics from Italy,

are on stunning display throughout the property.

The Inn is a National Historic Landmark which you can tour on your own or with a docent. The art and artifacts overflow the spacious Inn and there is a museum with more art across the street that can also be toured.

Ten US presidents have visited The Inn,

and there is a presidential lounge dedicated to them.

The mission style interiors are comfortable and spacious, but the most amazing spaces for me are all the inner courtyards which are like beautiful outdoor rooms full of whimsical artwork and constant surprises.

Exploring is great fun as everywhere you look you find precious art and artifacts.

The clock tower has a glockenspiel with full size rotating figurines that is a replica of the original built in Nuremberg Germany in 1709.

The Inn has over 400 antique bells. One from Nanjing China dates from 1247 and is the oldest bell in Christendom.

Cheers to you from the fascinating and fun Mission Inn in Riverside California~

Mission Inn~

The historic Mission Inn which occupies several blocks in downtown Riverside California is the largest Mission Revival building in the United States.

The Inn was built in 1902 by an engineer named Christopher Columbus Miller. His son Frank expanded his father’s original efforts, and added wings, rotundas, chapels, museums and galleries.

The building contains a mixture of Spanish Gothic, Moorish and Mediterranean revival architectural styles. There is a Spanish Wing, an Alhambra Wing, and flights of fancy everywhere you look.

Frank Miller traveled the world collecting museum quality treasures to fill the inn, including what some say is the oldest bell in in the new world dating from 1247.

There are two chapels on the property including the one pictured dedicated to St Francis of Assisi.

Louis Tiffany designed two of the mosaics in the chapel.

The Rotunda Wing features a five story open air staircase.

The rotunda tops a suite dedicated to the writer Anne Rice.

Presidents, world leaders, and many famous folk have stayed in the inn over its history and the inn has a presidential lounge dedicated to the many presidents who have stayed here.

The Inn began a period of slow decline in the 1960’s where ownership changed hands multiple times and bankruptcies occurred, eventually forcing the city of Riverside to purchase and close the property for eight and a half years. In 1992, The Historic Mission Inn Corporation purchased the property and reopened it in all its former glory.

I will show you more details and the interiors of this amazing building in my next post. Until then, cheers to you from The Mission Inn in Riverside California~

Churchill Manitoba~

Oh course I have to lead with the bears. Churchill is often referred to as ‘The Polar Bear Capitol of the world’ and I do have more of them to show you. This is a different mother and cub from the ones I posted before and they are shot in black and white.

Churchill itself is a most remarkable and unique place. In the summer it is nippy, but in the winter, it is another story altogether. Hudson Bay freezes over and the polar bears are in their element. People, not so much. But clever and resourceful humans have adapted many ways to make life in this forbidding climate livable. Check out this polar research vehicle which you have to admit is pretty darn nifty. (In the background you can see an abandoned missile silo. More about this later).

Decades ago polar bear populations around Churchill were in very serious decline. Protection and creative bear management practices have brought numbers up significantly. This is the ‘Polar Bear Holding Facility,’ which locals call, “Polar Bear Jail.” Bears that cause repeated problems in town are held in this facility and then relocated by helicopter far away in the tundra. The town has a Bear Patrol, which is called out when bears become a threat, to shoo them out of town. These smart practices are saving the lives of both bears and people.

Inukshuks were used by northern Inuit people as traditional directional markers. An Inukshuk like this one symbolizes friendship and safety. Today, “Inukshuks have been transformed into worldwide symbols of hope and friendship transcending borders and welcoming people all over the world.”

(Source: https://www.sustainabilitytelevision.com/news/why-inukshuk-represents-heart-canada)

Respecting the meaning of symbols like this seems more important than ever in today’s world.

Note: the femur bone at the bottom right of the photo. Most likely caribou. This is polar bear country after all.

Traditional Caribou Hall is a National Landmark and a town centerpiece.

My son is checking out the wreck of a plane that crashed in Churchill in 1979. All aboard survived, but what ends up in Churchill, often stays in Churchill, because the only way in and out of town is either a train ride that takes about 45 hours, or an air flight. The commuter airline that makes the trip between Winnipeg and Churchill is called “Calm Air.” It offers a lovely ride that we enjoyed immensely, even though some locals refer to the airline as “Calamity Air,” due to, errrr…..unforeseen weather variations enroute.

These are the community vegetable gardens. Vegetables are prized and hard to grow in this frozen tundra environment, so community effort is important. Recycled arctic buggy wheels make useful above frozen ground planters.

A traditional cabin built to withstand the arctic winter.

Our lodge was built of reclaimed logs and has this sign in front.

Churchill is filled with amazing open air art. Click on this link and read how and why this is so. You will be glad you did. The story is awe inspiring: https://www.cbc.ca/cbcdocspov/features/a-winnipeg-artist-brought-hope-to-churchill-manitoba-when-they-needed-it-th

This abandoned building is a concrete blast shelter connected to a former missile test facility by underground tunnels. This facility operated in Churchill from the 1950’s until the mid 1980’s. All the missile testing buildings are now abandoned.

The seemingly endless miles and miles of tundra topography surrounding Churchill is stunning and utterly unique.

Cheers to you from amazingly beautiful Churchill Manitoba~

Palms to Pines & Rare Desert Storm~

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway has the world’s largest rotating tram cars.

The two and a half mile trip up the mountain from the desert floor takes ten minutes.

It brings you from a desert floor elevation of 479 feet to 8, 516 feet. That’s a big climb in ten minutes!

The ride up moves through five different life zones, from the Sonoran Desert floor to the Arctic/Alpine Zone, where the highest peak, Mt. San Jacinto, is 10, 834 feet.

You leave the stark, baking desert, and hike in the mountains where the temperatures are 30 degrees cooler than below.

During our trip, a summer storm was moving in, causing it to rain on the mountain, and dropping the temperatures even more.

By the time we returned to the desert, we could watch the rain clouds move in over the mountains accompanied by lots of thunder. This is a rare summer occurrence and one I have never seen before. Despite the rain, the temperature remained a steady 112 degrees fahrenheit, and the drops evaporated quickly after contact with the superheated desert.

After the passage of the brief storm, the light was lovely.

Cheers to you from the scorching, but beautiful, summer desert~

Water, Water Everywhere~

And not a drop to drink. I can relate to The Ancient Mariner.

The Holler flooded with nice cold drinking water while we were away visiting the baby grand-twins. A faulty refrigerator filter was the culprit. There are 84 industrial fans and scores of dehumidifiers running our electrical bill through the roof. We do, thankfully, have insurance.

The damage is legion,

causing me to dream at night of waves,

and sea creatures.

When the dream waves became violent,

and the creatures creepy,

I knew it was time for a change of scenery. (We are thankful for family members willing to stay and monitor The Holler).

So now we are in the desert, where the temperatures are hovering around 105F which is cool for summer in the desert and thunderstorms are in the forecast. I love the desert in the summer, and in all the years I have been coming here, I have never seen a summer desert thunderstorm. The clouds are forming and I can’t wait! So, bring on the water….

Cheers to you from the soon to be sodden desert~

Flown Away~

I have flown the coop,

heading off to distant lands,

where wifi will not fly, so I cannot read your posts or respond to your comments,

at least for the first week or so.

I will look forward to touching base with you when I can, from sunny South America.

Until then, cheers to you & be well~

My Comments on Your Posts May Be in Your Spam Filter!

I was trying to comment on a blogging friend’s post today who is having a serious problem with his son, and I noticed my comments were disappearing. This reminded me of other bloggers who told me they found my comments in their spam filters in the last few weeks. So I contacted WordPress and was informed that yes, some of my comments on people’s blog posts were going to spam and they see this shouldn’t be happening, but there is nothing they can do about it. So, some of my comments may be in your spam filter because I like to read and comment on your blogs, apparently too much. If you want to read my comments to you, you must go to your spam filter and remove me from spam.
Neat huh?

Here is what WordPress said to me:

“Thank you for your patience. I can see there the comments are in the spam filter. I cannot make any changes to these comments, only the site owner can. When comments are detected by our spam filter they are flagged and require approval from the site owner. This can happen for many reasons including making several comments within just a few minutes of time.
If you are having trouble submitting a comment on a site the best way to resolve it is to contact the site owner rather than make several more comments on the site. The site owner can approve your comment. Further comments when you are being blocked can’t resolve the issue.”
And then,
“I may have a solution for you to help resolve this, without the site owner.
Can you let Akismet support to prevent your comments from being flagged as spam? You will see the option in the second bullet here: https://en.support.wordpress.com/unwanted-comments/
I hope that they can make your account as good. Your comments certainly do not seem suspicious, but we know they are hitting the spam filter anyways.”

I have contacted Askimet, but this may not work, so please un-spam me if you want to read my comments on your posts.


Oh spam I am,
I do not like the spam I am!
I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.
I do not like green eggs and spam.

Would you like them here or there?

I would not like them here or there.
I would not like them anywhere.
I do not like green eggs and spam.
I do not like this Spamalot!

So, it’s cheers to you from spam I am~

Good News Update: Rachel M, a fellow blogger, and WordPress/Askimet engineer has fixed my spam problem. Thank you Rachel and WordPress/Askimet! To see Rachel’s blog click on: https://rachel.blog/about/

Saint Pierre le Jeune~

The ‘Young’ Church of St Peter, is an old and unusual church in Strasbourg, France.


The oldest, and lowest part of the church is the burial crypt, which was built-in the 7th century.


The church itself was consecrated in 1053, and three of the remaining columns supporting the arched interior galleries in the church date from the 11th century.

The bulk of the church as it stands now was built between 1250-1320 and many of the frescoes you see are originals from the 14th century. In 1682, the church was divided into two sections, half for catholics and the other half for protestants, which seems quite forward thinking and civilized, doesn’t it! The pipe organ is a relative newbie, built-in 1780.


Strasbourg is full of old and amazing churches, but the old, ‘Young Church of St. Peter’, is off the beaten path, less visited, and remarkable in terms of history, architecture and art. All of these factors combined create a truly amazing sense of ancient sacredness. It is a church you may well want to linger in.

We are home at The Holler, but it is cheers to you from the glorious Saint-Pierre le Jeune~

Lake Vrana & Zadar~


These first five photos were taken atop Mt. Kamenjak in the Vrana Lake Nature Park in Croatia. The amazing view you are seeing looks down over Lake Vrana towards the Kornati Islands in the Adriatic Sea.


Lake Vrana, the greenish body of water in the forefront, lies on the Dalmatian coast, and is the largest lake in Croatia. It is separated from the sea by a mere 2 km strip of land which you can clearly see in this photo.


The view from the opposite side of Mt. Kamenjak is also incredible, and looks into the interior of Croatia. It was quite special for me to visit this area of the world, because my grandfather, who emigrated to the US through Ellis Island in the early 1900’s, was from this area.

The spectacular Mt. Kamenjak viewpoint is off the beaten track and less traveled.

There is a charming old chapel, many hiking options, picnic facilities, and a place to order snacks if you didn’t bring a picnic.

Lake Varna can be easily reached on a day trip from nearby Zadar, the oldest continuously occupied city in Croatia. This is St. Donatus Church in Zadar, founded in the 9th Century.


The small chapel is St. Mary’s Church, founded in 1066, and the ruins you see scattered about are the remnants of the largest Roman Forum in the Eastern Adriatic.

Zadar is the historical center of The Dalmatian Coast. It was founded by the Liburnians in the 4th Century BC, and numerous Neolithic settlements have been discovered here.


Zadar is a delightfully fun city to visit, with lots of places to explore, and wonderful restaurants to sample the local cuisine. If this isn’t enough to tempt you, Croatia is a good travel bargain, especially off-season. The city quay, where people gather, has a sea organ that chimes in rhythm with the waves. It also has the remarkable glass “Greeting to the Sun,” which you can see in this photo and read about by clicking on the link below:

http://www.zadar.travel/en/city-guide/attractions/05-12-2007/the-greeting-to-the-sun


We are still home at The Holler now, but it is cheers to you from spectacular Lake Vrana and historic Zadar, Croatia~