Category: Making Changes (Page 1 of 2)

My Journey Through Anxiety

I remember my first panic attacks.  I was 19 years old and newly married.  I was in a young marriage to run away from my miserable home life since my parents’ divorce.  Gone were my confident days and happy nights. Gone was the security of knowing everyone at home was safe.  Gone were my days in high school with friends and activities.  Gone was my smile.

I was grasping for anything that felt like family.  My husband and his family were chosen to fill my void.  They were intact and had dinner together every night.  They laughed.  I could bring our two kids here and they would be safe and loved.  It was not the same as my home and the feeling of belonging was a tall order.  I was asking too much of anyone to give me what I lost.

Pain of the past — fear of the future.  As I self soothed myself with another marriage, my panic attacks disappeared but anxiety was always at the surface of my day.  I developed a desperation to make sure everyone in my world was thriving.  I learned to smile and serve.  I pleased and never rocked the structure of what a family was supposed to be.  Fear became my friend and I valued being the victim of my story.

As the years went by I developed the inability to smile through my tears. I alone was responsible for my daily life.  If I let others choose my path, they would.  Saying no was excruciating for me and I let the waves keep coming.

The rescue came one day dialing the phone and a counselor said “come over I have a spot open for you.”  For once, I followed through and sat in her chair and worked on myself.  Gone was any hint of pity for my life. It was me in the chair finding my way out of the hole I was in.

I worked hard to climb my way out of victimhood.  I could not fall back on my safe haven of blame.  Choices were mine and I had not prioritized where I wanted my life to be.  I followed and blamed.  I stopped crying and set a goal for myself.

I lacked any experience in my life of being alone.  As we worked on a solution together — I realized that I never gave college a chance.  I began the process of enrolling at the local junior college.  It changed my confidence to be in a class where no one knew me or really cared what I was going through.  This was all me — I could succeed or quit on my own.

The earlier Sherry would have quit college when negative voices played all around me.  People were used to me making their lives my priority.  I had to be at class, I had homework, I was leaving everyone to their own life. I have never felt a greater sense of accomplishment than carrying and framing my diploma.  It was never just a piece of paper to me.

I do not have to have all the answers.  I do not need to solve everyone’s questions. The freedom I feel when I’m alone feeding my soul is joyful. I drive where I want and schedule myself according to morning or afternoon. I do not live on a time constraint. College taught me how to be alone. Writing gave me my voice.

As I age, I find anxiety in my health.  Once again I need to tackle this beast in my head. I know that I have the ability to find a way to work through this alone. My strength and confidence are solid and the foundation was set that day with the counselor.

Peace comes for me in small ways. Simple ideas work best.  Unreachable dreams just get in the way of everyday moments. Nature is a gift. Writing is an escape. Exercise is essential. Food can satisfy the need for nourishment but not be the mindless swallowing of feelings. Music can calm the wild thoughts and constant achieving.  I no longer need to see myself through other’s eyes.





When Change Cripples You


“Curiosity is the beginning of knowledge. Action is the beginning of change.”  James Clear

You lose your job. Your partner passes away. Your kids leave to start their adult lives. You get sick.  You retire.  You move.

Music Heals

Change can cripple you.  All of your plans for the future no longer matter. You are given a short time period to find new purpose. The energy and motivation necessary to get up out of bed just vanishes.  You feel cheated that you could not keep the journey alive. The devastation of every day is so unfair — why me, why now?

”What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow. Our life is the creation of our mind.” The Dhammapada (collection of Buddhist scriptures, on the power of your mind).


The changes have no particular order of how impossible they are. All are hard in their way,  it depends on each individual and what priorities are still viable. Each one can take the breath out of your soul.

I cannot give a concrete answer as to how to cope or move forward. I do believe, though, that hope is never lost and it takes a great amount of strength to find your spirit again.

Get out of bed, brush your hair and teeth and put on exercise clothes. That is a start —  find  a way to take a walk outside — don’t push yourself just walk till you feel you need to stop.  Walk a little more every day.  When you feel like being around people, find a coffee shop that feels comfortable.  Order your favorite drink and sit with your thoughts. Work up to talking to a friend.  Turn on music that has meaning to you. Dance!

Soothe Yourself

I am scared of what getting older may mean for my own changes.  It has taken so many years to develop the peace I have in my heart.  My husband has been by my side for close to 45 years.  Our kids have become amazing people who are kind and thoughtful.  Our grandkids are a joy to watch grow up learning about their strengths and hurdles.

It is so simple to say “enjoy your day” it is harder to actually live it.  I will do my best ……..

Our Yard —
My Happy Place


Family Is Everywhere

Sometimes family is not related by blood. You can meet them in the grocery store, the park, or like me this week, on vacation at a campground.  Everywhere I turn there are happy people who love their time here.  That has become so rare in my world.

Simple Life

Most people I see are in a hurry to get to their next thing.  Listening and paying attention to others has become rare.  Isolation has become normal and add to that social media, you can fake that you have friends and listening is replaced with a “like” symbol.

As I have always known, every person has a story to tell.  This week there are many that have openly told theirs.  Some have kept us laughing while others brought tears and empathy.  Each campsite is unique and radiates an individual welcome sign for all who pass by.  The common denominator though are patios with lights that twinkle saying “come on in — tell us about yourself.”

When did neighborhoods become so unfriendly? Why does different mean fear? Why are backyards empty?  Isolation has become an accepted daily ritual.  That safety net is the road to loneliness.

Everyone Welcome

I am convinced it is time to change the community atmosphere. Every block should designate the house where everyone feels welcomed and finds real social interaction.  Walking in the door means turning off the TV and cell phone — listening to individual stories of the week.

Re-learning a feeling of community will feel like riding a bike.  It won’t be hard to remember how to do it.

Kindness Is Contagious — Sherry Carver


When Movies Matter

. . . Memories
May be beautiful and yet
What’s too painful to remember
We simply to choose to forget
So it’s the laughter
We will remember
Whenever we remember
The way we were”
Songwriters: Marvin Hamlisch, Marilyn Bergman, Alan Bergman.

Tonight is the Oscar Ceremony.  I used to be glued to this award show and would never miss it.  I tried hard to watch all the movies that were being honored.  I treated it like a holiday and made sure dinner was special.

I now barely watch the show.  What happened?  Did I lose interest?  Have reality shows ruined the medium?  Does the ability to stream so much content overwhelm me?  Did social media and all of it’s revelations ruin my imagination?

For so long, movies were my escape into a world that I always thought of as magical.  The stars of the movie seemed impossible to know — they were mysterious and their private lives were unknown for the most part.  They could be who I saw in the movie — even if for just a little while.

I pictured being a kid in “The Sound of Music” and the family escaping into happiness through their music.  I wanted to be the girl who made everyone laugh in “Funny Girl” and develop strength to carry on in the face of heartbreak.  I could see myself saving my family from ruin in “Gone With The Wind” and being Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” who longed for the feeling of home.

My parents own divorce came the same year as “The Way We Were” and my tears rolled uncontrollably when Katie and Hubbell decided they were never going to compromise enough to stay together — they could not find their way back to each other and although it stung, it opened the door to healing my own heart.

It is important to escape thoughts — it is not unrealistic to believe that everything will turn out okay in the end — dreaming that you are like the people you admire is essential to finding out what you are made of.   The opportunity for many takes before making decisions is always your own choice.



I Can’t Fix The Space If The People Are Broken

There are times I am called to come and make things right.  People are not happy but cannot pinpoint the reason why.  I have long learned that “I can’t fix the space if the people are broken.” 

There are so many reasons to get stuck and it usually ends up with never being able to donate, trash or organize our stuff.   As a raving fan of Marie Kondo — I love this quote by her;

The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.

Marie Kondo

I enter a person’s space and can visualize their headspace.  Priorities surface immediately.  I just let them talk about their frustrations and listen for clues.  I leave with a notebook of ideas but wait for that second call to start.  No one wants to empty a room, drawer, desk or closet but that is where I know the process begins.  

I now use this concept as a teacher’s aide.  Desks have a flow.  Finding a place for everything gives a feeling of calm.  A cluttered room leads to cluttered thinking or in particular overwhelm.  Overwhelm leads to getting nothing done.  People need a space of their own and a way to keep it exactly the way that gives them peace.  Make time to use your creative side. . . . . . . . 

Create a Garden

Discover Photography


“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in the hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” — Jamie Anderson

I can’t think of a better way to describe the emptiness that comes with sudden loss, irreversible loss, loss of a future.

I have had two neighbors lose their husbands in the last few months. Their grief is deep and inconsolable at times. Their planned futures are cut short and they are left with daily chores that seem meaningless. It speaks to the magic of a couple who work together side by side to create a home and a life. When one is gone — the dreams die quickly.

While not the same, the grief the world is feeling is quite like dreams dying while we wait out the pandemic spread to wane. No one was prepared to abruptly stop normalcy and stay home with no end in sight. That is the scary phrase “no end in sight.” What do we do with our plans, our goals and all the pent up energy that feels wasted?

It took me a while to accept change. One month turned into three and then four and we are entering month five. This length of time of altered plans will stay in our brains for a long time. I am finally believing that life will not return as it was last year.

That fact is not easy to accept. Seems that the 21st Century is trying to tell us something about normalcy. It won’t let us get complacent. There was 9/11 which shook our security to new lows. There was the financial meltdown of the stock and real estate markets of 2008-2009. Now the pandemic has created a world wide shift of the economy, business solvency and social gatherings. Every day there are more deaths to report. Seemingly healthy people suddenly end up in the hospital in a life or death situation. Staying home is the safest place.

My life had evolved into very little staying home. I found joy in the career I had created and spent my free time at my local coffee shop writing. Home was just a place to regroup and set up for the next day. The forced stay at home was not easy to accept.

As in the past, I have found that boredom breeds creativity. I discovered that being outside gardening is much more fun that sitting inside watching TV. Sitting outside with my IPad is better for me than sitting in a coffee shop. Staying home more is better than getting up early and being gone all day.

I’m getting more sleep. I found gardening is a great hobby. Getting outside is relieving anxiety and giving me a new sense of peace. I don’t miss the busyness I created.

Losing my daily routine is not near as difficult as the grief my two neighbors are experiencing. The grief that the world is going through is on different levels but grief nonetheless.

Has this been eye opening? Yes. Has it been easy? No. Do I want my life to return to how it was in 2019? No.

I have found a new joy in a simpler life. I appreciate what my husband and I have built together. To lose him in the middle of our journey would have been devastating. I am grateful that we are facing this together. Plans have to change for many reasons.

Slowing down has helped me prioritize where I spend my time. Slowing down has opened my eyes to appreciation. Slowing down has made me focus on where I hope to be in a few years. Needing recognition and “stuff” is not necessary. Being outdoors, exercising and eating home cooked meals are a start to a better life.

My Joy of Gardening
Simple Beauty


I have taken a lot of time to think this week. It is not enough to be enraged by what is going on in our country. It takes a total “rewirement” of thought process and development of new habits.

I had signed up for the Yale online class “The Science of Well-Being” a few months ago and found that the last few sessions focused on ways to rewire the brain and reach goals by making new thought connections to what I wanted to accomplish.

I have never worked harder on a homework assignment. I found that being aware of each detail of where I am in my day really helped me focus on the moment and realizing where my thinking could keep me off track. I am training to set out certain times of the day to change my routine. I moved slower but accomplished more. I listened to the voice inside my head telling me to pay attention.

I now have new tools for the bigger change in me. To really listen and understand that others life experience is wrought with daily fight or flight responses. They cannot just wish it away. It is a humanity problem that has long since been swept under the rug for another day. Being kind is not enough. It takes paying attention to how I listen, what books I read, what podcasts I follow and diversity of my social world. It is time for me to get schooled on how to effect the change that black lives hope to see. They have a lot to contribute to our nation and it is time to stop just wishing it were so. I am as responsible as anyone to make this happen.

Like the new blooms on the rose bush, I need to start from the beginning and rewire my old habits. There is more beauty to discover in the differences of others experiences. I am listening instead of giving my opinion and watching through different eyes.

Start Again

Just Be Kind

This week has touched me in ways that I realize come from my own soul searching. The first change I made with myself was to learn to listen differently. I quit trying to fix the situation with my opinion. Instead, I asked questions. Big difference to the person talking to me. I hear the story and then let them tell me what they think. Listening now consists of NOT talking.

I am NOT coming to the conversation with preconceived ideas. Every situation is different and warrants a thoughtful list of facts. That should give a thoughtful list of solutions.

I am just beginning to react to our week of protests. I needed to be made aware of my own biases. I did not have a diverse group of books, business owners, music and last but not least Instagram people I follow. I needed to broaden my world and understand what it would be like to “walk in different shoes.”

And to start it off — Just Be Kind —

I Miss My Coffee Shop

What do you miss during this time of staying home? I miss going to my favorite coffee shop — Bodhi Leaf Coffee. It’s not about the coffee as I drink tea (which they have my favorite iced green tea) but about the atmosphere and my motivation while there to write my blog. It did not matter that there were noise distractions from other customers, I was able to focus and put myself in a very calm zone. I miss the friendly faces behind the counter who always greeted me with “Hi Sherry!”

Bodhi — My Comfort Place

I have been ordering their coffee online for my entire family. I am doing the next best thing I know how to do by ordering their products online and surprising my out of state family with coffee delivered to their door.

I miss walking freely around my town. Most of the public places have been closed to keep us safe from group gathering. I miss going out without a second thought about my health. Who knew that masks, gloves and cleansing wipes would become a part of going out in public?

The unknown is what is so challenging. I read a great article the other day from Harvard Business Review ~~ That Discomfort Your’re Feeling is Grief ~~ the article gave me some key points:

  • The goal is to find balance in the things you’re thinking
  • Anticipatory grief is the mind going to the future and imagining the worst. To calm yourself, you want to come into the present.
  • You can also think about how to let go of what you can’t control.
  • There’s angerYou’re making me stay home and taking away my activities. There’s bargainingOkay, if I social distance for two weeks everything will be better, right? There’s sadnessI don’t know when this will end. And finally there’s acceptanceThis is happening; I have to figure out how to proceed.
  • And, I believe we will find meaning in it. I’ve been honored that Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s family has given me permission to add a sixth stage to grief: Meaning.

So that word MEANING jumped out at me. What has helped me navigate the fear is trying to think about what might change for the better because of this. Here are a few of my ideas:

  • Traffic problems will ease if more people are set up to work remotely at least two days a week;
  • Teachers have become the new heroes to everyone — no one will ever wonder what they do to teach our kids;
  • Doctors and nurses are as vital as firemen, police officers and first responders ~~ they went to the frontline to do battle;
  • Custodians in every type of business are the people we never see ~~ they do their work at night when we are home ~~ they are as necessary to our survival as the CEO of the company;
  • Stay at home parents are set up for a thankless “what do you do all day” job ~~ that will never be a problem again;
  • I hope all leaders of every country realize that by working together we can overcome anything;
  • Kindness works — a smile or a thank you goes a long way.

I know that I am making my life simpler each day. I am seeing nature in a different way. It can teach us about renewal and that no matter what forces try to destroy it, there will always be something green growing from the ground.

Roses Are Blooming

What Really Matters

Will today’s emergency even be remembered? Will that thing you’re particularly anxious about have been hardly worth the time you put into it?

Better Question: What could you do today that would matter a year from now? Seth Godin

Anxiety became a part of my life at about age 20. I can’t say that before then I didn’t worry but it never caused me to lose sleep or suffer panic attacks. I was young and had no life experience. I was making decisions for myself with no thought about my goals. As a matter of fact, I had no goals.

My world was changing drastically and I guess you could say I was free falling, hanging onto my childhood and life at home for dear life. There was no push for me to go to college and even though I got good grades in high school, I had never thought about a career. In 1973 girls were still given a pass if they chose not to go to college. I had no money saved and going against type, I just left junior college without even withdrawing. I was bored and lost.

While I realize that my parent’s going through a heartbreaking divorce at the time had moved the needle toward anxiety, I cannot blame them or their choices for my own. High School was such a haven for me that I truly thought it would go on forever. How could I be so responsible yet so immature? I was definitely on a path to learn the hard way.

After reading the above quote from Seth Godin, I thought about what it meant. It seems obvious, the daily worries will subside and it’s better to plan for your future. I reread it many times to understand that anxiousness and worry are a dead end waste of energy. Then I realized that it took ENERGY (Definition: the capacity for vigorous activity; available power) to create my anxiety and more ENERGY to work through a panic attack. The lightbulb came on this morning to a solution — treat energy as a tangible thing, not just a feeling.

I’ve started taking a minute to test my energy level for every task of the day. Starting with just one day is less overwhelming. I’m trying to make my daily structure fulfilling and productive. Even cleaning a bathroom can be satisfying when you see the end result. Once the bathroom is clean, it leads to rearranging and moving things. A picture straightened and appreciated, a glass vase looking better on the other side of the sink with the dust being wiped off, the reflection in the mirror is better when there are no water marks on it. I began a process of being slow, steady and paying attention to what is front of me. While I am organizing and cleaning, my brain starts to sort itself out too. I faced each day calmer. My focus was better — instead of anxious I started to feel motivated.

My Energy Source

I was not ready for the world at 20 because I did not look at it as a great and wonderful source of choices. I was closed off to adventure. I stayed safe within the confines of pleasing. I followed the expected path. It doesn’t really please anyone to do what you think they want from you. The energy is directed away from your soul and dissipates out in the air with nothing to show for it. I now visualize my energy floating away — a great vision to check on myself.

So I thought about what and where I get energy from and how it has replaced worry and anxiety:

  • Writing this Blog
  • Organizing a Mess (throwing it all in the middle and sorting before it goes back)
  • Knowing what I have — financial and material
  • Reading Biographies (I am fascinated to see how people get where they are)
  • Bodhi Leaf Coffee and it’s fireplace
  • Listening to kids and learning from them
  • Binge watching a TV show
  • Hallmark Christmas Movies
  • Family Time (grown kids are amazing friends who are honest and true)
I Need More Adventures

One thing missing on my list is “Planning Adventures” — I need to start small with day adventures and learn to leave the chores behind once in a while. Sometimes doing nothing accomplishes exactly what you need for the day.

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