Pets & Anxiety

A fun one that is basically me choosing anxiety. I love my pups. More than anything. But WOW do they cause me some mental (and occasionally financial) issues.

My good girl Berlyn took on my bitchy personality traits where she doesn’t want anything to do with anyone except for a select few chosen ones. (Sometimes I’m even one of her chosen!) She wants to play fetch and, very rarely and on her specific and weird terms only, she will play with her brother. When she is done playing, instead of just being done playing she picks a fight and storms off in a huff. She’s…ridiculous.

My buddy and Berlyn’s brother, Riff, is my sweet ball of anxious energy incarnate. He. Is. Wild. He is typical whippet running up the walls (seriously, YouTube it). He is also typical napping greyhound after the energy is spent in 30 seconds. He is laser focused on food until – SQUIRREL! And then he obsesses about that squirrel until he gets his toys. He moves on to fetch. For the rest of the day. Non-stop. I mean, try it. Try and stop him. He will kick the toy and chase it for himself. He’s also super territorial about me and HATES it when I leave the house. (I get it – I also hate it when I leave the house.)

Between the two of these dogs and their temper tantrums and my constant worry that something might happen to them, there is a certain level of anxiety that never goes away as long as I have pets. If I could clear every other aspect of my life, I would still have this base level of afdjhudnvdf because I have these dogs. I love them and will never get rid of them and I’m not saying Bad Vegan lady was right, I’m just saying if you promise immortality for my dogs: I’m listening.

All of this drama and awareness of how I live with dogs and constant anxiety just to say: it’s a lot. So I got a puppy. Obviously.

Fav Anxiety Symptoms

I (very) recently started experiencing a new symptom. That made me think about alllll the symptoms and how they’re all so different that it’s weird anxiety was ever able to be diagnosed in the first place. So, obviously, I decided to share my fav symptoms ending with the newest one. And though it should be clear, I will still note that when I say “fav” I do not mean that I actually like or enjoy any of these symptoms. They all suck and anxiety is a monster but laughter helps.

  1. The Sahara-Arctic Pickle. About half of the time I can tell when I’m getting a panic attack because I get super hot for no reason. I’m not in the sun, not working out, usually just sitting there and boom: SWEATING. I can sometimes cut it off if I can get cold enough quick enough. This is weird for someone who is always too cold because I usually have a sweater on year round and then all of the sudden my head is in the freezer. Literally. I stick my head and as much of my body as can maneuver into the cramped space of the nearest freezer to try and get real cold real fast. If it works then I don’t get panic attack! If it doesn’t work then I get the attack…and then I get all regular sweaty…and then I shiver for an hour. Because I was in a freezer.
  2. Footsie. And no, not the flirty kind. Although, I guess if someone shares a café table and I end up kicking them because I can’t keep still then they could take it that way? Usually they just think I’m kicking them to get more space though. Which, not wrong. I don’t need anyone near me that I didn’t specifically consent to being near me. But I’m also not kicking them on purpose, you know? I just can’t control my legs. And if I do, it eventually ends up in my hands. Fingers tap, tap, tap; pens click, click, click.
  3. Accordion Spine. I guess another form of a panic attack? Not entirely sure. What I do know, as a person who has only ever seen an accordion in movies and never in real life, is that it feels like my spine is being pressed from the top down and the base up like an accordion closing. One of the most unpleasant feelings on the planet and the really fun part? It sometimes lasts *hours*. Imagine that Itchy and Scratchy show from The Simpsons: Itchy takes out the spine of Scratchy, turns it horizontal. He presses it from each end inward. He makes the most godawful music straight from Scratchy’s back.
    Speaking of Itchy…
  4. Itch City. In the most recent of developments in my presenting anxiety, I have been itchy AF. At first I thought it was an allergic reaction. After ruling that out I was just confused until my mom was like, “probably anxiety, it shows up weird sometimes.” So from the soles of feet to my neck I have been scratching like I have fleas. (I don’t. No bed bugs either.) Luckily (?) my new anxiety meds are also used as an antihistamine. However, if I take said meds I can expect to be passing out soon. And when I wake up it looks like I got attacked by Freddie Kreuger when his blades are dull.

So, aside from all the constant shaking and tapping and inability to sit totally still I’d say these are my most fun symptoms. People could play roulette on me leaving the house and win big money. It won’t be all of the things every time, but it will be one of the things most times. I want to wonder what other weird symptoms are out there but I steer clear of pondering on that too much so I don’t end up accidentally manifesting it for myself.

Anxious Thoughts About Things That Don’t Concern Me

Sometimes I get really buzzy anxiety that makes my heart race and my legs restless and suddenly I need to walk/sprint 5 miles but also I’m paralyzed by indecision and I can’t??? It’s really stupid and obviously *I KNOW* it’s stupid and I shouldn’t be concerned but my body is on a different playing field. So while my brain is like, “Calm down, this 1) doesn’t make sense and 2) isn’t something that’s ever happened, my body is like, “You fool. It doesn’t matter if it’s never happened – think about this: WHAT IF IT DID?” And then my brain is like, “You’re absolutely right! I will now freak out with you.”
So here’s another list. This time of things that cause me a higher amount of anxiety than they should, especially considering they aren’t really based in reality.

  1. The medical field and cavemen.
    Sometimes when I get a headache (or similar) and medicine is temporarily unavailable I think to myself, “This is probably good practice. They didn’t have it in cavemen times and they were fine.” And then from there I think the spiral is obvious. We’re not cavepeople now, sure, but if another meteor strikes? Or even if just one of those many apocalypse scenarios happens? Suddenly most of mankind is dead and do you really think it’s going to be all doctors that survive? No. You’re gonna have to fight to get a doctor on your squad. What if another squad can offer your doctor more food than you and they switch? Then you have to find a new squad and that’s only if they let you leave alive! You never know. Humans are stupid and we could end up without meds again.
  2. Killer Hide’n’Seek.
    When I go into new buildings/houses I like (read: need) to figure out where I could hide in the inevitable case a killer/the government/a purge crew shows up to either take me or kill me. It can’t be an obvious one though, like sure I could fit in the cabinet under the sink but so could many people. I need to find the half sized cabinet for storing lids only, or under a bed that has a cardboard cutout that looks like the wall but is really hiding a lot of stuff shoved under the bed to get behind. Somewhere they wouldn’t automatically think to look. Maybe I can fit through a ceiling tile? Behind an awkward shelf? Not finding a spot is not where the anxiety kicks in though, it’s how much time I spend on this imaginary scenario. Then I start going through enemies in my head and ranking who’s most likely to show up. I start imagining what I must have done to make them come after me. I think about if there are any other people in the house: will I need to forego the hiding and defend my pride, or are they people I’d be okay with leaving as a little buffer between me and whatever entity is coming for me? This is all nonsense, I KNOW THAT. But this is a since-childhood thing and old habits, ya know?
  3. Imagination school.
    Every so often I will think something in the opposite direction of my current career trajectory sounds cool. So I’ll lightly check into what it entails. What certifications, deadlines, salary, PTO policy etc. I could expect. And then I will get overwhelmed and I’ll close all my browser tabs and give up. And from there, all my research meets me in bed – and not in the sexy way. It’s there like, “Hey you know you have a deadline coming up to apply to go back to school, right?” Or, “Girl, you know you’re not going to pass that certification exam if you’re not studying, right?” Studying what?! I don’t have to make any actual step in the direction of changing something in my life, I just have to kind of think about it and my body hits me up, “LOL you absolute idiot. You really thought you could imagine a different life with no consequences?”
  4. Singers and actors.
    You ever hear a song on the radio that just hits you? Or watch a movie and the actress just moves you? It gets a little tiny hook in your heart and just shifts your worldview to the point where you start thinking about what if you made that song/movie? You’d be so famous right now and you’d be the one who made someone feel like you’re feeling? Basically, if you’d been born as said singer/actress your world would be vastly different? Yeah, me neither.
  5. Alternate timelines and infinite potential outcomes.
    And, finally. Once in a while, I will start thinking about past, abandoned projects. And I’ll think about how amazing they would have been if I’d finished. Writing a book, art projects, training for a 5K, learning a new language, getting the guts to try out for some sort of acting gig. My anxiety ramps up thinking about all the things I could have done if I lived in the reality where I completed them and not in this current reality where I didn’t (yes, like in Men in Black). This causes a little panic-sesh of starting new projects (like this blog…we’ll see how long it lasts) and then I quit those too.

I’ll stop here because I’m, I mean this is, getting to be a bit much, right? I will now go have anxiety about both not making this longer and making it at all.

Mental Health Reads

Here’s a list of books that address mental health that I love love love. I can’t relate to every single aspect of every book and you likely won’t either, but even just one gives that warm hug feeling of not being alone. Plus, the great thing about books is there’s always something for every genre! While I love Jenny Lawson, for example, for her raw and open discussion about her own personal experience with mental health, I’m also a huge fan of thrillers (# 5). This is just a short list, but trust me – start adding these to your tbr lists online and the web will start recommending more like them!

  1. Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson – alternately hilarious, blunt, spear to the heart sad, and relatable.
    Non-fiction, memoir
  2. Broken by Jenny Lawson – same as 1, but different stories and more about her family.
    Non-fiction, memoir
  3. What Kind of Woman by Kate Baer – beautiful collection of poetry about what it is, can feel like, can seem, to be a woman.
    Poetry
  4. The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves – a second chance love story about Annika Rose, a girl who likes being alone with her books, where she doesn’t have to worry about people and saying the wrong thing. She never had that problem with Jonathan though, and he’s just walked back into her life after 10 years.
    Fiction, contemporary romance
  5. The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth – Fern Castle has a strict schedule. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week, she works at her local library, she follows the rules. She also avoids bright lights, crowds, and loud noises as much as possible. Any disruption in her routine could be dangerous. But when Rose finds out she can’t have children, Fern thinks she can do it for her. She will have a baby for Rose to thank her for all she’s done. Now she just needs to find a man…
    Fiction, thriller

I hope you find some enjoyment in one or all of these! And no in between – you like one or you like all five and that’s the deal. 😉 But seriously, enjoy! And yes, I’ve read (or listened) to all of these and they are all great! Drop your favs in the comments below!

The Cure for Anxiety!

Just kidding.

But these things will help! As a professional anxiety-haver, I’ve been working pretty hard on getting it under control. So aside from the obvious (Xanax, alcohol, excessive sleep) these are some things I’ve found that help me. If they don’t help you then…don’t do them, I guess? I bet you’ll like at least one of these suggestions though 😉

  1. Puzzles. I prefer crossword but word search, sudoku, actual physical puzzles, are all great too. Gives you something to focus on which helps to calm your system down. Personally, I feel like I’m buzzing when I have anxiety so that feeling goes away. Or at least simmers at a low hum instead.
  2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation for the lazy person (hi, it’s me). You can probably find a more detailed version anywhere online. Here, you get the easy version. I start by flexing my toes and move up. Flex toes, count slowly to ten. Flex feet, count slowly to ten. Calves to ten. Quads to ten. Butt to ten. Abs to ten. Hands, arms (biceps), chest, shoulders. At the end it’s like you’ve taken a nice long cat stretch and your whole body feels more peaceful. Obviously there are way more muscles than listed here but my version works for panic attacks as well so there’s that little benefit too since it’s the “quick” (lazy) version.
  3. Exercise. Kickboxing if you’re frustrated too or yoga or barre for more flowy, stretchy moves to help your body relax. Plus, endorphins. And you know what Elle Woods says about endorphins!
  4. Water. I like to look at pics of it. I’ll just google “water” and look at ocean pics. This could probably work for pictures of anything you find soothing though. Puppies. Various forms of potatoes.
  5. Binge that show. Schitt’s Creek. The Office or Parks and Rec. The Walking Dead or Dexter. Science-y people say to watch something you’ve already seen because you already know it so it’s soothing. I agree but also disagree. Sometimes a new true crime doc helps too.
  6. Read. Takes your mind out of reality for a bit which I find helps me reset.
  7. Therapy/counseling. Talking to someone who can help you work through your problems/anxieties can help so much. Tools (like this list) come out of it. Your behavior changes in a healthy way as you focus on yourself and your mental health. Insurance companies should really include mental healthcare but as they don’t places like Therapy Den can help (not an ad, I just find them helpful) and you can always Google around and call different counselors to see if they can work with your budget.
  8. Pet a dog. I don’t feel inclined to provide further explanation here.

Soooo, thanks for reading along in my serious of anxious events. Hopefully one of these will work for you and if not or even if so but you ALSO happen to know of others, drop it in the comments to share!

A (non-comprehensive) List of Things I Don’t Finish…

…due to anxiety.

  1. Beverages. Usually hot, idk why. Because what if I drink it too fast and I want more? So then the coffee gets cold and I reheat which is never as good and then I don’t finish it again. Usually like 5 reheats and it’s still half full at the end of the day.
  2. Decorating. Because what if I don’t like it afterward? It will have been a waste of time (lol, who cares?) and/or money.
  3. Books. Because if it’s good and I finish then its over and then what? I could read it again but I won’t so instead I do neither.
  4. Series. I know the others were good so will it live up to the hype?! Will it be a huge let down? A waste of time??! Will I be too sad when it’s over? Examples: Twilight (books, not the movies), Zoo (the show, not the books)
  5. Hobbies. Because what if I don’t get better? What if I get TOO GOOD?
  6. Making plans. Because what if I don’t want to go later because, you guessed, anxiety! So then I pretend I’m spontaneous which is also…not great for anxiety….
  7. Writing blogs/articles/a book…I mean, what if it’s just bad? So I’m making myself write one which brings me to…
  8. This list. Because I’m sure anyone can tell by the groundbreaking content here that there has to be at least 50 more.

Birth of the Fae: Locked Out of Heaven by Danielle M. Orsino

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

Welcome to my TLC Book Tour stop for the gorgeous and magical world of Birth of the Fae: Locked Out of Heaven! Danielle M. Orsino takes us through the history of how the fae -think dryads, mermaids, fairies, gnomes, and all the magical creatures- came to be.

While out doing their heavenly duties for the Golden Kingdom and God himself, the Virtue Angels are on earth preparing for God’s grand plans, while the Power Angels are fighting an unseen war. But one day, God shuts the gates. He abandons his angels, takes their wings back and leaves without a word.

Many angels cannot take the pain that their poisoned wings and magic bring on their powerful bodies and take their own lives. Many more stay on Earth and band together to heal themselves and continue to care for the planet and all the creatures on it. Queen Aurora leads those who were once Virtues and Jarvon leads the former Powers. All seems to be peaceful and well until Queen Aurora is called on to interfere in a new “faction” that have been hunting fae deer. A new “faction” God always promised and has finally delivered on.

This book is a lot of description and backstory so I have a feeling the real juice is going to be in book two. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to unpack here. I mean, Danielle basically just brought us new age mythology and a whole new take on the magical creatures that all of us (don’t lie) are obsessed with. The main thing here? The “what happened” (angels abandoned and turned fae) and the “consequences” (many factions of fae, all unique but alike in their agreement that human worship is the end game.)

Thanks so much to TLC Book Tours for reaching out and allowing me to read and share this one! If you like angels/demons or mythology or origin stories then I think this might be the heavenly little escape you’re looking for in a book!

Ride on the backs of fire breathing dragons with the Dark Fae and watch the Light Fae play in the shadows of primitive humanity as they build their magical world. Abandoned by their creator, two factions of powerful angels remain on earth after the Great War with Lucifer. They struggle to comprehend their Creator’s plan while their angel wings, a symbol of their angelic lineage, slowly and painfully decay. With no hope of returning to the Shining Kingdom, two groups of angels denounce their angelic lineage and develop into separate factions – the Court of Light, led by Queen Aurora, a former Virtue Angel, and the Court of Dark, ruled by King Jarvok, a former Power Brigade Angel. The two monarchs have opposing views on how to govern their kin, but the one belief they agree on is that human worship equals power.

Birth of the Fae: Locked Out of Heaven is an epic fantasy adventure of heartbreak, rebirth, and hope that examines the bonds of family, friendship, and love. It is a fantastic tale of good vs evil in a beautiful world, where the Light Fae and their potent elemental magick are tested by the raw power of the dragon riding Dark Faewarriors.

Purchase: Amazon l Barnes & Noble

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About Danielle M. Orsino

Danielle M. Orsino is taking on her biggest challenge to date: the debut of her fantasy novel, Birth of the Fae: Locked out of Heaven. Expanding her love of writing and exploring the world of fantasy novels, she delves into the realm of fairies and retells their origins from a completely new perspective. Orsino has a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and Exercise science and is an LPN with a special interest in Lyme disease research. This novel was born from her long treatment sessions with a patient who asked her to tell him a story for a distraction, which sent Orsino on a journey longer than she had anticipated. Orsino has been widely recognized from her influence and experience in martial arts realm, training for over 20 years and with over 500 tournament wins, and accumulating national and world titles. She has performed for former President of the United States Bill Clinton and has been featured on “Soap Talk, Fox Five news CBS, TLC and E!. With this experience, she worked as a Fight Choreographer on”Wonder Woman: Balance of Power” and has worked with the likes of martial arts legend Vincent Lyn and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

The Hive Queen by Robin Kirk

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

Welcome, welcome to my TLC Book Tour review for the second book in The Bond Trilogy, The Hive Queen! Dystopian future meets fantasy in this futuristic look at a time when humans are engineered rather than made in…traditional ways. I’m talking Handmaids meet Avatars.

Of course if you’ve read here before you know I love dystopians but this was an extra interesting take. Following The Bond where Dinitra and 12 ultimately help Fir and his brothers escape a captivity where they only serve their mothers, this is Fir’s story. Headed toward The Master (leader of men) he must travel through The Hive Queen’s domain (leader of drafts) where she’s in interested in more than a friendship with Fir. But Fir has places to be – specifically those free of women as he has always been held captive due to being a man.

Wild battle scenes ensue with drafts (animal, human, plant concoctions) and men as Fir must continually rescue others from death. And in true dystopian style Robin Kirk has no problem killing characters off and some bloody gore. I don’t mean to say kill all the characters, but it definitely keeps you on your toes and adds an element of suspense.

If you like dystopians or SciFi or Fantasy then this is a series you’ll want to grab! It was a fun and very entertaining read in a completely new world – one where women rule (duh) and men are hunted due to their violence toward women and the planet. But as you continue you start to wonder, at what point is it justice and when does it cross the line back into violence for violence’s sake?

In the second book in the INDIE-award-winning Bond Trilogy, warrior Fir leads his brothers on a quest for salvation that will threaten everything he holds dear.

After the battle that toppled the Weave, warrior Fir leads his brothers east to escape servitude, or worse—death at the hands of rival warriors. They search for the fabled Master of Men who promises freedom for men in the Weave. But their quest leads them to a foe more dangerous than they could have imagined.

When the beautiful Hive Queen, Odide, bespells Fir, he’s compelled to betray his brothers—and risks dooming them all to an unspeakable fate. To survive, Fir must choose between his loyalty to his brothers, his allegiance to the Queen, and his love for Dinitra.

But salvation is not what it seems. When theworlds of the Hive and the Master collide, it triggers a devastating betrayal that leaves Fir with an impossible choice: can he sacrifice his brothers for the love he thought he could never have?

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Thanks again to TLC Book Tours and Robin Kirk for my copy to read and share!

Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters by Emily Carpenter

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters entangled in my homegrown pumpkin vine.

A sequel and a stand-alone, Emily Carpenter brings us Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters. The story of Ruth “Dove” Jarrod, one half of the heal-through-prayer sisters that traveled southern Alabama in the 1930s.

The story alternates between Ruth, who was born in an insane asylum to a mother who would later kill herself leaving Ruth to plan her escape, and her granddaughter Eve who has spent her life keeping secrets for Ruth. Ruth’s story is from her escape through her death and the events that made her who she was: an evangelist healer traveling the world to cure people’s ailments. Eve’s story is of a cover. She’s spent the last 8 years keeping Dove’s BIG secrets, that were otherwise buried with her, to protect her mother and brother. It turns out someone might know and expose her anyway. This she is sent racing through Dove’s last trying to uncover the secrets that are being threatened to be exposed in order to save the foundation Eve and her family run in Dove’s name.

This was my first trek through southern gothic fiction and it was such a great read and entertaining story. I definitely recommend if you liked The Lost Girls of Devon or Where the Crawdads Sing. I was so sucked into this story I couldn’t put it down until I started falling asleep…I got up immediately the next morning to finish.

Rarely does an author go from start to finish in a non-thriller and not lose me at some point along the way. You’re basically a passenger of Eve’s throughout the story with glimpses into the famous and infamous Dove’s past. Truly great read.

Dove Jarrod was a renowned evangelist and faith healer. Only her granddaughter, Eve Candler, knows that Dove was a con artist. In the eight years since Dove’s death, Eve has maintained Dove’s charitable foundation – and her lies. But just as a documentary team wraps up a shoot about the miracle worker, Eve is assaulted by a vengeful stranger intent on exposing what could be Dove’s darkest secret: murder…

Tuscaloosa,1934: a wily young orphan escapes the psychiatric hospital where she was born. When she joins the itinerant inspirational duo, the Hawthorn Sisters, the road ahead is one of stirring new possibilities. And, with an obsessive predator on her trail, one of untold dangers. For a young girl to survive, desperate choices must be made.

Now, in order to protect her family, Eve will join forces with the investigative filmmaker and one of Dove’s friends, risking everything to unravel the truth behind the accusations against her grandmother. But will the truth set her free, or set her world on fire?

Connect with Emily: Website l Instagram

Pre-order from your local store for October 20, 2020 release! Colorado local? Try Barbed Wire Books or The Used Book Emporium! Otherwise check Barnes & Noble, Target or even Amazon to get your hands on your next great Southern fiction read!

Thanks so much to Lake Union Publishing for my copy to read and share!

Questions of Perspective by Daniel Maunz

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

My TLC Book Tour stop this time is for possibly one of the most intriguing books I’ve read – thanks to TLC and Daniel Maunz for my copy to read and share!

Dave Randall’s life changed forever on April 19, 2011. Of course, he didn’t know it at that time or he might have made some different choices. Instead, when Dave’s friend and coworker John goes missing, Dave throws himself into his boring life as an insurance attorney.

Just as Dave’s life is getting to a new normal- work hard, go home, play with Peaches (the cat he adopted when John disappeared), go back to work and do it again- Dave is shown a new understanding to what happened to John. This leads Dave to search and try to uncover what it really means to live. In this search, he also looks to find what out happened to John and how and why.

This was told in such a way that I was reading about non-serial killer attorneys and their day to day and enjoying it. I wasn’t reading a fast paced thriller and yet I couldn’t put it down. I had to know what happened and then toward the end it’s like the book leveled up and all of a sudden I was with Dave on his race against time.

To wrap up: wow. Very interesting read with some laughable moments, the coolest cat, and some interesting questions. I’m still wondering what I would do in these characters’ shoes which is always a sign to me that more people should read a book!

No one knew it at the time, but April 19, 2011, was the most important day in the history of the world.

After his only friend and colleague, John Manta, disappears without a word, Dave Randall further entrenches himself in the humdrum life of an unenthusiastic lawyer. But once he begins to understand what happened, he embarks on a journey to uncover the deeper meanings and implications of John’s fate.

Accompanied by Peaches the cat, Dave uproots his life and reinvents himself in the midst of his search. Along the way, he is haunted by his piecemeal understanding of John’s fate and what it means for his existence. Little does Dave know, his journey of self-discovery will have ramifications that extend far beyond the borders of his own little life.

Purchase at: Amazon l Books-a-Million l Barnes & Noble

Connect with Daniel: Website l Facebook l Twitter l Instagram