Learning to take our own Advice



Isn’t it always the hardest thing to do – taking our own advice?

I’m as guilty as the next guy when it comes to giving good advice to others, and not following my own advice.


When life is particularly challenging, and friends or family come to me for some encouraging words, I help them dissect their worries and find steps to a solution.

When we feel overwhelmed and bombarded by what can sometimes feel like the walls crumbling around us, it can feel similar to starting to put together a 5000 piece puzzle. I know this feeling well because I’ve been living a puzzle for quite some time now. When our world gets disrupted by unforeseen circumstances and our daily goals we’ve set to accomplish can’t be met, we need to rearrange our priorities and come up with a Plan B. But what do we do?


We start at the edges and build from there. We find a starting point.


We need to break down our concerns and ‘to do’ lists:

  • We need to put our worries and ‘to do’s’ on paper, because if we don’t file them somewhere, they’ll be taking up a lot of real estate in our brains.

  • Concentrate on the things with the highest priority.

  • Make a simple list of what we need to accomplish for TODAY only.

  • Don’t look at the whole puzzle – choose each day’s spot where we wish to begin, and where we leave off –  we’ll get back to it tomorrow.

  • Everything doesn’t have to be finished in one day.


one day


One day at a time is a phrase I’ve learned to believe in. I was so used to telling others not to worry about everything all at once, or pushing themselves to get everything done in a day, but I didn’t practice what I preached. I finally had to succumb to my own words.


It’s hard to change our ways, but if we can train ourselves to remember to take a breath, and make a list of just one or two things we’d like to accomplish in one day, and not focus on all the other things in our ‘to do’ pile, what we need to do tomorrow and next week, we can lessen our anxieties.


When life gets messy and we’re inundated with things to do, we can easily crack under the pressures if we’re constantly worrying about everything we haven’t accomplished. If you’re anything like me, compulsive about staying on top of everything, getting chores and daily goals checked off your list, or worrying about the backlog awaiting us from the things we didn’t get done, this can create an unhealthy state of anxiety.


Logical thinking reminds us that we have so much to do, which in turn sets off the anxiety when we know that we just can’t do it all. So, we have to formulate a plan for what we CAN get done in a day, instead of the million things we’re wishing we could wipe off our lists.


The month of March, my husband had been quite ill and he still has a ways to go. Life, as well as my writing, has been left on the back burner. I learned the ‘one day at a time’ lessons during this time.

Paying bills, cleaning my home, throwing in a load of laundry, even writing a blog post, became things that got done sporadically in between back and forth hospital visits, looking after my husband at home, taking him to doctors and tests, and most days, feeling too damned tired to even want to look at a computer.


My usual scheduling had to be altered around spare moments. The set times I had for my duties, chores and writing, were not the priority. Doing our income tax is something I abhor and like to get out of the way in March, but I have till June, so I set myself a new time-frame to get that done. My newest book awaits my revisions, but I know it will still be there when I get to it. Simple tasks that are part of our day-to-day living, such as running out to the grocery store or the like, became non-existent because I wouldn’t dare leave my husband alone. So I had to learn to work around my time constraints, and accept that I could only get done what the hours in a day would allow me.


Every day, something new crops up to add to our daily lists. But all we can do is deal with everything TODAY – one day at a time.


I’ve learned to adjust my thinking and worrying, and to modify my compulsion to complete everything I set out to do for my tomorrows. I’m one person, doing the best she can with only 24 hours in a day. So each day, I focus on my intent for the day, and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.


*Next week I’ll be posting an article on health care and caregiving, and how to stay on top of things medically when you’re taking care of a sick loved one.



Fear Series—When Fearlessness Turns To Anxiety



As we grow up and begin to mature, it becomes our life experiences that continue to build our character. The things we learn through our encounters, leave a lasting impression on us and contribute to our likes and dislikes, and suit us up for how we deal with life on a daily basis.

Often, if we haven’t endured devastating circumstances, we many not notice the simple progression of ourselves. We tend to be influenced by our surroundings, people in them and pent up stressors.

All these factors and so many more are part of the foundation for our living patterns, and are responsible for many of the fears we develop, whether we are conscious of them or not. We may not recognize that being chased by a dog at a young age can instill a fear of dogs afterwards, or how some wronged violation on our person can leave invisible scars, yet the emotional fears from that violation will always be present whether hidden or exposed until they can be dealt with. Everything in life leaves its invisible paper trail through our psyches and becomes a part of the way we think and feel.

It was merely only a few decades ago that I would have considered myself fearless. I was game for anything, sometimes perhaps too frivolous. I traveled on my own to foreign countries at a young age, but most of all, I’d drive anywhere, any time, alone, no matter how far.

I once worked in sales, on the road for a photo studio. This job entailed me driving to any particular, sometimes desolate place throughout the province of Ontario on a daily basis. Neither distance nor inclement weather stopped me. I often liked to drive over the Buffalo border to the United States, just to do some mindless shopping, at a moment’s notice. I didn’t need company or a navigation system, I just got in the car and went.

My independence was certainly acquired from becoming an adult at a very young age from the responsibilities I took on as a child. In many respects, it helped build my strength and determination. My unfounded fears from an uncertain childhood seemed to dissipate though, as I matured in a clichéd sort of way of “what didn’t kill me, made me stronger.”

As I look back at my brazen younger years, I can’t seem to figure out what the heck has happened to me in the last decade. Where has my fearlessness gone? Many times now in life when I think about how I used to react with great enthusiasm and spontaneity, I find that anxiety has replaced it. I’ve always analyzed my life since I was a child, and usually found a way to conquer my fears. But I’m finding as I get older, it seems that was easier to do when I was younger. Why is that? Do we know too much? Do we over-analyze and become more cautious? Have we seen too much bad? These are the questions I now ask myself when I try to understand why I am no longer fearless of some things.

I don’t like to just accept things. I like to know why and how they came to be. I want to know when I lost my carefree attitude and became a fearful driver. When did my fearlessness abandon me?

I often feel closed in now, claustrophobic on overly trafficked streets of the city. There are so many bad drivers it seems. I feel as though I can’t trust ‘the other guy’ who decides he wants to change lanes without looking, and that I will potentially be side-swiped. Green lights no longer mean ‘Go’ automatically, and red lights don’t necessarily make people stop, but speed up through them, well after they have turned red. My eyes don’t fancy the oncoming headlights at night, and I dare not ever leave my car without locking it. These are just some of the fears that now overshadow my once fearless attitude to just hopping in the car to destination anywhere.

Before I wrote this, I thought that I couldn’t figure out where my driving fear came from. But I think I’ve just answered my own question.

Have you any fears that have either subsided or increased as the years pass?


D.G. Kaye©April 2015

Overwhelmed, Take a Breath

Today's thought

I’ve barely been home for two weeks from a beautiful vacation and I already feel overwhelmed. My self-imposed clock is something I put upon myself daily. I give myself a daily list of things that should be accomplished so as not to carry over for tomorrow’s list. If I don’t make this list I feel as though I won’t remain motivated. But there are just times when daily life interferes with our schedules, and those are the times that seem to make me feel as though I’m smothering when I struggle to keep up.

When I returned from vacation, I had the usual catching up tasks to contend with such as: thirty loads of laundry, and almost two hundred emails I failed to open. Don’t even get me started on how behind I got on my reading blog posts and subscriptions. But that was all to be expected with unpredictable internet at sea and a very social holiday. It just seems as though I’m trying to cram as much as I can get done in one day because I’m a firm believer in ‘Don’t put off for tomorrow what can be done today.’ I remembered this as a child and it stuck with me. What if something happens and I can’t get everything done on my calendar? I panic about how much more there will be to do tomorrow. I believe it’s called anxiety. I’ll tell you. . . I exhaust myself!

Even with good intentions, life has interruptions and I am left prioritizing what will fill my tomorrows. I’ve had quite a few interruptions on my planned writing days since I’ve moved. I’m not yet 100% settled in my place yet, or my mind for that matter. There are still repairmen coming and going, there is some very noisy underground repairs with jackhammering that vibrate all the way to my tenth floor on a daily basis. My husband hasn’t been well since we’ve returned from vacation. Hence, he’s been home most of the time and that throws me off my game. He’s also had his second eye cataract surgery this week and other follow up appointments.

My intentions were to finalize my newest book’s first draft and start typing it into the computer as well as work on blog posts, catch up on other blogs, visit my social sites, catch up with my new writing group, cook, clean, pay the bills, grocery shop and most of all, go visit my beautiful aunt who is in palliative care living on borrowed time.

Writing is my solace and when I can’t get enough time to write I begin to experience anxiety, feeling as though everything is happening too quickly and I just want to stop and take a breath. My self-imposed clock  is always ticking in my head, pushing me to get things done in case. . in case what? In case tomorrow’s obstacles give me more than I can handle for the next day?

Each day I wake I am still surprised to find where I am when I wake, I’m not yet used to my new surroundings. I can’t help but wonder if I will adjust here or if my desire to move away from this city is so strong that nowhere here would make me happy. Do you ever feel like you’re not living in the place you belong? I do. But I haven’t yet found where it is that I do belong.

Ironically, an author friend of mine Jane Carroll, who writes fabulous books about looking at life with a positive spin, using her alter-ego ‘Bertha‘  as her inspiration for positivity and as the main character in her books, had messaged me on Facebook. (You can check out Jane’s Becoming Bertha and Bertha-Size your life and get inspired.) Jane was beginning a series of questions she invited her readers to ask her and Bertha so she could answer and put the questions on video and eventually in her newsletter. Jane messaged me in a frazzled moment I was in and asked me if I had a question for Bertha. How opportune I found Jane’s question when I replied, “How do I deal with being overwhelmed?” Hours later Jane messaged me with a glimpse of her answers she put together in this video. True to her Berthaisms, she was decked out in Bertha’s favorite colors, hot pink and chartreuse.