Posted in Hello, Anxiety.

Hello Anxiety: “Sometimes It’s Fine to Be Corny.”

This blog category is the journaling and journey-ing of my quest to say (with cautious sincerity) “Hello, Anxiety” and to take a look at the condition from my “me-andering” views.

So the other day HR and I bought a bunch of local fresh, Savannah corn. It was the yellow and white bicolor variety (which I refer to as bisexual corn). I shucked it ALL MYSELF. For some reason (childhood issues?), Robert WILL NOT help with that chore. But I find it soothing and therapeutic. Savagely ripping the husks and tassels off and carelessly tossing them into the trash. (Note: Talk to Therapist Rubi about all this.)

We first did corn-on-the-cob—my favorite corn rendering. But we had a bunch left over.

“Google it,” HR said. “Find another recipe.” For some reason, that suggestion got on my nerves a little bit, but I did it.

Break in the Narrative.

This morning, I woke up early, ready to face the challenging world. But two things happened, causing that challenging world to be REALLY challenging.

First, I burned (burnt?) the bacon. Okay, let me explain. For 99.99% of the adult population, burning bacon is no big deal. But for me, today it was devastating, especially when I had just gotten off the phone with my dermatologist’s office (which actually caused the bacon to be burned).

For months now, I have been having pretty severe lower leg rash issues. I was supposed to have had an appointment this morning to look into the problem. But I got a call—my dermatologist came down with COVID-19. And I would have to be rescheduled.

Well, the earliest I could see my doctor would be mid February 2023!! I have a conflict/avoidance issue, so I didn’t pitch a fit, which most normal people would have, and which I should have.

So after the burned (burnt?) bacon, and the dermatologist fiasco, I spiraled a bit. Into anxiety. Of the “Nothing is good in the world variety.”

As we were sitting down for breakfast, HR said, “Well, at least you didn’t cry when you burned the bacon. You usually cry when you mess up your dishes.” (TMI?)

We both laughed at the pathetic yet victorious truthfulness of his observation, and salvaged what we could from the bacon. I should’ve taken a picture of it. But if you can just imagine a piece of black construction paper, that’s basically what my bacon looked like.

Back to the narrative.

I found a recipe for Sweet Corn, Shrimp and Rice Skillet. Initially, I thought it was too fancy for me to try. HR’s the gourmet chef. But then I decided to attempt it anyway. In my grandmother’s 10-inch cast-iron skillet.

First, I cut the corn off the cob.

Then I made a purée of onions, garlic, shallots, red bell pepper, fresh ginger, fresh turmeric and homemade vegetable broth.

I added the corn.

Put it in the oven to cook it all down a bit.

Quickly sautéed the shrimp.

And put it all together.

Beautifully delicious.

But what was best about all this corn-ing around was that it got me out of my downward anxious spiral. Finding the recipe, doing the prep work, especially cutting the beautiful corn, was meditative. Allowing me to pay attention to my bodily sensations—smelling the freshly grated turmeric and ginger, feeling the shrimp as I patted them dry with paper towels, tasting the purée to make sure it was seasoned perfectly, choosing the pretty deer bowls from the cabinet, and calling my husband to lunch when all was ready.

I attended to my body, which got me away from the stories my mind was telling me about my “problems.“

Yes, sometimes it’s perfectly fine to be corny.

Posted in Hello, Anxiety.

Hello Anxiety: “Hell’s Bells”

This blog category is the journaling and journey-ing of my quest to say (with cautious sincerity) “Hello, Anxiety” and to take a look at the condition from my “me-andering” views.

I recently came across this definition for anxiety, which rang so true for me.

“Anxiety — a condition in which the brain’s alarm bells keep on ringing, ringing, and ringing … Long after they have served any useful function.”

(from Transcendence: Healing and Transformation through Transcendental Meditation)

P.S. Just between us, I really don’t like some definitions, truthful though they may be.

Posted in Hello, Anxiety.

Hello Anxiety: “A Tale of Two Happy’s”

(Or is the plural of “Happy” spelled “Happies”? The jury seems to be out on that question.)

This blog category is the journaling and journey-ing of my quest to say (with cautious sincerity) “Hello, Anxiety” and to take a look at the condition from my “me-andering” views.

I LOVE yellow. It’s such a standout HAPPY color.

Bouquet in the lobby of Resorts World Catskills back in July
Field near the hotel
Atlanta Botanical Garden

I also love Happy. Happiness. Happier.

I even have a Happy Cup! Don’t you?

I like him because he’s always happy. No matter which way you turn or spin him. No matter what you put in him. Even hot coffee! Even with his fine line wrinkles (look at pic closely).

The cute little jokester!

A contributing factor to my ongoing issue/challenge/frustration with anxiety is that I aspire to be that Happy Cup. After all, I write a blog named “NealEnJoy”! So when Unhappy (i.e., breathing difficulty, fear of nausea, etc.) comes a knockin, my first response is often to ignore it (as if) and with gritted teeth BE HAPPY. Or more honestly put, pretend to be happy.

This opposites-competing cognitive dissonance is not fun or … happy. Try though I do to keep happiness wound up.


Here’s my Happy Holder. What, you don’t have one?

He doesn’t turn around or spin in quite the same way as my Happy Cup.

And he irritatingly tells me that my blog should more truthfully be named “NealDoesn’tALWAYSEnJoy.” Because Neal (or anyone else) doesn’t always.

“Backside” thinks he’s so smart he even quotes Jung.


But I have to confess that I still prefer Holder’s “front” side …

Posted in Hello, Anxiety.

Hello, Anxiety. “500”

This blog category is the journaling and journey-ing of my quest to say (with cautious sincerity) “Hello, Anxiety” and to take a look at the condition from my “me-andering” views.

From my NPA (Neal’s Protocol for Anxiety) …

Meditation — Any of my saved meditations from “10% Happier,” “Buddify,” “Apple Fitness+” or meditation on my own without guidance.

I reached a milestone in my meditation practice today …

Seriously? I’ve done 500 days of meditation? Shouldn’t I be like a Meditation Master, Guru or something? And not still a mess.

Posted in Five Friday Happy Bringers

Five Friday Happy Bringers 7/15/22

1. HR’s pizza! Oh my. Goodness.

For some reason (maybe because we’re watching Only Murders in the Building) HR chose a murder weapon to slice the masterpiece.

2. Waking up to a brand new day each morning. What an incredible blessing! (Especially after the picture above.)

3. Elephant Ears.

Stop it! On the plant, not on me!

One of my top three favorite plants in the whole wide world. Here’s an old post about the reasons why …

4. The sleek new white chairs in my therapist Rubi’s office

I am a firm believer that therapists ALWAYS strategically place items in their waiting areas with hidden (HA!), underlying (probably-childhood related) purposes. Here’s my theory about the photo above.

On second thought, I’ll just let the redecorated room itself—and the therapists whose clients wait in the room—speak for itself and themselves:

“Hi there. And welcome back! Look at how fresh and clean everything looks in our, we mean YOUR, waiting area. A tabla rosa-ness to it, don’t you think? This session you’re about to have can be a new beginning to your mental health. But remember we have to do it in 50 minutes. Sit down and make yourself comfortable.”

“The slanting brown legs on the chair? We’re glad you noticed, but come on, you get that, we’re sure. No? Being grounded of course. Connecting to Mother Earth. Therapy doesn’t go straight down and to the point all at once, for goodness sake. It has to slant, meander, hiccup around for a spell. Sometimes quite a spell. Over MULTIPLE 50-minute sessions. And the FOUR legs? Why earth, wind, fire and water, of course.”


I’m sorry but I need to interrupt the room and the therapists for a second here. I took the above photo three weeks ago when the room was just being redone. Look closely at the seat part of the chair. See sort of a crack or opening? I did. And since Rubi had not called me back yet, I looked around to make sure there were no hidden cameras and did what comes naturally to me. I snooped. And, lo and behold, when I placed my hand on the seat part, it was loose. I hoisted it up. It had not been screwed down yet! Okay, again sorry, back to the room and therapists’ spill.


“You might notice the chair is a bit wobbly. That your butt moves up and down and side to side while you’re sitting. No worries. You won’t fall out of it. Just steady yourself. After all, you’ve just got a few loose screws. WE MEAN THE CHAIR HAS GOT A FEW LOOSE SCREWS!!!”


“Hi Neal,” Rubi greets me at my session three weeks ago. “Come on up.” I follow my therapist to his suite but quickly look back at the chair. And it seems to wiggle and wave a bit. I can’t tell if it is taunting or encouraging me.

5. Clouds.

I hope clouds bring you joy this weekend.

Posted in Hello, Anxiety.

Hello, Anxiety. “Now”

This blog category is the journaling and journey-ing of my quest to say (with cautious sincerity) “Hello, Anxiety” and to take a look at the condition from my “me-andering” views.


NOW — One of the most significant words in my life … right now.


Everything we do happens in the present moment. Thinking happens here. Remembering happens here. Feelings unfold in the now, and so do urges. NOW is where our lives are lived.”

— Forsyth and Eifert The Mindfulness & Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety

Why, oh why, do I keep forgetting (often purposefully) this dynamic truth?!

If you are a regular blog follower (and why on earth would you not be?), you may remember that I struggle with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder), especially as it concerns my irrational fears of breathing issues and throwing up. TMI?

[Side-note: Other than the disgusting TMI above, I’m perfect. Don’t believe me? Okay, just ask HR.]

[Side-note #2: DO NOT try to contact HR for any reason in the foreseeable future. He has disappeared, and I will let you know when I find him.]

Mindfulness practice is trying its best to teach me that attending to right now, just as it is, even with thoughts and feelings of anxiety, is productive. Attending to now steers me away from negatively reacting to my anxiety with doomsday thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Mindfulness encourages me to simply pay attention to those thoughts emotions and behaviors, and to go on with my life.

Well, at least in theory.

My often but always-nonproductive strategy when dealing with the DA (Dragon Anxiety) is to fight it. Fight fire with fire. Denying it, ignoring it, feeling sorry for myself, comparing myself to all those “they-don’t-have-to-joke-about-being-perfect” people out there who NEVER think they are about to stop breathing right now. Or about to vomit. (How I hate that word.)



So on this Thursday I set an intention to embrace Now.

I will try to make the best, healthiest choice that Forsyth and Eifert offer in my Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook:

“You can choose to continue your unpleasant experiences with hardness and negative energy. Or you can decide to be kinder and gentler with yourself, to create space between you and what your mind (based on old history) is telling you.”

I’ll try to let Neal’s Now actually be Neal’s Now.

[Side-note #3. I sorta found HR. So I guess you can ask him. I can deal with his answer. Besides his answer is not in Neal’s Now right Now.]

Posted in Hello, Anxiety.

Hello, Anxiety: “Accepting Acceptance”

This blog category is the journaling and journey-ing of my quest to say (with cautious sincerity) “Hello, Anxiety” and to take a look at the condition from my “me-andering” views.

Homework from a recent therapy session found me composing “realistic” affirmations or mantra statements. I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist, which is ironic since I never do anything perfectly.

As with most of us, I suppose, I really want life to bend in the direction I desire. But it often (very often) does not.

Here are a few affirmations I will (sometimes begrudgingly) practice:

“My life IS as it IS right now, and I accept that truth.”

“Everything may not be perfect in my life right now, and I am accepting of that truth as well.”

“I’m okay where I am right now.”

“I am who I am right now.”

Posted in Hello, Anxiety.

Hello, Anxiety: “Truffles Showing Up in Big Kroger”

This blog category is the journaling and journey-ing of my quest to say (with cautious sincerity) “Hello, Anxiety” and to take a look at the condition from my “me-andering” views.

If you read my most recent “Hello, Anxiety” post, you may remember that for a variety of mostly sensible reasons, I have nicknamed my anxiety “Truffles.” In a nutshell, I’m trying (gritted teeth) to recognize anxiety as a part of my experience. And to back off from automatically wanting to fight it as my mortal enemy.

Well today HR (Husband Robert) and I were in Big Kroger here in Savannah, stocking up on supplies for the upcoming Easter egg hunt with the grandkids.


“Wait,” you interrupt, “Why call it BIG Kroger?” Because it’s GIGANTIC. I have to use GPS to find Spam. What? You don’t eat Spam? Okay. Whatever.

It’s a twenty minute Uber ride to the cracker aisle.

Anyway, I was walking (exhausted) down Aisle 2043 looking for colorful napkins when I stumbled into Truffles.

She/he/they was/were standing there, resplendently purple. Queenly. Kingly. I tried to walk past, pretending I didn’t see.

But I couldn’t. I stared. Transfixed. I picked Truffles up. Held him/her/them in my hands.

And for the first time in a long time (maybe forever), I was able to laugh, LAUGH, at my anxiety. Perhaps, laugh WITH my anxiety. In Big Kroger of all places.

I placed anxiety back on the shelf. Started to walk away. Finished with the little play.

Robert looked at me, stopping me, and said, “Neal, who knows when we will be back here, or if it will still be on the shelf.”

Irritated, I stood there.


Between Robert and anxiety. Then sighed, walked to the checkout counter.

And actually BOUGHT the f***ing TRUFFLES chips.

Like, paid for them/it/him/her.

Is this a new relationship?


More to come.

Posted in Hello, Anxiety.

Hello, Anxiety: “Making Room at the Table for Truffles”

This blog category is the journaling and journey-ing of my quest to say (with cautious sincerity) “Hello, Anxiety” and to take a look at the condition from my “me-andering” views.

On a recent long weekend trip up to Atlanta, Robert and I explored and ate and barhopped and went to the symphony and the theatre and even the opera.

Outside the High Museum of Art

We really had a terrific time. Well, most of the time. Except for the time when it wasn’t so terrific for me. (Which means that at that particular time it wasn’t terrific for HR either.)

Truffles (my nickname for my anxiety) showed up (uninvited) on the first evening of our … terrific trip. I don’t have a hold on whether or not I sometimes trigger my anxiety (I suspect I’m a culprit), but I do know that when I get pretty (ugly?) anxious, I sort of lose grip on the usually cool, calm and collected Neal. Together Neal. Funny Neal. Public Neal. Those Neals suddenly skedaddle. I can’t make them stay, though desperately I try.

We were staying in a very cool Airbnb steps from lovely Piedmont Park. Robert had prepared a beautiful roasted garlic chicken penne with asparagus supper. But Truffles was already making his presence known before we even sat down to eat. You see, I had gotten sick at the end of our last Atlanta trip, and I suppose I was a bit concerned it might happen again.

And then I looked closer at Robert’s beautiful food, and my anxiety skyrocketed. Which of course makes absolutely no sense. But neither does generalized anxiety disorder, at least not to me. I didn’t want Truffles there ruining our evening. So I did one of my Two Least Effective Ways to Deal With Anxiety Strategies: Nothing. I said zilch to HR and pretended to him and to myself that all was well. (In case you are interested, the other least effective strategy is to fight anxiety as my mortal enemy.)

Then dinner itself quickly became my enemy. The garlic smelled far too garlicky. And the creamy garlic sauce was leaning toward being alfredo. Which is perfectly fine for 99.9% of the human population, but I have a crazy connection in my mind between alfredo sauce and breath-inhibiting nausea. And the thought of being nauseous electrifies my anxiety. (I know, I know, I need to just get over this.)

The evening was unraveling. I felt bloated, even though I had barely touched dinner. All because of Truffles! I wanted to pack up and head back home. Because of course you can just run away from anxiety. Leave it geographically behind.

Of course Robert quickly saw through my attempted impersonation of “Normal Neal.” It wasn’t hard. I’m an easy read. I wasn’t eating, and my breathing had morphed into anxiety staccato. My eyes were wet.

I tried to explain. But you (well, I) cannot explain anxiety. It’s too person-specific, too nuanced. Too IN YOUR FACE at the moment.

Levelheaded HR reminded me that I had a protocol of strategies (which I had forgotten all about) and graciously told me that I didn’t have to eat. “It’s fine.”

I was so Truffled that I even called my therapist back home in Savannah, and Rubi agreed to chat. (Do other folks harass their therapists the way I do, thinking Rubi is constantly glancing at his phone to see if I need anything?) (No? Why not?!)

Fast forward a bit. You really don’t need to see me at my most anxious and illogical self. Sound encouragement from Rubi, chewable Benadryl, deep breathing and (finally!) accepting that Anxiety/Truffles was a part of me and that I have gotten though this many times before all helped to ground me into the reality that life goes on, that the storms don’t last forever.


The next morning, after I set the table for breakfast, Robert weirdly placed a third plate down. Pulled a third chair to the table in front of the plate.

HR then dramatically pointed at the third plate and chair and said …

… “I think we need to make room at the table for Truffles.”

I made HR reenact the moment of his Truffles invitation. For posterity.

I’m glad I married a creative genius. But I’m also glad the only other clean plate was a smaller one.

Of course Robert—and Therapist Rubi—are right. (Sometimes I get the advice from my two R’s mixed up. It’s often quite similar.) They are both gently pushing me to recognize and accept my anxiety, Truffles, as a part of my life. And to back off from being so dismissive, unaccepting, hopeless (at least in the moment) and combative toward it.

So, okay. I guess. I’ll try. If you absolutely insist.

“Truffles, I invite you to sit at the table.”

“But I expect you to sit properly at that table. And to use your best manners. And to have taken a very hot shower before you come. With antibacterial soap. We all know Truffles can reek. And do not try to dominate the conversation. HR and I have a few things to say ourselves, you know. And if you don’t have something nice to say about people or things, just don’t say anything. And please do not overstay your welcome. This is not a spend the night party!”

“So, yes, Truffles, I invite you to sit at the table.”

Truffles: “I actually feel sorry for HR and Rubi. They’ve got their hands full with this one. When I’m with him, I’m often on the verge of a panic attack myself.”