How to get yourself out of a tailspin

The room went eerily silent, and 24 pairs of eyeballs were pointed at me. Anticipation was hanging thick in the air like a humid summer day.

A few months ago, I did my first official reading of my bilingual book for kids, Enchanted Forest. I was delighted to be asked to do a reading and signing at the Children’s Museum in La Habra.

I was so excited about it, that I fretted in the weeks leading up to the date. How would I read it? Would the audience be expecting me to read my story in Spanish too? What if the kids don’t like it? WOULD ANYONE EVEN BE THERE? If an author reads a story in an empty children’s museum and there’s no one there to hear it, does it still exist?

So I did what any former actor would do: I rehearsed the daylights out of it. I read the story aloud to myself, and to the captive audience I have at home. I watched YouTube videos about author readings and I saw how others did it, which incited a whole OTHER list of questions. Should I have a PowerPoint? (Do kids really need a PowerPoint presentation to hear a story?!) Should I have some music? What should I wear–a dress (this is what an author looks like, kids), jeans (I’m cool and casual, see?), a costume (woohoo! I’m a creative type!!)

That’s just the reading. Then there’s the signing part. Do I have enough books? How many is too many to bring? But I don’t want to run out. Do I have a good Sharpie–one that’s not flattened out and all dry and flaky? How will I carry my stuff into the venue? I need one of those rolly cart thingys to lug all my author stuff around…

We are talking #nextlevel anxiety here. I was working myself into a tailspin about one little reading. That I volunteered to do.

And I was really, truly excited to do the reading! I just wanted it to be perfect.

But at one point, I had a moment of clarity and realized what I was doing to myself. I was trying to control the outcome of something I had absolutely no control over.

I started thinking about ALL the things I do this with. Ever since last year’s election, there has been a cloud of uncertainty and anxiety following me around like a curse. I don’t think about it every minute of every day, but I do listen to podcasts and read news stories every day that have me seriously fretting about the future of our country and the world.

Add to that the other stuff that’s swirling around in my head all.the.time., like my biz goals, work for my clients, traffic on the 405, new story ideas, the grocery list for next week, healthy meal prep, yoga inversion poses that challenge me, finding decent gluten free pasta, and on and on. And all the things I forget to remember, like shutting the freezer door all the way, replenishing the dogs’ biscuit supply and setting up lunch with that friend I said I would call three weeks ago.

I know you all have the same list of a thousand things running through your brain all the time. Don’t you?

Well, I’m calling it. IT’S TOO MUCH.

Some of that stuff I can control, but some of it (most of it), I absolutely cannot. And even if I could, it probably wouldn’t matter anyway.

Case in point: here’s what happened at my reading.

I did not leave 45 minutes early, as planned. Traffic stunk. I got there just barely on time to an empty room.

I took some deep breaths.

The room started to fill up. Slowly at first, and then in little rushes. It wasn’t a full house but there were at least 20 people there. Kids and parents and grandparents…it was kind of awesome.

I took a few more deep breaths, and then I just jumped in. I read my story and to my delight and surprise, no one threw any rotten tomatoes or insults at me. In fact, I think they kinda liked it. A few of them even wanted to buy my book and take a picture with me. Pretty cool.

So as I drove home, I started thinking about what I could do in the future when I get myself into one of these anxious tailspins, and I came up with these three keys. I sure could have used them before this reading, but I think they actually can be used for anything.


  1. Lower the stakes and narrow the scope.

    Dial back the drama already. Ask yourself, “If this thing doesn’t turn out the way I want, what is actually going to happen?” No doubt the world will NOT end, your life will not be over, and your life’s purpose will emerge unscathed. So lighten up a bit, will ya?

  2. Define your intention.

    If you don’t know already, ask yourself why you’re doing this thing. What do you want to get out of it? When you’re done, how do you want to feel?

  3. Crack a smile.

    Try to have a little fun. Whether you’re reading a book in front of a bunch of toddlers, or speaking to a crowd of a thousand, nothing is THAT serious. Think of something that makes you laugh, or find a little humor in the situation. Seriously, it’s not that serious.

Got it? Good. Now take a breath and go conquer the world. And PS, I’m happy to report I have since done many public reading and signings for both Enchanted Forest and my next book, Enchanted Castle, and somehow the kids always show up and seem to enjoy it. Imagine that!


Don’t Let a Down Day Get You Down

Don’t Let a Down Day Get You Down

For the most part, I would say I am a positive person.

It wasn’t always that way. In my angsty 20s (and probably into my 30s too), I was certainly more of a glass-half-empty kinda gal. I wasn’t a pessimist as much as I was a skeptic.

But the last few years have taught me how much there is to appreciate in every day—in every moment, really.


I’ve become pretty good at chasing that joy with gratitude. Any time I catch myself getting cranky, frustrated, hangry, or road ragey, I try to STOP, take a breath, and bring my focus back to the good stuff.

But then there are those days…and I know we all have them…when there is just no convincing me that the sun is shining. Anywhere.

I am sad, down, blue, and downright unreasonable.

So what do you do on those days when you’re having a no good, very bad day? As a creative person, negative energy can not only kill your good mood, it can stop all your good juju from flowing.

This happened to me the other day, when I was tasked with writing some inspirational copy for a client. I could not shake the funk I was in, but I needed to get some work done!

On a blue day, here’s what I give myself permission to do:

1. Give myself a break.

Sometimes you need one. Sometimes it’s totally ok to spend an extra 10 minutes in bed before you hit the ground running. It’s ok to take a 15-minute break in the late afternoon and just sit in your car and turn on some tunes. It’s even ok to take a mental health day and not go and do all the things you’re supposed to do. Guess what? The world will keep spinning. And if you actually take a moment to let yourself rest a little extra bit, chances are you’ll be even stronger when you get back at it.

2. Shed a tear.

You know that feeling when you’re trying to hold back tears? That tightness in your throat, and your belly, and that clenchy jaw thing? Maybe it’s just me. But every once in awhile, I find that I just want a good cry. Maybe there’s not even a particularly good reason to. Doesn’t matter—I give myself 5 minutes to get it out. And then I move on.

3. Cheer myself up.

Now this isn’t like—let me eat an entire bag of cookie chips because that will cheer me up. (Whoever thought up cookie chips deserves an award or a flogging, I haven’t decided which yet.) This kind of cheering up is like—let me take a moment and think about how I’m feeling and what might make me feel better. Maybe it’s a special cup of tea, or watching dumb videos on YouTube for 5 minutes, or stretching out on my yoga mat for a few. Whatever it is, do it for yourself. It’s a real treat.

4. Get moving.

This is the part I most often resist when I’m down, even though I KNOW it will make me feel better. A long walk with my headphones in is bound to cure most any ill. A hot yoga class is kinda perfect to get my mind off a downer day. But if I don’t have time to do that on a particularly blue day, then I make a point to get outside for a few minutes and stretch. Or I shut my studio curtains and crank up the music and pretend I’m at da club. Whatever it takes to shake some of that negativity out.

Tomorrow5. Let it be.

And finally, I just try to stop resisting. I get still, I tune in, and I tell myself–tomorrow is another new day. Another chance to move forward, in the right direction.

Trust me, even though the sun may not be shining today, it will be there tomorrow. And the next day too.