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Oahu for Foodies: Best Grocery Stores

When our family travels, one of the things we research before visiting is where to find the best grocery shopping. Lovers of fresh fruit, shellfish, good steaks, poke and really foods of all kinds, it’s important to us to procure the best food available since we tend to cook a lot when we travel.

My husband is a classically trained chef, and on the rare occasions we’ve paid major bucks to eat out when we travel, my daughters and I will often feel that dad could have made the food better and we should have just eaten at home. Hence the importance of finding the best groceries!

We have a Foodland 3 minutes away from where we’re staying in North Shore, which is super convenient for staple items and interestingly, the best tuna poke. But when you’re on Oahu and looking to do the most of your shopping, you’re best bet is to go to Honolulu.

In Honolulu, we were delighted to find two of our absolute favorite grocery stores that we frequented often when we lived in San Francisco: Nijiya and Safeway.

Nijiya is a Japanese supermarket and an absolute gem. We love to grab ikura (salmon roe) and tekka maki (smaller sushi rolls, and we adore raw tuna). We can’t wait so we usually just consume in the car! Just do it! We have also appreciated finding some harder to find produce there such as daikon, and enoki mushrooms. I love their miso and edamame as well as sake.

Safeway is a wonderful and large grocery that we love for two reasons: It has just about everything you could possible think of and need so you can accomplish most of your shopping there, and it’s fairly affordable! There is plenty of parking on the lower level and the store itself is on the top level. They have an outdoor patio on the upper level where you could grab a bite at the deli and eat outdoors. but it was closed when we visited due to Covid. You will also need to wear a mask anywhere you venture indoors (as of the date of this post, July 2021).

I saved the best for last, Foodland Farms. I have heard Foodland Farms referred to as “the Hawaiian Whole Foods, and also as “Whole Foods on Steroids.” Unfortunately, it also shares higher prices as a characteristic of Whole Foods, and as a result, we only bought some specialized items there such as crab legs, shrimp (amazing!!), some fruits, and a few pantry items. The wine section was epic, and also wine can prove to be harder to find on North Shore since it is a dry county. So stock up here!

It is important to note that Hawaiians are huge on respect and the environment. You will want to purchase some reusable bags while you’re there as they frown on waste and you will bag your own groceries as well. They also are on island time, and view someone rushing around, impatient and in a hurry as rude. So just relax!

These three stores in combination are the reason my eyes light up each time I open up our fridge or look in our pantry. It’s so fun having this bounty of foods available to us that we can’t find back home.

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6 Healthy Ways to Process Emotions as an Introvert

Processing emotions in a healthy way looks very different when you’re an introvert. Where extroverts may vent and confide in others or go to therapy, introverts can be more at risk of keeping things in. So we have to have strategies and coping skills to allow us to process our feelings too. Here are 6 techniques that any introvert can use to process and move through emotions, and can even help you move to more positive emotions.

1. Quiet time. While someone outgoing can feel replenished by talking with others, it’s draining to an introvert. Quiet time, and especially meditation can help you to recharge your battery and feel refreshed, especially if you have a job or other situations on a daily basis that require you to be social.

Meditation isn’t nearly as complicated or hard as you might think. Just sitting in a quiet place and clearing your mind of thoughts is a form of meditation – no need to chant or repeat a mantra necessary. If you are experiencing negative emotions, clearing your mind and shifting to no emotion will provide you great relief. And if you find sitting and meditating challenging, take a nap!

2. Journaling. It’s so important to have an outlet to express how we feel. Journaling is a great and safe way to release and process our thoughts and feelings. Not only is journaling amazing for releasing and sharing the things that have happened to us, it is a good way to help us create and plan for what’s ahead.

When you’re journaling, a great technique is to make a list of positive aspects. Whatever you’re having negative feelings about, try shifting to thinking of positive qualities about that topic or individual and it will provide you with relief. There aren’t many concepts that don’t have positive aspects.

If that seems too difficult, or you’re too upset to write on that topic, consider making a general list of positive aspects – things that are going really well in your life or things that you are grateful for. Sometimes you’ll find you need to completely change the subject to feel some relief.

3. Get outdoors. When emotions are getting the better of you, there is no better distractor than Mother Nature. Taking a short walk or just standing outside and watching the clouds move across the sky or the trees blow in the breeze will soothe you and calm you. Grounding is effective too. If the weather is nicer, try taking a barefoot stroll: this is grounding. It shifts your energy and can be very relaxing.

4. Tap into your five senses. By tapping into one or more of your five senses you can calm yourself pretty quickly. Take a deep breath, and if you’re at home, feel the texture of a nearby blanket or fabric. If you’re at work, feel the smooth surface of your desktop or workspace. If you’re driving, just feel the texture of your steering wheel with your fingertips. Have a healthy snack or a drink of water. Turn on one of your favorite songs, or sometimes it’s helpful to turn the music off and listen to the air conditioning or heating unit which may sound like white noise. Look around you and notice your surroundings. Tapping into your five senses may sound simple, but it forces you to be present and stops the momentum of your worry or concern.

5. Self-care. Indulge in a form of self-care. For you, maybe that’s a relaxing bath, getting your nails done, or making yourself a cup of tea. Do whatever you know brings you peace and calms you.

6. Get crafty and be creative. Creativity is one of the best outlets we have available to us. Whether it’s creating art, music, writing, or maybe a craft like knitting or baking, it gives us a way to express ourselves and in the act of creation we feel a sense of renewal. You may or may not consider yourself to be artistic, but regardless of that, you will find that expressing yourself and making something new will force you to be present and be in the here and now.

In The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews’s character Maria sings “My Favorite Things,” where she recounts the things that bring her joy, and help her cope when she is down, and to her list I would add all of the above. I hope this list inspires you and brings you hope, calming and peace.

essential oils · health · natural lifestyle · Uncategorized

Natural Ways to Protect, Support and Improve Memory

Several years ago, my mom was becoming more and more forgetful. I worried about her and at times I was even afraid for her. Later, she was diagnosed with dementia and the beginning stages of Alzheimers. I researched foods, essential oils and natural regimens to help my mom. Now, years after she has passed, I still use these protocols to support memory for my family, since memory-related illnesses are genetic. I hope sharing these here can help others as well.

Foods

First, I want to share some foods that you will want to make a part of your weekly and perhaps even daily diet. I began my research by reading about the benefits of coconut oil. You can find tons of research and articles on coconut oil and ways to use it. Have a tablespoon a day to boost memory.

There are so many memory boosting foods you can enjoy at breakfast time. Eat plenty of bananas and almond or peanut butter which are good for the brain, and I love these together! Greek yogurt is also excellent. I love the Chobani coconut with either ground chia or flax seeds mixed in. Flax seed and chia seed are among the top foods for brain health, and they have very little flavor, but add a nice crunch. They are excellent for smoothies as well.  Avocado toast with a sunny side up egg on top would be amazing, since avocado and eggs are both good for the brain. Add blueberries to your list (or any berry for that matter). Berries help with memory since they are high in antioxidants, and caffeine improves focus so go ahead and have that second cup of coffee.

Essential Oils

Several essential oils boost memory and brain health. Some single oils include: rosemary, frankincense, vetiver, basil, and cedarwood. Powerful essential oil blends include: Brain Power, Clarity, Common Sense and Grounding. I use Young Living Essential Oils, and they also have several other products for memory that I use regularly.

Other Products to Support Memory

Young Living offers several products to support memory. Mindwise (a tablespoon a day), Ningxia Red (a shotglass a day of this antioxidant Powerhouse), and Omegagize (an Omega 3 fish oil supplement). If you would like to learn more about Mindwise, I wrote a post on this product specifically. You can purchase Young Living Products here.

In addition to Young Living Products, I also take a turmeric supplement daily. Be sure to take one that includes black pepper, otherwise, the body cannot effectively absorb the turmeric and it just passes right through you.

Foods and Products to Avoid

It’s important to know what you can do to help with memory, but just as important to know what to avoid. Avoid exposure to aluminum. Aluminum has been linked to Alzheimer’s and other memory related illnesses. Avoid drinking from aluminum cans, and avoid deodorants containing aluminum. You would be surprised how many brands do!

Cut out artificial sweeteners, including aspartame, Splenda, Sweet and Low, and Equal. You can read so much research-based literature out there on the link between artificial sweeteners and decreased memory! It is linked to Alzheimers. This was very upsetting to me and I became very passionate about educating others on this.

Finally, avoid sugar, gluten and processed foods to stay clear-headed. This would be good advice for anyone, but especially anyone seeking clarity and a sound mind.

 

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Narrows of the Harpeth: Historic Tunnel

If you happen to be in the Middle Tennessee area, Montgomery Bell Tunnel, the historic tunnel at Narrows of the Harpeth in Kingston Springs, belongs on your to do list.

Why go? The hike is short, and the view is beautiful. This was honestly what drew me to this particular park. My youngest is six and doesn’t have a lot of stamina to do a longer hike and my oldest is recovering from an injury. They have been wanting to go to a waterfall since that is kind of the “cool thing” to do this summer, and this hike was very doable for them and rewarding.

Part of the reason I felt led to write this post, is that after we arrived at the parking lot, we, along with several other carloads of visitors, were not clear on how to get to the tunnel. It is not very well marked! We failed twice before finding the correct path.

Our first attempt, we walked down the wooden set of steps right behind the lot. This will take you to the back of the tunnel and it is actually blocked off.

The second attempt, we continued further down the road past the parking lot, following some of our fellow visitors. This too was a dead end and ultimately led to private property. So don’t do that.

We decided to set out by car and my oldest was in charge of looking for a possible trailhead. On our third loop around she saw it! There are steps before you get to the parking lot that lead to the trailheads. We had passed it.

All of this to say, when you arrive at the lot, you will need to backtrack about 1/8 mile to the steps and then you will see the three trails. Be sure to take the one marked Historic Tunnel. From there it is an easy hike. If this post has helped you or if you ever struggled finding this tunnel, let me know in the comments!

If you are traveling with kids, or even if you’re not with kids, you might like knowing there is a charming sweet shop 20 miles away, called Sweet Charlotte. You might enjoy visiting – you could grab a hot dog, old fashioned soda, candy, shaved ice, or fudge. Check out my post on Sweet Charlotte if you would like to know more.

History Lesson: It is interesting to know that the tunnel is believed to be the first full-sized tunnel in America and was formed with gunpowder and slave labor. It was to divert water for industrial purposes.

 

The Narrows of the Harpeth is located at 1254 Narrows of the Harpeth Rd Kingston Springs, TN 37082.

adventures with kids · kids · Tennessee · Uncategorized

Sweet Charlotte: Adorable Popcorn, Candy, and Soda Shop in Middle Tennessee

Approximately 30 miles south of Clarksville, and 54 miles west of Nashville, this charming sweet shop will surprise and delight you!

Our family stumbled on it coming back from a trip to the beach at Montgomery Bell State Park. That day, it wasn’t in the cards for us. It was a Monday and Sweet Charlotte is closed on Monday. But we could tell from the exterior alone (so cute!!!) that it just had to go on our bucket list and made a point to come back at a later date.

Sweet Charlotte delivers smiles in several ways! You can grab lunch, sweets, and cute photo ops all in one stop.

Their hot dogs, known there as “sloppy dogs” are a must. They are huge and delicious. Be sure to try one of their unique topping combinations. We ordered these for lunch and the  loved their hot dog/shaved ice combo that also came with a bag of chips. My husband and I got our dogs with our choice of one of what must have been 100 different old-fashioned sodas to choose from.

 

Their soda offering is unreal. We found quite a few blasts from the pasts and rare finds including Ale 8, Peach Nehi, Big Red, Double Cola and so may more. These are all in glass bottles.

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My oldest daughter has braces, so we did not go in this direction, but they make so many different flavored popcorns, in-house. It is one of the things Sweet Charlotte is best known for. They do tastings of popcorn so you can try before you buy. Our girl has already asked us to bring her back her when gets her braces off!

Sweet Charlotte also offers so many old-fashioned candies as well as some of the most fun modern candies: sour balls, taffy, chick-o-stick, peanut butter bars, bit o honey, butterscotch and more. My children loved that they had the original Pop Rocks, Fruit Stripe gum, and cinnamon toothpicks caught my eye – remember those?

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We came on a very mild day, temps in the 70s. We enjoyed eating at their outdoor picnic tables. It is a covered area so you could enjoy it rain or shine.

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There are two murals which are fun for taking photos, but they also offer old-fashioned photographs where you dress up in old fashioned clothes and are taken in black and white. The entire store and grounds is a feast for the eyes.

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Oh, and I almost forgot, they have a working water well. Both of our girls enjoyed trying out the well and had never seen one, much less try one for themselves. Just one more reason to visit this adorable place.

 

If you are planning a trip here, consider visiting the beach at Montgomery Bell State Park (20 minutes away), take a hike to the tunnel at Narrows of the Harpeth (30 minutes a day), or visit the Country View Amish store (4 minutes away) on the same day, to really enjoy your visit to this area to the fullest.

health · kids · parenting · Uncategorized

10 Aldi Upgrades for Picky Eaters

Picky eaters are not only tough customers, but it seems like the foods they will eat aren’t always the healthiest. This has been true of my six-year-old little girl.

There is a short list of foods she is willing to eat, and we have tried all kinds of strategies to encourage her to lengthen that list and try new things, often to no avail.

What has been successful is taking a look at the foods she will eat, and trying “upgrade” her the highest quality we can of those foods.

What I’m finding, and I really believe this, is that as we ramp up the nutritional value of the foods she will eat, and we have found a good pre/probiotic for her, she is now more open to trying new foods because our body craves what we feed it. When we feed it junk it craves junk. Now that she is taking in more nutrition she is craving more nutrition!

Here are 10 of our Aldi favorites that meet her seal of approval for taste, and mine for nutrition:

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  1. Whole pineapple. This is a big-time upgrade from canned pineapple since there are no preservatives and it’s not stored in an aluminum can, which is a concern in and of itself. Fresh pineapple tastes better and it will save you money. Pro-tip: You can test to see if a pineapple is ripe by pulling one of the inner-most leaves. If it comes out easily, it’s ripe. And don’t be intimidated by its spiny exterior. Watch a video or two on youtube of how to break down a pineapple. It’s easier than you think!
  2. String cheese. This is a step-up from American “cheese” which actually isn’t a cheese at all. My kiddo loves the mozzarella and Colby spiral.
  3. Ancient Grain bread. This is real bread with actual nutrition! Did you know the most popular brands of bread on the market, aka white bread, are white because the flour has been bleached? Bread should be brown, through and through. Also our wheat supply has been tampered with so even whole wheat sandwich bread can upset your tummy. They are processed to remove bran and natural oils so they will have a longer shelf life. I will be honest that we did use whole wheat sandwich bread as a transition bread and eased her into the Ancient Grain.
  4. Mandies. My daughter loves these little mandarin oranges. There are an upgrade from the fruit cups that are often packed in syrup and definitely have preservatives added. Pro-tip: When shopping for healthier food for your family, a good rule of thumb is to shop the perimeter. The greater majority of junk food and foods containing preservatives are found on the aisles. By avoiding the aisles and shopping the outermost parts of the store (dairy, meat, breads, fruits, vegetables) you are much more likely to be putting healthy items in your shopping cart.
  5. Simply Nature Unsweetened Apple Squeezes. These applesauce squeezes are not only missing the added sugar of the name brand Go-Go Squeeze, my kiddos prefer them.
  6. Rainier cherries. This is a new fruit for our picky eater. There is only a short window that you can find them available (typically June-July). She loves these as well as any other raw cherry. These are an upgrade from the bright red cherries that come in a jar and no doubt have sugar and food coloring added – two things that will ramp her hyperactivity up at lightning speed. If your child is hyperactive, try cutting back food coloring (especially red) and sugar for one week and watch the difference it makes.
  7. Edamame.  My little girl likes very few vegetables. I could definitely count on my fingers how many she will eat. Edamame is one she loves, maybe just for the novelty of shelling them. I mean really, eating them is a fun experience. Aldi doesn’t always carry them, but when they do, they are going in the cart.
  8. Simply Nature Lemonade. No GMOs and Organic. We add her prebiotic/probiotic to this lemonade, and it is delicious when combined. If your child doesn’t take one, Young Living makes an amazing one. It will help him/her to digest sugars and junk foods the body doesn’t normally or quickly break down. You can find them here and my referral number is 2183425 if you are asked for one. You’re welcome!
  9. Simply Nature White Cheddar Puffs. Not only are these non-GMO and organic, but they also are an upgrade from their bright orange name brand counterpart.
  10. Oven Roasted Turkey. This a premium one-pound pack and a step up from the name brand pack we bought previously. She loves a wrap with this turkey. In fact, she discovered today that she likes them with her mozzarella string cheese added.

These ten products are just a few ways that we have upgraded our picky eater’s diet by increasing the quality. I would love to know any of your favorites in the comments, or to know what products from this list you are excited to try.

If you would like to see more Aldi product recommendations, I have a more extensive list for picky eaters and a post for big kids as well.

kids · parenting · Uncategorized

Keeping Your Child Safe on Their New iPhone

My eleven-year-old daughter just received a new iPhone for her birthday. This was unchartered territory for our family, and I was a little uneasy about how to set it up and make sure we had settings and parameters in place to keep her safe.

I found out through friends and a little bit of trial and error, but I wanted to share the settings we personally use that have given us peace of mind.

1. Family sharing. First of all, add your child as a family member. You can go to Settings>Apple ID>Family Sharing.

2. Purchase sharing. Scroll down a bit and you will see several radio buttons. Find Purchase Sharing and turn this off. We do not want our daughter making any purchases on her phone.

3. iCloud Storage. Directly below Purchase Sharing is iCloud Storage. We do have this and I did turn this on. I always think it’s wise to back up data.

4. Location Sharing. We allowed this. We shared locations with each other. I want to know her location at all times and I am fine with her knowing mine.

5. Screen Time. There is so much to be found in this setting. Turn it on, then click on it to reveal the options pictures below. I also love the visual of the graph that lets us easily monitor the time she is spending online.

6. Downtime. This allows you to choose what time your child can get on their device in the morning, and what time they need to be off in the evening. We are on summer break, so hers will most definitely change once school starts.

7. App Limits. This is what I really wanted to know when I was setting up her phone! How to limit the number of hours she can be on her phone. You’ll find it here.

8. Allowed Communication During Screen Time. I chose contacts only. Then further down you can choose exactly the contacts you wish to allowed. Our daughter has 8.

9. Allowed Communication During Downtime. This is for when she’s used up all her screen time. We only allow my husband and I as contacts. We need to be able to reach her at all times, but don’t want anyone else to.

10. Content & Privacy Restrictions. This is an important section! Be sure to click on each option to select the content, movie ratings, to block explicit lyrics and more.

In addition to these iPhone settings, you may consider the Bark App, Life 360 or Disney Circle.

I want to end by saying our child is a great kid. We really do trust her! We love her to pieces and want to do our best to keep her safe online and protect her innocence, while still letting her have a phone like the rest of her peers.

If you are reading this and have any other suggestions, apps, or settings that we should be using or putting in place, I’d love for you to share. We are all better together!

travel with kids · Uncategorized

Our Bike Ride at Alys Beach

My daughter Anna Claire is ten, and new to riding her bike. She really wanted to ride bikes on 30A during our vacay, so I researched for somewhere safe, less crowded, and with level ground.

Alys Beach fit all of our criteria, plus the architecture and entire little community is so charming. It’s beautifully manicured and photogenic.

Please know my child did not mean to ride into the grass. She didn’t stop in time.

Also, as an added bonus, prior to our trip, I had researched the different bike rental locations along 30A and The Bike Shop at Alys Beach had to the best rates. You should also know that bikes are typically priced for daily rental, and we only needed hourly which they allowed.

I don’t know that a reservation is required, but I opted to reserve ours which gave us confidence that the bike sizes we needed would be available.

A little bike safety lesson: Did you know that the child should ride in front of the adult? This allows you to keep your eyes on them, and call out directions to them. This made my child nervous at first, but I think she liked leading the way by the end.

Back home we are vigilant about wearing our helmets when we ride, since we share the road with car traffic, but with a designated bike lane, no one was wearing one. My daughter loved this! (So did I.)

 

Pro Tip: Be sure to venture down the side roads. We loved looking at the beautiful homes and condos. We also found Charlie’s Donuts which is known for having the best smoothies on 30A. AC had a Long John and we split a mango smoothie. So good!

The Bike Shop at Alys Beach is also located directly across from the large green space and next door to Piper’s food truck in case you work up a thirst or would like a yummy taco after your ride.

Bike riding was a great social distancing activity, and I can honestly say this goes on my list of the top five bike rides I’ve been on in my life.

I will just end by saying how kind, happy and friendly everyone was at Alys. It was contagious!

kids · product reviews · quarantine · Uncategorized

All Things sand.tagious

Watching sand.tagious kinetic sand cutting videos is so satisfying. If you don’t know about them, I’m happy to introduce you.

What is it exactly that makes the sound of cutting sand so satisfying? Apparently, sounds like this trigger a ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) which is a “low-grade euphoria,” a static-like or tingling sensation on the skin, particularly the scalp and spine.

An entire genre of ASMR videos has emerged on social media platforms like YouTube and Instagram with the discovery of this phenomenon. And kinetic sand cutting is just one type of ASMR video. Other ASMR types include whispering, crinkling plastic, and crunching.

The intention of the videos is to calm and soothe. sand.tagious videos have been praised by those with anxiety, autism and insomnia but anyone can appreciate them. You can read more about sand.tagious and the ASMR connection here.

Our family loves kinetic sand cutting videos because they are calming, and they help us to clear our minds and be present. I dare you to be anxious and stressed out while watching. It just isn’t possible.

More than that, sand.tagious videos have inspired us to be more creative with our kinetic sand. Watching and listening to someone else play with and cut kinetic sand is satisfying for sure, but doing it yourself adds a kinesthetic and tactile element that is just as satisfying.

We have had fun trying to make our own kinetic sand cutting videos, using found items around the house with our sand, and acquiring tools like the ones used by sand.tagious. This set includes just about everything you would need to get started and is the best bang for your buck.

Our very first attempt at making our own sand-cutting ASMR video. They wanted it sped up, but then realized there is no sound. The girls want their own YouTube channel. 😁

This set includes just about everything you would need to get started.

https://www.instagram.com/sand.tagious/

https://m.facebook.com/sand.tagious

health · introvert · kids · Uncategorized

5 Things I Did (and Do) to Overcome Social Anxiety

I was watching a series on Netflix with my kids called “The Healing Powers of Dude.” It’s about a middle school kid named Noah who has an emotional support dog named Dude…and social anxiety.

I was explaining to my almost eleven-year-old daughter that I could relate to Noah in so many ways. That I was very much like him at that age. As a young adult I wasn’t surprised when I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder. My daughter couldn’t believe it. She said, “But Mommy you seem extroverted.” I thanked her for the compliment and started sharing some ways that I overcame it.

I wondered if other young people might benefit from the wisdom I’ve gained and maybe wouldn’t have to struggle like Noah did. Like I did.

So here they are, five things I did (and still do) to cope with and eventually overcome social anxiety:

1. Stop nightmaring. Nightmaring is where you go “worst case scenario.” You come up with all kinds of imaginary possible outcomes in your mind, and many of them are utterly absurd and irrational. I totally had a habit of this, and still catch myself doing it from time to time. In “The Healing Powers of Dude” Noah imagines losing Dude or his schoolmates turning into Zombies. Some more common examples of nightmaring would be imagining that everyone is looking at you, or talking about you. Somehow I felt like imagining all of the possible negative outcomes would help me be prepared, but what I realized in time was that those negative things rarely ever happened – I was just imagining for nothing. The key word though is “imagining” and it’s good news because that means it isn’t real. It’s fiction. And you cut it out by staying present which is number 2.

2. Stay present. The term anxiety means that you are focusing on imaginary negative future outcomes. They are illusions only in your mind. You can eliminate them entirely by staying present. But how do you do that, you ask? When you can’t shut your thoughts off? There are several strategies I use: conscious breathing. Meditating. Yoga. Go outside and be in nature. Tap into any one of the five senses. Finding joy in what you are doing in this moment, which is also number 3.

3. Find joy. Look for things that are satisfying. Make lists of things that bring you joy. Lists of your hobbies. Create vision boards. Find a couple of safe people, like Noah did.

4. Recharge your battery daily by taking some quiet time for yourself. Chances are, if you have social anxiety, you also are an introvert. Your energy gets depleted around others and especially new social situations. You need to know when you need to withdraw and recover. In one episode of “Healing Powers” Noah realized he needed to step away from the party and be alone in a quiet room. I still to this day will withdraw from a group when I feel low energy. It’s self-care when you have social anxiety.

5. Take comfort in routine, structure and schedules. Those of us with social anxiety are often triggered by the element of surprise. The unknown. The unexpected. On the flipside, routines and structure are calming and reassuring for us. This is how I am able to teach middle school. I need structure and routine for my own well-being and it makes it very easy to create it for my students. I generally feel safe with my groups of kids, we know each other and the sequence of events from day to day is predictable. I am writing this during the 2020 quarantine and even here at home, without realizing it, I have created a very predictable routine and schedule for our family. It becomes second nature with practice. Noah enjoys going to concerts and I do too. He says he feels like he can blend in with the crowd and I totally get that. After you’ve been to a concert you know what to expect and you feel at ease with the whole show routine.

I have come to accept that I will never be an extrovert, and I don’t know that I want to or need to.

Final words of wisdom?

🐾 Practice staying present and being in the moment! Remember that life is supposed to be fun. Plan fun and exciting things for yourself.

🐾 Try as much as you can to replace your nightmaring with daydreaming. It’s great to flash forward and think about what might happen in the future – but make sure they are good things.

🐾 Give yourself space when you need it.

🐾 Remember that structure and routine are your friends. They are comforting! The whole reason anxiety exists is because it is fear of the unknown. By creating predictable routines for yourself you lower the anxiety for yourself and those around you. This does not mean you have to live in a box. Our family goes on lots of adventures! But I make sure I do lots of planning beforehand and that I am with people I trust when I do them.

🐾 And one final thought. Give yourself permission to just stay quiet. So much of my social anxiety as an adolescent came from feeling like I had to know what to say. But now as an adult I realize it’s perfectly acceptable, if not preferable, to stay quiet.