The Warm Milk Journal

A nurturing place for people who can't sleep

Eating That Elephant One Little Bite At A Time

Vegetarians out there: please pardon this metaphor- but truly, how would you eat an elephant? One little bite at a time. Often we take on way more than we can chew. We get overwhelmed. Stressed. Our brains shut down. The answer? One small bite at a time.

It goes back to those baby steps we have talked about. I figure, so long as I am moving forward and taking some kind of action on my goals, I am going to achieve success. Action is important. If our ideas and goals are solely in our heads, we are dreamers and that’s about it.We don’t, however, want to take on too much at once- put too much  pressure on ourselves- and then have it all backfire because we get overwhelmed, discouraged, and quit.

Like all things in life- there needs to be balance. Small steps or bites, if you will.

I am continually reminding myself of this. The Warm Milk Journal, for instance, is a big project. Starting a new endeavor like this is a lot of work. There is a huge learning curve. There are parts of this project that come easier for me than others. I find the creative side a lot of fun and easier: the writing of the posts, reaching out and helping others, coming up with ideas for the Warm Milk Journal (because this is something I care and feel so passionately about). The more challenging areas for me are more the technical and business end of things that come with writing a blog. There is so much for me to learn and really I have just started. So I tell myself: baby steps, Debra. Small elephant bites.

I think if we enjoy the journey we will be happy with where we end up!

Debra : )


May 10, 2010 Posted by | anxiety, Self-empowerment, The Warm Milk Journal | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Be a laser beam: the power of focus and purpose

Being focused on something that has meaning and value in our lives gives us a sense of purpose. I know that I am so much healthier mentally and emotionally when I have this focus going on. I coincidentally, have very little anxiety and sleep much better at night when I am focused. Direction is a good thing. We hear hear so often of people (men particular) who die of heart attacks soon after they retire.  I think it is because they lost their sense of purpose for their lives.  Play and relaxation is very important for a balanced life but we do need some kind of aim and goals to strive for.

What is one good thing in your life that you can really focus on? A healthy “obsession” that can inspire and drive you? If you have many ideas- write them down. then choose one. Make a decision to focus on one thing. Once you decide to focus and commit to a project or task it is amazing what happens: ideas pop up when you least expect them, people will come into your life that can mentor or support your idea, things just kind of galvanize.

Decide on one of your ideas and commit to giving it your all for 30 days- and then see what happens.

Debra : )

May 7, 2010 Posted by | anxiety, insomnia, Self-empowerment | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tryptophan: good for sleep and overcoming shyness

We have heard about tryptophan. It is an amino acid that helps our brains to produce serotonin which helps us to relax and sleep.

Now, it would seem, researchers from McGill University in Canada have discovered that tryptophan also increases self esteem and helps people feel more confident in social situations. This is a great benefit for those of us who are plagued with shyness and anxiety. It just might be worth a try!

Tryptophan is naturally found in milk, cheese, nuts, chicken, and turkey. It can also be found in supplement form.

Resource: May 17, 2010 issue of Woman’s World

May 7, 2010 Posted by | anxiety, insomnia, Self-empowerment, Tips to help insomnia | , , , , | Leave a comment

“Out of clutter find simplicity; from discord find harmony; in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” -Albert Einstein

Ways to incorporate simplicity and harmony in our lives:

  1. Focus on the good in our lives and let go of the rest
  2. Like Richard Carlson says: Don’t sweat the small stuff…and its all small stuff
  3. Ask: Do we really need that bigger house?
  4. Ask: Do we really need that bigger car?
  5. Ask: Do we really need all that stuff?
  6. Ask: Do we really need to sign our kids up for every extra-curricular sports and activity our community has to offer?
  7. Learn to say no.

I read an article in a recent Ladies Home Journal and they took a survey from people from different professions about what they think it takes to make a marriage work. One lady, a realtor, suggested that couples buy a smaller house rather than stretch themselves financially to get that bigger house. The sentiment was that instead of being stressed and fighting about money, the couple who bought a smaller house with a smaller mortgage could then use their resources to go out for nice dinners together, take vacations, and nurture each other.  That is certainly something to think about.

Parents of our generation tend to keep our kids very busy with after school sports and lessons and weekend soccer games etc. Is all of this busy-ness really good for us? I am not judging (for I have done these things myself). I just encourage us to look at our lives and question.

Simplicity. Harmony. Peace. Balance.  I like the sound of these things. A person living a simple, harmonious, peaceful, and balanced life is probably not a person staying up at night stressed, panicked, and anxious about his or life.

Debra : )

May 6, 2010 Posted by | anxiety, Self-empowerment, Tips to help insomnia | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Give Ourselves Permission To Just BE: DO NOTHING

Sometimes I feel like a freight train going hundreds of miles an hour….job, family, martial arts, working out, personal goals, financial goals, relationships, spiritual growth- —All of it is wonderful. Sometimes though, I just want and need to just BE. Just exist. DO NOTHING. Do you ever feel this way? I think modern society has trained us to think that if we are not going, achieving, multi-tasking every moment of our day- we are somehow slipping up in some way.

I think it is okay to give ourselves permission to just decompress, unwind, and recharge on a regular basis. It’s all about balance. We will have much more to give to our employer, family, partners, students (if you are a teacher like me), our dreams and goals, if we will just take some time to DO NOTHING. Yes, I will say it again: DO NOTHING

This is my idea of doing nothing (I am sure you can come up with a list of your own):

  1. Take a catnap
  2. Browse a women’s magazine (pure mindless pleasure and joy. I love browsing the recipes, latest diet tips, etc)
  3. Sitting and meditating. Meditate on NOTHING. Don’t try to do a particular mantra. Just BE
  4. Catch up on Facebook or surf the web
  5. Watch a movie
  6. Watch TV
  7. Read fiction
  8. Read poetry
  9. Go for a walk or bike ride
  10. Just lie down and daydream
  11. Sit on the couch and day dream
  12. Look out the window and day dream
  13. Pet the cat and daydream
  14. Pet the dog and daydream
  15. Nurse the baby and da dream
  16. Masturbate and daydream
  17. Just chill

When we resurface from these down mode activities we will be ready to embrace all of the responsibilities, possibilities, and excitement our lives have in store for us. But we will take these things in our lives on OUR TERMS. Meaning, at our ease. Not dis-ease. Why be in a hurry? Why be rushed? Why stress? Why put so much pressure on ourselves all the time? All good things will happen in the right time. There is no need to get frenetic and harried. That kind of energy will only contribute to nervousness, panic attacks, anxiety, insomnia.

Here, at The Warm Milk Journal, we give you permission to just BE. DO NOTHING. Be at your ease…….How does that feel?

Debra : )

May 6, 2010 Posted by | anxiety, Self-empowerment | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Affirmations for Calming The Monkey Mind

One of the most frustrating experiences for many of us with anxiety and insomnia is dealing with our “monkey minds”. This refers to when our minds are  endlessly chattering on irritating worries, replays of the day or interactions with others, analyzing and agonizing over something over and over again. You know what I am talking about here. During the day I am so busy that I usually can keep that monkey mind dormant while I am taking care of the tasks of the day. It gets more challenging at night, however, as the house quiets down and it is time to retire.

Many of the posts here at The Warm Milk Journal in some way address the issue of quieting our mind enough so that we can  sleep well at night and live a healthy balanced life during the day. Ways to quiet the monkey mind are: meditations, diversions and distractions, affirmations, taking walks, getting support from family, friends, or counselors if something serious really is causing these anxious thoughts. Often, though, there isn’t really anything “wrong” with us or our lives. We are just in the habit of thinking  non stop in this way.

Sue Patton Thoele in her wonderful book, The Woman’s Book of Courage, likens our monkey thoughts to dwelling on fleas. They bug, irritate, pick, scratch, and bite at our minds until our feelings fester and they are kind of making us crazy (right?)

She advises us that if we notice our monkey mind concentrating on” fleas”, we can distract it with thoughts of “bananas, love, or thankfulness”. She reminds us that we need to be gentle with ourselves as we calm our monkey mind, because doing so is a life-long process.

Some affirmations to try:

I am in charge of my mind

I choose to think healing, loving,

and thankful thoughts.

I have the power to create peaceful thoughts

even in stressful situations.

May 3, 2010 Posted by | anxiety, insomnia, Meditations, Self-empowerment, Spirituality, Tips to help insomnia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bedtime prayers for depression and anxiety

From: Marianne Williamson’s Illuminata

Dear God,

Please make me a force for Good.

Remove from my awareness all thoughts that

keep me bound here.

Every goal I surrender to You.

All agendas I surrender to You.

All I have and all I am I give to You.

I ask only to be carried in your arms that I

might know the joy of full surrender.

May I not be tempted to think meaning-

less things and give them weight and suffer


Please send Your spirit to lift me up, above the

pain and turmoil of this world.

Please give me new youth, and a free and joyful


Show me the happiness of full forgiveness.

Whomever I do not forgive, dear Lord, please

show me how, for I wish to be free of the

guilt of this world.

Dear God,

Please make me happy.

I am ready to outgrow my childish pain.


Dear God,

I feel such pain, anxiety and depression.

I know this is not Your will for me, and yet my

mind is held in chains by fear and paranoia.

I surender my life, right now, to You.

Take the entire mess, all of it, now too complicated

to explain to anyone but known by You

in each detail.

Do what I cannot do.

Lift me up.

Give me a new chance.

Show me a new light.

Make me a new person.

Dear God,

This depression frightens me.

Dear God,

Please bring me peace.


May 2, 2010 Posted by | anxiety, insomnia, Prayers, Spirituality | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Mew Way: Being Assertive and Getting What You Want

My adorable cat, mew, is a pretty laid back little guy most of the time. He is docile, gentle, and very sweet. However, when he wants something, he has no trouble letting me know. If his food bowl is empty, he has this cry that is heart wrenching. He won’t let up until the bag of Friskies is out and pouring. Sometimes If I am really acting focused on something else (or half asleep), Mew will walk right in my path and it is hard not to step on him. Okay, Mew, you got my attention!

When Mew wants my attention it really doesn’t matter that I am reading my newspaper, paying the bills , or lesson planning. He will plop his little self right on my important papers and look at me and meow as if he’s saying “here I am! Love me. Pay atention to me”.

For whatever reason, Mew does not like the tap water we have here in Florida. Or he doesn’t like it when it is in his stainless steel bowl in the kitchen. I am at a sink, though- and boy, he wants that water out of the faucet. He becomes quite insistent. I had better turn that faucet on a bit for him before I am able to wash my hands, do the dishes, brush my teeth, etc.

I am a cat owner. I am also a mother and teacher of second graders. Come to think of it, like Mew, children are very good at getting our attention and getting what they want too.

Where am I going with this? My question for this morning is what are we doing to get our needs met? To get what we want  for our lives? This issue may be more for women but it can be for anyone who is a bit of a pleaser, is shy, or has issues with asserting themselves.

One of my greatest sources of anxiety and insomnia is from not asserting myself in my life. What will they think of me? I would ask myself. I would not speak up and then beat myself up for being weak or scared, and not really being myself. It doesn’t feel very good when we are not being our true selves. Stifling oneself is not healthy. If we don’t speak up we can end up feeling resentful and bitter. That is not good energy or baggage to go through life with. Moreover, we are depriving the people around us and the world of the wonderful people we really are.

It is difficult and scary at first, but I encourage anyone who has social anxiety, assertiveness issues etc. to work on speaking up. Let your voice be heard. I am amazed how for so many years I worried about what others would think of me. I had to be the perfect little girl and woman and was terrified to let that mask down and let people see that I in fact, was not perfect (yikes. the horror of it!). I am realizing now that I am in my forties that most people are too busy living their own lives  to be putting much thought about me. That revelation is a such a relief to me. If I can catch myself starting to worry, I’ll tell myself “what they think about me is really none of my business!). That perspective seems to put a smile on my face and my monkey mind more relaxed.

In sum, what have I learned from Mew, the children in my life, and years of life experience?

  1. If we want something, ask for it. Direct communication is most effective.
  2. What we have to say has value and we deserve to be heard!
  3. Insistence and persistence pay off
  4. 99.9% of what we worry about does not happen. This includes worrying that people are thinking bad thoughts about us (chances are they are not thinking about us at all- let alone anything negative).
  5. Remind ourselves that life is not a dress rehearsal. It is time be ourselves and live an authentic life- the life we are intended to live. If not NOW, when?!!!
  6. For Mew, asserting himself gives him a bowl full of Friskies, dripping faucet water to drink and play in, and lot’s of love, adoration, and affection.  He doesn’t try to be anything that he’s not. He is a cat. He doesn’t try to be a dog.

Being comfortable in our own skin will result in a happier life and better sleep. As I write this, Mew is sound asleep at the foot of my bed. I think he does alright for himself.

May 2, 2010 Posted by | anxiety, Self-empowerment, The Mew Way | , , , | 1 Comment

The Who, What, and Why of The Warm Milk Journal

Who am I?

I am a 43 year old mother, second grade teacher, and enthusiast of many passions such as: working out, the beach, the outdoors, yoga, reading, writing, cooking, gardening, and travel. For many years I was challenged with anxiety for a variety of reasons:raising an autistic child, financial and health challenges, living in Seattle’s climate for 15 years, having a people pleaser personality etc.

This anxiety was pretty well contained during my waking hours. At night, however, it was a whole other story. Panic attacks and sleeplessness were common night time experiences. For a few years I was on a low dosage of Clonazapem (an anti anxiety drug) just so I could sleep at night. I have been off this drug almost three years now.

Currently I reside in sunny Florida, am happily employed, sleeping well, and enjoying life. I have worked hard these past few years to learn how to break some old habits of behavior, change negative ways of thinking, and stopped doing things that were no longer serving me. I read many excellent spiritual and self help books, went to empowerment seminars such as Tony Robbins’ Finding the Power Within, and did everything I could to actually put these new life skill tools I learned to use. I am still a work in progress but I can tell you that I have never been happier in my life. I am relatively anxiety free now, very rarely have a panic attack,  am drug free, and only occasionally wake up in the middle of the night (usually because my precious partner is snoring).

Who I am not: It is probably important for me at this point to state that I am not a doctor, therapist, or any kind of medical or mental health professional. Always, of course, seek the advice of your health care professional for any medical condition you have. I am not going to promote or discourage the use of sleep or any other kind of medication. That is between you and your doctor.

What is The Warm Milk Journal?

The Warm Milk Journal is a place for people to visit who are having anxiety and insomnia issues. Here, people will hopefully find a distraction when they can’t sleep, ideas for getting better sleep, ideas to become the most centered and healthiest people we can be,  diversions such as journal prompt ideas to get the mind on something else,  community, and  support.

Why The Warm Milk Journal?

I know what it is like to have anxiety and not be able to get a good night’s sleep. It can be very miserable. When I was in that state I did not feel very good about myself or my life. I feel so good now thanks to some new tools I have learned in recent years. It is my goal to help people and for people to know that they are not alone. There is a good many of us out there with these issues and we can get better and be there for each other.

Debra : )

April 28, 2010 Posted by | anxiety, insomnia, journal writing, Self-empowerment, The Warm Milk Journal | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How can I help? Contribute?

In your journal, list ways that you can help someone else, give of your time, contribute to a cause that you care about, etc.

One of the quickest ways to get out of our depressed and anxious states is to get out of “ourselves” and help and connect with others. When we are giving and servicing others we are no longer focused on ourselves and our problems etc.

Make that list and do one idea tomorrow.

April 22, 2010 Posted by | anxiety, Spirituality | , , , , | Leave a comment