The Secret Handbook 4 Teens

End of the school year got you stressed? Just breathe!

Last night at dinner my daughter and I were talking about how she and her classmates were all starting to experience elevated levels of stress with end of the year exams and standardized tests looming in the not-so-distant future. I’m sure she inwardly roller her eyes (maybe, maybe not) when I immediately used this as another opportunity to talk about the power of your breath to help calm you down.

As I’ve previously discussed here, I have embarked on my own breathing and meditation journey since experiencing a panic attack a few months ago. In fact, today is my 58th day of meditating using the Headspace meditation app and my second week of my beginner yoga practice which is a whole ‘nuther post. Through meditation I’ve certainly become more aware of my thoughts and breath and I’ve found that frequently during the day, I check in to see how I’m breathing. When things get tense at work or with life, I remember more and more to just take three slow deep breaths. I pause to look at my bracelet which read “Be Present” to ground myself in the present moment (because everything is actually always ok in the present moment when you’re not worrying about the past or future) and I breathe.

Breathing is a powerful tool to use when school pressures start to mount and it doesn’t have to be complicated either.

Just take three deep belly breaths.

And I do mean belly breaths. No shallow half-hearted breaths here! Breathe in so deeply that your lower belly expands (you know, like when you eat too much and get a food baby pooch? Yup, like that.), and sloooowly let your belly flatten as you exhale that breathe. You’re almost done – just take two more breaths like that.

Breathing like this to help manage your stress doesn’t mean you get to study less or that all your worries will fade away but studies have shown that this type of breathing actually causes your brain to change in positive ways. So who knows, maybe meditation and paying attention to your breathing will make it easier to take your tests and finish out the school year in a more positive way. I’m not making any promises but approaching stressful situations with a little more peace and a calmer body can’t hurt. Namaste my friends and wishing you many successes as your close out your school year!


One Important Thing 2 Remember in High School That Could Impact the Rest of Your Life

Last night was Back to School night for my daughter who is a sophomore in high school. I have to admit, while I dread having to go out after a long day of work (on a rainy dreary evening no less), I love Back to School night. Yes I enjoy meeting my daughter’s teachers and hearing what she’s learning about and I love the enthusiasm of the teachers for their craft. It’s easy for me to feel these things as an adult though because I don’t have to sit through these classes and have enough life wisdom to know that what you’re learning in high school will shape your future and outlooks for the rest of your life. But did anyone tell you that in high school? I bet not and that’s what got me thinking.

As I was sitting in the English class presentation I found myself fondly reminiscing about the first time I read To Kill a Mockingbird and those first deep dives into literature and reading where you turn from a regurgitator of facts to a critical thinker. I felt that love of writing and reading bubble up in me again and wished that someone had told me when I was a teen to pay attention to those feelings. While my college and graduate school path led me into science (another love) I easily could have been an English major and may have been if I had honored those high school feelings a bit more.

So my advice to you is this: pay attention to how you feel about certain classes, topics, events and experiences in high school. Pay attention to what sparks your interest, what leaves you stone cold bored, what makes you want to learn more, etc. You have plenty of time ahead of you to carve out your career and academic choices in college and beyond but these first exposures to all these different classes matter. They are your first deep dive on a higher learning level into so many different worlds and topics and, if you pay attention, you may see a certain path or interests developing along the way.

I know there will be classes with bad/boring teachers and classes that you’re only taking because you have to so the moments and sparks of interest may be fleeting and limited but all the more reason to pay attention to them. Your sudden interest in a topic is something you can explore as you go along and either embrace more fully or reject along the way. But that “Oh, that’s interesting” moment could also lead you into your future career path and choice of study.

Small moments matter and so do your feelings. Honor them in high school and they will serve you well in the rest of your life.

The Only Thing U Need 2 Know Before Heading Back 2 School

Ok, this might not be the only thing you need to know before going back to school but I do think it’s one of the most important things you need to know. It’s also really simple which is a bonus.


Only you can hurt yourself.

I know what you’re thinking. That’s not true. Plenty of people hurt my feelings all the time. I respectfully and gently disagree. People may say or do things to upset you along the way but it’s up to you as to whether you feel hurt or not. You see, we create our own internal experiences so you can choose to react to a hurtful word internally with much drama and reaction or you can choose not to react. It’s up to you. You can change your mind at any minute or moment to not feel this way. Pretty powerful right?

And yes I know this is actually really hard to do and I am by no means an expert myself on this, but every time I read something to remind me of this, a little lightbulb goes off like “Ohhhh, yeah….I’m the only one who can make myself miserable.”

So, as you head back to school remind yourself that you are in charge of your brain. You decide what you let in and who you let in. You decide whether you’re going to let the little stuff upset you or if you’re going to rise above and try to live as your best self and the hell with the haters. I say, the hell with the haters. Go be you.

Looking Back on the School Year: What Would U Do Differently?

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”
Ok so maybe my quote doesn’t quite jive with the title of this post but bear with me. For the most part, I agree that we should try to not relive the past and shouldn’t spend all our time worrying about the future.  All that being said, I do think it’s important to look back on your school year and take inventory of what you did well and what you did…well, not so well. Life is a learning experience and it is through these experiences, good and bad, that we figure out who we are and who we want to be moving forward. So, look back on your school year and think about it for a minute. What happened that you didn’t like? What would you change? Would you study harder? Would you try to not obsess about your grades so much? Would you try to have more fun? Would you spend more time with friends or family? Would you try out for a sport or join a club? Would you learn to ignore the nasty comments/posts/looks from people who aren’t your friends and don’t even pretend to try? Would you try to make a new friend? Would you not have chosen a friend?
Once you’ve looked back, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to take a deep breath, be ok with the decisions you did make and vow to spend your next school year being more authentically YOU. Whether you would do things differently or whether you would do everything exactly the same, as long as you are trying to be you, you won’t fail.
But now you tell me – what would you do differently? What would you not change? What advice would you give to someone just starting high school? What would you do to more authentically you?

Nervous About Starting High School? Here’s 1 Simple Tool 2 Get U Thru

dog smile

“Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.”  – Quoted in P.S. I Love You, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr. 

I remember how nervous I felt about starting high school. Would I have classes with the friends I knew? Would I meet new friends? Who would I sit with for lunch? Did we have to take showers after gym? (That might have been the most frightening question and no, we didn’t.) Even though I knew deep down that it would be fine and that millions of others have gone through the same thing, it was still scary.

Fortunately for you, I have the one tool that will help you on your first day and it’s really easy.


I know, I know. It sounds silly and you might be rolling your eyes but bear with me.

Everyone is nervous on the first day whether they admit it or not but some may be more nervous than others. Imagine how much better you can make someone feel just by smiling at them. In most cases people will smile back and that will most certainly make you feel less nervous too.

A smile tells people “Hey, I’m friendly and approachable!” and it will also make you seem and feel more confident. Before you know it, a smile starts a conversation and the person sitting next to you in the cafeteria becomes a friend and is no longer a stranger.

Try it before you start school if you don’t believe me. Smile when you pass someone on the street or in a store. Smile at the barista who hands you your coffee. Smile at your parents (which might make them nervous so be careful about this!) Then, on your first day of school, smile at the new people you meet and watch strangers transform into friends.