I realized that in my post on my last half marathon, I forgot to add something that was a big help to me during the race. But first let me give you the background story on what has now become my on personal mantra to help me calm and gather myself.

8 months ago, I walked into the Linus Pauling Science Center for a job interview for my current job. Even though I live in a college town, I honestly hadn’t spent tons of time on campus before, except for special events/game on campus and classes for my kids. Well, when I walked into the LPSC, I kind of freaked out in my head. It is a new building and it is fancy and modern. Before I even had my interview, I was already intimidated by the job and where I would be working. I don’t really consider myself to be an academia kind of gal, and and I am certainly not fancy at all. The modern feel of the building served as a reminder that I completed college a decade ago when buildings didn’t look quite so modern (at least not from my college experience). It reminded me that besides holding down a very small part time job, I had been out of the workforce for a long time. I began to panic in my head and start to to feel a lot of anxiety.

Well, despite being intimidated by the whole interview process, I was able to land my current job. For the first month of working, I felt extremely stressed and anxious (yes, you may be noticing the pattern of anxious tendencies). This was a big change for my family, and I wanted it to go smoothly. Even though everyone I was working with was lovely and supportive, my anxiety was getting the best of me. Within the first week of work, whenever I would walk into the LPSC I would say a little prayer, and the same words would enter into my head: “Calm, confident, competent, kind.” When the words came into my head, I would pause, repeat the words again, and take a deep breath. After a month of work, I became more confident, and my new mantra wouldn’t come to me as often when I walked into the building. There have been many situations in the last 8 months with work when out of the blue, this mantra would repeat in my head followed by a deep breath, until I was calm.

I feel like these exact words came to me as an answer to a prayer. They are what I want to represent and be. This mantra has since been very helpful in hard parenting situations, when I am generally feeling overwhelmed, and yes, it even helped my during my half marathon. During the last 4 miles of the race, the words suddenly filled my mind and filled me with peace and confidence that I could finish strong with what I had set out to do.

So after a life of simply considering myself a worrier, I am now starting to take steps to deal with the anxiety that often unsettles my heart and strips my confidence away at times. Do any of you have your own personal mantra or perhaps a song or poem that gets you through hard times? If any of you deal with anxiety issues at all, I would love to hear what other kinds of tools you have to help calm your mind during times of stress.

Rachel Harrington - November 13, 2013 - 9:19 pm

Today my babysitter was 10 minutes late and I got into my car and realized that I couldn’t make it up and back to WOU without going to the gas station. My life is so programmed and scheduled that I honestly do not have time to fill up my gas tank unless I have scheduled it on my calendar–I”m serious. The 10 minutes that my babysitter was late meant I was 10 minutes late for my first advising appointment with a student. I do not have any cushion in my schedule for being late, I just don’t have time left for cushions. I need every minute. Every moment is scheduled. Every. Moment. As soon as I started driving, I said to myself, “It is 11:30 and I now know that I will not have time to eat lunch, and I will not be able to cook my family dinner. These two things (the babysitter and empty tank) mean that in 6 hours, I will need to get take out.” It’s overwhelming to live this way. Crazy amounts of anxiety. I feel like my life is a house of cards.

Someone a few weeks ago posted some picture on FB that said, “Stop being stressed and start feeling blessed.” That’s my new mantra when the anxiety begins to build over my life. I’m blessed that Eleanor is doing what she can. I’m blessed that I can afford to fill up my empty gas tank. I’m blessed to have a job. I’m blessed to be able to afford a kind and loving babysitter who was only late because she cannot keep track of my constantly changing schedule even though she really tries harder than she should have to. As we were sitting down to our Burgerville dinner, I realized just how much I love my little family. They were all in such good moods (eating french fries). I am very, very lucky. I was feeling very blessed.

Rachel Harrington - November 13, 2013 - 9:37 pm

Okay, this captures it. It’s a quote from a article posted on Mamalode (Sorry for another wall of text, but you hit a nerve, I guess):

“From five thirty each morning, when I startled awake to the sound of Jake crying in the next room, to ten each night, when I closed my laptop, my day was a blur of perpetual motion. If everything went perfectly, my days could be exhilarating. Katrina wins the race against entropy!

But when everything did not go perfectly, I got smacked with the double whammy that every working parent has felt — scrambling extra-hard just to catch up and being in a constant state of apology to people who had no way of understanding the difference between busy and Busy.

I’m sorry I’m late. I had to pump.
I’m sorry I can’t stay longer. It’s time to get my kids.
I’m sorry I have to skip the conference. I can’t afford more nights away.
I’m sorry I have to miss the pitch. Jake has a fever.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m so so sorry.”

Here is the link:

adrienne w. - November 13, 2013 - 9:45 pm

A few months ago, I was at something where the speaker asked us to think of 4 words that we would describe what we would like to become and to repeat those words to ourselves on a regular basis. I don’t remember much else from that talk but the 4 words I came up with really stuck with me. I don’t get anxious very often, but when I start to feel overwhlemed or lacking in confidence I try to repeat them to myself. Coincidently, they similar to yours. They are Competent, Peaceful, Joyful, and Healthy. I ahven’t been using them as much lately, but I should be.

kara - November 13, 2013 - 10:08 pm

OH Rachel,
Your comment made me cry. #1 because I can relate to this stressful moments and how much power they have over us in the moment an #2 because I know the year you have had and to hear your list of gratitude made me happy. Also, I am kind of craving Burgerville now really bad :).
I like your mantra mama…..I hope it will come to you when you need it most!!

Kelly - November 14, 2013 - 1:40 pm

Oh, this post and the comments struck so close to home. Kara, you should look up ‘imposter syndrome’. Reading about the psychology women show in the workplace too often was really enlightening. As a working mama, I mostly have it all together but it only takes the smallest thing to throw everything out the window (a fever, a nightmare, a bad mood). We live on a razor’s edge between making it work and insanity. My mantra is “this too shall pass”. While it helps me take a deep breath during the difficult moments, it also helps me remember to live fully in the wonderful moments that make up our every day. It’s so easy to be overwhelmed that I forget to enjoy the good parts. I don’t ever want my kid to just be a source of stress or another thing on the to do list.

Carrie - November 14, 2013 - 4:43 pm

My newest mantra is “I can do hard things,” as adapted from Glennon Doyle Melton on her Momastery blog ( I’m especially hoping that it helps me during childbirth and the upcoming trials I’ll surely experience as a parent.

Also, Glennon writes often on her blog about “showing up.” So I’m been adding that to my mantra in a way. If I don’t feel like going to the gym, or work, or class to teach, or whatever, I just tell myself first to “show up.” Then, when I’m there and present, I can focus on doing the “hard things” that I have to (and can!) do.

Kara - November 14, 2013 - 8:12 pm

Wow Kelly, the impostor syndrome pretty much summed up a lot of what I do. I am constantly am telling Chris that I feel like fake. “If people really saw how I parent sometimes…. If people really knew how bad I am at this…..” Wow, I am going to do more reading on that. Thanks.
I love love love the idea of “showing up.” When I get overwhelmed, I tend to take my head to the worst case scenario, and think of all the reasons I can’t do something or how something might go wrong. It’s weird, because I actually try to be a very optimistic person, but negative thoughts about myself are the demons I fight sometimes. I love the idea of just showing up and not playing out all of the scenarios of what can happen in my head. I should focus on showing up to yoga, and not play out all of the scenarios of how I think that I suck at it etc… Thanks Carrie!