Do you love yourself and take responsibility for yourself?

Do you use your breath to regulate your nervous system?

Do you allow your senses to ground, inform, and invigorate you?

Do what you eat and drink maximize function and performance?

Do you move to enhance flexibility, mobility, posture, and strength?

Do you identify your emotions know where you feel them in your body?

Do you integrate brain health into your daily habits? 

Do you prioritize a professional life/personal life balance?

Do you interact effectively with others?  

Do you develop and nurture your relationships?

Do you know your purpose and in what ways you can use your gifts to serve? 

Are you open to growth?

The above questions address The Twelve Dimensions of The Wellness Inventory Wheel that John Travis, M.D., founded in 1972.  They are:

Loving Self and Taking Responsibility for Self







Playing and Working





Dr. Travis also created The Illness-Wellness Continuum for people to track themselves for ongoing harmony.


Cultivate curiosity.

Identify your values.

De-activate overwhelm (sympathetic nervous system fight-flight and dorsal vagal freeze) and activate social engagement (ventral vagal safety).

Delete limited beliefs.

Re-wire your brain against avoidance, distraction, and maladaptive coping mechanisms. 

Embrace your creativity, resourcefulness, and wholeness.

Set morning, afternoon, evening, and bedtime routines utilizing body scans, emotional freedom technique (, essential oils (aromatherapy), a gratitude journal, the relaxation response, solitude, time in nature, and visualizations.


If you have a medical issue, I know firsthand that total commitment to personal well-being impacts diagnosis, treatment, and outcome in a positive way.  


“Authenticity is not created.  It is revealed.”  Unknown


Arthur Ashe:  “Start where you are.  Use what you have.  Do what you can.”

Roy T. Bennett:  “The past is a place of reference, not a place of residence.  The past is a place of learning, not a place of living.”

Mary Chapin Carpenter’s song lyric:  “Some days you’re the bug.  Some days you’re the windshield.”

Winston Churchill: “The truth is inconvertible.  Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it but, in the end, there it is.”

Audrey Hepburn:  “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”

Bruce Lee:  “Be like water.”

Abraham Lincoln:  “I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true.  I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I might have.”

Mark Twain:  “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and they day you find out why.”

Robert J. Wicks:  “In the end, it is not how much darkness there is in the world, your country, church, family, or even in yourself that really matters.  It is how you stand in that darkness that is the real issue.”


Anne M. Szymanski


Awareness in the Moment

Certified Wellness Inventory Coach ( “The Wellness Index, 3rd edition” and “The Wellness Workbook, 3rd edition,” “How to achieve enduring health and vitality” by John W. Travis and Regina Sara Ryan) 

ATRI-Certified Ai Chi Training

Certified Integrative Pain Science Institute Mindfulness-Based Pain Relief Facilitator


DISCLAIMER:  A coach provides information.  A coach does not diagnose nor treat and not a substitute for medical advice.  Always consult your healthcare practitioner before you undertake diet, exercise, medication, or supplement changes.  A coach is not a therapist.   A coach, when appropriate, will suggest professional services.      

LIABILITY:  The client and coach are partners who focus their mutual attention on what the client is currently experiencing, wants to achieve, and has the potential to accomplish.  Both client and coach understand and agree that client and coach work as a respectful team who pinpoint solutions.  The coach bears no responsibility for the client’s decisions nor the subsequent consequences of the client’s decisions.



What is self-love?

Self-acceptance, self-compassion, self-kindness, self-nurture, and self-respect.

What is taking responsibility for self?

Non-negotiable ongoing inner accountability.

No one defines you but you.

Create your new story by making decisions that correlate with your new beliefs.

Baby steps and daily practice are the keys to living it.

Post affirmations where you see them every day. Examples: My mind is a garden, my thoughts are the seeds, I can grow flowers or I can grow weeds. I am worthy of all to which I aspire. I trust myself to know the right path for me. Compose your own!

Recognize your voice and assert it when others ask and/or challenge your opinion.


Use your breath to reduce overwhelm.

The optimum rhythm is smooth and steady that instills calm.

Ways to enhance your breathing: good posture, elevate your head when sleeping.

When you inhale, your diaphragm and intercostal muscles contract to allow your lungs to expand for oxygen in and carbon dioxide out.

Ways to enhance your breathing: good posture, elevate your head when sleeping.

Your right hand on your heart and your left hand below your ribs, inhale through your nose for a count of three. Exhale through your mouth for a count of three. Remember to keep shoulders low and relaxed. You don’t need them to breathe!

As you continue to purposefully practice diaphragmatic breathing, remember to integrate it when you carry objects, climb stairs, exercise, lift objects, shower, and walk.

Dr. Andrew Weil’s natural tranquilizer for the nervous system also known as the ancient yogic pranayama:

Alternate Nostril Breathing: Close your right nostril and breathe through your left. Close your left nostril and breathe through your right.

Cat Cow:



Gathering Data Through Our Senses
By Bena Kallick and Arthur L. Costa

“Nothing reaches the intellect before making its appearance in the senses.”

Latin proverb

All external information gets into your brain through one of these sensory pathways:

  • gustatory: the tastes you gather through your mouth.
  • olfactory: the smells you inhale through your nose.
  • tactile: the sensations you feel through your skin.
  • kinesthetic: the positions you take through your movements and posture.
  • auditory: the sounds you hear through your ears.
  • visual: the sights you see through your eyes.

And it is not the single input of any one of these but the interplay within and between all of these systems that is how your brain functions. When one of these pathways is either blocked or compromised, the others are heightened so that you can make sense of the world.

Most linguistic, cultural, and physical learning comes from the environment by observing or taking in through the senses. An apple, for instance, must be eaten to know its crispness and sweetness. To know a role in a play, it must be acted; to know the game of soccer, it must be played; to know a dance it must be moved; to know a goal it must be envisioned. We deepen our knowledge as we experience more in the world. Some students go through school and life oblivious to the textures, rhythms, patterns sounds and colors around them. Sometimes we are afraid to touch, get our hands “dirty” or feel some object might be “slimy” or “icky.” When this happens, we are operating within a narrow range of sensory problem solving strategies wanting only to “describe it but not illustrate or act it,” or “listen but not participate, to look but not to touch.” Those whose sensory pathways are open, alert, and acute absorb more information from the environment than those whose pathways are withered, immune, and oblivious to sensory stimuli.

We gather data from internal sources as well. If you are in touch with your own emotions, you are also in touch with the physical sensations in your body. For example, you know that you are fearful because your heart rate begins to speed up, your stomach clenches, and your hair stands on end. You sense what other people are experiencing or feeling by sensations that arise in our own bodies. All of us are like walking antennae, receiving and registering the felt experience of those around us. Some of us are better at this than others. To accurately register this kind of information requires being in touch with our own emotional responses.

Both internal and external data gathering is a blend of automatic responses to stimuli and actions guided by our knowledge and expectations. As long as the sensory receptors (the eyes, the ears, the skin, etc.) are in good working order, they will automatically, unconsciously and simultaneously take in all the stimuli bombarding them at any given moment in time. However, we may not be consciously aware of all this information; much of it is determined to be irrelevant and is discarded. For example, some of the stimuli (such as the temperature in the environment or other peripheral data) are often encoded without conscious attention. It is only when the environmental conditions cause discomfort that we attune to what our senses are telling us.

Another aspect of brain function that helps us understand why multiple sensory input is important is that the brain does not store a memory in a specific location, rather it is stored all over the cortex in a sort of neural circuit; the sound in the auditory cortex, images in the visual cortex, etc. When you recall the memory, the brain reactivates or reconstructs the circuit in which it was stored. The more sensory modalities that were activated, the more triggers the brain has for reactivating the circuit. This suggests that concrete experiences you encounter that activate several of the senses can enhance your recall of the information at a later time.

Learning about the ways that your brain gathers and stores information can help as you are learning. Many people find attending to the arts and music improves their mental functioning. Forming mental images is important in mathematics and engineering; listening to classical music seems to improve spatial reasoning. Social scientists solve problems through scenarios and role-playing; scientists build models; engineers use cadcam; mechanics learn through hands-on experimentation; artists experiment with colors and textures. Musicians experiment by producing combinations of instrumental and vocal music. A skilled chef experiments with combinations of flavors and textures of various foods.


From Jamie Koufman, M.D., author of “Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook & Cure,” who was the first to link “reflux,” “diet,” and “cure. “Dropping Acid” summarizes Dr. Koufman’s twenty-five years of clinical and scientific research and discoveries on acid reflux. It explains how LPR (laryngopharyngeal reflux) is different from GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), provides list of reflux trigger foods and food allergies and reveals why a low-acid diet is important in the induction (detox) phase of treatment making it possible to stop medications like Nexium and Prilosec. Also included are natural reflux remedies and seventy-five original, delicious, and reflux-friendly recipes.

What’s Best to Drink If I Have Acid Reflux?

  • The best beverage choices for the refluxer are water (preferably alkaline, pH 9.0-9.5), tea (no mint), and low-fat milk; almond, rice, and soy milk are most popular. I personally use unsweetened almond milk with vanilla for smoothies, etc.
  • Avoid virtually everything in a bottle or can except still water. All bottled and canned beverages are acidified by law to limit the growth of microorganisms. And sometimes the manufacturer is sneaky: “All Natural, All Organic. Vitamin C-Enhanced,” but what they are really doing is adding lots of ascorbic acid, which is actually vitamin C. One such coconut water I tested was pH 3.3, that same pH as stomach acid!
  • Avoid or limit alcohol and caffeinated beverages and completely avoid apple cider vinegar as well as all citrus juice or fruit.
  • The best thing you can drink is alkaline water, ideally pH 9.0-10.5.

What Is Best to Drink If I Have Symptomatic Acid Reflux?

Water: Most tap water and bottled water is around pH 7.0, and it is fine to drink, but not carbonated (no seltzer). Even better is alkaline water pH 9.0-10.5; see my alkaline water blogs: Alkaline Water For Reflux and Alkaline Water Is Safe. 

I am a big fan of the Cerra Water pitcher; I fill it every night and drink at least a pitcher’s worth of pH 9.5 Cerra water every day. Although it costs a lot ($199 for the pitcher and several filters), it lasts. I test the pH of my Cerra water each month, and a filter lasts six months, so the pitcher and those refills will last you about two years (comes out to $8.30/mo.). This pitcher saves you hauling bottles of water all the time. Oh, one word of warning: do not put your Cerra water filter in the dishwasher, it will melt. Also, if you want inexpensive pH-paper to test your water and other things try this one

Herbal Tea: Best for the refluxer are non-caffeinated herbal teas such as chamomile, ginger, anise, slippery elm, and turmeric. Avoid any mint teas such as peppermint, as all mints are reflux triggers.

Coffee & Tea with caffeine: Even during the Induction (Detox) Phase of my reflux diet, I allow people a cup, or maybe two, of coffee in the morning. Lightly brewed black and green teas are also fine in moderation as they also contain caffeine. And while caffeine does relax the LES (lower esophageal sphincter), this effect is dose dependent. Indeed, if you used to drink a pot of coffee before noon, then you had reflux from that. See the highlighted blog on Coffee (caffeine). 

The amount of caffeine in one cup of coffee is rarely enough to upset the reflux applecart. That said, some people have coffee as a reflux trigger, and for them coffee, even decaf, must be avoided; see The Coffee Blog.  Similar to coffee, teas are permitted in moderation, but not manufactured/bottled ones that have acid added. I brew a pitcher of tea and leave it in my refrigerator so that I can have iced tea some of the time, and you can, too. 

Milk: Choose a milk option that is low-fat. Cow skim milk (1-2%) is fine, but even better choices are almond, soy, rice, flax, and oat milk. Again, avoid bottled products like coconut milk and aloe vera that have had acid added, again, usually Vitamin C, ascorbic acid.

Non-Acidic Fruit Juice: Remember, remember, remember, bottled and canned beverages are acidified because the FDA requires that it be done to kill bacteria. In any case, for the refluxer, all citrus beverages are already too-acidic even before bottling. Avoid lemon, lime, orange, tangerine, grapefruit, pineapple, or apple juices; those cause or worsen reflux. The best fruit juice choices are freshly-juiced banana, carrot, spinach, kale, aloe vera, watermelon, beet, cucumber, and pear … again, great for smoothies.

What Should I Avoid?

Avoid anything in a bottle or can except still water. In my book, Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook & Cure, I explain how we discovered the law that requires acidification of beverages in bottles and cans. Avoid all soft drinks: soda, energy drinks, fruit juices (including aloe vera and other otherwise good-for-reflux choices) as they have acid added by the manufacturer; today, most are pH 2.8-4.4, the same as stomach acid.

For the everyday refluxer, I recommend that you purchase pH paper to test things. If you are a serious refluxer, avoid everything pH 5.0. Actually, you can test about anything you consume; just wet the item and hold the pH paper in contact. All green veggies are fine, for example, all about pH 7.0.

Avoid or limit alcohol; if  you drink, make alcoholic beverage choices that are less likely to cause reflux; see Drinking Alcohol blog.

Finally, avoid apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. The entire thrust of my work is that Pepsin (that is stuck on your throat, for example) is activated by acid from any source, including what you drink. I don’t know how the “apple cider vinegar thing” got started, but it is a VERY BAD IDEA for people with acid reflux!


Stretch throughout the day because you need to feel where you are tight so you can untangle it.

Shake throughout the day because your body fluids stagnate, lymph pools, and blood flow slows when you are in one position for a period of time.

Loosen your neck because tension often resides there.

Bounce, gallop, jump, and skip because these actions release adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin to boost your energy better than caffeine or sugar.

Dip, kick, squat, and wall sit because these actions build and maintain muscle.

Martha Peterson

Roxy Shahadi on

Lauren Walker


The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) consists of the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) that controls and regulates the internal organs without a/ny conscious recognition or effort and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS).

Old Model: The SNS: Fight/Mobilized or Flight/Mobilized or Freeze/Immobilized or Submit/Immobilized; The PNS: Rest and Digest.

New Model: The SNS: Fight/Mobilized or Flight/Mobilized, The Polyvagal Tone. Polyvagal Tone consists of Dorsal Vagal or Disassociated or Immobilized and Ventral Vagal or Safe/Connected to Self/Connected to others/Co-regulation/Social Engagement/Growth/Restore

Your body and mind are connected.

From Britt Frank, author of “The Science of Stuck,” the OODA LOOP, an aviation checklist acronym, for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act.

Anxiety helps a person to get unstuck unless it totally consumes a person and the person is in freeze (stuck). When a person’s coping skills are not working, it’s because the brain is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do when it is overwhelmed (under threat).

Grief occurs anytime anything changes, differs, or ends and is the source, especially if it is unseen, of all anxiety problems.

Tool: When someone expresses a worst-case scenario, say, “You have a powerful imagination! Now let’s imagine a best-case scenario! Is it possible both scenarios are true?”

How to live with uncertainty? Having the awareness that “I have an anxious thought. I identify the trigger. I self-soothe.”

Tool: When someone is feeling unsafe, ask, “What does it feel like to you to feel safe in your body?” Encourage the person to remember the environment that allowed it.

Activity: When something happens, ask, “How old do I feel?” Is it emotional regression that positions you as your newborn self who was totally dependent on another person? As your three-year-old self who was dependent on another person? As your twelve-year-old self who was partially dependent on another person and in the process of seeking an identity? Explore what you need to tell myself in order to feel safe.

Tool: Write to release. It may provide an insight into something in your mind. A letter to a deceased person for the purpose of continuing the relationship. A letter to a living person for the purpose of expressing your emotions. It does not have to be shared.

Activity: After watching a show or reading something or noticing an online opinion, ask, “How does my body feel?” Did it uplift me? Paying attention to our reactions is a vital component in choosing our responses. Informing yourself versus tormenting yourself.

From Donna Jackson Nakasawa, the job of the brain is protection. All neural synapses during childhood develop in response to safety. Over two-thirds of children experience ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experience). Heightened levels of cytokines (inflammation) ensue. If trauma is appropriately managed, the child can regulate and feel safe. If, however, there is chronic unpredictable stress, the body has no opportunity to recover. Donna offers two online courses: “Your Healing Narrative” (one for professionals and one for anyone over the age of eighteen). “A Write-to-Heal with neural re-narrating. How history of adversity affects relationships and health. Take-home strategies to recognize and override the brain’s old thought patterns and stories to enhance inner resiliency, calm body brain mind, and flourish.”

Emotions impact us before our conscious mind is aware.

Avoiding them never helps.

As we would with our best friend, be curious yet compassionate.

In the moment, stop, name your feeling, and where in your body you feel it.

Cognitive: blurry vision, dizziness, ear ringing, intrusive thoughts

Smooth muscles: constipation, diarrhea, urinary frequency

Strident muscles: chest pressure, chest tightness, impossible to take a deep breath

Listen to what your body wants you to know.

From Diane Poole Heller, Ph.D.,, there is a connection between attachment styles and the nervous system.

Relational trauma (abandonment, betrayal, neglect) results in a dysregulated nervous system (overactivated/anger, anxiety, rage).

Conversely, a secure attachment is attention style (the capacity to be in the present), attunement (the me, the you, the us), protection (safety), and the rituals that deeply connect two people (a full-body hug, not the quick hug).

Be an agent of connection! Respect for the other person, not necessarily agreement with the other person.

Attachment Styles: Ambivalence, Avoidance, Disorganized

Ambivalent is anxiety-provoking because the love is off/on, demanding of reassurance, inconsistent love, negativity, preoccupation with old wounds.

Avoidance is abrupt, hostility, isolation, neglect, no eye gaze, present only for left-brain activities, vacancy. It may provide sustenance needs but dismisses relationships and negates feelings.

Disorganized is abuse, anger, chaos, chronic, frightening, situational, unresolved trauma

From Stephen Porges, Ph.D.,,, author of “Polyvagal Safety.” who developed the polyvagal theory in 1994, the words “anxiety” and “stress” dishonor the body. He prefers “defense” and “threat” to describe physiological destabilization. If, for example, a person pushes and continues to push, without rest, the body will eventually rebel because it has had enough, as is the case in fibromyalgia.

While meditation is safe for some people, it may be a threat for others because it causes too much vulnerability.

Acquisition cultivation (more money, more possessions) is not safety. It is a fight-flight driven motivation.

What is safety? Growth, health, and restoration by means of social engagement cues (eye contact, facial expressions, listening, and voice intonation via vagal nerve activation).

The social engagement system is the evolutionary story to become a social entity by co-regulating (feeling safe with another), but if a person has no memories of safety, being accessible to someone will feel unsafe. If the cues are absent due to cautious physiology, the person must flee the environment. Not crazy. A healthy response. The body has its own mind to send signals.

What to do? Identify moments of joy and expand them. Originally, the autonomic nervous system was only able to experience death/faint/immobilization/shut down. Then, it evolved to mobilization. Eventually, it developed into social engagement.

Interoception is the awareness of how a person feels in the body. Neuroception determines if the environment is safe or unsafe. Embodiment (connection of the brain and body) is a complex journey. Movement and, specifically, dance, are extremely helpful tools because they allow the body to counter immobilization/death/shut down which tell the body it is safe.

Although Dr. Porges loves stillness, he acknowledges it is a threat cue for some. He cites that stillness is on a continuum with accessibility at one end and vulnerability at the other. Alex Howard admitted he likes stillness but not the journey and yet knows that the more uncomfortable it is for him, the more he needs to embrace it.

Dr. Porges states it is important to honor the responsibilities that take a person from transformation to meaningfulness. Due to Covid-19, Dr. Porges has shifted his comfort zone with people. He is feeling socially insecure and proximately oriented (detached) which he dislikes. His hope is that everyone is capable of re-tuning or optimizing our physiological state changes.

Instead of the words, “mind body” and “anxiety,” he uses activated nervous system (physiological state). Modern medicine, unfortunately, is generally unaware of the data that pain is a signal that the body senses danger and releases the necessary chemicals to survive (fight or flight). Pain is not psychological.

Physiology is how a body functions. It is more powerful than the conscious brain.

Everything a human does in the moment is informed by the past. A person who has had an abusive chaotic childhood has a hypervigilant brain that is programmed to sense danger all the time.

All chronic disease has the same cause — sustained exposure to fight or flight.

He believes that bipolar, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, psychosis, and schizophrenia are inflammatory metabolic disorders as are cancer, cardiac disease, dementia, hypertension, obesity, and Parkinson’s disease.

Dr. Hanscom had seventeen symptoms over a period of fifteen years (anxiety, back pain, depression, ears ringing, feet burning, insomnia, itchy scalp, neck pain, migraines, panic attacks, rashes all over the body, stomach issues, and others). In 2006, he developed the tools. In 2009, he conducted a neuroscience study. In 2016, wrote “Back in Control.”

The tools consist of three parts that treat the physiology: develop a working relationship with the vagus nerve that is anti-inflammatory and lowers stress chemicals using the breath, humming, music (Stephen Porges’s SSP (Safe and Sound Protocol), ice on the forehead, and rubbing the forehead (the site of the fifth cranial nerve).


Daniel Amen prefers the term, brain health, to mental illness.

Neuroplasticity: New thoughts create new pathways. Repetition and practice form new habits. The old pathways weaken. With direct attention to change, we rewire our brains.

Herbert Benson, M.D., “The Relaxation Response”

In, David Feinstein states:  “Energy psychology is a novel treatment for emotional healing and psychological development that involves the somatic stimulation of acupuncture points (acupoints) by tapping on them with the fingertips. Evidence for its speed and effectiveness has been rapidly accumulating, demonstrated in more than 120 clinical trials and reviewed in the book, The Science of Tapping (Stapleton, 2019).”  “Stapleton refers to energy psychology and other somatic interventions as comprising the “fourth wave” of psychotherapy, following psychoanalysis, behavior therapy, and cognitive approaches.”

From Nick Ortner, tapping or pressing on meridian end points interrupts fight-flight-freeze (proven by fMRIs) to activate to calm the nervous system, activate the pre-frontal cortex, perceive choices and options, and allow constructive decision-making.

How to tap or press:

Identify the problem. Examples: ruminating thoughts, shoulder pain, worry about an upcoming appointment.

Rate how you feel on a 0-10 scale.

Start with the negative and, when the door opens, do the positive.

Karate Chop (KC): Even though I’m overwhelmed, I can be open to a shift. Even though I’m overwhelmed, I am curious for a different experience. Even though I’m overwhelmed, I value myself.

EB (eyebrow) Overwhelmed

SE (side of eye) Overwhelmed

UE (under eye) For a long time

UN (under nose) Feeling overwhelmed

UM (under mouth) Too long

CB (collarbone) Too much

UA (under armpit) Overwhelmed

TH (top of head) Too long

WT (insides of wrists together) Overwhelmed

Shake your hands.

Rate how you feel on a 0-10 scale.

EB Overwhelmed

SE A lot to do

UE Overwhelmed

UN Yet maybe there is a way

UM Another choice

CB I can try

UA To experience something different

TH That I can receive with curiosity

WT That help me

Rate how you feel on a 0-10 scale.

Continue to tap, if necessary, until you have a lower number.

ACTIVITY: Tap for five or ten minutes on a simple problem as a daily practice to see how it is for you.

As you progress, address complicated problems.