Dear How-To Penguin… (#2)


Dear How-To Penguin,

I just don’t know what to do–my anxiety dragon is riding me so hard!  All I want is to crawl beneath my blankets and hide from the world…but work, and obligations, and general penguin-ing!

How do you manage?!  Please, guide me!


Cowering and Confused

Dear Contain the Chaos:

I SO hear you!  Right now, I recommend taking a breath.  Another.  One more, for good measure.

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The first thing I have to say is:  everyone’s anxiety dragon comes equipped with different scales and different talons.  Not every tail is barbed; not every dragon has teeth.  What works for ME will not necessarily work for you, and that’s okay!  It just means you need to keep searching for your right answer.

That said, let me introduce you to my guest.  His name is Cymbil.  He loves lurking on dark rafters and beneath piles of old, dusty memories.  Usually, Cymbil doesn’t bother me–he prefers being left alone.

But there are days Cymbil throws a tantrum.

Maybe a bird has found its way into his favorite perching place.  Maybe a song or a word triggered him.  Maybe he woke up on the wrong side of the hearth and is feeling overwhelmed.  Whatever the cause, he suddenly goes on the rampage…and my brain is the war zone.

Usually, this ends in massive sensory overload–every noise, every sense, every emotion is heightened.  I become the dragon raging through my veins:  grumpy, caustic, and easy to set off.

So how do I get my dragon–and myself–back under control?  Let me list out the ways that work best for ME…

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1.) I step away.

Most often, my anxiety dragon strikes when I’m at work.  As most of you know, I currently work in retail as a cashier.  A grumpy, fire-breathing me is NOT conducive to awesome customer service (in most cases–there is at least one customer who, I think, might appreciate seeing fire come out my nose)… so I step away, if I can.

This means I busy myself with other, more monotonous tasks.  I clean counters.  I dust shelves.  I check product dates.  I stock the pop cooler.  I sweep and mop.  I get down on the floor and clean the baseboards.  Basically, I distract myself from how sharp my dragon’s barbs are or how shiny his scales…and calm my mind with the mundane instead.

2.) I cool off.

And by cool off, I mean rock out.  At work, I sing along to every song that plays on my iPod–or at least every song I need to until my dragon loosens his grasp on my feelers.  At home, I put on Spotify.

Depending on how tightly my dragon is clinging, my needs change.  Sometimes, the angstiest, most depressing music I have words miracles.  Other times, chillstep mixes on youtube work just as well.

Basically, I let the beat of the music overtake the beat of my anxiety.

3.) I escape.

No, no, no–I don’t mean I run away from the problem!

Sometimes, though, the anxiety dragon stretches his wings too far and digs his talons too deep.  Sometimes, shaking him isn’t as easy as distraction and pounding beats.

Days like these, I just can’t shake him by myself…which is where books and netflix, for me, come into play!

Usually, I can force myself to push the dragon out by focusing on a book.  If I JUST.  CAN’T.  FOCUS, I choose a movie or a tv show to lose myself in and tune out to.  If I’m still struggling to pull myself back from the ledge–and this doesn’t happen often, especially these days–I grab my pencils and color.

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Also–food helps!  Because sometimes Cymbil comes out just to remind me I need to feed him to keep him happy.  Who’da thunk?!

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And that, Contain the Chaos, is how I beat down my anxiety dragon.  Again–these techniques won’t work for everybody!  Some dragons are, after all, much scarier than mine.

I hope you find the tool that works for you.

Until next time, keep breathing!



How THIS Penguin Budgets for Happiness


Okay, penguins–quit your waddling and gather ’round the Community Igloo.  Today, I want to talk to you about money.

“BUT BETH!” your eager beaks are bound to interrupt.  “We’re penguins!  How can we talk money when we don’t even have POCKETS?!

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To which I have two things to say.  First:  it’s 2016!  You can put pockets on literally EVERYTHING.  You could sew fabric flaps to your palms, call them pockets, and carry your collection of mate-catching pebbles around in them…and nobody would ever think twice.  And second:  I don’t JUST want to talk money.  I want to talk budgeting.

This post was inspired by

7 Ways to Budget for Happiness



Their mission:

Data-driven insights, real-world experience, expert advice, access to your peers.

“We believe these are some of the essential elements in building a solid foundation for your life, whether that’s your money, career, or relationships. With Earnest news and content, our aim is to provide you with the right information so you can create exactly the life you want.”

***please note: all comments and opinions featured in this blog post are from the heart and mind of your friendly neighborhood Princess Penguin.  Yes, that means ME!***

Budgeting for Happiness

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In my neck of the internet, this basically boils down to one big question:  How the HECKLES do I pay all the bills and eat and keep myself alive?!?!?!  Because, you know, staying alive is the first and most important factor in continuing to budget for my happiness.

Recently, I fell into a fair amount of trouble with money.  The problem:  hospital bills from YEARS ago…and rabid debt collectors.  For about a week, my life was filled with panic attacks, crying, and my overactive imaginative trying very hard to convince itself I was bound to end up destitute.

Now, I’m a very lucky penguin–I was able to ask for, and receive, help from my family.  In fact, I was given SO much help, I don’t have to panic about footing the debt bills again until March of 2017.  Thank you, Grandma Penguin, for loving me so much!

So what’s the point of this story?  Well, it helps lead me into my focus story.

How *I* Budget

(please keep in mind, this does not and/or will not work for EVERYBODY.  this is just how I, personally, go about keeping my finances straight)

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Every week, I step into my brain office, tidy the desk, and dance the two-step with my bank account.  The order goes something like this:

1–Peek at my bank account/balance (I bank online, which makes this super easy)

2–Subtract from my balance what money is left for DEBT RELIEF BILLS OF DOOM.  What’s left is *my* personal money.

3–Do I have any bills coming up?  Are there any bills that haven’t been taken out yet, but will very soon be?  Subtract any and all from my total.

4–Do I need insulin/diabetic supplies/other medications/to see the doctor/etc and so forth and so on?  Subtract these amounts from my total.

5–Do I need food?  Go shopping.  Subtract this from my total.

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I’ve set it up so a certain amount comes out of each paycheck for specific bills–YAY for automatic payment schedules!  The remaining costs–for food, medical supplies, laundry change, etc–are split between the two pay periods a month.

Usually, this means I have between $100 and $300 to spare.

So…how do I budget for happiness?!

Let’s take a look…

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Pay the Bills

I start by making sure all my bills are paid!  Why?  Well, happiness in my world depends upon:

–running lights (so I can read, and blog, and stalk all of you weirdos on social media…)
–hot showers (I mean… tuna fish reeks, so I try to wash myself and save the planet)
–staying warm (totally goes against penguin-ing here, but so what?!)
–being able to afford my life-saving medications (the grave is NOT a penguin’s friend)
–barring the wolves from my door (because I like to be the hunter, not the hunted)

All of which is MUCH more easily managed when the bills are paid, and paid on time.

If you have loans from college, Earnest could be a good option to refinance those loans because they allow you to skip or change the amount you can pay on a monthly basis to fit your budget.

Feed my Belly

Because HELLO?!  A hungry penguin is NOT a happy penguin.  Have you SEEN me when I’m hungry?  It’s not a pretty sight.  Food is good, folks!  And good food is even better!

Keep Emergency Funds

I’ve learned you should always expect the unexpected.  Having a  little money set aside helps keep me from panicking when the unexpected eventually happens…and it ALWAYS, eventually, happens.

And finally…

Splurge a Little

Obviously, I don’t allow myself to go out every paycheck to BUY ALL TEH THINGS!  That would be silly, and does not a happily budgeted wallet make!

But sometimes, it’s okay to take stock of your savings and buy yourself something nice–even if “something nice” means one large caviar with seasalt Starbucks, or that tub of expensive tuna fish ice cream you’ve been eyeballing in the store.

“Splurging” doesn’t have to mean “going all out,” after all!

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And there you have it–budgeting for happiness, the penguin way!  Of course, there’s nothing a little sunshine, a good book, and a soft pillow can’t change…but that’s a different happiness budget entirely!

Did you find this post helpful?  Have something you’d like to share or ask? How do YOU budget for happiness?  Feel free to leave your thoughts below, and go check out


for more budgeting and financing tips!

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Princess Penguin, OUT.

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