Guest post: The monster that is anxiety

The following is a guest post written by Tiffany from the blog Ethereal Empathy.


When I was little I made friends with a monster.  She kept me company wherever I went, stayed with me as I grew, and often showed up when I needed a friend the most.  Even though she validated my feelings, was reliable, and was always there for me… it wasn’t healthy.  The truth of the matter was, this monster wanted to keep me for herself.  The only feelings she confirmed were those of fear, and her company never made me feel good about myself.

My monster friend kept me awake at night with her chatter, and convinced me to stay home when other friends invited me out.  She stripped me of my self-worth and confidence, and reminded me of how different I was from everyone else.  In that loneliness I accepted this monster, which we refer to as Anxiety.  After all, she appeared to know me so well. 

Perhaps I clung to Anxiety because she was familiar, or maybe it was because she wasn’t all bad, all the time.  This little monster helped me see potential threats and kept me aware.  The deep understanding of fear, that I had developed, helped me to relate with individuals who suffered similar stress. Still, I had become a prisoner of fear with no boundaries to keep my monster at bay.

“Without darkness nothing comes to birth, as without light nothing flowers.” – May Sarton

It was in my self-doubt that Anxiety held me captive.  I had trained my brain to jump to worse case scenarios and to see the prospective negatives of any given situation. Overwhelmed by uncertainty, and my lack of ability to concentrate, relax, or find calm, I struggled with each day.

My body had turned on me, with symptoms of illness, without ever having been truly sick.  Unexplainable pains and tension would come and go as they pleased.  There was no balance or predictability in the waves that rose and fell, and often times came upon me with no warning or explanation. 

Having a panic attack is much like swimming in deep waters during a storm.  It takes everything you are to keep your head above water, and sometime you get hit by the turbulent ocean which pulls you under.  It is a fight for air, for continued existence. 

I could not see what it looked like to thrive when my constant state of panic made basic survival a challenge.  The very thought of working as a productive member of society seemed impossible.  I looked into the dark chasm of the unknown, unable to find the light.  I saw consequence of failure instead of the potential growth that comes with experience.

Instead of trusting in my own capabilities I sought out healers and trusted individuals to fix me, but there was no cure for this.  No instant solution to repair the broken parts of myself.  Medication only numbed my soul, taking more away without giving enough of myself back.  Therapists were a constant reminder that to be whole I needed to dig deep to find answers within. 

How could I mend the fragmented pieces of me when I was incapable of believing in my own worth?  I couldn’t.  My monster never lied, exactly.  We all have a balance of light and dark inside of ourselves.  Where there is the potential for disaster there is also the potential for success.  What I hadn’t been able to see was the strength in both.

I would be naïve to believe that there are those out there without flaws. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time.  When dark times are upon us, and it feels as if they might destroy everything, we find that we are more resilient than we might think.  Living in the shadows of fear makes it hard to see.  Feeling as if we are alone is an illusion.     

Turns out the cost of not taking risks, and not believing in our own natural gifts, is much higher than the upward climb of facing the monster.  If the choice is to succumb to a life of worry and suffer a stagnant existence, or to battle a life gripped by fear for the chance of actually living…  I choose to face the unknown. 

Anxiety is not a true friend, but it is not my enemy either.  This alter ego, my anxious self, is debilitating but only has power if I give it.  I can use it as a crutch or I can learn her moods and motives, triggers and tastes, in order to respond appropriately.  What is so easy to forget is that we have the power to change the world, starting with our own being.

So I learned to consistently make course corrections along an unpredictable path.  Staying ahead of the waves when possible and bringing along a life preserve just in case the waters get the best of me.  Most importantly I discovered the importance of second guessing my own self-doubt. 

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

The path is hard.  There are times I slip and fall, get scraped up along the way, have setbacks and face detours… but I keep moving forward.  That steep cliff edge that I started on has gotten easier, the journey less rocky.  Somewhere along the way I learned to trust myself and accept that I am capable and deserving of so much more.

Anxiety is still with me, she is my twin who is just looking out for my well-being and here to protect me.  Although misguided her intentions are good.  I accept her for what she is even though she cannot see the error of her ways.  It is my job to not let her define me or keep me from the life I deserve.

It is through this understanding that the light began to seep through and point me in a direction of confidence.  I found my balance and overcame obstacles I never thought possible before.  Instead of struggling each day to survive I learned how to thrive, to have a life that is mine, and meet my fears wisely. 

Anxiety is a sheep in wolf’s clothing, an innocent wearing the mask of a monster.  Although frightening she doesn’t decide your fate.  Her power over you is limited and only exasperated by your own insecurity.  Believe in yourself, trust your own intuition, and the gray clouds looming over will clear. 

There is hope, I am proof of that. 

“On particularly rough days, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100%, and that’s pretty good.”  – Unknown


Thank you to Tiffany from Ethereal Empathy for contributing such a thoughtful and honest post to #MillennialLifeCrisis. If you have the opportunity, I strongly recommend checking out Tiffany’s Blog. She is a ray of kindness and honesty in this crazy world and she brings a unique perspective to the blogging community that is the truest definition of one-of-a-kind.

Guest Post: SEO Basics: Optimize your blog with Yoast and improve traffic

The following is a guest post written by Debby from the blog DebbySEO. *Please note that certain plugins may not be available to all WordPress accounts due to them only being available for certain plans.


Often I am asked what the best SEO tools and plugins are that I recommend. This comes as no surprise as search engines are a major source of traffic for most sites, and every blogger wants to increase website ranking in an effort to get more sales. Sometimes we just don’t know what to do or where to start in order to make SEO work for us.

In this article I will share the best WordPress SEO plugins and tools for you to use. I have noticed that many WordPress sites on are offering great content, but simply lack the SEO plugins required to perform well. In this article I will explain how to install the Yoast WP plugin for SEO, and lightly touch topics such as keyword analysis, off-site link building and more.

Note that when reading SEO tips found in top 10 results, or when searching for phrases like “best free WordPress SEO plugins” you will find many results and recommendations. The truth is that the top recommendations are not always the best ones. After all, everyone in the Google top 10 listings seems to be out to sell something. I have been providing affordable SEO services for years and will provide you with reliable information so you can kick-start your business and blog using whitehat SEO techniques without paying a penny.

Obsessive Compulsive Keyword Disorder

Do you suffer from obsessive compulsive keyword disorder? Yes Ma’am! Keywords are extremely important for SEO as they draw the right visitors to your website. They can make or break a website. Having a better understanding of the specific keywords your visitors are searching for allows you to offer better services and products on your blog.

On the other hand, you should be careful not to use SEO tools to over-optimize. If you use keywords too frequently the website will look spammy and you may even be penalized. The Yoast plugin is designed to help you optimize SEO by spreading out keywords in a responsible manner, taking into consideration the proper density and placement based on a real-time comparison with top ranking websites.

I think of Google Analytics & Google Webmaster as a friend

Proper use of keywords has the biggest impact on your SEO campaign, make sure to use Google to better target them. If you have not already done so, I recommend that you first sign up for a free Google Analytics and Google Webmaster account. This will enable you to measure the difference in traffic before and after installation of SEO plugins such as Yoast.

There is nothing more important than SEO titles and descriptions

And Yoast is all you need to successfully complete this task. You can quickly add SEO titles and descriptions to all blog posts and pages on your website, and you can even include open graph metadata and social media images to your postings. The best way to decide what title is appropriate, is to look in Google analytics to see what your audience is searching for, and then decide on which keywords you wish to target. The descriptions should always take some special consideration as this will be listed in search engines and as such determines your click-through rate.

And at the end of the night, they realized how important those little XML Sitemaps were, which they ignored while adoring the beauty of their sites

Yoast SEO will generate your XML sitemap with images in no-time! All you have to do is press the button and it will create a highly optimized cached page that will quickly load and be automatically updated every time you make a post. You can also easily import SEO data if you have been using another plugin. Yoast is the all-round solution for both rookies and veterans.

Let me quickly line out the features here. Yoast offers to change post’s SEO titles and meta descriptions on a per post basis, it supports meta descriptions for taxonomies (for example category and tags), it will focus on your keyword testing, configure your robot.txt file in order to add noindex, nofollow pages etc. You will additionally be able to configure an RSS footer/header, get Google search result snippet previews, clean up permalinks while still allowing for Google custom search, import data from other SEO plugins such as Platinum SEO pack and All in One SEO pack and more. Did I just dazzle you?

This might indeed all sound a bit overwhelming but it is in fact really easy and it just requires you to play around until you become comfortable with the full functionality. So far I have discussed only the free version of the plugin but there is paid version too which offers a redirect manager, focus on multiple keywords, ability to export focus keywords, internal linking suggestions, video tutorials to help you better understand how everything works and premium support to get the most out of your site’s SEO. The paid version can be obtained for less than $90, but in my opinion the free version offers plenty of functionality.

It does not do to dwell on Yoast SEO and forget to build offsite links

Yoast has been around since I just started my first SEO Company, and their plugin has worked miracles for the websites I have worked on. All the websites I have worked on increased their traffic by focusing on important keywords for their niche market, but still, if you don’t spend time on off-site link building your SEO campaign will not be very successful. Google must see links pointed to your site in order to determine that your content is relevant.

A good way to get some link juice flowing is to install a plugin that allows you to setup a resource directory where you can exchange links with content related websites. If done right, this will also add value to your blog. Another SEO technique that is often employed is to write guest postings and to obtain offsite links in topic related directories. The more links pointing to your website, the higher the relevancy. Obviously keywords used for the anchor text and surrounding content is very important for relevancy. SEO always has a high payoff in the long run, it may take time but it is definitely worth it.

Yoast drowns out all but the brightest SEO plugins

I will now mention some other SEO plugins for you to enjoy. SEMrush is said to be the most effective SEO tool but it does come at a cost. You can use it to find organic keywords and search terms that you can easily rank for. Such keywords are known as niche market keywords which are in high demand as they have little competing websites. Next up is Ahrefs, you have probably heard of the name, it is an all-in-one SEO tool for bloggers, marketers and businesses. It is an alternative to SEMRush and offers similar features and tools.

More free SEO tools are offered by AllinOneSeoPack, a popular WordPress SEO plugin offering a comprehensive set of tools to improve your ranking. You can use it to optimize SEO titles and metatags, image sitemaps, open graph meta tags and more. I have used All in One SEO Pack in the past and would rate it just below Yoast. Both offer their plugins for free so don’t wait and start optimizing. SEOPress is another free Yoast alternative that offers a premium version at lower cost. It comes with easier setup for beginners and advanced controls for more experienced users so it may be something you may wish to consider.

Remember, install only one SEO plugin at a time and frequently check for broken links on your site as these are harmful to your listings. I hope you enjoyed this article, make sure to check out the Yoast SEO installation video at:   https://youtu.be/4KOc-oM7Yr8


Thank you to Debby from the blog DebbySEO for contributing the following post to #MillennialLifeCrisis.

Guest Post: How being a loner can be one of your most useful and powerful assets

The following is a guest post written by V from the blog StormyNook. V’s first language is Italian, and he likes to share motivational and thoughtful content to help everyone be the very best version of themselves.


If you fall in this category and you think that being a loner it’s sad, or brings you misfortune…

Think again. You’ve probably been misusing or neglecting your “superpowers” while falling prey to your self-loathing.

Useless! You should instead exploit your UNFAIR perks.

What are they, you ask?
Let me give you some of them:

1) YOUR ABILITY TO WITHSTAND LONELINESS.

WAIT.
Before you enter “forever alone” mode, hear me out. I don’t mean it in a bad way.

Because by being able to do so, on paper-you don’t have the urge to have social interactions, when compared to more outgoing individuals.

Who actually need to be around people to feel great-and might experience & feel loneliness more than you.

Instead, you’re fine both ways!

2) YOU HAVE MORE TIME THAN ANYONE.

And this, I consider a cheat code for life, IF you can exploit it.

Think about this.
If you avoid unnecessary social interactions (Spending nights out drunk, meaningless hanging around, useless partying that leaves you in pieces in the morning, ecc..)

You have the ability to use that otherwise wasted time, so you can focus on:

  • The things you LOVE
  • Your projects\business
  • Improving yourself
  • Learning stuff
  • Becoming a better human, overall

More time on your hands = More relaxation = More time to get ahead of people, HAH!

Isn’t it amazing?

3) YOU CAN CUT OFF MEANINGLESS RELATIONSHIPS MORE EASILY.

Now this might sound cold-hearted and very “inhuman” even, but…

There are some kind of relationships you’re better off without.
I’m talking about the toxic ones.

The ones that hold you back,
That damage you,
That are not giving as much as you,
That you don’t really enjoy.

And while you shouldn’t cut off people randomly from your life (because that IS IMMATURE and shows that you can’t handle cultivating a relationship)

There are times when doing this it’s much needed.

And, being a loner- this might not have the same emotional impact on you-because you’re used to being on your own.

Giving you the ability to be more detached, logic-driven & able to walk away from something that is not for you.


Thank you to V for his contribution to #MillennialLifeCrisis. His blog is StormyNooK. Click here to visit StormyNook > and, while you’re there, drop him a nice note. Being as he’s in Italy right now, he’s under Corona Quarantine and could use some sunshine in his life.

Find out who your friends are…

I’ll probably be posting a lot today. I tend to post more when I’m sad, and today I am really sad. I guess that’s life though. Some days you’re up and some days you’re down.

Also, I have a lot to say.

Also, I just like this place.

Alright, I’ll stop justifying myself and start.

The song ‘Find Out Who Your Friends Are’ is ringing true today. Actually, it’s been ringing true to me for most of this year. When I got fired, I thought that I had friends at my job. I thought that I had people who would be there for me, people who cared, whether I worked with them or not. To my shock, my being fired was met with dead silence, or messages of ‘That sux!’ from the people I worked with.

‘That sux!’? Yeah, it does suck getting railroaded because your boss is breaking the law. You knew what was going on, you saw that I got railroaded and you’re still going along with it.

The people that were there for me when I got fired? Knight. My two best friends in Vancouver, volunteering to get on planes and telling me to come live with them. The people that weren’t there for me? The friends I thought were friends at my work. Guess our getting along was contingent on my being their coworker.

Nevertheless, I’ve heard from former coworkers four times over the past ten months, the most recent of which being today. Each time it hasn’t been to check on me, to reach out, to see how I was doing or any of those things. When they reach out, it’s been to ask me how to do things, or how I did things.

Each time my response has been: “That sounds like a problem for Clint (former boss)!”

Today one of my former coworkers texted me with an offer of a trip. When I said ‘No thanks’, they responded with ‘Shoot, I was hoping you’d say yes so that I could ask you for something!’.

Go figure eh?

I don’t like associating people who only offer something when they know they need to ask for something from you. To me, when you give something, there are no strings attached. When I give something there is certainly no strings attached to it.

I was not shocked, nor surprised to hear that they wanted something from me. The song reads:

You find out who your friends are
Somebody’s gonna drop everything
Run out and crank up their car
Hit the gas get their fast
Never stop to think ‘what’s in it for me?’ or ‘it’s way too far.’
They just show on up with their big old heart

And with people like this, they’re always asking ‘What’s in it for me?’

All I can say is, I know who my friends are. I know who’s been there for me, always, no questions ask, nothing required in return.

Oh, also, to my former coworker who wants something from me today… go ask Clint. No amount of trips or money or anything that you could possibly offer me would make me want to do anything for your office. Leave me the fuck alone.

Switching gears entirely…

I wrote a Guest Post for a friend’s blog. If you haven’t heard of ‘Rethinking Scripture’, please go and check out Dwain’s blog, and read my guest post. I’ll admit, it might be a little sad. But, people tend to appreciate my ‘Dear Self’ letters, so if you want to see it – this week’s ‘Dear Self’ is on Dwain’s blog. Go to Rethinking Scripture >