Barbara H. McNeely

Author & Publisher

Author: barbara (Page 1 of 4)

My Big Announcement

Find out what I'm up to!

Find out what I’m up to!

I’m excited to share with you news of my new business.

I help heart-centered professionals share their story with the world by: coaching them through the writing and self-publishing of their book. I’ll guide them through the process and help them find the professionals they may need along the way: editors, proofreaders, cover designers, interior formatters, etc. I also offer some additional services including creating author websites, Facebook pages, and Amazon author pages.

I’m currently offering free 15 minute consultations for heart-centered professionals who are contemplating or have started writing their story and want to publish it.

If you’re interested, you can comment on this post or contact me directly.

If you want to keep informed about what I’m up to, you may use the form on the right to sign up for my newsletter.

I would also be very grateful if you spread the word to anyone you know who might be interested.

P.S. I’m still painting and decorating my new website, but wanted to share my news now.

I’m Published!

The List Junkie's List Journal

The List Junkie’s List Journal

I believe some of my readers already know about this and have made even purchases. And I thank you for that. I wanted to let everyone know about it. I can actually now claim the title of Published Author. Sort of. It feels funny to say that since there are very few words in this journal.

What is it? It was actually a practice piece and a learning experience for me. But it’s a fun little journal for those who are addicted to making lists. Like me. I created various list types and sprinkled them throughout the book. If you want to see some of the inside pages, you can check out The List Junkie’s List Journal on Amazon.

If you want to know a little more, here’s the text from the back cover:

All Your Lists in One Place!

Are you a list maker? Do you have lists everywhere? If you want ONE place for all of your lists, this journal is for you!

Have lists your way! Not all your lists are the same. Some you number, some you check off, some you just list. And some need more space.

The possibilities are endless. Included in this journal are numbered lists, check boxed lists, lines for lists, and space to design your own list. Whether it’s a to-do list, a wish list, a bucket list, a naughty list, or a nice list. It could be a play list, a grocery list, a punch list, a shopping list, or it could even be a list of the lists you want to create! Imagine all of your lists inside one journal. Complete with space to create an index to your lists.

If you’re interested in purchasing my journal visit this link: The List Junkie’s List Journal on Amazon

Aortic Stenosis Symptoms – What are they?

What are the symptoms of Aortic Stenosis?

What are the symptoms of Aortic Stenosis?

A friend of mine contacted me this week wanting to know the symptoms of aortic stenosis. In case you’re new to my blog, I had my aortic valve replaced in May of 2015 because of severe aortic stenosis. The friend was concerned because, like me, she had other family members who had undergone the surgery. She was experiencing occasional shortness of breath when climbing stairs and wondered if she should be concerned about it.

Let me start by answering the initial question. The symptoms of aortic stenosis, according to my cardiologist, are shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, passing out, and swelling in feet. I would imagine that they don’t all come on at one time nor are they all always present. In fact, for me, there was no chest pain, dizziness or passing out.

Should my friend worry? No. Do not worry. That reminds me of the movie “Bridge of Spies” about a man named Rudolf Abel. He was a KGB undercover agent in North America for a period of time following World War II. Several times in the movie he was in impossible situations. Such as when he was on trial for crimes against the US and his life was in the balance. Each time, people would ask him, “Are you worried?” His response was to shrug his shoulders and say “Would it help?” So, no, never worry.

Should she be concerned? Perhaps. But lets look at some of the possible causes of shortness of breath – there are many. They include asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, pneumothorax, anemia, lung cancer, inhalation injury, pulmonary embolism, anxiety, COPD, congestive heart failure, arrhythmia, allergic reaction, anaphylaxis, obesity, tuberculosis, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary artery hypertension, pleurisy, croup, Guillain-Barré syndrome, sarcoidosis, rib fracture, carbon monoxide poisoning, and aerobic exercise. Yikes! That is one long list. And that list isn’t complete. I omitted the ones I couldn’t pronounce.

Notice that the list includes some really nasty, scary things as well as some innocuous things like aerobic exercise.

Should she have it checked out? Absolutely! It is not something to be ignored. I would suggest talking it over with your doctor. Especially mentioning the family history of aortic valve problems. In fact, it may be time for that first visit to a cardiologist. It’s a good idea to see one beginning about age fifty. Just to get a baseline. And to discuss your family’s heart health history.

Is aortic stenosis hereditary? In fact, it just might be. I found a study in Johns Hopkins Medicine that suggests it could be:

Researchers have found a genetic variant that doubles the likelihood that people will have calcium deposits on their aortic valve. Such calcification, if it becomes severe, can cause narrowing or a blockage of the aortic valve, a condition called aortic stenosis.

I’m always happy to answer questions. Do you have any questions for me? Leave them in the comments below.

Escape To Bella Green

Bella Green Bed & Breakfast

Bella Green Bed & Breakfast

It is 6:55AM on Friday. It is raining and 53 degrees here in Pipe Creek, Texas. I’m warm and dry in the tiny house. I’m packing up this morning and heading home after a lovely little retreat here at Bella Green Bed & Breakfast. A lovely little B&B owned by Karen & Mike Goins. I have had quiet time to write, delicious food, and interesting conversations.

The tiny house I stayed in at Bella Green.

The tiny house I stayed in at Bella Green.

A back view of the tiny house at Bella Green.

A back view of the tiny house at Bella Green.

I planned this getaway months ago, not knowing at first where I was going. I just wanted to recharge. And I’ve had a lovely time. Very few decisions that I had to make. Did I want breakfast on the deck or the screened porch?

I also have avoided all the election hype. At first, I thought I could go home without knowing the outcome. And I went to bed on Tuesday night feeling very relaxed. Usually it is an anxious night, made more so by all of the media hype. But, you know what? The outcome is the same whether I stay up and stress about it or not. And all that stress just before bed is not good for me. Nor is it good for anyone else.

What did I do during this retreat? I worked on the book I mentioned in my last post. A lot. I had a lot of notes that I condensed to one list. And I am something like 90% done with the first draft. So I’m pretty sure I can beat my deadline of November 16th. That will be a huge accomplishment. The first book I have ever written!

The screened porch at Bella Green. This is where I did most of my writing.

The screened porch at Bella Green. This is where I did most of my writing.

Today I will ease back into reality. I’ll have breakfast here at Bella Green, then load up the car. I’m going to take the scenic route home. Laundry awaits me at home. But so do my cats, Ronnie and Nancy. And of course, my hubby.

It is now 4:25PM as I get ready to hit the publish button. The last few miles of my trip involved lots of traffic, of course. And it was back to the usual things – unloading the car and doing the laundry. That was after I said hello to my cats! But, I have yet to hear any news or radio or commercials!

As I reflect on the week, I come back knowing that I can focus when I put my mind to it. Sometimes while I was gone I turned off the internet so I could concentrate. I think I’ll try that more often now that I’m back!

Window Art at Bella Green. For some reason, it reminded me of a Stephen King book.

Window Art at Bella Green. For some reason, it reminded me of a Stephen King book.

Sunset at Bella Green.

Sunset at Bella Green.

A building at Bella Green with a nice message: Jeremiah 29:11

A building at Bella Green with a nice message: Jeremiah 29:11

Happy weekend!

What Have I Been Up To?

What has Barbara been up to?

What has Barbara been up to?

I know I haven’t written here for a while. I had every intention to, but I’ve been working on getting myself organized. Each week there was a reminder to write here. And each week it would get pushed off until the next week. Until, one day I realize it has been over 2 months since I’ve posted anything. So…

Here I am.


With an update on some of what I’ve been doing. First the yoga:
I am now in my fourth month of doing yoga. I can tell in many ways that I am building strength. I’ve also seen improvement in various pains. Most notable is something that my orthopod called trochanteric bursitis. The trochanter is the part of the femur that connects to the hip bone. This was good news to me. I was convinced that the hip pain I’ve been experiencing was caused by osteoarthritis. My orthopod gave me exercises to do. And it turns out that the therapeutic yoga that I am doing is the same exercise. And the pain is diminished. It has been many weeks since it kept me up at night. So I continue the yoga at least 3 times a week.

The List Junkies List Journal Cover

The List Junkies List Journal Cover

Creating Journals

I have also been learning how to create journals that can be put on sale at Amazon! How cool is that? Or are you wondering what a journal is? Journals can be many different things. If you’re curious, you can check them out on Amazon by entering “journals in the search box. Basically, a journal can be like a blank or lined journal but it might have additional prompts or information. There are gratitude journals, tracking journals, journals for grief, and many more. I have created one journal already titled “The List Junkie’s List Journal.” If you’re someone who’d makes all sorts of lists, this journal is a good resource. It lets you keep all of your lists together in one book! It was mostly done for practice. Because I have bigger plans for journals! You’ll be hearing about them soon.

The List Junkies List Journal Back Cover

The List Junkies List Journal Back Cover


In addition, I have been writing a book. I’ve been working on it for more than a year. The reality is that it should have been finished long ago. But it has been very hard to write this first book. The good news is that I have made a commitment to have the first draft completed by November 17th! So I decided to make that commitment public. Will I make that deadline? That is my intention. I’m going away this week on a private retreat. I plan to do a lot of writing while I’m going. I’ll report back later on my progress.

What’s that? You want to know what the book is about? I’ll give you a hint. The working title is “Lessons of an Opening Heart.”

Keep me in your thoughts. I’ll report back here soon on my progress!

Re-Learning How To Stand

Relearning How To Stand

Relearning How To Stand

My intention with yoga is to do some yoga movement every single day. Of course, reality and intention don’t always work well together. Which is just another way of saying that I can rationalize just about anything if I want to. This week is a prime example.

I made it to yoga on Monday, to the more intense Therapeutic Astanga Method Yoga (TAM) that I talked about last week. In that class I have to remind myself to do only what I can do. I have no idea how long the others in that class have been doing yoga. Longer than me, for certain. Some, I know, are yoga teachers themselves. Nydia was helpful in showing me the how to modify the movements for my level.

Did I mention that this class is heated? I could definitely feel that, too. Near the end of class, when Nydia turned off the heat, she told use that the temperature had gotten to 85 degrees!

Could Your Posture be Hurting You?

Any class that I have joined and stayed in for very long – yoga, aerobics, Jazzercise, Pilates – has been one that stressed doing movements properly. I’m sure that most classes do, but not all as I’ve been in some that did not. It’s important because if you do movements wrong, you can hurt yourself. In yoga, I have learned that I have been standing wrong for a good portion of my life. Perhaps you have too?

When I stand for long periods of time, I tend to shift my weight to one leg and then lock the knee, also known as hyper-extending the knee. Since I started yoga I have learned that this is a bad idea. Here’s why: You’re not using muscles to stand. Instead you’re relying on the skeletal structure to hold you up. This puts extra stress on your knees and results in joint compression. Over time, this can result in damage to the cartilage – osteoarthritis. In class, we are always reminded to have just a very slight bend at the knees. This reduces the joint compression and forces you to use the muscles of the leg.

Knowing that I have serious arthritis issues in both knees confirms everything I hear in yoga class. In fact, I recall no too long ago when I was standing with most of my weight on one leg. When I needed to shift the weight, my knee hurt when I first bent it. Should be listening to my body, right?

The same is also true when you’re using your arms to support your body. If you’re arms are super-straight, you are not building muscle and are just putting extra pressure on your joints. Yikes! So be careful when you see that meme running around Facebook about 30 days of planks!

Three Weeks of Yoga – Getting Stronger

Week Three of Yoga - My Goals

Week Three of Yoga – My Goals

This is my third week of yoga classes and I am finding that I am stronger already. Due to schedule conflicts, I have only been able to go to class two days per week. I’m working on a way to do three per week. During class on Wednesday, Nydia took us through her “Therapeutic Astanga Method Yoga” or TAM. Our class is usually “Progressive Mellow Yoga” which is less intense than TAM. Wednesday’s class was definitely a workout. So much so that I had no energy the rest of the day. The TAM class is offered at 8 AM on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. And I’m just crazy enough to consider switching to it. Why? I know some of you are thinking it’s because I’m crazy. And, you may be right. But my whole purpose in taking up yoga is to build up my strength. And I have some goals of what I want from my yoga.

My Yoga Goals

  • Build up strength in the muscles that support the knee. So that I can either avoid or postpone knee replacement.
  • Build up strength throughout the body. This is important for all of us as we progress in life. It helps to limit the effects of arthritis.
  • Better Balance – The primary reason for many falls is a lack of balance. I want to avoid those falls.
  • More flexibility – I have a friend that can be seated cross-legged on the floor and come to standing without using her hands or arms. I want to be able to do that!
  • Turn cartwheels – I love to turn cartwheels, even though I have not done so in many years. I have a goal of turning cartwheels on the beach!

Benefits of Yoga

I am learning that yoga is much more than body strength and flexibility. It is beneficial to us in many other ways. It can actually be considered a form of meditation and mindfulness. When you’re doing yoga, you are definitely only in the present moment. It’s hard to think of anything else when you’re thinking about the muscles in your feet, your thigh muscles, you pelvic floor, your abdominal muscles, your shoulder girdle, AND your breathing.

I’ll be talking more about benefits as I continue on my yoga journey.

Beginning My Yoga Journey

Beginning My Yoga Journey

Beginning My Yoga Journey – Cats know how to yoga!

It was last December when my friend Sherrie, the Naturopathic Doctor, suggested water, bone broth, and yoga for the osteoarthritis in my knees. I immediately added bone broth to my diet. I re-introduced the yoga from my iPad app. And I always strive to drink more water. Strive being the operative word.
I have always known that the iPad app was not sufficient for my yoga needs, for at least three reasons:

  1. It presents a limited selection of yoga poses.
  2. There is no one with me to tell me I’m doing things wrong.
  3. It’s more difficult to motivate myself alone.

Someone suggested that I go see Nydia at Nydia’s Yoga Therapy. That was in January and it took me until July to actually do it. Now, less than a month later, I’m kicking myself for having put it off for so long. But it’s all good and everything happens when it happens for a reason.

I signed up for a therapeutic assessment with Nydia as the first step. I wanted her to know about my issues and more importantly I wanted to know if yoga would really help me. So I told her all about my various health issues: my fairly recent surgery, my osteoarthritis in my knees, hips, and thumbs. And I told her some of the things that I wanted to do but could not at this time. Such as playing guitar. The arthritis in my thumbs makes this difficult. And turning cartwheels. I used to love to do turn cartwheels, but have not had the nerve to try one for years. Which brought up something else I needed – strength. In every area – hands, arms, shoulders, knees, hips, feet, legs, you name it. Basically, I want to be able to run and jump and play like normal kids.

Yoga Assessment

That assessment was one long, private yoga session. Breath and breathing is a major part of yoga. And it’s much more than the Inhale/Exhale I got from my iPad app. We spent a lot of time on that. So much that I had abdominal muscles that I didn’t even know I had hurting the next day. But it was hurting in a good way.
The good news is that I learned that my yoga practice can benefit all of my joints and help to protect me from the degeneration that is osteoarthritis. I also learned that it is about doing it right. I’m pretty good at following directions. And I know that when it comes to physical activity, you need to do it the right way. And I know that even I can benefit from this yoga practice.
Nydia sent me home after that assessment with a booklet and links to her website. So I went home and practiced at home. Concentrating on breathing and on feet exercises.

My First Yoga Class

It was nearly two weeks later when I took my first class with Nydia. I wound up in the front of the classroom, facing a huge mirrored wall. I have to tell you I was not prepared for that. I am overweight and out of shape and have lingering edema in my feet, ankles, and legs. I wanted to be far away from the mirror. (I thought about posting a before picture of myself, but I have yet to have the nerve to take that one.) Suffice it to say that I resemble the roundness of this image:

This is how I look now

This is how I look now

In my mind, though, I am seeing myself in excellent physical condition.

I enjoyed that first class enough to sign up for a total of ten classes. That first class was on a Monday and I went back on Wednesday. This time I chose to have a spot right in front of the mirror. That way I’ll get to watch my progress. I am pleased to tell you that I felt a little stronger and had better balance after just one class. Combined, of course, with the work I have been doing at home.

My Yoga Commitment

I have now been to yoga class four times, but this is only the beginning for me. I have long wanted to get into yoga and now is the time. I know I have limitations now. I just laugh whenever someone says “Sit comfortably on the floor in a cross-legged position.”
I’ll be writing here every week reporting my progress. And talking about all of the benefits of yoga. There are many. So follow me on my journey to see where all it leads!

"Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Conforming Non-Conformist

"Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert

“Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert

Note to the reader: I originally wrote this blog post in the fall of 2015. And for some reason, it was never published. I could go back through the post and make changes to reflect the current time. But that would get too confusing. So, just remember it was written in late September. Also, since I wrote this, I have seen the movie “Eat, Pray, Love.” I am also currently reading the book.

I consider myself to be a non-conformist in many ways — in the clothes I wear, the books I read, the television and movies I watch, and more. I have always been non-conforming on the inside, but struggled for years with the feeling of needing to appear to conform. Hence the title “The Conforming Non-Conformist.” In my first draft of this post, I wrote six paragraphs on this topic. Only to realize, in the end, that I was once again apologizing for my non-conformity. I guess that makes me a recovering conforming non-conformist?

True Confession: I have never read “Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia.” There! I’ve said it. I also didn’t know the author’s name or anything about Elizabeth Gilbert. It is sad that I felt the need to apologize and explain or rationalize exactly why I had never read “Eat Pray Love.” And why should I need to explain or apologize? Perhaps Elizabeth Gilbert should explain why her book never appealed to me. Or maybe, just maybe, we should forget all of that. Accept that I just never read the book and move on to the topic at hand. Honestly, I think Liz will understand.

So – I didn’t know who Liz Gilbert was until last week, when Marie Forleo’s newsletter popped up in my email with the title “My Big Magic Sit Down With Elizabeth Gilbert.” Forces totally beyond my control drew me to watch the video, especially since I had no idea who Elizabeth Gilbert was.

I watched the video on Wednesday, the day after it came out. After twenty minutes, not having realized I had been watching that long, I checked to see the length of the interview. Forty seven minutes! By that time, I was hooked so I watched till the end. That afternoon I went out and bought Elizabeth Gilbert’s book – “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.” The next evening, I watched the video for a second time and took notes. Three pages of notes!

It was the perfect timing of the universe. What Liz said was exactly what I needed to hear. The push that I need right then for my own work. And it wasn’t strictly what she said, it was also how she said it.

The subtitle for “Big Magic” is “Creative Living Beyond Fear.” It has only been within the last ten years or so that I realized I actually am creative. I still struggle with letting that be seen. Even writing about it here is still scary to me. Sometimes, I do this exactly because they are scary. Like the time when I worked for Corporate America and I took a class called “Presentation Skills.” I took that class because I was scared to get up in front of people and talk.

Here are a few of my favorite take-aways from the interview:

  • Fear is a necessary companion. Its job is to protect us. However, fear does not get to make decisions or creative choices.
  • “Perfection is a serial killer.” “Done is better than good.”
  • “What will make you finish it is not discipline, but self-forgiveness.”

I agree with Marie that “Big Magic” should be required reading for everyone. If you’re wanting to work with your own creativity, it is a must. Go buy it and read it now. And yes, that’s an affiliate link up above, but you don’t have to buy from my link. Just go buy it. And then read it.

Perhaps, soon, it will be time for me to read “Eat Pray Love.” You know, in a non-conforming way.

How To Create Stress

Waking Angels - Listen

Actually, this picture, Listen, is by Karen Reines at Waking Angels is part of a solution to reduce stress, not create it.

Are you stressed out? Do you create stress for yourself? Are you feeling the pressure of getting things done? Wondering how you’ll get it all done?

Stop and think for a minute.

How much of that stress is real?

How many of those deadlines are your own creation?

Why are you stressed? Do you fear what might happen if you don’t accomplish things?

What is there really to worry about?

How often do you automatically start stressing about something as soon as it is planned? If you’re having house guests, do you immediately begin worrying about getting your house ready? If you’re planning a trip, do you start worrying about all the details the minute you decide to go?

I recently figured out that roughly 99.5% of the stress in my life is totally my own creation. Let me explain how I figured it out.

Recently, my husband went on a trip to Africa. That’s a long way to go. The trip was a year in the planning and lasted just over 3 weeks. I watched him scrambling to get things ready. The 2 weeks before the trip he was very much absorbed in getting all the last details ready. I sat back and watched, all the time thinking I was glad it wasn’t me that was stressing about the trip.

I had my own plans for the time he was gone. I had a lofty list of goals: clean the house, turn the upstairs alcove into a reading/music area, do some serious decluttering, redecorate in the bedroom. All while getting out on my own and with girl friends.

Perhaps you’re already seeing what I finally had to come to terms with. I was setting myself up for failure by trying to do too much.

I started out on track, until I added to the list by having a retreat at my house. Retreats On The Go was a wonderful time, but it involved getting much of my house clean in just a few days. At the same time that I was cleaning, I had a few other things going on. So the stress was already building. Towards the end of that first full week, as the retreat approached, I had to reprioritize my cleaning plan. I was not going to do the ‘top-to-bottom’ cleaning of that much house in that amount of time. Stress that had built up began to dissipate for a bit. By Friday afternoon, I was able to relax.

The second weekend was perfect. It involved retreats and celebration that I’ve talked about before. I had ordered a new comforter and shams for our bedroom. It arrived that weekend too.

The second week was when the pressure began to mount. The list of things I had to do was growing. I went shopping two days that week to find the perfect pillows and picture for the bedroom. The first trip resulted in a migraine from a shop full of scented candles. That migraine wasn’t too terrible, but it’s effects lingered.

I decided that I would make the pillows, knowing it would be faster and less leg work than shopping for days and days. I used to be a marathon shopper but no longer have that patience.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that I just added to my list – making pillows.

All those pillows needed to be done by the time my husband got back. Yes, more stress. BUT, who decided that schedule?

In the end, five of the pillows were completed on time.

I also ordered a picture from an artist friend. I figured I had ordered it too late to get here in time, but decided I would just have to live with that.

Did I mention rain? Much of Texas got rain the entire time my husband was gone. And that’s on top of rain we had earlier. My husband flew out of Houston’s airport so I had to drive him there. Because of flooding, we had to go a different route to get to his friend’s house. So I was watching the weather in Houston the week he was to return. Because… I needed to drive over there again to pick him up.

The rains came. The flooded road in Houston that had reopened was closed again. And still the rains came. So that entire week, as I’m stressing to get things done, I’m also stressing about the prospect of driving 200 miles in rain and possible flooding.

Did I mention I don’t like to drive in the rain?

So that’s a lot of stress. Brought on by my own worries and fears. And in the end I realized it was only stress because of my own expectations for myself.

Here’s another reason I shouldn’t have stressed so much:

My husband was due to land in Houston on Thursday night and spend the night at his friend’s house. And I would drive to Houson on Friday. It was raining so much in Houston that his plane was rerouted to Dallas. The airline cancelled the rest of the flight. So he decided to rent a car in Dallas and drive to San Antonio. So, no trip to Houston for me. AND, the picture I ordered got here in time and was personally delivered and hung BEFORE he got home.

Here is the final product of my work. As you can see, it is definitely a stress-reducing bedroom:

Stress Free Bedroom

Stress Free Bedroom

I read recently that we will judge others by their actions yet we judge ourselves by our intentions. So true! Lesson learned! Actually a few of them:

  1. Be gentler on myself. Don’t set expectations so high that you set yourself up for stress and failure.
  2. Practice mindfulness.
  3. Trust that everything will get done at its right time
  4. Don’t ever worry about things that haven’t happened yet. Trust that they will work out.

I’m definitely a work in progress and am grateful for the lessons learned during my husband’s trip!

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