Today’s Featured Author – Melissa A. Woods

Please welcome Melissa A. Woods to my blog. She released her novel, Getting Past Anxiety, last year.

Excerpt – Getting Past Anxiety Chapter 3 

For those who suffer from mental disorders, such as anxiety or depression, often one of the hardest steps in healing is admitting to yourself that you need help, and then actually seeking out that help. Seeing a therapist or trying different methods of treatment, such as Chakra therapy, can create anxiety in itself. In my novel Getting Past Anxiety, the main character Stella experiences this for herself.

After finally deciding to see an energy healer, she sets off to her first session and discovers all of the nervousness, peace and healing that comes with it. This chapter in the novel gives a detailed account of Stella’s first brush with striving towards help.

A short, fifty-ish woman with shoulder-length gray hair entered the room. She smiled at Stella; her smile was wide and genuine, as if Stella were the person she most wanted to see right then. She took her hand. “ I’m Rachel,” she said. “ I am so happy to meet you.” Her voice was soft, yet clear and penetrating. Letting go of Stella’s hand, she plumped down in the bag chair. Thank God I didn’t sit init, Stella thought. Stella had looked up the name
Rachel. She was very interested in the meaning of names. The definition was from the Bible, meaning, “ ewe” or “ little lamb.” In the Bible, Rachel had been a beautiful and cherished wife of Jacob, and the mother of Joseph and Benjamin.

Stella’s anxiety increased and her mouth became dry. Her heart started palpitating. She had been in therapy before, but it felt different now. This wasn’t an office; there weren’t any desks orchairs to sit in while Stella discussed her problems. Maybe this form of therapy isn’t for me, she thought; then she answered herself immediately. The other forms didn’t work either, did they? And she knew her anxiety was getting more and more out of control, to the point where her normal life had vanished. She’d had to leave her sales job; she was always anxious when she left the house by herself and it was hard for her tobe alone at any time. She had tobe willing to try anything. Had to. While Stella had this internal dialogue sitting on
the futon, Rachel spoke softly.

“Stella why are you here?” “ Well, I am afraid and anxious all the time,” Stella said while Rachel busily gathered objects from the room, placing them on the floor next to her. “ I have always felt this way since I can remember, but it seems like the apprehension is getting worse.” She watched Rachel spread a white blanket on the floor, big enough for a person to lie down upon. On top of this, Rachel arranged a shawl that had a deep eggplant-color background with a delicate design in lighter purple woven through it. It had long slender fringes, making her arrangement look like waving fronds of purple seaweed in a white ocean. “ Oh, that looks good,” Rachel said. As Rachel wandered around the room, she explained how she was building a space for Stella, and she continued to gather up items like a doll and a pink flower; then she went outside and took a piece of bark off her cedar tree. Back inside she picked up a purple cord, like something used to tie back curtains. She placed the objects around the perimeter of the eggplant shawl.

“Okay; that’s good,” she said. Stella sat on the futon and stared at the space Rachel had created. She didn’t get it. This is weird, she thought. What does she want from me? Rachel was silent, gazing at her creation on the floor. Was she meditating? After what seemed like a long time, but was probably just a minute or two, Rachel smiled and Stella heard her warm soft voice say, “ This is your space. I’ve created it just for you, a womb if you like. When you are ready, you can enter it.” Stella immediately froze. Her arms and legs felt like they belonged to a robot. Not knowing what else to do, she got up and placed herself inside the circular space on the floor. She lay down on the purple shawl. Her head and her toes lay on the white blanket.

It was quiet, but Stella did not feel peaceful. She felt uncomfortable; she was probably doing this—whatever this was—wrong. Rachel wasn’t saying anything, so Stella just lay there. She closed her eyes. After a while, she had a vision—she guessed it was a vision; she didn’t know what else to call it. Stella was a bird, a big bird like an eagle with a huge wingspan. She was flying, soaring over the mountains. She felt the lift of the wind. She could see rivers below; she even saw ripples on the rivers and fish in the depths—her eyesight was that keen. Stella perched on top of a mountain just to look around, and then she heard a voice. “ Where are you?” “ Huh?” Stella asked. She was herself again. The eagle was gone. “ Where did you go?” It was Rachel’s voice. Stella didn’t answer because she didn’t know what to say.

“Are you comfortable in this womb?” “ Not really.” “You can get out if you want to.” Rachel’s voice was calm, peaceful, like an angel’s voice. Stella got up and went back to the futon. They sat in silence for a few minutes, and then Rachel asked Stella to describe her experience. “ Well, I felt like a bird flying around,” Stella said. “ Was this a new experience for you?” “No, when I was younger, I would dream about being a bird, but I haven’t had those
dreams in a long time.” “ That was your way of detaching from your environment,” Rachel said matter-of-factly. “ Oh, okay,” Stella said, not really understanding what it meant. Still, she felt tears start to build in her eyes. But Stella couldn’t allow herself to cry because she
was afraid she wouldn’t stop. She had just met Rachel, and she couldn’t cry in front of someone she had just met. She shifted around on the futon. She didn’t want to talk about flying anymore. Rachel said nothing for a while. They just sat there in silence. Stella heard the birds chirping outside and the wind blowing through the trees. It was springtime and the buds on the grapevines were starting to unfurl into leaves; she gazed at them through the glass door. They were that pure spring green, so fresh, so new.

“We’re almost done for today,” Rachel said. “ Here is what I picked up. I think your mom probably drank alcohol when she was pregnant with you. She didn’t want to be pregnant. She didn’t want another baby at that time. That’s why she drank. “ You know, Stella, not being wanted is one of the deepest wounds a person can have. This wound is responsible for your loneliness in this world, and it’s also responsible for your toughness, your ability to survive. You had to be tough to survive in your mom’s womb.” As Rachel talked, a picture rose in Stella’s mind. She saw her mother, Shirley, sitting at the kitchen table, wearing a camel-colored dress and smoking a cigarette. A brownish drink in what Stella thought was called a “lowball” cocktail glass was in front of her. Her rounded belly pushed against the table. Stella wanted to cry; she could feel the tears pushing their way forward, but she clamped down hard inside so she wouldn’t. It was hard for Stella to cry in front of people she didn’t know. “ It’s okay,” said Rachel. “ You’ll cry when you cry. You will learn to let goof all this grief. This is the start of your healing work. You will replace all your old beliefs with new ones.” Somehow, Stella had held the grief in, but she knew she was on her way. And underneath the grief was an odd sense of relief—she wasn’t crazy, she wasn’t wrong; everything she had felt her whole life was true: the feeling of being a burden, abandoned, not important, not loved. It was all true because her parents had not wanted her. They still didn’t.Stella got up to go. Rachel picked up the eggplant-colored shawl from the floor and handed it to her. “ This represents a womb,” she said. “It is yours now.” Then she gave Stella the purple cord.

“This is our connection to each other,” she said. “Wear it whenever you feel anxious, and bring it to our next session.” “ Thank you,” said Stella as Rachel hugged her goodbye. Stella walked out the gate onto the street and back to her car. Her tears finally began to fall as she sat in her car. She thought how unusual this form of therapy was. Stella had never experienced anything like it before. She felt comfortable with Rachel and was optimistic. On her drive home, Stella passed by her old high school and saw that it was being torn down. She smiled and thought, The death of an old script!

Book Blurb

Getting Past Anxiety is an inspirational novel designed to help you reclaim your life. Follow the story of Stella Maris, a thirty-seven-year-old professional woman in the Pacific Northwest who is fighting to escape the shackles of anxiety. Stella’s inner prison is built on childhood trauma, and anxiety is its gatekeeper. In desperation, she reaches out to Rachel, a transformative healer, to help her find the key to reclaim her life. Stella’s story is ultimately about how we choose the quality of our life. This book will inspire you to start your own healing process so you can break the shackles of your anxiety and reclaim your life.

About the Author

Melissa A. Woods is an author, professional keynote speaker, life coach, and expert on anxiety disorders. She is also a licensed massage practitioner for over twenty years and successfully worked on clients with anxiety issues. Melissa spent years studying anxiety and learning how to heal from it. Her formal credentials and expertise include life coaching, therapeutic massage, creative writing, and sales and marketing. She received a Certificate of Memoir from the University of Washington and published works in Memoir Anthology of Writing from the University of Washington. What makes her expertise stand out is that Melissa had her own up-close-and-personal experience with anxiety disorder—she couldn’t get on a plane for twenty years, so she feels the pain of others when it comes to dealing with anxiety.

You can learn more about Melissa on her website.

You can purchase Getting Past Anxiety on Amazon.

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