The Panic Button Book: Press Now!

Tammi Kirkness

         We’ve all been there. A deadline looming and your computer decides to go rogue. You call about a wrong charge on an account, our rooted around the world and back, repeating your story to four or five different people and then after waiting on hold for an hour are cut off. You run into a high school frenemy and find out s/he just signed a multi-million deal to a book about those high school days and how mean everyone was—giving you a knowing look.

         And that’s just the small stuff. But Tammi Kirkness has you covered when you’re hit with high stress situations. An Australian based life coach and wellness consultant as well as an international speaker, specializes in working with people who grapple with high functioning anxiety. That typically refers to those who seem to function well but are often overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy, are sure something bad is going to happen, compare themselves negatively to others, and tend to be workaholics and perfectionists. 

To overcome anxieties, Kirkness incorporates well-researched and proven psychological treatments and Eastern techniques of reducing anxious states such as meditation and breathing from our core, sharing her insights in her extremely easy to use book, “The Panic Button Book: Relieve Stress and Anxiety Whenever They Strike” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2020; $15.99).

         Kirkness has many characteristics of someone with high-functioning anxiety.

         “A big part of my journey was working way too hard, being a perfectionist and putting way too much pressure on myself,” she says.

         Not only wasn’t it good in the short time nor could she keep it up for a long time.

         “There are things that we can do to help calm down our nervous system and still create success with sustainability,” says Kirkness. “I think taking time to pause and do some soul searching is generally the first step.”

         Other components include learning to take deep breaths which are calming and relaxing. Journaling—putting your thoughts down on paper—and meditating (there are free online apps for that) also make a difference. But what I found most useful about the book were the Decision Trees Kirkness developed.

         Dividing the book into sections, she covers Living and Working, Socializing, Relationships, and Parenting. Each has related scenarios such as “Do you have a difficult conversation coming up,” “Do you feel your partner is taking more than giving?” and “Are you not reaching your own expectations?” Then on the opposite page are the techniques you can take to help.

         As an example, one decision tree starts with the question “Are you trying to make something perfect?” Her two-step activity to counteract the need for get something done is to remind yourself that done is better than perfect. The second is to establish a clear timeline on finishing such as I’m giving this another 40 minutes and then I’m sending it in.

         Not all are simple two-steps like the above, but all are designed to provide relief from the immediate anxiety of situations and produce feelings of being more in charge of your emotions.

Old School Love and Why It Works

“We’ve had hard times, but we have resilience and we always knew we wanted to be together,” says Rev Run, front man of Run-DMC about how he and his wife make their marriage work.

              A Hip Hop artist, even one who whose group has sold millions of records globally and was recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, isn’t the person we typically turn to when needing relationship advice.

              That is, until, you pick up a copy of Old School Love and Why It Works (Dey St. 2020; $26.99) by Joseph “Rev Run” Simmons and his wife, Justine Simmons, long admired by friends for the longevity of their 30 year marriage.  

              “We’ve had hard times, but we have resilience and we always knew we wanted to be together,” says Rev, front man of Run-DMC.

              “Now people come up to us, people who see us on TV or follow us on Instagram,” says Justine about their reality shows—Run’s House, All About the Washingtons and Rev Run’s Sunday Suppers. “They ask us for advice or say we should write a book about how we make our marriage work.”

              You can’t have a marriage without a love story, so let’s start with theirs. They met when Rev Run was just Joey but, still at the age of 15, an up and coming musician. He met Justine when performing at a roller rink. She was 14 but a vision in blue as he remembers. They went out, they liked each other, he wrote her a letter saying, “I will marry you one day.” But though they both lived in New York, the physical distance eventually worked against them. They parted. Joey became Rev Run, front man for the first rap group to earn a Grammy Lifetime Achievement honor. He was on top—fame, gold and platinum records, millions of fans, long days and crazy nights as he recalls. For some that would be all you’d ever need.

But there must have been something missing because years later when his cousin asked him if he remembered a girl named Justine, Rev Run asked him to get her number. He called and just like that the relationship was on again.

  So what makes a marriage last, I ask Rev and he refers me to the chapter he wrote about that very subject. It’s simple but it all makes sense. “If you want to go partying and clubbing and carousing and drinking, here’s a better piece of advice: Do. Not. Get. Married.” Instead just stay single.

              He has more to say.

              “Be selfless, not selfish,” he tells me. “Pay attention, listen to what your spouse is saying, don’t let it be in the background. “If I can see she really wants something or if she doesn’t see my point of view, then I back up.  One of the biggest takeaways I want for this book is that it’s important to listen to the whispers to avoid the screams later.”

              Takeaways are a big component of their book. Each of the chapters, written alternately by Rev and Justine end with a page of “Takeaways” or their advice on nourishing relationships. 

              Here’s a big one from Justine.

              “Both my parents were divorced and remarried,” she says. “If you have children and go into another relationship, make sure that they love your kids like they love you. And make sure you love their kids. If not, then don’t marry that person for your own selfish reasons because your child or their children will suffer.”

              Luckily, when Justine met Rev she loved his three daughters. When the two adopted after the death of their infant daughter, they all blended into one family. Parenting became so important that the couple wrote Take Back Your Parenting: A Challenge to America’s Parents about how to make it all work.

              Which brings us to this. Both Rev and Justine, who are a deacon and deaconess, want to help guide others—whether it’s in parenting or love. Helping is what they are all about.

              One last thought. The letter 15-year-old Rev wrote the note pledging to marry Justine one day—well, she saved it and when they reconnected, she gave it to him.

What: Rev Run and Justine Simmons presentation, Q&A and book signing event.  Old School Love and Why It Works

When: Friday, January 31, 7- 9 pm

Where: Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville, IL

Cost: Each ticket includes a copy of the book and admits one or two people. You will receive your book when you arrive at the event. They will not be available for pick up before that time. Rev Run and Justine will be signing each attendees book and posing for photographs after their presentation.

fyi: For more information and to purchase tickets, 630-355-2665; andersonsbookshop.com

%d bloggers like this: