Be a Warrior, Not a Worrier Empowerment Tea

Life isn’t easy and it isn’t always fair. Changing focus helps. Think of what you have done already, not what you haven’t. Be a warrior, not a worrier.” -Grammy Stewart

On Tuesday, June 25th, we were hosts to a Be a Warrior, Not a Worrier Empowerment Tea with local authors; Heidi Tattrie-Rushton (Pet Tales) and Melanie Mosher (Bertie Stewart is Perfectly Imperfect). Therapist Jean Mason & Psychologist Naomi S. Aquino joined us to round out and enrich the event. We enjoyed Persuasion Inspired – Chamomile Herbal Tea by NovelTea, a variety of cookies inspired by Grammy Stewart (made by Melanie), short readings by both authors and lots of questions and contributions from all those in attendance.

Heidi Tattrie-Rushton & Melanie Mosher

First, a little about the books: Heidi’s Middle-Grade novel Pet Tales was released on April 16th by Nevermore Press.

Eleven-year-old Penny Maxwell has anxiety and hates it. It stops her from speaking up in class and making friends, and sometimes even causes embarrassing panic attacks at the worst possible moments.

Rather than hanging out with other kids after school, Penny volunteers at the local animal shelter, where, surrounded by furry friends, she feels like she can be herself. While tending to the rescued pets, Penny has been secretly writing fanciful backstories for all of them, but hasn’t shared the tales with anyone—and never would.

But when her beloved safe space is suddenly under threat of shutting down, sharing her stories might just be the only solution, at least according to Ada, a precocious new friend who hatches a genius scheme to save the shelter. Can Penny find the courage to face her anxiety and overcome her fears in time?

Melanie Mosher’s Middle-Grade novel Bertie Stewart Is Perfectly Imperfect was released on May 28th by Nimbus Press.

Bertha Mae Stewart—otherwise known as Bertie—is ready for anything grade 6 can throw at her. She spends every day with her best friend Kevin, enjoys delicious cookies at her grandmother’s, and has an adorable baby half-brother to dote on. But then her teacher announces a public speaking assignment, she’s paired up with her worst enemy for the project, and her inside voice won’t stop telling her that everything is going to go wrong.

And of course, there’s that nagging little secret Bertie can’t tell anyone about.

Most days, a trip to her favourite tree or a hug from Grammy are enough to make Bertie’s anxiety go away for a short while. But as life grows more complicated, and Bertie pushes the noisy feelings further down, the pressure inside of her starts to build. And someday soon, she won’t be able to hold it all in.

Both of these well-written novels explore anxiety and include a variety of exercises and methods of managing and focusing on the present moment; such as deep breathing (or as Penny calls it, ‘rocket ship breathing’), doing things a little bit at a time, and grounding yourself by using the five senses (touch, sight, taste, scent, and hearing). Middle-graders who have anxiety may gain useful coping tools by reading these fun stories. Melanie brought her tool box, giving us a visual example of the many coping tools she has found useful in her life.

Melanie’s Toolbox

Psychologist Naomi S. Aquino and Therapist Jean Mason were sent copies of both books before the event and enjoyed them. They both had many nice things to say about the books and stated that there should be more of these types of books available to kids. We need books that normalize their anxiety and demonstrate how people cope and live with anxiety in their everyday lives, instead of books that present anxiety as an issue to permanently overcome. These books may also enlighten kids who don’t have difficulties with anxiety about the signs that their friends or peers might and maybe how to approach them. Both therapists provided many useful insights on coping with anxiety and they have brought both Bertie and Penny back with them to their practices.

Psychologist Naomi S. Aquino (left) and Therapist Jean Mason

“I was already thinking of snickerdoodles. I could almost taste the sugary cinnamon morsels of goodness. I loved the cakey texture. They were the best for dunking in glasses of milk.” -Bertie

We served Persuasion Inspired – Chamomile Herbal Tea by NovelTea and cookies inspired by Grammy Stewart


1 cup Unsalted Butter (softened)

1 1/2 cups Sugar

2 large Eggs

2 teaspoons Vanilla

2 3/4 cup Flour

1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar

1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

1 teaspoon Salt

Cinnamon-Sugar Mixture: 1/4 cup Sugar 1 1/2 Tablespoons Cinnamon

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt, until combined. In a small bowl, stir together sugar and cinnamon. Refrigerate dough for 20-30 minutes. Roll into small balls. Drop into the cinnamon-sugar mixture and coat well. Bake for 9-11 minutes. Let cool for several minutes on baking sheet before removing.