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The Power of “PHEW-(ER)!”: The Redefinition of Self

The Power of “PHEW-(ER)!”

By L.T. Force, Ph.D.


I usually publish a Blog Post once a week. For me, it has become something that my friend Vance Larson would call: “a non-negotiable”, i.e, something that you build into your life - and without doubt you do it. We all have unique and separate definitions of what we consider to be a : “nonnegotiable in our life”. I have been thinking about the content and context of this particular Blog Post for awhile. (I usually capture themes or statements during the week and paste into “Notes” and then I construct the Blog Post on Sunday). But for whatever reason, I haven’t authored a Blog Post in close to 4-weeks. My question to myself is: “why the hesitancy?” I think I know the answer.

For years. I worked for State Government. There were certain unwritten rituals, rhythms and behaviors we learned as Public Servants. Some of these things were written….and some were unwritten. One thing I learned, for sure, was my affinity towards acronyms. In the Public Sector, we constantly used acronyms to identify and categorize the name of programs and policies. Although, now retired from state-service, I still employ acronyms in my professional and personal life. The take-away for me: “I love the use of acronyms - they help show me the way”.

The word that I came across - it was either in reading a newspaper or an article - was the word: “Phew”. And then I started to think about that word.



Definitions from Oxford Languages · Learn more




exclamation: phew

  1. expressing a strong reaction of relief."phew, what a year!"


When I read the word: “Phew” I started to think about how I could use those letters (P-H-E-W) to include in a writing. I started to think about those letters - and could I create an essay - using those letters? And then I started to think about how I could build a: “self-meaning” of those letters into my own life - the daily rhythm of my life. And that is when I started to think about the things/activities I want to embed into my daily life. But I realized there would be an additional need to capture how I wanted to structure my day. I started to think what is important, what would help guide and structure my daily life - in a positive way….and then it came to me. Realizing , I would need to add additional letters….the word “PHEW-ER” resonated with me. I was looking to create something that would help guide my day - in a “purposive way”. The definition of these letters would “act as a compass”. And here they are:

My Personal Definition of Phew-(er)!

P = Prayer (and mindfulness practice)

H = Hydrate

E = Exercise and Energize (Fuel)

W = Work Purpose and Meaning

E = Enjoy Engage, Laugh

R = Renew - Rest - Rejuvenate.

So, for the last month, on a everyday basis, “I have incorporated the structure and domains of: PHEW-ER into my daily life”.


In the morning when I first wake-up….I Pray and use a Mindfulness - Based Practice. Guided a result of my religious orientation, Catholicism, I recite Prayers I learned across my life. In addition, because I watched across my life, my Mother’s unshakable devotion to the the Virgin Mary - I recite Prayers to Mary, the Mother of Jesus (in fact, I recite those Prayers - in adoration of the Virgin Mary across the day). Look, everyone has there own perspective of the value and denomination of Prayer….this works for me….it is what I witnessed….and what I practice….it provides comfort and solace…. with a sense of Hope and Belief. I also engage in a Mindfulness-Based Practice during the day - guided by MindfulText:


I have listened closely to my friends who are dietitians and nutritionists - and they advocate strongly - that first thing in the morning….everyone should drink 2-glasses of water. From their perspective and training they state: “the Brain is an organ….and, as such, during the night - the Brain dehydrates - and drinking 2-glasses of water in the morning - hydrates the Brain - and promotes clarity of thinking during the day”.

Exercise and Energize:

I think we can all agree that: “exercising and energizing (eating nutritious food) is an important key to your energy capacity, your health and your overall state of wellness”.


Life truly is all about “purpose and meaning”. Regardless of your circumstances, your socioeconomic status, your physical state, your education, your career - “purpose and meaning are invaluable….work matters”. One needs to find….a sense of purpose and meaning. Look beyond your circumstances….look deep….look far….look in front of you….people need you….people love you….and let them love you….until you can love yourself. As has been said in other settings: “change an attitude….change a life….and you need to never forget that….”. And that sense of “purpose and meaning” can be found “in the arena of work”. And the “definition of work is individually defined. What work looks like for one person - looks differently for another”. And today, with the integration of technology into ones life - the pattern, location of effort and unlimited ability to collaborate in Teams ‘across the world’ provides unlimited possibilities . Work will provide one a sense of ‘purpose and meaning’.

Enjoy, Engage and Laugh:

Everyone of these domains that have been defined - add value and direction to one’s life. Each of these domains are important. There is a tremendous benefit in laughter, laughing and ….it is very much needed. During the structure of the day….you can never forget that point, i.e., enjoyment, engagement with others and laughter (with family, friends, colleagues, neighbors…etc.) is needed by both your heart, your mind and your soul. Find activities that meet that need….and again they will all be individualized and unique to each and every person.

Renew, Rest and Rejuvenate:

There is an abundance of scientific evidence showing the importance of sleep….it cannot be undervalued. Sleep allows you to renew, rest and rejuvenate. One needs to build time into the 24-hour period of their day to sleep - it is vital….on so many levels….

So, the word Phewcomes across my landscape….and then I start to think about how I can define those letters (P-H-E-W) and from there “PHEW-ER” surfaces (with definitions). Therefore, why the delay….or hesitancy in writing about it? I have thought about that point. I think I have an answer. The delay or hesitancy was a result of unconsciously, I guess, I wanted to make sure it worked. I am here to give testimony - I have consistently followed the “PHEW-ER” domains for the last 30 days….and they have served me well.... as a guide for how I want to live my life - from incorporating: “daily prayer (and a Mindfulness Practice), hydration, exercise/energy, work-focus, enjoyment, rest and renewal”. Is it a daily lifetime practice? I could only hope so. Just like glass can be shaped….so can a life....mine included.... and your life, as well. And one thing I do know, for me’s working!


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