on the cheap and sleazy side (www.cheapandsleazy.net)

Words by Christy Cannariato, XHTML by G.D. Warner

Concentration, Affirmations and Visualization

One Reporter's Story on How She Used This Trio to Attain her RPR


"I am completely calm and write clearly and accurately."

That was an affirmation used by then-student Christy Cannariato every day for a month before she took the California CSR.

That affirmation was accompanied by daily visualizations of how her test day would play out -- including the outfit she was to wear, traffic conditions, etc., etc.

She reports that she was eerily calm that day -- so calm she began to wonder if she was *too* calm!

She passed with ease (though with a little added drama about the results) ... and I thought it would be a good story to share with my readers!

So here, with permission, is Christy's story.


I've been a reporter since 1988, and I would like to share a technique for combatting nerves to help you guys pass those speed tests, qualifiers, and the CSR exam.

Basically it's self hypnosis. Athletes use it all the time. I'm positive there must be books on this technique, but you don't need them. It's easy. It just takes time and dedication.

I used this technique for the first time in the months leading in to the CSR exam in 1988 and continue to use it whenever I have a nerve-wracking big event coming up. I am convinced it made me eerily calm at the CSR exam, which made the exam feel like 160.

I had been in night school for a very long time because I had to work full time during the day, and I had had to quit my job to move in with my mother-in-law while I went through qualifiers. I was miserable and broke and desperately needed to be done with school and pass the CSR exam on the first try.

Failure was not an option.

I passed my quals a couple of months before the CSR exam. And every night before going to sleep, without fail, I visualized every detail of the day of the exam, from waking up in the morning and showering and getting dressed to turning in the exam. Every detail I could reasonably predict, I imagined doing it.

Most importantly, as I visualized everything I would do that day -- checking in at the registration table, setting up my machine, taking the dictation, transcribing, proofreading, etc. -- I repeated the refrain, "And I feel perfectly calm and focused."

I purposely didn't imagine the exact same scenario each night, because I knew things would happen that I couldn't predict, and I didn't want to be thrown for a loop. So I imagined fixable disaster scenarios, too -- tripod won't lock, typewriter ribbon breaks, out of liquid paper (this was a long time ago, remember?).

But with every detail, every disaster, I just intoned, "And I feel perfectly calm and focused."

The day of the exam, as I waited in line, then set up my machine, you could cut the tension in the air with a knife. People were frantic. Some were hyperventilating. A couple literally vomited into planters and trash cans.

But I felt perfectly calm and focused.

In fact, I felt so surreally calm that I started to get nervous that I wasn't nervous enough. I should be at least a little nervous or else I might not do my best; right?

Turns out not being nervous was the only thing I had failed to visualize. But I tried to block that out of my head and whispered my old mantra, "I feel perfectly calm and focused."

And I was.

It felt like I had taken and passed that test 60 times, because in my head I had -- every night for the previous two months. I left the exam 99 percent sure I had passed.

But then, weeks later, waiting for the exam results to come in the mail, my friends got their results, but mine didn't come. The CSR Board had made a typo and sent them to the wrong zip. I remember the Board telling me the complete address they sent the envelope to -- no privacy back in those days! -- but not the results, and I would have to wait until they were returned by the Post Office and then forwarded to me by the Board. Needless to say, in my visualization exercises I never visualized this contingency!

I looked up the zip and called the post office -- it was fortunately a rural town in Northern California. After explaining my situation, the kindly postal worker actually found my result envelope and broke all the rules and opened the envelope and read me the results. Woohoo!

Best of luck,

Christy Cannariato