Sunday, November 30, 2014

Worked the plan

I promised to report back on my planning for the weekend.
I planned and plotted and prepared everything that I could and some things went wrong.  However, my goal to make sure no one went a way hungry worked.  I went to bed early and slept.  I charted what needed doing and it worked.  We fed people and chatted and took pictures and I am so happy with how things went.  Some people couldn't come and I felt sad.  Some people showed up that I wasn't sure were coming and I felt delighted.  I added one more thing to Thanksgiving.  I used sticky notes and started posting things I am thankful for.  I added to the list whenever I started stressing.  Gratitude became a quick anti depressant that I could add to as needed without unpleasant side effects.  Today, I am allowing myself recuperation time.  Visiting, watching corny Christmas movies, and catching up on blog reading.  I know that part of the process is decompression time.  PTSD doesn't give me time off but with planning and perseverance it does take a back seat. 

Inch by Inch

Saturday, November 29, 2014


I planned, I adjusted, I checked in with my counselor, I asked for help, and it worked.  Bad things still happened.  I still forgot things.  I still lost things.  I still mixed things up but because I planned for these to happen I had back up plans for the back up plans.  I relinquished control.  I accepted my daughters help.  She was awesome.  We celebrated a successful weekend.  My daughters and daughter-in-laws fed many people for 2 days.  Pictures this morning were greatly enhanced by my brother's assistance.  One of the wonderful blessings from a horrendous summer is a healthier relationship with him.  Planning didn't stop bad things from happening.  It gave me a chance to work out possibilities that I knew a fried brain wouldn't think of.  Now, I am trying to figure out what to do with all the left overs.  Food banks don't take partially used bags of chips.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Plan is working

My husband requested a family gathering.  Arranging large events are not a strong point for me.  I planned and asked for help and adjusted my expectations and its working.  PTSD makes living hard but not impossible.  Too often a label gets slapped on and that defines the person.  Labels may be helpful, I know what to look up on Google, but PTSD doesn't define me.  I am a person with PTSD not PTSD with a person's name attached. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday I made yummy rolls that I found the recipe on  School Rolls, oh yea!  I tested several rolls until I found this one. I experiment with several until I found one that tasted great the second day. 

Happy Thanksgiving.  Counting blessings, including fleas.  yup.  I am learning to be thankful for the pesky things in my life. 

Note to self by this time tomorrow, Thanksgiving will be over.  :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


My Dear Friends,

The Holiday Season is coming up fast. It's coming like a freight train. This time of year can be the best of times for many, the worst of times for others. The reasons for both are many and varied. I confess to you that I do stalk your pages when you're asleep, or you're not looking, and I know that many of you have experienced some of the circumstances that can make it the worst of times. I also know that you can be in a room full of people and still be totally alone. I know this. I've been there. Believe me I know.

So, before all the festivities, the celebrations, the lights, the music, the memories....etc, begin, please allow me to make one very important wish for you -- Courage.


P.S. There is love all around you. 
Picture is from Michael too. Thank you for letting me post this:


Monday, November 24, 2014

First hurdle

I stumbled.  Ugh.  Really...Can you hear the sarcasm?  Deep breath.  I am so worried about Thanksgiving dinner I missed getting everything I needed for yesterdays dinner.  Fortunately my lovely daughter-in-law picked up where I messed up.  There it is.....the miracle of families....not that we do things perfectly but we get through anyway.  Feeling Thankful and more Hopeful that we will get through any way. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Exit Plan or Not

One of the survival tools for big family events is first deciding to go or not.  One option is to decline with a simple no.  Remember no is a complete sentence.  However, if I decide to go to a family event, my counselor taught me to have an exit plan.  I noticed that family events become fairly predictable,  the same jokes, the same stories, and the same arguments tend to repeat themselves.  Having an exit plan allows a way to leave when I see the pattern of events unfolding in ways I know will not turn out well.  After years of practice, I have several exit plans.  One where I leave after dinner.  One where I leave after an hour or so and one where I leave if certain arguments start.  Yup, I learned to recognize the opening gambits for nasty remarks that will follow no matter how I respond.  Another advantage of an exit plan is I don't feel trapped.  I recommend working out a plan with a counselor if you have one.  Nice thing about discussing with a counselor is the realization is I am not the only person needing a way to leave a family gathering.  Be aware that family members may be resentful or angry for breaking the pattern.  Its ok.  They will survive and more importantly I survive.

This year an exit plan is not a good choice for me.  Thanksgiving dinner is at my house.  I can exit, I've done it in the past, but my goal this year is to plan a healthier way to cope with stresses of Thanksgiving dinner.  Big part of this is PLANNING.  I started planning as soon as I knew that Thanksgiving at our house.  Menus, activities, dishes needed, even an new refrigerator became part of the plan.  I also welcomed my daughter volunteering as an event manager.  Her perspective and encouragement kept me on task for early preparation.  I also talked over with my counselor ways and means of lowering my stress levels.  We talked about having reasonable expectations.  I finally decided that I can reasonably plan to have enough food for everyone.  No one will go away hungry unless they choose to.  I can plan enough variety that everyone will eat something.  Yes, Mac and cheese from the box is on the menu for the grandson that prefers eating mac and cheese.  I can adapt to the preferences of others.  Another piece of my plan is getting enough sleep.  Feeling rested, I am much better at coping with stresses that pop up along the way.  Starting early with cooking and prepping.  In the freezer I have several parts of the meal ready to go.  In my second refrigerator the turkey is already thawing.  Yesterday I picked up from the store activities for the grandkids and boxed them up ready to use.  I also bought most of the food that is time sensitive but not needed to be fresh.  Last month I bought all the nonperishable items and ordered the fresh turkey.  Today, I am going through the freezer and pulling out parts I need for the meals to come.  Family is already gathering from different states and need to be fed before and after Thanksgiving.  I do all I can ahead of time.  I even watched a special on the Food channel about Thanksgiving preparation and time line.  I was very excited when I realized we were already following most of the suggestions. 

On the day of Thanksgiving I have a plan already in place.  Start earlier than I think I need to for adjustment to unexpected requests.  Use my sister's idea of MMV, mini mental vacations, a 5-10 minute private escape with the plan of coming back.  With my counselor, I discussed how soon I need to break away for these little breaks.  Her suggestion is not to wait until my nerves are at screaming pitch but way before when I recognize that I am starting to get more tense.  Breathing is a 10 second break when I can't walk away from stirring something on the stove.  Slow count breathing can help my entire body relax.  A relaxation buddy to text during the day for that person to check in with me and for me to check in with them to make sure we are both staying engaged with the events.  Another short activity is mindfulness.  Paying attention to the smells, feel, and anything in that moment.  How does my body feel stirring the sauces soon to be used with the meal.  Being in the moment allows me to let go of past and future and focus on now.  I have practiced this in less stressful situations and it is more powerful than I thought it would be.  For me one of the keys to this Thanksgiving being successful is mentally accepting in advance that the day will NOT be PERFECT.  Remember O'Toole's corollary, "Murphy was an optimist." (Murphy's law, If anything can go wrong, it will at the most inopportune time.)  Something is almost guaranteed to go wonky.  With so many different people, foods, and activities coming together, something will not go smoothly.  Relax anyway.  That is the plan.  In 5 days, I'll let you know if it worked. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Gratitude doesn't change events....

it changes my point of view. 

I kept Lincoln's quote on my wall in high school.

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

Abraham Lincoln

 Same event, however if I totally focus on the thorns that is all I see.  I need to back up and refocus to get a different point of view.  Gratitude is like that it helps me back up and refocus. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Managing Emotions

 The holidays are upon us from Halloween to Valentines day it is one thing after another.  The next holiday advertisements are up before the last one was over.  Emotions ride as high as expectations during this time of year.  I participated in a Mud run a couple of years ago and ever since then I get emails about triathlon training.  One of the articles addressed how to manage emotions during a race.

I decided that I can view these holidays as my own little triathlon.  The article suggested 3 ways to prepare emotionally:

  • Breathe - I mentioned this one in several articles.  
  • Address the sensation - This I will share below
  • Practice how I anticipate feeling and practicing ways to address the possibilities.  

I want to share the list the article used about addressing a sensation:

Address the uncomfortable sensation directly using the Spinning Feelings Pattern developed by Nick Kemp.
  1. Think of an experience in your life that wasn't all that pleasant. On a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (amazingly intense), select a three or four.
  2. Check for any physical sensations of this feeling: tiny tingling in your neck, slight fluttery feeling in the stomach, tightening in the shoulders.
  3. If you don't know the answer to any of the next questions, make your best guess.
  4. Point out exactly where this feeling is located.
  5. How large an area of your body does it cover?
  6. What shape is it? Is it three-dimensional?
  7. Does it extend outside your body?
  8. What kind of density does it have—like a marshmallow, or molasses, or wood?
  9. Does it have a certain temperature?
  10. Is it moving or doing anything, like vibrating or pulsing?
  11. What color is it?
  12. Does it have a sheen or dull finish?
  13. Are the edges well defined or fuzzy?
  14. If it were to be rotating, which way is its rotation—clockwise or counterclockwise?
  15. Now take that feeling and spin it really fast in the opposite direction. Spin it for 10 or 15 seconds or as long as you need.
  16. What number is the intensity of the feeling now? If it gets better, spin it in the same direction as last time, again for 10 or 15 seconds. If the feeling gets worse, spin it in the direction opposite of what you just did. Check to see that it gets better, then spin it again.
I searched on line and found a PDF with more information on this technique...

I will be looking at other strategies to help through the holidays.  I need the review and sharing them with on my blog gives me a chance to review.

Address feelings before emotional flooding

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

5 ways to fight depression +1

Seth has 5 great ways to fight depression and a bonus way.  I added to his list.

These are just a few.  One more way is to lower expectations to a healthy level.  We are constantly admonished to raise the bar, expect more you will get more, step up, reach up, do more, if you can dream it you can achieve it.  One of the difficulties is I reach the point that nothing satisfies, nothing is good enough, can't possibly reach such unreasonable expectations.  Revamped my expectations for Thanksgiving dinner.  My goal is everyone will have plenty to eat.  Hopefully there is something for everyone.  The only reason to walk away hungry is to choose to walk away hungry.  I can meet this expectation.  I don't have to have every dish perfect, I'm not competing for Iron Chef. 

Another coping tool is an end date.  In 9 more days Thanksgiving and black Friday are all over. My sister, Judy taught me the concept of having an ending date.  One of the things that make depression so difficult is the feeling is that the dark hole I am in is all I get, forever.  Yes, I recognize that this forever thinking is an unhealthy behavior. 

I also need to plan time for MMV - Mini Mental Vacations. Thanks Judy for this one too.  A few minutes on Pinterest, taking grandkids for a walk, share something funny on Facebook.  A few little moments of taking time for yourself.  I need to put mini breaks planned into my schedule.  

Allow myself to fall asleep at the computer if I need to.  When I am feeling anxious, I tend to neglect myself.  Allow myself to sleep where I can and worry about niceties of bed and regular hours after Thanksgiving events are over. 

I can do this.  Go team ME.

Marching to my own drum beat

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


I like my word for the day.  I was talking to my counselor today that I have a mess I don't want to deal with right now.  I was thinking of it like controlled dissociating, she suggested this word, 'compartmentalizing.'  It is a purposeful decision to deal with something big, later.  I am not burying it.  I am not ignoring it.  I am just using a time and season for a big project.  Dissociation is uncontrolled and obliterates emotions.  Compartmentalizing is consciously choosing to set aside emotional baggage until a more appropriate time to unpack it.

Thanks Webster:
: to separate (something) into sections or categories
: to separate (two or more things) from each other
: to put (something) in a place that is separate from other things

From Forbes:

Psychology defines compartmentalization as a defense mechanism, or a coping strategy, which doesn’t impart a very good connotation. Put simply, it’s how our minds deal with conflicting internal standpoints simultaneously. Some examples would be: a doctor who is religious, but has to separate her belief system from her practice at a women’s health clinic; a man who leaves his office at 6pm, and refuses to think about work for the rest of the evening, so he can enjoy his time with his family or, at its extreme, soldiers who need to file away the trauma of horrific events in their minds, so they can continue operating in battle.

Coping strategies are short-term solutions, and they have positive and negative aspects. You want to compartmentalize, but not push out. For instance, those soldiers I just mentioned; pushing out trauma works in combat, but once they come back to their regular lives, they often find those pushed away memories coming back to haunt them, like in cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

 Temporary is the key to making this work.  If that chunk of mess believes I am trying to ignore it forever, it will erupt again and again until it gets my attention.  However, if I assign the mess a box, number and due date, it will stay peaceful for a time.  It is a great coping mechanism if I don't over use it. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Forgiving Life



Celebrating Thanksgiving I consider all of my blessings.  One of those blessings is forgiveness.  Forgiveness, oft debated, sometimes misunderstood.  Sometimes demanded but can only be given.  The awesomeness of forgiveness is it cuts the ties to past hurts.  When I forgive, I release the tie that binds me to my past.  I struggle most with forgiving myself.  Counselors assured me I did the best I could have done under the circumstances.  I know how often I fall short of doing my best now.  Why would then be any different?  I want to be free of my past, I believe to do that not only do I need to forgive those that harmed me but I need to forgive myself for my wrong doings.  I made mistakes, lots of them.  I still make poor choices....many poor choices.  In focusing so solidly on my past mistakes I tend to overlook the good things I do.  But life isn't about checks and balances of do so many good things to balance out the bad.  One single event can have a profound impact on myself or others.  I like in the video how he talks about forgiveness being an on going process.  I also appreciate his findings that forgiveness is quite separate from reconciliation.  Dr. Enright points out that it takes two or more to reconcile.  I keep listening to his words about forgiveness coming from a place of strength.  In considering, my past year I recognize that I made strides in forgiving others but I am stuck on forgiving myself.  I then ponder, if I won't truly forgive myself, then am I still holding grudges in situations that I thought I have forgiven.  KavinCoach pointed out, it is difficult to love others more than I love myself.  I suspect it is equally difficult to forgive others more than I forgive myself.  I worked so long at forgiving others, perhaps for me to finish the process, I need to forgive myself.  Not because I did the best I could at the time, but because I am changing who I am and I would not do those things again.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014


“The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place and at the right time, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”  Dorothy Nevill, Writer & Horticulturist, (1826 – 1913)
Posted at

I found this quote and put it in my to-be-written-someday file.  A draft post with bits and notes but not published.  Then I pull up these half written pieces when my brain seems to have nothing of its own.  I go back and read past posts from other bloggers or links or other bits of information.  I needed this reminder at this time.  I needed to think about not just saying what I want but staying aware that somethings that pop into my brain should not pop out of my mouth.  This is not a case of not being authentic.  I can still be authentic while keeping my mental rubbish from finding a voice.  Some days I do better than others.  I learned a lot from KavinCoach and his own ability to say what is helpful and sometimes praying for "God's hand over my mouth."  His words actually.  My mind is cluttered with unfiltered thoughts.  Part of my down time is sorting though things that might seem tempting to say but aren't helpful or kind.  

Came across THINK before you speak:
True Helpful Inspiring Necessary Kind

T - Is it True?
H - Is it Helpful?
I - Is it Inspiring?
N - Is it Necessary?
K - Is it Kind?

If I hit no on all of these it needs to stay rattling around in my head and preferably booted out completely.  Some would argue to never saying anything that isn't true.  That would eliminate the entire fiction portion of my library.  I do believe in keeping straight as to which is true and which is opinion or fictional.  Fairy tales I am fully aware are fictional and I share them.  I have read many beautiful stories that all the 'facts' came from the author's head.  I prefer that they state that this is a story to be shared.  If they are writing nonfiction I am not comfortable with their using 'creative license' to make up facts.  Then comes is it helpful?  I can share something that is completely true that is so far off subject that it isn't helpful to say.  I understood this better from watching some of the TV shows I enjoy.  One of the characters would throw out a random bit of information that is totally irrelevant and distracting to a conversation.  My brain works this way.  I am chugging along on a chain of thought when suddenly in whizzes a totally random thought that has nothing to do with anything but suddenly demands my attention.  My sister refers to these random thoughts as "Squirrels."  Is it Inspiring? When I am feeling darkly depressed it is difficult to be Inspiring.  I noticed that my post get much shorter and less informative when black cloud of depression settles in for awhile.  Eventually I push aside these dark feelings and I am ready to write again.  Is it necessary?  One of the interesting things about living most of my life as a multiple was the inner dynamic chatter that never ended.  Now, with no constant inner conversations nagging at my mind I don't have anywhere to say something that to other people seems completely unnecessary.  Learning what I need to share and what is best kept in my broom closet in my brain sometimes requires a bit of trial and error.  Is it kind....believe it or not this is one of the hardest for me to understand.  Sometimes people lie to be kind but when the other person learns they were lied to occasionally makes things much worse.  I remember a few counseling sessions where what was said to me did NOT feel kind but the information was very necessary for me.  Kind can sometimes slip into enabling or out right lies.  I am not of a fan of Cruel to be kind.  However, I know that leading a person up a garden path when you have no interest in a relationship is not kind.  

I don't always think before I speak/write.  The questions do get me to reconsider what I should say in some situations.  However, sometimes no matter what I say it is all wrong because the listener doesn't want to know what I have to say.  Sometimes the conversation is not about me.  


Friday, November 14, 2014

Give up to get better

Purposefairy proposes a list of 15 things to give up:

1. Give up your need to always be right

I didn't think I had this challenge until I realized I actually stress over the slightest details that could be corrected.  Working on this one. 

2. Give up your need for control

Compromise is powerful when used wisely.  Learning to face life as an adventure and allow it to have more of a say in my day to day living.

3. Give up on blame

Doesn't work any way.

4. Give up your self-defeating self-talk

If I wouldn't say those things to someone else than I shouldn't be saying them to myself.

5. Give up your limiting beliefs

"Whether I believe I can or can't, I am right."  I believe Henry Ford shared this.  I was told can't so often, reversing that belief to a "Can do" attitude is a daily challenge

6. Give up complaining

Try it for a day.  Thanksgiving will be a really good day to do this.

7. Give up the luxury of criticism

I believe this goes with #6.  I also remind my self what critic means in art.  Critic is a discussion with knowledge backing up opinion but not only negative. 

8. Give up your need to impress others

Not impressing but also not competing.  I can do things to my own best without worrying what someone else is doing.

9. Give up your resistance to change

So much changed all the time.  Embracing change with enthusiasm is my new challenge.  However, I prefer not to change for change sake...just because it is a change doesn't automatically make it a good thing. 

10. Give up labels

The intent behind this is don't allow negative general feelings apply to a specific problem.  Prejudice keeps me from recognizing opportunities and friendships where I least expect it.

11. Give up on your fears

Fears are a guideline not a whip to rule me.  Listening to healthy fears is desirable if I use the information to create a healthier living environment

12. Give up your excuses

I learned that there are always two reasons I do something, the reason I tell people and the real one.  Authenticity and truth seeking requires me to recognize my own behaviors. 

13. Give up the past

Now that I learned what my past is I better understand the importance of knowing where I came from with an emphasis on FROM, USED TO BE.  Accepting that I changed

14. Give up attachment

I disagree with this one.  Detaching from everything also means no love, no joy, no growth.  Just my opinion on this one. 

15. Give up living your life to other people’s expectations

This on is huge.  My expectations are big enough.  I don't need someone else shoulding on me. 

With all my love,

Well you now have my perspective on these ideas.  Giving up can improve life. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Remind myself

TR left a kind comment on this I reread what I wrote.  Thanks TR I needed to remind myself of tools I know how to use.

I am using several of the tools on the situation that presented itself. 

Reminder I can't fix everything.

Each person needs to walk their own path. 

I'm adding a new one....I don't have to understand to accept. 

Someone else's choices doesn't mean I have to change mine. 

Another reminder to in the past is hellish place to live....I can't change anything and the pain doesn't stop by revisiting old hurts.  I can allow myself to move on.  Moving on includes acknowledging things happened but that doesn't mean those things will control my now.  I am feeling more at peace tonight. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Body Slammed

Took an emotional body slam tonight.  I'll write tomorrow. 

Have a great day. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thank you Veterans

In the United State November 11 is a day set aside to remember the difference soldiers make in our lives.  I like the object lesson given by one teacher. 

Snopes reported this is true.

In September of 2005, a social studies schoolteacher from Arkansas did something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school, with permission of the school superintendent, the principal, and the building supervisor, she took all of the desks out of the classroom. The kids came into first period, they walked in; there were no desks. They obviously looked around and said, "Where's our desks?"

The teacher said, "You can't have a desk until you tell me how you earn them."

They thought, "Well, maybe it's our grades."

"No," she said.

"Maybe it's our behavior."

And she told them, "No, it's not even your behavior."

And so they came and went in the first period, still no desks in the classroom. Second period, same thing. Third period. By early afternoon television news crews had gathered in the class to find out about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of the classroom. The last period of the day, the instructor gathered her class.

They were at this time sitting on the floor around the sides of the room. She said, "Throughout the day no one has really understood how you earn the desks that sit in this classroom ordinarily. Now I'm going to tell you."

She went over to the door of her classroom and opened it, and as she did 27 U.S. veterans, wearing their uniforms, walked into that classroom, each one carrying a school desk. And they placed those school desks in rows, and then they stood along the wall. By the time they had finished placing the desks, those kids for the first time I think perhaps in their lives understood how they earned those desks.

Their teacher said, "You don't have to earn those desks. These guys did it for you. They put them out there for you, but it's up to you to sit here responsibly, to learn, to be good students and good citizens, because they paid a price for you to have that desk, and don't ever forget it."


More things to do for myself

Day 3 of 11 things to start doing for yourself

8. Nurture the relationship you have with yourself and others

Ever notice how relationships take time. Self nurturing takes time too.Victim thinking had me totally focused on what my others thought I should or should not be doing.  time for myself and carrying for relationships just weren't part of that thinking.  Healing means I see the value in my relationships and myself so that I choose to invest my time and energy.  Self neglect is a quick check into see if I am back sliding on caring for myself.  I deserve to nurture my relationships with myself and others.

9. Start treating yourself as you would want others to treat you

Treat myself with the respect I deserve.  If I am not sure what that looks like I need to treat myself with the same compassion I would those I love.  If I don't want other people to call me names then I should not call me names.  If I want others to accept me then I need to accept myself.  Not an easy task when I spent many years hearing that I am selfish if I care for myself.

10. Nurture your mind, body, heart and spirit

I believe this is another way of caring for all of me.  I deserve nurturing.  I didn't get this as a child but there is nothing stopping me from caring for myself now.

11. Develop an attitude of gratitude

I already believe this with all my heart. Gratitude is central to self care and building healthy relationships.  It is seeing all that life gives me as a gift.  Gratitude to God and others keeps me realizing how connected I am to both.  If I believe I can do all things myself, I disconnect from others and feel more isolated.  Seeing how other help me and how Heavenly Father blesses my life helps me see my connections. 

The 'Holiday Season' is in full swing.  This article was a great reminder that taking care of myself is not an after thought but gives me the strength to do the things I wish to do. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Doing things for myself

Part 2

This is a continuation from yesterday.

5. Forgive all those people who have hurt you

Hardest thing about this one is people mistaking forgiveness with putting yourself back in harms way. I am a big believer in forgiving at a distance. If I am still in danger this is not a time to forgive but a time to protect myself and get myself to a safer place with people that are trustworthy. Too often I was asked to 'forgive' someone that had no intention of changing.  I put forgive in quote mark because the forgiveness they were talking about was a manipulation to shut me up and keep the status quo.  I do believe that nor forgiving past hurts ties me to the past.  Here is the main point.....PAST.   Meaning they are no longer in the process of hurting me.  My childhood was littered with horrible experiences.  Those people are gone and many dead.  Holding onto they hurt ties me to corpses.  They need to be buried and left to rot.  People in my present will hurt me.  Some by accident and some on purpose.  Setting boundaries and protecting myself are healthy choices to their behavior.  Allowing their behavior to control me is a disservice to myself.  Forgiveness is one of those things like love that people twist around to meet their own agendas.  To me, I can forgive without reconciling.  Part of forgiveness is accepting them for who they are.  If they are destructive towards me, accepting them for who they are means I learn that they are not safe to be around.  Walking away is not holding a grudge.  Sometimes walking away is creating a healthy strong boundary.

6. Release all judgments you have placed upon yourself and others

Judgment is another one of those words that get batted around by abusers as a way to avoid consequences.  They scream, "Don't judge me," as their are kicking the crap out of you.  We are required to make judgements everyday.  We decide if it is safe to get on the freeway.  We make decisions about what we will eat.  A basic attribute of the decision making process is making judgments.  I also been on the receiving end of judgments.  Being shunned because I have a mental illness, PTSD.  People jump to conclusions about me when they hear I am in counseling.  Some of those judgments are unjust.  What I am working at doing, with the help of my counselor, is gaining new perspectives as to why people do what they do.  This summer I experienced a major paradigm shift.  I judged my mother to be safer than she actually is.  I gave her too much leniency that nearly had huge negative consequences.  I had to reassess my judgment of how safe she is or more accurately how dangerous she is to my emotional well being.  She may be in her 80's but that doesn't make her tongue any less vicious.  I am accepting that she can no longer physically hurt me.  But that doesn't mean I can judge her to be a safe person to be around, I especially cannot be alone with her, ever.  No matter how sorry I feel for her, no matter what empathy I may feel, she is not safe for me to be around her.  I am only kidding myself and setting myself up to be hurt again if I release that judgment.  I do agree that I need to judge myself less harshly.  I need to reassess how I view myself.  Treat myself with the same compassion I would treat someone else.  I believe it is healthy to question myself with my perspective of people and situations.  I also believe in trusting my own instincts when for some undefined reason I judge a person or situation as not safe.

7. Expect the best from life

I think this one goes with number 6.  How do we judge life?  The opposite of this is awfulizing, expecting disaster at every turn.  When bad things happen in life, I start to expect more bad things happen.  Then my behavior sets the very thing I fear in motion.  Self fulfilling prophecy holds true with positive or negative events.  So in a way by expecting great things in life, I set in motion actions on my part that great things happen.  Another point of view on this thought is you get out of life what you look for.  I remember my husband and daughters went on a camping trip.  My husband expecting things to go wrong.  My daughters looked forward to a fun weekend.  When they came home, my husband told me about the awful things that happened, where as my daughters shared their great weekend.  I knew they both went to the same place at the same time but their expectations influenced their perception of events. 

Part 3 tomorrow........

You can mourn because rose bushes have thorns; or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Do things for myself.

Purpose Fairy shares many articles on learning to care for yourself.  This is one that interested me.  I am placing it here in November to remind myself to take care of myself.

11 Things You Should Start Doing for Yourself Today

1. Start breathing properly, softly and deeply

I mention this one often.  Breathing properly is powerful.  Mindful breathing, focusing on air coming in and out of my body, can help me stop a panic attack.  Helps me to lessen anxiety.  Breathing is a quick beginning step to controlling myself.  

2. Let go of your personal history – enjoy the present moment

 Allowing past personal history to interfere with present enjoyment lets my past control my present.  Mindfulness, living in the moment, being present are all variations on a theme, "My past does not define me."  I recognize that past history influences my present actions but I decide how much.  Very powerful when I learn to use this concept on a daily basis.  (Powerful ideas are rarely easy so don't be surprised if it doesn't work first, second or third time.)

3. Let go of all those things that no longer serve you

 This was difficult for me to understand when I first taught this idea.  Deprived in childhood usually means hoarder tendencies as an adult.  Letting go seems like a piece of myself goes too.  Some chapters in the book of life need to end.  I was laid off several years ago.  I kept looking over my shoulder at the job I lost instead of focusing on the new future I had in front of me.  I had to let go of my past job to move forward in my new one.  


4. Forgive yourself for past mistakes

I am my harshest critic.  I make a similar mistake and I drag up all the old history from past mistakes as evidence of my continue failings.  I beat myself up emotionally more than anyone else would bother doing.  I know all my weak points and hammer away at my emotional well being.  Forgiving myself is allowing myself to be human and humans make mistakes...we are supposed to.  I don't believe in giving myself a 'get out of jail free' card.  I mean the kind of forgiveness where I repented and changed my ways, forgiveness comes after the change.  I thrive when I give myself room to change and become a better person.  Chain myself to past mistakes slows down my progress in many ways.  

To be continued........


Saturday, November 8, 2014


One of my favorite Internet stories, sent to me years ago in an email.  Enjoy!

A man's daughter had asked the local minister to come and pray with her father. When the minister arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows. An empty chair sat beside his bed.  
The minister assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit.
"I guess you were expecting me," he said. "No, who are you?" said the father. The minister told him his name and then remarked, "I see the empty chair
I figured you knew I was going to show up." "Oh yeah, the chair," said the bed ridden man. "Would you mind closing the door?" Puzzled, the minister shut the door.
"I have never told anyone this, not even my daughter," said the man.
"But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At church I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it went right over my head. I abandoned any attempt at prayer," the old man continued, "until one day about four years ago my best friend said to me, 'Johnny, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here is  what I suggest."
"Sit down in a chair; place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It's not spooky because he promised, "I'll be with you always."  Then just speak to him in the same way you're doing with me right now."
"So, I tried it and I've liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I'm careful though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she'd either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm."
The minister was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old man to continue on the journey. Then he prayed with him, anointed him with oil, and returned to the church.
Two nights later the daughter called to tell the minister that her daddy had died that afternoon. "Did he die in peace?" he asked
"Yes, and when I left the house about two o' clock, he called me over to his bedside and told me he loved me and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead. But there was something strange about his death. Apparently, just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on the chair beside the bed. What do you make of that?" The minister wiped a tear from his eye and said, "I wish we could all go like that."

I believe in angels.

Friday, November 7, 2014

That time of year again

"Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed."
- Abraham Lincoln

Click Here For Success Tip # 032

It comes every year, like clock work or calendar work. First, Halloween with hauntings and triggers galore.  Followed by Thanksgiving with demands for the perfect meal and a 'happy family' without resolving old hurts.  Then infamous/famous Christmas with expectations bigger than the National Christmas we even get a national tree any more? 

Prepare my toolbox of coping skills I've my box I have:

Acceptance that I am not perfect....I don't need to be.  In fact, I can't be.  That is OK.

Best laid plans can fall apart.  I will survive plans falling apart. 

Have an exit plan on hand for different situations.  Practice exit phrases...."I loved being here but I am leaving now."  

Or don't go in the first place..... "The evening sounds lovely I am sorry I won't be attending."  I don't need to explain that I am sitting in front of my Christmas tree sipping hot chocolate.

Prioritize activities.  Not all activities are #1.

Skip some traditions.... It doesn't stop being a tradition if I don't do it one year.

Not having some detail completed is not the end of the World.    

NO is a complete sentence.

I do not need to explain my choices unless I choose to.

Breathe.....feeling blue breathe.

MMV (learned this from my sister) Mental Mini Vacations.  Emotionally escape to a deserted island where there is no holiday madness. Picture myself on a beach sipping coconut juice. 

Letting go means I don't need to fix it or think about it any more.

Some people will flip out during the Holidays and it is not about me.  NOTHING I do will stop their behavior because it is not about me. 

Remember that emotional black mail is still black mail.  I am not 'mean', 'cruel', or 'going to hell' if I don't meet someone else's expectations.

Crawling into bed and pulling the covers over my head is an acceptable activity as needed.

Call a friend or have a text buddy to check in with during stressful events that I choose to attend.

Change all my 'can'ts' and 'have-tos' to I choose to do___________________.  I don't enjoy ___________________but I am choosing to do it anyway because some other need is being met that I may not understand myself.  No one is holding a gun to my head.  It may feel like it but that is probably emotional black mail...refer to emotional black mail above.

Christ is my Savior and as far as historians can figure out He was born in April any way.

Make choices with my happiness in my mind.  I enjoy doing things for others and I am happy doing things for them....that is part of my happiness equation.

I can add to this list at any time.....anyone want to share their coping techniques?

48 days and it is all over.

Besides....I have another shot at doing better during the year.

Has anyone, besides me, noticed this stuff comes back every year without fail? Even the Grinch can't steal Christmas. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Just tired

Today I figured out the source of my insomnia this week.  A meeting was cancelled and now I can sleep.  Years ago KavinCoach told me that I was just like everyone else, brought in my puzzle pieces and we tried to make sense of the picture the pieces show.  He followed the example with the comment that I was a 10,000 piece puzzle.  I knew my insomnia became much worse but I didn't realize why until after the meeting was cancelled and I started falling asleep at my computer, well before the time I usually go to bed.  So much anxiety for nothing....meeting postponed.  Once I realized what was rocking my boat, I started poking around in my emotions as to why.  Was I still upset over what the lady running the meeting said about my time log?  Nope, the teachers helped me resolve that.  Was I worried she would change my schedule again?....not really.  I learned to cope with changing what I do in the classrooms.  I finally decided that what bothers me is the negative perspective she has about teachers but I am  not in a place where I can tell the woman to be nice.  Interesting that I am having a problem with one of the classes.  The students don't see me as a teacher, just an annoying mean intruder.  I realized the students reaction to me is very similar to my reaction to the person I worked with at the meeting.  I am working at finding solutions to the students....maybe I can use those same steps to help me work with the people running the mandatory meetings.  For now....good night.

10,000 pieces

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Found this on Facebook and wanted to share it here. 

Our survival adaptations are so tough, but our wounds are so delicate. To heal, we have to lift the armour carefully- it saved our lives, after all. It’s like moving your best friend off to the side of the path. You don’t trample on her, you don’t hit him with a sledgehammer. You honor her presence like a warm blanket that has kept you safe and sound during wintry times. And then, when the moment is right, you get inside and stitch your wounds with the thread of love, slowly and surely, not rushing to completion, nurturing as you weave, tender and true. The healing process has a heart of its own, moving at its own delicate pace. We are such wondrous weavers.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Art Therapy Ideas

 I found a link, saved it and now today when I am feeling totally uninspired I will share what I have tucked away.

Art therapy works for me.  I used photography as my gateway to emotions that I tucked away out of harms way but not available to me either.  Photography helped me unleash my mind in ways that I can't describe.  Events, emotions, and ideas came to consciousness through the use of my camera.  Drawings, wood working, and non-silver photography explored my inner world even deeper.  I found one article that led me to others.  I now have them arranged in order:

Visual Journaling - a history

Visual Journaling, Self-Regulation and Stress Reduction

Top ten Art Therapy Prompts

1) How Do You Feel Today?
2) Spontaneous Imagery.
3) Non-Dominant Hand Drawing. 
4) Working Within a Circle.
5) Dream Journal.
6) Photocollage Journal.
7) Doodle Diary.
9) Altered Book.
10) Create Your Own Approach.

Here are a few basic guidelines for visual journaling:

Just Relax. Many professionals who use visual journaling recommend some sort of relaxation practice before beginning each entry. That can be helpful, but don’t make it into a laborious ritual if it does not feel right to you. Visual journaling itself ought to serve that purpose of stress reduction and emotional regulation. Some times it is best to just pick up your art materials and get started.

Record the Date. Write down the date [on the front or back of the page] you completed the image in your journal. If a title or other words come to mind, be sure to write those down, too.

Don’t Go it Alone. A visual journal can be a private experience, but if you really want to get the most out it, an empathetic and reflective witness is important. Of course, I recommend an art therapist skilled at helping you deepen narrative work about your images; a visual journaling group that meets regularly to share creative work and spend time together working in journals is another good option. There are online art communities [like the Art Therapy + Happiness Project] that offer opportunities to connect with other visual journalers, too.

Safety First. There is an automatic mantra that “a visual journal is safe place to express your feelings and experiences.” This is not necessarily true in all cases. We often are inclined to place our deepest, most tender experiences in journals of any kind. I always advise my clients who take up the practice to consider keeping their journals in a safe place if writing about traumatic events, losses or interpersonal problems. And with my youngest clients, I encourage children I see in therapy to leave their journals with me for safekeeping between sessions especially if they are in danger of domestic violence or abuse.

My book We are One is a collection of my art pieces telling my story.   I wrote it with the help of my professor as a year long culmination senior project for college.  The link below takes you to the online copy.

I worked with professors and counselors with my art work.  I never worked specifically with someone trained in art therapy. I still use drawing as a way to calm myself.  The drawings are often abstract and simply a way to sooth my mind.  I think I need to get them out more often.  It was easier when I had college classes with specific assignments.   You don't need to be an art major to grab pencil and paper.  A camera on your phone works well to capture a moment. 

Childhood lost

Educated dreams

Shattered Mind

5 to 1

Monday, November 3, 2014

Why are you so mean?

Today I faced this question head on.  What I learned over the years to survive insanity of the adults around me growing up as a child was to shut off all emotions.  The results when I talk to those that rely on emotion in daily exchanges, I come across as being mean.  Not my intent.  I describe the behavior as "Task oriented."  Unfortunately, that sometimes translates to, "I don't give a shit about your precious feelings, get to work."  By the way, not effective for building relationships.  Great for getting the job done but not too great about the whole relationship thing.  I offered the opportunity for the students to ask questions.  One student asked, "Are you going to change?"  Yes, it is why I am in counseling because I am working on changing.  Am I changing for the students?  That is a different question.  I am changing because I accept where I am and I had a glimpse of where I would like to be.  I experienced gentle strength first hand.  It is awesome to be around people that are strong enough to not need to bully or put down others.  I want to be that kind of strength.  I accept that this will be a challenge for me.  I have felt emotions as a complete person for about 8 years now.  Learning vocabulary and phrases that invite and encourage others does not come 'naturally.'  Back me into a corner emotionally and I do have the 'mean' vocabulary down pat.  I didn't tell the students that what I said was toned down from what I was thinking.  Interesting but the afternoon class does not have an issue with me.  I am now curios if I trigger the AM class or they trigger me?  Choosing kinder language will be this years challenge.  I think I need to reread the book on Nonviolent communication. 

Forward March....Hut - 2 - 3 - 4.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Heart touched

I cannot post the pictures that I took with tears running down my face.  The pictures I took are privileged because the models were not actors, they were special needs kids at the high school where I work.  On Halloween, the preschool children go trick or treating on campus to different classrooms that volunteer to have the children come.  One of the classes belong to the special needs kids.  I watched as the older kids carefully and gently made sure every child had a piece of candy in their bag.  I watched such generosity and friendliness between groups that don't interact everyday.  One boy is huge gentle giant of a boy.  Concerned that no one is left out.  I wondered how often he had been left out, not counted, set aside because he doesn't fit in societies idea of acceptable.  I took the pictures to share with parents to show them how much the big kids cared about the little kids.  I am thankful for the opportunity I had to view through my camera this tender exchange of gifts and acceptance.     

And a little child shall lead them.  

Saturday, November 1, 2014


Attitude of Gratitude.....

Short simple easy to remember yet sometimes difficult to do.  Why?

As you ramble on through life, brother,
Whatever be your goal,
Keep your eye upon the doughnut
And not upon the hole.

Too often I am gazing upon the hole.  Wondering what I missed out on? Pondering how my life would be different if.... nasty word if.   November is designated Thanksgiving.  Traditional at the end of harvest to give thanks.  In Arizona, the relief of getting out of the triple digit weather.  (100 degrees F in October is hard to be grateful for.)  I do believe that every day should be filled with gratitude.  Work at it long enough and becomes the way to view the world and life. 

While looking for the above quote I stumbled on this one:

15 April 1904, New York Sun, pg. 6, col. 5:
Their Points of View.
'Twixt optimist and pessimist
The difference is droll;
The optimist the doughnut sees -
The pessimist the hole.

The first step to becoming and optimist is gratitude.  Gratitude is learned.  Learned by example.  Learned by teaching.  Expecting a child to say, "thank you" helps develop a life long habit.  Years ago I was given an interesting challenge, say an entire prayer only Thanking God for my blessings.  What I learned last year I took the challenge of listing things I am grateful for.  When I express for the smallest things it is easier to see the big things I am thankful for.  Lists, reminders, prayer, all tap into the habit of gratitude.  Gratitude is also something I feel.  I can feel so overwhelmed by gratitude that I cry.  I call these tears happy tears.  Swamped by feeling how blessed I am.

Amazing world we live in: