Saturday, August 27, 2016

Navigating the Universe of my Body

Indeed, just like planets and stars make up a universe of galaxies, I’ve learned the human body is an amazing universe as well—more like a collection of universes. After all, everything is energy! Even emotions! (Energy in Motion.) When energy is dense, objects appear solid. I thought rocks were solid inanimate objects, but they are energy beings, too! Same with our bodies. I even wrote a little imaginary tale about this in my eBook, The Adventures of Gnat.

Since this blog, in addition to being a letter for friends, family, and readers is also an online journal, I am writing about what's new with my explorations of the human body. In a previous post, I wrote about my obsessions. This one is on health.

1) I read Vianna Stibel's book titled: Theta Healing and in June participated in the Basic Theta Healing class from a certified Theta Instructor. Vianna had discovered that regardless of what your doctor or metaphysical healer does for you, if there are any subconscious beliefs blocking or resisting the healing, a healing session won't be successful. There are numerous ‘digging’ exercises to work through to identify negative core beliefs. I am amazed how just becoming AWARE of what they are can begin a shift in consciousness. Vianna has listed in her books just about every belief to mankind that exists and it is nice to know we are all really more connected that we think. The next step is to begin clearing these negative beliefs and replacing them with positive ones which are done by receiving ‘downloads’ of the positive beliefs and feelings that you don’t already have. You cannot experience love, for instance, if you don’t know what it FEELS like. You can say affirmations all day every day like “I am loved, I feel loved, I have abundance, I can speak my truth, I deserve to exist, I am supported by God,” but if you don’t know what these FEEL like, it won’t happen. I don’t think it was coincidence that after I received these ‘downloads,’ I began to receive abundance in unexpected ways and new situations began to show up in my life to support these new downloaded beliefs.

2) I am now reading the sequel titled: Advanced Theta Healing. There is a lot more information about the belief work as well as information about the seven planes of existence. I often read multiple books at one time, so I am also reading Teal Scott’s (her married name at the time it was published): The Sculptor in the Sky. Words I read tend to flow through me and I’m sure I’ll have to read these books multiple times before I can assimilate the information. In May, I read I AM: A Journey to Enlightenment by Stephen Shaw which I will definitely read multiple times!

3) At an introduction to Tibetan Pulsation taught by the same instructor, I learned how the organs of our bodies resonate to sound—and there is a complex process of combining ‘trigger’ words to specific sounds for each organ. In addition to the complexity of this modality, just like in astrology, there are certain times of the year when specific organs are ‘activated’ so it is suggested you work on the sounds/trigger words for the organ of ‘resonance’ at those specific times. I am amazed at how many different ways a person can pursue healing!

4) At the end of May, I had a ‘check-up’ with my doctor and the usual blood tests. My Triglycerides were still too high. I showed my doctor that a side effect of Mirtazapine—of which I was taking 45 mg. of—was elevated Triglycerides so I wanted to wean off of the drug. I gradually decreased the dose over the month and by the end of June was completely off of it… probably a bit too quickly for this type of drug. I didn’t fare too well. The high dose of 45 mg. kept nerve and muscle pain at bay so for the entire month of July I dealt with a severe headache (felt like the top of my head would explode—and that my brain was swollen), a stomach ache, and some nausea in addition to muscular skeletal contractions. If that wasn’t bad enough, I couldn’t focus and had symptoms of major ADD and ADHD. My Theta Healer person suggested I get back on this medication even though she doesn’t usually recommend pharmaceutical drugs. There must be something about the month of July—when growing spurts have been occuring.

5) That same week, I went to the local Acupuncturist/Chinese Medicine lady hoping she would have a different solution. I filled out about 15 pages of intake forms. During the one-hour consultation with her, I was absolutely amazed when she presented me with a single sheet of paper and explained how all my symptoms indicated an imbalance of Yin and Yang—quite simply, my Yin was diminished and my Yang was too over-powering—and something about my body having too much heat and many of my symptoms are its way of trying to cool down. And even though she didn’t support the use of pharmaceutical drugs, she also suggested I get back on Mirtazapine. I returned to the doctor and got 15 mg. to start back up on. Better to start at the lowest dose and work your way up. With just 15 mg. the headache, stomachache, nausea, ADD, & ADHD disappeared by the following morning so I never increased the dose. However, I still had the muscular skeletal stuff to deal with. I really like waking up at first light vs. before needing to sleep until 10 when I was taking 45 mg.


6) Magic Potion Chinese Tea: I didn’t feel any different after the first batch of ‘tea’ I received so the formula was changed. Wow! An hour after the first dose, I felt pleasantly numb (absence of pain.) As long as I kept drinking the stuff all day long, I was able to plug along at all the tasks I wanted to do. I’m sure it helped that I was drinking more fluids in general. I returned in a week for another week’s supply and reported the results. She said, “Chinese Medicine ROCKS!” Last week’s potion didn’t seem as strong and I hope the next batch is! I laugh at the thought that while some people are getting ‘high’ on ‘weed’, I am getting ‘high’ on ‘tea.’ I sincerely hope the FDA doesn’t decide to eliminate Chinese Medicine!

7) Hormones? I read about the consequences of having too much Estrogen and not enough Progesterone—or an imbalance of hormones in general. I suspected I was dealing with post hysterectomy/oophorectomy hormone imbalances so I asked my Chinese Medicine lady if any of the herbs that were in the tea were for balancing hormones. She replied, “All of them!”

8) Both the owner of Curves and my Chinese Medicine lady are advocates for doTerra essential oils. I went to several two-hour ‘classes’ on everything these oils can do. Someday I will spring for more of the oils and especially, the diffuser! I have some of the basics—Lavender, Wild Orange, Lemon, Peppermint, as well as OnGuard (which took care of a gum infection when I rinsed with it) and my all-time favorite: Motivate! All kinds of Mood formulas were passed around for us to sniff. When I sniffed Motivate, I was in heaven! Let’s all get high on oil! (Side-note: just like in politics, there is an ongoing debate between doTerra people and Young Living people. Either way, there seems to be an epidemic of essential oils. I hope the supply can keep up with demand!)

9) My poor sore feet. I've had feet challenges for as long as I can remember. They pronate in and pull on my knees. There are very few shoes my feet want to wear. I've spent mucho bucks on all kinds of insoles in addition to comfort shoes. And then... I found Massaging Gel Insoles by AirFeet!!! They are not what you can get over the counter (this year, anyway) and are about $45, but I was desperate. They are everything they were promised to be. My one pair easily goes in and out of whichever shoes I want to wear that day. They don’t get stinky, either. I bought mine directly from AirFeet but you can see the description on Amazon HERE.

10) I can't forget my awesome orthopedic gel cushion which keeps my butt and the back of my thighs from getting numb and tingly so I can enjoy sitting longer. I take it with me to practically everywhere! You can see the product description on Amazon HERE.


11) Making friends with my intuition: in Theta Healing, you use muscle testing to check for which beliefs are lingering in your subconscious. There are several ways to muscle test, but I decided to try the one when you stand and allow your body to fall forward or backwards depending on if the answer is yes or no. (Not all the way forward or back—you catch yourself before you’ve gone too far.) I have been challenged with decision making and don’t really have another person to bounce things off of so when I began to get definite yes and no’s for just about everything from what to wear to what to eat to where to go (or not), I discovered I get answers—from my own body! It became a fun game and I even use this method to avoid foods I shouldn’t eat. I am more likely to put aside something that isn’t healthy for me when my body muscle tests NO to it. I may have lost my mind, but each time I hold something or look at something and ask yes or no, I fall forward or backwards. I feel like I have an invisible best friend now!

12) Psychological: Toastmasters continues to provide a nurturing growing experience for me as I pursue the education it offers in leadership and communication. Other ingredients it adds to my life are: inclusion, acceptance, encouragement, feeling valued, being told my smile is genuine and contagious, as well as team-building and relationship skills. I am getting used to continuous spurts of growth as well as learning curves so they aren’t as stressful as they started out to be. Because two of the other organizations I volunteer as Executive Secretary don’t have any structure in place, I have been doing almost everything myself—making sure everything that needs to be done gets done. When I first began doing the same thing in my Toastmasters group, (out of habit), our President invited me to a private ‘meeting.’ I was getting used to ‘Evaluations’ where you are told both your strengths and what you can approve on so I didn’t worry too much. What an amazing, intuitive lady! As she learned more about my background, she informed me that in Toastmasters, I could TRUST the others to pull their own weight. I could relax and stay in my own lane without worrying about anything not getting done. I could even trust I wouldn’t be ABANDONED! How did she know I had past abandonment issues? Plus, she advised me to make sure I take care of my ‘baby’ which is my passion for writing.

I hope you got something out of this article in the way of some alternative ways to pursue your own health and well-being... a journey well worth taking. Do you have a question you'd like to ask me? Or a comment you would like to make? Post a comment if the comment box is there or click on 'comments' to type one in! Thanks! 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Dreaming of Bugs?

I did. Tiny black ladybug type bugs. In the dream I was combing my hair and when I got to the nape of my neck, a lot of hair was falling out and tiny black bugs were in it, so tiny in fact, I couldn't tell they were bugs. They were just tiny black spots. I got out a magnifying glass and saw they looked like tiny ladybugs. Brought them to ???? and then woke up.

Well, I wasn't happy with just letting this go. I Googled to see if there was a bug like this that actually existed. YES! Possibly a carpet beetle. (Better than the possibility of bed bugs!) 


"Once inside (your house), they feed on hair..."

Then I Googled what it means when you dream of bugs in your hair. What a surprise!

http://www.dreammoods.com/dreamthemes/bugs.htm

"What's 'bugging' you? Dreaming of bugs and insects suggest that you are worried about something. They are symbolic of your anxieties or fears. Also consider the popular phrase 'bitten by the bug' to imply your strong emotional ties or obsession with some activity, interest, or hobby. The various bugs or insects in your dream help clue you in as to what you may be concerning you."

This is so right on target with what is happening in my life! Then I saw this:

"To dream that there are endless amount of bugs coming out of your hair suggests that something is weighing on your mind that you are confused about. Perhaps you are making a big deal out of minor matter. Alternatively, the dream refers to concerns over your public image."

Yes, indeed, again. I am so glad I decided to use my friend Google to figure things out! Isn't it amazing how that happens? Isn't technology (sometimes) absolutely wonderful?

So, what HAS been going on which has me anxious? Taking on much more than what I realistically have time to handle without sacrificing many really important things in my life... like creative writing... emailing family (or talking to them on the phone)... and posting on my blog... and reading to expand my knowledge... and keeping up with the amazing Facebook friends I have (both people I know and ones I've never personally met.)

In conflict, I've been "bitten by the bug" of creative explosion as I succeed in doing tasks I've never done before... like create a new website (for another organization) with WIX and learn how to use WEEBLY to update the Killeen Toastmaster website.

Now for the recap:

First, it was with the Chamber of Commerce where I began to volunteer back in 2012. After about a year, I took on doing Press Releases and Event Listings. It took me MONTHS to organize all the news outlets I was to report to. Many had changed or no longer existed. In my OBSESSION to have all the details correct, I eventually came up with a revised list of email contacts and a notebook binder to organize it all into. I have to be organized. What I don't have is a great memory. I had lots of TIME back then. As a newcomer to Texas and Lampasas, it was the perfect way for me to come out of isolation and gradually re-acclimate to the world of people. I learned everything about this tiny town I live in and fell in love with it after five years of NOT wanting to stay here and return to California. I even get to participate in ribbon cuttings, quarterly Chamber luncheons, and events such as the Annual Wine Tour.

But what happens when you start THREE new volunteer assignments in addition to the older one? THREE that have a LOT of complex tasks to keep track of, especially when you are OBSESSED with getting all the details right in a timely manner? Yes, THREE. What on earth did I DO?

Before I summarize them for you, I'll have you know that as a result of getting involved with them all, I've met the most incredible inspiring role-models I could ever imagine--role-models I can learn from and actually succeed in growing into. Did you know, life can begin at age 55?

You can also go back and read my post titled: Creating A Meaningful Life After Disability.

http://reneealtersatmosphere.blogspot.com/2014/07/creating-meaningful-life-after.html

1. Killeen Toastmasters: I made the jump to become their VP of Public Relations on July 1 of this year after being in the club a full year--the PERFECT job in which I'd get all the training I'd need to progress as a writer and everything else I am striving to achieve. Not to mention, continuously expanding my identity and maturity as a person. Note, you don't get paid here, you pay semi-annual dues to participate... more than worth it for all the college level education you have access to... if you want it... which I do. I am in LOVE with photo-journalism. In my new role (with the Nikon I recently received as a gift from a retired career Navy photo journalist) I get to take photos at meetings, taught myself how to make slide-show videos with Windows Movie Maker, and send Press Releases to the Killeen Daily Herald.

2. Executive Secretary to our County Political Party. First, I want to state I am INDEPENDENT. But in Primaries, you can only declare and vote Democrat or Republican. I began to get an education on Government and Politics, much of which I object to. I would like to be part of re-creating it all into a new system that works better than the system that is in place... if this is at all possible. Next thing I knew, I was volunteering to do the minutes... and going to trainings... and working at the Polls... and becoming a Deputy so I could register people to vote... and... and... and... inherited a large list of people... people who are diverse in personality and temperament (some quite hot-tempered)... very different than the harmony and inspiration I find in Toastmasters. The only part of all of it that I get paid for is Poll work. That new website I succeeded in creating on WIX was for my County Political group. After working at the Polls for the March Primary, I retired from Poll work. I can't handle sitting or standing that many hours. Meanwhile, I began a revolution to get twice as many Poll workers who would only have to work seven hour shifts instead of a 14-hour day. Most of the people who work the Polls are retired, disabled, and/or over 65 and can't handle the stress of this 14-hour day.

3. Prior to the County group, I was only looking for a club to belong to and began with the Women's group that organizes fund-raising events for candidates. Next thing I knew, I was volunteering to do the minutes... because no one else was available to... and... facilitating meetings... and making sure events went smoothly... and discovering I could organize people in addition to tasks. However, I don't like the heat of Texas summers and many events occur on the hottest days, including the Annual Labor Day Picnic.

And since I became secretary for both the Women's group and the County, which were completely separate before, I combined them. God help my successor! The Women's group is considered a PAC--Political Action Committee--with a special set of rules about how funds are handled.

My nephew recently told me I wasn't just any secretary, I was an EXECUTIVE secretary. Thus, I've been promoted.

So here I am, with four organizations I am passionate about and I am trying to figure out how best to manage my time. I could randomly jump from task to task as floating thoughts pop into my head or I could create weekly blocks of time to work on each of the four groups in addition to mandatory self-care and chores... which I've been lax about. Maybe a combination of both. What I don't have time to complete in the designated block, I would continue on the next one. At least I've been keeping up with exercising (yellow.) I posted on Facebook that I need a volunteer to do my chores so I could have more time to make a difference in the world through these organizations... and more.


We have feral cats in my apartment complex. I'd like to organize a TNR program here (Trap, Neuter, Release.) Hopefully I (or someone else) can accomplish this before the cat population gets much larger.

I am indeed OBSESSED with finding ways to simplify complex tasks so I can create more TIME in my life.

I used to do this all the time back in the days when I was one girl office manager for various organizations (one at a time). I'd start a new job in which I had to work 50 hours a week plus to get it all done without getting paid overtime just because I was OBSESSED with completing all the work. There was also the additional time involved in getting through the learning curves. After about two years, I'd get bored and would seek a new challenge in a new job, usually with increased pay.

After a while, I'd get it down to 30 hours a week and deprive myself of the additional 10 hours a week of pay because the jobs would be paid by the hour. I would be OBSESSED with completely updating/revising/modifying (same thing) new responsibilities even though logically, I knew many tasks can never actually be finished.

Can you relate? I know many of you do...

Then I burned out when I was 38 years old and suffered the consequences of my OBSESSIONS in the way of all over body pain that was unbearable... which resulted in permanent disability and 11 prescription medications.

(Go to the ABOUT page on this website for the summary.)

I am still an office manager... of my own life at home. In my OBSESSION I desire a magic wand to become instantly organized... and to instantly have all my chores done, including food prep, dish washing, grocery shopping, laundry, and cleaning. I also desire my own staff to complete the many tasks I want to accomplish. I'd either have to be financially abundant enough to pay this staff or have people like myself, willing to volunteer their time.

Thus, I deal with internal conflict and really need to work on allowing myself the slack of not getting everything done. After all, I really do plan to live at least another 30 years.

On Facebook, one of my favorites, Frankie Perez's MindGym, reminded me of WHAT MATTERS MOST:

"With the many demands on our time and energy, it is easy to lose sight of the things that most matter to us. A common trait of happy people is that they are living a values-centered life, meaning that they remain mindful and conscious that their actions are congruent with the people and things that matter most to them and that give them a deep sense of connection and satisfaction. Your values (such as, family, love, spirituality, happiness, freedom, etc.) ought to be the "why" behind the majority of your actions."

All the tasks involve computer work and I lose track of time which is really really bad for my physical challenges. Yet, I remain OBSESSED. At home, I can go into my THERAPY ROOM, invert, stretch, and use a Miracle Ball to work out the tension that builds in my muscles. 

I purchased an electronic timer so I could set it for 10 minutes at a time when I am on the computerand BREATHE. But am I using it right now? I forgot to... I've been at this post for the last hour...

Indeed, I'm sitting here first thing upon awakening OBSESSED with writing this post... with my toothbrush still lingering in my mouth. Funny how a little dream can inspire an entire story...

Now that it is written, I will go finish up what I started... which was brushing my teeth... and post this on the blog after breakfast...

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Puzzle Pieces of Life

This morning, after I made my "to-do" list for the day, I began to feel tension fill up my shoulders, the back of my neck, and up into the back of my head. Oh, joy. Did I just create a chain reaction of resistance in my body? Isn't that what tension is? Unlike other times when I just had "flare-ups" with no known cause, I was very aware this time that I was resisting many of the tasks I wrote on this list. But once the tension came on, I was stuck with it. 

I might as well tell you what I've been thinking about this last week.

I've been comparing my life with jigsaw puzzles only on another level than what I described in the chapter titled "Jigsaw Puzzles" in my memoir, Appearances.

In November of 2015, during Black Friday, Amazon had sent me an email that their Amazon Fire tablet was on sale. I bought it. I absolutely LOVE it! Immediately, it found all the Kindle books I had on my older Kindle plus the Audible books I purchased. However, I rarely have time to read any Kindle books. I am too busy reading all the posts on Facebook along with all the emails I get in between trying to get all the tasks on my to-do list done. I have a bookcase full of books I rarely get to touch.

I get Facebook and emails on my Fire in a different format than on my computer which makes it easier to browse through them. I still have to return to my computer to share certain posts onto one of many Facebook pages I manage, but I can quickly check on family and close friends. It can't do EVERYTHING my computer can do, but it does a lot. 

While everyone else is using i-pads and more expensive tablets, I am satisfied with my Fire. And for relaxation before bed, while I listen to an Audio book, it has jigsaw puzzles for me to do. You can do the puzzles at multiple levels of complexity 35, 70, 140, or 280 pieces. I started out with 70 and advanced to 140. I also do the same puzzles over and over again with the hope of being able to complete them a little faster.

I have never played a video game, but I'm sure these puzzles are an equivalent. I'm addicted. They allow my mind to zone out. When I am doing the puzzles, I'm unaware of my thoughts. Perhaps this is not a good thing. It's important to be aware of your thoughts so you can steer undesirable ones into positive ones.

When all the tasks on my to-do list get overwhelming, I have to go for a walk, visit a neighbor, shift gears... or do a puzzle. Maybe more than one puzzle. At night, when my brain won't shut off, I can do a puzzle or two as well. Oh-oh. Could I be developing Electronic Puzzle Syndrome?

Puzzles. I could easily divide all my tasks up on single puzzle pieces and then try to fit them all together.

For a while I went from writing lists to writing tasks on little sticky notes. Then I needed a change and wrote individual tasks on little pieces of paper. Recently I started with lists again. Maybe not a good idea.

With puzzles, I get to see what the finished picture is before I get started.

I have all these pieces (tasks) I've been taking on (volunteering, researching, studying, writing, promoting, publishing, etc.) but I can't see how they are all connected. Should they be? Yes, I know, "should" is one of the 10 forms of twisted thinking. I'll have to let that go.

I want to know... what does my finished picture LOOK like? Self-confidence? The feeling I get when the knowledge I acquire ends up helping someone I know or will soon meet? 

Is there a way to eliminate the pieces that don't belong in my picture? And if 140 pieces is too complex and stressful, what if I made my life a 70 piece puzzle instead? Or a 35? Or are there many finished puzzles with similar shaped pieces?

All the puzzles on my Fire tablet have the same shaped pieces even though there are different pictures so after awhile I become more familiar with them even though they are different colors and patterns. After I learn everything I am trying to learn right now, will it all become easier? Like the puzzles?

And then I saw it. Page 258 in Vianna Stibel's Theta Healing book. (Yes, I'm studying Theta Healing right now, too. -- Ooh! I am actually reading a real live book!) 

Vianna describes the Indigo child as follows:

"In major decisions an Indigo can become almost flighty. This is because they are born with many traits of an artist. They are easily confused about what they want to do in life, assuming that they have to pick only one specific career."

This has been me my entire life! No wonder!!!! Then I started to read more about Indigo Children. (Yes, more research.) The more I read about Indigo's the more I found me in this category of human beings. 

Years ago, when I first started to read information about Indigo Children (because I have extraordinary nieces and nephews as well as an extraordinary son), I had never entertained the notion that I could be one, too, which includes the following additional characteristics: 

I have always been sensitive to energy and hypersensitive even neurologically (with a label of Fibromyalgia). I was empathic as a child and took on all the intense emotions of my family members before I was old enough to realize I had been doing so. While other kids were being mean and pulling pranks, I never understood why. Weren't people supposed to be good? I felt like I landed on the #wrong planet and withdrew into my own little world.

Oh dear, now I'm getting caught up in adding another Label to my existence. But at least I really like this new one!!! It explains so much!! It makes me feel so much more NORMAL.

Does anything in my post resonate with you? Maybe you're an Indigo, too? Or a Gold, Silver, or Rainbow Child? Please comment below.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Inspirational Toastmaster Speeches

Yesterday, I went to my first Toastmaster Division International Speech and Evaluation Contest which took place in Cedar Park. I didn't carpool with the others in my group because it would be faster to drive directly from my place vs. driving 35 minutes to connect with the others and then riding with them another hour.

My first challenge was to get there as my sense of direction isn't very good and it's hard for me to get anywhere without a person in the passenger seat looking at a map or directions and telling me which way to turn. At the beginning of the month, after telling someone in another group I belong to how I got lost in Austin the week before, I received a TomTom GPS from the lady who owned the house where we met. I found out it was outdated after trying it out on routes I was already familiar with and hoped it would get me to my destination even if it took me the long way around. The TomTom has a very pleasing female voice and I enjoy hearing her tell me which way to turn and how much further I have to drive before turning. I even love how she tells me to turn around if I am going the wrong way. I did manage to get to my destination!

If you're not familiar with Toastmasters, a LOT has to be said in an organized way in 5-7 minutes for "international" contest speeches. A timer is in charge of keeping speakers on track. Unlike the red, yellow, and green file folders we use in our club, this facility had a giant yellow traffic light with red, yellow, and green lights.

I jotted down notes while I was listening to the speakers so I could remember them, but I don't have enough information to state all the details accurately. The following account is mostly true to the best I can recall.

First, there was a 'test' speaker, who gave an account of his travels and places he'd lived--and how he fell in love with a certain festival and all the medals he began to collect from each one he attended. I forget which festival he told us about. Toward the end, he pulled out of a wide sash with his entire collection! I identified with this speaker because some of the places he described were places I'd lived. Six contestants evaluated his speech and we heard their reports later on in the contest.

Next were speaker contestants: I was deeply moved by 5 of the 6 speeches which included personal stories of transcending challenges such as childhood abuse, neglect, and/or disabilities. Since I personally have dealt with many of my own challenges, the speeches left me INSPIRED.

Speaker 1: David Dauber. David is confined to a wheel-chair due to Cerebral Palsy. His legs and body have to be strapped to the chair and he only has the use of one of his hands. His voice is deep and projects well. He demonstrated what his wheel-chair could do by pushing a button that raised him up to almost standing position. While he couldn't walk around the stage, he steered the wheel-chair around the stage instead. He spoke about his handicap and the two things that have made a difference for him: laughter and showing others appreciation. Despite this man's challenges, he's an actor, owns a business, and is married. I thought about Robert, the man my dwarf cousin married, a man who had been afflicted with polio when he was a child which stunted the growth of his legs and distorted his spine. He was unstoppable and went on to get a college degree and earn a good living in a computer-related career. He met my cousin at a "Little People's Club," they got married, and had a son who grew to be about 6 feet tall. Then they adopted a girl born without an arm/shoulder from Russia. In that family, you are not limited by what your body can do. You adapt with what you have. Anyway, I found David's website here: http://www.knowbility.org/v/staff-detail/David-Dauber/8g/

Speaker 2: Raef Lambert. Raif told an entertaining story of how he grew up in a 3rd world country and how stupid 12-year old boys are. He was one of them. I raised one, so he held my interest. In that country, children were unsupervised and had the run of where-ever they wanted to go. I was intrigued by his brief description of what life was like for him there. Then he began to tell us about his attempt to impress a girl when he was 12. He discovered a yard with (a transformer?) one day when the gate was left open and found out it sent a buzz-like energy (electricity) through his body when he touched it. He devised a plan to get the girl in there with him. He'd lean over to kiss her while he was touching this thing so the electricity would go through him into her. She'd think it was coming from HIM and he'd be special. Well, she was wet (or the ground was wet) when he made the attempt and a lot more than a few volts of electricity went through both of them! Needless to say, he did NOT impress her and she never talked to him again. Raef's curiosity led him to Austin where he got a college degree and he is now a Business Analyst. You can find him on Linkedin here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/raef-lambert-61680889

Speaker 3: Tim Manson. Tim is in our very own club. I've always been impressed with Tim's light-hearted sense of humor and his ability to transcend his disabling MS condition. In this speech, I learned how he's been able to do this. His speech was titled ENOUGH! His story weaved through time from childhood to where he is now... the leg brace he had to wear as a toddler, all the times he was thrown from a bull in his attempt to stay on one as a bull-rider... breaking both of his legs one of those times... then onto being diagnosed with MS, a condition my doctor thought I had even though nothing had shown up in tests. The stubborn determination he had to keep getting back up each time a bull threw him off prepared him for getting back up after flare-ups with MS. He concluded with ENOUGH! You can never get enough sunrises, smiles, blue skies, etc. Wow! Tim won 3rd Place. Here is information about Tim: http://publicspeakingsuperpowers.com/featured-speakers/tim-manson/ and his website is: http://www.innovativehorizons.com/

Speaker 4: Melvin Banks. Melvin had a large portrait of when he was a small child brought out onto the stage before he began speaking. He began his speech with "Are you the one?" as he pointed to several people in the audience. His tale was how he had been humiliated by his father and teachers and believed he was stupid. Because he believed he was stupid, he never tried. Then one day, he got a new teacher who walked up behind him during a test and after seeing him write the correct answer to a math problem, whispered to him: "I KNEW you were smart!" He spoke about how powerful our words are and I related very well. My own father, whose name happened to be Melvin, often blurted out "You're stupid!" "You'll never amount to anything!" I had tried really hard to be smarter and better but was never "enough." I wasn't blessed with a teacher like Melvin was who said the right words. Melvin went on to get a college degree and is now an Inspirational Speaker and Coach for his own business "Banks Coaching & Consulting." I may be 60 and barely getting started, but if I live another 30 years, I still have time to make something of myself! Melvin won 1st Place. Here's where you can find more information about Melvin: http://www.speakermatch.com/profile/melvinbanks/

Speaker 5: Adrian Russell. Adrian entertained us with a story of wanting to run away when he was a child to be in a carnival. His father was an abusive alcoholic and his mother had stayed with him because she lacked the courage to leave. However, at some point, she made a different choice so Adrian had stayed. I immediately identified with Adrian. There were 5 kids in his family, there were 6 in mine. My father wasn't an alcoholic but he was verbally and sometimes physically abusive. I wanted so many times for my mother to leave him but she felt incapable of surviving without his measly paycheck or the house they owned together (even though it was mortgaged.) I couldn't find anything on Adrian. If I do find something, I'll add it later. I remember he said in his finale he went on to get a college degree, has had great success in life, and has an impressive career. Adrian won 2nd Place.


This concludes my 'observation' of the event. To date, I have completed 7 out of the 10 speeches I need to complete in order to get my CC (Competent Communicator.) I am also working on my CL (Competent Leadership.) It only took almost 3 hours for me to write this. If you're looking for a group to thrive in, I highly recommend Toastmasters! As one person said in the closing interviews when asked why he joined, he said it was a place to get an education without student loans! I absolutely agree!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Benefits of Expressive Writing

(New blog post (from a portion of the speech I gave on January 22 at Toastmasters and January 23 at the Local Author Fest in Lampasas.)

In this post, I am going to talk about the many psychological benefits of expressive writing which I can personally vouch for. The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study in 1999 that linked writing about stressful life experiences to improved health. Joshua Smyth, the study’s co-author explained that the health benefits were a result of cognitive restructuring—learning to think about problems in a new way—along with changing levels of stress and anxiety. The lasting benefit comes from seeing the problems in a new light and a new perspective.

Dr. James W. Pennebaker, a professor in the Department of Psychology at The University of Texas at Austin is a pioneer in the study of using expressive writing as a route to healing. His research has shown that short-term focused writing can have a beneficial effect on everyone from those dealing with a terminal illness (pause) to victims of violent crime (pause) to college students facing first-year transitions. He believes that writing about stressful events helps you come to terms with them, thus reducing the impact of these stressors on your physical health. Writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others, and the world around you.

In a blogpost on Pictures and Stories.com titled The Mental Health Benefits of Writing a Memoir, the author wrote: “writing can help your brain and your spirit to create order out of chaos. Just the act of organizing your past into a system, whether chronological or otherwise, can help you see your life in a different way and, according to neuroscientists, can even change your brain’s organic structure. Organizing your life into a structure, looking for patterns, and finding the words to express yourself is great mental exercise. Looking at the past can remind us of how tough we must be, because, hey, we’re still here.” For sure, I am definitely still here!

The blog I started in 2011 and writing my 2 memoirs did all these things for me. I was amazed at how much wisdom began to flow through my fingers while I wrote about my experiences—especially the stressful and traumatic ones. Indeed, I found order out of the chaos and developed new perspectives. I even became healthier and stronger in the process.

Life is a journey, not a destination. I encourage each of you to explore the very essence of who you are, heal your emotional wounds (we all have some), and write about your journey. Writing, indeed, is very therapeutic and no matter what is going on in your life, when you write your stories, they can live in a book instead of festering in your mind. As I state on the back cover of my 2nd memoir, Love-Life-&-God: Getting Past the Pain: “now the past is just a story… one I told in this book.”

Whether you decide to share your story with just family or publish on Amazon, print-on-demand technology has made anything possible. Please post a comment below and share your personal experience of how writing has made a difference in your life!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Santa Claus

(Content from this post was included in my book, Appearances: A Journey of Self-Discovery in Chapter 8: Santa Claus. I modified the chapter for Project 4 Toastmaster Speech.)

I was the 2nd born of 6 children. My grandparents on both sides of the family were Russian, Orthodox Jewish immigrants. My mother’s father was a tailor and made clothes. My father’s father started an advertising specialty business.

While my mother stayed home with us, my father worked for his father’s business which didn’t pay very well so when Chanukah came, we got one big present we all had to share. Fortunately, my mother loved crafts, so each year we learned a new craft and made presents for everyone in our family.

In the meantime, everyone I knew in school celebrated Christmas and talked about what Santa Claus brought them. Well, I thought Chanukah was boring! I wanted Christmas! With LOTS of presents, a beautiful big Christmas tree that smelled like evergreen and was decorated with ornaments and colored lights. I wanted decorations on the front lawn… like our neighbor had.

One December, while I was still a little girl, our neighbor asked my mother to paint the details on some reindeer she got for her yard display. Mom did a beautiful job, but would not accept any money—HOWEVER, that year, Santa Claus came.

Santa brought each of us girls our very own baby doll. I didn’t have to share her with ANYone. I played house and made all kinds of houses and furniture out of boxes, cardboard, and fabric.

We all grew up and got busy with our own lives, careers, and families so there was no longer time to be creative. And none of us dated or married anyone Jewish. In 2 separate relationships, the partners I had were often unemployed and had bad credit. They insisted I spend the holidays with their families and I couldn’t go to mine. They also insisted on buying their family members expensive gifts—with MY credit cards. I can’t believe I let them! In spite of the red flags, I even married the 2nd one.

With my life often in a state of chaos, I wished with all my might that there was a real Santa Claus. One day when I was picking up supplies during the holiday season for the service station I was working for, I saw a beautiful stuffed Santa. Back at work, I described it to my boss with childish excitement. When he went to the store the next day, he bought it for me and said Merry Christmas! I don’t think he realized how precious that gift was to me. Santa Claus became a symbol of hope and I kept him out all year long.

My husband not only insisted we spend the holidays with his family, he insisted we move from California to Austin, TX. Most of our stuff, including Santa, went into a storage space in California before we left. We weren’t able to go back that summer and get the stuff out of storage as planned.

As Christmas was approaching, I got homesick and announced I wanted to take a trip to see my family. My husband said NO and replied that I had to choose between him and my family. I chose. I left him in November 1995 and took my son home via Amtrak to visit my family.

During that trip, I drove to the storage locker to get my son’s body-board, my Santa, and a few other things I really missed only to find out that the lock had been changed. Apparently, my husband was afraid that I’d take something of his while he wasn’t there.

My son and I boarded Amtrak Christmas eve to return to Texas. I cried myself to sleep that night on the train. On Christmas morning, Santa Clause came to me again… in a dream. He handed me a small magic sleigh that transported me to many different rooms in a large house. Each room contained one of the goals I had in my life. He said to look! It is all yours! The last room I was taken to was a room full of toys.

There was a little boy sitting in the middle of the toys crying and a little girl standing with a stubborn expression on her face. The little girl was told that she had everything she wanted and needed to make her happy but the boy had nothing but the toys. Why not let the boy have all the toys? When she agreed, I woke up.

Contrary to the way I felt the night before, I was in a state of total and complete joy. I knew that God used the symbol of Santa Claus to give me hope. I realized the little girl was my inner child and that the little boy was my husband’s inner child. With Santa’s promise that every one of my dreams would be fulfilled, I released the despair of losing all my and my son’s things.

When my son and I got back to Texas, I hired a lawyer and filed for divorce with a loan from a friend and gave the whole situation to God to work out. I found Rudolph at a Thrift store and he kept me company, assuring me that Santa would return. At the end of the school year I made arrangements to stay with my older sister, and moved back to California with my son.

Shortly after we arrived, my niece spotted my Rudolph and showed me her Santa. We shared stories about how we ended up with them. The following day, she brought home a Rudolph that matched her Santa and gave them both to me as a gift. She didn’t see my tears. Santa kept showing up to remind me that everything would be OK.

When I felt hopeless that December, I could only see a small part of a much bigger picture. At the time I did not realize I would be returning to California to continue my life. It turned out that I was fortunate our things were still in storage there, for just like we didn’t have the money to bring them to Texas, I would not have had the money to bring it all back home.

My lawyer sent me a letter stating that my soon to be ex would get what was his out of the storage space the following July and turn the key over to me. Since all the furniture had been bought with my credit cards, I was to have the furniture, too. People told me not to trust my ex—but I trusted God, and I knew Santa would be there to supervise.

My son and I celebrated Christmas that July when we were able to get our things out of the storage locker. To this day, Santa Claus is very special to me.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

In Memory of Jon


Jon is my brother, the 5th child of 6. He had Spina Bifida / Hydrocelphalus at the base of his skull at birth and wasn't expected to live more than 30 days. The bubble on the back of his neck/head was surgically removed along with part of his brain. The doctors told my parents to put him in an institution because he'd be blind and a vegetable due to the extent of the brain damage he had. My parents didn't listen and took him home (at the end of the 30 days hospital stay). They felt Jon following them around in the room at the hospital with his eyes even though the doc said he was blind. He was an absolutely beautiful child--as depicted in the photo. In spite of his condition, he even learned to laugh and often made us all smile. 30 days? He graced us with his presence for 49 years. He wasn't blind, he didn't have any reflexes so couldn't blink. Mom taught him how to blink. He learned many other things as well. As he got older, his poor body became spastic and shriveled, and he eventually went blind. Mom took care of him until he let out his final breath.

Don't let any doctor tell you how long you have to live. Only God knows. And if you believe what your doctor tells you, you will do what the doctor says will happen.

I, too, was born with a neural tube defect... in my lower back... which wasn't diagnosed until I was almost 50. I had extremely tight hamstrings and was often challenged by nerve compression to my legs. I was even wheel chair dependent for a number of years after I fell off a chair. My legs went to sleep and wouldn't wake up. I thought it was permanent, but then somehow, it healed and I have the use of my legs back. It comes and goes just like the seasons.

When Dad passed away in 2008, I had an unusual experience and so did one of my sisters. I felt his presence from 1,500 miles away spiritually hugging me and telling me he loved me. He was never able to do this while he was in his human body so this was an exceptional mystical experience. Around that time, one of my sisters had a dream that both he and our brother, Jon, were in the spiritual world, only Jon had a perfect human body. Dad told her in the dream that they would both wait for Mom. It was only a matter of time to find out whether Mom or Jon would pass on first. It was Jon. They both wait for her just like in the dream. I know this for sure. Yes, I believe that Heaven Is For Real. Dad had his challenges, too--such as severe mood swings and unpredictable outbursts of a bad temper, sometimes outright mean. He was paired in this life with Jon--a child who was incapable of any of this. They are BOTH in "Heaven" side by side.

I believe Heaven is a place where we evolve as souls. A place where we all are one in spirit. My 'proof of Heaven' was the experience I felt when Dad passed away and my sister's dream. In Heaven there are no religions. Religion separates us from each other. When you read the history of religion, there was hate, war, and murder, in the 'name' of each religion's God. There still is. God intended us to be One. We were all created from the same place/source. I just don't understand how people can not see or understand this. I know what the bible says, but I also know what I experienced. And I've known many others with similar experiences. We come to this planet with a set of life experiences that contribute to our evolvement as souls. Our path is to overcome specific challenges to burst out of fear and limitation into pure love and abundance.

Today, in memory of Jon, I send love to every inch of our planet. I pray for world peace. I pray for the transformation from hate, war, and murder to unconditional love. As I eat my Thanksgiving meal, I wish I could share it with all the starving children in our world. Peace.