Saturday, September 10, 2016

Adventures in Food Prep

Every so often, I actually feel motivated to prepare interesting, tasty, foods. During the last few weeks, I've been in this mood. The rest of the time, I just want to grab something quick to eat. If I don't write down the tasty things I created while 'in the mood', I soon forget what they were--and end up starting from scratch figuring out what to eat all over again. Also, standing in one place is hard for me so anything that requires extra standing doesn't usually get prepared.

Keep in mind, I generally eat solo so all the recipes here are for single servings. I avoid dairy products, wheat, pasta, white rice, white potatoes, and red meat (except on rare occasions.) Also, I realized I wasn't eating enough calories or protein so I began tracking what I eat, how many calories / grams of protein I was consuming, and figuring out how to incorporate more calories into my day. By lowering the dose of Mirtazapine (see previous post), increasing my calorie intake, and exercising a little more, I dropped the 4 of the 10 pounds I wanted to lose! Yay! (The Chinese Medicinal Tea which balances hormones may be helping, too.)

THE FOUNDATION--SUPPLIES & GROCERIES:

Tools:
  1. WearEver small frying pan (I have a large one, too, which rarely gets used.)
  2. Small pot for boiling water & making a small batch of soup.
  3. Large pot (for boiling eggs.) 
  4. Hamilton Beach Bullet (blender)
  5. Aroma Digital Rice Cooker (the white rice setting is perfect for Quick Cook Quinoa.) 
  6. Black & Decker Food Chopper 
  7. Black & Decker Toaster Oven. (My large oven is never turned on & I only use the microwave to heat leftovers if I don't want to eat it straight out of refrigerator.)
  8. Disposable paper bowls, plates, and plastic cups because I don't like to stand and wash dishes.
MAIN GROCERIES:

Protein: Quinoa, Almond Butter, Eggs, canned Wild Caught Salmon, Herring, Hormell Natural Choice Sliced Turkey, Vega Protein & Greens-Vanilla (20 g protein per serving), Harmony House dehydrated black beans and lentils, Canned black beans, Black-Eyed Peas (frozen), Amy's Lentil Soup, Italian White Kidney Beans (Cannelloni), Raw Nuts & seeds (Almond slivers, Cashews, Walnuts, Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, & other fresh nuts--I make my own trail mix or eat separately), Hemp Hearts, Chia Seeds. Path of Life Frozen Garbanzo & Lentils.

Grains & non grains: Food for Life Ezekiel Sprouted Grain bread (4 g protein per slice--keep in freezer), Quick Cook Oatmeal, Quick Cook Quinoa (which is really a seed--12 g protein), Almond Flour, fully cooked Brown Rice, Gluten Free Cheerios.

Dairy/Non-Dairy: Grass Fed Butter, Pacific Hemp Milk (Vanilla or Chocolate), Organic Cheese sticks.

Veggies: Canned peas, carrots, & spinach, head of cabbage & carrots or bag of premade cole slaw, small cucumbers (the ones you can eat like a piece of fruit), grape tomatoes, mushrooms, Harmony House dehydrated Veg. Soup, HHd Spinach, HHd Sweet Potato, Dehydrated onion. Sometimes I buy pre-cut / washed sweet potato & squash (Walmart) -- I  buy HHd food on Amazon.

Fruits: Dried figs, raisins, Fuji apples, Kiwi, apple sauce, frozen Tart Cherries, Frozen Strawberries, Avocado (Wholly Guacamole individual packets--Avocado is really a fruit!). Since fruit is generally high in sugar, I only eat small amounts & generally avoid the ones that spoil quickly.

Salad dressing: Make your own--1 part each of Balsamic Vinegar, Apple Cider Vinegar, and Avocado oil flavored with honey to taste.

Condiments/Add-ins: the above salad dressing, Olive oil (for cooking), French's Brown Spicy Mustard, Organic Mayo with Olive Oil, Claussen pickles (my favorite), black olives, Sea Weed (HEB), HEB Basil Pesto, Crystallized Ginger, Honey, Molasses, unsweetened Cocoa powder, Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute, Dark Chocolate chips.

Beverages: Chinese herbal tea* (medicinal) plain or with a spoon of honey, Apple Cider Vinegar with honey & hot water (for cold, allergies, or sore throat), water with minerals by Organa, Primal Force Super Greens in water (however, I like it better in apple sauce or added to smoothies), 1 tsp cocoa powder with 2 tsp molasses in hot water & just enough milk to cool it for drinking. Bottled water always in the car.

Supplements/Extra Nutrition: Vega Protein & Greens-Vanilla ($24.95 Walmart), Organa minerals ($19.99 including shpg at www.organa.net), Primal Force Super Greens ($34.95 auto ship), Alive 55+ for Women (Walmart), Generic Magnesium 250 mg twice a day, Standard Process Manganese (from chiropractor), B12 (dissolve under tongue), Caltrate with 600 D3--Chewable (when I don't drink enough milk), Epsom Salt (mix equal parts salt & water in a spray bottle to rub into muscles--Epsom Salt is actually Magnesium!)

ADVANCED PREP: (This is mainly the only foods I prep. Everything else doesn't require it.)
  1. For 1 serving, hydrate 1/4 cup of Harmony House dehydrated veggies in the refrigerator until you're ready for it. (You'll make an omelet with it later.)
  2. For 1 serving, hydrate 1/4 cup of HHd Sweet Potato (eat instead of pudding for a snack).
  3. Cook 1 cup of Quinoa in the rice cooker using the measuring cup that came with it. Store in a container in the refrigerator.
  4. Cole slaw: Cut the cabbage & carrots into small chunks to chop up with the food chopper. This will take up multiple containers but cabbage lasts in the refrigerator for a long time (weeks) and doesn't even turn brown! Or you can cheat and buy cole slaw precut / washed in a bag.
  5. Boil 4-6 eggs.
MY FAVORITE MOST COMMONLY EATEN MEALS:

Breakfasts: (after drinking 8 oz of water with a small cap of Organa minerals) If you are not dairy intolerant like I am, you can incorporate yogurt into these meals.
  1. 1/4 c. uncooked quick oats, 1 tbsp each of Chia seeds & Hemp Hearts, a hand full of raisins. Add boiling water and wait 2 minutes. Add milk. With the rest of the hot water, make your tea.*
  2. 1/2 c. precooked Quinoa (you've made a bunch of it in the Rice Cooker), add a rounded tablespoon of sunflower seeds, a hand full of raisins, and milk. Prepare tea.*
  3. 1 slice Ezekiel toast with almond butter or 2 slices with butter, plus tea.*
Meals on the run:
  1. Walnuts, cashews, 2 figs, and a container of cheerios
  2. Piece of bread with cut up apple and a cheese stick.
  3. Other on the run grabs: Snap peas.
  4. If you are drinking Chinese Medicinal Tea like I do, be sure to take some with you!
Snacks or mini meals (when you are craving for something sweet):
  1. 1 slice Ezekiel bread toasted, almond butter, 9 dark chocolate chips laid out evenly, plus tea.* (The chips will begin to melt on the warm toast.)
  2. Midnight snack when I wake up in the middle of the night and can't go back to sleep because I'm too hungry: a bowl of Cheerios with sunflower seeds & milk. 
  3. Quinoa, walnuts, & choc chips with milk
Lunches/Dinners (Interchangeable): I usually have super greens in apple sauce with my mid-day meal or mix the greens into a protein smoothie. The following can be used for either lunch or dinner.
  1. An omelet style egg laid out on a piece of Ezekiel bread after you've spread basil pesto on it, 1 little cucumber and/or grape tomatoes.
  2. Crack an egg into the container of hydrated HH veggies you previously prepared, mix thoroughly, and cook in the pan, stirring it up as it solidifies. 
  3. Boiled egg, cucumber, tomato, Ezekiel toast.
  4. Cole slaw (chopped up cabbage) with cashews & salad dressing. In another bowl mix Italian white kidney beans with mustard & olives. Still hungry? Add a piece of Ezekiel bread!
  5. 2 slices of Ezekiel toast with a Wholly Guacamole packet (covers both pieces) plus cherry tomatoes and/or a cucumber.
  6. A slice of Ezekiel with 2-3 slices Hormell turkey over a spread of basil pesto or mayo (on the bread) plus cherry tomatoes or a cucumber.
  7. Herring, Ezekiel bread spread with basil pesto, cole slaw.
  8. Splurge: get a to-go plate from a Chinese buffet. I usually load it up with shrimp, salmon, and maybe beef with mushrooms (one of the rare times I eat red meat). Split it up into 3 meals, and add other ingredients you have in stock. 
  9. Canned peas, olives, grape tomato, slivered almonds, a tbsp hemp hearts, salad dressing.
  10. Pre-cooked brown rice with canned black beans. Add salad dressing or mustard for flavor or a can of Amy's soup.
  11. Eat Wild Caught Salmon right out of the can and have a little cucumber, tomato, or cole slaw with it.
  12. Make soup! Mix into water HHd anything. Add leftover Salmon. Flavor with TJ's 21 Seasoning Salute.
  13. Splurge: Taco Bell Vegetarian Cantina Bowl--no sour cream.
  14. Ready-to-eat: Path of Life Frozen Garbanzo & Lentils. Thaw a serving out and mix with cooked Quinoa.
After a Workout:
  1. 1 cup frozen tart cherries pureed in the Bullet. Add water to 10-12 oz. mark. Turn on for about a minute. Add one serving of Vanilla Vega Protein. Yummy! Add'l ingredients: Greens Powder & slivered almonds.
  2. 1 cup of chocolate milk with one serving of protein in a shaker container.
This concludes the summary of my current nutrition plan. I hope it is helpful to those of you who live alone and are challenged with trying to figure out what to eat especially when you are in the midst of a pain flare-up and brain fog. If you have any questions about my meal plan, be sure to ask!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Confidence, Low Self-Worth, and DISC

My thoughts this week have been centered on the feeling of self-confidence vs. its opposite, backsliding into my childhood memories when I felt bad about not being good enough for anything, not even for love. I’ve made great strides in maturity, yet this subject is sometimes still a challenge for me. Perhaps some or many of you can relate.

About two weeks ago, someone in one of several organizations I volunteer for called me to reprimanded me about something I wrote in a report. He said, "I told you.... " and he went on and on until his phone decided to run out of battery juice. I was triggered.

When you have developed a pattern of:
  1. All or Nothing Thinking
  2. Overgeneralization
  3. Mental Filter
  4. Discounting the Positives
  5. Jumping to Conclusions
  6. Magnification or Minimization
  7. Emotional Reasoning
  8. Should Statements
  9. Labeling
  10. Personalization and Blame
…you make everything you’ve done wrong, instead of the one tiny detail.

You can find the 10 Forms of Twisted Thinking here: https://www.apsu.edu/sites/apsu.edu/files/counseling/COGNITIVE_0.pdf

Then yesterday, after I realized I sent an email that maybe I shouldn’t have sent (wish you can unsend these), I heard and felt like I was being reprimanded all over again—only this time I did it to myself. I even began to cross-examine myself, wondering if I had crossed the line I was asked not to cross. I felt like a scared little child fearful of being caught stealing the candy.

I began to PMS—have a Post-Menopausal Mood Swing. 

I used EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique aka Tapping) to process the onslaught of negativity. It really helped, I calmed down, and I started to write this blog post to sort through my thoughts.

I've been a rather colorful balloon which can pop at the prick of a pin. Balloons are pretty and when filled with helium, they will float away up into the atmosphere. I could let emotional surges float away like a balloon, but why must I be a balloon at all? I would rather be a strong rubber ball so I can bounce out of the way when a verbal assault comes on and bounce back into my strong confident self. I can be a ball that cannot be popped with a pin. Can't I?

First, I had to practice AWARENESS and understand what was happening.

I asked myself, “What kinds of situations were the pins that were popping my balloon?" I wrote them down.
  1. I allowed another person to affect my self-confidence when they reprimanded me. (See DISC below.)
  2. I volunteer to do more than what I really want to do and haven’t made time for writing and music which leads to resentment. (I still need to learn how to say no.)
  3. I still feel challenged and overwhelmed during flare-ups of Fibromyalgia pain. (At least now I know about Twisted Thinking.)
How do I react to this mood swing? I conclude I am all wrong, no one appreciates me, and I'm unlovable.

Is it the truth? Absolutely NOT! I used to think it was but now I know better.

What does my body do when it is stuck with a pin (words that hurt)? It tenses up, implodes, and complains of pain as well as fatigue.

Suddenly, I had a flashback of myself as a child swinging on a swing—back and forth—higher and higher—and when I went too high, the swing began to become unstable and would jump dangerously crazy. It was pretty scary! I would have to stop moving and allow the swing to slow down so I could come to a stop and get off.

Time to slow down and digest what just happened. Time to come to a stop and write.

Also, about a year ago, I participated in a workshop on DISC. We took a survey and were divided up into four groups depending on our ‘dominant’ personality. I knew many of the people who were in this workshop and had ‘issues’ with several of them. They all ended up in the same group – D. I was the only one in my group – S. Very interesting!

Is it a never-ending cycle or is there a point when I can learn to swing on a swing without going too high and going into sudden wobblyness?

Next, I started writing down all the situations I’ve experienced lately when I felt good about my accomplishments:
  1. Practiced positive thinking / gratitude and was suddenly moved into a newly remodeled apartment and abundance showed up in unexpected ways. I am learning to see the bills as just numbers on paper. After all, I keep reading that money isn’t even real.
  2. Completed a course and received a certificate—a course I was only able to take because I had a skill I could barter—a skill I taught myself how to do.
  3. Received 2 certificate of achievements in Toastmasters.
  4. Met a new person and knew all the right things to say (felt wise and intelligent).
  5. Completed several large projects—publishing new books and created new websites.
  6. Submitted articles / press releases to the local newspaper and they were all published.
  7. After months of wracking my brains to figure out something new—it suddenly clicked!
Mmmmm. This list is a LOT longer than the first list.

And how very interesting! The 2014-2015-2016 September posts are all related to the same thing! 

Life Cycle?

September 2014: “Contrast, Triggers, and Law of Allowing,” which you can read HERE.

September 2015: “Uncovering Cognitive Distortions” (you can read it HERE.)

September 2016: This one.

If you have a trusted partner, best friend, counselor, or psychologist you can process these situations with, it is certainly nice, but I’ve had to learn to do this for myself.

To continue, once a perfectionist, always a perfectionist? If you’re a perfectionist and someone tells you they don’t like something you did or said when you put a LOT of effort in getting the details correct, how do you react? How do you feel? What kind of thoughts go through your head?

What if this someone else is a D person who is dominant, direct, controlling, and bossy? I’ve known many! Thank goodness I found out about DISC.

What is DISC? I Googled it.

“DISC is a behavior assessment tool based on the DISC theory of psychologist William Moulton Marston, which centers on four different behavioral traits, which today are called: dominance, influence, support, and caution.”

It just so happened that the new issue of Toastmasters Magazine came in the mail and I had opened it to read… and there before me was an article on DISC to remind me of what I was dealing with. In the magazine, the article suggests DISC can be helpful for both professional and personal communication, with a link to take the survey. Unlike the survey I did in the workshop last year, the online survey gave me a 22-page result.

D—Dominance: Direct, Impatient, Forceful

I—Influence: Animated, Spontaneous, Warm, Short Attention Span

S—Steadiness: Patient, Tolerant, Service Oriented

C—Conscientious: Orderly, Meticulous, Time Conscious

According to these reports, I am a High S who "likes others to be relaxed, agreeable, and cooperative, and to show appreciation."

This is definitely me!

I easily become upset when confronted with anyone who is the opposite, especially a D. I’m the one who wants everyone to get along. I’ve always been this way and I’ve always had a rough time growing up both at home and in school whenever there was conflict around me. I’m sure I was also empathetic, but I was definitely an S.

I always thought I was different and didn’t fit in anywhere. I am NOT different, I’m an S. It sure would have been nice if we had been taught DISC back in grade school! I can just see it now—instead of scholastic testing, DISC testing. Split the children up into four corners and teach them about the different personalities and how to get along.

Please feel free to write your comments below. Have you taken the DISC survey? What did you learn about yourself?

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!