Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Subject of Healing Trauma Continues/Synchronicity

I used to think that trauma just involved people (including me) emotionally and psychologically. I also used to think that “other” people didn’t suffer the consequences of trauma the way I had.

Yes, I’ve come a long way in processing traumatic experiences, but it seems like there is always more work to be done. (Life is a journey...) When I picked up Waking the Tiger, Healing Trauma by Peter Levine, I found this out. Apparently, trauma affects a lot more than I had conceived. According to Levine, EVERYONE is affected by trauma. Everyone? That is new news to me!

Thanks to people like Levine who love to do research and have an insatiable thirst for knowledge and answers, I’m sure it was no accident that I came across his book. It meant to me that I was being provided with another piece of my journey to healing. Indeed, I also have an insatiable thirst for knowledge and answers when it pertains to my health and the health of people I care about.

Levine studied what animals do when they are faced with a traumatic event—like being attacked by a predator. Many times, they FREEZE and PLAY DEAD. Here I had been harboring the false belief that freezing and pretending I was asleep, which had been my reaction to impending traumatic events, was not OK. I had no idea that it was a natural instinct.

But animals have the ability to ‘shake it off’ while us humans stay frozen, and what stays frozen is energy that gets trapped in our physical bodies. We tense, brace ourselves in fear, freeze, play dead, collapse in terror, but never discharge the pent-up energy our brains decided was necessary to escape those situations (and our attackers).

I will definitely pay closer attention to the animal kingdom now.

Levine wrote: “Healing trauma requires a direct experience of the living, feeling, knowing organism” and I like that he refers the healing process as, “a heroic journey that belongs to each of us.”

He concluded that “post-traumatic symptoms are, fundamentally, incomplete physiological responses suspended in fear.” “These symptoms will not go away until the responses are discharged and completed.”

“The traumatized veteran, the rape survivor, the abused child, the Impala, and the bird all have been confronted by overwhelming situations. If they are unable to orient and choose between fight or flight, they will freeze or collapse. Those who are able to discharge that energy will be restored. Rather than moving through the freezing response, as animals do routinely, humans often begin a downward spiral characterized by an increasingly debilitating constellation of symptoms.”

As for those symptoms, I don’t know about you, but I was prescribed a lot of medications. I am very grateful I’ve gotten off the last of them. They can be useful for buying time to help the traumatized individual stabilize, however, they suppress the body’s own balancing response to stress and interfere with healing. Of course, unless you have a qualified therapist who can help you with the process of releasing trauma, medications may be your only remedy.

When 1,000 men and women were studied, 40% had gone through a traumatic event in the three years prior. These traumas included being raped or physically assaulted, being in a serious car accident, getting a routine invasive medical procedure, witnessing someone else being killed or injured, or devastation by natural disasters. 

I’m not sure how this next statistic was achieved, but “somewhere between seventy-five and one hundred million Americans have experienced childhood sexual and physical abuse.”

What’s even more staggering is: “The conservative AMA (American Medical Association) estimates that over thirty percent of all married women, as well as thirty percent of pregnant women, have been beaten by their spouses.”

With a new blog post in mind with what I’d learned from this book, I stepped outside to survey the scene outside my apartment building. We are in the process of having the landscaping redone in front of our apartments. As I walked along to the buildings to the right that had already been completed, a resident stepped outside and began a conversation. At first, we were talking about the landscape. I can’t remember how the next part of the conversation began. Was it me that brought up pasture-raised eggs?

I was enthralled with her narration about her life growing up in Mississippi. They didn’t have electricity which meant no refrigerators, washing machines, or lighting. They raised their own animals which were periodically slaughtered for food to supplement what they grew in their garden. She described the process of coating the pork with a certain type of sugar and hanging it up to dry, which lasted all winter. They used lanterns for lighting. 

She said she was happy and that her parents were awesome. Then she married a man who beat her (with a little more detail than what I am writing here), and she had six children with him. This part didn't make sense to me because I thought if you had a good upbringing, you chose a good partner. Thus, I found myself losing the excuse that I chose 'bad' partners based on the way my father was.

I changed the subject to something more pleasant. I hope that was the right thing to do. Someday, I may find out more. I considered the conversation a moment of synchronicity. After all, it was related to the topic I intended to write about.

It’s nice to see that I am not alone in what I went through. I continue to read, become aware, and discover the messages my body communicates to me. Next, I want to write about hope.

No matter what we’ve been through, there are processes for discharging the frozen energy in our bodies. Levine wrote about Somatic Experiencing. Then there was a post I saw on Facebook by Lissa Rankin, MD about the inability to cure disease no matter how healthy your lifestyle is if you have unhealed trauma. 

I was ‘sensing’ that something was still missing even though I’ve been eating the right food and taking the right supplements, and like it happens more often than not these days, the info I need shows up in numerous places. 

Dr. Rankin wrote that trauma is anything that is perceived as a threat, overwhelms your coping capacity, produces a sense of powerlessness, produces a feeling of isolation and aloneness, or violates your expectations. “To permanently cure disease, you must do the deep inner work necessary to face, heal, and clear trauma.” “The great news is that trauma is curable!” http://lissarankin.com

When Joseph Fred Wright contacted me about assisting him with a new book, he sent me his previous book titled: Transcripts from the Psychic Hypnotist: The Other Side of Medicine along with his self-hypnosis CD Awaken Your Inner Healer. Synchronicity… how did this 79-year old man know I could use this information? Hypnosis is one of the successful means of helping people heal from trauma. The book he needed help with was on a completely different topic. 

Would you believe he found an article I had forgotten I had written about designing your own book covers and posted it on his Facebook page a month before he was referred to me by the founder of The Central Texas Writers Society I belong to? Synchronicity! I wanted to learn more about this author, so I browsed through his Facebook feed. I saw the article but didn't realize I was the author until after I opened it and read through the end. Memory is not my strong point.

Another moment of synchronicity occurred when I went to my Netflix list and chose Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. In Cosmos, I am enthralled by the narration about matter… atoms and molecules… how much we have in common with nature and animals… the vastness of space… how most of everything is empty space... and everything is energy.

Plus… the numbers 1111 have been showing up… the mileage on my car when I looked down at it… the time on the clock in the car as I pulled in to my parking space 11:11. I opened a video posted on Facebook which had the date of June 11, 2011, at the beginning of it. One of the meanings I found for this related to your thoughts creating your own reality. Pay attention!

I wonder… is this related to the topic of trauma that is frozen in my physiology calling out to me asking for release? Is it related to all the information relating to healing trauma that has been showing up in numerous places? 

1111… pay attention! Believe me, I am!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Self-Confidence

I can't exactly remember when I suddenly felt self-confident. It seemed like one day I woke up and I was. It has been a long journey in which I lost all sense of what little self-confidence I had to where I am now. Occasionally, I flounder but temporarily.

I'm certain Facebook (and recently Instagram) had something to do with it. I not only found Positive Psychology, I found lots of people who were practicing it as their professions. However, just like many other people, at first, I dealt with Facebook envy... until I came across articles on this very subject... and learned it is REAL. After seeing a feed of all the wonderful things happening in other people's lives,  people can get depressed. Here's a link with more about this topic:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/media-spotlight/201505/exploring-facebook-depression

Then I became one of the people who only posted the best that was going on in my life. Yes, there are many posts by people asking for prayers for a life crisis, giving me opportunities to send energetic prayers. There are also people using Facebook to vent and the cyberbullying that follows.

I also noticed that I had people envy. I'd see people dressed well and presenting themselves well, driving nice cars, assuming they had everything I always wanted and didn't or ever have. Again, over time, as I learned more about the people who were in the clubs I attended, I found out they had personal challenges, too. They had just learned to smile through it all.

I had lived way too many years isolated in a "box," after being rejected so many times for talking about my issues... without realizing I was talking to the wrong people. Then in July 2015, I found Toastmasters. Just about every speech I heard, especially ones given at contests, included a tragic (my viewpoint) story the person speaking had managed to transform. 

Yesterday, I went to the Toastmasters Division L contest. There were five amazing speeches, and we all wondered how on earth the judges would be able to select first, second, and third place winners. In my selective listening, my inner antenna picked up on what was said by officers and dignitaries in addition to speakers. Toastmasters had transformed their lives because it had given them opportunities to learn new skills... and help other people. 

At first, I was one of the people receiving the help. As I took advantage of training that was offered, and as time went on, I developed skills that could help other people, but not just any way. Help other people build self-confidence. Since it took me so darn long to get this myself, I have lots of patience and understanding for others who are still struggling with this. I now know it is possible for everybody, regardless of the roads they've had to travel. Without their stories, people wouldn't have any interest in listening.

With the help of Google, here are a few quotes I found:
“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” -- Louise L. Hay
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” -- Eleanor Roosevelt
“To establish true self-confidence, we must concentrate on our successes and forget about the failures and the negatives in our lives.” -- Denis Waitley

I also found an article on the 10 Things You Can Do to Boost Self-Confidence by Chris W. Dunn. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/281874   He begins with the following quote and I included the first paragraph: 

“Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your handbrake on.” -- Maxwell Maltz

Nobody is born with limitless self-confidence. If someone seems to have incredible self-confidence, it’s because he or she has worked on building it for years. Self-confidence is something that you learn to build up because the challenging world of business, and life in general, can deflate it. -- Chris W. Dunn

Number 7 is the one that has influenced me the most. Help someone else. Helping someone else often enables us to forget about ourselves and to feel grateful for what we have. It also feels good when you are able to make a difference for someone else. Instead of focusing on your own weaknesses, volunteer to mentor, practically assist or teach another, and you'll see your self-confidence grow automatically in the process.

There have always been ways to volunteer in my community... at churches... the Mission... animal rescue... nursing homes... hospitals... but for me, I found my nitch in helping people who need a boost in self-confidence.

Smile, Volunteer, Be Grateful, Exercise, Empower Yourself With Knowledge.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Ingredients for Life

I don't know about you, but I don't like raw eggs. I don't like their texture or their taste. But once they are cooked, I love them! I can relate this to all the life experiences that 'tasted' nasty when they were 'raw' and didn't evolve until they were heated with the fire required to 'cook' them.

I don't like flour or baking powder or baking soda either. What do these have in common? They are ingredients to most delicious treats people bake. Mixed all together, they create something you eat, share, and even sell at fundraising events. 

Life includes ingredients, too... a mix of nasty tasting and sweet. All together, they create character, wisdom, confidence, and the ability to guide others. I didn't appreciate any of these single ingredients while I was going through them. I wonder how many people do.

Whatever my Creator was 'baking' in me had LOTS of ingredients. It would have been nice if I could have seen what Creator was baking from that perspective -- the bigger picture -- vs. my perspective, a bunch of ingredients in a large bowl being stirred together in chaos.

If only I had known all those years that I was being made into something grand that could be 'eaten' (my writing), shared (my writing), and sold at fundraising events (my books.) I was only conscious of the bitter ingredients. I had done this to the extent that I didn't even pay attention to the chocolate chips in the cookies... the experiences that were joyful. This is what I learned is one of the cognitive distortions called Discounting the Positive.

Occasionally, I have tasted a bitter chocolate chip cookie (perhaps unmixed baking powder), but not many. When it came to cookies, I threw the bitter one away and continued eating the tasty ones. I would eat an entire batch of home-baked cookies or an entire bag of pre-packaged ones -- in one day. There was NO discounting the positive -- I would just simply throw the bad ones away and forget about them. It would have been nice if I had been able to do this with life experiences. 

I didn't realize that there were toxic chemicals in many of the ingredients I was eating -- and the emotions I was holding onto -- that my body was reacting to. I just knew I didn't feel well, developed intense pain, and the fatigue was vicious.

Over the last five or so years, I've been working out the 'bitter' ingredients... isolating them so I know what they are... mixing them together into something that tastes good. 

In addition to my own personal experiences, I discovered there were (are) also the generational ones. Perhaps there is reincarnation (which I do believe in), but lately, I've been reading about memories (and emotions) that can be passed down through your DNA. One of the exercises we did in ThetaHealing was clearing these memories and replacing them with feelings like love, peace, trust, feeling safe, and acceptance.

EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) can also be used to process buried emotions which can manifest as health issues... both mental and physical. I recently listened to a tapping session with Nick Ortner and a woman who was traumatized when she was 5 years old by her father. She had been a mess ever since. In the session, they uncovered many layers that were involved in that trauma and she was so much happier after it was all brought to the surface and tapped out. I've saved this video on one of my Pinterest pages.

A whole lot happens in our imaginations... even our perception of past, present, and future. Life is an incredible journey... and some of us travel longer distances than others. In the meantime, Spring is a time for renewal. If nature can renew itself after a season of death, so can we.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Wallflower

Copyright (c) 2018 Renee Alter

The informal definition of wallflower is: a person who has no one to dance with or who feels shy, awkward, or excluded at a party. 

I was such a wallflower. I felt invisible so when I DID get some attention, I was blind that the attention I was getting was from preditors... preditors who could sense vulnerable wallflowers... not just once, but way too many times. 

I find it interesting that the solo flower that bloomed on my peace lily reminded me of those years. I wondered... did this solo flower bloom solo on purpose?

Is it lonely without other flowers or happy in the company of all the leaves? Can I put myself in the flower's place and admire its beauty and determination to bloom? Can I be content that I had the company of numerous grains of sand on the beach when no one else was there as well as numerous blades of grass?

My perspective of being a wallflower has since changed. I am now in awe of what breaks through rock and cement determined to grow... like this...


Copyright (c) 2017 Renee Alter

I, too, have broken through rock and cement due to my spirit's determination to not only live, but to thrive. My rocks and cement were in the forms of hopelessness and despair believing I was stuck in the situations I found myself in. Without mentors, I couldn't see past my personal stone wall and I  lacked the tools to know how to break through them.

Finally the day came, when the stone wall began to crumble. It was terrifying and I felt like the stone was crushing me. Even the inexpensive apartment I got in 2009 had grey painted cinderblock walls that felt like a tomb, which reflected the state of mind I was in. Yes, I was indeed hopeless. I felt abandoned by my family and hadn't met anyone I could bond with. I imploded into my own mind and didn't know how to get out.

A LOT has happened since then. These days, the Universe sends me people who are feeling stuck in their own rocks and cement so I can finally appreciate my experience of being there. I can encourage them in their own personal journeys and teach them the concepts I have learned about limited thinking and cognitive distortions. I can teach them about validating and releasing their emotions so they don't manifest as physical symptoms.

When they express how hopeless their life is, I can tell them there is ALWAYS hope.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Building a Bypass

Building the 190 bypass over Copperas Cove required a detailed plan and took years to implement. It was finally finished and I drive over it almost every Friday to and from Toastmasters meetings. One morning, I woke up thinking about life's bypasses.

When you're in a situation you want to change so you can move forward, it is useful to create a detailed bypass-type plan and take one small step every day with a complete vision of the road or building in mind. Of course, when the road you are on drops out from under you (like a health crisis) you'll need to make a new plan.

Perhaps had I been a lot more patient with planning, instead of up and moving to new places so many times, and believed there was a divine plan always unfolding, I wouldn't have fallen into so many "ruts."

When I think of my past, I realize the "plan" that had worked for me post-crisis was education. The more I learned about nutrition, exercise, psychology, and Law of Attraction, the better my health became. "Travelers" in the form of new people I began to meet personally and on the internet (mostly Facebook) led to having a team of "engineers" who helped me create a new plan and begin building my new bypass.

Building a bypass for my life took a long time--much longer than it took for the physical 190 bypass to be built. When I drive over it, the view is breath-taking. But it hadn't always been that way. For years, it was an unsightly mess--just like my life was. Somehow, it transformed into a path of beauty.

I believe the astral travel experience I had when my father died in which I "floated" over green rolling hills was the 190 bypass that would take me to Toastmasters, showing me there would be a positive change in my life. Just like the college classes I used to take because I always loved going to school, Toastmasters provides me with additional education while I overcome many of my fears. It is a bypass for my life providing me with the means, support, and role models that continue to inspire hope for the years to come.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Prayer Hearts


I finished reading the book God is a Verb by Rabbi David Cooper. I had read it many years ago but decided to pick it up again. When I got to the part about raising Holy Sparks, I was inspired to write positive outcomes on little hearts and put them in my prayer box instead of letting the world's problems rest heavy on my heart. (The hearts in the photo are blank to protect the privacy of the individuals I pray for.)

Here's a snippet from the website Holy Sparks in Kabbalah

"Every particle in our physical universe, every structure and every being is a shell that contains sparks of holiness. Our task, according to Luria, is to release each spark from the shell and raise it up, ultimately to return it to its original state. The way these sparks are raised is through acts of loving kindness, of being in harmony with the universe, and through higher awareness.

"The ramifications of this teaching are enormous. In each moment of existence we have the potential to raise holy sparks. If we are unaware of this ability and are spiritually asleep, then we do not accomplish much, for the medium through which sparks are raised is consciousness itself.

"Our opportunities to raise sparks are boundless. The choices we make for our activities, the interactions we have with our family, friends, neighbors, business associates, and even strangers, the way we spend our leisure time, the books we read, the television we watch, the way we relate to food, everything in daily life presents sparks locked in husks awaiting release."

This weekend many people are observing Good Friday, Passover, and Easter Sunday. Even if you are not, I invite you to either draw hearts or cut some up like I did. Each time you see sad or catastrophic news (or experience a situation which is), write the outcome you desire on a heart.  If many more people do this, too, perhaps we can raise the vibration of love on our planet.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Falling & Lessons Learned

Do you have a FEAR of Falling?
Do you stay home and avoid being active?
Learn what YOU can DO to MANAGE your fear.

This is the header of the flyer for "A Matter of Balance."

Last year, I participated in an 8-week course presented by the Area Agency on Aging. Since I have a history of falling quite a few times -- and I fear falling -- as one incident could jar my lower spine and put me back in a wheelchair even though I've never broken anything, I was happy when this course came to my town. Topics covered: understanding your fears, staying active through easy exercises, learning to communicate with your family and healthcare team, making safety improvements at your home, delaying complications, and changing "Fall-ty" habits.

It is designed to teach seniors (and other people) about managing fears and fall prevention. We watched videos about the real causes of aging, especially inactivity. Included in the course were proven exercises shown to improve balance which would lower the likelihood of falling as well as surveying the layout of your home for safety and making necessary changes. I had been afraid of getting older and more fragile, but this course gave me peace of mind. I've been doing all the recommended exercises and then some. I've also strived to be MINDFUL of everything I do vs. "accident prone."

In the meantime, I had been following Phaedra Antioco who facilitated a Docu-Series titled Pain Treatments That Work. She had been in a horrific car accident and learned how what she told herself affected her ability to recover. She decided to become an occupational therapist -- one who also digs for the emotional and mental roots that keep people in pain. She even got to test what she learned on herself when she fell on the stairs and broke her back -- again -- describing her initial reaction and how she corrected her mindset and recovered.

On Wednesday, February 7, I stood up from the office chair I sit on to get something and wasn't being MINDFUL when I sat back down again. The chair rolled to the left and I went down on my right hip, jarring my right elbow and tapping the back of my head on the chair I keep behind me with additional projects on it that I am working on.

When I fell this time, I was immediately AWARE of the thoughts racing through my mind -- of fear, anger, and self-criticism.

  • Fear: OMG! Now I've done it! I've broken my hip!!! Just like my older sister did!
  • Anger: My reaction to falling. I was really MAD!
  • Self-Criticism: How could I have been so careless? How could I have been so stupid? I KNOW BETTER. I just took that class!

Then I heard Phaedra's voice: DON'T GIVE YOUR BRAIN A REASON TO TRIGGER THE FEAR RESPONSE which will trigger a cascade of chemical reactions which will incite a lot more pain than the injury calls for. DON'T LET YOUR BRAIN DECIDE THE PAIN IS DANGEROUS.

Now it was time to test these concepts on myself.

First and foremost, I took control and told my mind to STOP. I got up and began going through each and every exercise movement I learned in Matter of Balance and my local exercise programs. Everything still worked! (See? You panicked about nothing! You made up stories that included cognitive distortions that weren't true before you collected the evidence as to whether it was true or not.) I applied some essential oils to the hot spots knowing they would penetrate immediately to begin the healing process.

However, a headache came on that I had to troubleshoot. I was so focused on my hip (yes I bruised it), I had to retrace how I tapped the back of my head on the chair behind me and the little electrical current I felt travel down the right side of my neck. Could that little inconsequential tap have knocked something out of alignment? Nahhhh, I thought.

The headache (I wasn't about to claim it) wouldn't let up and continued through the following week. It got so intense I couldn't do much of anything (except my exercises). I used my swaying muscle testing technique (forward for yes, backward for no) asking questions such as is it from food I ate? No. Am I fighting off a virus? No. Is it discontinuation syndrome from getting off Mirtazapine? No. Is it allergies? No. Too much time on the computer? Yes. But then I asked did I knock a vertebra out of alignment? Yes. Axis? No. Atlas? Yes.

I hadn't seen my chiropractor in a year and made an appointment. Indeed, I had knocked my Atlas out of alignment. After all, the head weighs about 10 pounds. I got an "adjustment" to put it back where it belongs. I asked why he didn't adjust anything else... I usually need multiple places adjusted. He replied that nothing else was out of alignment. Really?

All the exercises I had been doing toned the muscles along my spine to keep them from slipping out so easily? Yup.

I also asked about an exercise I could do for my neck. It was very similar to one I learned from Bob and Brad (famous physical therapists on the internet) but my chiro added a resistance band to it and showed me how to do it slow and intentional.

The following day I was headache free and even when it returns it is mild compared to what it had been before.

As for the chiropractic visit... he asked when I was there last. I answered, can't remember. Check your records. It was exactly one year to the day since my last visit. And so I wondered... is there a divine plan in all of this? Involving multiple individual events that work together for the good of the whole?

Things that make me go Mmmmmm..... after all, I just wrote another post about Synchronicity in Discovering Resilience so synchronicity is on my mind...