Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Synchronicity of Discovering Resilience

Synchronicity! I love when I feel prompted to learn about something, the answers show up from multiple resources within a short amount of time. And I wonder if the recent series of events had anything to do with my recent experience of needing to go down to the police station to report someone (which took tremendous courage on my part as well as a flare of PTSD).

Because I had participated in a Women's Self-Defense program (rape prevention) in 2013 and had met and conversed with our female police chief, I finally learned what actions I needed to take should another incident occur. This time, I took action.

Within a short amount of time, a fellow tenant who is about 70 years old and is in my exercise program told me about his participation in the Citizen's Police Academy. I had seen posts about it on Facebook. He had also participated in the Active Shooter program and recommended I go to one. He said the information was valuable because it can happen anywhere. While I haven't seen when it will be offered again, I became interested in brushing up on the skills I learned in 2013.

If something more intense had unfolded with this individual, would I have remembered how to protect myself? Just when I was feeling 'safe' someone I never suspected turned out to be dangerous. A short time after I filed my complaint, he was arrested for assault with bodily injury of a family member... and it wasn't me... but could have been.

In the meantime, I received an email from Critical Bench (which I subscribe to) about Mike Gillette's self-defense program. I was curious after reading the description on this website in addition to being intrigued at the timing of receiving it and purchased the program with the promotion price. You can check it out here: Real Life Self Defense. The videos provide me with just what I wanted to know.

Also, in the meantime, I grew curious about the word resilience again. Talking to someone who is involved in Citizen's police raised questions about what makes firefighters and police officers resilient. (along with military personnel)

I last wrote a post about resilience in 2015. You can read it here. The Many Faces of Resilience When I first learned about Resilience, I was fascinated... because I realized I didn't have it. Each time something "traumatic" happened to me, I adopted the belief that I was powerless to do anything to protect myself.

I Googled "what makes firefighters and police officers resilient" and found two articles of interest. The first is Resilience among first responders

In this article, three elements were studied: Sense of Community, Collective Efficacy, and Self-efficacy.

"The results of this study outline the need of interventions aimed at the promotion of resilience factors rather than the treatment of negative health symptoms."

Mmmm. Negative health symptoms had been an issue most of my life. I must read more. I also had to look up the meaning of efficacy... "the ability to produce a desired or intended result"

"Stamm introduced the concept of Compassion satisfaction, defined as the benefits that individuals derive from working with traumatized or suffering persons. These benefits include positive feelings about helping others, finding meaning in one's effort and challenges, fulfilling one's potential, contributing to the work setting and even to the greater good of society, and the overall pleasure derived from being able to do one's work well." 

This includes all the ingredients I have developed over the last 4 years, explaining why my overall health has improved.

"Efficacy beliefs pertain to the individual beliefs in one's own capability to exercise some measure of control over in one's own functioning and environmental events." 

Yes, validating what I noted above from self-defense information.

"The results of this paper evidence the protective role of self-efficacy, collective efficacy and sense of community in emergency rescue work." "We discovered that efficacy beliefs and sense of community have an influence on work related health outcomes, especially compassion satisfaction."

Mmmm. Good information! It helped me to understand what was missing in my inability to develop resilience in my earlier years.

The second article I found is Five Ways to Promote Officer Resilience

Dr. Jarrod Sadulski, a 20-year law enforcement veteran and criminal justice professor at American Military University (AMU) wondered what I wondered:

“I’ve seen police suicides. I’ve seen stress ruin marriages and ruin officers’ lives,” he said. Still, there are many who manage to avoid such tragic outcomes, Sadulski noted. “I’ve also seen officers who are highly effective at managing stress and I’ve always wondered what the difference was.” He noted five factors.

1. Peer support through communication – Peer support allows officers to actively process their stress by talking to others who have had similar experiences.

(In another blog post I wrote about having a support structure in schools for students to get group support as well as continuous education. What we learn as children can make a huge difference.)

2. Experience – “I thought experience would be a stressor, but all participants mentioned that it actually helped build resilience,” said Sadulski. “It helped them put traumatic experiences in perspective.” Over time, experienced officers learn to develop conditioned responses to stress and are even able to view emergency calls as routine in nature. 

(Group exercises in school settings could provide a similar experience. I lived a very sheltered childhood which resulted in anxiety and powerlessness in many situations.)

3. Family Support – “Officers who are able to communicate with their spouses regarding what occurs out in the field reduces the long-term impact of stress,” said Sadulski. 

(Yes, family support makes a huge difference in growing up but unfortunately, it isn't available to many of today's families, especially when single parents or otherwise are too stressed and overwhelmed with their own lives to be a support to their children.)

4. Life and identity outside of policing – Maintaining a holistic identity separate from the badge allows officers to unwind when they’re not on the job. 

(While I worked with others for most of my adult life, I often felt left out and withdrawn, unable to relate or develop bonds with co-workers. This one shows me had I acquired "tribes" outside of my job I would have felt better about myself. Introverts will often have this issue. Moving around as much as I did meant leaving behind the few tribes I bonded with. For me, I also had to develop an identity separate from the pain and health challenges I dealt with. I had to figure out who I was outside of all that and stay in one place long enough to become comfortable with the many people I've met within the clubs I've joined.)

5. Police Training – “Stress management training should be established through the police academy and it should be a part of annual block training that is required for offices to maintain their certifications,” said Sadulski. 

(I've also written about getting stress management training while in school and I've seen the videos of teaching meditation to children who are in mainstream classes as well as the children who are sent to detention to teach them coping skills. Learning stress management skills much earlier in my life could have prevented my health from declining as quickly as it did.)

As for simulation training to prepare officers for traumatic incidents, I am watching simulation training on Mike Gillette's videos.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Death by Medicine

On March 5, I watched the documentary titled Death by Medicine. I am in shock and very grateful that I am as well as I am. I really wish I knew back then what I know now, that I could go back in time, and redo that part of my life drug-free. Yes, I had tried... Chinese Medicine and some other alternative solutions... but when I collapsed in 1998, I went to a Physiatrist (Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation) and trusted his protocol. Afterall, he set me up on permanent disability.

I can't believe I was so dumb to be a guinea pig to so many drugs (and vaccines)! I also can't believe I went to doctors who prescribed them! But I was in pain and it was all I knew. At least now I can understand what was going on with doctors and prescriptions after watching the film.

To sum up, students in medical school are taught by pharmaceutical companies which drugs to prescribe for which symptoms vs. finding the root causes. We trust our doctors to know what they are doing, but it is a guessing game when it comes to most drugs--which makes us guinea pigs. Many of the drugs were pushed through the FDA even though there was proven dangers to using them. Yikes! The sales reps and students acted (and still do) on blind trust. We don't have a healthcare system, we have a sick-care system--one that has an interest in making as much money as it can.

A lot of the drugs discussed in the film are ones I had been prescribed and took for many years. Ouch! I will just review in brief (I have a lot more detail in my memoir, Love, Life, & God: Getting Past the Pain.)

As a child, I was given Belladonna for intestinal cramps... but no one knew back then that I was allergic to milk. I have no memories of the cramps or whether the drug helped to relieve them. The doctor said it was nerves, and I could have also been reacting to the tension in the household.

When I was a teen, I was prescribed Darvon and Demerol for menstrual cramps which made me hallucinate in school. My head detached from my shoulders and I floated a foot above the stairs. The doctor then prescribed a combination of Motrin and Dexedrine. It turned out that I had polycystic ovarian disease. When I was 19, I was put on synthetic birth control pills.

When I was 18, I was given Elavil for depression. It's a good thing I didn't take it for long. I quit because it made me drowsy during the day even though I took it at bedtime and I had to go to work. I also had developed sore throats (later diagnosed as Mono) and I'm sure I had been given too many doses of antibiotics. I am grateful I didn't have the types of side effects discussed in the film.

When I was 21, I dozed at the wheel and opened my eyes just in time to see the car I was about to crash into. I began to take Valium for muscles spasms. They had a rebound effect in which every time I stopped taking them, the spasms returned.

The real problems began in 1998 which I mentioned in the first paragraph. I'm surprised I still have a brain, although I probably lost a good number of brain cells. By July 2010, I was prescribed 11 medications which I took every day.

Proton Pump Inhibitors

I had eroded my esophagus by swallowing three 200mg tablets of Motrin every 4 hours every day and the solution was antacids and PPI's. Every time I stopped taking them, the acid would come up and burn. Within the last few years, I began eating crystalized ginger which stopped the acid reflux. I also learned it is caused by not enough acid and enzymes in your stomach to digest protein. For more information on the dangers of taking these go to The Dangers of Proton Pump Inhibitors

Muscle Relaxers

Valium, Soma, then Flexeril, No wonder the muscle relaxers didn't help. They can trigger the very muscle spasms you are trying to alleviate. (Dr. John Bergman) Better are Somatic exercises to help your brain remember how to release spasms.


I am so grateful I got off of them before the recent crisis hit and people are suddenly unable to get them after being dependent on them for YEARS. The Opioids started off with Vicodin, then a Fentanyl patch which I had an immediate reaction to. Then it was Norco. Vicodin and Norco are hydrocodone combined with acetaminophen but in different doses. Now they say acetaminophen can damage your liver. After someone suggested I Google Opioid induced hyperaglasia... which I did... I knew it was time to stop taking them.


Once again, it's a miracle I still have a brain. There was the cocktail of antidepressants and antiseizure drugs even though I wasn't having seizures. These included Ativan (the nightmare drug in the film), Klonopin, and Neurontin which was later changed to the generic Gabapentin. At some point, I was switched to Lyrica and gained 30 pounds in 2 months so I quit taking it, left to deal with a bloated body.

After being on each of the anti-depressants for 2-3 years, warnings would reach my doctor so he would switch me to a new one--in this order Serzone, Seroquel, Effexor 2x day following by extended release, and Cymbalta. Cymbalta was the last one I was on when I stopped taking everything cold turkey in 2010. When I crawled (literally) back to the doctor several months later, she began to prescribe new ones--Celexa followed by Cymbalta at which point I not only felt suicidal, but I disconnected and disassociated. I could no longer relate to any of the photos of my family members. I am very grateful I didn't end up in a psych ward like the ones in the film as they would have most likely pumped me up with additional ones.

I wouldn't try any more antidepressants for another year after exhausting my efforts to try the nutritional approach. (I didn't have enough information at the time.) When I did accept another one, my doctor prescribed Paxil which made me feel sick, and finally Remeron (Mirtazapine). Are you seeing the pattern of how it is a guessing game as to which drug will actually help? Anyway, at 1/2 the lowest dose, after a week, I began to notice the sun and the clouds again along with the sound of birds--things I had been unable to notice the previous year. However, the dose was continuously increased until I reached max.

Last July, I wanted to begin weaning off Mirtazapine (the last of all the drugs) after realizing grains (whole grains, too) were contributing to pain and inflammation. Besides, I really didn't like feeling drugged 20 minutes after swallowing a pill. I slowly reduced the dose to 7.5 mg and then began skipping 1 day, 2 days, and when I got to 3, the headaches, itching, and ADD-like symptoms would begin. See further down for "Bri Linney."

The Cocktail for Metabolic Syndrome

Among the many side effects of all the medications I was taking were high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and frozen shoulder. I was prescribed drugs for all of these, including the Metformin mentioned in the film. I don't recall Statin drugs being discussed in the film, but there is a lot on the internet about these. For the frozen shoulder, I was prescribed corticosteroids for 7 days which didn't do anything to alleviate it. Again, just a guessing game on the part of the doctor. (It was eventually sound therapy that did.)


Premarin is discussed in the film. I took this for YEARS as well! Now they say bioidentical hormones are much safer.

Osteoporosis Medicines

First, it was Boniva, then it was changed to Fosamax. After taking these for years, I began to learn they keep old bone cells from dying (the natural cycle is old cells dying and new cells birthing) which makes your bones MORE brittle vs. stronger. Several dentists told me about it affecting their patients' jaws and women were fracturing their thighs.

I really do cringe at how much I put my body through!

I recently came across a Facebook page called Cymbalta Hurts Worse and found out how dangerous it is to get off this drug once you start along with information about half-life and what happens when you skip even one day. All the symptoms I dealt with for about 2 years after I quit taking them are noted on this site.

This inspired me to check on the half-life of Mirtazapine and found it to be much better than Cymbalta--it was OK to skip the days I was skipping. At the end of November, I began going to Bri Linney of Complete Chiropractic and Wellness Center with the hope she'd be able to help me get off this drug. She had started me on homeopathy for my hypothalamus followed by one for lymph drainage. I took the last Mirtazapine on February 23. Yay!!!

When you are prescribed an antidepressant, they don't tell you what will happen when you try to stop taking them. Once you start, you must take them for life. This is true for quite a few prescription drugs. Doctors are not informed.

I hope if you haven't already, seek other means of finding the cause of your symptoms. Serotonin is produced in your gut and there are other ways of treating the root causes of your symptoms. I've also been following posts by Amen Clinics and Brain MD, learning about the brain--and watched The Broken Brain.

I don't trust ANY drugs now--not even over the counter ones, nor do I trust what is in Vaccines. Take care of your health where it begins... with nutrition, exercise, the right amount of sleep, stress management, meaningful connections with others, and a sense of purpose. I'm sure if your life depends on it, there is a drug that can save you--side effects and all. And I suppose I'd still want anesthesia if I need surgery. (Have had it a few times.) As for tense muscles, headaches, allergies, anxiety, or an arthritis flare, I've got my doTERRA essential oils.

I can be sad that I lost so many years while "doped up" and sedated on prescription meds. In addition to being a "victim" to childhood experiences which led to all the adult ones I dealt with, I was a "victim" of the allopathic medicine and pharmaceutical industry. However, it's what I do now that matters. I became my own psychologist and wellness advocate and strive to inspire in others the possibility of natural solutions to all the types of issues I used to have, with a few lingering although milder.

Watch the film: Death by Medicine

Then tell me what you think!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

When Everything Turns Green

Copyright (c) 2018 Renee Alter

On March 1, everything began to turn GREEN. Overnight! The birds began celebrating with song and gathering nest material even though Spring doesn't officially arrive until March 20. I just hope this doesn't mean Summer will kick in early, too!

According to the 2018 Groundhog prediction:

"Bad news for warm-weather fans: beloved groundhog Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow, therefore predicting that winter will stick around for another six weeks in 2018." (Click on the underlined words to read more.)

The trees are bursting with new buds that will sprout into leaves. A squirrel in the tree outside my window was entertaining me with its acrobatic feats while feasting on these buds. (BTW, this is the same tree that has the broken branch I wrote about in a previous post.) 

Here's a photo of a large bush further down in the creek bed that is blooming WHITE.

Copyright (c) 2018 Renee Alter
Which do I believe? The Groundhog prediction or what is blooming in my backyard?

I always marvel at how Earth knows when it is time to reawaken after a long winter of hibernation... just like bears do... and sometimes just like we do. 

If you have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) you may have been hibernating all winter. Lack of sunshine means low Vitamin D which can lead to depression and people who are depressed tend to sleep a lot more than a person who isn't. I hibernate just because I don't like it when it is cold... and everything looks so dull. I've also hibernated during extended times of illness, depression, and fibromyalgia flares. 

In years past, I didn't realize it wasn't forever and often felt hopeless about never feeling better. With the help of untwisting twisted thinking (cognitive distortions), I realized my "conclusions" were false and with the "Law of Attraction" kept bringing more illness and pain vs. solutions. Then all kinds of solutions presented themselves in all kinds of surprising ways.

The downside of living in Central Texas is that it rarely snows. Now, I don't REALLY miss the snow... the shoveling... the effort it took to de-ice and clean off my car before I could go anywhere (like work or driving my son to school)... the danger of falling while on foot and skidding into things when driving... or someone else skidding into me... but I do have some pleasant memories of building snow forts in our driveway. My brother even built a huge snow dragon one year.

All winter (and I live right by a creek) everything looks so incredibly DULL. Everything looks very DEAD. The only nature I was interested in looking at was community cats, deer, and squirrels, that often provided a boost to all the dullness. I wonder if they even notice how dull it gets. (I have photos on my Renee's Photography Facebook page.)

Then you wake up one morning and it had all sprung to life GREEN. Hill Country becomes a place you can't get enough of. Soon all the wildflowers will be blooming everywhere and tourists will fill the area so they can take pictures of their loved ones in fields of these wild-flowers.

Here's the link to Texas Highways Wildflower Drives: Texas Highways

As for the broken branch, it will soon be covered over with leaves but a plastic bag that blew in the air got caught at the end of a branch and will linger. I wonder if I can find a really long pole to remove it with. Plastic is an entirely different matter and I cringe at how much I am still contributing to the landfills while some of it is ending up in the creek... in the lakes, rivers, and oceans... on the side of the roads... in the parks... and in the trees.

On the plus side, I want to give a shout out to a new Toastmaster member, Michelle Pace, who started her own business called The Green Plant, a residential and commercial composting service in Harker Heights. Hopefully, the concept will catch on and she'll be able to expand into more cities and rural communities. You can find her on Facebook at: The Green Plant

Sunday, February 25, 2018

What I'd Tell My Younger Self

When you wait long enough for harsh situations and circumstances to work themselves out, you may just find some extraordinary gifts in them.

From 2011-2012, I endured a very difficult year. It wasn't my first, but memorable. I had stopped taking 11 prescription drugs cold-turkey, endured withdrawal, had about a three-month adrenaline high, and then "crashed." The hardest part was still to come after I crawled back to my doctor to tell her what I had done. As a result of taking another anti-depressant drug, I became suicidal and refused to try anything else for another year.

It was during this time, that my sister Amie enrolled in the Quantum Success Coaching Academy and needed someone to practice homework assignments on. I was a perfect client. If I had been doing as well as I am doing now, she would have had to find another person to practice on.

What amazes me is the timing of it all. If I hadn't fallen into the abyss the year she decided to enroll as a Life Coach, I would have missed out on one of my greatest gifts of all time--her friendship. Plus, it turned out the method used in Life Coaching was superior to talk therapy at a psychologist's office, which I wasn't getting anyway. It's probably why she enrolled. While you are getting your education, you get access to coaching for yourself.

Amie and I weren't close as sisters. I was living my life while she was living hers. Both of us were experiencing all kinds of challenges in health and relationships but because we weren't close, we didn't know what was happening to the other or how much we had in common.

I thought Amie's life was quite perfect and that my blond-haired blue-eyed beautiful sibling had it all. Yes, I was jealous, especially when guys I was interested in or were already dating preferred blonds.

Before internet and email, I wrote letters to Mom. If Amie had read them, I wasn't aware, and I can't remember when I started to send emails to all my siblings. I wonder how much she knew about what was going on in my crazy chaotic life.

Since Amie didn't tell anyone what was going on in her life, I didn't have a clue. She wouldn't even tell anyone she had been in a car accident until after she had recovered--which she later told me was because she had seen how other family members had reacted negatively to my "complaining."

In toxic family relationships, other members say things to each other about you without your knowledge. But, I was the one who told (wrote) everybody everything, which is how I had so much material for my books. I even wrote a short book titled: "Miracles Between the Challenges" after making a list of all the miracles I experienced while dealing with those challenges.

Perhaps under different circumstances, Amie and I would have still had an opportunity to get closer. All I know is the divine timing of her enrolling and the two years I dealt with a compromised psychological state more severe than any other time in my life--and finding my best friend. Perhaps we each had to travel separate roads in order to meet where we did in 2011.

What would I tell my younger self? When you look back in time to the way things were and realize how far you've come, you'll be able to see the gifts in your life experiences as well as evidence that you were divinely guided and protected.

I feel truly transformed--the person I used to be seems like a stranger...

Sunday, February 18, 2018

What Could Have Made A Difference

I was one of many disadvantaged children, although not as disadvantaged as some. My father didn't have one of the better-paying jobs and we didn't have medical insurance. At least we always had a decent house to live in. My father had mental health issues, didn't earn much, and my mom stayed home to take care of us more so when my brother was born with a neural tube defect -- most likely due to poor nutrition while pregnant and insufficient folic acid.

Home life (and school) was all I knew with the exception of an occasional visit to the zoo or to visit cousins. I learned fear at an early age, was bullied in school, didn't have friends, didn't learn what was inappropriate behavior, nor did I know my rights as a living human being. What we all had to the advantage was genetic intelligence. But what good was being intelligent if you thought you were worthless and ugly? And who decides what is right for every person and every family?

What I believe would have made a difference in the early years:

Grade School

  • Introduce meditation. Make meditation the first thing you did in homeroom.
  • Screening for eyesight and hearing, then free glasses and hearing aids.
  • Screening for food allergies and sensitivities. (I had a lot of unidentified ones.)
  • Mental health screening tests vs. state proficiency tests.
  • Diffuse essential oils and introduce what they are and how to use them (to reduce stress, improve study abilities and energy, reduce air-borne pathogens, and improve mood).
  • Early education about healthy families with open sharing and discussion. (Not every child has access to a church or other religious programs which help with this and even if they do, usually it is bible study related vs. group support.) 
  • Communication classes to include how to express feelings with "I" statements.
  • Bully awareness, what makes them behave the way they do, and how to stand up to them.
  • Introduce compassion and encourage students to have empathy for the loners. (Hopefully, there would be a lot less bullying.)
  • Free instruments and art supplies for children in need.
  • Introduction to nutrition, a community garden, and if appropriate, a community farm.
  • Stop the use of tablets and cell phones in the classroom which affect student attention spans and the development of their young brains.
  • Group projects to promote teamwork vs. homework.*

Middle School

  • Ongoing "support groups" after mental health screening determines a need.
  • Additional classes in communication.
  • Healthy dating (not just sex education) and include education about sexual predators. Hopefully, if this educational path is followed as outlined, there wouldn't be any. Troubled humans who need money to survive will do horrific things to earn it. Hopefully, mental health screenings in grade school would have identified children at risk.
  • The importance of friendship and trust.
  • Nutrition--how to read labels. Community garden and nutrition projects. 
  • PE to include Tai Chi, Chi Gong, and self-defense.
  • Continue diffusing essential oils.
  • Limited use of electronics.
  • Hidden cameras and open reporting (w/video proof) of bullying and who starts the fights. Too many of the wrong kids get into trouble after being pushed into striking first and too many bullying incidents go unreported because those who are bullied are too afraid to say anything.
  • Introduction to various career options.
  • Bring back home economics, make home ec classes co-ed, and include growing your own food--community garden.
  • Model the Kealing Magnet School in Austin's educational program.
  • Group projects to promote teamwork vs. homework.*

High School

  • Continue classes in communication and relationships to inlude the difference between infatuation and love as well as how to resolve conflicts in healthy ways.
  • Mental health, depression, and positive psychology. (Support groups for those who need them.)
  • Nutrition--natural ways to improve health and immunity as well as care if we get sick. Stress sugar and the Standard American Diet causes Diabesity, Depression, and many other health issues. Community garden.
  • Sociology; more about bullying. Bullies exist in the workplace, too, as well as inappropriate sexual harassment. Teach strategies for self-protection.
  • Introduce community service projects. (Habit for Humanity vs. Shop, sewing for people in nursing homes, food prep for the homeless, etc.)
  • Bring in all types of speakers to represent all types of jobs (or show films about them). Include the police and fire department who can educate students on crime, human trafficking, and scams.
  • Continue Tai Chi, Chi Gong, and self-defense classes.
  • Increase the number of certification programs in the high schools so college is not a necessity to get a good paying job.
  • Finance: teach students the cost of credit as well as the stress of debt, balancing a checkbook, saving for a rainy day, and how to find a good quality used cars (and later home).
  • Basic auto mechanics for everyone.
  • Toastmasters programs (Gavel Clubs) to foster leadership, confidence, and speaking skills.
  • Group projects to promote teamwork vs. homework.*
* When I went to the University of Phoenix, it was the first type of education I did well in with the exception of the Business Major in High School. As a group, we each had skills the others didn't and by working as a team, we each contributed our strengths to the good of the whole. We all did well and felt good about the educational process. Most corporations require the ability to work in teams. The downside is UOP promised when we graduated, we'd get a promotion and a raise to cover the debt we incurred. This turned out not to be true and most of us fell for it, with student loan debt more than we could handle.

With many more children introduced to these programs at an early age, I believe we'd have a greater percentage of healthy functional adults who are less likely to succumb to addictions--and are empowered to influence our world for the better.

Post High School

  • Promote more low-cost or free community colleges for the first two years of post-high-school education. 
  • Provide ongoing job and college search services at the high school students graduate from.
  • Promote students who have graduated opportunities to teach and mentor the younger ones.
  • Require marriage license programs before you can get one which includes classes so you know what you're getting into with topics that include finance, parenting, communication, and conflict resolution (vs. arguments, fighting, abuse). 
  • Take out "to death do you part" of marriage contracts. A spouse should know its ok to leave under certain circumstances and have a place they can afford to go if they don't have friends or family to live with. 
  • Stress levels increase due to income limitations (inability to find a job or something that pays more than minimum wage), unplanned pregnancies, as well as dysfunctional relationships and marriages.
  • Build a LOT more affordable housing (based on income). The waiting list of existing housing is quite long.

Sunday, February 11, 2018


Downloaded from


Each time cupid struck me with an arrow,

I misunderstood her intentions.
Year after year, wound after wound,
I missed the wisdom of her revelations.

I wasn’t supposed to fall in love
and give away all my devotion--
I was supposed to fall in love with the best parts of me--
my own soul, feelings, and emotions.

I kept searching for the perfect other
who would make me feel complete.
Haven’t you? Can you relate?
After each encounter--feeling like a piece of meat?

Cupid, oh Cupid,
Along with all the fairies I’ve been collecting
To remind myself how much I am loved, cherished,
appreciated, and adored
By the Creator of my own reflection.

Copyright © 2018 Renee Alter
Written January 14, 2018

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Old Movies

Image may contain: outdoor
Copyright (c) 2017 Renee Alter  Fort Groghan, Burnet, TX
I'm sure you have watched a lot of movies... romance, cowboys & Indians, old world wars, fairy tales, Walt Disney, Star Wars, murder mysteries, detectives, and more. Some left you feeling uplifted, some taxed your adrenaline surges, some left you sad and depressed.

Have you ever considered your past experiences as movies? When I began to do this, I gained a completely different perspective of them.

Imagine you are in the movie theatre. You have seen the trailer and decided you wanted to see it... based on about two minutes of previews. Then the movie starts.

The first scene is your childhood and you are the main character. You see your siblings if you have any, your parents, perhaps your grandparents or foster parents if they raised you. Or maybe you grew up in an orphanage. You see yourself in school. Perhaps you were popular or perhaps you were bullied. Perhaps you then came home to witness your parents shouting at each other so you hid in your room.

The next scene is you as an adult. Depending on how old you are now, the journey has been either short or a very long. It may have included illness, accidents, pain, depression, war, death, or a myriad of other possible scenarios.

But remember. You are in a movie theatre watching a movie. All movies end leaving you with the afterthoughts of what you have seen. Soon these memories fade away and are no longer in the forefront of your mind.

Your life has been a movie, too. This means, you can leave the theatre and if you didn't like what you saw or how it ended, you know it was JUST A MOVIE.

Two years ago, I met actor Randall Oliver. He co-wrote stories for children with my friend and fellow author Elaine Kelley about his horse named Nobody (which I published for them). Some of the movies Randy was in were Horror Movies--harsh, evil, and scary--so I wasn't interested in watching any of them, no matter how nice a man he is.

After having conversations with Randy about how he would get totally absorbed in the characters he portrayed, then have the ability to walk away from the set to re-acclimate back to his normal daily life, I came up with the idea of my life being a movie that I could walk away from.

I could pretend I was an actress and the characters in the movies I starred in (family, partners, etc.) were completely different people than the roles they portrayed, which provided me with a way to forgive.

I wonder what actors and actresses do with all the lines they had memorized, just as I had been ruminating about all the uncomfortable conversations I had.

One of the 10 cognitive distortions is discounting the positive. I discovered I had been 'afflicted' with all 10 cognitive distortions, but the one that relates to this post is how I had discounted all the GOOD things that I experienced while I dwelled on the sad, bad, and the ugly. It was as if I only had been collecting the bad movies in my movie box (my memories and subconscious) but didn't pay attention to the uplifting ones.

Consider your past a past filled with OLD MOVIES.

Your old movies can include previous marriages, the death of people and pets you loved, the traumas of the wars you fought while in the military, the traumas of the fires and natural disasters you were either a victim of or one of many rescuers, a horrific car accident you were in or witnessed, and more.

I realize there are many resilient people in the world who have the amazing ability to leave the 'theatre' of their experiences without holding onto the images of the 'movies.' But if you're not one of them...

You've now had plenty of experiences being on the set of those old movies playing various roles, and now imagine you have become a screenwriter and director.

What new screenplay will you write?

Who are the actors and actresses you want to play the parts?

How will you rewrite your life story?

Walk into a new movie!