Monday, March 30, 2020

Howl's Moving Castle

I've been binge-watching Studio Ghibli movies... and watched Howl's Moving Castle with my attendant. When it was over, and I expressed my delight about it, she told me there was also a book. I ordered it off of Amazon and read it in three days. 

The movie is based on the book but the scenes are very different. However, the main things I got out of both were the same. There are elements of suspense and danger; good vs. evil; courage vs. fear. I began relating the scenes to aspects of my own life as well as what is going on in the world around us. 

Sofie is a young, beautiful girl who thinks she is ugly. Just like I was. The Witch of the Waste put a spell on her and turned her into an old woman. I have certainly felt like I've had that spell put on me, too. But unlike I was, she is resilient... and not afraid to face people who are mean-spirited or moody. She is courageous... and walked miles through rough terrain to reach her destination.

Howl is a wizard. Sofie went looking for him hoping he could break the spell the Witch of the Waste put on her. She arrived as an old woman, believing the only place she can go is to this castle. Inside, she finds it absolutely filthy, which reminded me of how dirty my son's room was as well as the homes some men (and some women) I have known were. She declared herself a cleaning lady and went to town cleaning and scrubbing every part of the castle... despite the resistance she received from its inhabitants. I thought about the neatnik I am, cleaning every inch of my living space.

Sophie easily stands up to Howl's cranky behavior, firmly reprimands him, she sees through his behavior, and chooses to see his kindness... the same kindness that allowed her and another apprentice to live in his castle. I had also chosen to look past the behavior of boys and men, choosing to see the good in them. But I didn't know how to be assertive like Sofie.

Despite his power and expertise, Howl must battle the evil the Witch of the Waste had done, putting spells on people that he couldn't figure out how to reverse. He is stuck emotionally as a teenager constantly concerned about his looks and impressing girls. In the book, he spends hours in the bathroom preparing for a date. If a girl he is pursuing rejects him, he comes back depressed and turns into slime which oozes all over the castle. I loved this visual. He had a reputation of kidnapping girls and eating their hearts... typical of most of the boys and men I was involved with who pursued me only until I fell in love with them. I felt like they had eaten my heart, too.

The castle itself is a grand invention that reminded me of some of the things my nephew invented. Maybe Howl had Aspergers, too. He even had similar meltdowns. There is a magic knob inside by the door... and depending on what setting it is put on, the door opens to completely different landscapes. I compared this to my own environment.

One of the knob settings of my life opens the door to the current pandemic. I peek out, become aware, get educated, practice recommended precautions, then close that door and turn the knob again. My front door looks out onto a parking lot and other apartment buildings. My back door looks out onto the creek, beautiful with trees, grass, blooming flowers, squirrels, birds, deer, and community cats. 

I already know the consequences of stress, worry, and anxiety. It is what it is. The only thing within my control is how I react to it. 

In the movie the enemy drops bombs, destroying communities just like COVID-19 is doing. And after much destruction, the people who remain pick up what is left and rebuild. Even my own great grandparents did this. I am alive today because people in that generation survived the holocaust... and the world wars. I have faith that no matter what happens, people will recover and rebuild.

Since I have experienced being fractured as a result of too much stress, I thought about COVID-19 being fractured as a result of the stress humans have caused to the planet. It's her only defense. 

What is within my control? Meditation and visualization. I began to visualize the virus as a stressed-out fractured entity defending itself against the onslaught of torturous activities such as fracturing, deforestation, and pollution. Now that she has succeeded in putting the brakes on that assault, I began to visualize loving this entity back into integration just like I learned therapists can do with people who suffer from trauma. I see in my mind's eye all its particles collecting in one place, being contained, and going into the center of the earth to be purified in molten lava. It is a visual I learned when I took ThetaHealing classes to release and purify our own toxic energy.

Sophie managed to walk through miles of rough terrain, even though she complained the entire way, to get to where she needed to go. With COVID, I see our emergency responders and healthcare workers courageously walking through the unexpected, the unplanned, and the unknown.

We can all be scaredy cats during the current dilemma or see it as a challenge for a wizard. In the story, Howl takes on an apprentice who spends days on end trying to figure out how to make a spell work. The wizards of the world are studying how the virus operates. They are wizards, even wizards in training, bravely experimenting with 'spells' to come up with a way to defeat it. We can choose to support their efforts with positive prayer, meditation, and visualization. But fear is known in every spiritual community to feed the evil energies. This is yet one more opportunity to shift fear into love to diminish its power. 

By the end of the book and movie, love, indeed, prevails. Spells are broken, and people's lives go back to normal. It is a message. We can do this, too.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Verbal Judo

...The Gentle Art of Persuasion by George J. Thompson, Ph.D. and Jerry B. Jenkins. Updated Edition.

I believe the best teachers are people who have learned from experience. Including me. I will also say each and every one of the adverse situations I experienced felt draining and oftentimes hopeless. If only I knew while I was in the midst of them what was waiting for me on the other side.

My favorite kinds of books are written by people who include their personal life experiences with the lessons they teach. One example of this type of book is Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion. This book was recommended by a fellow classmate in the course, Powerful Tools for Caregivers. It is filled with different types of situations and suggested ways to handle them, including what to say. In case you need this, Chapter 20 is on How to Fight Fair: Four Steps to a Good Domestic Dispute. 

Before becoming a police officer, George was a teacher. At the beginning of the book, George was 23 years old and found himself teaching a class of hateful juvenile delinquents in an alternative high school. When they refused to cooperate, he discovered by using empathy (standing in another’s shoes and understanding where he’s coming from) and focusing on their strengths vs. their weaknesses by suggesting each kid teach the rest of the class about what they were good at, their low self-worth which reflected in their attitudes transformed into confidence. Students proceeded to graduate with some even getting accepted into college. He managed to refrain from adding additional verbal abuse to what they had already endured.

I highly recommend you read this book to get out of it what you need, but for my own benefit as well as yours in case you don't have time to read it, I will highlight key points based on my own perspective, life situations, and personal needs. If you are a police officer or otherwise in a role which requires more ‘ammunition,’ read the book and perhaps take the seminar. There are tools in the book that apply to all types of situations, including marriages, children, teaching, employment, management, ministerial, or any other position of authority. 

I took a class in Judo many years ago, so I was already familiar with the concept of staying calm when confronted and using the opponent’s own force against them while you remained calm and grounded. I had no idea you could apply these same concepts to verbal communication. No matter what anyone is saying to you or yelling at you, do your best to remain calm and redirect their emotional energy back to them vs. letting it assault you. Just like you can learn to deflect someone striking at you physically with Judo, you can deflect insults as well.

The most common abuse on the planet is verbal abuse. I grew up with it, and without realizing it, I kept attracting more of it into my life. People will most likely heal from physical wounds and abuse but will most likely carry the scars of verbal abuse for the rest of their lives. Remember when I wrote about amygdala hijacks? There’s no sense in jumping into their cyclone and going down with them. You can learn to soften the blows of past verbal abuse by learning new communication skills. You can sway people to comply with your requests without throwing fuel on the fires of their emotions. Thus, the subtitle, The Gentle Art of Persuasion. 

Most of the time, most of what is being said is coming from being emotionally triggered and has nothing to do with you at all. Restate (paraphrase) what you think you heard which invites further conversation. If your emotions are too intense, suggest they give you a minute, a night, or a day to respond so you can calm back down before discussing the situation again. And when it comes to your children, never declare punishment in the heat of emotion. State what you are upset about and send them to their room with “we’ll discuss what will be done about this in the morning” kind of thing.

I think about how I used to freeze whenever I was confronted by an intimidating person. Learning self-defense only pertained to the physical. I love that this book teaches you how to protect yourself from intimidating people verbally; how important it is to stay calm and keep the peace. I believe that even a softie like me can acquire the skills to diffuse an emotional person vs. my previous pattern of avoidance. Perhaps I won't feel like I have to hide from the world as much.

I sure wish I knew these methods while my only child was growing up. Perhaps I can pass on some of what I learn so when his daughter reaches rebellious teenage years, he’ll be prepared. Teenagers often transform into Difficult People who challenge everything with the word “why.” They must do so to develop a sense of autonomy. Don't take it personally. Keep in mind that many adults are still emotionally teenagers in one way or another… where the category of Difficult People comes in.

Here are some highlights from the book:

Most people oppose change. They will fight to keep things the way they are. The secret is simple: It’s okay if someone insults, resists, or attacks you. Laugh it off. Show that it has no meaning, no sting. If you fight back and resist the affront, you give it life and credibility. If you defend yourself, you invite counterattack... an attack carries only the weight he allows it to.

...there are three basic types of people in the world, and each should be handled differently. There are Nice People, Difficult People, and Wimps.

When you shift from resisting to appreciating and even welcoming Difficult People, things become interesting and less tense.

Wimps are the ones who sound like Nice People but are closet Difficult People. They may … compliment you on … but later they get you back, in the back …

This is the communication warrior’s real service: staying calm in the midst of conflict, deflecting verbal abuse, and offering empathy in the face of antagonism. If you cannot empathize with people, you don’t stand a chance of getting them to listen to you, much less accepting your attempts to help--sincere as you may be.

If you take a moment to think as another might be thinking, then speak with his perspective in mind, you can gain immediate rapport. Ill-fitting as his shoes may be, walk a few steps in them. Only then can you provide real understanding and reassurance. Only then can you help that person see the consequences of what he is doing or is about to do. Only then can you help him make enlightened decisions.

We all deal with people “under the influence” nearly everyday. If it’s not alcohol or drugs, it’s frustration, fear, impatience, lack of self-worth, defensiveness, and a host of other influences. Doesn’t it make sense that we should develop a state of mind that will allow us to skillfully interact with these people…

The goal of persuasion is to generate voluntary compliance.

Admittedly, my experience was from a police perspective. But isn’t what I did also what we do when we deal with our children, whether trying to keep them off drugs, get them to come in early, get them to take out the trash, or get them to study? We need to sound as if we care, keep our egos out of it, find the right words to reach them, and present options that will have a powerful influence.


Chapter 27 is a summary of the 26 principles presented in this book.

Chapter 28 is the Five Universal Truths That Fit All:

>All cultures want to be respected and treated with dignity, regardless of the situation.
>All people would rather be asked than told what to do.
>All people want to know why they are being asked or told to do something.
>All people would rather have options than threats.
>All people want a second chance to make matters right. People are human; we err and act in ways we wish we hadn’t. 

Buy the book on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Verbal-Judo-Gentle-Persuasion-Updated/dp/0062107704/

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Unconditional

In the realm of the book world, my apartment complex manager mentioned to me about three weeks ago that our little community room library had too many books. In the meantime, I had been going to the Senior Center (Multipurpose Center) on Tuesdays for a class on Powerful Tools for Caregivers.

In my natural want-to-help way, I suggested she save small boxes to pack them in and ask someone to take them to various places... the Mission, the local library, the Salvation Army, etc. Then I decided I could fill a small box tote I had for transporting things on my mobility scooter to take with me to the Center Thrift Store along with other items I wanted to donate.

Two weeks ago, I brought the box tote to the community room to fill up. Have you ever had a book jump out at you and call your attention? I don't remember this happening to me since 2010. I spotted the title Unconditional, was intrigued by the cover and back cover description, and took it home to read. It is based on the motion picture with the same title. Remember, I rarely read fiction these days. I was in for a real tear-jerker. Perhaps it was a good time to do some crying. This last week's class for Caregivers was about emotions and what happens when you hold them in. One can erupt like a volcano.

As I read the book, cleansing tears washed over me. I found numerous synchronicities to situations I had dealt with in my own life... and the numerous times just when I believed the worst, an obvious divine presence showed up to intercede.

The story begins with a woman named Samantha, Sam for short. She is young, married to her first love, and living on a wonderful ranch that his parents gave to them. I must include here that the author writes what I can only describe as artistically and poetically. I was immediately captured by her writing.

My first burst of tears erupted with the compassion I felt toward her grief when her perfect life is shattered by the murder of her husband in a dark alley of a bad neighborhood where he went to repair lights that were out. No, I didn't have a husband who was murdered. But many relationships and marriages had died. Similar grief. It was about the obvious presence of the divine when three years later, as Sam was about to pull the trigger to end her own life in the same place her husband had been murdered, the final moment is interrupted by a child yelling because his little sister had been hit by a car.

In addition to tears of sadness and compassion, I kept bursting into tears about the divine interventions weaved into the story. I knew there was no coincidence that the children were out there during a time she was intending to end her life. I never actually followed through with ending my own life during two periods of despair. I was just obsessed with suicidal thoughts. Memories of these situations rose while I was reading about someone else's experience. (Read my post about Talking Myself Out of Suicide.) I didn't go as far as Sam did with putting a gun to her head.

In the story, Sam comes out of her daze and rushes the two children off to a hospital where the unconscious child could be treated... and hopefully saved. At the hospital, a man shows up regarding the children... a man she hadn't seen since grade school... a man who had been her very best friend. I was sad at that point about not having any childhood best friends. Then I kept reading.

Joe was the only one on the planet who could pull her out of her grief. What an incredible synchronicity that the same children who were in the alley were connected to this man. I recalled the time I had shouted to God: "If you want me to go" (to my son's wedding in California), "send someone to help me and give me a reason to come back!" followed by meeting a man who succeeded in pulling me out of my personal despair.

The story has one arc after another, expertly interweaved like a suspense novel with none of the characters knowing what the other had been going through until the end of it all. It's a murder mystery (Who murdered Sam's husband?), riveted with suspense (Will Sam commit suicide? Will Joe die?), a love story, and contains many beautiful miracles.

In one scene, Joe tells Sam how he ended up in prison for doing something on a dare. He gets into an altercation which results in 40 days of solitary confinement. Sam later reveals to him her self-imposed solitary confinement during the previous three years of despair. I paused while remembering when I lived in the trailer park in Bakersfield and the day I found out it was filled with ex-convicts and drug addicts. In my innocence, I befriended Blondie (not her real name)... a woman who told me about the people who lived in the park and the 20 years in prison she did which included solitary confinement. She had given me the book We're All Doing Time to read, and I had realized I had been in prison, too, just one without bars.

Sam's husband's parents had given them their ranch when they moved to a warmer area. In the midst of her grief, she couldn't appreciate all that she had. I remember during years of depression, I could not appreciate what I had, either, compared to life in third world countries and slums. Sam gets involved with all the underprivileged children Joe had taken under his wing who nearly always were happy despite their circumstances, and suddenly she realizes she had been discounting the positive (one of many cognitive distortions I discovered I had).

Sam had been writing a children's book ever since she and Joe were in grade school, including drawing the illustrations. After her husband was murdered, she abandoned the dream. All her drawings lived in a room she couldn't bear to enter. I wondered if I had abandoned any particular dreams. Yes, one of many topics I've contemplated on, is what I may have dreamed as a child I would do when I grow up. Interweaved in this amazing book are the bits, pieces, and synchronicities of how Sam's inspiration comes back, including the discovery of finding all the drawings that child she saved had been doing...  just as she had done when she was a child.

Sam forgets about her grief by becoming actively involved with caring for the children. When she realizes how blessed she is with having the ranch, she invites them all out there for a weekend... realizing she had just found a purpose in life. I reminisced about how Nancy with Reaching Beyond Words had walked into my life in January 2018 with the desire to get children's stories she wrote published. I had asked God what I was to do next after becoming wheelchair dependent and letting go of two stressful volunteer jobs. Months later, Nancy had texted me if I knew any bookkeepers which led to my volunteering as theirs. Both organizations are doing similar things. Perhaps my future includes underprivileged children?

Sam is absolutely sure the man who lives in the projects next to the two children she had rescued that day in the alley was the man who murdered her husband. This scene is one of many that reveals a surprising conclusion toward the end. I reminisced at the number of times I had been sure of certain things in my life which turned out to be false conclusions (another cognitive distortion I had).

The book I had read just before this one was Ask Your Guides by Sonia Choquette. I feel certain Unconditional was meant to find me. I've been logging every synchronicity I notice in a journal... and the number has been mounting.

Earlier in the week, I dreamed a woman I had met in Toastmasters (moved away) came to visit with two small children. (There were two small children in Unconditional, too.) Sonia wrote that many times, guides will urge you to call someone who needs support. She remained on my mind the entire day, so that night, I called her. She surprised me with the question, "Why did you call?" Odd question, I thought. I told her about the book I read, the dream I had, and my urge to call. In case one of her guides urged me, I decided to follow through. It turned out she had been thinking about me as well as a book project she was still struggling with. I thought about Sam in Unconditional.

One of the many things I think about is this blog. I never know what I will write about next or when I will write it. I tell myself not to worry about it. When it is time, the divine will whisper the topic to me, and my fingers will write it. This is one of them.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Contraction and Expansion


These words came to me while I was in the midst of a recent bout of sadness which often happens when I feel fatigued along with spending too much time alone. True to the words, I realized I have almost always experienced creative inspiration (such as this one) after what I figured out feels like the labor of contraction (fatigue, grief, depression). The contractions were necessary when it came time to deliver my son 36 years ago... an unforgettable event in which I experienced unconditional love for the first time I could ever remember. It is an example of the contrast that exists in our lives here on Earth. If I can adopt the belief that every bout of sadness opens space for a divine message, I could meditate in the quiet and wait for the message... which I will write about and share.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Sabbatical


Here it is the year 2020. In the midst of thoughts of feeling sad… homesick... and missing the relationship I had with my son when he was young… the word sabbatical was telepathically whispered into my ears. Sabbatical? I am reading Ask Your Guides by Sonia Choquette, and it seems more than coincidental that I got this message.

What if I could view my time in Texas as an extended sabbatical for the purpose of recreating myself? Because I’ve stayed in one place now longer than ever before (8 years in the same apartment complex, 4 years in my current unit), I feel content with a touch of homesick. While I miss seeing my mom, siblings, son, granddaughter, and all the places I used to go, time away allowed me to leave behind parts of myself that were not healthy. The feeling of emptiness when this happens can be unbearable. I must admit that time brought with it a maturity I didn’t know was possible... even though I can still sense more is coming.

I like the sound of sabbatical. It feels like there is a purpose to it.

I drove 1,500 miles to Texas with just what fit in the back of my GMC Sonoma with a camper shell at the end of 2006… to run away from everything that hurt, only to encounter more things that hurt. Feeling beat up and battered, I had not thought of myself as a warrior princess... which may have made a huge difference in how I dealt with my circumstances. 

Lately, I've been watching some Studio Ghibli warrior princess movies as well as The Shannara Chronicles with young female warriors. What if I could be as strong as they are? I even felt the thrill of playing my first video game in which I chose a princess who wore a long pink gown. I experienced a healing thrill as I pressed the buttons on the console which made her punch and kick her enemies. When the enemy knocked her off, she came back to life again to fight another battle. She was INVINCIBLE.

One of many definitions of sabbatical I found is: “The purpose of the sabbatical leave is to provide faculty members with an opportunity for further professional growth and development so that they may serve more effectively on their campuses and in their field of specialization.” It can also be a break from some type of career. I even read a book about a housewife who took a year sabbatical from her marriage.

After reading What Should I Do with My Life? by Po Bronson, the wheels began to turn in my mind with possibility. What many people end up doing with their life is nothing like what they set out to do. You can have a Ph.D. and choose to become a farmer.

Mmmm. Faculty members. I could think of myself as a professor with a Ph.D., couldn’t I? I hadn’t seen moving here as an opportunity for further professional growth and development because I haven't been employed, but what if I could see it as one? After all, I've learned quite a bit in various volunteer roles since I moved here, adding them to my resume. I could view my campus as the town I now reside in along with the internet. As for a field of specialization, as I self-educate on the topics I’ve become interested in, I feel like at some point a common ‘specialization’ will emerge. I read many stories about this in Po's book.

Granted I’ve been gone for going on 14 years now, even though I was able to make a few trips back to visit over the years. Somehow the idea of sabbatical feels important and less permanent. Perhaps I can make up and even print some certificates for additional college-level degrees to stroke my ego. Since that time, I have:
  • endured and survived quite a few more life challenges.
  • taught myself how to format and self-publish my own books… and completed about 15 of my own plus some for other authors.
  • created two websites, one with a blog, and wrote a lot of blog posts… and even created websites for others.
  • learned how to produce my own songs at home.
  • volunteered for multiple non-profits as a bookkeeper, treasurer, secretary, and more.
  • learned about CBT, PTSD, anxiety, depression, and other matters pertaining to the mind.
  • learned a lot about holistic health and ways to improve my own.
  • learned about alternative treatments for chronic pain.
  • read a lot of books and internet articles.
  • participated in a number of local educational programs.
  • accumulated a lot of personal possessions along with giving some away.
And this last year, I have:
  • endured and survived more life challenges and made it to the age of 64.
  • made some new friends.
  • experienced a surge of abundance.
  • received the therapies and services I desperately needed.
  • realized that resentment was still lingering and holding me back.
  • watched a lot of inspiring movies.
Another aspect of sabbatical can be applied to the times in between going out into the world and days of hibernation. I could view my apartment being located anywhere in the world, couldn't I? A cabin in the mountains. A chateau on the ocean. A suite at a resort. A 42-foot motor home in a trailer park by a lake. France. Italy. Germany. One of the many beautiful places on our planet.

Some people go to another country for a year or more for such a sabbatical. I feel like I live in another country here in Central Texas vs. either east or west coasts. The distance to the closest family member feels like I'm in another country, too. It would be nice if I could astral travel to wherever I wanted to go, just show up, no need to pack anything, and forget about all past feelings of abandonment and the resulting resentment because none of them could come to visit me. In the meantime, the above list can remind me of how much I have accomplished even though I kept getting lost along the way. I wonder what 2020 will bring.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Talking Myself Out of Suicide

Don't be alarmed... I am out of the woods. What I'd like to write about is the turning point when I stopped thinking about death as a way out of pain and despair.

For a brief recap, I've had suicidal urges twice. When I was 43, the pain in my body became so overwhelming, I could no longer work. I had no one who could take care of me, and I lost all hope. I was a single mom of a teenage boy. How would I support him? In addition to the usual amount of depression I endured, I decided I couldn't live with intense muscular-skeletal pain, and my son was independent and could survive without me.

I never got as far as figuring out how I would end my life. I just had a death wish. The new pain management doctor I found nipped this in the bud with a cocktail of medication. The trouble was, without a sense of purpose besides being a patient to my doctors, and without meaningful relationships which I lacked the skills to develop, I lost the will to live on this planet in a physical body. Medication could not provide those for me. They only sedated me, further separating me from the people I wanted to be in relationship with.

In 2011, the year after I stopped taking 11 medications cold turkey, I began to accept medication again. After swallowing the first Cymbalta tablet, I disassociated and became suicidal in addition to everything else. All I could think about was walking up to the road at night and getting hit by a truck. (I was able to walk at the time.) The only thing that stopped me was the possibility I might survive and be in worse pain than I already was.

With bouts of depression consuming huge chunks of my life with no access to adequate counseling or solutions along with relentless chronic pain, I began a personal quest for solutions of my own in 2013, once I became aware there was another way of BEing.

I could not forget how I felt during the three-month manic high I experienced in 2010, when I felt no pain, could walk, enjoyed going to social events, and saw a vision of the amazing life I could have... one that provided me with PURPOSE. I could not forget the spiritual voice that telepathically told me to use the talents I was blessed with, and I've been writing about what I discover ever since. I also could not forget the experience I had when I totaled my GMC Sonoma (more below).

That rare and only manic high I experienced included a huge vision that dissipated after a few months and hasn't returned. In my big dream mind, I was going to be a famous (well-known) author who traveled, got paid to speak, met other famous people like Louise Hay and Greg Braden, had the ability to donate to many different charity foundations, and was a catalyst for enriching the lives of many people. The vision also included meeting famous singers who wanted to sing the songs I wrote. I yearned to do much more in making a difference on the planet.

Stress, depression, pain, and fatigue put the breaks on. Losing my ability to walk again did, too. Lack of adequate transportation didn't help, so I became isolated. As time went by, I withdrew into myself and developed phobias of the outside world.

In the meantime, because I am a perfectionist and have unrealistic expectations, I've been hard on myself for being a 'slow learner.' I have at my fingertips a wealth of knowledge to absorb via the internet and all the books I read and have read... all of which I can do from the comfort of home. Perhaps there is an alternative vision I am to pursue. What will I do with all this knowledge besides blogging about it?

In 2014, I found the book, God Is A Verb: Kabbalah and the Practice of Mystical Judaism. What I still remember in this book is the part about our purpose: RAISE HOLY SPARKS... in any way we can. Even one person can do this. Even me. Even from bed. But how?

Meditation.

In 2015, I found Dr. David Burns' book, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy which gave me an introduction to psychology with the ten cognitive distortions. I learned how to challenge my thoughts once I became aware of them and reframe, but it didn't help with pain, fatigue, and the limitations I was faced with. Maybe there would be something I could do that didn't require as much energy.

Meditation.

At some point I realized I had guardian angels who were keeping me alive... so I concluded I must have a purpose for being here. But what? Religion didn't give me reasons to be here... and most described heaven as the place I'd rather be. No amount of medication alleviated the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pain I was suffering from. No amount of medication alleviated the isolation and loss of purpose when I spent most of my life in bed.

In 2018, I came across the book, How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers. I found a new friend who was experiencing what I had been experiencing. She had learned Buddhist principles which helped her deal with her challenges. I learned more about acceptance and surrendering through...

Meditation.

(By the way, I resisted meditating in case you haven't figured that out yet. I only did relaxation exercises to fall asleep at night and fall back to sleep when I woke up in the middle of the night.)

When I found videos on YouTube by Abraham-Hicks, followed by reading two of their books, I came across this reason for being here:

"It is with clear and deliberate intent that you decide to project Consciousness into this time-space reality--and it is with great enthusiasm that you come forth into these bodies. You are filled with eager anticipation for a number of reasons: (including) You are a master creator, and you know it. You like the experience of creating. You know that this is an environment with a tremendous variety of interesting components. You enjoy the sensation of a fresh new desire. You know that is is through your interaction with contrast and variety that your own desires will be formulated."

I must admit, I do enjoy creating and how it feels when I manage to complete something. And every so often, I experience creative explosions. Words such as clear and deliberate intent; with great enthusiasm; eager anticipation; master creator; tremendous variety of interesting components; enjoying the sensation of a fresh new desire all resonated true for me. There was also the part that because of these reasons, if we commit suicide, we will just choose to come right back again. Sigh.

If I'm going to come right back again after I die, I might as well study, learn, and evolve as much as I possibly can, so when I DO come back, I don't have to start in the same place I am now, or worse, all over again from scratch. Even if reincarnation isn't real, I'm not going to take a chance.

Making this decision was followed by new books, new courses, more videos, meeting new people, and taking on new uplifting volunteer assignments I can do from home at my own pace... so I can continue to feel like I can make a difference in small ways between creating.

I completed the iRest Yoga Nidra program which includes...

Meditation.

It alerted me to the disconnect I still have between my body and my emotions. The task of differentiating the difference between feelings and emotions... and coming up with its opposite has me feeling like I am trying to learn physics. I wanted to reach beyond the examples listed in the workbook. I still don't get it. I sense this concept is a key to cut through the anxiety I experience... so I am determined to figure out what it is. But I couldn't figure out the difference between a feeling and an emotion, so I Googled it. I found:


So far, the explanation is just words. Between iRest and this article, I got that feelings are created by the senses; learned behaviors that are usually in hibernation until triggered by an external event. Emotions are physically measurable, physically-based reactions (like when my pulse starts racing, and I am so anxious I can't think straight). 

"An emotion is a physiological experience (or state of awareness) that gives you information about the world, and a feeling is your conscious awareness of the emotion itself."

"Many people are honestly unaware that they're having an emotion. For them, the emotion and the consciousness of it are not strongly connected, and they don't even realize that they're fearful, or angry, or depressed. Their emotional state has to become so persistent that it drags them into a severe mood, and then they can realize, 'Oh, I guess I've been really sad about...'"

I downloaded Your Emotional Vocabulary List from this site. You experience the emotion first, then determine what feelings are involved (naming), and act on the information the emotion provides. 

Intrigued? Read the rest of the article.

I suspect this is the missing link for me as I would just get overwhelmed with the emotion and haven't been able to 'name' the feelings involved in order to act on the information the emotion provides, never mind identify where in my body I feel it.

Like a treasure hunter, I 'felt' the anticipation of stumbling on a new clue to what to seek next. My goal is to name what comes up for the sake of information vs. shutting down (with overwhelm, illness, and adrenal fatigue). I've only listed the ones I identify on the list pertaining to Depression and Suicidal Urges: 

Soft Depression and Suicidal Urges: Apathetic; Depressed; Discouraged; Disinterested; Feeling Worthless; Helpless; Isolated; Purposeless; Withdrawn
Medium (or Mood-State) Depression and Suicidal Urges: Desolate; Empty; Hopeless; Miserable; Overwhelmed
Intense Suicidal Urges: Anguished; Bleak; Devastated; Suicidal

Noted at the end of this section: "If you can learn to catch your suicidal urges when they're in the soft state, you can often stop yourself from falling into the pit of anguish. In the territory of the suicidal urge, your capacity for emotional awareness and sensitivity can literally save your life!"

In the meantime, I've been reading, Lessons from the Light: What We Can Learn from the Near-Death Experience. I don't think I've had any NDEs as defined in books of when you remember leaving your body when you die and see what is going on from the ceiling... such as when a surgery goes wrong... or you've been a car accident... or suffer a fatal heart attack... followed by a decision you make to come back after you're told by a divine being it is not your time. I wondered if I could have been close to dying during one of many apnea episodes... or one of several surgeries I've had. 

While reading about NDEs, I thought about the trip to somewhere I went to when I totaled my GMC Sonoma in 2008. At the time of the accident, I was depressed as well as lethargic due to being over-medicated. There was the block of time that disappeared while I went from being in motion on the road to resting in the ravine. When the truck came to a full stop, everything in it came flying at me... and I was filled with a sense of awe, surprise, and joy. I felt like I had gone somewhere in another dimension... I felt like I was told everything would be OK. If I had a life review, I felt like I had seen an amazing future. The truck was totaled, but I didn't even get a scratch. Was this some type of NDE? If so, why can't I remember where I went? What I do know is I didn't lose consciousness... at least the physical kind. 

After writing this draft, I continued to read more of the book. Something told me I might find an explanation in one of the next chapters. There on page 229, I found what I needed to read:

"It is important to realize, however, that the healing balm of the Light is available not just to NDErs, of course, but to anyone who finds him or herself in a deep spiritual crisis or on the verge of suicide. In my years of researching NDEs, I have in fact heard from many persons who, though they clearly were not physically near death, nevertheless had a kind of NDE, which in its properties and effects was indistinguishable from those that are triggered by an actual condition in which one's life is at risk. Thus, the Light seems to come to those who need it, regardless of the individual's physical state."

Then this in a letter the author received... "My experience happened at a time in my life when I wanted to die."

Bingo. At the time of the accident, I did. But unlike the time before, this time something magical happened. I wish I knew where I went.

I believe I have learned enough with all my studying to keep myself out of getting suicide urges again in the future. In the meantime, what if my life purpose is merely to learn how to be HUMAN? 

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Haunted

About two weeks ago, I felt haunted... by the spirits, emotions, and voices of many children tugging on my invisible sleeves. The sensation began to overwhelm me. 

In the meantime, I continued to do the work of recovering from past trauma, wrote about the discovery of parts, and did an iRest Yoga Nidra program for two months. The meditations were different than other meditations I had done. 

Based on Buddhist principles, everything in life--both joy and sorrow--are impermanent. The goal is to refrain from getting attached to either one... and stop the cycle of making up stories about your experiences. In the practice, you identify feelings, emotions, beliefs, and images along with their opposite, somehow feel each one, then merge these opposites together while meditating. 

The spirits and voices of these children got louder. In a moment of exasperation, I asked them how many they were... and felt the answer of 9. OK. I asked how old they were... and felt the answer of 5. Five is a good age. I have a photo of myself when I was 5 on my bedside table. I asked if any of them had died... and felt the answer of 4. How sad.

Suddenly, I felt the urge to take down the box of little dolls and other doll-house size objects I had been saving for my grand-daughter... and for my inner child. I counted them out... and found I had exactly 9 of them! 

My intention was for each doll to represent one of the feelings (or emotions) I had suppressed, to allow them the freedom to express themselves... and to find a way to love and accept them. I could pretend I was in charge of a class of kindergarteners. 

 And yet... I even wondered if it was possible these 9 dolls simply wanted out of their box.


They are now sitting in a circle in a red plastic open-top container facing each other with a little cat in the middle.

It amazes me how much better I felt after I did this. With all my inner children out of their box, free to BE with both joy and sadness and a cat to play with, all is well. When something comes up from the deep abyss, I look and ask who is upset and what they need to feel better.

Happy Halloween!