Saturday, June 9, 2018

Thank You For Your Service

On Memorial Day (about two weeks ago), the media was flooded with posts that included, “Thank you for your service.” Many events took place to honor their service and remind us all of the sacrifices they made so the rest of us could be safe.

I’d like to also honor the service of every police officer, firefighter, volunteer police officer and firefighter, EMT, paramedic, doctor, nurse, and every other service-related position whether it be paid or volunteer. This includes the mail carrier, the UPS driver, and all those who handle your life situations and possessions with care.

What inspired this post? I watched Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey and learned about the fascinating world of atoms and molecules. I decided to adopt “thank you for your service” as a new mantra and thank EVERYTHING for its service. It helps me stay present and conscious in gratitude for each atom and molecule that exists and ‘chooses’ to share space with me.

Dr. Masaru Emoto proved that water molecules are affected by thoughts, sounds, and vibrations. Thus, for each type of food I eat, I thank the food for nourishing my body and filling my stomach. I also thank the farmers, the people who packaged it, and the truckers who transported it. In the process, I decided to be more present when I eat instead of distracting myself with digital and other things. I also decided to be more conscious about what I put in my body in general.

It would be so easy to let my mind wander while I take a shower, but in gratitude, I must continuously redirect my thoughts back to the water droplets along with the water heater that warms the water, the showerhead, the water filter inside of it, pipes, drains, shampoo, soap, towel, and more. There are still many people on the planet who do not have these luxuries, although I’ve seen videos where these people are still filled with gratitude for what they DO have.

I saw an experiment posted about putting two plants in a school. One group of students were to express love to their plant. The other group’s job was to say the mean things a bully would say. The plant that was appreciated thrived while the plant that was bullied didn’t. I can now look at the health of my plants to know how they feel about sharing space with me. I also remember what it was like to be bullied.

If I decide an item of clothing or other possession can go into a donation bag, I thank them for their service, too. I am fully aware of the cheap labor force that created these things so I pray that the lives of the men, women, and children will be otherwise fulfilling. I ask each item of clothing which one wants to be worn and have been amazed at the responses. Sometimes the choice doesn’t make sense, and I’ll find out when I get to my destination that there was a theme I was unaware of or the temperature of the room required the item that chose me.

I thank my car for keeping me safe. I thank all the people who were instrumental in the creation and delivery of my car and every part inside of it. I thank the engineers and labor workers who created and now maintain the roads I drive on.

As for the furniture and my apartment, there’s more service to thank.

At one time, the only coping mechanism that worked while it seemed every cell in my body was basking in the sensation of pain was to find body parts that didn’t hurt. Then after many years, when I adopted “thank you for your service,” I began thanking each body part for what it does. As I learned more about anatomy, cells, atoms, and molecules, I went further in telling each organ what a wonderful job it does in servicing my body.

Finally, the only way I deal with the loss of a beloved pet, friend, family member, or acquaintance, is to be thankful for the memories I now have because I knew them. They will live on in people’s memories, including mine, and if they became published authors, they will live on in their writing. A number of suicide incidents have been announced on the news. I didn’t know any of these people, but I did know a man who belonged to my writers' group. May he and all the others rest in peace. They, too, had a purpose even if they lost touch with it or had not discovered it yet.

By now, you may think my life is serene and filled with gratitude. For the most part, it is. I am still trying to master my reaction to when words I type out disappear. Somehow there’s a key or combination of keys that does this, and I haven’t figured out which one it is. My fingers move so quickly while I type, I haven’t been able to adopt mindfulness to this task. I must practice typing things up in something like a Google Doc which saves continuously, then copy it into emails and Facebook.

Here’s an interesting article on the benefits of mindfulness.

https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/benefits-of-mindfulness/

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Brain Fog

Memory? I don't know where it went. Perhaps a virus ate it a long time ago. Perhaps it fell in a vent.

It first disappeared when I was really young, and I couldn’t find my way home. After I drove by a number of times, I had to call my mother on the phone.

Years later it disappeared again when my doctors prescribed too many powerful meds. Instead of getting better, I had to make good friends with my bed.

A few times I’ve had amnesia and felt like I was hopelessly lost. Then I had to dig my way out of a metaphorical deep freeze and wait for my brain to defrost.

I learned many life lessons but soon forgot, so I’d have to learn them again. Many times I couldn’t remember places I’ve lived and certainly couldn’t remember when.

I recognize people I know, but can't remember from where. It's embarrassing when I pretend I do while I stare at the color of their hair.

I knew your name yesterday, but today I've forgotten. Fortunately, I didn't leave anything in the refrigerator to get rotten.

I file papers neatly into organized folders. But somehow the piece of paper I need must have been moved by an invisible soldier.

I wrote something down on a piece of paper so I won’t forget what it is. But the paper seems to have relocated itself, and I’m sure it knows it won’t be missed.

I've driven to that place at least six times so far, but still need my GPS to tell me where to turn. You’d think by now I would have figured it out, and to be frank, it has me concerned.

Once I was about to go somewhere but couldn’t remember where I put my keys. I finally gave up, unzipped my jacket, and found them hooked to the neck of my tee.

I can’t remember what I eat for meals, so I log what I eat in a book. Then when I get hungry, I can flip through the pages and look.

I just ate lunch an hour ago, but I forgot to write it down in my log. Now I can’t remember what I had, and my mind is lost in a fog.

I went to the store to purchase something, but now I can’t remember what. I looked around and went home again. It would have been easier to have it delivered by truck.

After 43 moves, I better stay put and never move again. That way my car can remember where home is, and I won’t have to make anymore new friends.

When I wake up in the morning, I can't remember the day before. It turned out I no longer need to worry when I go to bed at night because I can't even remember what I wore.

I have to read what I write many times--because by the time I get to the next paragraph, what I already wrote has slipped my mind.

I write articles and stories which I publish on my blog and in books, then promptly forget they exist. It’s nice to have books to read again, so my experiences don’t evaporate into mist.

Sometimes I wonder if what I wrote about really happened or whether they were just illusions. Thinking like this can surely stir up quite a bit of confusion.

I’ve saved thousands of digital files, but now I wonder why. Maybe I thought I would read them, I can’t remember I have them, and I can’t take any of it with me when I die.

I wonder if all my ideas come from a completely different part of my brain. Somehow they weave their way down to my fingers, without the need for me to retain.

Memory, oh memory, where art thou now? I even forget to breathe sometimes, and it's not because I don't know how.

I forget to breathe while I sleep and need a machine to jumpstart my lungs. I forget to breathe while I stand at the kitchen sink because my legs were stronger when I was young.

Of course, when you don’t get enough oxygen, brain cells will certainly die. I know I should meditate daily and deep breathing can make me feel high.

Exercise can do the same thing with your blood pumping swiftly through your veins. It really feels good when I remember to, and I simply must take control of the reins.

My internet just went out again, and I wonder if my brain disconnects the same way. I suppose it no longer matters because I can’t remember what I was going to say.

I'm surprised I made it here to be with you and even more surprised if I remember your name. It's not that I don't care about you, my memory is to blame.

There is some good news in all of this, sometimes a memory floats to the surface. But I have to catch it quickly before it loses its sense of purpose.

I’ll read this poem a hundred times, and each time it will be brand new. It will spark a smile and entertain me, and I hope it has entertained you.

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.