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

Cupid

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CUPID

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

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!