Use Our Skills. Work Together. End Racism

Coping Challenges: Racism is a problem everyone experiences

Disclaimer: this is a place of learning, safety, and hope. Take what you want from the post and forget the rest. Maybe this will help you. Maybe it won’t.

First, I am not black or African American and cannot imagine what you all are experiencing, feeling, or coping with right now. (please forgive me for using incorrect labels. I don’t pay attention and am not politically correct, but I also don’t want to offend anyone either).

Second, I am not going to pretend or ignore what happened, but I will be honest and say that I am not following the news or media closely and haven’t for over a decade. That is why I choose not to get political or share a specific opinion about recent events.

Third, the rioters and protesters marched by and partially surrounded my apartment building 2-3 nights in a row from Friday to Sunday. As I listened to the anger and the rioting, I hoped that the news and media would focus on the peaceful protesters and the important message instead of the violence.

Finally, I’d like to tell you all that racism affects everyone no matter their race, gender, religion, orientation, financial state, origin, intelligence level, or anything else that might be used to make a person feel less than human. And it’s up to all of us to use our skills and work together to end racism.

As I said in the beginning, I can’t imagine or know what the black/Afirican American community is experiencing. At the same time, I can and do offer compassion because I can relate having been a victim of racism and experiencing racism from authority figures – including the police in my past.

I can’t donate money or use my voice to speak up. But I can use my skills in other ways to work with you and other groups to end racism starting with this blog post. Your efforts are recognized, valued, supported, and encouraged here.

Thank you to the people risking their lives on the front lines as they speak up and speak out and put action behind their words.

Thank you to the people whose small, quiet acts of kindness and support to end racism may go unnoticed as the flashier actions get the attention. You are recognized, seen, and heard.

Thank you to all the people who help in their own way. What you do matters too.

And for anyone who is not sure what to do or how to support the end of racism, you can start by becoming aware of how pervasive racism is everywhere.

Finally, racism starts with fear and insecurity. With the need for one person or group to feel superior to or more powerful than another. Then take action to make those needs real. Racism flourishes when people look the other way, do not take action, or stay silent instead of speaking up against the people speaking or behaving in ways that promote racism.

I’m not going to ask you to do or say or be anything or anyone other than yourselves. Your opinions and values matter to me, and I accept you as you are. Please do the same for me and the opinions I shared here.

I am fighting against racism in my own way every chance I get. Maybe you will join me. Maybe you won’t. But if you do, thank you. And if you don’t, that is okay too.

Thanks for reading.

Movement Challenge: Sleep is a Requirement not an option

Disclaimer: this is a place of learning, safety, and hope. Take what you want from the post and forget the rest. Maybe this will help you. Maybe it won’t.

Sleep is often a challenge for me. Since childhood, I’ve experienced vivid dreams and nightmares that feel real. I am a restless sleeper who constantly moves in her sleep, but also likes to curl up and cuddle when in a deep, non-dreaming sleep period.

Thanks to the trauma of my past, I also experience night sweats, night terrors, sleep paralysis, and panic attacks too. And have alter personalities that don’t sleep at night. Some part of me is always awake and take sleep shifts to maintain this routine.

Before moving to Oregon, I never slept more than 3-4 hours at a time. It was restless, light sleep that did not offer any healing or rejuvenation. The healing only happened when I was so tired from lack of sleep that I would pass out and sleep for a day or longer at a time.

After moving to Oregon, I started experiencing deep, REM sleep in between the nightmares and panic attacks that woke me or the alters on night duty up so easily. Eventually, I started sleeping for longer periods of time too. The longer periods were a mix of REM, healing sleep and light, disturbed sleep.

But the difference was remarkable. The more sleep I got, the better I felt overall. Emotional balance was and is easier to attain/maintain. Physical health improved in a variety of ways. Triggers were (and are) easier to manage. Bonus: sound and smell triggers are noted if they wake one or more of us up, but do not impact rest or sleep in a significant way anymore. i.e. I can sleep through them when I feel safe in my home and building.

These days, I really feel it when I don’t get enough sleep. The guilt and increase in symptoms this time of year makes sleep a precious commodity. But I’ve learned some tips that help. Maybe they will help you too

Sleep tips

  1. Feel safe and protected wherever you live.
    1. I cannot stress how important this is because it’s something I am working with in real time (the present)
    2. Because I feel safe in this building and this apartment, the continued noise and sensation disturbances from my upstairs neighbor (exact same ones as from my last two places, but that is another story) don’t interrupt my sleep anymore. I literally sleep through the noise and the vibrations/massage sensations that used to interrupt my downtime and sleep.
  2. Stay hydrated and use the facilities before bed if you can
    1. The two major things that wake me up these days are 1) get thirsty and feel dry lips; 2) have to empty my bladder or bowels because the discomfort wakes me up
  3. Think about memories, feelings, experiences, or stories (includes reading or listening to or watching media) that help you move into a relaxed, safe frame of mind
  4. Do activities that help you feel relaxed and safe or move into a relaxed, safe state of mind
    1. stretching/yoga/gentle movement
    2. bath or shower
    3. mediation or deep breathing
    4. coloring/journaling/cleaning (I like to do dishes sometimes)
    5. Your idea here
  5. Sleep somewhere besides your bed that feels warm/cool, safe, and comfortable
    1. This used to disturb my parents and anyone else whose place where I stayed the night because I would randomly fall asleep in bed and wake up somewhere else in the house
    2. After I moved out, I kept extra pillows and blankets in the living room. Sometimes I had a sofa or comfy chair to sleep on. Other times it was the floor
    3. These days I have a convertible floor chair that folds out into a lounge chair and bed. It has extra pillows and blankets, and I’ve been sleeping there for the past two nights

And as I continue thinking about the movement challenge starting on Sunday, I wonder if sharing photos of my different sleep spaces and “DIY exercise equipment” will be useful or not.

Also wonder if doing a Facebook video or Facebook live to start the challenge will be useful too. Then you all can meet me at the beginning and give me some accountability if I get cold feet 🙂

Thanks for reading.

Movement Challenge – Invitation to Participate — Scent Reflections LLC

Next Sunday, I’m starting a 1 week self care challenge to help me cope with the overwhelming feelings of grief that come up every year between February and April. You can read more about it on today’s blog post at Untangled Connections. If you want a refresher about my ideas regarding movement, check out last week’s post. I will be posting every day for 7 days about one activity that fits both the movement and sensory grounding categories of coping strategies and self care. Most of the time there will be photos. Fingers crossed they are related to the topic and not random, but no promises 🙂 And, I may even do a Facebook Live on the Scent Reflections facebook page next Saturday as part of the challenge’s last post. If I do use Facebook live and the weather is nice, you will get to see the view from my balcony. If not, probably another view of the indoor garden. I’m still working out the details of office space and unpacking so don’t really want to show off the rest of my space.

Movement Challenge – Invitation to Participate — Scent Reflections LLC

Aromatherapy: Refresh My Space All-Purpose Cleaner — Scent Reflections LLC

Spring reminds me of fresh starts, new beginnings, and growing things. Plants wake up and start blooming. The air changes. Earth smells fresh. Temperatures (hopefully) start to warm up. People open windows and doors to let fresh air in. And many people feel the urge to start Spring Cleaning. Or may want to clean, but feel anxious about it. Perhaps use cleaning as a coping strategy for anxiety or anxious feelings. Still other people feel the opposite and do everything possible to avoid house cleaning. No matter what emotions or thoughts the spring season brings for you, I hope the following information and recipe help you with your cleaning goals. Anxiety and Cleaning I don’t know about you, but cleaning house does not always feel easy or safe to do. For me, cleaning can be a physical and energetic challenge. The physical actions and smells bring flashbacks and body memories from childhood and adolescence. My muscles lock up and stop working. Or send sharp, stabbing pains in unusual places that send panic attack signals to the rest of me. … Whether you use cleaning to manage your anxiety, avoid cleaning to manage anxiety or fall somewhere in the middle, there are ways to keep your space as clean as you deserve on your terms. Plant based cleaners and DIY recipes are two options.

Aromatherapy: Refresh My Space All-Purpose Cleaner — Scent Reflections LLC

Cleaning as a Coping Strategy or a Coping Challenge?

On Scent Reflections, I shared some of my struggles around housekeeping and house cleaning – and an easy DIY recipe.

For many people, cleaning is enjoyable and something that keeps our home feeling safe. It’s a way to remove dirt, dust, germs, or clutter while also providing movement and exercise. Believe me, if you do it right, cleaning is exercise.

And cleaning is an effective coping strategy to combat anxiety, stress, or anxious feelings. It’s a safe way to release energy, offers an immediate reward and feeling of success when the task if finished, and keeps them busy.

For other people, cleaning is a coping challenge that does the opposite of what I described in the previous two paragraphs.

Or maybe (like me) people fall somewhere in the middle of those extremes. Some parts of cleaning are less stressful/anxiety-provoking while others are more.

In the blog post I share two effective coping strategies from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy technique and a favorite cleaning recipe. Maybe they can help you with a similar challenge…or maybe not.

Thanks for reading

Coping Challenges: Getting Used to a New Environment

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

My alters and I, we don’t have much to share this week. Unpacking is still a work-in-progress. The transition is easier after 1 week living in this apartment. Discovery and observation are my two best coping strategies right now.

What used to trigger me in the other apartments – noise, smells, privacy (or lack of) – are less stressful here even though they still exist. Some noises are new to me. Others are not. Same with smells and privacy. The apartment is set up in such a way that I have to get creative to balance my need for privacy with my need for natural sun and open blinds.

As for people and sounds, well that is something I continue to work on. But the safer I feel, the easier it is to step back and observe instead of react from a place of fear about these triggers. That means it’s easier to stay present and remember I am okay when the upstairs neighbors move around and make noise. Towels on the window sills help keep external smells outside. Door and window blockers keep out drafts and other smells.

Crystals keep the energy balanced and moving throughout the apartment. This time, they are in bags, small bowls, alone, or in groups on doorknobs, near plants, and so on. I am grateful for the heaters and how they work. Pipes and mechanical equipment in the floors and walls account for some of the vibrations and noise that seem to appear from nowhere.

The bath and shower help with body memories and some sensory flashbacks. It’s private and large enough for me to use as a changing room too sometimes. Using the essential oils or a scented bath will not disturb my neighbors and gives me a chance to have a “spa day” or water-focused meditation period at home.

But it wasn’t and still isn’t easy. There is a lot to learn and adapt to in a new building with new people. The neighborhood is different. The people are different. Traffic patterns and pedestrian movement keep me on my toes – especially as I get used to being here on weekends. A lot of events take place within walking distance, so weekdays are quieter – good for work :).

Processing takes time. And so does creating a home. Soon, when there are less boxes, I will take photos and share them here. Definitely of my garden. Maybe the kitchen too – it’s big and roomy with space to make smoothies – since I spend a lot of time there. Some parts of unpacking are easy for me while others trigger all kinds of messy emotions.

  • Measuring and cutting paper to line my cabinets – triggering.
  • Putting stuff on the walls – triggering
  • Deciding where to put items – neutral
  • Putting together folding shelves and adding items – neutral
  • Is any part of unpacking and setting up again fun for me? No not really.

But all parts of me are in this together. We are happy here. Feel safe here. No one is caged or trapped in this apartment – or in the building. There are security measures that keep everyone safe. And I know who to contact if I have any concerns or questions. That goes a long way to keeping the flashbacks from taking control.

Plus nothing, except an event beyond my control, is going to stop any part of me from settling in and settling down here.

So the unpacking process will be VERY slow. Priority goes to items that are necessary for every day life. Then the fun stuff that makes a home feel like home. Finally, everything else.

For now, though, it’s about recovery and re-claiming my protected, safe spaces. Maybe less about self care and more about self soothing – bringing comfort, peace, and harmony with large doses of love – to re-build my energy reserves and eliminate the sleep debt (i.e. persistent feelings of tiredness from chronic lack of sleep or rest).

What does nurturing mean to you? And how can or will you nurture yourself?

Thanks for reading