Movement Challenge Facebook Live invite 3/22/2020 at 1:00 PM pacific time – Info Update

Here is the Facebook link Hope to see you there.

Movement Challenge Facebook Live invite 3/22/2020 at 1:00 PM pacific time ‚ÄĒ Scent Reflections LLC

I’m not the most social person. This probably discourages a lot of people from accepting this invitation. That’s okay.

Besides, I didn’t have a lot of details before about what the discussion would be about. Now I do have details. Read below for the update.

This Facebook live event is an invitation for guests of Scent Reflections and Untangled Connections to join me in a group healing meditation. The movement challenge will be to experience how energy moves through us and connects us to each other as a community using our senses.

I choose to thrive in a world filled with kindness, unconditional love, and acceptance

Life Changing Moments: A little of this, a little of that, quotes, and affirmations too

Dear Guests,

Autumn (or fall) is here. It’s the end of September, and I honestly don’t know where to start. Life took many unexpected turns this year. Some of which I can’t discuss because the stories are not mine to share. Other experiences are related, but not, to what I write here. But I am not sure of their relevance.

That brings me to the first part of the title: this, that, and what else? Work is going well; so many new challenges that it takes a lot of my brain power. I’m still dealing with a difficult living situation, but we’re making slow progress there. Plus 5 months left of living here! And some of those experiences I don’t feel comfortable sharing here, they have to do with the positive evolving relationship between my parents and me.

Yup, I said it. Postive. Evolving. Relationship. Parents. Me.

In fact, they’re coming to visit me next week and will be staying (in a hotel) for a little more than 1 week. Yes, I am excited and happy. Nervous too. But mostly excited.

The other news? I’ve decided to stop allowing comments through a feedback form until I can put in something safe and reliable.

You can comment on posts if you want. But I’m getting so much spam that it’s hard to distinguish guests from trolls. Apologies for that…

And, I will be writing less the rest of this year, as I consider what different direction to take Untangled Connections so it stays relevant to its main purpose. As my recovery changes, my life changes and coping strategies change.

There is so much new information about trauma, recovery, PTSD, and more out there that I can’t keep up and still pursue other interests. That means the topics here will change. The tone will change. And the types of resources/information will change too.

What I’ve written about these last 4 years has to do with Survival Mode and the first years after getting out of the dangerous situation.

Now, I am in a different phase with different challenges. And if you are willing to read about them, I will share that here too.

Here are the FAQs; skip the next section for Affirmations and Quotes ūüôā

Q7: How can I write to you? Will you write back to me? What about comments?

7A: At this time, you can comment on blog posts. Most go to SPAM, so there is a chance that your comment does not get a response if I think it is SPAM and does not follow blog rules.

I  tried to offer a comment form, but all comments went directly to the SPAM filter. Since those messages go to my e-mail inbox, I decided that it’s too risky to address those messages because of increased problems with phishing, viruses, malware, etc.

Q8: Where are you? Will you be writing more?

8A: I am taking a writing break. There is a lot going on in my personal life right now, and I’m working on a new direction for Untangled Connections now that my recovery has changed trajectory and the challenges are not the same as before.

365 Days of Affirmations Follow Up

A few times in the past, I shared a personal coping strategy project called “365 Days of Affirmations”.

The point of this project was to change my thinking processes, attitude, and behavior from negative/unhappy/angry all the time to neutral/postive/content/loving instead and apply that to all parts of my life.

The difficult part was figuring out what “positive” meant to me. Because, while I believe in the power of positive thinking, I also believe in potential harm of positive thinking. And have experienced the blowback when positive thinking fails. That is part of why this update took so long.

While I did compose an affirmation every day for 365 days, I failed at writing down each affirmation once a day for 365 days. Some times I forgot to write down an affirmation for one month or longer. Then had to go back and write them all when I did remember to record the affirmations and quotes.

On the other hand, I learned that creating an affirmation for the day did help me change my thinking processes, attitude, and behavior.

I learned how to reframe sentences and opinions to be either neutral or positive, kind, and encouraging, without feeling over-the-top or unattainable. For Example:

Today is not bad out – cloudy and gray, but smells like autumn and not raining.

vs

Today is bright, cool and gray with some clouds. The air smells like autumn rain.

I am exactly where I am supposed to be in order to manifest my goals and dreams

Thanks for reading

Life Changing Moments: Home for the Holidays

Dear Guests,

This time next week, I will be back in my home state (the one where I was born) getting ready to celebrate Christmas with my parents, brother, and father’s side of ¬†the family for the first time in 7 years. Maybe longer. All of us will get together at an aunt’s house on the morning of Christmas Day to open gifts, hang out, and (later) eat a holiday dinner together. Dinner as in lunch…not the evening meal (aka supper).

I admit to feeling many conflicting emotions. Fear, excitement, guilt, joy, anxiety are a few of them. In terms of my immediate family, I’m excited to see my dad. We’ve been talking (FaceTime) and emailing regularly since August. He’s excited to see me too and has been keeping me updated about the rest of the family. I have mixed feelings about seeing my mom and brother (and his wife) again. We didn’t part on good terms, and my child parts are upset about being close to them again. But the adult parts of me are happy to see them again.

For my Dad’s side of the family, I’m excited and anxious to see them again. We don’t relate very well for a lot of reasons, so sometimes sharing space can be difficult. It’s part of why I choose to stay in a hotel or AirBnB during visits home. We love each other, but live completely different lives. And a lot of my life is not something many of my relatives on either side can acknowledge, approve, or accept. Other than some social topics or basic questions and answers, we don’t have much to talk about.

For my Mom’s side, the timing worked to visit with one group of cousins the day before I leave. As I’m only staying for 4 days, I’m grateful for that much and excited to see them. Yes I’m also nervous, but that’s mostly because it’s a new relationship with all of us being adults now. Luckily, we are all foodies and can spend a few hours chatting and enjoying good food.

Have you noticed the food theme? A lot of my family gatherings revolve around food – it was how different generations came together to prepare food, set tables, cook, share stories, and enjoy conversations while eating – as a party or event was often how my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and parents brought us together.

Why do  this?

The simple answer is closure.
I’m in a positive, healing place that allows me to open up and face some of the scariest parts of my past so that moving forward is less stressful. Plus, I do miss my family. I love them and want the best for them – best as in what works for and with their current goals and lifestyles. Closure allows my heart wounds to finally drain and start to heal.

The complicated answer is more nuanced.
I am going to visit my grandmother. She hasn’t been doing well since her accident back in January. If I can give her anything, it’s one holiday with all of us together like before. We can spend some time together, and I can reassure her that I’m happy, healthy, and safe even if I live all the way across the country.

I’m going for my father. Seeing him in person, giving and receiving a real hug is a gift in itself. We don’t have a lot in common, but we are interested in each other’s lives and actively listen, accept and respect each others choices. Besides that, my Dad is really funny and always finds a way to share his fatherly wisdom with humor.

I’m going for myself, to prove that I can spend time with them as an adult whose triggers don’t get in the way and cause problems. We can be ourselves, share space together, and enjoy the holiday time with less tension and negativity. I don’t have to hide parts of myself and can accept that different relatives will and do hide behind masks – but the hiding is not personal. And I won’t get in trouble for being me. Or cause problems by being me.

In doing this, I can

try to resolve my conflicting feelings about letting any family into my life and being part of their lives.

Conflict part 1: I am happy as I am now being connected again, was happy before reconnecting with any family at all, and am not sure how much I want to be connected with any of them. If I want to be connected at all.

Conflict part 2: I love my family and am happy to be peripherally connected to some of them. But I’ve left behind the dreams of being close with them or having a strong connection where we keep in touch regularly, etc.

In other words, I’m facing some of my biggest fears in less than a week. Wish me luck?

And luck to any and all of you who might be in similar situations with the holiday season.

Thanks for reading.

Life Changing Moments: Changing self perception

I struggle with being body positive and having a positive self-image.

  • Part of that is because of past experiences.
  • Part of it is because my body shape, size, and appearance do not fit any “ideal” standards, so shopping and feeling good about how I look isn’t always easy.
  • The rest has to do with looking like either parent or following “appearance expectations” – my rebellion against this

This struggle shattered my self-confidence, built up on existing shame, and gave me many reasons to “hide” from the world.

No matter what I did or how I tried, something about me always attracted attention.  Something always gave others an excuse or rationale to be mean/rude, etc.  And I believed them when they told me it was my fault for making them act that way.

I still believed that, deep down in a secret part of me, until last week.

WHAT HAPPENED?

An unexpected award at work gave me the push I needed to stop procrastinating about getting professional photos for business/school, etc. ¬†Here’s the short version:

The company I work for in my day job has over 1,000 employees worldwide and a commitment to encourage continuous learning. ¬†They promote this internally by giving employees free accounts to LinkedIn Learning and internal classes. ¬†At every half-year, the people in “people teams” use some metric or formula to find out who took the most classes, etc. and gives them a small award using an internal award system.

I get a lot of down time between projects and hate being bored, so the online classes through LinkedIn were ways to me to feel like I wasn’t getting paid for doing nothing. ¬†The award was unexpected, yet much appreciated. ¬†But it wasn’t until after I answered the survey questions, that someone from “people teams” reached out with a request. ¬†The company liked my answers and wanted to use them as part of a promotional campaign. ¬†Would I allow this and also send a photo to go with the answers?

At first, I freaked out and said “absolutely not” on the inside. ¬†But then I paused. ¬†This was an opportunity, a big one to help me reach the next step of “not hiding” and achieving outside goals. ¬†If I said no, I’d be going backwards. ¬†If I said yes, I’d have to face a whole lot of fears, including putting my face out on the Internet.

I said yes and asked for some time to get them a decent photo.  We agreed on a date, and I booked my first photo shoot in 14 years (since college graduation photos).

WHY IS THIS A LIFE CHANGING MOMENT?

My style group friends have been cheering me along on my journey to self-discovery and being my authentic self always, but especially in how I present myself to the outside world. ¬†With their help, I chose an outfit and makeup that felt 100%, authentically me. ¬†Surprisingly, I didn’t see

  • a little girl playing dress-up in the mirror
  • A woman dressing to look “like a lady” according to parental expectations
  • My mother, father, aunts, cousins, or grandparents looking back at me
  • A clown or over made-up woman trying to be something she’s not

I saw myself – all parts of myself expressed as a single, adult woman wearing a dress & blazer with fun accessories and subtle makeup – as I got ready for the photo session.

The photographer was amazing.  She helped me feel completely at ease and comfortable posing outside.  The whole experience felt like chatting with an old friend and taking photos for fun.  Never before had I felt so relaxed with a stranger taking photos of me.  Part of it was location Рwe took photos in a beautiful park Рand part of it was the overall feeling of rightness that stayed with me throughout the day.

I got to see myself through the photographer’s eyes and camera lens that afternoon. ¬†She accepted my quirks and even appreciated some of them. ¬†Before her, I’d not met many people who also talked to ladybugs or openly expressed a reverence for nature. ¬†We connected over a mutual love and respect for trees; some of my favorite “fun” shots are of me sitting on exposed roots or posing against trees.

Together, we narrowed down to 3 photos that fit the main purpose of this photo shoot: business headshots for work & professional networking profiles.

But I also chose one for school and “fun” profiles too. ¬†My current day job is segregated from my other hobbies and work choices on purpose. ¬†They do not play well together, and I am very private. ¬†Not many businesses want someone with my kind of mental health issues working for them, no matter how good I am at my job. ¬†So 3 photos:

  • One for internal work/business (like email, profiles, messaging, etc.) that showed me and my “professional” personality with hints of non-work life
  • One for business and networking or job hunting profiles that expressed my business professionalism, creativity, and unique personality
  • One for school and personal profiles (personal email, WordPress account, Facebook, etc.) that showed me in a happy, confident, relaxed, open way.

WHAT CHANGED?

My self-perception, self-image whatever you want to call it.

When I look in a mirror, I finally see me.  A beautiful (inside out kind), confident, secure-in-herself woman.  An authentic, person with many alternate personalities who thrives in her chosen life style with family of choice, a support network, and a fulfilling life in spite of many challenges.

MY HOPE

For all people, with and without mental health or trauma issues, to experience a positive change in self-perception too.  I share this story with the hope that someone can relate to the experience, realize he or she is not alone, and have the courage to make positive steps too.

Thanks for reading.

Life Changing Moments: Self-Acceptance

A Panic Attack Makes the Difference

After Wednesday’s post I had a panic attack and felt very frustrated with myself. ¬†On the one hand, I was happy that I followed through on the personal challenge to socialize, be friendly, and show all parts of myself to everyone I met. ¬†On the other hand, I felt upset and overwhelmed because the cultural and social norms are so different than anything I am used to dealing with. ¬†Talking feels so frustrating sometimes. ¬†And the discomfort of when to speak or not to speak and how much or little gets confusing. ¬†But I wasn’t upset with anyone on the outside – my friends and family, the people in my neighborhood – because they are who they are and speak/behave as they will.

No I was upset with myself for falling into the pit again. ¬†I gave myself a year to experiment with “fitting in” in this new place. ¬†I would observe and follow the local customs as best as possible while also staying true to myself and letting people really “see” me. ¬†Not an easy task, but something that did happen over time. ¬†Without the cloud of my past hanging over my head, I learned to separate different kinds of triggers and how to cope with some better than others.

Hence the panic attack.  People and environmental triggers still send me into flashbacks that distort my perceptions of reality.  Sometimes I am aware of this, and sometimes I am not.  When I am aware, I usually stay inside and avoid people/circumstances that will make things worse.  When I am not aware, I use the complicated experiences as teachable moments to help for next time and hope that whatever happened did not destroy any budding positive relationships.  This time though, I still went out and interacted with people I thought were safe Рi.e. friends who knew about my past and accepted the differences in my worldview as I did theirs Рin different social situations.

Ever hear of the phrase “fool me once, shame on you. ¬†Fool me twice, shame on me”?

Well that’s kind of how I feel right now.

I chose to open up and see what would happen.  I chose to believe people when they said that I could be all of myself around them Рincluding asking for help when I felt panic, anxiety, or triggering in public/social situations Рwithout judgement.  I chose to take these people up on their offers to help me with issues of perception and understanding social situations.

And I chose to ask them for help when something like this did happen.

So why do I feel so shamed and upset with myself for other people’s inability to accept that my perceptions and worldview are different?

And why do I continue to try to explain a situation to a close minded individual who holds up past examples of why she or he is correct and only hears what supports that belief?

Why get myself into these traps with people?

  • Because I care.
  • Because those traps are triggering and remind me of ¬†the convoluted, crazy-making conversations from my past even though they are not the same.
  • Because even though arguing hurts, sometimes it has to be done. The consequences coped with like any other trigger or anxiety situation.
  • And because I don’t want these people thinking something wrong about me – they are friends or acquaintances close to becoming friends – because of something I didn’t understand or a social faux pas.

Questioning My Beliefs

Arguing always upsets me. ¬†Asserting myself makes me feel queasy and shaky for days. ¬†But I’d rather feel upset, queasy, shaky, etc. than helpless, hopeless, powerless, and without choices because I didn’t stand up for myself. ¬†And I’d rather challenge someone and feel good about using open, direct communication than letting stuff fester until it explodes.

So while I may not be a “traditional” or “typical” person who epitomizes an empath, I am one. ¬†I am also a new to being an empath – the memories of past experiences and mistakes from this extra perception have been flooding my mind lately – and freely admit this to anyone who asks. ¬†It does get confusing sometimes because I have alter personalities with their own feelings & memories. ¬†Some of them share the empathic senses while others do not. ¬†And when one of them senses danger from a trigger, I am more than happy to help test reality and see if this perception is true or not.

This “reality testing” coping technique is often part of what makes talking with people challenging. ¬†I will ask question or make comments and ask for their perspective.

  • If the person knows me really well, she or he understands I am feeling anxious or triggered and responds with reassurance and acceptance.
  • If the person is aware of my past, but doesn’t truly understand me, he or she will call me “dramatic” or “over-sensitive” or “paranoid” and lecture me about looking for the worst in people and situations.
  • If the person is aware of my past and gets triggered by my comment or question, she or he will attack or accuse me of “making assumptions” or “being rude & arrogant” or “reading too much into something” and then try to “help” me by pointing out my flaws (with examples) and try to “change my behavior”.

What happens next?

  • Option 1: I express gratitude, let go of the triggered perception, relax and move on.
  • Option 2: I feel triggered, try to explain again & again without getting through to the person who’s mind is made up and end up feeling frustrated and ashamed of myself
  • Option 3: I get mad and start mirroring the other persons actions until we have time apart. ¬†Then I use self-reflection and talk with someone objective to figure out a solution. Eventually, I assert myself and the miscommunication gets cleared up – sometimes with a positive ending; other times with a negative ending. ¬†If lucky, with a neutral ending that we can build on in the future.

 

AS you can see, I’m not perfect. ¬†I get mad. ¬†I lose my ¬†temper. ¬†I say or do things I don’t mean when angry or upset.

BUT I don’t lash out on purpose. ¬†I don’t hurt people on purpose. ¬†I don’t blame others on purpose. ¬†And I work really hard to listen, respect, and accept what the other person is saying no matter my personal opinions or beliefs.

In the end, I question whether or not I:

  1. Can interact with lots of people in positive ways
  2. Can make new friends or develop more relationships
  3. Can go back to school or pursue group activities
  4. Can ever talk and make sense to outside people (not victims or survivors or professionals who work with both)
  5. Can be a good friend or partner or cousin, etc.
  6. Have changed for the better and can pursue my goals in spite of my challenges

ACCEPTANCE helps me realize that while I can do all of these things, it’s not going to change the other people’s beliefs and reactions. ¬†They will believe what they want and stick to those opinions no matter how much of my words make sense. ¬†So I can continue making myself crazy or I can understand that these people are not going to change their opinions of me and let it go.

Self Acceptance

The answer is YES as long as I can accept myself and feel good about my choices.

I put myself out in the world.  I let many people see my vulnerabilities and challenges.  Sometimes I succeeded.  Sometimes I failed.  I met a few people whose opinions matter; we are slowly working to build a friendship.  I met a few people who will make good acquaintances instead of friends.  I met old friends and colleagues after a year away and realized that change comes to us all; how we cope with change defines what happens next.

I realized that no matter what I say, sometimes the words fall on closed minds and deaf ears. ¬†These people can’t or won’t accept my words because it challenges their self-perceptions and worldviews too much. ¬† Instead, I have to be wrong. ¬†And our relationship can’t change. ¬†Who are they, what role do they play when they realize I am self-aware and not in need of their mentoring/guidance etc. or willing to play their games anymore? ¬†Where does that leave our relationship?

Where it leaves the other people, I don’t know. ¬†And honestly, as long as it doesn’t cause major harm, illness, or death in their world, I don’t care.

For myself, it gave me choices.  And helped me understand certain realities.

Like the fact that I feel more comfortable with myself now than I have before.  That I have changed and opened up for the better and want to continue.  This opening up and internal change has brought out visible external changes too.  One external change being self-assurance and security in who I am.  Not so much self-confidence which is part of assurance, but acceptance of self with the goal to continue changing and improving.

Like the fact that parts of me will always feel and act upon the negative self-perceptions from Wednesday’s post, but those perceptions will not inform thoughts, feelings, or behavior as much anymore. ¬†Or like the fact that positive for me tends to sound negative to everyone else. ¬†And positive to everyone else often sounds unrealistic or rosy to me.

So I can accept that these people who might or might not continue to be friends, but will always be friendly acquaintances, view me in a somewhat negative light even if they admire my strength and resilience. ¬†And I can accept that it’s time for me to let them go. ¬†I wrote them an email thanking them for their honesty and friendship and sent a link to the post explaining my communication issues.

What happens next is up to ¬†them. ¬†Because I am finished. ¬†Finished letting my fear of sounding funny or not making sense stand in my way. ¬†Finished trying to be something I am not. ¬†Finished trying to “have friends’ and “be social” on acceptable levels. ¬†Who’s idea of “acceptable” is it anyways?

I am grateful for the wonderful friendships that already exist.  I am grateful for the limited but fulfilling family relationships that exist.  I am grateful for the opportunity to meet lots of people and have interactions that always teach me something.

Now it’s time to go back to being my happy, solitary self.

Thanks for reading