Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties

Writing & Blogging: Writer’s Block, Affirmations, & Reader Comments

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.

Thanks to everyone who commented on the last post. I appreciate your kind words and suggestions. I read all of them just now and tried to at least “like” all of them even if I didn’t reply. Sometimes I’m not sure what to say…

Funny how sharing fear makes it less scary

After I wrote the last post and shared my fears, some of the block disappeared. Still have not written anything yet, but I did find 5 useful articles on PubMed and some interesting references in an aromatherapy chemistry book. Next step, read the articles and start the note taking.

Thanks all of you for reading my post and sharing your stories in the comments. I feel less alone and more connected to a community who can relate to my fears and struggles. That always helps me cope with the fear the crops up whenever I try something different.

Maybe (I hope) it helps you cope with some of your fears too?

Sharing some Affirmations – 2019 reader comments

Back in 2019, I finished a 365 days of Affirmations challenge but didn’t write about it much here. The challenge was a personal one to help me change my perspective about, well, everything going on between 2018 and 2019 when I felt stuck in negativity and trapped. I think maybe 4 posts were dedicated to this challenge and sharing about the “About Page” too, but many guests commented about wanting more posts.

I promised to write more, but not in 2019. The reason? My family of origin came back into my life, and finding balance with them took up most of my available time. Their stories were not something I could share here without permission, and everything I normally would write about was colored by our interactions together.

To make up for that, I’m going to share 5 affirmations from 2018 here. They are yours to borrow and use if you want. Definitely to share too. And, if you’re interested, you can use them as writing prompts.

Writing prompts? Sure. If you want to challenge your skills and your thoughts a lá Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, you can use the affirmations as inspiration for journal entries, short essays, stories, poems, your own affirmations, etc.

Perseverance: I open myself up to the universal healing energy that surrounds us.

AlterXpressions

Rainy days give life to plants while making beautiful music.  I welcome all of nature’s symphony into my world.

AlterXpressions

I open my heart to universal unconditional love and compassion.

AlterXpressions

Cooking is an expression of self care and joy.  The combined aroma of cooking food grounds me in the present.  I immerse myself in the sensual pleasure of cooking.

AlterXpressions

I do my best to live within my values no matter what kind of stress fills my inner self.  Self compassion and kindness help me over come my mistakes with people.

AlterXpressions

Guest Comments

Many guests this week asked about my web site theme and Internet browser operating errors. They also asked for some tips about writing and blogging. Since I don’t know what platform you use as a web host, here are some general suggestions:

  1. Check your account’s help sections and resource pages for information. They often have useful articles about how to check for errors on your web site or blog and then fix the errors.
  2. Contact customer service. Sometimes the errors have to do with the platform and not your account. That happened to me a few times in the past.
  3. Review and update your themes at least 1x every other year. More often if you are still working on your design. There are many free themes with customization options to help you create something that fits you.
  4. When choosing themes, look for ones that include mobile browsing options. Both of my sites have the capability to convert their user view to fit a desktop, tablet, and other mobile devices. Not every theme (free and paid) offers this flexibility, so you have to include it in your search criteria.
  5. For Optimization and speed, learn the limits of your account and work within them. Adjust your settings and test them out – by visiting the site yourself or asking others to visit and test the pages/posts for you – and make adjustments. Once you find settings that keep your site/blog safe and allow for optimized loading speeds, etc. you can start pushing those limits.

Honestly, I contact WordPress customer support at least 2x a month with questions when I make changes to either site. In between that, I take the free classes and read the articles to try and figure things out myself first. But I know my limits and the chaos that ensues when I try to fix certain things myself. Lesson learned: know when to ask for help and ask before you make things worse.

If you have suggestions or affirmations you want to share, please write them in the comments.

Thanks for reading.

It is not so much what you believe that matters, as the way in which you believe it and proceed to translate that belief into action

Quotes & Affirmations: Thoughts from Lin Yutang

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.

I don’t have much to write about this week. Instead, I decided to let quotes speak for me instead.

Lin Yutang is a Chinese-born writer and philosopher whose work speaks to me deeply. I read The Importance of Living early in my recovery journey and experienced a life-changing moment that continues to positively influence my life now.

Any good practical philosophy must start out with the recognition of our having a body
It is not so much what you believe that matters, as the way in which you believe it and proceed to translate that belief into action

Thanks for reading.

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 🙂

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

Quotes & Affirmations: Love as currency or something else?

The Quote

“Love you can spend like currency isn’t really love.”

From The Winter Long by Seanan McGuire

So what is love?

Not just romantic love, but LOVE in all of its forms.

I don’t know how to describe the feeling.  But I do know that real love is:

  • Unconditional
  • Universal
  • Freely given
  • Freely received

Anything else is a parody, or worse a lie.

Why share the quote?

It’s a good reminder (for me at least) that love and approval are different.

Love can exist without respect and trust, but not without acceptance or compassion.

Yesterday this quote helped me maintain perspective when flashbacks of my family and former friends hit hard.  Maybe it will help you too.

Thanks for reading.

Coping Strategy: 365 Days of writing affirmations or mantras

What is an affirmation?

An affirmation is a statement of positive intention.  It can be a phrase, a sentence, a group of sentences, or a quotation.

What is a mantra?

A mantra is a phrase, statement, slogan, or quotation that can be repeated frequently.  It can be used for comfort, inspiration, support, a renewal of faith, etc.

Why both instead of one or the other?

Both words have similar uses that can be hard to distinguish sometimes.  Affirmations can be used as mantras.  A mantra (whole or parts) can be used as an affirmation.  Since I can’t tell what category mine go into, I write out my intention and then decide if it’s a mantra or an affirmation later.

Inspiration comes from?

  • Other bloggers – So many bloggers are creating their own or sharing inspiring affirmations that I decided to be brave and try writing mine down too
  • Tara Brach – Understanding grief & loss, coping or healing through faith, meditation, and communication – I personally like her free “Tara’s Talks” videos
  • Pema Chodron – Lessons in spiritual resilience, faith (whether or not you are Buddhist), meditation, and compassion (loving kindness and mindfulness meditations)
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn – Mindfulness meditation to help with pain, stress, and other uncomfortable feelings through Harvard Medical School
  • Brene Brown – lessons in authentic living, shame, resilience, and vulnerability
  • Deirdre Fay’s classes – affirmations as part of meditation or breathing techniques to help cope with trauma
  • other self-help books – The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook was the second self-help book that helped me start making sense of the coping challenges and learn how to use affirmations even if I didn’t believe in them at the time.  My other favorite self-help and coping strategy books are on Pinterest if you want to look there too, but beware I also have some personal boards up there.  You might learn more than you care to about me…
  • Louise Hay – her affirmations helped me through some of my darkest moments; I’m grateful for the person who introduced me to her writing way back in the first years of my recovery journey

How does it help so far?

  • The affirmation or mantra sets my intention for the day
  • Makes my thoughts concrete and visible to anyone who reads it
  • Reminds me to feel gratitude and practice what I’ve learned to help cope no matter how I feel at the time
  • Gives me a place to visit and remember positive thoughts when my mind decides to go blank
  • Teaches me patience, consistency, perseverance, and follow-through on my goals and objectives
  • Let’s me practice self-kindness and self-compassion when I make mistakes by not writing down an affirmation or mantra every day

But 365 days?  Why?

Yes, 365 days or approximately 1 year.  It’s time for me to expand my boundaries and try to do this in spite of the triggers that stopped me in the past.  Plus this is an activity that all parts of me can participate in, remember, go back to, and enjoy together.  We are all involved and motivated to succeed.  This gives us all a better chance at accomplishing our goal.

Other thoughts

Some people will tell you that affirmations are crap or bs or (my personal favorite) hogwash.  You can’t change your life with positive affirmations.  And even if you can, how can you say them and have faith if you are in a negative mindset?  Or you have a negative self-image?  Or, like people in group once said, maybe these things can happen for other people, but not for me because I’m not worthy.

Maybe that’s true for some people.  It was sort of true for me back when I first started listening to people talk about the power of positive thinking, etc.  But then I tried looking at the concept from other perspectives. 

I started reading other affirmations to try to understand what made them positive or inspirational or meaningful. What was a mantra, and how did it relate to affirmations?  Because many people preferred using mantras instead, I wondered if it was language that made the difference.  Language as in how words are perceived by the dominant culture around us.  Later, I wondered if these affirmations and mantras were like prayers.  Instead of going directly to God, they were spoken as a gesture of faith in a higher power or to whatever religious deity the people believed in.

Questioning my spiritual path

That’s when I dropped the word “positive” and kept affirmations.  Also why I prefer “mantras” to “prayers” even though I do pray every night and every morning.  And if I time traveled back to the moment when I was choosing a religion, I’d probably be Jewish because that was the faith that brought me the most love and comfort in childhood.

Maybe some day I will be able to visit a Synagogue without crying – it’s been almost 30 years, and I still miss my Uncle Teddy.  And so I pray.  I practice compassion and gratitude through meditation and random acts of kindness.  I collect prayers, quotes, affirmations, and mantras that connect with my spirit.  Finally, I write my own affirmations and mantras.  Maybe someday I’ll share them here too.

Lessons Learned

And I learned that affirmations, mantras, and prayers all have a few things in common:

  • They share hope for a different outcome
  • They open people up to different possibilities and choices
  • They bring comfort during times of stress or overwhelming sensations
  • They are not always positive
  • They can be as simple as one word or as complicated as a poem
  • They work as long as the one speaking/writing them believes
  • They are the wishes and foundations for everyday miracles in life

Your Choice

*Like most tings in life, you get out of affirmations and mantras what you put into them.*

If you want to try one, why not pick a quote or phrase that is meaningful to you and repeat it once a day for a set time period.  At the end of that time period, reflect on how you feel and if anything has changed between then and now.  Then decide for yourself if you want to continue using them.

Thanks for reading