Anniversaries: Labor Day

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.

Normally, holidays are a source of tension and triggers for me. Labor Day is one that tends to put me to sleep – as in I can’t cope with all the stuff in my mind and body so shut down to sleep it all off.

But this year is different. I have Gale to keep me grounded and busy – kitty shenanigans at 5:30 AM anyone? – work I love, and loved ones to share time with from a safe distance. Plus I really do need the day off.

So, I’m going to keep this short by wishing you all in the US a Happy Labor Day holiday and everyone else a safe and prosperous week filled with interesting experiences.

Here are some Gale photos:

Thanks for reading

Life Quirks: Integrating Changes & Cats

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 am a perpetually messy person. The more I try to clean, the more mess I make. It’s almost like the mess feels safer than clean spaces – sometimes. But not always. And then I expend more effort into cleaning up only to find the mess back again days or weeks later.

So I think to myself, how can I possibly be responsible for another living being if I am a perpetual mess with stuff everywhere? Can a messy person be responsible for a pet and keep things clean enough for everyone?

Or are my triggers getting in the way again? Maybe both?

But that’s my goal for this year: adopt a cat and become a pet parent.

So now that I’ve committed to doing this, I’ve been researching the cost for a basic set up – all the items I need in the house BEFORE the cat arrives – like litter boxes/scoops, litter, box liners, food/water bowls, bed, scratching posts & toys, mess cleaner, and storage. The carrier and food I can get at the same time as the cat – adoption center on my list has an in-house store.

But then I worry how old should the cat be? What about my garden? Not all the plants are cat friendly.

And then I visit the adoption website and start applying for cats – the new COVID guidelines are strict and require filling out an online questionnaire first. Then receiving a phone call for the next interview. If I’m not #1 and do not answer the first time, they move on to the next person on the list…

Yet again I ask myself, when will be the RIGHT time if not now? Will there ever be a RIGHT time?

But the idea of a cat at home brings out all my warm and fuzzy feelings…intuition says YES now is the right time.

Because if I can join an inclusion and diversity council at work, have video meetings with new-to-me coworkers, talk politely to customer service people on the phone after LONG wait times, and work on a business when the flashbacks are peaking, I can handle a cat too. Right?

Well, I hope so. I don’t want to be doing so much that I exhaust myself. But at the same time, I want to have meaningful downtime. And that’s not happening right now.

“Ants in your pants” is the phrase that applies to me. Some parts of me are revved while the other parts are dragging themselves.

How do you know when you’re ready to integrate a big change? Or do you not know and just go for it?

That’s my quandary right now, so not much available in the way of strategies and advice this week. But if you’re interested in some aromatherapy or tea recipes, check out my other blog here.

thanks for reading.

ADMIN: Social Media, site updates and other stuff FAQ

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.

Social Media Presence

Scared, but determined to play

That owl hiding in the bush? That’s me when it comes to social media. I usually get scared and turn away, hide, or freeze once the bullying and harassment start. Then I delete all my accounts for a while. Maybe I will sign up again under a different name, but maybe not.

But life changes as we all do. And right now feels like a good time to explore and experiment with social media again.

Lost Connections & New Connections

And to answer some people about reactions to my posts here, at Scent Reflections, and on LinkedIn about racism:

Yes I did lose about 10 connections on LinkedIn and some followers here too. Not sure who they are or how many for this blog, but I accept that this place is not for everyone. And not everyone on a professional site like LinkedIn will want to associate with someone as public with their life challenges as I am there too.

One Price of Being Authentically Me

It’s one price I pay to be authentically me. And if you wonder about pronouns, I use a variety of them depending on who I talk to:

Family, friends, & day job: she/her Because I am predominantly a she/her. And I was born female. I like and appreciate being female even though I accept and value my masculine and non-binary parts too. But being a she/her is a lot easier for my family and long-term people to understand and accept.

Here, Scent Reflections, and medical/mental health: they/them, she/her, and he/him Because some of my alters identify as “she”, others identify as “he”, and the rest prefer “they”. It’s not something I ever really considered until I reflected on everything going on right now. But it makes sense.

Hiding in Plain Sight? Not anymore (:

As I shared over the past few months, Untangled Connections is now part of my business Scent Reflections LLC. There are links in the menu bar that will bring you to Scent Reflections if you want to connect with me by email or make a donation to help support Untangled Connections.

However, you can also use the new social menu at the top of every page to connect with me. I have links to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter on there.

Facebook: This page gets automatic posts every time I post new content from the Untangled Connections and Scent Reflections blogs. Sometimes I also share photos and news from other sources.

Regular photos and updates will start (I hope) next month once the social calendar gets completed and I have interesting photos and graphics to share. Graphics being quotes and affirmations from different authors and myself.

Find me using @ScentReflectionsLLC

Instagram: Does not get automatic posts from the blog and currently does not have any content yet. Still working on graphics and photos to share here. Plus a regular posting schedule.

Photos are difficult for me to create and share. Whether they are photos I took with a camera or graphics made using design tools, they take time, money and energy. Most of my photos are taken for the business, so if you want to see garden photos, food/cooking photos, and aromatherapy/blending and creation photos, check this out.

Find me using @scentreflections

Twitter: I shared a post last week about Twitter. You can follow or not, but now all posts published here and on the Scent Reflections blog will appear on Twitter too. You might or might not also find Instagram photos on there, but not sure yet. This social media venue was requested by guest comments and will be removed if no one decides to follow the channel.

For now, I am willing to try and make it work. But I also recognize and accept that many guests who write in asking about Twitter and how to donate to this site could be spam bots instead of actual people. So I am giving all of them and myself the benefit of the doubt with this social experiment.

Find me using @untangledconne1

Pinterest: you can find links to my Pinterest page in the resources section of this website. I haven’t moved everything over to the business page yet so those links still work. Like with the rest of social media, this is an experiment. The channels with the most follows/likes, etc. will stay. The others will slowly fade away after a year or so.

Site Updates

Please review the blog rules. As much as I want to reply to every comment, I can’t do that anymore. It takes way too much time.

Premium Content Features

I’ve decided to add Premium Content features to some posts beginning October 2020. Not sure which posts will get this tag, but if you can’t access it for free, that’s because the post requests a small purchase fee to view. As much as I’d like to keep all the content here free (as in no cost and no copyright penalties), I can’t justify doing that anymore.

Hopefully, the 2 month’s advance notice will help you ease into this new idea.

RSS Feed & Subscriptions

I tried to get a subscription email going through Survey Monkey, but it didn’t work. For now, please use the subscribe options on the sidebar.

If you decide to subscribe by email, your information is safe and confidential. I will not sell your information or use it for marketing purposes without your written permission.

Final Update: I will still be posting once a week, but that day may change due to scheduling changes in my personal and other work calendar. But don’t worry. My alters and I (pronouns used: I/we and she/they and her/theirs) enjoy posting here too much to stop all together.

Other Stuff

Spelling & Grammar Complaints

I feel strange sharing this, but it feels like a blogging milestone. I laughed when the guest comments started telling me that my spelling and grammar need improvement because the errors distract them from reading my posts.

Why laugh? Because I never thought the writing on this blog and website would reach the level of popularity where guests felt comfortable to comment on structure, grammar, syntax, spelling, etc. Then tell me that they will continue to read posts even though the errors annoy them.

And the laughter? It’s not at my guests’ comments. It’s at me and my reaction to their comments – flattered and happy instead of upset and hurt.

Cyber Bullies & Spam? Or genuine comments?

Odd maybe, but the only times I’ve ever seen comments like that are in the comments section of popular writers and authors. They each have their own way of dealing with such comments, but I prefer to acknowledge these guests and show acceptance of different points of view.

Maybe these guests are spammers and cyber bullies. Maybe they are genuine people expressing their opinions. I can’t tell because all comments go to the spam folder. Then I spend hours reading through the comments and publishing the ones that read like they are from real people.

No Response & Comment Not Published

And if I ignore your comment or don’t publish it the first time, it’s probably because many other people asked that question and I considered it spam. Please check the FAQ posts for answers to many of those questions.

Technical Difficulties

I am not tech savvy and depend on WordPress’s customer support to help with technical issues. Thank you all for commenting on them and sharing info with me, but I probably will not be acknowledging any of them for a while.

Why? Because I get the same comments from different guest names even after I put up a post with answers and updates a few days later.

Contact Forms & Communication

Same thing goes for connecting and communicating with guests outside of this blog. If you comment on a post, I will try to respond. If you comment here, I will try to respond. But if you ask me to write back to you personally or share a website, etc. I cannot do that through the WordPress comments. Your identities and mine are protected.

If you really want to reach me, you can use the comment form (connect with me by email) or any of the social media outlets posted above.

Thanks for reading.

EMBRACE DIFFERENCES

Writing & Blogging: Guest Comment from 6/14/2020

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 off I want to say excellent blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your head before writing. I’ve had a difficult time clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out. I do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually wasted just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips? Thank you!

Guest Commenter found in SPAM on 6/14/2020

Once in a while, I get a guest comment that is both similar and different to others about writing and blogging. It sparks my curiosity and gets me thinking about my writing process so that maybe I can answer the question.

In this case, the question also involves coping strategies for focus, anxiety, or writer’s block. Maybe it will also answer some other guest comments with similar questions. Everyone’s writing process is different and unique to them. But here is my strategy.

Free Writing

My mind is often full of thoughts and writing ideas. In the middle of the night, my alter personalities share ideas with everyone. But I don’t remember them the next morning. They come back when inspiration strikes, during meditation, or as I practice some free writing.

Most common example is Word Association style. Pick a word at random. Write down the first thing that comes to mind. Then continue writing about it until you feel more relaxed – i.e. the words start to flow easily.

Then go back to the topic you want to write about and try the same exercise.

There are other options for free writing exercises. Maybe try a few others to see what works best for you.

Refocus Your Thoughts

Sometimes, my thoughts are scattered and confusing as I sit down to write. Usually because there is something distracting me. Other times because I feel scared about the topic and am avoiding it. Once in a while, the anxiety overwhelms me and fear blocks the writing.

I use grounding and distraction coping strategies when this happens. Meditation and deep breathing may help, but it won’t stop the other ideas and so on bouncing around in my mind fighting to get out. Maybe this is true for you as well.

When you use a grounding technique (and no it does not have to be sensory grounding), you are bringing yourself out of wherever you were and into the present moment. The moment where you write about a specific topic.

Some other grounding techniques:

  • Remembering facts about yourself (birthdate, graduation date, parent’s first name, last name, etc.)
  • Remembering facts about the day: specific date (June 28, 2020), specific day of the week (Sunday), location (living room), time of day and so on
  • Remembering life milestones: college graduation 2004, first real job, 2006, first decade of recovery 2014, move across country 2016, and so on.

When you use a distraction, you have the opportunity to let out all the other stuff in your mind before you start writing. It’s a way to express whatever is stopping you from wiring about a specific topic.

Some quick distractions:

  • Practice a hobby: get creative and choose something that allows you to express yourself. Often, I get distracted by emotions or memories or associations my mind makes with the topic. So finding a way to express them helps
  • Make a drink or a snack and use it as a mindfulness exercise before you write. And if you don’t want to eat or drink, find something else you can use for a mindfulness exercise to clarify your thoughts
  • Get up and move: physical activity releases endorphins and helps you feel more connected to all parts of yourself. You also get the benefit of self expression here too. It doesn’t have to be long or fancy as long as it feels right to you
  • Change your location or routine. Try writing somewhere else or at a different time of day or different day of the week.

Be Kind to Yourself

Give yourself a break. Writing is difficult business, vocation, passion – whatever you want to call it. Lots of people have opinions about “how to write” and “what makes a writer” or even “how to be a writer/better writer”. They are both correct and incorrect because what works for them, might not work for you.

Maybe the 10-15 minutes you spend writing about other topics is part of your writing process. It’s how you clear your mind so that you can focus on your topic.

You can experiment with that idea by extending and shortening your dedicated writing time. Add 10-15 minutes. Try free writing. Then turn to a new page and start on your topic. Or end your writing time early.

Remember that you are a writer and successful because you put in the hard work to practice and improve your craft. Congratulate yourself for being where you are now and for how hard you work to be a writer.

Remember not to be so hard on yourself either. That is something I constantly struggle with because there is only so much in a day that:

  • I want to do
  • I need to do
  • I can do
Personal Story example:

I have a goal to write one blog post a week for my new blog and continue writing weekly posts here in between aromatherapy/herbal studies experiments, work, getting my business started, and self care.

But last week, I didn’t have anything to write about for my new blog.

This week, I don’t have anything to write about either because my experiments are still in progress. My rose petal and chamomile infused oil will not be ready until next week. The elderberry infused honey has 3 more weeks to macerate. I’m still testing the “soothe my skin” healing salve with homemade arnica infused oil to help with pain and scars.

And the conflict is: maintain my schedule by writing something low quality and maybe not useful. Or skip some deadlines until I have results and something interesting/useful to write about to create high quality content.

I’ve decided to skip a few deadlines so that I can deliver quality content with photos.

Conclusion

The ideas above are some ways I work through the focus problem as I write. The rest of it is simply this: first drafts are always messy and never reflect the final product – at least for me. So I give myself a break when writing something new.

When I am continuing on something I started a while ago, I will re-read and review what I wrote before to remind myself of what’s already been written.

But to be completely honest, I am not sure if my main strategy will help you at all. You see, my alter personalities do a lot of the writing for this blog. They compose many articles and so on inside my mind without ever putting anything in writing form. They do all the revising and drafting, etc. inside my mind.

Then, everyone decides what gets written down and published here. I/we type up the post in WordPress and then do some light editing/proofreading to catch the major stuff.

And publish the article as is. Whatever errors, etc. you find here are all ours.

So, if you have alter personalities and coexist peacefully with them, maybe consider letting them have a journal (or a few journals) and tools to express themselves before you start the rest of your writing. And if you don’t have alter personalities, it’s always a good idea to express whatever is going on inside to help you relax and focus on your topic.

Because feeling relaxed, confident, and present are the best tools to help you focus and concentrate on a task.

Thanks for reading.

2 Maya Angelou Quotes

Quotes from Maya Angelou – and a mini rant

*Trigger Warning: This post may contain triggers; read at your own pace*

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.

REMINDER: These are my opinions and thoughts unless clearly attributed to another source. Feel free to stop at the graphic if you don’t want to read the rant 🙂

One of the best days of my high school life was when our literature teacher had us read Maya Angelou’s work, starting with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Back then I didn’t understand why Ms. Angelou’s words resonated deep within me or how I could relate to the story. But I did.

And still do. Relate and resonate with her words, guidance, wisdom (your words here).

My alter personalities enjoy reading poetry and biographies once in a while. But often they read these books after a complete switch, leaving me and some others out of the loop. It’s okay because we all have different interests and want to keep some things only ours instead of shared.

But they wanted me to share these two quotes with you today because they feel relevant to all the changes happening in present time.

Ms. Angelou is like a rainbow peaking out of the clouds when I feel down. Maybe she can help you too.


Mini Rant

And now for the mini rant. I feel so frustrated and am not sure who to talk to or how to address this continuing problem in my life. It’s not like any part of me asked to be wired this way. But certain parts of my sense of self will take longer to heal than others.

Should I have listened to my instincts and cut the person off as soon as they started tingling? Or was continuing the conversation until the inevitable rejection a better option? I don’t really know. But I do care and wish relationships were not so messy or complicated.

If you’ve read past posts, you realize that social media is difficult for me on many levels. I have trust issues and “feeling safe” issues among others that relate to who is “friended” or “unfriended” becomes a “connection” or gets “disconnected” or “follows” and “is followed” on different accounts. Lots of mistakes in the past make me careful about what content I put up and where I go to interact on social media.

The other part that comes up here frequently is my choice to be single and celibate on purpose. Then explaining to people who connect with me on LinkedIn or other other social media places that I am not available without oversharing or overreacting to the trigger.

What is the trigger?

Male or female flirts with me/hits on me/shows signs of sexual attraction

My automatic/instinctive reaction?

Oh s*** he/she/they/it is dangerous and trying to attack/hurt me. Gotta protect myself. Time for the alters to come out and communicate with him/her/them/it.

Yeah, it never ends well for me (and sometimes the other too) once my instincts kick in.

So back to the social media – I am on LinkedIn for a lot of reasons, but the biggest one is that it’s supposed to be a professional network for people to connect and support each other’s business and work goals. Not for people to find partners or flirt or set up dates or other personal type connections.

And yet, twice in the past two years I’ve had men connect with me and then use the messaging tool to flirt with me. One time I asked customer support to intervene. The last time, I made a mistake and let it go on too far because of a miscommunication about the word “friendship”. That kept me up late last night and into this morning with all these thoughts:

Did I share too much? Or not enough?

Was I kind in my rejection? Or too blunt as I explained my reasons for not wanting his type of “friendship”?

Should I not have explained about the sexual and physical abuse in my past and how that translates to me being unable to feel or experience sexual attraction for others in the present?

*key point here: my body is healthy and normal (so the doctors, etc. say) and does react to physiological stimuli – my body reacts to attractive males – but the rest of me does not. Instead, everyone else notes the physiological reaction and reacts with “Oh s*** time to protect ourselves again”*

All my counselors agree that this is a defense mechanism developed when I was still a toddler to protect me from the abusers and pedophiles. And some day in the future, when I feel safe and learn to trust a male with those sensitive parts of myself, I will feel sexual attraction and romantic love and all that other stuff.

Key words being “some day”.

Not now. Not months from now. Not a year from now.

And so I still get frustrated with trying to make friends and be friendly without the “sex stuff” – as my child and teen alters call it – getting in the way.

Times like this, experiences like this, make me want to give up and go back to being a hermit who lives in her head. No worries about other people or other beings (my plants). No worries about being kind or considerate of others. No worries period. Just suffering and existing on a routine that keeps me breathing.

But then I get the proverbial kick in the ass from somewhere and realize I’m too selfish to give up the life I have now. I like/love/accept all parts of myself and who I am becoming. I enjoy having people, plants, and wildlife around.

I even find humor in the challenging people sent my way to teach me life lessons.

And this means prejudice, bullies, emotional blackmail, poverty, accidents, deprivation, rejection, or whatever else comes my way. My new neighbors teach me about change every moment of the day and evening. Like Maya’s quote above – I can’t change the people or the situation, but I can change my perspective and attitude about the people and the situation.

2 Maya Angelou Quotes

Plus, living, thriving with joy and prosperity as I roll with the challenges is the best kind of revenge against people trying to tear me down.

Maybe it’s the best kind for you too? Or maybe not…

Either way, I fall into a shame spiral. Fall over the side and drop for a bit. Then pick myself up and make the climb back to the top. But not the same place I fell.

The journey back up always takes me along a different path, but always gets me where I need to be in the end.

How do you handle communication and relationship challenges? If you want to share, please write in the comments. Your thoughts are appreciated.

Thanks for reading.