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.

Be Well Message

Dear Guests,

I hope you all are doing well and staying safe with the coronavirus scare. In times like this, it’s not easy to stay healthy, be positive, and find moments of laughter or joy to balance the fear, frustration, or other negative sensations that may rise.

For people who enjoy being active outside and/or interacting with others face-to-face, this is an especially challenging time. Being confined alone or with others for extended periods of time can bring out the best and the worst in relationships or highlight things we’ve all tried to ignore or deny about ourselves and each other. Tempers get roused easily. People react and act to stuff they normally wouldn’t. Maybe out of fear. Maybe out of frustration. Maybe the stressful times are their version of an excuse for behaving in such ways?

Please remember that we still have choices.

We can choose react from a position of fear-based choices.

We can to argue and fight and lose our tempers. Be angry at the world and socialize and continue with our routines like nothing is going on (denial). We can ignore government mandates and health authority warnings. We can let prejudice rule our opinions and influence our interactions with others. We can choose to feel and express anger in ways that hurt ourselves and the people around us.

Or we can choose to to react from a position of love-based choices.

We can use effective communication and compromise strategies. Use Active Listening skills to to ourselves and each other. Check in from a position of love and acceptance. Be kind to ourselves and each other no matter how scared or stressed out we feel. And most important, express our fear, anger, shame, or other negative emotions in healthy ways that support us and the others around us instead of hurting ourselves and those other people.

Sometimes we might not have choices in how we act or react. Instinct and learned behavior (i.e. survival skills) override everything else when we feel overwhelmed or pushed too far.

In situations like that, when “the damage is done” we till have choices to make. We can pretend nothing happened. We can continue to escalate the negativity and cause more damage to an existing relationship until nothing is left. We can acknowledge the situation and try to make reparation and/or amends or listen with compassion to the other party and work out a solution. We can acknowledge our part in what happened, reflect on the situation, and work out ways to prepare for future ones. Maybe preventative actions or a coping strategy?

But no matter what, we humans are a resilient species. And we can survive this. We will survive and learn to thrive in the changed and changing world.

I believe in you. Please believe in yourselves too. 

Sincerely,

AlterXpressions

Sensory Movement Challenge Day 7: Dance Like No One's Watching; Sing Like No One's Listening; Laugh Like You Mean It; Stay Safe Wherever You Are

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.

This is the last day of the challenge. Tomorrow, I will be on Facebook live at 1PM pacific time as promised to do a sensory movement/healing meditation. You can also ask me questions if you feel like dropping in.

Dance like no one is watching

I’ve been dancing just for fun. In my chair. In the living room. Around the kitchen and hall. Unfortunately, my bedroom doesn’t have enough space for dancing; tried it and have the bruises too. But the best times are when I dance in the living room/garden area with my plants.

Yea, I’m not graceful anymore. And I’m definitely not coordinated. At home wearing leggings, a plaid shirt, and a vest, barefoot on the carpet with the blinds up – not the most interesting picture for anyone outside to want to watch. And for anyone looking in? They can always look away.

But they will not take away the fun of dancing. Not this time.

And as I danced, I listened to the music, felt the carpet move under my feet and the air swirl around me, smelled the mint and other herbs, and watched the leaves and stems perk up as the music changed. We all laughed for the sheer joy of dancing together.

Sing Like No One’s Listening

Once in a while, especially when listening to my favorite songs, I sing out loud. My voice isn’t terrible or great. It’s not loud. And I’ve gotten lots of grief over singing in public (by accident) or at home, etc. in the past. So I didn’t sing often.

But I learned to enjoy singing just because I feel like it. And not always songs. Sometimes I sing nonsense words and sounds just because I like the way they rhyme or make rhythm in my head and want to hear it out loud.

Another reason to sing out loud like no one’s listening? It annoys and confuses the crap out of people who might be watching or casing you when you are walking home alone at night. Especially if you walk confident, don’t wear headphones or earbuds, and pay attention to your surroundings when you walk.

I used to do that often when I walked home from the train station. It was one mile through down town and the police station and often quiet. Less often in the daylight because I didn’t want to risk running into someone by accident. Though most people in the neighborhood knew my route and left me alone.

When and where would you sing like no one is listening?

Laugh Like You Mean It

Laughter is not always polite or quiet or (insert word here). Sometimes it’s honest, loud, scratchy, giggly, high- or low-pitched, quiet, annoying, cheerful, sad, fake, authentic, infectious, and accompanied with tears or physical movement.

How do you laugh when no one is listening? Have you ever considered it might be different?

Mine is loud. Giggly sometimes. High-pitched other times. If my alters are laughing, low-pitched and deep. Manic when laced with anxiety. Gross when mixed with sneezes. (and for the record, I’m laughing and sneezing as I write this). I haven’t had to fake laughter in a while, so I can’t remember if it sounds different or not.

But laughter is “the best medicine” and movement. Think about it – chest, lungs, shoulders, breathing, mouth opening and closing, smiles, eyes crinkling, maybe bent forward? – and consider how your body moves, what you feel, smell, see/or not, taste (tears for me sometimes), as you laugh. When I laugh in the rain, I taste and smell rain drops. Same with snow.

So maybe that explains why laughter can be so healing when inspired by joy or peace or humor?

Stay Safe Wherever You Are

Here’s the thing. Times like this make life difficult for everyone. Fear can bring out the best or the worst in people.

Compassion, love, and hope.

Prejudice, racism, and reckless bravado.

And more that I can’t name, did not think of in the moment, or never experienced.

But the COVID-19 threat is real. And people are scared. Some people go to extremes. Others rebel believing it won’t happen to them.

I’ve experienced the prejudice of people giving me dirty looks and moving away from me because I am Asian and walking around without a face mask or gloves. This happened at pubic transit platforms, in restaurants, and walking in my building.

I experienced the same kind of fear and prejudice yesterday afternoon when I left my apartment wearing gloves because I wanted to take out trash and recycling before going down to the lobby to get mail and packages. A group of 20-somethings and a few others were walking in as I picked up my mail and saw the gloves on my hands. What happened next was awkward with the group of people in a huddle trying to avoid me and not look while talking to the two people who came in alone.

Unfortunately we all wanted to go to the same place – elevator banks (them) and package pickup lockers (me) across from the elevators. Being me, I stared them down; then walked away and stayed around the corner until they went up the elevator. The other two people were not as rude, but they were uncomfortable. So I stayed out of the way until only one person was left.

Too bad it was another young person, and he was standing in the way of the keypad. We had some awkward exchanges as he pretended to type or read on his phone while also keeping an eye on me.

What was I doing? Making a show of taking off my gloves and using the exterior to key in the passcode. Then open the door and grab my package. He scooted around trying to stay away from me, but still within sight of the elevators until I spoke to him. Told him he was fine, and I’m just being careful – not sick.

Then I grabbed my package and used the stairs to get to my apartment.

Normally, I don’t go out during busy times of the day. Between being an empath and already struggling with triggers, going during the quiet hours makes more sense and causes less trouble all around. But I decided to listen to my intuition and Spirit’s (yes I use that personally even though I try to be more politically correct here) messages from the healing circle and went during a busy time.

The purpose? To show some of these people that the threat is real, and they may want to be more cautious. Or to be blunt – try to scare some sense into them by seeing an asian person in their building wearing gloves to get mail. Bonus that the girl who walked in with a group of people knew of me from somewhere and was already scared of me. No, I don’t remember the details. Yes, she and her friends have made my life uneasy a few times since I moved in here. That’s why I did what I did. No conversations. NO interaction. They saw me. I saw them. They watched me. I ignored them.

The point being: be careful. Take this seriously. Old people and people with existing conditions are not the only ones at risk. And even if you don’t get sick, you may be a carrier and spreading the virus without even realizing it.

So, as hard as it is, please be careful. Not everyone can or will stay inside. Not everyone has to stay inside.

But if you go out, please use logic and intuition + common sense and take precautions. Maybe you are not at risk, but what about your family or loved ones?

And if you stay home, remember to be cautious there too. The virus can travel in many ways. There are constant updates that provide tips and resources to stay safe wherever you are.

I’m lucky in that my family sends me emails and texts with the latest updates. Same with my friends and loved ones.

Remember to that there are many ways to socialize and connect with people even if we can’t physically be near each other. Technology and I have a love/hate relationship, but I feel grateful it exists to help people at times like this.

Finally:

It’s okay to feel a variety of emotions at the same time. It’s okay to express these emotions and react to what’s happening now. We get to choose how to act and react, how to respond to this new world. I choose, unconditional love, resilience, acceptance, compassion, and kindness. What do you choose?

Thanks for reading.

Sensory Movement Challenge Day 2 – Social Distancing, work, and stairs — Scent Reflections LLC

Social Distancing, COVID-19 – Why do a challenge at all with all the stress? I get it. Everyone is worried about staying healthy and staying inside. Probably not the best time to do a challenge or invite others to join in. That’s okay. You do what’s best for you always. And if you have time to visit here, please do. For me, though, this challenge is my way of distracting myself, staying busy, and working on my business within my comfort zone. That’s the why. As for social distancing – very difficult for me since I spend most time at home and away from direct contact with people. The most contact I get is from grocery and package deliveries unless I deliberately seek people out. But it’s harder for more social people who are used to lots of interaction. I can empathize and offer acceptance even if I can’t relate.

Sensory Movement Challenge Day 2 – Social Distancing, work, and stairs — Scent Reflections LLC

Sensory Movement Challenge Day 1 – from the ground up

Ground UP – Feet First, then everything else Why start from the bottom up? Well, that’s personal to my recovery journey. My physical health goal this year is to feel grounded and stable as I move. Not wobbly and worried about falling all the time. If you decide to join me on this, you can start anywhere you like. I’ve included 2 specific exercises and 1 general exercise you can try here. Reflection is at the bottom of the post. Exercise 1: Foot Joint exercise from Dynamic Aging by Kathy Bowman

Sensory Movement Challenge Day 1 – from the ground up — Scent Reflections LLC