Safe, Respectful, Assertive Communication Grid

Alter Post: Being Assertive & Defending Oneself with Kindness + Honesty and a dash of stubborn

I decided to write about trauma-informed care on Scent Reflections, so here is the link if you’re interested.

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.

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

Okay, now all the warnings are in place. You can continue reading or visit another time. I’ve written about Mother’s Day and anniversaries before, so thought I’d share something different this time. You can read about how my alters are learning to use DBT and protect our system (their preferred job) to protect and defend against hostile, rude, triggering, or aggressive people.

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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.

Holidays: Celebration with a Twist

Anniversaries: Celebration with a Twist for Chinese New Year

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.

Unnecessary Comparisons & Competitions within Family Traditions

Holidays of any kind are rather stressful and triggering for me. Chinese or Lunar New Year is one that twists me up with glee and anxiety in equal measures and has since I was a kid.

Glee because I got to openly celebrate this part of my culture at home, in school, and pretty much anywhere without the usual jeers and harassment. Plus the food was always incredible and filled with rare treats our grandparents spent weeks making for all of us. The hong bows (red envelopes with money) were less interesting to me, even after I got older and better understood the concept of “free money”.

Anxiety because it meant spending time around relatives, neighbors, and other Chinese people who compared me with my brother and cousins (and found me lacking), treated me poorly because of where my parents were in the family hierarchy, or ignored me completely. I looked younger than my age, was too smart for my own good, and acted clumsy/socially awkward compared to my socially adept, taller cousins who looked and acted more mature than their ages.

Then there are the traditions and rituals involved in preparing for the Chinese New Year holiday – some that stay the same from region to region, and others unique to family mini-cultures – that actually starts on New Years Eve with dinner. That can take up to 3 weeks of advanced preparation with all the cleaning, organizing, decorating, food preparation, and cooking involved. Finally, the celebrations may start on the evening before, but they last for 4 weeks. And each day of the first two weeks have specific traditions involving travel, visiting, receiving guests, and so on.

College Drama: A hick’s traditions passed over for a green card?

Then, once in college, I met a young man from Hong Kong through a college dorm neighbor. I want to say we were friends, but it was more one sided than that. She liked having me around because my “pathetic” existence boosted her self esteem. Plus I was at least as smart as she was so our academic accomplishments became a competition she strived to win. Since I didn’t care, she often did win.

But that’s getting away from the point. She practically worshipped this young man and wanted to stay friends with him, but he was having trouble with his green card and ability to stay in the US. Before I met him, she asked me about my heritage and how I celebrated holidays with my family. I answered her questions and reached out to other family members for more details if I didn’t have an answer. It was a good excuse for me to re-connect with that part of my culture.

A few weeks later, she came back and told me his opinion: my family and I were a bunch of hicks from the country because people in the city don’t celebrate like that. He called us country bumpkins and other terms I can’t remember.

Maybe if she waited until after asking me to go out with him and consider marrying him so he can get a green card and stay in the US before telling me that, I wouldn’t have been so rude to him when we met. Then again, maybe I would have been just as rude – but less annoying and a lot friendlier during his dorm visits.

Either way, that was the beginning of the end our our pseudo-friendship and another reason for me to hate holidays. Not the first time someone proposed marriage that way even if it was for other reasons, but it was the last time. And yes, both experiences soured me on the idea of relationships and marriage – especially with an Asian man.

Celebration with a Twist

Holidays: Celebration with a Twist
Happy Year of the Rat! Reclaiming another holiday

I do my best, but cannot follow everything. The traditions I know best have been passed down from my grandparents to their children to their grandchildren (i.e. my brother, cousins, and me). Even within that large circle, some traditions have changed with people marrying in and bringing their own holiday traditions. My father’s side of the family decorates different from my mother’s side of the family. And each of my mother’s married siblings follows a blend of each side’s food and decorating traditions.

Planning my move during Chinese New Year wasn’t intentional. But the apartment came available at the right time and for the right price. I had the money mostly saved up and a plan to cover the rest of my other expenses. Plus the act of packing up my old place to move in to the new one constituted cleaning the whole apartment and discarding anything old, broken, unwanted, or holding me back with the end of the year – part of the holiday preparation ūüôā

While I couldn’t decorate the new apartment with traditional good luck and prosperity symbols, I was able to do some laundry, change my sheets, shower, put on clean clothes, and cook a small meal with the basics of a traditional dinner on Friday evening. Then rest quietly until bed time and spend Saturday relaxing or napping as I let my body heal from the physical stress of packing + working + coping with many triggers and 0 down time all week.

In the end, I was able to reclaim another holiday the trauma had taken away from me.

A new home.

A fresh start.

An auspicious new year.

HAPPY 2020 YEAR OF THE RAT

Thanks for reading.

Coping Challenges: Fear of…

REJECTION…SHARING MY OPINIONS….SUCCESS

An extra post today just because…

A while back, I made a comment about reading through many posts and blogs, but not always sharing or commenting on them.

It was unintentionally offensive for many reasons. ¬†The bloggers I read have a wealth of knowledge and do a great job getting followers, staying true to their messages, etc. ¬†If I don’t share many posts here or comment on their blogs, it’s because of my personal fears.

Fears that come and go like ocean waves.  Sometimes stronger and more obvious.  Other times weaker and distant, almost invisible for a time.

SHARING MY OPINIONS

I am afraid of commenting on blogs and review sites.  It stems from being made fun of, bullied, shamed, and criticized whenever I spoke up in the past.  Because of this, it takes a long time for me to believe my opinions have value and be brave enough to risk commenting in spite of potentially attracting the attention of trolls.

Related to that, I find lots of wonderful information, but am never sure

  1. How to relate it to the purpose of this website and blog
  2. If sharing someone else’s post is okay or not – permissions, plagiarism, pirating, etc.
  3. Whether or not my website and blog has enough value to be worthy of sharing the author’s content

In short, I question the value and worth of my opinions often, especially when my goal is to share useful information.

REJECTION

Making a comment, sharing someone else’s content, reviewing a book/video/presentation, is equal to putting myself in the spotlight. ¬†That makes me vulnerable to both positive and negative reactions, heckling, feedback, etc. from anyone who visits here. ¬† It also makes anyone who visits, comments, or likes what I write vulnerable rejection too.

So, if I don’t share a lot from other bloggers or make comments, it’s because I fear rejection. ¬†I fear others reading my comments and a) ignoring; b) responding with something mean or hateful or shaming; or c) backtracking to harass and bully not just me on my blog, but any of the guests who might or might not comment here too.

SUCCESS

This blog came about as a rejected book idea, an unsuccessful business venture, and many missed opportunities. ¬†I only went through with it because I didn’t think the blog would work, and I was afraid of trying to find success as a published writer in traditional venues. ¬†I never thought the website or the blog would be successful in any way. ¬†Or that so many people would support this site and welcome me into the blogging community with acceptance, respect, and compassion.

Every ¬†time someone liked a post or commented or started following the website and/or blog, I got scared. ¬†Then I started pressuring myself to be more successful in traditional blogging terms – write better content, add more photos and videos, get more followers – and started feeling anxious about writing and sharing here. ¬†Suddenly, I didn’t want to write posts anymore. ¬†And when I did, writer’s block came to visit.

I literally did almost close down everything last December. ¬†It felt like giving up and giving in to my fear because I wasn’t good enough to continue making this a success. ¬†Not if it meant adding features and trying to get more and more followers, likes, comments…

That wasn’t how I measured success. ¬†It still isn’t.

SO WHAT CHANGED?

I did.  My alters did.

We re-defined what success meant to us.  And then we decided that this website and blog started slow, really slow.  And it will progress just as slowly.  Rushing never got us anywhere we wanted in the past.

WORKING WITH MY FEAR

When I started this website and blog, I did not expect to have anyone visit, let alone comment or follow my work. ¬†The website was meant to exist and be a safe place to visit once in a while. ¬†If it helped even one person find hope in the darkness, the website did it’s job.

The blog was meant to be a place where I and my alters could freely share resources, information, and stories about ourselves and our fears. ¬†Sure, some of the writing would be polished, professional, and great. ¬†But other posts would not be any of those things. ¬†They’d reflect the personality, thoughts, and feelings of the alter or alters who wrote the post.

GRATITUDE

I am thankful for the many guests who visit and follow my blog.  Thankful to the people who check out the different website pages beyond the blog.  Thankful for the people who share this site with others.

But most of all….

Thankful for the many people who may or may not have figured out who I am, who might now each other outside of the Internet, and still maintain safety and anonymity that is the cornerstone of this community within a community.

FEAR

In conclusion, yes I am afraid of many things.  I am afraid to leave my apartment, be in crowds, participate in conversations, and talk in public among other things.

But I’m also ready to face those fears and start commenting more on other blogs while also sharing information from those blogs here.

Thanks for reading.

Quotes & Affirmations: Louise Hay & Boundaries

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I don’t know about you but boundaries keep me and everyone around me safe.

For me, the some of the scariest words I hear in conversations are “I don’t have any boundaries.” ¬†Followed by, “I’m easy-going. ¬†It’s really hard to offend me.”

The quote above has a lot of meaning for me. ¬†My boundaries didn’t exist until I started therapy. ¬†Soon after therapy (I was a quick study), I started losing friends. ¬†Family members started getting angry with me more often. ¬†And I earned more respect from people at work for saying “no” and setting limits on my time to ensure high quality work and deadlines were met early or on time.

The same boundaries that had me losing friends also kept the narcissists and users away while bringing positive and supportive people into my life.

When the quote popped up on my Facebook stream, I immediately saved it to share here.

Maybe this quote will help you create and maintain healthy boundaries to stay safe too.

Thanks for reading!