I’m Not Gonna Worry – April 27, 2022

A fellow blogger shared some tried and true rules for a good life. There were ten and one of them was Never worry.

I have been doing some of that this last while. Fussing over some possible changes coming in my life. Worrying because I don’t know if it will work out, how it will work out, should it work out. If it doesn’t what will I do.

I want to take on a challenge that will require more from me than I have ever put into anything I’ve ever done before. There is always a hurry up and wait time with these things. Maybe that isn’t a bad thing. My vision is being refined as the days go by. Maybe things won’t move until I have worked through all of the details just right.

I try not to indulge in worry because it doesn’t accomplish anything except to make me feel dejected and discouraged. Discouraged is a good word for the way I’ve felt the last week or two. Today’s beautiful sunny day following on the heels of a week or two of a winter storm helped significantly. There is nothing as cheerful as blue skies.

The thought of not worrying reminded me of a song that always lifts my sagging spirits.

I need to listen to it another time or two yet before lights out tonight.

Maybe this will help with end of winter sagging spirits for you too.

I hope it will.

Enjoy

This and that, January 19, 2022

It is such a pretty day out there. Blue skies, bright sunshine, the world covered in marshmallow mounds of fresh snow. All the wind blowing stuff around does it.

The evergreen trees in our yards are frosted with fresh snow. I’m pretty sure my neighbors would not be happy with me posting pictures that included their houses so we will have to make do with word pictures. The world is beautiful this morning.

The cheerful vision makes me want to venture out but only until I check the temperature. -25C feels like -37C with the wind chill. I will be staying inside, enjoying the sun streaming in the windows.

The warmth of that bright light is appreciated but it’s also a challenge. Bananas on the counter and plants on the table are fair game. I keep moving things into the shade but it’s a losing battle. The sun is relentless in moving across the sky, coming in the windows at new angles.

I’m not complaining, though, I just have to remember to do a better job of hiding things.

The positive side of all that light far outweighs the negative. It’s hard not to feel cheerful at times like this.

I admit it is still possible to feel down if I allow my thoughts to turn inward and stay there for any length of time. I’m not planning to go to that place willingly.

On a brighter note: as mentioned a day or so ago I went grocery shopping before the promised winter storm hit, to replenish my dwindling food supply. I am ready.

Bring on the snow.

I behaved and stocked up on fruit, vegetables, and other healthy things too, but you have to admit, ice cream does make things go better.

I haven’t seen this particular flavor of ice cream in a while and it sounded like a good idea at the time. It’s turned out to not be my favorite. Too sweet I think. But still, it’s ice cream, how can that be bad. Next time it will be back to tried-and-true black cherry. Or pistachio or maybe chunky caramel.

The other treasure found while strolling through the aisles was my new favorite coffee. It’s seasonal, Winter Blend, and will disappear soon. Since it was on at clearance prices, I picked up four, and I’m still smiling at my good fortune. I considered taking more but I didn’t want to be greedy, and besides, they were on the back of the top shelf. That was a major deciding factor. There were no tall people around and I would have had to climb the shelves to get more. I could visualize how well that was going to work out for me.

All this talk of coffee, I need some.

I’ll be back soon to talk about books, y’all.

Notes on Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt Nov 20, 2021

Continuing on from where we left off last time. A few more relevant quotes.

Self condemnation: page 84

When we let lies overrule love, it affects those around us. We tend to take out our frustrations, lack of self-worth, shame or guilt on those we love. We cannot possibly love like we’ve never been hurt if we do not love ourselves.

another very important quote, same page:

If you struggle with shame, you may have trouble extending grace to others. If you struggle with finding self-worth, you may find it difficult to trust those around you.

Page 88:

We wear all sorts of things that keep us in bondage. Shame. Condemnation. Brokenness. Fear. Anxiety. Anger. Unforgiveness.

We are living in a mental cage. Page 89

Imprisoned with painful memories, with failures from the past, with self-sabotaging thoughts, with fear of an uncertain future.

Page 90:

When you start believing the lies about who you are, you begin to destroy your destiny.

How to change the channel?

That will be tomorrow’s topic.

These quotes are not the whole story, we need to read the book to see the full picture.

Well, I’m reading the book. I’m sure you will find it helpful too.

C-PTSD – The hardest part of socializing. November 08, 2021

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

I need to talk to figure some things out before I explode.

The thing I hate the most about socializing? The aftermath. There is always a price to pay.

At the moment I am feeling needy, insecure, weak and codependent. Maybe not codependent so much as the first three.

I don’t like it.

I didn’t want to go to the social event in the first place but I caved. The carrot waved in front of my nose was a reason to be there.

I said yes, as I often do. It turned out better than expected and I enjoyed being there with everyone but…

I wish I had control over triggers and the resulting reactions, but I don’t.

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With the over use of the word “I” you can tell this is all about me.

The thing is, it is but it isn’t.

It was easy to pick up on the awkwardness and the hurt feelings on why I haven’t been going to the monthly meetings.

I’ve tried to explain it is because of the emotional/mental space I am in this year.

I’ve tried to explain about this and the whole PTSD struggle influencing these decisions.

The trouble is it isn’t met with a real understanding of the issue, and why would there be when they have not experienced it personally.

And then there is the “you don’t look sick” assessment adding doubt of my reasons.

I feel bad I am making them feel uncomfortable and hurt. I’ve tried to say things in a way to leave as little hurt as possible. I feel like I’m not very good at achieving this goal. Maybe it’s an impossible goal.

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I’ve thought about telling them my story, more than the bits and pieces already shared. I can’t do that though. They don’t deserve to be saddled with hearing the devastating details of my life.

The worst thing about all of this is the domino effect. Suddenly I am feeling needy, insecure, weak and maybe even codependent in other relationships.

It all has me wanting to ….

I’m not going to name what I’m wanting to do …

Saying these things out loud could lead me to making decisions I would later regret.

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This too shall pass, it always does.

Will life look the same afterward.

Probably not, maybe not.

I don’t know.

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It’s impossible to walk through the fires of life and not win-some lose-some.

Resources PTSD related October 31, 2021

An ongoing discussion today prompts the sharing of these resources for those of us with abusive backgrounds. The effects can be far reaching but not beyond help.

I was introduced to these books when I joined a group working with other women like me, and they were invaluable. A public library may even be a good place to find these.

The New Codependency: Help and Guidance for Today’s Generation

In Codependent No More, Melody Beattie introduced the world to the term codependency. Now a modern classic, this book established Beattie as a pioneer in self-help literature and endeared her to millions of readers who longed for healthier relationships. Twenty-five years later concepts such as self-care and setting boundaries have become entrenched in mainstream culture. Now Beattie has written a followup volume, The New Codependency, which clears up misconceptions about codependency, identifies how codependent behavior has changed, and provides a new generation with a road map to wellness.

The question remains: What is and what is not codependency? Beattie here reminds us that much of codependency is normal behavior. It’s about crossing lines. There are times we do too much, care too much, feel too little, or overly engage. Feeling resentment after giving is not the same as heartfelt generosity. Narcissism and self-love, enabling and nurturing, and controlling and setting boundaries are not interchangeable terms. In The New Codependency, Beattie explores these differences, effectively invoking her own inspiring story and those of others, to empower us to step out of the victim role forever. Codependency, she shows, is not an illness but rather a series of behaviors that once broken down and analyzed can be successfully combated.

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Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself

In a crisis, it’s easy to revert to old patterns. Caring for your well-being during the coronavirus pandemic includes maintaining healthy boundaries and saying no to unhealthy relationships.

The healing touchstone of millions, this modern classic by one of America’s best-loved and most inspirational authors holds the key to understanding codependency and to unlocking its stultifying hold on your life.

Is someone else’s problem your problem? If, like so many others, you’ve lost sight of your own life in the drama of tending to someone else’s, you may be codependent–and you may find yourself in this book–Codependent No More. The healing touchstone of millions, this modern classic by one of America’s best-loved and most inspirational authors holds the key to understanding codependency and to unlocking its stultifying hold on your life.

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Along with these two books this next one is important companion book

Boundaries Updated and Expanded Edition: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life

Do you feel like your life has spiraled out of control? Have you focused so much on being loving and unselfish that you’ve forgotten your own limits? Do you find yourself taking responsibility for other people’s feelings and problems? In Boundaries, Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend teach you the ins and outs of setting the boundaries that will transform your daily life.

Boundaries, a New York Times bestseller, will give you the tools you need to learn to say yes and know how to say no. Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend are here to share the lessons they’ve learned in their years of practicing psychology and studying the patterns and practices that support clear biblical boundaries.

PTSD conversation October 15, 2021

This is sort of a this-and-that conversation, stemming from earlier comments with another blogger on his site. My response was going to be long so a post with more room seemed like the way go. Besides, I’ve been wanting to explore some of these thoughts on here anyway.

In his comment section we were talking about triggers, mood swings, living with integrity and how to calm things down. He says:

I am honest, make pretty good choices

How does integrity work with ptsd?

I agree

“I’m working on trying to change this. Consciously recognizing the times where I’ve taken insult and accepted rejection where none was meant. Baby steps, but it is making a positive difference.”

Ptsd is still raging from intrusive thoughts and trigger and spotting danger.

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For me; living with integrity (honorable, honest, dependable etc) adds up to good mental health – positive mental attitude. Living this way fosters a lack of shame, guilt, anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, fear (fear we will be caught doing something wrong.).

There are other reasons (like the past) we can have these negative experiences but if we do life with integrity the negative emotion load will be reduced significantly. It’s hard to be fair and kind without feeling good about my everyday life and my interactions with people.

Feeling good about life and people has a calming influence on my triggers.

It’s easy for me to mistakenly think I’m doing well in this area if I’m not paying attention. Bouts of anger, impatience, road rage, and any other similar emotions can crop up as I do life. I have to deal with them, let them go and move on to preserve peace.

Aside from the integrity aspect, I’ve worked hard to keep bitterness, anger, and other such related emotions out of my everyday life. Forgiveness is important to my well being.

Most of these negative emotions are relative to the past rather than the present. I’ve forgiven my dad and I can talk about him now without tears or anger. Not so much with several others, tears still flow easily but that is a work in progress.

Another thing that helps me considerably is thinking through what just happened; once the emotions are settled down. Examining memories to identify the original event behind the trigger and facing what happened has helped take the punch out of the trigger.

It doesn’t sound like it should work but it does. A disclaimer though: I don’t know what you have been through so be careful with this one. Some memories should not be explored alone.

For me, an example of a memory to be explored would be the bathroom. For decades I wouldn’t/couldn’t go into a washroom, public or otherwise, if I had to do so within sight of men. It took a few more decades for me to realize the reason; as a child, bad things happened to me in bathrooms. I could have figured it out sooner if I had been willing to think about the why. It is what it is, leave it alone, was my attitude.

All of these things, and probably more, have been helpful but the one thing I use on a day to day basis is change-the-channel. It was validating when I heard they were doing this successfully with soldiers. They found that early interruption of debilitating thoughts brought an early end to the episode. They were using computer games to be the distraction.

For a good while there, my whole day was destroyed if I was triggered. It was frustrating. Especially when I was supposed to be working.

By accident I learned that if I went to an activity requiring my whole mind, the channel would change in my head and my thoughts would move on to a better place. Later I may think about whatever triggered me but the adrenaline reaction was no longer there.

I read books, play computer games, follow podcasts and vlogs, write this blog. Some days these things are literally my sanity. I run to them before I dig myself into a deep hole.

I don’t know if this makes sense or is even helpful but this is how I maintain my sanity and avoid major triggers. This is not the final word on the subject either. It is much too complex for that and I’m no expert.

Now I just have to figure out how to avoid the minor triggers.

I don’t think I will live long enough to deal with it all. 🙂

Photo by Tomas Ryant on Pexels.com

A parting thought: there are many self centered hurting people who do not lead a life of integrity. They would be happier if they did. If you lead a life of integrity you can check this box off the list. I have.

Things I learned…

Several days ago I shared the helpful video I had the good fortune to run across. It was an interview with Jennifer Kolari and can be found here.

I’m still thinking about some things she shared that impacted me most.

I did take notes but they are in the form of phrases, just enough to remind me of the thoughts I didn’t want to forget. I won’t be able to share the clear or complete explanations contained in the video. I refer you back to the video for that wealth of information. (This is my disclaimer: much hereafter is on me, the author can’t be blamed for any issues or misunderstandings. I do want to give her credit for the good parts though.)

One of the first significant phrases was “your body keeps the score”. There are many reasons why our brains do not retain memories, especially of traumatic events, but our bodies remember everything Jennifer says. I have never thought about it quite like that before (stored in the body rather than in the brain) but I have always been convinced that some part of me does remember all the things I don’t or won’t.

Another point, in regard to the out of proportion reactions we often have to people, situations, comments etc. — we need to find healing before we can learn how to respond rather than react. I totally get this. I’ve been working on it in my life for quite some time and lately have seen positive changes in my thoughts and actions. I appreciate what she is about to say on how to go about doing this.

Jennifer says “to heal it you’ve got to feel it.” I agree, and to do that we have to give ourselves permission to feel our emotions. Most of us have learned to push down and bottle up our feelings. Typically, over time the feelings fester and eventually erupt into something much worse than they were originally.

So here’s the part I’ve not heard expressed quite this way. She says we feel love with our heart and we feel fear with our gut. I guess I haven’t really thought about the heart response because the feelings there would be positive and pleasant. I have definitely noticed negative changes in the gut though. When I’m feeling anxious things definitely do not feel pleasant in my digestive area.

She says one of the reasons for this concept to be plausible is due to neurons.

Apparently both the heart and the gut have neurons, who knew. I did a little internet research and here’s what I found.

According to several sources, including sciencemag.org the gut contains millions of neurons and is directly connected to the brain. The vagus nerve is one of the largest nerves carrying messages back and forth at a dizzying rate. The site linked above is as recent as 2018. If we feel fear or anxiety there will be a reaction in the gut. For some of us it morphs into painful intestinal disorders and other similar diseases.

The heart similarly has a large number of neurons but it also has it’s own nervous system and brain. Sometimes called the little brain according to heartmath.org. In 1991 a scientist made this discovery. The heart and the head brain are also sending a dizzying number of message back and forth.

Wow! I have to say this little bit of exploration done in order to speak intelligently to Jennifer’s comments regarding the gut and the heart, has opened up a whole new world of information. It’s calling out to me, to look into it more and more thoroughly.

Bottom line for the original subject of this post; to be emotionally healthy it helps to understand how the heart and gut are tied to our thoughts and memories. We feel love in our heart, we feel fear in our gut. When we react to people rather than respond, which part of our body is involved? Most often it will be fear, the gut. The next question is what happened to us to cause this reaction? How is it tied to our early life, what traumatized us. A dog? Lost? Abused? What?

Jennifer’s point is that if we can figure out the originating event and allow ourselves to feel the irrational fear it will lose it’s power over us and we can move on. Feel the fear of the dog, the bully, the dark, whatever it is.

Here’s a little teaser about the heart brain.

I’m not sure if I have been able to stay on subject well enough to make sense but I hope so.

I think the main take away is that our emotional well being affects our physical well being. After that, it becomes a vicious cycle. Learning to read the signs and figuring out what to do to alleviate/repair issues and memories, can be life changing.

Check out the interview and the other links to learn more about this fascinating subject.

Free books August 23, 2021

BookBub has a FREE suggestion for us. It’s historical, Second World War but the perspective is one I’ve not read before. The reviews for this seem to swing between loving and hating. Loving won out by a small margin. It is free so I think I will take a chance.

From Dust and Ashes: A WWII Historical Fiction Series (Liberator Series Book 1)

Amazon quote:

It is 1945, and a group of American soldiers liberate a Nazi concentration camp.

Helene is the abandoned wife of an SS guard who has fled to avoid arrest. Overcome by guilt, she begins to help meet the needs of survivors. Throughout the process, she finds her own liberation–from spiritual bondage, sin, and guilt.

Readers will be intrigued and touched by this fascinating story of love, faithfulness, and courage amidst one of the darkest chapters of mankind’s history.

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LPC Books has a FREE suggestion also. I’m not sure about this one either because it seems to lean on the side of struggles. At least it’s free so it doesn’t hurt to take some time to think about it.

Outbound Train 

Amazon quote:

In 1976, memories from a night near the railroad tracks sixteen years earlier haunt Barbara Parker. She wrestles with past demons every night, then wakes to the train’s five-thirty whistle. Exhausted and dreading the day, she keeps her hands busy working in Bryson City’s textile plant, known as the “blue jean plant,” all the while worrying about her teenage daughter, Carole Anne. The whistle of the train, the hum of those machines, and the struggle to survive drives Barbara. When an unexpected layoff creates a financial emergency, the desperate pressure of poverty is overwhelming.

Unbeknownst to Barbara, Carole Anne sneaks out at night to walk the tracks so she can work at Hubert’s Bar. She’s hoarding money with plans to drive her mother’s rusty, unused Oldsmobile out of Bryson City, and never return. She only needs one opportunity … if she can just find it.

When Carole Anne goes missing, Barbara finds herself at a crossroad—she must put aside old memories and past hurts to rely on a classmate for help finding her daughter. But this is the same man she blames for the incident years ago. Is she strong enough—or desperate enough—to do anything to keep her daughter safe?

In Outbound Train, the Parker women struggle to make frayed ends meet in a town where they never quite do … at least, not without expert weaving and a bit of brute force.

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If I come across anything else interesting I will put it in another post.

Happy Reading

Perfect timing

It’s amazing how it happens. Perfect timing.

Yesterday’s post shared the idea of counselling in a book. Check it out here if you missed it… Love is a Choice

This morning, waiting in my inbox, was the regular email notification for the weekly podcast I follow faithfully. The content is always interesting and helpful, on a variety of topics. Today’s topic was especially meaningful on the heels of yesterday’s book. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, the two books fit so well together.

The subject line of the email was an attention grabber.

A specific type of writing that will combat anxiety, depression, and symptoms from past trauma.

There was no way I could walk away from this podcast and leave it for another day. It had to be today. I watched it twice, it was packed that full. .

Today’s interviewee has written a book called The Power of Writing it Down.

Part of author/writing coach Allison Fallon’s target audience is the same crowd flocking to read Love is a Choice... Count me in.

The Power of Writing It Down: A Simple Habit to Unlock Your Brain and Reimagine Your Life

Partial Amazon synopsis:

For anyone who’s trying to make sense of their life, who wants to get unstuck from the patterns that hold them back, hear this incredible news: everything you need for the freedom you want is entirely within reach. This practice and pathway is free, it’s readily available every day of your life, it takes just minutes of your time, and anyone can do it. 

Author, writing coach, and speaker Allison Fallon’s life transformed when she discovered the power of a daily writing practice. As it turns out, using your words is one of the most powerful means you have for unlocking your life. The Power of Writing It Down is your guide to this transformative tool available to us all. In as little as five to twenty minutes a day, scientific research shows this daily practice can help you: 

  • Identify your ruts and create new neurological grooves toward better habits
  • Find fresh motivation and take ownership of your life
  • Heal from past pain and trauma
  • Relieve anxiety and depression
  • Contextualize life’s setbacks and minor frustrations
  • Live a more confident, balanced, and healthy life
  • …and so much more

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In the podcast interview she explains Expressive Writing well and mentioned that the writing talked about in her book is not regular writing and it’s not journaling. It makes a lot of sense.

The idea is to write down your deepest thought and feelings. I have experienced what she means when she says this type of writing accesses the subconscious part of the brain where the conscious is often not allowed.

This is basically what I do when I write my this and that posts. What comes out is often a surprise. With some of the posts, like I mentioned at the time of writing them, I was in the midst of angst and felt so much better when I was talked out. To really get into it, though, I expect most of it would not be something we’d want to share publicly.

I recommend listening to the interview before reading the book. I’m glad I did because hearing and seeing her will make the words on the page that much more real.

Practicing this form of writing will be helpful to everyone, not just the most broken among us.

Here is the link. Enjoy, and buy the book if it makes sense to you. I think you will be glad you did.

I haven’t been as intentional with this type of writing as is encouraged in her book. From ignorance, really. I want to try it her way, to see what the difference will be in my life.

I’m hoping you will discover this along with me.

Happy listening, reading, and writing.

A helpful resource – professional counselling in book form

The level of professional counselling we need is sometimes not easily found. That was the case for me a decade or two ago and this book was a life saver. It was written as a joint effort by the Minirth/Meir group, both of them psychiatrists, joined by a third person, a psychologist.

The book starts off talking about codependency. That’s not the way I remember it from my first reading. It’s funny how that goes. The parts I remember are the ones explaining what happened to me, how it has affected me, and the broken way I do life as a result. Understanding opened many life changing doors in my thinking.

Of all of the many books I’ve read this one was the most comprehensive and impacting. It was written to be a counselor to those without access to one. It covers the subject well enough to be a textbook written in layman’s terms.

I’ve shared this book here before but feel inspired to share it again.

I was speaking with a long time friend today, catching up on our lives and families. Stuff happens in our families and sometimes there is brokenness left undiscovered for decades.

I’ve been thinking about our conversation for most of the day and tonight remembered about this book that could be helpful in their situation. So, this is for my friend, to share as she sees fit.

It’s for you too (as reader) if this would be helpful in your life.

One more comment. I remember interpreting the title and certain phrases in the synopsis in a negative way.

Reality was nothing like my expectations. Supportive, kind, understanding, helpful; these are all words I would use to describe the experience. And, validation.

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Love Is a Choice: The Definitive Book on Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships

Amazon quote:

Let go of unhealthy relationships with the book that more than 850K people have trusted.

Best-selling doctors, Hemfelt, Minirth, and Meier, walk you through their ten proven stages to recovery from codependency that results from external circumstances.

Humans are susceptible to codependency because of our sinful tendency to use defense mechanisms to fool ourselves. In codependent relationships, deceitful games are played, and important Christian principles are often taken out of context and abused.

God wants us to have healthy relationships with a balance between being dependent and independent. The doctors describe how the most effective means of overcoming codependent relationships is to establish or deepen a relationship with Christ Himself.

They describe the causes of codependency, pointing out the factors that perpetuate it, and lead readers through their ten stages of recovery.

Continue a deeper study with the Love Is a Choice workbook, available separately.

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Read this prayerfully with a surrendered heart and mind. I say this because our defense mechanisms can have us locked up so tight that helpful thoughts cannot penetrate the armor we have going on. Work on wanting to know. Work on believing there is hope, and that you are worth so much more than what you’ve been told.