Friday, January 10, 2014

On frustration

We can limit the world to what we see, whether it be inside our own minds exclusively or including the people and places that surround us. That being said, it becomes clear that we can also choose how we are feeling.

At this moment I feel frustrated.

Have you ever felt like you're in a crowded room screaming at the top of your lungs and no one is looking up at you? In all aspects of my life this same stunted feeling is occurring, but work provides the most accessible fodder.

In residential Domestic Violence (DV) advocacy there are a remarkable number of people who have the opportunity to disregard you. First of all, your superiors. Second of all, the other staff. Third, the women in shelter. Fourth, their children that reside there with them. Fifth, volunteers. Sixth, administrative team. Seventh, mostly everyone who hears about what you do.

Number one through six are areas on which I have no coherent insight. But number seven, hoo boy. We could talk about number seven all day. La gente ignore DV workers simply because DV is not a 'sexy' cause. Like child hunger. I'M NOT KIDDING that is considered sexy these days. Alzheimer's disease is too.

With both issues the public is satisfied with a mix of "this organization does what it can, and then the life takes over". Hunger can be sated, children grow up. Alzheimer's can be researched, those who do not get a cure will die of old age. With either of the causes possible donors do not need to examine the framework in which they have built their lives. Domestic Violence, however, is unsettling. It is deeper. It does not offer the satisfaction of a simple answer.

Plain and simple, DV makes people sad.  She leaves and goes back. She leaves and CPS takes the kids. She leaves and he finds her and kills her. Sometimes she is able to challenge self-limiting beliefs and grows from a terrible experience. *Yes, DV happens with all genders. And yes, DV can happen with people other than intimate partners. For our purposes, "she"=survivor and "he"=abuser.* 

There is laughter. It's not always so bad.
Just like I'm choosing to feel frustrated, people are choosing to be sad. It is theirs alone to hold. What really matters is what we do next. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Inventory for December

Wrapping Up
And then there are those google sprees. One feels a sprinter. At your fingers are the keys rising and falling under the weight of the power that is internet access. 

People in their mid-20s are said to behave as if they were in their early teens. That this is developmentally appropriate. That it's actually a good thing. 

To purposefully escape and inadvertently further this stereotype, we collectively turn to the internet. 

The pattern goes email/facebook stalking (mild to moderate)--->wikipedia (insert topic here)--->beyonce. Thoreau has postured the notion that all news stories are the same in essence, ditto recreational electronic research. 

Because it's not interesting if it's not about me, I wonder who Beyonce's inspirations are (to learn about them and steal Bey's mojo). There has to be some external magic. But every time this search has gone through one thing is found: Beyonce inspires herself. 
So that's what Self-Care November is and was all about. Being both the fount and the font of your own inspiration. 

Hope your 'día del pavo' was fantastic, happy December. you have something to talk about when someone tells you they've been in recovery
Except when that person makes the your-words-are-strangling-me face and you know you've said too much. 

How to take an inventory:
In a nutshell---
-Who are you mad at?
-What happened?
-Which parts of the 'self' did it affect?
-What was your (mi)stake in the situation?
-What should have been done instead (and what, if anything, can be done now?)

There is also a central tenet of striving for self-reliance to a fault, and when this 'fails' inventory-worthy situations take place. 

Pretty cool mind exercise, even just to gain a fuller understanding of what it means to 'work' a 12-step program. 

Let me just throw out there that even though talking about being in 'program' isn't as popular as it once was---remember that Seinfeld episode when George expected that guy to apologize for stretching out his cashmere sweater?---it is still something with a lot of followers. It could be a combination of my line of work and the media I enjoy, but it feels like so much of my life has necessitated a cursory knowledge of AA. For a long time it seemed like hype, but the literature seems at least insightful even if you have never had substance use issues. 

Always in support of knowledge, people. always in support of knowledge. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Halfway there!

Happy halfway point! It is hard to believe that Self Care November is halfway through. Hopefully you are all feeling a bit more centered. 

This is just a celebratory post. Continue doing whatcha doing and we will touch base tomorrow. 
Congrats, everyone!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Almost halfway there...

Hello beautiful people,

How are ye? It is a fabulous morning in Phoenix, AZ. The weather is sunny and in the 70s...not bad for November.

Since we are almost halfway through Self Care November, now is the time to evaluate your list. At this point it is important to make sure you will be able to feel successful when this month is over.

Are there some goals that you have been avoiding? Avoidance can be a symptom of inner conflict, so try to be introspective and see if that may be the case. Avoidance can also just be what you do if you procrastinate. Not everything has to be serious.
Anyway. If there are goals you haven't been doing just see if it is because you haven't gotten around to it, or if they aren't ringing true anymore.

At the same time, celebrate the success you've been having with the goals that have been completed. here are some that I have made progress on:

-Every day, say "I deserve success". Boom.

-Self-mother...really, self-parent...regularly. Basically, you just take a situation from the past or present and imagine what you as a parent would say to you at whatever age you are/were at that time. This can also be a way to see what your subconscious expects for you in the future. During one time a while back I saw myself in a small whitewashed room that had a glass coffee table and a large lilac couch. I brought in a tray of teas and listened to a frustrated lil' Kenz as she explained her problem and looked at the origami mobile in the corner. A lovely, serene image.

-Regular meditation practice. Just make time for it, you have no excuse. Doing even 1 minute is SO MUCH BETTER than none at all. (but try for at least 5)

-Follow my creative desires and trust they will lead me back. I am in this oil painting class. I am not particularly gifted with painting, but my desire has outweighed my need to only do things when I will be 'the best'. And as an artistic/creative individual it has been a pleasure to see that at least I'm improving. An oft-cited indicator of enjoyable activities includes finding those during which you experience "flow". Painting is definitely a "flow" activity.

-Challenge excuses I make to myself, aka follow through.

-Develop mindfulness. there is this little amethyst I bought recently. Just rolling it around in my hand is good enough to bring me back to the present moment. Have you ever seen Inception? That is what I would use to see if we were in the dream or real world.

-Craft, watch movies, read, chill. Triple boom.

-Ride my bike everywhere. Now Monday is my dedicated car day. So, not everywhere. But pretty close.

-"Love is what you make it. You choose now." See steps above.

Nine down, ten to go.
Now it is time to hone in on the more complex self-care goals. Most of them (redefining expert, film about intuition, positive female role models, etc etc) are in progress, but the deals are still awaiting sealing.

Have a great day. Here is a quote to round it all out:

“If it’s still in your mind, it’s worth taking the risk.”

-Paulo Coehlo

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Reminder and some inspiration

Hi everyone, 
What are you planning to do for yourself today?

-Make sure to carry your list around with you. Try to look at it a few times today. We can forget even the simplest self-care techniques if they aren't part of how we normally move through the day.

-Remember to refrain from self-judgment. If you don't reach your goals today, don't worry. Even thinking about them is a start. If you really want it you will get it!

-Are you having fun yet? Changing habits won't work if it isn't enjoyable (of course, right?). There is a certain element of nose-to-grindstone, but expended effort can feel great.

-Regarding holiday stress, today would be the day to employ visualization techniques to imagine a series of lovely holidays ::Om shanti shanti::

Update on the list
I have been reading about intuition. There are scientists and psychologists who value the idea of intuition, and even validate it's existence. This is a link with detailed information and some ways to increase your intuitive chops. I'll let you know what works.

“Love what you do and do what you love. Don't listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. You do what you want, what you love. Imagination should be the center of your life.” 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Day Five

Happy Tuesday everyone. We are on day five of  Self Care November! I hope you are all getting comfortable exploring what self care means to you.

Why now?
Some people have been asking, “Why November?” The main reason is that the establishment of a routine now will support you when the stressors of the holidays set in. If you begin turning a little bit more attention inward now, when you are contending with the uncertainty of daily life, it will be that much easier to continue on through added seasonal pressures. (And even though a great number of people all over the world do not celebrate any of the upcoming holidays…duly noted. Everyone can benefit from a supportive routine.)

Holiday transformation
Close your eyes, and breathe deeply. Inhale through your nose and exhale in a slow stream out through your mouth. Imagine you are in your safe place, the one we discussed in the previous post. Picture yourself walking out of that space, and forward in time towards the events of the coming days. Continue to hold a steady breath as you feel emotions wash over you. If you celebrate Thanksgiving, imagine what that will look like this year. Just let the images come. Allow them to float to the surface, revealing your expectations. Notice sensations in your body. Which emotions challenge you? Which ones feel uplifting? If you practice any holidays in December imagine what that will look like this year. Again, allow the images to float to the surface without imposed structure or judgment. Continue breathing, focusing on balanced inhalation and exhalation. Now imagine New Years in the same manner as the other holidays. Breathe into the sensations that arise, and know that the emotions are coming from inside yourself. They cannot harm you. Picture yourself entering your safe place once again. You are completely calm and content. You are pacified. When it feels right, open your eyes.

Write down each holiday you pictured, then the emotions that went along with each one. If you record any emotions that you do not want to be a part of your holiday season, write down the opposite feeling next to it.

Do this exercise again tomorrow, but instead of letting any emotion rise up, visualize each holiday with the emotions of your choosing. The more consistently you visualize what you want from the holidays, the better your chances of getting it.

Update on the list
I recently explored what it means to be an expert. This has been amazing. Definitions of words? So great. We have these conceptual notions of what words are, yes. But to really understand what a word is, to see the other words that explain precisely what that one word is…come on! Literacy is magic.

Here are the findings so far:
When you type it into ye olde Google, we see…

a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area.

having or involving authoritative knowledge.

To get even more clarity, I looked up the word authoritative.
For this one the first definition was the best fit.

able to be trusted as being accurate or true; reliable.

Further research (cough Wikipedia cough) dug up the notion that ‘comprehensive knowledge’ included training as well as real-world experience.

Are you an expert in anything? Is there something in which you would like to develop your expertise? How does this connect to self care, if at all?

It’s been great to hear from a few of you so far, keep the feedback coming.
Here’s a quote to round it all out!

“Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.”
-William Benjamin Basil King

Friday, November 1, 2013

Self Care November!

"Harry, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don't plan it. Don't wait for it. Just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men's store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot black coffee." -Special Agent Dale Cooper, Twin Peaks

Happy November! Today is the kick-off of the first annual "Self Care November" extravaganza. If you are not living your dream life, self care is for you.

Why self care is valuable
Many people work jobs they dislike and do things they don't want to do. That is no way to live a fulfilling existence! In my opinion, stifling your dreams is pretty traumatic. If this is how you are living, the link above definitely applies to you. Self care is about taking baby steps into a life that takes the obligatory aspect out of daily routines. It is also a way to learn more about yourself, which increases your overall chance for success---however you define that. 

Safe Place
To figure out your goal points regarding self care, it can help to choose a 'safe place'. (Can you tell I've been in therapy on and off for over a decade?) Close your eyes and imagine a location where you feel completely comfortable. Breathe into this for at least a minute. Now open your eyes and record how you felt. The emotions you felt there are the emotions your self care exercises are supposed to evoke. 

The list
Even if you feel like you're not a list maker, this is a good time to experiment. 

Here is my list, to give you a taste of what a Self Care November routine might look like. 
Warning: some of this is suuuuuper corny. I am privy to indirect trauma for 40+ hours per week, so there is a lot of psychic deep cleaning that is necessary in my routine that you may find too intense to be authentic in your own. 

Here they are in no particular order....

-Every day, say "I deserve success". 
-Redefine "expert". Find quotes and put them up. 
-Self-parent regularly. 
-Read about how to best follow your intuition. 
-Write 2 stories about people who follow their intuition. 
-Regular meditation practice. 
-Follow your creative desires. Trust they will lead you back. 
-Challenge excuses you make to yourself. 
-Develop mindfulness. 
-Find positive, independent female role models and include them in your life via their art, words, photos. 
-Craft, watch movies, read, chill. 
-Meditate on your goals. 
-Explore, challenge fears and self-judgment with yoga. 
-Positive self-talk, record it if you must. 
-"Love is what you make it. You choose now."
-Make a film, start to finish, about intuition. 
-Ride your bike everywhere. 
-Make a master list of your strengths. 
-Rewrite/update personal mission statement. 

Some basics I didn't include, because they are already a part of my weekly thang, like soaking my feet in hot water or drinking water with lime. Start small. 
The point is not to force care. Listen to the quote above and let it be organic. 
Good luck, people. I'll be posting updates. It would be great to hear from all of you, too.