Thank you for joining me and welcome to this month's edition of my Hope for Healing newsletter! I feel blessed to have you here with me. I welcome and appreciate feedback. Feel free to reach out via my website contact page or through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org comments or questions.
Grab that journal or note pad and let's get our positivity on! This month we will address the last step in our Positivies of Persistence journey:
As a reminder, this series focuses on the benefits of being persistent along your healing quest. I will, again, be speaking from experience, adding some practical advice mixed with sprinklings of raw truth (those "This sucks and I really want to give up" moments).
Subtopics have/will include: What does persistence really mean?
How do we define positivities?
A checklist of positive outcomes.
Habits and hurdles.
Encouraging one another.
First off, I want to take this opportunity to remind you of this . . .
Next, a review of exercises we have covered in this series:
Exercise: Write down THREE ways you have demonstrated persistence in your life. Then choose ONE of those and write yourself a one-page (or more) thank you letter.
Exercise: Make a list of ways you have demonstrated positvity in your life. Your list can have 1, 10, 100, 1000 examples. Whatever you feel compelled to write. Then examine ONE of those more closely, writing down as much detail as possible about that particular positivity event.
Exercise: Create YOUR checklist of positive outcomes. Spare no detail. As a matter of fact, the more details that are included, the more you can envision that outcome coming to life!
Exercise: Choose one of your outcomes and break it down into smaller outcomes. For instance, my own - Obtain PhD (main outcome): research school options, find out application deadlines and fees, reach out to admissions, research scholarship options, choose school, complete application, etc. Obviously my broken down list would be more inclusive, but this gives you an idea.
Exercise: Choose ONE of those smaller outcomes and determine if you can break it down even smaller. Baby steps. Baby steps. Then do so.
Exercise: Finally . . . choose one of those mini-goals and do it.
Exercise: Write down (or voice record) positive thinking patterns and responses you would like to implement. Do you want to be calmer and not quick to anger? Do you want to notice God's gifts/the beauty of the universe surrounding you throughout your day? Do you want to reduce your anxiety symptoms? (These are just a few ideas that popped into my head as I have worked on these exact habitual responses myself)
Exercise: After completing that list, write down (or record) ways you can begin to change your current habits. For instance, instead of screaming at fellow drivers on the road, can you turn on happy music (whatever is happy for YOU) and focus on the lyrics, melodies, messages in the songs instead of the skills of other drivers (or lack thereof!).
Exercise: Record hurdles you are experiencing along the way. How are you overcoming them? What can you do to avoid them? How long did it take to no longer consider something a hurdle, but simply a reminder to re-direct? Keep track of progress you are making along your positive habit formation journey.
Exercise: Write down ONE way you practiced conscious accountability each day this week. Seven days. Seven opportunities to create new habitual happiness patterns.
Exercise: Write down one goal you have met along your healing journey. Big or small. Size matters not. Recently I hiked a trail that took me past a huge drop-off. I am terrified of heights. But, I did it. And did so without panic symptoms. Woo hoo! Most definitely cause for celebration.
Exercise: Write down five ways you can celebrate that goal! A simple treat to a nice meal at your favorite restaurant or a grand celebration with friends who support you in your efforts. Maybe send yourself flowers (be sure to include a love note to you telling yourself how proud you are of all you are doing). Perhaps take yourself on a shopping spree or a trip somewhere soul-soothing. Treat yourself to a day of relaxation doing nothing but gardening or reading or floating on a raft.
Exercise: Repeat the previous 2 exercises (write down a goal you have achieved then celebrate your huge accomplishment). Continue doing so as you move forward.
Exercise:Write down ten ways you have encouraged other souls this past month. Whether a beautifully small gesture such as a smile or a bigger effort such as helping a friend through some anticipatory anxiety for a few hours, it all makes a difference.
Exercise: Write down ten ways YOU have been encouraged by others this past month. Friends, family, or strangers. If you can list more than ten, then do so. Perhaps you'll be surprised and inspired by the gestures of encouragement sent your way.
To wrap up, a final exercise. But, first, I want to share a story of Positivities of Persistence in action! Over the past three weeks I have had a busy summer travel schedule. I flew to Denver to visit with my oldest son; took the Denver light rail system (train) all over the city and to/from the airport along with a ride to Golden, Colorado; stood still in heavy highway traffic; traveled to 7,522 feet elevation in Estes Park; flew back home to Cincinnati; hopped on a flight to South Carolina with lifelong friends; walked out onto a long pier; walked along an open beach; sat in stopped traffic again on a highway; and flew back home again.
No big deal, right?
For me . . . this was a HUGE deal.
I flew without Xanax. And without anxiety. At all. I have not flown without medication since my teenage years. Panic attacks would always overwhelm me starting days before my scheduled flight.
I told myself before heading to Colorado that my attitude was going to be one of trying new adventures. And, wow, did I! The train rides were fun (yes, a bit anxiety-provoking a few times, but I kept that in check) and allowed me the opportunity to see Colorado from another perspective than from a highway.
I honored my needs when we were stopped still in heavy downtown traffic by using several of my learned coping skills (breathing exercises, mindfulness with music, reading a blog on trauma recovery, smiling to trigger a positive energy shift, and more). No panic attacks and very minimal anxiety as a result.
I savored the views in the high altitudes. We drove even higher to 8,688 feet elevation when we visited Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. While I found my mind sometimes wandering to scary thoughts, I was able to quickly re-direct myself back to the positive aspects of "the now". The flowers, the serenity, the crisp air, the snow-capped peaks, sitting in silent appreciation with my children, and so much more.
Traveling to the beach with my friends . . . beautiful women who honor my history and needs . . . was soul-quenching. I sat under the canopy when feeling insecure in my abilities to wander far. Yet, stepped out to toss football and stroll along the beach looking at the Lagerhead turtle nests when I was feeling more settled in my surroundings for the week.
Flying home, without medication, and sitting alone in my row, I, again, used my learned coping skills to keep myself calm, smiling, and appreciative. I colored in my Calming Coloring book. I listened to new meditative music I had downloaded before the trip. I nibbled on a snack I had thrown in my bag. And every time that jet bounced in some turbulence, I smiled. Knowing I was safe and headed home to see my kiddos and doggies.
Think about your own journey over these past six months of this series and then complete this final exercise:
Exercise: Contemplate the impact of persistence in your life. Have you found yourself utilizing some of the exercises as you travel along your healing journey? What makes you say, "Yay, me!" when it comes to steps you've taken?
Coming up next month: A new series . . . still TBD!
Welcome to The Healing Place Podcast! Click below to listen in:
I thoroughly enjoyed sitting down with Cedric Bertelli, founder and director of the Emotional Health Institute, to discuss the profound healing effects of Emotional Resolution. Please join us on The Healing Place Podcast to listen in as Cedric shares his brilliant insights and wisdom regarding trauma recovery and his work training others in the mental health and education arenas.
“Cedric Bertelli is the founder and director of the Emotional Health Institute. Cedric is of French origin and has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for over ten years. He began his training in Emotional Resolution in 2009 in France and has continued this work in the United States since 2011. In addition to working with clients individually, Cedric trains mental health professionals and educators across the United States on Emotional Resolution."
Seven Benefits of Working with a Therapy Animal From a Handler's Perspective
Having a C-PTSD diagnosis myself due to my complex trauma exposure during the first twenty-two years of my life, I know the craving for relief from overwhelming symptoms. I find such comfort even in just touching the softness of an animal’s fur. When I was a child I used to create a stuffed animal fortress around me before falling asleep. I found comfort in holding them close to me or reaching out to touch them when afraid.
There was Lenny the Lion (a royal blue lion with a cherry red main), Bobby Bear (clad in his Pampers diaper I took from a babysitting job in our apartment complex), shorts and a t-shirt, along with Billy Bear (also wearing a diaper covered up by his baby blue overalls). I had Greenie and Brownie, two worn little creatures who possessed broken music boxes for insides, one being green and the other brown, surprisingly. Sammy the Snake was always tucked along the small space left where my mattress didn’t quite meet the wall. Just in case anything might try to sneak up on me in that crevice. I still have Lenny, Bobby, and Billy in a bag in my basement, tucked among some other treasures. There were a few others, whose names I now forget, yet they stood guard each night, protecting me from the boogie man. Or in my case, a drunken mother standing in the shadows, watching me sleep, her blank stare concealing murderous ponderings of sending me to “be with Jesus.”
Jump ahead a few decades and I no longer sleep in a stuffed-animal fortress. Instead it’s a dog snuggle-fest. Max, our Schnoodle, thinks he’s a bad-ass in his little thirteen pound body. Except at bedtime he wants to sleep on my pillow and bury his nose into my neck. Sometimes he places his little paw on my shoulder, just to make sure I’m safe. Personally, I think he likes the reassurance, but don’t let him know I’m on to him! Sammie, our Labradoodle, curls up as close as possible somewhere behind my legs. If she could, she’d sleep on my pillow, too. She thinks she’s a lap dog trapped in a fifty-five pound body.
Sammie recently passed her two year re-test for her therapy dog registration. She was amazing. Truly amazing. A perfect score as she followed my every command (or as I like to refer to them . . . suggestion). She watched me for visual cues and listened for words of encouragement.
That’s my girl.
You’re my favorite.
I’m so proud of you.
Way to go, Sam-Sam!
Nice job, Sammie.
You’re a rock star.
Following is a list of seven benefits I find as I work with this sweet pup (whose 5th birthday we celebrated yesterday! Happy Birthday, Sammie Doodle!):
Sometimes I feel selfish for walking away from our therapy dog sessions with my heart overflowing with joy, a smile radiating from my face AND heart. I love watching this dog turn a child’s tears into giggles. Sammie has a thing for kids. Her tail wags every time she sees one. Whether we are walking the halls at a school or the trails at a nature preserve. She wants to meet them all and offer a snuggle. As a result, her tail thumps in canine happiness, and I just can’t help but grin.
We were visiting a school last year when the counselor asked if it would be okay if Sammie had an unscheduled visit from a child who was having a difficult morning. Of course he’s welcome to visit with Sammie! Immediately, upon this nine-year-old boy entering the room, his face stained from tears, Sammie moved toward him. He found his way onto a bean bag chair and Sammie was instantly next to him. Her pointy elbows tickling his belly as she climbed closer to love him.
That’s her secret.
Pure, simple, unconditional love.
And that kind of pure love can only result in pure joy.
Please remember:Healing is possible and you are so very worthy of that gift!
Coming next month: Overcoming C-PTSD: Five Physical Strategies for Derailing Overwhelming Symptoms
I want to share one coping strategy a month. These are strategies I use (or have used) in my own life as I travel the healing journey. I hope they bring you tranquility, as well!
Utilize Positive Affirmations
* While experimenting with any new exercise or healing technique, please stay aware of YOUR personal needs. If your body, mind, or soul is struggling, then honor the message being offered and stop (or, at least, pause to evaluate). Just honor you and your needs.
Utilize positive affirmations. Tell yourself, as you look in a mirror, “I love you”, “You are strong”, “I believe in you” and so on. Tell yourself what YOU need to hear. Talk to yourself the way you want to be treated, how you deserve to be treated. Be your own best friend. Take care of that little kid who still lives in your soul and might be scared. Take that child by the hand and help guide that little person to a place of security and comfort.
I made these heart-shaped affirmations using a Word document by inserting a shape then adding one of my own photos as a background. They were easy to create, print, cut out, then keep alongside my journal.
I will be creating a downloadable file soon with these positive affirmation cards. I'll be sure to keep you posted when they are available.
Until next month, remember to be gentle with yourself!