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**CORRECTION RE Krav Maga below**

AWMA – Martial Arts & Trauma (all photos credited to the AWMA blog)

One of the best experiences in my childhood was taking martial arts lessons.  The other was warrior training in my other life.  Tae kwon do taught me inner strength, resilience, meditation, discipline, and self defense in a protected setting.  Warrior training did the same, but with punishment instead of positive reinforcement.

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The link at the top of this page is an article from the AWMA that describes how martial arts can be used to treat trauma and help victims/survivors empower themselves through learning how to protect themselves and trusting their bodies again.

Martial arts is also a relatively safe way for victims and survivors to channel anger and feelings of violence from something scary and negative into something useful and positive.  I wish I still had that outlet, but my body can’t handle so much activity right now.  Plus my instincts are too close to the surface.  I fear losing control and hurting people too much to try.

Finally, finding a safe place to learn and practice is not always easy.  Not many instructors are trauma informed and/or willing to let someone with my kind of history take lessons with students.

HOWEVER

That doesn’t mean others looking for a physical outlet or activity more active than yoga or dance can’t try taking lessons.

For people who are comfortable with some or limited physical contact, I’d recommend Judo, JuJitsu, Tae kwon do, or wushu.  Maybe even boxing or kickboxing.  These are physically active, but don’t require a lot of sparring or extreme health until advanced levels.

**Edited to reflect guest comment: The amount of physical contact in Krav Maga classes depends on the instructor and the studio.  Thank you for the Correction**

For people who are less comfortable with physical contact, I’d recommend boxing, tai chi, and/or qigong.  Most of these trainings are in groups with limited or zero physical contact.  The pace is also different and can be better tailored to different levels of physical fitness.

Kung fu is great for many levels, requires limited physical contact, but is physically intense.  Maybe it’s the right option for you, maybe not.

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There are many other styles and types of martial arts out there.  Plus things like boot camps, dance groups, cycling, and so on that may work better for you.  Or even paramilitary/wilderness/survivalist training will work.

What I shared above are examples of the styles I’ve tried and practiced in the past with different levels of success.

If you find a school with instructors who teach using a philosophy of self defense and mindfulness, you will learn a lot more than kicks, punches, submissions, holds, and ways to fight.

Those lessons helped me build a flexible structure to fall back on even at my worst moments.  Maybe they will help you too.  Either way, I hope you click on the link and decide for yourself.

Thanks for reading.

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Before and after ever post, I skim through my feed to see what interesting topics the writers I follow or WordPress shared.

Today, I found an interesting post about resources to help children showing signs of anxiety or mental health issues in school.  The blogger is new to me, but I enjoyed her article enough to follow and share her information here.

If you are interested, I encourage you to click on the link below, read the whole article, and maybe look at some of her other posts too.

Thanks for reading.

I was browsing through BBC news a few days ago, when I came across the story of 16 year old George Hodgson. Despite suffering from extreme anxiety, OCD, panic attacks and even suicidal thoughts, like so many other children, George was placed on a waiting list to get the help needed, but was told that […]

via Mental illness and anxiety in the classroom — Skills with frills

Full disclosure: The individual mentioned in this post is a friend of mine.  While I try to stay unbiased in all of my reviews, this one might not be as objective.

Background

I have been interested in essential oils and aromatherapy since 2007/2008 when some serious skin conditions convinced me to switch from conventional cleaning products to green cleaning products.  From conventional body care to plant and essential oil based products.  I read some books, did internet and database research, and listened to interviews about the wonders of “natural” products.

Some of the interviews mentioned local practitioners knowledgeable in aromatherapy.  The practitioners shared information about essential oils, but did not put much value in aromatherapy.  Then authors started publishing recipes for home made cleaners and diffusers using essential oils.

So I experimented with these recipes and stopped investigating aromatherapy for other purposes.  But I kept my ears open for more information and educational opportunities.

Why?

I was still interested, but did not have the time or opportunity to explore at the time.

Fast Forward 10 years

Quite a few different practitioners mentioned aromatherapy to me once they discovered my sensitivity to chemicals and petroleum based products.  Then a friend of mine (Corey H.) mentioned she was finishing her certification to become an aromatherapist and was looking for case study volunteers.  This seemed like the perfect opportunity to try using essential oils and aromatherapy with minimal risk.

She sent me some intake questionnaires and instructions for sending the information back.  We corresponded a few times for clarification and decision making about what symptoms to address.  Then she sent me a special blend of massage oil for topical pain/anxiety/PTSD symptom management.  That was in October.

The massage oil arrived around the time my body hurt a lot and I got sick with a cold.  I used it on my head and neck at first.  Then tried it on my arms and shoulders.  My back, hips, thighs, and knees were next.  The ideal time for me was after a shower or just before bed unless there was acute pain during the work day.

The scent helped me stay grounded when I felt myself slipping into dissociation.  The oil itself helped my muscles relax and activate again.  It was scary at first because I didn’t recognize the sensations in those parts of my body; they had been numb for a long time.  But then I noticed my feet changing position and my balance improving.  My knees hurt less, and my inner thigh muscles started flexing and relaxing – something that hasn’t happened in over 15 years.  When I used it on my abdominal area, my digestion and breathing improved.  And some of the bloating/swelling from muscle pain and body memories went away.

As  this trend continued, I started to use the massage oil less.  Not because it was less effective, but because I started to feel anxious and overwhelmed by the new sensations in my body and needed a break.  The positive changes have continued and still help me move better, experience less pain, and manage the body memories better.

Another Case Study

As part of her final coursework, Corey is doing a case study about how aromatherapy helps survivors of trauma and is looking for more volunteers.  If you are interested in learning more about how aromatherapy can help with trauma or mental health, check out Corey’s website: www.coreyhalls.myoilsite.com .  She has information about her practice goals and current case study.  Or contact her through this email address: Corey.halls@gmail.com

But please, only contact her if you are seriously interested in aromatherapy or in participating in her case study.

Final Words

Even if Corey wasn’t my friend, I’d still recommend her as an aromatherapist and aromatherapy as a coping technique for mental health symptoms.  She has been professional, compassionate, respectful, thoughtful, and supportive throughout the entire process.

So if you are interested, here is Corey’s information again:

Thanks for reading

Some extra posts this weekend…I read this post and thought you might like it too.  Touch therapy is something I am learning about and using to help with startle response and body memories.  Maybe this blogger can help you too.

A mentor once asked me, “Carmen, do you like to be touched?” The answer “No” bubbled up out of my mouth without even a single thought. I was finally getting the opportunity to witness the truth of me and explore why this was so. I had ‘mind-body’ anxiety surrounding being touched due to some […]

via When Being Touched is Stressful — Revolutionary Touch Therapy

In the past, I’ve shared some of my favorite contemporary authors who write romance, science fiction, and/or fantasy – mostly skewed towards female or male/female partnership authors – or self-help books.  But I never shared many of my favorite male authors or other types of books – books that taught me many valuable life lessons.

That comes from the scared parts of me who fear sharing such an important cornerstone even with close friends and family.  I am an absolute nerd when it comes to books and have a love affair with ancient/classic stories (before and during the time of Shakespeare) along with early American authors.

And so, many of my favorite male authors come from these categories.  A lot of them still carry memories, so I listen for free on Podcasts or borrow from the library.

If you are interested, here is a short list:

Classic Greek/Roman

  • Euripedes – comedies and tragedies
  • Aristophanes – comedies and tragedies
  • Homer – Oddessy & Iliad
  • Aesop – book of fables

British across many periods

  • Bede – Anglo/Saxon mythology or creation stories
  • Chaucer – A Knight’s tale and other poems
  • John Donne – beautiful sonnets and poetry
  • George Bernard Shaw – not usually a fan of politics or plays, but his are short, interesting.  I actually did my senior thesis paper on his take of Antony & Cleopatra.

American across many periods

  • Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Mark Twain
  • Walt Whitman
  • Henry David Thoreau
  • Robert Frost

Youth (mostly within the last 4 decades)

  • Dr. Seuss
  • Donald J. Sobol
  • Sid Fleishman
  • Rick Riordan

As you can see, these books range from fiction to non-fiction, children to adult, and poetry.

What do you think this says about me?  And does it bring up any secret parts in you that might want to be heard?

For me, I’m starting to read these books and enjoy them again – this time without the past shading my experience.

Thanks for reading

A quick post today.  You can find these links on the Resources page too.

I’ve been looking into different types of headphones for sleeping since I like to fall asleep listening to nature sounds, music, meditation recordings, or audio books.  The headphones help block out street and neighbor noises that wake me up at night.

Traditional headphones are not comfortable for sleeping.  The traditional styles are too bulky for side sleepers.  The wireless options need to be re-charged often.  And the wired options could be a choking hazard.

I thought maybe wireless exercise headphones might work, but the style I chose had many of the same issues listed above.  And the blue tooth is not reliable in my sleeping space.

Instead of continuing a search for wireless headphones, noise cancelling headphones or exercise headphones, I searched for headphones for sleeping and meditation.  That brought up two interesting articles.

This article reviews several styles of headphones, ear plugs, and combination headphone/face masks.

This article reviews headphones only.

I chose the CozyPhones Sleep Headphones; it’s #2 on both lists.  I’ve been using it for 2 nights so far and like it a lot.  With the sound on medium and my windows open at night, the headphones do reduce the noise.  And if the headband slides, I lose sound.  Otherwise, the headband is comfortable, and the sound quality is decent.  And the headband comes in many colors.

If you decide to try sleep headphones, please let me know how they work for you.

Thanks for reading

Introduction

My apologies – I dropped  the ball on updating the main Resources Page for this website.  Life got in the way, and I had to choose between updating the blog and updating the Resources Page while settling into a new lifestyle.  Living on a different coast and working from home takes some getting used to.

Instead, I feel grateful to the outreach counselors at DrugRehab.com for getting in touch with me through the contact form on my website.  Please don’t be mislead by the organization’s name.  The focus is on more than addiction and related treatment programs.  All I ask is that you keep an open mind and take a look through the articles for interesting facts and up-to-date information.  I certainly learned a lot from the articles I read.

Review

At first glance, the website name, DrugRehab.com does not feel relevant.  But MK was thoughtful and professional in her email to me.  She even provided some relevant links and answered my questions for this post.

My inherent personal bias is: what can a website about drug and alcohol addiction help me with?  How is this website different from others I’ve looked at in the past?

My professional curiosity tells me: why not take a look?  Many of our guests struggle with  this kind of addiction and might find the information useful.

Here is what I found on their website:

  • A well organized and easy to navigate website
  • Reader-friendly articles about a variety of mental health issues that are informative and comprehensive
  • Information for a variety of audiences: victims, survivors, loved ones, care givers, and other mental health professionals
  • The articles are organized by topic and audience with general information introduced first and links to ore detailed information later
  • Low-key references to a partner organization that offers treatment programs and a 1-800 number people can call to learn more

Here is what MK – the counselor who reached out had to say:

Drugrehab.com is a free informational resource for those battling mental health or substance abuse disorders. Our hotline number is 877-695-5395. Whether you would like to learn more about a specific treatment program or just have questions, our Recovery Specialist is happy to assist.

Our brand new Sobriety E-Book, is a free comprehensive guide and “how to” for getting sober. Our writers and team of doctors worked hard to make this book happen and we are very excited about it’s release!

ARS Treatment Centers is our sister company. If you don’t have an ARS Treatment Center in your area, we can guide you to our list of recommended treatment centers.

Conclusion

All in all, this is a useful website that I will go back to for facts and other information about mental health and mental illness.  Plus I want to explore their resources page some more.

I am not endorsing or recommending the partner treatment programs or the hotline as I have never used either one.

But I do recommend exploring the website and checking out whether or not the information and programs might be relevant or useful to you.

You can also find a link on my Resources Page.

Thanks for reading.

Hello,

After a relaxing weekend, I’d like to share a new-to-me resource from Tara Brach.  Her name might or might not have been mentioned before, but I can’t remember.  I really enjoyed her first book about incorporating Buddhist philosophy and meditation practices into coping strategies and techniques without practicing or following Buddhism.  She has many free resources on her website and Facebook feed that I view and look into with my current therapist/counselor.

One practice that caught my eye recently is the acronym RAIN

R = recognize
A = allow
I = investigate
N = non-identification (my therapist uses nurture)

The acronym is a process that helps me learn to identify and cope with any emotions I feel in the moment.  From there, I can learn to step back and accept them without feeling so overwhelmed or wanting to escape from them (good/bad/indifferent I always want to escape in some way).

In our last meeting, my new therapist walked me through the exercise a couple times so that I understood how the process worked.  To be honest, I struggled with it in session and kept forgetting what the acronym meant outside.  One of us would almost get it right.  Then another would try.  Finally, we searched “Tara Brach” and “RAIN” online to get the words right.

Monday and yesterday, I was overwhelmed with feelings.  Probably was not a good idea for me to go to knitting or allow a friend to come over on a holiday when I knew there was a lot of potential for emotional triggers.  But I did it.  And got triggered.  Using the RAIN method helped everyone in our system stay focused during the work day in spite of this sleepy, floating sensation (depression or insomnia) that permeated my mind.

But, instead of the depression and/or insomnia, the alters in trouble figured out the trigger.  Then we all worked together to understand how the trigger (and the sensations it brought up) affected us as individuals and as a whole.  Because we all felt it.  And we all were affected by it.

If you want to learn more about RAIN, I’d recommend starting with this link and then checking out the free audio and video resources on the website.

Thanks for reading.

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I found this on my Facebook feed through some friends who sometimes share the affirmations and quotes on their feeds.  Lately, they’ve been sharing quotes about shame and self care.  Once in a while, they share interesting articles about topics like shame, narcissism, manipulative people, and ways to identify/cope in real life.

This one resonated a lot because I find myself thinking about my past through flashbacks and nightmares during holidays like Labor Day.  Sometimes the urge to reach out and contact them overwhelms me; I have to remind myself that contacting them won’t give me closure.  It will open a door to let that toxicity back into my life.

Later in the week, I found this quote:

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And it reminded me so much of the toxic people I left behind; how they used to bring up my mistakes and embarrassing moments to remind me that I am still the person I was and  will never be able to change.  At least in their minds, I will stay the same.  Nothing I say or do will stop them from believing what they want to believe about me.

So I hope these quotes help you too.  When you are triggered, they might offer some grounding through reality testing.  When you are not triggered, yet feeling uncomfortable or anxious, these quotes might remind you to think of your present and your accomplishments instead of the past.

That is what they do for me.  And for my alters, these quotes are lifelines or bridges to a new way of remembering the past.

Background

I don’t often share information that can be linked directly back to the rest of my life.  As much as I enjoy blogging here and sharing resources on the website, I am compulsive about maintaining my safety and privacy too.  But some incidents happened in one of the private Facebook groups I belong to that had a rippling negative effect the rest of us are still recovering from.

The group owner/moderator wrote the following article in response to one member’s negative, bullying, and abusive comments towards others via the groups, email, and private messages.  It’s an amazing and beautiful article about how the messages we tell ourselves and internalize have an impact in how we treat others too.  And while this message is written about style from a female perspective, the contents apply to males struggling with self-esteem and body image issues too.

Personal Style as a Positive Coping Strategy for Body Image and Self Esteem

That said, I want to share an article from one of my favorite role models and bloggers whose style programs and free information have helped me learn to love and embrace my unique body through positive self talk and personal style.

This is the link: How Your Language Impacts Profoundly On Your Style

This is her blog: Inside Out Style Blog

I joined her programs a little over a year ago when I decided to stop hiding / being invisible.  She introduced me to a new way of thinking about myself, my body, my appearance, my sense of self and how all of this is represented in the clothes and accessories I wear through Evolve Your Style and 7 Steps to Style.  Both programs also introduced me to groups of amazing women and female role models who have become friends and part of a world-wide support network.

Conclusion

Through the kind words and examples in blog articles and comments on posts, I’ve learned how to be kinder to myself and others.  Positive self talk is more than encouraging statements and affirmations that one might not believe when feeling negative.

Positive self talk is as simple as saying: I am doing the best I can right now, and that’s ok.

I hope you all click on the link and give this article a chance.  The author is a survivor like us and speaks from a perspective of compassion and strength.

Thank you for reading.