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I'm noticing some of my internal rules lately.

  • When I screw up, I should say so, apologize, and take whatever lumps ensue.
    • Did you know powdered sugar has cornstarch in it? Me neither. I claimed the cookies I made were corn-free to someone who doesn't eat corn products. :-(

  • Whoever wants more distance gets their way, no negotiating.
  • Relationships require radical self-disclosure, equality, and balance.
  • Give people space to be exactly who they are. Don't expect them to change. Don't expect them to stay the same.
  • Don't talk about emotional pain. Painful things are "hard," or "uncomfortable."
    • For the longest time I thought "relationships are hard" meant that terrible pain was expected in relationships.

  • Talk about anger in past tense.


It feels like these rules have pain and fear behind them, attempts to Be Good in response to past disasters. It would be easy to allow them to close around me like a curtain, and erase whatever I might want or ask for. They're not necessarily bad rules, but it's interesting to notice them as imperatives I might have a choice about, rather than The Way Things Are.
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Two online graphic novels recommended by a friend, both complete:
14 Nights is the love story between two men, one of whom is asexual. Not work safe. I loved the details in the art around plants and other backgrounds, although the people are often sketched somewhat hastily. I felt like the author/artist held my emotions in safe hands, even when emotions in the story ran high. Includes some disability issues as well.

Prince of Cats. This one didn't grab me in the first few frames, so I haven't read it yet, but I wanted to save the recommendation. It includes talking cats.
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Each body is normal in relation to itself, despite the myths we persist in believing against all evidence.
The Tyranny of Normal

New book responses at Curious, Healing. Have you read this? Comments welcome!
"The Rails View" by John Athayde and Bruce Williams

Happy Holidays!
I'm continuing my annual tradition of giving holiday coupons in appreciation of clients and newsletter readers. During December, anyone who comes in for a session or sends me a request receives a coupon for 15 additional minutes or $15 off a session, valid through the end of March.

Give the gift of compassion
Wellspring of Compassion: Self-Care for Sensitive People Healing from Trauma is available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook formats. Purchase two or more books directly from me or my website (US only) for a $2 discount on each book.

Gift certificates for sessions are also available.

Curious, Healing is a blog, and you're welcome to comment there or here about the books. The articles don't have a comment section. You're welcome to comment here or send me email with any thoughts.

If you want the monthly newsletter in your inbox, along with news about my practice, you can subscribe here.

Stories

Dec. 2nd, 2014 08:55 pm
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Two stories by Marissa Lingen, and one by Ginger Weil. I loved these. People find a way out! Women, specifically. Become more themselves and find a way out.

"The New Girl" and "Boundary Waters" by Marissa Lingen

"The Stagman's Song" by Ginger Weil
sonia: Wellspring of Compassion book cover with woodland stream (Wellspring cover)
When we allow all our conflicting feelings to be present, drop what isn't ours, and imagine the problem is already solved, we can emerge into new terrain.
All Done! Tools for Rapid Change

New book responses at Curious, Healing. Have you read these? Comments welcome!
"Sea Change" by S.M. Wheeler
"A Theory of Everything" by Ken Wilber
"Mass" by Leonard Bernstein
"The Art of Empathy" by Karla McLaren
"Disarming the Narcissist" by Wendy T. Behary, LCSW

Article updates
[personal profile] tim pointed out that Change the Rules, Inhabit Your Pelvis was cissexist in the way it talked about female and male pelvises, because someone who identifies as male might have a wide pelvis, and vice versa. I edited the article to include more acknowledgment of trans people's experience.

A client mentioned that Portland's SIA meetings are currently women-only. I edited the Learn More section of Triggered! Now What? as well as the Website Resources page to reflect that information.

Thanks to you both for your feedback!

The holidays are coming
As a holiday tradition, I link to one of my first articles, Choose Your Traditions. May you navigate the holidays with lightness and grace.

Curious, Healing is a blog, and you're welcome to comment there or here about the books. The articles don't have a comment section. You're welcome to comment here or send me email with any thoughts.

If you want the monthly newsletter in your inbox, along with news about my practice, you can subscribe here.
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"White Dog" by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
This story was just the right thing for me to read on an evening full of anxiety and ancient fear.

via [personal profile] firecat

Out

Oct. 11th, 2014 08:55 pm
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I'm 45 years old, and I currently identify as bisexual. This is subject to change without notice.

The age is in there because I'm bemused that my sexual identity is still subject to change.
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My cat brought me a bird today, a little bigger than a sparrow, yellowish. I grabbed a paper towel and got him to drop it. As I picked it up I realized it was still alive, and held it gently as it panted. It was only bleeding a little, and eventually flew away. Best wishes, little bird!

Willow and Lilac used to bring me one bird a year. I hope that's Basil's limit as well. I think we'd both find a bell annoying.
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I was kindly notified (feel free to let me know in comments if you want to be named) that in my article Change the Rules, Inhabit Your Pelvis, referring to female and male pelvises is cissexist.

I want to change the article to be more correct/welcoming, and I'm looking for suggestions for better phrasing. "People with uteruses" probably correlates fairly well with wide pelvises, but seems indirect to me. "Assigned female" has the benefit of being compact, but is not entirely accurate. "Child-bearing" pelvis? What would I pair that with?

I welcome google search suggestions - I haven't come up with useful search terms yet. I imagine that trans-aware anatomists have come up with acceptable terminology, but I don't know how to find out what that is. What's a good way to say "anatomically female," or "female-bodied," or ....?

ETA: I changed female to cis female, and added a bit of text about "your pelvis may be wider or narrower than you expect." I thought about eliding gender altogether, but that felt like silently going along with cis male being the default everyone learns about.
sonia: Wellspring of Compassion book cover with woodland stream (Wellspring cover)
Suddenly we are defiantly thirteen, or playfully four, or speechlessly afraid when we would prefer to be competent adults.
Triggered! Now What?

New book responses at Curious, Healing. Have you read these? Comments welcome!
"Getting to the Heart of Interfaith" by Pastor Don Mackenzie, Rabbi Ted Falcon, and Sheikh Jamal Rahman
"The Focusing Student's and Companion's Manual" by Barbara McGavin and Ann Weiser Cornell
"Core Awareness" by Liz Koch

Online Interview
Caroline van Kimmenade, creator of The Happy Sensitive website, interviewed me by email. I enjoyed her low-key interview process and also appreciated the chance to get to know her site, including her wise articles on sensitive people encountering narcissism.

Curious, Healing is a blog, and you're welcome to comment there or here about the books. The articles don't have a comment section. You're welcome to comment here or send me email with any thoughts.

If you want the monthly newsletter in your inbox, along with news about my practice, you can subscribe here.
sonia: Indonesian winged dragon carved from wood (dragon)
Got chased out of choir by fragrances. People mean well, but they leave conditioner in their hair or put on just a little fragrance in the morning and then they follow me when I move away from them. We're all standing and moving around and for some reason people sense when I'm moving away from them specifically. Fascinating, but not conducive to having a good time singing.

A couple of weeks ago, I finally asked one woman to please move away from me, and she stayed close to me and said she didn't understand and demanded an explanation and didn't even really respect the universal "talk to the hand" sign and finally went off crying. OMG. Choir director emailed both of us and this woman went on about feeling attacked, and I did my best, "This is what I hear you saying, is that right? I hope you understand that my experience was different." No response, and haven't seen her at choir since.

Last week was better, but this week was worse again. I think I'm done.
sonia: Wellspring of Compassion book cover with woodland stream (Wellspring cover)
In the face of non-response, we can choose to inquire, wait, or write off the interaction.
Decipher the Silent Treatment

New book response at Curious, Healing. Have you read this? Comments welcome!
"The Anatomy of Self" by Takeo Doi, MD

Curious, Healing is a blog, and you're welcome to comment there or here about the books. The articles don't have a comment section. You're welcome to comment here or send me email with any thoughts.

If you want the monthly newsletter in your inbox, along with news about my practice, you can subscribe here.

Story link

Aug. 23rd, 2014 11:50 am
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I liked this story and its illustrations. "Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land" by Ruthanna Emrys.

I want to say to the second commenter, not everything you don't understand is wrong. Despite having read that sentence several times and wondered the same thing before settling on understanding.

It's nice to read a story that assumes knowledge I grew up with, rather than knowledge I learned by observation. So many stories assume Christian canon. And also it's about friendship and connection across gaps and nations.
sonia: Wellspring of Compassion book cover with woodland stream (Wellspring cover)
It is healthy to value your own viewpoint, no matter how personal and emotional.
Stand in Your Story

New book response at Curious, Healing. Have you read this? Comments welcome!
"The Language of Emotions" by Karla McLaren

Curious, Healing is a blog, and you're welcome to comment there or here about the books. The articles don't have a comment section. You're welcome to comment here or send me email with any thoughts.

If you want the monthly newsletter in your inbox, along with news about my practice, you can subscribe here.
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  • Carefully unwind and pull out some of the clover wrapped around and through the wooly thyme along my back path. Every year I think about giving up this battle, and then the clover starts to bloom in the middle of where I don't want it, and I work on pulling it out.
  • Chat on the phone with a friend who's out on his own after a painfully slow-motion extraction from his marriage. He sounds so much more like himself.
  • Dither about the heat, then attach the bike trailer and bike over to the garden store. It feels great out there. When did I start thinking that 80-90F is oppressively hot? It's not even humid.
  • Detour a few blocks for a yard sale, and score 2 nice pairs of shoes from someone with who buys shoes for my size feet. Pass another yard sale and get an old style wood frame & canvas bag laundry hamper to replace the worn polyester-y one I got years ago. It's good to have the trailer!
  • Finally get to the garden store, and buy a 4' by 7' trellis for the raspberries. My trailer is 32.5 x 26 x 22 inches, but it's well designed with lots of tie-down loops. With copious use of bungee cords, stabilize the load and bike the mile home on quiet wide neighborhood streets. It was fine until the last block, when something started dragging. Walk the rest of the way. I meant to photograph the load, but automatically unloaded when I got home.
  • Put on long sleeves and hiking boots to install the trellis behind the raspberries, and tie them up. Of course, eat a handful of ripe berries along the way.
  • Okay, NOW I'm hot. Sit around in sun dress, write this entry, and possibly finally write the article for this month while listening to the Shawn Colvin CD I picked up at the first yard sale.


It's good to have more energy lately. I felt swamped for a while, but now I'm catching up on a backlog of errands and tasks.
sonia: colorfully dressed men & women dancing in a circle (dance)
I dance with a lot of people who are over 80. One of the regulars weighs what I do even though he's a foot taller. He's steady, reserved, kind. His hearing is going, so he repeats garbled versions of the dance names I announce too quietly, but he still steps on the beat. He's been struggling the last few years with a painful ankle. He uses a cane to walk in, puts on his brace, and away he goes in the dance line.

He worked as a meteorologist, and every so often he drops a useful little weather fact, like, "It gets clear when the wind is out of the north." Not sure how widely that's true, but it works here in Portland!

Lately he's been low energy, out of breath, and mentioning the cough he's had for a couple of years now. They finally did a bronchoscopy, and he's been diagnosed with lung cancer. He wants us to know he's never smoked a day in his life! He seems to be addressing this with his usual resilience.

He sees a doctor Tuesday to discuss options. For him, I want him to enjoy his days and feel good. For me, I want him to come to dancing and hang out even if he doesn't have the energy to get in the line. There's a knot of sadness, resignation, and outrage in my solar plexus. I'm not ready to let go of his presence, and I'm aware that it's completely outside my control.
sonia: Chocolate fluffy cat on a chair in the sun (basil chair)

Basil continues wonderful. He's getting a sense of home, both staying closer to home and coming in more willingly after he's gone wandering.

He'll eat "dry" food if I pour a little water over it, which relieves my worry about having to figure out exactly how much wet food he should eat, or exactly how long it can sit out and available to him before I should wash it down the sink to avoid spoilage. Probably the dry food doesn't keep that long when wet either, but it seems less worrisome.

I tried to talk to the vet about him not eating very much and being quite thin under all that fur, and got the "overweight cats" lecture. Twice. With no info about underweight cats whatsoever. "He's at his ideal weight," she cooed. Sure he is, with no resilience if it's too hot to eat much or he gets a stomach bug or something. I looked up another vet I've heard good things about that's farther away, but they have a whole section on their website about pet weight loss programs. Good money-makers, I guess.

I always thought Maine Coone cats were stocky, but someone told me they're often lanky like Basil. As long as it's normal for him, that's fine.

Anyway, have a photo of Basil on his cat tree. (Click through for larger images.)
sonia: Wellspring of Compassion book cover with woodland stream (Wellspring cover)
Whether you sleep or not, night can be a time for rest, contemplation, and listening inside.
Rest at Sleep's Threshold

New book response at Curious, Healing. Have you read this? Comments welcome!
"Healing Back Pain" by John E. Sarno, MD

July 4 fireworks
Neighborhood fireworks on the Fourth of July create a painfully stressful environment for a lot of traumatized people. This article from 2011 documents the problem: Fireworks trigger stress in war vets. My neighborhood was much quieter this year, with local fireworks only the evening of the Fourth, rather than for days before and after. I hope the message is spreading in other neighborhoods as well.

Curious, Healing is a blog, and you're welcome to comment there or here about the books. The articles don't have a comment section. You're welcome to comment here or send me email with any thoughts.

If you want the monthly newsletter in your inbox, along with news about my practice, you can subscribe here.
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