25 Ways to Your Own Kind of Happy

There has been a lot written about the effects of trauma and loss, but not enough about how to put your life back together again afterwards. Believe it or not, it is possible to find joy again. While I have had my set of challenges, I am not an expert. Still, I wanted to share the following if it helps.

  1. Never forget your Higher Power (or at least the power of meditation).
  2. Commit to a healthy lifestyle. Don’t make a bad situation worse by engaging in unhealthy habits.
  3. Know your limits. Put down boundaries. Say no if you know you can’t do something.
  4. Join a support group of people who have the same issue you are having.
  5. AND/OR join a group of people who have likeminded interests.
  6. I know people who were going through a hard time that benefitted by reading The Diamond Cutter by Geshe Michael Roach and Lama Christie McNally. Read any other self help books that are applicable to what you are going through.
  7. Pick up a new hobby. Working with the hands is an exercise in mindfulness and builds confidence.
  8. Discover the benefits of simple pleasures. Only you know what is best for you.
  9. Walk outside.
  10. Simplify. Declutter.
  11. Attend more cultural events like plays and concerts.
  12. Get a pet. They lower blood pressure and increase joy.
  13. Journal. The release of negative emotions on paper is powerful.
  14. Try dressing up a little more. There is no need to be a slave to fashion, but wearing something different from what you would normally reach for breaks monotony.
  15. Express your gratitude for people, places and things in your life that you love. Write it down. Read Make Miracles in Forty Days by Melodie Beattie which explains this further.
  16. Volunteer. Helping others can be wonderful.
  17. Obtain appropriate and effective therapy. Keep looking until you find the therapist and therapy that is most effective for you.
  18. Give yourself a new experience. You know trauma and loss, but do you know a new experience? Give yourself that.
  19. Do an inventory of positive memory associations from your life and see if you can build your current life around them. Read Crossing the Boundary by Melba Wilson which explains this further.
  20. Transform your limiting beliefs about the situation you have experienced. Read Loving What Is by Byron Katie which explains this further.
  21. Be patient. This isn’t easy, but if you are consistent, it can be done.
  22. Stop comparing yourself to others.
  23. Set small goals and attain them.
  24. Remember to breathe more often, especially when you feel panic.
  25. Never harshly judge yourself and/or a transition period. This too shall pass.

Effects of Domestic Violence on Children

This is a fourth overdue conversation.  I have to share this information for people who need to hear it. These are the effects of domestic violence in children:

 

-sleeplessness

-nightmares

-headaches

-stomachaches

-agitation

-anxiety

-fear of losing parent

-difficulty concentrating

-academic problems

-fears of going to school

-clinging to caregivers

-fear of exploring

-feelings of not belonging

-low self esteem

-withdrawal from people, places, situations, activities

-depression

-feeling lonely and isolated

-emotional numbing

-feeling responsible for violence

-aggressive behavior

-substance abuse

-stealing

-talk of suicide

-fear around abusive person

-acting perfect, overachieving, acting like perfect adults (good student, makes the family look good, involved in lots of activities)

-bed-wetting

-temper tantrums

-eating problems

-medical problems, such as asthma, arthritis, ulcers

-avoidance reminders

-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), flashbacks

-Developmental delay

-sometimes labeled as the “problem child” or scapegoat

-tries not to bring attention to oneself

-“Class clown” and “acts out”

-behavior problems in school

 

Obtained from the book Children of Battered Women by Peter Jaffe David Wolfe

Red Flags: How to Recognize Abuse and Abusers

Here is another overdue conversation: Recognizing red flags within rapists, batterers and abusive relationships. There is not enough information out there about this topic, so I am presenting more right here.

 

Characteristics of Abuse and Abusers:

1.Objectifies victim by calling him/her names, animals, etc.

2.Tries to isolate the partner

3.Acts one way with the partner and another way when they are around other people

4.May have legal problems

5.Bad temper

6.Verbal abuse

7.Regularly threatened to leave or told the victim to leave

8.Punished or deprived children when he/she was angry

9.Threatened to kidnap the children or hurt the children if the victim left

10.Abused pets

11.Destroyed possessions and photographs

12.Told victim about his/her affairs

13.Manipulated victim with lies and contradictions

14.Comes from a family where violence was practiced (70% of abusers)

15.Denies severity of abuse

16.Drives the victim away, then does whatever they have to do to get the victim back again

17.The pattern is cyclical. There is no lasting change.

18.Low self esteem

19.Fosters dependence

20.May believe in traditional sex roles and gender types

21.95% are male, 5% are female

22.Abusers come from all socio-economic levels, educational and ethnic/racial backgrounds and types of lifestyles

23.Blames victim for perceived injuries to self.

24.Is unwilling to turn victim loose

25.Is obsessed with victim.

  1. Is hostile/angry/furious.

27.Appears to be distraught.

28.Is extremely jealous, blaming, victim for all types of promiscuous behavior.

29.Has perpetrated previous incidents of significant violence.

30.Has killed or injured pets.

31.Has made threats.

32.Is threatening suicide.

  1. Has threatened suicide in the past.

34.Has access to guns or other weapons.

35.Uses/is addicted to alcohol.

36.Uses/is addicted to/sells Amphetamines, speed, cocaine, crack, or other drugs.

  1. Has thought/desires of hurting partner.
  2. Has no desire to stop violence/controlling behavior
  3. Relationship is extremely tense. Volatile.
  4. wants to injure victim, even when she is pregnant and/or has just delivered a baby.

 

Physical Abuse (includes, but is not limited to):

-pushing/shoving

-Held to keep from leaving

-Slapped, kicked, chocked, bit, punched or hit

-Thrown objects

-Locked in the house/room

-Abandonded in dangerous places

-Refused help when sick, injured or pregnant

-Drove recklessly

-Forced off the road or kept from driving

-Rape

-Threatened with a weapon

-Hurt with a weapon

 

Sexual abuse (includes, but not limited to):

-Told anti-men/anti-women jokes or made demeaning remarks about men/women

-Treated men/women as sex objects

-Insisted on unwanted and uncomfortable touching

-Withheld sex and affection

-Forced him/her to perform some type of sex

-Forced him/her to watch pornography

 

Spiritual Abuse (very rarely recognized, but including and not limited to):

-use religion to justify abuse

-insults victim’s religion

 

Emotional Abuse (vary rarely recognized, but includes and not limited to):

-Ignored feelings

-Ignored the victim

-Intimidating victim by using looks, actions, loud voices, gestures, body positioning, smashing or destroying property, hurting pets

-Limits phone calls

-Limits social life and contact with the outside world

-Keeps victim from doing activities he/she likes

-Invades his/her privacy

-Limits his/her personal space

-Threatens to report victim to DCFS, immigration, etc.

-Putting victim down in front of family and friends

-Ridiculed or insulted men/women as a group

-Ridiculed or insulted most valued beliefs, religion, race, heritage, or class

-Withheld approval, appreciation, or affection for punishment

-Continually criticized called names, shouted at

-Insulted or drove away friends and family

 

Economic abuse (including, but not limited to):

-Keeping the victim from getting or keeping a job

-Giving the victim an allowance

-Making the victim ask for money

-Taking the victim’s money

-Controlling all the finances

-Spending money on himself/herself and withholding money for family needs

-Kept from working, controlled money, made all the decisions

-Took car keys or money away

 

This information is from Escape the Abuse: Leaving Smart by Intermedia, Seattle, Washington.

 

If you find yourself in any of these situations, get help and get out.

 

Resources:

-The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker

 

-The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond by Patricia Evans

 

-National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)

 

-RAINN (Rape Abuse and Incest National Network) 1-800-656-4673 (HOPE)

 

Chelsea’s Shawl Yarn for Chelsea’s Law

A lot of people asked me over the years, “How do art and activism come together?”
Let me explain.
Chelsea King was a San Diego high school student who was murdered by a convicted sex offender named John Albert Gardner in 2010:
http://chelseaslight.org/programs/chelseas-law/

Chelsea’s Light Foundation was established by the family to create laws to protect children. Dream in Color, a yarn manufacturer, created skeins of yarn to make shawls (or whatever you want really). A portion of the proceeds from the yarn sales go to Chelsea’s Light Foundation:
http://www.dreamincoloryarn.com/2013/09/11/chelseas-shawl/

Further, Chelsea King’s brother was 13 years old when his sister was murdered. He created a documentary about his experience stating that creating a documentary was actually better than therapy. I also heard that same sentiment expressed by Mariel Hemingway about her own family challenges and how she became an advocate:

This is how art, albeit making documentaries or textile arts, and activism come together. I buy my Chelsea’s Shawl yarn at Gentler Times Knit Shop in Naperville, Illinois, just a block away from where I meet my writing group. 100% super wash merino is one of the better textures for me to work with. Needless to say, my next bohemian strippy scarf will be made using Chelsea’s Shawl Yarn.

Chelsea's Shawl Yarn 1Chelsea's Shawl Yarn 2

International Quilt Festival 2015

This year, the International Quilt Festival had a Rubies quilt exhibit. The International Quilt Festival is held each year in various locales throughout the country: Chicago, Houston, Long Beach and Cincinnati. Although the International Quilt Festival was a few months ago in Chicago, I feel writing about it in light of the patriotic holidays (Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Veterans Day) is appropriate, hence all the red and white fabric from the main quilt exhibit. I love Americana fabric (fabric with a patriotic theme). I donated my proceeds from working the festival to Quilts of Valor, an organization that makes quilts for veterans.

Considering my father is a Vietnam veteran, the Quilts of Valor organization was of interest to me. Also, because Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), a very breakthrough trauma treatment I personally had for PTSD due to rape trauma and domestic violence, actually originated in the veterans hospitals. I felt my donation was a way of giving back for some of the help I received, thanks to the veterans and their advocacy for appropriate trauma treatment.

Other than that, the International Quilt Festival is one of the most wonderful times of the year for me. Other people live for the holidays. As a healthcare worker, I usually work the holidays. So, I live for the International Quilt Festival.

I adore being a part of the quilting process, whether it is making them myself, packing them up at the festival, unpacking them and/or displaying them. It is all pure joy for me. Quilters from around the world send their quilts to be exhibited within these conferences. There are a lot of traditional designs as well as art quilts that are featured. I meet all kinds of different people and it is a lot of fun. I appreciate being around other people who know what goes into an endeavor like making a quilt. I also appreciate the fact that they understand the psychological benefits of creating something by hand and I do not have to explain it to them.

International Quilt Festival 2015