still blooming me

Finding Ways to Grow

With a new year ahead I find myself focused on finding ways to grow in 2019.  I want to expand my reach, find new ways to share my story, touch people whose shoes I’ve been in, and remain grounded enough to take on these lofty goals. It’s crucial to still take good care of myself because I don’t plan on sliding backwards now.

I’m in a good place. I feel like a good majority of my healing has been done (I’d say 80%). I string together more good days then bad. I feel mentally healthy and strong. I still have set backs but they are fewer and farther apart. I remain in trauma therapy and under the care of my naturopath. And I can feel my brain healing as my cognition and memory seem to be getting better. All good things! So I wonder how I can still manage to grow from here.

I started thinking yesterday about how plants grow and perhaps some of the answers I’m seeking about my own growth are rooted there.

A tiny seed gets carried and dropped by a bird or the wind and finds its way under leaves and brush to a patch of dirt.  It nestles itself down below soil’s surface and waits for rain and sun to work their magic so roots can take shape. Then a baby shoot appears and decides where to grow. Some grow straight up, confident of their path while others grow outwards looking for space among friends. And once they start off in their own direction their leaves, fruit, and blooms take shape. Always changing. Storms come, summer sun scorches, winter freezes, and still that plant changes. Birds, bugs, and bees become visitors too taking what they need to live. Still the plant grows and changes with the understanding of its environment. Always ready to embrace the changes.

PTSD was a huge environmental change for me. It shook my branches and rattled the earth below me and still I’ve managed to grow. Now I have all of these baby shoots growing from my trunk and I am so excited to see how they will take shape.

Growing. Blooming. Healing. Changing.

I’m not sure how I’ll accomplish all these goals, or how they will shape me, and change me and that’s the scary part. Until I get there I’ll just embrace my experience and see where I grow.

Grateful

Life has been busy lately and I have been working on a few passion projects that I pray will come to fruition in 2019. And as my energy has shifted towards the birth of these projects I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude. I am so grateful to be here, to be doing well, sharing a beautiful life with my family, and for the growth and clarity I have been granted this year. God is so good!

I wanted to reflect on gratitude this week with Thanksgiving upon us for a few reasons.

The first being that we, our country and world, are facing such turmoil lately. Fires, mass shootings, terrorism, political unrest, trauma, and pain. Where many see an endless mess, I try and focus my energy on the countless opportunities we have to turn it around. I think an easy way to start this positive ball rolling in our own lives is to focus on what we are grateful for and reflect that for others. I know for me when I was sickest there were people close to me that encouraged me just by expressing how thankful they were for me, for my friendship, and love and that appreciation saw me through times when I couldn’t see my own value, worth, or purpose. Imagine how we could change the world by expressing our love and gratitude to those around us who are struggling? I see a positive domino effect of difference being made!

My second reason for my reflection on gratitude is that it’s free. With the holidays upon us I feel like many people, myself included, get wrapped up in the sales, gift buying and giving, parties, and extra expenses that aren’t really what this season is about. I know for me all these extra commitments can leave me feeling frazzled. So I am committed to investing some of this energy I have wasted before towards the gratitude I want to express and share with everyone around me. I think it’s the most beautiful gift to give and receive.

Third, did you know that expressing gratitude is scientifically proven to improve your health, well-being and relationships? In this article, published by Harvard Medical School, the process of expressing gratitude results in people connecting to something larger then themselves and ultimately leads to greater happiness, positive emotions, improves health and builds stronger relationships.

The article details some easy ways you can cultivate gratitude in your own life and here they are;

Write a thank you note — I love writing thank you notes and receiving them too!

Thank someone mentally — this takes no time and little effort but can make a difference.

Keep a gratitude journal — I personally do this and believe it to be a great practice!

Count your blessings every day — Amen!

Pray and Meditate — two of my favorite things to do!

My gratitude journal starts with these people and moments we’ve shared together recently!

This Game Called Life

Lately my kids have been obsessed with playing board games which is fun for Jeff and I because we all end up laughing — and it keeps us from overloading on television.  One game they love in particular is the game of Life.  It got me thinking yesterday as I took the responsible college route, began a career in sales with an annual salary of $30,000, scooped up a husband, son, and dilapidated beach house along the way, that there where spaces missing.  Where are the spaces that include the challenges we face in real life? There aren’t even speed bumps.  I never landed on the space that said, “You just witnessed a terrorist attack, skip your next turn and head straight to therapy”.  If only I could be so lucky in my real life.

It’s becoming hard for me to remember how my life was before PTSD and sometimes that makes me sad.  I used to go through life so easily. I could go to restaurants without the music, lights, tv’s, and people overstimulating me. Crowds didn’t scare me.  I didn’t have to live by the schedule of supplements I take and make sure I always have my anxiety arsenal with me. I could handle multiple tasks at once.  I was a sharp lady. I was a happy lady.  Yet, I didn’t realize what a blessed lady I was and I think that is where having PTSD has made a difference in my life. It has given me a different lens to view my life through. I see the blessings I used to take for granted. I see the relationship and trust I have built with God.  I am certain if PTSD wasn’t going to bring me to this place that something down my life’s path certainly would eventually.  But here I am now — blessed by God’s plan for my life, sharing my journey with you, and trusting that I will heal myself gracefully.

Not too long ago I was having a deep conversation with my dad’s best friend.  He is a deeply faithful man and someone who has prayed for me and shown my family so much love during this difficult past year.  He shared with me how when someone breaks a bone it heals stronger in that place than it was before the fracture.  Interesting concept but it is true.  That conversation has stuck with me.

My prayers, hopes, and dreams have been that I heal stronger than I ever was before.  I certainly do all the work and am focused on finding a cure for myself.  It doesn’t mean I don’t get discouraged or frustrated and that is where my faith comes in.  I have faith that I WILL be healed and that one day when I look back on my life that these difficult times will be a small blip on my path.  To me, that would be the perfect way to win at this game called Life.  

As I write this we are preparing for a trip to the Cape and I am excited because our travels kick-off with a Boston Marathon Survivor’s BBQ this coming weekend so I get to see my new family and spend some time healing with them. I also want to ask for your prayers while we are gone because last year’s trip was very hard for me as that is where I was triggered and was ultimately hospitalized when we returned home.  I have better tools and coping skills now but I am still leaving my safety net of therapists and my doctor.  They have all expressed love and faith in me this week that I will do well and be fine — I have faith I will be fine too but it doesn’t hurt to ask for prayers.

 

Trying Something New

After a couple of weeks of unending insomnia and anxiety I’ve decided to try some new things.  I recognized after a week had passed that this wasn’t just one of my PTSD waves.  After a visit with my Naturopath it seems that my liver and spleen have been taxed with my stress hormones and were not processing them properly which was making me feel awful. So now I am sporting some lovely acupressure ear buds, detoxing when I can, and I’m back in therapy.

I have a new therapist. I like her. I have nothing against her at all. I am just frustrated with the process of having to get to know someone again, trust someone new with my feelings, and resume my EMDR process.  I had been making great progress and feeling like I was “good to go” when my previous therapist informed me she was leaving the practice and wouldn’t be seeing client’s anymore in her new role.  I tested the waters of life on my own for a bit but it seems my brain isn’t there yet.  All of this work, everything I do to stay balanced and well, is wearing on me.  I told my husband a few weeks ago that I am so ready to be able to go out again and not have to consider 101 things before I walk into my destination.  Will it be too loud? Do I have enough of my anxiety arsenal items to get me through it? Will I be home in time to take my medication? If I am not home in time, what will my next few days feel like? Will I sleep okay? You get the idea…it’s a rabbit hole I go down each time a social event gets placed on our calendar.  I am missing some of the “old” me.

I say “some” because I don’t miss all of her and that’s for sure.  I was a mess! Constant debilitating anxiety, depression, insomnia, trying to cope with unhealthy tools, my skin was wrecked, my issues affected relationships I might never get back and miss, I was tired all the time, I had forgotten my faith, and most importantly, I was too sick to use my real gifts. Having realized all of that now, I still want to be able to enjoy an adult beverage again with a girlfriend or spend time in social settings with people I love and feel safe.  And of course, I miss my Skinnygirl margaritas!!

So, as I add some new modalities to my line-up; like acupuncture, dry-brushing, new supplements, and the aforementioned new therapist, I am asking you for prayers.  Prayers for peace and guidance from God.  I believe in His plan now more than ever and trust that He will be faithful to me as I navigate this hiccup in my healing process. 

 

“I love the person I’ve become, because I fought to become her.”

-Kaci Diane

My Personal Anxiety Arsenal

I was so focused on getting out of town last week that I missed sharing my personal anxiety remedies with you. Here is my follow-up on last week’s post and tools I use on a daily basis to combat my anxiety and ultimately to help me move through my life better.

First, I start every day with meditation and prayer.

Insight Timer is the best meditation app.  I have tried them all and I keep going back to this one so I said goodbye to several others.  There are meditations from practitioners from all over the world, meditations for every ailment under the sun (including one’s for kids that I use daily with my treasures), and meditations for even the busiest of people. If you only have five minutes to give yourself then Insight Timer can help you. If you have an hour or anything in between, Insight Timer can help you.  I have had people tell me that they don’t feel meditation is their “thing” before and I can’t imagine how getting comfy, popping some ear buds in, and focusing on your breath wouldn’t be your thing.  These are guided meditations that help you redirect your focus and train of thought. It’s very simple!  You can meditate with me and look through the sessions I use most by searching for Still Blooming Me. Don’t be shy and send me a friend request! This is a snapshot of my profile.

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You Version Bible is a new app for me that a dear friend recommended.  What I love most about this app are the guided devotional plans you can use.  I just finished a seven day plan about overcoming anxiety and each devotional was spot on with what I needed to hear that day and gave me scripture to apply to my journey too.  If you have been following me then you know that I read Jesus Calling each day as well. It’s funny because last week I noticed that in both resources the same words were being spoken to me and that was to call on Jesus when I need his help and just say “Help me Jesus” out loud.  I believe that whatever faith you come from, God is not far away and hears your call. Invite Him on this journey with you. You will be relieved by the peace you will find in His presence.

As I move through my day I use other remedies. Some require you see a Naturopath and Psychiatrist so I won’t mention those tools by name. What I will say is that anxiety is created and perpetuated by an imbalance in your neurotransmitters. My personal naturopath is working on a piece that will explain this further in a blog that is coming up.  In the meantime, I can suggest a supplement I lean on quite a bit. L-Theanine tablets help get me through sleepless nights and anxious moments.  I have taken many different forms of it but I like these the best.

 

Part of my anxiety is really fueled by my sleep patterns and so I have noticed that I really need to quiet myself down at night and this includes some rituals I have developed over the past six months as I have learned what helps me and what doesn’t.  So here is my sleep prep routine; I eat an earlier dinner because I notice when I eat too late that my digestion keeps me up longer, I take my supplements and medication by 7pm, I drink Bedtime tea, I read a book instead of looking at my phone because the blue light our phones and televisions emit disrupt our circadian rhythms, and remember that Insight Timer app I mentioned up above?  I love to snooze away to the Yoga Nidra for Sleep meditation.

I hope some of these tools help you get to feeling better soon! I’d love to hear what you have in your own anxiety arsenal! Comment below or contact me.

 

Trailer Trigger

New Year’s Day morning my husband and I were laying around with the kids and snuggling into our bed to watch the Patriots game. This isn’t new for us but something new happened while we were watching the game that sent me running out of the room covering my ears. The trailer came on. The trailer for the movie that is set to premier very soon about the day that changed my life and thousands of other’s lives (I write this not knowing the title of the film, the premier date, nothing… I don’t think I need to).  When I caught my breath, I realized that I hadn’t been triggered by the first few seconds of it that I had seen but that I had been angered.

As I am still receiving bills from my hospitalization, paying out of pocket for the EMDR (trauma therapy), medications, natural supplements and hypnotherapy I need so that I can be a decent mom, wife, friend, and grounded human being, a movie will be entertaining crowds of people and I have no say in it. I was there wasn’t I? I’m still paying for the aftermath aren’t I?

Soon people will pay money for a ticket and plop down in their chairs and throw popcorn in their mouths while they take in a flick based on a day that I lived and can’t forget. Awesome! Hollywood will be capitalizing on an event in history that our very own citizens died in, were injured in, and are still suffering from every day. Why? The reason simply cannot be so that we, as a country don’t forget what happened.  It can’t be used as a reminder for Boston to stay “Boston Strong” and it sure can’t be used to remember all the innocent victims who lost their lives.  It’s being used to entertain people and I think that is wrong. But I am going to use it for something else, something greater I hope.

I went to therapy the following day and the first thing my therapist said to me was, “I thought of you this weekend.” I knew exactly what she was talking about, she had seen the commercial too.  She isn’t the first person to say this to me and she won’t be the last. So I continue to move through life in my protective bubble I’ve built – no news watching, no Facebook scrolling, and no energy spent on what is happening in our world. I’ve learned that I must completely focus on what is happening in my world, in my body, the conversations going on around me, and the situations I put myself in at all times. Can I go to that restaurant? Did I get enough sleep? Is that food going to irritate me? Can I stand spending a day at the aquarium with my kids?  Will it be too noisy? Will there be too many people? These are the questions I constantly ask myself as I go through my life.  My therapist reminded me of something very important that day after my trailer trigger; I have a greater confidence now and I have better tools that I can use to cope that I didn’t have before.  Most importantly, I have to believe in myself and have faith that when I see those images it doesn’t mean I will go backwards in my growth. Nothing scares me more then moving in that direction again.  

The timing of this film seems so ironic to me given what I have gone through mentally the past year, my recent hospitalization, the birth of this resource, and largely sharing and accepting this event as part of my life’s story.  I know that God has perfect timing in everything He does.  He is calling me not to be angered but to be blessed by the opportunity to hopefully reach more people with my message during this time. He is showing me that this film may be giving me the chance to share my journey with more people and so for that I will say thank you to Mark Wahlberg for his work about a city and people that we both love.

 

you are invited on my journey

This is my pass to wait for Jeff in the bleachers the day of the marathon. I keep it as a reminder of how lucky I was to be on the other side of the street that day.  

This is my pass to wait for Jeff in the bleachers the day of the marathon. I keep it as a reminder of how lucky I was to be on the other side of the street that day.  

Almost four years ago my life was changed forever as you have learned from the contents of this site.  Through my journey to find peace and healing I have started a journal.  I want to share with you some of the passages I have written to remind myself years from now what inspired me to keep living this beautiful life I have been given.  

When I was naming this space I consulted a dear friend and soul sister. She is this amazing person who reflects creativity in everything she does and I knew she was the right person for the job because I had entrusted her to plan my wedding 8 years earlier.  We tearfully dove into the contents of the composition book I was given in the hospital and began highlighting words that stood out.  There in her living room was born Still Blooming Me.

Still. I started my journal while in the hospital when I was seeking stillness the most. The first day I had none of my own belongings but the clothes on my back, a composition book, and miniature pencil. Here I was, removed from all the comforts of my home trying to find relief in such simple possessions. I soon found myself on medications that made me shake so badly I couldn't eat, couldn't sit still, and couldn't sleep. Wasn't I there to get relief from these things in the first place? My mind was plagued with racing thoughts. I was working so hard to claim some peace in that awful place I found myself in. I remember praying and begging God to grant me stillness.

Blooming. My maiden name is Flores, it means flowers in Spanish and flowers have always been a part of the beauty I seek out in my life. In my journal I wrote, "God is burying me so that I can grow into the most beautiful fruit bearing tree, with deep roots, strong branches, full of blooming flowers and the knowledge that my life is always changing and that's okay." Through this experience I have learned that blooming takes work, it can be painful, it requires the help of others, and if you work at it, you will find the most beautiful flower blooming is you.

Me. This is the most important word in the title.  This is about me. It's my story, I didn't choose it but I am claiming it. I'm not hiding it from you or from me anymore and that will help me heal. This blog is about what has helped me, how I have found the strength to be my own advocate, and how I plan to help others like me. Finally, the very best therapy I have found has been the time I have taken to slow down and enjoy my two treasures whose names begin with "M" and "E".