8 Lessons Learned From My First Ever Camping Trip

Image

Ahhhhhh. . .camping.  The great outdoors, s’mores over the camp fire, sleeping in a tent under the stars.  So romantic – until it isn’t.  This past weekend the hubber aka David, a traveling partner and I embarked on a trip.  Ohhhhhh we had high hopes and optimism for the trip:  lots of fun and sun, laughs and memories in the making. We loaded up the van and off we went.

LESSON 1:  Claustrophobia is unpredictable and presents itself in situations that one might not expect.  Especially when one has PTSD and panic disorder.

Yes, I have known about my claustrophobia for some time.  I did not think it would manifest itself on the ride up.  Yet the combination of cramped quarters with no real leg or elbow room, not being able to see around me much and items shifting and hitting me in the head brought on the panic.  The heart began racing, I felt as  though I couldn’t breathe and I had to ask to switch to the front seat.  A solution easy enough to accommodate.  We made the adjustments and continued on our way.

LESSON 2:  Tents make me claustrophobic if the wind is blowing the walls around my face and there is no room to move. 

We arrived and set up camp and went to dinner.  As we were leaving, I stepped into a crack in the pavement and sprained the ankle.  We returned to camp just as the rain began to roll in.  Lightly at first, then intense and  wind-driven.  We took refuge inside the tent and tried to sleep.  Unfortunately, the proximity of the walls to my face brought on flashbacks.  The hubber and I ended up sleeping in the KOA pavilion for the remainder of the trip.  It rained and was cold (50 degree highs every day but the day we left) nearly the entire trip.  Our traveling partner was disappointed that a) I was injured the 1st day and b) that she just wanted everyone to have fun and it was starting off poorly.

LESSON 3:  One can try to orchestrate fun to the extent that no one has any.

When one invests a good deal of time, energy and money into planning an excursion and has firm ideas of what to accomplish, visit, etc in a day, the expectations can become a burden.  Disappointment on the part of the person who did the planning and stress for the person who is unable to keep up for whatever reason.

LESSON 4:  Semantics can divide.  Triggers and boundaries are not one and the same.

Triggers are situations in which one feels vulnerable. These situations are called “triggers,” because they trigger the onset of symptoms. While people with the same mental disorder may share similar triggers, triggers can also be highly individual.  My triggers include claustrophobia, things near my face or throat and feeling as though any expression of my feelings is wrong, not welcome, will be punished in some way (withholding of affection, ending of friendship, etc).

Read more: http://www.minddisorders.com/Py-Z/Relapse-and-relapse-prevention.html#ixzz2Vj6faFes

Boundaries stem from a sense of self-worth and personal values.  They embody both a way of being and an expectation of how others should treat us.  My boundaries include room to move, time and space to process my own thoughts without undue pressure to respond before I am ready and not being expected to only deal with the needs of others to the detriment of my own.

http://blogs.psychcentral.com/addiction-recovery/2012/10/importance-of-boundary-setting-in-recovery/

 LESSON 5:  Boundaries that are not respected can BECOME triggers. 

Especially for those who have survived abuse, the disrespect of boundaries can feel like another violation and become a trigger for flashbacks and/or panic.

LESSON 6:  Those who don’t respect clearly and politely stated boundaries are not people you can count on to respect YOU.

LESSON 7:  I need to be given a chance to process information and environmental feedback before being expected to respond.

Demanding an immediate response when stimuli is nonstop (constant chatter, noise, yelling, crying, snarkiness etc.) only plays into the overwhelm even more.  If a response is needed, please ask if I need a moment of quiet or space to think.

LESSON 8:  Mental health stigma is more hurtful when tossed out by a fellow sufferer. Every person has a bias of some sort.

ACTION STEPS FOR DEALING WITH BOUNDARIES & TRIGGERS

1.  Verbalize and enforce your boundaries.  Clearly state what you need.   If you are at the mercy of another, try to level the playing field by taking back your power a bit.  If you are unable to negotiate a mutually affirming environment, focus on deep breathing and progressive relaxation.

2.  Remove yourself physically from the situation.  If a person or place are making you uncomfortable, move or do some exercise to change the energy in the space.

3.  When all else fails, remove the person or situation from your life.  Sometimes the only solution is to remove the toxic factors.

Remember, the only obligation you have is to yourself and your well-being.  All else is secondary.  Above all, love yourself enough to enforce your own limits.

© 2013 Paulissa Kipp

Advertisements

The “Just Wars” AKA The 4 Top Killers of Personal Growth

Image

Is there such a thing as a “just war”?  A right war? A moral war?  A needed war?  There are some who would argue YES.  What about the war inside?  The war of the mind that affects your  heart light and keeps you from authentically manifesting your magnificence.

Today we’re discussing growth inhibitors.  Unlike fertilizer, inhibitors include thoughts, phrases and behaviors that hold us back.  The stories we tell ourselves and the language we use even in our thoughts affect our action or inaction.

The top 4 growth inhibitors:

 

I just. . .

I just often precedes a statement that reflects conflict and internal struggle.  A dissonance.

For instance:

When discussing a friend who chooses to make decisions that may or may not be in his or her best interests:  “I just don’t want to see _____ homeless and unable to have _____. ”  Even though we know that we have no control over the situation, we want to be able to influence another’s behavior.  We don’t have that power.

“I just want them to understand.  I just don’t want to be the outcast” for setting healthy boundaries and taking care of one’s own well-being.  You can’t do both, dear one.  Personal growth requires sacrifice and self-preservation.  That often means leaving situations or people that have become toxic behind.

 Yeah but. . .

Yeah but often precedes a statement in which a person knows what he or she needs to do or that the advice or facts are true but isn’t yet ready to take action.

For instance:

When discussing healthy boundaries with family or friends:  Yeah but they’re family and I have to put up with them or there won’t be a relationship.  Yeah but if I don’t do what they expect, they won’t provide babysitting, etc.  Yeah buts come up in situations where we’re afraid of the outcome if we hold our ground.

 But it’s haaaaaarrrrrrdddddd. . .

Did that sound like a whiny 2 year old?  Good! It was meant to because that it is exactly what we sound like when we use it.  But  it’s haaaaarrrrrddddddd often precedes a statement in which change has either begun or is about to be embarked upon.  It is a reflection of inner resistance to change.

For instance:

The need to take time for oneself to study, meditate, do art or simply recharge.  “But it’s haaaaaaarrrrdddd to set aside the time.  I’m sooooooo busy, stressed, etc.”   The REALITY:  We all get the same 24 hours, dear one.  We each make the time for what we consider important.  Why can’t YOU be one of those treasured things?  Even 20 minutes to do what you love will make a difference in your outlook.

OR “I know I need to eat right/stop smoking/exercise etc but it’s haaaaarrrrrrrdddddd.”   Of course it’s hard.  Changing habits requires commitment.  Are you willing to commit to loving yourself enough to change?  You can’t punish yourself into self-love; you have to love yourself with affirming action.  Baby steps are fine but move yourself forward a little at a time.

I Can’t.

 

Intended to shut down uncomfortable conversations or thoughts, I can’t implies that you are infinitely limited.  But the word impossible contains the words “I’m possible.”  Trite, I know yet internalizing that truth is powerful beyond measure.

Reframing the “I justs, yeah buts, but it’s hards and I can’ts”.

I have a few journaling exercises to turn those thoughts around and manifest ACTION.

I JUST.  Take a moment to think about what you really WANT from a given situation.  Look at the change that needs to happen and identify YOUR needs.  Do you need peace, acceptance, self-love?  Identify how you can remove the toxic and create what you want.  Can you take a walk, make art, say “I choose not to entertain that thought/energy”?   When you have identified what you need, practice saying silently or out loud (in the instance of people who may be emotional vampires) “I choose not to entertain that.”

YEAH BUT.  Write down what is the worst case scenario.  Then decide what you really want from the situation and write down what is the BEST thing that could come from the situation.

Make a list of the difficult things you have done in your life.  What are the traits that you exhibited that allowed you to handle those situations.  You still carry those traits, dear one.  They may have fallen dormant for a period of time, but you have everything you need to make necessary changes right there inside your phoenix soul.

I CAN’T.  Write down your list of I can’ts.  Then in another column make a heading that reads BUT WHAT IF I COULD?  List what would happen if you could.  Then list small steps that you can take to turn the can’ts into I CAN and I DID!

You are a Phoenix Uprising!  You are stronger than you can imagine and you have the power to be anything you dream of.  Vulnerability is power, strength and might.  Strength is born from vulnerability – from being vulnerable enough to be uncomfortable and to walk through the fire to emerge a Phoenix of your own destiny.

What Happens When Zentangles, Projectors and Cameras Collide??

Image

Photo by Olav Folland, Model Kat Folland, Art by Paulissa Kipp. © 2013 All rights reserved by the artists.

I am thrilled to honor to present a new collaboration with my friends Olav & Kat Folland.  Olav and Kat are very talented photographers and artists.  Recently, Olav obtained an old projector and began doing projector art onto his wife’s body.  Some designs have been Kat’s doodles and more recently, Olav put out a call for artists willing to collaborate.  I submitted my henna hand original drawing shown below to see what would result.  I am proud of the stunning way in which my work was interpreted and the courage of my friend Kat.

Go to Olav’s Google+ profile to see more of his amazing series and interact with him.

https://plus.google.com/u/0/113330053950020592701/posts

Kat is a powerful author, cancer survivor and talented photographer.  You can connect with her on Google+

https://plus.google.com/u/0/106644585677637197494/posts

Image

 

A Gift For You! Open It – You’ll Never Be The Same

Image

Beloved,

The fact that you are still here and still being a Phoenix rising shows that you DO value yourself. It takes courage to face challenges, survive and to want to make a change. Maybe you don’t value yourself as much as you would like, but the spark is there and will be fanned into a flame that will burn brightly.

It has to begin with you – with offering your unique gifts. You weren’t meant to fit in amongst the mediocre, you were meant to SHINE. We are given a box of gifts at birth, it is our job to hand that box back at the end of our days and say “There is nothing left – I used it all up.”

When we do our me-work (the Beauty Uprising, self-development and self-awareness) because we are worth it, we learn that through vulnerability comes strength. We break ourselves down and get rid of the crap that no longer serves us – negative views of ourselves, habits that perpetuate cycles of defeat, relationships that no longer affirm our worth and we act from of place of love. You’ve beaten yourself up long enough, hon.

I challenge you to do some mirror work. There is a very specific reason: By looking into the mirror, we see ourselves as we are: human. Each day I would like you to look in the mirror and say the following ( a paulissaism that helped me tremendously in my path and perhaps it will help someone else):

I am ENOUGH
-Smart ENOUGH
-Worth ENOUGH
-Loved ENOUGH
ENOUGH. I am.

You may feel funny at first and that it is OK. You may feel phony or feel lots of resistance and that is OK too. The most valuable lessons are found when we are uncomfortable. That is where the growth happens. Fake it until you make. Say this until you believe in your heart of hearts that you truly are enough, in the state in which you are now because you are a Phoenix and you are rising!

Don’t be a yeah but either. . .you know “Yeah but it’s hardddddddd”. Yes it is hard but you are worth every effort. Mega hugs and lots of love. Hope some of this helps.

Time to Break Through The Wall of Silence

Image

Time to Break The Wall of Silence

Okey dokey,

I am feeling verrryyyyyy vulnerable but I know that I am amongst friends so it is time to talk because I am processing a lottttttttt of information but I am committed to authentically facing the challenges and joys in my life.  Here goes:  We have finally arrived at an official mental health diagnosis and it is a bit much to take in.  Here it is:  PTSD/anxiety disorder/adult ADD/bipolar disorder.  I hit every single hallmark for all of the above.  Damn dirty over-achiever lol.  While there is some relief in having terms to place on the manifestations -racing thoughts, the panic, the inability to concentrate, the need to escape, the triggering of fight/flight responses, the anger, the highs, lows, in-betweens and bone-crushing exhaustion – there is also a good amount of apprehension.  That age-old question of what now and how will this affect my ability to achieve the big things I want to do with my life rises up from the deep.  Panic begets panic and looking inward for too long causes implosion on my part.

Soooooooo. . .I choose to look outward; to help where I can, to know that I am worth doing the me-work that will establish better balance and well-being.  I know that the gift of mental illness is that if I am self-aware, it teaches me to actively practice self-care.  I have lots of thoughts and a few fears tonight since each diagnoses manifests worry or angst in me in a different fashion.

PTSD:  manifests itself in alarm, easy startling, a fight response when others enter my personal space uninvited

Anxiety disorder: manifests itself when least expected and is lower if I know that I only have to get through ____ amount of time in a given situation and then I either won’t have to face it again at all or won’t have to face it anytime soon.  Ramps up if there is a stressor that I have to endure regularly.  Still, I believe that exposure therapy is sometimes helpful.

ADD:  Manifests itself by scattering my thoughts, affecting my short term memory and making long periods of intense concentration impossible because I just want to escape.  Necessary tasks are more difficult due to the inability to concentrate.

BIPOLAR DISORDER:  Manifests itself with high and low energy.  During the highs, my energy and mood are boundless.  I am able to multitask well during those periods.  During the lows, the muscle pain is very palpable, exhaustion reigns and it takes everything I have to be any modicum of productive.

Welcome to my world.  Yet I’m here.  Learning. Working. Making a difference and hoping that sharing honestly not only helps me to understand myself but for others to understand that facing life with a mental illness does not mean we are weak but rather that we are courageous as hell.

 

Poverty. . .Is It All In Your Mind?

It has been said that he who is grateful never knows poverty.  Yet we often think we are poor – financially, spiritual, socially, on an educational level or in terms of skills.  We think we don’t have the tools we need to succeed so we read articles, we take classes, we save, we hope, we pray.  We do everything but DO!  Sound familiar?

When we give power to the poverty mindset, it looks something like this

poverty² = inaction.  So often, overwhelm leads to the poverty mindset.  Our dreams are big and so are our fears.  Fear clouds reasons to the point that resources are overlooked.  We forget that we don’t have to do it all alone.  If we merely ask for help, admit what we don’t know and set out to dare to fail while learning, we move past poverty thinking into richness of experience.  In every trial, there is a blessing.  Yes, even when it does not immediately reveal itself.

What do you have going for you?

  • friends?
  • teaching skills?
  • contacts in areas related to your desired industry?
  • life experience?  Don’t downplay your experiences.
  • mentors?

The list could go on and on.  Your mission should you choose to accept:  Make a list of 10 riches you have that will move you toward your goals.  Once you have that list written, ask yourself why you may not be utilizing those resources to their full potential.  Allow that list to serve as your diving board.  Dive into your bold, rich life!

You are rich, dear ones, and oh so loved.

 

Visible Via The Invisible

She studied her face in the mirror.  Purple – the regal color –  though not at the moment.   The bruises stole purple’s regal presence.  Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?, she pondered ruefully.  The mirror will never reply, Eliana.  Never.

Steam  dripped and ran, rivulets of steam pooling into an ocean, each part of a whole yet rippling to create rivers anew.  Steamy tears brought on by the sight of her face; puffy, swollen and full of pain while her head and neck maintained their strong posture.

Her reverie was broken a strong voice with a thick Long Island accent.  “Do you see what I see?  Beauty, strength, unwavering love for others, an artist, a tunesmith, a woman full of wisdom born of experience, a persistent woman who rises like a phoenix to meet each challenge, a human becoming who she is destined to be in this world, a woman whose measure of success is not money, but how many lives she touches with love and encouragement.”  The mirror paused, his tears continuing but New York tough voice silent while she pondered his words, turning them about like a rock tumbling in a stream.

I DO all of those things.  It’s my nature.  But beautiful?  Beautiful, no.  I am not the woman who turns heads when she enters a room.”

“No, you are simply the woman with an aura that draws others near so that you can heal their brokenness by listening or a gentle word or touch because you see their humanity amidst the brusque, the proud, the unpolished and the overlooked.   You see the invisible and in doing so, you shall never yourself BE invisible.”

Eliana wiped the mirror’s face.  “My dear friend.  Amazing how you always help me to see ME.  You reflect all of those qualities that lie below the surface, just outside of my view and my grasp.  You help me to take the reins and drive the chariot to my destiny.”  She looked into the silver mirror, with its yellow and blue mosaic calla lilies and drank deeply of her reflection.  Perhaps even bruises can be regal, she chuckled to herself.  Perhaps even bruises.

We become visible by unveiling the invisible.  Such a dichotomy.  Yet such a truth.   When we reveal our vulnerabilities, our hearts, our deepest thoughts, hopes and tightly held dreams, we are no longer invisible.  When we release our light, the shadows move to the side to allow more light in.

We are not invisible.  We only need to open the door and let the light shine on us.

 

What The Human Spirit Can Do

I went to play pool last night with my team and as always, in a bar setting one never quite knows what one will see.  Yet last night with all of its drama and tribulation restored my faith in the human spirit.

There was a gentleman there who was a veteran of the war in Iraq.  His body wracked by injury, he wore a brace on his left leg which dragged behind him, his shoulder was twisted at what appeared to be a very painful angle and he used a walker.  Yet this man was dancing safely inside the confines of his walker and playing pool.  He shot the pants off of everyone he played.  He balanced his cue stick upon the walker and shot.  He showed joy in spite of his many challenges.  I took the opportunity to speak with him and walker dance a couple of tunes. 

At the end of the night I asked to photograph him, a request he graciously declined but was happy to allow me to share his story with you.  I asked him about finding joy in the midst of such challenges and thanked him for his service and sacrifice.  He told me “There are those who are paralyzed despite being “healthy”.  They don’t even realize it.  They don’t pursue joy internally or externally.  It is in the living that we thrive.  There are those who would prefer not to see me struggle and would rather I sat at home and withered away.  Yet socialization and activity ensure that I will continue to be productive and to give to others and society.  Don’t ever forget that no matter the challenges, the choice is ours as to what good we will share with the world.”  With tears in my eyes, a lump in my throat and renewed resolve, I hugged this man and wished him well.  I left my card with him and offered him and his family a free holiday portrait should he want one. 

The human spirit.  May we all inspire others through the testament of how we live our lives.

© 2012 by Paulissa Kipp

Who Ever Heard of a Weak Phoenix?

Phoenix Stencil, unknown artist

Strength means many things – sometimes it means perseverance in the face of challenges, sometimes it roars and at other times it is a quiet voice.  Strength can also be boundaries – healthy boundaries that stem from our love for ourselves.  Strength is often visualized as that of a Phoenix, the fire bird rising from the ashes.

Yet sometimes Phoenix is tired.  I have a story to tell about Phoenix.  I am Phoenix.  Despite significant challenges – physical, emotional and mental at times- I carry on, break myself apart, get rid of the puzzle piece that no longer fits, pour the sand and mortar back in and rebuild strength from vulnerability.  Yet sometimes life can drop a Phoenix to his or her knees.  Today I received a diagnosis that I cannot reverse but may be able to live gracefully with.  Clinical deafness.  Though I can hear sound, I am largely unable to ascertain words.  What does this mean for me going forward?  I don’t know.  How will it affect my ability to learn and be financially productive?  I don’t know.  I admit to letting the Phoenix lie down for a while and rest.  The Phoenix was weak.

Yet if one looks at mythology, how can a Phoenix rise if she never rests?  I needed time to process the change, to accept whatever limitations this diagnosis may place on my life and to figure out how to continue dancing boldly into my life.  You see, we don’t have to have it all.  We must have ourselves – the love and knowledge of ourselves.  We don’t need all 5 senses to be valuable.  I don’t need to have it all to make a difference, to show beauty to the world. What is needed above all is love and support and the knowledge that one thing “missing” does not make us less of a person, give us less value to offer the Universe, does not mean that we are not ENOUGH.  What it means is that Phoenix rests, then rises with the knowledge that all we have in any given moment is ENOUGH.  That rising and simply breathing is enough.  That one challenge does NOT a failure make.  The biggest blessings are often disguised within the roadblocks.  How does the Phoenix rise? Passion.  Choose a goal, no matter how small it may seem and take a baby step toward it, then another.  Crawl, toddle, run and fly up from the ashes.

Peace,

You are so very loved.

© 2012 by Paulissa Kipp