8 Lessons Learned From My First Ever Camping Trip

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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

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Bruised, Not Broken A Survival Story TRIGGER ALERT

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Bruised, Not Broken – A Survival Story

 

My past has not defined me, destroyed me, deterred me, or defeated me.  I am the face of abuse and recovery.  I have survived child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault.  I am stronger than what has happened to me, but what has happened creeps into the shadows when I least expect it and response will always be present.

 

A little about me:  For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Paulissa Kipp.  I have been a Women Against Violence sexual assault/ domestic violence victim’s advocate for 20 years.  This conversation may be disturbing.  If at any time you’d like to take a break and regroup, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

The story I’m about to tell you is mine.  I was 22 years old.  I left Nebraska for a romanticized ideal of being taken care of.  Every relationship red flag that I will discuss was present but I was young, opinionated, and most of all, naïve. 

The relationship started easily enough. 

Here he comes.  The truck and ladders lumbered down the lane with a loud clank.  3:47 am.  He’s been gone for three days, no phone call (the phone was actually working but he didn’t call), no food in the house except for 2 packets of oatmeal, and here he comes rolling in at 3:47 am drunk.  He fumbles with the keys, singing “Yellow Submarine” at the top of his lungs.  He finally gets the door open.

He asks me for a kiss.  The smell of whiskey nearly makes me sick.  “What’s wrong you don’t love me?” 

“You’ve been gone for three days!  Do you even know how many days you were gone?  The police are looking for you because I filed a missing person’s report.”

“I told you I was looking for work in Oklahoma City.”

“I know what you told me”.

I didn’t see it coming.  The force knocked me backwards.  I could feel my broken teeth and my jaw hurt.  I ran into the bathroom and pushed the dresser against the door and held it. He came through the door and choked me until I gasped for air.  I ran down the basement stairs and shut myself into the storm cellar.  I felt the knife whip the air as it passed my head and grazed my ear. The footsteps overhead grew louder as glass shattered.  The house gradually became quiet.  I took my shoes off and tiptoed through the house. I gathered a bag of clothing, my legal documents, and walked to the front door.  As the door opened, he stood up and lunged toward me.  The bullet grazed my hip. My ankle twisting, I broke free and walked 3 miles on a broken ankle for help. I am one of the lucky ones.  I lived to tell the story.

Abuse causes many cracks in the veneer of the soul. Healing from abuse is a slow recovery process. It requires a courage that does not come naturally. It often requires counseling and brutal honesty. It requires forgiveness, but not forgetting. It requires not being a bystander. It requires making a stand and saying “Not on my watch, not me, not you and not your child. It requires faith, even when you don’t know if the wound will heal. It requires acknowledging that we are all broken in some way. In the words of Leonard Cohen, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets through.”

All violence is the result of people tricking themselves into believing that their pain derives from other people and that consequently those people deserve to be punished.  Often abusers punish while professing love.

You might ask yourself how do we combat violence?  Violence isn’t just what lurks on the surface; it goes deeper than that.  As Jiddu Krishnamurti points out, “Violence is not merely killing another. It is violence when we use a sharp word, when we make a gesture to brush away a person, when we obey because there is fear. So violence isn’t merely organized butchery in the name of God, in the name of society or country. Violence is much more subtle, much deeper, and we are inquiring into the very depths of violence.”  Begin by speaking for those who are unable. Don’t ask why did he or she stay? Ask why do batterers, rapists and molesters do what THEY do and work to combat it. Yes, I’ve been there and can tell you it’s not as easy as it might seem. If you are being abused, have a safety plan (if you don’t know how to set one up, call the national domestic violence hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233). 

I have spent a lot of time working on myself, learning to be vulnerable, to love myself, to find my own worth, to value the things I do well, to not give others the power I should keep for myself and to learn how to feed myself and my soul what it needs.  

So dear friends, this has been very long and if you made it to the end – THANK YOU!  The things that I am learning are these:

A caterpillar only remains in the cocoon for so long.  Eventually, it has to break out of its shell to become what it is destined to become.  So it is with our lives as well.  

The things we give the most of are the very things that we need most desperately.

No matter how painful our past or present is, we do not have the right to project that pain onto others and punish them for past hurts.  No matter our past or present circumstances, we have a choice.  We can choose better.  I have a lot I could be bitter about.  For the most part, I’m not bitter.  Why?  Because if I am bitter, that means that I have nothing worthwhile to offer the world and that would be a waste of my potential and ability to love.

 

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

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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.

Journey to the Joy Road

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Journey To The Joy Road

I took a walk along a lonely path paved with hurts of old,

Shadows dark and wind so cold blew through the trees so stark

The light was dim, although it shone upon my heart so fair

Peace it seems, peace was missing on the path of old.

The path less traveled lie before me, new journeys and steps to take

One foot in and one foot out

What if the hokey pokey really is all that it is about?

What if I fail?  What if I succeed?  What if I don’t know how?

What if, what if, what if indeed. . .

What if instead, I merely chose to believe?

I took the path less traveled with its whispered roars

Raised the shades, swung open the doors

The path is lined with blooming hearts and a Phoenix oh so rare

Technicolor life and love exists when I walk there.

The journey to joy road is lined with baby steps and braveheart leaps

Fears faced down and dragons slayed

Peace ENOUGH for me to keep.

© 2013 Paulissa Kipp, The Creative Link

All rights reserved. 4/7/2013

 

Breathing Lessons

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Not so long ago, I needed to learn how to breathe.  What?!?  What self-respecting person doesn’t know how to breathe?  Well, I have learned that there is breath and there is breathing.  Think of all the ways in which we can breathe – rapid, panting, sighing, gasping – and slow, conscious inhalations and exhalations.  I needed to learn to do the latter.  I needed to learn how to just breathe.  To listen to my heart, my breath and my life force.

As an artist, my soul needed to create.  Life had dealt some harsh blows – financial struggles, medical concerns and the resulting mental burdens were like a yoke around my shoulders, thorn by thorn pressing into my heart and psyche.  Art was my safe place. 

Serendipity knows when we need her the most.  Looking for a creative release that would allow me to focus only on breathing while I created, I discovered art journaling and in particular, tangling.   Tangling is a form of creative meditation that focuses on making intricate patterns one line at a time.  For more information on the tangling process and to see beautiful examples, follow this link:  http://tanglepatterns.com/zentangles

With each line, my love flows.  The process of not knowing what I will end up fosters trust and confidence in myself.  Deciding which color or whether to use color at all reminds me to breathe in beauty.  There are no mistakes, I cannot do this wrong.  It is all learning. The gentle beating of my life force reminds me to let go of my need to be perfect with each exhalation and to absorb my magnificence with each inhalation.  With each breath, I heal.  Each line, color, form, symmetry or asymmetry is a part of the journey within and the journey is beautiful.

Breathing is more than merely the rise and fall of our chest; it is the tour de force that is our authentic selves coming to bear.  Breathing lessons are important.  What will your breath teach you?

© 2013 Paulissa Kipp, The Creative Link .  All rights reserved.   

International Women’s Day 2013

Today is International Women’s Day.  What do you, as a woman, need in this world?  What will you, as a woman, give the world?  Will you offer acceptance of another woman rather than petty jealousy?  Will you make a difference to a woman who is abused, who is overwhelmed, who has a dream but needs a little help in realizing it?  Most of all, will you love yourself today?  YOU ARE ENOUGH  

In case you need a clear sign that you are enough, here it is:  A love letter from me to you.Image

 

You Have A Fan!!

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Magnificent One,

I’ve been watching you over the past few years and I am enchanted by your beauty, grace under fire, intelligence, kindness and creativity.

Your light shines brighter than the stars and touches everyone you meet.  The way you stand up for what you believe in gives others the permission to do the same.

You are a bright meteor flying through the universe, never to be caught but visible to all, even from behind the clouds.  You are loved and are love.  © 2013 Paulissa Kipp

So I ask you:  What would your fan letter say?

 

The Value of Starting Over

It is the beginning of a new year and often new goals and dreams launched, mistakes assessed and a changing of course often occurs.  Maybe you sit down to write a resolution:  I will leave the carbs alone, I will lose this spare tire, I will learn a new hobby or launch a business or get my life in order.  Maybe you sit in quiet reflection and meditate about the course of your life.

Either way, we often find things that didn’t live up to our hopes or expectations.  Sometimes, we even label those things as “mistakes” or “regrets” and vow never to falter again in the same way.

Why are we so hard on ourselves?  Is there no room for learning?  Is everything an either/or situation in which growth is unvalued?  Joy and confidence stem from deliberate movement.  Any step forward in an effort to learn is a positive one.

And when those steps are tentative and unsteady and we fall, that does not mean that we’ve failed.  It simply means that either we haven’t learned enough to master things in the fashion that we would like or that our choice isn’t right for who we are.

Are you quashing your joy and making yourself a whipping post?  First of all, STOP IT!.  Then take a moment to consider the progress you’ve made and what you’ve learned deep in your heart about the situation.  What is your gut telling you?  It is never too late to start over, to change course if necessary.  There is always more than one approach.  Listen to that brave voice within and move forward gently into the sun.

The Value of Beginning

© 2012 Paulissa Kipp

© 2012 Paulissa Kipp

The Value of Beginning

To begin . . .to start, to commence, to undertake a task.  Beginnings can be exciting – a new job, a new marriage, college, parenthood or any other unfamiliar change can set our hearts aflutter and fill our minds with the promise of unlocked opportunity.  Yet beginnings can also unleash fear, feelings of incompetence, inadequacy and of being a fish out of water.

I have experienced this firsthand recently.  I left a job in a work environment that was draining and went back to school after 6 years of working full time and attending classes part time.  A huge change and a bold beginning.  Yet all kinds of fears have risen to the top:  How will I manage the homework for 3 classes, a home, a business and a marriage and how will I care for myself in the mix?  Add in a class in 2D design that assumes far more art knowledge than I possess and panic attack city, here I come. Beginnings can be scary.

But think of the way a child learns to walk:  he or she first crawls, then takes a tentative step while holding onto surfaces, takes a tumble a few times, gets bruises and bumps, practices, then walks without hanging on and eventually runs.

Learning in general is much the same way.  We often undervalue beginnings and want to jump right to expertise, assuming that mastery is easier.  Mastery may be more comfortable, but it doesn’t teach us as much. Beginnings teach us to humble ourselves, to be receptive, to listen and absorb, and to lean on others for help and support.  The greatest life lessons arrive wrapped in hard work and discomfort.  That, my friends, is when we learn about ourselves.  We learn what we are made of when we are pushed beyond our limitations.

What am I learning by being outside my comfort zone?  I am learning to push through my resistance at being a beginner.  I am learning to tell myself that even though I may be a beginner, I am not untalented.  I am learning the value of having a foundation to build upon.  I am learning to be open to receiving the gifts that learning through baby steps has to offer.  I am learning the value of beginning.

Remember, brave ones, that moving forward can be measured in many ways and that moving in any direction is OK as long as you are moving.  Baby steps. . .

Can you think of a time when beginning (even if you were beginning something you desperately desired) scared you?  How did you handle your fear to find joy in the change?

Your Mission:  write, create a piece of art or photography that shows what beginning looks like to you.

 

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.