Enter the Garden

Enter the garden
which grew out of friendship
trust, and tender care
The delicate petals hold our secrets
gently and safely urging
us to let go, grow, and breathe
the colors of peace

©Alexis Rose, image source: Pixabay

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph      

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Road Tripping with PTSD

As summer begins to wane and the occasional cool breeze brings a hint of fall in the evenings,  I find myself packing to hit the road to participate in an art and authors festival in Northern Minnesota. It’s been planned since last winter, but I gave it zero thoughts until this week. I’m excited because I will be traveling with my bestie and we have always wanted to take a road trip together, but the driver is someone I don’t know. I’m a bit anxious about that part of it because it’s not easy for me to travel and manage my symptoms, especially around strangers. I don’t want to be the person who appears nervous, edgy or aloof as I navigate new places and different surroundings.

Traveling with PTSD takes a lot of planning on my part, and I have to be aware that this time of year can bring about triggers as the evenings turn a bit fall-like. I have to make sure I have some plans firmly in place so my fun little road trip doesn’t become a series of frightening flashbacks or anxiety-riddled days of being overwhelmed and hypervigilant.

I absolutely love the freedom of hitting the road. I love the spontaneity of it, and the possibilities of  “let’s take this road and see where it leads” adventure. I love to explore, I love new places, I love new people! These things appeal to my carefree nature but unless I’m planful, these experiences of joy can often be squashed by PTSD symptoms that lie just below the surface.

My trauma occurred over a 20-year period in many different places throughout the world. I can be triggered by certain smells, sounds, the way the wind blows, dialect, and many other things. Sometimes, that can start a flashback. Sometimes, I get disoriented and anxious, and sometimes it’s just a general feeling of knowing something’s off. When I’m at home, I can figure out ways to ground myself, get support or use one of my distress tolerance tools to ride out the wave. When I travel, things are unfamiliar and it takes longer to come out of a trigger.

Another symptom of my PTSD is that I become overwhelmed in busy, loud, places — restaurants, for example. It’s very easy for me to get flooded by too many menu choices and a voracious appetite can become non-existent. Before PTSD, I loved trying new food and going to restaurants that I wouldn’t have visited while in my hometown.

Busy roads while not necessarily triggering, can be overwhelming for me. The speed and crowded freeways can be overstimulating, and I tend to get anxious.  The same anxiety I used to feel in gridlock or driving at night with 18-wheelers whizzing by is now more pronounced for me. My anxiety is ramped up because my perpetrators often drove me to places across the country.

My support system is different when I travel. For my family, it’s often a good respite for them when I go out of town for a few days. It’s not an easy decision for them to let me go off without one of them accompanying me. So, a lot of moving parts must happen before I leave. My support works together to provide regual check-ins and remains available if I need to reach out. It feels uncomfortable for me to know that I require this support, but I’m grateful that I have this in place so I can do the things I would like to do and experience new adventures.

Road Trippin’ with PTSD is certainly a challenge, but not impossible. In fact, with a bit of planning and the agreement to tell my travel companion if I’m having any symptoms and their willingness to be fluid with plans this adventure is not only possible, it’s happening!

Photo by Madhu Shesharam on Unsplash

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph    

It’s Okay; You’re Okay!

It’s okay to just be in the moment
of love, acceptance respect, and friendship

It’s okay to let yourself feel
love, acceptance, respect, and friendship

It’s okay to give
love, acceptance, respect, and friendship

You’re okay and worthy
of being heard, being seen, being loved

The squeeze of a friend’s hand
That reassuring knowing

that whatever version of you shows up
it is okay; that you are okay

Being in the moment
Feeling the love, giving love

It’s okay, you’re okay
And the world shines brighter
Because you are in it!

©words and photo: Alexis Rose

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph      

Since Seventeen

At seventeen the only thing that mattered
was driving our cars, watching the boys
and whispering don’t-tell-anyone secrets
we knew would never be shared

Singing our harmonies, and dancing with abandon
to the sold-out audience of the window’s reflection
candlesticks as microphones
best-friend laughter and coming of age dreams

The twenties bring spouses, children, houses, and change
At first scary, but different, and new
We’ll never grow apart

It happened so quick – those different paths
separated by the winds of change that we didn’t see
our words become sparse and shallow

Apart, we both trust
silently comforted that ours is a friendship
forged in forever-ness
intuitively we know to be patient with the wind

Life settled; together again
the forties knocked on the door
our conversations are deeper and different
until we heard that song
and instantly, the window once again becomes our stage

Another decade has come our way
our friendship once tested
is stronger than ever

We honor the waves of time
and are grateful for being patient with the wind

Her and Me ~ forever friends ~ since seventeen

©Alexis Rose, image by Pixabay

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph      

Riding the Winds of Change

I experienced a profound and precious moment the other day. My kids are grown and have flown from the nest. They are making their way in the world and creating their own lives as adults with a lot of fortitude and grace. My youngest lives in a different state and is back for a few weeks this summer. From another room, I heard my kids talking to each other at the table. The easy cadence of siblings who had become friends brought a smile to my face. I closed my eyes for a moment and realized that lately, I have been riding the winds of change.

Change is a fact of life. Our bodies change, as do our cognitive abilities. Our circumstances change, the weather changes and so do the seasons. We change our minds, our clothes and our cell phones. Sometimes we embrace change, but sometimes change can feel daunting. The fear of the unknown and the anticipation of what might be can be paralyzing; the feeling of vulnerability can prevent us from moving forward.

But change is inevitable. I have been through an enormous amount of change in the past two years. Some of it was unanticipated and frightening, while some of it has been purposeful and has brought about a sense of freedom and peace.

Typically, when I enter a new decade I think about the goals I want to achieve for the next ten years. I am approaching a “big” birthday in August and instead of thinking about goals, I find myself thinking about what wonderful possibilities will open up in the next phase of life.

As retirement gets closer for some, and we experience the natural cycle of parents and in-laws passing away, the conversations I have with my friends has changed. Sometimes turning to the inevitable health scares we may be experiencing, as we collectively hold our breaths for one another until we hear the results of the test.

And still, many of us, including myself, feel ageless. We feel more confident about our bodies, and claim that confidence with the ease that alluded us in our younger decades. No longer trying to live up to society’s version of what size is beautiful.

I noticed that I’ve learned to embrace my ability to say, “no.” I’m calmer and much more confident in my writing and when I’m asked to speak to groups. I’ve learned to discern what is a fit for me as I continue to help support survivors of trauma and bring awareness to living with PTSD.

Change has brought the gift of new friends and has deepened the roots of long-time friendships. Change provides perspective. It has prepared me to understand when to let go, and when to fight. It has also taught me a great deal about self-respect and self-compassion. Beautiful, painful, and thought-provoking lessons.

I realize that nothing stays constant; there is always change, and that brings a sense of freedom and empowerment. Of late, that freedom has brought a sense of calmness. I’ve realized that part of experiencing a very lived life is catching the current and riding the winds of change.

image source: pixabay

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph      

The Gratitude of Friendship

When we get-together
and our first thought
is to give each other big-smushy hugs
because we are filled with the gratitude of friendship
it feels like the down of a favorite comforter.

Both of us present, talking authentically
about the stuff that matters
as the server quietly takes our plates.

Shoulders relaxed
we both exhale fully. We breathe…because
it’s safe
we get each other without judgment
total acceptance of who we each are.

When the tears well up in our eyes
and sometimes spill over because of life’s pain
or life’s happiness
it’s met with
open-heartedness and sweet empathy.

When the fear or suffering of illness
for ourselves or loved ones
comes sneaking into our lives
rest assured dear friend
that we are walking together, holding hands
on our sometimes dusty paths.

©Alexis Rose, image source: Pixabay

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph    

Just do your best; You’ll find your how!

Change is a fact of life. Our bodies change, as do our cognitive abilities. Sometimes we embrace change, but sometimes change can be frightening. The fear of the unknown and the anticipation of what might be can be paralyzing; the feeling of vulnerability can prevent us from moving forward.

A few of my friends, including myself, have been going through significant grief, loss, and change the past year. Loss of many kinds, including illness, financial upheaval, deaths of loved ones, and watching how a progressive illness affects a family. We are also navigating aging in a society where becoming a woman of a certain age can make you feel irrelevant. Big.Tough.Stuff!

As I was talking with a friend yesterday, who was extremely distressed, I found the best thing I could do was to silently offer myself as her mirror. The grief and fear she is experiencing are (appropriately) palpable, but she is also doing some wonderful things both for herself and the community. Personal growth, and being of service to others is one of the constants in this person’s day-to-day life.

Sometimes, in the muck and mire of what life throws at us, we forget to see, and often don’t acknowledge that what we do, and who we are matters.

I go through feelings of irrelevance and self-doubt a lot. Especially when I can feel I am on the cusp of change. Right now, I have hit the pause button on many outside activities in my life. As I work to reconnect with myself; my center, I notice that my interests are heading in a different direction than they have been the past few years. That’s a natural progression for me, as I learn and grow. But, it’s also a bit scary. Although I still could be quite satisfied with the path I have been on, I’m also anxious to listen to what it is I may want to do next.

I find right now, that I am feeling the wind of change calling to me. Just as I was purposefully trying to be a mirror for my friend yesterday, I find I’m also seeking out the mirrors in my life. The ones who reflect back who I am without any masks. The person I have been working hard to become, without feeling shame, the need for perfection or control, but who can also firmly set personal boundaries.

As my friend and I were talking, she was describing to me an intensive class she will soon be taking. I started to think about the things I’m willing to let go of now, and the absolute openness of what will come next. Both of us began to get a bit stressed and animated over the, “how are we going to get through this?”

As my friend got up to grab some water, out of my mouth, from somewhere in that wise-mind of mine, I heard myself say the words, “Just do your best – You’ll find the how!”

I really believe those words were just a random thought that was passing by, but the words came out. We stared at each other in silence, stunned into the connectedness of knowing that it will be okay.

What happened next? We sat quietly next to each other, understanding that with change comes uncertainty. But that uncertainty only requires us to do our best, and trust that the how will reveal itself in its own perfect timing.

Photo by Mārtiņš Zemlickis on Unsplash

 

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph