Tag Archive | growth

Two Roses

Two roses stand strong
within their protective thorns

Entwined by years of friendship 
they share secrets, thoughts, laughter, and tears

They sway with the whispering breeze
as they bloom and grow
mesmerizing all with the wisdom of their ageless beauty

 

2-roses

©Alexis Rose; image: pexels.com

Owl’s of the Past

A little fiction…

Looking back, she realized it may have been her secret intention to leave her known world behind all along. She had been dreaming of the ocean. The diamond-glinted turquoise waters, and the sound of waves comforting her restless soul. She wanted to find some peace, some quiet, some insight into why her life had unfolded into the daily grind of never-ending responsibility.

Knowing that an ocean adventure was well out of her budget, she set her sights closer to home, and thought a little weekend away at a cabin in the woods was just what she needed.

The advertisement for the cabin had been benign, but enticing. North woods rustic cabin with expansive views of Owl Lake. Firewood included. That was the draw, she was willing to go without indoor plumbing, but cut and available firewood was the luxury item that sparked her interest. There were photos of nearby labyrinths to walk, and a telescope ensconced in a grand old gazeebo pointing to the stars that called to her desire to connect with nature.

The name of the lake also caught her attention. She felt at peace with the sound of the owls. They brought her comfort. Never quite knowing why she was drawn to them, just knowing that the call of the owl always relaxed her and made her feel safe. She began dreaming of sitting by the fireplace; reading, writing in her journal, snacking on simple meals and resting. She made reservations and was on the road the following week.

The drive was uneventful. Miles of cows, forest, big blue sky, and puffy white clouds. The radio-gods were with her, playing song after song of beloved classic hits of her teens and twenty’s.  Each song bringing back memories of unabashed fun with long-ago friends. The time of life when she was invincible; a free and easy spirit. For just a moment, before the next song played, she began to think about how it all went sideways. How did she end up, in a life that was unfulfilling and stagnant? She shuddered and left the thought behind as she belted out the next song.

Her GPS indicated that her turn off was a mile away. As she drove the twisty turny dusty roads she noticed how thick and foggy the woods were becoming. Not the thick impenetrable fog that you can’t see through, this was different. This fog felt almost enchanted, full of dancing colors of green and blue. She laughed to herself, thinking that she must really need a vacation.

At last, she arrived at the long narrow driveway. Parking her car and looking around she felt a sense of electricity in the air. The trees were a dense dark green, the ground was lush and moist with the dew that hadn’t dried off from the morning sun. But there was something else that had caught her eye. The sparkle of Owl Lake that expanded from the back of the cabin was stunning. It almost looked like the ocean she had been dreaming about the past few weeks. Closing her eyes for a moment, she thought she heard the sound of waves crashing against the shore. Shaking her head, she got her bearings, grabbed her backpack and unlocked the door to the cabin.

Immediately she was drawn to the sliding back door. Drawn to the deck as if a siren song was playing in the distance; as if she was being called to the aft of a ship to look for mermaids. Dropping her backpack on the floor she slid the heavy door open, stepping onto a thickly wooded platform she found she was suddenly floating on a vast ocean.

Stunned at the sudden jolt of being adrift on the high seas, she began to scream for help. She was steady on the deck, but as she turned around the woods had disappeared, there was nothing behind her but ocean. Not knowing what to do, she threw open the sliding glass door, and stepped back into the cabin, hoping that she had just experienced the most intense hallucination of her life.

Back inside, she closed her eyes tight and said a quick prayer that this was all a dream. She prayed that when she opened her eyes she would see the dense woods through the front door and her car at the end of the driveway.  But all she saw was the waves of a turquoise sea lapping against the cabin that had suddenly transformed into a boat.

The realization that this wasn’t a dream brought her to her knees. She sat down and with her head in her hands wondering if she had died. Was she in heaven or hell? Was she dreaming? What was happening?

The boat seemed to be on a course, somehow steering itself. Was she on a ghost ship? As fear overtook her, she curled tight against the wall and fell into a dreamless sleep.

She woke up to the rhythmic rocking of the cabin on the sea. A bit disoriented, but with steady sea-legs she opened the deck door and stood in the clear starlit sky. Breathing in the sea air she suddenly developed a knowing and trusting awareness. She decided to quell her fear and not think about what was happening until the morning.

As the pink sky appeared over the horizon she noticed the unmistakable outline of land. Her heart quickening, she found that the fear that had overtaken her when the cabin became a boat was again tightening her chest and constricting her throat. Where was she landing and who would be on that island?

The current brought the cabin to rest on the island. In front of her lay a beautiful white sandy beach and a green, steep mountain range. Getting off the boat and nervously looking around she felt a strange sensation; electric shivers coursing through her body. Looking up towards the highest mountain peak, she noticed a black owl totem, with piles of firewood neatly stacked in front of it.

Hugging herself, she looked back towards the turquoise sea, the sun glinting like diamonds upon the water. Behind her the call of an owl high on the mountain reminded her she was home. Walking up the mountain, she turned around once again, and remembered!

garden-948927_1280

photo:pixabay

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

 

Farewell, Bad-memory Lane

I took a drive down bad memory lane
and saw you looming on the street
You looked much smaller than I remembered
standing there alone and unfamiliar

When I turned my head to pass you by
I thought I heard you shutter and sway
quickly trying to shake the ghosts awake
saying, look, look who’s back

Did I take a wrong turn
or did I need to see that the power is gone
and the ghosts have long passed

I wasn’t back; I had to be sure

With a wry smile
I headed north on a twisted road
the air turning clean and crisp
north, where the sun dances with the sky
and the stars are thick with wonder
far, far away from bad memory lane

©Alexis Rose, Image source: Pexels

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

Evolution

I could longer
run
hide
deny
because it ate away my soul

I could longer
fight
pretend
act invisible
because it eroded my identity

So I learned to
see My-self
accept who I am
have self-compassion
embrace growth and change

I slowly evolved

Now, even on those darkest days
there is light in my soul
dancing in the sun
and hope in my heart
©Alexis Rose, image: Pixabay
Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph      

 

Thank-you symptoms, but I’ve got this!

The past few days during moments of exasperation, I’ve said out loud to myself, “You’re being so weird, just stop it!” In reality, I haven’t been weird, I have been feeling off, and instead of sitting with the feelings, and letting them surf on through, I’ve been running the other way in a grand state of denial.

There is a saying: “PTSD: It’s not the person refusing to let go of the past, but the past refusing to let go of the person.” That saying is a simple way for me to understand that try as I might, there are reasons my PTSD symptoms sometimes still have a firm chokehold on me. The list can be long depending on the time of year and triggers.

Autumn is beautiful and just started here in the Midwest. Blue skies and Vermillion colored trees often coexist with 70 degrees temperatures. This time of year, from late August until it snows represents trigger, after trigger for me. While I can appreciate the wonderful weather, the long season can be challenging with prolonged symptoms and what can seem like constant symptom management. They don’t just amplify on certain calendar dates, they simmer,  just under my skin in both the Fall and Spring seasons.

There are days when the triggers and symptom management leave me exhausted and feeling like I’m a burden to my family and close friends. I spend most of the time finding ways to work on distress tolerance and grounding when the autumn winds blow.

Lately, I have been able to tolerate some of the triggers that in years past, would send me hiding in the house. I noticed I was able to name what the trigger was without flashbacks or much anxiety. That felt great, and I made sure to acknowledge how far I’ve come in my healing journey. But, as the weather has changed and we entered September, my body memories and reptilian mind have been fighting for a seat at the table.

I’m pretty good at accepting, and having compassion for my lizard brain and body responses by telling them, “Thank you for doing what you are meant to do, but we are safe now, and I’ve got this.” Most of the time that works, but sometimes as the skeleton hands of the past slowly edge up my spine and try to pull me down, some deep feelings get stirred up. If I don’t acknowledge the feelings and sit with them even for a short amount of time, they come out sideways. I get emotional, irritable, and I start demanding an impossible perfection from myself. If I’m not careful those feelings can inadvertently push play on the negative self-talk and doubt.

This morning, when I caught myself again saying, “You’re being so weird, just stop it” it made me pause. Instead of running to the next distraction I sat down to reflect, on what was really going on. With reflection, I stopped denying that the change of season is having an effect on me. It’s not me refusing to let go of the past, it’s an internal response to the trauma I survived.

Now that I’ve accepted what is going on, and forgiven myself for how I’ve been feeling, I say to my symptoms, “Thank-you, I see you, and I’ve got this!

PTSD

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

Reflection in the Mid-afternoon of Life

I have a habit of making three or four big goals when I reach a new decade in age. I tend to do a lot of reflecting, and anticipate what kind of adventure I can write for myself for the next ten years. I started doing this when I turned 30. I believe it is because the first twenty years of my life were controlled by others in terrible, sad, and tragic ways. When I broke free of my perpetrators, I understood that I own my life, and I get to decide who I want to be. That revelation and freedom have been an intense/unrelenting driving force for my life since the age of 22.

With this most recent birthday, I’m now (as my friend beautifully described it the other day) in the mid-afternoon of my life. So, with that mid-afternoon sun shining gently on my face, I began to reflect: Did my passion for writing, speaking and trying to destigmatize living with PTSD help others? What was the impact on myself for learning, growth, and change? How can I continue to be a support to this community of survivors as I venture down a different fork in the road?

As I was reflecting, I recalled a wonderful talk given by Arthur Brooks at the Aspen Ideas Festival, titled: Strategies for happiness in life.  In very brief summary, his four points were, “don’t rage against change, teach others what you know, take away the parts of you that aren’t really you, and surround yourself with love.”

I’ve stopped raging against change a long time ago. l respect that change is life. Everything is impermanent, including the feelings I encounter when change happens. I have taken away the parts of me that weren’t authentic, and definitely surround myself with love. My children want me to rest more; to relax, to not be so driven and hard on myself. I heard them; it landed, and I will be more mindful about the message I’m giving myself when the negative self-talk tries to sneak in.

As I hang out and look deep inside in my spirit mirror, I believe this will be a time of deep personal growth, a bit more rest, and a lot of self-acceptance. I’m looking forward to reflection in the mid-afternoon. There is a lot of daylight left, and the evening is still decades away.

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    

Fly free little bird; Remember the lessons of the flowers

Stretching and flapping her strong wings
this is the eve of our youngest bird
preparing to fly far from the nest.
Across the country
the hallowed halls of law are ready to take our bird
on her chosen path; her next life steps.

I know that as she embarks
on this  journey that our little bird will
take with her the lessons from the flowers.
She will persevere and grow
Silently displaying her inner beauty and strength
She will reach towards the sun, hold fast during storms
and live life fully in bloom.

Fly free little bird. Enjoy, and remember the lessons from the flowers.
©Alexis Rose, Photo by Chloe Si 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      

Adventures of Yesterday

Adventures of yesterday
are the shadows that promise
that there is light
just beyond the curve.

©From the collaboration, Of Earth and Sky by Alexis Rose and photographer Shelley Bauer.

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      

Changing the metaphor of my healing journey

For the first eight years that I was going through intensive therapy, myself and my therapist used the metaphor that I was climbing a mountain. I never realized how rocky, dangerous, and enormous that mountain range would become.  It was an intense and exhausting climb to loosen and try to break the grip of oppressive mental and emotional pain. Eventually, after summiting many peaks I found I had descended to the other side. I stood there, surveying what I had accomplished and began walking down the trail. Respecting the process I had just gone through, I knew that using the metaphor of climbing a mountain was perfect for me at the time.

For the past 12 years, I have been incorporating acupuncture into my self-care, and to help me manage my PTSD symptoms. When I was going through the worst of processing my trauma and felt exhausted and powerless, I remember my acupuncturist saying to me, “For years, you have been running from the tiger through the woods with a broken leg. Now you are in the meadow, the tiger is pacing far from you, and your caregivers are standing like sentries, guarding you as you rest and heal.” I will never forget when he said that to me. I felt safe, and that I was protected from the fear of telling the truth, from believing the lie that the truth must always remain buried. His reassurance that day reminded me to trust the process and continue the climb, now with an added image of resting in a meadow, protected from the tiger.

I have now been on my healing journey for 10 years. I no longer see the therapist that I climbed the metaphorical mountain range with. He took me as far as he could go, and our therapeutic relationship ended over two years ago. I have been seeing a new therapist for the past 16-months and it’s been a wonderful experience. She has taught me ways of acceptance and self-compassion that I never dreamed would ever be possible. It was the next step I needed to take, and the trajectory of my healing has been amazing.

I just went through a very difficult Spring. It happens; the triggers can get the best of me and pull me down for a while until I gain my footing. When I needed some reassurance my therapist reminded me (as she has often done the past 16-months) that I had successfully fought the tiger and won. She has been telling me for over a year, that I’m a warrior, a goddess who sits on the tiger and rides it proudly. I had never told her about my acupuncturist and the tiger metaphor he used all those years ago because she was using it differently. Her words and visuals are completely different. The tiger is my friend and provides me with the strength I need. I can sit on it and relax with my lotus flowers in my hands, and exhale breaths of safety.

My healing process has been an incredible test of pain, fear, exhaustion, and strength. It’s interesting for me to recognize that the metaphors I use to help me heal have changed along the way. Each metaphor, and visual providing me with what I need to live my life with courage, and resilience.

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

image source: Pixabay