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My New Project: "Ellis Peace 2.0"

So I have been talking to a few people about starting a poetry group [with an LGBT focus]. It’s finally the time to get back to my roots and I am super excited. I am hoping that people get a chance to bring their stories together and in a collective effort we can inspire each other. Because that’s what poetry is about.

But before I go any further about the group, I want to share a little about my background doing poetry because this is meaningful to me.

Writing has always been my outlet to let out what’s going inside when I had no one to talk to. From writing, I developed this tremendous interest in poetry. The ability to express deep emotions in very conservative language was very fascinating. I used poetry to express thoughts that at times, only I could understand. If I wrote it, I can go back and read it and understand very clearly what I meant. In a sense, it was code writing. It was my privacy.

But the therapeutical aspect of poetry for me has transitioned from the damning relationship I had with my father to discovering my sexuality and dealing with it in school and finally, just finding a place in this world, in writing about topics on religion, politics, you name it. I just used poetry to open my eyes to the things that I am thinking about. Sometimes, it’s only after I write something that I really realize what I am thinking about.

I became a part of a poetry group called Ellis Peace when I was 12 years, just after starting high school… about 10 years ago. Everyone in the group was much older than me. Most of them were retired and they found this amazing group where everyone wrote poems for personal reasons, for books they were publishing, the local newspaper and so forth. I was learning but I found a place where I got to do what I love. I was never judged. These people were mature and experienced. They had seen the ins and outs of life. I remember how this helped me to cope. Writing poetry helped me out of depression and reading my poems, helped me to fight my anxiety. Sadly, the group slowed down after many years after the host had a stroke. She was in stable condition for some time but she managed to host a final group a few months before I migrated here.

I still have a lot of those poems that I wrote when I was 13 or 14 years old, I shared some below.

The virtue of discomfort

Life has worn happiness
It has worn greatness
It has worn delicacy
It has worn joviality

It has worn Charm,
It has been calm
It has been unpredictable
And yes it has been incredible.

But most of all, in all its lust,
It has worn disgust,
It has worn fright
It has been a seemingly an unending fight

Life had been the quintessence of dispassion,
It carries a heavy bag of decision
It weighs heavily on disappointments
And falls short on privileges

But when the day ends,
I ponder on sunrise,
When Sadness appears,
I ponder upon Happiness

For I know the reason why,
Why sometimes laughter and sometimes whimper travels by,
We were given birth
To face what life is worth,

It is not a Cosmo of just merriment
But also of experiment,
For life would be nonsense
If it was simple in all its essence.

Amazingly, this was one of my very first poems, re-reading it brings back so many memories. I remember reading this poem and being asked why I wrote it. I didn’t have a full answer. But now I know exactly what it meant. It’s pretty self-explanatory. Life was a mess, LOL. It’s sort of still is, LOL but this was around the time that I began to learn about my sexuality. I was still dealing my father’s abuse but I was beginning to realize that I was in even bigger trouble. I felt terrible.

I remember how scared I was about writing poems about my father. Back to the ‘code’ idea. But I did write a few and the poem below was a reminder to myself that I was worth something. I have struggled with my self-esteem, but it’s amazing this is how I was able to use poetry to bring so many things to meaning. Today, these poems mean more to me than they did back then.

You are…

Here today and gone tomorrow…
There is an end to everyday

But you are not bound to seas and lakes
But you are bound to the abundance of existence

You are not fingers or toes
Or eyes or nose
But you are an infinite powerful soul

You are a sailor,
Who travels deep seas
You are a soul
That faces a great unknown

You are powerful
You are an everlasting conscious being
You are an answer without a question asked
You are a story with no end

But back to the whole idea of this post, I am really hoping to do what I have been doing for so many years. I want to get back to writing serious poems while working with others. Poetry can be a private thing but it can also be a community effort. I think that we become ourselves once we share who we really are with the world. While we may not only focus on poetry but writing and other expressions, I hope to make this a family thing. That is how successful poetry become life, we bring our stories into it.

So, I am super excited about this. I have been working really hard on getting it started and I can’t wait for it to be.

10 ‘Classic’ "I Miss You" Songs

Knowing how it feels to miss someone, is probably all of us. Life changes, we lose things and we move on, but memories stick with us. I looked up some emotionally touching songs that closely puts into words, what it means to miss someone or to deal with grief:

1. Tina Turner – Simply The Best

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNU3aIJs88g&feature=youtu.be

2. Eminem ft.Nate Ruess Headlights lyrics clean

3. Amy Winehouse – Back to Black

4. Ordinary People – John Legend

5. Everybody Knows – John Legend

6. Steve Early – Someday

7. Counting Crows – Palisades Park

8. Sam Smith – Leave Your Lover

9. Lady Gaga – Million Reasons

10. Rihanna – Stay ft. Mikky Ekko

Creative Coping Skills to Get Grounded in Change

It’s hard to keep up hope on a detour.  Maintaining an empowered approach to Mental Health all the time can be difficult, and I often personally struggle with symptoms of PTSD.  These are some reminders I give myself that often help me:

 1.) Try to see the good in circumstances

It wasn’t easy, but when stuck in hospitals throughout 27 traumatic surgeries, I kept a gratitude list so I could remember that there was still good in my life.  It helped me see things differently.  What is the opportunity in your obstacle?

“The greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.” 
― Martha Washington

So how do you find the positive when your pain – physical or emotional – screams louder than an 1980’s stereo?

2.) Practice self-care.

“Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let’s start with a grateful list form A to Z.   You don’t have to start with A.  Find any letter you can think of.  Breakfast! (My favorite B-word!) Just make sure to take the list along and fill it out before the day is through!

3.) Ground yourself. When negative thoughts or painful emotions are speaking louder than anything else around you, it’s hard to be present.  Instantly, I go right into my head – I’m worrying, self-consious and slipping slowly into pity-party mode.  Help!  I’m sucked into my mind!

Learn how to stay present.  Here are some more tips:

4.) Say an affirmation. Gooogle “affirmations” yourself “I choose to live in the present.”

5.) Breathe. It sounds easy, I know.  But you’d be surprised how often you stop breathe when you start overthinking.  Breathe deeply – it’s calming and healthy!  You can read more about the amazing benefits of deep breathing here.  Need some practice?  Breathe along (sounds crazy, I know)with this Youtube guided meditation by Eckhart Tolle TV, and when you’re ready to lie down, learn how opening up your back can open the pathway to breathing…and presence!

5.) Awareness Without Judgement. Notice every physical sensation in your body.  Have a chat with what I like to call my Five Superheros:  Taste, Touch, Sight, Sound, Smell.  Think I’m crazy?  I call them my superheros because they save me in the nick of time when I’m about to get lost in anxious thoughts.  When I start worrying or pitying myself, I call on these rockstars before I can think one more thought.

6.) Quick!  At this very second, name the first thing you…

Smell_______

See_______

Touch_______

Taste (it can be air!)_______

Hear_______

 

Your five senses help you stay grounded, no matter what. I’d love to hear some of your  tips on how to get grounded in change.

Don’t get stressed – get grounded.  Even when life takes a detour, you can always stay grounded in YOU.

Amy Oestreicher is a PTSD peer-to-peer specialist, artist, author, writer for Huffington Post, speaker for TEDx and RAINN, health advocate, survivor, award-winning actress, and playwright, sharing the lessons learned from trauma through her writing, mixed media art, performance and inspirational speaking.
As the creator of the Gutless & Grateful, her one-woman autobiographical musical, she’s toured theatres nationwide, along with a program combining mental health advocacy, sexual assault awareness  and Broadway Theatre for college campuses. To celebrate her own “beautiful detour”, Amy created the #LoveMyDetour campaign, to help others thrive through difficulties.  Learn more: amyoes.com.

Child Sexual Abuse: #MA Story

In the US, 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse. Children are most vulnerable to CSA between the ages of 7 and 13.

#MA shares her story on Child Sexual Abuse, this was a life threat for her from as early as 7 years old. READ HERE https://turningpointct.org/story/sexual-abuse/

Anti-LGBT Counseling

If you have been following the news since lately, you would have probably noticed a string of anti-gay laws popping up around the country, which gets really scary for LGBT people living in states like Tennessee, Colorado, Mississippi, North Carolina and so forth…

Not to say that here in the ‘north’ (in Massachusetts and Connecticut for example) it’s all well and hunky-dory.

Of course we get our own share of antigay hate in our schools and supermarkets, at gas stations, in public parks and in communities that are so homophobic you would probably think that you are in another country.

But the new laws that we are now learning about puts LGBT people in a very peculiar place… you are neither safe from the general public nor the government.

One of the most heartless bills that has been proposed and that also targets young adults comes out of Tennessee…

Here… if you are LGBT, a therapist can refuse to provide counseling to you.

Now, I don’t know which is more devastating…
…the ordeal of coming out to someone who means judgement, who has no regards for your feelings and who refuses to even consider you for counseling
Or
…Knowing that you were denied service because something ‘might’ be wrong with you, an idea which your own government agrees with

In the first place, LGBT people who feel victimized would rather not speak to anyone… if a single therapist or the rest of society denies their value as human beings, then its best if they keep their true feelings to themselves.

…That doesn’t help the kid who is being bullied in school, by his parents or by his church… instead it forces him to find a very quiet room, where he begins to have negative thoughts, that could very well lead him to hurting himself.

Should that bill gets signed by the governor in Tennessee, more religious conservatives could get their way in picking what group of people in society they think is normal (taking us back many years)
While
Thousands of LGBT youth are being shun from the counseling and therapy that they need.

What good does that do?

I’ve met people here in Connecticut who still aren’t sure where to go to school or where to live. Their whole lives turn out to be a political message or a constant riot.

In North Carolina you could be told to leave a bathroom because you just don’t fit in or in Atlanta, a store owner could shut you out of his store…

But regardless of what’s happening in the South, I still think that hate is anti-American… we just need to reunite, rethink and begin to understand that we are all people who cry, bleed and sweat the same.

Coping Techniques

For the past couple of years, I’ve been receiving therapy treatment through EMDR. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing and works for those who’ve experienced trauma. It’s honestly saved my life and has helped me function enough to the point that I can actually drive a car now after a car accident and begin to trust again.

I came across an amazing article on how to “Self-Administer” EMDR when alone and I had to share it!
EMDR done at home is different than the therapy in an office with a licensed professional, but it does offer a new coping mechanism and a familiar option to help push through the anxiety.

Check it out! http://hubpages.com/health/How-To-Do-Self-Administered-EMDR-Therapy

What other techniques have you adopted to help you cope?