Alchemy of the Mind: Cognitive Distortions

alchemy of the mind

The process of mental health is a lifelong one. I align it with the concept of Alchemy. It requires the continuous study of myself. Part of this work is reevaluating what I have come to identify as myself versus what is unhealthy conditioning that I’ve engrained to survive. By doing so I can “burn away” what is not needed and transmute the energy used for more positive aspects of my life. That exploration is daunting and can be overwhelming especially when undertaken alone. Realizing that a behavior isn’t working for you and not immediately being able to define it’s source is usually something we put in the ‘Just get over it’ bin. A bin society has conveniently conditioned us to believe it actually exists and functions. It is difficult to push past that kind of conditioning, let alone your own personal behavioral conditioning. So the fact that you are reading this means you have the seed in you for change and I hope I can catalyst that in some way.

For me, therapy is an integral part of my life but I didn’t always have an advocate. I grew up a patriarchal Azorean family as a female, middle child, artist. We constantly moved around and as a result I never felt grounded. However it did blossom a desire for change in me which I attribute part my drive for self-improvement to. I felt very confused and disappointed for years knowing I had no one that could guide me in living the kind of life that was authentic to me. I resented my family for a long time for not nurturing my needs even though I had no idea what they actually were yet. I spent years tearing myself in half between trying to fit in with their traditional mindset and lifestyle and the isolating feeling of being an artist with absolutely no validation or guidance in seeking out my own version of personal success. It left me broken-hearted and split down the middle mentally.

Along the way though there were scraps of wisdom and reflections of potential I gathered strength from.  It wasn’t until 2008 that I actually decided on my own after having various shitty experiences with therapists to start going again and approach it with the same focus I gave to the hours of introspection I did on my own.  In between then and now have been gaps but in the past year, I realized that retraining my mind is not just a priority but an absolute necessity for the path I choose to walk in life.

A few weeks ago my therapist brought up the concept of cognitive distortions. A term I was familiar with but not exactly something that had been brought to my attention as a point of focus. I always thought self-help books were lame (something I think is now worth challenging) so it’s really only been in the past year or two that I’ve opened up my mind to any guidance their materials could provide.  She handed me a slip of paper with a list of some cognitive distortions and had me examine it. It immediately resonated with me and I took a picture on my cell phone that I keep with me. I find it helps when I feel chaotic to ground and empower the way I manage my self-care and situations that challenge my mental health.

My understanding of cognitive distortions is that we’ve been conditioned to react in destructive way to ourselves and others that doesn’t align with the actuality of a given situation, often creating conflict within it for both ourselves and others. This has a damaging effect because we are filtering our experiences through our past traumas and that inhibits us from allowing things to occur in a healthy and organic way. This can be followed with guilt and confusion that is a dangerous downward spiral to more severe depression or anxiety. I wanted to share a similar chart that I found on Austin Peay State University’s website. It details not only the patterns of cognitive distortion but also different approaches to untwisting these behaviors. I hope it is able to help you.

I truly believe that any revolution begins with a clear and healthy mind and I plan of writing more on this topic. If you have something you would like me to specifically write about and I can explore intelligently, I would love to hear your idea. Leave a comment below.

Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional. All my opinions are my own and any links shared are the intellectual property of their respective authors.

Glow in the Dark Skeleton T-Shirt DIY with Tulip Fabric Paints!

Disclosure: I am excitedly partnering up with Tulip for today’s awesome DIY project! All opinions are my own.

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Oh my gosh, friends! I had SO MUCH FUN making this awesome glow-in-the-dark skeleton shirt! I used Tulip Glow in the Dark fabric paints and they worked amazingly. I used to have this super cute skeleton shirt when I was younger and I’ve missed it ever since I donated it. When I heard about Tulip’s Glow in the Dark and Black Light Fabric Paints, I knew I just had to create my own version. It was super easy too! Check out the tutorial below to learn how to make your own.

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Tulip Glow-in-the-Dark and Black Light Fabric Paints help make your Halloween projects stand out by day and by night! You can use them to decorate costumes, treat bags, foam pumpkins, glass, metal, and wood items. The Tulip Fabric Paints are nontoxic and formulated for lasting adhesion to fabric, so your designs stay dimensional and won’t crack or peel, wash after wash. Plus, Tulip Glow and Blacklight products glow very brightly under blacklight! Perfect for Halloween blacklight parties!

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I received all the fun glow in the dark and black light fabric paints in the photo above this one but I ended up only using the “Natural” color for this project. I already have so many more project ideas to incorporate some of the other colors! Also, check out this linky to see how other bloggers are using these fun fabric paints. But for now, let’s get to the tutorial!

Glow-in-the-Dark Skeleton T-shirt DIY

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Supplies:

Tulip Glow in the Dark Fabric Paint in Natural
black t-shirt
ribcage stencil (I used this one and printed it out twice)
spray adhesive
paint brushes
scissors
newspaper or cardboard
Tulip Fabric Paint in White (optional)

Preparation:

  • Cover your work surface in newspaper
  • Iron your t-shirt
  • Place cardboard or newspaper inside of your shirt to prevent bleeding onto the back
  • Cut out your stencil

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Instructions:

1. Line up your stencil on your t-shirt. It might helpful to use a ruler here or you can eyeball it. When it’s in your desired position, use tape (I used washi tape but painters tape or even scotch tape will work fine) to mark guides.

2. Remove your stencils and turn them over to their back sides. Follow the directions on your spray adhesive for a temporary bond – this is important so that a) you can remove your stencil afterwards and b) you don’t leave any residue. Apply the spray adhesive to the back of your stencils. Mine instructed me to wait 5 minutes before affixing them to a surface. Once they are slightly tacky, place them back on the t-shirt right side up using the guides to align them properly.

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3. Once your stencil is in place, softly press down the edges of each opening on your stencil to help ensure that the paint doesn’t leak outside of the boundaries. Now you’re ready to paint! I used an approximate 60/40 mix of the glow-in-the-dark paint and the white fabric paints to brush on the first two coats. The white paint is optional but I felt that it gave the shirt a higher contrast against the black. I brushed on a final coat of just glow in the dark using a sponge brush.

4. Allow your t-shirt to dry for at least 4 hours. I let mine dry overnight. Slowly and carefully remove your stencil. If some pieces of paper stick to the edges of the fabric paint, use tweezers to peel them off.

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5. To get it to glow, use a black light to charge the paint for at least 1 minute. Don’t have a black light? You can use an incandescent light but it will take longer to charge the glow. Marvel at your awesome new t-shirt!

Notes:

  • The white paint is optional. You can use just the glow in the dark paint. You could also use other glow in the dark or black light colors or make a rainbow ribcage!
  • I chose to brush my paint on because I wanted a more weathered vintage-y feel. You can also squeeze the paint directly from the bottle for more dimension and a more even texture.

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It’s Halloween forever in my heart so you know I will be wearing this rad t-shirt year-long! Here I’m pairing it with a thrifted kelly green vintage pencil skirt and some thrifted black wedges. What would you pair yours with?

If you’re interested in finding out more about Tulip Fabric Paints, you can find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

In the Market for a New Camera? Check out the New GoPro Line from Best Buy!

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

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Hey friends! We have been in the market for a new camera for a while now. The screen on the one we primarily use for blogging is broken but there are also limitations with it too, especially when it comes to low light or action shots – which is super important when it comes to getting that perfect image for the blog! When we heard about the new line of GoPro cameras, we were chomping at the bait! They look like they would take perfect action shots for the blog and get a ton of use in our every day lives too – especially with our ever-moving pets!

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Best Buy is the home of the latest cameras and camcorders, including the full line of new GoPro cameras, plus a broad assortment of accessories. GoPro cameras make perfect holiday gifts for everyone, from kids and teens, to gadget gurus. GoPro’s new line of cameras allow you to beautifully and authentically capture and share the experiences that bring purpose, adventure, and joy to your life.

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We love how compact the GoPro HERO4 Black looks. It’s the most advanced GoPro ever, featuring improved image quality and a 2x more powerful processor with 2x faster video frame rates. The HERO4 Black takes award‐winning GoPro performance to a whole new level.

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Our current camera has a pretty sweet menu and screen (save for the broken bit) but it sure doesn’t have a touch screen. The GoPro HERO4 Silver does though! The first-ever GoPro to feature a built-in touch display. Controlling The camera, playing back footage and adjusting settings is ultra-convenient—just view, tap and swipe the screen. With 1080p60 and 720p120 video, and 12MP photos at a staggering 30 frames per second, HERO4 Silver combines powerful, pro-quality capture with the convenience of a touch display.

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And don’t forget about the GoPro HERO. It ceatures high‐quality 1080p30 and 720p60 video, and 5MP photos up to 5 fps, HERO captures the same immersive footage that’s made GoPro one of the best-selling cameras in the world. The GoPro HERO also has 12x more powerful processor with 2x faster video frame rates. We don’t shoot videos regularly (yet!) but one of these would make shooting videos a snap!

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You can learn more at www.bestbuy.com/GoPro or visit your local Best Buy to check out the latest cameras in person! Have you used a GoPro HERO camera before? If not, what would you take photos or videos of if you had one? ♥

Jen Is Covering The Queen Mary Dark Harbor Event over on Socal Locale!

Queen Mary Dark Harbor

I have a post up over at the awesome Southern California-based blog, SoCalLocale.com talking about the Queen Mary’s Halloween event, Dark Harbor. Be sure to pop over to check it out to learn all about it.

And seriously, visiting an already haunted ship that’s all horror-ed out? My kind of party!

Queen Mary Dark Harbor

Feminism and Academia

Feminism and Academia

Being a feminist in academia is a strange thing. For one, the liberal arts does a decent job of educating students about sexism, feminism, gender roles, and the various intersectionalities within that.

But do we take it far enough?

Why for example, am I having to tell a man sitting behind me that he needs to stop kicking my desk? Why does he apologize and then keep doing it? While I am going to assume that it was an absent-minded movement, his blatant refusal to not invade my space, to not distract me while I am trying to learn, and to not take up too much physical space is not a privilege that I know. As a woman. As a fat woman.

Then there is the white male student that consistently interrupts the professor and other students, sometimes by mumbling under his breath and more often, blurting out before other people have finished speaking. He does not take social cues from the rest of the class with things like raising his hand like the rest of us do and instead just demands verbal space by speaking up randomly and invasively. He frequently ignores the professor’s requests to allow other people room to speak too. On top of that, he regularly uses inaccessible language and then proceeds to explain it as if he were in a position of authority to do so.

He is completely unaware of the verbal and mental and intellectual space he takes up in the classroom. His voice is silencing other students, sometimes even the professor (who is also a female of color). He is, from what I can tell, the only white man in the class of POC men and women. His privilege is one that I don’t know. As a woman. As a Latina woman. As a mentally disabled woman.

I firmly believe that we socialize men to be this way. What costs are we taking on by doing this? I was distracted in both instances to the point where I could not pay attention. As a disabled student who has significant trouble focusing, the external distraction made paying attention almost impossible. I spoke up to one of them and it did no good. My space was still invaded. I endured being spoken down to by a white man who doesn’t know the value of shutting the fuck up. I am one person in a class of twenty-five. What other classes are these dudes in? What other dudes are doing the same thing in other classes, schools, life?

How do you call out a man in a classroom setting in a way that doesn’t potentially invite hostility and awkwardness when you have to see that person and interact with them for weeks to come? How do you have your academic needs met if males continue to dominate verbal, physical, and intellectual space? And why in the fuck are we still dealing with this in 2014?!

Society tells me, as a woman, to take up as little physical and verbal space as possible. To be quiet and contained. My very existence, as a fat woman, is in direct political opposition to this notion. It is an act of rebellion, of feminism for me to accept my body the way it is and not try to make it smaller for anyone. Writing this post, speaking up against sexist behavior is another act of rebellion and how I stay true to my feminism. But I am one person (among many) dealing with interpersonal relationships.

I am still figuring it out but would love to hear your thoughts and advice on how to deal with this. Have you experienced similar things? Are you a professor or teacher and noticed these types of interactions? Let’s talk please. ♥