Oh how far we’ve come! I re-visited this blog today and realized that my last post was just after my very first equine therapy session! Boy has a lot happened!  My psychologist and I moved into the office during the winter months, and just last week we ended up back out in nature! This time, we’re at a new farm. This place is nice because it’s very private! It’s quieter. I finished up a course of EMDR trauma therapy over the winter months while we were in office. That kicked ass. EMDR is like MAGIC, guys. I know that it’s not just magic…and that I actually did a lot of hard work (and so did my psychologist). But it felt like magic because I saw results from this therapy very quickly. I barely have any trauma symptoms any more, and when those things do come up, they are much easier to deal with now than they were before.  So our first equine session of the season was great! I got to meet 3 ponies. Romeo is a boy, and Rain and Cotton are both girls. I was nervous at first, but as I loosened up, the horses loosened up, too! I also met 2 dogs and 2 cats. One of the cats let me pick him up, but I tripped over him at one point trying to avoid a horse, haha. Overall, it was a really fun session. And that is rare for me to say. I got over my anxiety very quickly and just genuinely had FUN. Usually, therapy is very hard and stressful and overwhelming and intense…but this session was our first out at this new farm, and so there was little pressure to actually get some intense work done. So I just got to enjoy meeting the animals and starting those relationships.  Next time we go out, I will get to (hopefully) meet the big horses in the back pasture, and maybe meet some llamas. I am terrified of llamas. But I know that my psychologist will NOT put me in a situation where I’m unsafe…so if I trust her as much as I claim to, I can rest assured knowing that I am safe.  So much life has been lived! I am so happy to be feeling healthy. 

Oh how far we’ve come!

I re-visited this blog today and realized that my last post was just after my very first equine therapy session! Boy has a lot happened! 

My psychologist and I moved into the office during the winter months, and just last week we ended up back out in nature! This time, we’re at a new farm. This place is nice because it’s very private! It’s quieter. I finished up a course of EMDR trauma therapy over the winter months while we were in office. That kicked ass. EMDR is like MAGIC, guys. I know that it’s not just magic…and that I actually did a lot of hard work (and so did my psychologist). But it felt like magic because I saw results from this therapy very quickly. I barely have any trauma symptoms any more, and when those things do come up, they are much easier to deal with now than they were before. 

So our first equine session of the season was great! I got to meet 3 ponies. Romeo is a boy, and Rain and Cotton are both girls. I was nervous at first, but as I loosened up, the horses loosened up, too! I also met 2 dogs and 2 cats. One of the cats let me pick him up, but I tripped over him at one point trying to avoid a horse, haha. Overall, it was a really fun session. And that is rare for me to say. I got over my anxiety very quickly and just genuinely had FUN. Usually, therapy is very hard and stressful and overwhelming and intense…but this session was our first out at this new farm, and so there was little pressure to actually get some intense work done. So I just got to enjoy meeting the animals and starting those relationships. 

Next time we go out, I will get to (hopefully) meet the big horses in the back pasture, and maybe meet some llamas. I am terrified of llamas. But I know that my psychologist will NOT put me in a situation where I’m unsafe…so if I trust her as much as I claim to, I can rest assured knowing that I am safe. 

So much life has been lived! I am so happy to be feeling healthy. 

A Horse Named Rooster I’m going to talk today about my first experience with Equine Assisted Psychotherapy.  So I have been looking for a while for ‘alternative’ therapeutic styles as opposed to typical ‘talk therapy’ that I’ve been in for quite some time. I am finding that things like play therapy and art therapy have worked wonders for me in the past, and started looking for something else to embark on to help in my own healing journey. I found a therapist in the city who provides equine assisted psychotherapy, and decided to go for it and see how it felt. I was very pleasantly surprised by my experience. Just for the fact that this blog is public, I’m going to refer to the horses as their real names, but I’ll refer to my therapist as “A.”  So when I first got to the equine centre, I was very nervous. I felt my body shaking all over and I couldn’t really control it, so I just decided to get out of the car and go meet A. The first thing she told me is that for the session, she wanted me to try to stay in my body. This is something that is tough for me on a daily basis. I have done lots of good trauma processing before, but it still kicks my butt regularly. A was very kind and looked really interested in helping me and starting a therapeutic relationship. I felt really good about her and about the session, but I was still really nervous. The first thing we did was meet some goats. We did lots of talking about body language and energy. What kind of stories can I come up with about the energy and body language that these animals are showing me, and how are they reacting to my body language? It was a really cool thing to think about, because I don’t usually pay such close attention to body language - especially from anima<Next, we met Fluffy the miniature horse. The first thing I noticed was he had long hair in front of his face, and said I thought fluffy needed a guitar and he looked pretty badass. A asked me “how do you know in your body that you like Fluffy?” It was such a hard question! Actually, most of the questions I got asked today were hard, but I worked through most of them. Fluffy at one point, we noticed, was really anxious and upset that the goats were really close to him. He even nipped one of the goats in the leg with his teeth, and that made me really nervous that maybe if I got too close to him, He would do the same thing to me. I stepped back a bit and didn’t want to get too close to start out with. A went over to Fluffy and he quickly sniffed her, then turned to sniff me, and then walked away. The first thing that went through my head was that he didn’t like us, because he walked away. A was CLEARLY reading my mind, because she asked me what I thought about Fluffy’s behaviour. I responded honestly (and that was really hard for me to do!) and said I didn’t think he liked us. The first thing I thought of was rejection. That kind of sucks. But A told me another theory about why he left, and it was kind of cool to see a different perspective. And one that I actually took to heart. It was different than speaking a cognitive distortion (eg, everybody hates me) and having to change it. This time, I actually EXPERIENCED something, and it was more tangible and believable. Fluffy is a cool dude. He taught me a lesson about cognitive distortions and mind-reading. Often, if I invite someone to do something with me and they say they are busy, I will assume they just don’t want to do anything with me or that I’m not likable. Fluffy taught me that maybe I’m assuming too quickly and need to think of other stories that could be going on.  The next big thing that happened was my interaction with Dee. Dee is a big, scary, red coloured horse in a big fenced-in area with 3 other horses. He’s second in command in their little horse club. Pretty much the vice president. He is in with a bunch of other males, because when the females get around him, he turns into a jerk and doesn’t like the other male horses. He’s girl crazy. My first reaction was “I don’t like him, he’s mean to the other horses.” But A suggested that maybe Dee is not a write-off, and that he just acts a certain way in certain situations. Dee reminded me a lot of my abuser. I was really scared of him, because he was really big and I was afraid that he would bite or hurt me. At one point, I was feeling really “floaty” and not feeling completely in my body. A caught it, and I caught it too. I stepped back, put my feet really firmly on the ground, said “I’m good” and we kept talking. A asked me about my anxiety, which was at a 6 at this time (out of 10). She asked what I wanted to do with my anxiety - leave it and respect it as it is, or challenge it. I wanted to challenge it. Slowly, and through lots of conversation, we moved around Dee and A showed me how he reacted when she did certain things (touching him on the back vs face vs neck) and easing me into the process. Eventually, after many steps backwards and forwards and being really conflicted, I decided to “Jump in” and try to touch Dee. At this point, my anxiety was jumping up and up and up and I was losing track of my breathing. A stood between me and Dee’s head, and I reached out and carefully but quickly touched a piece of his mane. My heart was racing and even though A kept reminding me to breathe, it was hard to catch my breath. I couldn’t believe that I just touched this big, scary horse that was so intimidating. At one point, he moved his head really quickly and I jumped back. But I jumped right back in, and stroked his neck gently. I learned to push my boundaries and that A is going to be there to protect me and help me to push myself. I felt like I started to trust her more, trust myself more, and MAYBE trust Dee a bit more. I’m still not sure about him.  Then, there’s Rooster. Rooster is my guy. Almost immediately when we went to meet him, I noticed how much calmer he was and how relaxed he seemed. He made me completely relax. I had no problems touching him and even scratched between his ears on his head. That made him drool and put his head down. I guess I’m a good horse masseuse. I felt really confident with Rooster, and really comforted by him. I had just had a really emotional experience with Dee, and Rooster was the calm after the storm. I breathed and rubbed him and even gave him a hug. I really liked him, and he reminds me a lot of myself. He’s the low-man on the totem pole in the horse club. He’s the guy who has to stand at the gate and say “no girls allowed” so that Dee won’t get pissed off. He’s the guy who nobody wants to play at recess. He’s the one they say “you go hide, and we’ll come seek you” and then nobody ever seeks him. (and yes, those things all happened to me as a kid). Rooster was really comforting to me, and it was very odd to have such opposite experiences in such a short time.  This session was very eye opening and very overwhelming. I’m still stirring on it and not really 100% sure how to feel. I want to keep exploring this therapy and exploring myself. I am so nervous because I know A has it in her head that Dee and I will have a very interesting relationship. I still think he’s a bit of a jerk and don’t trust him as far as I could throw him (which is not very far, he’s like 1200 pounds).  I think I learned some cool lessons, and can’t wait to see where this takes me. Rather, where I can take myself. 

A Horse Named Rooster

I’m going to talk today about my first experience with Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. 

So I have been looking for a while for ‘alternative’ therapeutic styles as opposed to typical ‘talk therapy’ that I’ve been in for quite some time. I am finding that things like play therapy and art therapy have worked wonders for me in the past, and started looking for something else to embark on to help in my own healing journey. I found a therapist in the city who provides equine assisted psychotherapy, and decided to go for it and see how it felt. I was very pleasantly surprised by my experience. Just for the fact that this blog is public, I’m going to refer to the horses as their real names, but I’ll refer to my therapist as “A.” 

So when I first got to the equine centre, I was very nervous. I felt my body shaking all over and I couldn’t really control it, so I just decided to get out of the car and go meet A. The first thing she told me is that for the session, she wanted me to try to stay in my body. This is something that is tough for me on a daily basis. I have done lots of good trauma processing before, but it still kicks my butt regularly. A was very kind and looked really interested in helping me and starting a therapeutic relationship. I felt really good about her and about the session, but I was still really nervous. The first thing we did was meet some goats. We did lots of talking about body language and energy. What kind of stories can I come up with about the energy and body language that these animals are showing me, and how are they reacting to my body language? It was a really cool thing to think about, because I don’t usually pay such close attention to body language - especially from anima<Next, we met Fluffy the miniature horse. The first thing I noticed was he had long hair in front of his face, and said I thought fluffy needed a guitar and he looked pretty badass. A asked me “how do you know in your body that you like Fluffy?” It was such a hard question! Actually, most of the questions I got asked today were hard, but I worked through most of them. Fluffy at one point, we noticed, was really anxious and upset that the goats were really close to him. He even nipped one of the goats in the leg with his teeth, and that made me really nervous that maybe if I got too close to him, He would do the same thing to me. I stepped back a bit and didn’t want to get too close to start out with. A went over to Fluffy and he quickly sniffed her, then turned to sniff me, and then walked away. The first thing that went through my head was that he didn’t like us, because he walked away. A was CLEARLY reading my mind, because she asked me what I thought about Fluffy’s behaviour. I responded honestly (and that was really hard for me to do!) and said I didn’t think he liked us. The first thing I thought of was rejection. That kind of sucks. But A told me another theory about why he left, and it was kind of cool to see a different perspective. And one that I actually took to heart. It was different than speaking a cognitive distortion (eg, everybody hates me) and having to change it. This time, I actually EXPERIENCED something, and it was more tangible and believable. Fluffy is a cool dude. He taught me a lesson about cognitive distortions and mind-reading. Often, if I invite someone to do something with me and they say they are busy, I will assume they just don’t want to do anything with me or that I’m not likable. Fluffy taught me that maybe I’m assuming too quickly and need to think of other stories that could be going on. 

The next big thing that happened was my interaction with Dee. Dee is a big, scary, red coloured horse in a big fenced-in area with 3 other horses. He’s second in command in their little horse club. Pretty much the vice president. He is in with a bunch of other males, because when the females get around him, he turns into a jerk and doesn’t like the other male horses. He’s girl crazy. My first reaction was “I don’t like him, he’s mean to the other horses.” But A suggested that maybe Dee is not a write-off, and that he just acts a certain way in certain situations. Dee reminded me a lot of my abuser. I was really scared of him, because he was really big and I was afraid that he would bite or hurt me. At one point, I was feeling really “floaty” and not feeling completely in my body. A caught it, and I caught it too. I stepped back, put my feet really firmly on the ground, said “I’m good” and we kept talking. A asked me about my anxiety, which was at a 6 at this time (out of 10). She asked what I wanted to do with my anxiety - leave it and respect it as it is, or challenge it. I wanted to challenge it. Slowly, and through lots of conversation, we moved around Dee and A showed me how he reacted when she did certain things (touching him on the back vs face vs neck) and easing me into the process. Eventually, after many steps backwards and forwards and being really conflicted, I decided to “Jump in” and try to touch Dee. At this point, my anxiety was jumping up and up and up and I was losing track of my breathing. A stood between me and Dee’s head, and I reached out and carefully but quickly touched a piece of his mane. My heart was racing and even though A kept reminding me to breathe, it was hard to catch my breath. I couldn’t believe that I just touched this big, scary horse that was so intimidating. At one point, he moved his head really quickly and I jumped back. But I jumped right back in, and stroked his neck gently. I learned to push my boundaries and that A is going to be there to protect me and help me to push myself. I felt like I started to trust her more, trust myself more, and MAYBE trust Dee a bit more. I’m still not sure about him. 

Then, there’s Rooster. Rooster is my guy. Almost immediately when we went to meet him, I noticed how much calmer he was and how relaxed he seemed. He made me completely relax. I had no problems touching him and even scratched between his ears on his head. That made him drool and put his head down. I guess I’m a good horse masseuse. I felt really confident with Rooster, and really comforted by him. I had just had a really emotional experience with Dee, and Rooster was the calm after the storm. I breathed and rubbed him and even gave him a hug. I really liked him, and he reminds me a lot of myself. He’s the low-man on the totem pole in the horse club. He’s the guy who has to stand at the gate and say “no girls allowed” so that Dee won’t get pissed off. He’s the guy who nobody wants to play at recess. He’s the one they say “you go hide, and we’ll come seek you” and then nobody ever seeks him. (and yes, those things all happened to me as a kid). Rooster was really comforting to me, and it was very odd to have such opposite experiences in such a short time. 

This session was very eye opening and very overwhelming. I’m still stirring on it and not really 100% sure how to feel. I want to keep exploring this therapy and exploring myself. I am so nervous because I know A has it in her head that Dee and I will have a very interesting relationship. I still think he’s a bit of a jerk and don’t trust him as far as I could throw him (which is not very far, he’s like 1200 pounds). 

I think I learned some cool lessons, and can’t wait to see where this takes me. Rather, where I can take myself. 

Menstruation/Cloth Pads
One conversation I&#8217;ve had to have with young girls before in my practice has been about periods. From a 10 year old coming to me at a camp and whispering &#8220;I just got my first period&#8230;what the hell do I do&#8221; to a teen in a group home asking me for tampons, I&#8217;ve gotten used to talking about menstruation openly. 

One of the things that I think is important to remember is that almost every girl menstruates. I am confused as to why it has to be such a secret or made into a big deal. When I was in high school, if you got your period, you were up the creek without a paddle unless you were brave enough to go to a couple friends and ask for some products. Why does it have to be that nerve wracking? I think girls should embrace their periods, knowing that it is their body&#8217;s natural self doing what it needs to do to prepare itself for reproduction and sustaining life. 

Getting your period can suck, trust me. I personally had very irregular and almost non-existant periods for several years because of a medical condition. Since I started medication to fix that problem, I started having severe cramping that was constant for at least 3 days. My first &#8216;regular&#8217; cycle on medication was 13 days long and 5 of those days were extremely heavy. While researching pain relief for periods online, I learned about cloth pads.

Cloth pads are reusable menstrual products that snap to your underwear and you wear them just as you do disposables, but when you are done using the pad, you can wash it and re-use it. I was at first really weirded out, but thought this was the coolest idea ever after I started doing more research. I spent HOURS that night laying on a heating pad, taking medication, and researching cloth. I learned about materials, cleaning methods, pros and cons, brands, and colours. I placed my first order that night with Tree Hugger Cloth Pads. 

I love my Tree Huggers. The lady who runs the company is a work at home mom named Crystal Burton, and she is fantastic. She makes pads that have a material inside called Zorb, and it&#8217;s made for cloth diapers. It&#8217;s really absorbent and I have not yet had a leak with this material. They are backed with fleece, which is water resistant, so there is less chance of leaking. She makes panty liners, light flow day pads, heavy flow day pads, and overnight/ postpartum pads. The top (the part that faces your body) can either be Minky, Bamboo, fleece, or cotton (cotton and fleece is a newer grouping of her products, I believe). Minky is stain resistant, which I love. I can take out a pad that might have been sitting in my wetbag (special bag that is water proof to store used pads) for a couple days, then take it out and rinse it under cold water. The blood comes right out, just like magic. Bamboo is super comfy and I love the feeling of it. I have yet to try her cotton and fleece products, but I plan on ordering some tonight! 

The really great thing about Crystal&#8217;s products is that she is willing to help you in anything you need. I wanted panty liners that were longer in length (9 inches as opposed to 7 inches) because I have a bigger body and prefer more coverage. NO problems. Crystal is open to custom orders and is determined to help you meet your menstruation needs. You can even see a set online and be like &#8220;hm..I like this print from this set, but this print from another set&#8230;can we mix and match?&#8221;  Customer services is top notch! Shipping is FAST and all her products are, in my opinion, very reasonably priced. 
I have tried cloth pads from other companies, and now I am almost exclusively ordering from Tree Hugger because of the fantastic customer service and high quality product. And here is another added bonus. For every pad you buy, Tree Hugger plants a tree. How awesome is this for the environment! 
Overall, I love these products from Tree Hugger. I even have a rainbow set of overnight pads (for the queer bleeder in all of us). 
I have seen so many benefits in the short time I&#8217;ve been using cloth. For example, I only had one day of mild cramping on cloth, only 2 days of heavy bleeding, and my whole period went from 13 days long to 9 days long. Using cloth has been healthier for my body overall, and I love that! 

Be well, don&#8217;t hesitate to ask me questions if you have any!
-Jen
Sand
I have never had such a therapeutic experience than when I did sand play therapy. And yes, I did this as a 20 year old adult. I had a lot of self-defeating feelings and beliefs because of the abuse I experienced as a child. During this therapy session, I was finally able to say &#8220;I&#8217;m a survivor&#8221; in a confident, truthful voice. The bear and the gingerbread man represented 2 parts of myself. The gingerbread man had his legs cut off by the &#8220;bad guy&#8221; in &#8220;Shrek&#8221; and then he got them back and stuck them back together with icing. He is strong, and he too survived abuse. The teddy bear is the little Jen who is scared and is sorry for either being bad or for not telling or for anything, really. The gingerbread man and the bear were both able to work together and talk to each other to build this big bridge over the water. Each block represents different coping strategies and tools I&#8217;ve learned in therapy. The lions are strong and full of pride. They are the people around me who are supportive. The rocks are my boundary, and I am able to keep people out of my boundaries if I want, and let them in. The snake in the top left corner represents my abuser, and the butterfly is my inner survivor who shields me from the memories of my abuser. 

This whole sand tray played out over the course of an hour. There is so much to explain, so I&#8217;ve given the short version. I was able to let go of the adult in me that felt silly for acting out all of these situations and characters. But after the gingerbread man was able to say &#8220;I&#8217;m a survivor&#8221; to the other characters, my therapist said, &#8220;sit back and absorb that for a second.&#8221; and I burst into tears. That was the first time I was able to express that I survived my abusive history. 

I am so willing and open to sharing these stories of my own therapeutic success because I know that in the future, my stories may help others that I am working with. This sand experience was the most therapeutic thing I have experienced thus far, and I really hope we can continue to process using sand, because it was very very helpful. 
"It’s not just ice cream" One of my teachers at school told us a story in class once about her work with families. She told us that the simple act of taking somebody out for ice cream can help build a relationship and move mountains. She told us, “ice cream is not just ice cream.” and for me, I realized just how true this statement is.  I work in a crisis nursery as a family support worker. What this means is that we take in children ages newborn to 10 years old for up to 72 hours when their families are in crisis. For some kids, their parent(s) are sick and need to be admitted to hospital. For others, their family is homeless, hungry, hurting, or fleeing domestic violence. We help those kids to stay safe while their parent(s) go home and work towards bringing the children back to a safe environment. I work directly with the children, providing them with their basic needs, the opportunity to play and have fun, and lots and lots of hugs.  Yesterday, I worked with a two year old who had a very emotional day. She was extremely homesick, and it was her first time admitted to our program. She walked around most of the day crying for her mommy, and would become extremely upset whenever a staff would leave the room. When I was about to go make evening snack, she was again, hysterical. I took her in my arms, and told her we would make snack together. So I sat her on a stool in the kitchen, gave her some apple slices, and we dished out ice cream and fruit into little bowls. This was the happiest I had seen her all day. She was happy to be helping, to not feel alone, and get a special treat of 1-1 time with staff. For the rest of the kids who got ice cream, they were elated and by the end of snack time, I was wiping chocolate ice cream off the foreheads of 6 year olds. For many of these kids, a treat like ice cream does not come often.  It’s not just ice cream to me either. It’s a reminder of the little things in life that can make all the difference. I remember being a youth and my youth worker took me out of class in school to take me for yogurt at Tim Horton’s. It wasn’t just yogurt! It was a relationship - a reminder that somebody cared about me. 

"It’s not just ice cream"

One of my teachers at school told us a story in class once about her work with families. She told us that the simple act of taking somebody out for ice cream can help build a relationship and move mountains. She told us, “ice cream is not just ice cream.” and for me, I realized just how true this statement is. 

I work in a crisis nursery as a family support worker. What this means is that we take in children ages newborn to 10 years old for up to 72 hours when their families are in crisis. For some kids, their parent(s) are sick and need to be admitted to hospital. For others, their family is homeless, hungry, hurting, or fleeing domestic violence. We help those kids to stay safe while their parent(s) go home and work towards bringing the children back to a safe environment. I work directly with the children, providing them with their basic needs, the opportunity to play and have fun, and lots and lots of hugs. 

Yesterday, I worked with a two year old who had a very emotional day. She was extremely homesick, and it was her first time admitted to our program. She walked around most of the day crying for her mommy, and would become extremely upset whenever a staff would leave the room. When I was about to go make evening snack, she was again, hysterical. I took her in my arms, and told her we would make snack together. So I sat her on a stool in the kitchen, gave her some apple slices, and we dished out ice cream and fruit into little bowls. This was the happiest I had seen her all day. She was happy to be helping, to not feel alone, and get a special treat of 1-1 time with staff. For the rest of the kids who got ice cream, they were elated and by the end of snack time, I was wiping chocolate ice cream off the foreheads of 6 year olds. For many of these kids, a treat like ice cream does not come often. 

It’s not just ice cream to me either. It’s a reminder of the little things in life that can make all the difference. I remember being a youth and my youth worker took me out of class in school to take me for yogurt at Tim Horton’s. It wasn’t just yogurt! It was a relationship - a reminder that somebody cared about me. 

thatvegancosplayer:

gaminginyourunderwear:

Epic Cosplay of the Day: Mrs. Nesbit

WHERE IS THIS PERSON SO I CAN HUG THEM.


This is good. Toy story is one of my favourite movies from when I was a kid. There is so much I noticed, though, watching it as a grown-up, that I didn&#8217;t see when I was little. I think that&#8217;s how many movies go. 
This is why I almost failed high school. Some kids just have a hard time with the typical school system. I still can&#8217;t concentrate in class not because I have ADHD or anything, but because it feels impossible to sit still for 3 hours! 

There are schools where kids sit in comfy seats, have personal space, and interactive classes. These school do well and kids love learning. I think the education system should quit looking at kids as one body, and start learning about each individual and what will work for them. 

I can verbalized a concept and explain what it is, but have me write it down as a fill in the blank test question, and it will make me look like an incompetent practitioner. Some kids are the same as me, and others would prefer a written test.
I think many people have had someone like this in their life. I know I have.

But why does it have to be this way? Why is there only ONE person supporting a youth in what they do? I thought it took a community to raise a child. I know that I cannot be the only person supporting a youth. If I am the only person, my job is to help them expand their circle of support which includes but is not limited to family, friends, community resources, and other practitioners.