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STAINED book cover

Sarah, a teen with a port-wine stain and body image issues, is abducted, and must find a way to rescue herself.

“Powerful. I raced through it, wanting to know if Sarah would find a way to escape both her captor and her self-doubts. A real nail-biter!“
- April Henry, NY Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die

SCARS book cover

Kendra must face her past and stop hurting herself--before it's too late.

Awards: #1 in the Top 10 ALA Quick Picks, ALA's Rainbow List, a Governor General Literary Award Finalist, Staff Pick for Teaching Tolerance.

Yes, it's my own arm on the cover of SCARS.

HUNTED book cover

Caitlyn, a telepath in a world where having any paranormal power at all can kill her, must decide between saving herself or saving the world.

Awards: A finalist for the Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy, and the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award.

PARALLEL VISIONS book cover

Kate sees visions of the future--but only when she has an asthma attack. When she "sees" her sister being beaten, and a schoolmate killing herself, Kate must trigger more attacks--but that could kill her.

Awards: 2013 Gold Winner, Wise Bear Digital Awards, YA Paranormal category.

STAINED book cover

Sarah, a teen with a port-wine stain and body image issues, is abducted, and must find a way to rescue herself.

“Powerful. I raced through it, wanting to know if Sarah would find a way to escape both her captor and her self-doubts. A real nail-biter!“
- April Henry, NY Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die

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Portable Comfort: How to Carry Comfort With You

by Cheryl Rainfield, 2001

There are times when we are out in the world and need a little--or a lot--of extra comfort. Times when we are nervous or scared, feeling vulnerable or unsure of ourselves, or just aren't feeling confident. A new job, a speech we have to give, a new situation, a group where we don’t feel welcome, or just being stressed out can leave us needing comfort. And, for survivors, facing something triggering, frightening, or painful is also hard. It’s times like those that portable comfort can come in handy.

Portable comfort means bringing something with you on purpose that helps you to feel comforted, and reminds you that you are safe and loved. There are many different ways of bringing comfort with you--and they don’t all have to be obvious.

I take portable comfort with me whenever I leave the house. I have things already placed in my backpack, the pockets of my coat, and sometimes even my jeans, so if I forget to bring something extra with me, I already have something with me. And I always wear the same necklace; it’s always with me.

If you have time before you leave for the day, it’s a good idea to associate whatever good feeling you want to remind yourself of (comfort, safety, love) with the object. To do this, take a moment and remember when you felt comforted, safe, or loved. Hold that feeling to you. Now imagine that good feeling flowing into the object. Tell yourself that whenever you see or feel or notice that object in your day, you will be reminded of that good feeling, and feel it again.

Here are a few ways you can take some portable comfort along with you:

  • Carry things in your pockets.

    Things that you put in your pockets are usually better if they’re small. You might carry something like:

    • a small stone (a stone from the water, or a polished stone such as an amethyst),

    • a small pewter figure or object,

    • a picture with a backing on it, or one that is laminated or plasticized (like a picture in a key chain),

    • a small squishy toy,

    • a piece of cloth or handkerchief scented with an essential oil that makes you feel good,

    • a note from someone you love, etc.
  • Wear a necklace that makes you feel strong or good or happy.

    The necklace can go under your shirt--no one else has to see it--and when you feel it against your skin you can be reminded of safety (or whatever positive feeling you have associated with it). Or you can wear it outside your shirt, and every time you see it, remember what it means to you. The necklace might be one that someone special gave you, or one that you picked out and were drawn to. You might pick a necklace with:

    • a stone that you like the colour or properties of;

    • an image that makes you feel good or has special meaning to you;

    • a locket with a picture of someone you love, who loves you back;

    • a shell or natural object that reminds you of someplace you've been where you feel safe;

    • a small vial that you can fill with calming essential oil;

    • a pouch that you can put a stone in or something small that makes you feel good, etc.
  • Bring along a comfort bag.

    Comfort bags are bags (small, medium, and large sized) that contain all sorts of things that make you feel good and safe. I have numerous comfort bags, mostly little ones that I can put inside my backpack on different days, according to what I’m feeling. A comfort bag might contain:

    • some natural hand cream, facial lotion, or oil that has a smell that makes you feel good;

    • a pen and paper to write with (so you can write out what's upsetting you, or write out things that make you feel good);

    • a stone to hold and look into;

    • a card from someone you love;

    • a music player and music that calms you;

    • a book that makes you feel good;

    • some small toys that make you smile, or help you feel loved or strong;

    • a small pewter object or worry stone;

    • something to fiddle with or hold in your hands--a worry stone, a wire toy, a squishy ball, etc.

    • a vial of essential oil that is calming (lavender, chamomile, rose), that makes you feel good, or that just smells good to you;

    • a small stuffie--or even a big one;

    • a comfort book (mentioned later in this article);

    • and any of the things mentioned in this article, or anything small that makes you feel good.

    Basically, you want to try to get something that makes you feel good from each category: smell, touch, sound, taste, sight. For more information and a great article on comfort bags, see here.

  • Wear an article of clothing that makes you feel strong or comforted.

    The clothing doesn’t have to be something other people see; you can wear a t-shirt, sparkly undershirt, or a favourite pair of socks or underwear beneath your clothes. Or you can put on that favourite shirt or pair of pants, and every time you look down at them, feel good.
  • Bring a MP3 player, CD player, or walkman with you.

    Put together a mixture of music that you find soothing or uplifting, or that makes you feel strong, and bring that with you. Or you might want to bring along a tape made by your therapist, friend, lover, or yourself, that tells you the messages you need to hear, or a tape of your favourite book. You can also take along a relaxation tape.
  • Take some small snacks or food you can fit into your bag, purse, or backpack.

    Food can be both a comfort, and a help in balancing how you feel. If you go too long without food and your blood sugar drops, you may not even notice or connect that you’re feeling lousy because you haven’t eaten--but it can happen. It helps to bring something you can just nibble on when you get hungry. You might want to pack:

    • something sweet from your childhood that makes you feel good--like a certain gum or candy or chocolate;

    • fruit--an apple, orange, grapefruit, or bananna;

    • a little snack pack of crackers and cheese, a granola bar, or trail mix;

    • cut up veggies;

    • a bottle of water or juice.
  • Bring along a comfort book.

    A comfort book is something you create for yourself, by pasting or drawing things onto the pages, and writing feel-good messages next to them. It’s a small notebook or sketchbook filled with things that make you feel good:

    • a letter from a friend;

    • photos of people you love;

    • images that make you feel good (you can make colour photocopies of a few pages out of a book, or scan them);

    • little cartoons that make you smile, etc.

    For feel-good messages, you can write:

    • affirmations,

    • loving messages about yourself,

    • things that you like about yourself,

    • things that people you care about like about you,

    • or anything you need to hear when you're feeling vulnerable or frightened (like reminding yourself that you're safe).

  • Bring a good-things-about-me booklet.

    A Good-Things-About-Me booklet is a little notebook that you write good things about yourself in. It can be very hard to write good things about yourself, especially if you don’t believe them, but writing good things and reading them can help you believe them. You might also want to think about the good things other people have said about you, and see if you’d like to include those, too. Or you might want to ask a friend, therapist, or lover to write out some things you can include. Write as many things as you can in the notebook--and keep adding to it.
  • Bring some small vials of essential oils, or some smell that makes you feel good, such as a lavender sachet.

    Smell is one of our most powerful senses. Something that smells good to us can lift our spirits. Think of a warm cinnamon bun, or a freshly cut orange. Essential oils have properties that can help ease depression, lift spirits, and soothe the soul (when used in conjunction with other things). They are espeically nice because they are natural, and, in my experience, they really do help.

    You might want to use these oils to:

    • lift your spirits: orange, ylang ylang, bergamot (or any citrus essential oil)

    • calm and soothe: lavender, chamomile, rose, jasmine

    • increase confidence: bergamot, grapefruit, jasmine

    Other ways you can bring smells:

    • Bring a tiny toy that has a smell that makes you feel good. For instance, if play doh is a good smell for you, there are tiny tubs of play doh for sale in many toy stores. Do you like the smell of crayons? Bring one along. It's okay if it breaks; you're bringing it for the smell. How about a scratch and sniff sticker? A tiny doll that's scented? Whatever smells good to you, bring that along.

    • Bring a tiny bottle or plastic baggie of a skin care product that makes you feel safe or happy or good when you smell it. (You can use an old pill bottle or essential oil bottle or lip balm container.) Like the smell of sunscreen, and it's not summer? Bring it along. Like the scent of baby powder? A perfume or face cream? Bring a tiny bit along...or scent a kleenix with a little bit. There's nothing silly in making yourself feel good.

  • Carry a small tincture.

    You might want to tuck a small tincture into your pocket or bag. Bach remedies is one such brand of tinctures. Rescue Remedy is the most well-known remedy for vulnerability, panic attacks, etc. Many survivors swear by it. I've found that Rock Rose really works for me when I feel terror. You might want to think about what feeling you need help with--panic, fear, depression, pain, loneliness, feeling unequal--and then search out the appropriate tincture. Try it out for a few weeks, and see if it helps you.

Carrying around some form of comfort, and having it available right when you need it can help ease anxiety and stress, and give you reassurance when you need it. I’ve found that just knowing I have a comfort bag with me is sometimes enough--and other times, I am grateful I have it with me to dip into. You might want to try carrying around some comfort, and see if it makes a difference in your life.

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©Cheryl Rainfield, 2001

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