Raw Honest Brave

God Is The Great “Recycler”

Okay, so this post is very open and raw. I have made myself vulnerable in order to reach you. I’m telling another part of my story. I believe that God wants to use all of our experiences as a way to connect with–and maybe bring hope to–another person’s heart. I’m really glad that He does that. It makes the rotten stuff worth a lot more. Let me begin…

Sometimes we just feel like garbage. I’m not talking about when we are sick and our bodies feel “trashed”. What I mean is how we fell when someone degrades us, or we can’t accomplish something we have worked really hard at. Or when we realize that we have screwed up big time. Or we disappoint someone whom we love deeply. Everyone feels this way at some time(s) in their life.

However, when abuse has been a building block of a person’s life, like mine, “feeling like trash” persistently winds its way through our lives, intertwining our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, and affecting our quality of life.

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Abuse can tear away at our spirit, making us vulnerable to lies. It can crumble and deteriorate self-confidence. It can take away our sense of worth and purpose. Basically, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse will change our quality of life. Forever.

My sexual abuse happened when I was very young. Like many, I showed the classic signs of being abused, but didn’t realize it until I was in my forties. In the early 1990s–before we became aware of statistics revealing that one in four girls will suffer abuse by their eighteenth birthdaya sexual abuse case happened within our church membership. It really tilted our world! This was before the internet explosion, with check lists and resources for those who had been abused. And many of us who had been were living in ignorance, or denial. 

Because our congregation was totally unprepared to deal with the chaos and ravaged emotions this abuse case caused, we hosted an all-day seminar to educate us on how to work through it. During the seminar I began to realize I had shown behaviors indicating abuse in my own life. This often happens to those victims who have suppressed memories as they begin to learn about sexual abuse.  I remembered some rather disturbing interactions with family members. I acknowledged my promiscuity, and the careless attitude toward sex. I realized that my need for attention and the feelings of never being enough could be rooted in sexual abuse, as could my low self-esteem and dislike of myself. Like I said, abuse will intertwine all aspects of our lives. And quite honestly, I fell apart. My tightly-held-together-world began crumbling.

The good news? (Yes there is good news.) It’s possible to find hope and healing. Not in a day or two. Maybe not in a year or two. It’s been a process (how I came to hate that word), removing the effects of abuse layer by layer. I needed to completely reprogram my brain to stop believing the lies (I’m worthless, used up, can’t be good enough, no one will want me like this, I’m garbage, I’m ugly) and believe truth instead (I’m created for a purpose, full of worth, I’m a priceless treasure, I’m more than enough just like I am, I’m beautiful and intelligent and amazing).

The process involved teaming up with a woman of great wisdom who could direct me to God’s truth and identify the lies I believed. I began to read books on the subject of abuse, co-dependency, and emotional healing. I read over and over how God could and would “make me new” (“The former things have passed away… behold, I make all things new.” Rev. 21:5). I chose to renew my mind, rather than dwell on what had happened, because I wanted to change. (Not nearly as easy as I make it sound!) I did not want the abuse to have power over me any more and control my behaviors and thoughts. I realize my abuse was relatively mild (if that’s possible) compared to others I’ve come to know or have read about. However the root of it still caused damage in my emotions and spirit and shows how even the smallest offense of sexual abuse can wreak havoc in a life. It was as if my emotional DNA had been changed.

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One garbage collection day, while I was picking up the recycle bin and looking at all the ”throw away” bottles and boxes, I immediately pictured my life and those of others like me whose life-scripts had been altered by abuse.  We often feel like a throw away–used up, soiled goods that nobody would want. But immediately my mind raced to the finish, or rather, what is being completed in me. I am NO LONGER a throwaway. I never really was, though I was sure of it.

And God has, indeed, done a new thing in my life. I am a totally different person!  Visions of the many wonderful recycled products we can see–that look nothing like their item of origin–came dancing through my mind. Those items have been completely “made new”! And that is exactly how I feel. I am just a shadow of the person I was.

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I realize that living this many years has given me a wealth of experience to fuel my self-confidence. However, it wasn’t until ten years ago that I really began to blossom into this crazy, passionate, outspoken, fun-loving and confident woman. (Unfortunately I had to leave an emotionally abusive relationship before I could fully bloom, but that’s a story for another time).

If you have encountered abuse, my heart goes out to you. With everything in me, I hope you will take steps toward healing and hope.

1*I encourage you to find someone you can talk with, someone who will love you honestly and help you see truth. Identify the lies you have believed.

2*Begin to reprogram your brain with new words and ideas (new scripts to play) that speak the truth about you. You have such power! Speak who you want to be and your mind and emotions will follow. I’m proof of that.

“I am loved.”               “I can heal.”               “I am worthy.”           “I am strong.”

“I deserve a life free from the effects of abuse.”           “I am more than enough.”

3*Find something you enjoy doing and do it! Try many things and experiences until you find your niche. Doing this has helped me tremendously!

4*Help someone else. I cannot emphasize this enough! There is such healing that happens when we begin to focus on helping someone. There are people around you who would benefit from your smile, touch, note of encouragement, listening ear, help with housework, yard work, babysitting, groceries, a ride somewhere, reading out loud to a child. Kindness warms our hearts whether we are giving or receiving it. And, I always say that “good multiplies good” in our lives.

Once again this has become a very wordy blog post. To those of you who stayed to the end–BIG hugs!! I hope something I’ve said will help you or enable you to help someone you love. Abuse is horribly prevalent, and our society has become one of broken, “walking wounded”. Let me know if there is any way I can help you. Peace, love, and blessings.

Passionista Mimi

OH, and hey, if you like what you read, why not share the love and click, pin, like, etc.? I’d give you an extra big hug. Thanks!

Living With Gusto

This Is Your Mission Should You Choose To Accept It

 

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It’s my firm belief that our society could use a lot more attention. Not the “hey, look at me” kind of attention, but the kind that notices others. Attention to others: kindness, caring, listening, looking, touching, smiling, and sharing.

 

Of course, in order for this to happen we’d need to lift our faces from our device screens. If you know that I am someone who sits in front of a computer many hours a day, this statement could seem hypocritical. However, I make my beyond-the-screen moments really count. Balance. That is what’s needed. I’m a relationship-builder and I notice people. It’s not that hard, really, to actually look at folks. Study them. Listen. But also, respond.

 

It seems that so much of our society has “acquired self-centeredness”, to coin a phrase for my purposes here. Though most of us are not typically wired from birth to be self-absorbed for all of our lives (usually humans reach an age where they outgrow this for the most part), it seems to have become an increasingly consistent trait through adulthood.

 

Which is truly sad. Think back. I know you can remember a time when someone’s smile, touch on the arm, or hug reached your hurting heart for a moment. You were strengthened by having someone connect with you and share your burden.

 

Why is it often the norm to step back from other’s emotional journeys, whether good or bad?  Is it because we feel that our own journey stinks so badly that we want no part of more emotionality? But isn’t it possible that when we reach out to someone they could actually help share our journey too? Ahhh, but we must become vulnerable and make the first move. Whew, not many of us like that word! Nope, not us. We want our backs covered. Better yet, let’s stand in a corner with our shield in front of us and our helmet on so no one can penetrate.

 

But this is not living fully! And how, may I ask, are we going to have a fulfilling job with people, satisfying relationships with loved ones, or success in building a life if we choose not to relate wholeheartedly with others? How, if instead we cocoon ourselves away from interactions, connections, and reaching out with our hearts in compassion? Because, remember, we need that just as badly.

 

“No man is an island, entire of itself.” John Donne

 

If you spend some time becoming acquainted with people who have long-term, successful marriages/relationships, or who are making an impact on their world, or are top entrepreneurs, or leaders in their companies, you will most likely find they have two common characteristics:

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Brenѐ Brown, in her book Rising Strong, says that

“hiding out, pretending, and armoring up against vulnerability are killing us: killing our spirits, our hopes, our potential, our creativity, our ability to lead, our love, our faith, and our joy.”

And then what is left of our lives?

 

 When we brace ourselves against reaching out to fellow humans, or fail to look into people’s eyes and actually talk with them, we are killing our own spirits. By our actions, or lack thereof, we are sending the message that other people are not worthy of our time or valuable enough to be noticed and we are way more important than anyone else in our sphere. Is this the impression we want to give? Is that really how we want to live our lives?

 

Every time I choose to become vulnerable and speak with people—online, in person, or to a group—and share the stories of my personal experiences of loss and then living, of how I broke free of a life driven by other people’s opinions and expectations, of my own rising above setbacks and circumstances, I am amazed. I am encouraged and heartened by the lives touched, hope that is received and embraced, and the new paths chosen. That is what happens when we connect, when we tell our stories in order to lift another, when we reach out with our hearts to let someone know that we see their pain, understand a little, or share how we survived. And every time I do, my own life gets stronger through lifting their burden during that poignant encounter.

 

We are placed on earth for others—to share journeys side by side. We are not created to be self-contained, excluding others. Thus, when we extend beyond ourselves, touching hearts and sharing burdens, our own hearts grow stronger.

 

“Go out and make a difference in your community. You don’t need endless time and perfect conditions. Do it now. Do it today. Do it for twenty minutes and watch your heart start beating.” Barbara Sher

 

Hopefully my own bold choices will affect and inspire others to step out, risk, and make brave choices too. But what about the ways YOU have been courageous? The fact you are human means you have survived difficult circumstances, walked through grief and loss, suffered betrayal, endured your share of heartbreak, and yet have been brave, valiant, and bold (if not you wouldn’t be reading this). So tell your story, and shine your light for others.

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Do you realize that you already make a difference in the lives of people every single day? It’s your choice whether you are adding value or not.

Will you smile and warm the eyes of that person you squeeze past in your rush to accomplish your errand?

Will you hug, hold, or touch the person who is alone and hasn’t felt human warmth in many weeks?

Will you visit the one who is physically trapped inside a home, longing to see the sunshine and feel the breeze, and to hear another person’s voice?

Will you listen with stillness, full intention, and focus as someone, with stuttering breath, reveals their story of need?

Will you sit, in the moment, with grief and pain, and breathe alongside another to divide the burden?

Will you whirl and dance in steps of celebration of another’s blessing without asking “why not me, when’s my turn”?

Will you hold the young child of a friend who needs to go, do, be “not-a-mommy” for a bit?

Will you take the time to write and mail a note expressing gratitude toward someone who has given their time and heart? There are many, many unsung heroes in our lives.

Will you share from your bounty, or maybe from your just-enough, to lighten the despair of another who is hungry and afraid, unable to feed her child?

Will you share from your buy-a-coffee-on-the-way stash in order to diminish the lack of another?

Will you call someone and personally voice your desire to help, so they hear the warmth of your humanness instead of just reading a text?

Add value to other’s lives.

 

“The question is not ‘Can you make a difference?’ You already do make a difference. It’s just a matter of what kind of difference you want to make during your life on this planet.” Julia Butterfly Hill

 

As mentioned, the word “WHOLEHEARTED” has gained attention because of Brenѐ Brown’s books The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, and Rising Strong. She so wonderfully voices for us the need to live with our whole hearts in a sincere, unreserved, and unconditional way. Why? Because those who do choose to live wholeheartedly experience longer-lasting relationships, more success in their work, and the highest satisfaction with their lives.

 

When we connect with another person through acts that add value to their lives, we live wholeheartedly. You do become vulnerable when you live like that, and must be brave to choose it. However,

It’s impossible to add value to someone’s life without also adding value to your own.

 

This is your mission. Will you choose to accept it?

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And more power to you!!

Love and hugs,

Passionista Mimi

 

Update: the above quote is by Ram Dass not Rumi. I did research it but somehow got misleading information. I apologize for posting the wrong credit.

Christmas Reflections

A Blue Christmas?

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Several years back, my first Christmas as a single mom with my closest family members nine hours away was difficult, to say the least. By the next year, with a bit of experience, my coping skills had improved.

On Christmas day, I booked a room at a hotel in a wonderful touristy town close to us. We pretty much had the place to ourselves!

We ate Christmas dinner with many others at a German-style restaurant–one of the most popular in Michigan. Doing so gave me a sense of family, and the whole experience was festive.

Afterward my children swam until they were exhausted, I read a bit and relaxed, there was a lot of laughter and my children felt very special (it was our first overnight in a hotel together–ever!).

Making these plans to help us through a very difficult time was one of the best decisions I’ve made. As part of the “package” we shopped at the world-famous Bronner’s where each of us chose two ornaments to remember our special time.

 

My friend Lani Catherine has written some ways to help alleviate the “blues” at Christmas, and they are good ones. Take a peek at her post as a resource for yourself or a friend. I’m going to save it to revisit next year.

Read it here….“Holidays Got You Blue?” 

 

My wish for you is that your Christmas time is full of joy and love and health. That is always my wish for you!

Remember that you have a very special light all your own, and that our world needs you!

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Shine on, my friends! Merry Christmas!

Love and Sprinkles, Passionista