Thursday, November 18, 2010

Setting Boundaries in Social Networking - My Facebook Fast



My sister and I have recently established our own girly ritual. Every week we drop everything we're doing and meet up for coffee. We sit for hours and just chat. It keeps us connected. I love it. A few weeks ago she brought me a set of Joyce Meyer CDs entitled "The Safety Zone: Establishing Boundaries that De-Stress Your Life" - YAY! Just my cup of tea... or organically grown coffee in this case, because that's what my sister and I sip during our chats. This morning I finally got around to listening to the discs and it dawned on me how seriously out of balance my life has been lately.

I've blogged before about setting healthy boundaries in my life and getting my priorities straight. The two go hand-in-hand for me. Well, it's time for me to set some boundaries again. I've been working like a crazy person, trying to juggle my social networking time with my blogging time with my God time with my family time with my friends time with my "me" time. Notice the order of those priorities? Yeah. Me too. SERIOUSLY out of order.

Something happened in October. My life went bonkers. My oldest son joined Scouting. My youngest son's neurological disorder started causing him some problems. My driver's license expired and we didn't have the money for renewal so I had to schedule everything around my poor husband's work hours and he had to do all of the errand-running. My kids both suddenly hit a growth spurt and outgrew their clothes so I was scrambling to try to make sure they had enough to get them through the month. Halloween drove me insane because this year's trick-or-treat was on my tenth wedding anniversary and we were scheduled to attend a fall Boy Scout camp that weekend. Some personal things happened in my extended family and some boundaries needed to be set but I just didn't do it. I tried to be Super-Woman. HELLO? Did I not learn ANYTHING over the last year of my journey? The joy's hard to find when you won't slow down enough to see it. Practice what you preach, Meggs!


Now, I have an immense network of people I consider friends - yes, actual friends - whom I've met online and communicate with solely through Facebook. But the truth is, I've allowed Facebook to become a time-sucking vampire in my daily life. If I'd have had the good sense to just drop my laptop for a break every now and then when all of this over-scheduling and drama-dodging started, I'd have never gotten burned out to the point that I had to slam on the brakes and totally walk away from Facebook. But nooooo. I had ZERO established boundaries on Facebook. I told everybody everything, and it was completely unnecessary. Here's the thing... I'm pretty sure that while some of my pals find it entertaining to know what I had for supper, who I got to visit with today, where I went shopping this morning or what I plan to do for date night, they're not going to die without that information. I have no idea how in the world I got so cocky that I believed the whole Facebook world would fall apart if I decided to leave it behind for a while. How self-centered and ridiculous is that? I mean, really! My Facebook friends were fine before they met me, and they'll be fine if I decide to take a break every now and then. My world does not need to revolve around disclosing every single detail of my daily life on a social networking site.

As Joyce Meyer says, it's time for me to let go of culturally imposed pressure and stress. She has a great point. These days in America it is almost fashionable to be stressed out. Well, I've never really been a 'fashionable' girl, so I'm ready to go against the grain here and tell you that I've had enough. I am not Super-Woman. I am absolutely unashamed to tell you that. As a matter of fact, I'm kind of proud of myself for being able to drop the "keeping up with the Facebookers" mentality. I am not the queen of Facebook. I'm sure my friends don't need - or WANT - to know every move I make.

Have you ever felt pressured to be on Facebook or Twitter or MySpace just because you felt it was 'expected' of you? Is your News Feed a constant contest between you and your friends to see who's got the most drama, the most difficult job, the most loaded schedule, the cutest kids, etc? I'm just wondering if I'm the only one who's allowed social networking to suck the life out of me? I'd love to know your take on social media and where it sits on your priority list.

I have no idea how long my Facebook 'fast' will last. I'm just gonna go with the flow. Thanks to Networked Blogs, new blog posts will automatically show up on my Wall so my friends and followers will still know when something new comes along. So...I'm gonna go do something productive for now... and I will not be updating my Facebook status to tell you what it is. Ha!.

Until next time... may you be blessed - and inspired to pass it on!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Thoughts: Oprah's "200 Men" Episode

"Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different. It's accepting the past for what it was and using this moment - using this moment - and this time to help yourself move forward."


Oprah Winfrey recently dedicated an entire episode of her show (November 4, 2010) to allowing 200 brave men to share their stories of childhood sexual abuse. (Click here to watch the full episode via Oprah's website.) I typed my thoughts as I watched because I wanted to open up a discussion thread about it on my support group's Facebook page. I've copied and pasted these thoughts here because I know some of you aren't members of the group... but I want to hear what you have to say in reaction to the show as well. Feel free to discuss things in the comment section, even if you disagree with something I've said. I think it's incredibly important to get some dialogue going about male survivors and how we can help them talk about their experiences. Please pardon the format. I wanted to break it down so you could sort of follow along if you haven't watched yet or if you want to pull the show up and see exactly what parts of the show I'm discussing here - time stamps for each item are in parentheses.

#1 (00:01) - The opening shot of all the men with their pictures got me all choked up. I know some of these guys through the online support group and through Facebook... and to see them with their pictures just brings home the point that for most of us this happened when we were so young and so vulnerable... heartbreaking.

#2 (04:20) - Watching Tyler Perry talk about how he feels lighter since he publicly disclosed the abuse... makes me happy. I hope more people (especially men) will learn that it's okay to talk about this. There are two men in my life who I know were victims of CSA and due to society's "man up" attitude, they both are suffering with a lot of shame. I realize female survivors have stereotypes to overcome as well. I'm not trying to discount that.

#3 (06:24) - The number of men abused by more than one person blew my mind. I had two perps, one as a child and one as an adult. Wonder how many women have been abused by more than one person?

#4 (08:25) - To hear them talk about grooming, it makes me wonder where my "grooming" began. Since I have no memory prior to the abuse... makes me feel icky to think about it. Just wondering if any of you remember your grooming, or was it such a way of life that you just don't know it even happened?

#5 (10:45) - There's a man on the show (one of the identical twins) who talks about his heart breaking when he sees his son because his son is the spitting image of him at that age. My son looks a lot like I did as a child and sometimes when I see him feeling free and happy and playing like he hasn't a care in the world, it makes me sad. I don't remember having that freedom... and quite frankly it angers me.

#6 (13:05) - I'm listening to these twins talk about the abuse they experienced at the hands of these priests. I want to break something. I am physically shaking as I type this. Outraged. People who perpetrate any kind of abuse - especially this kind - deserve the harshest kind of punishment.

#7 (14:54) - I love how Oprah talks about the fact that the shame/guilt is not ours to hold on to, and how the pain is huge no matter how when/what/who/why/where things happened to us. I get really upset sometimes when people turn their abuse stories into a competition. If it hurt, it hurt. Period. There's no reason for us to discount our own experience just because we think it wasn't "as bad" as someone else's.

#8 (19:39) - Speaking of how we were changed because of the abuse, how we never know who we would have been... how it changes who we think we are... I don't struggle with that anymore. I don't live in that anymore... but I know it was a huge hang-up for me on my healing journey early on. I know a lot of people who live in that bitterness of "damn you, you ruined me" and I totally get it.

#9 (21:04) - I like what Oprah and Tyler say about taking your power back from your abuser. That forgiveness doesn't mean saying, "That was okay what happened to me." It means "I am not gonna let you continue to hold the reigns over my life." "Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different. It's accepting the past for what it was and using this moment - using this moment - and this time to help yourself move forward." Love that.

#10 (25:00) - When Oprah speaks of never knowing what's going on inside the homes on your block - that hits me hard... there was a huge group of kids within a two block radius of my house and I have ZERO doubt in my mind that every SINGLE child in my circle of super-close childhood friends was being abused in some way. I realize a certain amount of curiosity is normal in kids, but this group of kids I played with knew WAY, way too much about sex and foreplay type stuff. Freakish to think about now as an adult, that normal play with my neighborhood friends was like "Let's play orgy." Disgusting. Thoroughly disgusting to think that we hardly ever played "normal" childhood games.

#11 (28:40) - Oprah says feeling shame is a natural process to have to go through when you are abused. Great point, and again, love what they said earlier about how it's healing to let go of that shame when you learn that it's not yours, that it belongs on the abuser.

#12 (I'm not sure at which point this one dawned on me, I must have zoned out and had a moment to myself here.) - Re: drug use... I tried drugs at 14. I think I was just curious about them at the time because it never went further until later in my life and I don't think I truly, consciously connected it to my abuse until just this past year, but I know I eventually started turning to my migraine headache medicine to put me to sleep when I was a teen. I don't think I knew why I wanted to do it. I just did. I just wanted to sleep all the time. ALL the time. I remember a point in my life, especially as a teenager, when the only things I thought about were sleeping, eating, and thinking of a way to die and make it look like an accident so my family wouldn't have to deal with me anymore.

#13 (31:46) - Regarding the mother who is still with the abusive father, I still have some anger toward people who enable my abuser and protect him from dealing with what he did to me and the way his own abuse affected him. I also feel a HUGE amount of guilt for not reporting the guy who raped me. I wish I could remember his name. I would go report it now if I could.

#14 (35:11) - Statistics: 1 in 6 boys. Oprah's question: Why don't we know this? The men say being a boy, the sense that they felt complicit because their bodies responded... the attention... kept them silent. Same things that keep a lot of women silent. I really hope someday the guys can see that they have a lot in common with us as female survivors... they keep describing some of the EXACT SAME THINGS that we go through as girls. A lot of girls get labeled as easy, stupid, complicit, seductors, etc. It breaks my heart that some men feel like they can't trust us to support them because we're women. Vice versa, a lot of women don't trust men to help them either. I get it, but we need to find some common ground to get this BREAKING THE SILENCE thing rolling.

#15 (Just some final thoughts.) - Can't wait for the next show, which will focus on the partners, wives, and parents/families of these men. (November 12, 2010. Check your local listings for show times.) I'll be doing the same commentary type blog soon after it airs. I am so grateful for these fellas who came together to talk about it all. ♥

What are your thoughts? Ladies? Gentlemen?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Alyssa Bentley Makes it Happen - Do You?

Recording Artist Alyssa Bentley
at LA Fashion Week
Photo by Thomas Connors*
I went to school with a girl named Alyssa who had the voice of an angel. She was beautiful and she could sing. We choir kids talked about how Alyssa would be famous one day. I didn't get the chance to hang out with Alyssa when we were in school together (she was several years younger than me) but I do remember her as a sweet and talented girl who smiled often and sang her heart out when given the chance.

Look at her now!

All these years later, Alyssa's still singing her heart out. She's been on the road to making her dreams come true for a while now. Recently I listened to an interview she did with WSJU Radio. I was so impressed by her willingness to talk about how she had to work hard to get to where she is today. She talked about coming from a family full of musical talent and being raised by a daddy who taught her the value of hard work. She spoke of being very aware of the kind of people she surrounds herself with. She does her best to be sure that she's working with people who share her vision, people she can trust. Alyssa has a goal, and she's not just sitting around waiting for her goal to realize itself. She's definitely dreaming big, but she doesn't stop at the dream. She's working. She's reaching. She's getting out there and singing, doing shows, writing songs, getting studio time in, promoting her tunes, surrounding herself with people who support her (a BIG key to realizing your dreams)... and she just released her first music video! That's right. Today is the world premiere of Alyssa Bentley's video "Brand New Girl" at www.AlyssaBentley.com! Go, Alyssa, go!




Alyssa Bentley makes it happen. Her secret (besides the fact that there's an abundance of my favorite magical color in this video - which my regular readers will recognize as as a must for any successful joy-filled dream fulfillment) is hard work and a love for what she does. I've had a few dreams in the last year or so. I've made them happen. You can read a little about that by clicking here. Alyssa Bentley can do it. I can do it. You can do it too.

So I have a couple of questions for you:



What is your dream? 

Are you working to realize it?


I'd love to see some discussion in the comments section about your dreams. Until next time... may you be blessed - and inspired to pass it on!

*Used with permission. See more of Thomas Connors' photography at www.waveguider.com

Monday, October 25, 2010

Beautiful Scars

OCTOBER 2010, the month of all months! It's been F-U-L-L of scheduled this-and-that and a few unscheduled surprises. But there's something wonderuflly wonderful about October 2010 that I've just gotta brag about. This week my husband and I will celebrate ten years of *gasp* HAPPY marriage!

Throughout my life I've relied on music to carry me through tough times, and in honor of the last decade I want to share a song that reminds me of my husband and my healing journey. My husband has known from the beginning that I have scars, and he has always loved me anyway. He has seen me through over ten years of joy and pain and he has never judged me. He knows more about me than anyone else on earth ever will, even the ugly stuff - and he's still here. When I hear this song, I always think of my husband. His constant and loving reminders that the Lord is watching out for me (and blessing every step on this path) sustain me. God truly blessed me when he gave me this man who loves me so unconditionally.






"Beautiful Scars"
By: Steven Curtis Chapman
Album: This Moment, released 2008
Lyrics:

Sit here with me
And tell me your story
Even if it breaks my heart
Let me see your scars

Shame will whisper
Oh but we can't listen
'Cause these are the stories
That make us who we are
And I love who you are and your

Beautiful scars, your beautiful scars
Reminders of the wounded love
That has carried us this far
Beautiful scars
Turning the marks of our pain
Into beautiful scars

For us, bruised and broken
For us, He was forsaken
Our wounded Healer
Suffered to set us free
See in His hands and His feet

Beautiful scars, beautiful scars
Reminders of the wounded love
That has carried us this far
Beautiful scars
Turning the marks of our pain
Into beautiful scars

See in His hands and His feet

Beautiful scars, beautiful scars
Reminders of the Savior's love
That has carried us this far
Beautiful scars
Turning the marks of our pain
Into beautiful scars

Oh, how I love Your beautiful scars
So beautiful, so beautiful
Beautiful scars
 


My wish for you today is that your life may be blessed with someone who loves both you and your Beautiful Scars.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Light Will Show You the Way (by Philip Duncan)


I like to start my days with devotions and coffee, devotions and tea, devotions and donuts incredibly healthy foods. This past week, I read an email devotional that was addressed specifically to survivors of abuse and violence. I'm sharing the complete article with permission from the author. I hope it speaks to your heart as much as it spoke to mine.



- A SPECIAL MESSAGE TO A SPECIFIC GROUP OF GOD'S PEOPLE* -
 
Bible Focus: Psalm 97:10-11 - “Love the LORD and hate evil! God protects his loyal people and rescues them from violence. If you obey and do right, a light will show you the way and fill you with happiness.” (Contemporary English Version)

The longer I live, the more I am becoming aware of abuse and violence in our world. The writer of the 97th Psalm apparently was very aware of many of the injustices around him. He mentions in this psalm the promise of God’s justice three times.

Injustices in our day, just as in the psalmist’s world, often occur to innocent and good people; many of them are Christians. “Why does God allow these things to happen?” is a question I often hear; and at times, it is a question I ask, too.

I don’t know the answer. But these things I do know: I trust God because I know He loves me (Jesus’ death on the cross proves that to me); He wants me to hate evil as much as He does; and, He will rescue those who have suffered violence.

If you are a victim of abuse, you will most likely find yourself dealing with strong emotions such as anger and fear. Even if you are now free from the act(s) of violence, you may continue to be held captive by troubling thoughts and feelings related to your experience.

God wants to protect you from the additional harm that may come to you as a result of faulty thinking and from behavior fueled by negative emotions. He wants to bring healing to your life. Healing involves doing things God’s way. Do the right things: things that He teaches in His word that are good for you and things that you can do that will help others. Then you will become more aware of the light of His Spirit… a light that will help you find your way through a very dark and troubling part of your life.

My prayer is that you will be freed from the hurtful after-effects of the wrongs you have experienced and that you will trust God to bring justice to you and to those who have harmed you. Give Him the hurtful thoughts and emotions that are so much a part of your daily life and watch God replace them with the joy that comes from your relationship with Him and with others who love Him. And, I pray that God will place good people in your path… people who will help light your way with God’s tenderness, compassion and love.


*Written by and shared with permission from Philip Duncan

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Memories Lost and Found

One of my favorite things about Facebook is the old pictures people dig out of their memory boxes to share with the rest of the world. People seem to find the most incriminating, unflattering and ridiculously funny pictures they can possibly find, and then they post these pictures and "tag" everyone in them so we can all have a good laugh at the memories.

Memories...

Childhood sexual abuse left me with little to no recollection of many major events in my life, and most minor events were completely lost to me. I used to get so angry and frustrated because my friends and family would often get together and reminisce... and there I'd sit, lost in a thick fog caused by a lifetime of dissociation. I spent a lot of time wrapped up in jealousy and anger due to my inability to relate to the stories being told by the people I'd grown up with.

When I (re)entered therapy last year, one of the things I discussed with my therapist was that I was hungry to recover some of those good memories. My therapist assured me that in time I would begin to unwrap the good memories as I dealt with the bad ones. I must confess I'd spent so much time "without a memory" that I thought she was blowing smoke, just trying to make me feel better about my recovery. After all, I'd forgotten everything from childhood Christmas mornings to my first date to my high school graduation to some of the major details of my college life. I felt like a hopeless cause. Nevertheless, I attended (and continue to attend) therapy regularly and I dedicated myself to true healing no matter the cost or consequences. I learned to let go of expectations and take life as it comes.

And something's happened to me in the last year or so. I've begun to recover some good memories of my childhood and adolescence. Many of my good memories are actually triggered by photographs. A lot of those old pictures on Facebook are starting to mean something to me. I've noticed some of the old childhood pictures I've posted on my own Facebook account now elicit more than just a surface recollection of events. Many of them now bring forth a rich reminiscence I never thought I'd experience for myself. I never thought it would be possible for me personally, but I've really started to remember.

For example, this photograph used to remind me that I liked going roller skating... that's all... just "Oh, yeah. I used to go skating a lot."


But the other day I was looking at this picture and I suddenly remembered not only that I used to love skating, but that those skates were my favorite Strawberry Shortcake skates, and I wore them until they blistered my heels because I was so upset that I was outgrowing them... and I remembered that my mother (a wonderfully talented seamstress who often earned extra money by sewing for family and friends) made me three of these little skirts to skate in because I wanted to look like an ice skater, and not just any ice skater. I wanted to look like Dorothy Hamill because she was the best skater ever. (I later got the famous "Dorothy Hamill haircut" because she was, in fact, the most amazing and beautiful lady on the planet and I simply had to look like her.) I also recalled that this picture was taken with a Polaroid camera, which I won in a game of BINGO at one of my daddy's company Christmas parties, where they served little cubes of cheese with fancy toothpicks that looked like teeny little swords. (This good memory train of thought goes on for a while so we'll stop here.)

I could give you about a hundred examples of "oh my gosh I'm suddenly flooded with wonderful memories" but I'll spare you the trip down my own personal Memory Lane. I just wanted to write this little bit today to let you know that if this is something you are struggling with yourself, I understand. I know how frustrating it is. Hang in there. Keep healing. Keep moving. Keep trying. Keep on keeping on. And while you're waiting for those good memories to resurface, don't forget to make some beautiful memories of today.

Until next time... may you be blessed - and inspired to pass it on!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Yellow Joy - It's Not Just for Dishes Anymore

I'm one of "those people" who normally keeps her house pretty clean. I usually enjoy doing my housework because thanks to FLYlady.com and the awesome housecleaning and management tips available on that site, I can (9 times out of 10) have my house TOTALLY ready for company in 15 minutes or less. We're talking toilets scrubbed, mirrors cleaned and all. If family or friends show up at my house unexpectedly, I don't have a bit of a problem letting them in for a visit because I'm usually on top of my house cleaning routine.

BUT

Last week, I had one of those days. You know, one of those days when you wake up and you realize that you haven't touched your house for about a week because things got busy and crazy and you had no time to clean. One of those days when you fix supper and you go to set the table and since almost every dish in your house is dirty and you just don't have the energy to wash anything, you start debating on whether or not you can get away with serving the beautiful healthy gourmet meal you just whipped up Hamburger Helper on the lids to your pots and pans. You wonder if you can convince your family eat with those tiny little three-pronged shrimp forks that are always lurking in the shadows of your silverware drawer.


Ah, those days. Those days make me want to pull my hair out and surrender to the dust bunnies and the creepy-looking goo that's congealed on my kitchen counters. Those days make me want to whine, whine, whine. They make me wanna crawl up under the covers and hire someone to come and scrub my house from top to bottom. They make me wanna cry.

Last week when I woke up to the disgusting out-of-control mess that was sure to send me into one of those days  (after I got past the wanting to cry part of things) I reminded myself that (just like FLYlady says) I can do ANYTHING for 15 minutes. If I could focus for just 15 minutes on one part of the ick, I could get things back in check pretty quickly. I've done this before. I know it works. So I shuffled over to the kitchen to set my timer, turned on some upbeat music, and reluctantly focused on the pile of dishes all over my stove and my counter. I was not in the best of moods. I was thoroughly aggravated because I had let things get so piled up. (Here comes another "BUT"!)
 
BUT

Here's what I spotted when I got ready to run the dish water:

 Yellow Joy!
(If you don't know why yellow Joy is such a big deal to me, click here for an explanation.)


The funniest thing about this yellow Joy dishwashing liquid is that it's not my usual brand. My husband picked it up the last time he ran to the store for me. He says it was the cheapest thing on the shelf. I like to think what really happened is that he saw the yellow Joy and chose it because it made him think of his beautiful wife since she's all the time talkin' about yellow joy. 

Needless to say, there was a very quick shift in my thinking and my attitude and I got those dishes done pretty quickly.

I then moved on to running my YELLOW sweeper. Yup. YELLOW! (I don't know why, as much time as I spend running the sweeper after my kiddos and singing the praises of yellow, it had never dawned on me until last week that - YAY - my sweeper is yellow!)

 

While I was running the sweeper I noticed that the bookshelf was pretty dusty so I grabbed my yellow dust rag and tackled the bookshelf too.





By the time I finished cleaning I had shifted from thinking about all of the energy it was going to take to get this place in order to thoughts of what a JOY it is to actually have all of these chores to do. The dirt and grime are evidence of the full lives being lived in our home. The mess is proof that we have enough. It's proof that my God supplies all my needs. What a blessing!

I'm pretty sure that yellow Joy is going to be my dishwashing liquid of choice from now on. I'm pretty sure that I'm gonna hold on to my yellow sweeper until it falls apart. And although I have several perfectly good dust rags to choose from, I'm pretty sure the yellow rag will be my duster of choice until it's no longer able to do its job.

I'm definitely living in a Yellow Joy Machine! Are you?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy Birthiversary to Us!

This is what I had for breakfast. I'm celebrating today!


Today is a very special day. Today is the birthiversary (I can't decide if it's a birthday or an anniversary or both) of the support group known as "The Mack Group" - We Support Mackenzie Phillips & ALL Survivors Speaking Out Against Abuse. If you're not familiar with the support group click here to read a little blog about it. If you're already a member of the group, be sure to stop by today to see what's happening on the Wall and the Discussions. Some of us are having our own personal mini-parties to celebrate our journey together and may be posting thoughts and photos as we go. If you're interested in becoming a member of our support group you may visit the link on Facebook and request to become a member. (There are some group guidelines, so be sure to read them carefully before joining.) In celebration of our birthiversary, I want to share with you my personal top ten list of things I've learned by being a part of the group:



10. Sharing my story of survival is empowering.

9. Resources for survivors are everywhere and sharing the great resources I've found is an encouraging way to help others find what they need to heal.

8. Moving on and letting go of the past is scary but I can do it.

7. I am not the only person in the world who's struggled with horrendous coping mechanisms.

6. I am definitely not alone.

5. Setbacks suck, but they don't suck nearly as bad when you have somebody cheering you on as you struggle to get back up again.

4. Blood may be thicker than water, but it's not thicker than the tears you've shed with your fellow survivors. I can choose my family.

3. Grace and forgiveness are beautiful things.

2. Thanksgiving is not a holiday, it's a state of mind.

1. I am loved.


Our Support Group's Logo

 
Are you already a part of our group? What have you learned in the last year? In the comments section of this blog, share your own top ten... or your own number one... or just your thoughts. How has "The Mack Group" changed you?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Chutes & Ladders (and The Blame Game)

The last time I sat down with my boys to play a game of Chutes and Ladders I came to a conclusion. I decided that I'm going to blame my late-in-life grasp of "choices equal consequences" (cause-and-effect) on the fact that nobody ever played Chutes and Ladders with me when I was a kid.

I'm the baby in my family. My siblings are much older than me so they never had much interest in childish board games, and the kids in my neighborhood hated board games. We used our imaginations too much to slow down for board games. Our favorite pastimes included playing Barbies, playing with She-Ra: Princess of Power action figures, and challenging each others' choreographical genius by making up outrageous dance routines to songs like "Eye of the Tiger" and "Walk Like an Egyptian." We were a creative bunch, and we just didn't have time to sit still. Board games? More like bored games! Not a chance!


As a child, I had time to literally beg my mother to make me an "Annie" dress 
so I could (as authentically as possible) sing "Tomorrow" at the top of my lungs 
and drive everyone in my neighborhood absolutely crazy until I outgrew said dress, 
but I simply did not have time for board games. I was too busy for those.


The object of  "Chutes and Ladders" is to get your pawn to the "WINNER" square by spinning a spinner and moving across a series of squares which are numbered 1 to 100. Some of the squares have cartoon-y pictures of kids on them. If your pawn lands on a picture square at the base of a ladder, you get to immediately climb up the ladder. Once you get to the top of the ladder there's another picture. If you look closely at the pictures you can see that the kids at the bases of all these ladders are doing nice things: good deeds, making wise decisions, helping others. For example, the kid who's eating a balanced meal at the base of the ladder on square 36 moves up the ladder to square 44 and is rewarded with growing taller. The little boy who's taking out the trash on square 71 climbs to square 91 and is handsomely rewarded with an ice cream sundae. If you check out the pictures on the chutes, you see the same kind of thing going on in reverse. When you land on a picture square at the top of a chute, you slide down and have to start your pursuit of the WINNER square from your landing point. The kids at the tops of the chutes are doing things like drawing on the walls and riding their bikes with no hands, and their descents end with those kids cleaning up their messes and sitting in wheelchairs with broken bones and black eyes. I'm sure this game was developed to teach preschoolers all kinds of things. One purpose is to reinforce the cause-and-effect rule to the kids who are playing the game. Good choices result in wonderful things, and bad choices lead to a load of cleanup work and pain. (What a concept!)

So the next time my therapist asks me why I think I made a particular decision that resulted in catastrophe, I'm just going to look at her and say, "Well, don't blame me! I never played Chutes and Ladders!" This will, by way of diversion and deception, place the blame on my parents, who bought me things like Easy Bake Ovens, Rock Star Barbies and Pogo Balls instead of silly old boring educational board games. Ah, The Blame Game. Now that's a fun one!

In all seriousness, the "blame game" often becomes a coping mechanism that allows us to shift focus (from ourselves and the consequences of our actions) on to someone else. Since I've been on this healing journey one of the things I've learned to do (almost reflexively at this point) is to check myself when I start playing the blame game and ask myself what it is that I need to change about a situation in order to move on. When I notice that my rants about a situation become more about "the other guy" and what he's done to me and less about myself and how I can fix it (or let go of it when I truly can't change it), that's a red flag. That's my "wake-up call" to shut up and stop whining. Anyway, 9 times out of 10 I've landed in the muck I'm in because of a decision that I've made... and the sooner I take responsibility for it, the sooner I can climb up life's ladder and move toward that winner's square. Do you sometimes find yourself playing the blame game? How do you recognize that that's what you're doing? How do you stop it? Share your tips and tools in the comments section.

Until next time... May you be blessed - and inspired to pass it on!

Monday, September 20, 2010

(We All Live in a) Yellow Joy Machine



You may or may not have noticed my blog's recent redesign. You also may or may not have noticed that over on the right-hand side bar there's now a button labeled The Yellow Joy Machine.

How do I define the yellow joy machine? I tried to sort through "tweets" from my Twitter account to get back to the inception of this "Yellow Joy Machine" project so I'd be able to adequately explain to you what in the whole wide world it is. One hour and 2,879 tweets later, I realized that this project was born before my Twitter trauma (but we really don't need to dwell on that now, do we?) and so I'm left trying to explain it without the aid of the tweets that caused the whole "yellow joy movement" in the first place.

Let's just say that two very special Twitter friends and I happen to pride ourselves on our dork factor. We've shared many "dorky mom" stories throughout the last several months. In March of this year, the three of us talked a lot about a conference that we were planning to attend. I had grand plans to travel to the conference in style. I was busy working on a way to decorate my vehicle with big yellow smiley face magnets and window paint. We spent a lot of time talking about how we'd need a "joy machine" to ride around in. Somehow the color yellow got thrown in there (I think it was because of the yellow smiley faces) and we decided that we'd start living in a Yellow Joy Machine.

The three of us started collecting pictures of yellow things from our everyday lives. Yellow things reminded us of each other, made us feel happy, and helped us remember that we're sisters on a mission... a mission to find joy everywhere! It doesn't matter what kind of mood I'm in, when I see yellow it is impossible for me to feel alone because that yellow reminds me that there is always joy to be found. Six months later, we're still collecting yellow and finding joy in everyday moments.

This past Saturday my family and I had planned to visit a local church for their youth group's chili supper and fireside praise and worship service. Saturday was a very strange day for me. It started off great and got really weird somewhere around 1pm. I almost backed out of attending the event. My kids were so excited about what we had planned, and - brutal honesty - I seriously contemplated letting them down because I'd ended up having a rotten experience that day. When I realized that staying home and sitting around in the "funk" would do me absolutely zero good and disappoint my kids, I purposefully dressed my kids in yellow and sort of forced myself to go. I'm so glad I did! We had many joyfully yellow moments that evening and I ended up having a really great time.


What color brings you joy? Wanna join up with us and contribute your own joyful pictures? Visit the group at Flickr and hop on into the Yellow Joy Machine!

The two other (awesomely dorky) ladies who are equally responsible for this yellow joy movement also have blogs. Check them out here:

From Tracie 

Modern B*a*g* Ladies 



Follow us on Twitter:

@fromtracie - http://twitter.com/fromtracie

@believeactgo - http://twitter.com/believeactgo
@MzMeggs - http://www.twitter.com/MizzMeggs

Sunday, September 19, 2010

For the Boys (International Days Part II)



First Annual International Days: Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Violence


Male survivors of sexual abuse and violence
are SPEAKING OUT!


Today is the second and final day of 2010's International Days for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Violence. Yesterday I shared advice from male survivors. Today I'm sharing some of their favorite online resources. The following links are helpful not only for male survivors themselves, but also for their supporters. Please take the time to browse, bookmark, and utilize the wonderful tools that are available online:




1in6.org:
http://www.1in6.org - "... a place for you to learn more, find answers to your questions, reflect on your situation, and explore your options - all at your own pace, and in complete privacy" with a mission to "help men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood live healthier, happier lives. This includes providing resources for people who care about them."
  

Burying Jack:
http://buryingjack.com - "One man's journey through therapy for childhood sexual abuse."


Child Abuse Survivor:
http://www.childabusesurvivor.net - A site complete with resources and a blog "About a male survivor of childhood abuse, and the issues he faces in adult life."


Lavender Men:
http://www.freewebs.com/mypainfulsmiles/lavendermen.htm - "Stay Informed • Keep Connected • Be Inspired"


MaleSurvivor.org:
http://www.malesurvivor.org - "We are committed to preventing, healing, and eliminating all forms of sexual victimization of boys and men through support, treatment, research, education, advocacy, and activism."


Shattering the Silence:
http://menshatteringthesilence.blogspot.com - "Help for male survivors of sexual abuse." This blog belongs to the author of "When a Man You Love Was Abused" (Cecil Murphey). To read my review of  "When a Man You Love Was Abused" click here.


Thoughts Along The Road to Healing:
http://danlhays.wordpress.com - "Overcoming the Effects of Growing up in an Alcoholic Family"



One of the things that has really spoken to me in the last couple of weeks is that when I look at the statistics on my blog, views on the entries tagged "Male Survivors" outnumber views on my other most popular entries 3-to-1. I feel as though that's a pretty good indicator that males and their loved ones are looking for help, advice, support, resources. What will we do to bridge the gap and help these men garner the strength and courage to tell their truths?

Until next time... May you be blessed - and inspired to pass it on!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

For the Boys (International Days Part I)





First Annual International Days: Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Violence*


Male survivors of sexual abuse and violence
are SPEAKING OUT!

I recently posed a question to male survivors in my online community: If you could give just one piece of advice to the spouse/partner/friend/family member who wants to support you, what would it be? I got a few responses, and I'd like to share them with you in honor of International Days.





"Try to bear in mind that I don't act the way I do just to irritate you.I'm using behaviors that used to be my only survival techniques. They're not effective anymore, but I'm kind of stuck with them because I'm terrified of trying anything different." -Lars







"Be strong when I am weak, uplift when I am depressed, be calm when I am angry, come find me when I am lost…… but most of all be yourself, there is good reason why God chose you to be with me." -Don



"If I had to choose just one piece of advice, I think I would go with 'educate yourself'. There are a number of great resources online and elsewhere that can help you understand what's happening and what he is going through. Take the time to learn what you can, but also realize that you both need to stop and have fun every once in a while too. Life is going on all around him and spending time living it is an important part of healing." -Mike




In a recent book review blog, I mentioned that I was surprised at the similarity in male and female survivor experiences and coping mechanisms. Many male survivors are afraid to reach out for the same reasons females don't reach out. They're scared. They feel ashamed. They need to know that we'll be there for them. For many (ridiculous) reasons the majority of society doesn't look at male survivors the same way they look at female survivors. Let's do what we can to show society that EVERY victim of abuse deserves the support of someone who'll be willing to walk beside them as they heal. We cannot expect to see a change in society's ways if we personally don't do something to reach out to these guys. What's that famous quote? BE the change we want to see in the world? Yup. Let's do it!


*In celebration of International Days, I'll be posting two blogs specifically for male survivors and their supporters. Today's blog addresses how we can help the male survivors in our lives. Tomorrow's blog will be a list of online resources for males seeking help and healing.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ice Cream and Cake (and Cake!)



When my kids got home from school today I wasn't feeling all that great (just a headache, nothing major) so I let them decide what to do to occupy themselves for the afternoon. I had decided that if they wanted to run around the living room giving each other wedgies until bedtime I'd survive. I didn't have enough energy to be Super-Mom or referee. During their usual 30 minutes of 'winding down' time, they decided that baking a cake sounded like a good idea. As a family, we have mastered the art of baking cakes without creating drama or disaster, so this seemed like a great idea to me. Minimal mess. Easy clean-up. Good deal. Besides, I love CAKE!

Now I'm not big on keeping a major stash of junk food around the house. I'm one of those moms who places limits on the sugar intake of myself and my children. I try to make the healthiest choices I can 99% of the time. But I will confess that I do usually have an off-brand cake mix or two in the cabinet for emergency baking purposes. Today was definitely a 'break out the emergency cake mix' kind of day.

We hardly ever use oil and eggs in our cake mixes. we usually use applesauce as a substitute for the oil, and egg whites instead of whole eggs. Sometimes we do the magic cake mix and diet soda Weight Watchers trick. Today we had no applesauce and no diet soda, but we did have two bottles of my husband's favorite carbonated beverages in the fridge. Our 9-year-old, decided that we should use a variant of the Weight Watchers recipe (remember, Mommy has a headache and Mommy's feeling generous today so Mommy says why not) so he opted for 6 ounces of Mountain Dew and 6 ounces of A&W Cream Soda and a yellow cake mix. (Yes, Mountain Dew. I know. Go ahead and lecture me in the comments section. LOL)

We buttered and floured the cake pan and baked his experiment according to the box directions. 35 minutes later we had a cake that tasted like something from a restaurant menu. Rich and moist and simply delicious, especially when served with a little vanilla ice cream. Speaking of ice cream and cake... DANCE BREAK!


We'll be making a very special "Mountain Dream Cake" recipe card to keep in the family recipe box. This will be his first official contribution. Pretty exciting stuff for him. He's so proud of himself.

Today's cake recipe is one we will most likely be trying a few times a year. I know it probably sounds horrific, but if you're feeling adventurous you might want to give it a shot. We were all so pleasantly surprised by the results that we couldn't wait for the cake to cool down to eat it! (Kinda reminds me of how we work so hard to keep from trying something NEW on our healing journeys, only to find that when we break down and do it we end up realizing that it's something beautiful that works really well for us. Remember my Inner Child adventure?)

We've often joked that my husband delivers some delicious culinary creations when we just let him go in the kitchen and play. Looks like our oldest son is definitely taking after his dad. (That's a good thing on many levels. He's a great husband and father!)

Do you have any accidentally amazing recipes to share?

Until next time... May you be blessed - and inspired to pass it on!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wacky Wednesday Wrap-Up



In keeping with my "seeking joy in every moment" theme here at the bloggy-blog, I thought I'd be a little silly today and share a secret joy of mine with you. Every now and then I get the urge to be surrounded in warmth. Most of the time this happens in the dead of winter, so I can't just trot outside and find a sunny spot on the lawn which is what I usually do on hot summer days. But sometimes even on those hot summer days, the sunshine doesn't quite do the trick. Here's what does:

(I dare you to follow along with my most sophisticated photo-illustrated instructions and do this NOW. You deserve how awesome this feels, trust me.)

Step one - Go to your blanky pile (or your kids' blanky pile - which is what I always do) and choose a favorite. YAY, Spongebob!



Step two - Stick the thing in the dryer and set the heat on high. Turn on the dryer.



Step three - Grab a watch or set a timer and wait five minutes. (I have learned over the years that five minutes just happens to be the perfectly precise amount of time it takes to heat my blankets to the desired temperature. Times may be adjusted to suit your particular preference.)



Step four - Remove the blanket from the dryer REAL quick-like, make a beeline for your favorite spot on the couch and enJOY until the warmth wears off!




My "inner child" loves this warm wrap-up. What's a silly calming and comforting ritual or coping mechanism you secretly enjoy? Dare you to share!

Monday, September 13, 2010

I Promise the Stomp, the Whole Stomp, and Nothing but the Stomp!



I feel like taking some time out of my crazy stress-filled day to share a joyful song with you. I was just in the shower trying to sing the blues away, and this song came to mind. (Don't worry, I got dressed before coming here to post... Haha!)

Now, If you're *ahem* my age or anywhere near it, you've heard this song about 50,000 times and then some. If you're a Jesus-lovin' survivor like me, this song may hold special meaning in your life. If it doesn't, let me invite you to hit the "play" button, close your eyes, and just dance. Pay special attention to the message of JOY and VICTORY. Now if that don't make you wanna have church I don't know what will.



"When I think about the goodness

and the fullness of God

Makes me pity the hateful

I'm grateful the Lord brought me through this far..."




Just out of curiosity, what song(s) hold special meaning for you as a survivor? Please share them in the comments section of this blog. (By the way, they don't have to be Jesus songs.)

Until next time... ♥

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I Remember (09-11-01)





I remember.


I remember a time when religious zealotry wasn't the topic of every conversation. I remember a time when I could step into a church without wondering if I'd make it home to my family. I remember being able to turn on the television to be entertained for an hour without the interruption of overly-political and incendiary news stories. I remember what America used to be, and I mourn the loss of innocent lives. Not only the loss of the lives of those who perished, but the loss of livelihood for those left behind.


I remember.


And every day I make a conscious choice to honor those lost lives by doing the best I can to LIVE in what freedoms remain.


I remember.


How could I forget?

Friday, September 03, 2010

When a Man You Love Was Abused

Statistically speaking, we all know and love a man who's been abused. 1 in 6. That's what the experts say. 1 in 6* males will experience or have experienced some type of sexual abuse before the age of 16. I personally have three male friends who have shared their stories of sexual abuse with me. I've received countless emails from abused men since I started reaching out to people through Facebook and on this blog. Anyone who knows me well knows I have a burden on my heart for male survivors of abuse. These men are fathers, brothers, sons, friends. These men are hurting, and they need our support.



A few months ago I received a free book from Kregel Publications entitled "When a Man You Love Was Abused: A Woman's Guide to Helping Him Overcome Childhood Sexual Molestation" by Cecil Murphey. If I'd been aware of how helpful and insightful this book is, I'd have gladly paid for it!

Cecil Murphey is a New York Times best-selling author with a heart for God. He is also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. In this book, Cecil shares his own healing story as well as healing experiences from other male survivors. From the male abuse survivor's perspective, he gives us valuable resources and advice about how to help our loved ones. I've read numerous articles and visited websites and blogs and searched high and low for answers, and literally every question I've ever had about how to help my male survivor friends was answered in the 256 pages of this book. I found myself reading and re-reading, and - quite surprisingly - relating to so much of what these men have to say about being a male survivor.

The effects of sexual abuse are far-reaching and truly devastating, and when we see the devastation of silence and shame taking its toll on a man we love, hopelessness sometimes becomes a part of our everyday lives. If you are a woman struggling to find a way to reach out to a man you know who's survived childhood sexual abuse - especially if you feel hopeless or lost - I highly recommend reading "When a Man You Love Was Abused" because the insight it provides may give you the hope and the tools you need to support your loved one as he hurts and as he heals.

Click here to see the Amazon.com listing for this book.

Click here to visit Cecil Murphey's blog, Shattering the Silence.

Watch this video to learn a little more about why Cecil wrote this book:




It's easy to see why Cecil Murphey is the latest addition to my "heroes" list. I'm so blessed to have the opportunity to share this book with you all. I believe in it. I believe in its message. And I believe in the God who heals, who gave this task to a man brave enough to SPEAK OUT and shatter the silence.

Until next time... happy healing!

*Click here to visit 1in6.org - it's also a great site dedicated to reaching male survivors and their supporters.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Blog Party: Meet Patty, My Virtual Sister



Patty is Co-Founder of LavenderPower.org. As their site proclaims, "Lavender Power is about the synergy between phenomenal women working together to end the abuse of violence and sex and to heal and help others heal." One of the things that I love about Lavender Power is the Sisterhood. It's a place for me to find women like myself. Women who are survivors. Women who are working hard to make a difference with the tools that they've been given. Patty is my Lavender Sister, and she's a true inspiration to thousands of women wordwide. I love Patty because she is supportive and network oriented. She's all about the connection, the love, the bond, the reaching out. Patty is well-known for her educational and inspirational quotes about healing from abuse and the steps to recognize, react and respond to abuse. You can read a list of Patty's famous quotes here. Patty wants to share her WHY with us:


Growing up means different things to each of us perhaps. For some of us, there are more fond memories than bad,for some of us, like myself the other is true. For me, growing up included being the "Shameful, guilty, worthless little girl" always trying to please another to be accepted and being an easy target. My vulnerability and low self-esteem and the need to feel loved, made me a delightful target for an evil molester. Looking back, I have learned to consider the tough times as part of what has made me who I am. And I have credited God for letting me go through even the most difficult times, because I know who I am, and I have seen what others have become.

Character is said to be built, and there is good reason for that. Character does not come easy or cheap. It is nurtured over time, and often involves many tough times and hard lessons. When I was young, I use to ask, "Why?" And with regard to life today, I still ask "WHY?" But the tough times still come and there is still plenty of character needing built within me.

Knowing that doesn't make dealing with everything a piece of cake, but it sure makes it easier to remember that God is still God, good can come from bad, and I can, in the midst of a storm, still experience His peace. God leads me on journey today that will turn all my Bad into something good. As this good is for others not just myself and that is God's Will, to do good for others. I stand tall today being held in God's Arms as I take my ugly past and try to make a beautiful safer future for others.

ROMANS 12:21 "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

Blessed Safe Hugs
Patty Rase Hopson

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Blog Party: Meet Kim, My Virtual Teacher



Kim is the founder of Modern B*A*G* Ladies. In a word, Kim is FUN. She is everything you'd want in a friend. Funny, giving, a great listener, a good teacher... It would take me at least ten blog entries to fill you in on all of the interesting information I've found through her. She makes me smile and she makes me think, but most of all she makes me believe that I can do anything I put my mind to, not in spite of, but especially because of the fact that I am a woman. I love Kim because she's REAL, and because she believes in me, in women everywhere. She is also an expert at sharing her joy and shredding fear. Here's what Kim has to say about WHY she does what she does:



Trust me. I know what it’s like keeping it inside, reserving the little fuel I had just for myself. If I raise a healthy, happy family, keep my house clean, pay my bills on time, I am surely doing my part to contribute to the world. My shyness was my security, protecting me from the fear of my own power. If I stepped into my power, I would be responsible for sharing it. I know I was a smart, capable lady, but most days I knew it wasn’t enough. I was expending my fuel for the sake of bought and borrowed beliefs. Somewhere along the way I was convinced that a girl, who didn’t go to college got married and had kids.

So, with one year of junior college under my belt I got married. My husband was self employed, so if I could bring home the security of paid health insurance, well that would be golden. That’s what I did. I put my head down and hunkered into what I thought was expected of me, a safe predictable life. It wasn’t a horrible life. January 1987, my 20 year old self was married. What does a 20 year know about marriage? Well we did go through the “marriage” classes the Catholic Church requires. It was all part of going through those predictable motions. I truly believed that I was in love. We had a son. I was emotionally immature.

I’ll spare you a snooze through the next 19 years of my life, so we’ll fast forward to January 2007. Here’s a recap: divorce, remarriage, 2 children, 8 houses (each more expensive than the next), promotions, debt, etc. From the outside looking it, I would say it all looked pretty normal and predictable. It wasn’t a horrible life. I was exhausted and empty inside. How could this be? I was reserving my fuel. I kept my house clean. I had a great job and we were paying our bills. I honestly thought I was supposed to feel this way.

January 2007 my body knocked me down. I had surgery and the 6 weeks of medical leave that followed allowed my safe predictable life to stop. I sat with myself and thought, “What now? Is this really all there is of me?” I can’t go back to the way it was.” I realized that I needed to strip myself of labels, expose my vulnerabilities and focus more on giving. It also meant I needed to seek out more fuel, open myself up and find other women to guide me. As it turns out, when I shared my fuel it became the most eco-friendly, renewable resource I have ever come to know. As I started to extend myself, the world extended itself back to me and in surprising ways. In its mysterious ways the world started to say “OH Yes” to me.

What would another woman see in me? What do I see in other women? I see me. I see you. This is why I do what I do. I believe women are more alike than they are different. I act by providing a platform for women to share their stories, inspiration and knowledge. I want women to go along their journeys with more understanding and willingness to support each other.

Let’s stand together and BELIEVE in each other. My story is far from over and together we will do amazing things. I am so grateful to know you and proud to stand with you. Thank you for allowing me to share a very small part of my story. Here is a past blog post that seems very fitting to share:



When I see you, I see me. I'm in awe. You're beautiful. You're smart. You're brave. I know you fart.

When I see you. I wonder how to be. That could be bad if that makes me feel less of me. Yes I doubt myself from time to time, but so do you. I know this to be true. When I see me. I see you.

The room is filled with 325 beautiful women. She has style. That one has grace. She can sing. Kelly and I exchange possum stories. Really? Yes really. Its amazing what will bind two complete strangers, so talk and listen. Kelly started a blog a day after we spoke. I love her for that. She has an amazing story. She has overcome so many things and she is making a difference in others' lives. Possum stories? Really? Yes really. I'll never forget Kelly.

Some think Twitter is a waste of time. I met Patti Digh (@pattidigh) via Danielle LaPorte (@daniellelaporte) on Twitter. Their rants, wisdom and love shared through this Twitter thing is part of my customized daily newspaper. There are some pretty cool dudes that find space on these pages as well. Patti says, "Sit the hell down and write." 10-4, Patti. That's what I am doing right now. Danielle says, "I no sooner want to be balanced than I want to be a 'good' girl. 'Balance' is not something I want to live down to." Now this is a good read for us busy, busy, busy, control freaks.

I did a vision board a year ago. Turning my intuition into visual art has resulted in me being awe struck. Click on this vision board link and get going on yours today. Inspire me. Please, please do. When I see you, I see me.

If I told you that I loved you, would you believe me? Believe me or not, I do. Why? Because I can and it makes me feel good. Hating, just sucks.

I know this seems like an odd ending, but you should never fake an orgasm or pretend to be someone you're not. The real you is awe inspiring. The beautiful. The ugly. The hurting. The loving. Don't' fake you. I won't fake me.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Blog Party: Meet Lynn, My Virtual Encourager



Lynn C. Tolson is an author, an advocate and an amazing woman. There are so many things I could tell you about Lynn, but most of all I'd like to tell you that she has been an encouraging friend in the most troubling times of my journey. When I have doubted myself, she has helped me see that telling my story is not some insignificant thing. She has shown me that love and light abound in this movement of survivors sharing their stories. She's been a voice that has stood with me since the beginning of my truth-telling journey. I love Lynn because Lynn is a brave and brilliant woman who takes time out of her day to encourage women everywhere with her wonderful words. Here's a little about Lynn's WHY:


Who? What? Why?

Lynn C. Tolson, advocate and author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor’s Story

For nearly twenty years, I engaged in careers in retail, real estate and property management. Every working day left me feeling unfulfilled, as if I was living a false life. My real life began not by changing jobs, but by putting pen to paper in journal writing sessions. Themes emerged regarding the impact of my sexual abuse, drug addiction, and suicide attempts. By using the journal to write about the problems and solutions discussed in my counseling sessions, a story of transformation evolved. My desire to share a message of healing from trauma became too strong to ignore; the book became a mission. I left the corporate environment to write my story about personal yet universal emotional issues. Although journal writing was a cathartic experience, the book was written with the courage to face my fears, with compassion for myself and others, and a conviction to tell the truth.

Sexual assault, addiction, and suicide are unsolved social problems that carry stigmas. The stigmas cast a code of silence that do not solve problems. The result from not speaking about the crime of sexual assault is too often tragic. Thus, there is a need for real stories of recovery. By bringing my dark secrets to light, it is my hope that others who have had similar experiences will know that they are not alone. Readers may explore their own emotions to open lines of communication, eliminate shame, and experience healing. I also hope that my book promotes understanding of the issues that cause individual suffering and plague our society.

I am an ordinary citizen with an overwhelming mission: to confront violence against women and children. Given that sexual assault, including incest, is a social problem, my goals are to bring awareness to the public and to be an advocate for the victims. Using my life experience and social work education, I hope to offer information that will improve the quality of life for survivors. Perhaps the future will hold enough social change to reduce the need for real stories of recovery and sites such as Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story. In the meantime, know that my purpose as Lynn C. Tolson is in my initials: LCT, Learning, Creating, Teaching, to provide empowerment of our minds, bodies, and spirits. May this generation break the silence that surrounds sexual assault and incest so that future generations may live in peace.

I started the Project for TEARS: Telling Everyone About Rape & Suicide. This is my mission: to comfort victims by sharing my story, confront violence by breaking the silence, challenge society via information and action. So no shed tear is wasted.

The reason I volunteer as an advocate is because I have been called. The rewards are intangible and immeasurable; they come as surprise gifts when something I wrote resonates with another, such as this message:

Lynn, you are the voice of so many voiceless women who are victims of abuse. I would not be surprised at the high numbers you've helped that you'll never hear from. Sometimes all a person needs is knowing there is someone who understands what they've gone through in order to take a step towards ending the abuse. You, dear angel, have a calling and you've found it and I hope you never stop reaching out to those who suffer.

What came upon me as evil in the form of abuse I hope to use for good by speaking out. As one heals, so does another...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Blog Party: My WHY



And here we are again, gathered together to PAR-TAY and share our WHYs! Today I'm sharing my WHY with you.



Our faucet started leaking like a sieve the other day. When this happened, I all but leapt for joy.

Meggs, seriously? You found joy in a leaky faucet?

Yes, joy! You see, we live in a manufactured home. A trailer. A little box on a hill. We love our little box on a hill. We stay safe and warm in our little box on a hill, and that's good enough for us. My husband and I are practical people. We typically don't spend money on things we don't need. We rarely splurge, and we live on a shoestring budget. So for eight plus years, I made do with the little plastic standard issue mobile home type faucet in the kitchen. I hated that faucet. But it did its job, so I rarely complained. I did, however, silently pray that when the thing finally bit the dust, we would have the means to replace it with one of those fancy-schmancy longneck Price Pfister deals I've seen in magazine ads... and yup, I prayed for a sidespray. Oh, how I longed for a sidespray so that I could rinse out my huge pots and pans without wasting water and making the mess of all messes each time I tried to get one of my huge skillets or stock pots to fit under that little plastic spout. I am so happy to report that July 10, 2010 was my day! I squealed and screeched while Hubby was installing that new faucet. Yes, I was THAT excited.

When I realized how much happiness I'd found in having this thing I had waited so long to have, I rejoiced in the fact that we had the money we needed to purchase the faucet when the need arose. And as I settled in for the evening after all of the work was done, I started thinking of all the simple things that bring me joy each day. The more I thought about it the more I saw that it's really not so hard to find joy when you go looking for it. I went to sleep on July 10th with a smile on my face. I was just happy to be alive. And all the happy introspection which led me to that drowsy grin had stemmed from a leaky faucet.

My WHY is simple:

I want you to know that joy is something real and attainable, even for a survivor of traumatic experiences.

True joy is not defined by the circumstances that surround you. Joy is a spring of hope that wells up inside you even when the world is beating you down. Joy opens your eyes and says, "There is life. Choose to see it!"

See the life today. Instead of focusing on all of the things around you that you cannot control, focus on what you need to do to move through the pain and find joy.

Friday, July 16, 2010

We Interrupt This Blog Party... And We REALLY Don't Want To Do That... BUT...

It is with deepest regret that I must inform you all that I no longer choose to associate myself with the Angela Shelton Foundation.

I am grateful to Ms. Shelton for the things she has taught me regarding my healing. I will leave all previous blog entries as they are... but beyond that, I am no longer comfortable being associated with the Angela Shelton Foundation.

If you donated to my 2010 blog-a-thon and you have questions as to why I have made this decision, I will be happy to address the matter privately. You may contact me at mizzmeggs at gmail dot com or through the comment section of this blog. Thank you.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Blog Party: Meet Sheena, My Virtual Rock



Sheena is a powerhouse. She reads, she writes, she creates, she LIVES, and she shares so much of her heart with the world that she inspires me beyond words. I love Sheena because she is one of the bravest women I have ever encountered. She has been through more than many of us will ever face in our own lives, and she speaks up about the things that have affected her and the things that matter to her (and to us). When I need a good dose of empowerment, I visit Sheena's website. There's just something about Sheena that you can't put into words. She is so strong... I often see her as my rock. When I think I can't fight anymore, I think of Sheena and I know I can keep going. Here's a little about Sheena's "WHY":




My name is Sheena LaShay and I've been blogging since 2004 and I've been writing since 1991. My writing has always been the most effective way for me to understand my thoughts, process the world and express myself. Because I believe every aspect of my story is shared by someone else, my writing has been a way to connect and encourage others.

I recall writing about the loss of my best friend's sister Tinu and I can not count the emails I've received from teenagers and adults saying, 'Thank You. It's like you are writing my thoughts. You are saying what I don't know how to say."

Or when I wrote during April about Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Friends and strangers would email me sharing their stories too. Women and Men who had been through, survived and/or now thrived passed abuse were saying, "Thank you, please keep writing."

I write because I HAVE to. Becausee I believe we must speak up and speak out about the world in which we live. Whether that's talking about issues like abuse, same sex orientation, death/grief/loss or your favorite recipe to prepare. I believe that we must use our voice. Crime and injustice continues because so many are silent.

I also write because I have four younger siblings ranging in ages from 5 to 16. I don't want to just leave their ideas and understandings of the world up to whom ever. They are bombarded by messages, propoganda, and pressure from school, friends, TV and everything else. Therefore I feel that its my duty as their older sister to share my opinions and experiences too.

I also write for myself. As mentioned above, its my way of processing my thoughts and the world. Having blog post since 2004 all the way to today, I am able to see my own personal growth and evolution. Its encouraging to see the changes, the healing and the accomplishments. To see the growth of viewing myself as poison and tainted to seeing myself as a warrior and goddess is amazing. It makes me excited for who I will be a year from now or ten years from now. And perhaps that will help someone else too. Maybe there is a person going through depression, struggling with dark thoughts and doubting God and maybe they google a phrase and happen upon my site, I'd hope that after awhile they could see that things get better and restoration is possible if they want to choose that.

More specifically, I write about issues of sexual abuse because that is a part of my story. If you spend more than five minutes on my blog, you will see I write about ALL aspects of my story. There are no dark secrets. Being a survivor of sexual abuse is not a horrible, bad topic. It is not taboo. The crime itself is horrific but healing and thriving through and past it is commendable and talking about it sheds light on the epidemic. If writing about various topics in regards to sexual abuse informs a parent or child or person in general, if it encourages someone to speak up and use their voice, if it deters a bastard from hurting someone...then I know God is pleased.

I write because it is an extension of my voice. If I did not write it would be like putting tape over my mouth. I don't believe in that.

If you are interested in reading some of my writings visit me at SheenaLaShay.com or on twitter at Twitter.com/SheenaLaShay or on Facebook at Sociology of Sheena.



Lastly, I just want to say that for everyone reading this, whether you are having a good or bad day, please know that you are a divine, sacred being. You are here and you are alive! Treat every moment as if its holy. You are a wonderful person and if you want to live an empowered life full of joy, choose that.

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