Friday, June 25, 2010

Welcome to the Blog Party: Meet Tracie, My Virtual Wondertwin

I call Tracie my "wondertwin" because she and I have so much in common it's almost creepy. Regardless of the difference in our ages (just a few years), we often joke that we simply must have been separated at birth. Tracie makes me laugh - sometimes with a genuine snort or two! She prays for me and loves me to pieces despite my extreme dorkiness and my penchant for side ponytails and 80s music. She is a true cyber sister. I love Tracie! She's officially kicking off the blog party by sharing her "WHY" with us. Here it is:

Megan asked me to write about the "why" behind what I do. That question is so easy and yet so hard to answer.

I have a blog. It isn't a survivor blog. It isn't a mommy blog. It isn't a photography blog. It isn't a recipe blog. It isn't an advocacy blog. It isn't an educational blog. It isn't a silly blog. It isn't a personal journal. It isn't free is a combination of all those things.  Okay, except the recipes, those are really not my thing, but everything else is there.

I thought about starting a separate blog.  One just for survivor issues, a place where I could write about the pains and joys of healing.  A place to share about the things that have worked for me.  Then I realized, I already have that place. There is no reason to separate it out, to set it aside like it is shameful or secret.  There is no reason not to let all those mommys, photographers, educators, silly folks, journal readers, bloggers, and friends to know the real me.  The whole story.  The sexual abuse that I survived didn't define who I am, but it did change me, it is a part of me. So is my healing. So is my joy.

Part of the stigma of sexual abuse is the shame and secrecy.  I break that by sharing my story with everyone who stops by to read about my life.  I know there are people living in denial about abuse that happened to them, I did that for years. People who won't read a blog about survivor issues, they don't want to go there. I find those people each time I write about survivor issues on my blog. I have never written a post about surviving that I didn't get more than one person who emailed or messaged me their story and thanked me for being open and honest about mine.

Why do I blog? I blog to give a voice to the survivors who haven't found theirs yet. I blog to share my story. I blog to teach, to give information about how to protect children. I blog to give people an idea what healing is all about. I blog to share hope, to give joy, and to show that even though I was sexually abused for five years as a child, as an adult I live in control of my life, I live in joy.....and I do it all on my blog that talks about every other part of my life as well, it is a little sneaky, but I think it works for me!  I'm also on twitter and facebook, having conversations, sharing news stories, and spreading awareness.

I am a part of the Army of Angels! I honestly can't type that without smiling. There were times in my life when I didn't know how I would make it to the next breath, in those times I hoped and prayed that I could survive and that I could be part of something that would bring healing to other people who had gone through trauma. I'm happy to say that I am there! I am on the conference planning committee for the 2nd Annual Army of Angels Conference - Be Your Own Hero 2010. I couldn't possibly express in words how excited I am about that.  The Army of Angels is such a wonderful supportive community. It is all about the healing and the joy and moving forward and conquering your life. It is beautiful. 

Why am I a part of the Army of Angels? I am in the Army of Angels because I believe that joy and violence can't coexist, and I'm going to fight the violence with all the joy I can spread. I am in the Army of Angels because I believe that support and community are important pieces in the healing puzzle, and I'm honored to be a part of that community. I am in the Army of Angels because I want to provide hope. Healing is real and joyful living is possible, and the fact that someone else violated you or abused you or raped you does not mean that you don't deserve or that you can't have those things. I am in the Army of Angels because I believe that survivors need to stand strong together, raising their voices and making a difference in the world.

I collect joyful yellow things by taking pictures of them and joining with other people to make the Ultimate Yellow Joy Machine.  We ride on it everyday and have some great plans for it!

Why do I spread awareness? There are still a lot of people out there who think a child molester is the guy in the bushes with the dirty trench coat on.  It doesn't occur to them to watch out for people they know. They aren't bad parents, they aren't neglectful and they love their kids....they just don't know. Those are the people I love to find, and talk with, and impact their thinking. I pull up the sex offender registry with them and count how many offenders live in their neighborhood, then I remind them that those are just the ones who have been caught and convicted.

The most important thing I do? I live my life! I love my family and spend time with them each day. I take time to hug my daughter and talk about everything with her, from the silly to the serious. I have tea parties, and dance parties, and movie nights, and snuggle up and read books. I laugh. It might not seem like those things are important in a conversation about surviving and spreading awareness, but they are.....there is no point to telling other people they can have hope and joy if you aren't living in it yourself. I get down sometimes, bad things happen and I struggle, but I have learned not to stay there. Some days the most important thing that someone can hear is that the depression doesn't have to last forever, there are good days ahead.  Life is meant to be lived, not just to float through.  I live my life!

There is a picture that I use on the internet. It is the button for my blog, it is my profile picture on twitter, you will see it pretty much everywhere you see me on the internet.  It represents me and it represents my family.  It represents joy and fun.

Sometimes when you need a little joy, you have to make the choice to get up and walk in it.

It helps if your shoes already feel that joy!

Looking for joy in every moment!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I'm Still Alive (& I'm Havin' a Virtual Block Party!)


I just want to let you all know that I'm still alive, I intend to continue this blog, and I am overwhelmed to the point of exhaustion with life events that require the majority of my attention most days. I am, however, practicing what I preach (JOY, JOY, JOY) which is the reason I haven't been blogging recently. My mother has had three knee surgeries since October, my kids are now out of school, and there's a myriad of other things that have kept my blog on the back burner for some time now. Blogging is a priority, but my family's well-being will always be way nearer the top of the list than pouring my heart out in a blog. I have managed to keep a very healthy balance regardless of the stress/drama that's been knocking at my door. I believe with all of my being that had it not been for the 30-Day Healing Journey I would have recently been committed to a mental health facility for evaluation and medication. Thanks again, Angela Shelton. I would say I owe you one, but we both know that you can't put a price on this balance and pretty much perpetual state of joy that I've achieved.

Is it just me, or is summer like a magic season? In my "real-world" community, more people get out of their houses during the summer months. They play in the park, they exercise, they organize community events, they get creative, they play with their kids, they smile more often. They blow bubbles, they play in the sprinklers, they walk their neighborhoods with their heads held high and their water bottles clutched tightly in their healthy little hands. They sport their shades and shed their inhibitions and become these awesome super-people who seem to be in hiding during other seasons. Summer is definitely super in my little world, and June and July are the busiest months of the year for my family. We join together in June and July. We celebrate life. We work our butts off to be TOGETHER.

In the spirit of togetherness - and in an effort to deliver some great joyful and inspiring content during my "off-time" - I'm reaching out to members of what I call my own personal "survivor" community. I've asked several friends to be guest bloggers during the months of June and July. I want to bring people together to share their passion for life. I want them to showcase their work and their talents and to share with us the WHY of what they do to further their cause. I'm still not sure how many guest blogs I'll end up with here. This is sort of an ongoing project. If you'd like to participate please let me know. Just think of it as an online block (read:blog) party... a neighborhood meet-and-greet networking spectacular. A parade of purpose that begins on my own personal virtual Main Street. Let's Join together in June and July and share our JOY.

See you soon!
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