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 therapy........it 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!