Dance in the Rain!

DANCE in the RAIN!

DANCE in the RAIN!   When is the last time you (literally or not) took time to dance in the rain? Have you ever? What joy, if you have! I was born on a Wednesday. "Monday's child is fair of face..." By Mother Goose Monday's child is fair of face, Tuesday's child is full of grace; Wednesday's child is full of woe, Thursday's child has far to go; Friday's child is loving and giving, Saturday's child works hard for its living; But the child that is born on the Sabbath day Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay. According to this rhyme which was very familiar to members in my household of origin, I was a child “full of woe”. Considering the abuse and trauma I incurred as a child, woe would be appropriate. Labels sometimes stick though and for too long. As a child, I learned to hide my happiness from others, especially my mother. She said laughing turned to crying and punishment often did follow my show of happiness. Yet, I have memories of fun playing with friends in the neighborhood as well as good times such as playing cards with family members. I learned to dance ...
beauty of oneself

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!   As a child or an adult, rape, abuse, and/or torture can cause a person to turn off emotionally and physically. Victims may numb their feelings and ignore their bodies. The belief that “you are beautiful!” is non-existent for a survivor initially. (Unwarranted) shame, guilty, and possibly shock is palpable. Survivors of repeated abuse learn how to shut down their emotions and physical aspects almost completely. Pain (of the physical, sexual and/or emotional type) has to be endured. You learn to close down in order to survive. For some survivors it may take a long time to let themselves feel the deep intense emotions -both unpleasant and pleasant ones.  A person may become lost inside oneself. How do you find yourself again? When a person learns how to ignore physical and sexual pain, the individual may also turn off the pleasurable aspects of one’s body. It took me a long time to realize how high my pain tolerance was. Years ago during a short medical procedure, the doctor did not numb the region. The medical assistant or nurse was appalled, but she had no control. For me, the procedure was painful; and, I tolerated it. Pain was normal ...
success or failure

SUCCESS or FAILURE?

SUCCESS or FAILURE?   How do you gauge your own success or failure? Do you view situations through a black and white lens? It is somewhat easier to judge success or failure when numbers are involved. Did you reach your goal of losing 10 pounds? Did you sell $1,000 worth of product? Numbers can lend themselves to black/white thinking. Either you succeed number-wise or not. How do you label the situation if you honestly did all you could and the best you could; and, yet, you did not succeed in reaching your goal? What if the outcome of all your hard work and due diligence produces no measurable outcome? Do you view it as a total failure? What are the benefits of failing in this situation? Are there any? Do you try again? Rethink, revamp, and retry? When do you give up and change direction – either partially or totally? How do you make these decisions? Are you a person who is too easy on yourself, in general? Do you find excuses, procrastinate, and not truly give it your all? Are you a person who is too hard on yourself? Do you seek perfection and feel defeated and deflated when ...
awareness and acceptance

CHANGE via AWARENESS and MINDFULNESS

CHANGE via AWARENESS and MINDFULNESS   Awareness and mindfulness may be the first steps to actual change. My friend’s daughter is in fourth or fifth grade. Her class has a special project for the month of February which has the option of including the entire family. The focus is on health. A one-page form for each person is available to allow them to see their progress as they check off each item successfully completed. The items include: Four to five servings of fruits and vegetables Two hours or less of TV daily One hour of exercise daily No sugary drinks What a good idea! Whether a person checks off one or none of the boxes each day, attention is brought to the subject. Conversations are started. My friend and I talked about which goals are the easiest or hardest to reach. This school project happens to coincide with a few weeks of the Christian Lenten season. Many Catholics “give up” something for Lent. Others choose to “do something” during Lent. In either case, Lent and the school project both provide venues to notice our behaviors and to improve our actions or thoughts. To notice our defects of character or our ...
loving yourself

LOVING YOURSELF!

LOVING YOURSELF!   Valentine’s Day is this weekend. Loving yourself is not usually connected with that day, although Valentine’s Day is synonymous with love. These days, Valentine’s Day consists of a date night of gigantic proportions for those who are in a committed relationship or not. Some individuals boycott Valentine’s Day with the statement that they do not need a special day to show their love. Children exchange valentines or other little gifts, although some schools are banning candy as an option. Grocery stores have one or two aisles filled with Valentine’s Day candy and gifts. If you are in a relationship with someone, will you celebrate the day as a couple? Will you ignore it? Are you single? Do you feel dread at the prospect of all this “love” around you and all these twosomes (or ads for twosomes)? Whatever your plans are for Valentine’s Day, when is the last time you considered love as a verb, an action word? Do you love yourself? “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Is a well-known Bible passage (Mark 31). The same thought appears in other religious circles as well as the secular world. The golden rule states, “do onto others as you ...
single moment of joy

A SINGLE MOMENT of JOY

A SINGLE MOMENT OF JOY   As I write this, the weather is sunny and warm. Tomorrow winter returns. A single day of warmth in the midst of a cold winter can remind us that spring will arrive. In the same way, a single moment of joy in the midst of a bad day, or deep sadness, or seemingly never-ending grief, or general malaise may remind us that goodness exists and that more joy is to come. Today I attended a workshop. During the break, a familiar face appeared next to mine. I do not know this person well; but, we keep seeing each other in various places around town. I was given the opportunity to listen to a small snapshot of her recent life story. It contained loss. The particulars are not important for this post. She shared a small glimpse into her journey of faith. As she mentioned the subject of joy, tears welled up in my eyes. Her eyes then shared tears also. Joy! Joy is such an intense emotion … such a glorious feeling that defies definition. Joy exists! There were times in my past when I did not know if I would ever feel joy ...
birthdays and beauty bring joy

BIRTHDAYS and BEAUTY: ALLOWING JOY into OUR LIVES as SURVIVORS of TRAUMA and TORTURE

BIRTHDAYS and BEAUTY:  ALLOWING JOY into OUR LIVES as SURVIVORS of TRAUMA and TORTURE   “Birthdays and Beauty: Allowing Joy into our Lives as Survivors of Torture and Trauma” may seem to be an odd combination as a topic for a blog post. Recently as I sat in a coffee shop reconnecting with a coffee shop friend who I see infrequently, the conversation quickly became less superficial. We are both survivors of childhood abuse, including torture. Neither of us speak of it much for healing has occurred. The conversation focused on our lives now and how to allow joy into our lives on a deeper level and a more frequent basis. My birthday is in the month of January. Beginning a new year and celebrating a birthday are both possible causes of reflection. When a new year and a birthday are in close proximity, there can be a double whammy effect! This year in my reflecting, I find myself yearning for more joy and beauty in my life. Frequently when you are raised in an emotionally, physically, and/or sexually abusive household, happiness or joy is not allowed. Punishment may follow moments of happiness. This is also true in homes that ...
silence and solitude

SILENCE and SOLITUDE as SELF CARE and SELF COMPASSION

SILENCE and SOLITUDE as SELF CARE and SELF COMPASSION   The past week has been emotionally-charged. My mind and heart seek refuge in silence and solitude. As a survivor of trauma and a life coach for survivors of childhood sexual abuse as well as other forms of abuse and torture, I know to be aware of my past trauma experiences possibly affecting my present daily life. This awareness helps. Retreating into silence and solitude when needed is a form of self care and self compassion. A question I ask myself is, “Would a person who has not suffered serious trauma react similarly?” In other words, is my reaction a “normal” one? As my healing process progressed and the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms lessened, I discovered I reacted and acted in a healthier manner. In fact, I handled last week’s emotionally-charged challenges with calmness and finesse. Oh, I was not perfect! That is okay. I am grateful for my reactions and actions to last weeks’ stressors. It shows me how I am thriving! Life’s difficult experiences occurred to those around me. I, as a witness and team member, supported others. My strength and calmness benefitted them. It was a ...
Reflection on Thanksgiving

REFLECTIONS ON THANKSGIVING

REFLECTIONS ON THANKSGIVING   My desire this week was to write an inspiring post on the topic of Thanksgiving and gratitude. As usual, I must speak honestly and from my heart. These weeks from mid-November to my birthday in January are hard ones for me. Each year these months get easier, but not easy. These reflections on Thanksgiving and this time of year are ones are want to share with you. Holidays can be difficult for all of us – survivors of abuse or those never abused. Expectations may be high. Some prepare and hope for the perfect day(s). Others may have expectations of sadness, family discord, loneliness, etc. for that are what has occurred frequently. Some may try to ignore the actual day or the entire season. How do you handle the holidays? The time period from November 20th to my birthday in January is filled with anniversaries for me. I remember dates. My mother used to remember dates. These dates mark significant occurrences. Besides the past anniversaries, holidays in general included more abuse – especially ritual abuse and extreme torture perpetrated by my ex-husband, Tom M., and others. There is no need to list all the anniversaries or ...
joy and the power of music

JOY: AWARENESS AND EXPERIENCES OF JOY AS A SURVIVOR OF ABUSE AND/OR TORTURE

JOY AWARENESS AND EXPERIENCES OF JOY AS A SURVIVOR OF ABUSE AND/OR TORTURE   There is a street musician, a drummer, in my city who brings joy to my heart and others. This performer wears an African mask and a costume as he drums. I have witness the changes in his performances over the years I have watched him. This season, he has welcomed children, teens, and adults to drum along with him. I sit, listen, watch, and enjoy. The rhythm of his drumming brings calmness within me. JOY. What an occasion to witness people’s joy. Most little children lose their initial fear and gently hit the drum with pleasure. There are a few little ones who confidently pound it. Children of all ages experience the freedom. Teens and college students tend to lose their inhibitions and shyness. Glee shows on their faces. Several adults, experienced in drumming or not, lose their facades and just are in the moment. Pleasure and joy shows. Strangers are asked to take photos so individuals can have a record of the moment. A small segment of community is formed for a very short time. These small kindnesses and connections remind us of our humanness ...