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Bring on the Healing

I am feeling compelled to write, but struggling to get back into the routine of it. Once upon a time, I tried to stay out of politics. However, lately it seems that politics are the thing that spur me to share the most. I have alot to say, and am going to try to do so, without offending anyone. I also realize that I can’t please all the people, all the time, and I have accepted that I have some very hard things to present to the world, things that are bound to get some negative feedback.

 

I have always known that the overwhelming amount of sexual assault that I have lived with in my life would eventually lead to me speaking out about it one day. I have always been nervous for the day that I spoke about it publicly for the first time. I have always thought that I was working my way to that “some day”. Well, I guess that time came and went without me really even noticing, as I published my post several months back about the subject of sexual abuse. I have always spoken freely with my friends and family about what I have been through, but public was a big step, one I was nervous about taking, and then didn’t even realize I had taken already.

So, enter Monday. I open my facebook account, to see the first post of the #metoo campaign. I read it. It registered. I scrolled two posts, and started seeing the plethora of #metoo’s.

I closed my phone.

I sobbed.

Deep.

Hard.

Painful.

Shock sobs.

For about thirty seconds. Maybe even a minute.

And then I stopped. I thought, “Wait? Why am I crying like this?”

It isn’t surprising. It isn’t shocking. I know full well, just how many people have been raped, molested, sexually assaulted in one way or another.

After a few minutes of contemplation. I realized it was relief. Pure, hard, painful, relief. For the first time, people are getting this off their chest. They are opening their hearts to the vulnerability of speaking out. They are done tolerating this crap. They  are aware of how unaware people are, and they are trying to change it. It is everything I ever hoped to do for even just one woman, and it is reaching the masses.

While I am a survivor that fully supports this campaign, as with anything that is controversial, I of course, expected to see some backlash. And it didn’t take long. I want to address some of that backlash, along with some of the wonderful positives that I have seen emerge.

“Victim Mentality”

Are you kidding me??? Anyone who thinks that saying “me too” is victim mentality, fully misses the point of this campaign. I am a survivor, that is true. But a victim. No. I do not consider myself a victim. The bravery required to come out with this information on a public page, where the very people whom you never wanted to tell your dirty little secret to, they are all going to know. They are all going to look at me different. They may even look at me as if I think I am a victim, or seeking attention. However, I think that this is an important issue to address, so I will hesitantly type me too, and press send, waiting for the backlash. It takes strength, courage, and a desire to help stop this madness, to admit that you have been sexually assaulted. It is easy to tell strangers what happened. Not so much the ones you have to answer to and see daily. It is not a campaign for the weak.

Which brings me to “the whiners”

People of both genders who say that this campaign is full of crybabies and whiners who want attention. (Good grief, why would anyone want to belong to this club?) People who are saying that because someone groped you on a bus or you overheard something cringy, that is not a valid reason to claim #metoo. That those folks are just hopping on a political agenda, trying to fit in and get attention. To toughen up and get over it. Well, since I have been brutally and physically assaulted repeatedly,  I feel comfortable stating my opinion that it’s ok. I don’t mind that these people are laying claim to it. I care that the conversation has been started. I care that it is coming up in peoples living rooms. That people are having discussions with their family and friends, about what it means. About where the boundaries lie. About what constitutes assault, molest, and harassment. Our survivors need to be able to speak, if we are ever to educate our would be perpetrators. What makes it our job to draw the line in the sand about what is allowed to hurt and what we are supposed to shrug off? Everyone is different, and people are allowed to be hurt by whatever it is that gets them. Wether it is a cringy comment on a public transportation system, or full blown “hold you down and take what I want” kind of situation. If it hurts, it hurts. To tell someone to get over it? That is what perpetrates victim mentality. It is so important that it bares repeating. Telling someone to shut up and shove that crap down, “just get over it” THAT is what causes victim mentality. As a survivor of brutal sexual assault, it does not offend me that anyone posts “me too”, because they have a right to hurt. Just because it isn’t the trauma I endured, doesn’t mean it wasn’t trauma to them. Again, who decides which trauma is enough trauma to talk about it? We ALL need to be talking about it. It happens. To moms, brothers, sisters, aunts, cousins. Your family has been affected by sexual assault somewhere. I guarantee it.

Names. This is the most asinine thing I have heard in a long time. If you cant tell us the name you must be making it up or looking for attention. Excuse me???? I can tell you a hundred reasons why names are irrelevant. First of all, if you are looking for names as proof, rather than listening to the message, then this is probably lost on you. I was held down and raped, when I was twelve. A good friends older brother. I kicked and fought and screamed, but he was just physically stronger than me. Then there was the family member who molested me from the time I was ten, to the time I was seventeen. Another time, a man I barely knew, in a mutual group of friends, took an opportunity when we were alone, to hold my face down on his member and insult me. I wish I had bitten it! Why didn’t I think of that then? Also, there was the time I was at a costume party with a group of very close friends, and a stranger walked up and grabbed my arm, very hard, trying to pull me away from my friends. This time I fought back, and when he threw me on the ground, a well trained martial artist in that group jumped to my rescue. Would knowing their names make my experience more real for you? Because they were plenty real to me, even when I did not know their names. Why do their names matter? The ones whose names I do know, will just bring shame to their families. Innocent children and siblings who don’t deserve that shame, and honestly, couple of guys in there, I didn’t know their names. What would it change if I did? Some of these survivors are scared. They could lose their jobs, family, or friends if they named their abuser. Some are in legal proceedings and prohibited from giving names. Why are survivors being attacked for not sharing the most private details of their abuse? Its hard enough just seeing all the “me too” posts. Some of them had to work up the courage for days to just post those two simple words. Why are we drilling them? Why are we questioning their motive? Nobody wants to belong to this club.When I found healing, I quit playing the “blame game”. It doesn’t matter who did it. It matters that it happened.

I once considered myself a victim. I once asked “why me?” And then I had years of therapy, found my peace, and became a survivor. I do not prescribe to a victim mentality, and I am excited that this campaign may open the door for others to find their peace. Maybe some are still living in victim mentality, and they want that to stop, and that is why they took this one, first, tiny step  of admitting it happened to them too, but a good portion of these people are survivors, and are speaking up because they want the ones who are still victims to feel safe starting the healing journey. I know that is my hope. That just one person will see my “me too” and feel safe enough to approach and confide in me. And you know what?

My phone has been blowing up nonstop.

It is working.

People want help.

People are asking me to help them overcome this.

And I am thrilled to oblige them. At any level of trauma. I don’t care if it was words, molest, brutal assault. Healing the shame in this society is the first step to getting a healthy community back, and I am happy to help anyone who wants to heal their shame. If you are tired of being a victim, and looking for a safe place to become a survivor, I am here.

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Yellow Leaves. Season of change.

20930196_10213794251472926_904458707_o.jpgGood day my friends! What a lovely day it is! Fall is just around the corner. Just a little over a month away. Last week I saw the first yellow leaves. The fire season has been an outrageous one this year, and the cooler temps and occasional rain showers bring moments of relief from the smoke. Summer is slowing down. I am watching the parents of school aged children prepare for back to school, and only one more set of guests before the season starts to really wind down for me.

I have been so busy going with the flow, and quietly watching the unfoldings around me. What a bittersweet thought stream as I get some down time to process all I have seen and done in the last couple months.

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This summer has been a strange cycle of welcomes and good byes. A continuous cycle of visitors coming, and locals going. One of my besties moved away this summer. Over the course of the last two years, all of my besties have moved away. I made three new friends this winter. One moved away today, the other two were going to move last month but changed their minds at the last minute. I look around at the growth explosion that is about to happen in our tiny community, and I am ready to move away too. I am just waiting. Waiting on direction. Waiting for the answers to become clear.

I had a vision, a dream for our future. I guess I still do, but it has morphed so much in the last year that I need to spend some real quality time sitting back and considering the next step. While the goal remains the same, the details are ever changing. I have a deep sense that I am missing a simple but critical detail. The detail that opens my eyes and shows me what I am looking for.

She took the horses this morning. Maybe that is why I feel lost. We were getting so close. I was appreciating our newfound friendship, but she was giving me more than friendship. She was expanding my knowledge of horses. The reason this whole farm adventure began. I do not know how to imagine a future without horses in my life. I keep telling myself, that it will be ok. That maybe the pasture opening up will provide us with new opportunity, but truth be told, I will gaze at that barn wistfully every day until there are horses in there again.

The moment that Pistol and I bonded. That beautiful stubborn Arlene. And sweet Phoney Baloney. They will always have precious memories in my heart. Possibly the thing I will miss most though, is their dear person. We thought alike. We embraced our eccentricities in a similar fashion. We shared a mutual, understood, love of the equine. Nothing else mattered. No Judgement. No expectations. Just an understanding that being around these delightfully gentle beasts is really what its all about. What matters. Horse people know. The rest will probably not understand. I guess its an equine thing.

My mind is on land, and cabins. It flows constantly with thoughts of the barn at sunrise, and the ruckus of farm animals waking up in the morning. A big garden, an orchard, and a new set of hives. Visions of preserves, stacked high and deep in the pantry, mesh with ideas about extensive opportunity. Yet, I find myself sitting here, sorting thoughts, wondering what it is that I need to really focus on today.

I feel compelled to write, despite a lack of organization about my thoughts. Despite a lack of anything profound to say.

I guess I just need to marinate.

Politics have got me feeling like I am watching from Mars. Has everyone lost their ever loving minds? What the hell is going on? If someone had used a time machine to show me today’s headlines, twenty years ago, I would have denied the plausibility of it, and yet here we stand.

Environment? Where would I begin? I have developed a passion for fighting a toxic environment. I am not talking about this grand planet. Not the way you might be thinking when you read the word environment. I am talking about our immediate environments. The places we reside. The places we visit. The people and things that we surround ourselves with. The food we consume. The air we breathe. The relationships we make. The stimuli that affect us every day. The fact that mental and physical unhealth has become the norm. That has become my personal mission. I intend to undo as much of the toxicity in this environment as I am physically able to. I intend to help others learn how to remove the toxicity from their lives. I intend to help as many people as I possibly can, to see that these issues are not government issues, they are personal accountability issues, and that we are far more capable of solving them, without the governments help, than with their meddling hands in the cookie jar.

I want to help the masses to understand that their anxiety and depression are not life sentences. I want to help people learn the skills that allow them to make healthy, non toxic choices, for their environment.

I never saw myself as the voice of reason before, but today, I want to help people see that they are missing the meaning of life. I want to teach them how to stop worrying, judging, running, and suffering. I want to teach them about acceptance and the choices we make. I want to show people their worth. Not only because it aches to see people hurting, but because if we could all see our worth, then we would know that we can do something about this crap show we are watching.

I see our worth. I see your worth. I see my worth. If only you knew your own strength, mountains would be moving. Life is hard. I think that is the point of it, actually. Life is hard for everyone. Every. Single. Person. People are working with the tools they have, and while most are quick to offer well meaning advice, few are prepared to loan out their tools. You can’t fix broken without the right tools. And somewhere along the line, every single one of us gets chips, and wear and tear, simply from a lifetime of use. Broken is the norm. But we can have a healthy kind of broken. A kind of broken that strengthens us. Heals us. Grows us into beautiful. A kind of broken that, when all the pieces come together, forms a glorious mosaic. A true work of art. I want to teach people that art. I ache, and long, to help people see the beauty in that masterpiece.

Just when I think I know where I need to meet people, along comes some weird political backslide, and I realize that this project of fixing the world, that I apparently have decided to take on, is getting bigger than my shoulders can distribute the weight of.

How do I spread the message that it comes back to environment? The environment that we create for ourselves. The food we put in our bodies, the inter personal relations that we may or may not have developed, in this tech driven society. Relationship is getting lost. We desperately need to turn to our environments. We desperately need to shake a neighbors hand, remember where food is supposed to come from. We need to change our focus. The solutions that we have in the box with us aren’t working, and its time we reach outside the box and find some alternatives. Its time we lend a hand to a neighbor. Its time we stop talking and start doing. Its time for us to become present in our lives folks. Its time to take a good, hard look at ourselves and decide if we are perpetuating hate, darkness, division and negativity, or are we seeking solution, accepting the situation and problem solving. Each and every single one of us needs to step back three steps, decide if we are putting more ugly in the world, or if we are part of the solution.

We need to self evaluate. We need to take our own thoughts apart just like we dissect the media and the politicians. We need to dig all those ugly skeletons out of our own closets, and decide if we are going to purge or perpetuate them. I see so many, quick to judge those in charge, demanding to get what they want, regardless of what side, calling the other side lunatics, and pointing out every human error, mistake, or misjudgement.

I would love to see what you have in your closet. Would you be willing to put it under public scrutiny, for the world to condemn? I certainly wouldn’t. I live an honest life, and I have reached a point in my life where I am rarely ashamed of my behavior, but I still have skeletons, and I will continue to make mistakes, because I am imperfect. Perfection would be a horrible goal to strive for. With no chance of attaining that goal, it would be a set up for failure.

We have to stop screaming at everyone else to fix this. We have to do it. We have to start right now. We don’t have a minute to spare. What can you do to remove some toxicity from your environment, today? (Hint* It helps to remember that the opposite of toxicity is wholesome).

Do one thing today. Just one thing. To start the very daunting task of removing the toxicity from your immediate environment. Maybe tomorrow you will feel compelled to do two. At any rate, if we each remove one toxic factor from our life today, the world becomes a much cleaner place overnight. There is a snowball effect. It is contagious. Hold a door, shake a hand. Smile and wave. Share a brownie with your neighbor. Run an errand for the elderly couple down the road. Start being the change you wish to see, rather than hollering at others to be responsible for those changes, and you will be shocked the difference you can make. Your words, your actions. They can be a source of loving light in this world, or they can be a source of divisive hatred. What do you choose?

 

 

 

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What happens when social accountability becomes personal responsibility?

 

 

Well folks, It has been quite some time since I have posted. I know, I know, I made a promise to write consistently. I have no excuse. I extend my sincerest apologies. Meanwhile, Spring has sprung, and I am one busy bee in the yard and garden. Resigning from the non profit may have been the very best choice I have made in quite some time. The burden off my shoulders is immense. I finally feel free to work on the things that I feel called to do. My intention all along was to do those things through the non profit, but somewhere along the lines, it veered off course into something other than the dream that  I so clearly envisioned. In the months that have unfolded since I left the non profit, I have really been in a quiet place of contemplation. I am out here in the country, making a conscious effort to step away from the rat race. In the process, I find myself quietly watching the world go around from such a different perspective. If you have read my blog at any time in the past, you probably know that I try to stay away from politics. However, on the other side of that coin, I have a strong drive to help people find lasting joy and contentment. My reason for procrastinating my writing is not that I have been busy, though I could easily use that one. My reason for procrastination is intimidation, confusion, and a general feeling of helplessness. I am intimidated at the task of putting a name on all of the hurt in this world. Defining it. I see so many overlapping factors, its hard to break it into pieces and cover the whole scene. I am confused because I am trying to sort out all of those overlapping features, and there is a ton of information that all leads me back to the same several questions. How did we get here? What is with all the anxiety? How do we solve this? Can we solve this? How did all this shame and trauma develop? What happened to logic and rational thinking? Why can’t people see that they are stuck in this horrible place, and that they can change it? How do I help people see that they CAN indeed change it? My helplessness comes from a feeling that people are so overwhelmed in chaos and anxiety, that my words fall on deaf ears as I am met with simple replies that indicate not a word was actually comprehended or believed.

Today, I am going to try to face this beast that has been churning in my mind for months now.

My friends, how have we come to this place? The most pressing thing on my mind is the fact that anxiety has become the norm. Anxiety is typically a feeling of loss of control. An overwhelming rush of “what if’s” that renders one paralyzed with irrational fears. How have we gotten to a place where that is the normal state of mind? I am serious. Look around you. Think about your loved ones. How many are riddled with anxiety? Mental health as a whole is on the decline at exponentially alarming rates, but lets just look at anxiety alone, because it often accompanies any other mental health issue, and because it is rampant. Nearly everyone knows this feeling and knows many people who live consumed by it, day in and day out. The key to solving a problem is to figure out what is causing it. What is causing all of this anxiety? Is it our mainstream food? Is it our pace of life and the pressure to keep up with it? It is our economy or the politics we are surrounded with every day? Is it a lack of God? Is it lack of meaningful personal relationships? Is it because our society is forming an environment that, in an attempt to not offend anyone, is offending everyone? Is it that our lack of willingness to take accountability for ourselves is causing us to place expectations on the people around us to ensure our happiness? Is it because we spend so much time looking at and for the negatives around us, that we train our brain to see them first, and eventually only them?

Its clear to every single human on this planet that we are in a state of worldwide turmoil. Fighting, hatred, and ugly are becoming the dominating forces in the world, division is rampant, both in our country, and in the world. Honestly is a lost quality and empathy is close on its heels.  We have come to believe the lie that the answer lies in government. There are about half a million people who hold elected positions in America, and roughly 325 million citizens of this great country. Why are we giving them so much of our time? That is precious time that we could be using to change the state of our nation. It is pretty much general knowledge at this point, that if you spend your time focusing on negatives, you will instinctively think the worst first, and if you focus on the positives, the bright side tends to present in our minds. What I see when I step back and just watch, is that we are all too focused on the negatives. We have let fear and anxiety overrule logical thought. When logical thought and ration go out the window, and fear and anxiety drive us, it reflects in our behavior, both towards ourselves and others. It takes away our ability to problem solve. We are smart people, folks. We do not need the government to solve this for us. We can solve this because we are the masses, and if we stop attacking each other over our disagreements about government, and start treating humans as individuals who are also just trying to survive this life, we could, and would, make progress. If we stop focusing our thoughts on hate, we can find ways to put a halt to it.  Like a child having a tantrum. When children don’t get what they want, they cry and scream and throw a fit. If we reward this behavior by giving it attention, it becomes a louder, angrier fit next time. Why are we giving the hate so much attention? And if we are going to give the hate attention, then why not in a constructive, logical, problem solving way, instead of loud, embarrassing tantrums?

But it is not just a simple as ignoring the negatives and refusing to give the hate attention. It is an overlapping mess of peoples unmet needs, and unmet needs lead to bad behavior if people do not have the skills to get those needs met one way or another. Our stagnancy is a giant part of the problem. In a world that moves faster than any other time in history, our bodies are more stagnant than ever. The amount of neglect we have shown our bodies in an attempt to keep up with the race is astounding. We are an overweight nation. I am not fat shaming here guys. We all have health issues, for some, many these days, it is weight. Being overweight has become as normal as anxiety. For many, there are medical reasons, and for many more, it is stagnancy. Our bodies aren’t meant to be stagnant  in front of a computer. We are meant to perform physical activity every day, and when we don’t, it changes the balance of hormones and metabolism in our bodies. The technology age has removed much of the previously necessary exercise from our lives, and now we have to make a conscious decision to get up and move several times a day. Our food and healthcare systems are in a state of disarray. Without diet and medical needs met, it becomes increasingly difficult to function as a productive member of society.  Our financial system is broken, our economy is a mess. Leaving people without their needs met once again, and once again, making it very difficult to be a functional member of society. We need to look within folks. We cannot rely on government to fix this for us. We need to hold ourselves accountable. We need to take action, not scream at elected officials to fix it. We need to reach out to our neighbors. There are so many people, as diverse as our fingerprints, in this world. All with different passions and drives. If we all put just a little bit of effort into those things that pull our heartstrings, everyone’s needs could get met. But as we drift further and further into a chaotic place, we feel we have less and less control, and more and more that we need to scream louder to the government, about the injustices of the world and that it is their job to fix it all. They are the minority folks, and we the people are the majority. We need to come together and behave in rational ways, and we can fix this. The more we put on the government to fix, the less control we have, and the more chaotic it will get. It is on US. How can you reach out today and attempt to be part of a logical, rational, proactive change? I am not talking about protesting and marching in the streets. They are ways of screaming at the government that we expect change. That we expect someone other than ourselves to fix this. We could be spending that time, energy, and resources on being the someone who fixes it. Now, I am a writer. Don’t for one minute think that I am saying that we need to stop doing those things. Freedom of speech and expression is a right that everyone deserves. I am merely suggesting that while those things say what we feel, they don’t actually change our situation. If we put that energy to a more positive, constructive use, we could be the ones to solve the problem.

We are the consumers. We tolerate toxic food by purchasing it. We tolerate this ridiculous healthcare law, by purchasing exorbitantly high health insurance premiums. We rant and rave about fake news channels, as we watch them. Now Obviously, we can’t just quit buying food, or following laws, or even making an attempt to get some valid news. But, we can come together and brainstorm ways to address these issues within our communities. We can find outside the box solutions to most of what we face as evils today. And, as the consumer, we can be the most profound effect that the world has seen. We can be the change that we wish to see.

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I don’t have all the answers to solving these problems, but I do know for sure that if we slow down, resist the pressure of the race, and make more personal connections, that we can be the change that everyone is screaming for. I know that a group of people can get together at a local community center and decide to work together to create a new model to live by. I know that solutions can be found if we put our brains together instead of fighting each other. I know that this is going to continue to get exponentially worse until we are forced to do just that. Can we barter with our neighbors to meet our food needs and resist the toxic system that is currently in place? I grow produce, Joe here has chickens and goats, and Dave down the road has a large herd of cattle (this is an example, not real people). How can we come together to trade so that everyone has their fair share of healthy food, while everyone works to contribute? Its not a matter of one supporting the other. I am not suggesting a socialist setup. I am suggesting bartering. Resisting the green wherever we can. I would happily give up some of my fancy blueberry tomatoes in exchange for a dozen eggs or trade jerky for compost, with the horse rancher down the road. Everyone gets “paid” except for corrupt big business. Our local businesses are supported and our community begins to thrive, as we get to know each other over an egg and tomato trade. When we know each other, we are more forgiving of each other. We see each other as individuals and empathy comes back in the door. If you live in the city, you may be thinking that this wouldn’t work for you. I beg to differ. It is a different set of solutions, but food is not our only need. It is a matter of coming together with our communities, figuring out the needs, how we as individuals are equipped to meet them, and how we can be the ones to solve this within our communities, rather than expecting the government to do it for us. Maybe you don’t garden, or raise meat animals, but you have skills. Maybe you sew. We need clothes and blankets. Maybe you have a trade. Things need to be fixed and replaced. You do have value, and I suspect that not realizing this simple fact is causing much of the burden. What is your value, how can you use it to resist the mainstream systems that are keeping us focused on hate? Maybe you can get your healthy, non mainstream food, by digging a trench or painting a house or sewing a blanket. Save the greens for the things that are not yet available through barter. Maybe for a healthcare solution, we get a group of medical professionals in the community together who work for trade, outside of their practices. I don’t really know all the laws on that, and I am sure there are many details that would need ironing out, but that is what the brainstorming group is for. I am not suggesting that these scenarios are the answer to all of our problems, I am suggesting that if we as individuals, set aside the hate and division that is being caused by unmet needs and shame, we can get together and brainstorm ways that we as communities can be accountable for getting those needs met. It may not solve political problems at first, but ultimately, politics is about consumerism, and we are the consumers. If we refuse to consume what they are selling, they will be forced to change products or go out of business. It seems so simple, but we constantly find excuses why it wont work. Lets stop saying “But, can’t wont” and start finding the “I can and I will” that is so necessary if we really want to be the change we wish to see.