Category Archives: writing to recover

Every survivor. Every voice. Every story.

NMSN14-ButtonThe above words are the tagline of an extremely noteworthy and valuable resource that I’d like to share.

In January 2014, best selling author, Rachel Thompson and therapist/author, Bobbi Parish, both survivors, began a Twitter chat #sexabusechat as a forum for support and healing for survivors of sexual abuse.  With that resource quickly becoming so popular, they teamed with success coach and mentor, Athena Moberg to offer a Google Hangout on the evening following the chat to further process the topic of the week.

From there, these women have formed the NoMoreShameProject offering support, coaching services, publication and more.  Within this project, there are many opportunities for a survivor to thrive, an opportunity which I find in short supply.

I’ve been fortunate enough to stumble upon these incredibly warm, inclusive, determined and very smart!! women.  I’d like to pass this resource on to anyone touched by the issue of sexual abuse, child abuse or family violence.  When we actually begin to find our voice and begin to hold each other’s hands, a miracle happens.  Shame is released giving us long desired acceptance and freedom.

Check them out, grab a hand of a survivor friend and let’s circle the world!

 

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How we rationalize the privacies we invade

you know my name

I loved her perspective and reminds me of one of my favorite Anne Lamott quotes, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

Vanessa Martir's Blog

I’ve been thinking a lot about privacy. Privacy from the perspective of a memoir and personal essay writer who is revealing family secrets, breaking silences that were intended to protect (or at least that’s what I’ve chosen to believe) but have done more damage than good.

I’m thinking about my aunt, my Titi who is very much a surrogate mom to me. When I told her I was writing a memoir, she said, “Be careful what you write.”

“I’m not being careful.”

“I know.” She looked at me with those loving eyes of hers, no judgment, but no understanding either. Then she walked out of her kitchen, a plate of food in her hand. The heaping plate she’d just served me sat on the table, heat rising off the rice in smoky tendrils.

Two years ago, I showed her the picture I found in Meryl Meisler’s exhibit, “Bushwick in the…

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what it takes to start writing….again

1604885_10152130171577702_1009583295_nSomewhere around the end of last year, right around the holidays, the bottom fell out of my world. Emotionally, spiritually, physically.  Actually, it had been falling out for over a year but the accumulated stress hadn’t taken its final blow.

It wasn’t the first time or the second but what felt like the hundredth, thousandth, millionth time.  All my coping skills had been used over the last year surviving several huge hurdles and I now found myself with what felt like an empty bag of tricks.

The number of times I’ve bottomed out or the trauma of my childhood isn’t the point of this blog post, its about what I did in that situation.  What I did was succumb. Psychically unplugged from life.  Flat. out. gave. up.  It had won.  I just couldn’t pull myself up one more freakin’ time to stare down the demons again and again and again.  Wouldn’t do it for my daughter, my husband and or for my dogs, which if you knew me is saying a lot.  

After limping through the holidays on about 25% of myself, the final layer peeled off in early January and took my physical health with it.  For months I was gone.  Lost in that circular, downward spiraling, free falling haze.  The demons recognized its frazzled, stressed out host with parasitic vigor.  They seized that opportunity to invade my body with long buried memories of abuse and violence.  They haunted my dreams, robbing me of much needed rest to heal and recover.  They invaded and eroded my skin, giving me huge welts across the backs of my legs reminiscent of beatings with the belt.   My skin itched and burned at the slightest touch, wearing clothes or any contact with a piece of furniture was a challenge.  I lost the ability to be comfortable in my own skin.  I had no where to go.

But mostly, they intruded upon my feminine parts with a vengeance.  The little girl parts that took the abuse, tried to adapt and scar over, the parts that became swollen almost beyond recognition, the parts that tried and tried to stretch but couldn’t….eventually giving way to rips and shreds.  Those parts were the target again.  What the little child couldn’t tolerate at that time, she buried deep and then systematically began to hand back to the adult woman in bits and pieces over the years.  Somewhere in our collective unconscious, we must have bargained. I must have made a deal with her that if she survived the early trauma through whatever means she needed to, then I, the adult, would deal with the suppressed memories and physical sensations later.

And that is what happened.  For weeks turned into months, I rode the edge of the razor’s split.  Burning, stabbing, swelling, searing pain.  Urinary, vaginal, rectal.  My every orifice that was violated contained sensations that rose to the surface.  Over and over and over and over.  The cascade of symptoms was never ending. Urinary swelling turned into infection which spread to my bladder and kidneys.  More crying and screaming than my husband could handle.

Eventually by late Feb, the symptoms began to subside a bit thanks to Marilyn and Betsy, two women energy healers who encouraged and tolerated appointments with me; half dressed in nightshirts due to my sensitive skin and sporting ice packs for my swollen parts.  Week after week, they lovingly helped me on the table and began to spin their healing magic.  We began to make progress that continues at this writing.

That’s the backstory, here’s the point.

What it takes to get writing…. again….is LOVE.  Four women emerged as a cosmic lifeline who carrying me out of the physical and emotional pain.  Four women who I’d come to know online but never met, shared many conversations with over the years, created a small online support group for me.  Just for me.  Each day and often several times a day, I’d come to the group page to see beautiful images, unfailing words of support and love as well as space just to let me be.  It was beautiful.  I nicknamed them the “Fabulous Four” because I’m not sure I would have emerged from those dark depths without having these angels to carry me.  And I’m coming up short with words to describe how it feels to be loved and cared for with this level of compassion, especially when one isn’t familiar with that level of support.  Again, it was just beautiful.

As I plunged to the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, my writing and words died.  It was impossible to write, think straight of have any type of creativity when coping with issues of basic survival such as pain.  The bottom and largest portion of Maslow’s pyramid describes needs such as breathing, food, water, sleep.  He suggests that one must be secure in the basic needs before being able to move up the hierarchy.  Creativity is characteristic of the very tip-top of the pyramid and during this health crisis, far beyond my reach.

So, this is my debut….again.  I have scaled the pyramid with the LOVE and support of four extraordinary women as well as my energy practitioners.  My words are coming back as the crisis fades.  I see hope again and crave being present on this blog and with my sojourners in healing.  I’m confident that many more layers of the health crisis will be revealed when the time is right. As the accompanying image depicts, not only have I been lifted from the level of most basic needs, I’ve been infused with the energy of a Goddess-Priestess-Warrior vibe.  The power of our hearts beating in unison, multiplied.  I stand at the top of the pyramid with my arms wide open.  I feel my power again. 

Blessings to the women of Sacred Circle Retreats:  Jackie,  Melynnda,  Joss and  Deanne.  May we nourish the Divine Feminine in each other. 

Photo credit, used with permission from Sarah Durham Wilson, DOITGIRL .


love story in there….somewhere….

girl and dragon

There seems to be light at the end of the tunnel.

I seem to have made it through the latest chapter of dark times.

Hopefully.

When I started this blog, I felt lost.  Then I found myself through writing and gave myself a voice that I’d never possessed before, at least for myself.  I’d been championing for others for decades; animal rights, women’s rights, diversity, environment.  It had become painful apparent to me that a great deal of time had been spent advocating for others and not myself.  That was a game changer.

Writing this blog has enabled me to find my voice through writing but look several issues squarely in the eye.  Honoring myself was one.  A simple bumper sticker noticed by the artist, Terri St. Cloud of Bone Sigh Arts.  Honor Yourself.  Simple words that were nearly impossible to integrate.

The next issue was that I couldn’t wrap my thinking around the fact that someone, anyone would want to read what I had to say.  In my mind, my words had to be profound, a literary masterpiece before putting them out for the world to see.  Shouldn’t I get a MFA in writing or something or some sort of artistic approval before being so bold as to put my words, my life, my history into words?  Well, that answer came soon too.  Survivors trickled in, slowly at first, some stumbling and fragmented, some already having honed their beautiful craft of expression.  All were worthy and I felt so blessed to be a part of a counterculture emerging for survivors, men and women, who were taking back their power.  I wanted to be a part of that.  For me, it was coming home.

My most recent absence is due to my utter confusion and re-entry into that dark place.  You see, I thought I’d been through it and had emerged complete, or at least complete enough.  I thought I was finally, finally in that safe cocoon where I could share my story of abuse and survival with the clarity of hindsight.  I was wrong, at least sort of.

This summer I separated from my husband.  My fairy tale crashed and I felt that I was a fraud.  How on earth could I write stories of hope and love when I had failed at my own love story?  Slowly, I moved through the hazy days of summer with my tool bag (purple of course) of rest, solitude, meditation, reading and dark chocolate.  I cried when I felt like it, wandered through the library, raged at Grandmother moon in the wee hours of the morning when sleep eluded me, slept any time I felt fatigued and tried, oh how I tried, to find joy anywhere I could.  I picked flowers and herbs from my beautiful garden and gave them to anyone I could think of; my church for Sunday morning service, the women at the convenient mart on the corner who are always so kind and make me laugh every time I’m there buying chocolate, my dear friend’s mother who was passing this summer, a friend who works long hours and commutes into the city each day.  I gave them just because.  Just because in the absence of my own joy, I needed to create that precious spark of joy for someone else and live vicariously off of that until I had my own.

Many, many people supported me though this passage, you will find them on my blogroll and Facebook page.  I simply couldn’t have weathered this without logging on to see their daily posts on love, writing, poetry, painting, nature, food.  I traveled with several as they made major changes in their lives too and hope that I provided them a wee bit of support also.

Slowly that spark began to burn again.  Now I have more words and more insight into myself.  I tip my hat to the dark side, purpose well served.

I still live a love story.  Really, there is a love story in here somewhere.  One that, once again, must begin with myself.  With or without a partner, my daughter, my dogs, my house.  I can write words of hope because now I’ve lived them again.  I’m not a fraud but an innocent person who stumbles and trips often, sometimes sitting in the mud puddle I fell in, squalling and crying.  But then there are times, when I laugh and dance around with a soggy tutu.

It’s all good.


What a novel idea….Novel Writing Winter!

263601384409890714_o2Xloiyz_bThis incredible concept is one I stumbled upon accidently but fortuitously.

A blog post from Sarah Potter came through yesterday describing her concept of Novel Writing Winter.

I happened to be one of those writers who signed up NaNoWriMo after completing it last year and crossing the finish line with a completed 50,000 words.  It was awesome as was the afterglow of my accomplishments but for several reasons it just didn’t work out this year.  I got 6000 words in and that was it.  Sure, now its my responsibility to slay those inner critics as I read I should do but there’s a whisper in my ear about why I didn’t go further with the one month writing deadline.

Enter Sarah Potter with serendipitious timing.

I learn a lot from other writer’s reflections on their writing path and why it sometimes might take a different twists and turns.  Sarah offered an opportunity to commit to a gentler climb rather than dashing up the steep slope of NaNoWriMo.  Now this was an approach that I can wrap my head around.

I’d actually been envisioning a scenario similar to this after realizing that November had come and gone.  I hadn’t met my personal writing goals yet the long winter still loomed ahead.  Why not make the best of both situations?  So that’s what I shall do.  It would be even better  to have any of my writing pals who are contemplating a novel to join in as we tackle the dark season of winter together.

Then there is this other reason.

Once I heard this idea of NWW, I realized I could also use this as an absolute excuse for snuggling up with my beloved and aging friend Rose.  As she approaches her 14th year, I’m not sure how many more winters we’ll have together.  She is my best muse and constant companion.  There are no words to describe the depth of love I have for this dog.  She’s seen me through more tough times than I can describe and is as fine tuned to me as another being can get.  I’d love to mark this passage in our lives with a winter of quiet space where can just be.

We’ll do this together and it’ll be great.

In fact, I will do my best to make it extraordinary.

Look out….Rose and I are writing a book!


why i’m unusually comfortable with death….

Last night, I turned on PBS and caught a show about the suicide assistance program, Final Exit Network.  I wasn’t really looking for a program to get interested in yet I found myself oddly attracted to the high emotion of this episode giving options to end one’s life with dignity.  In a nutshell, Final Exit Network provides support and guidance to candidates looking to end their life because of extreme circumstances of intolerable illness.  They have been lauded as compassionate by scholars in ethics and heretics by religious groups and physicians who oppose an individual’s right to choice to the timing and implementation of a dignified death.  As I’m watching this, I clearly see both sides.  There are many issues at play here and it is a complex subject that few even wish to visit.  Those special individuals who are willing to extend their compassion to a person who asks to die, are clearly in touch with the sensitive and personal issues involved as to why someone would seek out the means to end their life.

I got it immediately.

Their stories spoke directly to my heart.

Until one directly deals with madness and horror of pain; emotional~physical~spiritual~relentless~daily~mind bending pain that isn’t relieved even though one has exhausted their finances, resources and partners.  Because until a person deals with this pain on a day to day, minute by minute way of crawling through life, I realize that the “unaffected” won’t get it.  And that’s fine, because the “unaffected” are living productive lives with good enough health to not feel the burden that the “totally affected” person does.  It isn’t a place that one visits until they have to and once they have to, one doesn’t waiver as much.

I recently had an “episode” brought on my the perfect storm of triggers.  It put me in a place that most would call mental illness.  Since I don’t thoroughly subscribe to that label, I did something entirely different this time upon the suggestion of my friend Heather.  I surrendered to the madwoman.  Blindly, I charged into this event with a headstrong, full of steam and hope approach, calling in all the divine helpers I could find.  Basically, I told it that I was in control and taking over from here.  I told it to FUCK OFF and walked straight into the madness.

Now here’s the really interesting part.  In this swirling anxiety ridden mania that I felt, a story emerged.  I actually took the wheel of this runaway train and channelled it into something productive.  And for the first time, I think I’m really onto to something here.  The outcome was a story I’ve known my entire life and one that I lived and almost died through.  But this time, I was my mother.  I became her, feeling her feelings and seeing the exact places that she was.  I have some thoughts and explanations for this but that is an entirely different post.

There was a time when I censored myself heavily regarding these mystical occurrences but not any more.  They are simply part of me. I now let them flow and even have the nerve to write about them.  A force greater than I is wanting to come through, a story is begging to be told.  Once I rode through the mania and channelled the story, a peace ensued and I share that story with you now. And finally, I’ve come to understand that embracing the dark doesn’t mean succumbing to it.

Her heart leaps from her chest when the kitchen phone rings harshly, shattering the silence of her usual household day.  She must have drifted off to sleep when she sat down to rest for a moment and wait for the coffee pot to finish percolating.  Her day is usually peacefully quiet, save the occasional phone call from a neighbor friend or the dog barking to announce a truck passing by the road out front.  She blinks and tries to steady herself as she waits for her pulse to resume its normal beat, shaking off the images of the place she just visited while asleep in her mother’s sturdy rocking chair.
The phone has stopped ringing now but she knows it was Doris.  Doris is the only person that will let the phone ring for at least 15 times full well knowing that any respectable farm woman would have to put down her dust rag or put down the pan of beans she was shelling before making her way inside to the kitchen.  
She’s fully awake now and glad that there is some hot coffee waiting for her.  She yanks the plug from the wall and lets the percolator relieve itself with a puff of steam.  Damn coffee pot.  How many years is this damn thing going to go on, she’s had it since her wedding which was a full 25 years before and would certainly love to get one of the modern ones that she’d spied in the Sears Roebuck catalog.  She adds a jigger of milk and a spoonful of sugar, stops a moment and dumps another one in.  Its that kind of day that she feels she needs extra sugar.  She goes to the porch and lets the screen door slam behind her.  Today she doesn’t care. Usually when the kids are home, she painstakingly makes sure it doesn’t slam because she knows that she can’t fuss at them without setting a good example.  That’s just the kind of woman that Louise is.  
Her coffee is steamy and sweet, just the way she likes it.  There isn’t a care about the excess sugar intake or the mid morning nap.  There is no never mind about the future, what her kids will do this summer soon as school lets out or whether she’s staked the tomatoes good enough.  All she can think about is tomorrow.
~~~~
The doctor said it was a uterine mass.  It would need to come out and soon.  
His words played over and over in her head.  She wonders if she should have asked more questions in the doctor’s office or if there was more to what he was telling her.  All she can see is the bulbous man coming into the exam room after she’d finished getting dressed and put together.  He sat down with a harumpf, fished in his shirt pocket for his Lucky Strikes, put one between his lips and lit it.  She sat there proper in her good dress, legs together, nylon hose sticking to her and the garters making an impression in the back of her thigh that would last for hours.  
Good god, would that man at least turn the window fan on.  She doesn’t object to the smoke because she’s a closet smoker herself.  Plus everyone she knows smokes; young, old, pregnant or not.  Its a breeze she’s aching for because she knows herself well enough to know that she gets woozy in the high humidity and she’s barely holding it together anyway.  He grunts when he reaches forward and clicks the fan on, letting the steel blades start their acceleration.  Finally the breeze reaches her and she feels like she can finally stop holding her breath, that she isn’t going to fall out in a dead faint.  
“Mrs. Hauner, can you get in here next Monday for an operation?  You have a uterine mass that I felt during the exam that we need to get out.  This is why you haven’t had your monthly cycle”.  He stops for a moment to take a drag from his cigarette while he glances at his clipboard and some notes he’d written outside.  He shakes his head and says, “Nope, pretty sure this isn’t menopause, just the mass that is messing things up.  We’ll know more after the operation”.
With that he stood up, paused briefly as if to see if she wanted to ask anything or have a reaction.  When she didn’t, he continued to tell her that the nurse would be in to make
the arrangements.
~~~~
From her porch seat, the conversation didn’t seem very eventful.  When she replayed it over in her head, she liked to reassure herself that the doctor didn’t seem upset, therefore, she shouldn’t be either.  He’s done this kind of operation many times before and from the appearance of the new hospital at the edge of town, it would seem that they had things under control.  But why then, has she been in a cold sweat since the words were delivered to her that morning?  Was she reading something into it like her husband had told her that night when she gave him the news?  No matter how many times, she replayed the words, there was a cold, eerie feeling that crept up the back of her neck and grabbed her around the throat.
She finished her coffee and stood up to go back into the house.  For a moment, she paused to look, as she always did, at the front yard flowers that she so lovingly planted this spring.  They look good.  Her gardens always looked good.  
Plopping the coffee cup down on the kitchen table, she continued on to the back of the house to her bedroom.  She admired her freshly smoothed bedspread, put into place hours before at the crack of dawn.  The breeze was blowing nicely in through the back bedroom windows and she wondered how long she could leave the windows open before the humidity made it impossible.  
Louise slowly opened the door to the closet and gazed at the beat up brown suitcase.  She hated the sight of it.  To her sister in law, “the world traveler” it meant adventure, escape and respite from all things Southern Illinois.  Theresa jumped at the chance to travel and any man who would take her.  In her eyes, the god forsaken town they grew up in deserved to be left behind and she fulfilled that every chance she had.  Unfortunately the last husband left her as quickly as she had left town and the suitcase became available.  Louise didn’t travel or leave the farm except to visit a sister that lived several hours away, mostly when she’d just had a baby and needed some help with the kids.  But even then, a paper bag and her overnight kit always sufficed.
She was relieved that the kids were still in school for the day and the house was quiet.  She didn’t want to have to face that suitcase with all the daily hubbub going on because she found herself barely able to think even with no distractions and dead quiet.  Louise grabbed the handle and set it down on the bed without taking her eyes off of it.  Her reality was sinking in and the more it sunk, the heavier she became.  As if in slow motion, she reached down and popped open the two snaps and lifted the lid.  As it opened, Theresa’s perfume and cigarette smoke wafted out, causing her nose to wrinkle for a moment.  Her wooziness hit her and the room lifted and started to spin a bit, she tries to settle herself down by speaking out loud to herself in a scolding sort of way.
“Okay, I’ve gone this far.  I’m getting ready to go the hospital and I’m going to be fine.  I don’t have to think about my kids being left motherless if something goes wrong because it won’t.  And the doctor didn’t mention having the cancer that her neighbor ladies are always talking about taking someone unexpectedly.  And even though I don’t know anyone personally that doesn’t have their uterus, I heard about Arlene’s sister who couldn’t have children because of this same thing and she’s just fine”.  
She takes a deep breath and wills herself to believe everything she’s just repeated to herself and begins to fill the musty suitcase with a nightgown, slippers, cold cream and other essentials for her week long stay.  With her task completed, she lowers the lid and snaps the suitcase shut, setting it beside the bed.  One step closer, one more thing off the list until tomorrow.
~~~~
The early morning sun cuts in through the venetian blinds of the hospital admitting area and emphasizes the green linoleum floor and how clean the Sisters of St. Joseph keep it.  She smiles to herself thinking how those gals do take pride in their work and momentarily understands why her sister Helen might enjoy being a Catholic.  She spies her husband outside the window having a smoke with the groundskeeper who is also a drinking buddy at the local tavern and a cousin.  Briefly, she imagines what it would be like if she were viewing her life without her in it.  Would her husband and children continue on like before only with one less place at the dinner table?  Would her absence even be noticed?  And like it or not, Louise realizes that she’s been thinking more along the lines of dying than living through this.  
The light from the center of the ceiling is blinding her. So bright that its burning her eyes.  She squints and tries to shield her eyes but the nurses tell her to leave her arm stretched out so the IV doesn’t get kinked.   They also tell her its necessary for the doctor to see what he’s doing and give a little canned laughter of “you sure do want him to see what he’s working on down there” which doesn’t comfort her a bit.   They are robotic in their movements and she’s feeling the full effect of the pre-op shot they gave her in her room.  Louise doesn’t like this feeling at all which is why she doesn’t drink except the occasional snort of Mogan David that she keeps in the back of the Frigidaire.   
She feels the medication working against all of her coping skills.  She’s losing control. Until this very moment, she has steeled herself against the bad news. Her intuitive feelings of impending doom were screaming. Louise tensed her body hard and fought to regain her centeredness, slamming down every ounce of emotion and stuffing it down her throat.  From there, she didn’t care where it went as long as it went away.  She figures it feeds that uterine mass but would have to deal with that later. 
But the grip is loosening on her self control and she doesn’t like it.  It is unfamiliar and unsettling and harsh.  The cold metal table underneath her has chilled her to the bone and she realizes that she is not only shaking, she is almost convulsing in her movement.  Every word that she’s wanted to say her entire life of silent servitude is now stuck in her throat and she can’t breathe.  A panic spreads over her and in a fit of uncharacteristic behavior, she finds herself trying to escape.  She notices that they notice her.  Her periphery is suddenly full of nurses heads with white pointy hats holding her down as she feels a pinch of another injection in her thigh.  A white cloth comes down over her eyes and stops over her mouth. She takes one frantic breath of the toxic smelling anesthesia and the world goes dark.

the baby floats.  floats in darkened, buoyant bliss.  a little girl.  transitioning from the heavens.  growing, floating, connecting to her new world with every breath and heartbeat of the mother that carries her.  she wants to feel nothing but the beat of her own heart and the arms of the Divine spirit that is lovingly embracing her.  but a primitive feeling, too much for the infantile synapses of her nervous system spreads through her.  she learns about danger from a cellular level.  she is not safe now nor will she be for a very long time.

awww shucks, another award…

I absolutely love the concept of supporting each other’s healing and creative journeys expressed through our writing, blogging, art, music.

And though I don’t know who originated the idea of giving blogger awards to each other, I think its brilliant.  We, as recipients, know that they are small albeit genuine affirmations created to spread the word of our blogs/art form and raise awareness of the issues close to our hearts.  In my little corner of the world and especially for those of us who are crawling out from under a rock of mental illness, anxiety disorders, depression and chronic illness, these awards make you feel like a rock star.

I’ve had the honor of being nominated for the Inspiring Blogger award from Fringewalk, a very intricately woven blog simply stated as ” A few stitches in the global human tapestry”.  She is as complex as the many issues that she addresses which she does so beautifully.  I always enjoy reading the words from her angle, from her perspective, from her corner of the world.  Thank you, I’m so honored.  Its so cool to feel that people crawling around on the internet have not only found me and my blog but find it inspiring.  Not sure it gets much better.

Rules of the award:
1.) Thank the person who gave you the award with a link to their blog.
2.) Tell them 7 things about yourself.
3.) Nominate 7 other blogs for the award.

Now that I’ve officially thanked Fringewalk for her love and support, I’m moving on to the 7 blogs that I want to nominate.  This is a a bit of a challenge for a bona fide blog-a-holic but here goes….These blogs are ones that I find myself drawn to over and over.  For one reason or another, they inspire me.  And if the recipients aren’t as geeked about these awards as I am or simply can’t find the room on their site to post them, that’s okay too.   I’m just flat out giving them, in no particular order….and letting each of you decide what to do with them based on your situation.

Bone Sigh Arts

Where do I start?  This awesome, woman owned business, produces the most beautiful cards, prints, books, daily quotes, and e-cards imaginable.  But its the sentiments layered on top of the colors that really cinch the deal.  And even more than that, its a forum for friendship, solace, comfort and humor.  And…yes, there’s more…. Terri’s diverse and inclusive nature will draw you in and steal your heart.  Truly a remarkable place.

Wholly Jean

This woman just oozes sweet Southern, honey dripping charm.  She’s a writer, artist, fellow blogger who has provided much needed words of comfort across my computer screen combined with a straight spoken fierceness of a woman who doesn’t compromise her beliefs. Log on to her site, it will be quite an adventure.

Walking in Beauty

Joss, AKA the Crowing Crone, simply radiates love.  When I visit her blog, it feels like coming home to an old friend who has a cup of tea waiting for you.  The beauty of the way she conducts her life and writes of her experiences has given me comfort at some very difficult times. But don’t let the pureness of her heart fool you….she’s a tough lady who has transcended some tough times.  Her book, What I Know About Fibro is a very good case in point of a woman who has turned her life around.

Healing from BPD

A very honest and informative site for survivors and others struggling with Borderline Personality Disorder.  Debbie’s blog is upbeat yet real when it comes to the challenges presented by BPD.  There have been many a day that her posts have been timely and comforting to know that someone out there really understands the issues surrounding this illness.  She promotes acceptance, understanding and coping tools and does a fabulous job of removing the stigma of BPD.  

Raising My Rainbow

I do not know this woman or her son, as in I have never really corresponded with her as I have the others I’ve listed above.  But I’m a regular lurker on this beautiful, creative “mommy blog” about the “adventures in raising a fabulously gender creative son”.  Her words, not mine.  One cannot read this blog without having CJ steal your heart with the credit going to his mother for portraying him in such an incredibly, fiercely loving way.  I suspect that she is nominated for many awards and so she should be.  She is addressing some really tough issues surrounding LGBT children with pure love and acceptance.  And besides that, she is flat out hysterical.

Canopy in the Sunlight

One of my first pals that I met through the Bone Sigh Arts forum, Illuminary is a bit of a willow-the-wisp.  She’s a self admitted kind of a hermit who seems to prefer the sanctity of her studio and musings.  I’ve found her to be witty, concerned and incredibly self reflective. While she may post only occasionally, they are well worth the wait as I always find her words comforting and thoughtful.  

A Heart’s Whisper

I have learned so much from Jackie over the last year.  I must look toward women like her who are consistently graceful and gentle especially during times where my emotions are all over the place.  She is grounding and constant and pure love.  I would encourage anyone wanting to journey farther into themselves to check out her writings.  This is an absolute safe place to be.

PS~~Julie Catherine….You already had this award but I wanted to sneak you in here anyway because I love your stuff too!

And finally….7 things about myself.   This was BY FAR the more challenging task.  Not sure what noteworthy tidbits you all would want to know but here goes….

  •         I feel incomplete without a really cool pair of earrings which is about the only jewelry that I wear.
  •         I prefer the company of animals to most people.
  •         Had my daughter at home with a midwife attending.  Celebrated with a few friends, champagne and ice cream and took a hour   long bath with my new baby.  Probably one of the grooviest experiences of my life.
  •        Got to fly to Washington DC with 30 magnificent women to participate in a march for reproductive freedom. 
  •        Almost got kicked out of the local beauty pageant during high school because I wouldn’t remove my POW bracelet.
  •        For a day and a half, sat with and sang my mother from this world as she passed to the other side.
  •        Consider myself an emotional empath as I’ve always felt emotions stronger than most.  This is a gift and a curse.


Thanks for hanging in during this very long post….but I wanted to play by the rules and give credit to these fabulous new friends that I’ve had the good fortune to meet.  I’m humbled by this award and am so glad to be here in such great company!


Little L comes out of the virtual world….

There are many milestones to this writing~healing journey that I embarked upon almost 5 years ago.

The first being that my body had to remember.  It gave me the challenging gift of  tangible form to my mental illness carried around for my entire 45 years.  At the time I might have been very reluctant to admit that this was a good thing but in retrospect, it was the essential plunge that one has to take to rise up as someone different.  These transitions have come to many of us played out in different ways but with the same theme of rebirth.

After weathering the body memories and night terrors where the stories began to unfurl, I began writing.  It seemed high time to take this swirling mess from my psyche and put them into another tangible form…words.  Decades of rage poured out of me in scratchy, erratic phrases.  I cried and raged with my paper and pen, determined to purge myself of its hold on me.  I found an image of what I thought this child looked like and began to make her real.  Not that she wasn’t real all along, but she’d been buried and oppressed in an effort to go through life until she crashed so hard, taking my body with her and demanding that I finally pay attention and put her first.

So I did.

I began putting these writings into a blog that I secretly and lovingly created for her.  It was a place that I could actually go to, turn on the computer and look at her words and manifestations.  It became intoxicating.  The freedom of releasing this pain is one that only a survivor of trauma of any form can understand.  Being let out of prison.  Feeling safety in one’s home and skin. The sweet joy of letting go, little by little, word by word.

Soon after this, I had the divine blessing of finding a forum set up by a woman artist, Terri at Bone Sigh Arts, who had the incredible perceptive foresight to provide a place for women, survivors and otherwise, to place their thoughts.  An inclusive haven, without judgement for those of us who are the smallest and the most timid, to peek out and see if the world was really a place that we could trust.  A place that wanted to see us as we really were: fragile, sensitive, creative, wounded.  I lurked, I read their posts, I watched as they supported others in their healing.  And when I finally came out, it was here that a group of incredible women gathered around me and loved me so unconditionally that I finally found the nerve to push the “publish” button on my blog.  After praying, smudging and turning it over to God and a higher power, I screamed and hit the button.  Frozen for several days, not going near the computer or the blog for fear that I might have made a horrible mistake, that I would be found out and ostracized from my newfound circle of friends for being…..me.

Well, we all know that didn’t happen.

Instead and of course, I was flooded with well wishes and support, praise for my courage and for my writing.

Go figure.

But that was enough for me to forge ahead.

So I’ve been happily blogging for a year now.  I’ve met dozens upon dozens of incredible virtual friends who have lovingly supported me as I dip in and out of depression and mental illness.  I can readily admit that now. Its who I am and have accepted and even revered myself for the warrioress that I am to have thrived in spite of horrendous circumstances. Some of these women share many of my characteristics and talents, others have very different gifts to offer, all are treasured friends.  And yes, I do call them friends even though we’ve never met.  We have, however, shared many challenges of joy and sorrow over the last year and what we lack in physical face to face contact, we make up with in genuine concern for each other, our families, our communities.  Holding hands with each other, we watch the full moon together from all parts of the world, share our gardens and grieve the loss of our beloved ones.

Although quite content with this arrangement, I was given a unique opportunity to meet a fellow writer, survivor and hopefully, a new friend in real person.  Several weeks ago, a trusted friend gave me a book written by a male survivor of horrific child abuse.  She stated simply and knowingly that this book would be similar to the one that I would write.  She’s always believed in me like that.  I devoured his story, the pain and the triumph, in one afternoon and began the process of locating his website and facebook information.  Within days, we were friends and this weekend, I attending his book signing.  How incredible that this man brought to me actually lives in my neck of the woods.

Keith Hoerner, author of “Missing the Mark: A Target Child Speaks” signed my copy and became my first real live human writer~survivor friend.  I’ve officially gotten to the next level of creating the person I want to be. We connected and recognized each other immediately like dogs to their pack.  I hope that we have many sessions over coffee, discussing writing for healing, trauma recovery and all associated topics.  I look forward to that.  And I hope that his book makes its way into the hands of anyone that has experienced childhood abuse of any form.

I feel absolutely giddy….and am wondering what’s next?


Woot! I got a HUG award…

WOW…ANOTHER AWARD…I FEEL LIKE A ROCK STAR!

Seriously, I never anticipated getting the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people through my little ole’ blog…its been fabulous and an unexpected treat.  I so enjoy meeting fellow bloggers, artists and all around great folks sharing their experiences to better the world we live in.  What a blast!

A wonderful woman and new friend, Sheila Hurst, nominated me for a HUG award which was awesome in itself….and then I read the description and got really humbled.  Simply put, I want my writing to change something.  While it has changed me dramatically, giving me purpose to an otherwise unexplainable and tragic view of my young life and physical health, I wanted it to go further.  These friends-with-blog-efits have been my saving grace and I do believe that by connecting and supporting each other, we will HUG the world.

Check out Sheila’s blog and send her some love at http://sheilahurst.wordpress.com

The HUG Award© was initiated by Connie Wayne at A Hope for Today at http://ahopefortoday.comwhich promotes hope, love, peace, equality, and unity for all people.

The HUG Award© is for people with an expectant desire for the world, for which they: Hope for Love; Hope for Freedom; Hope for Peace; Hope for Equality; Hope for Unity;Hope for Joy and Happiness; Hope for Compassion and Mercy; Hope for Faith; Hope for Wholeness and Wellness; Hope for Prosperity; Hope for Ecological Preservation;Hope for Oneness

The HUG Award© recognizes and honors those who help keep hope alive in our current world, which is plagued by war, natural disasters, and economic recession.  They nurture hope, in any of the above areas (in italics),  by the work they do, or in their personal lives with things such as blogging, public speaking, charity work, etc.

For more information on this award, please visit: http://ahopefortoday.com/2012/01/14/hope-unites-globally-hug-award-guidelines/

Wow…now I need to get out there to honor and earn this award….and I will love every minute of it….Thanks Sheila and Connie!


my first nominee for Candle Lighter award….

First, I want to thank bipolarmuse who I’m choosing just to call Muse.

She had the grace and kindness to nominate me for the Candle Lighter award, which was my first blogging award and I am totally geeked about it.  Being recognized by a fellow blogger with the same goal of just trying to make our way through life is just the cat’s meow for me.

As I have no particular illusion of grandeur in writing this blog, it remains primarily just for me.  Following that, its for the folks that I attract along the way who are using every skill they can grab onto to manueuver through life and find their way home.  I am so committed to speaking out about the dark subjects of sexual abuse, incest, mental illness and all its counterparts with my ultimate hope being that this information falls into the lap of someone needing it.  And it lifts them up.  That’s what it is all about for me.  Lifting myself and others up. So, thanks Muse, you made my day.

I’ve thought long and hard about to whom I would pass this award.  There are so many incredible bloggers that I subscribe to (yes, I’m a blogaholic) that fill me up on a daily basis and any of them would be an ideal candidate.  But I kept contemplating (and yes, I seriously over think things) until I figured out that I wanted this to be personal for me.  In this world of virtual friends and wonderful, technological accomplishments, this had to be real for me.

The Candle Lighter Award is an award for a post or blog that is positive and brings light into the world.  

The Candle Lighter Award belongs to those who believe, who always survive the day and who never stop dreaming, who do not quit but keep trying.

There are no rules.

If you wish to, simply accept it and you are done!

You are also free to decline or ignore it.  

Recipients can pass it on to as many nominees as they wish and as often as they wish.

The woman I’m choosing is someone I’ve known my whole life.

It feels right in that full-circle-synchronicity kind of way for us to be in our fifties and bonding by incidents of over 40 years ago. We haven’t spoken in person for years but grew up in the same town, with the same story, with the same kinds of traumatizations.  It wasn’t until and because of technology, the internet and specifically Facebook that we even became reacquainted.  As our conversations progressed, we started a late night confessional of our secrets that had occurred in our childhoods and plagued us ever since.  My heart sank as I heard her story yet I somehow always knew that I wasn’t alone in being a victim of sexual abuse.  To say that it was rampant in my family and community is an understatement.

Our lives have taken somewhat different directions.  Our views on God and faith are blazingly different and our commonalities are huge.  I like to think that our mission trumps any religious or spiritual differences.  In fact, it makes the union that much more beautiful.  She will reach survivors that I couldn’t even touch.  In fact, she already has.  Upon coming out and publishing her own blog, several women have come to her and disclosed their own stories of abuse.  My heart goes out to her calling and to all the little girls I grew up with, sad in their own ways, no one to turn to, unable to speak about their atrocities because no one did back then.  And I mean NO ONE.  She has opened a portal that I forsee many people, male and female, being able to pass through into healing.

This little award doesn’t even touch the respect and admiration that I have for Debbie King Killian and her blog, Reclaiming my Life.  I consider her a true candle lighter.



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