Generosity

A majority of world religions have some type of charity as a regular practice and for good reason! Charity and generosity not only help others, they can help us feel better too. Something about the act of doing good for someone else, even if our motivations aren’t initially as pure as they could be, does something pure and good to our hearts. 

Whether it’s donating to a favorite cause, donating unwanted/unworn clothes to a local group that needs them, donating time, or just giving a little kindness to someone who may or may not be feeling down, giving back is a good way to be reminded of all the potential for positivity that still exists in the world. 

Your intentions may start off selfishly, but before long you may just find a cause you’re really invested in. 

Growth

I am officially cleared to stop seeing my therapist! I have one more appointment in two weeks, and if I am still feeling as good as I am right now, I don’t have to come back. I have loved the growth and help that these appointments have offered me but I am honestly so excited to be feeling better. 

Every day is a new day and I may feel worse again someday, but I am being a lot kinder to myself and have grown a lot in my personal ability to cope with daily struggles. Since I am feeling better, I’m going to share some things I’ve done to help me. I hope they help you too ❤️

  1. Change how you talk to yourself: don’t beat yourself up for stupid stuff. You’re human, you’re gonna mess up. It’s ok. 
  2. Change how you talk to others: they don’t know what’s wrong unless you tell them. If you tell them and they don’t care, that’s on them, not you. 
  3. Put good things into your head: read and watch things that empower, enlighten, and enliven. If it makes you feel yucky, don’t read or watch it. 
  4. Put good people around you: similar to the above- if they don’t bring you light and life, don’t spend time or energy on them or try to change them. 
  5. Write about it: whatever “it” is, writing about it will help. Don’t analyze whether it’s “good” or not, just get thoughts out on paper and it’ll help I promise. 
  6. Don’t try to control life: it can’t happen and you’ll go crazy trying. Do what you can, then let it go. 
  7. Be intentional with your actions and interactions: many times you will get out of life what you put into it. Put good in, get good out.

I wish all the good things for you and I hope this helps. I’ll keep writing and annoying you with my random thoughts, don’t worry! 

Comparison

Something I’ve talked about off and on with several friends lately is the toxicity of comparison. The social media culture we live in, although often positive, sadly also feeds both our  comparison obsession and our lust for instant gratification. 

With social media, something or someone seemingly better is always just a click or a few typed messages away. We see beautiful men and women living seemingly perfect lives and we compare those idyllic images to our own perception of our life as somehow lacking. Whether it’s our partner, our career, our income, our education, or whatever else, there’s always something that appears better on our screens.  

Adding to the problem is the easy access via social media of so many “thirsty” people out there willing to feed our egos. These people wil tell anyone and everyone how great they are and how much better they’d be than a current partner. People forget that the grass is greenest where you water it and just jump from one relationship to the next person they think will satisfy them. 

The same goes for other aspects of our lives. We forget that, as in relationships, the grass grows where it is watered. In other words, we can’t have success in our lives if we aren’t actively working toward the successes we want to achieve. 

The point here is that social media is only a highlight reel with occasional lowlights thrown in. For the most part, what we and others post on our social networks is only the (highly edited) best of our lives. Our personal journey is our own and can’t be compared to someone else’s. 

Whatever our issues with our own life may be, they are likely due to the fact that if we put half as much energy into improving our own lives as we did in comparing our lives to others, we might have the kind of life we envy. But then again, we’d probably just find someone new to envy 🤷🏻‍♀️ 

Best not to envy at all and build a life that’s good to US, not just good-looking to the outside world.

Onions Have Layers

All of us who are 90s kids have seen Shrek and probably remember the part where he compares himself to an onion. He says he’s an onion because he has so many layers that it’s hard to really get to know him. 

I’m that onion, and I don’t want to be peeled. 

This week’s blog post almost didn’t get written because honestly, I have had a really hard couple of weeks. Opening up last week about the sexual assaults I experienced as a teen made me really not want to keep on opening my Pandora’s Box of yucky emotions and experiences. 

However, this week in my counseling appointment we dove deep again into how the events of the past have affected how I behave in the present. It was a lot to think about and I went away beating myself up a little for some of my actions. So you can see why I didn’t really want to keep opening up and exposing these complex feelings I’ve been having to the light of “logic” and the gaze of those who might not “get it”. 

But I’m committed to this process and that means that I keep going. I keep exposing and examining these feelings even when that’s uncomfortable. Vulnerability is hard though, especially when events of the past have taught me (and maybe you) that being vulnerable makes you weak and fragile.

I was talking to a friend today about our fear of vulnerability and I had the epiphany that the only way the events and people of the past can keep hurting us is if we allow that to happen. Vulnerability is its own unique kind of strength. It looks at the past and says “I don’t care. I know you’ve hurt me but I don’t want to lock myself away forever. I want to know others and be known”. What a powerful statement. How could we ever call that anything but strength? 

Even though this week my fear and hatred of vulnerability has caused me to be overly sensitive, grumpy, distant, and anxious, I know that’s just my fear talking. I am so loved and I have such a great support system. I hope you know that you have both of those things too. 

If not, I love you, I’m always here for you, and I encourage you to seek professional help if you can. That’s all for this week ❤️

Trigger Warning

Warning: the following post contains stories pertaining to sexual assault. If that may be triggering for you or re-traumatizing in any way, please skip this post. Your emotional wellbeing is important to me ❤

In my weekly counseling appointment yesterday, I talked about my trauma related to incidents with two individuals who sexually assaulted me at two different times. It was a really hard hour, but one of the things she said at the end was to not let myself close off emotionally after opening up today. So, I decided to REALLY open up and write about it all today. 

Disclaimer: If for some reason you think you won’t believe what I have to say, or believe I’m to blame for what happened to me, you can excuse yourself from my life permanently. I have no time or patience for people who won’t support my journey, as it’s been a long and hard one with plenty of wasted time blaming and hating myself. Put yourself in my shoes and understand that you never know what you’ll do in a situation until you’re in it. Hopefully you never will be. 

So here goes…

When I was 16, I was assaulted by a religious leader’s son I had liked prior to the incident. We had been talking and flirting but although I talked a big game he was older so I was unsure about going any further in the relationship. The individual lied to get me alone in his car and proceeded to ignore my protests that I was uncomfortable with the situation and wanted to go back to the building we were supposed to be in. After he did what he wanted to do to me, he drove me back to the building and I went to the bathroom to clean up and cry while he acted like nothing happened. I won’t describe the aftermath and repercussions, because I don’t have any intent of shaming anyone else the way they shamed me. I hold no ill will toward anyone involved anymore, but I do hold responsible a religious system that doesn’t teach its sons about consent because it’s so deadset on a message of strict abstinence without any other sexual education.

The second incident happened the next year with a frenemy’s boyfriend. He had been talking to me about their relationship issues and had indicated that their relationship would be ending soon and that he and I should get together once it did end. He lied and told me they were on a break to convince me to talk to him as more than a friend, but they weren’t on a break and when I realized that I was upset but he lied again and said he wanted to break up with her he just didn’t know how to tell her. (If she’s reading this: I’m sorry I didn’t ask you to find out for sure what was going on with you two before I started talking to him, that was wrong). He asked me to meet him somewhere private in the school to talk about it and help him figure out what to say. After I showed up, he started kissing me and I started to walk away but he grabbed my wrists and pinned me to the wall. After making me bleed in places no one would see, making me touch him, and bruising my wrists, a teacher happened by and sent us to the office. Because of this individual’s age, athleticism, and social status, I lied to cover up the incident because I didn’t want to go through the additional trauma of fighting a court case. I regret that somewhat today because I worry that this person may have hurt others, but I know I did what I did to protect myself and I don’t blame myself for that. 

I know I made mistakes in both of these instances. I’ve left out some of those details, but I know I could have done some things better or differently. However, I do not blame myself. I did what I did or didn’t do to protect myself and made mistakes because I was just a teenager figuring out life. In both instances, I was preyed on by older men who lied to get what they want. I had no way of knowing what would happen and no way to protect myself when it did.

I tell these stories because I know too many of my friends who have similar stories and I know how lonely and isolating that can be. It’s easy to blame yourself when something horrible happens; you think of all the things you could have or should have done differently. But to any woman or man who has experienced assault or rape, I want to say- it’s never EVER EVER your fault. No matter what you were wearing, what you had to drink, if you flirted with them, if you liked them, if they were family, if they were religious, if you were dating, if you were married and said not tonight, if you had done drugs, or if you fell asleep in their bed… it’s NEVER your fault that someone hurt you and took advantage of you. Know that, and say it over and over until you believe it. 

Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re a liar or shame you for doing, or not doing, whatever it is you did or didn’t do to stay safe and sane. You are stronger than you know and eventually this will all just be a bad memory, but don’t forget to care for yourself in the meantime. See a professional, talk to a trusted friend or loved one, use healthy coping techniques, and don’t let what happened to you keep you from living your best life. 

As one of my favorite humans in the world, Eleanor Roosevelt, said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your CONSENT” ❤ 

Power to the girl(s)

Being a woman is hard. 

No matter what kind of woman you are, there’s always going to be someone who doesn’t like your type of womanhood. Dita Von Teese says it best: “You could be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world and there will still be someone who doesn’t like peaches.” 

Whether your feminity threatens “them”, your religion makes “them”  uncomfortable, your skin color makes you stand out, or your sexuality makes you a target, one thing is for sure: there’s never a shortage of haters. 

So my question is.. why are we women hating on each other?? Why in the world would we join in the hate of the media/politics/society so eager to cast judgments on us?? We don’t have to approve of everything we each choose to do, but that shouldn’t stop us from generally supporting each woman’s right to live the life she’s dreamed for herself. 

Protecting each other isn’t about politics or religion or anything else- it’s about being part of a long line of women who stood up and said they wanted more out of life than just quietly agreeing with other people’s ideas of who they should be. That also means we shouldn’t be trying to force our idea of what a woman should be or do on other women because they threaten us or make us feel insecure. I admit I catch myself judging women and making assumptions about them based on how they look, their social media posts, or their career, but every time I catch myself doing that I find that it’s just a reflection of my own insecurities and perceived failings.

So I believe if there’s one thing we should all be doing as women it’s standing for, behind, and beside each other. Each woman’s strength is magnified when multiplied by the strength of the women supporting her. If we aren’t supporting each other, then we are all weaker than we could be. 

Feminism is built on a foundation of the right to equality. if one group of us isn’t equal, then we should all take that personally and strive to protect and grow that group. It’s much more satisfying to show each other love and build each other up than it is to tear each other down. 

Let it be said of us that “Nevertheless, [we] persisted” ❤❤

Finding yourself

Who am I? What do I want to do with my life? Why did high school and college not prepare me for any of this?!? 

If you’re like me, you may be asking yourself these questions. Or, you may be a unicorn and know exactly what you want to do/be. I’m not talking to the unicorns. I’m talking to the Shetland Ponies that are more than a little grumpy, feel very small, and don’t think they’re cut out for this, thank you very much. 

I’ve got a degree. I’ve got a full-time job. Yet I don’t feel like I’m living my best life. So here I am, at 2:00 am at my job reading self-help books, journaling, and writing this blog post about how I don’t know what the heck I’m doing as an adult. 

I don’t know what my passion is. I don’t know where my drive is. I don’t know anything except that I’m not happy with where I am in my career and I want to be and do more. So if that’s you too, you’re not alone. But we don’t have to stay stuck here. 

We have everything we need to succeed. All we have to do is quit telling ourselves all the reasons we CAN’T succeed, and start telling ourselves we CAN. We are still young, and even if you’re not young anymore, it’s never too late to be who you want to be. You can experiment, explore, and find what drives you. 

Then once you find it, shut out the haters and the naysayers. Go do it. 

Follow your bliss. 

Maybe someday I’ll find mine too 😉