Lay it Down

After I left my husband I had a hard time finding a path to healing. I didn’t know anyone who had lived through domestic violence. No one spoke about it at least. It felt shameful. It was as though I had arrived at a cross roads in my life. Do I hide behind a mask or do I choose to be my authentic self…scars and all. I chose the later and decided that I wanted to help smash the stigma that surrounds domestic violence. The shame that the survivor feels is due to societies perception of it as a whole. People understandably will feel sorry for you, but in doing so that can trigger feelings of embarrassment/shame. Here’s the thing, the survivor did absolutely nothing wrong and the shame should be placed squarely upon the shoulders of the abuser.

Abusive people are a plague on society. Period. They infect the same invasive sickness from one generation to the next. Without education and support there is no way to end this cycle. The abused becomes the abuser. I want to impact the lives of others through Rebel Thriver. I want people to be aware of the red flags. I want to be a part of the public discourse about DV as there is with the #metoo movement. We cannot be afraid to be honest. We cannot be afraid to use our voices. The shame is not yours so lay it down.

Lay it Down

Where do the feelings of shame come from anyway? Is it because you didn’t walk away sooner or because you went back time after time? Often a person will endure abuse quietly for years. I wore those shoes. Now think about how you got there in the the first place? Was it because for some insane reason you didn’t think you deserved better? That in and of itself is an entire other chapter. You are enough. You have always been enough.

What happens when you combine a person with low self worth with an abusive controlling partner? An intense psychological game begins that slowly breaks the victims sense of self down as the game is played out in increments. Once you actualize the situation your realize how hard it is going to be to get out. My husband threatened to kill my kids, my family, me. What do you do when you are literally a captive, a hostage in your own life. It’s hard to break free. I lived that life for years and when I finally got out I know that people thought, ‘how could a woman who looked like she had her shit together be living in such duality?’ When your reality is skewed you can find yourself just struggling to survive around the daily landmines. Survival becomes the game. Later, my mother told me that I deserved an Academy Award. My father told me that I earned a Ph D in domestic violence. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

Back to standing at the crossroads. I chose to not give a damn about what other people had to say. I’ve taken my life back. I declared that I am not what happened to me, and I have learned some serious lessons. I am a deeper, wiser, more empathetic, and a very soulful person as a result. This is the time to heal. If you are holding space for your own healing be open to asking for help. It is a hard path to walk alone. You have lived in scarcity and fear for far too long and you need to learn how to rewrite the script that is in your head. You need to realize that not only can you move on, but you can live a thriving life.

Rebel Thriver has been my voice piece. It has allowed me to step up in a public way to tell my story and educate people to the fact that there is no discrimination with domestic violence. It can control the life of a highly paid, college educated, executive just as easily as it can any other person. It’s hard to shine a light on the fact that the person I loved with all of my heart had chosen to treat me like an enemy. I lived a life of “normalcy” during the work week, but once I left the office it was back to the cage. Trust me, if it can happen to me it can happen to your sister, your child, your mother, your best friend, your brother, your uncle, etc. Domestic violence is intrusive not only to the victim, but also to their entire universe.

Howl

The sooner we start to smash the stigma and speak out about our experiences the sooner we will be able to educate and shift peoples perceptions of what domestic violence truly is. When the laws change to hold abusers accountable in a real way then maybe we will see change. As for now I want to use what I’ve learned to help others begin to heal and live again. Shortly after I got divorced older women would say, “You’re still young with a pretty face and you will find another man, don’t worry.” As though that was what I wanted, a another man. Some will jump from partner to partner trying to fill that void. They never stop to take a breath, thus never healing or realizing that they are enough unto themselves. A personal relationship with oneself induces healing and can bring about transformative life changes. I lost my marriage to domestic violence, but in the process I found myself. I won the game.

xo Ella

Growth Necessary

I started Rebel Thriver a few years after I fled an abusive 12 year marriage because I was  isolated and needed to know I wasn’t alone. I fled one night with the clothes on my back and two small children on my hip. I left my home, career, colleagues, car, identity, and my life behind. And just like that I found myself broke and broken with nowhere to go. I have a supportive family, but I was afraid to put them in harm’s way. I was on the run and I had lost myself in the process. What most people don’t understand is that domestic violence is the systematic breaking down of one’s self. When you step outside of that reality you are lost. I found little or no support in any outside organizations to help with the process of rebuilding myself or my life. When I could not find connection locally, I looked internationally. I knew that there were other people who would understand and would want to join into a positive and supportive conversation with me.

Enter Rebel Thriver.

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What I didn’t realize at the time was that Rebel Thriver would grow into a vibrant worldwide community. For those of you who do not know my story, I still live in fear of my ex-husband finding us which is why I cannot post pictures of myself. I am still in harm’s way, and yet I won’t let this stand in the way of the work that needs to be done. This past year was incredibly difficult on a personal level and I questioned everything that I was and wasn’t achieving in my life. I decided that it was time to commit myself to serving this community of survivors with all that I am.

Once I made that decision things started to connect in miraculous ways. As a result (Following Breadcrumbs Blog Post ), I am now part of a year-long international Business Freedom Mastermind Group run by Eric Edmeades. I am heading to Estonia in March to participate in a week-long intensive business conference that will help me to be able to achieve my ultimate goal. That is to open a retreat house that will be able to help people learn how to re-connect with themselves, and to each other, so that we can heal, grow, learn, and find support; a place that will help in all areas needed to live a healthy life. I won the ticket to Estonia (Value $4k) because my pitch for Rebel Thriver laid out why I believed that this conference would help me to make the greatest impact on this community (Sweet Lemonade Blog Post ).

Now this is the hard part for me. I have taken a leap of faith and I have already started the Mastermind, but now I have to raise the money.  For almost 7 years I have worked daily to provide insight, inspiration, education, and support for many. I have run women’s groups, workshops, coached, counseled, and even helped some women leave abusive relationships. This is all because of my love for you and the burning desire to help. I have never asked for a money, but now I need help to further my dream to be able to serve all of you better. I need the education and the connections that will help me to achieve my goal of opening a Retreat House to teach people how to reconnect, reboot their lives, and thrive.
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I am raising money to cover the cost of the year long Mastermind and for my lodging and airfare to Estonia.  I want to be able to serve you better and this will take time and resources. Invest in me and so that I can serve you better.

Thank you for taking the time for reading this and thank you in advance for your generous help.

Love, Ella xo

Fundraiser Link: Rebel Thriver Fundraiser

Blog Posts Mentioned:

https://rebelthriver.blog/2018/08/28/sweet-lemonade/

https://rebelthriver.blog/2018/09/09/following-breadcrumbs/

I am RISING because I LOVE you.

I am RISING because I LOVE you.

In solidarity with all the others who have suffered or died at the hands of an abuser I recognize October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.domestic violence

Did you know that in the USA, 3 women die every single day, and a woman is beaten every 12 seconds due to domestic Violence. Also, the a high percentage of children who live with domestic violence in their homes, grow up to do the same. The cycle of violence runs deep.
My ex-husband had been terribly abused as a child.

I broke the cycle for my children. It was the hardest thing that I ever had to do. Being a survivor has altered every molecule and minute of my life. Today helping others recover from abuse is what I am called to do. Rebel Thriver welcomes all of the survivors out there to join us. You can learn to find your voice if you haven’t already. There is a way through the pain that you may be in. Here you can get advice, be educated, supported, and loved. Knowing that someone else understands the kinda crazy that you live with in your head is priceless. It is possible to live a thriving life. You just have to believe.
xo Ella

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

13256494_1057993907616031_3195574131118398619_nWe are in the cross fires of a political situation that shouldn’t be political at all. I know there are people who will call me brainwashed and misguided. They will say that George Orwell is turning in his grave because 1984 has come to fruition. I know these people well. Some of them have my same blood. Some of them know what happened to me back in 1984.

I was taken advantage of by a guy from a prep school. He locked me in his room, laid on top of me and hurt me. He took my virginity. I cried for him to STOP! He didn’t. When he finally got up, he put his pants on and leaned against the wall of the darkened room, the candle light was flickering across his evil face as he said in a very flip way, “What do you expect? I have wanted you for over a year?”

I was staying with my best friends family at the time. I was bleeding heavily. I was terrified. However, I didn’t call my parents. I didn’t tell them when I got home. I didn’t tell anyone. I tucked that experience away inside of me for years and “forgot” about it. Funny thing about trauma…it likes to pop up every now and then in the worst of circumstances. When I turned 22 I finally told my mother. She took to her bed for 3 days and cried the entire time. My father doesn’t know to this day because I saw how my mother reacted and I just knew it would kill my father.

People have been blaming the victim forever. Seriously, it is the culture of the world. A victim can be your mother, father, sister, brother, child, friend, and yes, even you. To add insult to serious injury it is also made clear that the victim is in someway responsible for the attack. This creates a wall of isolation and shame. This wall can barricade a victim behind it’s tall chalky cold walls for years. Sometimes for life. The mind is a mysterious thing. We have learned some about what trauma does to a persons mind though. I can speak to this because I am not only a survivor of rape, but of domestic violence. In an attempt to protect you, your mind will selectively shelf memories. It’s as though it opens a door within and shoves the trauma into it, and then it slams the door. Sometimes the door opens up again. Sometimes it doesn’t.

I live with debilitating PTSD. If you were to ask me what I struggle most with day to day I would say, my memory. I have big blocks of time missing due to domestic violence. I can’t remember much of my child’s first years. This is because during this time his father was so abusive to me that in order to survive my mind shut the memories away. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

I am not mad about my situation. Rather I have chosen to channel that into helping other women recover, reclaim their lives, and move on after abuse and assault. This is how I heal. I run Rebel Thriver and this has become my life’s work. One of our agreements is no politics and no religion. This is because we know that this type of trauma doesn’t discriminate. I do not want to alienate any survivor over a political opinion or a religious belief. I believe that a victim needs to be heard no matter how long it takes for them to find their voice. And when they do finally speak they should not be shamed for it.

You do not know the path another has walked. We really need to start taking a step back at how things have been so that we can make changes and learn to move humanity forward in a more positive way. I believe that education is the only way. People can learn to become more understanding, better listeners, and develop empathy. We are capable of re-framing our thinking and doing better than the generations that came before us. We need to move towards coming together to tear down the old ways that allow isolation and victimization. We need to try to make this a better place for our children.

All I can do is continue to help the people who are trying to rebuild their lives and heal after trauma. I do not take political sides. I will never make a victims story divisive. It’s hard to stay out of the firing line these days. I pray the truth comes out and that people in powerful places are no longer able to wield their power to hurt others. Perhaps I am a bit idealistic, but that’s how I am and I will never give up striving to do better. My calling in this life is to help heal the wounds of survivors. It’s not fancy work, but it is everything to me, for how can we heal the world if we don’t work on healing it’s wounds?

xo Ella

Rising

Last year sucked. In fact, it kicked my ass and I couldn’t be happier that it is over. I was in the process of helping my eldest child begin the college application process when my younger child stopped going to school due to his PTSD which manifested in anxiety and depression. Last September I had no idea what I was coming for me. Depression in a middle schooler is tough. You need to be a therapist, a mother, a teacher and try to tie that up neatly in a bow. I did the best I could, but there were days that I began to question my sanity. I was walking close to the edge.Serve you copy

In January all the college app’s were sent out and we had teachers coming to the home to give lessons to my younger son who wasn’t feeling any better. He was dealing with PTSD from the abuse we endured. Every year it would raise it’s head and its deep reaching hands would grab him. It keeps you on your toes when dealing with a little one because every year bring changes and you don’t know how it will manifest. Last year was ground zero for puberty and I was worried, but I wasn’t prepared for the reality of it all.

In February my mother had to have another back surgery. It was a standard fusion, but an hour and a half into the surgery her blood pressure dropped and they had to stop. What was supposed to be a 4 day hospital stay turned into almost a month in and out of intensive care. My grandmother is 102 years old and still lives alone. However, at 102 things can give out on you with no real warning. So at about the same time that my mother was in the hospital and that I was homeschooling, my grandmother’s legs pretty much gave out. How frustrating it is to be completely mentally all there, but not be able to care for yourself. So, because my mother was ill I picked up the slack for being my grandmother’s caretaker.

Last year was a series of unexpected events. Life can be like that. I literally had NO time for myself. I was trying to eat right, but in retrospect it was more like heaping punishment upon myself after I declared that I was going to do the Keto Diet to get healthy. I put more restrictions on my already restricted life. I guess I was just trying to have some control over my days and it came down to what I put in my mouth. It helped me get through to June where I had one son graduate, one son pass to the next grade successfully, my mother was on the mend, and I was able to get additional help for my Grandmother. I knew it would work out, but I admit that there were days, weeks, and even months where I had my doubts. Sometimes too much is just too much.

Two months ago I was scrolling through the Quests being offered by Mind Valley Academy and I came across WildFit (which I have previously blogged about). The summer was coming to an end and one child was heading off to college and the other was heading back to school (after much guidance, care, and therapy). I was feeling optimistic that this might just be my time to focus on me more than the 10 minutes a day I had for the past year. I want to be the best version of myself, so I am embarking on changing my relationship with food (which by the way has always been very healthy, albeit a bit misguided), my health, my soul, and my mind.

It’s mid September and I am in the 7th week of Wildfit. It’s been one of the most eye opening experiences of my life. I have learned so much about human nature, nutrition, science, and biological evolution. I am meditating daily and walking miles every day. I have taken a business class and I am heading into a business mastermind group next month as well as another Mind Valley Quest, Lifebook. I am all in. It’s only been 7 weeks, but that one decision has lead to a string of other opportunities for which I am so grateful. It’s amazing what a year can hold for a person. I guess I am sharing this because I don’t want to seem like the Wizard of Oz, behind the emerald curtain. I want to share my struggles because I think that is where we so often find a common ground.

For the last 2 weeks I have been suffering from a pinched nerve in my upper back which has sent nerve pain shooting down my arm. It has been hard to sleep and I can often be seen walking or sitting with my arm extended over my head because that is the only comfortable position I can find. This morning I was in the kitchen making my green smoothie and I just felt so much pain and stress. This was after a 3 mile walk, yoga, and meditation. I am always pushing myself to do better, and to accomplish my daily tasks plus tomorrow’s if possible. But today something shifted in me. I stood there hugging it out with myself and I heard my inner voice speak up and say, “Go easy on yourself. You are in the process of healing. Allow yourself some room and let up with the incessant pressure.” And with that little bit of permission, myself my back released it’s tension.

What I know is that I am determined to level up my life. It will take time, but I am allowing myself time to heal and redefine myself. Life will always have bucket loads of crap to throw at you. You just have to be present enough to know that no matter how hard life gets, that ‘this too shall pass’. There are times where life will take you by the throat and stare you down. You just have to be persistent in your belief that the tides will always turn, and in the meantime learn everything that you can from the agony of it all.

I am happy to say that I believe the tides have turned. Now watch me rise.

xo Ella

Learning to Eat

OfficialLogo-WildFit-BlackonAlpha-3000x1809It’s week 7 of the Wildfit 90 Day Challenge and I am half way through. I knew that there would be challenging moments, after all I have been on my current diet or version there of for most of my life. It takes time to heal and trash bad habits. I don’t think that this has been as hard for me as for others perhaps, since I am traditionally a pretty clean eater. I can’t give away too much of the program because part of what makes it so successful is the fact that we are in the dark about the weekly changes until they reveal it to us every week. It was frustrating at first because I like to know the scope of things. I wanted to know what was coming down the pike so I could prepare myself. No such luck here. I signed up for a 90 day challenge to transform my health and I am prepared to follow the program through to the end.

What I didn’t expect was how much psychology was in play with this challenge. It has challenged me to look not only at my relationship with food, but my relationship with myself. I got back in line with my practice of box breathing and started a daily meditation practice. For me to give away the ‘secrets’ of this challenge wouldn’t be fair because so much of its success lies in the process that is Wildfit. Just suffice it to say that it is so much more than what you may think it is, and to top off the curriculum you don’t go through it alone. You are joined in a group with people from around the world. We share notes, recipes, and cheer each other on. I get to see what weekly food selections someone in Japan is making vs. someone from Israel or Norway. It’s so cool.

I’m half way through and I am feeling AMAZING. In fact my son came home from college this past weekend and took a double take. He said he didn’t recognize me at first. He said I looked 8 years younger. He said, “Mom, I am so proud of you! You look amazing. Keep going and don’t give up.” He even said that he was looking forward to the green shake (the Alkagizer) and lots of green leafy veggies while he was home. He watched me start this challenge and it’s amazing how much of it has filtered out to my kids even though they aren’t technically doing it.

It’s been challenging for me to broaden my culinary skills as I am learning a whole new way of eating. If I didn’t feel so good I would be resisting it perhaps, but I am not. How can I when I spring out of bed 5 minutes before my 6:30 alarm goes off every morning? My brain fog is gone. Yes, it is G.O.N.E. I have so much energy that I am now doing a daily yoga and meditation practice on top of my daily morning walk on the beach. I feel a pulse going through me that I’ve never felt before. Alas, guidance is key here.

The question I pose to you is this. How can you possibly level up your life in other areas if your nutrition is less than? Your health and well being is the foundation for everything else. Imagine if you could feel your very best and then set out to build onto that in all other aspects of your life? Wildfit is challenging me to live into my best self. It’s only been 7 weeks, but so far I am team Wildfit all the way!
xo ella

This is a Flaxseed ‘Tortilla’ that I now have added to my diet. It’s a simple process with simple ingredients. The best thing is that you can personalize it for your own liking. I use mostly golden flax seed meal. I add some dark flaxseed meal, chia seeds, and ground hemp hearts. I like to season mine with salt, pepper, cumin, and nutmeg. It’s a quick and easy process and you can use them as a wrap. It’s a nice way to get some “bread” into your meals and they honestly taste great. Perfect for those of you who are gluten free too.

 

This is something I tried for the first time today. It’s cauliflower hummus and it’s amazing! Basically you swap out the chic peas for roasted cauliflower. Simply roast a small head of cauliflower, add olive oil, tahini (I use Pepperwood Organic Stone Ground Tahini. You can buy it on Amazon), salt, pepper, garlic, and fresh squeezed lemon juice. Throw it into your food processor (It was a little tricky since my Vitamix is broken and I had to use my Ninja). I spread this on my Flax Seed wrap (above) to make a veggie wrap. Amazing.


If you would like recipes just ask and I will share them. Honestly I kinda like to wing it in the kitchen and learn from a little trial and error. More recipes to come in the upcoming weeks.

Following Breadcrumbs

“We rise by lifting others.”
-Robert Ingersoll

For those of you who follow my blog then you know already that I started the Wildfit 90 day Challenge 6 weeks ago. Wildfit is a program that helps you to find your way back to how we evolved to eat. In the last 6 weeks we have cut out everything but vegetables and proteins. Sound horrible? It’s not. Eric Edmeades, the founder of Wildfit has this program down to a science and because so much of it is psychology it doesn’t allow you to really feel deprived. Of course I miss my coffee and my avocado toast, but let me tell you about how I feel. I feel incredible. My energy levels are soaring and my skin is glowing. My allergies have been diminished and I am losing inches. It’s working.

A few weeks ago I was cruising Instagram and an invitation to join a free three day seminar on Business Freedom popped up. The facilitator was none other than Eric Edmeades from Wildfit. Now I am a trained artist/designer with commercial experience, but never have I been trained as a business person. Most of you know that my dream is to one day open a retreat for women and children who have survived domestic violence. I feel like I am treading water though because I just don’t know where to start. Aside from the complexities of my personal life (needing to stay on the down low for safety) I need help. So I decided to sign up for this live three day Business Freedom seminar and see what it was about.

I had the benefit of “meeting” Eric through Wildfit already and I knew that he has a communication style that resonated with me. Perhaps he could actually talk business with the same effect. For 3 hours a day, 3 days in a row,  I was glued to my computer for this live seminar. It wasn’t boring at all. I understood everything that was being presented. It got my blood pumping and my mind churning for all the possibilities. I started re-working my vision board and I stuck this image in the center of it.

944443_480424378706323_1885200404_nI created this little image back 2015 when I first started toying with the idea of creating a place where women could come again and again to reboot, recharge, re-connect with themselves, and re-energize. A place where healing could begin after domestic violence had ended. You see there is help to get you out of the crisis. Shelters, domestic violence advocate organizations, churches, etc., have programs to help you to safety. But, after the triage is over you are left alone with someone you don’t really know. Domestic violence is the systematic breaking down of a person over time. It is not easy to just start over when the person you used to be is lost and you don’t recognize the face staring back at you in the mirror. I know this because I lived this. In fact, this is why Rebel Thriver was born over 8 years ago. I was isolated, scared, and completely lost. If I could connect to one person a day I would have felt successful. I knew that there had to be other women out there who could relate to me, I just didn’t realize how many. There are thousands of us from every walk of life around the globe. Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate against social economics, education level, gender, or religion. Domestic violence is all inclusive, and whether you realize it or not there is most likely someone in your life who has been affected by on some level. True Story.

On the second day of the business seminar we were told that there was going to be a giveaway of two tickets to the Business Freedom five day intensive conference in Tallin, Estonia (March 2019).  I needed to write an impact statement as to why I thought that this would help me with my business (Rebel Thriver). You can read my impact statement here: Sweet Lemonade. I wrote about the retreat that I want to create so desperately to help other survivors so that they can reclaim their lives and learn to be thrive again.

On the third day the winner was called. I knew that my chances of winning were slim to none. I knew that there were hundreds of others from around the globe in this group who already had thriving businesses and knew exactly how they could make an immediate impact. I prayed to God right before the winner was chosen. “God, if you want this dream of mine to become a reality then I need help. I need this help. Give me a clear sign.” Then I heard my named called out as the winner! It came to me as though through a wind tunnel. Out of nowhere the girl who cannot cry started sobbing. I couldn’t have gotten a clearer sign from above. Divine Intervention? I am sure of it.

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I started following the breadcrumbs that have been left for me, and now I am going to Tallin, Estonia in March to learn how to turn this dream into a reality. I am also starting a year long Mastermind Group next month to make sure that I stay on track. I will be meeting and working with so many other amazing talented people who are going to help me make this dream a reality. Now part of the reality is that there are going to be costs associated with the travel and the Mastermind. I will be starting a fundraiser to cover these costs and I will ask all of you to help me. Help me help Rebel Thriver. Help me help you.

There is so much work to be done, but I don’t feel overwhelmed about it anymore. I know that it’s going to come together. One day Rebel Thriver is going to have a Hotel for the Soul. Until then we will keep supporting each other the way we know best, through love and understanding. xo Ella

* If anyone reading this feels that they might have a skill that can help me along this journey I would be thrilled to connect with you. I cannot do this alone. It takes a tribe. You can reach me at rebelthriver@gmail.com.