The Rebellious Act of Loving Yourself

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It’s so true isn’t it? In our world today we are constantly being dumbed down and the reason is very simple. We will buy more shit if we think it will make us feel better. So, we end up accumulating a lot of stuff that we don’t actually need. This is what our society is based on…we are a consumer society, period. I was raised in a home where retail therapy was a way of life so my skills were well honed as I grew up and started to spend my hard-earned money on trying to find a better me.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m upset ….”

“I know what will help you feel better, let’s go shopping.”

This is how I learned to deal with my feelings of inadequacy and imperfection. I was taught that a new outfit or a pair of shoes was just what the doctor ordered. It was how I dealt with my pain. In fact, my entire career ended up encircling our massive consumer market. I not only was the consumer, but the supplier. I was hooked.

It’s sadly understandable. Our media has a constant loop of over hyped “stories” on twenty-four hours a day. Magazines and T.V. commercials are packed with edited photos of imperfect women appearing to be perfect. If they look that good then we perhaps we will think that what they are selling must really work, right? God help us, for even when we are smart enough to know better we can still get sucked in.

I happen to be a product junkie. I love beauty products and I am always looking for the best eye cream, lip gloss, hair volumizer, concealer, etc., etc., etc., I would like to say that I have no idea how it happened, but it’s all there right in front of me. I bought into the hype and for years I have tried in vain to make my long fine hair thicker, my skin more radiant, my nails stronger, my lips fuller….and the list goes on and on…

Keep in mind that I approach my life from a holistic viewpoint. I really do believe that you get out what you put in. You are what you eat. Exercise, sleep, organic food, and meditation are all cornerstones to feeling the best you can.
So, I question myself as to why I continue to buy into the hype of the marketing giants all around us pushing their goods on us like legal drug dealers. Is it that we are holding out hope for a quick fix or have we just become addicted to “the buy”?

It’s a pretty vicious circle you know. We buy to feel better and then when it doesn’t fill our needs we feel upset that we spent money that we didn’t have on something that we really knew deep down wouldn’t fit the bill. Why do we do that? It’s all learned behavior my friends. Most of us have bought the ticket and drank the cool-aid that has been served up to us. We have fallen for it hook, line, and sinker.

Now this is not something that I am just discovering about myself. It is firmly rooted in me and I am constantly waging war against it. I KNOW that natural remedies are the way to go. They may not come in slick packaging (I think that is what really does me in. I am a sucker for a pretty package) but they are cheap, readily at hand, and they work! One of my favorite’s is to mix a little baking soda in with my facial wash for a gentle exfoliate for my face. There are so many good ones that you can actually buy books about them…imagine that?!

Ultimately, we are just being distracted by believing that we need to buy stuff to feel better about ourselves. I admit that I am working really hard to fight this in my life. It took me years to find my freedom and my voice in this world and I have decided that I am not going to hand over any of it over to companies who are trying to wholesale me self-worth. I am rebelling against the powers that be. I am standing tall and laying claim on myself.

I am beautiful without having to spend a ton of money on designer products. I don’t need the newest facial scrub when I have a kitchen bursting with organic goods. We can do so much for ourselves without having to buy into the lie that we are being told. It’s so very true that in this world today, creating self-doubt in the consumers equals profit. Why do we want to continue to support these false ideas of beauty and wholeness. It’s simply false.

In a society where self-doubt is profited from, liking yourself for who you are is an act of REBELLION. I think it’s time for all of us to stand up to the brainwashing and simply accept ourselves. All of us, that includes our assets and flaws. How empowering it is to take back control and a nice wad of cash from people who only want to see you consume more of their lack luster products?

xo Ella

Surviving is Just One Chapter of My Story (By Guest Blogger Tia Jane)

Tia

As a survivor of child sexual abuse and adult domestic violence I constantly stand on the precipice of wanting to seek out fellow survivors for solidarity and support and needing to protect the wounds that remain from those experiences. I work in front line child protection and see the evil that exists in the world on a daily basis.

This is both wounding and healing.

How can it be both is a question which I have asked myself more than once. The wounding is obvious in its nature. Hearing the stories of experiences of children and their families touches on my wounds which, while no longer raw, are tender. The healing comes from knowing that I am an unseen survivor, that my trajectory didn’t follow the path that may make other survivors more obvious in their pain and I see so many others who break the mold set by society about what a survivor looks like.

I have discovered a passion for justice for these children and young people that eclipses justice in terms of the law and encompasses a sense of justice that results from the capacity of a society, to not limit their future lives to the expectations that are set by how we view victims of abuse. To set no bounds to their achievements and to provide them all with opportunities to become so much more than what we are lead to believe.

I am an advocate for changing how we view survivors and how we allow those other, richer experiences to come forth for a more balanced and holistic view of the person in a whole of life context and not through the veil of abuse. This frees people, like myself, who search for answers and a sense of self after an annihilation of the psyche which left me floundering in a sea of self doubt around “how do I become a survivor?”

So, I searched for a cause or a way to integrate my experiences into my life. To find those pieces of myself that I kept apart from the moments of abuse. I say moments because quite literally they were only moments, in a life which contained so much more of me without those abuse experiences. This is where I needed to begin my search, to look at those moments that were not imposed on me by others, which I can take complete ownership of and say “this is me”. The me that rejects acts of evil and exclusion and stands for love, stands for kindness, stands for acceptance and inclusion and that stands for strength, survivorship and healing.

I advocate through both thought, deep seated beliefs and action. I advocate through not accepting the perpetuating of victims trajectories which does not allow room for movements of the self from victim to survivor to thriver. I have my days, like any other, when the world and its focus on news worthy sensationalist topics of pain and suffering eclipses the stories of survival, and it affects me and I withdraw to wrap my internal wounds in a blanket of solitude. But I emerge again to rejoin the people who stand, who focus on strength, goodness and inclusion and who often work in silence to create healing pockets of a world in which I like to rest for a time.

I will forever remain an advocate for others, survivors of abuse, survivors of tragedies, survivors of any experience which leaves them searching for something to anchor themselves to a spot where they are safe from the storm. A harbor of support where they can find their direction. It will always be a tough journey for me given my wounds and experiences and the world I choose to work and offer my knowledge in, but given that I also contain a rich internal tapestry of alternate experiences which allow me to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, I will remain optimistic of the future. I know that I will continue to be more than those experiences that I endured and I will offer myself as a resource to others who also seek to find their own inner strength, light and purpose. I am not blind to the world and all its difficulties, I know that while I experienced abuse I have not experienced other forms of hardship and that I have had opportunities that others have not had.

My story is not unique, it is a single story that reflects my personal journey but all survivors have similarities in their stories and I choose to focus on their alternate stories, the survivor story, the triumph over tragedy story and I choose to seek out others who have walked this path before me, hand in hand with those who now walk beside me and to lead the way for those who will follow.

By Tia Jane

It Did Not Ruin Her

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“Never allow your loyalty to become slavery. You only live once.”             – Author Unknown

While sitting on the beach the other day with a dear we talked about writing. Why do we write what we write? I admitted that I am sick of my story. I am sick of being a poster girl for domestic violence. Many people suffer abuse, exit, and then move on. In fact, I help facilitate this process for them. The abuse becomes a chapter in their book of life. Somewhere along the line I found my calling in the aftermath of this monster (abuse) and so my chapter is becoming my book. I admit for a moment I was having a bit of a pity party. I have a desire to write about lots other things, but when I sit down here at my computer I inevitably find myself writing about overcoming abuse. I have this compulsion to reach out to those who are still in an abusive situation and might be questioning their own sanity. Yes, this is a common occurrence when you live with an abusive lunatic. I write to those who need a roadmap out. I suppose I find my strength here, and the comfort of knowing that I didn’t live those dark years in vain. I get frustrated, but I know that it is here, in my writing that I learned to thrive again. I want to direct this to all of you who are reading these words. I write for you. I am writing to help you find your way. I am writing to be a shining light and example to those of you who are still trapped in that dark place where you see no way out. I am here to give you HOPE for if I can make it out and I can turn my life around then so can you.

It did not ruin me.

I possess a deep strength that came from battling my ex-husband. I would not be the woman that I am today if it weren’t for this experience. In my darkest moments I held out hope for I knew that I wasn’t done here on this earth. There were many nights that I literally stared death in the face (I don’t mean to be a drama queen) and I had no other option but to surrendered to it. Somehow that spark of HOPE never extinguished. That in itself is one of my many miracles.

There are a lot of things that I don’t know, but what I do know is that there are so many other women (and men) out there that can relate to me. My inbox is full of your messages. I hear you when you write to me with thanks for giving your struggles a voice. I know that you find comfort in knowing that you are not alone and the simple fact that someone else out there can understand you. No, my darling girl you are not crazy. You are valid and you are so very worthy of everything good that this life has to offer.

The world needs more survivors to speak up. In telling our stories we make ourselves approachable. We enable others to step forward to be brave enough to speak up and out about what is really happening in their lives. Domestic violence has a long reach. It doesn’t just end when the abuser is removed from the situation. There are years of recovery that are needed and that is the hardest part to navigate. This is where the shelters and local support groups tend to fall off in my opinion. They are great when you are bleeding out and need triage, but in the long term aftermath survivors need other survivors to help them get back to the business of living.

I was told once that I wasn’t schooled enough to help counsel survivors of domestic violence. Well, I have earned the equivalent of a Phd in Domestic Violence through living this shit, and I have proved them all wrong. I have helped many women exit abusive situations and move on. It’s not work for the faint of heart I must say. I have learned over the years that I am good at helping survivors reclaim themselves after they are able to exit the situation. I am good at what I do because I understand the psychology of the aftermath of abuse. I live it every single day. So, I have accepted this truth into my life.

I am stronger than he was . He tried his hardest, but he couldn’t break me. I am stand taller because the struggles, and I am wiser. The help I can offer doesn’t come with a college degree but with years of deep personal work, and a burning desire to help others (and a proven track record). Never discount yourself, and don’t allow yourself to get lost in the aftermath. There is always a way out because HE DID NOT RUIN YOU. You are alive and capable of growth and pruning. It is in this process that you will bloom and become a new you…the person you are destined to be. Don’t you dare give up, not now, not ever. Be brave.

xo Ella

Far Far…

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FAR FAR

Far far, there was this little girl
She was praying for something to happen to her
Everyday she writes words and more words
Just to speak out the thoughts that keep floating inside

And she’s strong when the dreams come
‘Cause they take her, cover her, they are all over
The reality looks far now, but don’t go

How can you stay outside?
There’s a beautiful mess inside
How can you stay outside?
There’s a beautiful mess inside, oh

Far, far there was this little girl
She was praying for something good to happen to her
From time to time there are colors and shapes
Dazzling her eyes, tickling her hands

They invent her a new world with
Oil skies and aquarel rivers
But don’t you run away already
Please don’t go

How can you stay outside?
There’s a beautiful mess inside
How can you stay outside?
There’s a beautiful mess inside

Take a deep breath and dive
There’s a beautiful mess inside
How can you stay outside?
There’s a beautiful mess, beautiful mess inside

Beautiful, beautiful

Far far, there was this little girl
She was praying for something big to happen to her
Every night she ears beautiful strange music
It’s everywhere, there’s nowhere to hide

But if it fades she begs, “Oh Lord, don’t take it from me
Don’t take it yourselves”
I guess I’ll have to give it birth, to give it birth
I guess, I guess I have to give it birth
I guess I have to, have to give it birth
There’s a beautiful mess inside and it’s everywhere

So shake it yourself now deep inside
Deeper than you ever dared
Deeper than you ever dared
There’s a beautiful mess inside
Beautiful mess inside

Songwriters
YAEL NAIM/ DAVID DONATIEN

Try a Little Tenderness

“I have learned that the most important things are tenderness and kindness. I can’t do without them.” – Brigitte Bardot

Tenderness and kindness are a necessity in the work that I do, as are empathy and compassion. It’s something that you learn especially if you have been kicked in the gut and to the floor as many times as I have. When a person is hurting its heart wrenching for me and I focus on trying to help them see that there is a way through the pain. The pain will end. This is best shown through a gentle spirit.

I am taking a class that my friend Samantha is giving. When she asked me if I would like to join, my first thought was that I am already spread out too thin. Something though told me that I needed to do this for my own growth. When I got her workbook I quickly realized that this was going to kick my ass. The course is called Tender to My Soul. This journey is about focusing on showing myself a little bit of tenderness. What did I sign up for? I don’t have time for this. I have way too much to do!

Tenderness, (noun).
1. A tendency to express warm, compassionate feelings. (check)
2. Concern for the feelings or welfare of others. (check)
3. Gentleness, kindness, compassion. (check)

Am I tender with others? Absolutely, but with myself not so much. What does it mean to be tender with yourself and whats the best way to go about it? The thing I love about my friend Samantha is that she is a wordsmith in the most gentle of ways. Instead of giving us a traditional workbook to trudge through she gave us a beautiful work of art that is a place to sit, ponder, listen, and understand. Most importantly is has given me the message to SLOW DOWN. What is the rush for any way?

How can we see to be tender to ourselves if we are constantly rushing around. We are so over scheduled and working towards the next best thing that we think a 5 minute meditation in the morning is going to be fuel enough to get us through. Not quite so true. When you think about it we give much more time and tenderness to other people. How can we be our best if we aren’t taking the time to lavish ourselves with a little tenderness as well?

“You don’t blast a heart open. You coax it and nurture it open like the sun does to a rose.” – Melody Beattie

I just finished writing an article on finding clarity. I state that you don’t seek clarity you become it. It goes hand in hand with tenderness, don’t you see? In order to truly evolve you must be tender to your own soul. This means taking a holistic approach to your life. You must learn to slow down. Create healthy boundaries and learn to say “no”. You must clear out some of the static that prevents you from having your personal time. Hey, this is really important. You are really important.

For me tenderness for myself is a new concept. I have worked on a lot of other things, but not this or at least not from this perspective. I am just starting out on this journey, but the first thing that I have noticed is the freedom I am giving myself to carve out time for joy me. Constructive time and a safe space to really dig deep to my soul. I am tired of short-changing myself while giving my best to others. In truth, I will serve better if I am in tune with myself. I am ready to stop the inner battles, name calling, and the wicked critic. I am ready to learn to love all the part of me that I haven’t given myself space to do yet. This is the year that I learn to be tender to my soul and I would love to invite you to do the same.  xo Ella

“There isn’t an agony in the world more powerful than tenderness.”                   – Marlena De Blasi

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