GrowHope Project

From Then To Now

I breathe color today.  Today – I feel dimensions and many levels of emotions, energy and I feel I am in flow.  I know without needing to defend or justify just what I have experienced and endured since the event, but that was not how I was in the yesterdays.  It is a gift to be standing in the space I fill today, a place that I knew, god how I knew, was not ever going to be for me.  Everything I thought I knew about myself, life and all things meaningful was changed in the matter of seconds.

I call the early days of my loss, my grief as the “dark days”.  I was forced into a monochromatic depression that matched my inability to comprehend what was being said to me.  I was unable to catch my breath, time was moving far too fast for me to keep up.  I remember imploring time to slow down for just a bit, if only for me to catch my breath, to give me a moment longer to take in what was said in that phone call.  It couldn’t be that Mike was calling to tell me that our son died.  That was absurd.  Something about a car accident…..that Sean was involved….that he’s gone.    

“He’s gone”.  Two words that were seared in my heart.  

No one told me not to go to work nor did anyone tell me I might want to return to work.  I was on autopilot.  I remember that deciding to make coffee or to brush my teeth was about as big as it was going to be that day.  I had a twenty-one year old son and my youngest would be four in two weeks when the accident happened.  The days seemed to run into each other without notice.  It seemed like I needed to do something, so I just went back to work a couple of weeks later.  

I have no idea how I did what I did back then.  My job is teaching four to five fitness classes back to back and personal training at a resort on the Big Island of Hawaii.  I work with people from all over the world who are on vacation; who are expecting an amazing experience in paradise.  I put on a microphone, a smile, some awesome music and went into professional mode – all the while my heart was splintering inside and my eyes told a different story.  

If you listen to me now, you would not believe that I weathered a tumultuous tragedy.  Losing a child is hailed as the deepest, heaviest, hardest losses in life.  There was no way you could ever get me to think about seeing the colors in the setting sun, or find a sliver of joy in anything, ever again.  Yet I was not alone in this experience.  My son was present.  His life as he knew it changed in a moment as well as did mine.  You could say we both were born into a new life, and a different relationship could emerge by looking into where I believed him to be.

Someone along my journey asked me if I thought Sean was in the darkness.  I quickly said, “Of course not”.  She then asked a beautiful, thought provoking, courageous question; “Then why are you looking for him there”?  That created enough space for me to look to where I thought he might find me.  I started looking for the unusual, the out of place, the signs that would wrap around the same time frame with the thought that created them.  Sean was not locked out of my life by his accident; I was blocking his entering my life in the only ways he could be with me,  by staying in my deep sense of loss.  I found that I could block his presence with my intense grief…or experiment letting some of the concepts that he was gone go and let in there is no death, only a life after life and he still exists.  Since that experiment began, I have found a peace I can live inside.  I still miss his physical presence, his voice and sense of humor and all those events I would have been apart of had he survived….but I have found….no, he has found a way to connect with me, his mother, in a more sacred place than I could ever imagine.

Since this life is limited; has a beginning and an ending, this part of my story has shown me the bigger picture – that we always exist beyond this life, at this time, on this planet we call Earth.  There is no way anyone can convince me that we cease to exist when we take that last breath.  We are forever beings.  I have chosen to live in the light of hope, of foreverness, not just one moment in his life.  He has given me a priceless gift of a knowing that this life is temporary – however the length of it.  He has guided me all along the way and for that I live sharing my story for those who have come after me.

Hope.  Trust.  Willingness.  Courage.  Intuition.  Others.  Insight.  Faith.

Staying Open When You Have Been Broken Open

When you are broken open, you realize that you cannot go back and un-experience what just happened.

There is not another soul who can judge if you broke open, or that you need more opening, or that you need to close the opening. No one has that right; no culture; no ethnic race; no gender; no opinion; no textbook or philosophy…no one gets that job except for the one who has had the experience.

In my sixty years of breathing, I have experienced many cracks in my foundation as I have lived my life. Some done to me, some done by me yet I have always been able to have the understanding that people are doing the best they can with what they have at the time. I have been lied to, betrayed, manipulated and used and I have done the same.  I have been called names, removed from circles and asked to shut up. I have been given accolades, encouragement and messages of gratitude that what I have to share has shifted their mindset and they awoke to their own brilliance.

It is our human wiring to self protect with the coping skills we have learned from our original tribe as well as the ones that bubble up from our own selves. We self medicate, stand behind false doctrine, pontificate and point out what another should do, think or say. Brene Brown calls these folks that cannot look inward and who only points their finger at another, as those “sitting in the cheap seats”.

We have a myriad of shadow tools to use as shields and defense, and we wear these layers of protection proudly.  These shields and layers keeps our fears, insecurities and lack of confidence inside, contained, together and safe.

When you are busted open by a significant experience, you get to look at life very differently. I am not in the comparison game here; I don’t play my trauma versus your trauma. I am speaking from an authority on a unexpected life altering event. I was on receiving end of a phone call that my child has been in an accident and he did not survive. I can still feel the suffocating moment when my life broke open and I was helpless to stop what was put into play.

Child loss is close to the top of the human list of trauma and the effects of this trauma does not break you open – it SHATTERS you.

First there is the event, then there is the “after”, and the “after” came with little instructions.  When my nineteen year old son left his body, I was launched into nothing I wanted to be part of. From deep inside of me, I knew I would survive this, I just didn’t know how. What I did know is I had to lean into where I found inspiration and encouragement. I realized that we don’t need to be defined by only one part of our story – that we are all the parts and they all have meaning. Among those that helped me discovering this were Heather Plett, Brene Brown, Carolyn Myss, Clarissa Pinkola Estes and those mothers and fathers in my tribe of child loss.

As I started to piecing back together the broken shards, the process of becoming began. It has been my experience, and I speak from authority, what was false, meaningless and no longer important sloughed off. I became hyper aware of what was real, authentic; what had staying power and what no longer served to support my existence. It did not mean people and concepts in my life were dropped- oh no- it is that those that could be in my life expanded; those concepts of lower energy were dropped and the places of transcendence expanded and exposed me to so much possibilities. My personal tragedy offered me a universe to explore and lean into.

In Heather Plett’s “Holding Space Coach Facilitation Program” the students learn what luminal space is, what imaginable cells are, how to recognize emotional colonization; white privilege, marginalization and cultural appropriation means. As students we are shown how to practice being present for another and using new learned skills to trust a someone you do not know how to hold space with you.

It is a magical, vulnerable and brave space to put yourself in. We signed up for the experience to learn, practice, share, deepen our awareness, practice, pair up, redirect, write, practice, explore an amazing venue of holding each other’s strength, vulnerabilities, the unknown, with an openness and curiosity for the unknown.

It was my experience that I was held in my own life story safely as I learned that I am an equal. I may have a different story, opinion, set of values but when we are in Circle, we were told that we all hold the rim of the container together. No one is above or below you; in front of or behind you.

It is a beautiful experience to show up naked and be held in a safe place as well as a brave place.

Brene Brown gave the values of acknowledging what being vulnerable feels like, where perfectionism hides and shame tactics rise, how to notice authenticity in yourself and where it is absent in another. She offered the concept of “Daring Bravely”, which I am still practicing and have learned that I have a voice and what I have to say, someone is interested in hearing it.

Carolyn Myss brought “Spiritual Madness”, the spectrum of human behavior including our shadow side. Her religious teachings brought alchemy, mysticism, history of shamanism, the Saints and the difference between going to church and being “church”.

My beautiful storyteller, Clarissa Pinkola Estes….she gave me the language that I did not have to explain that my symbolic and metaphorical way of approaching life is how I view living.  It is steeped in indigenous cultures and stories and what Jesus used to get his point across.

I have been collecting my bones and honoring my life story for many lifetimes and I have embraced the joy in this amazing “hard as shit work”.

As in Clarissa’s story, “Sealskin Soulskin”, I have been reclaiming what has always been mine and in doing so doesn’t need to take away from what another has. It is my process; hard stuff; amazing eye opening, beautiful journey.

Then there’s Suzanne Giesemann. She grounds me. She lifts me. She removed the cultural and religious trappings that we are only this body. If my son could have returned to his body after his accident, he would have. What contained him was too broken. He had no choice but to be himself without the container. Suzanne has worked with me to remember what I have always known; We don’t die. We have always been. We continue to be. This is what propels me to wake up each day and what I think, talk and write about. And I love the container this belief system let’s me expand in.

The parents who have outlived their beautiful children, regardless of when they left, or how they left, amaze me that they can even breath. These “Shining Light Parents of Shining Light Children” remind me of my own self. I see so much courage and resiliency, raw wounds in their faces, words and stories. I get to experience their processes of embracing their own life in the absence of their child. I am privileged to witness their rise to expanded awareness as they discover the presence of their children. These people are in my Sacred Tribe. It is an honor to stand beside the bravest of the brave.

Broken open. – Life trauma. It happens and will continue to be part of the human experience.

I mentioned before, human beings are wired to self protect, keep masks and shields up for protection. It takes a great deal of courage to break out of suffering and to rise above the event and enter the rooms of “brave space”. Sacred texts, fairytales, mythical stories and the ancient mystics warn of false prophets, wolves in sheep clothing, those who project what they want you to see but they are wounded and can keep their wounds open because emerging from them is damn hard soulful work.

When I am in the presence of authenticity, I feel it. When I am in the presence of shadow side of what makes us a human being, I smell it. There are those who are so wounded by their culture, religion, families of origin, and political systems that they find the open hearts, the ones who have been broken open and shattered.  These people tend to be compassionate and available to listen.  Many of these have transcended their own trauma to emerge out of luminal space to become who they have always been – open, trust worthy, benevolent and free from much of lower level earthly baggage. It has been my experience (and I attract wounded birds occasionally), that wounded people can take hostages without understanding their own motivation or intent. These people cannot or will not look within, or have no idea how they opened themselves up by oversharing.  They seem unable to take responsibility for entering in their own brave space and turns the listener as the villain.  This is a human coping skill to keep their wounds and trauma open…it is very hard, deep work to cleanse and heal traumatic wounds.

This is a human experience that crosses over gender and cultural lines.  When you live with an open heart, you enter into a benevolent space that has been set up to be a safe-brave place for all parties.  It is a place to talk story, discuss difference of opinions and to speak differences with autonomy.  When this is breached due to something that was triggered in another, this  is the learning opportunity for the wounded to figure out what was raised inside of them.  If the person who has been triggered behaves under false pretenses that everything is okay with them, and will not speak their true feelings, the burden of the problem lies on the triggered individual.   Oversharing and exposing ones’ personal story, unsolicited, is the action on the storyteller, not the listener.

There have been instances when I have become what I call “emotionally naked”; and overshared and could not find a safe place to stand with that person. It was not the one holding my nakedness who was in the wrong place. It was mine. I blamed and stood in self righteousness. I covered up my lack of self confidence, and falsely exposed my listener as the one who was had wronged me. As embarrassing as this to admit, I started gathering hostages to hear my victim story.

I have a list of significant stories where I walked back over that crevasse and apologized, took ownership that the person was only holding my story and I blew it into something it was not. Then began building the bridge to where it could hold us both if agreed by both parties.

So, why am I writing this piece? Something rose up that seemed unfair and the shadow side of human response showed up in an unlikely corner of human connection. I am sensitive to anyone whose been hurt especially those who have already been broken open.  To say to someone they need to break open and then saying “think about it and when you feel you have learned, we’ll talk” is a behavioral shield and mask to try to control and manipulate a situation.  This recent statement triggered something that I have experience in my own story.  It is being dismissed without any direction to move except to the one wielding the power.  I have been in the situation where someone I look up to has used shame and such tight confines of response that leaves only one option; ambiguous atonement.  In my cultural studies, this is called public shunning, shaming and emotional blackmail.

The most courageous, brave, authentic people are the ones who have been broken open, shattered, who have spent their lifetimes studying under diverse cultures regardless of their birth DNA. I am a white female, with Irish, English and Swedish roots. This does not make me indifferent to my soul brothers and sisters of color. I am sensitive to harm to any persons regardless of exterior packages they carry themselves in. We are not our bodies but we use our bodies to experience this life.

We all have wounds and trauma stories; we all have celebrations and triumphs.

I have learned what works for me in my journey is to own up to my responsibility, not yours; keep my street as clean as I can; manifest an openness in the presence of another’s closeness; be thankful For all the parts of my story; speak in my voice and trust what I have to say, someone needs to hear; forgive the shortcomings of people in leadership, they are learning too; be aware of false narratives that support smallness and be prepared to soar and grow with Divine guidance.  None of my teachers, mentors, or guides have ever pointed at me as being the cause of someone’s harm by being open, honest and the ability to hold  space for another.  I chose being a personal trainer, wellness coach and speaker on purpose because I have the skill set to listen and hold benevolence with another.  Not everyone is suppose to be in my circle of life; some are just here temporarily.  Some are needing much more than I can give because I do not understand their needs . This does not mean I owe them an apology for their wounds; it means I owe them compassion and a strong sense of my own strengths and weaknesses to guide them to the appropriate space for them.  Last I knew, reading minds was not a gift I have been given.  I trust those who have been broken open, shattered, especially after the loss of their child.  There is nothing like this experience to create the perfect place for holding compassion, confidentiality, trust, hope and space to let another be themselves.

Bridges are needed to built, walls need to be taken down and only then can a healing happen to people of all genders, ethnic background, cultural and religious  and the non-religious peoples on this planet we call home.

Staying open when you have been broken open is always going to be challenged, as long as we are in our human skins.  Our human container is remarkable and amazing- it holds the capacity to bring a light of hope for a person who is wanting to move forward.  It also has the capacity to hold space for a person who wants to stay in their story as is.  Both have a significant role but the choice and responsibility is in the owner of the story, and no one else’s.  More to come on this subject.

 

Choice and Balance

I just read a painful writing from a parent whose child died by a medical proceedure that went wrong.  She was asking how do you let go of the anger and injustice for the wrongful death and move toward a higher vibration to feel and connect with your child.  Her pain and suffering is just and is what many of us has had to wrestle with.  To lose a child is backwards and out of order just by the fact that they died before us; but the details in some stories leave much to question and much to wrestle with.  After reading her words, I felt the answer to “My How?” surface strongly and quite softly:

How, you ask, do you push through the angst and heaviness of such a loss?                       You begin where you are right now.  You express your feelings to those who can hold space for you.  You rage the injustice of it all.  You go to places that are dark, scary and confusing – you research, write, rant, cry, isolate, integrate and question the very being of all things until you are blue in the face.  You watch time go by slowly and at lightening speed – and wonder why you are being dragged and left behind at the same time.  You wonder what makes you get up and even brush your teeth in the morning – and the only answer you can come up with is, because you can.

You get to the place that there’s nothing left to feel or say and you exhaust yourself from the anger, the bitterness, the rage and unfairness of it all.  You start where you are….and you notice in one moment that will happen in another tomorrow, that you are being guided to a calmer, more peaceful place to softly cry, mourn your loss and feel your child’s presence in that calm and softness.  You begin to replace the rage and anger with what matters more – the connection you have with this beautiful child you gave love to.  How is a question that has no measure of time.  It is a meaure of choice and this choice has a time and a purpose all its own.  My child died once, yet I have let myself feel that moment thousands upon thousands of times.  How do you move from the anger, rage and injustice?  By starting where you are, leaning toward those who have found their way through their own story and believing more in the connection of your child than in the details of their death.  Balance and choice…..both will serve you.   My son’s absence is a mindset.  So is his presence.  It is in that presence that I have been able to choose to let the anger, rage and unfairness go.  Life has supported me on this journey – always has.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helping Parents Heal

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The next meeting of our Kona Chapter of “Helping Parents Heal” will be Saturday, September 24, at 4:00 PM at the Kona Community Hospital Conference Room #2 (look for the sign at the entrance of the parking lot below ER).

Helping Parents Heal is a support group for those who are learning to live with losses, disappointments, unplanned events that have popped up unexpectedly and learning from each other in ways we never thought about.  There are days when I have felt I simply cannot do this dance, this walk, this assignment that life has shoved in my hands.  And there are those experiences that have shown me that I not only can, but it is necessary to be that light for that person or be in the presence of her story, his grief – to understand that what has happened to me is no different from what has happened to you – it just came in a different package, in a different arrangement.

We, as a community, are the brave ones.  The ones who despite the enormity of the impossible, can look at our story with courage.  It is not an easy story to carry, but it is beautiful because it is wrapped with the compassion we have for each other; the shattered and battered hearts, the scars we wear from loving our children with all our hearts.

Please consider joining our group on the fourth Saturday of every month.  There will be a candle lighting for our loved ones, a short video on living with our loss, a guest speaker from our community and an opportunity to introduce your loved one to the community.  Feel free to contact me anytime.

Strong Enough

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TOOLS FOR LIFE

AGILITY    The ability to move in any direction anytime, anywhere

ENDURANCE    The ability to remain active for a long period of time

BALANCE    The ability to support yourself when and how you want

COORDINATION    The ability to move in a harmonious way

STRENGTH    The ability to overcome resistance

My continuing education materials arrived!!!    American Council on Exercise sent a box filled with all my study materials, and on the side of the box, in big red letters is the above, “TOOLS FOR LIFE”.  It caught my attention and had me thinking about these as LIFE tools.

I have been a member and supporter of the American Council on Exercise ever since I can remember.  This organization got my attention when I was just thinking about what it would be like to lead an exercise class.  That was 1985.  I was also thinking about losing a bunch of baby weight and was wrapping myself around the notion that smoking cigarettes might be getting in the way of the picture of health I had of myself.  Today that seems so long ago.  Much has happened from those days and to where I am today.  As I was expanding my interest in exercise and holistic fitness, my life experience was keeping up at a similar pace.  I have had some wonderful highlights to smile about; weddings, babies, new houses, great jobs and amazing friendships.  I have also weathered some storms; heart-break, divorces, debt, uncertainty, death of my son and mother and cherished friends.

Most of my career and life philosophy has been connected with Balance, Endurance and Agility – easier tools when I read the above.  The ability to support yourself, remaining active for periods of time and to move in any direction needed….But there were times that I struggled with the Strength and Coordination component.  I thought I was strong until….I thought I was able to move in harmonious ways until…..

To receive the benefits of wisdom without the practice of showing up, falling, getting back up…reflecting…falling again, showing up, turning toward something that is bigger than yourself and repeating the process….is not going to happen.   For years (I mean “years”), I would be a wreck before I took the mic and put on my music for my fitness classes.  The inner critic would remind me of all that I lacked.  It would try to compare me with others, point out my missteps and my shortcomings.  The heart broken woman in me was wanting to stay hidden in the land of loss.  Certainly the world would understand if I didn’t get up; there would certainly be the understanding that “this life storm” was an epic event and any response would be supported.  But there was that stronger voice that hasn’t always been the loudest, but it has always been constant, “You are stronger than this.  Trust that this is not for you, but for others.  They need you to teach from experience”.

The practice of showing up after adversity takes the cooperative efforts of all of it:  balance, endurance, strength, coordination and agility – each tool holds it’s own set of empowerment gifts.  Equally, the practice of continuing to show up during successful ventures requires the same qualities.  Yes, you were given this life because you are strong enough to live it.  Yes, indeed.

Hope and Promise

In remembrance of all those journeys that changed our best laid plans, those anticipated and unexpected losses, setbacks, disappointments and changing of what we thought life was bringing to us…this quote seems appropriate:

“In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all, and it often comes with bitter agony.  Perfect relief is not possible, except with time.  You cannot now believe that you will ever feel better.  But this is not true.  You are sure to be happy again.  Knowing this, truly believing it, will make you less miserable now.  I have had enough experience to make this statement.”  Abraham Lincoln.

President Lincoln was speaking from personal experience.  Like many of us today, he didn’t just talk about moving through pain, he had experienced what it was like to lead, make choices, support, fall, rise again, lose, win, compromise, reflect and wrap hope and a promise that we as a people would move into that place where healing would take place, in time.  There is always space for a peaceful resolve, a compromise, an apology.  In the concept of “The Warrior Within”, it is about taking off the protective armor and false masks and practice standing in the strength of integrity, compassion and awareness that “you” can make a positive difference in life as you stand in front of adversity.

I am reminded of a piece written by Alfred D. Souza.  He said, “For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life.  But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, or a debt to be paid.  Then life would begin.  At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.”

Living a life, experiencing this life with hope and promise sets the tone for forward thinking, forward movement….that there is hope that the air will clear; that more space will be created for another to share their thoughts and wild ideas; that we can comfort and lift up, even when you can’t imagine being lifted out of the mess…..And life is messy….crazy messy…..with incredible joys and celebrations, traumatic losses and quiet restorative moments that puts order to the disorder.   This is what life is – all of it.  I have chosen to stay in the light of hope and the promise that I will have the courage and strength to hold all that life will give me to hold  and to hold it with compassion and kindness.

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Trust Your Intuition

“Every life we touch intersects. Every Action goes out and comes back. Don’t be afraid of living in an awakened state….and don’t be afraid to listen to that inner voice.”
I have learned to trust what my inner voice is asking me to listen to. It has always had a strong presence in my life, but the voice was soft enough not to be too pushy. There have been times when I wish that voice had been a bit louder and persistent. I would have had softer landings during some of my bigger falls. Listening and trusting your intuition is not as simple nor as complex as others would have you believe, but first one must understand what “intuition’ is and what it is not.
in.tu.i.tion (/int(y)oo’iSH(e)n/; noun: the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.; a thing that one knows or considers likely from instinctive feeling rather than conscious reasoning; direct perception of truth, fact, etc., independent of any reasoning process.

What intuition is not is woo-woo and is definitely not from the land of rainbows and unicorns.  Much of our culture, religious sects and parenting guidelines encourages us go to the heart, feel it, move with it, listen to it.  Just as here is a physical intuition that keeps us from falling forward or backward – known as a counter balance, we are asked to feel, listen, be aware of the inner intuitive balances.
Recently I asked a successful motivational speaker and author how he knew that he was suppose to be speaking before hundreds of people, sharing his story and writing about it. I wanted him to give me reasoning behind my writing, speaking engagements and the stepping out of my safe place of living. I wanted him to put my pieces in place that would give me approval that what I was thinking about doing was what I am suppose to do. He didn’t give me “my answers” but he listened to what I felt I was being asked to do. What I knew was this; when you feel deep in your heart, deep inside your being, that you are being guided to share your story for the betterment of another and not for your own self, that is a voice to listen to. This is what I call trusting your intuition.
Living with your intuitive voice is living with courage to be who you are suppose to be. The times I went against what felt was my path, there seemed to be more controversy, a bit more uneasiness, confusion and mixed messages. The times that I went with what my inner voice was guiding me towards, I found a peaceful voyage, tools to work with the rising tide, not against it.
I have learned to offer possibilities to another by reaching back with one hand while stretching forward with the other. Intuition is a strength stone I carry in my pocket. I will always be grateful for its gifts.

My Journey

 

I would not have believed you if you had said to me twelve years ago, that I would be looking forward to another day, more opportunities to smile, cry and be in the presence of family, girlfriends, leading fitness classes, creating positive uplifting playlists or writing about the death of my child and living with uncertainty…..

I would not have believed you if you said to me twelve years ago, that I would reach out to people I don’t know and introduce myself as a possibility to lead a workshop, a new venture, a presentation about surviving and thriving after loss…..

I would not have believed you if you said to me, that I would hold my baby granddaughter in my heart long before she was born or hold her securely in my arms and whisper to her that no matter what life brings, it is worth every bit of everything and not to give up on hope…..

No, I would not have believed you.

You see, when you have been crushed under the weight of grief and sorrow, you can’t see much of anything. You can’t hear the pleas of those who care about you. The moment before everything changed, you can’t imagine how deep is deep; how dark is dark or how much begging you do with the universe to let you leave this world to be with this child. Sound harsh? Does this feel uncomfortable? Do you wish another word was used so you felt a little more at ease?
Well, welcome to the world of grief.

Early in my loss, my dark days, a well-meaning person asked me to not to use the word, “died”, but to use the words, “passed on”. We were talking about the events that led up to Sean’s accident and the reports from the Colorado State Trooper and Coroner. I remember thinking how interesting he casually threw that out for me to consider as though he was offering a snack instead of holding a broken heart.  At the time, I was too stunned by the death of my son to respond to any comment, and when this was said to me, I must have been in the grief stupor – but the comment did not go unnoticed.

Today I am twelve years removed from the shock of that night. I have traveled far and deep, long and hard on this grief journey. I discovered, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, that the power to leave the place of uncertainty was always within me. Life catapulted me into a journey I would not have chosen for myself. Twelve years ago, I didn’t know where to look for my shattered heart.  Today, I look back and I can see that my heart was put back together one jagged piece at a time.  I was tended to by many who held me with empathy, compassion and courage.

If you would have said to me twelve years ago that I was going to look forward to another day with hope and purpose, I would not have believed you.

My journey continues, but now with hope, courage and purpose.

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