Saturday, December 20, 2008

When You Get There

When you get there, it will not look like healing. There, where exactly is that? There, where are we going? There, she says, as if it exists on a map. THIS WAY TO INCEST HEALING. RAPE GOES AWAY THIS EXIT. There, there, as in, to the place of new Earth. You have never been here before, away from the evil of your so called elders, unenmeshed from the black-widow-spun-incest-web. This is healing. It is barren at first. You will look out over the land and think to yourself, why am I here, where there is nothing?  It hurts. It is scary. You will feel alone. Maybe you will feel nothing as you approach the precipice. You will jump, free falling. You must jump, girl. Jump into that nothingness you see, feel, and hear. 

Nothing. Upon landing, you will turn around and see the demons retreat. You will be free. Lonely, yes, aching, yes, but free. Yes, free of lies, of intergenerational poison. Free of Daddy, with his raping heart, Mother who took flight, others who deemed you unseen, unheard.  But this is not nothing, this unexplored place. There is YOU. You are never nothing. 
But when you get there, it can feel and look like nothing, you may want to run into the past, cling back to the old tree vines, rotten and slick as they are, for fear of this seemingly barren nothingness. 
But, if you listen deep and hard and still, you will hear it, you will feel it; 
You are a human seed. You are life springing anew. You are the reason. At first this uncharted territory is blindingly lonely, you look for Proust’s new eyes to guide you, Maya’s strength to rise, Alice’s purple fields to speak to you. Where is everything? You are the first, woman. You are the roots, the branches, the trunk, the rings within the body, the sap, the bark armor. 
At first, it looks like fucking Chernobyl, so vastly damaged. But your eyes become newer all the time, your strength rises toward the sun daily, and in the long, slow future, purple blossoms.  Life herself is what you are. 
Grow your new tree. Your soil is beautiful, your seedlings whole, babies bursting into Earth like light through a prism, all miraculous color and light and reflective. You are a pioneer, Woman, you have led yourself through a quaking terror so sharp and piercing most would have given up, given in, gone along, saying,” There is no other pill to take, so I swallow the one that made me ill.” But not YOU, for you are life herself.  YOU are never nothing.  The trees know this, as do your children and spirits yet to be your children. The light kissed dawn knows this, you are surely something, surely within you a teeming garden awaits germination, the robust, fully grown oak tree within the acorn. THERE, that’s where ‘there’ it is. There lives in YOU. That child inside of you, the one you were, sacred and innocent, curious and free, THERE is the place you are going. And You will know the wonder of it all, when you get there. 

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Holidays Past, Present, and Future: From Turbulence to Calm

I am feeling like saying say hello for the Holidays. Hello!!
The Holidays this year are pretty darn Merry in my home. This year feels as if a corner has been turned. I have had moments of deep calm and clarity. Partly I believe due to the fact that I have been exercising regularly for quite some time, and getting enough sleep, sex, and food. I have been getting way too much caffeine, but some things never change! I definitely feel energized for the holidays. I've been listening to The Reindeer Room remixed Christmas songs, it's a great compilation of songs set to groovy trip hop beats. I love it! That is part of my new family tree tradition. I have been concentrating on my new family tree as of late, we are the roots, the seeds even. I even bought an actual tree, a "Glitter tree", from Trader Joe's that will grow to 10 feet. We tore all the old stuff out. It's gone, ashes, ciao. I feel like a pioneer. I was having a conversation with a special person in my life the other day, and we were discussing past lives, whether they exist or not, and I said, for me, I do not feel like I have been here before. She said to me, "Maybe this is your first." That really resonated within me in a concrete way. That is just how it feels to me. I must be very careful too with my legacy, with what I pass to my kids having no blueprint to go by.
It's not that sexual abuse and my father are my only story, it's that that experience is one of many .
It's not about living in the past, but allowing the past to live in you and honoring it and healing from it and knowing when to allow it to go, piece by piece. It's not about spinning in circles but traveling the healing spiral and spiraling up rather than down. It's about being as hypersensitive to our goodness as we are our faults and perceived flaws. It is about realizing that this is your world now, not his/your abusers. It is about realizing you just may have to start over, and that you are a pioneer emotionally, spiritually, and physically. It is about blazing a warpath toward helping speak the truth about your life, which gives others in your life the permission to do the same. It is about learning when you are being treated well, and when it is time to let go of that friend or relationship you do not want to admit is killing you because you need to fix people. (I've tried that, and sure enough, my parents can not be fixed by proxy nor can my childhood.) Especially for the holidays, it is about breaking with old patterns and traditions and being a student of your new life. This means learning how YOU want to celebrate, reading about what others do and brainstorming for nouveauways to live from. 
Paths to New Traditions: Create a collage that envisions your new values and rituals for the Holidays. 
New kinds of music. Research ITunes. Google "Nontraditional" holiday music, or whatever you are interested in. If you never had anything traditional and want that as a new way of celebrating, do that. 
I absolutely love remixed Holiday music, Christmas blues, anything that is groovy, loungey, jazzy,  and unique. Get yourself ornaments that are in alignment with your creative side. Use this opportunity to open up your creative channel. Christmas/Holidays are a goldmine for creativity!
The Holidays for me are exciting not only because it is a collective celebration, and a time when things are magical and full of wonder, but also because it is the beginning of new beginnings. After the Holidays we get to look forward to a brand new year! 

Yes, it is hard, painful, and challenging. It is not as hard or painful or costly as giving up or giving in and going along with the old family energy. That is just not an option for me, and so I go forward. Since beginning this and specifically implementing new Holiday traditions with my family, it gets so much easier as the rituals you create become unique to YOU and YOUR family. It is empowering. I feel completely empowered. Of course, I still tear up at times when thinking of my father and how it is not even safe to love a man who could rape you. This is normal. Yet, I can feel those moments and still feel EMPOWERED by what I have created now. And that is one of these basic human rights we had taken from us, the right to be empowered. I want to remind you, especially if you are struggling right now, it is YOUR life now. YOU have the power to change the trajectory your life travels. Allow the soft, the beautiful, the mundane, the sparkling moments, the peace that is your birthright, allow the light and allow the dark too. I think we live in parallels as survivors, ( I know I do)we step into the now, what is happening today, but we know the pain is till next to us, and that is okay too.
 In Maya's wise words:
When we come to it 
We must confess that we are the possible... 
We are the miraculous, the true wonders of this world 
Free to choose our ends, and our new beginnings 
That is when, and only when... 
We come to it.
Maya Angelou

Merry Happy Everything to ALL! 
Love and Light, Sarah

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Parent With Presence: Simply Essential for School Success

We all want our children to be successful in school. Children need to know that they are loved, safe, and sacred to us. There are many ways to demonstrate this to them. Words are one thing, but action is key. One simple way I want to discuss is volunteering your time in your child’s classroom.Children spend their days at school, and we at home or at work. When we let them go into the world, we have to be absolutely committed to remaining a PRESCENCE in their lives even as we are physically apart.When a parent makes the effort to come to school, and volunteer, even for half and hour in the classroom, you are giving your child the gift of your presence, by way of your time spent in his or her world. I must also stress the importance of Dads going in and helping out as well. My son lights up like a Christmas tree when my husband or me comes in to help out. He says,” I feel so…special, Mama. Just…. like, I can see you are always caring about me.“That’s the truth, kids see that you are there with them, aiding the teacher, acquainting yourself with the staff, the other children, and their lives as they know it at school.Many of us did not have present parents in any sense of the word. I come from an abusive family. I can vividly remember never having a parent come to school for anything. When I was in a school play in the second grade, I was so excited I could barely stand it. I was a doll, and my job was to sit on the stage for the whole play! I got to wear a special dress and special doll make up. When no one showed up, I felt such a deep sadness, and sense of invisibility. This is a mild example, but a poignant one nonetheless. I vowed years later that my children would never feel such feelings; stinging rejection and the humiliation of being stared at when your name is called and no parent stands up for you in the crowd. I know many of you have had similar experiences. If this is your legacy, it can stop with you.
A good compass for parenting with presence is getting as involved in your child’s classroom as much as you can. I understand parents work. As a stay at home mother, it has been a challenge for me at times to find child care for my youngest so that I can get to school. I have seen parents who come in once every two weeks on a lunch shift. Children talk about it all week and are overjoyed when their mom or dad comes in. What a gift!
One that we can give just by showing up. Isn’t that true for so much of life? Just show up. Showing up emotionally, not just physically. Here are some simple and easy tips for fostering presence in your child’s life:
*Make friends with the teacher, every year. Whether you talk on the phone, by email, or in person. Just talk. It’s all about communication. Some teachers are better at this than others. If you have a teacher who is not so hot in this area, voice your concerns calmly. If you are blessed with a teacher who is on the ball, be sure you thank her or him often.
*With my son, who is a second grader, I am co-room parent. I was sole room mother in kindergarten and chaperoned every field trip. This year I talk three or four days a week with my son’s teacher. If you wait until conference or progress report time, you may end up having a much bigger mess to clean up. Kids can fall behind in a flash. It’s all about being a maintainer, a sort of diligence cop. If your child is behind, it falls on you as much as your child, because it is our job as parents to set rules and boundaries and enforce them, they need us to be on their backs all the time. Resist as they might, that is to be expected and is even more reason to get in there and stay in the process with them.
Some suggestions:
*Join the PTA, try to go to meetings. Your PTA needs you. You need the PTA. It’s a win-win.
*Go to as many school events as possible. We go to almost every one. This gives my son an extra dose of belonging in his school community.
*Offer to bring in extra supplies for the class. Yes, they always need supplies. It could be Kleenex or disinfectant. Small or large, it will be appreciated.
*Have an ongoing conversation with your child’s teacher about how your child is doing. Read the lesson plans if you can. Ask for handouts on exactly what they are learning. For example, for reading levels, most schools have certain levels your child needs to be at in order to be making adequate progress. Your library should have corresponding handouts with age appropriate books that aid in your child reading on the correct level. If they do not have this, ask them to provide them.
*Stress the importance of education, in general. Education is the key to the future. My son knows it is fundamental right and also a responsibility he must take very seriously.
~Let me preempt, you think you do not have the time? Prioritize. Make the time. Don’t talk about it, be about it. The laundry can wait. Start early, kindergarten, even preschool if your child is in one.
As a mother who makes an effort to be a present force in my child’s life at school, as well as home, I pop into class early. I help organize, along with the my co-room mother, Learning Experiences, Center Time, Book Fair, and the volunteer list. It’s sort of like being a detective. It’s a fun way to be in the know. I can see Dominic’s self esteem and sense of self value rise each and every time I reach into his life at school by being there. Yes, sometimes I am simply stapling their journals together for the week. I sit and staple and watch and listen. Every few minutes Dominic will look up and smile at me. The other kids do too, and I feel so blessed to be a source of presence for them. Other times I am working with groups, and at times I am assigned to some one on one time with a particular child. I have made an effort to know each child in his class beyond their names. Dominic loves this. In this way, you get to be a sort of Earth Mother to all of your child’s friends. The hugs and hi-fives I receive from his classmates when I come in makes my day!
On the research side, in study after study, researchers discover how important it is for parents to be actively involved in their child's education. Here are some of the findings of major research into parental involvement:

When parents are involved in their children's education at home, they do better in school. And when parents are involved in school, children go farther in school — and the schools they go to are better.

The family makes critical contributions to student achievement from preschool through high school. A home environment that encourages learning is more important to student achievement than income, education level or cultural background.Reading achievement is more dependent on learning activities in the home than is math or science.

Reading aloud to children is the most important activity that parents can do to increase their child's chance of reading success. Talking to children about books and stories read to them also supports reading achievement.When children and parents talk regularly about school, children perform better academically.Three kinds of parental involvement at home are consistently associated with higher student achievement: actively organizing and monitoring a child's time, helping with homework and discussing school matters.

The earlier that parent involvement begins in a child's educational process, the more powerful the effects.

Positive results of parental involvement include improved student achievement, reduced absenteeism, improved behavior, and restored confidence among parents in their children's schooling.

Involvement in your child's education can mean:Reading to your child

Checking homework every night.

Discussing your children's progress with teachers.

Voting in school board electionsHelping your school to set challenging academic standards

Limiting TV viewing on school nights

Becoming an advocate for better education in your community and state. 

We are witness to our children‘s lives. We need to band together as parents and be a strong, stable, encouraging presence in their school life. For me, it is really about being there in mind and body. This is parenting with presence.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Advocate event posting

Interview with author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor’s Story

Lynn C. Tolson, author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor’s Story, will be interviewed on October 11, 2008 6-7 PM ET.

Listen live at http://www. or with the hosts at http://www.

Lynn will discuss her memoir in October, which is National Domestic Violence Awareness
Month. If you cannot listen live, wait for the archive which will be at"

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


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10 Year Old Girl Dies

As an Advocate I have studied and been witness to the experience of survivors of violence on numerous levels. That said, I am still affected by what I hear and see. I feel it is imperitive that we, as a global community be aware of not only abuse in our own backyards but that of our sisters and brothers around the globe. The incidence of violence is no longer an epidemic. It is in fact, pandemic.

It is time to open our ears, our eyes, our hearts....our consciousness. There is no black and white solution, but solutions are there. We must first, educate....ourselves and each other.

Key facts:

* Female genital mutilation (FGM) includes procedures that intentionally alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
* An estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM.
* In Africa, about three million girls are at risk for FGM annually.
* The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women.
* Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later, potential childbirth complications and newborn deaths.
* It is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15 years.
* FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

The following is an excerpt from the V-Report from Kenya: 10 Year Old Girl Dies from FGM

V-Day supporter Kim Rosen was recently working at the V-Day Safe House in Narok Kenya, and sent us this first hand report of tragic death that we wanted to share with you. V-Day is committed to continuing to work to end Female Genital Mutilation. This story reminds us all that there is more work to be done.

On August 18, in the tiny village of Narosura in the Rift Valley, a 10 year-old girl died from Female Genital Mutilation. At 5 that morning she was cut. By 10, she had bled to death.

Her family wrapped the body in a sheet and secretly buried it a few yards from their huts. By that afternoon, there was no evidence of the crime.

If it were not for the network of conscience that Agnes Pareyio has woven into the Maasai community, this child's death would have gone unnoticed. But an anonymous "informer" called her on the morning of the ceremony, in time for her to send one of her collaborators and an officer of the law to the hasty funeral.

As a result, for the first time in Maasai history, a circumciser has been arrested.

This child's death is reminder that the work is far from done. Girls are still being cut in the Rift Valley and many other places in the world. Some are dying. All are scarred for life. Agnes Pareyio is one of the leading activists of the V-Day movement. Please join us in continuing to support her work to change the fate of Maasai girls and stop FGM worldwide.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Help Pass Senate Bill 1738—The PROTECT Our Children Act

Help Pass Senate Bill 1738—The PROTECT Our Children Act Hundreds of thousands of children are victims of sexual abuse each year. Due to the sheer lack of resources, law enforcement is unable to follow up on the majority of leads they have.
The PROTECT Our Children Act will:
Authorize over $320 million over the next five years in desperately needed funding for law enforcement to investigate child exploitation. Mandate that child rescue be a top priority for law enforcement receiving federal funding. Allocate funds for high-tech computer software that can track down Internet predators. Act Now!Your U.S. senators will be voting on the bill soon, so it is crucial you contact them immediately.Go to to find contact information for the senators in your state. Search for your senator by name or state by clicking on the arrow from either dropdown menu. Contact information is provided here. To send an e-mail, click on "Web Form" below his or her name, and e-mail your letter to make a difference!
Call Your SenatorsIf you choose to contact your senators by phone, be sure to tell them, "Vote yes on Senate Bill 1738—The PROTECT Our Children Act."
Write to Your SenatorsIf you choose to write a letter, fax, telegram or e-mail, you may use the following sample letter—and modify it how you see fit.
Dear Senator:
I know that you believe, like I do, that we must do everything possible to protect children from sexual predators. That is why I am asking for your help.
Last year alone, U.S. law enforcement identified over 300,000 criminals who were trafficking in movies and pictures of young children being raped and tortured. Experts say that one in every three of these criminals has local child victims. Child pornography trafficking over the Internet has given us a trail of evidence that leads straight to their doorsteps, but the vast majority of these children will never be rescued because investigators are overwhelmed, outnumbered and underfunded.
As your constituent, I urge you to do everything in your power to pass the PROTECT Our Children Act (S. 1738, Biden-Hatch). This bipartisan legislation passed the House 415-2, but it is now the victim of petty partisan politics.
Now that we know where these children are and how to protect them, there is no excuse for the Senate to fail to take action this session.
(Your name here)
Instructions for How to Copy and Paste the LetterTo copy and paste the letter into your senator's web form at, point your mouse arrow at the beginning of the text that you want to copy. Click your left mouse button and hold it down. While holding the left mouse button, drag your arrow to the end of the text that you want to copy. Release the button. The text should be highlighted. Place your mouse arrow over the highlighted text, click your right mouse button once and let go. A new menu should appear. Select Copy from the drop down menu. When you get to the message form field for your senator at, point your arrow at the beginning of the message field that you want to copy your text to and right click with your mouse. Click Paste from this menu. Submit your form and help our children!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What Barack Obama Means For the Fatherless

What Barack Obama Means to the FatherlessBy: Sarah Elise Stauffer (View Profile)A good survior friend of mine and I were waxing on this and he asked me to write a little about it, so my dear lovely here you go(You are a wonderful man and father! Remember that!):We took our kids to see Obama at a rally a couple of weeks ago. It was electric, amazing, and very powerful to do with our kids. We believe in teaching them to honor that they HAVE A VOICE, TO USE THAT VOICE, AND EFFECT CHANGE, TO BE OPINIONATED, AND NOT TO BE SHEEP."To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you ought to prefer is to have kept your soul alive."Robert Louis StevensonObama is sincere and eloquent, brilliant beyond an ivy league level-he is emotionally intelligent. He is socially intelligent. And he alleviates my need for cyniscim. I was raised by cynics. I threw that veil of shame-and many others- off years ago. I refuse to pass that to my kids. That will not be their legacy. Or mine. But I understand it and empathize with those feeling it. It is easier in some ways to remain cynical. It is safer than putting yourself out there, we think, because then we risk disappointment. Sometimes it means going against your own inherited family rules(it did in my case.), spoken or unspoken. My children have made me believe in life, they kind of pulled the rug out from under my very cynical nature. My hubby the same, he went against his upbringing to become extremely positive, politically outspoken, and idealistic. Kids, they do the damndest thangs. ;)This country could use some hope. It's as if some people are allergic to it. I understand. One thing he said that resonated deeply with me and especially with my survivor friends was that "FATHERS IN THIS COUNTRY OWE MORE TO THEIR KIDS-THEY NEED TO STAND UP AND BE MEN AND BE A REAL FATHER TO THEIR CHILDREN." HE IS USING HIS PERSONAL PAIN AS A FATHERLESS CHILD to effect social change. SO important. I do not care if you are republican, independent, libertarian, liberal, purple people eater, whattheheckever, this is a common universal need. Touting family values is one thing, valuing family another. Fathers need to be there for their offspring. Period. That your father was absent, abusive, nonexistent, or otherwise emotionally/physically not there must be faced. And felt. This is of interest to all of us who either had abusive fathers, or nonabusive fathers. Every father needs to be more emotionally in tune and available to their kids. Fathers need to protect and provide, but they need to exhibit empathy and reverence toward and for their children. So many children, girls and boys, are growing up feeling a vague uneasy sense of disconnectedness, they are acting out (criminal behavior, hurting others, etc) or acting in(self destructive, my hubby and I both did this for years as teens) because of this: Just because you are a 'father' and you bring home the proverbial bacon does not mean you are done. My husband is a fabulous example-because he shows the boys it good and right to feel, how to conduct oneself as a man, to empathize with another's struggle, to express their dreams and hopes, to be kind and sensitive to women, children, other men, humans all over, to think about animals, to honor the life force itself. In this rigidly patriarchal society we have lost the sacrament of the sensitive male. Fathers showing their feelings, imagine that. Golly gee. To their sons, to their daughters. What a novel idea. It touches my life so much that Obama is verbalizing this reality, fathers are not fathers just because they provide. That's a provider. Fathers are not fathers just because they made a baby, that's a sperm donor. A child knows when a parent is giving them their energy-it's an energy, a connection, a soul feeling. They know it. It is a soul nourishment. To all my survivor friends, I know this means something deeply profound to you as well. To anyone who has not directly experienced father issues, I know you can be proud of this as well. Obama is challenging the staus quo by saying this. He is calling out those fathers who are emotionally lazy and do not want to own up to their own feelings about fatherhood. Kids are growing up feeling fundamentally flawed inside because of their parents issues, issues that they project all over the child-who then absorbs the crap as their own. To me, that's what Obama is about. Now, I am a proud Democrat, a very liberal one, although I do believe in the death penalty for child killers and rapers, but I say this as a woman, mother, wife, and daughter of two very inadequate, abandoning, abusive parents. I don't care that Obama is more moderate than I might like-I don't think he'll be legalizing pot or confronting the failed drug war, putting nonviolent drug offenders in rehab instead of prison, for instance. Nor has any candidate gotten up there and said, "I plan to erradicate incest, because 1/3 girls and 1/5 boys are sexually abused in this country." I'm still waiting on that. BUT, that he is voicing this call for fathers to step up-is why-among a zillion other reasons(health care,we were personally affected by no health insurance when our first son was born, it was awful and everyone should enjoy a wonderful socialized health care system, it's working beautifully for Australia, Europe, even Cuba for fuck's sake),pro choice rights(it's a desicion that belongs to a woman, it is her body and that is that.) ,actually addressing sources of unwanted pregnancy and aiming to prevent it(fathers in the home loving their daughters would help this too), sex education is the only realistic way to do this, less warmongering more diplomacy, ANY diplomacy at this point, more gun control(I don't want kids getting their hands on guns, our country is number one for gun related death, just more control, you NRA folks just chill, for me, we need to screen people and keep guns out of the hands of kids like Dylan Klebold and prevent more Columbines), shall I go on) I will proudly vote for him. Anyone who can not find a reason to do the same I ask you to think about this, just this, the subject of fathers It's something I think we can all agree on. Namaste.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Svava and Ophelia in Seattle

This is my friend Svava. She's one of the many amazing superstar advocates who have made it their mission to advocate for survivors of abuse worldwide. Originally from Iceland, Svava is spreading her wings in the United States. I truly believe that only by joining forces and working together will we make the biggest impact. Together, we are making a difference. To learn more about Svava and her organization, visit her website: Click here

Friday, August 1, 2008

Letting Go of Toxic Friends

This is a picture of one of my beautiful non toxic friends, Mariclaire. I just got out of one of these relationships-I put up with ridiculous bullshit for 2 years. I do not want anyone else to put themselves through that to try and savesomeone from themselves. People have to want to heal, period. I feel this is a very important issue, especially for survivors. Much Love, SES

Detoxifying Toxic Friendships as seen on Divine Caroline dot com.

Detoxing is not just for rehabbed celebutantes, no no no. Now, no relationship is perfect. Relationships are indeed complex and dynamic. But toxic friendships exist whether we like it or not. Toxic friends engage in a pattern of sliming us with their toxicity. Toxic people are very adept. You know the ones of which I speak—she is the one who doesn’t do anything too blatant and egregious. That way, you can’t actually call them out on it. Most of the time that is. Sometimes they do, and you take them to task, asserting yourself, only to watch as nothing changes.If you find yourself in a relationship that begins to feel, or has always felt, too intense, too draining, too yucky, it maybe time to cut the cord. “‘Toxic friend’ is pop psychology,” says Jenn Berman, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in Beverly Hills, Calif. “I would say it’s someone who, after spending time with them, makes you feel bad about yourself instead of good; someone who tends to be critical of you—sometimes in a subtle way and sometimes not so subtle; a friend who drains you emotionally, financially, or mentally, and they’re not very good for you.” They are psychic vampires. Toxic friendships wreak havoc on one’s personal sense of well being and peace. A toxic person can be described in many ways: that “friend” who is always negative, always critical, the one who after you have spent any amount of time with leaves you feeling drained. She thrives on drama. She talks about others, how stupid they are, and she giddily expresses happiness at other’s misfortune. She talks at great length about how much money she and her spouse make … every single time you talk. You have problems—which she claims to want to hear about—but it always magically ends up being about her problems. She accuses you of not caring when she is the one behaving in an uncaring manner. In other words, she projects her flaws on to you. She tries to manipulate you.Toxic people always have a complaint about something, with the world; they carry a grudge about everything. Toxic friends can constantly disappoint you or break promises. This is usually the result of childhood wounding. We usually put up with this crap for the same reason. Enough. It is time to emancipate ourselves from the need to fix or rescue people. This can be incredibly difficult for those of us who were brought up in unstable homes with parents we had to parent rather than us being parented. The real question is—why do we put up with this nonsense, especially as women?
Why do we allow people to exist in our lives when they do nothing but bring us down? We feel we have to, we do not want to make others angry, and we do not want to be judged. If we no longer “play the game,” the toxic friend will seek out others to prop themselves upon. Love yourself and put your needs first. This friend will find another target in order to prop up her own fragile ego.Friends should lift us up, leaving us feeling happy and at peace after interacting with them. Their care feels evident and sincere. A primary element in a healthy, positive friendship is that both friends can feel that they can be themselves; they don’t have to put on masks or impress one another. One key in healthy relationships is reciprocity. Reciprocity is about balance. Are you always the giver and never given to? We need to exchange the right amount of affection, attention, and care for relationship harmony to prevail. Does your friend reciprocate in your friendship? I have a wonderful friend, Mariclaire, who never fails to complement me on things, whether it be my mothering, my creativity, my marriage, or my ass in a new pair of Seven jeans. I have never sensed one iota of competition with her. I reciprocate with her as well. Even on the ass compliments! She has a great one! All joking aside, Mariclaire, or MC as I call her, is also a fantastic mother, wife, and friend.
Setting boundaries is essential. Don’t answer the phone. Sometimes we need to talk it out. Try asking “And why do you think that?” or “Do I really need this from you?” This may make them stop and think, and it shores up your self respect. Sometimes it seems we try to no end to express our feelings only to see no results. That’s because people must change themselves; nothing we say or do can alter another person. Just because you have a history with someone, that doesn’t mean you have to repeat it. If you feel as if you can not share your joy with a “friend,” ask yourself why. Are you afraid it will make them jealous? Angry? Is it visibly obvious? Do they get defensive or pseudo-excited? This is not friendship, but an attachment, a fantasy, an illusion of bonding. It is not healthy.
Many women have an excruciating time extricating ourselves from these relationships. These include: women who like to feel needed, people who feel like they do not deserve a healthier, saner, more balanced relationship, women who are stuck—either feeling angry, guilty, or sorry for their distressing “friend.” Detoxing is the way to clean ourselves out. Think of it as relationship Feng Shui—the idea is to purge the clutter. We do not have to fix or rescue or tolerate the shenanigans of these desperate people. Have compassion, but also for yourself, and with some people, have all compassion you want, from afar. Do not become enmeshed. Declare your independence.Take a Toxicity Inventory about your friend. Is her life full of chaos and negativity and even at times downright maliciousness toward others? Suggest professional help. A toxic friend might need a professional. If she comes from an abusive background, she definitely does. Her toxicity will affect her career, emotions, and family, though she’ll most likely never admit it. How can you approach this touchy subject? Point out to your friend how she is treating you and ask her to stop, and if she continues, take it to the next level. Say to her, “I know you are a good person, but maybe you want to seek help.” If you have tried this to no avail, throw in the towel.If we have a friend who is always in need, always in crisis, always attempting to one up us, who is toxic, it is time to detox. You can say, simply, “I have changed and wish to end this friendship as it has become painful and draining to me.” By standing up to pseudo-friends, in reality you are losing nothing and gaining self-esteem, self respect. Once we get past the illusion of this friendship, we can see that we are losing, yes. What we are losing a whole lot of pain. Decide to surround yourself with positive feminine energy; you will be much happier for it.My mantra for this issue is this: Alice Walker says:
No person is your friend (or kin) who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow and be perceived as fully blossomed as you were intended. Amen, Awomen.
Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, has written fiction about African American women's experience. Alice Walker has also been an activist on environmental, feminist, and womanist causes, as well as working for racial and economic justice.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What Did It Feel Like

What did it feel like

As you walked away

From me

Your daughter?

What does that feel like,

Walking away from your child?

How does the air move around your body?

What shoes does one wear to do this?

Did you tread gingerly,

The dusty ground making crunching sounds?

Did the perhaps ground slip out from under you,

Quaking under your feet with the knowledge
of what you were about to do?

Or did you run,

Fast and hard and awayso as not to feel

My heart

Two years from my birth,

Break apart.

Did you tilt your head as you walked?

Did you look back and see me?

Did you then drive to your mother’s for comfort,

Or to forget,

Did you walk hastily through to her backyard,

Falling to your knees,

Praying to the bluebirds you found there?

Did their wings tell of my loss?

Each flap my execution.

In those moments after your exit,

Did my scent remain with you?

At the sight of the stars,
did it smash into you,

Smearing you into the oily Earth,

The realization that,
God help you,

I was probably looking at the same stars,


Lips quivering,

Without you?

And later,

when you sniffed the piano key white powder


into your nose,

Did you think your heart,

And therefore mine,

Could forget

Through numbness?

Did you think, at all?

And when it stormed,

late into the night,

Did you ever awaken with a start,

panicking that I too,

May be somewhere in my


Wracked with thunderous grief,

With the total annihilation of your leaving?

And when my father took me, at three years old,

For himself in his bed,

Could you feel it?

When you shopped at the market every Saturday,

Bumping into that sweet ole Creole lady

As you Mumbled, ‘Excuse me, Maa’m…”

and the sun colored oranges caught your darting eye.

Did you wonder, then,

Does Sarah,



Like oranges?

Or were oranges oranges

and storms storms and mother’s hearts just numb.

And what of your father, your mother,

What did they teach you that you believed I was better off with anyone but the woman who birthed me,


My Mother?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

7 Foods That Fight Anxiety

7 Foods That Fight Anxiety

Bills arriving in heaps? Gas prices sky-rocketing? Summer love turned sour? Regardless of the cause, there's a counter-intuitiveness to the goodies we turn to for comfort. Take the classic-curling up with a pint of ice cream. It's a total backfire. Why? Sweets are insidious: After the initial rush, the body's insulin response kicks in, causing a sudden blood sugar drop that triggers the release of stress hormones. Soon you're feeling more jangled than you were before you inhaled that whole container of Chunky Monkey. And alcohol, of course, is a wolfish stimulant in calm sheep's clothing.
But true comfort foods do exist.
1. Berries, any berriesEat them one by one instead of M&Ms when the pressure's on. For those tough times when tension tightens your jaw, try rolling a frozen berry around in your mouth. And then another, and another. Since the carbs in berries turn to sugar very slowly, you won't have a blood sugar crash. The bonus: They're a good source of vitamin C, which helps fight a jump in the stress hormone cortisol.
2. GuacamoleIf you're craving something creamy, look no further. Avocados are loaded with B vitamins, which stress quickly depletes and which your body needs to maintain nerves and brain cells. Plus their creaminess comes from healthy fat. Scoop up the stuff with whole-grain baked chips-crunching keeps you from gritting your teeth.
3. Mixed nutsJust an ounce will help replace those stress-depleted Bs (walnuts), give you a whopping amount of zinc (Brazil nuts)-it's also drained by high anxiety-and boost your E (almonds), which helps fight cellular damage linked to chronic stress. Buy nuts in the shell and think of it as multi-tasking: With every squeeze of the nutcracker, you're releasing a little bit of tension.
4. OrangesPeople who take a 1,000 mg of C before giving a speech have lower levels of cortisol and lower blood pressure than those who don't. So lean back, take a deep breath, and concentrate on peeling a large orange. The 5-minute mindfulness break will ease your mind and you'll get a bunch of C as well.
5. AsparagusEach tender stalk is a source of folic acid, a natural mood-lightener. Dip the spears in fat-free yogurt or sour cream for a hit of calcium with each bite.
6. Chai teaA warm drink is a super soother, and curling up with a cup of aromatic decaf chai tea (Tazo makes ready-to-brew bags) can make the whole evil day go away.
7. Dark chocolateOkay, there's nothing in it that relieves stress, but when only chocolate will do, reach for the dark, sultry kind that's at least 70% cocoa. You figure if the antioxidant flavonoids in it are potent enough to fight cancer and heart disease, they've got to be able to temper tension's effects.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Dreaming Mother

In my dream last night, my son, who is 7, was playing the in the surf. On a beach with white sand. I kept walking out to him, brushing his blonde hair back from his eyes, the warm breeze blowing all around us, asking,"Are you doing okay? Do you need Mama for anything?" He said he was ok, just playing, and I kept walking back about 10 feet to the edge of the water. Suddenly, the lights went out as it were, the sun literally went out. It was dark, pitch black, parents were screaming.
I stood up, and a profound sense of knowingness washed over me. I closed my eyes, yes, in the dark, and listened for him. Once he said,"I'm over here". I heard him, but I already knew where I was going. I listened, not for auditory sounds necessarily, but for the pull in my belly, in my heart, the magnetism of him. There was a feeling of being wrapped in something and gently pulled by it. Yet, I felt it from the inside, and I knew I could only access it by closing my eyes, that the seeing I needed was INSIDE of me. The feeling was so deep, so real, and it drowned out all other noise. I put my hands out like a sleepwalker, and kept my eyes closed. I was guided right to him. I never once lost it, or felt one bit of fear. I did not open my eyes until we got back to shore, and the sun came back on.In this quieting of all the screams around me, a silence in my own head, in my self was louder, and it pulled me inward.. My mother radar just clicked. I felt no fear, nor did he. He knew I would find him. Closing my eyes in the dark to find him, yes. The seeing that I needed was inside of me, that vibration, that knowingness, the pull of mothertochild.
It's weird to explain, but this dream reminded me of the mythical tale of the handless maiden, the girl who regains her hands after having her baby, the healing that children bring. Here is a synopsis:
My first experience with the "Armless Maiden" was reading a powerful Xhosa version of the tale, "A Father Cuts Off His Daughter's Arms," performed by Mrs. Nongenile Masithatu Zenani, a Xhosa storyteller from South Africa, and translated by Harold Schueb. In this version a widowed father chooses not to remarry and relies on his young daughter to perform his wife's household duties of cooking and cleaning. When the girl reaches puberty, he attempts to coerce his daughter into filling the sexual role of his deceased wife as well. The girl steadfastly refuses his advances, bursting into noisy weeping that threatens to alert the neighbors. The next day the father takes her into the woods. Once again he demands that she have sex with him. When she again refuses, he cuts off her arms with a knife and leaves her in the woods to die. Bleeding and in tremendous pain, the girl suffers in solitude until hunger forces her to her feet. Dazed, she begins to wander through an "endless forest, ascending and descending." Symbolism, anyone?
The armless maiden is required to relate the story of her father's crime three times before she is rescued and brought into the homestead. Once bathed, the family realizes that even without her arms the girl is beautiful, and she is soon married to their son. At first this seems a resolution, particularly when she gives birth to a child, but gradually problems arise. Without her arms, the new mother can not care for her infant, what will she do?
The young woman returns to the woods and begins a second journey, ascending and descending the endless forest until, weary and thirsty, she comes upon a lake. Having lived in the wood for many days with her child, the woman stops by a stream to rest and refresh herself. As she bends over the water's edge, the child slips from her back and falls into the water. The handless one, knowing it is futile to reach into the waters to save the baby, shoves her stumps into the cold depths. When she does so, her hands instantly grow back.

My therapist related this to me years ago. That is so powerful. That is what we mean by healing for or through one's child. It can apply to partners too.
The line between what we do for ourselves to heal and what they do to help us is barely tangible yet indelible all the same. "And if there is a way to find you I will find you....threads that are golden don't break easily.." Horses, Tori Amos.

My boundaries are not just about keeping people out or letting them in, or having healthy this or that with others, it's also about knowing myself, knowing that I am good because I exist, and seeing through the internalized shame shell I inherited and was given by my parents through their abandonment of me, physical, sexual, spiritual. I feel into my cells that I AM a good mother in ways I never could allow myself to believe before. The shame I have carried over my own mother's maternal inadequacies, my father's outright betrayals and abuse, this dream pierced through that and I awoke with a knowingness, a belief not just in, but ABOUT myself that I have not fully expreienced before. Instead of fearing I will repeat my parents trauma, neurotically so-"Will I traumatize them, am I doing this wrong, did I do that too much, did I say that too much, If I do this will they feel abandoned..." I have been carrying the shame of my parents and it has masqueraded as my own voice. It is not. I am vicariously reraising myself through my boys. And I am what I and My husband tell them they are, strong, radiant, capable of anything, kind, self aware. I am believing on a deep level the very love I give to them, I believe it about ME. A dream come true indeed.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Strawberry Epiphany

when they sleep, it's like hearing a piano play melodic velvet notes.
it's as if soft moss is tracing it's way over your skin.
or like a drink of the coldest water at your thirstiest.
seeing them eat strawberries and that sight becomes art,
becomes an epiphany,
a swan song.
see them gaze at the redness of it,
this makes strawberries suddenly holy.
holy is the sacred,
many people claim to know the way,
many of them men.
but men, stop your ego from talking,
sit by my side for a moment in time
watch a child of golden hair,
breathe up,breathe down,
eat a strawberry in ecstasy,
look at you
with that very look,
tug upon that never gone umbilical cord threading you
together forever.
sit and see,
see the way of
for they are what holy is.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Calling all women in the Littleton area!

GFB Rock! If you live in the CO area, get your butt out to this seminar. Do it!

What: Attend a free, live seminar of the Girls Fight Back program in Denver, Colorado. This 90-minute seminar will be taped at Comcast Studios, and we are looking for 100 women to be our live studio audience. Learn how to stay safe, trust your intuition, and of course… kick some booty! (Note: This is an introductory seminar, not a full-blown self-defense class. No need to wear any special clothing, as you will only be watching demos from your seat.)

The Founder of GFB, Erin Weed, will be presenting. We're looking for 100 women and girls, over the age of 12, to be our lovely audience.

When: Tuesday June 17, 2008 from 4 - 6:30 pm. We are on a strict schedule for the shoot, so please arrive at 4pm sharp! All attendees will go through security and sign a waiver giving our cameras permission to catch you on film. There will be musical entertainment for your enjoyment before the seminar starts. Live shoot begins at 5 pm.

Where: Comcast Studios in Denver. The exact address is below. When you arrive, park in the lot and enter through the main entrance of the building. Look for the blue and green balloons!

Comcast Media Center
4100 E Dry Creek Road
Littleton, CO 80122
Map & Directions

Why: Be a part of the first-ever live Girls Fight Back shoot! Also learn how to fight back against violence, and get a free book and t-shirt as our way of saying thank you for attending.

We need 100 women to come pack the Comcast studio full of energy, so invite your friends, family, co-workers and make it a girls night out! Please sign up as soon as possible, as we need to make sure all 100 chairs are filled. Once you RSVP, we are holding your seat and counting on your smiling face to be there. So please, no cancellations.

To RSVP, contact Ashley Bruce at 303-379-3037 or
via e-mail at

If you haven't heard of Girls Fight Back…
GFB was born in 2001 in response to the murder of 21-year-old Shannon McNamara at Eastern Illinois University. Shannon's friend and Alpha Phi sorority sister, Erin Weed, started Girls Fight Back as a means to make empowering safety education accessible to women around the globe. Through live seminars at high schools, colleges and corporations we reach over 100,000 women per year with our message that fighting like a girl is actually a very good thing!

Friday, May 30, 2008

A message from Mike: Calling all male survivors!

Here is the flyer for our 18th annual male survivor weekend at Kirkridge.
If you want a more distant adventure (or know someone who might) you can get information about this summer's workshops in Switzerland on our Web site:

All the best,

Leaping Upon the Mountains:
A Men's Abuse Recovery Weekend
Aug 15-17
7:00 Fri dinner through Sun lunch
Cost $380 ($190 deposit)
This weekend workshop is for non-offending adult males survivors of sexual child abuse, rape, physical violence, emotional abuse and/or neglect. Our goal is to offer a safe, encouraging environment of healing. The weekend will provide a variety of healing activities, including the sharing of stories, writing exercises, anger work and other emotional expressions, small group discussion, relaxation and yes, even fun.

This event is for men who are actively engaged in recovery work; it is not a substitute for therapy. A letter or recommendation from a therapist must accompany the registration
form/deposit. The registration deadline for this event is Aug 1.

Led by Mike Lew, and Thom Harrigan of the Next Step Counseling in Brookline MA.
Mike is the author of Victims No Longer: The Classic Guide for Men Recovering from Sexual Child Abuse.
Thom leads groups for male survivors and has worked extensively in this field.
For more information see:

For registration forms, contact KIRKRIDGE RETREAT AND STUDY CENTER
2495 Fox Gap Road, Bangor, PA 18013-6028, 610-588-1793 . Fax: 610-588-8510
or go to

Visit our Web Site at:

Friday, May 16, 2008


I have been doing much blossoming lately. I thought I would share some of what I have been partaking in and as always, use what moves you, discard the rest.

Tips on Soulful Living:

Running, I know not all of us are runners in this great big world, but it does something to me I can barely describe. I have been getting up at 6 a.m. and running 4 miles. I get to hear the birdsong, feel the cool sunrise breeze, and smell the honeysuckle, roses, wisteria, and other flowers that sit reaching for the same sky I run under. I marvel. I just marvel at life, the same force that runs through me and helps me run pulses through those flowers and birds.

I have always been drawn toward healthy foods, lately I am sure to get my 5 pieces of fruit or veggies a day. I see it as not what I am taking out of my diet, but what I can add. It leaves little room for anything else! Organic raw trail mix, lots of oranges, tilapia baked in lemon, whole grain cereals and breads, spirulina, and some amazing vitamins. I take Rainbow Light vitamins. Here is a link to the website. They make a huge difference in how I feel and how I feel about myself.

Now, I have the privilege of being able to shop 100% organic, we personally love Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe's, and the farmer's markets. If money is an issue for how you are feeding your body, even Wal-Mart has affordable organics. Target as well. Do what you can and feel good about it. Keep visualizing your life and health as you want it to look like.

Take a class. Any class. My husband and I are starting Latin dance classes. I am slated to begin a yoga class after years of home practice. Swim, swimming is very healing and amniotic. And dance, in your living room. My kids love this about me, we just crank up Bettye LaVette's Joy, or Gnarls Barkley or the Beastie Boys and we dance!

The three necessities of the heart soul and mind in my opinion are music, nature and animals. Survivors can feel amazing unconditional love, sometimes for the first time ever-as I did as a child into my adulthood with my horses-because of an animal. We as humans really need to look at the dogs. Man, they have that love thing down pat. :)

Savor the magical moments. A little story: The other day, it was raining. My big front window looks out inot the treetops. I turned to look at what was so sparkly in the corner of my eye and saw the sun setting in the trees-the leaves dripping with raindrops as the sun danced and made tiny diamonds appear. It was gorgeous. I called for the kids and we watched this for a few minutes until the sun set. I took some pics which I have posted here. Amazed, the kids and I then talked about what this sight did to our hearts and souls.

Talk to you kids about things like reverence, wonder, joy, ask them to tell you how things make them feel not just in their heads, but in their bodies. Chakras are a great thing to teach children. They need to see themselves and feel themselves as spirit first, I believe. This is what I am teaching my kids. They say things like,"That makes my heart smile." They get it. After all, it is already in them just as it is in us when we are born...all of the beauty and wonder exists within.

We have always made it a point to instill in our kids how much Mama and Daddy love each other. This visibly fills them with a deep peace. One can see it happen. I believe this is so essential for the peace and happiness of a child-and how often it goes untouched as a way of being in a family. We write poetry for one another and the kids see it, they read it sometimes, they are surrounded by the symbolism of love.

Great books:
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle inspired the synchronicity that led to this blog as many of you know. The Power of Now is amazing as well.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008



Male Survivor has a great scenic facility to host us (The Center for New Beginnings in Dahlonega, GA, one hour north of Atlanta), and NOW they need more participants to take advantage of this great opportunity for healing! If you are a male survivor of sexual abuse, provide services to male survivors, or are a partner or ally of male survivors, please help us spread the word now about this retreat. Registration will remain open until May 14th, so there is still time to register.

Scholarship help is also available!

This is the last Level I Weekend of Recovery until October, so if you're ready to take this step in your recovery, please join in!

For more information, please go online by clicking this link:

Thanks for helping us spread the word!

Friday, April 18, 2008


Our friend and fellow Advocate, Lynn Tolson is hosting a teleseminar that is open to the public. Please feel free to join the discussion and forward on to those who may be interested. Thanks to Lynn for her continued hard work! Details are as follows:


The National Association of Baby Boomer Women is the #1 site for baby boomer women on major search engines, as mentioned in Time and AARP magazine.

The NABBW http://www. NABBW. com is proud to sponsor a

Sexual Assault: A Silent Epidemic with Tragic Consequences

April 28, 2008 at 7:00 p.m (EST)

The teleseminar will by led by Lynn C. Tolson, BSW, author of the memoir, "Beyond the Tears: A True Survivors Story" and founder of The Project for TEARS: Telling Everyone About Rape & Suicide. http://www. beyondthetears. com

Using her personal experience and professional knowledge, Tolson offers a message of hope and healing, as well as an understanding of silent issues related to sexual abuse that cause individual suffering and plague our society.

Join us for this FREE Teleseminar by using the "call-in" information below:

Telephone Number: 1 (712) 580-7706
Conference Code: 1039049

In this teleseminar, you will learn the definition of sexual assault, its prevalence in our society, and how you can help or be helped. Other subjects covered will be:

¸ What are the myths about rape?
¸ What are the facts about rape?
¸ What do power & control have to do with sex abuse?
¸ What signs do the sexually abused exhibit?
¸ What are the symptoms of depression?
¸ What is the correlation between sexual assault & suicide attempts?
¸ What are the risk factors for suicide?
¸ Why are these silent social problems?
¸ How do we support the survivor?
¸ What resources are available?

Domestic violence victims to get same-day help

Apr 17, 2008 03:38 PM

Victims of domestic violence in Ontario will get same-day support to help them and their children escape abusive spouses under a new program funded by the province, Attorney General Chris Bentley said today.

The government is spending $1.7 million to have victims contacted within 24 hours of being informed that charges have been laid, which Bentley said will grant them access to the services they need more quickly.

"The very clear message is that if you call, you will be supported," he said in announcing an additional $8.2 million in funding for programs to help victims of domestic abuse.

"If you call, you'll get access to those supports within 24 hours. If you call, we're there. We're collectively there to help."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

To Be or Not to Be

There has been a lot of posting and blogging about Herschel Walker and his interview on Nightline Monday night. Some people with DID and some professionals in the field are unsure if his diagnosis was accurate or if he may just be on the dissociative spectrum. While I appreciate the discussion this issue has caused, without reading his full book and examining his therapy records, there is no way for any of us to make the decision nor is it really our responsibility.

What is our responsibility as advocates for people with dissociative identities is to take advantage of the attention he is bringing to this disorder and use it as a time to educate. He is making people think about DID and what it is and what it isn’t. I encourage you to use this opportunity to direct people to the appropriate websites and provide the resources where they can get accurate information. Please visit our official website if you are need of information as well as additional resources at An Infinite Mind

-Jaime P
An Infinite Mind

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


This month's Scarleteen features a special focus on rape and abuse. You'll find a number of well-written articles for teens, parents, educators and loved ones.

Scarleteen is an excellent source of articles for young people aged 14-24 and their mission is one that we support. Teach teenagers about sex, including issues of abuse.

Check them out here:

When you're finished, send them a quick note thanking them for their awesome work and letting them know about (Wo)Men Speak Out. Suggest that they do an article on WSO and tell them why it's important to you. Let your voice be heard! You're story is important and we want others to know that they are not alone.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Conscious Talk Radio: WSO

May 22nd @ 7:30 am

WSO will appear on Conscious Talk, one of this country’s most informative and compelling alternative talk radio programs – pioneering a shift in consciousness – empowering individuals to become conscious consumers and a positive force in their own lives through subjects and interviews in areas as diverse as politics, money and alternative health. It’s "radio that makes a difference".

Sunday, March 16, 2008

How am I going to get THERE?

Recently there was a warm weekend in Ohio and we took the opportunity to go to the Red River Gorge for a hike. Shortly after we set out, my hiking partner pointed out the destination - Double Arch. (Shown in the picture.) Although I kept my thoughts to myself, I clearly could not imagine how we were going to get all the way across the valley and climb back up to our destination.

As you can imagine, the initial hike was down hill and very easy, but the nagging question of how I was ever going to get to where I wanted to be created hesitation. Every step down committed me to another step up. This clearly reminded me of my journey through healing. I remember meeting some wonderful people who had also been abuse and were wonderfully happy and healthy. They had a great attitude toward life. They were realistic about their past and had a clear vision for their future. That became my destination. I wanted to be like them - Survivors! Thrivors!

Once I had declared my goal, I set out on the path. The first few steps were fairly easy, but as I moved forward into the valley of my memories, I realized I had started a journey that was going to take a lot of effort to complete. Like my recent hike, once you hike half way down the path, into the valley, you have no choice but to keep going, back up. You simply cannot just stop in the valley and not go any further.

The other parallel I noticed on my hike is that for most of the journey I could not see my desired destination. When I was at the lowest part of my hike, I would look up and not be able to see where I was going. There were so many trees in the way. Then on the hike up - straight up - I knew I was getting closer, but had no idea how the path I was on was going to get me to my destination. It just didn't make since. Perhaps the amount of effort was clouding my vision, but all I knew is that I was working really hard and had no idea when I was going to get there or if I would be able to appreciate it when I did.

Well, I made it and it was GREAT. Double Arch, and Survivorship, is such an incredible place to experience and the view (perspective) was so different from any other I had seen. Although I had been here many times, I saw new and beautiful vistas. It is such a great place to be and so worth the hike.

Please get on the path, take the hike, don't stop, work your butt off and get to the summit. Surviving and Thriving is worth the journey. Trust me.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Horses and Healing

An interesting idea put to work: Horse Whispering Violence Prevention Fund

WSO was contacted by
Bob Allen is the Founder, President, of HWVPF and wanted to share their program with you. The purpose of Horse Whispering Experiential Horse Camps is to cultivate the positive influences horses have on children through violence prevention education. We provide, promote, educate, and create opportunities for the individuals and groups to learn from horses in a safe non-competitive environment.

For more information, visit:

Thanks for getting in touch with us Bob and thanks for all that you do!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Call To Action

In the past few weeks, we have received quite a few emails from people sharing their comments and suggestions as to how to gain more attention to WSO as an organization and the issues and community that is represented in what we do. 
We believe that everything happens for a reason and that we have an opportunity now to further our reach within our respective communities by focusing on what we CAN do right now, to promote WSO and create a positive effect in our own lives, as survivors and the lives of those around us as advocates, professionals, loved ones and active citizens. 

As survivors, we are severely underrepresented
The statistics that exist far underestimate the amount of abuse that takes place on a daily basis and are based solely on those who are able to come forward and report their abuse. But what of those who are unable to come forward, for whatever reason, aren't added to the equation. We all know someone who has been a victim of violence. It's indisputable, infuriating and on-going. 

In an effort to bring more attention to the issue of rape, sexual assault and gender violence, we believe we must be on the doorsteps of those who will listen; to speak to a larger community with the focus of not only educating but providing solutions to the problem. That means, getting on the radio shows, in the magazines, on the news, speaking at colleges, universities and high schools, holding events and reaching as many people as possible, on-going. We are here to do just that, but we can't do it alone.

So, we are presenting a CALL TO ACTION. We are asking that you, as a partner in our message, contact your local outlets and let them know about WSO. 

Forward them your message with a link so that they can hear the stories, see the true numbers and back that up, by inviting WSO into their community. We aren't asking for people to take on the world, we are asking people to take action and this starts with you....

Email your local talk-format radio and local newspapers and magazine today. 
Be the change. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

14 Americans arrested in child porn sting

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Fourteen Americans are in custody as part of a global crackdown on a well-organized child porn ring that used sophisticated encryption technology, the FBI and Justice Department announced Tuesday.

CNN dot com

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Melon

Chris and myself had an awesome time today at KUPS 90.1 FM Tacoma. Our host, Elliot was stellar and really made us feel comfortable, in studio.

The broadcast will play this coming Saturday, 12-2pm. We are scheduled for the second hour. For those listening in the Tacoma area, you can tune in. Otherwise, the show will be online on Sunday here:

In-studio, The Lemon

It's always great to acknowledge those who are doing their part in bringing anti-violence initiatives to the community. Feel free to email Elliot and Peter at

Spring Ren·ais·sance

Evergreen Jewels
Blossoming in Pink
Sheer Beauty

Spring comes to us for a purpose. We can choose to embrace her and propagate some serious growth. Ren·ais·sance, a renewal of life, vigor, interest, Ren·ais·sance, say it with me now!
One of the creative artsy modalities I use for healing is photography. I have taken pictures of abandoned buildings to demonstrate my feelings about abandonment, and to represent the horror of being raped in a motel. I take pictures-plethoras of pictures documenting my life, moods, my children's lives, my art, nature, our animals.

Ren·ais·sance originally means
the activity, spirit, or time of the great revival of art, literature, and learning in Europe beginning in the 14th century and extending to the 17th century, marking the transition from the medieval to the modern world.
Renaissance, lit. "rebirth," usually in a spiritual sense, from renaître "be born again". An earlier term for it was revival of learning. My drift is to take this word and it's meaning and make it malleable to your own spirit. What do you hope to create this spring? What garden will you cultivate? This means inside yourself, and outside in your outer world. We can always be born again! It is so true. The earth does it all the time. We are made of her, and we can do it to. Just set your intention to grow, and you be open to the newness of spring.
In the spirit of nouveau inspiration, of rebirth, of metamorphosis, let's take more pictures that we see meaning and feeling in. Keep a scrapbook of your pictures. Choose any theme you wish or none at all. Just intend to create visually a tangible way of seeing your inner world. I think to myself, "I feel -----". I then take a picture of something. Viola. You can give visual, give image to your inner world. The idea is to express what is inside of you, no matter what it is, and move it out of you in some kind of creative form. This is your art. This is how we can make our life an art. You are an artist in your own life.
My intention right now is to Breathe in spring, feel the energy of renewal, reawakening, rebirth, resurrection. Watch as the birds flit around gleefully, their long awaited reemergence into air. This is all healing, nature and art are elixirs for the soul. My porch is a sacred space. Out there I have beautiful copper wind chimes with colorful jewels that catch the sun's rays, the light flinging itself into my dining room daily. I have plants, a bonsai tree, sculptures, bird feeders, and soon a cozy rug. Deep orange gossamer curtains hang in front of the French doors leading to the porch. It is very important to create intentionally, space from which to exist. This is where we live, we can make it beautiful and sacred. We must make it so. Sometimes we can learn to care for ourselves inside by acting as if and demonstrating to ourselves how to do it outwardly, starting the home we occupy. I leaned some of my self care and self regard this way. I choose to occupy my lifespace a certain way, with sacred intention.

My entire home is a scared space actually. I have created this with my family over the last 8 years. Only things that engender a soul quickening get in my door! I do not allow clutter in my home. For me, life is always moving, therefore I am always polishing, tidying, letting the chi flow through my home, doing laundry with gratitude for the little bodies that wear the clothes. I am always going through things, so that clutter has no time to form. Clutter is a symbol of emotional cobwebs, and we have a choice about how we approach that. Our outer world can align with the inner world, and vice versa. What is within is reflected outside of us in our environment. Thus take pictures, and if you feel unsure of how you feel internally, pictures will help you see your internal state. And, it's fun!! Spring births life anew, and we follow her heARTful, blooming example.
It is a wonderful time to begin taking care of your physical self through motion if you do not. Pain gets stuck in our body. We have these little emotional crevices which get filled with pain. You gotta get moving to spill those pockets of stored up stuff. I set my intention to release, relax, and revitalize. It works. I run, lift weights, practice yoga, and do copious amounts of stretching. Walk your dog to start. Put on Fergie and dance. Chase your kids. Play hide and seek with your partner. Make love. make some more love! Jump rope. Skip to your local cafe. Walk to the grocery. Pick up litter. Go on a hike. Do something, and do it often. I feel triumphant after a good long workout. Most importantly, PRAISE YOURSELF when you do something heal-thy. If you are doing inner child work, buy stickers and give yourself one as a reward to chart your progress. Make a list of rewards you wish your mom and dad had given you for your accomplishments, and give them to yourself as you do even the smallest things well. Write yourself a letter that you wish your mother had written you. Mine have said things like, "You are beautiful. You can do anything. Let's go shopping for that prom dress. It is safe to be a girl. I will protect you. I love you so much. You inspire me. You were the most gorgeous baby I ever saw. When you were little, you were so magical. You are so smart. You are funny. Being a mother to you, staying home with you, was never a sacrifice, because I got so much out of it too, who wouldn't want to watch you, Sarah, blossom? I would never leave you. " Give this to yourself.
Music, choose some new music, listen deep. Find a new rhythm in life. This is part of rebirthing the self, our own personal renaissance. So, take pictures to externalize your personal experience, for me this is particularly of beauty and gratitude.
Above are a few pictures that exteriorize my interior state as of today.
Listening to:
Dave Matthews Live, When the World Ends
("When the world ends, you and me will just be beginning..."),
Warpaint, by The Black Crowes(check out the rockin Evergreen), Jack Johnson Sleep Through the Static, Thievery Corporation mixes.
Scent therapy: ylang ylang, for sensuality(goes very well with my music du jour) and revitalization
Namaste and Love to all!