There are times in life where we all could use someone in our corner…a champion or a cheerleader. Encouraging us on. Providing helpful insights and constructive feedback. Raising the bar. Picking us up. Seeing our potential. Someone who says “I see you. I believe in you. Good job.” Those can be defining moments in our lives where we decide to press on to greater accomplishments or conversely, sit down in a self-imposed timeout or even be so crushed we give up and quit.
I want to publicly thank Colorado Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert who saw me speak, believed in my ability to present a unique approach to identifying, preventing and ending sexual harassment…and then to top it off, mailed an empowering “good job” letter that lifts my heart and encourages me to keep taking steps forward.
His championing (or at least that is what it feels like to me!) is a clear example of learning to recognize what is healthy vs unhealthy behavior. It also helps remove Purple Threads (a theory I developed where old internal tapes are filled with negative self-talk, limiting statements and others lies of our unworthiness.) By looking through an outside lens, we often see ourselves in a more healthy and healing light. Having compassion for others still seems easier for most of us than having kind and loving self-compassion.
Some people can initially appear to be your champion or cheerleader, only to lure you in and give you a false sense of trust and security. It’s reassuring to know that given the right tools, you can more easily and quickly see the “positive” impersonators for what they truly are. To make abusive people easier to spot, we highlight the differences between unhealthy and healthy behaviors. Recognizing unhealthy behavior at the early stages means we can prevent abuse in all forms including sexual harassment, bullying in schools and domestic violence. It is so much easier to prevent abuse than it is to recover from it. Keeping in mind, everyone can have an off-day or be going through a challenging period of time. We are not looking to judge others but to be aware of patterns or cycles that are the warning signs of abusive behavior.
THANK YOU for the hugs, winks and high-fives of encouragement to be authentic and vulnerable in telling my life story. Fighting my way over big emotional hurdles, I was the keynote speaker at The Crisis Center’s Gala on Friday, November 10th. Nearly 300 people empathetically listened and warmly responded to my speech where I shared my very personal experiences of childhood abuse and domestic violence as an adult. I was honored to also share my message: Enlighten, Empower and End Abuse…now and for the future of families.
True personal story. When I was in 5th grade, I found sheer joy running hurdles in track and field. Hurdles came to me naturally by combining the leaping grace from ballet and the sheer power of gymnastics, two sports I did since basically birth. The gym teacher watched me and could see I was unaware of my talent so she took extra time to encourage and coach me. On the 6th graders’ Field Day, she had me run in the hurdle races against those big, scary, older kids. I won. She then signed me up to run at a 7th and 8th grade track meet, being held at the local high school. I was excited to have my eldest sister drive me and off we went in our family’s white, all metal, no seat-belts, station wagon…Ol’ Betsy the Tank. As we walked closer to the track, the hurdles grew and grew and grew. They were not grade school size but high school size which appeared almost double in height over anything I had ever jumped. As I walked to the start line to do a warm-up, I looked down a long row of what appeared to be solid brick walls that felt almost as tall as me.
It’s times like this experience, you have several options. First option, claim stomach problems and run to the bathroom where you hide until the race is over. Second option, let the fear psych you out. You don’t believe in yourself, so you half-heartedly run the race and crash into every hurdle. You limp away with bruised shins and ego…and never try again. Third option, tell that negative-nelly-voice in your head to go back to the station wagon. Then with an ounce of courage, just start running. Remembering the hard work during the hours you committed to training, you trust your body will take you where the mind can’t believe. Like most of my life, I did the last option. In a storage box in my garage, I still have the first place, blue ribbons from that day.
3183 miles by car. 1661 miles by airplane. 100 or so miles by horse, bike, run and hike. 6 National Parks. 2 Large Cities. 1 amazing cross country adventure from the east coast to the west coast. For the first time in over 25 years, I took a three week break from responsibility. No work. No computer. No email. No social media. No phone call or text from anyone other than those in my Sacred Circle (what I call my family and closest of friends.) I experienced deep meaningful, life changing talks. Belly aching laughs. Amateur photographer’s delight in trying to capture the natural wonders. I find Mother Earth hides the awe of her majestic beauty from the limiting camera lens, which is her way of encouraging us to get out and see it with our own eyes.
Life is that way. We can read about something and learn from it but until we really experience it firsthand…see it, taste it, smell it and touch it so deeply you get dirt under your fingernails from it….it’s hard to really understand it and see how it can have a personal impact on you. I learn the best when I’m in the middle of it. If I close my mouth and open my eyes, ears and mind…that’s when real insights and understanding occur. Once I learn something, I like sharing it with my family, friends, clients and for that matter, anyone who’s interested. I’m a helper, not a hurter…so I’m in the process of writing a book to help others recognize and understand abuse and then ultimately how to end abuse in their lives once and for all. Kinda heavy stuff for me personally as I experienced childhood abuse by both of my parents and domestic violence as an adult. As I write about the really hard stuff, it’s easy to be triggered by memories. I can feel hurt over the verbal and emotional abusive “limiting statements” including my mother’s top three most consistently used on me: my unattractive physical appearance, who are you to shine and my lacking intellectual capacity. For example, since early grade school until just this past Christmas I have been told by her “You are stupid…you NEVER could spell…it’s a miracle you passed Spanish, you just couldn’t get it….it’s shocking you’ve been able to run a company all these years…” etc. These were told to me over and over and over again until I absolutely believed the statements to be truth. I deeply believed I wasn’t very smart or overly capable in this world or would ever be good enough. My skin often became thin over the topic of feeling stupid or fear of being exposed as dumb. I would hold a stiff-upper-lip, and later cry when I was alone. I also experienced a lifetime of physical intimidation and abuse by my parents, an unrelenting furnace fueled by their anger, hurt and hate. I had emotional wounds that ran so deep the scars were noticeable, if you know where to look. From an outside perspective, I was doing well in life but internally, I was daily fighting off the heaviness of overwhelm, fear and doubt that was ingrained from the abuse.
Join me on July 8th at the Tour de Ladies cycling event! It’s a fully supported, non-competitive, women-only cycling event through the rolling hills of Parker, Colorado just south of Denver. Based on your pedal power, you can pick from three route options: 13 miles, 30 miles and 62.50 miles.
This is much more than an afternoon spin on your bike, it’s also a celebration of sisterhood that supports the Crisis Center and their programs. The Crisis Center exists to end domestic violence through advocacy, education and prevention; while helping communities live free of violence. Thanks to this annual ride, Tour de Ladies donated more than $13,500 in 2015 and $17,400 in 2016 to the Crisis Center. Men are encouraged to volunteer at the event and cheer for the women riders!
As a past client of the Crisis Center, I know first-hand how amazing they are and the powerful life changing programs they provide. As a current Cabinet Member, I fully support the Crisis Center and would love to hear your questions about their services and ideas you have to support them. Please contact me for more information or look at their website. http://thecrisiscenter.org
To sign up for the ride or make a donation, please see the Tour de Ladies website. Hope to see you there! Happy and safe riding! http://www.tourdeladies.com