Over the years I've created lot's of different ribbons, for breast cancer, leukemia and even lupus, but this time around I'm creating a purple ribbon to bring awareness to domestic violence, October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month. This ribbon is also much more personal to me, and I hope it will empower other women who are, or who have, dealt with domestic abuse, to free themselves and Live their Best Lives.
This is a very difficult post for me to write, because I am baring the deepest, most hurt part of my very soul, but I want to share my story to hopefully help other women get through a similarly difficult time in their own lives. Even writing this is causing a lot of emotions to well up, but I want to share my story to help even one other woman in some way. I was domestically abused, physically, mentally and emotionally for a number of years and the effect it had on me for so long created a life of fear and shame...It shut down a huge part of who I was as a person, I was always in fear of being myself, of saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, being the wrong person. It's only recently that I've been able to forgive myself for staying in that relationship, and I now realize I wasn't a victim, I Am a SURVIVOR, I made it through and I feel so much stronger and empowered than I ever could have if I hadn't went through such a difficult time. I'm going to take this self empowerment and use it to help other women become empowered and stand up for themselves and take back control of their lives.
I think of my younger self who suffered the abuse and my heart breaks for her. I wish I could have been there for her the way I am now, with strength, confidence and determination...she should never have had to go through that heartbreak on her own, and I don't want any other woman to have to go through anything similar on their own either. There ARE people out there you can turn to, don't try and do it on your own. Tell someone in your family, a close friend, the police, and if none of these seem to be an option, there ARE organizations out there to help you get through this, whatever you do, you MUST talk to someone to help you get out of the situation. I didn't tell anyone about the abuse until many years later, not even my amazingly supportive family and friends; the shame and embarrassment and misguided loyalty to my abuser stopped me from saying anything. But, if I had spoke out then it would have ended, I could have been free instead of enduring in silence for such a long time. Please don't do that to yourself, find the help, reach out to someone, anyone who can help you extricate yourself from the abuse you find yourself in...and know that it is NOT your fault! You are not to blame for your partner losing control over themselves, that is upon them, NOT you. Once they have used violence, or any form of abuse, against you, you owe them nothing...nothing.
I want women to know that there IS hope, you CAN be free, don't ever forget that. you are a SURVIVOR and have the strength within you to get out. It may seem impossible at times, but the rewards on the other side are well worth what it takes to extract yourself from the abuse, I'm proof positive. I'm living my best life and so happy and free to be me, with no fear of anything, I truly am fearless and embracing my new life with joy and positivity...and it just gets better every day. Work on creating this same life for yourself, do what you have to, to be free.
I am in such a good place now in every aspect of my life because I've moved on from the abuse...and abuser. It was a lot of deep emotional and spiritual reflection that I had to go through, talking it out with people who supported me and helped me understand I wasn't to blame and that I am so much stronger for having made it through...and I AM! I am in a place I could never have dreamed I would be years ago, I feel so free and empowered, and at the same time full of love for the world. This might seem counter intuitive because of what I've gone through...but I don't want to be bitter, or distrusting, or focus on only negative things, I want to be a positive light for other women to look to and know there is hope. You can and will survive this, you will get out and you will forge ahead with a new life that YOU build. You will be the person you deserve to be and live YOUR Best Life...don't ever forget that, hold onto it with every breath you take and move forward with grace and love and hope for a true life of YOUR making.
It's so important for everyone to understand what domestic violence does to someone. It's often not the physical abuse that is the most detrimental, it's the mental and emotional damage that comes with it, the fear that lives with you every day. The fear of saying something wrong, doing something wrong, and not even knowing if it's going to be what triggers the abuse, it's a horribly demeaning way to live. And it's the ultimate betrayal, that the man who is supposed to protect you has turned against you...cuts through to the very soul in a way that can't even be put into words. And it doesn't matter if the abuse stopped years ago...the trust has been broken and can't ever be fully regained. These are memories that are burned into my very being, each one of them like they happened yesterday. But, even though the memories will never go away, the pain and fear has been removed by removing myself from the abuse itself. Once I did that I was able to fully heal and focus on rebuilding my confidence in myself and I have been able to do just that, and so proud of how far I've come and want other women to be able to experience the same thing. But, in order to get to a place of healing you have to first GET OUT, don't wait another day!
If we think of ourselves as victims it takes away our power, and I want to EMPOWER women, not victimize them. I want to keep the discussion open, bring more awareness to this issue and empower women to free themselves and their children from abusive relationships and live THEIR Best Life.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (Intimate Partner Violence or Battering)
Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapes every year. Less than 20 percent of battered women sought medical treatment following an injury. ~ Taken from now.org
These statistics are mind boggling, but as someone who never reported the abuse towards me, I can imagine how many other women have kept silent and endured the pain, and perceived shame, of the abuse. I want women to know they have NOTHING to be ashamed of, it is your abusive partner who should be ashamed to have ever thought violence was an option against you, it NEVER, ever is.
All of the proceeds from my "I Am..." collection of t-shirts, mugs, prints, etc. will be donated to womens organizations in the Miami area that help women get out of difficult situations and empower them. I am going to continue to bring more attention to this issue and empower women in whatever ways I can to be strong, confident and stand up for yourself at home, in the workplace, anywhere and everywhere...you are powerful, strong and beautiful, don't ever forget that....you can do whatever you set your mind to, I believe in you...you need to believe in yourself.
I'm not telling my story to look for sympathy, or for anyone to feel sad for me, not at all, I'm very strong, very empowered and know where I'm going in life and what my purpose is...to tell my story and help other women feel the same strength, power and confidence that I now do. If I can help even one woman I will feel like what I went through leads me to a higher calling. If I don't share my story, it just lives inside of me, as a dark secret, and serves no one, not even me; but by sharing it gives purpose and drives me to be a better person and to help and inspire other women to be the same. And I'm here to talk with if anyone needs someone who deeply understands what you are going through - I Am...Here.
I have a fabulous, long time collector...Larry, who I've also become friends with over the years. He is an amazing stained glass artist, and I'm beyond honored to have one of his pieces of art recreated from one of my paintings that he purchased. He consistently collects new art and recently purchased the painting "Land of Wonder" when I was having my moving sale. Well, he had also seen my coloring pages, and thought how cool it would be to have a mural sized coloring page with hints of color handpainted by me...I was down for the challenge! I actually started my professional artist career painting murals in the Orlando, FL area, so I was looking forward to revisiting mural size painting.
Larry ended up choosing the coloring page (above) that the original painting "Land of Wonder", was created from, and I also gave him the original drawing itself, so he has a triad of original coordinating art that no one else has.
Larry and I worked together with one of my licensing partners Murals Your Way - you can purchase some of my art as murals from them, link here - to create the perfect black and white reproduction of the original drawing on three canvas panels totaling 9'x8'. The challenge for me was that I didn't have any table space this large, so I had to lay it out on my studio floor, which required moving everything out of the way and practicing my contortionist skills, haha!!
And the final results as shown in Larry's home! This was such a fun and different project for me; I love when my collectors come up with new ideas to challenge me as an artist, and this was one! Larry is the only person on the planet who has a mural like this. So proud to continue to have him as one of my best collector's and inspiring me to always step outside of my comfort zone with my art, thank you Larry!
Larry's description of the art in his home ~ "This canvas art piece draws the viewer into an eclectic mix of whimsy among a wood & glass framework at this, The MoonShadow House. Gotta Love It !!!!"
Time to do some inner awakening and self development. When we go through life changing events there is no better time to really take a look at ourselves and determine how we can be a better person for ourselves, the people in our lives, and anyone new we allow in. Reading books from others perspectives on how to maximize our potential and be the best versions of ourselves provides insight we can't get on our own, so I'm delving into these books while looking to improve myself :)
I know I have several issues that I need to learn to control and use for better purposes, or just not to do at all, here are a couple of them. First off, I have the need to always be right...problem is, about 90% of the time I am, causes quite a conundrum for me! Because along with this need to always PROVE I'm right is my obsessively competitive nature, more on that in a bit. I'm a well educated person that loves to constantly learn and know what is going on in the world around me, so I do know a lot, but the problem is...I don't ALWAYS have to show that I'm right. What purpose does it serve, other than to stroke my ego, to prove I know the answers to a lot of things? There is a place and a time to share information, and THAT'S what I need to remember, if people ask me if I know the answer for something, or it fits in with a conversation that's fine, but I need to not interject and make a point out of knowing what I do if it isn't serving a higher purpose to help others learn...this is my challenge and one I will be actively working on.
Now, back to the obsessively, intensely, competitive nature...this one is a toughy for me. I've been this way as long as I can remember, ask my family, they get a lot of laughs at my expense over this one! They love to think up stupid challenges just to be entertained because they know I won't back down from any of them, hahaha!
Here is an example of how ridiculous I can be, I tend to lose a little control when competition and adrenaline get together, lethal combination for my nature, haha! On my 40th birthday I went mountain biking at the local trail, I was feeling super strong and had on my Strava biking app where other bikers can compete against each other for the fastest times on the trail. Well, I knew I was on a PR time and the adrenaline was through the roof...that's what happens when I get competitive, waaaaayyyy too much adrenaline. So, I come around one of the last corners before the end of the trail, and next thing I know I'm off my bike sitting in the middle of the trail in a sandy patch. I looked around and realized my front tire must have hit the gnarly, crossed up root in that corner at just the wrong angle and launched me into the sand...well, no time to worry about that, I needed to quickly hop back on my bike and finish my PR Ride! So, I went to stand up and my left foot completely gave out from under me...what the heck? There was no pain, nothing, just was not able to use my foot, it was completely collapsed. So, I started hollering for my husband and other biking friends who I could hear in the parking lot talking. They immediately knew something was wrong and came running, my husband got to me first...and here's the really stupidly, awful competitiveness kicking in overtime...I literally tell him to take my backpack that had my phone with the Strava app still running, and tell him to quickly run past the finish of the trail (just around the corner) so I would get the full ride with my fastest times....yeah....pretty.bad. He of course looked at me like I was a lunatic, and rightly so, and kudos to him for telling me no, even when I insisted...well, it ended up that I broke my foot in three places and needed plates and screws. But, here is where my competitive nature actually helped me, I didn't stop riding my bike once my foot healed, I got right back on and wasn't going to let the fear of getting hurt hold me back. I love to mountain bike and wasn't going to let a little setback like that stop me, but I did learn my lesson to not be so ridiculously stupid with it, that's just plain dumb, haha!! But, it does give you an idea of the extent of my competitiveness and how I CLEARLY need to learn to control it, before it gets me into more serious trouble.
I also need to NEVER, ever again, play Monopoly with my significant other, that is just asking for trouble, haha!! You can ask my daughter Aroon and her friend Alissa...I think we traumatized her. It was NOT a "family time" moment, that's for sure, it was very cold, out for blood competition between me and my ex and didn't end well. I don't think he and I spoke to each other for the rest of the night...so I learned my lesson with that one, just.don't.do.it...DON'T.
I have been able to successfully use my competitive nature as an athlete, both as a kid with running, and even as an adult with mountain biking, and within my business, without causing harm to others. But, there are instances where I do stupid stuff in the name of competitiveness or get competitive with people I shouldn't...these are the situations I have to be wary of and instead focus my competitive nature on positively growing and building my art business to be the most successful I can...this will be my competitive focus (along with sports) for the most part going forward, turning what can easily be a negative for me into a positive :)
By looking within ourselves and our actions we can understand who we are and how we can fix ourselves, if we never delve deeper and acknowledge our faults we can't fix them. It's not always easy to dig deep and face the parts of ourselves that need to be worked on, but we can't be the person we should be and deserve to be if we deny ourselves that insight.
By speaking out loud about our faults, and sharing with others, it makes us really look deep into how we can better ourselves and hopefully inspire people to do the same for themselves...share your story!. We should always be striving to grow and mature throughout our entire lives, we are always a work in progress, just like my art :)