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.
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 :)
I'm finally back in Florida after spending the last 3 out of 4 weeks in Alaska, the 2nd trip was to escape Irma's wrath! So thankful everything is fine here in Miami, feeling so blessed that both my apartment and studio came through unscathed and I can get back to my new life here :)
I had a lot of realizations and clarity come to me on this last trip to Alaska, in such a way that I can truly move forward and explore a new life full of adventures, new people and being the strong, empowered woman I am. Nothing is holding me back any longer and I feel I am in a position to now help other women realize their full potential and inspire and motivate us all to reach for the stars!!
Before I left to Alaska I had just finished up this 3'x3' painting "The Power of the Moon". This painting is part of my enlightenment series where I have created a new set of symbols that empower us to find enlightenment in everything around us. I used my "moon/gravity enlightenment" symbol for this painting, see the circular black and white drawing below and find it within the painting 😊😊I created this symbol to inspire us to find enlightenment through forces outside of ourself. We all now how much power the moon has on our planet, how it pulls the tides in and out and creates light for us during darkness. I personally notice changes in myself when there is a full moon, particularly that I have a more difficult time sleeping, without fail every month for several days.
This got me to thinking about how we allow so many outer forces to dictate how we live our lives, and give more control to certain things, and people, than others. We can't avoid things, thoughts and people having an effect on us, but what we CAN control is who and what we surround ourselves with and make sure we have positivity in every aspect of our lives. There are times however, like me with difficulty sleeping during a full moon, that we don't have control over, but we DO have control over how we respond and act to those situations. We can either fight it and create negative energy in our lives, or look for the positives in the situation and find ways to learn and grow from those experiences. I've come to recognize the issue with sleeping and the moon and know that it is only temporary; and if I feel the need to take a nap to make up for my sleeples nights, I do, and I don't let it stop me from carrying on in a normal way, I just take the extra time to rest if needed. I have learned that most negative things in life are temporary and we shouldn't give such things power over us, for they will soon be gone and nothing but a distant memory. There is no need to spend valuable time and energy dwelling on things that won't last, instead focus on the important things in life that create positive energy and happiness, make those things permanent aspects of your life.
I hope this painting, and my moon/gravity enlightenment symbolism, will help you rethink what positive and negative influences and forces you allow into your life. Create positive energy within yourself, which will radiate unto others, and respond to all outside influences with positivity.
In addition to the moon/gravity symbol there are other symbols throughout the painting that I use frequently, such as the floral "true love" symbol. Be positive, stay true to yourself and embrace life and love.
I will be doing a blog post soon with more in depth details on my Enlightenment series, the symbols and their meanings. Created on a 36"x36" Genie Canvas.
So strange to think that 25 years ago, a week before Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida, I had packed all my belongings into one suitcase, had $150 in my pocket and hopped on a plane from Alaska, followed by a greyhound bus from Seattle headed to Orlando. I had no idea where I was going to live, no job in place, I didn't even know a single soul in Florida, but I was young, fearless and carefree, ready for a new adventure!
Here I am 25 years later with Irma bearing down on South Florida, where I just moved to. And I have the same sense of being fearless and carefree. I feel life has come full circle in many ways in my life.
3 months ago I ended my marriage and relationship with the man I was married to for 21 years, and have known since I first moved to Florida, and the father of the light of my life, my daughter Aroon. I left everything behind in Daytona Beach, Fl, and moved to Miami Beach (where my daughter was already living). I went back to Daytona a month ago to get my studio and that was all I have brought with me to start over. I literally had nothing but a small bag when I first headed to Miami. I had no idea where I was going to live down there, how I was going to set up my studio, nothing, but I needed to make this change for my sanity, health and soul.
I have since set up an apartment where I had to buy absolutely everything, I had nothing from my life with my Ex, I didn't want any of it, or the painful memories. I also have a beautiful, inspiring studio 2 blocks from the beach. But, here I am, back in Daytona, once again leaving everything behind, watching as Irma bears down on Florida, this time with the possibility that there will be nothing left of my new life...but you know what, I'M OKAY WITH IT. And it's because all of what is in miami is just things...even my paintings are physical things, and I can always create more 😊😊😊
It's such a powerful feeling to let go of the attachment to things, they just aren't important in the overall scheme of our lives. We need to release our fear of losing THINGS, and focus on our relationships with people, and our faith and purpose. "Things" detract and distract from living a fulfilling life...release the fear, and embrace living through enlightenment of who you are and what meaning your life has, and who is important to you. Free yourself from materialism and toxic relationships, instead focus on people who truly love and care about you, surround your life with positivity to Live Your Best Life.
Please stay safe all my fellow Floridians, praying for all of you and your family and friends. We will get through this, we are survivors, each and every one of us in our own way, dont ever forget that 💖💕💗💞
My heart is with all of you, Stay Strong and Hold Fast.
Recently hung my two degrees in my studio, two of my greatest accomplishments. Don't be afraid to go after your dreams, no matter what obstacles or difficulties you may face, it IS worth it in the end, I'm proof positive!! Read my story below of achieving a lifelong dream in spite of life having other plans for me 😊😊
I was bound and determined to go to college, even coming from the Bush of Alaska, in a remote village with a school that never boasted more than 15 kids at a time, all grade levels. I did whatever it took to make my dream a reality, and at 17 I booked a flight to Hawaii to go to my chosen school that I had been accepted too.
A few years later I moved to Florida and continued going to college, when I unexpectedly became pregnant at 20, I dropped out of school and went back to Alaska to be surrounded by all my loving, supportive family, who have always been there unconditionally, whenever I need them, no matter what. But, I NEVER gave up on knowing I would be returning to finish my education. So, while I was in Alaska I got a full-time job, applied and was accepted to attend The University of Central Florida (my Alma Mater), and within a month of my daughter being born I was on a plane back to Florida to go to school the following semester. I had a lot of people tell me, even to my face, that because I was so young, and a single mom I would never go back to school. That simply made me even more determined to prove them wrong, and I did!
It wasn't easy by any means, being 21, a single mom to a newborn and going to college full-time, but I had saved a lot of money while being pregnant and working, took out student loans and busted my butt!
When my daughter was about a year old her father and I got back together and I was then faced with an entirely new set of difficulties to deal with. My (eventual) husband had a 4.5 year old son who lived with him (who was an extreme, and I do mean extreme, handful), so all of a sudden my family of two just grew to 4 and I had to adapt to all of this while still going to school. And I would not only be taking care of both kids, mostly on my own, a full time cook, housekeeper and help my husband with his business, but I also held down 2 jobs, while eventually going to school at night for my Masters degree.
I look back and seriously wonder how I was able to manage this and STILL get my Bachelors and Masters degrees in Political Science. But, you know what? It just goes to show that if you want something badly enough and set your mind to it, no matter what, you CAN achieve your dreams and goals. Don't ever, ever give up on what's important to you, if you have the will, desire and passion inside you for something, you have everything you need to make it happen. Go out and follow your dreams and make them a reality!!
(Oh, and I got these degrees in the late 90's but still feel proud to display them as they represent dreams that came true and fierce determination to fight through the difficulties and never give up).