Yesterday, I went to buy my seventeen year old son a new phone. Just a few months ago, I purchased a 4G iPhone for myself and was blown away with all of the things it could do. My son selected a “Sky Rocket” and suddenly I felt like my phone was almost obsolete!! Now I’m not hear to plug the latest phone but instead I would ask that you indulge me while I take a walk…a long walk …down memory lane. Now this whole reflection phase started when my son looked to me after viewing the music applications on his new phone and said “boy has music come a long way.” He has no idea. It seems like only yesterday that we bought furniture to house our stereos and albums. Careful not to place them too close to a heating unit to prevent them from warping, the records would be stacked one right after another and finding a song was first having to go through all the vinyl to find the record. There was no search option or easy retrieval. And whoever thought we could put every song we ever purchased on one device. I remember thinking we were pretty hip when my mother carried out our eight track tapes in a mini suitcase only to be downsized later to cassettes. Remember cassettes? You would be listening to the latest and greatest only to eject them from the cassette player to have the tape get caught in the machine. You would them spend the next thirty minutes wheeling it all back in.
But let’s get back to the cell phone…it would be easy to shrug it off to the younger generation saying that they have completely lost their minds about this whole cell phone hysteria but I must admit I have often panicked when leaving the house without my phone…what if someone couldn’t email me, text me, Facebook me, MySpace me, Linkedin me…let alone not call me. Remember when you would wait for a doctor’s appointment and be forced to read a magazine…not anymore…we can purchase something, read, answer mail, talk to someone without using words, check the weather, make a friend with someone you don’t even know, and read the philosophy of a friend of a friend on how their little Johnny pooped on the big boy potty. Times have changed.
Remember when your parents only had one car, summer camp was a bat, a ball and a warning to be home for lunch, dinner required more than a five-minute run in the microwave, you watched television and saw all the new products on the market before going to the supermarket, Pong…a game that never included killing people or calling women whores but you would amuse you for hours, and hold onto your seat….do you remember the library and the Dewy Decimal System?
Sure I love the conveinces of today but are we really better off? Divorce rates are higher, you are constantly trying to determine the tone of a text message, your political views, religious beliefs, and your personal pictures are now available for some creep in Iowa to view. And, how are kids expected to sneak off now when they can’t really tell their parents they are going to the library. In fact, with a push of a button, I can locate my kids by their phone.
I am sure my children will have their own memories and funny stories to tell thirty years from now. Technology will of course continue to grow and we will continue to adjust to the easier more comfortable lifestyle. But I have to tell you…I miss watching my mom make cookies with flour and sugar and not just cutting the plastic wrapper off. I miss the sound of a worn diamond needle scratching across the vinyl record of Journey, Styxx, or Boston. I miss the memories of my dad cursing and fussing looking for quarters while driving down the Parkway to visit my grandparents…who could of guessed that a square block would allow us to sail right through the tolls. I really can’t believe the 80’s were thirty years ago!! Yeah things have really improved…or have they just changed? Kisses Bellas!!
They say that God never gives you more than you can handle but I would be lying if I didn’t admit here that there were times I thought he might have forgotten to turn off the faucet. However, it has been those moments when I am struggling to get out from under the pile that I realize why I am here and even the strength I didn’t know I had.
When you live with abuse, you adjust your life so that upset and disruption are a part of the daily norm. The dreams you had for your children are constantly getting recalibrated mostly because the severity of the situation is too much to digest. You start each day by placing your feet on the floor promising that you will do whatever humanly possible to protect your children from one more grenade attack only to find yourself returning to the same bed at night with tears streaming down your face swearing to God that tomorrow will be different. And, sometimes it is but often times the days just seem to repeat themselves.
Trying to explain the emotions and feelings to another whose life does not mimic yours can be filled with embarrassment and disbelief. How could anyone chose to live like that? How could anyone be amazed that they found themselves under hundreds of sandbags filled with vile words, insults, and humiliating behavior when they have put up with unacceptable for so long? Yet, when I have the opportunity to speak to someone who has walked through the same hellish existence I realize that much more is said with our eyes than our words.
This year unraveled at paces I could never have planned. Agonizing grief for what would never be fixed and guilt of staying too long looking for a cure that ultimately hurt my children more were just some of the hurdles that needed to be jumped. Disruptive behavior and threats, hurtful words and erratic behavior, pain and disappointment seem to dispense like baseballs at an electronic batting cage, but I survived.
I started to see some of the problems with the system when obtaining a permanent restraining order. I saw how the welfare of children is a great political platform but lacks in execution. I witnessed myself getting up each and every time I fell…at first with a struggle and now with more of a bounce.
I HATE what happened to me and hate does not skim the surface of my disdain of what my children had to endure but I started to consider if this is why I am here. Not in my office or in Lambertville but here on earth. Maybe I was tapped on the shoulder to help others not only endure but survive… And that is when I started Heeling, Inc. This organization is going to change the way we currently do business. Women can be the harshest critic of each other and yet when we witness another struggling we can become the most powerful union. I am counting on this and I hope I can count on you. Please…if you believe that no woman or child should live with abuse take a moment to go on Facebook and “like” our page www.Facebook.com/HealingInc. If you would like to commit more to the fight, please join us on the second Wednesday of every month for our meetup in New Hope, Pa at our Shoe Sorority House. I am a shoe designer by trade and I believe that by putting one high-heeled foot in front of the other we can make changes. Are you up for the challenge? Please let me know if you or someone you know is being effected by domestic violence. Ohhh and by the way…the secret is I was never really alone and God doesn’t make mistakes. Kisses Bellas
Sometimes you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Does looking at our past make us not look ahead? Or is it dangerous not to be reflective as not to make the same mistakes again? Maybe it’s a little bit of both. As I approach the mid-point of my life I do find myself more reflective than I have ever been. I seem to have fewer answers and more questions with each year that passes. And on many counts, I find myself revisiting places, events and people who have remained as nothing more than my memory. Thinking back to when my kids were young or a special trip we took can bring untold joy. That’s probably why we take so many pictures of our children as never to lose the moment and to have them to reflect back on. I have had moments where I have been able to laugh with my college friends about crazy things we did and the fun we had. And, who hasn’t listen to a song that has brought them back to an old love in a flash of a moment?
So why would some be hell-bent on focusing on the future. Ahead is where we are going, it is mistake free, untraveled territory and in many ways easier to accept because the future does not hold regret, sorrow, or misgivings. The future holds hope, excitement and the unknown. The days to come are who we can be and who we can be with as opposed to who we were and who we chose to have in our lives.The past can be a valuable tool to learn not only who we are but help get us where we want to go. I believe that each of us carries a piece of our past with us. It’s why we love when our mom makes that special Sunday dinner that is reflective of when we were young or the sound of the ocean that can remind you of your first love.
They say history repeats itself and I wonder if that is because we so long for what we know. Maybe staying in a relationship that is lackluster is easier than challenging yourself to find new love. Maybe being stuck in the job you hate is easier than taking the plunge to finding a new career. Or, maybe someone you loved very much is no longer here and it is the only way you can visit them.
Writing this blog has made me consider both the past and the future. It dawned on me that visiting the past and dreaming of the future is not the problem. It’s when we chose to live there. And while it may sound very cliche…we really only have right now. So I challenge myself and to all my bellas out there…what are you doing today that will give you something worth looking back? And, how are you preparing today to be the best you for tomorrow?
Have you ever counted how many times you say you love something in a day? Of course, I love my kids, my friends, and even my dog but I have also been known to love the Eagles, the mint chocolate chip gum they just came out with, and the new stilettos that arrived at my store today. The word “love” has become overplayed and it made me wonder if perhaps that why we all go crazy when we are in love and are searching for love.
Never has a human emotion filled up our internal gas tanks like that warm fuzzy feeling of being in love. There is that excited rushed followed by uncertainty that can make the cockles of our hearts overflow with adrenaline. Being in love can most of the time catch us a bit off guard because the emotion behind it is so strong and powerful that the rush is almost instant gratification. The same can be true when you make a tray of homemade macaroni and cheese on a cold winter’s night. If the smooth warm texture of cheese tantalizing your tongue doesn’t make you scream “love” I don’t know what will…our quest for instant gratification once again.
I don’t mean to trivialize the arrival of cupid’s arrow and while I do think there is a jump from infatuation to being in love, I also believe you can be “in love” more than once in your lifetime. I love the stories told by older generations of how they married their first girlfriend and have been in love for over fifty years but for most of us the travel through life has not been so romantically clad. For some of us, we fall in love only to find that they forgot to put the prize in the Cracker Jack box or that princess we fell head over heels for has chosen another Prince Charming. Others fall in love and through circumstances and misfortune find themselves broken-hearted for not following the one person they really loved. So could it be that we are not all looking to be “in love” but in fact we are all searching for “true love?”
Many would argue that being in love is true love but I don’t think that is always the case. True love has a different platform to reach. It absolutely has all the same criteria as being in love but true love only happens once in a lifetime. It is beyond the rush, the excitement, and the hysteria. It is that love that stays with you. No matter where life brings you or whether you are separated by oceans or years, true love sustains. It conquers time, hurt, disappointment, distance and no matter what the circumstances, true love never leaves our hearts. True love is never nurtured in abuse but flourishes in the warm sunlight of human kindness. Your true love encourages you to be the best you can be, laughs with you, shares common likes and gently spars with you in your differences and is someone who you know life would be terribly different with them not in it. I believe we are all on a quest to find true love. Or, we are always trying to return to the true love that got away.
I am about to step out of my comfort zone and open my deep dark closet for everyone who reads this to see. There will be some that will read this and question my need to put this in writing and others who know me may be shocked or saddened to learn of what I am about to share. While I appreciate those of you who fall into either of those categories for taking the time to read this blog, you are not the one I am writing to…I am writing to the woman who needs to hear this.
My life at one time was full of dreams and happy moments. They were so happy quite frankly that I could never have imagined things turning out the way they did. But as I look back, there were clues…clues I saw, clues I tripped on and clues I fell over and for some curious reason I continued down the path. I came from a small town and had protective parents and two younger brothers. My world was pretty small and sheltered. I was like every young girl. I dated, had my heart-broken, laughed a lot, hung out with my friends, and went to college. School was my thing. I loved learning and I was good at it. I received awards, accomplished goals, and met a man who I would eventually call my husband.
Soon I took a path…the path down the wedding aisle, the path to children and a very dark path I couldn’t find my way out of for a very long time. The years collected and so did the clues. The changes didn’t happen over night. They were slow and methodical. At first, I thought I was just becoming too sensitive as I got older. I then blamed it on the pressures of life and the demands of having children. Things progressively got worse and as they did my excuses became larger and more unreasonable.
And while this was a slow progression, when I finally woke up to see how my life was eroding away, I was not the same girl who left her small hometown. I was a grown woman who had been ripped to shreds by the razor-sharp tongue by the man she thought loved her. I became frightened of the phone that it was surely going to deliver another round of stinging words strung together to destroy what was left of my heart and soul. My closet became my safe haven and I found myself constantly worried about my children, my finances, and my ability to endure the next crisis.
What happen to the girl who was destined to do great things? How did she become this frightened woman unable to free herself from the grips of abuse? To this day, I don’t know the answer and yet I find myself asking it over and over.
Then one day…the pot boiled over and a force greater than myself guided me to safety. I cried, agonized, felt guilt ridden that I had left…a sickness some may call it. But for me, I felt damaged. I didn’t think my soul would ever repair. In some ways, I was not even sure I had enough to go on but I woke up everyday because my children needed me. I got dressed, put make up on, and functioned the best I could. Little by little, I started a company. Not every day was great but everyday was better than what I had left. Tears slowly stopped flowing and I was actually surprised to hear myself laugh again. Every milestone I reached allowed me to replace my fears with confidence. The mountains were still there to climb but I was no longer doing it in bare feet. I was prepared and gave myself moments to think my own thoughts.
I am free now… Free of the abuse and the unacceptable….free to be in love and be loved in return…free to make my own choices…and free to be in the company of others or in the peace of my own being. Leaving was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made but it is the greatest gift I have ever given myself. You only get one life…no do overs, no refunds! You have the right to be happy…the right to be loved…the right to be appreciated…the right to live without fear. This may not be your story but if it is…there’s hope. Kisses Bellas www.facebook.com/HeelingInc
Of all the topics I have ever written on, trust is the hardest for me. It invokes a feeling I keep tucked very deep inside of my soul. A place I created mostly because of mistrust. Disappointment, hurt, and sorrow prevented me from loving and caring again for someone for a long time and while that can be an effective approach to not getting burned again…how lonely a life! Trust is giving your heart to another and asking that they take care of it. That they will love you the very best that they can…but we are human and sometimes we make mistakes.
And then, trust has been so much more to me…it has been my banking on someone else’s integrity, relying on their word, and most importantly having the hope that they cared as much about my feelings as I did theirs. In other words, it is relinquishing all control and putting something of importance into someone else’s hands. Not an easy task! I went even as far as to consider the thought of not trusting at all and while trust is a sensitive subject matter for me the thought of mistrust made me feel uncomfortable. Why?
I think we are all put here for some reason. For some, it is to navigate travels around the world while for others it is to raise their children. There are doctors here to cure, scientists to discover, pastors to preach, professors to teach, advocates to assist and a neighbor to help someone in his community. The beautiful thing is to be here for a reason is to be here with trust…trust in yourself, trust in the universe to help you make the right decisions and for me, trust in God to show me the way.
A life without trust is not a life. We are all here for a reason and sometimes we just have to trust our hearts to know that we are much stronger than to fall to pieces because someone has stumbled and broken a trust. We have to believe that we are given this beautiful gift of trust because when you find it in someone all the past hurts seem to heal.
What is to have value? A question that was presented to me through divine intervention somewhere in the dark of last night. The question proved more and more difficult to answer as I considered all that I knew to be valued by society. We value stocks, money, and gemstones. We place a monetary assignment to real estate, vehicles, and pay rates. But what is it to value someone as a human being? I began to think of the people who had value in my life. Why did I place a specific appreciation to those that made my list and more importantly why did some get placed higher on the ladder of my life than others? I certainly value my doctor, my pastor, and employees but others such as my kids, special friends and loved ones rated differently. They held a higher valuation. As I sat in the dark pontificating the measure in which I place people in my life, my mind began to consider my own value. What was my worth to others and even more importantly what measure of significance did I place on myself?
For many years, I truly believed what society was only so willing to teach. My educational achievements, occupational accomplishments, and physical appearance would catapult me into the sphere of being valued by my peers. In some cases this was true. Then I became a mother. I began to speak in one syllabal words, my daily job required car pooling and wiping noses, and many times I ran out of the house with my hair looking like I licked an electric socket but truth be told I never felt so valued in my life.
After taking a deep look inward, I realized that valuation really is determined by each of us individually. We “rate” people on our own belief systems. When we feel that our boss doesn’t value the work we are doing, it because our own moral compass is being wound. We have our own expectations on what someone’s appreciation should look like. It is also true in our personal relationships. How many of us have found ourselves in marriages or relationships where we spend much of our time seeking our worth to the other person? When the other person creates an environment where our core value cannot be found it can be as productive as trying to nail jello to the wall. That’s when we have to look inward and realize our own value.
At some of my lowest points I have had to remember why I think I am here on earth. It is when I am truly aligned with this purpose that I find my own true value and my own happiness.
Within five minutes of waking up this morning, the word or thought of change must have crossed my mind ten times. I certainly wished it was not time to get up and would have like to have changed the fact that I thought it was a good idea to clean up my basement and go to bed at 3 AM. I would have done anything to change my mission of going downstairs to my son’s room to try to pry him from his bed for school. Then there was the date on the milk container, the fact that I forgot to turn on the dryer after I washed a load of much needed socks, and the fact I decided to live in New Jersey instead of Miami during the winter.
I think most of us have stumbled on things we would like to have changed in our lives. Who hasn’t lamented on the love we let slip through our fingers, the career we should have pursued or the comment we made about our wife’s pants that might have appeared too tight or our husband decision not to follow the GPS? The reflection of change can be good because it challenges us to make better choices in the future and not to travel roads too dark to navigate.
I have found myself challenged, at times, with the incessant need to change the people in my life. Age somehow puts us in the precarious position of watching your children heading toward the same mistakes you made. Your spouse couldn’t possibly want to attend the neighborhood party wearing what he selected from his closet. And my favorite…spending hours trying to convince someone who doesn’t like you that you are worthy of their affection. Who wouldn’t want to change those pending dooms?
Then life has this great way of course correcting us. Frustration of daily bumps, aching hearts of missed opportunities, and broken relationships quickly teach us that the only thing we can change is ourselves. If you are like me, I was quite shocked that I was in need of any alteration but a closer examination revealed a plethera of miscontrued ideas and misdirected channels of love. After I recovered from the dismal revelation, I began to appreciate the bumps a little more. My sons were happy with a bagel this morning instead of a bowl of cereal, the extra long short cut provided the discovery of a sweet little antique store and some of the people I spent so long trying to change were finally released and set free on their own journey. My life started having more appreciation for the amazing cashmere sweater that I put on that would have never worked in Miami and that life had a way of putting the right people in our lives to love and to be loved by the way we deserve and the joys of being in love could once again be part of my equation.
I am far from cured. There are somedays I still wish to see my Nan one more time and for the price of gas to be reflective of the 70’s but for the most part I am really happy to be tapped on the shoulder by life when I fall off my path and to be sure enough of myself to not make changes that others have suggested that are not true to who I am.