CREATING YOUR OWN HAPPY By Angela

"Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder."   -Henry David Thoreau

I’ll be so happy when__________. I’ve probably filled in that blank space with hundreds of words, ideas, dreams, goals, and intentions, that I believed would lead to my ultimate happiness. So, for years I chased it; only to realize that my choice to experience happiness is purely an inside job and not the responsibility of other people, things or circumstances.

I wish I could say this understanding of happiness came quickly, but it did not. It took years of learning lessons and changing my perspective.  So here are 7 lessons that literally changed my life and hopefully won’t take years for you to learn and/or share with others.

  1. I AM SOMEBODY.

There is nothing that I have to achieve or change in my life that makes me “Somebody” because I was born 100% complete and amazing. Although I will continue to grow and change, I now realize that I am enough. I am worthy to be loved and respected for who I am and not who I aspire to be personally or professionally. I hope you feel the same way about yourself, because I believe happiness begins with this belief.

2. I OWN MY SMILE AND I WILL NOT ALLOW UNFORGIVENESS TO TAKE IT AWAY.

Holding grudges has a negative effect. It makes both our faces and our attitudes wear a frown even if we aren’t aware. The truth is, forgiveness is not about welcoming toxic people back into your life or giving an “Okay Pass” to the pain they caused. It is about letting go of the invisible rope that keeps you tied to that pain. Forgiveness creates a powerful freedom that can only be experienced when the mission is complete.

3. TODAY IS A PRESENT, SO ENJOY THE GIFT.  

Being intentional about appreciating the “Now” in every day has really helped me to enjoy moments in life that I previously rushed passed and took for granted. Taking time to smell the roses is more than a common phrase, it is wise instruction on how to enjoy the gift of today.

4. SAY YES!

It is important to be open to new people, places and opportunities that cause you to stretch your comfort zone. Saying yes to learning new things, meeting new people, visiting new places, and accomplishing new goals, can be nourishment for your soul. When you brighten up your life with new experiences, you create opportunities to enjoy more happiness.

5. STOP COMPLAINING. START CREATING.

Let’s face it, there are some irritating moments in life you can’t change, you just have to ride them out. Instead of worrying and complaining about things you can’t change, use those moments to remind yourself to be the change we want to see in the world by creating opportunities to help others. Knowing that no matter what you’re going through, you can still be of value to another person, community, or cause, can bring about a deep feeling of happiness and hopefully encourage you to share that happiness with others.

6. ENJOY YOUR ALONE TIME.

There is so much fun, creativity, and self-care that can be gained when you purposely take the time to rest and recharge yourself. It can be anything from moments of quiet and meditation to singing and dancing to your favorite songs. Spending time alone, while doing things you enjoy, helps you to stay connected to your dreams and refreshed enough to accomplish them.

7. BE GRATEFUL

Although there are days that may leave you feeling like there’s nothing for which to be grateful. I’ve learned that a little time spent reflecting on each day will help to you appreciate the many things that deserve your gratitude. Regularly focusing on what you do have creates a positive mind shift that grows happiness and sustains joy.

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Angela Spring is a wife and mother of 4 amazing children ages 10 – 29 years old. She is also a Professional Keynote Speaker, Workshop Facilitator, and Certified Professional Coach. Angela is the owner of SUCCESS BY DESIGN PROFESSIONAL COACHING, LLC. Her company helps entrepreneurs, career professionals, and community leaders create effective strategies to create their desired success. Check her out at www.successbydesigncoach.com



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You Are Enough! By Alexandra

Being enough is something that I have struggled with off and on for most of my life and especially in the last 5 years. Feeling good enough compared to what I see of my friends, or on social media, and on TV can be a daily struggle for most people. Did I say the right thing, do the right thing, or even do I have on the right outfit? These are struggles that I have seen many women and myself face daily. I want to tell you that you already are enough. Just the way you are. If you were like everyone else, all your individual gifts would be lost. And ultimately, your gifts and your story, the good, bad and ugly are meant to help someone else.

Four and a half years ago, my health started rapidly declining. Going from being a trained professional dancer, to limping on my right leg, not only shook my world but left me scrambling to find answers of what was wrong with me. After being misdiagnosed for two months, I received the phone call that I had a tumor and needed to see a specialist the next day. Perplexed and dazed, does not even begin to describe how I felt in that moment. The fear of loosing my life and missing seeing my son grow up was terrifying. Feeling like I hadn’t reached my potential in life and would never have the chance to fulfill my purpose left me feeling lost. The next day, after 4 hours of testing and an explanation of what they found in my femur bone, I was scheduled to have major surgery nine days later. Those nine days were filled with preparation and temporarily shutting down my business for the recovery time it would take. Every detail was planned and I was praying what they found would not be cancer. By the day of surgery, I felt as prepared as possible, but little did I know or understand what was in store.

The surgery left me with a twenty-eight-centimeter scar down the center of my right leg and without the ability to lift my leg an inch in the air. Sitting there seeing the lack of ability to move and the pain to rebuild the muscle left me in a place of deep depression. I had no desire to do anything at all. I was so angry that this was happening to me. I was also angry at the pain it would take to recover. At the time, I felt like I would never fully recover and that my life would be filled with pain forever. Five months of excruciating pain through physical therapy gave me the ability to walk. However, finding the grace of God is what gave me the will to push through and keep moving forward.

When everything was stripped away, even the ability to walk, I found myself wondering who I was without my natural physical abilities. Leaning into God alone is what saved me from giving up and feeling sorry for the tragedy that could have easily become my life. When my strength was gone, I had my family and God alone to turn to and at times carry me through. I chose to find my identity in not what I could do, but who I am called to be, a daughter to the King. Because of who He is; I am enough. It doesn’t matter if I have a bad day and make mistakes; I am enough. If I fall flat on my face or roll out of bed not wanting to face the day; I am enough. When everything seems to be falling apart, I look to God and know I am enough because He says I am. He hears my every cry, sees my every tear, and loves me where I am. Because of His love, I can show love to others even in the storm and offer something to this world even when I don’t feel like I have anything to offer.

If there is one thing I want you to take away, it is that you are enough and amazing just as you are. There is greatness inside us all and we can help others even when we feel broken inside. I urge you to press through the hard moments and become stronger despite the obstacles you face. Know you are loved and being your authentic self can change the world! You Are Enough 😊

Loving My Journey by Katie

I am empowered and poised because I am learning to love my journey.  

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I often find myself wishing I was in another city, working another job, or having life experiences I see my friends having.  It feels like I keep waiting for my life to start.


Ever since I was in high school, I remember being upset because I had stricter parents than my friends.  I remember wishing I was older and had more freedom to go where I wanted and do what I wanted to do with my friends.  


Fast forward to college.  I loved the newfound freedom I had.  I could stay out late if I wanted and be with my friends all the time.  Even though I got what I wanted when I was in high school I realized I wanted something new.  I wanted my life to be put together. I wanted to be ready for the future. I saw my friends preparing to be doctors, nurses, teachers, and business professionals and I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up.  My new wish was to have my future figured out and have a plan like I thought everyone else had.

Now we catch up to where I am today.  I graduated and found a job that I went to school for, but I find myself wishing I was having the experiences my friends were having.  My friends were off vacationing in Italy or exploring Iceland. They were living in exciting cities where there is something new to do every second. They were living with their friends and having new experiences.  I see them having these great times on social media and I find myself downplaying my experiences and my situation because it isn’t the same.


Feeling inadequate or wishing you were somewhere or someone else is something that can make you feel like your life hasn’t started yet.  It is great to set goals and be ambitious, but if you aren’t living in the moment you will let life pass you by. You won’t see the good that is happening and you won’t appreciate your own individual experiences.  Thinking back I realize I am grateful that my parents were strict. They taught me to be safe and have a good moral compass. I am grateful that I didn’t know what I wanted to be after college because it gave me the opportunity to explore different careers.  I was able to meet people who didn’t know what they wanted to do either and we supported each other through it. Now I am grateful that I am living back at home in a small town because I can still be with my family before moving. I am able to save money to one day go on a trip that I am excited for.


The future will always be unknown, but if you trust your journey and you are grateful for what you have it’s hard to be stressed about where you will end up.  There will always be the temptation to compare yourself to other people, but everyone has a different journey. You may have a tougher journey, a longer journey, or a short and easy journey for some of your goals. The key is to enjoy that journey because you can miss a lot if you are only thinking about what is next.  Practicing being present and loving where you are in your journey will help you to not just wish for better days, but make every day better.

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People First Language by Professor Scott Sparks

There are many subtle ways that the empowerment of young women can be challenged.  How others speak about them using language that may be condescending is one example.  In this blog post, I would like to talk about a related movement, using people first language when speaking about people with disabilities.  How we speak of and to people with disabilities is often based in sympathy. We feel that a life changing disability is something to feel sorry about.  While this is a natural human response to perceived misfortune, it overlooks the human dignity of overcoming the limits of disability and becoming as independent as possible.  Of course, there are many young women who have disabilities but the disability community is not generally gender driven. The issue here is putting more focus on a person’s disability by referring to it before referring to the person who has the disability.   When we refer to someone as a disabled person, we see their disability first and the person behind it second. That requires a person with a disability to develop even more skills just to be seen as competent. Seeing the disability first creates other barriers as well such as taking away a person’s independence.  If someone in a wheelchair looks pitiful enough, others will gladly push them without really thinking that you are making the person in the wheelchair more dependent on others. This must be minimized, there are times when such intervention is appropriate but that should be the exception. Use of non-people first language can also create a self-fulfilling prophecy for the person with the disability.  If you are constantly exposed to non-people first language, you may begin to see yourself as more disabled than you actually are. The media is full of reporters, producers, etc. who generally do not use people first language and couch there reports of disability in sympathetic tones. It’s not that sympathy is a bad thing generally, it does not provide the person with constructive support. When a person is constantly referred to in a specific way, they tend to behave in that way.   Becoming an independent adult is the primary focus for people with disabilities. Their disabilities present a number of barriers that are associated with living in communities. Physical barriers are for the most part, well known, but people first language is about psychological barriers. We should all expect others to refer to us in respectful ways. Another issue in people first language is the stereotyping of persons who have disabilities. People with disabilities are as diverse as any other group in a society.  When we see disability from a global perspective, we tend to define it in very narrow ways. People with disabilities are not a homogeneous group, each one is an individual with their own strengths and challenges. With school age children this is recognized by individualizing their education through the Individualized Education Programs (IEP) that are developed for each child. When we see people with disabilities as people first, we see the wonderful diversity that is within each person. By seeing them as a disabled person, we take away that diverse element.  The process of changing common language is very long. People first language has been demanded by disability communities for decades and has yet to reach fruition. Through this change, we will see greater empowerment, and thus independence, on the part of persons with disabilities. This same process would work for young women who are seeking empowerment, demand that others talk about you with respect.

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Scott Sparks, Ph.D

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Professor Scott Sparks holds the B.A. in Special Education from the University of South Florida and the M.A. in Special Education from the University of South Florida. He earned the Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of Florida. Professor Sparks currently teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in special education technology, as well as courses in introduction to special education and supervises the graduate practica in special education. Professor Sparks Is a site visitor with the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and makes two visits a year.

Most Recent Publications:

Sparks, S.S., & Alodail, A. (2014).  Educating Native American learners with exceptionalities.  In Obiakor, F.E., & Rotatori, A.F. (Eds). Multicultural education for learners with special needs in the twenty first century (pp. 105-123). Charlotte:Information Age Publishing.

 

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Self-Mastery Is Essential for Success by Charisma

I am Empowered and Poised because I struggle to juggle.

Having a big family has brought me to a place where I am realizing that I am unlearning and relearning most of the things that were taught to me.

Like most women I had this notion that I had to be everything for everyone and whatever was left would go to me but I am quickly learning that I was wrong.

Nurturing a family and recently giving birth, while building a startup has forced me into a better mindset.You guessed it, I burned myself out.

I am learning that self care and self mastery is a essential part of mastering anything. Without it you have nothing.

In my efforts to do so and failing miserably several times, I feel the need to share my new found self care regime in hopes to inspire someone out there.

From the time I wake up, to the moment I lay down, I give thanks and deep breathe. This process keeps me encouraged by knowing that I have so much more to be grateful for than what may be present at the moment. This way when confronted with a situation that could drain me, I am already ahead of the game.

Another way I take care of myself is by making sure that I stay away from things that leave me feeling empty. My life requires a ton of energy. I don’t need anything that takes that away without replenishing it in a positive way. I do this by censoring my social media, avoiding news outlets, and staying away from problematic people to name a few things.

Lastly, I make sure that I schedule some time for myself. That can mean reading a book before bed, sipping my favorite red wine, meditating or getting my hair done. I have to have time everyday to look forward to even if it’s as small as washing the dishes in peace. This is how I remain hopeful.

These small changes have shifted my struggle to juggle mindset into a enjoy the ride and be present mindset. Now I am living for what’s in front of me.

Founder of Parents in Motion

Charisma Curry

www.ridepim.com


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Bright Pink Lipstick by Laura

I love myself.  I speak these words, out loud, each morning.  In fact, a few months ago I wrote on my bathroom mirror “I (heart) Me!” in bright pink lipstick.  Research has shown that the majority of our self-talk is negative and therefore, is working against us rather than for us (Helmstetter, 1982; Stranulis & Manning, 2002).  Consequently, positive energy and positive self-talk must begin with you. It is imperative to retrain your brain to be your best friend. The critical choir in your head that you have permitted to perform… kick them out now! Drop the mic and draw the curtain.  

Self-care is not selfish. It’s love. Love for oneself.  After surviving years of abuse as a child and calling myself “a stupid, fat, ugly idiot”, I have learned that, in reality, I am none of those things. I am kind, compassionate, smart, and worthy of every single breath I take.  If you become what you speak, then you must choose words of love and kindness and repeat them out loud. Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:

  • Increased life span

  • Lower rates of depression

  • Lower levels of distress

  • Greater resistance to the common cold

  • Better psychological and physical well-being

  • Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease

  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

Begin tomorrow and wake up to love yourself.  Make it a part of your routine just like brushing your teeth. Soon, this new pattern of empowering self-talk will extend throughout the rest of your day.

I really love myself and am reminded of that each morning when I look in my mirror.  Thanks to a little help from my bright pink lipstick.

 Laura Gray is a proud mom of three sons and three dogs. She is the Founder/Executive Director of  IPride , a self-esteem program for youth based on meditation, mindfulness, fitness and creative expression. Additionally, she is a published author and certified personal trainer and lives by the mantra "Who can I help today?"

Laura Gray is a proud mom of three sons and three dogs. She is the Founder/Executive Director of IPride, a self-esteem program for youth based on meditation, mindfulness, fitness and creative expression. Additionally, she is a published author and certified personal trainer and lives by the mantra "Who can I help today?"

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Staying True to Yourself in a Relationship by Emily

New relationships are exciting, fun, and eye-opening. Whether you have found yourself in a new relationship with a friend or a significant other, change occurs. I love meeting new people and sharing life with them. However, I notice that when I start a new romantic relationship I tend to dedicate all of my free time to that person. I live life like I am on vacation and don’t have a care in the world other than to get to know more and more about this person.

But, when does it get to be too much or go too far?

For some people realizing this is easy and they fix it or get out. For others, like myself, I become attached and have a hard time leaving the toxic relationship. I try to work hard and fix it before aborting the relationship all together.

I was in a relationship with my now ex-boyfriend for four years, three of which were “unhealthy.” Emotional, mental, and verbal abuse can take a toll on a person and once you are out of the toxic relationship you realize the things that both parties did wrong. It takes two people to be in a relationship and I take responsibility for letting myself fall into unhealthy habits. That is the first step in moving forward.

The scary part is I didn’t even realize it at first.

My best friends noticed the red flags that I was blinded to because I was head over heels for this guy. I began spending more time at his place then my own, I would ditch plans with my friends to hang out with him, I would do whatever he wanted to do so that we would be together, and I would switch my class and work schedule to align with his. Did you notice the repetition in the last sentence? I say continuously that I would be the one changing my life to accommodate to his. I became too available to him and lost friendships in the process. I became dependent of him.  I let him walk all over me and it wasn’t until I tried to push back and do things for myself that I realized it.

Next came the emotional, mental, and verbal abusive part.

The relationship was an emotional roller coaster of good and bad times. He would deny all cheating claims and tell me that I was crazy or it was my fault for finding out the things he did. One minute he told me he loved me and the next he was done and never wanted to talk again. He would get angry at me for everything; I was scared because I never knew the type of person I would get. If I called he was mad and if I didn’t he would still be mad. Time and time again he put me, my dreams, and my jobs down; tearing all confidence I once had. I went back to him after he cheated on me (silly me) and then found out he was even dating someone else in a different state while dating me. I was oblivious to the truth because I was “in love.” Looking back, I wasn’t in love with him or how he treated me; I was in love with the idea of who he once was.  Every time I was one step out the door he would reel me back in with his smooth words. It was harder to get out of this relationship than I thought it would be. When I chose to move and start a new career that didn’t involve me following him, he became outraged and lashed out at me. With time I finally got out and could look back at the relationship. I had time to focus on getting myself back to who I was; a strong, independent woman. I was able to see what I wanted and didn’t want in a relationship, what I deserved, and most importantly how to stay true to myself during it all. I let a relationship change me rather than allowing myself to grow for the better.

While finding myself again I came up with a list of “Do’s and Don’ts” for the future. I hope this helps anyone that may be going through a similar situation.

Dos and Don’ts

Do

1. Keep to your normal routine

It is easy to change your routine to match someone else but you have to keep to the one you had when you meet. This allows you to continue to do the things that make you happy. It gives you time to be alone and independent. It allows you to continue to love yourself and remind yourself of who you are. Love yourself first and remind yourself everyday of why you do.

2. Stick to your dreams and goals

Writing down goals and dreams and checking them off when accomplished is such a rewarding feeling. In a relationship you can have dreams and goals together but it is also important have dreams and goals for yourself. Complete these goals even if it requires you to move, change jobs, or scenery.  Do this for yourself.

3. Have friends and family time

The people in your life will respect your relationship and need for time with your significant other but don’t blow them off. Stick to your plans with family and friends and make sure you give yourself time with them. These people are your support system and they will always be there for you before, during, and after a relationship.

4. Ownership of your choices

It is easy to let other people weigh in on the decisions you make. However, it is your life and you only get one. Make the choices that you want so that you can enjoy it. During and after a relationship own up to the decisions made so that you can learn and grow from them, move on, and make new choices to better yourself at the end of the day.

5. Communication is Key

During a relationship don’t be afraid to speak up and talk about the things that are and are not working. This will create less tension and fights at the end of the day. Be honest and upfront with your feelings. After a relationship ends don’t be afraid to speak out and receive professional help if you need it. Then, when you are in another relationship be upfront about the things you have experienced and what you are looking for.

Don’t

1. Don’t ignore friends/ family input

When we are in relationships it’s easy to be blinded about red flag situations. Family and friends close to you are usually the first to see it. Listen to them and try to look at situations from different perspectives. Most importantly, trust your intuition.

2. Don’t be too available

You are your own person and have your own plans. Do not drop everything just because that person says to. This sometimes leads to people getting walked all over and then becoming dependent on that person. Stay true to yourself; stay just as independent as you were before you met them. If you become too dependent on a person and that relationship ends it could leave you feeling more lost than before.

3. Don’t think you are alone

Everyone goes through relationships, relationship problems, and much more. Family, friends, professional therapists, peers, are all around you willing to lend a shoulder or listening ear if you allow yourself to be open to it.

4. Don’t compare relationships

No relationship is the same. There is no specific time-line or steps that each one must follow. Allow each one to be new and if something occurs that may have happened in a past relationship use what your learned in your past to help improve the future of the one you are in now.

5. Don’t let it define you

You are you with or without a relationship. You are a whole person; they are not making up your other half. Do not let the relationship, events, or person change you into someone you don’t even recognize. Every relationship is a learning experience and whether you come out of it heartbroken, single, engaged, or wondering why you didn’t end it sooner there is a lesson in it. Once you understand the lesson learned you will be able grow into a person that doesn’t lose herself in a relationship.

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Friends are Priceless by Shayna Fischer/ Girl Scouts of NEO

“Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold…” This famous Girl Scout song compares friendship to precious metals, but I would argue that true friends are priceless. My name is Shayna and I work for Girl Scouts of North East Ohio. I was a Girl Scout during my grade school years and came full circle after college by working to support Girl Scout volunteers in my professional career. Why am I so passionate about Girl Scouts, you ask? Not only did it instill in me the qualities of “courage, confidence, and character,” it also connected me with my very best friend!

In sixth grade, I remember spending time with my troop at camp sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows and singing songs. The girl to my left was singing as loudly and off-key as I was… she was new to my school, and I liked her immediately. We started talking about our passions- we both loved reading and dogs, and were joining the marching band! Before we knew it, we were two peas in a pod. Sixteen years later, that same girl will be singing (loudly and off-key, of course) at my wedding in a few months. Through the ups and downs of life, I know that our friendship is priceless.

According to the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) article Friendship Really is Magic, there are studies indicating that when a girl has a friend by her side:

  • physical obstacles seem smaller and less daunting 

  • she’s motivated to work harder and aim higher

  • the transition to middle school goes a lot more smoothly

  • her stress levels go down and her general health improves

  • and physical or emotional pain feels a bit more manageable.

Doesn’t that sound priceless? So, in a world where people can have thousands of “friends” on social media but still feel lonely in real-life, what steps can you take to ensure that your daughter makes quality friends? As a parent, there are many ways you can help your girl cultivate strong relationships and point her in the right social direction.

Practice Icebreakers

If your girl tends to be on the shy side, or struggles to make new friends, try working with her to roleplay social scenarios she might encounter. “Come up with real-life situations she might be confronted with,” suggests Girl Scouts Developmental Psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “If they are in the lunch line together, how can she start a conversation? Asking about pets, commenting on the other girl’s shirt (‘I like giraffes, too!’), or even a simple, ‘Want to play?’ can open the door to new friendships.” Practice how she can give sincere compliments or offer to share something- the more she makes these gestures, the more opportunities she’s creating to expand her circle of friends.

A fun way to bond with your girl could be to tell her the stories of how you met some of your close friends that she knows. Were you roommates in college? Did you meet on the volleyball team back in high school? Showing your girl that you went through the same “getting-to-know-you” phase- and ended up with lasting friendships- will help her feel more confident in her abilities. For more great examples of ways to break the ice, check out the article Making Friends: 7 Simple Icebreakers Even Shy Girls Will Love.

Set a Good Example

You know your daughter looks up to you, so make an effort to model positive interactions with your own friends. When you have disagreements, think about what your daughter sees- set a good example by listening without judgement and making a sincere apology if you were in the wrong. The GSUSA article Help Her Find Her Girl Squad states, “Believe it or not, your behavior can have a big impact on your daughter’s budding social life. By being a good listener and supporter to the friends in your life (and explaining why those are great qualities in a friend), she’ll be set up to be a superstar buddy.” Be sure to treat your own friends with respect at all times, and your girl will pick up on these cues. The best way to teach her to be a good friend is by showing her what a good friend YOU are. As a bonus, your own friendships will reap the benefits of these conscious efforts!

Provide an Opportunity

Yes, your girl can make friends at school, but think about expanding her social circle by signing up for a dance class, sports team, library program… or maybe even a Girl Scout troop. “Introduce her to a host of different activities,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “Not only is it a great way to try new things, but it can help your daughter form friendships with children who share her interests.” The key word here is interests- be sure to listen to what activities spark your daughter’s attention and let her try them out!

When you’re able to, try saying “yes” to driving a carpool, hosting a slumber party, or taking your girl to a group play date. The extra effort will be worth it, as it is an investment in her happiness and overall wellbeing.

In case anyone was wondering, the song I mentioned back in the first sentence ends with “a circle’s round, it has no end, that’s how long I want to be your friend!” I wish you and your daughters many priceless friendships.

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Shayna Fischer

Volunteer Relations Coordinator, Girl Scouts of North East Ohio

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I Am 1 In 10 Are You? The Strength I've Gained from Endometriosis by Angelica

I am Empowered and Poised through my Strength

“My strength did not come from lifting weights. My strength came from lifting myself up when I was knocked down”.

This quote could not be truer. I am 1 in 10 women who have Endometriosis. Some women may not even know about the disease so before I share my story I will share a few quick facts about endo (endometriosis for short).

  1. It’s an incurable disease

  2. 1 in 10 women suffer from the disease

  3. It takes an average of 10 years for a woman to be diagnosed

  4. It can only be diagnosed through surgery

  5. Causes infertility, painful sex, bowel problems, chronic headaches or migraines and severe cramps during menstruation

Those are just a few of the quick things I tell women who don’t know much about endometriosis. A more in depth explanation of the disease is endometriosis is a condition that causes the uterine lining to develop outside of the uterus. This means each month you have your menstrual cycle the lining doesn’t shed and gets stuck on organs it shouldn’t, mostly the fallopian tubes and ovaries. Some women develop uterine lining on their other organs too. Endometriosis is a disease that shouldn’t be taken lightly but for some reason many gynecologists aren’t educating young women on the symptoms, so they can prevent being in crippling pain.

I was diagnosed with stage four endometriosis and a five-centimeter endometrioma two years ago. For years I would have periods that would cause me to miss work, get sick and lay in a fetal position for days on end. Finally, after a lot of encouraging from my boyfriend at the time (now husband) I went to my gynecologist and asked him why I had been hurting so bad. The cycle of going through the pain was just getting to a point where I needed to find answers. Two weeks after meeting my doctor I was laying in a hospital bed getting ready to have my first laparoscopy. I was so scared and didn’t know what the results would yield. I was told surgery would take two hours, but it ended up taking four. I had such severe endometriosis they couldn’t get all the built up lining out. I was also told my left ovary and tube couldn’t be located and I’d have to have another surgery. Two days after my surgery I began my period. I have never felt pain like I did from healing from a scope going through my belly button and robotics being used to get rid of the lining, add cramps (that were on steroids) and you get a cycle that seemed like I wasn’t going to get through.

Two weeks later I had my follow up appointment to make sure everything was healing properly. It was then that my doctor said I’d need another surgery because I’d continue being in pain. One week later I was again at the same hospital, in the same operating room getting ready for laparoscopy number two. Only this time the outcomes were much worse. While I was being operated it was discovered my left tube and ovary were non-functioning. Upon waking up I was in terrible pain and honestly couldn’t remember where I was. The nurse by my side said I would be moving to my room soon and could see my family when I was there. And let me tell you I thought I knew what pain was, but this surgery takes the cake. I had four large gauze pads taped to my stomach and it hurt to sit up. And when I say hurt, it hurt so bad I was in tears. The first person I saw was Russell (fiancé at the time, now husband) and he asked how I was feeling. (Then I threw up all over place and he still managed to think I was the prettiest girl in the world…how you ask? I have no idea).

I remember being in the room with him when the doctor came in bearing bad news. He said I no longer had a left side and I would have a 5% chance or less to conceive because the endo had spread to my colon. When they did this surgery my uterus and colon were fused together with scar tissue, which explained why I’ve had bowel trouble all these years. As I sat in the bed with Russell next to me I cried. I don’t know for how long but the tears rolling down my face were large crocodile like tears. I asked Russell if he still wanted to marry me, what we’d do if I couldn’t conceive and how would I get through this. He said, “no matter what happens we’re in this together”. Those have rung true ever since.

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I had a twelve-week recovery ahead of me and it was brutal. My body looked morphed and my stomach didn’t look like mine. I went through a period of not wanting to look at myself in the mirror because I was ashamed, embarrassed, disappointed, and angry that this was happening to me. My dream was to get married and begin a family right away and that didn’t look like it was going to come to fruition. But like Russell said no matter what we’d get through this together. I recovered from the second surgery and in August of that year had my third laparoscopy because the pain came back immediately, and the lining was building again. After this surgery I had my wedding to finish planning and I’d had enough of hospitals, recovery, and more pain.

I decided to take six months and put together a plan of next steps. Those six months came and went and in January 2017 I had my fourth surgery. I was used to the hospital and everything that came along with surgery, but I still felt this guilt. The guilt that I couldn’t conceive before this and I was extremely disappointed. Fast forward to now. We have a plan in place but I’m in pain most hours of the day. I am currently on Lupron-depo, a medication to help prevent a woman’s reproductive system from functioning; I don’t have periods and am in a forced menopause. It’s not any fun but at least I don’t have to worry about the stabbing pain and painful menstrual cycles. However, I am dealing with infertility and I can tell you I have never dealt with something so hard in my entire life. I am depressed and have anxiety because of the infertility. There are days when I don’t want to get out of bed. There are days I tell my husband I’m sorry I can’t conceive. There are days when I wonder when this will end. I don’t have all the answers and I can only offer a little bit of advice based on my experience. But if I were younger I would have asked more questions and been more persistent on finding answers to my pain.

I’ve also learned that I am strong. I am stronger than I thought I could be. This is a bump in the road along my way to becoming a mother. One day I know I’ll hold a little baby, have many sleepless nights, and love a little one that I have a love for that is indescribable. The point of telling you all of this is that no matter what you are going through, you are strong. You may have days, like myself, where you think you just can’t go any further but just know you can. I still have days when I wonder why I have endo and question my path in life. But then I remember we are all destined for greatness and sometimes the obstacles that challenge us the most are the challenges we end up being the most grateful for. One day I’ll be grateful for my challenge and until then I’ll take solace in knowing that I’m coming out of this stronger than I ever thought I could be.

Xoxo, 

Angelica   

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Slowing Down to Speed Up by Traci

“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” ~ Zen Proverb

I first heard this quote several years ago, and my immediate response was a laugh.  I mean, it’s meant as a joke, right? A cute way of encouraging people to meditate more? Actually, the real humor is that the statement is paradoxically true!

When you’re really busy, feeling stressed, and your nervous system is in fight-or-flight mode, you may think that you can’t afford to slow down. The pressure to do something and take action can be overwhelming. Spending your time doing something like meditation logically seems like a waste of time when there are so many other things that need to be done. However, there’s an important difference between spinning your wheels as fast as you can and taking a series of inspired actions.

When you’re too stressed, you get tunnel vision. You can’t see all the options available to you through the fog of stress. Your mind is racing with thoughts and closed off to hearing anything new. You’re more apt to make mistakes, which then require more time and effort to correct. When you’re out-of-sync, you could work non-stop for hours and still make little or no meaningful progress.

Pausing and re-centering yourself is one of the best things to do when you’re super busy and feeling overwhelmed. A short five to ten minute meditation can really refresh your body and clear your mind (sometimes it does take longer, depending on the situation!). If you don’t yet know how to meditate, you can simply stop and take some deep breaths for a few minutes, paying attention to your breathing. This small and simple step interrupts your stress pattern, allowing the opportunity for change.

When you slow down, your mind gets quieter. Then you’re able to hear your inner guidance, your intuition. The fog clears, and from this new vantage point you can see a wider range of options that you previously weren’t able to see. Brilliant new ideas come to you out of nowhere. You’re more in tune with yourself and able to make better decisions. When you’re in the flow, working quickly is easy and you can accomplish a tremendous amount in a short period of time.

Slowing down doesn’t mean that you’re accomplishing less. By slowing down you’re able to work smarter, not harder, and actually speed up your results. By taking just a little bit of time to realign and refocus your energy, you become more empowered and poised.

Are you interested in learning meditation or other ways to reduce stress? Reach out to me at traci@traci-wagner.com. I will send you my set of mini-meditation recordings and direct you to other resources to help you get started.

Traci Wagner -Energy Healer, Spiritual Coach, Meditation Instructor- Healing With, LLC- www.Traci-Wagner.com

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