Does Happiness Come From Within?

Healing and becoming strong from the inside out can be an overwhelming task. Simply defining what that means and why it is important is daunting. Then comes acknowledging and processing the different aspects of being empowered from the inside out. One aspect is happiness. Steve Rose does an excellent job of identifying happiness and raising the possibility that it’s focus may not be what it should be. If we were to adjust our perspective on it, move the focus away from it being a destination and more of companion or by product of a journey, would we be happier with being happy?

This concept brings up an interesting consideration for those who look for someone or something to make them happy. When we are looking for someone to fill a void that we feel we can not personally fill, we become vulnerable to someone else’s agenda to fill that place. If happiness were a byproduct of enjoying the journey of a mission or purpose, would it be easier to recognize if one were off course? If we no longer feel happy, perhaps we need to rethink our destination or the path we are taking to get there? Would that make it easier to recognize if one were in an unhealthy relationship?

This is a well written piece on pondering if happiness is better served from the inside out.

Steve Rose PhD

Meditation

With Eastern philosophy currently on trend in the Western personal-development genre, gurus have been popping up everywhere, preaching the idea that happiness comes from within. This perceptual change is usually achieved through detachment from ego and the material world of possessions through meditation or present-centered breathing practices. This ultimately leads to a state of non-striving whereby the practitioner finds happiness by no longer seeking happiness.

Personally, I’ve found many benefits in inner-based practices, particularly those of Eckhart Tolle. Although working on our inner-life can free us from the forms of striving that prevent happiness, we are still stuck with a problem: all forms of striving can’t disappear. If this were the case, our societies would immediately collapse and idleness would ensue. And who really wants to give up all forms of striving? I personally love striving to write better, think of better ideas, lift more at the gym, and become…

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Support: You’re A Single Parent Not A Mutant Failure

“You didn’t fail. The relationship failed.” The group therapist looked earnestly at a room of somewhat bewildered women.

Huffington Post does a 55 photographic essay on what it means to be a single parent

Huffington Post does a 55 photographic essay on what it means to be a single parent

If one has children, one of the greatest fears is a failed relationship. The idea of being a single parent and baring the full responsibility of not only caring for one’s self, which is daunting enough in our current economy, but clothing, feeding, and sheltering dependent children as well…is daunting. The idea of having to do that without the support of a partner in many cases, is paralyzing. Add to that lack of a family or social support system and it can feel terrifyingly paralyzing. Lack of support is often the defining factor between a good experience or a bad experience as a single parent.

slide_397656_4891638_freeI was about to say, “Nobody grows up saying I want to be a single parent…” Then I stopped myself. True, the majority of the time people find themselves a single parent due to being widowed or making the choice to exit an incompatible, therefore unhealthy, relationship. That said, just like there are those who have elected to never have children, there are those who are perfectly happy with the idea of being a single parent from the jump. Here is why…

According to The Better Health Channel, clinical studies reveal some of the positive effects of single parenting are:

  • A child from a single-parent home who is loved and supported has no more problems than a child from a two-parent home.
  • Whether or not the child uses their free time constructively (for example, reading or playing sports) depends on discipline, family routine and quality time between parent and child – not whether the child has one or two parents living in the house.
  • The child is typically mature and responsible.
  • The parent is typically self-reliant and confident.
  • The relationship between parent and child is close.
  • Single fathers are more likely to use positive parenting techniques than married fathers.
  • Single-parent families are less likely to rely on traditional gender-specific roles than two-parent families.
  • Single parents tend to rely on positive problem-solving strategies rather than punishment or discipline when faced with difficult child behaviours.

While I am not one of the brave forward thinking single parents pioneering the option by initial choice, I have found great joy, freedom, and fulfillment in single parenting:

  • My bed, my choice. I sleep on what seems to be three inches of a king size bed each night. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I would have never guessed that I would enjoy the closeness I share with my kids as I do sleeping with them at night. They feel safe, loved, and nurtured in spite of missing time with me during working hours. I have just as many stories of elbows and knees in my face, a horizontal sleeping five year old, and blanket steeling as my married friends. Also, it’s a fantastic reason to give myself permission to decline asking anyone “back to my place”.
  • My house. My rules. While yes, there are rules that are mutually respected between the two homes, my house, my rules. I do not have to concern myself with going into round 10 of the same argument about the same petty disagreement on parenting style. I don’t have to worry about the “man of the house” being too hard on the kids for any reason let alone when it’s not warranted. Conversely, I don’t have to concern myself on permissiveness that makes it difficult to parent. I do not parent the girls on their dad’s parenting time. Their dad does not parent the girls on my parenting time undermining my authority. The only exception is in light of a major infraction.
  • My mini staycation. I was raised in an extremely family oriented religion. Mothers had their role and fathers had their role. The family unit did not include a clause for single parenting. In my mind, until my children turned 18, I am their mother 24/7. Personal time is for the weak. That was my mythology. Thank goodness that got trashed. Now, every other week I get a break. I am not a scrambling crazy person to make it to their events because I have time to pace myself to get there. I actually have time to decompress, take a long bath, read a book, and feel like a human adult again…dare I say a woman. I actually have time to shave my legs. By the time I start to really miss my girls because enough time has gone by I have forgotten about their bickering…they’re back. Perfect timing.
  • I have a social life. It’s not grand mind you but, again, a perk to “time off” is being able to meet and bond with friends. I have time to pursue personal interests, which makes me a more complete person. My friends and I are able to hold adult conversations, unedited, that don’t always revolve around our children. The rotation actually has an opportunity to orbit around our musings. As a complete person I am able to be a better role model of an independent adult for my children.
  • I don’t need a relationship to be happy. Again, I get to set the example that adult happiness does not revolve around searching out and finding your soul mate. It has more to do with searching out and finding one’s self. If I choose to share that with someone on a committed long-term basis, it is only because I want to. It isn’t because I feel I need someone to make my “fairytale” complete. Relationships are not supposed to be about co-dependence. They are about supporting each others independence through life.
  • Independence. I make the bacon, fry it up, and serve it. If the leg of the table needs tightening, I tighten it. If the light fixture needs to be installed (God forbid the lightbulb be changed), I install it. Better still, I teach my children right along side me. Last time I got a flat, I waited for no one, changed it myself. I am not saying that I wouldn’t let someone help out if they offered but, I am not helpless either. Nor are my children and their strong self-esteem and boundaries reflect it.
  • On good terms. My children do not feel compelled to “choose sides”. Their father and I are not obligated to make an incompatible relationship…compatible. I get to enjoy him for the attributes that attracted me to him to begin with. He is funny, down to earth, good natured, loves dogs, and genuinely loves his kids. Right about the time I start to witness the reasons that I would walk past him in the hallway gritting my teeth…wouldn’t you know the event is over. Everybody wins. My children do not have to live with the silent treatment as we try to get along for their sake. Instead, they get to see two grown adults enjoy each others company, in a mature way, in spite of their differences. The kids get to feel loved from both parents.

slide_397656_4892338_freeOur society is not as supportive of parenting, let alone single parenting, as it should be. Agreed. But, as the needs of society are changing so is the support system. If you are in an unhealthy relationship, trying to make it work out of fear of being a single parent, reconsider your fear. There can be many more rewards than you realize only because you haven’t taken the opportunity to explore the alternative. As difficult and challenging as single parenting can be, I am happier than I have ever been in my history of relationships.

~Shannon

Live your life. Don’t just survive it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Better Health Channel:

http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/single_parenting?open

Huffington Post:

Samakow, Jessica. “55 Personal Photos That Capture Both The Challenges And The Joy Of Single Motherhood.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 27 Jan. 2015. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/27/single-motherhood-challenges-joy-images_n_6555512.html&gt;.

Turning My Sensuality On

The average person often has difficulty embracing their sexuality on a regular basis. Add to that a traumatic experience and it is twice as hard. But, it is a necessary part of empowerment and self-esteem. For one reason or another, and often supported by religions and social beliefs, we deny ourselves an essential part of personal power. Here is one way to dial back in…re-connect.

Stories From the Belly

Lately, I’ve been feeling disconnected from my own sensuality and needing a way to plug back into that part of myself. I figured what better way to re-spark that inner connection than to take a sensual movement class.

I didn’t tell my boyfriend that I was going because I needed this experience to be just for me. We’ve been living together for a few months now, and while I love him truly, madly, and deeply, I suspect that being with him is the reason that I’ve shut down my connection to my sensuality.

Growing up, I’d internalized the idea that it’s okay to feel sensual and sexual in my body whenever I feel like as long as I’m not in an exclusive relationship. But now that I am in one, those aspects of myself are only “supposed” to be expressed and enjoyed when I’m with my significant other.

I believe that…

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Revelations: Find The Beauty In Who You Are!

If you let someone else define your beauty and self worth, they will. Be brave, don’t just stand in your beauty, acknowledge, and proudly own it.

One of the defining characteristics of victim thinking is looking for self-definition and self-worth from the outside in. One would think that this thinking is relegated only to victims of domestic violence and abuse but, that is just a myth. The truth is, anyone who seeks acknowledgement from outside sources in an effort to define and confirm who they are, is guilty of and aspect of victim thinking. This leaves an individual extremely vulnerable to emotional and psychological manipulation and exploitation.

Not defined by society as beautiful

Not defined by society as beautiful

I love Rick Guidotti’s exploration of what has been socially rejected as beautiful. The rejection of being albino is not a trend, it is something that has persisted for centuries and has been cross cultural. What started out as a whim for the photographer, turned into a mission of discovery and an active stance for the beauty of a person.

The repercussions of being rejected by a society are so deep and profound that it is life changing. Imagine what it would be like to be poked fun at for having a misunderstood characteristic your entire life. One of our most basic needs is love and acceptance. One would think that we would get plenty of that from birth from our parents but, that is not always the case. One can never know why, but parents, who are supposed to love unconditionally, can reject their young on one level or another. Sometimes it just a poor communication that is interpreted as rejection. Either way, rejection takes its toll.

It leaves a person searching and asking why they are not valued. It leaves a person looking for someone to give them value where they feel they have none. Unfortunately, this is the vulnerability. This is where anyone can step in and tell you what your value is and all of the hoops you must jump through to achieve it. This can be a lifetime cycle and endless search with no attainability. Or…

Walked into the photo shoot insecure...walked out proud

Walked into the photo shoot insecure…walked out proud

Like many of the albinos who sat for the photo shoot, one can look within themselves to find their inner beauty and shine on against all odds. Beauty is subjective. We have a specific name for the study of what is beautiful. Aesthetics. Even a light exploration of this philosophical topic reveals that for centuries, all that can be concluded about beauty is a social definition vs an individual preference. Sometimes they overlap.

With such a broad definition and debate, it would be folly to give the power of self-definition to anyone but ourselves. My challenge to anyone who watches TV, looks at magazines, delves into movies, and looks to others to define whether or not they are beautiful is to stop. Read, look, observe, and have the courage to get introspective about what resonates with your personal definition of beauty. Define what you find beautiful about yourself and give it your voice. Stand for it and protect it from those who would wish to make you feel less than. I guarantee it is a worth while adventure.

~ Shannon

Live your life. Don’t just survive it.

For more information on Rick Guidotti’s project:

http://positiveexposure.org/about-the-program-2/

Do You Really know Yourself? True Being

Self-empowerment. It can be tricky evolution. A commonality that many of us share with victims of abuse and violence is the need to define ourselves from the outside in. This is a hollow and unstable process. The more we learn how to heal ourselves from the inside out, define ourselves from the inside out, the stronger and more stable we become as individuals. This is stability becomes strong enough to withstand the outside pressures of opinion and control…as such, we are less vulnerable to be abused and exploited as individuals.

Just like every exercise routine is not for everyone, the same can be said about spiritual exercise. If you are looking to for a technique to strengthen your inner self, this may be a good fit for you.

NR Wishart Healing

True Being

How well do you really know yourself? It’s a good question isn’t it. I want to try to keep this post simple. As an individual we could really get into this subject and this theme alone could potentially keep someone going for a whole lifetime. Because after all, how many people do you know in your life that actually do know themselves properly? To the point they have realised, and action in every moment of every day their full potential? I know that I am not at that level at this stage in my life. Although i have reached a level of being able to stand in my highest awareness that i can achieve in any moment at Will. I have been using a technique which I discovered through my own trials which helps with me attaining sustained awareness and what I call, True Being more and more…

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Support: Burning Bridges

http%3A%2F%2F40.media.tumblr.com%2F8ffc1457c9361f93eac2656bb6441e3e%2Ftumblr_na04foqb2I1rsbgmuo1_1280“Don’t burn your bridges.”The footnote is, “Unless it needs to be burned so you don’t return.”

 

Not many people enjoy going to court…except maybe attorneys. The average person doesn’t even like showing up for jury duty. One of the greatest challenges, is to get a victim to show up for court. It is one of the most uncomfortable and vulnerable venues for a victim because, it is a coin toss as to whether they will be re-victimized by the judicial system, their abuser, or both.

I have been struggling for almost four years trying to get sole custody of my youngest son. His father was my abuser. Initially, when I was granted my five year no contact restraining order, the judge overseeing my case wanted me to pursue something more permanent. This was in response to my quarry as to how to protect my son after the restraining order expired. Unfortunately, the judge who saw me for my permanent custody order did not grant it at the time, deferring to the restraining order that was already in place which gave me complete decision making over my son until expiration.

domestic_violence_shelter_ap_imgAt that time, I was still in a 60 day emergency shelter for battered women preparing to go into their 2 year rehabilitation program. I was exhausted on multiple levels. As much as I didn’t want to have to deal with my case in the future, rehashing old events, I simply didn’t have it in me to argue the judge’s position. I let go of it.

Last September, as I anticipated, life presented an opportunity that would require a major move. I had some loose ends to tie up. Back to court. Our judicial system is not very “pro-per” friendly. It is even less friendly for Victims of Domestic Violence and Abuse who are “pro-per”. I spent several days at the courthouse just trying to figure out what papers I needed, how to fill them out, several trips to file, make corrections, and file again.

The first filing process alone was intimidating. Then there was a matter of posting and mailing because the whereabouts of my abuser were unknown. In order to be approved for posting and mailing, one must do their due diligence. For victims who have violent abusers, this can very easily put them in harms way. More fear to overcome. I finished and was approved.

Then came the court date. Another intimidating moment. Will the judicial system be my friend or foe? Will I be scrutinized as whiner trying to take advantage of an “absent” father or will I be viewed as a victim of Domestic Violence trying to protect her child and herself? I wouldn’t know that day…there was not enough time between the filing and the court date to satisfy my abusers rights. Continuance. Proof of service not filed properly. Continuance.

Today I sat in court, thick file in one hand, the other across my stomach. I couldn’t help but think this was almost as bad as having to retell a rape story over and over again. Explain myself and my choices through humiliation, hoping it would just end. Then it did. Quickly. The judge looked over my case, announced the day, time, and situation of the case…then granted me everything I ask for.

burning-bridge

I now have sole legal custody, with no visitation, of my son. He legally goes by an entirely different name now. My changes were drastic but, so was the nature of the abuse. This was one bridge that had earned the task of being burned. By firelight or starlight…I am walking into a protected future and not looking back.

 Live your life…don’t just survive it.

Women Should Get Rape Insurance?

In our current social climate it is so unfortunate that victims are too often re-victimized through the lack of education of our judicial, political, and social system. Georgia Platts points yet another thoughtless and uniformed proposal that, women in general, should now be purchase separate abortion insurance. This is not a misprint.

BroadBlogs

When women are raped the emotional fallout can be great. My brother had a girlfriend who had been date raped. On occasion she would suddenly begin crying because of this. Sexual dysfunction is common, with sex drive evaporating. One man I know of said a woman went numb when he initiated sex after weeks of dating. When he talked to her about it, she said she had been raped, and now leaves her body, mentally and emotionally, whenever sexual encounters arise. Many become anxious or depressed. Some experience posttraumatic stress disorder.

No wonder rape is the crime women most fear, other than murder. We plan our days and activities around it, we avoid going out alone at night, we consider the safest route, we get a friend to join us, we avoid strange men. The list goes on.

Now Kansas state Rep., Peter DeGraaf expects us to add one more…

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The Simple Message That Brought This Middle School Class to Tears

Truly amazing, that a man with many highs and lows can reach the emotions of children. Speakers like Marc Mero help the youth understand life is precious and relationships can help or hurt you.

Cute Puppy Love

Marc Mero has achieved incredible success in sports and entertainment, reaching the top of the professional wrestling industry as a former WCW and WWE Champion.

Today he defines success very different – if just one life is changed for the better each day, each week, or each year, he has surpassed any achievement he has ever set out to reach.

His important message of hope and positivity has made a difference in countless lives, and you can help us share this with others!

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The Power of “Not Yet”

Do you know what tasty tid bit is perfect for an abusive person to exploit? The perfectionist.

If an abusive person can get their manipulative minds a wrapped ’round a perfectionist, they don’t have to be a genius to keep a hold on them. All that is really required is to hold the fear of failure dangling precariously over their solid heads and they will hold themselves in place. Simply imply, let alone boldly state, that a perfectionist is not “enough”, and they will be the Little Engine That Could until they permanently derail.

Do you feel like judgement of failure looms over your shoulder?

Do you feel like judgement of failure looms over your shoulder?

There is an assumption that this abusive dynamic exists only in romantic relationships but the reality is that it can exist in any relationship. It can be with a boss that says their employee doesn’t work hard enough. The parent that tells the child they don’t try hard enough. The needy friend that says to their BFF they aren’t loyal enough. A worker that says to their co-worker they aren’t supportive enough. A person that tells themselves they aren’t good enough. If there is a relationship, failure to produce enough of anything can be exploited.

The fear of failure can be as debilitating as much as it can be destructive. It can also be a looming specter in the process of healing after the trauma of abuse.

Professor Carol Dweck of Stanford University spoke quite comprehensively on the stunting mindset of failure. For someone who is in the process of changing their thinking or mindset after Domestic Violence or Abuse, changing the thought of failure is one of the biggest hurdles. It is also one of the most limiting mind sets for personal growth. Anyone who has worked with survivors or been a survivor knows that the key to a successful future lies in personal growth.

Dweck’s solution to the failure mind set is the power of “not yet”. “Not yet” leaves a to a path of possibilities that failure does not. Failure is absolute and finite. One has failed at a task. For those of us who define ourselves by finite accomplishments instead of by our ability to cope with change and the courage to work through a process, failure can mean a serious blow to self-esteem and personal growth.

b5a167235994fd64e9d1cb8180d6b899After having listened to Dweck’s talk, something else that can be concluded, is that “not yet” can give a person permission to take their time. Too often we can feel pressured to make decisions and take action prematurely, ignoring our intuition, in an effort not to fail. What if we adopted the “not yet” mindset instead? I am “not yet” ready to answer your question. I am “not yet” ready to take action. Then, after we have checked in with ourselves, take action. If it doesn’t yield the desired results it okay, it is just information. Perhaps we need a little more practice, a little more self-evaluation. Try again.

I think this “not yet” mindset being experimented with in our education system could be a fantastic tool when employed in other areas in our life. It does more to build the self-esteem and self-empowerment through personal permission while acknowledging temporary limitations than the restricting thoughts of failure. There is a saying about failing forward to success. Or, in other words, working through the process until we reach our goal. Which reminds me of another saying, life is about the journey…not the destination.

Live your life…don’t just survive it.

 

Do I Dare Mess with a Good Thing? The Temptations of Going for My “Racing Weight”

What an empowering look at self image at any age, including your 50’s. A blog worth checking out!

FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

In July, right before the Bracebridge Olympic distance triathlon. In July, right before the Bracebridge Olympic distance triathlon.

This must be the week to post about weight loss.  Yesterday, Sam came right out and said it: she wants to lose weight.  Then our cycling friend and instructor Cheryl, who is the blogger at Happy Is the New Healthy came right out and said it, too, in her post Coming Clean: Weight Loss versus Body Love: she wants to lose weight.

They have their different reasons. Sam’s reasons are about two things: performance and awareness of the realities of bias against people who are perceived as overweight. Performance-wise, she wants to fly up hills on her bike even faster than she does now (she says she’s not super fast now, but so far she’s smoked me on every challenging hill I’ve ridden up with her). She says:

…we live in a world with pretty strong anti-overweight bias. While…

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