Category Archives: Fulfillment

You. On a plate.

So, I’m watching Masterchef right now (You know, the  show where Chef Ramsay gets to yell at people, but with less bleeped-out profanity.  Oh, and Graham gets to look cute and nice with his perfectly-sculpted poofy hair-do, and Joe gets to be harsh, angry, and critical, in as nice a way as possible).

See?

The contestants were given the opportunity to pick their own Mystery Box Challenge ingredients to produce what the judges termed “you on a plate.”  After the contestants got the ingredients for their best dish, the judges pulled the rug out from under them and told them to pass the ingredients for their best dish to the person in front of them, then cook something incredible.  You can imagine the immediate looks of shock and horror.

Being the “I see metaphors” type, my brain immediately engaged in how this particular episode relates to the basic premise of this blog (In case you hadn’t caught on, I believe you have a choice in life).

How many times do we feel like we get to serve up the best of ourselves to the rest of the world?  I mean, really?  How frequently do you feel like you are in your element and winning this game we call life?  I would venture to guess, not that often.  To use cooking metaphors, this is probably because you are trying to use all of the wrong ingredients.  Maybe you thought were an introvert, but you’re really an extrovert.  Maybe your parents guided you (with good intentions) into a profession that doesn’t really feel right.  Maybe you just got caught up in a whirlwind of bad choices and now you’re stuck with the consequences.

Like this:

A plateful of good intentions gone wrong.

(Excuse me while I go retch in the loo)

Anyway, the point is that the best you is somewhere in there, waiting to come out and live in the real world.  Like I mentioned yesterday, all the ingredients you need to be the best you are already there inside you.  That’s right, you, on a plate.  That’s right, the best you can be served up on the plate of life.  You just have to clean out that pantry, chuck out the bad stuff, and get busy making greatness.

Looks gooooooooddd, doesn’t it?

But, let’s be real: changing your life takes time (i.e. lots of counseling.  And tissues.  Don’t forget the tissues), courage, intentionality, and perseverance.  But, it can be done.  No amount of whining, angry eyebrows, or feet shuffling will ever convince me otherwise.

You just have to decide

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It’s up to you…

A life coach told me soon after meeting me that I was “visionary.” I just can’t help but see the “big picture” pretty much everywhere I look. I can see the good and the bad all at the same time. This can be frustrating if I see something (or someone) headed in the wrong direction. This can be useful if I am planning something. I can choose to use my personality trait for good, or for evil. In the words of Mr. Monk, “It’s a gift, and a curse.”

Personality traits are like that, a gift AND a curse. You and I were pretty much born the way we are, we didn’t have a say in the matter. We are like lumps of newly formed clay, ready to be shaped by family, time, and circumstances. Very occasionally that shaping forms a near-perfect human that can manage life well. But mostly, we turn out slightly misshapen, with an oddly placed handle here, or a slightly twisted rim there. Then we become adults. All of that molding and shaping that had been going on by the people in charge of us comes to a screeching halt, and, well, we are what we are.

Do you feel like this inside?

Then, we go through the fires that hardens the clay and solidifies the shape we were when we stepped into adulthood. Because life is like that. Trial by fire. Will we survive, or won’t we? Sure, we have to accept ourselves for who we are, and so should our loved ones. But, I truly think that this only goes so far. It’s hard to be around someone with an anger problem. It’s hard to keep throwing paddles and a boat out to someone who is stubbornly (yes, I say “stubbornly” because you and I can choose to be despondent, or not) stuck in a pond of despondency and despair.

We start to feel the the moments that the oddly placed handle gets in the way, causing all sorts of problems. We feel embarrassment when the slightly twisted rim keeps spilling the liquid inside at all the wrong times. Sometimes whole pieces fall off, or we are dashed to the tile floor and break. In many cases, people throw up their hands after several failures and say, “I’m never going to change!” We are what we are, right? Why bother trying? Well, yes, and no.

The truth is, we can’t change our genetic inheritance, but we do have a choice in how we use those traits: we can choose to stay the way we were shaped, or we can choose to, effectively, start over by smashing up the broken vessel and getting some fresh clay. You already have the ingredients you need: personality traits, learning experiences, belief systems, relationships, and etc. You can decide which ingredients you are going to use, and which you are going to throw out. You can decide how those personality traits will manifest in the real world. In other words, you decide who you are and how you behave. You get to choose the colors and the shape. That’s right. Shall I say it again?

YOU GET TO DECIDE.

Frankly, It really doesn’t matter what came before. All of those childhood experiences that brought to where you are don’t matter much. What matters is what you decide today. Do you struggle with fear (like me)? You can decide today to make a step toward freedom from that fear. Do you struggle with an addiction that rules your life? You can decide today to get yourself to the appropriate help according to your needs. It’s your choice. It’s up to you. You could change from the above to this:

Isn’t this beautiful?

Or not. It’s up to you to decide.

Be Yourself

Some of the wisest words I’ve ever read…

I just read an article about how a stay-at-home mom turned published author, got her big break.  She had apparently written part of a manuscript, then let it gather dust for a while.  An agent was interested in representing her because she had followed her on Twitter.  The agent asked to see whatever writing she had already done.  So, the mom sent her dusty manuscript to the agent.  The agent replied that she could see this woman’s potential as a writer, but thought that she could do better, if she used her own voice.  The voice the writer used on twitter.  In other words, she wanted her to be authentic.  To be the best possible writer, she had to be herself.

For any of us to be the best possible us, we need to be who we are as a person.  There’s no point trying to be someone, or something your not.  If we do this, we will sound inauthentic.  We will not influence the world with our inauthenticity.  As a matter, being something other that who you are just leads to confusion, and may hurt a few people along the way.

World-changers are good at influencing other’s because they are authentic.  We connect with authentic voices because those voices are believable.  We trust what they are saying is true.  We trust this because we know that the person is being themselves.

 I want to be a world-changer.  As of Saturday, I have accepted my identity as a writer.  But, I’m not happy with my voice.  I feel like I am cheating the best parts of myself, by not being myself.  I want to be authentic.  I want to draw people into my circle.  I want move people, and be moved by people.  I want to be who I am, not some idea of who I am.  I am going to start by listing the things I know about myself:
  • I am child of God.
  • I am sassy.
  • I am a natural leader.
  • I am gifted at counseling others.
  • I am a mother.
  • I am wife.
  • I am a know-it-all.
  • I am an artist.
  • I am a writer.
  • I am smart.
  • I am witty.
  • I am a sister.
  • I am a visionary.
  • I am a nerd.
  • I am a good cook.
  • I am an encourager.
  • I am a blogger.

To be sure, there is still plenty of undiscovered country in my brain-scape.  I am sure that I will get to know more of myself as time goes on.  In the meanwhile, I must be who I am.  I must be authentic.

Today I choose to be myself, how about you?

Your turn…

Who are you?

Don’t clam up. A blog post on taking risks in relationships…Part 1.

Author’s note: As I write this blog, I am finding that there is really two parts to this topic: taking risks in relationships in general, and the process of choosing a person with whom to take a risk.  In the interest of not writing a REALLY long post on both parts, I am going to break this into two parts.

A dear, sweet friend of mine, whom I have known since childhood, has been hurt quite a bit lately by relationships.  As a result of her pain, this appeared on her Facebook page:

While can appreciate the reason for the sentiment, I’m not sure I agree with the idea behind it.

I got married at the age of 20, mostly because I was pregnant and I needed the father’s health insurance to cover the related health care costs.  We had convinced ourselves that we loved each other and that we could make marriage work despite the true reason for marrying.  Little did I know that that marriage would end in disaster.  While I was no angel in this marriage and contributed to the failure of our marriage, I felt I was treated horribly, including, but not limited to, adultery on his part at least once, probably twice. Then, I was left, and divorced, by the person who had pledged to stick with me through thick and thin.

Relationships are risky.   The potential for being hurt, or hurting another, is huge.  People often present the best of themselves at the beginning, then the worst of themselves comes out as time goes on.  Often, the worst of ourselves, and the other person clash, causing chaos in our relationships.  Unless the chaos is effectively worked through or controlled, the result is generally a split (or a divorce if one is married).  It has to be said than in some cases, there is no hope for the relationship, no matter how much work goes into the relationship.  Splitting up with someone you committed  yourself to can cause intense emotional pain.  This pain is akin to having a limb ripped from your body, even if the other person was horrible.  The suffering can go on for years afterwards.   Self-doubt can creep in.  Fear of being hurt again becomes the new paradigm.  Any potential future relationships are affected by past hurts. One can be come overly-cautious in their attempt to try out this new relationship while avoiding true risk.  Which makes the new relationship more likely to fail.  Like I said, it’s risky.

When my marriage failed, I was at the beginning of the long healing journey that I have been on.  Frankly, at the time my marriage failed, I was not capable of managing the hurt associated with ripping and tearing that was going on.  I did not understand myself, nor the reasons that my marriage didn’t work.  I was single for about 7 years before my current husband decided he wanted to date me.  During that 7 years, I had to do a lot work in counseling, and with God, to overcome the terrible feelings of loss, anger, and sadness.  For 7 years, I was a single, working mother struggling to make ends meet, and trying to manage my volatile emotional state and a child who severely struggling as well.

The idea of adding a husband, and stepfather, into the equation was downright scary.  Like so many situations I observed, adding a man into my, and my son’s, life was extremely risky and likely to result in chaos.  What if my son and husband didn’t get along (they didn’t for a long time)?  What if my husband committed adultery like the first one?  What if he left me?  What if he couldn’t deal with the emotional baggage that came with marrying me (he does with a ton of grace)?  What if we just couldn’t work out our problems?  What if one of us gave up hope (I’ve been close a dozen times or more)?  What if my marriage failed?  Taking that step toward marriage again was a huge risk.  It could end in disaster like the first one.

The desire to close oneself off to the world, to potential love, to other people becomes intense after a split with someone you once loved.  Wrapping yourself up in hard shell of safety really only results in a life half lived.  Sure, you are safe from harm, but you are also safe from joy, happiness, fulfillment, and a good, lasting relationship.  This hard-shell reality affects how you react to other people, how you make decisions, how you behave in relationships.  You cannot fully commit to another person when you live your life this way, even if the person you found is the best person for  you.

The heart of the matter is that while putting yourself in a position to not “be let down” feels safe, I believe you are actually risking more than if you allow yourself to take the risk of being hurt.  I think I have made that the point that taking risks is dangerous,  BUT (with capital letters no less), I believe that taking risks is a necessary part of living life to it’s fullest.  Sure, the potential for hurt is there, but the potential for joy is there too.  The hurts described above can eventually heal, if you allow that to happen.  That’s right, you can heal from the hurt.   I would like to add an addendum to this statement: I think that one can make poor choices in partners and end up going the healing process over and over again.  If that’s what’s causing you so much pain, I would question how you choose partners.  So, we are gonna talk about that in part 2 of this post.

You are not forever tainted by your marriage’s, or relationship’s, failure.  You can rise above the associated pain and suffering.  You can place yourself in someone else’s hand again.  And, if you get hurt, you can  heal, again.  Unless you allow yourself to take that risk, you don’t know how something is going turn out.  You can live a a full life with someone by your side.  You can put your trust and hope in someone else’s hand.  Let yourself out of your shell.

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It’s your turn: do believe you can be healed from the hurt caused by failed relationships?

Testimonial Tuesday by Richelle Knapp (my sis)

It’s time again for another installment of Testimonial Tuesday.  I am the oldest of four, and my sister is the second oldest.  She and I have been through a lot together.  Although we had different experiences and perceptions of our childhood experiences, we have been on a similar journey.  Each individual step in our journeys is invariably linked to the other person’s.  My sister describes a part of her journey in overcoming her difficulties.  So without further, I give to you my sister Richelle Knapp…

As I was growing up, my mother was hard to figure out, to say the least. She was very mean to me and my siblings most of the time. But other times, she was really nice and fun to be around. She singled me out for a period of physical abuse. She was a drug addict. She did not really know how to raise children.

I don’t think she intended to be this way. I don’t think she set out to abuse drugs. But her background was a big part of it. Her family was a mess with alcoholic parents. She and her siblings were ripped apart when she was very young. She was largely a victim of circumstance. But sadly she did become an addict. She was always in a deep grip of denial about her addiction.

Her life impacted mine in deep and profound ways. Everything that happened to her and to me as a result of her problems and our relationship resonated for years even after her death. When she passed it took me a while to figure out that I was not mourning her death, but her life. After her passing, I had many emotional and mental problems. I was losing touch with reality and regressing back to my childhood. I was having almost constant anxiety attacks.  I was also having flashbacks of things I did not understand. I had a vague feeling of ongoing fear and even terror at times. My poor husband went through it all with me and was my main support. I could not figure out how to function. I could not work or do much of anything else. My emotions were in constant upheaval. One day I would be okay, and the next I could not get out of bed. I was lost in a sea of mental and emotional problems, and I was drowning.

When things got really bad, my sister ended up coming out to help me. She brought me back to her house to stay for a month and to begin to get me the help that I needed.  I went through something called inner healing.  Inner healing is a way in which God is able to come in and make significant changes to a person’s spiritual landscape. I had Dissociative Integrative Disorder. Through the inner healing, process  God revealed the fragments of my psyche and integrated them back together again. When it was over, I felt whole for the first time in a long time. But I also felt very fragile, as if I could break very easily again.

Later in the year, I came in contact with a woman who was instrumental in helping me to become stronger emotionally, and mentally. During the time she counseled me, we did certain exercises to help me to better understand what was going with me. I realized I still blamed my mother for the majority of the problems in my life. I realized that I had not forgiven her for just about everything. One of the most important exercises we did was called The Vault. My counselor had me talk through a list of things I had made in a previous meeting that had to do with my life. I had to decide what I wanted to “keep” so that I could deal with it still, and what I wanted to “lock” in the vault and move on from. As I worked through the list I could feel myself suddenly getting lighter and lighter emotionally. It was a significant time for me, a real turning point. I left that session feeling completely different. I felt very nearly completely healed. It was finally a new beginning for me. For the first time in a long time, I felt free.

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I am 38 years old. I have been happily married for over 4 years. I live in Bear, DE with my husband. I believe that anything can be overcome if you are willing to do whatever it takes; if you are willing to do the hard stuff to be healed and ultimately be free.

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So, tell  me, do you want to write about so something you have overcoming?

Don’t poke that dragon with a stick. It’ll eat you. Or will it?

Didn’t your mother teach you NOT to poke a sleeping dragon?  That you should let sleeping dragons lie?

He looks too cute to be dangerous. Right?

Or was that dogs?

He’s definitely too cute to be dangerous.

Like all reptiles, dragons are great at sleeping.  You know, being cold-blooded and all.  Sleeping is an excellent way to conserve energy.  So, as you can imagine, something as big as a dragon needs lots of sleep.  Except when they don’t.  I mean, a dragon’s got to eat sometimes, right?

In case you’re not catching on to my little metaphor, the sleeping dragons (or dogs) that I am referring to is our emotional troubles.  Stuff from the past is like a sleeping dragon.  Some of us have lots and lots of dragons sleeping together in the dog-pile technique.  Others have one or two.  Either way, I personally, and sincerely believe that sleeping dragons are dangerous.  They can wake up at and wreak havoc on our emotional state, on our relationships, and our life anytime they want to.

Dragons are smart creatures.  They like to sleep in dark corners, letting us know they’re there, but never really fully engaging us.  They’re happy there in their comfy little corner.  Because of the shadows, we can’t really see what they’re doing.  But, believe you me, they are causing trouble.

Un-dealt with emotional problems come out various forms, and we often don’t even realize it.  Mostly because our reactions are normal…to us.  THEY run your life.  THEY decide how and when you behave and interact with your environment.  Like when my husband innocently says something that sets off an angry reaction in me.  Or, when a sudden, overwhelming fear of enclosed spaces keeps me from having fun.  Or, when I sling into a deep depression for no apparent reason.  Or, when I have (yet another) bout of anxiety at the prospect of meeting new people.  All of these reactions come from somewhere.   I learned them growing up.  All of these reactions can cause me problems as an adult.  They stunt my growth.  They keep me from fully engaging in life.  They harm my relationships.  And most importantly, they keep me back from being who I was meant to be.

If you decide to take control of the situation, you WILL have to face your dragons head on.  Sure, once you poke them and wake them up they are going to growl and stomp and threaten to eat you.  They might even throw a flame or two your way.

Remember this guy?

But, here’s the thing:  YOU are in control of the dragons.  YOU are the master of THEIR fate.  It’s not the other way around.  Because as Christopher Robin told Winnie the Pooh, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”  You hold the secret weapons that defeat the dragons.  You know their vulnerabilities.  You know where that soft spot is and can drive in your sword (or lance if you prefer).  If you do, you will truly be at peace.  You will never have to worry about what that dragon will do next.  You can get on with your life and live it to the fullest.

Pretty cool, huh?

So, I say, don’t let the sleeping dragons lie there forever.  Take up your sword, your spear, your counseling sessions and deliberately, and methodically, deal that dragon it’s death blow.

You’ll then be free from it’s grip.  Forever.

I promise.

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Your turn, which weapon do you prefer?

Take a risk. Be free.

Today is Friday.  Every Friday, Lisa-Jo Baker (a.k.a The Gypsy Mama), hosts a writing party at her site.  She calls it a writing “flash mob.”  She gives us a one-word prompt.  We write about that word for five minutes straight.  Without editing.  Without backtracking.  Without worrying.  The only other rule is to and encourage other Five Minute Friday writers.  So here goes….

Today’s word is Risk

Go!

Every step a person can make towards a better day, a better week, a better life is worth the risk.  Risk will always be part of the equation to do something new.  I risk my perceived happiness.  I risk being uncomfortable.  I risk pain.  I risk embarrassment at my failures.  I risk losing people in my life.  But, the risk is worth it if it means that I will be free from the chains of my past.  Able to do the things I was meant to do.  Able to walk through life unfettered.  Able to genuinely smile and say “I’m doing okay”.  Able to move to the mountains I was meant to move.  Falling down when I take a risk is okay.  It’s part of the process.  It’s part of life.  It’s  not the end of the world.  It’s not the final sentence in the story.  It’s not death.  It’s just a moment in time.  It’s just a temporary setback.  It’s just a risk.

Stop!

See you on Monday!

The Conundrum of Comfort

My computer is about 5 years old.  I have the same screen, mouse, and keyboard. I am used to how the arrows keys seem to stick a little when I push them down.  I am used to the dirt that seems permanently stuck in between each key.  I am used to the fact that the trackball on my mouse no longer works.  I am used to the fact that my mouse pointer frequently “disappears” on my screen.  Not to mention the vertical lines that are randomly spaced on my screen.  I am used to it because this is normal.  And normal can be comforting, no matter how bad normal is for me.  Because it’s what I am used to.  It’s comfortable.  Sometimes I don’t even see the lines when I’m watching something on the computer.

See the lines? Perhaps I should be annoyed.

I really can’t do anything about my faulty equipment because of our faulty financial situation.  Replacing computer parts is expensive (especially because I have a Mac).  Even a new mouse cost $50, which is a huge sum in this house.  That’s equal to a tank of gas, or a few groceries.  So, I tell myself it’s not a big deal.  I do my best to ignore the faults.  I pretend they aren’t there.

My room is pretty crowded what with rather large primates and pachyderms hanging about, making themselves comfortable on my furniture.

Looks comfy. Doesn’t he?

I do the same with my emotions.  I get comfortable with my little faults.  I tell myself that a little selfishness is okay.  An outburst of anger towards my husband may be wrong, but’s it the way I am (right?).  My seemingly impossible-to-eradicate depression can’t be stopped or changed.  Somehow my personality quirks are comforting, even if they are wrong.  The chambers of my heart and mind can be pretty crowded too.

He’s a little hard to ignore.

When it comes to our little faults, we decide that there is nothing we can do about these things, so we get comfortable with them.  We invite them over for tea.  We snuggle up on the couch with our little faults and watch a good movie.  We share our favorite snacks.

But, being comfortable with the little faulty things in our lives just leads to us becoming like a fat cat…lazy. We never work at changing our thoughts and behaviors.  We let the dust collect on the rather large animals taking up space without ever questioning why they are there in the first place.

The opposite of this  is (you know I just had to say it) deciding that things are going to be different.  Making a choice for change.  Believing that living a half-life is not worth the comfort that familiarity brings.  We  have to kick that gorilla and elephant out and lock the doors of our minds and hearts.  We have to decide we want to live a different life.  We have to decide that life is worth living to it’s fullest.

So,  make that first step.  Take inventory of yourself.  Be honest.  Embrace change.

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So tell  me, have you ever seen an 800 lb. gorilla?

Some inspiration

I ain’t got nothin’ to share today.

So, I am posting a couple of inspirational videos for you to watch.

Be inspired! Don’t give up hope!

And now…a little bit about me

Everything is a process.  I am still in the process of overcoming a multitude of sins on my part and my parents part.  It is really difficult to say out loud things that might hurt other people.  So, I sit here and struggle with how much to say, and how much to reveal about myself this early in the game.  Sometimes, I even doubt myself, my story.

And then…

…well, I look back at all of the work that God has accomplished in me.  I look back at who I used to be and who I am now.  I see the differences in my personality, my thought patterns, and my way of relating to others.  And I ask myself, how can my story NOT be real?  How can I NOT share the things that MIGHT hurt other people?

I need to share for your benefit, and for mine.

I was born in 1970 to two hurting people.  My mother gave birth to me carrying her own issues.  Some of those issue were passed on.  Some of which she continued to act out for the rest of her life which ended in an accidental overdose in her early 50s.  My father I know less about, he is more of an enigma.  My parents divorced when I was about 6.  My mother remarried when I was about 9.  I really liked my stepfather, and I’m pretty sure he liked me.  I grew up confused and full of self-doubt.  My mother did a pretty good job of contributing to these two elements.  By the time I graduated from high school I really had no clue who I was, what I wanted from life, or anything else for that matter.  I sunk into my first deep depression with a touch of dissociation.  I spent the whole summer after graduating depressed, and conflicted.

I eventually got a job and met my first husband through a mutual friend.  My mother and I got into an argument, she tried to hit  me, so I left home suddenly at age 19 and moved in with my boyfriend.  Unbeknownst to  me, I was pregnant with my first son at the time.  Not long after this sudden change in my universe, I started to experience flashbacks.  I would get “stuck” in a frame of mind that was both completely foreign and completely familiar.  I had no clue what was going on.

Fortunately, I started into counseling right away.  I have been at it for 22 years.   With the help of God, and other people, I have changed.  I have been through many different kinds of counseling, individual psychotherapy, group counseling, inner  healing, deliverances, to name a few.  As a matter of fact,  I just finished yet another turn at counseling with a wonderful person.

My life has been an uphill battle.  I have struggled with Dissociative Identity Disorder (a total of 7 personalities of which are now fully integrated), sugar addiction, self-doubt, low self-esteem, flashbacks, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, anxiety attacks, clinical depression,  ADHD, and few other things.

I have been on Prozac, Wellbutrin, Cymbalta, Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, and a couple of other medications I can’t remember over the years.  All helpful and useful tools for helping me with my struggle to overcome.

Right now I am not on any meds and am not in counseling.  I feel pretty good,  most of the time.  I still struggle madly with anxiety and depression at times, but God and therapy gets me through.

I am almost done my Bachelor’s program in psychology and will be moving into a Master’s program for counseling at a local university.  The goal is to professionally help others the way I have been helped.  I now know that I was born with a gift of counseling and teaching.  I must be what I was meant to be.

Annnnnd, I think I will stop here for now.  I will reveal more information about myself as time goes on, especially as they pertain to what I am talking about.

Thanks for reading!

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Tell me your thoughts…