Standing Still.

Time

“Sometimes it takes years to really grasp what has happened to your life.”                                                                                                                    -Wilma Rudolph

It can be a hard pill to swallow when you realize that you are out of the forest, but not out of the woods. Life goes on and we live it out the best we can, exhausted often by the very act of being. Sometimes when you feel as though you have made progress you realize that you were actually just standing still; and the truth is that taking steps is easier than standing still.

It can be incredibly frustrating as I watch friends suffer through their growing pains; shit as I suffer through my own growing pains. I want a magic balm to help them through the pain, but I know that the only way to find redemption is to push right on through it. Life has taught me this well, and some lessons have taken longer to grasp than others. It’s kinda like trying to figure out Algebra (which incidentally I almost failed). It comes down to realizing that in life you have to work out the problems, you can’t just skip to the answers without doing the work.

When I find myself in these situations my usually patient self often checks out. Then comes the moment of self-reasoning. I have learned that patience really is a virtue and that time doesn’t heal all wounds, but it certainly helps dull the rough edges. Life doesn’t come with a manual, thank God because I probably wouldn’t read it anyway. We all have to follow our own path and figure out the best way to go about it for ourselves. It took me a lot of years to finally wake the hell up.

Then just like that you get that ‘Ah ha’ moment. You finally realize that the past is the past; and you can’t let it hold you hostage anymore. Life is for the living, and living is happening in the present moment. I can only lead by example and share what I have learned in an attempt to shine some light on the shadows. Bruce Springsteen’s mantra sounds off in my head, “No retreat baby, no surrender.”  You gotta just live through it. If t takes years then so be it, just don’t you dare give up. One day you will understand, just hang on and keep doing the work.

xo Ella

What can we gain from suffering?

 

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One common thread that connects us all is our suffering. Perhaps suffering exists so that we are drawn to each other. So that we make connections to unite under a common bond. Struggles are what teach us. They are the growing pains in life. They carve into our souls the depth needed to hold empathy and compassion for others. Our struggles, if we allow them to, can bring us more wisdom than we can ever learn in a formal setting.

The question of a lifetime is to determine how to survive in the midst of all this suffering.  What are we to do with our suffering? You have to make the choice for it is your suffering and no one else’s.  It belongs to you and to you alone and I have learned many things after years of suffering. For one I know that as long as we walk this earth we will find suffering. I also know that we can choose to let it drown us or we can learn from it. I am holistically stronger as a result of my sorrows. I am able to connect to others as a wounded healer; without the struggles and the pains I would never be able to say this. My truth is not about what happened to me. It is about how I choose to respond to it.

One might choose to embrace their suffering and cling to it like a warm blanket; swaddled in uncomfortable familiarity. In time this will become your reality and you will not remember where your suffering began or how it will ever end. The suffering has taken on a life of its own and you will be drinking from this life cup everyday as it steals your joy slowly and steadily. I know this as a fact for this for it is how I existed for years. It was not my conscious choice, but rather one of circumstance. I didn’t have the tools or support to understand otherwise at the time. I was caught up and adrift in my own nightmare.

When you play in the rough surf of the ocean you run the risk of getting knocked down. Sometimes, before you can stand back up another wave will roll in and knock you right back down, and so forth and so on. Before you realize it you are being helped to shore gasping for breath and wondering how such a beautiful day turned so quickly into fear. 

So it is with life. There are times where we get knocked down again and again before we even realize what has happened to us. It comes so quickly sometimes, doesn’t it? We find ourselves knocked on our asses, exhausted, sad, and often in great pain. We are robbed of the very joy that we are here to seek in this life. Alas, this is the human condition my friends and no one gets a hall pass in the school of life.

All I truly know is how I handle my suffering; and I really do wish that it hadn’t taken me so long to awaken to this truth. When I am in pain, I take my suffering and I sit with it for as long as I need to. I get to know it and why it has come into my life. When I feel like I cannot sit with it any longer, I stay grounded in it, even when it feels like it is going to kill me. It can be agony, but this is the critical time in your healing. You need to look inwards and dig deep in order to find the lesson that your pain is trying to teach you. By doing so your suffering is never in vain. You will have taken command and ownership of your suffering and it will no longer dictate to you. It cannot rule you.

When you can look at your suffering in this manner then you will know that is has been for the building of your spirit, not the breaking down. You will have learned and grown within your self. Your spirit will be wiser and your mind sharper. You will be stronger for you have survived what you thought you couldn’t. The silver lining here is that you will be prepared to help another one day who might be suffering in a similar way. You are now a wounded healer, and to me there is nothing more powerful than this.

This is where in my purpose lies and where my drive comes from. This is why I wake up every morning grateful for another precious day. It is why I have my hand open wide to take another’s. I may not be able to change the situation of their suffering, but I can offer them hope and understanding. My desire is to foster hope in people so that they know that their suffering can pass as they come to an understanding of it. In this understanding they will find purpose. Our suffering doesn’t have to be a life sentence.

This is the ripple effect in its purest form. One small motion in calm water can ripple out a great distance. It is our choice how we respond to it. I choose to live my life by embracing it all and as a result believe that I am wiser for it. Running away from your struggles or numbing your pain will never allow you to grow into the person that you are meant to be. By taking the time to sit with your suffering you will gain an understanding unparalleled in any other way. You will have the capacity to help others navigate through their tough times; and this is how we unite through our pain in order to connect, grow, and heal. Within this journey we are certain to find the silver lining of Hope and Love.

XO Ella

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Why I write and other curiosities….

10425696_10204251393151996_743625676_nWhen my dear friend Patricia Saxton asked me to join her “blog hop” I responded with an instant “YES”. I have neglected my writing for months and I am always better on a deadline of sorts. So, I took that challenge and here I am preparing to write about writing. We all have our own way of doing things…our methods. I am not trained in the art of writing, but I have always kept journals. I am actually a visual artist and writing a public blog is something that I started to do a little over two years ago. If you choose to continue to read on you will find out what got me started blogging, why I blog, and what I am working on currently. This way please…..

What am I working on/writing?

I wish I could say that I sit down and write my blog religiously every day. Actually, it’s been a bit of a dry spell for me the last few months. I am always working on something though. I run a private group for women under the Rebel Thriver umbrella and it is where my heart lies. We are all walking our paths; survivors of this life in one way or another and it is there that I focus much of my attention. I am currently working on writing my first public workshop for Rebel Thriver. It will be the foundation for all other workshops to build upon and I am really excited about it. I am in the process of writing a piece for The Good Men Project (www.goodmenproject.com). I have been asked to write an open letter to men addressing the issues that we as women feel that men need to work on. It’s a brilliant opportunity to connect with enlightened men and start a conversation for a greater understanding. Finally, I am starting to pull my first book together. I am not putting pressure on myself though, for I feel that when it is meant to happen it will just flow from within. I plan to write a few books before I lay down my pen.

How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?

I don’t really feel as though I have a genre. I write in the moment and I am full on stream of consciousness. Sometimes I feel like I step out of my body and my spirit is writing what my mind cannot articulate. I am a free spirit and I approach my writing in the same way. There are no rules for me to break, no lines to color within, and my brush is big. Every piece I write is an adventure. There are no maps or outlines, just me and the blank.

Why do I write what I do?

I am a survivor of domestic violence. I married the love of my life, or so I thought, only to find out soon after our “I Do’s” that he suffered from mental illness. I spent over 11 years with this person who abused me mentally, emotionally, and physically. He systematically broke me down until I found myself wondering if I would even survive. Well, a long story short, I survived. I am now a single mother of two and we are a miracle. I had no one to help me navigate the murky waters I found myself swimming in, and it was incredibly isolating. I felt liberated when I chose to refer to myself as “survivor” rather than “victim”, but I wanted so much more than to survive. I wanted to thrive. So, I started to write. I started to tell the all the parts of my story that I could in order to heal and in turn help other women to find the strength to move on too. There is power in words and in the bridges that they can build between people. I started writing to save my life and I continue to write to help save others.

How does my writing process work?

I don’t have a “process” and I like it this way. I have learned to go with the flow like the tides roll in and out from the sea. Something triggers me and in turn I see a lesson to be worked out within myself. I start writing to clarify my thoughts and so often they resonate with others. Writing enabled me to help others in some very dire situations. I believe that words can heal; they have great power to connect us in a powerful way. I shall continue to write as it is the best form of therapy I know. We gain wisdom through our struggles and the only way I can make sense of many of them is by helping others with what I have learned. There is a great freedom in this.

Please visit me on Facebook www.facebook.com/rebelthrivers and on Twitter www.twitter.com/rebelthriver

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And now, my talented Blog mates:

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Somewhere around the age of 3, Patricia Saxton picked up a pencil and never quite put it down. A multi-disciplined artist, Patricia is an award-winning graphic designer, illustrator, writer, and fine artist. Creative Director of design firm Saxton Studio, she’s also the author/illustrator of 2 best-selling children’s books, A Book of Fairies and The Book of Mermaids, and the inspirational design book 52 Weeks of Peace. Her paintings have exhibited widely and hang in private collections throughout the U.S. On a personal note, as a 24/7 single Mom, Patricia has come to see much of her work as a real-time, real-life experiment in “doing what you love.” (p.s: it’s not always easy, but chocolate helps!) You can follow Patricia at any or all of these hot spots: Saxton Studio Blog, Saxton Studio Website, Facebook / Saxton Studio, Facebook /52 Weeks of Peace, Amazon and Twitter.

You can follow Patricia at any of these fine places: saxton studio blog link: https://saxtonstudio.wordpress.com saxton studio website link: http://saxtonstudio.com facebook https://www.facebook.com/patriciasaxton.saxtonstudio facebook: https://www.facebook.com/52weeksofpeace.peacestartshere Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Patricia-Saxton/e/B000N9T5E0 twitter; https://twitter.com/saxtonstudio

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Hi ! My name is Kristin Louise Granger… I’m an Australian mum, worker, volunteer, social media junky, friend, daughter; a curious child, a lover of life and a possibilitarian! Life has been a glorious mess of loving, failing, learning, succeeding, thriving, discovering, hiding, dancing, struggling and everything in between. I was born with a curious soul and a fascination with people and how they connect and relate. I have an interest in exploring the underlying barriers that get in the way of people living a full and happy life on their own terms, and spent the past 10 years exploring the notion of Gratitude as a tool to facilitate change. Oh…and did i mention that i write?! Always have, always will…. since i could scrawl my name i have been scratching around on paper making meaning out of life through words. And from a very young age ….whether it’s been at the supermarket counter, the line for the loo, or the park with my kids…I’ve had strangers tell me their stories. The stories that come forward are magnificent examples of how fraught and delightful it is to be human. I like that. I like that story telling can be a form of wayfaring…a breadcrumb if you will… a way of inviting others to enter their own Quest. And if there is one thing i have learned… its that life is one hell of an adventure! Tally ho!

You can connect with Kristin at her blog www.gratitudenall.com, on her amazing Facebook page www.facebook.com/gratitudenall, and on Google+ https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/109366191447486380270/+Gratitudenall/posts

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Summer

Summer Watson rediscovered her passion for writing after her marriage of more than 25 years started to fall apart. She has always been a writer, starting when she ran out of Winnie the Pooh books to read and had to write her own stories. She’s a proud mother of one son and calls herself a friend to many. Her writing style covers everything from trips and nights at the theatre to soul-searching and sharing life’s pain. You can find her balancing two blogs here on wordpress. You can also connect with her on Facebook which she fondly calls her second home. You can connect more with Summer at her blogs, www.sumwatsumwhere.wordpress.com and www.goodtimesandlaughter.wordpress.com

What’s with her?

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“What’s with her?” they ask. Even if I can’t hear them I know they think it. Better yet…“Why can’t she just get over it?” Who do I speak of? Mostly my family members. I know, the very people who should try to understand don’t. The people closest to you sometimes feel the farthest away. I guess that there are some things that we experience that others can never fully understand unless they have experienced it themselves. It’s true of my debilitating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the accompanying anxiety. You can try to understand, but if you haven’t experienced it then you can never really know.

I have many scars left from wounds that have been inflicted upon me over the years. Most of them came during my 11 year marriage. They varied day-to-day, but rarely did I find sleep at night without having added another to my already war-torn body. The most hideous of them are invisible to the eye. The are carved deep into my psyche and they attempt to torment me all the time. If you were to see me in the market you would never know how nervous I was or notice that my eyes are darting around the room. In case you didn’t know…I am casing the joint at high-speed for a quick exit if needed. Same goes for when I walk out of my house…I always look in the bushes to make sure that no one is going to jump out.

Sometimes I will be talking to you, but my mind is elsewhere. It may have been something that you innocently said that ripped me back to that horrible night. One of many horrible nights. You will have no idea that as you sit and gingerly talk to me about the new color of your living room that I am reliving an event I only wish I couldn’t remember. Why is it that at the most benign of moments the littlest things can tear me away from the present and hurl me at light speed back into the past?

Ironically, much of what  I have forgotten can come back in a flash without warning. Imagine that? This is the exciting world of a trauma survivor. I know I am not alone and I hope that my words here resonate with someone. Quick or I might forget what I am writing about. It’s that bad some days. My memory is shot. I feel like my brain is full of clouds that prevent thoughts from connecting and allowing a continuance of thoughts. Don’t ever argue with me…you will win. I will forget what we are arguing about somewhere in the middle.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder affects many survivors of trauma. Victims of violent crimes, car accidents, and injuries can cause you emotional pain when you think back to the moment of impact. 1 out of 5 veterans coming back from Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. Then there are the victims of domestic abuse; women and children who live nightmares for years at the hands of the very people who are meant to love them. I have never been in war, but I have been in an accident, been injured, and a victim of a violent crime. The worst for me was being abused physically, mentally, and emotionally by the man I thought was there to protect me. I struggle to this day, years after my divorce, to overcome the flashbacks of my past.

Remember that not all wounds are visible. Since this is something that afflicts so many I thought I might share a little knowledge to those of you who don’t know much about this. To those of you who do, I can already hear you saying “check”. The following is an informative overview of the symptoms of PTSD. You may have it or know someone who does. Everyday is different for us and we have to handle each situation as they come. For me personally, memory issues, flashbacks, feelings of detachment, difficulty concentrating, hyper vigilance, and being easily started are always present. It’s only normal that I would want to avoid people or situations connected to that part of my life. So when I say I can’t do something it means I really can’t do it.  XO Ella

Re-experiencing

These symptoms envelope ways that someone re-experiences the event. This could look like:

  • Intrusive thoughts or memories
  • Nightmares related to the traumatic event
  • Flashbacks, feeling like the event is happening again
  • Psychological and physical reactivity to reminders of the traumatic event, such as an anniversary

Avoidant symptoms

Avoidant symptoms describe ways that someone may try to avoid any memory of the event, and must include one of the following:

  • Avoiding thoughts or feelings connected to the traumatic event
  • Avoiding people or situations connected to the traumatic event

 

Negative alterations in mood or cognitions

Basically, there is a decline in someone’s mood or though patterns, which can include:

  • Memory problems that are exclusive to the event
  • Negative thoughts or beliefs about one’s self or the world
  • Distorted sense of blame for one’s self or others, related to the event
  • Being stuck in severe emotions related to the trauma (e.g. horror, shame, sadness)
  • Severely reduced interest in pre-trauma activities
  • Feeling detached, isolated or disconnected from other people

 

 Increased arousal symptoms

Increased arousal symptoms are used to describe the ways that the brain remains “on edge,” wary and watchful of further threats. Symptoms include the following:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability, increased temper or anger
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Hypervigilance
  • Being easily startled

 

Frustration Precedes Success.

“Success is not built on success.    It’s built on failure.

It’s built on frustration.     Sometimes its built on catastrophe.”

                                                              – Sumner Redstone

Frustration is a four letter word to me. It’s one of the worst feelings to experience. I hate it. No other word quite describes itself better either. That alone is frustrating. The dictionary says it means to thwart or disappoint. It also uses the words maddening, aggravating, annoying, exasperating, infuriating, provoking, riling, troubling, trying, and the best of all… vexatious, as synonyms. That pretty much sums up my dislike for the word & the feeling it provokes with in me. For me frustration is usually masked anger. It’s what happens when I put expectations on things or people. I like to think that I am advanced on my path, but when it comes to this I feel a mere child. I want so much to believe that everything will turn out…my way. There I said it. Yuck. It doesn’t happen often I swear, but when it does I have a hard time coping. My knickers get all twisted in a knot and the ease of letting go becomes not so easy. We all struggle. I have my soft spots and you have yours. It’s all a part of the process of living this life.

I have days where I get aggravated and I can’t understand why people don’t see what I see. It’s vexatious, exasperating, and annoying to say the least. I feel my heart start to pound faster and my mood shifts into low gear as I try to reason with myself internally. Trust me…you don’t want to be privy to that session! When I get to the point of acceptance (yes, remember that word it’s important) I often find myself cruising towards angry. I don’t like feeling unhinged. My life experiences have depleted the toolbox for that fix. Now, let me just say that I am not a roaming lunatic who walks the edge. I am a very balanced individual; at least I fancy myself one. So, this is something that I only have to deal with occasionally.  No one plans for the impromptu dance with frustration…it just shows up like an uninvited guest. Again, frustrating. The batter swings the bat and I duck, but sometimes I get hit straight up in the head. It’s hard not to get pissed off, really.

Ultimately, the answer to all of this lies within me. I know this already, and I find this frustrating! The secret of pirouetting through it all with grace and a little style lies in acceptance. It’s a layered kind of acceptance, because you have to accept the situation as well as your reaction to it. You have to forgive all involved and it’s not always so easy. I have been at this a long time; and it has become easier for me to let it slide off my back and move on. I know what battles I need to fight. It’s the one-off’s that throw me. The situations in which I feel so sure of can end up being the very ones that sneak up, flip me, and knock me on my ass. Time and perspective are the balm for this…the only one I know of.

I am a strong, determined, and a true blue fly by the seat of my pants kinda girl.  I’m not scared to work hard for what I desire, nor will I let a golden opportunity pass me by. I won’t sit back and watch others do what I know I am capable of, and I am not one to settle easily. So, if I don’t temper myself I end up in the frustration zone. It’s so correctly underrated. Forgiveness is a process because there is no light switch for it. Sometimes it takes forgiving a transgression a few times (or a hundred) before we can actually let go if its hold on us. Yes, I have been here many times so I am in familiar territory. Unfortunately, the thing about our memories is that they sometimes pop up at very inconvenient times. The smallest thing can trigger me and then the next thing I know, all of the feelings just pop up right up and attempt to knock me down. They just bust down the door and cause me to feel instantly angry, which then leads me to frustration. Remember that when you are feeling as I have described here…it’s not always the current situation in itself that is creating the bad vibes, but rather memories that are associated to it, and stored back there in your primitive brain. Again…frustrating. The cool part of this is that if you are an aware person, as I fancy myself to be, you will know that it is all a process. The sooner you submit to the idea that it’s not always going to go your way, the sooner you can get on with it. After all, our greatest accomplishments are usually the ones that are built on our failures. XO Ella

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This is My Love Song.

“Love is so short, forgetting is so long.” – Pablo Neruda

So it goes…Life rolls on. Two years have passed and I still miss you.  Who says that time heals all wounds? Yes, it’s true, some losses are unbearable; yet somehow we bear them.  Everywhere I look, the empty space is filled with you.

Life rolls on and you are still by my side. It’s taken me two years to mourn you; I wasn’t ready to let you go. Today I look death in the eyes and I know that love is louder. Love surpasses even death. I didn’t want to come to this place…to admit your death was to put the final nail in the proverbial coffin. It makes it permanent…and now I have no chance of you walking back through that door. The curtain has dropped, the lights have dimmed, and now you may take your bow.

We shared a love for the sea…heaven on earth.  I know that you are here with every wave I hear crashing, and with every wave I ride…you are everywhere. I used to yell at you on the beach to leave me alone, to go off to where the spirits go, but you won’t.  I know now that I need you here to remind me that I am okay…the wind beneath my wings. You brought me back to life…you put the color back into my cheeks after so many years of numbness. Oh how I long for you…to hear your voice. Read me Neruda at bedtime again, sing to me with your well-worn guitar, and let me hear your laugh… as loud as life itself. I love you so.

This is my love song. I thought I was broken, and you showed me that I could love again. You gave me back my life and saved me from myself. Because of you I am whole…I am a better mother, a better friend, daughter, sister…all because of you. You believed in me and I am so much better for knowing you. So, while you left me standing here alone, I know that your purpose was whole. I wish I could shed the guilt that I carry…it’s here though to remind me that I can never be complacent. I need to show others how beautifully they shine, that they are loved, and worthy of love in return.

You taught me with your servant’s heart. Your actions always spoke louder than your words. I want to thank you for the flowers you brought me, each and every time you came to my door. Oh how i have cried for you, but today I make my peace. Life is good and our little tribe is happy and thriving. The kids miss you so, especially Jake. It’s hard for kids to lose another father, but they understand that life is complicated and you have to rise after you fall. You have helped me to teach them that, again. I want to scream into the ether that I am so damned angry at you and that I am lost without you, but it would be a lie. It’s survivors guilt; I know it so I let it go.

My life goes on and I shall continue to rise and fall like the tides. I will learn, grow, and I will continue to love. I will share my life with another one day and I know you would want that for me. I shall keep your legacy alive though with every single post that I write for Rebel Thriver. I know that one day I shall meet you again. You have taken the fear of death away from us because we know that when we pass over to the other side you will be standing there to greet us. You gave us such a gift in that…your death was not in vain. Your love was to big for death to claim…It’s mine and I shall keep it until I meet you again. I am the luckiest girl in the world to have known you, to have loved you, and to have been loved by you. I forgive you for leaving me and I make my peace with you today. I will forever be your endless summer and your laughter will always crash onto the shore with the waves for eternity. XO Ella
The Photographer

Acceptance.

The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning. – Ivy Baker

I lost my kids for a week; actually they went on a vacation of a lifetime. I stayed home. I thought about running away and hopping a plane to an exotic local. Another adventure for this perpetual gypsy. I even did due diligence and looked up destinations for myself.

I chose not to go. I chose to drop them off at the airport and head back home. Alone. Holy Shit…as I drove away from the terminal I thought about cruising into long-term parking and running in to buy a ticket to anywhere. Another adventure…me, my camera, and my iPad. Anything to distract me from the thought of being alone with myself for a week.

It’s been almost 20 years since I spent a week alone at home. Yes, you heard that right. Almost 20 years and I was terrified of waking up to myself every single day. No wild journey to distract me from my thoughts. No exotic local to persuade me from the fear of being alone with me.

What the hell was I so afraid of anyway? My GOD, in my past life I traveled the world alone, lived alone, and actually loved my time with myself. Had I lost touch with myself that much? It was this utter fear that made me decide to drop the kids off and come home. I needed to face myself…my fear.

Ironically, it ended up being the best week I have had in YEARS! I didn’t want it to end. I loved every single minute of it; from the moment I woke up until the moment I fell asleep I devoured my time. I did only what I wanted, when I wanted, and with who I wanted. I put no pressure on myself to do anything other than hang out with me.

I didn’t come to any monumental discoveries this week, but I did reconnect with myself. My fears were based in facing my thoughts. Yes, I struggle from anxiety and PTSD. I spent time researching this and learned even more about myself and why I am wired the way I am. Why on a beautiful sunny day in the middle of August with no distractions and no plans I could be feeling like I was being chased. The panic that comes crushing down on me for no apparent reason…it isn’t rational. It just is.

I survived it though and what came from it all is acceptance. That’s a tough one for so many of us and I think I finally am on to it. I am who I am today, not who I was before life took me down. I rose back up like the phoenix and I am a new me. It was the thought of facing and accepting her that was the basis of my fear. Just writing about it is causing my heart to pound fast. I wish I could erase this part of me…it’s so annoying and it doesn’t jive with my intellect, but this is how I am wired for now. I am a work in progress.

This past week I won. I made progress and I grew…I found acceptance and I can honestly say for the first time in almost 20 years that I am not running any more. At least I am not running from myself. I know who I am…always have. I just needed to find the courage to face myself.
I am flawed like the rest of the human race, but I know that I am stronger than most. I am a survivor and I am pretty fucking awesome!

Love, Ella 21409_505514972863930_1253478838_n

 

Mourning and Melancholia.

“Grief is different. Grief has no distance. Grief comes in waves, paroxysms, sudden apprehensions that weaken the knees and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life. - Joan Didion

Lately, I have been knocked on my ass by rogue waves. They come out of no where as the term “rogue” would have it, and I am left holding on to whatever I can in order to find balance. It’s always a temporary balance though. The kind you get when you grab for a railing on a boat so you don’t fall in. Remove it and your under.

So, here I am shattered. The waves of grief are coming more frequently and in rapid succession. I am finding it difficult to hold my breath. I have my shovel in hand and I am going deep. Here on this page with these words I can tunnel safely to soul. The pen penetrates my soul while the ink draws blood that oozes down the page.

Grief it truly has no distance. It shows up like an uninvited guest on a bad night. It is the single strongest trigger of my tears, and when the wave hits it is paralyzing. When we grieve the loss of someone we often get half way and then stick a bandage on our heart and move on. Life beckons to us and tells us that we have to get back to the art of living. I agree with this…however, the bandage comes up sometimes when we least expect it. Until we are fully through with the grieving then we are going to be hit with the waves.

I have lost many friends over the years. Their are times when the people we have lost are still living and we must let go of them for whatever the reason. As hard as it might be there is no finality in that truly, for they are still walking and breathing and the chance to make amend is always there; and if we chose not to then it is for good reason and there is peace there.

I have lost many friends to death. Too many for someone my age. There have been car crashes, shootings, overdoses, disease, hit and runs, suicide, and broken hearts; you name it. I learned at an early age that life is incredibly fragile and precious. I have grieved these friends and made my peace with their passing. I know that they are okay and that they are infinite…far beyond us, above us, below us, and all around us. This is my truth.

There is one that cripples me though and as I try to type this my hands shake. The love of my life passed less than two years ago. It was quick like lightning and un-expected. He was not perfect, in fact at first meeting I knew he was just a friend…a best friend for eternity. I had met my match in a person; he wasn’t perfect, but he was so fucking real. It didn’t take long before I fell in love with him, and I knew this because the earth shook beneath me. Can a person have more than one soul mate in a lifetime?

“Is love a wound that deepens as it dreams?” – Erica Jong

He is gone now. I thought I was okay, but lately these waves of grief keep knocking me down. I feel him, hear him, and sometimes I even catch a glimpse of him. It’s not only me…my son does too. When he comes and tells me, I smile and just remind him how much he loved him and that when it is his time to pass over, Roger will be waiting for him. There is no fear in death for him. That was his gift to my son.

How do you get past a broken heart when the soul you loved is all around you, coloring your world, and whispering in your ear. It might be timeto let you know that while this might sound crazy to some people it is normal for me. I have always had these gifts. They have always be welcome and I have accepted them. It’s no different with him.  The truth is I want to tell him to go away, leave me alone, and let me be. I can’t though because then I would be alone and he would be gone. When an artist meets another artist in love it is a very intense union. All bets are off and all boundaries are re-written. Death cannot separate them.

So I write. I will continue to write until I have come to terms with this in my life. I don’t fight the grief…when the wave hits I cry. I cry at home, in the grocery store, at the doctors, but mostly on the beach. He wrote me a letter a week before he passed over which I received from his mother at the funeral. It was full of hope for the future and LOVE for me and the kids. The story wasn’t over…there was more to come; then he died.

This is not over. The writing will come for as long as the grief lives within me. I will find my peace along the way. It’s hard. I just want him back. I want to find a replacement. I want to stop hurting. I want someone in the flesh to love as much as I loved him. I want someone to love me as much as he loved me. So, I will write, I will cry, and I will not stop until I have healed myself. I will purge my soul. There is hope here. I feel it, and I know it, because it is what I want. XO Ella

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Make it Count.

My name is Ella and I lived in an abusive marriage for almost 11 years. Ultimately, my children and I could not walk away; we had to run fast and hard to escape.  I turned my back on 20 years of life, our home, my amazing career, and all of our friends.  There was no farewell party for us, just dust left in our wake. Sometimes it’s just that bad; sometimes you have to hide.

As a result, my little tribe and I live a pretty simple existence. It’s hard to build a new life when you are always looking over our shoulder. The result of the abuse is chronic PTSD and anxiety. The truth is that not all wounds are visible; after the bruises heal the soul is left deeply scarred and I am left to always look over my shoulder. People like to ask questions, but the answers give away clues to our history and our history is still chasing us.  We stay low.

I started Rebel Thriver as a way to connect to others and to share my story. I created a community that I desired and need to thrive rather than just survive, and I knew that I was not alone. The label of survivor wasn’t comfortable for me; I needed more. I so desperately wanted others to see that they could have it too…you can choose to thrive in spite of your situation. 

I believed that Rebel Thriver could help people have a new perspective, help them to change their lives; what has happened is that it has changed mine. Everyday, thousands of people join into the conversation to share their thoughts, fears, and to support others…people they will probably never meet. It has become a blessing beyond my wildest dreams.  We have built a tribe of people who virtually hold each other’s hands through the ups and downs of life.

We only get one chance at this sweet life, so I encourage everyone to wake up and live…remember that this is not a dress rehearsal. You may have been knocked down, but that story does not have to define you, for you hold the pen to the story of your life. Raise your eyes to the sky, throw your shoulders back, and put on your imaginary crown and say, “Today is the first day of the rest of my life”.  Make it count.

Love, Ella

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Wild at Heart.

“This whole world’s wild at heart and weird on top.” – Lula

It’s been a wild ride, my life.  Most day’s I just go about the business of being me; mother, daughter, friend, and perpetual rebel with a cause. Other day’s my reality, or shall I say the disbelief that I have lived this life…survived this life; stops me in my tracks. I shake my head sometimes trying to make it all sink in. It can’t; my skin is too thick now…almost an armor from all the years.

I am far from my golden years yet. I don’t yet have the luxury to recline on the front porch and watch the sunset of my years slowly descend. I am not at the point in my life where I can sit and remember with the wisdom of detachment of all the chapters that have made up my life so far. I am in it knee-deep right now; living it all.

How did a girl like me end up with a life-like this? Good question. Here’s the simple answer…low self worth. That was a hard nut to crack, but I did after many years of research in the field that has left me with a quick reflex and a fight or flee disposition.
I am still learning to be me and it’s a process that I know will never end; although the path is getting smoother lately.

I come across hardline to many. I am. I know this gives some people the false idea that I think I am better than them. I don’t. If anything, I know that with every person that comes across my path, every soul in need of a little pep talk, I see myself. Life has ever so nicely handed me some really beautiful lessons. They have left me a little sore, scarred, and tattered; i have a shabby chic soul and I am okay with that.

“Love is the whole thing, we are only pieces.” – Rumi

Growing up for me was a piece of cake compared to so many. I come from a big loving family that was financially stable; and I knew that my dreams were always within hands reach. All this being said I struggled with depression, substance abuse, anxiety, eating disorders, lack of self-esteem, sexual abuse, and anxiety. It was a lot of emotional weight to carry; that i remember.

In the end, it’s not in the surviving that has made me the person I am today, but rather the persevering through it all when I really felt like running and hiding under the bed.
My personal survival list has grown almost too big. I don’t always want to feel and identify with so many, but still the connections grow. That happens when you walk the talk and hold the tight line.

So to those of you who have had some sucker punch experiences I want you to know that when I say, “I feel you.” I really do. I feel it all the way into my soul. The old adage is true, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” I have done a pretty good job of keeping mine in tip-top shape. Open the front flap and you will see that I go deep, and sometimes dark. It is all a part of me. If the dark parts didn’t run so deep I am sure that I wouldn’t shine as brightly.

I am you and you are me. In this fellowship of man we find ourselves, our true names, and our tribe. There is no one out there that can tell me something about myself that I haven’t already examined. I have torn myself apart in my attempt to fix it all. In the end I realized that just like a beautiful patchwork quilt I am perfect in all my pieces, and I am in no need of fixing…just a little mend every now and then.  XO Ella

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