Will the Real Ella Hicks Please Stand Up?


May I have your attention please?
May I have your attention please?
Will the real Ella Hicks please stand up?
I repeat, will the real Ella Hicks please stand up?

Change can be weird on all accounts. When I first started social media I knew it would be a big risk for me. Putting myself out there in the public arena is not exactly safe for a woman/mother who is living in “hiding” from her abusive ex-husband. No more stalking please! Getting “out there” and sharing my story was the only way I figured that I could stay sane and make some sense out of what my life had become. So I took a leap and started a blog and called it Rebel Thriver because I was determined to not get to comfy in my survivors coat. I wanted to upgrade to a thriver and in order for me to do that I needed to be a bit rebellious and speak out in a public way, even though I knew there was a BIG risk factor involved.

So the name came easily, Rebel Thriver. Who is Ella Hicks though? Do you realize how many times in a single day a blogger, writer, or public figure will show their likeness publicly? What was I to do? I knew I couldn’t show mine so I decided to adopt Brigitte Bardot as my public face. Besides the fact that we both have a mop of blonde hair, I admire her for many reasons. She is a fearless activist for animal rights in France. Animals are so often the unspoken of victims of domestic violence. They are often tortured in an attempt to hurt the human victim even more. I am so grateful for the work she does. She was an incredible beauty when she was younger and has been slammed in the press for not “aging” well. The reason is that she has opted to grow old naturally is so her money is used to help animals, not her vanity. Instead of being praised for her selflessness she is so often ridiculed and it’s heartbreaking.

As Rebel Thriver poises to grow I knew that the day would come that I would have to find another “face” for myself. Ella Hicks needs her own identity other than a photograph, and so the search has been on for years. As luck would have it the other day I came across a painting that was spot on. Immediately I knew that this was the perfect representation for me and so I contacted the artist Elizabeth Mayville and explained to her in a nutshell my colorful and complicated conundrum of a story. Not only did Elizabeth agree right away to allow me to use this beautiful painting of hers as my public “face”, but she waived the fee she usually charges because she supports what I am trying to do with Rebel Thriver.

So today is the unveil of the “new me”. I simply love it more than words because it really captures my day to day vibe. I want to thank Elizabeth Mayville from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to use her amazing piece of art and for having such a generous heart. You can see more of Elizabeth Mayville’s work at http://www.elizabethmayville.com or shop https://www.etsy.com/shop/ElizabethMayville

I know it’s going to take some time for me to get used to not seeing Brigitte everyday, but it’s time for a change and I am going to grow with it! xo Ella

The Space Between


Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting. – Joyce Meyer

There are a certain universal truths about being human and one of them is that we will all spend a good amount of time in this lifetime waiting. Passing time sounds like it would be a passive sport, but think again for it is anything but that. It can be brutal when you find yourself in those in-between spaces, frustrated, and over-anxious because you know that you have no control. Desperately wanting a glimpse into that fortune tellers all-knowing ball you have no choice but to white knuckle it some days. It’s not an easy path to walk for those of us who like to have everything under control. You do realize that control is usually a reaction to fear (and even if you do realize this, it can still be a struggle). Waiting, simply put, is not a game for the faint of heart.

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.  – Joseph Campbell

Most of you already know all of this. This is the part of being human that I find a drag. We continuously to try to control the outcome of things even when we say we aren’t. Deep inside we are plotting as though our thoughts, if focused intensely enough can manipulate the outcome in our favor. Actually, I do believe that is possible for us to manifest outcomes, but do you really want to spend your life trying to telepathically create your entire life, one event at a time? I know that I’d personally rather glide forward with a sense of intention and hope in my heart for the days to come. I think am way too laid back to be spending so much energy everyday trying to “create” the outcomes that I want instead of allowing things to flow. A laid-back control freak? Yes, I see the irony here. (And I prefer to think of myself as “reformed” as opposed to “freak” currently). We really have no idea how things are going to roll out, but we certainly can learn to be a little more open-minded to the bigger picture of our life, can’t we? The options are endless and yet we can so easily latch onto the idea that only one outcome to a situation is the right one, and if it doesn’t happen the way we want it to then we are going to explode! I know this because it is one of many lessons that I have learned from my walk on this planet thus far.

The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.   – Bertrand Russell

Some people call time the school in which we learn. I can’t argue with that. Time is the only sure thing I know that can bring true levity to a situation. Perhaps it’s meant to be this way. I believe that the act of waiting teaches us so very much. This is the one lesson I have been working on most my life. Even as far back as I can remember my mother would repeat to me day in and day out, “Ella you need to learn patience and once you do things are going to be easier for you.” Life can be a cruel teacher in that regard. I have paid my dues in the waiting rooms of life over many times over.  It’s not that it gets easier because most of us are born with an innate sense of avid curiosity, and thank God for that or our species wouldn’t have gotten very far (debatable I know), but there is a tempering that needs to be learned if we are to find balance. At the heart of the issue I think is the inability to truly be content with what we have in the moment. Isn’t that what we are all waiting for after all? Fulfillment? We are all waiting…it could be the return of a lover, a phone call, a new job, your final exam grade or money…the list can go on and on and on. It’s not easy to have patience and faith which is why they are considered virtues. This is what life teaches us and we all have choices to make in regards to how we choose to frame our days. Life is happening all around us and the truly living are reacting to it, and not sitting around like wall flowers waiting to be picked. After a while you will grow tired of the incessant internal rambling and stressing, and I hope you ultimately choose to lay it down. While I strongly believe that we need to take an active role in the navigation of our lives I also know that this will one day pass and what we are looking at is infinite. Far greater than we can ever imagine here in this mortal coil. The space between here and there or between me and you is an illusion in the end. Time is just a way to measure our lives here. Lose the watch and accept that being in the moment is so much better than waiting for the next one to happen. Peace of mind is where you can rise above it all, the schedules, the wants, and the daily grind to find that all is well in that moment.   xo Ella 

When you’ve seen beyond yourself, then you may find, peace of mind is waiting there.  – George Harrison

Breaking the Shell


Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding…

It is so easy to get caught up in the “woe is me” of life. Here on Earth we all face struggles and as the days fade in and out so do they. Pain can come to us wearing many different faces and I have met just about all of them. One thing I know is that pain changes you.

Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain…

I think I have suffered more than my share of pain in this lifetime and I know that there is more to come. Emotional, physical, psychological, spiritual, and mental pain have all visited me at one time or another. I am not talking about the fight you had with your sister over cleaning your mom’s house. I am talking about the pain that comes like an unwitting visitor and takes up residence in your life. The take no prisoners kind of pain. This is the pain that comes to test you right down to your core and shake your roots and everything that you may think you know about life.

And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy; 

This pain my dear ones is for your growth and sometimes growth hurts like hell. It makes me think back to having braces. My mouth being too small to fit my adult teeth needed to have 5 teeth pulled. With the magic of some metal and wire they slowly shifted my teeth around my mouth to make a perfect smile. Now that I have the beautiful teeth I am so glad that I suffered through all of the pain, but during it I tell you I was not happy. I didn’t want them on, but my parents kept telling me it would be worth it. They were right.

Much of your pain is self-chosen. 
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self…  

I do believe that some of our pain is self chosen even if we don’t fully realize it at the time. I read a quote the other day that said, “Remember the last time you confused a life lesson for a soul mate?” A perfect example of my marriage. Well I loved that man and I suffered for it. A lot. I learned my lesson though, but oh how I wish that I had been able to learn it in an easier way. Could I have? Probably. If I had been raised in another way perhaps I would have not felt the need to save someone else. I would not have recognized that pain as a comfortable “knowing” between the two of us that caused me to mistake him as a soul mate. Yes, I felt that because he had suffered he could understand me. THAT was one of the biggest lessons of my life. It certainly was the messiest to clean up. Perhaps he was a soul mate in the end. Our soul mates do not come into our lives to give us peace but to challenge us and in the end he certainly did this.

Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquillity: For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen…

Recently, I have been dealt a back injury. It has completely taken me down, and during the season of the year that I love frolicking outside the most. I cannot walk without pain and I cannot do the things that I want (surf). I know this is temporary and I can soldier through it (now without drugs because I think the pain is a lesser evil than the drugs). Physical pain is a relative thing and everyone experiences it differently. I like to think that I am not a sissy, however intense pain over an extended time changes you. I know that I am being dealt a lesson or two here and my mind is wide open to it all. I want to learn my lessons and the sooner the better. I want to get it right this time around. The first lesson that I am learning is empathy on a deeper level for those that live in chronic and debilitating physical pain. Another is learning to love and honor myself in all ways. My body has always been strong and healthy for the most part. So I am incredibly grateful for the new insight that this pain is giving me on a whole other level. It doesn’t matter if it “looks perfect”, what matters is that it is healthy and works. This is teaching me patience and compassion on a whole new level. It’s not like I haven’t dealt with pain either. It’s just that here in my life where I am today I am learning this lesson from a different perspective. That is life. We live. We learn. We grow. We move on. 

And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.

– Kahlil Gibran

Love is Infinite


When I first left my abusive husband, kind-hearted people would often say to me, “Don’t worry you are still young and beautiful. You will find another man and fall in love again.” That was not what I wanted or needed to hear though. I didn’t feel young and beautiful. I didn’t want another man. I wanted the man who I had married to return to me without the mental illness. Now, I knew that couldn’t happen and so I just wanted to find myself and fall in love with her.

Every relationship both good and bad are unique unto themselves. I have one friend who I can honestly say probably understands where I have been because she lived a similar experience. When I married my husband we were so in love. He was my best friend and I just wanted to be with him every minute of the day. We planned a life together and shared dreams. Big dreams. Reality bites and sometimes dreams are crushed. It’s hard when a spouse gets sick. I vowed to be with him through sickness and health and I meant it. I never thought that the sickness would be mental. I never ever thought he would turn it all against me. I had never been abused before. I never wanted to break my vows, but the reality was that my life depended on it.

If you lose a partner to mental illness it will leave you shattered.  There is no way around that. For me it was akin to watching Mr. Hyde turn into Dr. Jekyll. Over time Dr. Jekyll came to stay permanently, but the memories and fleeting glimpses of Mr. Hyde kept me praying for a miracle. Years later I accepted that no miracle was coming for our marriage and I left. I stayed too long as it was. I took my heart and wrapped it up for good and put it on a shelf. The divorce was final and that was that. There was no desire left in me for another relationship. I felt like an old woman inside and I was content on surviving and raising my kids. That I thought, would be my life.

Now I know there is at least one person out there reading this who can relate. When you truly fall in love with someone and they disappear on you, that love doesn’t just disappear. You have to mourn and grieve that loss. So when you are in that place and someone tells you that you are young and will find another man it really just makes you want to throw up. Finding LOVE is the last thing you are thinking about. You are still reeling and trying to figure out what happened to the man you still love. There is no love switch to flip on and off.

Life can be so confusing and at times we feel our smallness amplified.

Years have passed since I left my marriage and I have spent that time finding Ella. Not only have I found her, but I love her with all of my heart. It just so happens that in the midst of looking for myself I found love. You know that old saying, “when you least expect it…” Well, that’s exactly what happened. I met a man who became a best friend. I had no idea that I would fall in love. Love? Yes, I said love. He didn’t look like someone I would have fallen in love with, but I did. He was an amazing person and he helped me grow more than I even realized at the time.

We have already established here that life can be cruel. I found love, lost love, found love, and then I lost it again. This beautiful soul that I had fallen in love with disappeared on me…just like that. We didn’t have much time together, but I loved him. He helped me to see that I wasn’t broken, just a little bent. He showed me that I was lovable and that I could love again. Sadly, it wasn’t long after he proposed to me that he left me. Twelve years sober and strong lost to drugs and all from a prescription cough syrup he got for Bronchitis. He fell off that wagon so hard and so quickly that within a month I didn’t know him. Four months later he was gone. Poof…

I don’t feel like I am plagued by bad luck. What I experienced could happen to anyone. I grieved his loss. My kids grieved his loss. Yes it was devastating, but through it all I knew that I was strong enough to survive it. However, this time around when people tried to console me they would just give me a heartbreaking look and say that they were sorry. I mean, what can you really say to this? “Run girl, you are cursed. Close your heart and your legs and leave the love shit for another girl.”

Well, here is the thing. What I learned from loving him was that our love is limitless. We don’t get to choose who we love, we just do. Our hearts are boundless and ready to stretch and be filled up at any given moment (even if we are feeling to the contrary of that). It’s fear of being hurt again, and I get that because that pain is brutal. Through his death I learned that I will never stop loving for it is who I am. I tried to deny it after my marriage, but love was stronger. The lesson here is that just because one person broke your heart doesn’t mean that the next person will. Love is infinite.

For any of you who are out there licking your wounds and hiding behind your fortified walls I want you to know that you are free to fall in love again. You know that you can love because you already have. Just because one person was a bad choice doesn’t mean that you have to punish yourself forever for their shortcomings.  I have forgiven my ex-husband for everything that he couldn’t help (and it helps that there is no contact with him). I forgave my fiancé for being weak and failing himself (and us). I forgave myself for not being able to “save” either of them, and then I moved on. Yes, my friends I am here to tell you that I am still young and beautiful…and I am in love. I am praying for a long romance, but I know that all that is guaranteed to us is today.  So today I will let him love me and I will love him back with all of me.

xo Ella

The Rebellious Act of Loving Yourself


It’s so true isn’t it? In our world today we are constantly being dumbed down and the reason is very simple. We will buy more shit if we think it will make us feel better. So, we end up accumulating a lot of stuff that we don’t actually need. This is what our society is based on…we are a consumer society, period. I was raised in a home where retail therapy was a way of life so my skills were well honed as I grew up and started to spend my hard-earned money on trying to find a better me.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m upset ….”

“I know what will help you feel better, let’s go shopping.”

This is how I learned to deal with my feelings of inadequacy and imperfection. I was taught that a new outfit or a pair of shoes was just what the doctor ordered. It was how I dealt with my pain. In fact, my entire career ended up encircling our massive consumer market. I not only was the consumer, but the supplier. I was hooked.

It’s sadly understandable. Our media has a constant loop of over hyped “stories” on twenty-four hours a day. Magazines and T.V. commercials are packed with edited photos of imperfect women appearing to be perfect. If they look that good then we perhaps we will think that what they are selling must really work, right? God help us, for even when we are smart enough to know better we can still get sucked in.

I happen to be a product junkie. I love beauty products and I am always looking for the best eye cream, lip gloss, hair volumizer, concealer, etc., etc., etc., I would like to say that I have no idea how it happened, but it’s all there right in front of me. I bought into the hype and for years I have tried in vain to make my long fine hair thicker, my skin more radiant, my nails stronger, my lips fuller….and the list goes on and on…

Keep in mind that I approach my life from a holistic viewpoint. I really do believe that you get out what you put in. You are what you eat. Exercise, sleep, organic food, and meditation are all cornerstones to feeling the best you can.
So, I question myself as to why I continue to buy into the hype of the marketing giants all around us pushing their goods on us like legal drug dealers. Is it that we are holding out hope for a quick fix or have we just become addicted to “the buy”?

It’s a pretty vicious circle you know. We buy to feel better and then when it doesn’t fill our needs we feel upset that we spent money that we didn’t have on something that we really knew deep down wouldn’t fit the bill. Why do we do that? It’s all learned behavior my friends. Most of us have bought the ticket and drank the cool-aid that has been served up to us. We have fallen for it hook, line, and sinker.

Now this is not something that I am just discovering about myself. It is firmly rooted in me and I am constantly waging war against it. I KNOW that natural remedies are the way to go. They may not come in slick packaging (I think that is what really does me in. I am a sucker for a pretty package) but they are cheap, readily at hand, and they work! One of my favorite’s is to mix a little baking soda in with my facial wash for a gentle exfoliate for my face. There are so many good ones that you can actually buy books about them…imagine that?!

Ultimately, we are just being distracted by believing that we need to buy stuff to feel better about ourselves. I admit that I am working really hard to fight this in my life. It took me years to find my freedom and my voice in this world and I have decided that I am not going to hand over any of it over to companies who are trying to wholesale me self-worth. I am rebelling against the powers that be. I am standing tall and laying claim on myself.

I am beautiful without having to spend a ton of money on designer products. I don’t need the newest facial scrub when I have a kitchen bursting with organic goods. We can do so much for ourselves without having to buy into the lie that we are being told. It’s so very true that in this world today, creating self-doubt in the consumers equals profit. Why do we want to continue to support these false ideas of beauty and wholeness. It’s simply false.

In a society where self-doubt is profited from, liking yourself for who you are is an act of REBELLION. I think it’s time for all of us to stand up to the brainwashing and simply accept ourselves. All of us, that includes our assets and flaws. How empowering it is to take back control and a nice wad of cash from people who only want to see you consume more of their lack luster products?

xo Ella

Surviving is Just One Chapter of My Story (By Guest Blogger Tia Jane)


As a survivor of child sexual abuse and adult domestic violence I constantly stand on the precipice of wanting to seek out fellow survivors for solidarity and support and needing to protect the wounds that remain from those experiences. I work in front line child protection and see the evil that exists in the world on a daily basis.

This is both wounding and healing.

How can it be both is a question which I have asked myself more than once. The wounding is obvious in its nature. Hearing the stories of experiences of children and their families touches on my wounds which, while no longer raw, are tender. The healing comes from knowing that I am an unseen survivor, that my trajectory didn’t follow the path that may make other survivors more obvious in their pain and I see so many others who break the mold set by society about what a survivor looks like.

I have discovered a passion for justice for these children and young people that eclipses justice in terms of the law and encompasses a sense of justice that results from the capacity of a society, to not limit their future lives to the expectations that are set by how we view victims of abuse. To set no bounds to their achievements and to provide them all with opportunities to become so much more than what we are lead to believe.

I am an advocate for changing how we view survivors and how we allow those other, richer experiences to come forth for a more balanced and holistic view of the person in a whole of life context and not through the veil of abuse. This frees people, like myself, who search for answers and a sense of self after an annihilation of the psyche which left me floundering in a sea of self doubt around “how do I become a survivor?”

So, I searched for a cause or a way to integrate my experiences into my life. To find those pieces of myself that I kept apart from the moments of abuse. I say moments because quite literally they were only moments, in a life which contained so much more of me without those abuse experiences. This is where I needed to begin my search, to look at those moments that were not imposed on me by others, which I can take complete ownership of and say “this is me”. The me that rejects acts of evil and exclusion and stands for love, stands for kindness, stands for acceptance and inclusion and that stands for strength, survivorship and healing.

I advocate through both thought, deep seated beliefs and action. I advocate through not accepting the perpetuating of victims trajectories which does not allow room for movements of the self from victim to survivor to thriver. I have my days, like any other, when the world and its focus on news worthy sensationalist topics of pain and suffering eclipses the stories of survival, and it affects me and I withdraw to wrap my internal wounds in a blanket of solitude. But I emerge again to rejoin the people who stand, who focus on strength, goodness and inclusion and who often work in silence to create healing pockets of a world in which I like to rest for a time.

I will forever remain an advocate for others, survivors of abuse, survivors of tragedies, survivors of any experience which leaves them searching for something to anchor themselves to a spot where they are safe from the storm. A harbor of support where they can find their direction. It will always be a tough journey for me given my wounds and experiences and the world I choose to work and offer my knowledge in, but given that I also contain a rich internal tapestry of alternate experiences which allow me to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, I will remain optimistic of the future. I know that I will continue to be more than those experiences that I endured and I will offer myself as a resource to others who also seek to find their own inner strength, light and purpose. I am not blind to the world and all its difficulties, I know that while I experienced abuse I have not experienced other forms of hardship and that I have had opportunities that others have not had.

My story is not unique, it is a single story that reflects my personal journey but all survivors have similarities in their stories and I choose to focus on their alternate stories, the survivor story, the triumph over tragedy story and I choose to seek out others who have walked this path before me, hand in hand with those who now walk beside me and to lead the way for those who will follow.

By Tia Jane

Who Knew

Who Knew
You took my hand
You showed me how
You promised me you’d be around
Uh huh
That’s right
I took your words
And I believed
In everything
You said to me
Yeah huh
That’s rightIf someone said three years from now
You’d be long gone
I’d stand up and punch them out
Cause they’re all wrong
I know better
Cause you said forever
And ever
Who knew

Remember when we were such fools
And so convinced and just too cool
Oh no
No no
I wish I could touch you again
I wish I could still call you friend
I’d give anything

When someone said count your blessings now
‘fore they’re long gone
I guess I just didn’t know how
I was all wrong
They knew better
Still you said forever
And ever
Who knew

Yeah yeah
I’ll keep you locked in my head
Until we meet again
Until we
Until we meet again
And I won’t forget you my friend
What happened

My darling
My darling
Who knew
My darling
I miss you
My darling
Who knew
Who knew

– Lukasz Gottwald, Alecia Moore, Max Martin

*Those who know me know who this is for *