Will the Real Ella Hicks Please Stand Up?

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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

Love One Another

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I was born into a large Irish Catholic family. I attended Catholic school and have been fully indocrinated with it’s teachings. I’ve studied the Bible, and I know that I prefer the New Testament to the Old, but that they must stand together to be whole. I don’t go to church anymore, but all these years later there are two things that I lean upon in my daily life. They are a part of my personal foundation and ironically they are both attributed to Jesus. 

“Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34

“Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” Luke 6:31 (The Golden Rule)

I have studied many religions and philosophies over the years. From Buddhism and Toaism to Rastafarianism and Wicca.  I have come to believe that it is not religion that makes the person, but rather the heart. I prefer to think of myself as a highly spirtiual person rather than a religious one. It is my relationship that I have with my God that is what is most important to me. No laws made by man can ever change what I hold in my heart and soul. I know my truth. 

It is a wonder to me that after all I have learned that the two things that I return to time and time again are the simple words of Jesus Christ. It’s honestly a wonder to me, because growing up in a house where religion was crammed down my throat, I chose to reject it all for many years. I was angry and I thought it was bullshit mind-control. One day my high-Catholic school history teacher tried to make sense of it to me. He said,”No matter what anyone says, I challenge you to read about Jesus and find one thing that you truly disagree with.” And so being the rebel that I have always been, I took his challenge and I read even more.  I learned that this man that walked the Earth so very long ago was of my tribe. He hung with the outcasts, the beggers, the downtrodden, prostitues, drunks, and lepers. He didn’t judge on outward appearances. He loved, because love was what he was sent to teach us how to do. 

Whether you believe that Jesus walked this Earth is up to you. If you believe he is the son of God then that is your truth (I would like to believe that, but I am honestly still on the fence.) I do know that this man is the greatest example of what Love incarnate is to us as humans. His words, examples, and life sacrifice have stood the test of time, and the world is forever changed by him. 

Today I awoke to the tragic news of a mass shooting in Orlando, Florida. A man full of hate targeted a gay dance club and opened fire. By now you all know the horrid details. I tried to stay away from the news, but I have been drawn to it. I lived in NYC on 9/11 and I know this kind of hate and the fear it breeds. I have tried to stay away from social media because the there is so much anger and hate which is breeding more anger and hate. It’s a vicious cycle that is going to get us nowhere. We cannot attempt to destroy an ideology no matter how much we try for it will only breed more hate. The only solution is love. 

This is what I know. The only true path is LOVE. In order to truly love you need to be able to forgive. To love is to live your live with compassion and empathy. It is to be tolerant, even those who do not align with your beliefs. To hate the sin and not the sinner for we are all marred by the weaknesses of the human condition. I didn’t ask to be born an American, but I am so grateful that I was. My life has not know the kind of war that so many other people have been born into. We are products of our environments and not all are blessed to be raised in peace. Ultimately, we all have to choose our path. We must think for ourselves and stand up for what we believe to true. I know that fear is stronger than hate. And I know that if we could all just learn to drop our anger, biases, and fears then perhaps we could one day know peace. As a realist I know that as humans war is our Earthly tradition. Who ever does not control will be controlled and we can see this played out over and over again throughout the centuries. Power is mighty drug.

In spite of all of this madness I will hold onto the philosphy we were all created equally. That the only true way is to love one another and treat each other as we would like to be treated in return. It’s really so simple, but we make it so complicated. In the end love is the only true path to freedom. Love is always louder than hate.

xo Ella 

Honor the Truth

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In 1991, a 35-year-old professor named Anita Hill was brought into the public eye when she testified to a Senate Judicial Committee about the sexual harassment she had endured by her former boss, Clarence Thomas. Thomas now proudly sits on the Supreme Court of the United States. I was a young professional at the time of the hearings and I can remember clearly feeling that she was telling the truth. Why would a woman, a women of color at that, want to face off with a panel of white men in power without good reason. I just finished watching the HBO movie, Confirmation, which attempts to tell the story from a different perspective then we were provided back in 1991. I believed her then, and I didn’t need to watch this movie to confirm it, but I am glad I did. 

“It’s going to take undoing centuries, if not longer, of devaluing women — all women. Adding race to it only makes it harder to overcome. I think today we’re in a better position to do that, by listening to women’s experiences and honoring the truth of our experiences and putting aside all of these myths that we’ve heard about women in these situations and what we’re supposed to believe versus looking at the reality.” – Anita Hill

It is amazing to me that people to this day can still argue the existence of sexual harassment that women have had to endure. I was a young single woman in 1991, just starting my career and men ran the businesses back then. In my first job I was an assistant, which meant a lot of color copying and errand running. Not very glorified for a recent Cum Laude graduate, but I was determined to climb to the top. One day while I was in my (male) boss’s office I was asked to bring some files into a board meeting that was taking place in another building. At the same time, my boss had the conference room, which was filled with all men, on speaker phone. When he said, “I am sending Ella over with the files” a male voice came through the phone and responded with, “Good, I hope she isn’t wearing any underwear.”

That was my first job as a professional. A job I had busted my ass off in college for.  My mouth dropped open and my boss turned red as he laughed and hung up the phone. I quickly told him that I wouldn’t be taking the files over. He told me I was being over sensitive. One of the women in the office stood up for me and said, “Joe, you can’t allow this! You can be sued for sexual harassment!” What I did next I still regret. I took the files and I walked across the street into that conference room and handed them to the man in charge. My cheeks burned red as the room got quiet and I felt the eyes of a dozen men upon me. 

I went home that night shaken and disillusioned. I can remember calling my father and telling him. We spoke about my options, but we both knew that my career would have been over if decided to sue. I most certainly would have been fired for some ridiculous reason, and then what company would hire me with a reputation for calling “sexual harassment” on its owners? I felt defeated, diminished, and shamed. That experience opened my eyes wide to the realities of the workplace and as I watched Anita Hill testify I new as well as any other woman that she was telling the truth. 

A lot has changed since then and I am grateful, but we have a long way to go. There’s a Sexual Harassment Law that is supposed to prevent this from happening in the work place now. The reality is that it still does. It happens everyday. I am sure that now the script has been flipped and there are women who harass men as well. I am not saying that this behavior solely belongs to men. However, men still have the majority of leadership roles in this country and the “old boys club” is still alive and kicking. I know that it is still an issue with young women trying to further their careers….play ball if you want to get ahead. 

These scenarios are still going on in all manner of business be it corporate or not. Power is a thirst that some people need to quench. There’ and old adage that many people out there believe, ‘he who does not control will be controlled.’ This is demonstrated over and over again in world history. What happens when a person stands up to the controlling party? The controlling party pushes back and discredits the attacker. Look around the world today and you can see that this is systematic of patriarchal societies. Women have always been the ones burning at the proverbial stake. 

I want to make it clear that I love people be they men or women. I have never had a prejudicial bone in my body. My heart aches for the oppressed and the disenfranchised. My mind fights against other people’s prejudice, hate, classism, bigotry, and sexism everyday. It is everywhere and it is abundantly clear who is leading the ranks. My heart breaks for Anita Hill and for all the women who have had to deal with this degradation in the workplace after fighting so hard to get where they are. Harriet Tubman was just declared the new face for the $20 bill and the derogatory comments I have heard about it in passing are so upsetting. What an incredibly BRAVE and loving human she was. It’s wonderful that she will be honored in this way. 

Times are changing and Ms. Hill is right, it is going to take a long time for things to change, but we are in the process. Our voices are our most powerful asset in this fight. By listening to women’s experiences and honoring the truth of our experiences things will begin to change. We’ve come a long way since 1991, but I still think that the majority of people will hold a man’s opinion over a woman’s.  As a survivor of abuse I know how this type of culture not only exists in the workplace, but permeates into the home as well. We must make sure we raise the next generation of men to understand that this is a human issue…not an issue of sex or power. It’s about being human, kind, decent, respectful, and fair. 

xo Ella

 

Rebel Thriver Q & A

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Recently, I was asked to do an interview for an online magazine about Rebel Thriver. I am thrilled when people are interested in what I do and what drives me. Not only does it get some important lifesaving information out to people, but it reaffirms what I want to continue building with Rebel Thriver.  xo Ella

                              “We’re all just walking each other home.” – Ram Dass

 

1) Who is Ella Hicks?

I’m first and foremost a mother of a couple of incredible kids. I am a trained artist, mentor, surfer, and a peddler of hope. I am a survivor of many things, however my biggest battle came during my 12-year marriage to a very sick abusive man. It’s amazing how one relationship can change the entire trajectory of your life. I had to run for my life with my young children on my hip and leave behind my home, kick ass career, colleagues, and friends in return for our freedom and safety. I believe that everyone survives something in this lifetime and that we’re all in this together; we don’t have to settle for feeling like we lost the lottery. With some deep soul work and determination we can change our thoughts and how we perceive things; we can change the course of our lives. You just need to be open for a positive shift to take place in your life…we’re so often more resilient than we give ourselves credit for. We are here to do so much more than simply survive our lives; we must give ourselves permission to thrive and to truly live.

To read more about how I rebooted my life check out my blog, Rebel Thriver: www.rebelthriver.org


2) What is Rebel Thriver?

Rebel Thriver started as an online blog as an outlet for me to get my thoughts out there and to connect with other survivors of domestic violence. The name Rebel Thriver came about in a two-fold way. I was really tired of being labeled a survivor, even through I am forever grateful that I am one. I felt that the weight of the word was holding me back. I wanted more for myself. I wanted to live a “thriving” life again. Where did “Rebel” come from? As a result of the domestic abuse in my own life I must always be extremely careful about putting myself out there in the public eye. Like so many other survivors once we leave an abusive relationship it doesn’t mean that it is over. Often after we leave it becomes even more dangerous. Many women are stalked and hunted down by the abuser, so for a woman like me simply writing a blog is a rebellious act. Shortly after starting the Rebel Thriver Blog I created a Facebook page which started off our social media campaign. We call ourselves a “tribe” because no matter where you are in this world there is always a hand that can reach that far and give some comfort. We literally span the globe.


3) Who does this organization reach out to?
Rebel Thriver is for everyone who has left a crisis zone and is ready to reboot and reclaim their life. As I have said before, we are all survivors of something in this life. Trauma is trauma no matter what it looks like. So while I may speak more directly to survivors of domestic violence and rape there are many other voices that speak with me. There are four amazing women who help me run our Facebook page and another who runs our Instagram page. I am so blessed to have the support of these empathetic and compassionate women. They volunteer their time because they know what it means to struggle and they want to help rise up in their own lives. We are growing by leaps and bounds daily because every person needs to be reminded that they are not alone and that they matter. There is help out there and people do care. 

4) What are the goals of Rebel Thriver?Ultimately, the goal of Rebel Thriver is to become a Non-Profit Company. This is something that I am working very hard on right now. I want to be able to offer valuable resources to people who are looking to reboot their lives, such as workshops, life coaching, a retreat center, legal advocacy, and so much more. Since we are international it’s a big undertaking but I know that with many small steps one can walk miles. I am undeterred and ultimately I dream of community center in every country in which we are present. That would be amazing!


5) How has Rebel Thriver empowered survivors?

First I will speak for myself  because in my attempt to help others I have empowered myself. In the process of reinforcing a positive message of self-love and self-worth I began to walk the talk (no one likes a hypocrite). This has changed my life in so many ways. I am so much stronger because of the people who I am blessed to help. Not a day goes by where someone shares with me a personal triumph. Perhaps they left their abusive partner or their shitty job. It might be that they were thinking of suicide and chose not to because of the message they received at “just the right moment.” There are many women that have left abusive relationships and have moved onto to healthy happy lives now as a result of being a part of the Rebel Thriver Tribe. “Freedom” and “Believe” are important words for us. I am no different from anyone else. I don’t have a magic wand to make things all better, but I face my challenges everyday and I’ve made a decision for myself to always rise. I never thought that my horrid experience would make me a role model for others, but watching another person succeed is powerful medicine. Especially, for someone who is just starting to try to figure it all out and rebuild their life again. 

 


6) What is your definition of domestic abuse?  

Domestic abuse affects many. It can be child abuse, spousal abuse, or abuse between other family members. It is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. Domestic violence encompasses a spectrum of behaviors that abusers use to control their victims.

How can we recognize the signs objectively?

We refer to the signs of domestic violence as “red flags.”  Many people in retrospect admit  that they saw the signs early on in their relationship, but didn’t think they deserved better or by the time they realized it they were in too deep. It needs to be said that abuse is never the fault of the victim. It can be hard for many reasons to end the relationship with an abuser, and safety is on the top of the list. If you experience these “red flags,” please confide in a friend or reach out for support from a domestic violence advocate. If you believe a friend or relative is being abused, offer your non-judgemental support and help.

Some examples of “red flags” are:

  • A new interest wants to move too quickly into the relationship.
  • Early in the relationship they flatter you constantly, and seem “too good to be true.”
  • They wants you all to him or herself; insists that you stop spending time with your friends or family.
  • Insists that you stop participating in hobbies or activities, quit school, or quit your job. This is all about isolating you. 
  • Does not honor your boundaries. 
  • Is excessively jealous and accuses you of being unfaithful. 
  • Wants to know where you are all of the time and frequently calls, emails, and texts you throughout the day. 
  • Criticizes or puts you down; says you are crazy, stupid, and/or fat/unattractive, or that no one else would ever want or love you. 
  • Takes no responsibility for his or her behavior and blames others…a “victim mentality.”
  • Has a history of abusing other people and/or animals.
  • Blames the entire failure of previous relationships on his or her former partner; for example, “My ex was totally crazy.” 
  • Takes your money or runs up your credit card debt. Has no accountability.
  • Rages out of control with you but can maintain composure around others.

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Abuse is never the fault of the victim and it can be hard for many reasons to end the relationship with an abuser, and safety is at the top of the list. If you experience these “red flags,” please confide in a friend or reach out for support from a local domestic violence advocate. If you believe a friend or relative is being abused, offer your help and non-judgmental support.

 

7) What is the pattern or cycle that battered women or men go through?

Domestic violence is often generational. It is cyclical and repeats itself over and over. It can become learned behavior for children involved. The cycle of violence is best explained through a graphic chart. I like the one supplied by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (below left) and we also use a simplified one to get the info out there in a more basic way. The cycle can be broken!

 

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For more help and information:

 

How can readers support Rebel Thriver’s message?

The best way to help Rebel Thriver is to get our message out there by sharing our posters and blog posts. We have over 171K followers on Facebook and the community there is amazing. We also have an amazing Instagram community of over 55k. Join in the conversation. Share our posts and encourage people to come join us as well. This year we will be offering our first online workshop open for the public as well as life coaching sessions. If you know of anyone who is struggling to find their way please tell them to hold on. Let them know that there is help and there is hope.

 

8) How has creating this organization shed light on your artistic qualities?

I love this question because I am a trained artist and before I had to flee my abusive marriage I was blessed to have a career that I loved and was very successful in. Abuse can destroy entire lives and leave people feeling like they have nothing to live for. Many like myself have to walk away from everything and start over completely. For me this meant that I had to leave the career I loved so very much behind, along with my friends, and colleagues. When I started writing the Rebel Thriver Blog I could barely string three sentences together because my brain was in such a fog. I signed up for a creative writing class at the local college as a challenged to myself. I got straight A’s and the blog was born. In addition to the writing I also love being able to make all the inspirational posters that we use on our social media sites. They are a big part of my therapy and usually they coincide with my daily struggles and triumphs. Finally, we started a merchandise line recently at the request of many people. All of the profits go directly back into helping Rebel Thriver grow into the awesome nonprofit company that we are working so hard towards.

If you would like more information on Rebel Thriver you can contact me, Ella Hicks, through our email: rebelthriver@gmail.com 

We would love you to join us as well on our new website: www.rebelthriver.org
There you will find links to our Blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr pages as well as links to the Rebel Thriver online shop.

 

A Rogue Wave

Sometimes

There have been times in my life where sadness has hit me like a rogue wave that sneaks up from behind bringing with it a wicked undertow that tries to pull me out deeper. The wave plants me on my ass in a mess of sadness and despair when it comes crashing down…there are things in life that can derail you. There are things that have tremendous momentum even though they may seem to appear out of nowhere. There are things in life that no one is prepared for. 

Recently, I found out I was going to have another child. The news sent me reeling. Getting pregnant has never been easy for me. My two children are my precious miracles to this world. Sadly, along my journey I have lost three angels. I bear witness that a miscarriage is a horrible experience. If you have experienced one you might find that you want to hide yourself trying to avoide telling people that you are pregnant out of the fear of what is or isn’t to come. Having a high risk pregnancy brings a weird mix of excitement, fear, and isolation.

This pregnancy definitely caught me off guard. It was the last thing I expected to happen in 2016. I prepared myself for a wild ride this year, but nothing could have prepared me for this. That being said I embraced it immediately even though my partner and I have been walking a rocky road recently. I am always an advocate for a woman’s right to choose and I chose to have this baby regardless to what was happening in my life. This child was being sent to me for a reason and I was going to embrace it with all of me. 

What you don’t know until you experience it is that losing a baby is a massive trauma to your body, your mind, and your soul. Sure you move past it and hopefully are able to conceive again, but that feeling never quite leaves you. Growing a life within you is an amazingly awesome and incredibly weird experience. The minute that I find out I am with child everything in the world shifts for me. Out goes the caffeine & the alcohol, and in comes all the goodness. I STOP and take a full inventory. I commit to taking pristine care of myself as the incubator for a new life. I am in 100%, sleeves pushed up, saltines in hand, and ready to roll. 

When I realized that I was losing my baby a few weeks ago all I wanted to do curl up and hide. 

NOT AGAIN. 

I was sad and I was angry at God for allowing me to have to endure this yet another time. I felt broken. I felt like my body had failed me and I was devastated.  I felt like my body had let my baby, and my partner down. I laid in bed for two days and just went back and forth between crying and staring into nothingness. I was arriving at numb quickly. 

Thankfully I had told a couple of friends. THIS is not something you want to go through alone. It’s a tragic situation and you truly are helpless. My mind was screaming to the baby inside of me to “hold on”.  I was begging God to spare my child. I felt like such a failure every time I looked at my partner. The worst part was that as a mother I was unable to prevent my  baby from dying inside of me. A crushing experience that is beyond any words. 

I decided to write about this for the same reason that I write about my experience with domestic violence…to break the stigma. There is always such a “hush hush” about these issues, and for what? The silence is isolating, and in situations like this you need support from loving people. It’s hard to go through something like this and carry it alone. Women have been dealing with these issues from the beginning of time and yet I find that it’s still taboo to speak up about them. I am opposed to shutting it down, hiding it, and just moving on. Stuffing your trauma doesn’t help you to heal and move past it. It just leaves it festering for another day to explode into your life unannounced in another form. 

Life is happening all around us. People are born and people die every single day. It is the great circle of life and we are as much of a part of it as the next guy. No one gets to run away from nature as much as they would like to think that they can. We are all here dealing with the same human conditions. Life is going to push you. It is going to stretch you, and it is going to hurt you, but just as this is true it is also going to reward you. You cannot seek out only the good for life is made whole with the balance of both. The duality of life. We must embrace it all and appreciate the good when it is here and understand that the pain comes as our teacher. Understanding of this is helpful in accepting your life as it unfolds…perfect or imperfect. Joyful or sad. This is your life. 

I lost this baby at eight weeks and It was my 4th miscarriage. It doesn’t get easier, but you do get stronger. Understanding that it is natures way and that some life is just more viable than others is critical. Trust me, nature is not out to punish you. Through this I’ve learned to embrace life as it is thrust upon me and I am learning to let go of it when necessary. Learning to trust the timing of my life and having faith in the outcome is what sees me through. Life has taught me that acceptance and release is all about flow. You can’t stop it…you have go with it. When life hands you this kind of pain you embrace it as a gift and know that it has the power to transform you. 

xo Ella 

The High Road.

It was 4 years ago this week that I began to write in my attempt to heal myself. One sentence turned into two, then three, four and so on until my words started telling my story.  I share it in pieces, and when they are connected they create a whole. Perhaps the reason I haven’t written a book yet is because the thought of stringing the pieces all together at once terrifies me.  I am still live the nightmare to a lesser degree and so the book hasn’t reached the final chapter yet…stay tuned.

TrenchesI often feel like my writing has a cryptic feel to it. That’s because I can’t fill
in any of the finer details. The more colorful stuff that gives life it’s personality I have to dance around because it can betray me. All the nuances of my past life are known to the one I want to hide them from.  However, I know that my words, my example of living in spite of
it all is helping other women to
stay strong.  Just by moving forward I can show others that even though life may not be perfect you can still live a happy life and find a way to thrive in the midst of chaos. The calm in the center of the proverbial storm.

I’m not entirely sure if  I’m strong or stupid. Either way I keep on going and believing that I can rise above it all within myself one day. Eleven years ago I ran with my children. I ran for my health, my sanity, my soul, and our lives. I struggled through many years in a fog that I wasn’t even remotely aware I was living in. It was only four years ago that my healing truly began, and it was simply because I started to tell my story. I told my story in an attempt to help other women feel connected. So that they would know that someone else understood them and that they were not alone. I had no idea that by writing my first blog post I had really embarked on a journey in the search for ME.

What have I learned?

First, You need to chill the fuck out. No really, just sit down on the beautiful Earth and breathe deeply. In and out. In and out. You get the picture. Anyway, call it what you will but that really works. I have learned not to waste my pain because I know that it can’t hurt me, and that it’s there to teach me. Sometimes the pain can be brutal but so far I’ve stayed the course because I can feel the shift happening in my life. I know it’s a necessary part of my journey. I am so much stronger now and I value myself which is something I can’t say I had much practice in before. In fact I’m cheering myself on and it great to be able to feel it all and not be paralyzed by the fear that some memories can conjure up.

I am braver. In the process of becoming Ella I discovered a strength and resolve that I didn’t know I had. I have taken my own road in life, which has never been in the popular part of town I can tell you that. I have learned to stand up for me in the process and I am determined to show people that bullies are really just incredibly weak and fractured people. They need our love…even if we keep it to ourselves. Hate, even for bullies, won’t get us very far. Forgiveness is important.

I have realized how incredibly important it is to have a life of your own; to live as your own country while surrounded by many others. You may be in a relationship, but you don’t have to lose your voice. Your relationship with yourself is by far the most important one you will ever have. Don’t ever let that spark within go out, you will need to fan it to see yourself through the dark days ahead. Stand tall, be your own person and always BELIEVE in a better tomorrow.

It’s imperative to create a healthy inner circle for yourself. A few good people that you can confide in, find mutual support, and truly be free to be yourself with (warts and all) is what being in a tribe is all about. Isolation is not healthy…no living thing can be an island. We need our own kind. Don’t stop looking for your tribe. You will find them as long as you are being true to yourself.

We are all connected energetically and this is why it’s so imperative for each of us to surround ourselves with like minded and good hearted people. It’s not about the shoes, the car, the job, the house, the education, or the status spouse. It’s simply about kindness and good will to all. Think of how beautiful the world would be if we could all just be kind and decent human beings. The truth is that no one heals themselves by harming another. My choice has been to take the high road. It wasn’t easy pulling myself up out of the trenches so I am going to do what I have to do to stay here. It has a much better view. 

xo Ella

The Grand Revolution

MyOwn

 

Self Love, Self Respect, Self Worth. There Is A Reason They All Start With “Self”...You Can Not find Them In Anyone Else.  – Unknown


It’s February…the ‘season of dread’ for so many.  It breaks my heart to see so many people so despondent over one ‘Hallmark holiday’ each year. I often wonder how it is that we have allowed this notion to permeate our strongest sensibilities in this age in time. I have personally worked very hard to know the difference between love, my ego and petty vanity. Most importantly, I have strived to know and love myself first. This is the foundation in which I have chosen to build my life. To me, self-love is the true revolution.


“Don’t wander away from yourself to get close to somebody else.” – Unknown

It took me a long time to understand that I needed to love myself first. In fact I had to survive 11 years of an abusive relationship to arrive at this truth; ‘to thine self be true.’ There are so many fractured relationships today and they can feel even worse this time of year. There is no place lonelier than being in a relationship and yet still feeling all alone. That is a hard place to find yourself and no one sets out to arrive there.  It’s what happens when we sell ourselves short in order to make another person happy; when we put love for another over the love for ourselves.

“People with low self-esteem are more likely to sabotage themselves when something good happens to them because they don’t feel deserving.” – Unknown

This can begin a cycle of self-deprivation. It happens when we start believing that someone else’s happiness is more important then our own. That’s the biggest lie in the books because self deprivation doesn’t lead to fullness. There is no happiness to be found in living your life this way. Eventually, this kind of living creates a lie that convinces you that you really don’t deserve it anyway. It’s the lie we tell ourselves to ease the hurt, but  ultimately the hurt only grows bigger. 

I don’t chase people anymore. I learned that I’m here, and I am important. I am not going to run after people to prove that I matter. – Unknown

To embrace yourself wholeheartedly is the key to a happy life. Seeking happiness within rather than in another allows you to build a foundation that is rock solid. We aren’t often raised to put ourselves first so if coupled with low self-worth our relationships will start with a less than balanced approach. It’s never to late to start a new chapter; one where you decide what is right for you without fear of reproach from another. You don’t have to seek out approval from others…your approval is really all that matters. Set out on a quest to find true love within yourself because you are more than worth it.

“One day I woke up and realized that I wasn’t made for anyone. I was made for me. I am my own.” – Unknown

When you arrive in a place of self acceptance you will find a peace unrivaled by any other. Not many people can say that they arrive at this place within themselves. It takes patience, time and loads of deep soul-searching work. It means that forgiveness is present for both you and others. It will mean leaving the past behind and keeping your eyes on the prize which is of course, yourself. After all you will find that loving yourself is the greatest Revolution. Once you find this for yourself your relationships with others will transform. It is here that you will be ready to find a love that will move mountains. 

xo Ella

Revolutionary

Revolutionary

“I decided that the most subversive, revolutionary thing I
could do was to show up for my life and not be ashamed.”
                                                                               – Anne Lamont

I have have a long history of fighting with myself.  You know what I am talking about.  That inner bickering between yourself and yourself.  It can be downright cruel can’t it?  Can you imagine saying half of the things that you say to yourself to someone else?  Hell no!  So why do we continue to berate ourselves silently and shame ourselves into submission?  While the answer is clear to me now it took me a long time to figure it out.

How is it that we know how to love another?  It’s both nurture and nature. We want to love. We want approval. We are taught to know right and wrong. We are taught to show compassion. We are taught to treat others with respect. Why aren’t we taught as children to love ourselves in the same way as we love others?  It was never taught to me that loving myself was imperative. I didn’t know that the most important relationship that I would ever have would be with myself. It took me many years to learn this simple truth; and in fact, I almost broke up with myself a few times, but somehow deep down I knew that I deserved to be loved.

Many years of my life were wasted in a relationship looking for the love that I really needed from myself.  When I met my ex-husband he immediately put me on a pedestal. He made me feel like I was the most beautiful and special woman in the world. He quelled my self doubt with his constant encouragement and loving reminders of how incredibly special I was. I had never felt that from anyone before. For the first time I was able to see myself though someone else’s eyes, and for the first time I felt worthy of the admiration. He convinced me that I was beautiful, because I couldn’t see it for myself. Unfortunately, that didn’t last long and I mistook his obsessiveness for love. I married an abusive man who hated his mother and then turned that hate upon me. The self-worth that I thought I had developed was ripped abruptly away. The void was wide open again and I had nothing to fill it with now.  I was just never taught that I needed to fill that void myself.  Everything shifted. I could still see myself though his eyes, only now  I was the enemy;  stupid, ugly, and a bitch who couldn’t do a damned thing right.

It was a rude awakening when I saw how quickly he could change into a monster; a true Jekyll  & Hyde. I was never taught to look for the “red flags” in a relationship. I was never taught how to value myself and defend myself against attack.  I grew up to be a people pleaser. I bent over backwards to make others happy at my own expense. That is how I derived my self-worth. So when I fell from grace in my marriage I was lost. I tried so hard to be better which only helped in crumbling my self-worth even more. It’s a cold hard world out there when you don’t have yourself to turn to in troubled times. The irony is that professionally I was a force to reckon with, but once I returned home all my accomplishments didn’t seem to matter. I was a failure in his eyes and nothing could change that.

I wish I had known then what I know now… that the love I needed had to come from me.  My big inner void needed me to fill it.  I was like the Tin Man who thought he needed a heart only to learn in the end that he had the biggest heart of all.  It took Dorothy to teach him that. Like the Tin Man, I didn’t know that I needed to love myself.  I was so lost, and trapped at this point; it took me many years to finally find that open door I could escape through. I feel heartbroken for the woman that I was back then. I had never felt that alone in my life. He had broken me down so much that I didn’t even recognize myself. I couldn’t trust my thoughts for I always heard him berating me in the background, as if I was a bad child who needed to be taught a lesson the hard way.

“In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.”- Unknown

So many of us are set up for such hardships because we are never taught how important it is to love and respect ourselves. We aren’t taught healthy boundaries or that sometimes you just have to command respect. Then again how can we expect to be respected when we don’t respect ourselves or we feel unworthy of respect. This is how so many people end up in unhealthy, one-sided relationships. There can be no balance in any relationship if you do not have a healthy and loving relationship with yourself. Children need be taught self-respect and compassion in school and I think that has started with the anti-bullying campaigns. Our youth need to understand that not only are they not to be picked on, but there is so much more to them.  They need to understand that knowing themselves and having solid ideals, dreams, and boundaries set are critical. They need to know that as they grow they will learn more about themselves, and to be patient with themselves through he process. They need to be surrounded by healthy role models and if they aren’t in the home with them then they need to find them in their schools and clubs. THIS is important. The world is counting on our youth to shake off the past and break the perpetual cycle of self loathing that we see all around us.

This year I am going to remain focused on the things that I want to change in my life. I am going to give myself more self-care. I am going to listen to myself and stop berating myself.  While I am teaching my children to know themselves and to honor that knowing I realize that I am not always a good example of it for them. I am going to do my best to stop body shaming myself, and I am going to do better for my children.  This year I am going to be a true rebel and I am going to focus on me and the shifting sands around me. I am going to hold true to the fact that as long as I have myself I am going to be okay. 

I am going to be okay because I am no longer looking for someone else to fill my void. There is no void now because I am filling it up with myself.  I have a map in my hand to help me navigate my way. If I get lost I will ask for help to get back on course. It took me way to long to understand the personal dynamic I needed to have with myself in order to simply be okay. I finally understand that the most revolutionary thing I can do is to show up for my life and not be ashamed. I must commit to being real and utterly honest with myself. I must change and let go of the old ways to make room for the new. The time is now. I am rising. I am a revolutionary.

xo Ella