My Heart Sees Hope finding myself one day at a time Sat, 27 Jan 2018 14:27:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Getting fit because I’m finally getting it Sat, 27 Jan 2018 14:13:22 +0000 Whenever a new year starts I find myself craving change. I truly love change. Switching things up keeps it fresh. It’s funny cause I married a man who loathes change. But the past few years he hasn’t had a choice but to get used to it.

Lots of life has went down.

Because of that fact alone, the girl who loves change actually isn’t so excited about change right now either. So I only have one goal for this year.

To just be ME.

The difference is only…

is to be the BEST me I have ever been.

I’ve been doing a lot of hard work. That along with all the hard work God has been doing in me over the past 10 years, I’m ready for my outside appearance to match the strength that has developed within me. 💪🏻

It is true, regardless of how much we try to pretend we are okay, our physical body eventually WILL reflect what’s really going on mentally and emotionally.

I don’t think I ever wrote this about myself before.. but here I go… you know what?!? I’m a pretty strong chick. 💪🏻 🐤

After spending years writing about how broken I have been because of past memories I hadn’t been able to make sense of, today I’m living in the comfort of God’s hope and true healing.

If your reading this today please don’t get turned off by my saying this. It’s the truth.

Healing from emotional hurts and past trauma can really happen. Even from the hardest of circumstances.

I’m living proof.

And after years of getting to this place and working on my inner being, I’m finally ready and equipped to really mentally focus on fitness and health.

So I started working out.

Yes. Again.

Anyone who has followed me knows that I’ve been down this road a few times the past few years.

But in case you didn’t know, this is really my year. And what most of you don’t know is that I have a gift for finding meaning in things that most people wouldn’t.

For example, my birthday is on the 28th and it’s 2018 so… 2-8?!? So it’s definitely my year. 😆sorry I digress…

At this point, I’m not holding myself to any other rules EXCEPT to show up and do my absolute best when I get there.

The rest will follow.

(Like eating better)


What prompted this life/MIND change you ask?


1.Today I weigh as much as I did when I was 9 months pregnant with my youngest.

2. I never have been 42 before and it seems a week of slim fast no longer makes me slim or does it fast.

3. My cooking less & eating out more than I should is not good.

4. Stress from work and the terrible fact that when I’m not shooting a client, I’m sitting or standing still in front of a computer & editing for hours at a time.

5. I’ve been really tired and I’m too young to feel like total dog crap every day.

It’s all just taken it’s toll. Especially on my arms and the width of my butt.

Food and fitness shouldn’t ever be an idol. But its always a fine line for a recovered bulimic. It seems whether I’m eating a lot of it or none of it… it has always consumed my thoughts. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be completely normal with food. But what I can say is I am better than I have ever been. #progress

I wish I could say to you that my new found motivation to become healthy came because I KNEW the way I have been living was not optimal.

But it wasn’t.

I’ve been in denial about what’s been going on with me for awhile. I haven’t wanted to face the fact that I would have to once again step up and do one more thing for myself. I’ve done so much work already. Can’t I catch a break?!?

I’m freaking tired.

(Cue the violins) Now the first thing I did before I realized working out was going to be a catch all medicine for my recent ailments, I just assumed … I must be dying.

So I went to the doctor. I started with my General. They asked me all kind of questions and ran all kinds of tests.

Then I went to the Gyno. They asked me all kind of questions and ran all kinds of tests.

Clean bill of health. But still felt like crap.

I met with an endocrinologist. Ran even more tests. Healthy as a freakin horse.

There was only one conclusion after all that research that I just didn’t want to face.

Eat better.

Move more.

Stress less.

Seriously?!? That’s it?

it w
he truth. No magic pill fixed my mind about my life and there isn’t a magic pill to get in shape and feel better either.

So my journey began.

Week 1

I made the decision privately and started Dec 31st. Our kids were on winter break so we brought them with. I rowed for 30 minutes and lifted.

Week 2

Sadly my motivation was already slipping. So the 2nd week I decided to try a few group classes again. I’ve never been a good self motivator and when I did workout in the past, group fitness had been my go to. I just have been weary of working out with others since I feel like I’m not in shape enough to get into shape with others.

Issues. Yes.

But this is something I will change about myself. It’s not easy but it’s a choice I’m willing to make regardless of my insecurities.

One of the first classes I tried was called “Barre”.

Sculpting movements like a ballerina. I really wanted to like this class. But a past Foot surgery and having to bear weight on a foot that has 4 metal screws permanently in them was excruciating. I’m pretty tough but this class wasn’t going to work. I was bummed for sure.

So I decided to take a cross-fit class for the first time.

This was my hardest class yet. For more reasons than you’d think. Yes, I had muscles screaming at me for days that had never been moved before. I was sore in places I didn’t know I could be sore.

But my biggest hurdle with this class wasn’t the work out. It was me. The 9:15am class was more crowded than I expected. Now, I once was a young stay at home mom who worked out too. And things haven’t changed too much except I’m no longer a young mom and todays young moms look nothing like I did 21 years ago. Dang they are in ridiculous shape. Even when I was in shape my body never looked that good. Flashback moment of myself at Miss Geri’s. Comparison kills the spirit in EVERYONE and EVERYTHING.

Comparing. Worst thing I can do.

Week 3
I ha
My life is my life. Different from anyone else’s. This body carried 3 beautiful healthy thriving human beings and still carries me daily with full health to be able to do all the things I can.

I need to be grateful.

So I let go of my insecurities and kept taking classes.

It’s been a week since that particular cross fit class and no I’m still not walking normally but I finished it. I plan on trying it again once a week and not comparing myself to others in it. Just focusing on my progress.

Week 4

I’m happy to say though that over these past few weeks I have found a class I really like and will do more than once a week.

The class is hard.

The instructor goes by the name Dr. Sweat (Rod) and he never disappoints. This kickboxing/sculpting class is pretty intense. But for me beating up a punching bag has its benefits in more ways that one. #stressless

I’m finding my way. Slowly but it’s a process. I’m okay with that now. It’s not a race it’s a lifestyle.

And I not giving up.. ever.

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To Be Crowned Sun, 15 Oct 2017 13:00:01 +0000 I stood at the ballet bars of Ms Geri’s Dance School and just stared. In the mirrors reflection was 8 little girls in first position and then there was me. A chubby little 6 year old in a purple leotard with no bun.
I suppose the mirror should have been helping me see if my feet were positioned correctly, but instead it just helped me realize clearly my legs were the biggest ones in the class. Maybe because I was an only child at the time I didn’t have much to compare them to and now having the opportunity to be around girls my own age intrigued me to study them in detail.

I have always had a gift of “weird detail awareness”. I wish someone would have told me sooner that this gift would payoff in more ways than one. I might have then embraced my feelings of being different sooner, but again maybe then I would have never written this story today.

Now, most of the girls in my class had already knew one another. I was new. I also was a little awkward, was red haired and had a weird name for 1980. Although today I love that my name is unique, my insecurities about being different added to my anxiety and sure didn’t help me make friends easily.

My parents work schedule also made it difficult for me to get to know the neighborhood kids around our home.  I was rarely home during the week.

If I wasn’t at school, I was at daycare, and if I wasn’t at daycare, I was with a babysitter/family member. But to fill in a few gaps here, let me make sure to say this…my parents worked very hard.

My parents came from pretty humble beginnings so “making it” in life especially in the early 80s meant making money. Working moms were all the rage and climbing that corporate ladder meant women could really do it all.  I feel differently about that do it all stuff, but I’ll save it for another story.

Ill just say this … working a lot meant more money. More money meant having nicer things. I attended a private school and honestly had everything provided that one could ask for materially. 

You can’t buy friends though. So my loneliness became a place for me to pretend. It probably is what sparked my interest to perform. To be on a stage where I could be seen.

My mom and dad loved the arts. They also had a good friend whose wife was a stage actress who we went to see perform several times in plays. I was in awe of how she could sing and dance. I wanted to do that myself. There were always children performing in the plays and I wanted to be one of them. The photo below is my God father and his wife the amazing actress that inspired me. 

Miss Geri’s School of Dance was a pretty popular school in my Chicago neighborhood. It was a teeny- tiny place on a street corner with walls covered in photographs of dancers, past recital groups, and of course Miss Geri herself. I couldn’t wait to begin classes. My mom signed me up! I was going to be a dancer! And so it began. Every week I attended the ballet and tap class that was going to make me one step closer to the actress I wanted to be. But it wasn’t easy by any means. My nerves would go off the charts when Ms Geri walked slowly by the line of us at the bar. Her eyes were layered with heaps of grey, frost eye shadow & what had seemed to me at least 17 coats of mascara. She would look at our legs and feet with a narrowed stare that always made me uncomfortable. She had salt and pepper hair cut just like Pat Benetar and she always confidently walked across the floor in jazz heels while sporting a loose #Flashdance sweatshirt over her black leotard.

Something I learned fairly quick as a new dancer.

Black leotards = serious dancers.

Purple Leotards = chubby weirdo.

Guess who had a purple one?

Anyway, even though I felt anxious around her, I longed for her to see me. I knew if she could just see me really see me, she’d like me. I remember wishing she’d smile at me in class the same way she seemed to smile at me when my mom came in to pick me up.

I never understood that.

People who wear two completely opposite faces in life. I can barely keep up with the one me I am, let alone manage that web of nonsense.
But for whatever her reasons of being cold, I still held out on the hope of the day she might see something in me good enough to mention it to me.

To hear the words, to feel that pat on the back, to receive the genuine smile of approval meant everything to me.

I went every week, learned my dances, and did my best. I learned pretty early on, that doing my best started with just showing up.

Showing up regardless if you believed you were good enough or wanted.

There was one thing however Miss Geri did that held the power to make one feel special at least one time a year in her class.

There was a crown that sat on a shelf until it was your turn to wear it. I was about 7 years old and I loved princesses so you can bet it was the most beautiful crown I had ever seen. It was shaped like the crown in the cartoon version of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.

The silver material was tightly stretched over the crown form and it was loaded with silver sequences. The sequences were the best part because when the studio lights hit the crown just so, the entire dance floor was showered with glittering light reflections.
Think about that, I’m like 7, I love wearing sparkles and dancing. Can you think of anything better? I know I can’t! Even as I write this I get super excited! It was something I thought about every time I saw that crown sitting on her shelf.

Now this crown of my dreams was only brought out on someone’s birthday.

At the end of class, Ms Geri would seat you in the middle of the floor, place the crown on your head, and everyone would sing and dance around you.

I wanted to wear that crown more than anything. Because it meant for that moment I would be special.

My birthday which fell on Oct 28th was also celebrated along with class Halloween Parties which is why I always have and always will love Halloween. Getting to dress up in a costume on my birthday was always an added bonus.

Well it was my birthday, and I remember clearly being so excited to get to class that day.
I was Strawberry Shortcake like 4 years in a row, so I’m sure thats what I was that year too.

I know I was wearing one of those plastic costumes with mask in tow, and brought my bag of candy to pass.
I was a little anxious that she might forget about me because we still had dance class to do and the party to get to all in a 1 hour time period.

I wanted to mention it to her, but I was afraid. I rarely even spoke to her about anything at dance anyway, let alone intentionally ask her if she knew it was the week of my birthday.

I remember my mind spinning and screaming inside during class. The words of “just ask her Chantel!” “It’s your turn to be the girl who sparkles the dance floor with the crown. But my fear became a reality. One hour is not enough time to do all of this. My mind wrestled with the ideas of maybe she forgot or maybe she didn’t know. But she remembered the other girls on their day.

What about me?

I kept looking at her hoping she would see. I wish she saw through my eyes. But she never really looked at my eyes, she was always looking at my legs and feet.
Maybe if my legs just looked like the other girls….

I can still feel what that moment felt like to take off my dance shoes that evening. I didn’t tell my mom or dad, but I never did wear that crown that day.

I haven’t shared this story with many. I never shared it ever like this. Its not easy writing about feeling forgotten or unseen. Looking back, I’m pretty sure Miss Geri never knew how much power that little crown held for me. I was too little to understand it’s power as well.

That crown represented something much deeper to me back then but only today would I have been able to see it. It wasn’t that it was just pretty or that it sparkled when the light hit it.
It was about having an opportunity to wear something that meant something to me. That the little girl who was constantly being dropped off somewhere, was seen by someone. That I was just as special as all the others, and the biggest one…

that I belonged.

For most of my life, I have spent precious time looking in all kinds of places hoping to find someone or something to crown me. Think about being crowned and what that means. It’s not just about wearing a pretty headdress.

Its about being named something important.

I have a crown today that I am just now getting used to. I have received it, I’m working on learning how to wear it, and understanding the responsibility there is now that I have chosen to accept it.

If you are reading this today, I believe these words were meant to meet you in this moment, right now.
I have decided to write this and share my stories with you because I believe there is true healing and power in releasing your stories. That healing comes from being brave enough to think about it, face it, and actually write it all down. There is something very different when memories leave your head and are staring back at you in actually words on paper.
First of all, it makes you look at it.
Second of all, it helps you relook at it.

When we have been exposed to any hurt, or in my case trauma (which you can read about in previous posts or will more in my blog), our minds can develop a survival mode that shifts into gear to protect us while we are going through things.

However, those walls of pain and trauma we had built up to survive in our past can be detrimental to our future if not torn down. The walls can imprison us and can warp how we see the world going forward and eventually lead us down a very sad path.

I have spent thousands of dollars and years of therapy with high hopes to overcome the trauma of what childhood sexual abuse and rape had done to my mind.

Part of the awkwardness I mentioned earlier on was not about being a red headed chubby girl, it was the shame manifested from the abuse I was going through at that time as well.

Because I was a child, I didn’t understand it so I did what a child does, I tried to make sense of things.
Simply, I looked at things on the surface that made me different. The things people had mentioned to me, or the things I could see about myself that were different. I just assumed it was my appearance that was the cause of all the ugly feelings I had growing up because in someway that was controllable.
Feel ugly wear a pretty dress.
Feel fat, stop eating.

Taking control of the things that I felt must have been caused by me made me feel a sense of power.
I eventually grew up to become a severe people pleaser that took solace regularly in the secrecy of self harm and bulimia. These secrets continued into my marriage and sadly into motherhood.
By age 32, when my life couldn’t look more anymore perfect to the eyes of the world around me, I hit rock bottom.

I had a wonderful marriage of 10 years in which we had just renewed our vows a few months prior, 3 beautiful healthy children, and a brand new home. I had just began a new endeavor as professional makeup artist and my photography business was growing rapidly. Yet knowing all off that, everyday I was still trying to slowly kill myself.

Binging and purging my life away and not understanding why I wanted to just die. The shame of not understanding how to be happy or content with anything made me want to disappear. I wanted to unzip my skin and step into someone else’s. Eventually my body started revolting on me. After 20 years of abuse it said enough.

That collapse was the beginning of my healing journey.

The biggest rock bottom of my life, the time I hated myself the most, would be today the most beautiful blessing I could have every received.
I know that reading those words sound crazy. But it really is the truth.

Gods timing is always perfect.

Remember that. There is no mistake in your reading this today. I may or may not be able to relate to your story. But I can relate to how you might feel now or how you have felt yesterday.

I want you to know this as truth.

You can be restored.
Healing IS possible.
And anything …..
Anything is possible with Christ Jesus.
I am living proof.

With 20+ years of trying to heal myself the worlds way on my own growing closer and closer to dying a sad, young mom.

I had done it all.

What I had found was there was no medication or amount of amazing therapists that could give me the freedom, the love, and the peace I have found in allowing faith in Jesus to heal my heart. I am a work in progress. Even today I still struggle. But as I share things, as the words of my story connect with you, I want you to know that I could have never gotten to this place today alone by my own doing.

I know the darkness.

Darkness is the same regardless of the form it take. It comes to steal and destroy. Nothing more.

But I live in the light today because I know who I belong to. Someone who says that I am REDEEMED. RESTORED. LOVED.

Someone who will never let me down. Someone that always be there. Someone that I want to be like.

Regardless of where you have been, what you have done, or what others may have done to you, I promise you that there is more for you in all of this than you can ever imagine.
One of my favorite verses was written by the apostle Paul and it says this:

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭ESV‬

Maybe you don’t who Paul is. Maybe you have never picked up a bible or even stepped into a church.

Right now just know this if you are reading this, know you are part of a bigger plan.
A purpose has been set for you before you were even born.

Best of all there is someone holding a crown for you right now. Not just a crown, your crown.

Close your eyes for a second. Can you see it? What’s your crown look like? Ill tell you what, mine is so much better than Miss Geris birthday crown.

I did request sparkles though.😉

So here’s the deal, you my dear were meant for royalty. You just have to be willing to put it on, choose to wear it like a princess, and accept one thing…

That you are a daughter of a KING.

Thank you Ms. Geri for not seeing me that day. You were part of this great plan, a plan where your crown wouldn’t have fit anyway. And on my very near 42nd birthday you can bet I’ll be wearing a crown.. 😉❤️💕

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Being Sandy Fri, 21 Oct 2016 04:08:25 +0000 It wasn’t so long ago when I was in the most difficult part of my healing journey. It was the first time some very personal memories had ever left the dark corners of my brain. But I had hit my bottom. I don’t know if everyone has a bottom or would ever want to go there, because I’ll reassure you, rock bottom sucks. 

But today, I can kiss the floor of that bottom because it was the day I had no other choice but to look up and through. In the beginning of my process, it had been a constant battle to convince myself that the only way I was going to be able to move forward in my life was by allowing the memories and the words to travel out of my head into the light.  Whether they were headed onto a piece of paper, onto a computer, or out of my mouth to another person. That the only way was through and the only way through was to get it out of my head. 

Somehow. Forever.

Acknowledging it, speaking it, writing it, all helped me process and release many pivotal traumatic events that for years that wouldn’t allow me to ever truly be myself or relax. 

The reason I’m choosing to write about this today is because I recently had a memory pop up that my past self would have looked at very differently. 

Is there anyone who remembers when this was how you watched a home movie? 

I remember being a little girl watching the movie Grease for the first time on one of those laser disc players. I don’t know if I was 7 or 8 years old, but what I did know was I always loved the idea of falling in love.  

Ahhh Grease… and well “Grease is the word. Its the word that you heard, it’s got groove” …. Ahh you know the song. 😉

My path to my Danny Zuko was as simple as hot rollers, red lipstick, leather pants, and to be able to say … “Tell me about it stud.” 

Yep.. Can you see it? I’m a dead ringer. 

Many nights when I couldn’t fall asleep or those times I was abruptly awoken from my sleep, I would lay in my bed, stare up at my strawberry shortcake canopy, and do 1 of 2 things. If I was scared, I would say my “Our Fathers and my Hail Mary’s” as the good little Catholic girl I was until I fell asleep.

 Or the 2nd thing I would do was try to make myself dream the whole Grease movie in its entirety. 

 Ever try to Make yourself dream something? It’s not that easy. 

Because I knew the movie word for word I could do it. Just not while asleep. Because of the things going on around me or to me for that matter, this movie was one of my many mind escapes and dissociative techniques.  

At 8,I found a way to dream myself into a different life. A place where the songs could be so loud, so fun, they could drown out the fighting. The pounding on the kitchen table, the yelling, the screaming, the crying all was muffled by lyrics like, “Tell me more Tell me more like does he have a car?” 

Now when I began to first share this memory and similar ones, I would become very angry. Acknowledging the uncertainty, the instability, the seemingly lack of regard for my presence in my childhood destroyed me. 

This silly movie became a trigger of a time when a part of myself was formed and broken. The sexual abuse going on had already taught me how to clearly disassociate from the present. But situations like this, validated my minds lies that told me I didn’t exist. My young mind thought if I did exist in their life, maybe they wouldn’t act that way. They would know I can hear this,that I’m scared, and stop. So I learned to isolate within my mind and create my own reality. 

This was a tough pill to swallow when talking about it. My anger was in realizing that in the heat of their moments I was never a thought to silence their fights. I didn’t matter enough to quiet them even a little to check on me being a room away. 

Only because I’m a parent myself do I realize how important that is. How our children hear everything and the reality of my own mistakes in this area. But I learned from my own life that when we are open, humble, and touch base with our children after the tidal waves rolled in, they might not take those moments and put them into little dark corners of their brain to grow and fester like I had back then. 

You see, while I was in my bedroom ingesting all that was spewed or being destroyed, I was trying to drown it out with a movie score. 

The reality on the other side was my parents were trying to just grow up. Yep. They had zero good coping skills. Kind of like this. (I once worked in a preschool) 

If a 2 year old child takes a toy from another 2 year old child it almost always ends up in a bite, a swat, or screaming and crying. 2 year olds communication skills are limited and the only way they can voice their frustrations are through tantrums and acting out physically. Many of us it can take many years developing coping skills if we were not taught properly or have experienced trauma where the coping skills development is has been damaged. 

 I believe my parents both never quite handled things well because they only did what they knew. They didn’t know to check on me because they never were checked on. Period. They didn’t know not to fight in front of me, or scream all night long because they grew up in homes that never showed them differently. That’s the reality. 

It wasn’t that they didn’t love me. They just did what they knew. 

But its only now, I can see this. I can move on from this, forgive, and still love them very much. 

Because I walked through it. I faced it. I felt it. I processed it. I talked about it. I cried about it. I asked my mom about it, I took myself out of it to see their side of it, and today can let it go. 

It’s a huge step forward in my journey to be able to look back at these little memories that were once so harmful and angering to me and no longer allow them to consume my feelings. 

I now understand the situation for what it was. The fact was my parents were young. My parents were overwhelmed. They fought. 

A lot. 

So much so that they missed a lot of me in the storm. So I learned to find a way to become seen. In my head. Watching Grease … Being Sandy. 

As I grew up, I spent alot of my life making bad choices in how I reacted or responded to others until I hit my own bottom. I longed to know more beyond my own pain. 

Today I don’t need to go to places like that. I know how to handle things. Not perfectly but better. But the best thing about today is I know that the only way is through,  and instead of being Sandy I can be me. 
Are you struggling? Do you know someone who is? It’s important to talk about it. Write about it, draw it, paint it, whatever. You are only as sick as your secrets. Your journey can begin today. It’s up to you. 

Here’s to living in the light. 


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Compassion and … Tue, 11 Oct 2016 15:18:43 +0000 I have been doing this 21 day fix workout plan for well, 30 days now. Wait what you ask?!? 
I should be almost at 42 days. Yep your right, I should. 

I got sick. I got insanely busy at work, and I went into survival mode again. Work is a must and without your health in check you can’t work. So here I am starting over again. 

It’s not easy to admit that this is a continual issue for me and I had a feeling this blog would be coming because I am not perfect. Whether it be my fitness mindset, my work organization goals, or in my relationships with others, it seems at one point or another(well for me at least) starting over (and over) is just something that’s goes with the territory in a day in the life of me. I honestly hate to admit this here. 

I really, really want to be the best me I can be. I think it all begins with being honest. Honest with others and mostly with myself. 

Life’s roads are not straight and narrow all the time, I mean look I’m here again. There’s twists and bends, loops that keep you in the same place for awhile until you get the courage or motivation to get off, and there’s always a fork in the road for us to choose at some point. 

I am however, super tired of life’s complications when I finally get momentum. There’s always a flipping bump in the road. Argh!!!!! I mean I just made this video.. Cause this is where I’m at with things and my recovery…really I am healed and so good. 

 But again, there are days that followed moments after this video that made me want to take my family and just move away from it all. It’s not like life isn’t hard on its own, let’s now throw difficult relationships with others into it.  I read somewhere God will continue to place specific people in your life that challenge you because he is molding us to be like him. Well I must keep failing the test because the same scenarios keeps repeating themselves. Or on a positive note he knows my insight changes people … Whatever the case I’m exhausted. This weeks sermon at my church was about compassion. Compassion for those whom may not believe what I believe. Compassion for those who do not understand things the way I do. I never really thought about it until recently but it is easier to have compassion for those we understand isn’t it? Compassion is easy for those we love, for those we really know and get. For those who are like us. 

But is that the true compassion God wants for us as people? Was that Jesus’s compassion? 

 I don’t know anything to be true in life without the feeling of being stretched or challenged at some point. But Jesus’s compassion surpasses all boundaries and I want to be more like him.

In these times, just take this 2016 election circus as an example, the divided nation is making it extremely challenging and difficult to be compassionate and understanding on all sides of the fence. People are hurting, there are terrible human injustices happening daily, and I do believe at the core whether your independent, socialist, democrat, or republican we all want a better world for ourselves and our children. We are fighting about what that looks like for US personally and OURSELVES are the problem. 

I struggle every day trying to make the best choices, the right choices. Choices that can sometimes leave compassion completely out because I may not understand the other side quite as much as I should.

But if I claim to be a Christian, if I say I’m a follower of Jesus, I must not only try. I must change my thoughts about those not like me.  Everyday I must try look at others differently and seek ways to an understanding. Even learning about those who have hurt me. Because true understanding I know will bring peace. That is the only way to true peace with others. I see for myself. Once I felt heard in my story my heart began to heal. That’s it. We all want to be heard. We all need to feel heard. 

It’s not surprising that I personally struggle with compassion for others I don’t know since I am just now learning to have compassion for myself. To not mentally beat myself up for not being able to be or do everything I think or the things this world says I should be. 

I’m honestly so tired. And still sick. 4 weeks of bronchitis has broken me a little. Stupid. 

This season always brings on a multitude of emotions for me. Many prominent memories good and bad have happened in this month. Add on the crap spewed on TV and FB everyday,  it has got my brain wanting to just close myself off from everything and everyone. 

The more I am figuring out who I am, and how to be, the more I realize how protective I must be with myself right now. I must be careful with my words, my interactions, and my choices right now in this season.  

Because the brain is an amazing complicated thing that just glimpse of colored light hitting the walls just so, or a persons tone of voice as they walk by talking on the phone, or a subtle whiff of the faintest smell of something could spark a memory, a feeling and sometimes a reaction from my past as if I were living in it right now. Can’t allow that anymore. I may have been a loop de loop for a few weeks but this train will no longer derail. Ain’t got time for that. 

Ive come so far. I’m so much more aware of these things now and I proud to say that right now I taking a break from this world. I must diligently guard my heart right now. For whatever that means for me. 

Whether that means being quiet, laying low, and doing whatever it takes to just keep going. That’s all I can do. 

The 21 day fix plan will be there for me to keep working at, my house will always need cleaning, people will get their photos on time and tomorrow truly is another day.

 The only thing that matters right now is this.



The rest …. Will take care of itself if I keep those things as my priority. 

For today, I need to say this to anyone reads this, I need HIM you need HIM. God. Jesus. Nothing else. 
Without knowing that there is something bigger out there for me and my family than this messy, unstable, inconsistent, dishonest, violent world, I wouldn’t be able to keep going. If it weren’t for God I wouldn’t have the will to seek compassion for those I don’t understand.  

Thank you God for continuing to bring these matters into my life. Whether I like it or not, your will is perfect and always for my good. I’m learning – everyday. Never give up. 

A new way to see forgiveness Wed, 24 Aug 2016 02:47:16 +0000 Everyone always says forgiveness is more about what it does for you, the forgiver, than for the person you are forgiving.
This never made complete sense to me.
As I have been peeling back the layers of my life, I recently had an epiphany about why forgiveness and letting go has not come easily to me.
Learning forgiveness and understanding what it can look like in your own life, and what the steps are can help you find your own power again. It can and will help you let go of the hurt that has stolen from your life. Forgiveness can be life changing to anyone. But it’s not a simple formula. It’s a process and it’s personal to each ones circumstance. There is no magic cure. It takes time, it takes courage in facing the what’s and the why’s, to see the beauty of how and end result of true peace. 

I have many stories in regard to this subject but today I’ll start from the deepest cuts and hardest “what’s”.  

I can’t name a time or a specific childhood experience in which true grace was extended to me to fully grasp or understand it. My memories are laced with guilt trips and reminders of the things I had done wrong, things I said that stirred pots, and lives I somehow negatively affected in just my existing. 
I’m speaking of my childhood first because this is where my basic understanding of what forgiveness was -originally formed. 
Now this doesn’t mean that I wasn’t eventually forgiven for whatever I had done. Of course things go on, people forget, they do move forward. With or without me. 

I just cannot remember doing anything wrong, recognizing my wrong for what it was, even apologizing for it, and honestly having it be forgiven without serious strings of guilt trips and moments of pure shame. 

Maybe I was just a sensitive kid, maybe. Nonetheless, from a young child on I took everything I had ever done wrong to a painfully dark level of shame. 


Presently understanding how the sexual abuse I received shaped my identity then, I understand this behavior and my skewed thought process now completely. 

When I was a child, like most kids, I did many wrong things. I pushed limits, spoke out of turn, and had owed my fair share of apologies and extended them to many. 

But my perspective and process of taking personal accountability for my wrongs took a major downward shift around the age of 8&9. 

Lots was happening then, around me and to me. My parents were working through some serious adultery issues and aside from the sexual abuse taking place on a weekly sometimes daily basis, I also was being bullied at school.

 It’s crazy but little girls that bully don’t have to physically punch you (though that had happened too) to scar someone badly. It’s difficult writing this because of how sad this makes me feel. I always had issues with feeling safe in my environments. 

I had an extremely low self esteem, and the constant fear of abandonment because of all the instability going on with my parents at the time. 

At school, I really would do ANYTHING to be seen. And I mean anything. 

I felt stuck there and I wanted so badly to be able to be accepted and to feel like in some small way good. I had to spend 8 hours of my day there then go home to a lot of fighting and crying so I really wanted to make the best of it. 

Bullying has many forms. In my case, it was more passive aggressive then literal. Certain girls would have me perform tasks in order to “earn” their friendship. The tasks were stupid, degrading, and they knew it but I did it anyway. Little to my knowledge, they didn’t really want to be my friend to begin with, so the tasks would never be completed to their satisfaction and their rejection was ALWAYS the end result.  

I remember pounding my hands into my head crying and thinking to myself … what more could I do to get them to like me?  

Day after day being rejected and ignored, I would repeatedly apologize in the hopes they’d give me another chance.

Eventually they would get tired of my begging and allow me to try again.

I remember feeling so pathetic. But I was desperate. 

I would LITERALLY apologize for being me.  

I hated myself so much that I affirmed their hatred for me through my own pathetic behaviors. 
I thought that maybe if I could do more, change something about myself, that maybe they could overlook my flaws, and just FORGIVE me for being this pathetic excuse of a person and let me in. 

But grace was never shown then. Even if I “earned” it.

After school or on weekends, I went to the babysitter, which was also the home of one of my abusers. 

A few relatives that didn’t like my mother hung around as well and would gossip about her in front of me. Not caring once that it was my mother they were bashing and how the things they repeated in front of me made me feel being her daughter. I never felt welcomed because of the strained relationships that they all had with my mother. I always felt bad for them having to watch me because there is nothing worse than being a kid who hasn’t the power to able to leave a place you are considered a burden. 

This particular location not only holds memories of being a burden to everyone there, but was also the home where my life was changed, my innocence was stolen and the place where most of my abuse had occurred. He would validate the feelings of the girls at school by calling me a fat pig, pushing me around, or just ignoring me all together. Unless I was in his bedroom allowing him to touch me, I was worthless. It was then I learned that the only way to be accepted in this world or to be forgiven by someone was to be able to offer or DO something. 

By this

I was then I was relevant. 

I was then someone who mattered.

I was then someone who could be beautiful. 

I was then someone who could be forgiven for being me and being a burden. 
Processing and then writing these very personal experiences here, I realize that regardless of my age and whether or not I deserved the treatment I received back then, I never was taught how to emotionally forgive someone. 

Because grace had never been extended freely to me, it wasn’t a part my life where I naturally understood how to let go. I never had the foundation blocks in which to appropriately learn what forgiving myself could look like, let alone when I eventually became very angry about things in my life how to extend grace to those who had hurt me. 

Until today. 
On Sunday, my forgiveness epiphany finally happened. A breakthrough moment. An Aha moment of all Oprah moments. 

You see, throughout many years of my life lived destructively, as well as healing in recovery, I believed from my heart that forgiveness is black and white. 

You say your sorry and I forgive and we try again. Well with some people, this is good, this can bring healing and new found hope and changes in lives and even when I read the gospel, forgiveness like this is biblical. 

Turn the other cheek right? 

I have also heard the saying that just because you forgive someone doesn’t mean you have to have them in your life. Well being the black and white personality I am, I have struggled with this statement because in my head, how is this true forgiveness really if you can’t be around me? If I TRULY forgive then I should look at it with a clean heart/slate/new fresh start. 

Ok and in my case I have been there and done that. My heart has been softened and changed immensely. However , this doesn’t mean the person I’m forgiving is really changed or even near the level I might need them to be for me to “let go” of the hurt they are repeatedly causing maybe through triggers or just being them and the memories they provoke. 

So with all that being said Sunday Pastor Janes said it pretty simple enough for this black and white minded girl to understand forgiveness in a new light. 

He said forgiveness doesn’t mean you tell them you have forgiven them, it means you go to God with it because he knows your heart and will allow it to be set free. But here it’s comes… My revelation, he said forgiveness means they no longer OWE you anything. That you have come to the place where you can say there is nothing they can do, give, say, nothing and you are okay with it.

You make your peace with God, and you allow it to go to him. You allow it to be worked through by trusting HE, the creator knows exactly what to do with it. 

Acceptance. Surrender. 


If they come to you to apologize, you THEN should accept and forgive out loud, but only until they who have hurt you come. It’s not your job to go to them and tell them you forgive them. You might be stealing the blessing God has in their own “coming to” process. 

In order for Forgiveness to bring peace to our heart it is not just between you and that person,  but instead between you and God. Getting right about it with him.  

So that is what they mean when they say it’s about us… Not them. 

I cannot ever think of anything the girls from my old school could say to me that can replace what they took from me. 

I cannot get back anything from the person who stole my innocence even by his acknowledgement of any wrongdoing now. 

Or even the way those relatives made me feel when they considered me a burden because of who I was. 

There is nothing they can do. 

I’m okay with it and really okay with not having them in my life.I now accept that they owe me nothing. Because nothing will changed what happened. 

 What I owe myself, my husband, my children, my future, is the gift of accepting that simple fact that Gods got this. 

My hope is not in what could have been replaced or what could have went differently. 

My hope, my comforter, my peace comes from HE who is bigger than I can even comprehend. 

HE who knows everything single thing about me and loves me anyway. 

HE who was there when I was at my lowest whispering to me everyday… “Chantel, You were made for more then you can see right now.” 

” Hold on.” 

“Keep going.”

He knew One day I would see how none of them would have the power i once believed they did. 

One day I would see the power I had been given the day I  decided to look up, surrender, and receive it. 

So yes, Forgiveness really isn’t about what it does for them. What it does is, it opens your heart to be filled with a deeper beauty and peace beyond what you ever could comprehend. 


Romans 8:37-39

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Side note*I know this blog is not for everyone, but if you know someone who would benefit from my stories please share them. #myheartseeshope

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Learning the power of being intentional and present Sat, 06 Aug 2016 14:29:45 +0000 I haven’t had words to write lately. Presently, my hope is being found in being quiet. I am still mothering, working, and day to daying. 

I just recently have found it necessary to be quiet. 

With the presidential race kicking into high gear now, with our world dealing with mass murders weekly, terrorism, mental health issues, racism, hate, and finally the lack of true human connection now with us all on our phones that are suppose to connect us all “better”, I have 3 words that keep repeating in my head lately. 

I just can’t. 
My eyes, my brain, my heart is just having a hard time handling this world. Maybe it’s just me. All I can say is it’s been a lot and a little too much. 

Choosing to be quiet, disconnected from media except when necessary has been really good. Its important to remember that even though the world seems to be insane and falling apart some days, we CAN remain at peace, be grounded, and live a joyful happy life amongst this chaos.  
It’s a choice.

Just turn it off.  Get out of the cage.

Our life today is way too noisy. I truly believe many of the mental health issues that are now at epidemic proportions are because our minds were never meant to process this much information all the time.  

We never rest anymore. Even in bed we are reading, listening, scrolling, taking in information that we may not even know is slowly affecting how we see things and how we feel about or lives and even worse affecting how we feel about ourselves. 

It’s a crisis really.  
I decided to write today, because it doesn’t have to be. Distraction is a huge part of why we are in this crisis. One the positive side, just as easily as distraction can become a problem turned crisis, self awareness and consciousness can be the solution to grow the healthy & joyful life we all truly want for ourselves. 

We must become aware of how the world around us is affecting us personally. This means we must take the time to learn more about ourselves. 

Go deeper. 

The irritants that rattle my cage, the personalities that cause me stress and bring me down, may not necessarily affect others at all. So it’s been imperative I know what things are affecting me negatively and being pro active about being aware and protective of what I choose to allow in. 

The spirit of FEAR plays a lot into what can bring me down daily.  Especially when I’m opening myself up to listening to the news or scrolling through social media platforms.  I have found more recently now than ever, I have had more bouts of anxiety and fearfulness in places and social situations than I ever did growing up. Which seems crazy considering my history, but it’s true. 

I’m not sure being this connected to the whole world is better for us. The most important part of my life, my children, are growing up in what the news describes as a violent, intolerant, and hateful world. Social media and openly sharing our feelings and opinions can breed anger from those who do not agree as well. Thus the feelings begin. 

Which brings me to what I believe fear also breeds, SELF CENTEREDNESS. My hurts, pains, cares, passions, are not everyone’s hurts, pains, cares, or passions.  So what makes me think that my thoughts and beliefs are more valid, relevant, important, or more true than other people’s thoughts or beliefs? 

Who am I to judge others ideas or opinions based on my experiences only? Who am I to believe that my way is the ONLY way? Thinking this way is narrow minded as well as isolating. Should I really fear all of those who think differently than me? At times,  I do.  

So what’s been a manageable solution for me?  

Well, this week I chose to do my life completely differently than ever before. Everyday I chose to wake up renewing my mind with mediating on what matters most to me. God. Prayers of gratitude for all he has given to me. 

Before I even opened my eyes. I just laid in bed and awoke and thought, my house survived another thunderstorm, my body doesn’t hurt, and my family is with me one more day safe and sound.  Recognizing that alone those are true blessing before even getting out of bed. 
I also chose to continue to care for my health and my heart by running with my family every morning. My body needs the physical exertion to handle the stressors of the day,  and my heart needs quality time with my loves. My hubby and my kids. We have some great talks then. 

I chose to dress up for work even when I knew no one would be working with me all day nor would anyone even see me that day.  I chose this because it makes me feel good about who I am and acknowledging the fact I am a business owner. I may be alone right now at Dream2Be but one day I will have built something great. It’s important to enjoy it “as if” To think about my career “as if” it is everything I want it to be feels great. Even when it’s not quite there yet. Because I know one day it will be. 

I chose to text my kids when I was thinking about them with little silly bitmojis of love that only a cheesy momma would send. 

I chose to apologize to my husband much sooner, when my expectations of him were unreasonable and it made for a much happier week. 

I chose to pray every time I felt overwhelmed and it really did help me regroup and refocus. 

What I didn’t do this week was choose to just watch the news just because that something to do. I was intentional. I made sure I was in the mood to handle the information since 99% seems to be negative. 

 I didn’t just open up Facebook or Instagram to mindlessly scroll.  I intentionally opened it to market my business, say hello to some, like posts I really do like. 

I chose not to begin any part of my day choosing to fill my head with others people thoughts or experiences from their statuses and instead took back the power and chose my own thoughts and experiences. 

We must be careful. We may indirectly or unknowingly be allowing our power to be given to the world when we allow this all of this stuff in by distraction.

Choose to give attention and power to what makes your heart happy, your mind calm, and your eyes will look at the world more positively.

No, it wasn’t a perfect week by any means, but I can say that it was a good one and it’s really because of the choices I made.  

I used to smoke. And just like smoking, one day I said enough is enough.  I was getting sick and tired of getting sick and smelling terribly. So one day after 7 other tries, I just really quit. 
It’s up to us.  We have the choice and we can change how we live. We just have to understand who we are, make a decision based on that knowledge and take action.  

One day at a time we can change. One day at a time we can see everything differently. 

Only dead fish go with the flow…


Friendships {Transformation Tuesday} Tue, 19 Jul 2016 20:45:18 +0000 Experiences that continue to manifest themselves over and over like a merry go round, I now believe are just necessary lessons  for me that I have not yet learned. 

Or I’m just truly completely insane. 

As a believer, I know that God has created me for so much more than to just struggle. But how does one learn to overcome a struggle?

 Because I have personally experienced true victories, I know its by going through it head on and really understanding it.  

For some people it takes just once, for others it can take a lifetime. I’m really hoping that this particular struggle I’m writing about today is not something that will take me a lifetime. 

We women can be great actresses. We are definitely strong, smart, and gifted. But many of us deep down are truly lonely. 

 In our world today,  social media, reality tv, women’s Christian ministry,  they all have a way now to project publicly to the world what they are all doing together and remind those who don’t share in this blessing – what we are missing.

For me and many like me, female relationships can be dramatic, intimidating, and full of conflict if we have never truly experienced the love and safety of a really good friend.  

I have read this a millions times…

I want to know that this statement can be true. 

 Today I’m finding it necessary for my own well being as a woman to seek out more relationships with like minded women. 

I have been really working on looking within myself to focus on who I am as a woman and what I can bring to the table.

 I really do believe that true sisterhood can exist. Even for the “complicated” mind like me. 

 Some of you might be reading this and have absolutely no problem in this area. You my friend are truly blessed. 

I on the other hand, well…. 

I used to believe that God had it out for me. Especially in this department. I believed he picked and chose certain people to bless and certain people to suffer. It’s pretty easy to see things this way when you have been deeply wounded by people. 

But I know that is a complete lie.  
The Lord created me to be just as special as he created everyone else. We all matter and though we all won’t get along there are people out there that will “get” us. It’s finding them and knowing when they are there, that’s the key! 

I know that God gave us the world, and he also gave us the opprotunity to make choices here as well.  Terrible circumstances that have happened and been completely out of our control most times can still somehow be traced back to the choice of another human being.  Not God like most would like to think. We are all broken in ways that can and will affect others. 

 It’s not God hating us, it’s us hating us. 

I have been so guarded most of my life, that I know I have shielded any blessings that might have been there at the time. I wasn’t open enough to ever receive them.

 However today, there is something so beautiful about this journey of learning and facing my own hard lessons. Looking into the mirror as I have,  has not been easy. But it it has brought much clarity and understanding. 

 Today I’m choosing to look at something really closely. I admit I’m on a girlfriend merry go round that unfortunately I’m still riding and really want off. 

Over the past few weeks I have done a lot of soul searching and figured out I do have a choice in this. That I am a really great person, and I don’t have to be a victim of toxic or selfish people.  But on the flip side, I do really need to change the part of myself that expects everything to look or feel a certain way in order to believe it can work out. 

Fear. Trust. Insecurity. 

These are the evil 3 that I have not only allowed to rule over my feelings and reactions in most of my relational experiences, but they also eventually destroyed many of them.

I have a choice. 

I can choose to look fearfully at every friendship through the eyes of my 6 year old self who was once punched in the stomach for absolutely no reason by a girl in a white dress with the blue embroidered tulip on it wondering why she didn’t like me or I can decide to remember her as the one who was screwed up. 

I can choose to discard the memory of a  preschool teacher who wouldn’t ever allow me to use the restroom when I needed to on several occasions but instead allowed me to wet myself  during naptime and would then shamed me for it after. 

 And I have the power and courage today to share my story of the day I told a female relative about what her son and a boyfriend of her daughter had done to me. 

The day she called an 8 year old a liar and told her to never mention it because it would ruin the family. I can choose to say she should have protected me but she didn’t but I have power now. I’m not 8 anymore.

Those memories of shame seeping into every part of my being from these days forward have  changed me just as much as the abuse itself. Memories that told this girl to build some big strong walls against men yes and even women. Memories that have kept me alone. 

I ask myself all the time, do I even want a best girlfriend now? 

I’m 40 years old. The thought of even trying to intentionally seek out women who have already established friendships from a childhood I probably can’t relate to is scary and daunting.  To think I could be possibly rejected again? 

10 years ago I would have said hell no. 

Do I really want a best friend? 

True Answer is:  

I already have one. I’m married to him.


I’m a woman that has girl stuff that I would like to talk about that is completely irrelevant to him. 

So yes. I would.  There are things about myself that I have never experienced because I haven’t given this part of me a real chance to see it through. 

Good thing is, I’m on my way to being whole.  

Healthy, beautiful, fun, spiritual,  friendships with women are all part of that. As a momma of a daughter and being a daughter of a momma, yes I have had my moments of special girl times.  

But now I’m ready to take a chance on learning more from women like me. Because I do believe someones out there. I cannot be the only one feeling this way. 

Healing has been a process where people have come in and out of my life. I’m completely guilty of that behavior with others as well. 

I also believe that all people serve a purpose in our lives at the time they are in our life. Even if it’s temporary.  Some are in our lives always, some will come back and forth, and some won’t ever come back. 

I understand this now. I’m okay with this. 

I’m also willing to make the choice to trust that God has got my back in this. Being in a much healthier place than I ever have been, seeing the world through eyes I have never seen before, I know I’m ready.

My female friendship merry go round hasn’t exactly stopped yet, but with every relational conflict and struggle, I’m coming to understand more whys so I can learn more how’s.  

I know this for a fact. God didn’t create me to be alone in this. He also doesn’t play favorites and choose certain people to bless, it’s all ours for the receiving.  

We just need to be open to it. 

So with my palms up, my arms wide, and my heart open,  I will make choices that will no longer include expectations based on my past memories.
I will choose to look forward to the possibilities of what true friendships can really bring into my life and have faith that God wants this for me. 

Because I am worth it and no I wasn’t meant to do life alone.  

I’m also ready to start having some fun. 😉

#MondayMemories (Letter to my 6th Grade Teacher) Mon, 11 Jul 2016 15:46:40 +0000 Dear Ms. G,
(My only teacher I had ever had to use the term MS.)

Remember me? I was that chubby little red-head who wore the clear framed glasses 2 sizes too large. You know… they had the little white daisies on the sides? I couldn’t seem to find a picture with me IN those glasses, but anyway, it was 1986 and I was at my prime of childhood awkwardness.


You may not know this but out of all of my teachers I liked you the best. That out of all of my teachers you taught me the most. I don’t remember squat about the books we read or your school forte… MATH.  YUCK. But what I do remember of you was learning a valuable lesson that would later teach me about life.
You see, I had never been chosen by anyone in school for anything. When it came to kids choosing me to be on their team for whatever dumb sport we were playing in gym, I was the one they didn’t have the choice on. They just got me. Last goes with team whose turn was last. It’s okay. I hated gym anyway.

But you know, those kids who always seemed to get out of school work and run errands for teachers? Up until I got into your class, I was never chosen, but for whatever reason you picked me. Not just once, but a few times! I remember even thinking to myself, could I possibly be a “teachers pet”???? Oh how I wished to be disliked by everyone for a reason like that instead of the multiple reasons they already had.

The seasons were changing and the bulletin board needed updating. So you chose myself and another girl in our class to cut out several letters for the board. To this day I cannot remember what they even said.  I hoping to remember one day,  now that my good childhood memories are slowly coming back.
Now let me tell you, you have no idea how big of a deal this was for me. First of all, I LOVED art. The closest thing I ever got to art while attending St. Hyacinth School, was a xerox copy coloring page that had pictures of the saints or bible characters on them. I never got lucky enough to have a teacher that valued art as a subject in my dear old catholic school.  But here was my chance. Not only did you,  my awesome teacher choose me,  but you gave me a project you thought I could successfully execute.

I can see myself now, sitting at my desk earnestly cutting away with my eyes laser focused on my scissors.  I was going to give you the best letters EVER. They were going to be WAY better than the other girl’s letters for sure.  So with excitement and unfortunately no attention to detail, I handed them in way before the other girl.  The next day when I arrived at school, expecting to see my work stapled to the cork boards, I quickly realized you hadn’t put them up yet.  SO I sat down at my desk, and reached for my first book of the day, and I found a ziplock baggie with the letters I had cut for you.

In the bag was a note that said:

Please look at the edges on the letters. You can do much better than this. Please take your time and fix them.
Ms. G

Now at first, I was really, REALLY upset. Questions of self pity flooded my mind like “Why wasn’t anything I ever did ever good enough?”But regardless of how I felt, I took my time to recut the letters more smoothly and later that week you hung them up as you intended.  What you don’t know is that entire season I remember not wanting to look at those letters because of my feelings of failure. (probably why I cannot remember what they said)
You didn’t know how my mind saw things back then or why, but I didn’t have the emotional capability to look at the situation simply for what it was.

Instead I saw it as:

I screwed up because I was a screw up. I remembered myself as the fat, dumb 6th grader who couldn’t even cut correctly.

For years this memory haunted me.

But today,  as I am now slowly peeling paging back and looking straight on to my memories as they were,  I see that it wasn’t rejection you showed me.  Instead, it was that you BELIEVED in me.  You wouldn’t have given me the task if you thought I couldn’t do it. Yes, you saw I rushed through it and knew I could do better.

Because you gave me a chance that day, I DID DO BETTER.


You CHOSE me AGAIN even when I didn’t meet your expectations.

So Ms. G, even if it wasn’t intentional, you taught me that one day I would have to grow up and enter into situations where there would not be anyone to tell me to try again. EXCEPT FOR ME.  This taught me that I would have to look at my failures, my pain, my past straight on (sometimes for seasons or even years) and even though things aren’t always as fixable as your letters, that I can still TRY again. And even DO BETTER.

Because of you seeing that potential in me, I always had the stepping stones to one day see potential in myself.

Thank you Ms.G


Chantel A. Szyka

(btw, I’m still trying to cut)


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Transformation Tuesday: Forgiving Me Wed, 06 Jul 2016 03:28:51 +0000 This almost decade long journey of self discovery and the tiring process of learning how to forgive those who had harmed me has not been easy. Not easy for me and really not easy for those around me. 
Your going to read this a lot in my blogs- “Hurting people hurt people.” Thank you Celebrate Recovery

In my opinion, Joyce Meyer, (my most favorite women ever in ministry) describes this kind (my kind) of brokenness best.  

Those who have struggled through life because of the mental trauma childhood sexual abuse brings, we often struggle with having a bit of a broken personality. 

Whether you agree or disagree with her terminology, I’m going to say that as I am now beginning to live on the healed side of recovery, I sure the hell didn’t look at things correctly.  

As a child and well up into adulthood I believed that anything and everything that ever went wrong was my fault. I believe this thinking started after I had tried to tell an adult about the “things” that were happening to me. Instead of concern, she responded with calling me a liar and to shut my mouth. I never told anyone again … until many years later. I didn’t understand it then, but that feeling of everything being my fault all the time was rooted in the guilt from that time. You see after that was said to me, the abuse continued and then I KNEW what was happening was wrong. But I didn’t stop it. I never even tried. I don’t even know why. Maybe I was afraid. Maybe I just couldn’t comprehend. I really don’t know. 

But this guilt and shame allowed me to take everything that happened to me to a new level of personal. If the kids at school were mean to me, I thought it was because of something I was. That’s why bulimia was such an easy thing for me to fall prey to as a tween. They usually made fun of my weight so I got to believe that maybe if I were thinner, they would like me more. If my hair was blonder they might like me more, if I got rid of my glasses I might get a boyfriend. 

You get the picture. 

So with all that being said, you can bet I didn’t handle my relationships correctly either. I tolerated half hearted friendships where I was only good for them when there was no other option. I observed my parents relationship and longed for my father to take some interest in our family and all the things my mother had to offer. 
But instead all I saw was his interest in a cute waitress that might have been serving us at the time or his 90 hour work weeks. 

So as time went on, my personality changed. You can say it broke. The More and more people began to disappoint me the more I became angry. So I became one to hurt people too. Regardless of desperately wanting and needing healthy friendships and family relations, navigating my emotions was almost impossible for me as I got into my teens. I was turning more inward with my struggle with body image. Bulimia was a constant friend in helping me control.  I would also  smoke and put out the cigarettes in my wrist so the burn would mask my feelings of hopelessness.  

My friendship problems had typically blew up in my face when I came to figure out I could not control how things were going to go.  

I never handled conflict well. 

It’s textbook really. 

I didn’t have control when all the abuse took place, so I learned how to survive by trying to control everything that came my way.We all know that the only one we have complete control over is ourselves. And as Dr Phil would ask.. “How’s that working for ya?” To which I then could reply … well Phil, my fright, fight, and flight knee jerk reactions are getting pretty old. Really old after age 30. People got really tired of me. I was getting really tired of me and I knew this wasn’t who I wanted to be.  

I didn’t know how or even why then. All I knew was, back me in a corner and I’m going to do anything I have to, to survive.  

So if that meant saying the absolute most terrible thing to hurt you because you hurt me, I did. If that meant writing you out of my life for good if I felt you might never understand, I did.  I just couldn’t open my heart one more time and have it trampled on again because of my vulnerability.  No more was I going to allow people to hurt me. 
 But I did allow one person to hurt me most.


I took myself out of life before I even tried. Even though I was a wife and a mom I slowly started to become cynical and depressed. I didn’t understand it then but every single person, place, or thing that we invest our love and time in is a big risk. Fear can have a way of slithering its hooks into our minds and hearts while stealing any possible joy from us when we have been hurt. Fear reminds us of the past like a broken record. 

Fear says it may not work out. But reality says… Yes, it may not… But it just may! Nothing and no one except God himself is a SURE thing.  When your talking relationships, failure and disappointment are not if’s, they are WHEN.  

What I have realized now is my fear allowed me to behave like all that I hated. It was an endless cycle of self hate. I’d go into a friendship thinking super positively, but the minute something would change, my trigger receptors would start my train of self sabotage. The lies I would tell myself would eventually fester and destroy. Sometimes the person was toxic and these instincts were good to have. But a unfortunate majority never saw it (me) coming. 

It has taken me years to see into my own reflection and my own self construed destruction. But regardless of my journey , my past is not an excuse for any bad behavior I had.  

I had lost many friends and the possibility of friends because of my severe trust issues. Even recently this has been a challenge for me. But I continue to keep working on myself by being open and honest with those who still remain in my life. 

It’s a total mind douching process. 

To actually believe that not everyone has an underlining plan to destroy. That some definitely do but not everyone sucks. And sometimes I suck as a person too. A lot. The thing is I know me. I know my heart. It’s trusting others that’s the daily fight. 

We all can be selfish at times. 

We all get mad or angry.  

We all have gossiped. 

We all have said or done things in anger or sadness we have regretted.

Yes I know. 

We all have.  

I have too. 

Up until the last few years, I had looked at most relationships pretty black and white. If trust was ever questioned or if an argument ensued I would pretty much write the person off.  
Sounds wrong, immature, and drastic but if I felt threatened, that’s how I handled it. I just moved on. 

The problem was I realized I moved on from EVERYONE. I had virtually no friends and family because I couldn’t figure out a way to wait and see what could happen if we tried to see it through.  
There’s nothing like loneliness in the midst of recovery to make a person look hard in the mirror at what part she played in this.  

Now there’s a “teeny” victim in me that wants to stamp her feet and scream and cry and say this isn’t fair. I’m the one who is screwed up because of sick people. 

I’m the one having to heal, and put my own pieces back together and NOW I have to humbly own all the damage I did to others because I didn’t know how to be because they don’t understand me!!!?!? 

Yes boo hoo. 

And with my pity party dress on I can say that Life can suck. 

But after my tantrum, I realized how I had to own my wrongs to move forward.  

It’s all I could do. I’m the only one who can control me. 

It’s been really hard.  

But when I owned up to the wrongs I had done to others, look it dead in the face and humbly asked to be forgiven. Be forgiven by God and by them. In doing this it forced me to come to terms with why I did it to begin with. 

My coming to terms with why had been leading me to acceptance of it all. 

Which now is moving even into forgiveness of those who had hurt me and forgiveness of myself for not knowing better.  
I’m still going to struggle. 
History will sometimes repeat itself in reactions or behaviors – because I’m still not there yet. 
I know better today, so I’ll do better today. 
I have said I’m sorry to those who’ll hear it from me and leave the acceptance of my apology to them to make.  

I cannot control whether or not they choose to hear my heart or not. 

God knows my plan to do right and better for myself and for him. He says I am forgiven and I believe him.

Other peoples resentments toward me I’m no longer owning.  

I just will be here for them when they choose to see things differently like I have. 
Because it’s so much better on this side of it. 

LOVE happens and grows in the grey. Sun, 03 Jul 2016 02:49:43 +0000   It was July 2nd, 1996. I was 20 years old, 70lbs more than I was 9 months prior and 2weeks past my due date. Yep 2 weeks because back then they allowed that bullpoo to happen. 2 weeks prior My legs didn’t look like over cooked hot dogs that exploded in the microwave.

2 weeks prior I had prepared our bedroom for our new life and was ready to begin anew. I was so excited 2 weeks prior. 

But by July 2nd, I was done. 

Fat. Swollen. Hot. Moody. Miserable. Don’t let the smile below fool ya. 

But finally it happened, ouch… The tightening  of my belly and then ouch again 5 minutes later. So off to the hospital we went. Finally!!!

Because I had never done this birthing thing before, I was kinda afraid of the pain I was going to endure since I was determined to go at it the “natural” no drugs way. 

Well after 6 hours and still only being barely dilated to 3, they decided to induce me into the depths of hell. 

No time for pain progression. Just non stop hard back labor, and so much for the all natural thoughts on no drugs and doing like Jesus’s mom. 

F that.  

Drugs were the only thing I wanted other than to be done with it all. 12 more hours later and 1.5 hours of trying to push in positions only a pro yoga instructor could do, his heart rate began to drop. There was no more time to waste at that moment and in a flash I went rushing into an emergency c section where the last thing I remember was a mask on my face and the words 3, 2, anesthesia out. There was no time for daddy to scrub in so he stayed back. 

When I see the pictures and hear about the beautiful birthing stories of countless others I think what the heck happened here??? Literally not my story. Even my husband was traumatized. He was like …Chantel I’m not sure anyone REALLY knows how it’s all going to end. Anyway. 

I began waking up as the nurse was bandaging my belly dressings that were bleeding and stapled like Frankensteins head. I slowly opened my eyes and I got my words together enough to ask What was it? And is it okay? You see, we chose to not know the sex cause I wanted to be surprised and I honestly really did have the instinct that he was a boy. 

And I was right. 🙂 
He was a big beautiful baby boy. 9lbs 2oz and all I could said was hell yes to that!!! And thank you Jesus for almost 10lbs off my body. Head start! Now at this time in recovery, I still hadn’t see him yet. Don’t ask me why. 1996 wasn’t the dark ages but … Neither did his scared clueless daddy. Mike who happened to be remaining in the hallway where they left him 45 minutes prior to rushing me into surgery was still in the same hallway waiting. 

He always tells that story of how the moment he met his son for the first time in a hallway of the hospital. There was a nurse that happened to be passing slowly by with a baby (our baby) through the same area Mike was.He stopped the nurse and asked “Hey, whose baby is that?” The nurse looked down, picked up the card and asked, “Are you Mr Ferraro?” Which he replied yes… Mike noticed him wrapped in a blue blanket and said … “I have a son?” And she replied, “well it looks that way.” And in that moment, our life was changed. Me in the recovery room waiting to meet the boy who made me a mommy,  and Mike in the hallway marveling over his junior.

Our life was changing … Drastically. 
But regardless of the known and unknown obstacles ahead, for the first time I was confident about the fact that I was going to be a mom. My mind always feels safe and works best dealing with situations you have no other choice but this or that. You know… Black or White. Control freak is another way you can look at it. But we all know that 98% of our lives are spent in living and surviving in the shades of grey. The uncertain, scary, unpredictable shades of grey. Screw you grey.  

But for a moment, 20 years ago today, my purpose for living appeared to be crystal clear in the grey. 

I was a mom now.  

Something no one could ever tell me I wasn’t. Something that I really always wanted for my life. Something I knew would be the absolute most important part of my journey in this short time here on earth. 

Our Michael who would grow up to love Elmo, Lion King, Pokemon, and eat only eggs toast and jelly for breakfast for years. Our Michael whose gentle, protective, strong, spirit weathered through some crazy times with his momma growing up. 

Michael whose greatest gift has been to continue to be himself regardless of what other people think or say. My anime-loving, geeky kid, whose tender heart really loves people and because of that I love him even more. 

Michael the one whose greatest strength is compassion for those whose struggle with life and connecting with them through listening and helping them through. 

Our last 20 years were not black and white. Life has made sure that we would all learn to know for certain there is no map that takes you exactly to the golden gates of perfect motherhood. 

That even moms who really want the best for their children can screw up – struggle- and even fail at times. 

I know I have. 

But what Michael has taught me these past 20 years is that just because things don’t look the way you thought they should, doesn’t mean they won’t be good.
And that they are better than they ever could be BECAUSE of the trials survived it took to get to right now and the people who stuck in there with you. He’s my first born, my boy, but he will always be my baby. 

A mothers love, my love, is unconditional, strong, never failing, and true. 

So to honor my boys birthday, I want to say thank you to the one who may not know the degree of importance his life has played in mine yet. But one day when he is a daddy, I know he will. 

One of the best scriptures I believe was written about love, most use for weddings, but I think it’s message is universal. 

 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhoodbehind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

1 Cor 13:4-13