Kindness Matters

 

I was really inspired by this music video:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwAYpLVyeFU

 

First I smiled. Huge. Then I cried. Hard.

 

Music speaks to me…

 

This music video is like a public service announcement and the song is absolutely PERFECT for the message…

 

See everybody that’s existing
Got a mind of their own
We’re all Kings and Queens
With a throne of our own
Tryin to raise a family
Is an empty home
We got to learn to stick together
Hate to be here alone
‘Cause the world is a place
That will eat you alive in one day
Said the world is a place
That you can’t survive without faith

Sometimes in my tears I drown
But I never let it get me down
So when negativity surrounds
I know some day it’ll all turn around
Because

All my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don’t wanna fight no more
They’ll be no more wars
And our children will play
One day (one day), One day (one day)
One day (one day), One day (one day)
One day (one day), One day (one day)

It’s not about
Win or lose
We all lose
When they feed on the souls of the innocent
Blood drenched pavement
Keep on moving though the waters stay raging
In this maze you can lose your way (your way)
It might drive you crazy
But don’t let it faze you no way (no way)

Gotta hold on
Livin life day by day
Gotta hold on
Put your focus on that one day

All my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don’t wanna fight no more
They’ll be no more wars
And our children will play
One day (one day), One day (one day)
One day (one day), One day (one day)
One day (one day), One day (one day)

One day this all will change
Treat people the same
Stop with the violence
Down with the hate
One day we’ll all be free
And proud to be
Under the same sun
Singing songs of freedom like

Gotta hold on
Livin life day by day
Gotta hold on
Put your focus on that one day

All my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don’t wanna fight no more
They’ll be no more wars
And our children will play
One day (one day), One day (one day)
One day (one day), One day (one day)
One day (one day), One day (one day)

~Matisyahu – One Day Lyrics | WATCH THE VIDEO!

 

There have been many times in my life when I really needed kindness and it simply was not available to me. There have been times in my life when I have cried about the terrifying notion that you can’t even pay people to be kind to you. Scream cried.

 

Be KIND to me

Or treat me mean

I’ll make the most of it

I’m an EXTRAORDINARY machine

~Fiona Apple

 

I signed up to be a Kindness Ambassador. Why? Their mission statement, of course.

 

To EMPOWER and UNITE the world with KINDNESS. Life Vest Inside inspires people to recognize the potential they have to affect real and positive change in this world through kindness.

 

Did you really need to join a club to practice kindness?

 

Ha! (It’s not a club, it’s a 501(c)3 charity).

 

Becoming a Kindness Ambassador has taken my kindness to the next level.

 

Specifically, I practice courage in my kindness now; I do things that fill me with fear in the spirit of kindness.

 

Kindness + Bravery = MAGIC.

 

That’s right, I’m working toward Cinderella Kindness status now. I leveled up. Courageous Kindness.

 

You want a couple examples?

 

  • I found a support group for survivors of abuse on meetup.com and the first email I received from the group advised they would be disbanded unless someone stepped up because the organizer had to step down due to financial reasons. My first reaction to the email was disappointment. I really wanted to get invited to some meetings…I don’t know if I would’ve actually gone because I feel anxiety about the idea now just typing this out. (Deep breath). My gut told me I should volunteer to be the organizer. I said: are you kidding me?! I sat with the fear in my gut and determined that it was good fear and that I should be brave. I saved the group. I paid $89 for 6 months of dues and have already organized 2 successful support group meetings. The first meeting was at 6:00 at night and I was sick to my stomach all day, wanting to cancel from the moment I woke up that moring. In the end, I was so glad I did it; this was the right thing to do. The second meeting was at 11:00 in the morning, to mitigate the amount of time I would spend that day sick to my stomach and wanting to just stay home. Again, I was so glad that I did it; people are grateful. Bravery + Kindness = Magic.
  • I signed up to organize a Dance For Kindness Flash Mob in Las Vegas for World Kindness Day. Gulp. Again, I was filled with fear at the very notion of participating in the Kindness Flash Mob, but I sat with the fear and determined that it was in fact GOOD fear. But… organizing sounds like a LOT of work…Yup. Good old fashioned, roll up your sleeves, action toward positive social change. The kind of sweat you can be proud of. The world needs more kindness. Of this, I am certain. I am really excited about the filming/editing aspect of the Flash Mob. This experience will make me a better director. Bravery + Kindness = Magic.

 

It’s funny how the things you are meant to do can still fill you with fear. It’s like you have to be brave just to live the life you were born to live. If that’s true, then I’m also going to focus on kindness.

 

 

kindness matters art

 

 

Kindness Changes Everything. My favorite Kelly Rae Roberts piece.

 

 

Like music, art speaks to me. Not in words, but in my native tongue: emotions. Words are meaningless compared to how I FEEL about this artwork. This piece makes me feel free. I know why the caged bird sings.

 

 

IMG_1755

 

 

One of the kindest things I have ever done is to love myself. I feel so bad for the way I treated myself for most of my life. I was not kind to me. I didn’t even really know who I was. That’s all over now. With my kindness and support, I can do anything. I love myself.

 

 

IMG_2403

.

Thanks to Kelly Rae Roberts and her amazing ecourse, Hello Soul Hello Mantras, I am now able to build homes for my haikus. The word for this is: cathartic.

.

IMG_1827

.

I never considered myself an artist until I took this ecourse. I was not kind to myself back then. Taking this course with my husband and toddler son was an act of self love. I highly recommend it. Whenever anyone signs up for Kelly Rae’s ecourse using this link (click here) I will donate $50 to an agency dedicated to supporting victims of Domestic Violence. The effort will begin where my volunteerism began, with the Crisis Services Advocate Program of Buffalo. When I reach a donation goal of $500, the beneficiary will change to Safe Nest of Las Vegas, where I live now, and so on. Kindness matters.

KRR let art out let love in image

 

 

If you ever wanted to learn how to “mixed media art,” this is a great way to learn, from home, while also supporting victims (men, women and CHILDREN) of domestic violence. Win / Win. Click the link. I like to gift my artwork to my very best friends (sometimes that means ME).

KRR big class flyer

XO

~Rachel

PS:

IMG_0944

Rebel, Rebel

I have always been struck by Patsy Cline’s Crazy. Crazy. Crazy for FEELING so LONELY.

 

I have a lot of thoughts going on at once, a whole encyclopedia per topic. I learned at a young age that all those words + feelings tend to make most others extremely uncomfortable; that it would be easier for other people if I toned myself down.

 

Unfortunately, I decided around 10 years old that I would rather be considered quiet than crazy. I became reserved, serious, observant…the duller version of me.

 

Well, I had a secret. A big secret. Tons of secrets actually, I was choking on them.

 

One huge encyclopedia set of secrets could be dedicated to the changes I noticed going on with my body. I’ll just come out and say it: boobs. They were glorious. They still are. I started to fall in love love with my body. I was my own private dancer.

 

Private being the operative word because it became clear at this time that my body required policing; shirts were not a suggestion, they were THE LAW.

 

Coincidentally, that shirt helped mask another developing secret…out of nowhere…from the pits of my arms….

 

Hair.

 

Whoa.

 

As an American girl of German/Italian descent, I knew this was a “problem” that I could easily solve. I got out the Lady Bic and destroyed all the evidence.

 

Destroyed being the operative word because those soft brown hairs were immediately replaced by screaming red bumps.

 

Ouch.

 

My 10-year-old armpits were scarred for life. I repeatedly shaved over the screaming red bumps every other day for 22 more years.

 

Why?!! Was everyone super into them?

 

No. I am aware that it is unheard of to compliment another person’s armpit. Are you aware that it is totally common for my armpits to be the source of ridicule? Seriously, I have received MANY grimaces and complaints regarding the black hole that is my armpit. Before my son could talk, he looked right at my shaved armpit and said:

 

“Ew!”

 

I pointed to my shaved armpit and asked: “this is ew?”

 

He nodded his baby head solemnly.

 

Sigh. Why didn’t the old faithful combination of grooming + pain = beauty?

 

WHY?!!!

 

Honestly, I blamed my body. The problem with my armpits was that no matter what, my freshly shaved armpit revealed a five o clock shadow. You could always see black beneath the surface because, honestly, just beneath the surface of my delicate skin was thick bold black hair waiting to burst through.

 

Awhile ago I noticed this Instagram page dedicated to showcasing ladies with hairy armpits (@ladypithairy). I scrolled through all the pics with my jaw dropped and my eyes darting back and forth from armpit to face, armpit to face, armpit to face. I could not believe that armpit hair DID NOT diminish their beauty whatsoever. In fact, something about the rebelliousness, the unapologetic look in their eyes was SO attractive to me.

 

Dare I?

 

Somehow I gathered the courage to stop shaving my battered armpits. Not somehow. I remember now. There was this tween Vine star who shocked a lot of his fans by making a statement about how girls should shave their armpits. My 14-year-old goddaughter was a fan of his and I just could not do it anymore. It is exhausting to have your natural body policed for over 3 decades, especially when you notice the new batch of police officers are less than half your age…

 

crybaby grier

 

I went crazy. I stopped shaving my armpits. Previous to this article, only 7 people even knew about my indiscretion. My social experiment is rather introverted in nature, but I can easily disclose the results from this closed group:

 

(1) Mild concern. “OMG, you like it?!” or “What does your husband think?” (Ha).

 

(2) Dissent. “Stop.” “Don’t do this.” “At least trim, stay groomed. “

 

(3) Confusion. Mainly there was confusion. “Why are you doing this?” “When will you be done doing this?” “What is that?”

 

The last question came from my toddler and it was beautiful. He noticed my armpit hair, pointed to it and said: What is that? I told him that it was my armpit hair, that I have it because I am an adult, that Daddy has it too because he is an adult and that, one day, when he gets bigger, he will also have amazing armpit hair.

 

His face was priceless. He actually didn’t even believe me. “Daddy has hair here?” I took my son by the hand and walked him to the bathroom where his Dad was getting ready for work. My husband and I stood side by side and revealed to our son that we both have basically the same exact armpit hair situation (mine is actually a little bit fuller and more awesome). My son was clearly thrilled, it was written all over his face. He can’t wait to get bigger and have glorious adult armpit hair.

 

IMG_6044

 

The combination of the above 3 reactions resulted in the certainty that I had to keep it up. I am a rebel by nature. I was on to something.

 

Personally, I could not get over how aggressive I perceived myself to be. Aggressive. The word was constantly popping up in my mind. I wasn’t just scratching my head, the presence of the armpit hair turned it into an aggressive head scratch. I wasn’t just reaching for the cereal on the top shelf, I was aggressively reaching for top shelf items. It was weird. I talked about it a lot. Why do I feel aggressive?

 

IMG_6025

 

My dear friend gently pointed it out to me: maybe you are aggressive.

 

WHAT?!!!!!

 

She’s right. Upon reflection, I know that it’s true. I am aggressive because I have been “managing” the fear that I already am aggressive since about 10 years old. By managing I mean that as part of my thought process, I would determine that my first idea for how to achieve an objective was “too aggressive” and then I would pick from plans B-Z. God forbid someone think I was a “bitch.”

 

And so the cycle of burying who I truly was began. At age 10. By the time I was 16, I knew I was full blown crazy but instead of letting the real Rachel out, I buried her deeper. She’s so aggressive…I hate her…I wish she was dead.

 

This was my mantra. It kept me out of trouble. Neglected children should get a handout for how to parent themselves better. I remember when I was 22 how my older brother called me bipolar and punched my bedroom door off the hinges. I remember how I went into my closet and cried on the floor.

 

I am not bipolar. I am an emotional creature. I am a human being who is reacting beautifully to a lifetime of oppression. I am grieving. I am a survivor of PTSD. I am healing. I am INFJ and an empath. Knowing who I am has brought me right back to the beginning: I am aggressive. I will fight for my rights. That’s not crazy. Rolling over and burying yourself alive is crazy.

 

Shortly before I started growing out my armpit hair, my husband and I went to the movies to see Guardians of the Galaxy. I was not familiar with the storyline going into it and was very struck by the character named Groot. There is a very magical moment near the end of the film where Groot’s tree-like body expands into a protective sphere, saving the lives of all his friends, at the cost of his own life. It was beautiful. My heart was aching because I knew it was going to happen…because I would do the same thing.

 

groot

 

If I were a superhero, my powers would be related to my ability to grow amazing hair. Everywhere. If I had to, I know that I could, in a similar magic moment, expand my hair growth into a protective hair sphere around my husband and son, to save their lives. It would be beautiful. And so gross. Obviously.

 

Fortunately, I decided at 32 years of age to stop toning myself down. Patsy Cline’s Crazy has taken on a whole new meaning. I still feel lonely, but I don’t feel crazy about it. I feel able to connect with like-minded individuals because I uncovered that girl I buried alive. She’s stronger than ever now…angrier and more aggressive, too. Good thing. Life’s a bitch.

 

XO

~Rachel

 

IMG_6046

 

long hair don’t care

Cleaning Out My Closet

I read this clothing article recently that has totally blown my mind.

 

Here is the link (click here).

 

Article highlights: this yoga pants wearing mom got rid of her entire wardrobe in exchange for like 37 articles of clothing she feels really good about resulting in optimal coordination and closet organization. Seriously read this article, it has changed my life.

 

Within hours of reading it, I had collected 4 garbage bags full of clothing to donate to charity.

 

IMG_1894

 

Plus I went all Joan Crawford in there…

 

No wire hangers

 

And I got rid of an overflowing garbage bag of undesirable hangers.

 

IMG_1893

 

Not to mention the overflowing bag of clothing I am mailing to my goddaughter and the medium bag of clothing that I am mailing to my best friend. I made a SERIOUS dent in my closet.

 

IMG_1895

 

I have never been able to thumb through the clothing in my closet and really see the items before. As though they might be giving away awards for having “the most” clothes, my closet was packed so tight, many plastic hangers snapped in the process of weeding out the most tired pieces. I found a dress in here that I don’t remember ever even seeing before. (YES!!!)

 

IMG_1896

 

This is just the beginning, I am far from whittling down to only 37 pieces of clothing. I can’t believe I am even doing this. Getting rid of dresses is a BIG deal for me…that and sentimental tee shirts, old tank tops, hoodies and shoes (I’ll just come clean here and admit: I hoard clothes).

 

My closet has always been open to my friends and family for shopping. Hence all the extra gear that looks terrible on me and my tendency to mail boxes of clothing to my closest friends semi-annually.

 

One of my greatest memories of my cousin Kelly is how we used to shop in each other’s closets. Being six years younger, I was always ridiculously grateful for the opportunity to peek through her jam packed closet. I could borrow whatever I wanted! It was the experience of a life time. Seriously. I remember everything about it, the poor lighting, the danger of the shoe boxes that always seemed about to come crashing down on your head from the top shelf, her smell, the piles and piles of 90’s clothes.

 

When I got to be like 16/17, that’s when Kelly started to take an interest in some of my clothes. The pride I felt. To this day.

 

IMG_1915

 

That’s Kelly on the right wearing my dress! With a cowboy hat!!  She is standing with her best friend, that’s why their smiles are so radiant; they love each other like I love my best friend. If you have one best friend like this in your lifetime, consider yourself blessed, be grateful.

 

This is so hard to write.

 

Our bodies remember the anniversaries of traumatic events even if our amazing brain chooses to give us a break from the details.

 

I am the kind of person who always wants to know WHY. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what my body is trying to tell me that my brain does not want to talk about.

 

It was 15 years ago that I lost my cousin, Kelly.

 

That was so fucking hard to write.

 

I actually had to take a break to scream cry and spill huge tears down my cheeks…

 

…And then I gave myself a hug.

 

Kelly was my hero. She was the kind of woman I was certain I could never be. Bold. Independent. Strong. Desired. Fearless. Beautiful.

 

IMG_1921

 

When she smiled, she looked exactly like Brooke Shields and when she was angry, she reminded me of Julia Roberts.

 

IMG_1922

 

From 13-18 Kelly’s prom calendar was full. She was always getting ready to go to a dance. I remember this one time I stood in the middle of her photo shoot with her date, so confident that my shorts and tee shirt ensemble was not a problem, holding hands and smiling like I was supposed to be there with them, too. She was my Disney Princess.

 

IMG_1931

 

Blonde with green eyes, the most voluptuous figure and the most fun to be around. Honestly. You were lucky to know her. She was more fun than anyone, always looking for adventure.

 

IMG_1919

 

Confident and cool, my cousin Kelly was the opposite of me. I never even got asked to go to one of my own school dances, let alone some other school’s dances. I would not consider my teen self to be fun-loving so much as safety-loving.

 

IMG_1928

 

Kelly liked to jump out of planes. She loved the water; being out on a boat fishing, even all by herself, would make her happiest. She loved to hike and camp, anything outdoors. She also loved beer and swore like a sailor. She was so bad ass.

 

IMG_1916

 

I never even went camping until I was 18 years old, already in college. It was almost 2 months after losing her. Camping was what my best friend wanted to do for her 19th Birthday and it was the perfect way for me to honor my cousin and my grief. Whenever I go hiking or camping, Kelly is right there with me. Kelly is always with me.

 

IMG_1930

 

When she left this Earth, I wished it was me instead. For years. I wore this gold heart ring she had given me for Christmas all the time for the first year. I spent a lot of time trying to negotiate that trade.

 

IMG_1917

 

I cherish every single memory that I have of my Kelly. My chest is super tight as I try to breathe through the steady stream of tears that have stained and rendered my glasses almost useless.

 

I have a million things I want to say. I stop because I fear I won’t be able to explain properly.

 

The sun used to shine on Kelly. It just did. It was obvious if you were there, but you weren’t so you’ll have to just take my word for it.

 

IMG_6088

 

She is my angel hero.

 

XO

~Rachel

 

PS–Cleaning out your closet may cause grief.

and that's ok

A Day In The Life

After I made my PTSD & Healing video 9 months ago (click here to watch), I was asked to give a break down of what a day in the life would look like.

 

Yesterday was an awesome day for me, healing wise, so today I am sharing the highlights…

 

Highlights make more sense when you start low. Yesterday began for me at 4 a.m. when my husband and I both jumped out of bed horrified to hear our cat was peeing on the carpet.

 

How did we hear it?

 

It was super loud for some reason because she backed herself up against the wall and her urine was ricocheting off of the wall and onto the carpet. A waterfall of cat pee.

 

CAT PEE!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Don’t judge. My cat has never done this before and she is recovering from major surgery. My 10 year old kitty had 4 stones removed from her bladder! Honestly though, I think she peed on the floor because of the stupid cone…

 

Bebe Meme

 

Anyway…I sat on the floor in a daze watching my awesome husband scrub the carpet, then I got a bucket of water and started to scrub the soap out and by the time it was over, I decided not to go back to bed.

 

Sigh.

 

I did not get enough rest, which has been happening for like the last 3 weeks, so I felt discouraged. I made myself a really fancy bubble bath with special salts and essential oils. I turned on my salt rock lamp and stared at my plants. It was difficult to keep my eyes open.  So tired…

 

IMG_1850

 

Just the night before, I had decided not to go back to sleep if I found myself awake in the very early morning hours due to the horrific nightmares I found myself experiencing after going back to sleep.

 

Being awake at this time, taught me something fascinating: my brain is on fire between the hours of 3 and 5 a.m.  Everything is intense, asleep or not. I must say, being in the bathtub at this hour really helped me to process many complex emotional concepts; it was like lucid dreaming.

 

You’ll have to take my word for it, as I don’t remember any details from my awesome bathtub experience, only that I was totally brilliant and had a lot of answers. I may have had all the answers. This girl was on fire. Next time, I’m writing that all down…

 

When the water in the tub cooled down, I transitioned right to the shower to heat things back up. It’s not everyday that I am awake before my son, AKA the Rooster, but of course, this is the one day that he sleeps in and will therefore not be needing any nap today, thank you.

 

I used my shower time wisely, plotting out the next few hours with my son, using my awake brain for once. I wanted needed him to take a nap later on so I could get some rest too. I got our breakfast all ready and suggested a bike ride. Luckily, he went for it.

 

This was only our second time ever riding together, usually I walk alongside him as he slowly and rather randomly pedals toward the next stick he would like to pick up and bring with us. Oh, training wheels…

 

Did I mention that I LOVE MY BIKE?!

 

IMG_6550

 

The weather was perfect yesterday. Upper 70’s, sun shining, blue skies with really cool clouds that looked like Ocean waves. It was by far the longest bike ride my 3 year old has ever been on.

 

Oh and now it’s like 8:30 in the morning…I have a long way to go…

 

Grocery shopping is a must, but I am not looking forward to that so I enhance the trip by bringing the artwork I had recently finished and was gifting to my best friend, so I could ship it to her.

 

IMG_1827

 

Gift giving feels amazing, especially if I make the gift.  This piece of art is really special. I made it with my precious hands, it has six real orchid blooms “glued” in (with Gel Gloss Medium) and a real lego flag. This is the home I built for my Haiku and it is remarkable (#selflove). I cannot wait until my BFF receives her gift and tells me all these things.

 

When we got back, I noticed that I had missed a few texts and calls on my phone and one of them was from my son’s Nana, just checking up on me. I texted her back immediately asking her if she wanted to come over for a few hours this afternoon to babysit while I took a nap and SHE SAID YES!!!

 

This news enabled me to have a 45 minute sword fight with my son. I felt like everything was going to be okay. I was going to make it. Actually, we were having the time of our lives.

 

And then…I got my nap. It was awesome. It was more of a focused meditation of positive thoughts than actual sleeping, but it was amazing to be by myself to fill back up.

 

rachel introvert meme haiku

 

I took the time to journal my gratitude and then I took my second fancy bubble bath of the day. I cannot tell you how amazing the first 45 seconds of a bubble bath feel, it’s like some awesome chemicals are being released throughout my body. This helps me deal with the fact that carpet cleaners will be at my house in a half hour and I have to move all the furniture off the carpets (see cat pee incident from above).

 

Moving all your furniture around feels super weird to me. More like, having huge household items obviously not where they belong causes anxiety within me. Where should I sit? Should I just stand? My husband came home from work early and took our son over to run an errand and I decided to NOT be awkward about the situation. I decided to get out my laptop and complete a chapter in my online screenwriting course. By the time my guys returned, the carpets were done being cleaned and I had a 100% on my online quiz.

 

This makes dinner preparation easier, but I am still feeling kind of confused about why all my furniture is piled up on the tile; my brain does not like the chaos. So I repotted some plants:

 

IMG_1854

 

 

IMG_1856

 

IMG_1848

 

I emptied out the huge green pot and put the remaining strand from my elephant plant into this much more appropriately sized pink pot. I’m pretty excited about the prospect of getting a new plant for the big green pot.

 

While I was working on my plants, I had an idea for another piece of art that I had been working on, so I went for it:

 

IMG_1847

 

Ahhhhhhhh. This feels so good–not only do I have a home for my awesome Haiku, but now I have a home for the 5 orchid blooms that fell in the past week (resulting in me repotting the plants). YES!!! Everything has it’s place.

 

Just kidding. We can’t put the furniture back until the morning when the carpet is dry. That’s okay, my husband and I ended our night with some serious jig saw puzzling and my third bubble bath of the day.

 

IMG_1849

 

Yesterday was an awesome healing day. Here is a recap of why:

  1. Bubble Bath
  2. Shower
  3. Bike Ride
  4. Gift Giving
  5. Play Time
  6. Meditation/Nap
  7. Bubble Bath
  8. Journaling
  9. Screenwriting Class Quiz Success!
  10. Repot 3 Plants
  11. Make Art
  12. Jigsaw Puzzle
  13. Bubble Bath

 

This list is not all inclusive; as in, I did not tell you about everything that happened yesterday, I got a lot of work done that does not apply to this story and I also got a lot of joy and healing out of the other experiences in my day that are simply not applicable herein.  The above list includes healing exercises that are specific to me, these are things that I like to do because they make me feel good.

 

I would love to know what your healing exercises are; please share with me by leaving a comment below.

 

XO

~Rachel

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award

very_inspiring_blogger

Thank you to Ally for nominating me for the Very Inspiring Blogger award.

IMG_1207_2

 

This remarkable act of kindness will not be forgotten. My gratitude can best be expressed through Haiku:

IT’S NOT JUST MY FACE…

ALLY, I HAVE TO TELL YOU:

YOU MAKE MY HEART SMILE.

Wahoo! To be nominated by Ally as a Very Inspiring Blogger is actually quite remarkable. Check out Ally’s blog, Welcome to My Little Piece of Quiet, and see for yourself; you will love receiving her Quote of the Day. I know I do. Thank you, Ally, your continued encouragement and support mean the world to me!

7 FACTS ABOUT RACHEL

  1. When it comes to unhealthy cycles, I am a wrecking ball. I am a sledgehammer. Hulk Smash.
  2. I love my best friend; she can do anything (read about it).
  3. I take a fancy bubble bath every single day, sometimes twice.
  4. My undergraduate major was in Sociology.
  5. When I have an epiphany, I make a video about it (watch this).
  6. Intuition and Sensitivity are my Superpowers.
  7. I cannot stand small talk. Go big or go home.

Here are my official nominations for the Very Inspiring Blogger award:

  1. SARK
  2. Michele Rosenthal, Heal My PTSD
  3. Kelly Rae Roberts
  4. Midnight Blues
  5. Uncomfortably Honest and Honestly Uncomfortable
  6. Robin, Rach & Joe!
  7. Kindness Blog
  8. Marvelline Marvels
  9. I Love to go a Gardening
  10. Positively Introverted
  11. A Small Act of Kindness
  12. Creating Your Life Journey
  13. Of Means and Ends
  14. INFJ Reflections
  15. Seven Years in a Drawer

Should you choose to accept this award, here are the official rules:

  1. Post the award icon on your blog;
  2. Thank the person who nominated you;
  3. List 7 facts about yourself;
  4. Nominate 15 other Very Inspiring Blogs;
  5. Post these rules.

 

MY FELLOW BLOGGERS,

THANKS FOR THE INSPIRATION;

I WON’T FORGET IT.

 

XO

~Rachel

How Saturday Night Live ruined my childhood

 

Remember this guy?

 

stuart smalley

 

Stuart Smalley. A Saturday Night Live character played by Al Franken circa 1991.

 

stuart smalley 3

 

“I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and, doggone it, people like me.”

 

stuart smalley 2

 

That’s it. That’s “the joke.”

 

In 1991 I was 10 years old and completely cognizant of how laughable loving yourself was. People like me?! What a joke.

 

1991

 

Wouldn’t it be smarter (safer) to just believe that I was not good enough, not smart enough and honestly, that everybody hated me?

 

1991 xmas

 

Sigh. I got pretty good at that mantra. So good, that 5 years later, when I was 15 years old, this character seemed like an alien:

 

joyologist

 

Helen Madden. A Saturday Night Live character played by Molly Shannon circa 1996.

 

joyologist 2

 

Licensed “Joyologist” Helen Madden was best known for spreading her message of JOY, finding the most comfortable positions to sit on interview couches and saying “I love it, I love it, I love it!”

 

joyologist 3

 

That’s it. That’s the joke. She was trying to spread joy.

 

Ugh.

 

1996

 

HUGE eye roll.

 

1996 again

 

 

My idea of loving myself at this time was to have intense secret crushes that were never returned, thank god…because if you dared have a crush on me I would surely CRUSH you with my indifference and secret horror.

 

It wasn’t until I was 32 years old that I even began my self love journey. Even then, it was because I had to, not because I wanted to. What does unconditionally loving yourself even mean?

 

I thought loving yourself meant loving others as hard as you possibly could. That worked all the way up until having a baby. Then you watch how fast you drain and don’t replenish. If you don’t love yourself, you don’t replenish. Then you truly understand how loving yourself is not a luxury or a choice.

 

It’s the way.

 

Gilda

 

XO

~Rachel

 

P.S. Gilda Radner is one of my hero angels.

 

 

7 houses in 6 years: Children Need Consistency

Here is a trip down memory lane…

 

IMG_6578

 

When my parents first separated, I left the family home I had been raised in for my first 11 years and moved to this townhouse in Derby right before the start of seventh grade.

 

IMG_6579

 

The landlady was super nice; she allowed us to bring our cat, Sam, even though she had just installed brand new carpets.  My Dad helped my Mom and I move in. I thought they would get back together. Then my Uncle John came to the door and when I got my Mom for him, he served her with divorce papers. I had seen this Uncle only a handful of times in my life and he was so aggressive and frightening, I fainted. We had to move out the following month because we could not afford to live there.

 

IMG_6581

 

This was my grandparents home, where my Mom grew up, and we got to live here for about 8 months before my Grandpa sold it so he could build a retirement home in Florida.

 

IMG_6582

 

I spent the eighth grade living in this duplex on Cleveland off of Beach Road in Angola. The upstairs neighbors pounded on the floor if we played the radio or made any noise. The next door neighbors left their cat on a leash, even in the rain and always had a yard sale going on.

 

IMG_6580

 

We went to go live with my mom’s boyfriend and his children for most of ninth grade at his house on Church Road. When we lived there, it was a one-story; this is what the house looks like today. This was the first time, of many, that my brother, Philip, crossed the lines and left my dad’s house to come live with us.

 

IMG_6584

 

Don’t get too excited. This is not what my tenth grade house looked like when we lived on Summerdale. At all! This was a one story when we lived here that had two kitchens only 25 feet away from each other (awesomely awkward in-law quarters). Our old neighbor eventually ended up buying the house after we moved and knocked it down to build this McMansion, which is on a cliff overlooking the great Lake Erie.

 

IMG_6583

 

Come on down to Albeeville, it’s gonna be a JAMBOREE!! Anyone who knew me in eleventh and twelfth grades will not recognize this house because, once again, it looked nothing like this when we lived here. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to grow up in a buttoned up home. I’m excited for the people who live here now.

 

IMG_6585

 

The longest amount of time I have lived in one house remains the first eleven years I served on Northfield. Whenever my husband talks about feeling averse to the stress involved in moving homes, I always think about this sequence of events and kind of laugh, bitterly.

 

I don’t care if we move, as long as we all get to stay together as a family.

 

“Life is a process of becoming. A combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.” ~Anais Nin

 

XO

~Rachel

 

Haiku

Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred

Last week I completed Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred for the second time in my life.

 

I know, I know, I promised myself I would never work out again after the first time I completed that DVD series.

 

But then I saw this:

 

fatcat

 

This meme hit close to home.

 

I was laying in my bathtub and I noticed that I was uncomfortable…like I was choking on all the chins resting on my throat…choking on my own fat face.

 

FAT FACE?!!

 

I shot right up in the bathtub to try to see it for myself in the mirror.

 

Yup.

 

Fat face.

 

I sank back down and tried to retrace my steps…

 

Eat whatever you want. Check. Never exercise. Check.

 

So what?

 

Holidays.

 

Yes. I blame the holidays. Food everywhere.

 

There’s always food everywhere.

 

Yeah but, I need a lot of comforting because, you know…it’s the holidays…

 

So now that the holidays are over, I am left with this fat face. Great. My brain started to buzz formulating a fantasy plastic surgery plan. This surely must be the perfect time for one of those tummy tuck things.

 

Oh right, it’s my fat face that’s the problem…crap.

 

Are you even allowed to talk to yourself like this?

 

NO!

 

Stop calling me fat face.

 

What is going on?!

 

Holidays. Winter holidays are like a recipe for The Shining regardless of your geographic location.

 

shining

 

 

Seriously, everyone acts insane for the winter holidays; you can count on it. That’s why everyone joins the gym right after New Years, so they can physically remove the insanity from their bodies.

 

Enter Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred DVD. I don’t like to go to the gym. I feel extremely uncomfortable when I sweat and am out of breath; I don’t want an audience in that moment. My post work out face is super red and blotchy.

 

I know the Shred works because I did it every day for 30 consecutive days in 2012 after my son was born and within 45 days AFTER the workout was complete, the 75 pounds I gained with my pregnancy was gone. GONE!

 

That felt good because working out for 30 days in a row with a 200+ pound body felt disgusting. My pregnancy boobs were still an H cup, so the cardio was painful. When I would do mountain climbers, my stomach would bounce off of the top of my thighs and huge boobs (and then my huge boobs would slap my fat face) in a shameful manner. Slapping noises. Gross. Sweaty. Red face. I hated every minute of it. My skin would get all prickly, covered in goose bumps because I was slightly afraid to even do the workout.  When I finished it the first time and was still 200 pounds, I thought I might be living in a nightmare. When the weight started to fall off immediately the day after the series ended, I thought I might be living in a dream; a well deserved dream world where I love my body.

 

I do love my body. I hug myself everyday. I am proud that my body made a human being. I am proud to have my body back. I allowed myself almost a 3 year break from formal exercise–that’s insane!

 

This time around, my second Shred experience was different. I was still very sweaty and red in the face. I still dreaded the workout every day. But I did not have fear inside of me; there were no goosebumps. I knew I could do it and I did it well. I even brought my 3 pound weights and the DVD with me and worked out on vacation for 4 days, which is unheard of for me!

 

IMG_1009

 

This time, I saw results during the 30-day Shred series. For example, I bought this dress that I thought was a size 8 and I couldn’t button it up during week one of the Shred. That’s ok, I told myself, put it back in the closet and you will be able to wear it when you’re done with the series. Well, I wanted to wear that dress BEFORE my 30 days was over, during the third week, and guess what?! It fit. Guess what else?! I read the tag wrong, that dress did not say “8” it said “S” for SMALL.

 

My body is back. I did it!

 

IMG_1070

 

But I am not done. I decided to give myself 4 days off and then I began a new Jillian Michael’s DVD called “Killer Abs.” I don’t know if anyone will get killed with my abs, but I’m apparently taking that risk.

 

Wish me luck!

 

XO

~Rachel

Apologize = make it right

 

As a parent, I apologize on a daily basis.

 

I’m sorry we can’t have marshmallows for breakfast. I’m sorry Daddy has to leave for work. I’m sorry you fell off of your bike.

 

Ever notice some people NEVER apologize?

 

apologize pic monkey option

 

I have…

 

It’s like…a refusal to empathize. But WHY would your loved one do that?! Trying to figure that out can make you crazy…

 

Luckily, there is this thing called the internet. If you google search the terms “how to apologize,” you will see that it is a fairly straight forward process that involves CARE.

 

I made a movie about this today:

 

 

If you don’t know how to apologize, click here.

 

If you took the time to read that article, you now know that saying the words ‘I’m sorry’ are a mere fraction of the steps involved in the apology process.

 

Start off with what went wrong.

Begin the apology by stating what went wrong and the feelings your words or actions caused. Be detailed about what happened so that the other person knows exactly what you’re apologizing for. Make it a point to avoid using the words “but” or “if”. An apology is a statement, so it shouldn’t be conditional. Remember that an apology has nothing to do with right and wrong or whose fault it was – an apology simply means that you made someone feel bad with your words or actions and you are sorry about that.
Do not say “I’m sorry you feel that way” or “I’m sorry if you were offended.” Be sorry for what you said or did, and the pain that it caused someone else. “I’m sorry you feel that way” makes it seem like you are blaming the other person for feeling bad, and is not a real apology. When you apologize, you should recognize that the other person was hurt and that you are sorry about that.

 

 

It is NEVER too late to make amends. Every single day that you allow to go by without apologizing for hurting your loved one is the perpetration of an ongoing offense that necessarily adversely impacts the quality of that relationship.

 

Relationships never die. 

 

Think about that. If it is your policy to “never apologize” because it is just “too hard,” that is a character flaw. Change that today.

 

You can do it! People change all the time, that’s called growth. Hopefully. Sometimes people change for other reasons. Either way, if you hurt your loved one, it is up to you to make it right.

 

XO

~Rachel

V-Day & the Versatile Blogger Award

V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls, is hands down my favorite charity.

 

IMG_0921

 

I have been a volunteer activist for V-Day since 2002 when I co-organized my first college campaign for SUNY Cortland. What does that mean? For us, that meant putting on a benefit production of Eve Ensler’s play, The Vagina Monologues, and using the proceeds from ticket sales to benefit the local YWCA Aid to Victims of Violence Unit.

 

IMG_0920

 

I love theatre. I love activism. V-Day enables me to put those two passions together into one explosive social change rainbow firework.

 

IMG_0922

 

In 2003, 2004 & 2005, I co-organized Community Campaigns for Buffalo by co-directing and producing The Vagina Monologues and using the proceeds to benefit Crisis Services Advocate Program.

 

IMG_0928

IMG_0919

 

In 2006, my third year of law school, I organized the first ever University at Buffalo Law School campaign to benefit Crisis Services Advocate Program.

 

In 2007 I actually relocated to Las Vegas for a job opportunity one week before my V-Day Community Campaign for Buffalo was to open and flew back and forth to make sure that the campaign was a success.

 

IMG_0918

 

Between 2008 and 2012, I financially supported existing V-Day campaigns in my area. I missed the high pressure and stress that producing a benefit show can conjure.  I began to feel like I didn’t know who I was anymore. Working for Judges during this time period left me feeling stiff like plastic. I longed to show my rebel side. I am radical.

 

The past 2 years, 2013 and 2014, I have joined V-Day’s One Billion Rising campaign and have participated (with my husband and son!) in flash mobs to break the chain and stop violence against women through DANCE!

 

How does that work? Well, I went to the One Billion Rising website (click here), I clicked Events and then Find an Event, and then I was brought to a page where I could find a flash mob in my area to join. There is a link to a YouTube video tutorial teaching you how to complete the dance steps so you can practice at home and then just show up at the proper time to dance in a flash mob–super fun!!!

 

IMG_3033

IMG_3052

 

In 2015 I am trying something radically different, an online fundraiser. Please check out my official One Billion Rising campaign page by clicking here.

 

Between today and February 14, 2015 my campaign to benefit www.vday.org will be available to support.

 

IMG_0924

 

Please join in the FaceBook party by clicking here. Basically, you can purchase your favorite Chloe + Isabel jewelry and Jamberry Nails and pat yourself on the back knowing that 15% of the total sale proceeds will be used to benefit www.vday.org.

 

Thank you in advance for your support!

 

Speaking of support, have you head that I won a major award?!

 

lamplegaward

 

I am so GRATEFUL to Ally of My Little Piece of Quiet for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award! I think YOUR blog is amazing and that everyone should follow it (click here to follow Ally).

 

versatilebloggeraward

 

Official Rules:

  1. Thank the person who gave you this award.
  2. Include a link to their blog.
  3. Select 15 blogs that are truly excellent and nominate them for the Versatile Blogger Award.
  4. List 7 things about yourself.

 

Once again, big THANK YOU to Ally of My Little Piece of Quiet for the Versatile Blogger Award!

 

I would like to officially nominate the following blogs for the Versatile Blog Award:

  1. My Little Piece of Quiet
  2. Midnight Blues
  3. Uncomfortably Honest & Honestly Uncomfortable
  4. INFJ Ramblings
  5. Things of Joy
  6. Of Means and Ends
  7. A Small Act of Kindness
  8. Taking the Mask Off
  9. Basically Beyond Basic
  10. Creating Your Life Journey
  11. Robin, Rach & Joe
  12. Kindness Blog
  13. Sensitive New World
  14. Art of Receiving
  15. Allowing Myself

 

7factsaboutme

  1. I am a lawyer
  2. I am a survivor of PTSD
  3. I am in the middle of an online Screenwriting Course
  4. I am in the middle of Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred
  5. I eat chocolate every single day
  6. Dirty Dancing is my all time favorite movie
  7. I hug myself every day.

 

XO

~Rachel

Positive Mantras & Parenting: The Help

{originally published January 14, 2015}

 

Shifting from negative mantras to positive mantras was probably my greatest success of 2014.

 

I pushed myself through every day of my life, all the way to 2014, using hateful, terrorizing, emotionally crushing negative mantras. I was not always aware I was doing it. It was habitual to say the least.

 

The only reason I decided to stop doing that was because of the look on my therapist’s face when I told her that’s how I got myself through high school, college and law school (and the bar exam, my wedding planning and pregnancy). The look on her face suggested that was not a good idea.

 

So, I agreed to try out positive mantras. It was tough at first because I did not realize how huge the shift was going to be. I had to care about myself for real. I had to be sorry when I slipped up, which was tough because, at first, it felt very natural and almost soothing to just allow myself to tear into myself. But when I was finished, it wasn’t soothing at all (obviously) and I regretted what I considered to be “backsliding” into old bad habits.

 

Over the course of the year, I found myself doing many things to solidify my shift into positive mantras. Research, reading, journaling, mixed media art (#hellosoulhellomantras), meditating, EMDR, self hypnosis, yoga, etc.

 

Want to know what the single most helpful activity has been?

 

Parenting.

 

By far, the easiest and most effective method for my shift was to use positive mantras on my child.

 

When I was pregnant, I read the book The Help and was very moved by the mantra that the nanny uses on the baby (“You is kind, you is smart, you is important”).

 

you-is-kind

 

My big pregnant self was sobbing thinking about how helpful that would have been, if my parents had used mantras like that on me when I was a child.

 

Ever since my son was born, I have told him this every day:

 

You are kind. You are smart. You are important. You are my son. I am your mom. I take care of you. You are special. You are an angel. You are made out of stars. I am so proud of you. You make me so happy. I love to be your mom. We are a family. I love you.

 

I tell him this, without fail, at nap time and at bed time. I also tell him that when he is cuddly, or sad, or when I just don’t know what else to say. This is my filler.

 

At the end of this month, my son will be 3 years old. For the past 6 months, he has been whispering the mantra along with me. I could not be more proud. I know he believes every word of it (why wouldn’t he? It’s all true).

 

What’s even more amazing—I am beginning to believe every word of it about myself. I am kind. I am smart. I am important. I am a mom. I will take care of myself. I love myself. I am special. I am an angel. I am made out of stars. I am so happy. I love to be Jackson’s mom. I have a family.

 

It’s hard to totally change certain core habits. I know. I did it. Through, research, reading, journaling, various forms of therapy, art work, blogging, meditating, yoga and parenting.

 

I don’t care how old your children are, start the positive mantras with them today. Do it for them and for you. Do it every day.

 

XO

~Rachel

 

Haiku by Rachel VanKoughnet:

 

He’s not mine to own.

I was made to protect him

before I was born.

 

IMG_6153

Bill Murray in St. Vincent

{originally posted December 10, 2014}

 

Went on a hot date over the weekend to the movies and saw Bill Murray star in St. Vincent.

 

StVincent

 

I love Bill Murray. I am not done considering my overall opinion of this (very) dark comedy, but I am way overdue in sharing the part that immediately resonated with me…

 

Yes, it has to do with grief.

 

Bill Murray plays a character who (spoiler alert) loses his wife. The conversation he has with the little boy he babysits is very relevant to me. It went something like this:

 

(little boy) I’m sorry for your loss.

(Bill Murray, angrily) Why do people always say that?

(little boy) Because they don’t know what else to say.

(Bill Murray) How about, what was she like?

 

Stvincent2 

 

So I’m in the movie theatre and I just burst into tears, trying to tell my husband (yup, I’m talking during the movie now, too) that: IT’S NOT FAIR!

 

What’s not fair?

 

The way society forces us to shut down our grief. I’m sorry for your loss is the same thing as saying: that’s enough, shut it down, this conversation is over. That is not polite, that is cold and rude. It’s also unhealthy. What was she like? Now that’s a conversation opener. Brilliant. Much warmer. Demonstrates that you care.

 

So I have already started doing it. Asking people who are grieving: what was she like? And the result is beautiful. I recommend it. Relationships never die. Trust me. Even if the other person dies, your relationship never dies because it lives inside of you. Keep talking about your loved ones who have passed, it strengthens your relationship; makes it grow.

 

I was trying to tell my best friend about this concept and saw the 1987 version of the movie The Secret Garden in my head. Remember when that little girl finds the key and opens the Secret Garden door for the first time? What garden?! The brown overgrown piles of sticks and dead leaves were so high and thick; you would never know we finally made it to the garden but for the title of the movie. That’s where your relationships go that you think are dead. That’s where the relationships go that you wish were dead. Relationships never die. They are just waiting for you behind the wall you put up.

 

SecretGarden

 

Am I blowing your mind? Watch this video I made:

(Relationships Never Die: The Secret Garden).

Revisit your relationships—every single one of them, as they are all living inside of you. Take inventory. Roll up your sleeves and be willing to do the hard work. Gardens don’t bloom in a day.

 

XO

~Rachel

 

A Double Haiku by Rachel VanKoughnet:

 

Always with Despair,

sometimes I think I can count

my friends on one hand…

hand orchids

…then I remember:

you keep your friends in your heart.

I’m never alone.

Relationships Never Die: The Secret Garden

{originally posted December 6, 2014}

 

Relationships never die.

 

This is a major epiphany for me.

 

There have been many relationships in my life that I wished would die; that I believed were already dead. It made sense to me at the time and went right along with my former erroneous belief that relationships die when one of the parties thereto passes away. That’s not true at all. I know this now.

 

I write a lot about grief. It’s kind of my thing.

 

Grieving has actually strengthened my relationships with those that have passed.

 

Believing relationships can die is what leads to neglect, the weakening of that relationship.

 

Admittedly, part of what sparked the epiphany for me stemmed from the blog I wrote about my brother and an insightful comment from a fellow INFJ that went like this:

 

“The attitudes and emotions behind this post seriously gave me goosebumps. The power of sibling relationship still baffles me today. What a journey I’ve been on in my own life trying to account for it. You’ve reminded me how precious that relationship is – like a flower you can hold in your hand for a short time, it eventually transforms into something new. It disintegrates into the soil. It joins the earth and nourishes new growth. The process is very painful. Our consumerism culture tells us to throw away withered flowers as if they are no longer Life. We have to go out and buy new flowers if we aren’t so lucky to have a garden. I’ve learned to appreciate the future of a blossomed flower. That momentary joy you experience in its beauty transforms into cycles of creation that flow through our earth, our home. A flower becomes a source of vitality for all living things. Relationships are no different. The imprint a person leaves on you resonates in the beauty and kindness you share with others, in your ability to transform yourself, in your ability to light up the world around you. Thanks so much for sharing this in all the difficulty that it presented to you. I hope it was cathartic. I hope it helped you shift into a space of receptivity so that you too could benefit from the vitality your brother shared with you.”

 

Thank you does not do justice to the gratitude in my heart for these words. Words are my favorite. I got lost in this garden The Child Philosopher created for me and just sat there for weeks… examining…taking inventory. I treasure these words. They lead me to the most beautiful and peaceful understanding: relationships never die.

 

I have been desperately trying to explain this concept to anyone who will listen to me for awhile now. So I made a YouTube video about it (click here to watch). I hope you can find peace in the message as well.

 

IMG_0236

 

Happy Holidays.

 

XO

~Rachel

PS: subscribe to The Child Philosopher!

Thanksgiving is for Activism: Free Leonard Peltier

{originally posted November 19, 2014}

 

I am in full on stage mom mode.

 

AA1

 

My son and I co-star in my latest YouTube video.

 

AA2

 

I cannot recommend this video enough, my 2-year-old deserves an Oscar for his performance. He is so expressive, passionate, angry, funny, serious…

 

AA3

 

This is a very serious matter. I have brought my own angel child into the spotlight for the first time ever to demand President Obama pardon Native American Political Prisoner, Leonard Peltier.

 

Please join me in signing the Official Petition to Free Leonard Peltier by clicking this link.

 

I am an activist. In my home, holidays are for activism. My son and I had a ridiculous amount of fun making this video together because we care about justice as a family value.

 

AA4

 

If you don’t know about Leonard Peltier, please do your own research. If you don’t feel like doing your own research, click this link and read about him here. If you don’t feel like clicking a link, then please just understand that Leonard Peltier has been a political prisoner for over 37 years and it is time for him to be released so he can be with his family. Nelson Mandela was a South African political prisoner for 27 years before becoming President of South Africa. Nelson Mandela has demanded for the release of Leonard Peltier, along with many other prominent figures.

 

IMG_6669

 

Leonard Peltier was a Nobel Peace Prize nominee for 6 consecutive years from 2004-2009. In 2009 President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. In July 2013 President Obama took his family on vacation to South Africa to stand inside Nelson Mandela’s former prison cell on Robben Island.

 

AA5

 

I made this video with my son so that President Obama could find the courage within himself to be humble and do the right thing by pardoning Leonard Peltier. Please sign the petition. Please forward the Petition. Forward the video. Share this blog. Hashtag #freeleonardpeltier on your social media. Do something.

 

“We are in this together – the rich, the poor, the red, the white, the black, the brown, and the yellow. We are all one family of humankind. We share responsibility for our Mother Earth and for all those who live and breathe upon her. I believe our work will be unfinished until not one human being is hungry or battered, not a single person is forced to die in war, not one innocent languishes imprisoned, and no one is persecuted for his or her beliefs. I believe in the good in humankind. I believe that the good can prevail, but only with great effort. And that effort is ours, each of ours, yours and mine….Never cease in the fight for
peace, justice, and equality for all people. Be persistent in all that you do and don’t allow anyone to sway you from your conscience.”

~Leonard Peltier, 1999 book Prison Writings: My Life is My Sundance (Saint Martin’s Press) 

 

 

Thanksgiving is a tradition that belies the reality of the Native American genocide, but it doesn’t have to be. You can research and learn and teach your children to care about human rights. We can all be activists who pursue justice and make that the new Thanksgiving tradition in America. Food for thought.

 

XO

~Rachel

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” ~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Love a Veteran?

{originally published November 11, 2014}

 

In honor of Veteran’s Day, here is a link to a brilliant 20 minute video about how to cure Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). If you or someone you know suffers from this injury, please watch this video to learn how to feel better immediately.

 

I have always considered myself a Veteran, though I have never been in the military, I was in the war at home. Domestic Violence. Abuse and Neglect. I am a survivor.

 

One of the many different things I do to recover from my complex PTSD injury is research and read. I cannot recommend the book Sacred Contracts by Caroline Myss enough. This book has taught me so much about myself provided an excellent guideline for how to do the HARD WORK of getting to know my true authentic self.

 

This book asked me to consider what my family legacies are. What are the things that family members have been doing to each other for generations? Right away, my brain answered: we don’t talk to each other. Ever again.

 

The reality of this family legacy legitimately precludes me from ascertaining what the other family legacies might be, but recently my brain released another answer…and it hit me like a ton of bricks: we think we should kill ourselves.

 

Terrible! I know, it’s disgusting…but hear me out…

 

In my family it was understood that making a mistake (such as stuttering, dropping something, striking out at baseball, etc.) would definitely lead to an overwhelming sense of shame that would absolutely be cured by just killing yourself. Like that would be the only way to be relieved or released from your indiscretion. Living with the shame…that would be unbearable. It was a joke…I think.

 

The thing is, years later, my paternal grandfather actually did kill himself.

 

I had only met him once. I was 16 years old and cashing them both out of the express lane at the grocery store when my paternal grandmother advised: “we are your grandparents…see, we won’t hurt you.” I smiled painfully and handed them their change and receipt, as my brain processed the information. Publicly. I had never met them before even though we lived just up the street from them and walked past their house all the time. Legacy #1 Cut Ties Forever.

 

I know my paternal grandfather was a Veteran. I heard that he was disturbed by his experiences in the war and that may have lead to his decision to end his own life.  Considering suicidal ideation as a family legacy has actually helped me tremendously. It’s not me. It is a learned behavior. It can absolutely be undone.

 

suicide_hotline

 

There is no indiscretion that should cause a person to take their own life.  Every mistake can be undone with LOVE. I promise.

 

If, for whatever reason, you don’t take the time to watch the video about how to cure PTSD, I can break it down for you into 2 words: LOVE YOURSELF.  Love is gentle. Love is kind.

 

IMG_5530

 

XO

~Rachel

 

IMG_6597

*Haiku by Rachel VanKoughnet

“Like a horror film,

Sometimes all I see is loss

…suffocating me…”

Rambo Number Five

{originally published October 26, 2014}

 

We visited Mount Rainier National Park, Washington for our 11 year dating anniversary October 13th.

 

IMG_5970

 

Within the first 24 hours, I had an incredible life epiphany involving the movie Rambo First Blood, which is filmed in Washington (and Canada, let’s be honest).

 

By the time we arrived at our cabin, it was dark and our son was already asleep, so after unpacking the car and tucking him into his bunk bed, my husband and I got to just sit out on the back deck, relax, and enjoy the woods. My husband and I kept remarking to each other how happy we were that it smelled like autumn. We are both from Western New York (AKA the 716) and LOVE everything about the fall. It is so hard to live in a desert when you love the fall.

 

As we were sitting, we both found ourselves smiling to hear that old familiar sound of an autumn leaf falling from its tree. I kept getting excited, straining my eyes into the darkness beyond the deck trying to see an elk. Over and over again, I found myself holding my breath and straining to hear what I hoped to be the sound of hooves walking on top of autumn leaves and branches. But something was not right.

 

It actually was not familiar. The sound. I couldn’t understand why it seemed like an animal was getting involved with the leaf as it fell from the tree when there ended up being no animal follow up sounds whatsoever. It was weird. Anticlimactic.

 

The next morning, we bundled ourselves up to explore the backyard in the daylight with our boy and I could not believe how beautiful it was.

 

IMG_6361

 

As I was standing here taking in this moment I saw, for the first time, what my husband and I had been listening to last night. The noise started so high, I had to totally lift my face up to the sky to see what was going on. One huge leaf falling from the top of a 100 year old tree and hitting hundreds of branches on its lengthy descent to the forest floor.

 

Obviously that’s when it hit me. Rambo. As I have mentioned before in previous blog entries, Rambo First Blood is the greatest PTSD story ever told. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that my brothers and I watched it nearly every day of our lives as we navigated a horrifically abusive and neglectful upbringing. Since I was too young to be watching it, let alone memorizing it, many moments from that movie have stuck with me. Haunted me.

 

It was in this moment of watching the leaf fall that I finally understood what was so bad about the scene where Rambo jumps off the cliff and is badly injured, as he hits many tree branches before hitting the ground. Rambo wasn’t falling through upstate New York trees, he was falling through Old Growth, which means he had to hit MANY branches in order to reach the ground. More than I ever even knew about. Until just now in this moment.

 

IMG_5983

 

Oh man. Rambo. It was worse than I thought.

 

I was so struck by this information that I began to excitedly point out the great distance the leaves were falling to my husband and son. I had this feeling of weird validation flowing through me because it now suddenly makes so much more sense that I would be haunted by the imagery of a human being falling through an old growth tree. But even as I was saying out loud to my family, “look at how many branches that leaf is hitting,” I became overwhelmed with a totally new idea:

 

That’s life.

 

WHAT?!

 

In response to my question my brain showed me the other moment from Rambo First Blood that haunts me: in the scene shortly after Rambo falls through the trees, a police officer falls from the helicopter straight to the ground, landing face down on rocks. It is just horrific. The surprised sound of his scream as he falls. You can tell it was blunt force trauma that killed him when Rambo grabs him by the jacket and flips him over, revealing his smashed in dead face.

 

WHY ARE YOU SHOWING ME THIS?!

 

That’s life.

 

Oh. OH! OMG!!

 

That’s life. Who do you want to be? Rambo, the hero who hits every single branch before hitting the ground, who then is mercilessly shot at until he has to throw a rock to successfully defend himself so that he can stitch up his own wound in peace.

 

What’s the alternative?

 

The dirty cop that tries to murder Rambo in an insane abuse of power play who falls from the helicopter all the way to the ground and dies instantly.

 

Um. Rambo. Everytime.

 

IMG_6505

 

This story resonates with me because 2014 has been packed with punches; loss, grief, hurdles, mind fucking power plays, you name it. I am tired.

 

Hey, also though, 2014 has been full of AMAZING gains emotionally, creatively, spiritually, personally and collectively. I love my journey. I am just getting started.

 

Do I hit a branch every damn day?

 

Almost.

 

But at least I don’t fall all the way to the ground and die.

 

thisisnottheend

 

XO

~Rachel

 

IMG_6509

The Yoke Epiphany

 

On October 25, 2014 Kindness Blog published a mind-blowing piece I wrote called The Yoke Epiphany, which is about a revelation I had while driving by this exact statue in Washington:

 

yoke

 

I did not take a picture, but an amazing photographer did and was gracious enough to allow me to use it. Thank you for sharing your talent with me Steve Leake; I am forever grateful for your kindness.

 

Don’t forget to read The Yoke Epiphany: click here!

 

I would LOVE to know what you think; please leave a reply below.

 

XO

~Rachel

 

 

The time I was nominated for The One Lovely Blog Award

{originally published October 12, 2014}

 

I am incredibly GRATEFUL to Midnight Blahs for nominating my blog “Oh, Brother…” for the One Lovely Blog Award.

 

IMG_6381

 

The One Lovely Blog Award nominations are chosen by fellow bloggers for those newer and up-and-coming bloggers. The goal is to help give recognition and also to help the new blogger to reach more viewers. It also recognizes blogs that are considered to be “LOVELY” by the fellow bloggers who choose them. This award recognizes bloggers who share their story or thoughts in a beautiful manner to CONNECT with viewers and followers. In order to “accept” the award the nominated blogger must follow several guidelines:

 

  • Thank the person who nominated you for the award.
  • Add the One Lovely Blog logo to your post.
  • Share 7 facts or things about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 or more bloggers you admire and inform the nominees by commenting on their blog.

 

Gratitude

 

Gratitude surrounds her.” Thank you Midnight Blahs for truly seeing me. I think YOUR blog is lovely :)

 

7factsaboutme

 

(1) In college my comedic timing was compared to the great Gilda Radner’s.

(2) When I was 8 years old I dressed up as my hero, Carol Burnett, for Halloween.

(3) I will work Rambo First Blood into any conversation.

(4) Things got out of hand between me and a giant stuffed panda bear on YouTube this summer.

(5) My mouth gets me into trouble all the time (INFJ problems).

(6) I have been a volunteer activist for V-Day Until the Violence Stops since 2002.

(7) Lately, I have been expressing myself more and more through the ancient art of Haiku.

 

trueheart

photo by @true_heart_jamila on Instagram

 

It is my pleasure to announce the following One Lovely Blog Award Nominees:

 

 

If you enjoy my blog, please check out the above list for your reading pleasure.

 

XO

~Rachel

Oh, Brother…

{originally published October 6, 2014}

 

I want to talk about my brother, Jody.

 

I call him my brother because he literally embodied the definition of the word for me at a time when I was very confused about its meaning.

 

Brother.

 

I always had them. I am the youngest of three children and the only girl. Divorce and remarriage changed all that. In so many ways.

 

My oldest brother (by 5 years) did not speak to me from age 11 through 18. We never discussed why when we spoke from age 18 through 22 but it was always assumed that it was not my older brother’s fault at all, even though we lived in a small town of almost 2000 people. Even though I was just a little girl. I won’t ask him now, since he hasn’t spoken to me from age 22 through the present (age 32) and because I don’t care to hear the answer, I already know.

 

My other older brother (by 18 months) was the kind of best friend who, it was understood, would rather be with our older brother if he could, but since he can’t right at this particular moment, then we could be best friends as consolation. The kind of best friend who allows you to sit at his cool kids lunch table in high school but doesn’t say a word to you for that lunch hour every day for a year. WHY??? I don’t know, I always assumed it was because I was worthless, but I asked him recently and it seems to be simple high school survival behavior he deeply regrets.

 

The combination of the above two paragraphs left me in a weird spot in high school with regard to the word “brother.”

 

When I was 14 my mom and I went to go live with her boyfriend who later became my stepfather. My stepfather also had 2 sons and a youngest daughter, just like my family. Jody was 5 years older than me, like my brother Kevin, and I fell in love with him immediately. It was embarrassing. I knew we were now family, even though it would be 2 more years before our parents officially married each other; I knew it would not be appropriate to be IN LOVE with my future step-brother.

 

Sometimes I would make him food. He was so skinny. Unlike me or my brothers, Jody could eat anything and it never showed. He admitted to me a decade later that he always had to secretly throw away more than half of his plate that I prepared because he didn’t want to hurt my feelings that he couldn’t eat all of it.

 

He didn’t want to hurt my feelings.

 

I could tell. He was doing what I was doing: we were watching each other. He read, understood who I was, and he wanted to protect me. The more we got to know each other, the more clear it became that we truly understood and practiced loyalty.

 

Loyalty.

 

That word has always been among my top 5 personality traits. That word has also always haunted me. Why??? Because I was giving it and not getting it, the loyalty was not always reciprocal. I used to think that’s what drew Jody and I together: our understanding of, appreciation, and yearning for reciprocal loyalty.

 

I understand now that it’s much more than that.

 

I remember the last conversation Jody and I had together, 6 years ago now. We hadn’t seen each other in awhile and he was skinnier than ever. He lit up when he saw me. I know he lit up because not only did I see it with my own eyes, but it also reflected back into me and I actually felt warm and loved.

 

He was telling me he received my wedding save the date. I rolled my eyes like: oh that old thing and told him all discouraged that I wanted it to have been much more creative but I’m not good at that stuff so my save the date is actually kind of boring compared to what I’ve been receiving in the mail from more artistically inclined friends. Blah Blah Blah. Boring.

 

Jody shook his head slightly, smiling, and told me he had never even seen a wedding save the date that was a magnet, he described how excited he was to open my mail and be reminded that I was going to marry Chris. How he loves to see it on his fridge every day. His sincerity was so calming to me; his support was palpable.

 

Jody was always a fan of Chris. I remember when Chris and I hosted our first Thanksgiving together at our first apartment in Buffalo. For a variety of reasons, that holiday meal was extremely stressful to prepare (I won’t go into that here) but, long story short, the combination of our divorced families and the tardiness of the meal resulted in a miscalculation of wine intake and a pass (out) on dinner.

 

What I’m saying is: by the time the food finally made it to the table, Chris had to excuse himself from the table and literally never came back; therefore, I hosted our divorced families for the first time by myself.

 

If you know me, you can look right at me and know what I’m thinking. My face is very expressive. Jody watched the tension in me rise to a boiling point. He smiled at me. He told me the food was excellent. He told me he was having a great time. It was right around his Birthday so I made him a cherry cheesecake pie, a new recipe. I had asked him what he wanted for his Birthday cake and was startled when he told me no one had ever asked him that before. Cheesecake. I had never made one, but I bake pies so I made that for him special and was so worried it would be a flop.

 

We sang Happy Birthday to Jody, his son blew out the candles and, even though he was so full from dinner, he ate his entire huge piece of cheesecake. His Birthday cake. He hugged me so hard. He loved his cake! I found my smile again.

 

IMG_6326

 

Before he left my apartment that evening Jody told me: don’t give Chris a hard time. I looked at Jody sideways, he never told me what to do before, but Jody just smiled at me until I smiled back and said: ok.

 

That really blew me away at the time because I was like, why shouldn’t I give him a hard time?! What’s the big deal, why do you care what happens to him? Because I know Jody, I already knew the answer. Just like me, Jody could read people, and, just like me, Jody decided immediately he loved Chris.

 

IMG_6327

 

This is the Christmas card Jody handed us just a couple weeks later. Jody was excellent at picking out greeting cards. They were never random. The card says:

 

“For You, Sister, and your family. Your home is a happy and welcoming place where there’s love in the air and a smile on each face…”

 

I cried when I opened this card. I cried because the one thing I have ever wanted my entire life was a family of my own and I knew Jody was right: me and Chris were a family now. I cried because Jody was being my brother and I needed it. I cried because Jody’s heart was so big.

 

Chris and I always talk about the time Jody lent us his boat. It was a disaster. Something happened and the boat kept filling up with water?! We were super concerned that we were going to sink his boat and that he would be angry thinking the boat was filling up with water because of something we may have done. When we got home, Jody just laughed and said: I’m sorry that happened! He was smiling while we explained how worried we were that we had done something wrong. Jody was not at all concerned. He shrugged and said it’s ok, he would fix it. No big deal.

 

Jody could fix any boat, he was a real genius at it. Most people would at least tease the person who almost sunk their boat, but not Jody. He was very careful with my emotions. Probably why he didn’t tease me and say: blah blah blah, when I shot down his compliment of my wedding save the date magnet.

 

9-19-09. That was my save the date. It used to haunt me. I mean, who sends out a save the date over a year in advance and then dares not to get married that day? Me. Some of my friends still have that magnet on their fridge and I used to look at it as a symbol of my failure and be like: why are you doing this to me, take that thing down at once!!!

 

I don’t see 9-19-09 like that anymore. Ever since I started to embrace the grieving process, I also started to see 9-19-09 as an inevitable part of my journey. That actually did have to happen that way. I didn’t make a mistake. Not at all.

 

Today I allow myself to say: I am that person who rescheduled their wedding date due to grief. If Jody wasn’t doing 9-19-09 then neither were we. I planned a totally different wedding that did take place on 5-8-10 because life happened and I adapted. I honor my body and I do what feels right when it feels right.

 

My brother Jody is with me all the time. Even so, I still feel his absence and I still mourn our connection on this earth. I wish we could spend this Thanksgiving together and our Birthdays and Christmas. Anything.

 

I’m not done talking about my brother Jody and I never will be.

 

XO

~Rachel

 

PS: Full Disclosure: while writing this blog, I cried the whole time…on a spectrum ranging from silent stream of tears to scream sobbing; I also used my shirt as a tissue after the box of Kleenex next to me ran out.

Come As You Are

{originally posted September 16, 2014}

 

I have a dream.

 

I dream of a world where human beings are not defined by their gender.

 

There I said it.

 

Feels good to get that out. I get in trouble a lot for saying these things. I actually have been randomly receiving a lot of hate for BEING a feminist. There is this “anti-feminist” movement online that has been following me pretty aggressively and, as you can see by their title, they are “anti-ME.”

 

That hurts.

 

I know it shouldn’t but…

 

I mean come on! It’s not ok to be a part of a group that is anti or against a group of human beings. As a feminist, I am a human being and I am not against a group of other human beings. Contrary to “anti-feminist” rhetoric, feminists don’t hate men. That’s absurd. I am married to a man and I made a son. I love these men. I would give my life up for them without hesitation. It wouldn’t even occur to me to pile up men into a group and then express hatred toward that group; that has a very nazi prison camp feel to me. Nazis hate a big group of people, too. The KKK hates a big group of people. Anti-feminists hate a big group of people. That’s unsettling.

 

Took my son to the park this weekend and posted this picture of us on Instagram:

 

IMG_6137

 

This is the comment I provoke:

 

IMG_6139

 

“Feminism is a sign of being weak. Your weakness will be used against you. You have been selected to be on trial of committing acts of treason if found guilty your instagram account will be band {ha ha} by reports of over 300 jurors in our internet trial court.”

 

I added the “ha ha” to the quote above because I think nafu_1st_ar meant to say “banned” instead of “band.”  Not because I am in any way laughing at the person who uses a nazi flag for their profile pic. That’s not funny.

 

I am going to be me no matter what. Even if your end game is to line up all feminists into a gas chamber, I won’t betray who I am. I am GRATEFUL to the feminists (men and women) who fought for my RIGHT to vote from 1777-1920. I will continue to express gratitude for that. Many lives were lost so that women could vote and I am grateful. If you think that I should die for that, bring it. Until then, as a sociologist and lawyer, I will use all my resources to undo the legal mess that took place between 1777-2014 as a result of REAL OPPRESSION. If you want to stop me, good luck. I don’t hate you. I’m not against human beings.

 

Come as you are.

 

IMG_6145

 

But don’t bring me your hate, I won’t carry that weight.

 

IMG_6140

 

SERIOUSLY.

 

Instead of coming onto my page and muddying up beautiful family time park pictures, explaining how I am “weak,” just keep moving along, you don’t have to bother with me.  Obviously, if I’m so “weak,” right?  What’s the point?

 

LOVE always wins.

 

XO

~Rachel

Joan Rivers + Robin Williams = My New Angels

{originally posted September 6, 2014}

 

Ever since Robin Williams went home, I have been thinking about loss (of strangers) like a gain (of angels).

 

mork

 

I wrote this haiku for Robin Williams because I was so sad to lose him and suddenly reminded of what he taught me:

 

ROBIN WILLIAMS’ MORK

ALLOWED ME TO BE MYSELF

NEVER FORGET THAT

 

What does that mean? Well, if you’re not INFJ like me and Robin, you probably won’t understand, but I have always felt very much like an alien. Like I’m not supposed to be here. I guess that’s how Robin Williams felt, too.

 

INFJ

 

I felt stronger having gained Robin Williams as a guardian angel, like I AM supposed to be here. Yesterday when we lost Joan Rivers, I basically grew a pair of brass balls.

 

IMG_6026

 

Joan Rivers was not a perfect person, but for me she is a symbol of ferocious tenacity. I was born in 1981 and watched Valerie get replaced by Sandy Duncan on her own show because she dared ask for a raise. I watched Roseanne get crucified for daring to demand she be properly credited as the creator of her own show. I watched very intently to see what happened to women who spoke up. I still do.

 

I very angrily explained to my sweet husband last night that Joan Rivers did have the CLASS to only speak highly of Johnny Carson when she appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon after nearly three decades of being banned from NBC. Johnny Carson was so angry at his protégé for daring to accept the offer of her own show with a different network (after guest appearing on his show for nearly 20 years without being offered her own show by that network) that he BANNED HER from NBC for life and now Jimmy Fallon is some hero for undoing that shortly before Joan Rivers’ death.

 

Hero. A hero to me is someone who will open their mouth and say what is going on regardless of the repercussions. Joan Rivers was not politically correct and she was often TRYING to shock and offend people with her outrageous comedy style, but she said what she felt and that inspires me. Too many girls and women are stifled. Oppression is stifling and often leads to depression. In order to work through my grief, I made a Joan Rivers Tribute YouTube video for my dear friend, Libby Schug. In it you will see a young Joan Rivers do stand up for Johnny Carson, a more seasoned Joan Rivers being interviewed by Larry King, and finally Anderson Cooper reading an excerpt from Joan Rivers’ book, “I Hate Everyone Starting With Me,” about her outrageous funeral arrangement expectations imposed on her daughter, Melissa Rivers. I hope you enjoy it and, more importantly, I hope you feel inspired to speak your own truth.

 

262741

 

(I MADE this Meme AND wrote the Haiku–do you LOVE it??)

 

XO

~Rachel

This Woman’s Work: The Blue Lagoon Music Video

{originally posted September 2, 2014}

 

Do you remember the movie The Blue Lagoon starring Brooke Shields?

 

bluelagoon

 

This movie was made in 1980, a year before I was born. I watched it on television all the time growing up. To me, it symbolizes LOVE in the most pure and natural sense.

 

Beautiful naked bodies running around a picturesque stranded island together.

 

When things get too complicated, I close my eyes and picture The Blue Lagoon.

 

When my dear friend Libby Schug sent me her song This Woman’s Work, I nearly died.

 

This Woman’s Work?!

 

Do you remember the movie She’s Having a Baby starring Kevin Bacon??

 

kevinbacon

 

The scene in She’s Having a Baby where they use the song This Woman’s Work has HAUNTED me for my whole life. In fact, I used the song as a sound cue for my one act play “Women & Wallace” that I directed in college and almost suffocated the entire audience from the sheer emotional beauty.

 

My mind went spinning in a few directions artistically but I could not commit to a music video theme for Libby so I asked her for input.

 

Beach lovers.

 

Enter The Blue Lagoon. Most beautiful beach lovers of all time.

 

Leave it to Rey Divine to have the right words to bridge the gap between the two concepts:

 

reydevine

 

I hope you enjoy This Woman’s Work sung by Libby Schug!

 

XO

~Rachel

PTSD & Rage: You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Angry

{originally posted August 30, 2014)

 

You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry…

 

The story of the Incredible Hulk really affected me. David Banner was such a kind person until the incident that caused him to radically transform…into a monster. But David Banner, even when he was the monstrous Incredible Hulk, was actually a hero; he stopped the bad guys with his anger.

 

IMG_5770

 

The Incredible Hulk never hurt anyone who was innocent, only the bad guys. Even as a child in the 1980’s I knew that was an incredible mental fete, as David Banner was the victim of a scientific experiment gone very wrong and was often totally out of control.

 

Control. I’ve always wanted it. Obviously my little girl body could not transform into the Incredible Hulk, but there was always hope. Thanks to Stephen King and Drew Barrymore.

 

Firestarter

 

Firestarter. Due to a scientific experiment gone wrong in both her parents, when this little girl gets angry, she starts fire with her eyes…fascinating. I practiced my glare for the rest of the 1980’s.

 

But glaring is not the same as the Incredible Hulk, I still felt too small…things were still out of control.

 

1253368229639275

 

Thank god the lady from Splash got angry and transformed into a 50-foot giantess in the early ’90’s. I needed that.

 

By the time the early ’90’s rolled around, I was feeling totally powerless. Couple that with all the hormones and emotions of becoming a woman and understand that I felt very much like a freak.

 

t1larg.teen.wolf.80s

 

Like Michael J. Fox in Teen Wolf…before he realizes he is good at basketball.

 

So much hair…

 

Were it not for movies like these growing up, I probably never would have had my latest epiphany:

 

It’s ok to get angry.

 

It’s normal.

 

For many years, I got into a very nasty habit of telling myself that “I don’t get angry.” That was stupid. Of course I get angry, I am a human being; a very passionate human being. I am an empath, I am INFJ and not allowing myself to embrace my angry feelings actually made me very sick.

 

I’m not doing that anymore.

 

I made a YouTube video about PTSD & Rage. Apparently the two go hand in hand. Like peas and carrots.

 

IMG_5966

 

As long as you do something constructive with your anger, it’s ok. Recognizing anger for what it is, enables you to choose NOT to do something destructive with your anger.  My new mantra about anger?

 

IMG_5971

 

It just doesn’t matter. Thank you Bill Murray. Thank you Meatballs. It just doesn’t matter.

 

This is my story. It’s mine to tell.

 

IMG_5869

 

I hope you enjoy my new YouTube video!

 

XO

~Rachel

p.s. ~ follow @rey_divine on Instagram and Soundcloud

Oh God, I’m Bleeding: Godspell & Grieving

{originally posted August 19, 2014}

 

When I was in middle school, Lake Shore High School put on the best production of Godspell ever. I have never seen another version. No need.

 

IMG_5810

 

I’ve been thinking about that musical A LOT over the past year.

 

Specifically, the part where Jesus is crucified.

 

Oh God I’m Dying…

 

I’ve been singing it to myself for at least a year…

 

I have a story to tell.

 

IMG_5820

 

So I made a YouTube video called Godspell & Grieving: Oh God I’m Bleeding.

 

WHY?

 

Because I had to. I had to shut this song up, that’s enough. I’m not dying.

 

I’m grieving.

 

Feels similar, I imagine, if your death were as slow and painful as possible.

 

c49237c8f97eeaada65ae1f36b4329f7

 

In the video I describe toxic relationships using my favorite television series: Arrested Development.

 

Arrested-Development1

 

I also act out the 5 stages of grief in a loop 3 times in a row…there is a giant stuffed panda bear involved. Totally normal stuff.

 

IMG_5819

 

I know that this story has to be told because it is haunting both my days and my nights. I’m done. If you don’t have 6 minutes to invest then hear me now:

 

–SPOILER ALERT–

 

Set boundaries that honor your personal limits and have the integrity to keep your own promises. This is life. It can be whatever you make it. Make it as kind and loving as possible.

 

IMG_5829

 

Please let me know what you guys think of my new video and please subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss out on my next special delivery 😉

 

XO

~Rachel

Come Rain or Come Shine: Practice Self Love

{originally posted August 17, 2014}

 

2014 has been hard.

 

I made this music video for my dear friend, Libby Schug, today using the head shots I took of her last year in the Gardens next to the San Diego Zoo.

 

Lib1

Lib2

 

and quotes from Brene Brown:

 

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

 

“Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.”
― Brené Brown

 

I can’t say it any better than that.

 

I did write another Haiku, though:

 

Parents don’t know how

to give children what they need;

they learn or they don’t.

 

XO

~Rachel