How Emergency Rooms Handle PTSD

“It’s like…a prison…in my mind…”

“Awww, try to breathe, that will help you, we are almost there, I’m so sorry you feel this way, no one deserves to feel that way.”

I recognize that my shallow breathing is audible, I can’t believe that I have this angel driving me to the emergency room, I am holding a bucket of my own vomit and I can’t stop my eyes from rolling back in my head.

This is why I called for help in the first place.

I’m an adult. It’s okay to throw up. The circumstances surrounding the sickness were shady though.

I had done everything I set out to do that day. I made it to my son’s preschool to cheer him on for the St. Jude trike-a-thon. I mailed out 7 pieces of my Ho’oponopono healing art. I picked my son up early that day and surprised him by taking him to the new Smurfs movie.

By the time I got my son to sleep, I was going to reward myself with some “me” time. For sure. I was totally going to do that. But I found myself doing some chores instead.

Kind of unlike me.

Only because I said that I was going to relax. I have been pushing really hard for a long time.

Kind of unlike me.

Only because I said I wasn’t going to accomplish goals by pushing too hard anymore. I set the intention to achieve my goals in the amount of time they take to achieve. I am not trying to control anything other than what is in my control.

These are important mantras for someone who set out to write, direct, produce, design, style, wardrobe, hair, make up, edit and star in a 30-day video series. I wore all these hats for 30 videos and I’m ready to celebrate right now. I achieved that which I set out to do.

It’s time to relax now. Right, Rae? Right now, right? Are you going to do that or…

Oh my god…

The tops of my shoulders are my first clue. The tops of my shoulders begin to tingle, like they are spinning and that spinning starts to ignite a spinning sensation in my stomach. Interesting…it’s like a message…

FEAR!

Fuck. What? What’s going on? I’m crying by the way.

I think you should stop picking up toys right now and just accept the fact that you are going to throw up.

NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Why????????????

I don’t know.

I was going to watch my show…

No, you are going to throw up, get the garbage can.

Shit…you’re serious.

I’m going to meditate.

It’s too late.

I’m going to take that medicine they gave me last time at the hospital.

Good luck with that.

Thank you.

**throws that all up immediately**

Do you think I threw that medicine up?

I’m not a scientist, but yes. I totally do.

The spot at the top of my stomach, my sternum, it really hurts.

Touch it.

**throws up immediately**

You need help.

No, I think this is going to go away.

**throws up immediately**

My shoulders are spinning so fast. It’s like some sort of anti-gravity magic is pulsing through me. My eyes want to shut but they won’t. I am so tired. My body became freezing cold with sweat and then burning hot with sweat three separate times. It has to be rest time now. I know I wanted to close my eyes. But my eyelids wouldn’t shut. I couldn’t see anything though because my eyes were rolled back in my head.

I am floating away.

I see other things. Things I don’t want to see. Anymore.

Rachel, call for help. Just do it.

Yes. Let’s do this. No bra. Get your ID and insurance card. Grab that little garbage can and go get yourself some help.

I for one am going to kick this car ride off with throwing up. Painfully. It adds the right aroma for the rest of the drive. The angel driving me tells me she doesn’t mind. She is a nurse and vomit doesn’t scare her.

I get out of the car, determined to bring my vomit with me, so I don’t permanently leave my scent on her vehicle. I drop my driver’s license. I bend over to pick it up and drop my phone and my insurance card. I’ve got the vomit though. Don’t worry.

As the sweet angel takes my hand to guide me toward the entrance of the emergency room, I take her hand and feel compelled to warn her:

“I’ve done this a bunch of times…and…it’s not going to go well…probably…so…maybe it will…but…they don’t really know what PTSD is…so…”

My angel assures me that she understands, she is prepared and she is not going to let anything happen to me. As we walk through the entrance of the emergency room, I see a woman being wheeled out; she has balloons attached to her wheelchair that say: It’s a boy!

I discreetly throw away my bag of vomit in the garbage can in front of her and keep going, trying not to think about how that was me 5 years ago, leaving the same hospital with my boy. But the ocean of my thoughts is so deep and I’m stuck in the center, unable to stop answering the question of: what has your life become?

Get me a bag to throw up in, please.

I hold the paper bag to my mouth, certain I am going to explode at any minute. So close to getting help, yet so far away, I try to register at the front desk:

I am having a PTSD attack, I am stuck in a flashback, I cannot stop throwing up, the pain in my sternum is unbearable, I am dehydrating and I need help.

The nurse explains to me that she has PTSD, too. It’s going to be okay. I just need to go take a seat in the waiting room.

I notice a man in the waiting room and try to not sit by him. I notice there is a play area for children and I try not to sit too close to that. I sit down and feel too close to both the man and the play area. I throw up into my little paper bag. The pain is excruciating.

The nurse comes back to the waiting room. I hope she is taking me to my room now. She is not. She has come over to tell me that she takes Lexipro and that has helped her tremendously. I grunt in response.

Has anyone ever recommended an antidepressant to you while you are vomiting?

It feels weird.

I looked at the man sitting six feet away from me in the waiting room and thought, do I know him? Is HIPPA still a law? What about confidentiality?

As I ponder the benefits of medical privacy, the second nurse at the registration desk calls my name. I shuffle over to the front desk, doubled over at the waist because of the pain in my sternum, holding onto my angel companion, who is holding onto my bag of vomit.

“Insurance card and ID.”

As I hand over my documents, the nurse asks me: “why are you here?”

“I am in tremendous pain, specifically located in my sternum, I have PTSD, I am having a flashback episode and I can’t stop throwing up, I need help—”

“–YOU CAN CALM DOWN FOR 5 MINUTES AND ANSWER MY QUESTIONS!”

I wish I had my face on film when that happened, so you could see my reaction. That was a wind out of the sails moment. I deflated. I was so confused. I was answering her questions. Why was she implying otherwise…

“DO YOU WANT TO KILL YOURSELF?”

“No”

“YOU DON’T WANT TO KILL YOURSELF?!”

“Nope. I sure don’t. I want to live.”

My angel starts yelling: “SHE ALREADY ANSWERED YOU, SHE SAID NO!”

Exasperated, nurse one turns to nurse two and says: “she claims she’s not SI.”

Nurse two sighs like she is tired of being lied to and shrugs her shoulders like, who cares?

My face is burning as I survey the room, ascertaining who heard that exchange and what they thought of it. My mind starts to prickle with questions like, why do they think I want to die? Why aren’t they glad I said I want to live?

Before I can draw any conclusions, the first nurse, the one who has PTSD and is doing great with lexipro, takes her last shot at me:

Where did your PTSD come from?

My eyes roll back far in my head and I feel myself leaving the room. Trying to answer the question is causing me to float away. I need to stay present. I tell her:

“No.”

“Yes! Why do you say you have PTSD, what caused you to have PTSD?”

“Um…nooooooooo…no…no…nooooo…”

“YES! YES! YES! YES!”

So the nurse is screaming yes at me and she sounds exactly like Jillian Michaels. I’m holding a paper vomit bag up to my face, my eyes are rolled back in my head and I am whispering no as she is screaming yes. Again, we are in the waiting room in front of everyone.

If I had come in experiencing pain and vomiting related to diabetes, would the nurse need to know where the diabetes came from? If my pain and vomiting was related to cancer, would she need to know how I got the cancer?

PTSD is a disorder hallmarked by adrenaline dump. A massive amount of adrenaline was pumping through my body. Adrenaline will dehydrate you. Vomiting will dehydrate you. I needed an IV so that I could rehydrate. I needed an anti-nausea medication so that I could stop cyclical vomiting. That I couldn’t make it past the waiting room without explaining the juicy details of my story, the very thing that is triggering the episode itself, is criminal.

I began to understand intimately why 22 American veterans commit suicide every day.

The nurse made clear that she was taking “this man” to his room and that I was to follow behind them. In the middle of our walk she said, stay here and left me standing in the hallway. Several nurses asked me why I was standing there in the middle of the hallway. I explained that the admitting nurse brought me back there and told me to stand there. All of them seemed shocked at my answer and went about finding me a room.

I throw up a bunch of times to christen my new hospital room as I wait for the doctor. In between the awful vomiting sound, is the unbelievable sound of my hiccups, which are so painful, that I moan in despair after each one. Nurses poke their heads in periodically just to ask: “was that you?”

Yeah that awful sound was me.

The doctor finally walks into my room, holding my medical file. He says:

“I remember you from 2013. I’m not convinced about what’s going on here. I’m going to touch your stomach. Hmmmm, you aren’t too tender.”

I remind him that the pain is in my sternum, nowhere else. He pushes on my sternum. I hiccup super loud. He walks away. I throw up violently. I look over at my angel and ask her: “do you think that doctor knows that he pushed on my sternum and caused me to hiccup and throw up or do you think he just walked away and didn’t notice?”

She looked sad as she admitted: “he just walked away, he doesn’t know you threw up.”

I get hooked up to an IV and begin to rehydrate. Yay! I get some Atavan and Zofram for the pain and nausea. At some point, I fell asleep because I am woken up to the sound of: you are being discharged.

I’m better? Okay.

As I shuffle home from yet another PTSD emergency room experience, I can’t help but feel defeated. Why was it like that? Why did I know it was going to be like that? What did I do wrong?

How could I have done that better?

I don’t know. It’s been like almost 2 weeks since then and I still don’t know why that happened. I’m afraid it will happen again. I’m afraid for people who go into emergency rooms without companions. I’m grateful I had an angel. I want to live. If I have to scream that truth over and over and get in a fight about it, so be it. I want to live.

I want to cure my complex PTSD. I want to say that I don’t have that anymore, that’s something I used to have. I am doing the work. I will get there. It takes time. In the interim, I will love myself and focus on gratitude. I will go slow and take excellent care of me.

Thank you for listening.

XO,
Rachel

You are loved

Emergency Rooms drain self love, don’t forget to fill back up when you get home.

How To Beat the Holiday Blues

 

Happy Holidays! Yes, I had the holiday blues and yes I still have a reason to smile. HUGE.

 

First of all, I made it. It has now been one full year since my last PTSD-related Emergency Room visit for dehydration due to cyclical vomiting. Let’s take a look at how I did it:

HOW I BEAT THE HOLIDAY BLUES:

(1) I cried a lot. This is not a new thing. I usually want to cry the whole time and do cry most of the time. The difference this year? When I felt like I wanted to cry, I didn’t judge that feeling or conclude that I was an asshole for wanting to cry. Instead, I would get up and go find a quiet space to cry into until I was done and then I would simply rejoin my family.

 

(2) I went out of town just days before the holiday. We took our son to LegoLand to make this Christmas extra magical and it totally worked. The two days we spent in the car was WAY better than spending two days anticipating my annual holiday blues.

 

(3) Activism. I am wearing a dress every day in December as part of the #Dressember movement to raise awareness and funds for survivors of human trafficking. As part of the campaign, I post a photo of me in my dress online and this has forced me to get dressed up every day of a month that I normally spend exclusively in my pajamas. (To check out my campaign, click here).

 

(4) Activism. I am the official organizer for the V-Day Las Vegas 2017 campaign to benefit Refuge for Women Las Vegas, an aftercare program for the trafficked and sexually exploited. This campaign will produce a benefit production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues on February 4 and I am the Director of the show. This means I have to talk to people and participate in life.

 

There are times when I have thought about quitting. For sure. I didn’t particularly enjoy Christmas shopping this year and often experienced feelings of “what’s the point?” Also, I miss wearing my overalls and thought about blowing off my Dressember obligation like every other day. Furthermore, I ran into an incomprehensible amount of difficulty securing a beneficiary for my V-Day campaign and wondered if I was supposed to just give up.

 

Then I think about how I’m glad I don’t live in a box under some sicko’s bed right now. I’m glad I didn’t get stolen from my family and forced into prostitution. As much as PTSD, anxiety, and grief can feel like a prison in your own mind, at least I’m not really in some prison unable to get out. I value my freedom. I express gratitude for my freedom through activism and this heals me.

 

activism or volunteerism is a great way to beat the holiday blues

Activism Heals

 

XO,

Rachel

Sedona Soul Adventures: the personal retreat, part 6 (deep breathing)

 

Of all the healing modalities I experienced on my Sedona Soul Adventure back in January, the one I REALLY must learn to master is deep breathing.

 

Why?

 

Because my body naturally wants to heal itself in exactly this fashion. When I surrender and finally allow my body to do what it already knows how to do, which apparently is deep breathe, all seven of my chakras spun like seven pinwheels with enough energy to light up NYC forever.

 

When that happened, I didn’t know what chakras even were (and I still kind of don’t).

 

Spirituality has always been something that I understand that I don’t understand and I get that. I am the kind of person who will dive headfirst into personal exploration without fear. Role play? Sure. Group improv? No problem. Hypnosis? Why not. I walked into every session on my Sedona Soul Adventure itinerary with a positive, can-do attitude because I really do want to heal and to grow.

 

Except this one.

 

Inner Journey With Breath & Sound.

 

Something about the title…I don’t know…this is the one session I felt little prickles of anxiety about. I had preconceived fears. FEAR? Who invited you?! What could you possibly be afraid of??? You’ll probably just breathe and listen to music, Rachel, you’re going to be fine, cut it out.

 

First of all, I just want to stop now and proclaim that Penny Elias is incredible. I love her. I wished we were best friends (recently I made her a BFF bracelet and so that is now a done deal). Penny’s home is beautiful, but it was her healing room that spoke to me. Penny hung grape vines wrapped in white twinkle lights around the room up high at the ceiling. It looks like a fairy wonderland.

 

deep breathing in Sedona

 

I guess I was afraid to breathe and, since that sounded dumb, I dove in headfirst (smart, right?).

 

When we practiced the deep breathing for the first time, it only took me five practice breaths before my hands started tingling in a very familiar way. Instantly, I was in that space of: are you having a PTSD episode? I was worried I might faint, I was worried I might cough uncontrollably and I was mostly worried that I was going to freak out and throw up. This is signifiant for ME because, as I mentioned above, I don’t have fear regarding any of the other million self help exercises I’ve ever tried.

 

Beautiful Penny laid me down on a long cushion, placed heated pillows under my knees, covered me with a blanket and put on some serious tribal music. Loud. The deep breathing feels weird! Because you have to open your mouth, relax your jaw, inhale so that the air hits the back of your throat in a big gulp and then exhale it out fast; at first I was reminded of what it feels like to be out of breath.

 

Immediately, my body started to tingle–my neck, my mouth, the top of my head, my stomach, my hands, my arms…

 

I began to think about how this is exactly how it begins when I get “sick” from PTSD, only I have no fear. It begins with this same sort of body tingle. Maybe I’m not sick, but my fear then makes me sick. Maybe my body has been trying to naturally heal itself all along by beginning to deep breathe and I resisted because I didn’t understand, thus preventing the healing my body requires.

 

At the same time I had that thought, the tingling sensation in my throat, mouth, heart, stomach and the top of my head changed into a spinning feeling–like little circles of energy spinning really fast, really hot and seriously vibrating. At that moment I knew intuitively:

 

Those are your chakras.

 

Open your mouth and speak the truth about what hurt you and you will heal.

 

You will heal if you breathe like this–tell people. Your body already knew how to do this, remember? Everyone told you to “calm down” and “stop breathing like that” because “you’re going to hyperventilate.”

 

I can’t stop my body, it’s too powerful.

 

At this point, my legs started to feel tingly like they were going numb. And I forgave everyone who had ever hurt me. Because I knew that I had agreed to it before I was born. And now that I know that, they can’t hurt me anymore. I began to feel like I am Mother Earth.

 

My son. In my womb. That’s when my body first tried to deep breathe all on its own. That was a gift from my son. He woke me up. He saved my life. Being a Mother is my most important role. I was going down the wrong path without my son; I was living for others to the extent where there was no room for me. My body rebelled against this and I fought hard against my body but my body beat me, my body won.

 

I’m supposed to deep breathe to heal my pain. All of my pain. Anything can be healed with deep breathing. My God I would love to show people how to do this, it is the secret universal medicine we all are looking for. I fought it as hard as I could to no avail. Deep breathing is in my DNA.

 

When you open your eyes after a deep breathing session (lasts anywhere from a half hour to ninety minutes depending on how focused you are), Penny Elias is the first person you want to see. Our conversations are deep, meaningful and oh so powerful. Not to mention, we wrapped the whole thing up with a two hour massage.

 

This one session totally changed me and that was immediately made clear to me. As always, I drove around after my session starving and confused. I thought that because I was wearing sweat pants, had tear-stained glasses, and essential oils all over my body, face and hair, that I would have to settle for Burger King drive thru for dinner. But, honestly, I had not had a decent meal the entire time I was there and could not take it for one more minute. I blew by the Burger King and found myself driving toward what appeared to be a very fancy restaurant as I tried to tell myself: you can’t go in there looking like this.

 

Oh but I did.

 

Maybe I should insert a tiny back story here. At that point, I had a history of bizarre dining experiences that usually look something like: I sit for a long time and no one comes to wait on me, so I actually have to get up and leave. I used to joke that I was Bruce Willis in the Sixth Sense. Dead. Invisible to everyone except Haley Joel Osment, I guess.

 

haley

 

Seriously, everyone LOVED me in that restaurant. I’m not kidding, it was outrageous. The hostess, my server a random bus boy–totally smitten with me. Like this make-up-less, pale-face girl was enchanting them, they could not have made it more clear that I was welcome in their fancy expensive restaurant. Praised for my order of the filet and fries, cheered on for eating every single bite, impressed with my dessert order, smile and eye contact like I’ve never seen before. Each staff person had their own unique statement in furtherance of their desire that I come back again, which I am well aware is very normal, but it was not for me. What’s more, I could FEEL their energy was sincere, they really liked me.

 

I’m different now. The world looks different to me–more accepting of me. It’s real. I feel it.

 

Afterwards, I FaceTimed my son to say goodnight to him and our conversation was electric. He loves and misses me so much, he is so articulate for 4 years old, he is so affectionate towards me. He loves me. He told me:

 

“When you see me, I’m going to be AMAZING!!!”

 

WHY???

 

“Because I love you so much.”

 

And there you have it. He’s so smart. My son saved my life. Before he was even born yet. He showed me how to heal myself, how to love myself as my number one priority. This will undo a generational cycle of self hate. This will be modeled for my son, thus freeing up space for him to do something great without ever having to do dance with feeling unworthy or unloved. What a time suck.

 

I am made of love. I will never run out of love.

 

Deep breathing is worth practicing on a weekly basis. I did when I returned from my Sedona Soul Adventure and the most amazing things happened. There is never a deep breathing session that is less than transformative. It’s the best way to download guidance into your consciousness. There are pages and pages in my journal of deep breathing messages and inspiration. Here is a small excerpt:

 

Deep breathing causes the Writer within you to creatively awaken–deep breathe before writing if you don’t feel creative. Also, copy your ideas from this journal, they are solid gold.

 

And they seriously are. I got distracted by reading my deep breathing journal for an hour today, crying for joy at the ideas that have come out of my own soul. Wondering if they’ll ever see the light of day. Right now, I’m smiling huge because at least I finally shared this story.

 

XO,

Rachel

ps: stay tuned for my final Sedona Soul Adventure Session, it’s HUGE.

pps: to catch up on my other Sedona Soul Adventure Sessions, click here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

The State of The Union: altruism be damned

Altruism, or selflessness, is the principle or practice of concern for or devotion to the welfare of others (as opposed to egoism).

 

Remember last winter?

 

I do.

 

So long. So dark. So full of despair.

 

I spent a lot of time sobbing in the bathtub thinking about Whitney and Bobbi Christina last winter. Unable to see the light. Wondering how it could possibly be that I am still fucking here. How am I still alive?

 

On one of these days in early January 2016, I came across a story about a woman named Baba Vanga. Through tear-stained glasses and swollen eyes, while scrolling through FaceBook on my phone, I saw a face that made me stop crying:

 

baba vanga

 

Whoa.

 

In reading the article, I learned that Baba Vanga was a blind Bulgarian clairvoyant who has an 85% success rate with her predictions that include the attacks of 9/11, the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004 and the concept of Global Warming.

 

The article actually scared the shit out of me because Baba Vanga predicted that by the end of 2016, Europe will cease to exist.

 

No way!!!!! I love Europe! I studied abroad in Law School at the University of Amsterdam in 2004 and got the opportunity to visit both Paris and Germany. I got to go inside Anne Frank’s secret annex!

 

024_24

 

Why in the world would Europe ever cease to exist? How???

 

Well, perhaps this prediction from Baba Vanga is related: our 44th president will be our first African American President and our last President. Ever.

 

Why in the world would America not have a 45th president? How???

 

I began to read every article ever printed online about Baba Vanga. I had to know everything. How did she go blind. Who was her family. What was her upbringing like? Why and under what circumstances did she make these predictions?

 

Baba Vanga died in 1996. It is always my first guess that the people who are able to report what they can “see” about the future are trying to help. I hoped that because of Baba Vanga having the ability to be heard, with her predictions in print and circulating the internet, that this would equate to mass numbers of people working toward making those predictions an impossibility.

 

That hope was shattered less than 6 months later when I woke up to Brexit, which I immediately understood to be exactly how Europe ceasing to exist will begin. As of July 2016, the prediction is that QUITaly will be next. For the record: I find these mashups highly offensive. Exiting Europe, quitting Europe–haven’t y’all heard about Baba Vanga predicting Europe will cease to exist at the end of 2016 OR ARE YOU CAPITALIZING ON IT?

 

IMG_7359

 

Thanks to People Magazine, I was able to piece together how it could possibly be that both Europe could cease to exist and America could have no future presidents around the same exact time.

 

Trump and this British Trump are too a-holes in a pod.

 

Something about the fact that they both exist at the same time… It was at this moment that I knew this is the way things were supposed to be. That Baba Vanga wasn’t necessarily telling us so that we could stop it, she was telling us so that the people watching it could understand that this is part of our journey.

 

Does it mean we give up?

 

HELL NO!!!

 

Does it mean we can stop it?

 

I don’t know.

 

That’s not the point. I am not an opportunist, I am a humanist. Like I have already told you, we are here on this Earth to learn lessons and grow, a pain/pleasure cycle that ends with a life review you are held personally accountable for.

 

What happened with Wikileaks revealing the democratic party “favored Hillary Clinton and worked behind the scenes to discredit and defeat Bernie Sanders,” is the catalyst for change. For as long as I have been alive, it has been a given that politicians are “crooked,” unethical, self serving hypocrites and that “the voice of the people” cannot truly be heard as a result.

 

My little girl brain always made sure to stay involved in politics as a result of that given. I have always been active in student government, from grade school to law school. I am familiar with Robert’s Rules of Order. I am the president of the PTO at my son’s preschool. I am a whistleblower.

 

When I was 12 years old I thought it was pretty bad ass that the First Lady was working towards universal healthcare. The media was reporting it as a bad thing, I could hear that clearly and was struck by the message: the first lady is not supposed to be this involved. It was not about Hillary Clinton’s competence, it was about her being seen AND heard at the same time, which was clearly distasteful to most. Not to me, though. What’s the point of even having a brain if you’re not going to use it?

 

While Michelle Obama made her amazing speech at the DNC last night, people were already making memes out of her, declaring: Michelle Obama for president!

 

That really ticks me off. I don’t think people understand that they have the luxury of saying, “Michelle Obama for president,” BECAUSE Michelle Obama purposefully intended to be a “traditional First Lady” who is not involved in politics. Had First Lady Michelle Obama been as active as First Lady Hillary Clinton, using her amazing lawyer brain to actively pursue political goals, America really wouldn’t be able to give two shits about who Michelle Obama wants us to vote for because she would then be guilty of the worst offense: being a woman with an opinion.

 

I remember when Hillary lost the primary to Obama. I was devastated. I felt cheated. I didn’t understand how someone with more experience could lose to someone so green. It didn’t seem fair. I wish that wikileaks could go back through the 2008 emails and reveal the way in which the democratic party favored Obama over Hillary because we all have to know that this was not the first time that has happened. What has been revealed, is actually the practice and not the exception, in my opinion.

 

So here’s the deal: political parties are just like insurance companies. They want your money, they want your vote and they want your allegiance, but they do not want to give you anything in return such as honesty, integrity or value. Seriously. This is the nature of winning and losing. The only thing the “party” wants to do is “beat” the other “party.” That’s fucken weird.

 

This is the part where I wake up and realize I knew this was coming long before Baba Vanga told me. I’m talking about it in the very first blog I ever wrote (click here) which is published almost exactly one year before the article I read on Baba Vanga was published. I’m talking about it in the YouTube video I made almost exactly 2 years ago to the day (click here). I’ve been talking about a revolution for years.

 

Why?

 

Absence of matriarchy.

 

What does that mean?

 

Thank you for asking.

 

ma·tri·ar·chy
ˈmātrēˌärkē
noun: matriarchy; plural noun: matriarchies

A  system of society or government ruled by a woman or women.
A form of social organization in which descent and relationship are reckoned through the female line.
The state of being an older, powerful woman in a family or group.
“she cherished a dream of matriarchy—catered to by grandchildren”

 

Interesting. Compare that to the definition for patriarchy:

 

pa·tri·arch·y
ˈpātrēˌärkē
noun: patriarchy;  plural noun: patriarchies
A system of society or government in which the father or eldest male is head of the family and descent is traced through the male line.
A system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.
A society or community organized on patriarchal lines.

 

Ok, how can I explain this…

 

You know that old expression: all women are crazy and all men are assholes.

 

What if assholes have been exclusively in charge forever and it has driven us all crazy.

 

When I was in Law School the Constitutional Law books looked like this:

 

women are {can own} property.

 

Law school books are like that because part of a legal education includes an understanding of what the law was, what the law is now and everything that happened in between. If you have been through law school, then you know why Bill Cosby has not been indicted for serial rape and you know why Brock Turner only got 6 months as a convicted rapist. Our laws are based on what men think is fair for men.

 

Absence of matriarchy.

 

altruism

 

Oppressing an entire gender has not worked out. There is no way to fix a system that purposefully excluded an entire gender absent scrapping that shit system and starting over. Baba Vanga shared her visions so that we could know things don’t always stay the same. Life is cyclical.

 

Does the idea of no more Europe and no more presidential leader frighten me?

 

Hell yes.

 

But I have PTSD, so I deal with fear on a very regular basis and continue to face everything and rise. For me, fear will never trump justice. I am brave. I have always been prepared to go down fighting the good fight. I run from nothing. I believe in love, honesty, integrity, caring, compassion, strength, loyalty and kindness. These are my life values.

 

You know how Mister Rogers’ mom was all, look for the helpers?

 

altruism

 

Well I’m a mom, too, and this is what’s going down in my house: BE A HELPER. Look for the helpers so you can join them in CARING TO BE HELPFUL. You have to care.

 

altruism

 

XO,

Rachel

PS: Baba Vanga also predicted that hunger would be eradicated between 2025 and 2028, I plan to be a major part of that effort. We have more than enough food, there is no reason for children to die of starvation. We can all be helpers.

The Nice Guys: why we should all get over the antihero

 

I went on a hot date a couple weeks ago.

 

 

I’m still bothered by it.

 

 

We went to the movies to see a comedy. More lives were lost in the first 20 minutes of previews than anyone could’ve ever imagined. It was unbearable for me to watch.

 

Human life matters.

 

This is what I said to myself every time I gasped and closed my eyes in an attempt to unsee the casual massacre: human life matters.

 

 

Why are these previews SO violent!? I’m here to see a comedy!!!!

 

 

So guess what? That “comedy” starring Ryan Goesling and Russell Crowe is more of a dark violent action movie. That movie starts with me gasping, filling with adrenaline, closing my eyes, and whispering: human life matters. This is how I spend the next two hours.

 

 

For someone who has PTSD, The Nice Guys is not the best date night movie choice. I didn’t laugh at all. I literally felt sick to my stomach because I do not understand what is funny about murder.

 

 

In fact, I would be so bold as to say: murder is not funny at all.

 

 

When I heard the news about 50 people being shot dead and 53 people injured in Orlando, I closed my eyes and said that phrase 103 times.

 

 

the nice guys

 

 

I thought about all the movies I had ever seen. I thought about all the video games. I thought about HBO premium cable programming. I thought about music videos. I thought about brain washing. I thought about disconnect from self and others.

 

 

That’s what this is about. Disconnect. It starts with disconnection from self and spirals out of control from there.

 

 

Meanwhile, can you imagine actually looking a stranger in the eye and saying: I don’t know you but I love you. I love you because, like me, you are a human being and we are all here on this planet together. Can you imagine heart to heart hugging this person until you breathe together in a rhythm and can feel love going back and forth between your two hearts?

 

 

Would that be weird? Why?

 

 

Human life matters.

 

 

I don’t care what you have been taught. I don’t care what you have experienced. As a creator of life, I can promise you with 100% certainty: human life matters.

 

 

Act like it.

 

 

When our time here on Earth is up, we go into a life review. It’s like watching the coolest movie of all time. You get to see the story from way before you were born all the way into the future, far after you have already left; you get to see your legacy.

 

 

It’s not just seeing, by the way. You feel it. You feel what you are seeing. You feel the pain you caused others. You feel the joy you caused others. You feel and finally understand the big picture.

 

 

Life is about learning specific lessons. We each picked different ones before we were born. If we do a good job, we graduate. If we do a poor job, we come back and start over.

 

 

How do I know this?

 

 

I came here with that. I don’t know why. I brought it with me and I have always known it was the truth. I don’t care if you believe me or not. I just have to say what I know. I have to speak my truth.

 

 

My best piece of advice in this regard: make a practice out of honoring human life.

 

 

XO,

Rachel

PTSD, Adrenaline Dump & Dehydration blog post

 

If my PTSD were cured, it would look like me not having to go to the Emergency Room anymore for dehydration brought on by adrenaline dump.

 

I used to go to the ER a lot. Even on vacation. I can tell you about Emergency Rooms in Colorado, Washington and California. Mostly I can tell you about Emergency Rooms in New York and Nevada. I went to the ER so many times in 2010, I agreed to have my gall bladder removed exactly 6 weeks before my wedding. I was back in the ER with the same symptoms one week after that unnecessary surgery.

 

Healing my own PTSD has been a long hard journey. I have been able to reduce the frequency of ER visits through a variety of activities: Meditation, EMDR, Self-Hypnosis, Journaling, Reiki, Yoga, Bubble Baths, Potting Plants, Making Art, Reading, etc.

 

When you go to the ER more than once in a month for dehydration, that can feel depressing. When you can go long periods of time without having to visit the ER, that feels like success. Holidays get me. I was ready for Halloween this year. Having missed the past 2 Halloweens with my son in a row, I had a plan: I was not going to get sick.

 

IMG_6412

 

I won. I did not get sick. I felt amazing. I went to a party. I trick or treated. I was totally there!

 

xmas2

 

And I totally nailed Halloween. I did it. No hospital for ONE YEAR!! I cured my PTSD! Or so I thought…

 

The week before Christmas my son got a little stomach bug that caused him to vomit from about 6:30 p.m. until 8 a.m. the next morning. I held him, did laundry and changed the bedding at least a half a dozen times all through the night. My son was such a trooper. Advice that helped:

  1. You are throwing up (he didn’t know);
  2. Mommy and Daddy will take care of you (he relaxed);
  3. Breathe when you can, hold on, you will be able to breathe again soon (thank god, right?).

 

I knew that night when he put his pukey little hand on my mouth that I was in trouble. I was inspired by my son’s ability to shake it off and have a great, even comedic, attitude throughout his sickness. I planned to have that same great attitude and pulled it off the next night for the first several hours. I threw up, cleaned myself up, closed my eyes and meditated. I may have even given some thumbs up out there. But then something happened.

 

I had a memory.

 

At the time, I was thinking: that’s interesting. It was not a foreign memory, but it FELT different this time because of the experience I had as a parent the night before, taking care of my own child. It was the difference between experiencing something as a child and experiencing it as an adult.

 

Interesting…

 

Instead of 100% meditative concentration, I began to go toward the new feeling. What’s that? What does this feel like? Why is it new?

 

anxiety-diagram

 

Well I’ll be damned if I didn’t walk up so close to that new feeling that a bucket of adrenaline didn’t dump into my system.  That’s right, a bucket of adrenaline.

 

fightorflight1

 

At this point, I began to throw up with no breaks in between. As in, I was both throwing up from the flu and from PTSD/Anxiety/Adrenaline dump. I’m talking about thumbs down.  I tried to tell my husband I needed help for at least 20 minutes. I couldn’t get out of the memory, which was now clearly some sort of flashback. I would open my eyes again and he would be looking at me and I would wonder, did I tell him I need help yet or did I faint again? Finally, after only 6 hours of throwing up (I should’ve been almost done!), I told my husband: I need to go to the hospital.

 

And I was right. I did need to go to the hospital. I hit a new record: 3 saline bags to rehydrate me. The flu alone does not explain that level of dehydration. Adrenaline dump does. Had I not told my husband, between throwing up, that I needed to go to the hospital, I would have died from dehydration.

 

Highlights from my last hospital experience: putting an IV into a dehydrated person’s vein is not easy, my arm is still swollen and bruised 2 weeks later; regardless of dehydration,the staff made clear they were angry at how long it took me to comply with the urine sample; the doctor at one point yelled in my face: OPEN YOUR EYES and when I did, he yelled: ARE YOU GONNA HURT YOURSELF?!

 

Did explaining at registration that I am having a PTSD attack help? No, not this time. Not every medical professional knows what that even is, unfortunately. Compassion is not a given. So I went home and tried to take care of my husband who had finally caught our son’s flu and then I just rested right through Christmas. I wanted to spring up and make Christmas joyful and high energy, like a music video. When I was unable to do that, I fought off feelings of self hate and depression and just watched movies under a blanket with my family on the couch. We all took care of each other.

 

sickpic

 

In conclusion, it’s ok to get sick.

 

disordermeme

 

XO

~Rachel

Hello 2016!

Why is my New Year’s Resolution to forgive myself?

 

Great question. I don’t know. I do and I don’t.

 

When I feel sad or lonely, which lately has been often, I start to feel a little bit of anxiety. Take me in that state of being, add anything else to the mix (forgot something, hungry, etc.), and you have a recipe for me turning on me. Fast. I am talking about zero patience for me.

 

Sometimes I feel like I want to bound after my own self on all fours, like I need to attack myself swiftly and mercilessly.

Like a drug, this battle promises to end the anxiety I feel.

 

forgive myself

 

I tried so hard to love myself in 2015. I have been working for years now to love myself. But honestly, if you want to knock yourself out…that’s a toxic relationship at best.

 

forgive myself

 

I have always wanted to learn more about forgiveness, to pick up this foreign language. It hit me like a slow moving steam roller this past month: you can’t force people to connect with you. I want to. I have always wanted to make connection happen. All neglected children do. Emotional connection is beautiful. Emotional connection involves the healthy process of both letting it go and feeling.

 

Let it go + Feel Feelings = positive GROWTH

 

There is one person in the universe you can force a connection with: YOURSELF.

 

forgive myself

 

That’s where compassion for others lives. Deep within the understanding of how hard it is to simultaneously let go and feel. We don’t know what others have to process. We only know what we have to process and that shit is as fucked as it gets. If we could extend the courtesy to others, the courtesy of understanding the whole, not wanting to both let go AND feel, then  it will be easier to consider forgiveness when their failure to do so harms you.

 

forgive myself

 

So this morning I looked at my tired self in the mirror and said: I forgive you. And THEN, to make it even weirder, I gave myself a long hug…in the mirror.

 

What was that like?

 

I already told you, WEIRD. But also awesome, thanks for asking. Soothing actually, I’m not gonna lie. This is going to work. I am going to tell myself: I forgive you, every morning until I have the self compassion to allow myself to make simple mistakes without thoughts of physical retaliation. I want to model self compassion and self love to my child. I will do the hard work. Me and me. And when it is done, I will feel FREE.

 

I am excited for the freedom.

 

XO

~Rachel

How Saturday Night Live ruined my childhood

What is loving yourself all about?

 

Remember this guy?

 

loving yourself

 

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

 

loving yourself

 

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

 

loving yourself

 

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.

 

loving yourself

 

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

 

loving yourself

 

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:

 

loving yourself

 

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

 

loving yourself

 

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!”

 

loving yourself

 

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

 

Ugh.

 

loving yourself

 

HUGE eye roll.

 

loving yourself

 

 

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.

 

loving yourself

 

XO

~Rachel

 

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

 

 

Positive Mantras & Parenting: you is kind, you is smart, you is important

{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, you is smart, you is important

“You is kind, you is smart, you is important”

 

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.

 

you is kind, you is smart, you is important

Bill Murray in St. Vincent

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

 

Bill Murray in St. Vincent

 

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?

 

Bill Murray in St. Vincent 

 

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

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.

 

relationships never die

 

Happy Holidays.

 

XO

~Rachel

PS: subscribe to The Child Philosopher!

Love a Veteran?

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

 

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.

 

suicide

 

XO

~Rachel

 

suicide

*Haiku by Rachel VanKoughnet

“Like a horror film,

Sometimes all I see is loss

…suffocating me…”

Rambo First Blood is the greatest PTSD movie of all time

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.

 

Rambo First Blood

 

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

 

Rambo First Blood

Hug Yourself + Love Yourself = Heal Yourself

Ever hug yourself?

 

I do.

 

hug yourself

 

Additionally, I made a YouTube video about it. I’m that girl.

 

Actually, I wrote the script for: Hug Yourself + Love Yourself = Heal Yourself, hours before learning some pretty heinous news.

 

hug yourself

 

I am increasingly intuitive like that; producing and directing this movie was healthy for my grieving process. Not sure what else I would’ve done with my seconds, minutes or hours. I made the set and shot the footage in record time. I’d say this one was fast tracked for sure.

 

hug yourself

 

I have PTSD. This means my response to major change can cause me to judge myself pretty harshly. Luckily, grief is here to heal the feelings associated with major change. I will lean into the anger, depression, acceptance, bargaining and denial. I am proud of myself for facilitating a creative outlet for my grief.

 

Last night I wrote my first Haiku:

 

If you’re deserted,

You can have extra dessert.

PERMISSION GRANTED.

 

Also ate 2 brownies last night.

 

Full disclosure, I eat chocolate every single day.

 

If I need something, I am going to give it to myself. I am not going to wait for someone to come and save me. I will save me. I will love me.

 

HUG YOURSELF!

 

I hope you enjoy my latest YouTube video and that you all start hugging + loving + healing your beautiful selves!

 

XO

~Rachel

Heal your Self, heal the world

Kelly Rae Roberts, will you be my friend (yes, no or maybe)?

Kelly Rae Roberts, will you be my friend (yes, no or maybe)?

 

Before Disney’s Frozen, there was this:

 

Kelly Rae Roberts

 

I saw it in a shop window in Boulder City, NV on April 21, 2013 and almost had to sit down because I was so…struck.

 

I was overwhelmed.

 

I felt strong, sad, lonely, inspired, hopeful, angry, joyful and I was not sure whether I was going to scream or cry or scream cry.  So I just looked at my husband and said: she’s coming home with us.

 

She hangs on the wall outside of my bedroom so that we can see each other at the start of each day.  Let it go.  I move forward.

 

I google searched the artist the next day and was struck by how similar we are (http://kellyraeroberts.com/about).  Kelly Rae Roberts gave up her career as a social worker to follow her true purpose and she has a toddler boy.  If I hadn’t gone to law school, I would have been a social worker for women and children in domestic violence situations.  If I hadn’t given birth, I would probably still be practicing family law, but I too felt compelled to follow my true purpose; I just didn’t know exactly what that was yet.

 

There is this cute little stationary store in Village Square in Las Vegas called Alligator Soup.  I walked by it one day and could see them on the wall, even though the angle was not ideal, so I went inside and just stared.  Like a dozen Kelly Rae Roberts pieces staring back at me, calling to me, pulling at my heart.  When the clerk asked me if I needed any help, the tears brimming in my eyes spilled over and I had to take a minute before I told her that oh yes, I was taking some home with me.

 

Kelly Rae Roberts

“Kindness matters.  The hope and kindness we give to the world not only nurtures us but it becomes a gift for someone else to receive for their own healing.”

 

Every single time I look at it, I pause and am moved by its beauty.  It is hung on the wall when you enter the front door of my home.

 

Kindness is a huge theme in this household.  As an advocate for social change, I understand that it is the loss of feeling, the loss of caring, the loss of kindness and compassion that is my BIGGEST hurdle.  If people don’t care, then things stay the same or get worse.  If things are SAD and people FEEL sad, then they are more likely to DO SOMETHING to change it for the better.

 

Kelly Rae Roberts

“The whispers of our lives want us to take notice. They may just be whispers, small voices tucked deep inside the pockets of our hearts, but we must hold their possibilities close to our chests and allow them to step into the light.”

 

This piece…you know…I don’t want to say any of them are my favorite because I love all of them…but this spoke to me the loudest.  Obviously because I saw potential in myself that I was not tapping into. An important part of me was in the dark. I owned this piece for 5 months before I allowed myself to say: I am a writer. When that happened, I stopped crying every time I looked at it.  I don’t cry because I am just so proud of myself for having the courage to be ME.

 

Part of being ME involves sharing my light; that fills me up. I could not stand to be the only one basking in the glow of Kelly Rae Roberts, so I started buying them as gifts for family, friends, people I just met…Off the top of my head I can think of 17 pieces of Kelly Rae Roberts art that I have gifted away and I get even more joy out of that.

 

Kelly Rae Roberts

 

So I treated myself to what I consider to be the crowning glory of all Kelly Rae’s: Kindness Changes Everything.  My son pointed it out and said “pretty” for the first 3 weeks this was hung in our family room and I think that his awestruck facial expression alone was worth it.  I want my son to know the truth: kindness changes everything.

 

I started to follow Kelly Rae Roberts’ blog and I noticed that she began to do this “wear your joy” project right about the same time I noticed that I needed to start putting myself back together after the “new mom” phase.  Showering, getting dressed in clothes that make you feel like YOURSELF, smiling when you look in the mirror.  Thank you Kelly Rae Roberts for the wear your joy project.

 

Birthdayselfie

 

This is me being kind to myself for my 32nd Birthday.  I am wearing my new boots and Kelly Rae scarf from my mom and enjoying my new Kelly Rae iPhone case that was my birthday gift to myself.  I blow dried my hair! I was beginning to recognize myself again after having a baby, which is a miracle because I very dramatically told my close friends that the old Rachel died and this less passionate, more boring shell of a person was here to take her place. (Thanks for letting me vent, guys!).

 

Kelly Rae Roberts

 

“Slow down. Breathe in the season. Wish upon a star.”

 

Breathing is a big deal for me.  I don’t always remember to breathe.  This was a Christmas gift from my Aunt Pam and I LOVE it! It hangs in the hallway between my bedroom and bathroom and I can see it from my bed. I see her when I wake up, I breathe and I smile. Thank you, Aunt Pam!

 

Kelly Rae Roberts

“Dream. My wish for you is that you feel the full breath of  possibility. And that love and kindness embrace your heart always.”

 

This was my Husband’s 2014 Valentine’s Day wish for me. It hangs on the wall next to my bed. I try to breathe that in as much as possible. My Husband wanted to remind me to give myself the love and kindness I deserve, to protect my own heart as I practice courage on a daily basis.

 

It’s not easy. But it is the right thing to do.

 

Kelly Rae Roberts

“Remember who you wanted to be.”

 

I remember when I was in first grade and began to write stories for the first time. We used the rectangular paper with the dotted lines that ensured your printing would be huge and hopefully legible.  I remember watching my classmates struggle to finish the assignment: write 4 sentences, a paragraph if you will.

 

I got bored waiting and wrote a much longer story, mine took up 4 pieces of perforated paper and still I waited for my classmates to finish.  I remember feeling energized, excited and competent.

 

My first grade teacher was one of my all time favorites.  Mrs. Andelora supported my strengths and encouraged me to pursue what came very naturally to me. I think about her all the time. Mrs. Andelora was an amazing teacher.

 

I remember now who I wanted to be: a writer.

 

Kelly Rae Roberts wrote this ebook that has helped me embrace the HOW; it’s called Flying Lessons.  I bought the whole Shabang, parts 1, 2 & 3 and highly recommend it to anyone interested in owning a successful creative business.

 

What REALLY struck me about the ebook was a random link.  The link brought me to Liv Lane’s blog and her blog contained a link that brought me to an entry from 2012 in Kelly Rae Roberts’ blog.

 

BAM!

 

That’s when I figured it out.

 

Finally.

 

Like me, Kelly Rae Roberts was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder shortly after her first child was born. We are kindred spirits.

 

When I purchased my first Kelly Rae, Let it Go, I didn’t even know I had PTSD yet…but I knew what this meant:

 

Kelly Rae Roberts

 

The cage…over her brain…the wings…

 

Here is an excerpt from Kelly Rae Roberts’ blog:

 

“I wanted to share this story because I believe in telling the truth of our stories. Not all stories we hold close need to be released, but some do, I believe. And this is one of those stories for me. With every piece of art I create, I release it out into the world in an effort to make more room in my heart spaces for more, new, fresh art. If I hold onto it, I can’t move forward – I need the mental space. Same is true for some stories – they need releasing so that we can make room for new, fresh, emerging experiences and new stories, so that we are no longer defined by a particular story by holding it too close.

Besides, our connections live inside our stories, where we see ourselves mirrored in one another’s stories, where comfort and belonging reside. Some of these stories are private and some are not. Either way, there is just so much, so much beauty in our brokenness and our wholeness. I believe in sharing both.” (Kelly Rae Roberts).

 

The courage it took for Kelly Rae Roberts to speak out about her PTSD caused a visceral response within me because I’m supposed to do it, too. I am supposed to share my messy, complicated story.

 

Kelly Rae Roberts

Kelly Rae Roberts

This is my Kelly Rae Roberts writing furniture.  My Husband got them for me for our 4 year wedding anniversary this May because he believes in me and wants me to succeed.  I cried so hard when we unwrapped the huge package, I could not believe how LOVED this couch made me feel.  Our cat understood immediately and has been napping on it ever since we brought it into the bedroom.

 

The chair sits at my vanity in my bathroom and every day when I get out of bed and get myself ready for the day, I sit in that beautiful chair and declare: “I choose hope.”

 

Thank you Kelly Rae Roberts. For everything.

 

The next creation I launch will be my YouTube video about PTSD and it will be in the month of June in honor of PTSD awareness month.  

 

Stay tuned!

 

It’s about to get real.

 

For more information on PTSD, please visit the website: a gift from within.

 

Thank you for your support!

 

XO

~Rachel

Belly Breathe

Hey, wanna know what my greatest parental achievement is to date?

 

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

 

Watch this Sesame Street video.

 

The belly breathe. I promise you I am no parental expert, but this is my story:

 

As I was staring at the computer screen, watching Belly Breathe on YouTube for the millionth time, holding my son, dreaming about how I used to be a lawyer back when people still talked to me and I still left the house regularly, it hit me that I was not breathing.

 

Why aren’t you breathing?

 

I’m thinking.

 

Can’t you do both?

 

Then I started to really pay attention to the song and it became clear why my 10 month old son has been insisting we watch this song every day for the last 2 months: it’s because we breathe together and we talk about breathing. Someone WAS talking to me, my son, as best he could. I thought he was trying to drive me crazy, pointing and grunting, for me to play the song, screaming and crying, for me to play it again. He was arguing with me: mommy, we need this. You need this.

 

So we belly breathe and we talk about it and we apply it to our daily lives.

 

The second he started talking, one of his first words after the basics was: breathe, with my baby actually putting his tiny hands on his tummy and watching his belly go in and out. Mommy proud.

 

“Breathe Mommy,” he says to me sometimes, when I get to thinking too hard about complicated things. Mommy grateful.

 

Flash forward to May 2014. Jackson is 2, I am holding him BC he is sick, his tummy hurts and he needs mama cuddles. So we are belly breathing, as we do in this house, and my sweet boy threw up real adult size + smelling vomit through my hair, deep into my sports bra, onto this brand new Kelly Rae Roberts couch I got for my wedding anniversary gift and onto the carpet. We sink to the floor together, all the while I tell him calmly:

 

That’s right, great job, you are throwing up and you are ok, yes baby, breathe, that’s right, perfect, breathe baby!

 

I get excited at this point, or ‘cited (!), as we call it around here, BC even though he is just 2 years old, he still remembered to breathe, to focus on breathing when he could, even though he was scared and felt out of control. He let it go. He breathed.

 

We high fived.

 

His Dada rushes around removing blankets and clothing that have been puked on, as we sit together and talk about how he just did an incredible job throwing up.

 

Do you feel better?

 

Yup.

 

Ok. Mommy will always take care of you baby.

 

Thank you Mommy.

 

Mommy?

 

Yeah baby?

 

{make throwing up noise} sick. Kitty sick. I sick.

 

Oh you got sick and now you are just pretending to get sick?

 

Yes, the belly breathe; it’s a practice in this household.

 

XO

~Rachel

 

belly breathe