The Purpose of Hurt

Light can only enter through an opening. People who go through trauma are left with open wounds. When we recover from our traumas and prove to be resilient we are enlightened. The trauma happened but now we have experience, wisdom, and insight. Our open wounds allows an opportunity for our new found light to shine through to show others what we have accomplished. Others who are struggling will see our hurt and how we react to it. If we hide our traumas and never share our stories or experience with others than the trauma had no purpose. Once we turn our struggle into an accomplishment then we can help others get through their current struggle. You cant have a testimony without a test.

We are often afraid to open up because of the fear of judgement. There needs to be a change in our society. Society looks down on those who have negative pasts. As much as we like to think that we are non-judgmental, the truth is, we are!

What drives change?  Change does not always come from an organizational level. Change comes from individuals willing to come forward with their stories and break through walls of silence in order to break open doors of freedom. We all have a story. The most prestigious people that we know have a past that they would never want their peers to know. If those who are in leadership always pretend that their life has always been great, then those who are struggling have less motivation to pursue their dreams because they don’t think they will compare to the current leaders.  Transparency is a must in leadership. The song “started from the bottom now were here”  really does prove that point. When you see a strong leader who has accomplished much in life, come forward with a rags to riches story- that will be a huge inspiration.

If you are struggling and broken, you can be helped. However, nobody will know that you need help unless you humble yourself to ask for help. When you acknowledge your vulnerability, people will be able to help you. We all go through periods of struggle and periods of prosperity. At each of those stages in life we have different tasks. When you are prosperous- help others. When you are struggling- accept help. It is a part of life. We will all need help at some point and we will all be able to give help at some point. Participate in the rotation. Build your community. Life is short- but life is good.

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Reslience

Since publishing my book, (Taking Back The Pen- Resiliency Amidst Life’s Predestinated Storyline), many people have asked me where I got my resilience. They have also asked me if I can put into words what it is that makes people resilient. The debate has come up of whether resilience is a trait that a person is born with or if it can be obtained in life.

To start off we need to define RESILIENCE The Mirriam-Webster online dictionary (2010) defines resilience as “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to change or misfortune”. The American heritage online dictionary (2009) defines it as “the ability to recover quickly from illness, depression, change, or misfortune; buoyancy.” These are both great definitions. On a personal level, it is about how we apply these definitions in our lives. I do believe that resiliency is a personality trait as well as a dynamic life process. The ultimate key here is bouncing back and returning to normal life regardless of what happens. The fact that trauma and life changes occur is not what is in question here. We are in an ever-changing world that is full of misfortune. The focus needs to be on what happens after the misfortune. You cannot stay in suffering. Once you move forward past it and you do not let it control your life you have been resilient. The antecedent to resilience is adversity. We will all face the adversity in life. The question is, will we all be able to be RESILIENT?

People who have RESILIENCE as a personality trait will demonstrate effective coping skills master their problems, have positive adaptation and are able to integrate control while adjusting and growing through life events. The key term here is GROWH. When we defeat a trial, we grow as individuals in wisdom and character. Some people CHOOSE To have a depressive mind state when they come in to adverse life events. In any situation we have a choice of how we react. We cant always choose what happens but we can choose our response Resilience has a lot to do with personal choice it stems from ownership of our actions and reactions to life events. We can’t always control our life events but we van control our response. How we interpret the event is key. The events can be either physically, psychologically or emotionally traumatic- sometimes even socially. The cognitive ability to interpret this adversity is found through your worldview. That is a personal thought process. Those with different worldviews respond differently to stressors. It is key to have a high self-expectancy and self-determination and to set goals in life. You need to have positive relationships as an individual. Your social support is key in life. Building community is essential to have a successful life. WHO ARE YOU SURROUNDING YOURSELF WITH?

There are many different groups where we can look at resilience: see where you fall into a category

Children- Building resilience begins as early as childhood. We all started there… Take a glance back to see where your roots began. Many children are born into poverty or have a parent who suffers from mental illness. Many have divorced parents. Some children have a chronic and terminal illness will some suffer from child abuse and neglect. Some children are even born into a homeless family. Resilient children are able to respond diversity by adapting circumstances and can cope and manage these major life problems despite their immeasurable disadvantages in life. It is true and it should be noted that children who have “rough lives” growing up start out with resilience for survival and carry that through later in life. That is why people going through such events are stronger than most. They began to fight these battles early in life. There is a switch in life from surviving to thriving.

Survivors of disasters- In America we have had plenty of disasters in the recent years. Many of these survivors of these disasters were resilient by resolving to live, obtaining food and shelter, maintaining survival strategies, keeping families together and building their community. Social support is CRUCIAL. These people were able to give testimony after they finished the trial. That testimony helps others. Trust in God, family support as well as your friends around you allow you to maintain resilience through these challenges.

Adult population- As we age, health wise, we have a decreased functional status. Our stress level increases, poor living conditions abound and we have faced many negative life events by this time. These changes can be influenced to a more positive outlook by maintaining good quality relationships building community and developing coping strategies. Many people have family support and a large network of friends. The problem comes with broken families that do not have the family support. This population leans more heavily on the friends in the community around them whether it is neighbors or people from church or other social circles. Older adult women and sometimes men have faced sexual abuse either as children or in their early adult years. It is been found that these women have used silence, holding in their thoughts and emotions about it, and internal sense of hope, social support and advocacy and intentional self-care. The biggest attribute here was social support. Those are personal dramatic events that most people don’t know about and the resilience here is internal because the success cannot be physically and publicly weighed against what they have been through in order to fully understand how successful they really are today, compared to where they have been. Many people attribute a spiritual grounding as the main source of help. Having a higher power to lean on that give meaning and purpose of their lives. This is key to purpose and strength of moving forward past adversity

Building Resilience – There are many characteristics of resilient people that can be learned and acquired in life. Having a sense of hope. There’s no such thing as false hope, any hope is a positive thing. Self-efficacy, control (Being able to regain control of the situation and alter the events to the way that you would like them to go), coping, confidence, flexibility, adaptability, sense of coherence, recognizing the skills you possess, and the ability to focus. Cognitive reframing, critical reflection and reconciliation are all strategies to build resilience. THESE ARE ALL ATTAINABLE. So when the question is asked, can anybody obtain resilience or are you born with it? The Answer is, YES, anybody can be resilient, they just have to CHOOSE to be.

The first step is to get back up every time you fall. Nobody will move you forward in life except for yourself, with your own two feet. You can’t fully depend on anybody else. There are social structures that can help you in times of need but community is ever changing. Ultimately you need to move forward on your own and except help when it’s given but when it’s not available be able to handle it on your own. Autonomy! Strength! Resilience!

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Wanderlust-The incurable disease many of us have

Wanderlust, like many diseases, comes with its own symptoms and side effects. Like a plague, it comes down on some with a vengeance and may never be cured. It can leave those stricken with lifelong symptoms and years of money and time spent trying to diagnose the incurable disease.

It leaves children and adults impaired, unable to function properly through their daily routines many of us take for granted. Because, like any sickness, its side effects can be damaging.

The wanderer cannot help his or her sickness any more than someone with the common cold. It’s a bug that takes over and flushes itself through the system, yet this one refuses to leave after a few days of Emergen-C and hot water with lemon.

It’s damaging to the brain, the body and the mind; it takes hold and refuses to let go. It’s a disease inflicted by ourselves on ourselves,

and there’s really nothing we can do about it, but hope to pacify the side effects.

We must learn to live with them, the way one learns to live with pain. It’s a constant ache that becomes part of our existence, like a bum leg. So for all of you trying to diagnose those aches and pains, here are the signs it’s probably just wanderlust.

Constant Yearning

The wanderer craves foreign lands the way a diabetic craves sugar. Though it may not be life or death, wanderers feel like a part of their soul is dying if they’re not able to cross oceans or reach new lands.

This yearning is usually brought on after a trip or before, when it seems like their hearts are swollen with the promise of a new land or the remorse of leaving.


Itches You Can’t Scratch

No matter where you go, it will never be enough. The downfall to traveling is there will always be a place you haven’t been. This itch will follow you throughout your life, like a bad rash, the only ointment and relief will come from momentary trips and plans of new ones.

The itch will make people wonder where you’ve been, what you’ve touched and just exactly how you contracted it.


Hazy Vision

It’s hard to see the world when you’re always thinking about another one. Another side effect of the wanderer is an inability to enjoy the present moment because wanderers always want to be in another one.

Unless they are dancing in Ibiza or eating pizza in Rome, wanderers will never be satiated with the present and their vision will always be skewed by the things they could be doing and places they could be going. Their judgment of the present moment is constantly clouded, like a fog that sits over a gloomy city.


Swollen Memories

Engorged memories of better days fill the mind of the wanderer. Wanderers have no ability to cope with the present when they are constantly thinking about the past.

Memories of past trips will haunt them as they wish they could relive them, or at least try and find something to replace them. Their head feels swollen with memories, good times and better days.


Tight Budgets

The plight of the constant wanderer is the inability to afford medication. Like the costs of most vaccines prove, there is a high price to pay for health.

From airfares to hotels, the wanderer gets no help from insurance companies or the government, but must find a way to pay for all treatments out of pocket.


Utter Discontentment

Disillusion and depression will forever be side effects of the wanderer who cannot wander. These people will never be happy where they are unless they are somewhere else and this keeps them in a state of discontent for most of their lives.

This side effect can be one of the most unbearable to live with, as wanderers live with the notion that life is always better somewhere else. This depression keeps them from enjoying all of life, mainly the parts that don’t involve crossing oceans or visiting uncharted territories.


Lucid Daydreams

Fantasies, mirages and hallucinations plague the wanderer on a daily basis. Unable to stay awake and alert, these people dream with their eyes open and their realities compromised. They sleep in other worlds and are constantly berated for their inability to live in reality.

They do not know how to cope with the real world because they’d rather be living in another one. This can many times keep them from maintaining jobs, relationships and commitments.


Fatal Nostalgia

Whether it’s following the scent of Indian spices into a dangerous neighborhood or tracking down some local, but unsanitary fish that reminds them of their time in South Korea, the wanderer will do anything to feel the way he or she once felt.

Wanderers will cling to people, things and notions that they should no longer rely on so heavily. Their nostalgia overcomes them, squeezing their hearts until they are choking on feelings and memories of things they will never have again, or at least for a long time.

As I prepare for my 42 day backpacking trip through Europe…these words speak to me

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This was written by Lauren Martin on  and was posted on Elite Daily. I resonate with this 100% and felt the need to share it with my readers.  

Please Help–HOPE and a FUTURE: PAY IT FORWARD

Please Help--HOPE and a FUTURE: PAY IT FORWARD

As many of you know I published my autobiography this past year. It is a raw, organic story that tells the ugly side of my past with the explanations of how I turned it into success. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, it is available to order online at http://www.amazon.com/Taking-Back-The-Pen-Predestinated/dp/0615874436
IF you have read it, I am asking that rather than letting the book sit on your shelf, please pass it along to somebody in your life you believe can benefit from reading it. I didn’t write it to sell a million copies or for the fame. My intentions in publishing it were to bring hope and change in peoples lives and to inspire those who struggle in life….which is ALL of us. I want to get my story out there so people are not afraid to open up and seek help when needed. everybody has a story! Please pass my story on and continue to love people and appreciate stories because we are all walking through life together.

If you have not ordered it yet, please order one and read it yourself and then pass it on to somebody in your life who you feel may benefit from it

Searching for Siblings: Adoption and Reconnections

Some people have conventional lives, mine is quite the opposite. I have embraced the unconventional life that has been given to me. Each day it gets more and more interesting. Many of you who know me, you have read my book already; Taking Back The Pen.  In the book I wrote about a biological brother that I had met a few years back for the very first time. We both shared the same mother. Our mother was a prostitute and got around the country often. He was born in Florida and I was based in Detroit.  At the time I first met him he was 18 years old and old enough to reach out to his biological siblings.  I was 22 years old.  The first day I met him was when my husband at the time told me that he was seeing somebody else and that our marriage was too far gone and that we needed to file for divorce.  I had been in bed for over 24 hours and I was stuck in a depression. I received a phone call from this biological brother that I had heard about and never met. He said that he was an hour away from where I lived in Detroit. He was very distraught and said that he came up to vacation with his girlfriend and when he got here she left him at a hotel. He was calling me in a dark point of his life where he needed my help and e was ready to meet me. He had never met me so it was hard for him to reach out and ask for my help. I was torn. I wanted to meet him but at the same time my personal life was falling apart. In that moment I got out of bed and went to him. I got to spend quite a few hours with him that day until his adopted family came from Florida to pick him up.  We bonded right from the start and it helped me to get out of my rut and gain an interest in my biological past that I had been removed from.  It was a sure sign of strength to hold back from him what I was going through and be a strong big sister to him when he needed me. A year later I flew down to Florida to visit him and he took me to Disney World for the first time. That was a great time and we got to know each other for the two days that we spent together.  We have kept in touch through the past few years of meeting each other and he just came to Detroit with his adopted mother this past week to stay at my place for a couple days and get to know me and to see where I grew up.

 It was very interesting how alike we were in many different ways even though we have spent our whole lives in two different families. Luckily for him, he was adopted to a great family. I told him how happy I was for him in that aspect because the family I was adopted into was almost as big of a mess as the one I was taken out of.  His adopted mother is a therapist and is the perfect mother for his case.  The things my brother and I  struggle with mentally and emotionally were the same. Our interests, likes and dislikes were very similar as well. There is always the nature vs. nurture debate, but in this case I would have to argue towards the nature end of the argument. We are blood related and have only spent less than 72 hours together and yet we have so much in common. When we spent time together it was as though we grew up our whole lives together.  When I showed him around Detroit  we met random people around the city. Everybody was shocked when they heard our story. It feels like something off of a TV show. 

 I am so glad that I have had the opportunity to connect with my heritage these past few years. For a lot of people the emotion of bringing in the biological history after being adopted is too much to handle. I would highly suggest seeking counsel if you are in my situation and you are looking to connect with your birth family. It is an amazing endeavor but yet it comes with its own struggle. The reality checks come in of, “ who is my real family?”, and “where do I belong?”

I personally have never felt that I belonged anywhere. I have always had a curiosity of where my roots were and who my real family really was. The most stable of a family that I ever had was when I was married. My in-laws were my family for a solid 5 years. Having a stable family is probably what kept me in a failing marriage for so long.

 During the time that I was married my husband’s family would tell me to let my past go and that it wasn’t healthy for me to reconnect with my biological siblings. I am glad that I still pursued meeting them rather than taking their advice. They promised me that even through my marital struggles they would remain my family and be there for me. I was once again abandoned and disappointed when the divorce finalized because they are no part of my life anymore and have dismissed all contact with me. So in my case; my biological seeking of family is all I have right now.

 As of right now I have my half sister (from my dad’s side) in Florida who I am headed to meet at the moment, I also have two 14 year old twin brothers in Florida, (whom I will be going to visit next week), and then my 21 year old brother who just came to visit me.  My mother is in prison at the moment and I will debate if I want to communicate with her again when she gets out in 4 years.  Life is interesting and each day is a new adventure!   If you want to know more of the story my autobiography is available at 

http://www.amazon.com/Taking-Back-The-Pen-Predestinated/dp/0615874436