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Exciting prospects ahead…!

A few months ago, I started volunteering (with my daughters) with SCARE for a CURE.  It started as a bit of a lark, I’ll admit.  I’ve known a few people that have been involved with SCARE for a few years, and every Fall I kept telling myself I’d make it out to see the Haunted House, but never did.  Then this year, my youngest daughter, a Girl Scout, told me that she wanted to earn a special 100th Anniversary Girl Scout Badge by volunteering 100 hours by the end of the year.  I admit it, I went into a bit of a mild panic – what could I possibly find for a 10-year-old to do that we would BOTH find interesting?

She *loves* cats.  No, really, she ADORES cats.  It’s part of her email address, actually.  So I checked into us volunteering in the feline bottle babies unit at the local Animal Shelter.  She got Extremely Excited at the thought that she could feed and play with tiny kittens and Get Credit for doing Good Work at the same time.  No good.  She has to be something like 14 or 16 in order to be able to handle the babies and feed them.  Oh, well…

Then, in the middle of the month, a young man with whom I am acquainted posted on Facebook that he was going to be attending a Volunteer Party and Audition for the upcoming SCARE haunt.  I looked at the available information online and discovered that it should be quite easy, between Build and Haunt Run nights and Strike days, to accumulate 100 hours.  Plus, my kids both dig that kind of thing.  When I asked them if they might be interested in being actors in a Haunted House, they flipped (in a good way)!  The older daughter goes to a school that requires a certain amount of Community Service, and this certainly qualifies.  SCARE for a CURE is a non-profit, and proceeds from their annual Haunted House go to benefit the Breast Cancer Resource Centers of Texas.  A very worthy cause!

So we went to the party, I saw a couple of people I know, we learned about the theme for the then-upcoming Haunt (“Summer Camp Massacre!”), we auditioned for and got roles, and plans were made to start going out to Build weekends.  I won’t bore you with all the details, but suffice to say that over the next several months, we all made some new friends, and had a lot of fun.  During the course of my involvement with the Haunt, it occurred to me that I wanted to become more involved with the organization.  I mentioned this to a few key people.  Last weekend, we had the Wrap Party, and the Business Meeting.  New managers were announced for this year’s Haunt, and we voted on the Board of Directors.

Guess who is the new Volunteer Director?  Yep, that would be me.

This is what I do.  I get involved in a group that I like, I make friends, and next thing you know, I’m on the Board.  It happened when I started hanging out with my then-boyfriend at his monthly autocrosses, and I ended up being the Secretary.  It happened when I started playing in my orchestra, and I ended up being a Board Member at Large for several years.  And now it’s happened again.  Maybe one day I’ll learn…  Nah, probably not!  Anyway, I’ve already made friends with several people on the Board, and look forward to getting to know the others soon.

The President and Director for SCARE, Jarrett Crippen (aka The Defuser, winner of Season 2 of Stan Lee’s Who Wants To Be a Superhero?), is one such example, and I owe him a debt of gratitude.  Because he’s a bit of a celebrity, he has become affiliated with the Wizard World Comic Cons.  It’s probably not a huge secret that I want to take my Stage Hypnosis show on the road, preferably in conjunction with seminars on Weight Loss and Smoking Cessation.  I enjoy traveling (although I will always come back home to roost), and I enjoy entertaining and helping people – wouldn’t it be GREAT if I could do all of that at once???  It occurred to me that perhaps Wizard World could be a good vehicle for me to get started on that path, and I asked Jarrett if he thought it would be a good fit.  So he has kindly introduced me (via email) to the man responsible for selecting and running all the panels at all the Wizard World shows.  I don’t know if anything will come out of it, but at least the idea has been planted!

Another very exciting development for me is the addition of Virtual Gastric Band hypnosis to my practice.  I met Sheila Granger in Las Vegas last June, where she and I were both attending Jerry Valley’s Ultimate Stage Hypnosis Seminar.  Immediately following that, Sheila offered a 3-day seminar on her Virtual Gastric Band system.  One of the other hypnotists I met in Las Vegas has lost more than 50 pounds.  Sheila’s process has recently finished clinical trials in the UK and I am eagerly anticipating being able to read (and promote) the results!  I’m very excited to add this revolutionary technique to my hypnosis repertoire, and deeply honored to be able to help people from all over lose their excess weight!

Yes, it looks like 2013 is shaping up to be a REALLY good year!

Wow!  Has it really been almost 4 months since I wrote something?!  It doesn’t seem like it, but apparently there it is…

Well, here we are in 2013, and the world did NOT end (what a shock…) this past Winter Solstice.  Unless it did and we are now just all involved in some massive cooperative delusion.  Or maybe it’s just me, and I only *think* you’re all here…

My eldest daughter has been surprising me rather a lot lately.  She turned 14 almost 2 weeks ago.  Over the Winter break, she became quite snuggly with me, mainly in the mornings when she first woke up.  She’d crawl into bed next to me and cuddle up in a way that she hadn’t done in a very long time, and sometimes she’d stay there for up to a half an hour, just chatting about whatever came to mind.  I found it very touching, and I told her the other day, now that school has started up again, that I definitely missed our morning snuggle-chats.  She’s also declared that she’s actually *happy* these days (which is a very welcome relief from last school year, when she seemed to be suffering from Depression).  She’s learning to take responsibility for herself, which includes setting healthier boundaries in her relationships with her friends.  There’s still work to be done, mind you, but she is growing up and maturing a bit.

Yesterday, after school, she informed me that she has an assignment this semester to exercise at least 5 hours each week (and she’ll be graded on this, apparently).  Each time she goes to this particular class, she’s supposed to log her exercise times from the past few days.  She told me that she could choose to play Wii Fit or something like that, but she wants to go to the gym with me.  Okay, then!  Looks like I need to change my membership, because the membership I originally signed up for doesn’t allow Guests.

I took care of that last night, though, and we were all set.  We discussed what time of day we’d go (early in the morning, before school), and how long we’d stay (45 minutes) and what we’d do.  This morning, when I woke her up at 5:30, I was prepared for grumbling, but she got up with no complaints, got herself ready, and actually seemed *eager* to get started!  She commented more than once on how wide awake she was, and expressed a true appreciation for the sunrise after the workout was done.  We each ate a Melaleuca Access Bar on the way to the gym, and I showed her where to sign in.  We put our bags in the locker, and headed for the Circuit Training area.  For 30 minutes, we did that, and she got pretty familiar with the various machines.  Then we spent 10 minutes on the treadmill before heading back to the locker room for a quick shower.  We went back home, calling her younger sister on the way (she was already up and playing around on her computer).  I made us all protein shakes for breakfast, and we actually got out the door 5 minutes earlier that we usually do on most mornings!

I’m glad she’s been given this assignment, and I’m glad she wants to work out with me.  I really do a LOT better when I’m accountable to someone else, and now that I know she’s got a grade depending on her working out, I will make sure she does it (and do it with her).  The timing of it is interesting, too, as I had just taken myself back to the gym yesterday for the first time in a few months, with the intent of getting back into a regular routine again.  I’m hoping that, since this is a semester-long assignment, it will be a deeply-ingrained habit for both of us within a couple of months, and we will keep it up long after the assignment is over and done.

My younger daughter is actually kind of jealous that she can’t come with us, but the gym doesn’t allow children under 13, and she’s only just turned 11.  But she’s a generally more active kid than her sister is anyway, so I don’t really think she’ll suffer for a lack of going to the gym.

Super Better

I just watched a TED talk by Jane McGonigal, and it inspired me to start playing her game, Super Better.  One of my first quests is to write a journal entry about what I would change or rewire about my brain and why?

For me, I think I’d change my tendency to procrastinate, because I believe it’s held me back from a great many things in life.  I conveniently “forget” to do something, or I rationalize my way out of doing it, or I over-think and over-analyze it before even making an attempt.  In fact, I’ve had a sort of bookmark on a Draft post for this blog for nearly a year.  The topic of the post I wanted to write?  Procrastination…!

And, by playing this game (and, by extension, writing this post), I’m putting off going to the bank to make a deposit, going to the pet store to buy dog food, and going to the gym for my Monday workout.  So I’m going to wrap this up, get off my butt and go do the first 2 of those.  The gym will have to wait until later.

My Rape Story

Warning: This post contains graphic descriptions of sex and rape that might be triggers for some people.

Nearly a year ago, I wrote about my experience with Domestic Violence.  In that post, I mentioned that my first husband had raped me.

On Aug. 20 of this year, I posted on Facebook that I am a rape survivor – this was in response to an idiotic Senate candidate who claimed that “legitimate rape” hardly ever results in pregnancy.  One of my friends responded to my post with a comment that she, too, was a rape survivor, and that the pain and shame never really goes away.  I’ve been wanting to write THIS blog post in response to her, but it’s taken me a while to write it, because I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what I want to say and how to say it.

My first husband (I’ll call him H1) raped me.  In retrospect, I can say it happened more than once, although until recently I’ve really only thought of one specific occurrence as rape (I’m tempted to say “legitimate rape,” or even “forcible rape,” but I’m afraid my tongue-in-cheek tone won’t come across in print).  The incident in question happened on a Hallowe’en night.  A bunch of us had been down to 6th Street, and we’d been drinking an awful lot of cheap beer.  H1 and I were living with his parents at the time, due to his inability to get or keep a job for any real length of time.  I’m not positive, but I think his younger sister was also living in the house at the time.

H1 liked to think of himself as a “typical, red-blooded American male,” with a libido that demanded sex at least once a day and preferably twice on Sundays, and there was something “wrong” with me if I wasn’t in the mood at the same time he was.  There was also, according to him, something “wrong” with me for not enjoying things I was “supposed” to enjoy, such as nipple stimulation.  Interestingly enough, there was never anything wrong with him for taking so long to achieve an erection while I stroked and/or sucked his flaccid penis so he could engage in the sex that he claimed to want.  And once aroused enough to actually have intercourse, he would often take FOREVER to finish – pumping away interminably, sweating profusely.  I took to covering my face and upper body with a pillow or blanket so his sweat wouldn’t drip all over me (gross!!!).  To this day, I don’t enjoy lengthy sessions of intercourse…

On this particular occasion (Hallowe’en), we had made it home somehow, and went upstairs to get ready to go to bed.  He was, predictably, in the mood.  I was not.  But, as usual, it was easier to go along with it and let him do what he wanted to do than it was to fight about it.  This time, however, he decided to explore his desire for anal sex.  With no preparation, no foreplay to speak of, and no lubrication, thank you very much.

There I was, on my stomach on the floor, with a pillow under my head, and his parents downstairs.  By the time I figured out what he was doing, my choices were very limited.  I was in a very vulnerable position, very drunk (I do remember throwing up that night, but I don’t remember if it was before or after, and having a massive hangover the next day), not really able to physically fight him off.  Had I tried to fight, I likely would have gotten hurt and / or alerted his parents.  Had I screamed (or fought) loud enough to alert his parents, they might have come upstairs to find out what was going on, which could have resulted in 1) shame to be caught in such a situation and / or 2) anger from him for involving them.  So I screamed into my pillow instead, so as not to alarm them.  As I screamed, H1 said “go ahead and scream, I don’t care.”  I will never forget those words as long as I live.

I was so hurt, and so angry, and so deeply betrayed by his callous actions and remarks, and he was so shocked and repentant when I tearfully told him I’d felt like I’d been raped…  And yes, I was ashamed.

Ashamed to admit to anyone, including myself, that I’d made such a bad relationship choice.  Ashamed that I hadn’t fought or screamed.  Ashamed to admit that I had “let” this happen to me.  And, in part, I had.  Little by little, from the earliest days of our relationship, I had let him gain more and more and more power and control over me.

We had been dating a few months by the first time we had sex – we were both virgins – and I really wasn’t ready, but somehow, when push came to shove, I couldn’t find the strength to say “no”.  I wanted to, but I couldn’t.  And then it was too late.  I was a month shy of 17.  He was nearly (or perhaps barely) 20.  Either way, legally, that was statutory rape.  And, looking back, knowing I didn’t really want to take that big step, knowing that I wasn’t really in the mental or emotional space to consent to what was happening, I now know that it was rape, even if it wasn’t as violent and painful as the Hallowe’en incident above.  It was the first time, but it wouldn’t be the last time I had sex with him when I didn’t want to.  He pressured me or bullied me into sex many times in the next 4+ years.

After the initial anal rape, he tried it again on an almost monthly basis – never with any lubrication or preparation or other stimulation or ANY attempt to make it pleasurable or even tolerable for me – until one night, I tearfully screamed “I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU!” in the middle of everything and got literally kicked out of bed.  That was the last of that, until the night before I left him, nearly a year and a half later.  I had a yeast infection or something, and everything was quite tender.  When he tried to initiate sex, I put him off.  He asked me, “jokingly,” which penetration would hurt less, vaginally or anally?  That scared me enough to trigger a serious Fight or Flight response, and after I took him to work the next morning (my car wasn’t running at the time), I called my sister, told her I was leaving him (her birthday present that year!), and asked for her help getting all my stuff out.  With the help of her boyfriend and his truck, we packed and moved everything out in a single day!

I know this has been a long and rambling post, but the main point I wanted to share with my friend Deanna, and anybody else who has made it to this point is this:  My rape was not MY fault.  I did not WANT to have sex against my will, although it could be argued that more than once I chose it in order to avoid fights and arguments (I am non-confrontational to a fault).  But my message remains: the shame for it is not mine.  I am responsible for my choices, and H1 is responsible for his.  H1 raped me, and the shame for that belongs to HIM, and HIM alone.

For my sisters (friends, family and strangers) who have been raped: it was not your fault.  You did not choose it, and you have nothing to be ashamed of.  The patriarchal world in which we live likes to engage in victim-blaming, but we are changing that.  One voice at a time, one story at a time.

I have forgiven my rapist for what he did to me, because it is the intelligent, sane, responsible thing to do – FOR MYSELF!  I have not told him, nor will I make the effort to tell him, for it is not necessary for him to know.  Even more importantly, though, I have forgiven myself – for all the tiny, incremental steps I took when I was 16 and 17, for slowly but surely giving away my power and my control and my choice.  I have forgiven myself for putting myself into the situation where I could be vulnerable to rape in the first place.  I’m still working on gratitude for the lessons I learned and the strength I gained from that time in my life, but I’m getting there…

Get Over It

I’ve been posting on Facebook lately, expressing my thoughts and feelings about the Chick-Fil-A craziness.

I’m an avid supporter of Gay Rights.  Well, Human Rights, to be more precise, but this particular issue is centered on Gay Marriage.  Chick-Fil-A has stated that they support the “biblical definition” of marriage and traditional family values.  They donate part of their corporate profits to other organizations who apparently share their values.  All well and good, and they have EVERY right to do so.

How-some-ever…  Where things start to get sticky is that at least one of the organizations to whom CFA has given money  in the past (the Family Research Council) has chosen to give some of THEIR support to Uganda’s war on gay people.  In case you weren’t aware (or didn’t care enough to BE aware), Uganda has submitted legislation to strengthen already-existing laws against homosexuality, up to and including the DEATH penalty.

This organization has been compared to the KKK or to Al-Qaeda or the PLO, arguably groups who have resorted to violence to attempt to enforce their ideals, which has ruffled the feathers of some people (some of whom I love very dearly) who only wish to support Chick-Fil-A’s right to Freedom of Speech.  This organization has chosen to spread LIES about gay people, equating them with pedophiles (a stance which has been thoroughly discredited), creating and building FEAR about gays.

By exposing where the money goes, I’m attempting to educate EVERYBODY, no matter what side of the fence they choose to stand on.  If you like Chick-Fil-A, fine (I don’t particularly care for their food, myself).  But please be aware of what your money is doing.  At least a portion of your chicken sandwich and waffle fries goes to promote violence against gay people.  That’s a plain and simple fact.  And if you wish to support something like that, no matter how much I love you, I can NOT simply turn and look the other way.

One of my Facebook “friends”, someone I went to school with and have since reconnected with, someone with whom I have never been particularly close, said I should “Get Over It” because “they believe in what they believe in just like you.”

Get Over It.

I’m not sure I’ve read more insensitive words directed to me in a very long time.  The person who wrote this is a Straight White Male, arguably the most powerful and privileged class of individual in these United States.  Would he also have told Susan B. Anthony to “Get Over It” as she campaigned for women’s right to vote?  Would he also have said “Get Over It” to Martin Luther King, Jr. as he shared his Dream for equal rights for black people?  Would he tell a rape victim to “Get Over It?” Or a parent who has lost a child?  Or a soldier who has lost a limb?

Telling someone to “Get Over It” minimizes their pain and suffering, it belittles their efforts to right the wrongs done to them, it says “you’re making me uncomfortable by presenting your side of the story, and I don’t like to be uncomfortable, so please go away now and don’t disrupt my safe, comfortable existence with your nonsense.”

What if we weren’t talking about Chick-Fil-A and gay marriage?  What if we were talking about a fictional XYZ Industries, which manufactures and sells a certain kind of widget that you want to buy from time to time, and instead of donating their money to organizations that support traditional families, they were donating their money to organizations that support right-handed people with activities which could be read as “anti left-handed people”?  What if they were targeting redheads, or people with green eyes?  These are attributes that these people have NO CONTROL over!  Through no fault of their own, they have been born with red hair, or green eyes, or left-handedness.

Each of these groups of people represent approximately the same percentage of our human population as gay people (something over which they also have NO CONTROL).  What if your child was a redhead?  What if your parent was left-handed?  What if your sibling had green eyes?  What if it wasn’t someone you were closely related to, but still someone you cared about?

Would you stand by quietly while XYZ Industries continues to funnel a portion of their widget profits into these channels which cause fear and harm and degradation to someone you care about?  Would you keep buying your widgets from XYZ Industries and just pretend that you DON’T know what they’re doing?  Or would you put your foot down on behalf of your loved one and say “this is not right, and you will not get anymore of my money!”?  Would you share the information you have about their activities with everybody you know, and encourage them to do the same?  Or would you try to convince your loved one to dye their hair or get colored contacts or learn to write with their right hand so they’re not discovered and persecuted and perhaps prosecuted just because of who they are?

I can hear it now – “being left-handed is NOT the same thing as being gay.”  Forgive my bluntness here, but BULLSHIT.  It wasn’t too terribly long ago that lefties were stigmatized and traumatized and forced to try to learn to do things with their right hands.  Even our European language roots equate “left” with “wrong” or “sinister” or “awkward.”  And redheads?  How many times have you heard or used the phrase “red-headed stepchild(ren)” to indicate something less-than-favorable?  And what about the “green-eyed monster” of jealousy?

No, being a redhead or a leftie or having green eyes doesn’t typically affect your overall lifestyle quite as profoundly as being born gay does, but hopefully you get my point.  One’s sexual orientation is no more a choice than eye color, hair color, which hand you’re more comfortable with, skin tone, nation (or state or city) of birth, the shape of your genitals, who your parents are, etc.

“Traditional marriage” as defined in the Bible has gone through MANY permutations (almost NONE of them favorable or advantageous to women, by the way), so saying it has “always” been One Man, One Woman is disingenuous at best.  Shall we go back to the days where a rapist is required to marry the woman he rapes?  Oh, wait, that just happened in Morocco earlier this year, when a 16-year-old girl opted to KILL HERSELF rather than remain married to her attacker.  That incident sparked global outrage, but apparently that custom is acceptable in that part of the world.  What business is it of OURS to interfere?  Maybe we should just turn a blind eye to the plight of these girls and women.  They’re not United States citizens, after all, so why should we bother?

Perhaps we ought to go back to a time when a man is required to marry his brother’s heir-less widow?  Yeah, that makes sense.  How many of you men like your brother’s wife well enough to marry her if your brother dies without having sired a son?  How many of you women would like to marry your brother-in-law (oh, wait, you’re women, you have no say in this)?  Guess what, it doesn’t matter if you like it or not, it’s in the Bible, therefore it’s the Word of God and has to happen just as it’s written.  By the way, I have to admit that I’m curious what happens if the dead man HAS no brother for the widow to marry…?  Does she have to marry her husband’s father or uncle instead?  Or perhaps she’s simply cast aside as completely useless and wasted and left to fend for herself?  Or does she have to die as well, in order to accompany her now-dead husband in the afterlife?

Slavery has been abolished in this country, but since slavery was in the Bible, perhaps we ought to bring it back.  That way, a man can acquire all his wife’s possessions, including her slaves.  Or he can direct a male slave to marry a female slave regardless of whether either of them wants to be married to the other.  Now, to determine who the slaves will be – shall we have a lottery?  Or maybe we’ll just arbitrarily decide that anybody with red hair or green eyes or dark skin can and will be a slave?

But wait, you say?  Those are Old Testament examples, written for JEWISH people.  Jesus changed all of that.  Leviticus clearly isn’t applicable anymore, not to Christians.  Well, except for that ONE bit about gays that we happen to agree with, we can keep that one…

Get Over It

Yeah, thanks for that advice, I’d love to, but I can’t, and I won’t.  Not until every single United States citizen is guaranteed ALL the rights and privileges of every OTHER single United States citizen, regardless of sex, gender, age, religious preference, political preference, sexual preference, marital status, skin color, zip code, length of fingernails, hair color, eye color, handedness, education, occupation, and any other arbitrary thing you can think of, whether it’s something they’re born with or something they choose.

This isn’t a religious issue, it’s not a moral issue, it’s a Civil Rights issue.  You disagree with gays being allowed to marry because it somehow degrades your idea of what marriage means?  Too bad.  It wasn’t very long ago that we were having these same discussions over inter-racial marriage.  There was a great deal of fear and anger over how it would erode our entire society, but it hasn’t, and neither will gay marriage.  We’ve outgrown that taboo, for the most part, and the times, they are still a’changing.

Part of me says “you don’t want gays to have the right to marry? Fine, call it something else, anything else, as long as they’re granted every advantage that a straight married couple has.”  And part of me realizes that this is equivalent to giving “colored folks” their very own drinking fountains and hotel entrances so the white folks don’t have to share with them.

No church will be forced to perform a wedding it doesn’t wish to, but every single Justice of the Peace and Courthouse should be required to do so as long as the participants are legally eligible (not already married to someone else, of legal age, etc.) and mentally stable enough to make that choice for themselves.  I won’t get started on whether polyandry or polygyny should be allowed, that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax entirely.

Our modern ideal of True Love and romance and marriage is really VERY modern.  Marriage has traditionally been more about power and politics and alliances than love.  Women have been brokered as property, given no say in where, when, how, or to whom they were married.  Some cultures demanded a dowry be paid by the groom for the privilege of marrying the woman of his (or, more likely, his family’s) choice, while other cultures had the family of the bride paying the family of the groom to take the woman off their hands.  It’s only been VERY recently that Western women have been allowed a say in whom to marry, or even WHETHER to marry.  There are still many cultures in the world where this change has not yet taken place, and women are still being treated as property.

So how “traditional” do you want to get?  Traditions change, grow and adapt to suit the culture, the time and the place.  Technology has enabled us to learn more, to do more, and to establish and maintain connections with people all over the world.  I’d like to think that will bring us closer together as Human Beings, and in some cases, it has.  But in far too many cases, it has only driven a larger wedge between us.

I love that we live in a time and place where we can engage in dialogues and exchange ideas and learn from one another.  I will defend to the death your right to have and speak your opinion and to spend your money wherever and however you see fit, but if I think you’re acting from a place of fear or ignorance or hatred or blindness, I *will* speak out about it.

I challenge you to open your ears, your mind, and especially your heart.  Invite a gay person (or, better yet, a gay couple) into your life for an hour or two, and ask them how they are personally impacted by the actions of those who are working so hard to deny them their rights.  Really *listen* to them, allow yourself to *feel* their sorrow, their fear, their pain.  Imagine that instead of “gay,” they were “female” or “black” or “Jewish” or any other traditionally persecuted group of people.  Imagine that instead of one of those groups, it was something as seemingly innocuous and nonsensical as red hair or green eyes or left-handed.  Does it still make sense to deny them their rights?  Does it still feel like the righteous thing to do?

Get Over It

Yeah, I’ll get right on that…

Why Hypnosis???

It’s been almost 11 years since I first experienced hypnosis – a friend of mine introduced me to Hypno Birthing while I was pregnant with my 2nd child.  I opted to have both of my deliveries at home with a midwife, and with hypnosis, I felt so much more relaxed and in control than I had been with my first.  In spite of the fact that it was a more physically challenging and difficult birth, I never got stressed.

Several months later, I answered an advertisement in the Help Wanted section of the paper, searching for a Hypnotist (Will Train…) for a local weight loss center.  I interviewed, and hit it off rather well with the owner, although he ended up hiring someone else who actually had previous experience.  Several months later again, they called me back and asked if I was still interested (it hadn’t worked out with the other person).  I *jumped* at the opportunity, and I have never looked back.

I didn’t expect to find out that this career would be So Very Rewarding.  I didn’t expect to discover that I’m actually really good at listening to people, helping them discover the beauty within themselves and guiding them to change their lives for the better.  I didn’t expect to learn that answering a simple ad in the paper could have such a profound effect on my life and the lives of my clients.

The human mind is such a fascinating, powerful place, and I never cease to be amazed at the different things we can accomplish when we have the “right” programs in place.  I can’t describe how deeply it affected me to have a client tell me that he experienced a greater breakthrough after a handful of sessions with me than he had in three YEARS of talk therapy.  Or how delightful it was to hear a student pilot tell me that he was able to overcome his sudden-onset fear of flying so he could complete his training and attain his life-long goal of attaining his pilots license.  I was tremendously honored to assist an extreme germophobe reclaim her life – she went from not being willing to play outside with her children or to let them have a puppy, destroying her tooth enamel with excessive use of mouthwash, and refusing to be intimate with her husband, to fully engaged in gardening with her family, adopting a dog and reconnecting with her husband sexually.  One of my favorite client success stories is a young woman who finally kicked a heroin addiction after two failed rehab attempts.

I do tend to connect emotionally with my clients – after all, they’re opening up and sharing very intimate details of their lives with me.  When I first meet with my clients, I always warn them to have a box of tissues handy – at least 95% of my clients end up with tears streaming down their faces.  I joke that I often feel like a bit of a sadist, because while I don’t necessarily “enjoy” watching them cry, I know that when they do, there is powerful work going on deep down inside, and that kind of release is healthy!  One of the more heartbreaking things I ever heard from a client was the *conscious* assertion that “these things just happen” and that you “just have to accept it and move on with your life.”  He was referring to the fact that he was raped by 2 men when he was only 4 years old, something for which he felt a great deal of shame.  With a non-judgmental approach and a firm yet gentle assurance that he was NOT at fault and there was NOTHING wrong with him, I was able to help him forgive those men, his uncle (who had brought him to the place where it happened and might have been indirectly involved) and himself – thus for the first time TRULY being able to move on with his life after firmly putting that incident in the past where it belongs.

In addition to these examples, I’ve helped many people change their lives by eliminating bad habits and adding good ones – clients have come to me to lose weight, to stop smoking, stop biting their nails, overcome fears, experience pain-free childbirth, improve confidence and even to have better sex lives!  The methods I use are the most modern, powerful techniques available in hypnosis today, and my clients all report greatly enhanced self esteem and self confidence as a result of our sessions, and THAT is why I do what I do.

Everybody deserves to know the truth about themselves – that they ARE good enough, that they DO deserve to have good things in life.  It’s my mission to help everybody discover this truth.

One Week Away

My first Stage Hypnosis Show is one week away!  I’m getting really excited, and honestly, a little bit nervous…

I’ve got several people who have said they’ll be there, but haven’t actually bought tickets yet, and I’ve actually received money for a whopping grand total of (drum roll, please) THIRTEEN tickets!  Over two nights!  I’ve *comped* more tickets than I’ve sold so far!  WOOT!

Okay, sarcasm aside, I’m truly honored and blessed that people are willing (and able) to spend some of their hard-earned cash on my show.  It’s a sign of faith that I can (and will) provide them with an evening of quality entertainment, and it’s not a task that I undertake lightly.  I know I’ve got a solid concept, and I’m confident in my abilities as a hypnotist.  My reason for wanting a sizeable audience is that it’s *easier* to do a good show with a larger audience – the larger the audience, the larger the pool of volunteers, and the higher the chance that I’ll have some VERY responsive volunteers, ensuring a fun, entertaining evening for all.

This has been an ongoing struggle for me, and I think it’s a fairly common problem.

We’re taught from an early age that being selfish is a bad thing, that we need to consider the needs of others first.  Sometimes we watch our parents sacrifice their own dreams so we can have comfortable, stable lives, or occasional luxuries.

Women, in particular, have been given these messages, and taught to be nurturers and caregivers.  From our first babydoll, which we’re supposed to feed and bathe and clothe and put to bed, to our pets and siblings, and eventually our friends, then our own families when we grow up, and often that translates to our neighbors, our church communities, the homeless, the elderly, the starving children in another country – our own needs often end up at the Very Bottom of the To Do List.

Most of my hypnosis clients are caregivers of one kind or another.  Some are professional, such as nurses, others are taking care of an ailing family member.  In every single case, these people have given So Much of their time and energy, that they are simply exhausted.  They have never been taught Self Care (beyond the basics that get them through each day).

The concept of making sure their own needs (physically, mentally AND emotionally) are met FIRST is foreign and uncomfortable to them.  In many cases, they’ve sublimated their own needs so thoroughly, they’re not even aware of what they ARE.  “What more could I possibly need?  I have food, clothing and shelter…”

Each person is different, and those needs will vary wildly.  Some need a creative outlet, some need physical activity, while others need a wider circle of friends that is Just For Fun and still others, although they go to church every week (twice! not counting volunteer hours…) need a deeper spiritual connection.

I love the metaphor of the airplane trip.  You know, every time, when the Flight Attendant gives “that talk” that you automatically tune out?  “In the event of a sudden pressure loss, masks will drop in front of you.  Be sure to PUT YOUR OWN MASK ON FIRST and then help others around you.”

Wait, WHAT??!?!  Shouldn’t I help my child, who is to small to put her mask on herself?  Shouldn’t I help the little old man who clearly has arthritis?  No, you most definitely should NOT.  If you help someone else FIRST, and then pass out yourself, who will be there to continue to help them?  You must make sure your own needs are met so you can continue to provide quality, unselfish service to those around you.

Isn’t it terribly selfish of me to put Me First?

Clearly, we all know people who live by the philosophy of Me First.  Or perhaps I should call it Me Only.  I wish to be clear that I am NOT advocating Me Only as a lifestyle.

That being said, it’s reasonable and healthy to make sure your own needs are met first.  Interestingly enough, you’ll find that when you DO take care of yourself, you’ll actually have MORE to give to others.

So figure out what it is you need, and carve out time for it.  Communicate your needs (and your intentions to meet them) to your friends and family, and stand firm on it.  Enlist help and support from those around you, and if you’re not getting it, it might be time to set some priorities.  Many times, we’re afraid that if we dare to speak up for ourselves, those around us might resent it (and toss out that painful word: selfish), but will we ever really know until we try?

Ask for a trial run if necessary – give it a month or 6 weeks.  When those around you notice that you’re more relaxed, more refreshed, and even more cheerful about giving your time and energy than before, they’ll be more likely to accept the new paradigm…

What do you think?  What do you do for Self Care?  How did your friends and family respond when you started something new?

I had a meeting over coffee this morning, so I did have coffee for breakfast.  At work, I made myself a sushi roll for an early lunch.  In the evening, I had a big slice of pepperoni pizza for dinner.  I’ve drunk 2 liters of water, and I walked about a mile and a half tonight with my poles.  Not my best day, but by far not my worst…

Tough workout

I saw this workout posted somewhere yesterday and thought: that looks like a good workout, I think I’ll try it…

Ho-lee crap, y’all, I am OUT of shape!  I couldn’t get through 10 of any those exercises without taking a break, and I think I popped my hip in a very uncomfortable fashion on those Plank Knee Twists.  I’ve got a looooooong way to go before I look anywhere near as good as the woman in those photos.  But I can certainly feel it working out my arms and abs, so I think it’s a good workout to incorporate into my routine.