At the end of August I made my first international trip by heading off to a writing retreat in Scotland and then taking a couple extra days to travel down to London. It was amazing, but could have felt more like a disaster.
I had planned on being a guest at this writing retreat, and help out my writing coach who was running it a little here and there. Well, Scotland had other plans for us. Angie and MIchael run the conferences and retreats together but Michael wasn’t able to come at the last minute. Angie came, fully prepared to run everything solo until she got horribly sick for five days of the week long retreat. And that was just the beginning. The castle toilets had problems, rental cars had fender benders, and the internet was only slightly better than dial up.
As part of Angie’s team, I stepped in and helped out. Chad and I shopped for groceries, picked up guests from the airport an hour and a half away, and one day I spent the entire day cleaning the castle in my own fairy tale Cinderella story. While I didn’t get the writing done I would have liked, I was still able to see the things I wanted to see in Scotland, and drove all over the Scottish Highlands.
In the past I would have considered this a tragedy. Proof that bad things seem to happen around me an felt guilty at the money I had spent. But that is no longer me. I loved every bit of my trip. I got to see amazing things, interact with regular Scottish folks, and discover their openness and kindness. One guy pulled my husband and I out of a ditch (the roads are very narrow and a huge truck was coming. We couldn’t find a pull off- so Chad pulled to the side without seeing that within the thick greenery there was a small ditch hidden by the grass). We got to try Scottish dishes like Bangers & Mash, Haggis, Bridies, Scotch Eggs, Sausage Rolls, and many more.
Things went wrong, but that didn’t destroy my vacation despite the amount of work I put in. I found the joy and humor in the things that were happening. I was disappointed not to get the writing time I needed, but I got an even bigger gift. I got experiences that will make my books richer. I got to trace my husband’s ancestors through their hometowns. I got to read a journal written by the man who left Scotland and immigrated to the United States and visit the places he talked about. As I stood in the Blairgowrie Cemetery taking pictures of gravestones, distant bagpipe music floated with the cool breeze. While I scrubbed the castle and delivered food down the hallway and up a flight of stairs I got a glimpse of what it would have been like to live hundreds of years ago, while being grateful for modern conveniences. I still got my international speaking credentials and was able to hammer out story boards for two books.
In London I saw amazing things and felt the pulse of a huge city. I also experienced the hush of Westminster Abbey, the bird’s eye view from the Shard, and the calm of floating down the Thames. I loved the rich architecture I viewed from a double decker open topped bus, hundreds of years of history within the Tower of London, and the beauty of Tower Bridge.
By overcoming the issues that prevented me from enjoying my every day life, I have also learned how to enjoy the extraordinary. Just like life, trips have problems. It rains the whole time, or everyone gets sick. Don’t allow those things to prevent you from enjoying the experiences that are there for you. There is always joy to be found, if we are willing to receive it.
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In Utah, as well as many cold places I’ve lived, the color of summer is orange. Sometimes we joke that we have Winter, Spring, Construction, and Fall. It’s not really true, because construction season gears up in Spring and winds down in Fall so it’s really only Winter and Construction. Both cause problems with traffic.
Maybe that’s why my site has been under construction. It started with some updates I tried to make. Tried being the key word here, since I’m not great with technology. I know just enough to cause big problems for my husband, who has spent his life in various forms of computer technology. Sure enough, I crashed my site. I told people I got the white screen of death on my website. Older people said, you mean on your computer? No, my website. They didn’t know a website could crash like a computer does. Due to not setting up my site with a good hosting company that had a good platform, it took my poor husband hours and then days to restore my website and then build the basics into a new site for me. Meanwhile, I had guest blogs going up and no way to post new blogs, and so I took a mental vacation before getting sick. Now it’s mid-August.
I find life is like construction. I have in mind where I want to go and an idea of how long it will take. Then I get started and hit massive backed up traffic because someone decided to put up giant orange cones. I stare at the cones and see no construction for miles, feeling frustrated that someone is ruining my timetable for no apparent reason. My book has taken longer to complete than I thought, my son was in the hospital far longer than I expected, and my business has taken more time and work than I ever could have imagined, with potholes all along the way. What I have learned is that I just have to keep moving forward, hoping that someday the cones will give way to five lanes of open freeway for me to cruise along. Being frustrated won’t make the road any easier or make the cars blocking my path go any faster. All I can do is crank up the music, and sing at the top of my lungs.
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Today I realized I messed up. I took the advice from my business coach that my one day workshop should be listed at $97 and then I could discount it from there with coupon codes if I needed to. So I did that. And it’s gone nowhere.
My biggest fear with my workshop is to have this amazing content and give it to a room of five people. If I lose the money I put into it, I’m okay with that. I’d rather earn some money for all my time, but I’m in this to help people. If the people aren’t there, what is the point of working all these hours to provide an amazing experience to teach others what I have learned from going through my own process?
So, I’m dropping my price from $97 to $37 on Eventbrite. I’m not in this to make money, I’m in this to help others. The thirty seven will be enough to cover my costs. I’m learning in this process. For me to feel that my event has been successful is to see the lights go on in people’s eyes. To make a difference.
I lost a lot of momentum from not doing it right in the first place. Learning experience. I’ve put in the time, attending workshops, doing training, putting together some great content and bringing in guest presenters. I’m not willing to waste all that work on an empty room. Help me spread the word! If someone feels they need to be there and they can’t even come up with the $37 have them contact me and I’ll work something out. Use the contact me page on my website www.sandrarytting.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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My life altered dramatically a year ago when I attended a Calliope Writer’s Conference. Angie Fenimore did much more than teach me about story structure and how to pitch my books. She taught me truths that altered my life. One of those truths was the concept that belief is more powerful than fact. Belief is so powerful that it alters reality.
I believed the lies my abusers told me and they became my reality. Lies that told me I was worthless, needed to earn love, and would never be good enough. Abusers taught me not to trust anyone, that the world is inherently dangerous, and that I needed to hide beneath immense shame. I believed them and so my world changed. My husband and God taught me differently. Over time I became more confident, but I still walked through life as a porcupine- it was painful to get to close to me.
I spent years locked in victim mode, complaining about how difficult my life was, shifting blame to God and the world, and not truly accepting responsibility for my own happiness. Angie taught me that the brain does not distinguish between fact and imagination. It process them both the same. She taught me that the universe would respond if I changed my beliefs, including the words I used. As I began working and interacting with Angie, I had constant reminders to change the words I used. I listened. I changed.
My entire life has been transformed since that conference last year. I am a better parent, friend, and wife. My dreams are no longer so far away that they seem unattainable. Instead they are lined up within my grasp as I make each one come true. I am now a business owner, life coach, and writing coach in addition to be an author. I wake up excited to tackle new things and make a change in the world. I look at the world with gratitude and wonder at the beauty all around me.
Everything changed because I finally understood that belief is more powerful than fact. I believed I was worthless, so I was. No one could convince me otherwise. I chose to believe that I could change the world around me, beginning with my fractured family, and that came true as well. I have come to understand that we are powerful creators of our own lives. As a life coach I can now help others understand that power within themselves.
Every day I read the truth of what I wanted. I am abundance. I am powerful. I am trust. Every day I changed the words I used. When opportunities came I stopped finding reasons I couldn’t accept them and instead said yes, and found a way later. I always found a way. The world has opened up and I stand in awe of what has been created around me.
Today look at the biggest lie you tell yourself. Write a statement that is the opposite of your lie and make sure you are claiming it. Don’t write I want to be powerful. Don’t even write I will be powerful, because you are still putting it into some future unknown date. Write, I am powerful. Read it every day. Say it out loud. Start acting like someone who has that trait. The change won’t happen over night, but it will happen. After all, belief is more powerful than fact.
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I have been reaching out to other abuse survivors to discover the impact the abuse has had on their lives. I know my own experience, but I need a broader view to make sure the curriculum I’m creating to help abuse survivors truly represents the struggles of this community none of us asked to be a part of. The feedback has been both heartbreaking and inspiring.
Survivors talk of the fear and anxiety they live with because they never feel safe. They talk of the shame, the feelings of worthlessness, of feeling judged by others. Many of us don’t share what happened to us. And we are many. All around you are survivors of abuse. The man who gets angry and lashes out. The woman who comes off as standoffish. Then there are the ones you wouldn’t expect. The mother at the park with her kids. The poised woman who always has on perfect makeup. The overweight couple at the grocery store. We are everywhere.
What do they want out of life? To feel safe in their environment and their own bodies. To love and trust themselves and others. To enjoy life and actually live it. I have found that place and I never want to go back. After my abuse I was a victim. Then I became a survivor. I didn’t kill myself, though I had the plans laid out to do it. I fought for healing. I learned to manage, to survive. I wanted more. I wanted what they want- to enjoy life and live it. To be a thriver.
For this I needed more than traditional therapy offers. When I ventured off the beaten path I found deeper healing in things like visualization, hypnotherapy, and energy work. One of the unexpected healing avenues came from my writing coach. The constant reminders to change the way I think, what I say, and to create my own reality for life changed everything. I saw for the first time that I had the power to create a different future because the brain processes fact and fiction the same. Belief is more powerful than fact. I pulled out the weeds my abusers had planted in the fertile garden of my mind and I planted my own seeds of who I wanted to be. They grew and I changed.
This is why I want to be a life coach for abuse survivors. I want to coach them, support them, and teach them how to be thrivers. Because being on this side is amazing. I love life. I feel safe. I am empowered. My anxiety is gone. My PTSD rarely rears it’s ugly head anymore. I honor who I am. I know who to trust and who not to trust. I have discovered how to have assertive communication so I say yes when I want to say yes, and no when I need to say no. I try new things. I feel alive.
It is because of the victims and survivors that I must move forward in building Rise to Thrive- a coaching program to support and empower survivors to achieve deep and lasting healing. I feel a stirring within my soul, a calling from a higher power, that this is what I must do. It is time take our power back from those who stole it from us. It is time to stand up, speak out, and find a way to protect others that they might not have to join our ranks. It is time to live.
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