Butterflies and Hurricanes
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.
People told me once my son left for boot camp I’d get a one or two sentence letter if I was lucky. Not from my son. He has been sending letters every day or two, filling the front and back of each page. He has always been better at long distance communication than chatting at home. Now I get a glimpse at a whole different world. Here are some things I’ve learned.
Despite the tough environment, boys act like boys. The ones that goof off at school- shutting their friends in a locker will do the same in the army. The only difference is that everyone gets in trouble if the drill sergeant finds out. This drives my very grown up son nuts.
MRE’s taste better than the food at the cafeteria. My son loves MRE’s. At first I thought he was joking, but he was completely serious! He also eats more, and healthier than he has ever eaten before. While he likes the change for the most part, he craves his favorite candies and foods in a way that I thought only possible in another country. Of course, boot camp might as well be another country.
My independent son wanted nothing more than letters. We didn’t get an address for three weeks, and then it took another week and a half for our letter to get to him. The sadness of not getting any letters for so long almost broke my heart. We have learned that letters only go out once a week so we get a slew of letters at a time. By the time we ask a question, he gets the letter, and responds, a full three weeks has passed despite the fact that he’s only 3 states away. Might be why the post office is struggling. It is agonizingly slow in our fast paced world.
I have learned that my son is an excellent shot with his rifle, loves the runs and tromping in the woods, but struggles with the push-ups. He gets annoyed that men around him act like little boys, needs his quiet time, and enjoys being a leader. He is a charming writer, and his letters are a gift I will cherish always. While the letters are slow, they are rich in information, and tangible so that the experience he is having is captured forever, his own shared journal. I worried about not being involved in this transition from boy to man, I feel now that I’m more involved than if he’d been living at home.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.
I feel like a very old dog learning new tricks right now. The world of social media marketing feels so foreign to me. Whenever I have a technical question or problem I call on one of my kids to help. Even my eight-year-old can handle some of my issues. One problem- none of my kids use social media. Not my senior in high school, not my twenty-one-year old tech wizard, not my army son.
As I navigate this new world I am asked to do things by my marketing wizard who I hired to help me figure it all out. I have to google the words so I can figure out what she is asking me to do. Yes, I feel like a very, very old dog. Of course, since she is young and cool everything is done remotely. So she can’t stand over me, explain things like I’m in kindergarten, and point to each thing I need to do on the screen.
I’m learning and I’m slowly getting there. I think about my impatience in teaching those who have celebrated more birthdays than I have. Things that seemed simple to me were hard to them. Now I’m on the other side and I know I’m testing the patience of those younger than I am.
With persistence and patience any of us can learn something new by being open to learning from others who know more than we do. My hope is that I can teach as often as I am taught, that I can give as much patience as I receive, and that I can give inspiration back to the world that has inspired me.
Yesterday I got the call from my son telling me his aptitude scores were high enough he could pick any program and he wanted to be an Aircraft Powertrain Repairer for the Army and what did I think. What does a mom say? You’ll be great but I’m a little worried about boot camp. He agreed, then he picked up the paperwork, brought it home, filled it out, and went back to enlist.
This decision by my son has opened a wave of emotions. I remembered how in first grade he protested what he was learning in school because when was he ever going to need to know how to add? Then in third grade when he told me elementary school was run like a prison. When high school came around and he decided to go to a charter school and took the train and bus to get there because I couldn’t drive him. He did it. When a month before graduation he still hadn’t made up his two F’s and I didn’t know if he’d really graduate. He got all the work done. It’s like his life flashes before my eyes and I wonder, can he handle the complete obedience to his Drill Sargent? Can he keep from questioning all the seemingly dumb things they will make him do when I can’t even get him to clean his room? The thing his, he always rises to the occasion.
Will it be hard, yes. Will it be good for him, yes. I am proud of the man he is becoming. I am proud he knows what he wants and has found the path to do the things he wants. He loves building and fixing things. He loves helicopters. He wants to travel. He wants to be independent and do things on his own. He wants to be a man. I am proud of him.
I am sad. There are no in between steps. One day he will be here and the next he will be gone. No cell phones or emails. I’ll have to trust in the process the army uses. I’ll be the outsider. He’ll be on the other side of the country. When he’s done there, he’ll go somewhere else, but nowhere near me. I have to say goodbye, over and over and over again.
I am suddenly enlisted in the ranks of Army Moms. I am already feeling a swell of pride in my son I’ve never felt before. I’m already paying more attention to the threats of war around the world. I am already seeking answers and reassurance from those moms that have gone before me. I feel the strength that I can do it intermixed with the pain of watching my first child, my quiet second born son, not just leave the nest, but fly far away.
So many exciting things are happening I had to share. I am getting ready to publish my book, Broken No More. The thing with writing is that it feels like it crawls along like a snail race where half the snails have been squished by some huge shoe coming down from the sky. I’ve gotten used to answering the same question over and over, “When will you be done?” Suddenly, I’m in the last stages. I chose to retain creative control and hybrid publish despite having some top agents interested in my manuscript. I did this because this is my story. When I publish my fantasy book I will happily hand it all over to a publishing house, but this one is so deeply personal that I need to know it goes out looking and feeling the way I want it to come across.
Now I am working with a great marketing group, Gyrosity Projects, and the amazing people at Silver Torch Press. Bouncing ideas on the cover, looking at exactly what I want the interior to look like, and sharing the great news that at long last my book will be published has been amazing. There is an end to the incredible amounts of hard work I’ve put into this project. There will be something tangible I can touch and put on my shelf.
Thank you to all my friends and family who have stood by me through this process and shared the revelations, tears, and frustration of such a tragic journey through my childhood. I could not have done it without you! In August you will be able to see what I have spent hundreds of hours, and poured my soul into producing.
As I worked to move my blogs from my old blog page to my new website I realized something felt off. I stopped until I could figure out what it was.
I could tell little snippets of my life, but what I really wanted was a place for survivors to be able to share their stories. Soon we will convert this page to a community where survivors can share their stories that we might all know that we are not alone.
God bless you each in your own journey and check back soon to share your own story.
I’ve longed for years to go to Hawaii, take my kids to a full Disney Adventure, and visit the east coast. The list of countries I want to visit grows every year but I don’t even have a passport. I want to see the world, but I end up seeing the insides of doctors offices for my kids instead.
No more. I am going to Scotland. I just have to say it again. I am going to Scotland! My husband and I will be staying in a castle which just happens to be near where some of his ancestors are from. My writing coach, Angie Fenimore at Calliope, is hosting a writing retreat in Scotland this fall. At first I assumed there was no way I could go, but something kept pulling me. I needed to be there. I’m not sure all of the reasons why, but I get to pitch my fantasy book to Tor- that’s enough to make it worth the trip! There will be incredible people to meet, great coaching, time to write, and a chance to see the Scottish Highlands.
I am giddy with excitement. I turned to my husband the other day and said, “Is this how people get to go places? They just decide?” and he said, “Pretty much.” Yes, he’s a man of few words.
As astonishing as it still is, I am going to Scotland. I can’t wait to share what I discover there with all of you!