Friday, October 31, 2014

The Haunting of Halloween

Today is Halloween.

At this very 6:19 am moment, one of my children is awake and perfecting their ghoulish face paint.

I had intended to write this post yesterday-------- and didn't. I couldn't. I wasn't clear about what to say.... I'm still not.

Monday I was on my weekly phone call with my personal Life Coach Cindy Montano.

(find her facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Transformational-Healing-Awareness/119100048164709  )

I set my intentions every week with her and this week one of them was to be strict with myself in eating Vegetarian.

ON HALLOWEEN WEEK!!!!!!!!!! ;)

In conversation with Cindy I explained that Halloween is extremely stressful for me. But keeping my word isn't.

I spent over a decade with an eating disorder. Having a house full of candy and chocolate and junk food is emotionally triggering for me. Making the commitment to eat healthy this week is relieving. Having support and encouragement from my dear friend and mentor assists my resolve.

Eating disorders are addictions similar to drug, alcohol, or other vices. Essentially, it is a way to avoid facing issues and emotional energy by turning one's focus onto a temporary distraction.


Just like an alcoholic chooses to see the world through the goggles of wine glasses... those with eating disorders choose to see the world as weight-loss, thin, not thin, etc. Instead of facing a world that is overwhelming and seems so daunting, where the answers aren't "cut and dry" or we don't know how to process feelings or "what to do" in life situations... we turn to what we know how to do...
Lose Weight. 2+2=4.

It's kind of like Ironing to me. I like Ironing. I don't know how to "fix" many dilemmas in my life... but give me a wrinkled shirt and in just moments... all chaos is now smooth and resolved.

Yes, for me, the weight loss/disorder was very much about self-hatred and rejection. I hated my body. I hated the way I looked. My face, my thighs, my arms, my ass... hated.
I avoided mirrors, I would walk down a different side of the street to avoid large windows that reflected my image. Until a few years ago, I didn't wear short sleeves or skirts or a bathing suit. Until a few years ago I didn't speak publicly in front of people. I was terrified and humiliated when they turned their heads and eyes towards me. 

Every time I facilitate a drum circle... sometimes with 100 people there, my bestie, personal assistant calms me down before we step in. "Breathe! Breathe! Breathe." she's the best. My hands are shaking right now writing about that.

BUT, part of why I do the drum circles... why I began The I Am Message photography movement is because I watch so many other teen girls and their mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmas... in similar self-loathing and rejection. I take photos of women/children/people with chalkboards telling us WHO they REALLY are... it's not about the physical appearance.


I thought I could pray myself out of hating myself... maybe I did. Because women showed up in my life who accepted themselves enough to love me and show me HOW to do it.

We dance and play at drum circles, as adults "let go" and empower each other and the teens there, things shift.



Cindy coaches me through many things... I don't know that "I'm Recovered" the same way that an alcoholic is perhaps never recovered.
It's something that HAUNTS me. I wish I could just "abstain" from anything that triggers the addiction... like other addicts can just "remove" the temptation of drugs or alcohol... but food is relatively essential. 
The addiction I fell into requires self-discipline and self-mastery. It is something I will MANAGE not eliminate from my life. 

A few weeks ago I was talking to Cindy and saying "I know my brain is getting a little twisted right now..." I explained that what I am "SEEING" in the mirror isn't matching reality.

"Like how?" she asked.
What I was seeing was fat. Lot's of it. It appeared as though overnight I gained 20 pounds. All I could see was lumps and cellulite. I was panicking.. (again my fingers are shaking now) SOoooo, I went and put on my jeans. They fit the same.



What I know now when this happens is that when my brain begins to "contort" things it's a survival mechanism I learned from so long ago. So the distortion is like a warning bell telling me there are emotional issues I'm ignoring and perhaps "blind" to that deserve attention.
Cindy coached me through it.

She's not an "expert" persay on eating disorders exactly, but what is important for parents and friends to realize is that disorders and addictions are SYMPTOMS of someone not knowing HOW to process something in their life. Eliminating the SYMPTOM doesn't dissolve the CAUSE. 
Going through processes of HOW to approach problems, work through things, face emotions and traumas, memories that we don't want to... is HOW to alleviate the SYMPTOM of an addiction.

Well... here's to Halloween... ! Lol.

A nightmare awoke me this morning that I had broken my word to Cindy and to myself and eaten sausage and chocolate.

But I'm resolved. I'm here. I'm sharing.
I share because I speak about these issues often to girls groups. I only share because there are others like me and parents of others like me who don't really "get" what's going on. And--- to be fair, I can only share what I know for me. It may not be the reasons for everyone.

Happy Haunting. :)

For local Utahns, here's a website that can assist you or one you love who may be struggling. 
http://centerforchange.com/



Thursday, October 30, 2014

The People Like Mountains

I am so grateful to have been raised in the protective embrace of Utah Mountains.



As a young child, I stood with my classmates on the asphalt playground while our teacher, Mrs. Wallace, was explaining North, East, West, South.
It was as simple as knowing the Big Mountains were East. As long as I knew that- I could find the other directions.

Yesterday, I was in a small city I rarely pass through and I was unfamiliar with the rural roads and dead ends. My compass was the Mountains. I trusted that all I had to do was keep going South- using the Mountains as a reference and eventually I would find the "Ol' highway" - which I did.

As I drove along the ripened farmers fields and dirt roads I realized that for me- I have been blessed with people like Mountains.



People who I reflect on; remember,and show up. Because of the way they are and the way they live... I trust that I'll find MY OWN way. 

The people that often arrive in my life or to my events and I look over to see their face among many faces and a sense of peace and comfort washes over me. I know I'll be alright. I know there are those that love and support me. My Mountains. 

I'll navigate, I'll do what I get to do, say what I get to say - every so often glancing over at their beautiful faces and know where I am and where I get to go next.

Life is like that too. "Good or Bad", "fun or not-fun-at-the-time" experiences that have been the Mountains of my life story. The things that shaped who I am; direct my way of living, being and the way I make decisions- even the way I choose to love. The Mountains. 

Here, East is where the Mountains are. In Native American Culture... East is the direction and Spirit of New Beginnings, of Hope, of seeing the world through new eyes and innocence and humility. 

May we all have our "Mountains" May we all have our People Like Mountains.




Sunday, October 26, 2014

I Was a Liar and a Thief

The other day, someone from my past... from 20 years ago was teasing me about how I was once a thief.

It was perplexing.
I have learned so very harshly that decisions we make in our youth can follow us for decades.

Also, it's interesting to spend decades living and serving and choosing different and still have teenage thoughtlessness be a way to be identified by.

There are people in my life... and by the words "in my life" I mean on the perimeters of my life, those who are on the outer circle persay, who still interact with me in a way that reminds me they are in relationship with the Girl who existed almost 20 years ago- and not the woman I am today.

My reply to the conversation and person was "Did you know I gave everything to charity?'
Which they didn't.

You see, I took t-shirts and stupid things. I went through my room, my closet, with a fine tooth comb and anything that was "gained" unscrupulously; I donated to charity. Clothing.



YES; I was eventually caught and the $2500 fine and "Slap on the Hands" wasn't necessarily why I never stole again... (in fact, I return pens to the bank if I absentmindedly drive away.)


WHY did I learn? What was the lesson? If it wasn't the fine and the slap on the hands, what was it?

I had JUST turned 18 when I got caught stealing a t-shirt, SOOOOOOOooooo- being an "adult" I didn't have to tell my parents, and I assumed they wouldn't find out.

Sitting in the courtroom though, waiting for my name to be called by the judge to stand at the podium- I heard the doors to the courtroom open and there in the halo of the doorway was my dad.

He pointed at me. I stood and with my terror filled heart, I followed his beckoning out of the courtroom, into a small "Council" room for attorneys.

With my head hanging in shame I answered the questions he asked about the situation.

At the end of the conversation, my dad spoke to me in quiet but powerful tone and said "Katie, I'm sorry that I have failed you as a dad. I'm sorry that you wouldn't know that regardless of what you have done, or how hard it is you can come to me and I will stand by you."

The words hit me like a hammer to my soul.



"Let's go." he finished, and we went back into the courtroom and stood at the podium together.


I wish I could say that that was the end of my self destructive and self loathing behavior... but it wasn't. However, that experience has fundamentally shifted my entire life and effected the way I parent and choose to love my kids.

That day my dad showed me what being a dad was. I know he was embarrassed. I know I was ashamed. I feel guilt over that day still to this day.
But all I can say is... I learned. Thank God for that. Thank you Dad for that. 

And, I Am NOT my past. I AM NOT my future. I AM this moment. In THIS MOMENT, I hold Eternity in my hands and heart. I AM LOVE as I choose to be LOVE in this moment. I AM LIGHT. 

I Am. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6D8PZbLdhA0

Friday, October 24, 2014

That Still Small Voice

I remember I learned to channel in different ways, only I didn't call it that.

When I was a young teen and asked to speak in church from time to time, I found that if I stayed up late enough, and got tired enough then eventually I could just sit and write a page of whatever subject was given and not have to rewrite or edit it.... this was easier persay than struggling to write it.

I found that people in the congregation would come up to me afterwards from the speech and ask for copies of what I had said.

With artwork, if I try to "force" a sketch or drawing... it seems to never work out. BUT, when people hire me to paint commissions or drums I sit with the drum for a while... a couple weeks usually, in fact I tend to hang the blank drum in my living room. Day after day I look at it and eventually I "SEE" the painting on the drum. When this happens I just trace what I "SEE."



Once, a gentleman had hired me to do a certain painting and I called him after a few weeks saying "The painting you requested isn't showing up. Something else is." I explained the image that kept "arriving" on the drum and he was in shock. Apparently, it represented something that he had never told me or anyone else and it was sacred and important to him.

The image I saw is the one we painted.

When I am asked to paint a drum or carve a drumstick... it is an honor. I see it and deem it reverent and blessed.

I know that whatever we create on this side of 3D (3rd dimension) extends beyond energetically throughout the universe. I know that as we BEAT our Drums and come from the heart... the ECHO goes forward and backward in time and space.

I am so grateful to watch the way people are opening their hearts.


https://www.facebook.com/KTJOdrumcirclegoddess

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Things I Rarely Speak About

I was scared. I was embarrassed.

I was walking down the short cement steps with bushes and hedges around them into the basement BYU apartment my friends rented in Provo.


The way the entry worked is that once you passed through the door there was a 15 foot hallway you traveled through before turning right into the combination of kitchen/living room.

I could hear the television on- my fingertips trembled as they trailed along the passage wall... knowing I was about to face my friends for the first time after being released from the hospital for my suicide attempt.
I was nervous. I was ashamed. I was broken. I needed them to forgive me. I needed them to love me.

I hoped they would comfort me.

I turned the corner pensively and stood there for a moment before they realized I was there.

They sat on the sofa, eyes glued to whatever was on the TV. Three of them. I believe it was Nicole that noticed me first. She glanced over and I saw shock on her face as she connected the dots of me standing nervously, half hidden by the partition wall.

She began to cry and rushed over to hug me. Debbie was at her heels and we all embraced and cried.



The third friend stayed sitting. Told me "Hello" and I noticed she was wearing my cashmere sweater, new skirt, and $200 boots. Apparently, she had raided my closet in my 11 day absence.

Later that night, I told her to take my clothes off- and she was angry because I wasn't going anywhere for the evening and she had a date. She didn't understand why it mattered or why I wouldn't share. In fact, she said I was greedy and selfish- this was an important date.

It's almost two decades since that time in my life.
I still cry remembering what those years were like.

I speak to youth groups and women's groups often and support families who lost members to suicide now.


Monday, October 13, 2014

The Teens

You may or may not know I have a special place in my heart for Teens.

I see young children so free, I watch them enter their teens and begin to box themselves in.

Simultaneously as they stretch their wings they also tend to stop being free.

Often I see them tortured by the mind made electric fences of  "What will my peers think?" wanting to fit in and also be different.

This is when their world opens up so large... they are exposed to large groups of people and other teens coming from diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and upbringing... they get to see there are THOUSANDS of ways to live and be and think and suddenly what they knew growing up has come into question.. the question of "Is the way I was taught- the best way? Is there a different way? What way is MY way?"

I really believe everyone's bottom line (teens too) is the same:

I WANT TO KNOW I AM LOVED, FEEL LOVED AND BE FREE TO GIVE LOVE.

All efforts are in pursuit of that.



As parents if we do NOTHING else, let us teach them they are LOVED.

LOVED without agenda, LOVED whether or not they achieve ANYTHING, whether or not they believe as we do, whether or not they look perfect, or earn perfect grades.


We can only show them... by LOVING and ACCEPTING ourselves.
Routinely in speaking events I do, I have Mother's say their daughters refuse to love themselves or believe they are beautiful... and I see they are mirror imaging their Mother's.

As Mother's pray for this by their bedside saying "How? How can I teach them they are beautiful and loved?" the answer from God is always the same "By acknowledging YOU are beautiful and worthy of LOVE."

I facilitate Drum Circles. I gather groups of people together. I see the adult women in the group laugh and dance and empower one another. I see them JUMP UP and SERVE one another. I see them OPEN AND FREE and willing to look SILLY.





And guess what....
I see the teens... step forward and give themselves permission to do the same.

Last night I watched as the teens stepped forward and began to act out and play and laugh and sing and be dramatic and goofy... I watched as the women and other adults encouraged them and cheered them on and sent LOVE and ACCEPTANCE to them.

I watched the LIGHT within them GROW as they recognized it was OKAY to be DIFFERENT and being UNIQUE was Divine. Being UNIQUE was welcomed and empowered and revered.




Friday, October 3, 2014

The Plight of Beautiful Girls

I haven't written for a while.
I get busy.
My life gets jumbled and un-jumbled all at the same time.

I know this may sound strange... but there is a plight of beautiful girls.

First, let me start off by acknowledging I have been called a beautiful girl before.
Second, let me explain that for over a decade I thought I was so ugly, unappealing an hideous that I would avoid walking past large windows that reflected me or mirrors.

People would tell me I was beautiful and it was as if they were speaking a different language to me... I could logically understand the words coming out of their mouths but they made no connection or comprehension to me. 

What I knew and experienced was that male friends would often engage with me as wolves in sheep's clothing... under the guise of friendship- they would make their way close to me and after I opened slightly to their camaraderie... they would "go in for the kill" plan... the "SOMEDAY" plan. The " I am her friend because I'm sure someday we will be in bed together" plan.



Naturally, eventually they believed me that I saw them only as friends- and typically, they became angry, rejected, withdrawn and often cruel.
You see, they felt as though I had done them a severe injustice... not because I wasn't clear from the beginning --- but because of their own "Someday" plan.

So.... friends.... were never "just friends" and as an Empath, I can usually feel their hidden thoughts... even before they do.

As a teen I began to think my only value to a man was physical. After all.... even their "friendships" were only as lasting as the illusion of their possibility of physicality was still hovering in the air. 

I began to withdraw myself. 


image credit;  keithham.hubpages.com


I learned not to reach out and hold a hand, or hug, or stare directly into the eyes of a "male friend" not to laugh or sing or dance or casually talk lightly.  I learned not to reach over and pat the knee of a good friend while we drove or told jokes... nothing to encourage them.

I also learned how lonely it was to feel as though I was devoid of physical touch. That no touch was okay. Any attempt at mine to extend a hand or hug in "love" could be misconstrued and eventually have a dear one turn on me.

I walled up.

As a girl that others identified as "beautiful"... being severely shy wasn't interpreted that way... but because of others perceptions of what I thought of myself... others didn't get I was shy... but snobby and stuck up. My silence was read as condescension... instead of insecurity.

As a girl others identified as "beautiful":  my girl friend relationships lasted as long as they were single or un-threatened. If their boyfriend and I had a conversation or if I laughed at their jokes... obviously- I was trying to steal him away. Many many times... my teen girl "friends" would make a pre-emptive strike and cut their friendships with me or try to humiliate me in some way... especially if their boyfriend said anything along the lines of "Katie's cool."

With boyfriends, they were possessive, insecure of themselves and their ability to keep me interested or away from other "predator" men... so they would control or punish me - for talking to another male. Naturally... if I was "beautiful" I had no sense of limits and could easily be seduced by another male.....

image credit: designyoutrust.com

If any of you have met me in person, you probably recognize my dominant energy is feminine and sensual. I wear lace and love to talk and interact and connect emotionally. My energy is and has always been sensual. That doesn't mean I have no boundaries or limits. If I am present- the energy is present. When I touch someones shoulder innocently- my energy is there, but it is not an advance.

To be honest... in many ways I prefer interactions with men who are openly upfront about wanting me to be sexual with them. It's refreshing- not because I jump into bed, but because there's no turmoil I pick up in their emotions, no hidden agenda-( known or unknown) we handle the issue up front by acknowledging it and move forward. IN FACT, these have been some of my favorite and most lasting friendships.

I still have self confidence issues. I still encounter women who openly despise me, but I am aware that the way I see myself isn't always the way that others see me.

I have grown and learned to accept myself tremendously over the last few years, due to intensive soul searching and divine friendships of women and men who are secure enough in themselves and their foundation that there is no competition or hidden intentions. 

I am writing this because so many times we see women (and men) who are physically beautiful and think they have it all... that they know it; that they are "SO LUCKY."
I'm writing because for many of those "BEAUTIFUL" people are dramatically lonely and boxed in and continuously on guard against the "Takers" and to be fair... most of the time- the "Takers" aren't aware of what they are doing.

Just some thoughts and insights. Consider this the next time you want to pull down, criticize, or feel suspicious of someone you deem "beautiful"---- if you get to know them, you may realize that MOST OF THE TIME... they don't feel that way about themselves at all.