Memorable Moments!

Perhaps one reason parents can get away with so much non-parenting is because kids figure out a way to adapt, albeit at times with a sassy mouth and disregard to rules.  For me, adapting to my new life as a pre-fifth grader left little room for anything but survival.  In those first two years of life in the city, survival meant becoming a master at picking up any babysitting job to be had, caring for any child in any house.  This proved to have pros and cons.

The pros:  I got to eat while on the job.  Eating became an obsession as a child.  Food was scarce, as was clothes, love, and stability.  In fact, scarcity became a way of life that would taunt me for years to come.  As a child, I focused on the food, perhaps for obvious reasons.  But realistically, food not only filled my tummy but “the good stuff” offered an emotional outlet for the pain.  My older sister and I both picked up on that lovely attribute.  She would go to the degree of hiding food in dresser drawers and under items shoved in the corner of a closet.  We both binge ate when given the opportunity.  King size bags of Doritos were our favorite!

Besides making money, I used babysitting as a means of accessing food.  I remember being calculated about it.  How long after they walked out the door was it safe to start assessing the contents of the cabinets and refrigerator?  I took steps to distract the children so it wasn’t so obvious what I was doing.  I’m not sure why, but I was certain that there was a chance they would report back to their parents.  I think it was the naive christian in me that was loaded with guilt, as I considered this a form of stealing.  Nonetheless, my need for food overpowered my fear of sin.  Obviously the nighttime jobs were the best.  Get the kids to bed and gorge.  Occasionally I would fail to be hired back.  I never knew for sure, but I always wondered if they knew they were paying an hourly wage plus half their pantry.

The Cons:  Babysitting for whomever proved to be disgusting and even dangerous.  Let’s remember, we moved to the city in June and I turned 10 in September.  Doubtful that too many people nowadays would let their kids stay with a barely 10 year old.  In my case, living in low income housing, the selection of parents was not too impressive.  Some of the homes reeked so badly I would bundle the kids up and go outside for as much of the timeframe as possible.  Not fun in the dead of Wisconsin winter!  Later in life, when I became a Realtor, I literally could not enter a home if the smell was too strong.  Literally.  I would offer the buyers the opportunity to go in alone.  The slightest whiff of an unkempt house would stir up such strong negative emotion I would immediately feel the need to vomit and cry at the same time.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, I also found myself at the mercy of some very angry children.  One such incident went as follows.  I arrived on time and the mother left just as quickly.  Her son, whom I recall not being much younger than me, began showing signs that he wasn’t too happy with my presence and blurted out that I was doomed because they all had crabs.  I’m not even sure I knew what that was but I knew it was bad because I called my mother.  She said she’d be right over.  In the meantime, the boy grew angrier, grabbed a butcher knife and began flailing it at me as he chased me around the apartment.  Is it even necessary to say I was terrified?!!  Honestly, I was also in shock.  What planet had I landed on and how did I go back?  I remember feeling that way.  My mom arrived shortly thereafter and I was incredibly grateful to know I was saved.  Ha!  Not so fast.  She dropped a brown paper bag on the floor and told me to sit on the bag and don’t touch anything.  She checked on the boy, who had now crawled onto the shelf in his bedroom closet, still holding the knife.  My mother informed me that he seemed much calmer now and went back home.  I don’t remember him ever getting down from that shelf.  Late into the night, his mom stumbled through the door, and I truly mean stumbled.  Her jacket was now fully open and I could see that all she had left was panties, a bustier and high heels.  Clearly her indecent exposure meant rent was covered!  Hey!  At least I could say I had very memorable moments in my childhood!

After reading just my first three blog posts, my husband looked at me and said, “Are you ok?”  I said, “yes”.  He responded, “you’ve come a long way.”  I smiled.  As I complete todays blog I must admit I am feeling a bit sad.  Holding back the tears is a little bit harder.  Of course I wish things had been different.  When I think of the fear and alone-ness inside that little girl, my heart melts.  Not just for me, but all the little girls and boys out there, innocent beyond words, who just want to be safe.  It’s horrifying.  The despair in their hearts when they acknowledge that they are not worth the love of another, not even their very own parent.  Little do they realize, they are actually priceless.

Tonya Stuart

#pursuingpowerfulparenting

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Parentless Parenting

Looking back I should have seen the signs of abandonment.  At roughly seven or so, still living in the country, I made friends with a neighbor boy.  My parents never asked where we went when they threw us outside so we wandered where ever we liked.  This boy lived about a mile and a half from our house and I would walk or bike over to his home regularly.  It turned out his home wasn’t an ordinary home, but a group home for troubled boys.  One such visit provided this boy an opportunity to live up to his spot in the house.  He led me downstairs into a room and closed the door.  Some time later, I left that room having experienced everything short of losing my virginity.  Oddly enough, I never carried much shame from that incident, but it definitely opened the door to sexual behavior at a much younger age than I likely otherwise would have pursued.  Nonetheless, had I understood what normal was, I would have realized that I had parentless parents.  While this was one of  the more extreme cases of neglect, it certainly wasn’t isolated.  There was the time that I walked four miles to the river to go fishing.  That activity alone, at my young age, called for a questioning of any parents decision making abilities.  As the day wore on I became hot and too tired to walk the bridge to the beach on the other side.  So, I opted to jump in and swim across.  Yes, I definitely underestimated my strength and endurance.  It was one of the most frightening moments of my life.  I’ll never forget realizing that I only had seconds before I was going under for good.  My tippy toes clung to the farthest edge of a sand bank below, my nose just barely staying above water.  By the grace of God, although I would find a timeframe in my life where I thought he didn’t exist, I was saved.  Years later, my father would drown in that very same watershed.

But, where were my parents?  This type of behavior is dotted throughout my childhood from the earliest of age. It wasn’t even the only time I barely drown. I hopped in my Grandmas swimming pool and sunk to the bottom on another occasion.  When I was finally discovered and pulled from the pool, I was whipped with a belt.  I could go on and on but hopefully you get the picture.  These were all signs of what was to come.  Once my father was released of his responsibilities and could spend his time solely working or drinking, and on occasion both at the same time, the incident of neglect would become almost an entire way of life.

I am going to pause here for a moment.  Although my story represents a severe case of parentless parenting, I would argue it is still all too common on many levels.  Let’s consider the mindset of my parents prior to their divorce.  They were seeking what many seek.  Two parent household, my mother’s choice of her favorite car while my father opted for a tough and rugged pickup truck, and a brand new home in the country.  If you look at these aspects, they seem what we would categorize as normal.  But, at what cost?  They both worked, oftentimes opposing shifts.  We rarely did anything as a family.  As children we were to be seen and not heard.  And, our parents pursued their own interests with what little time they had left in their week.  We were fed, clean, safe, and attended school on a regular basis.  What more could we ask for right?  As I look around this all too often crazy world, I see much the same happening in our communities. Innocently enough, parents are working and commuting countless hours with not near enough time to prepare adequate meals, and definitely limited time left for constructive conversation and play with their children, in order to grow strong hearts and minds.  Time with children is sacrificed in pursuit of the tangible treats.  Over the last fifty years we have become convinced that our priorities and satisfaction lie in things over family and that somehow the kids will be just fine on their own.  They have access to so much.  What could go wrong?

Let’s look around, shall we?  Cyber bullying.  In one study, 83% of the students who had been cyberbullied recently (in the last 30 days), had also been bullied at school recently. Similarly, 69% of the students who admitted to bullying others at school also bullied others online.  Suicide rates of 11 and 12 year olds increased 54% from 2012-2015 as compared to the three years prior. Each day in our nation, there are an average of over 3,470 attempts by young people grades 9-12.  Walk into a public school and ask a teacher how well their students are behaved.  My experience over the recent Christmas break was that a number of teachers from church were exacerbated by their first semester and overwhelmingly grateful for the break.  When asked about the kids, they all just shook their heads, and one veteran teacher stated that things are just not the same as they used to be with regard to the lack of respect toward adults and each other.  Childhood obesity.  More than 12 million U.S. children are obese — one out of every six children.  Scary!!  The age of sexual promiscuity, and the popularity of casual sex at a young age, as compared to decades ago.  My goodness.  I have nieces that have explained to me that it is commonplace to go to a house party with people having sex openly in a common room, switching of partners and engaging in rainbow kisses, where each girl puts a different lipstick on and provides oral sex to a man, or shall we say boy.  Don’t get me wrong, I see a lot of amazing parenting happening, but I also see lots of trends that are signs of parentless parenting.

My wish is that our culture would shift its definition of success from striving to acquire things, with little money left over at the end of the month and loads of stress, to one where raising our children is of utmost importance and everything else comes second.  We have been doing the former for so long we have deceived ourselves into thinking that the only option is to pursue a bigger home, a newer car, and more and more things for us and our children.  But the truth is what our children need most is love, personal time, guidance, wisdom, and healthy bodies through healthy food choices.  None of these come from an endless string of sporting events or video games or fast food joints or a home big enough that everyone has their own bedroom and perhaps their own bathroom to boot.

While my parents neglectfulness was a bit extreme, and only got worse with age, I would argue that many are dabbling in parentless parenting in pursuit of the ideals we have been sold through really, really good, high volume advertising.  Do yourself and your children a favor and take an assessment.  Look around you and consider where your hours are being used each day.  How many are honestly spent in quality time with your family?  Let this become as much a consideration, or more, than anything else in your life.  And, if the scales are tipped away from your children, what needs to be done to reverse that problem?

Tonya Stuart

#pursuingpowerfulparenting

 

 

https://cyberbullying.org/new-national-bullying-cyberbullying-data

https://stateofobesity.org/childhood-obesit

http://prp.jasonfoundation.com/facts/youth-suicide-statistics/y-trends/

Defining Normalcy

By far my biggest reservation about writing my story is where to begin.  There is so much to tell of my childhood experiences and I never wanted it to become a long pity party of sad stories with no purpose.  Life is hard for a lot of people period.  Even now, I stare at my screen thinking, Lord just shoot the words from my fingertips.  Establish meaning for those reading, and let my words be a connection to rising above whatever story is holding them back from living their best life.

For me, life began with what felt like semi-normalcy.  A two parent household until age 9, we had a home, food and structure set on a 17 acre country home.  There was a great deal of discipline and work driven by my mother’s philosophies, but it seemed ordinary.  The worst we experienced was cleaning any designated room or piece of furniture over and over until her expectations were met.  Picture Mommy Dearest.  It was common place for us to be given the choice of being locked outside from about 8AM to 10PM, with food being placed on the deck, or clean the house for hours.  For a five year old this was definitely extreme, but I didn’t realize it at the time.  My mother thrived on being a disciplinarian.  Beatings with a belt were the norm, but she had alternative favorites as well.  It seemed she salivated on the idea of placing us in a kneeling position and then loading up our arms with the heaviest of objects.  I once had to do this in the root cellar, on concrete floor, with the lights out, for what felt like an eternity but was more realistically one to two hours.  If she caught you faltering, your time was naturally extended.  Fortunately for me, my brother took the worst beatings and even had a large ceramic boiling pot busted over his head at one point.  Mind you, the reasons for said discipline were minute at best.  But, all in all, nothing felt that odd about our life.

Little did I know that I was about to dream of the days that discipline was my worst problem.  The summer prior to 5th grade, our parents were officially divorced, my mother got majority custody of us girls, gave my brother to our dad, and we moved to the city.  Appleton WI to be exact.  Less than 100,000 people but gigantic to the eyes of a country girl, and naivety was my first, middle and last name.  Home became an extremely small 2 Br, 1 Ba apartment in what was essentially low-income housing.  Naturally, my first thoughts were of excitement to branch out and discover this whole new world of endless houses and nearby stores and parks, one of which was just a short walk from our units.  It’s also where I found my first boyfriend just days after arrival.  Are you ready for a funny story?  His name was Mark and he was on a mission to find his girl, with little expectation.  Pretty much any female, roughly his age, would do.  How do I know this?  Well, we chatted in the park for probably under five minutes before he asked me if I would go with him.  Naturally, I responded, “Where?”, and suddenly I was thrust into my first instruction of city life.  He gently explained that his question alluded to the idea of hooking up as boyfriend and girlfriend.  I was elated!  It sounded so special!  We left the park together and headed to a few local rummage sales where we found a cheap ring for my finger.  Craziest thing ever, right?  That’s what my mom thought too.  Her response was not so glowing.  Upon arriving home and introducing her to my new boyfriend, she dragged me down the hall to the bathroom, slammed the door shut, and slapped me across the face three times while explaining that this boy would have to go!  Remember, I’m 9, in a foreign land with no means to understand what is happening around me.

This immediately became the pattern of life.  Any aspect of “normalcy” I knew before was gone and any hopes that our mother would prove to be a guiding light went up in smoke along with the marriage.  At the young age of roughly 36, my mother was hot on the pursuit of a new man, a rich one at that, and motherhood simply no longer fit her lifestyle.  My nine year old self quickly realized she had become almost non-existent.  Essentially, she supplied a place to live, paid the bills when she could, and did most of the grocery shopping.  With no job, we were living on welfare and food stamps totaling roughly $1,000 per month for a family of four.   Not only was this not feasible, but my mothers’ obsession to find a man came alongside requirements of fancy hair styles and an occasional expensive outfit to boot.  She needed to fit the part of a soon to be wealthy wife even if it was at the expense of food and bare essentials.  Within weeks it became glaringly obvious that my mother was pursuing another life, in spite of our well-being, and we were 100% alone.  Not only were we alone as sisters, we were alone as individuals.  What I mean by that is my older sister was 15, and immediately forced to become my moms sidekick at the many frequented bars.  My little sister was 4, and I didn’t know what to do with her.  None of us had a connection.  Now, looking back, I realize that none of us had learned to truly love one another because we were not shown love by our parents.  It’s likely an experience only a very small percentage of you will understand, and I would argue that the damage created in our childhood effected our ability to become truly close sisters to this day.  So there we were living in a tiny unit as separate individuals.  Alone.  Scared.  Desperate.

This set the tone for years to come.  The fear would become nearly unbearable as the uncomfortable and oftentimes dangerous experiences built upon one another.  The fear and loneliness, alongside the emotional abuse, would lead to such a sense of unworthiness, and the absolute certainty that we were unloveable, that each of us girls would arrive into adulthood making decision after decision that placed us in harms way.  And, one of us would never find her way out of that cycle.  Rest assured if I could have changed one thing about my childhood it would not have been that we weren’t poor.  It would have been that we were loved.

Tonya Stuart

 

My Soapbox!

Before I dive into the details of my story, allow me a moment to make use of my gold plated soap box I have been so patiently waiting to ascend!  I promise I’ll be gentle.  At times.  But, not always.  As you will see, my childhood wasn’t pretty.  I know I’m not alone, but as an adult I have come to look at this experience with a need to question, “Why aren’t we paying closer attention to parenting?”

This is the sole greatest responsibility we hold as humans and yet we adjust our schedules to fit in a laundry list of “other” responsibilities in advance of parenting.  Job title/advancement, bigger and better homes, number of toys, entertainment, shopping for the purpose of buying more stuff we could actually live without, pedicures, manicures, how we look and what will it take to improve, everyone else’s life on FB, who we rub elbows with and which netflix series we still haven’t seen.  This is the short list of course.  I propose we flip our lives upside down and put our children first!

Now, I know what many of you are thinking.  “The audacity!  Of course I put my child first! Who does she think she is?  She must be referencing someone else!”  And perhaps I am.  Perhaps you are an ideal parent.  However, I have had too many conversations surrounding the subject of lonely teens lost in a sea of choices and influences, from every direction other than their parents, to believe that this is the norm.  I have one middle school child in particular that comes to mind.  From the outside you would have thought she had the perfect life.  But, she constantly looked to my family and voiced her desire that her family spend time together like we did.  Her journey did not result in a happy ending.  Her heart was consistently heavy with the weight of the belief that the portrayal of their perfect family was more important than actually being a family.

I could go on and on and on and on about this subject, and I will use my story to communicate the ways I think we could benefit our children in our parenting styles, so this will not be the last word you will hear on this subject.  I will weave what I have learned throughout, in hopes that by the end, I create an outline of sorts from which you can use as a standard to reflect on your own parenting.  Know one thing for sure.  We need to take a stand.  We need to begin to recognize that this is of utmost importance for our future and for our dignity.  We have been misled into believing that we can hold our head high based on our bank accounts while our children’s hearts and minds are bleeding with desperation to be well loved, heard, taught, adored, provided structure, prompted to use their imaginations, and even disciplined.

Why does this all matter so much to me?  Well, remember when I said “There are brilliant minds and beautiful souls lost in the sea of people that have dismissed them as “have nots”?”  These souls are lost because of parenting.  I know, I know.  Once again, I am sure I have many of you with your undies in a bundle.  Settle down because this is true.  I don’t just believe it.  I know it.  If you believe in a child, from little on, and love them well, while properly teaching the wisdom of the bible (or call it your rules of life if you so choose), and you enforce these disciplines properly, you will rear a well rounded, well loved soul prepared to be a great steward to all life.  Steal these gifts from a child, particularly love, and you end up with a lost soul.

You may disagree with me whole-heartedly at this moment, but read along.  Watch the countless moments of representation to this theory.  More importantly, ponder on your own list of priorities.  How much time are you physically devoting to being with your children each week?  What constructive activities are you including in that time?  Do you talk to your children at length?  What about?  Is it constructive or negative and gossip oriented?  Do you eat dinner together each evening?  Do you have a list of values and boundaries from which you want your children to follow and have you set a plan to teach and guide them from this list?  Have you eliminated access to avenues that would go against this list?  i.e. television shows, youtube channels/shows, type of music, allowable language, certain friends.  And, have you set rules, alongside of appropriate discipline, to enforce your expectations that said values and boundaries are to be taken seriously?  These are just a few questions to ask yourself along the way.  By all means, expand your thinking and broaden your consideration of what you are doing versus what you could be doing to be a great parent.  And, don’t forget to take note of the time you are spending on all other matters of life over the time you are spending to literally form a persons outcome of their life.

Oh, how I wish I could keep writing.  I have so much to say on this subject.  I feel like I could write a thousand pages.  But, alas, I have probably lost you already.  Let me quit while I’m ahead and be satisfied with the knowing that ultimately all my thoughts will be carried through into words and you may just still be reading!

 

What Took Me So Long to Begin?

What will I say?  How will I start?  What will people think?  What if I am not cohesive in my message?  What will my message be?  What if people think there is no value in the message?  What if all the people that have been moved by my story, when I have told parts of it in the past, are just an anomaly?

These are the questions that have dominated my mind since the writing of a book was first proposed.  Fear of judgment.  Such an elusive villain in our story of life.  The constant voice of shame that dominates our thoughts whenever we are approached by a desire to do something outside of our comfort zone.  Fear of judgment smothers our passions and creativity.

So why have I chosen to move beyond the questions?  First, I rarely concede to fear.  You will see this pattern throughout my story.  I call it walking through fear.  This is the answer to overcoming.

Second, I want to be a source of perspective.  All too often I have been part of conversations that include “This is America. “They” need to work hard, quit making excuses, and take advantage of the many opportunities available to pull themselves up to a better life”.  “They” are the inner city black kids using weapons and drugs as a source of survival, the poverty stricken, homeless people, and any group that has not figured out a way to live a respectable life as defined by mainstream society.  Each time I partake in these conversations, as a bystander of course, my stomach turns and I scan the area for the nearest restroom.  How is it they don’t understand?  How do they not see that as a child, when you are placed under torment, fear, abuse, shame, sexual assault, lovelessness, and abandonment, that you just don’t see the opportunity as your opportunity.  It’s the same as when I went into a 4th/5th grade inner city class to teach basic coursework which included fractions.  In a two month timeframe, a child’s father was shot and killed in a drug war, another had her grandmother’s boyfriend raping her, and another 13 year old was added to the class who had never been in school.  He was found by police selling drugs with his mother.  Presumably, drug dealing was the only life he knew.  Does anyone really think these kids see a point in learning fractions?  They can’t see past the pain and fear of their circumstances.  Yet as a society there are so many quick to judge them when they hit adulthood and remain an ineffective or even dangerous part of our communities.  Thankfully I was not a part of the drug wars, but I was sexually assaulted, placed in the hands of a sexual predator, left in an apartment with no electricity or food, raised by divorced parents that included a loveless, mentally ill mother and alcoholic father, and largely left to fend for myself from the age of 10.  I know the torment of fear, the loneliness, shame, lack of worthiness, and defeat that these circumstances create as a foundation to adulthood, and I know how unlikely it is to rise above.  I have experienced it with my siblings who either never did rise above or struggled to do so for many years.  I have seen it from my husband’s siblings, both of whom never rose above and now live together in their 40’s, essentially ineffective to society.  It’s easy to judge and say they should have tried harder unless you have lived a highly dysfunctional childhood.  Then, you understand the prison it creates in your mind, with walls of shame and fear so thick you wouldn’t dare even consider attempting to break them down.  The pain would be unbearable.  I will write this blog to provide perspective to those that would otherwise never understand because this type of childhood history is so far beyond their own, in hopes that I can prevent future conversations like the aforementioned.  And, what I offer is the unique perspective of someone that not only rose above, but soared.  I have seen and experienced both sides of it all.  I know the work it takes to undo the damage and I can tell you it has been nothing short of sheer exhaustion for decades.

Third, I want to motivate.  I want my story to be a source of motivation for all walks of life.  Because, even though my greatest wish is to be a voice of the few who are mostly invisible to those of us getting up and going to an office job every day, I also recognize that a treacherous background is not required to arrive at adulthood with a baggage of shame and hurts that mar one’s ability to move forward in life freely, without wondering if they will ever be enough, have enough or do enough.  I want my story to be one in which the majority can look to and say, “if she did it I can do it” and “if she is brave enough to speak life over her shame then I can tell my story too”.  We, as a society, should not be buying into a world that tells/shows us the perfect, white picket fence, dreamy home, two brand new cars, wardrobe from Bloomies, parents of 2 with VP titles and bodies that still look like models as the ideal, and if your story falls short of that, then by all means, stay hidden in a pool of shame.  NO!  I say stand up and own your story.  Be brave, as one of my favorite authors, Brene Brown, often says.  Be brave!  You are perfectly made by an amazing creator and you are just as you are meant to be.  All of you has value.  All of your story is the reason you are who you are today and it is special because you are special.  And the love of ourselves doesn’t come from trying to fit in to a perfectly airbrushed cover of a magazine.  Until we start to understand this we will lack compassion and connection to those around us.  Why?  Because as we judge ourselves, so we judge others.  Instead of desiring to know their hearts, flaws and all, and being prepared to open our own hearts just the same, we will continue to wrestle with shame, a lack of authenticity, disconnect and unwarranted judgment.  I will write my story as a starting point to motivate others to do the same.  And in so doing, appreciate the lessons learned from mistakes made, release old hurts, show compassion for themselves and others, and most importantly learn to love their whole heart!

Prayers for open minds and hearts,

Tonya

You Should Write a Book!

For many years now, I have had people telling me I should write a book.  My response has always been a very confused expression followed by one thought – why?.  I have had one of the craziest, most difficult, dysfunctional, disaster ridden lives of anyone I know.  Is the idea of writing a book about my life good humor for others, like a written reality TV show?  Or perhaps those prompting me are all lovers of horror films.  That would much more closely reflect my biography.

Whenever I asked why, the reply was a resounding “your story gives so much hope and is a great inspiration” from which I always returned a deer in the headlights look!

Now, at the age of 45, with years of transformation behind me, both heart and head centered, I see their point.  Not many people experience the trauma in my life and rise above.  Heck, I’m not even sure why I aspired to, but I did.  And now, I look around and see the many people aspiring to the same.  They may not have the obnoxious, nauseous story of my life, although I am well aware that there is a population that does, but either way it’s irrelevant because most people carry some form of baggage from which they wish to rise above and conquer.

Since most people don’t have the time, tenacity, strength or crazed mindset like mine, there is not a large support system to rise above.  It’s much easier to look around, recognize that everyone else has settled, and join the crowd.  MUCH EASIER.  The alternative, rising above, typically means walking into painful thoughts, fears, shame, and self doubt.  And there is a question as to whether or not the path will be worth it, or even work.  Will one be able to truly ever rise above?

The answer is yes!  Anyone can rise above and it’s worth it to do the work!  The more devastating your story the greater magnitude of joy you will experience as you reach new levels of breakthrough.  Note that I didn’t say the more joy you will experience when you come out the other side.  There is no “other side”, this much I can assure you.  The battle to overcome is life long.  There will always be another bad experience or response mechanism from past hurts that will whip you in the face.  However, the rising above process lessens the painful impact, and drastically shortens the effects.  The more often you practice this the quicker you come back to joy and peace.  Ultimately, isn’t that what we are all after?  And, isn’t it true that that can come only from the heart?  Not money, not a title, not effort in any other area more so than the love you can receive with an open heart healed of all its hurts and ready to connect to others.

So where am I going with this?  I have mentioned a rising above process.  It sounds like a three part coaching series for the low, low cost of $1,000,000.00!  Ha!  Not so much.  The rising above process is just what I refer to as the steps I took to rise above.  Pretty clever, heh?  I know.  If only we could all be so brilliant and witty!

And the process, along with everyone’s insistence that I write a book, has brought me here, to my first official blog post.  It’s not a book, at least not yet, but I am going to give writing a whirl.  If my story can truly benefit others, then I want to use it to start a ripple effect of change for those that are hurting, particularly those that started life 10 steps behind everyone else, not by choice but by circumstance.  There are brilliant minds and beautiful souls lost in the sea of people that have dismissed them as “have nots”.  I will write this blog especially for you!  Do not believe the lies!  You are a child of God, brilliantly and wonderfully made and you have purpose!

Wish me luck!  I do hope they were right and I was wrong.  I hope my story inspires you and my tips from my rising above journey prove to be of value to your life as well!!

Cheers to a new year and a new life journey!

Happy 2018!!

Miss Tonya

Charlottesville VA