Day 3.

The fact that I’m writing today’s update at 8pm should give you an idea of how the day went.

It’s been challenging today. I woke up tired. Like really tired. A deep exhaustion that I couldn’t shake.

I ended up going back to bed after my mediation class, with full intentions of simply resting my eyes…3 cups of coffee and an 2 hours later, I made it to the shower.

Needless to say I was a couple hours late for work…luckily I’m not micromanaged and have that freedom. But the real problem was I just couldn’t get my mojo. I could feel myself sinking. I kept pulling out life jackets (practices I have heard or tried these last couple of days) but none fit.

In complete desperation I finally just surrendered and accepted the come down.

I’ve been running full steam in excitement (school kid rush) – and I started school – for real.

Eventually I got in my car, took a drive, and listened to some music. Something I NEVER do. It helped, but it wasn’t the cure.

Finished some paperwork and packed my stuff to head hone- I get in the car and as I turn my head I see the most amazing and beautiful sunset. I get out of my car (not realizing I leave it running with the door wide open with my crap on the seat…

I run into a colleague who begins work talk. I put my hands up in a gesture that tells him to be hushed, and force him to walk with me.

We talked about family and then we just stood there and admired Gods canvas. I asked him if the new moon had anything to do with this and after a puzzled look I explained about my new journey. He chuckled and we carried on. (Go back to day 2 and the Trump supports) 😂

I get to my car and receive a text message thanking me for forcing him to stop and smell the roses.

It was all well. Even if it wasn’t. I was present with my fatigue and accepted it. All I had to do was not do anything until it passed.

I guess it’s called a journey for a reason. It’s not a cure. It’s not an easy fix. It’s a practice. There will be good days and difficult days.

I’m committed tho. And for today, that’s all that matters.

But really- does the moon impact the sunset?! I’m really curious.

Goodnight, Michelle. I love you. ❤️

Day 2.

Much less eventful than yesterday. (Insert laughter here)

However, just as meaningful. Today was also my first day back to school, so with someone like myself, it’s a stir of craziness, and a bit ‘all over the place’ these last 2 days.

The highlight for Day 2 is by far this quote from Yung Pueblo, who may just be my new favorite. “true power is living the realization that you are your own healer, hero, and leader. it is when you share your truth with compassion and peace. your power grows when you make progress in your own freedom and wisdom. those who are truly powerful do not harm themselves or others; instead, they use their energy to enrich all they know with love.”

Oddly enough, it not only speaks to my heart, it contains many meaningful words, that have spoke to me over the years; healer, leadership, compassion, peace, freedom, and love.

I have been fortunate to have many influencers in my life since returning home from prison. However, none of have been like the one that I think of right now. I remember first meeting this person and thought; hmmmm, what’s his story. He didn’t have the same vibe as everyone else….but I wasn’t convinced that was a good thing. He very well could have been other one of the Trump Supporters who thinks the complete opposite of me, lol (There were a lot of those around at the time)

Long story short- he was nothing like them. That different vibe was Leadership. He was a Leader. A leadership that was rooted deep, and a quality that drew me in.

He became my hero.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted this man as a father, brother, uncle or therapist…true story! Fast forward; the attraction was his mindset. His focus was on him, not anyone else. If he continuesly looked deep into himself and spent his energy on being the best version of himself, great leadership would automatically follow.

Without going through it all, his light is what led me here today.

However! Today when I heard that quote, I realized, I am my own hero. Not this man. Not his practice. This lifestyle is what is going to heal me. Not another person. And! Everything he has – I can have too. Only better, because I’m a woman.

My Journey To Healing. Day 1.

Not really day 1. Seems as if I have made this attempt several times over. Was all that work before a waste of time? Did I have it all wrong? Does any of that count?

Yes it mattered! Yes it counts! This is just a deeper level. The work before was part of the path to get me where I am today.

You see, in my journey of change, I have learned that even the small steps still get me to my destination. Every thing I do towards being a better version of myself matters. It has all led me to where I am today. It is all important, and it all matters.

However, I’m not going to lie. I truly hope this is the final destination to finding my place of healing. It’s been a desire of mine for several years.

I also know myself well enough to know that I jump in both feet, and that I also jump out, just as quickly. If things don’t go perfectly, I throw it all the door. Perfectionism is one of my problems…it comes from always wanting to be liked and accepted…

Mindfulness, however, isn’t something that is fully mastered. It is a journey within itself.

So with that, I am happy to report, that todays class was really cool. I got up, like a kid on the first day of school, had some coffee, a little God time, and then went to log in for my 6am class. Only it wasn’t connecting. OMG – I knew it! Nothing ever goes accordingly….yada yada yada. Old tapes, over and over.

As soon as I pushed stop to those old tapes I was logged in.

But your late. It’s 6:02. You can’t just jump in. Yes- all that from 2 minutes, lol

Oh yes I can! And yes I did!

I learned that I don’t know what a Breath of Fire is. I also learned that everything Zoom isn’t bad. There was a sense of comfort knowing no-one could see me. You know, for the side of me that thinks everyone is looking at me, lol.

Most importantly, I felt in the right place. I felt compassion for myself and an eagerness to be a better version of myself.

In my preparation for this journey, I spent some time creating my “spot’ and hung up some pictures that reminded me of happy times, and also as a reminder of my goals.

One of those pics is of me and my two daughters.

As I held my hands over my heart giving myself compassion, I glanced at that picture. I began to cry. My thought…I want to be a better mom to you two. I want to be what you need.

Shortly after speaking those words, the victim in me wanted to chime in – but I put that victim back in her place and said “NO” – I WILL BE EVERYTHING YOU NEED, AND MORE!

Positive thinking. Staying hopeful. Trusting the process. -A healthy mind is a peaceful mind, and being a victim is not healthy.

The class ended with this quote; The healer you have been looking for is your own courage to know and love yourself completely. -Yung Pueblo

This may be the end of Day 1’s class- but the beginning to a new morning and opportunity.

Ra Ma Da Saa Saa Say So Hung…hopefuly I got the right. And even if I didn’t, it was right for me.

Till tomorrow…

I’m back!

Crazy how time gets away. Has it really been since October 2018 since I’ve been here?! What about all those blogs I wrote in my head…how did I never get to those?!?!

So what will my return topic consist of? What’s important enough that I just spent 30 minutes recovering my account? Hmmmm. Not sure.

But what I do know is that I don’t like the burden of “things I’d like to get to”- there is never enough growth for me with that state of mind.

I’ve been saying I want to get back- but yet, I never seem to find my way. Before too long, it’s been, “too long” – then before I know it, I’m beating myself up with all the self doubt and unworthiness. But not today!

I have value and I have worth. I’ve had stellar days and I’ve had some painful ones. But somehow things always work out.

I have been sick for the last 12 days or so. No COVID- thank goodness- but because of COVID and the similarities of my sickness, I’ve spent a majority of that time planning my funeral. Yep- a little drama queen- but that’s who I am!

I’ve come to realize through this experience that nothing is the same anymore. COVID has changed us forever. Working through the sniffles is no longer an option. Employers and staff don’t appreciate your coughs and runny nose like they use too.😆

You know what else has changed? Self Care. It also requires a pandemic plan review!

You see, part of my illness was exhaustion. There were days I couldn’t even find the strength to shower.

At first I wondered what the hell was wrong with me. I’ve been pressed before. I’ve worked long hours before. I know hard times and I know hard work.

But what I don’t know is COVID-19. None of us do. I have never lived thru a pandemic before, so why should I be beating myself up over my lack of knowledge?!

The point to all this:

🤔

• know your body

• step up self care

• be kind to yourself. The kindness you give to others.

Times have changed. Pushing through colds and stress use to be my middle name. In fact, I thrive in these times. Nothing like being able to roll up your sleeves to get a job done!

But today I need to stop and remember to breathe. You know, like that Apple Watch reminds you to do…step it up. Remember to always check in with yourself to see what you can do for you.

We always seem to think we’re okay- till we’re not.

Take a minute, everyday, to care for your soul. Nurture that girl! Comfort her, encourage her, and be compassionate.

Welcome back, everyone. I hope to see more of you.❤️

Women.

“Scientists found women were more resilient and lived longer overall — even during good times. When life expectancy increased, women still outlived men by an average of between six months and four years.

The gap was most pronounced during hard times, however. When famine hit Ukraine in 1933, young females lived 50 percent longer than males.”

You can’t deny the strength of a woman. We are warriors.

This last weekend I spent time with some of the most resilient women I know. The pain they have had to endure would bring most to their knees. But yet, there they stand, ready to learn then leadership skills to take on more. In spite of it all.

So many times I’ve wanted to quit. So many times I’ve been ready to toss in the towel. But for one reason or another, I haven’t. But these ladies have even lost those things. The very things that kept me going.

I’ve seen hard times.

They’ve seen worse.

I’ve endured trauma.

Theirs far succeeds anything I had to endure.

I’m blown away.

Yet, I’m honored.

I’m honored to be in the same gender category.

We are queens.

We have strength like no ones business.

We get shit done.

We see a need and we so something! We don’t just sit there and wish for it to better. We find solutions! We learn new skills so we can become stronger!

If you are still not convinced of your power come hang out with this squad! You’ll be introduced real fast!

Imprisonment-denying us of our children-reinforcing trauma…it’s wrong. It’s a form of cruelty. We need to find a better way. This is not the solution.

Putting me in a cage, categorizing me as unfit, increasing my shame; won’t make me better. It makes me bitter.

Removing our kids from us doesn’t protect anyone. It continues the cycle. You take the kids, they grow up and lose their kids…until finally one says “enough” and that cycle breaks. Find that one and help her!

Science may of studied it…but I’ve witnessed it. Women kick ass!!! Let’s stop calling her shameful names and instead give her the tools to transform into the leader she truly is!

Second chances are often the first chance…

She’s going places…

person wearing beige sweater holding map inside vehicle
Photo by Studio 7042 on Pexels.com

So much excitement these days. While I’m doing what I can to eliminate extra activities and to stay mindful of what really matters, it seems as if my desire to peruse support for women in transition is taking off.

Still doing what I can to stay grounded, but I’m so inspired and encouraged by all the possibilities.

Being a woman, a previously incarcerated woman brings so many challenges. Shame, guilt, insecurities; those are just a few.

Having support and someone walking alongside you is crucial. Even if the person can’t fully relate, knowing you have someone who simply “gets you”– gives you the feeling they “got you!”

I remember the day so well…and the days that led to it. I couldn’t do it anymore. Transitioning from X31857 back to Michelle, a wife and mother had had its toll on me. I didn’t think I would ever recover. But then, out of nowhere, someone said, “me too” and EVERYTHING changed. Just knowing I wasn’t alone, hearing I wasn’t so weird after all, empowered me. Before I knew it I was feeling like I did have a future after all. That I would make it back!

It’s been 7 years. And where I am today I would have NEVER imagined being possible. Sure, there are tough days. There are tough days for everyone. Even those who haven’t been to prison. But those days turn into nights and those nights turn into new days. Days of hope. 2nd chances.

I want to be there for other ladies. I want to build a community so large and loud that every single woman knows from the gate, that she isn’t alone.

I can’t relate to losing my kids as so many incarcerated mothers have. But I can still hold her hand. And I can lead her to someone who has!

I’ve never been without a home. But I can open my heart to someone who is and bring them a meal.

So many opportunities. So many dreams.

But for today, I’ll be a voice. I’ll share my stories, my struggles, and my victories. I’ll welcome her home with open arms, and a backpack full of hygienes! Perfume and makeup too! Yes, those things are important. When we look good, we feel good. And when we feel good, we go places!

Here’s to Women In Transition and Women Supporting Women!

Look out world! Here she comes!

Just to see you smile💞

These last couple of days have been spent inside California Institute for Women. Aka CIW. CI/Wonderful for the old timers.

I went in with my job, Defy Ventures. It’s a 6 month entrepreneur course that “transforms hustles” for the largest group of underdogs.

Yesterday we had 34 women graduate, many wearing a cap and gown for the very first time.

These events begin with a Business Pitch Competition, much like Shark Tank, and end with them walking the stage, dressed in their beautiful caps and gowns, tassels dangling, sporting huge smiles, receiving their hard earned certificates from our CEO, Andrew Glazier, and the Chief Deputy Warden, Mr Jones, (who personally shakes every girls hand.) All this while their families and volunteers cheer so loudly that you can hear the excitement through the entire prison yard. (I know this to be true because there’s a bunch of lookie loos peeping in to see what going on!)

I have worked several of these events with many different roles, but this particular event is always a little more personal for me.

You see, this event is held in a prion I once resided in. Some of these girls are my friends, but all our my sisters. Because we are bonded. For life. So it effects me differently.

I always give my heart, I’m always committed to give my best, but this place…it takes my dedication to a whole new level. I feel like it’s expected of me. I made a promise when I left that place…a promise to never forget. To continue to support them, fight for them, and to never stop fighting for them. Thanks to Defy, I’m able to keep those promises as part of my job. Which I count as a HUGE blessing.

While planning this event I asked my boss if I could take the lead in one of the exercises. He agreed. But like a boss, he made a stipulation; I had to share with the crowd exactly why I wanted to do this. I acted like it was a sacrifice, but between us it was a joy. Any opportunity to bring attention to them or raise money for them to Program is a joy.

However, what happened earlier on the day was where the real joy transpired.

I was standing along the side lines preparing for the next event while the names of the finalist were being called. And as I watched each of their faces light up at this news I was moved like never before. Their confidence lit the room up! The smiles, confidence, and pride would make a dead heart beat again. I have never seen anything like it. (Yes, I cried)

So with that. I have added a new event to my agenda; “To see them smile.”

So as I lay here in bed, nursing my aching body from 2 long back to back days, I whisper a ”thank you” to God for allowing me this amazing opportunity. And to my boss too if he sees this.

Defying the odds. One life at a time. 🖤

Prison Blues.

Overwhelmed. Stressed. Hurt. Rejected. Angry. Sad. Discarded.

Hopeful.

Yes. In spite of it all all, I’m confident that this too shall pass.

I don’t want to be held.

I want to be heard.

I want to be seen.

I want to be acknowledged.

I feel so invisible.

Like my contribution means nothing.

That no one even sees me or my efforts.

Healthy me says what can you do to be noticed? What is it they need?

Unhealthy me says you’ll never matter.

They don’t want you, they don’t need you.

Meanwhile I’m drowning in the middle.

Self pity kicks in. Self doubt.

If only you wouldn’t of gone to prison.

Oh no. Here it is again. The ol’ prison blues.

But still I remain hopeful.

I haven’t given up just yet.

God has shown me over and over that this is simply a detour.

Does it remove the pain? No. But it gives me the strength to get up. To face another day. Determined.

That’s what I am.

Determined.