Finding Light in the Dark

Finding Light in the Dark

AKA

How to Live Your Life Like a Great Big Thank you Card

 

 

What if told you right now to make a list of everything you want to thank God for? Where would it begin, and would it ever end?

 

Sometimes, our world just loves to put us in sticky situations. It can throw hardships at us and battle our biggest instabilities.  So as God’s children, we wake up everyday with our swords sharpened and ready to go; we count our battles as blessings. But what does this really mean? What does it mean to rejoice so constantly and in such a consistent way that we feel joy over our sadness even in the darkest of times?

 

Perception

 

Matthew 6:22-23 English Standard Version (ESV)

22 The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

 

 

Everyday God gifts us with so much freedom, and one of the choices that we can make with this freedom is how we perceive our world. Jesus tells us that it is not necessarily what we perceive- but HOW we perceive. He says that our perception should be in tune with complete and utter truth, a truth so glorious and joyful that it acts as a lamp; spreading its light and positivity to our entire bodies which will then also become full of abundant light.  However, if what we are perceiving conflicts with the truth, if it is false, then what we will see is darkness. And that darkness will be so bleak that it will overshadow all of the light God has so generously given us the gift of obtaining. Our perception of the world is what allows us to rejoice in EVERYTHING around us. If you cannot find joy within the tough situations, than you are missing out on the eternal beam of light God has placed inside of you.

Remaining Joyful in Trials

 

1 Peter 4:12-13 New International Version (NIV)

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

 

I was recently on an airplane, and as I watched the land stretch further and further away from my seat, my window became flooded with Him.  Clouds, sunshine, mountains, rivers, HIM. His creations; I look down at my hands very own hands and again, HIS creations are all around me. God’s work is everywhere, and if you can’t feel or remember that in the moment, just take a look around. God’s glory is always so good that it is too enthralling to overlook.  If you let it, His beauty can shine over any darkness that has come your way. His beauty is constant and reliable; man will fade, He will not.  Do not become so overly consumed with your trials that you are unable to feel overjoyed with the glory in all of God’s creations around you.  

 

This verse discusses two opposing ideas in one cohesive statement, trials and joy.  The reason it is able to do this is because though trials and tests appear, they will fade just as fast.  These things are temporary, but joy on the other hand is so pure that it is unfading and always present.  So while it may feel like there is a constant trial in your life that you are unable to overcome, remember that the only constant and eternal things come from our creator.  Joy is always present, because He is always present.  

 

We have so much to thank God for every second of every day.  Having consistent gratitude becomes a reminder to us that joy is always present because His light is so bright that it can shine through any shadow.  He has walked behind you, He is walking next to you, and He will walk with you.  




 Hi there, I’m Gabby!  I’m a college student living near the D.C. area who thrives on living a Christ-centered life. Although I have an abundance of hobbies which include but are not limited to knitting, journaling, gardening, and reading; however, writing has always been the closest to my heart. Ever since I witnessed the truth, love, and compassion of Jesus I have began to spread His words on the platforms available to me! Our society is full of so much judgment, negativity, and corruption, that it is up all of us, as God’s children, to spread His light wherever possible. Because as we know, it can overcome any shadow.      If you’d like to see more, you can stop by and say hello on my blog     WonderfullyLovedBlog.com     See you then!

Hi there, I’m Gabby!

I’m a college student living near the D.C. area who thrives on living a Christ-centered life. Although I have an abundance of hobbies which include but are not limited to knitting, journaling, gardening, and reading; however, writing has always been the closest to my heart. Ever since I witnessed the truth, love, and compassion of Jesus I have began to spread His words on the platforms available to me! Our society is full of so much judgment, negativity, and corruption, that it is up all of us, as God’s children, to spread His light wherever possible. Because as we know, it can overcome any shadow.

If you’d like to see more, you can stop by and say hello on my blog

WonderfullyLovedBlog.com

See you then!

How I Dealt with an Eating Disorder...

Unveiled, I want you to meet Erin. You may have seen her around our community, but I know her as my middle school BFF who is HILARIOUS and pretty much the most badass person I know. She is incredible and offered to share a part of her story with us. Normally I would post it here on this blog, but she has the format so pretty on her own site, I figured I'd link it for you. Click the button below and be inspired. Thank you so much, Erin! 

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Suicide Makes Sense...

While I personally have never come so low in my thinking and emotions to the point of ending my life (I will share why/how in this post), I HAVE had times and seasons of immense low points where I truly came to a place of understanding that suicide in one aspect makes sense. 

Let me explain. 

I am very in touch with my emotions, as well as extremely introspective. This is a good and bad thing. I can experience the highest of highs in joy, exhilaration, and love, all the while too prone to the lowest of lows (I’m still learning how to have healthy boundaries in this). It’s also good in that I can sympathize well with those who are grieving, down, depressed, etc. Being introspective causes me to be keenly aware of how I am truly doing at all times and where/how/why my moods can even change depending on circumstances. The flip side is that I can be so introspective that if I’m not careful, can dwell on the negative inside of myself far longer than need be, as well as not focus on the needs of others.

I say all this simply to see if any of you can relate. Usually over thinkers and deep feelers can have such extreme thoughts and emotions, it is immensely difficult to learn how to make any sense of them, especially in our chaotic world we live in. I get it; you have an amazing heart and want to change the world! You want SO badly for things to be perfect, good, and everyone loved and taken care of. But as we grow up we get so burdened by the world we care for that we don’t even know where to begin! Heck, we’re even too down trodden with our own selves, let alone the world’s problems. We love the world, people, and truly want change, but HOW!? Is there any hope at all? 

I have hope. And in all honesty, I don’t always act like it. I don’t always act like it because I don’t always believe it in my thoughts or emotions, but I DO, at the end of ANY day, extremely high or extremely low, in good or “bad” seasons of life, have this ONE hope that makes life worth living. And if it wasn’t for this hope, honestly, suicide makes complete sense, because without hope and TRUE purpose in life, why live? 

My Hope is sure. My Hope is secure. My Hope is steadfast, unwavering, unchanging, never leaves, always present, always giving, always wise, always loving. Where is my hope? It’s not in time (“everything is better with time”), it’s not in a stable job (security), it’s not in money (security x 2), it’s not in fame or notoriety, it’s not in better circumstances, it’s not even in "true love,” finding my “prince charming” as the world puts it, or good things of this world. Everything in this world is MOVEABLE and CHANGING - that doesn’t sound like a good source of foundation to place my hope in. 

I have THIS hope…

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul (mind, will, emotions), firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever…” - Hebrews 6:19-20 NIV

My hope is in the very real person of Jesus Christ

…who is also fully God, 

yet chose, out of love for us

to come down from His heavenly throne to earth,

live a regular human life with the ones He created, 

relate to us as He was tempted in every way (Hebrews 4:13), 

yet did not sin, 

but died the worst sinners death

in our place

because that’s what you and I deserve (Romans 3:10)

and then defeated the sting of death (ultimate consequence of life of sin-hell)

forever

by RISING from the dead (HA!)

and if that’s not enough…

sent Himself (Holy Spirit) to live IN us as our comforter and helper in this life

until we join Him in Heaven

ALL THIS - so that we sinners could be in right standing and relationship with a Holy and perfect God. That’s love. 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a LIVING HOPE through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead..” - 1 Peter 1:3

That’s my hope. It’s my reason of living. It’s my reason to keep going. Because no matter how TERRIBLE I truly feel or think (and believe me it’s gone there), at the end of the day, my foundation is secure. No matter how many LIES surround me of not being loved, wanted, or secure, I KNOW they’re not true, because my SAVIOR put an end to that crap 2,000 years ago. He doesn’t want me to live that way. He WANTS me to know His love in a very real and tangible way. Now I live loved, and want and seek that for others too - THAT is my purpose. 

Jesus wants all this and more for you (yes YOU, by name) too. 

So I encourage you to fight. But fight the good fight, the one of faith. Have faith in GOD - that what you’ve maybe heard in truth, or maybe in this post for the first time, is actually MORE REAL than your “reality” of feelings and thoughts. I don’t discredit that this is difficult to do, but I also stand before you (..or write this post lol) as one who’s gone low in depression, but HIGH IN HOPE. 

“And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.” - Psalm 39:7 NLT

My Hope is found in true love, in the unshakeable, fierce, pursuit of my King, Savior, and lover of my soul, JESUS. He reigns over my life, my mind, my emotions, my will, my desires. He can have them. He died for them. So I can trust Him with them. He’s well worth the reason for living, and living WELL. 

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My (JESUS) purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” - John 10:10

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” - Ephesians 3:20

So I ask you, where is your hope? 


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Hey Y’all! I’m Elizabeth. I’ve lived in Texas majority of my life, although in differing cities (Houston, Fort Worth, Austin), graduated in Kinesiology with a fitness concentration from Louisiana State University (GEAUX TIGERS), worked in vocational ministry for a couple of years, and now working at a gift boutique. I am passionate about showing people that we love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19). I enjoy spending time with family, reading, learning, healthy living, fitness, wake boarding, cheerleading, writing (www.wordpress.com/elipeterson92), drawing, watching movies, and hanging with friends. I’m currently learning to not compare myself with others, that the process is good, to do hard things, and that I am deeply loved and pursued by God no matter how I feel. I believe that these words I share in this post, like all my other blogs, were inspired by the power of the Holy Spirit through much prayer and patience before writing. I hope you receive them personally from your Savior. Much love, friends.

The Chronic Apologizer

Today, I went to a coffee shop I had only visited once before that’s not far from my house. I made it a point to buy a drink in a mug so that I could take in the beauty of those little flower designs they make on top out of milk. As I got settled in, I started to drink a few sips of my overflowing latte, careful not to tip it too far and wind up with a shirt full of espresso and steamed milk. As I sat my cup back down, I began typing what I thought this blog was going to be about, but as I got a few lines in, I lifted my hand up to change to a different playlist and my elbow carefully grazed my hot cup of coffee… *CRASH.* My beautifully crafted latte went tumbling off the table and splattering onto the wall beside me, leaving its mark on my backpack, computer case, Bible, and pride.

I desperately wanted to cover up my mess before anyone saw, so I went hunting for some paper napkins. I quickly noticed this was the kind of twisted establishment that kept their prized mess-cleaners behind the counter. When I asked the guy cashiering for a few paper napkins and he handed me two, I realized that my mess wasn’t the kind of thing you could cover up with a little wipe away and sit down. I had a big towel job waiting to be cleaned up, and I was going to have to spill the beans to this guy about what happened so that he could help me move the table and scrub down the, once, white walls I had now decorated with my favorite flavor. 

Part of me wanted to walk out the door and leave the mess I had made behind, but even though that would mean that the mess wouldn’t have to be confronted by me, it would be left waiting for someone else to clean up. 

When we damage something in our lives, the easy thing to do is walk away and act like the hurtful words were never said, the pain was never inflicted, or the sin was never acted upon; however, when we do this and the spilled milk of our lives starts to sit and bake in the sun, it gets even harder to clean up later. Messes that aren’t confronted as soon as they happen get stickier by the day and less desirable to deal with. 

I think sometimes we’re so embarrassed by our short comings that we try to hide them from God and clean them up ourselves. The problem with this form of self confrontation is that we simply don’t have the means of cleaning up the messes we make. We can try to use all the dry napkins we want, but without Jesus’ wet towel, all of the grunge will never be removed from the walls of our heart. We have to be willing to be vulnerable with Jesus, the Guy behind the counter of our lives, because without His help, we’ll never truly be clean.  

This morning, as the coffee shop worker and I walked together back to my table where the mess I had made was waiting, I kept apologizing for spilling my coffee and making him help me clean it up. He very kindly looked at me as we arrived at my corner table and he saw the extent of the problem and said, “Hey, it’s not a problem. This is what I’m here for, just take a seat at the next table and you’ll be good to go in just a few minutes.” These words immediately woke me up to the Father heart of God. 

Do you ever feel like it’s almost an inconvenience to bring your problems to Jesus, as if He doesn’t want to hear about how you’ve most recently failed? Sometimes, I think we feel like we have to get on the floor of guilt before God will be pleased enough to help us and forgive what we’ve done. The truth is, He’s not surprised by your short comings, He’s used to the mess, and helping you become more pure and like Him is exactly what He is there for. The payment for your sins is not your own level of being sorry but Jesus’ overwhelming desire to love you through His death on the cross. 

In my life, some of the biggest lies that the devil has tried to tell me is that I am alone, I am not worthy of Jesus, and that my failures define me. Those feelings that I was unworthy and messy really took a toll on the way I saw myself, and for many years, they defined my identity. I thought that if I could just be better, if I could not mess up, if I had my act together at all times, then maybe people would want me — maybe Jesus would want me.

News flash, Sparrow: Jesus never needed you to be “good,” He just wants you to be willing to let Him be good in you, to be good to other people through you.  I think this perspective is what really healed me from the need to please other people, and it even mended my view of how Jesus saw me. I think it becomes so easy to view ourselves through the eyes of our shortcomings, but God views us through the lens of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice. I realize now that if I am God’s vessel, I don’t need to fit anyone else’s mold. 

John 8:36 reads, “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” There’s no reason to beat yourself up over what you can’t control, dear Unveiled. Jesus sees your heart, and He’s so much kinder to us than we are to ourselves.  

So, next time you want to hide your face from God, try seeing yourself through His eyes, through the truth; you are loved, accepted, whole, desired, chosen, and forgiven. 

Go live free.

 Hey, friends! My name is Sparrow, and I’m an English major who is passionate about the impact words, both spoken and written, leave on the world. I live in a small beach town in Florida, but I love to travel anytime I save up enough money to go. One day, I hope to move to Paris, where I plan on teaching English and serving within a local church. When I’m not in class, studying, or working on my upcoming book, I enjoy spending time with family, sitting in coffee shops, and binge-watching  Gilmore Girls .

Hey, friends! My name is Sparrow, and I’m an English major who is passionate about the impact words, both spoken and written, leave on the world. I live in a small beach town in Florida, but I love to travel anytime I save up enough money to go. One day, I hope to move to Paris, where I plan on teaching English and serving within a local church. When I’m not in class, studying, or working on my upcoming book, I enjoy spending time with family, sitting in coffee shops, and binge-watching Gilmore Girls.

Feeling Down Doesn't Mean You're Out

In the South, we say “when it rains, it pours” because often the tough times come in waves, one right after the other. Other times, a feeling of depression and sadness can come out of the blue and isn’t directly related to any specific instance or problem. Bottomline, we feel the way we feel, sometimes without explanation or reason. You can’t always control how you feel, but you can control how you respond.

Try to identify what’s got you down

Working to get the root of the issue, helps us to process and move on quicker. As humans, our brains work to understand problems so they can solve them, or at least try to process them. Disclaimer: It is possible to not have a concrete reason. If this is the case, try not to spend time judging yourself. I’ve been known to say to my myself, you are blessed beyond belief. You have no reason to be sad. Don’t judge yourself. Your feelings are valid. Once you realize this, you can begin the process of moving forward. 

You’re cordially invited to your pity party

Regardless of if you’ve identified the cause of your rut or not, give yourself a certain amount of time to dwell in your feelings. Buy the ice cream, live in your yoga pants and binge watch whatever trashy tv makes you feel better. Allow your life to reflect how terrible you feel in that moment, but be sure to stick to the timeframe you’ve specified. (and NOT a day longer) 

Call your lifeline

We all have that person we can talk to about anything. This person may be someone different, depending on the situation. It could be a significant other or even your mom. Again, no judgment here. For me, it’s 9 out of 10x it’s my closest girlfriends. I usually doubt myself for some unknown, nonexistent reason, and they are quick to remind me of my own personal superpowers. Regardless, give your council a call. I call it “touching home-base” because these are usually your biggest fans from day one, and the people who see you when you can’t see yourself. Not only are these individuals full of advice but they often times add valuable perspective to the situation or dilemma.

Numero Uno

Once you touch base with your council, it’s time to touch base with yourself. Personally, when I’m in one of life’s ruts, the part I hate the most is how unlike myself I feel. I find it helpful to get back to the basics and discover yourself again. This can be done by doing something you love, something that may have gotten lost in how busy life gets. Nothing makes me happier than contributing to the world by creating something…anything (cooking, writing, etc.) Put your records on, (Corinne Bailey Rae style) and find your joy. Then go do it! It’s guaranteed to uplift your spirits.  

Focus on healthy habits

I can’t stress the importance this during your journey to bouncing back and feeling more like yourself. Things, like going for a walk or exercise, drinking plenty of water, meditating and eating healthy, are proven mood elevators. I find not only does focusing on these habits help me in the short term of getting out of my funk, but once I’m out of it, they help me transition smoothly back into my life. 

Truth is, this crazy life is full of ups and downs. Amazingly, some of the most terrible moments in my life were followed immediately by some of the most beautiful moments in my life. You will survive because the sun does, in fact, come out tomorrow. These moments bring clarity to our character and allow us to see what we are truly made of. You just need some time, friends and a little reminder of your own personal strength to get you through.

You got this! 


My name is Rease. Originally from Texas, I now reside in New York City, where I’m an actress and full-time dreamer. When I'm not traveling or creating, I enjoy motivating others to find and live their passions. I found a love in helping others along their journey so much that I began working to launch an online "Dreamer Support Group" called Heart of Hustle. My vision for HoH is to help dreamers from all over the world by creating a community of resources and support. My personal motto in life is to leave people and situations better than I found them.
 To know Rease is to lover her. We met in Phi Mu and ended up in the same acting class and I'll never forget her constant encouragement and support. She's incredibly beautiful inside and out and I'm honored to know her! 

To know Rease is to lover her. We met in Phi Mu and ended up in the same acting class and I'll never forget her constant encouragement and support. She's incredibly beautiful inside and out and I'm honored to know her! 

He's got you

Sitting on the bathroom floor, as close to the toilet as possible, I heard the voice in my head saying, “Get it all out. You can do it.  All of it.  Get it all out.”  I was bulimarexic.  I tried really hard not to eat and when I did it, I threw up.  Yikes.  On top of this, I worked out… not a lot, because I didn’t want to pass out or end up in the hospital, but I was so determined to be skinny, that I did whatever it took.  

This battle went on for 10 years.  I stopped throwing up in college after my vocal chords started going during a show… if all of that nonsense was for my hoped-for career of singing publicly, I didn’t want to sacrifice my voice in the process.  So, I stopped throwing up, but I sure did continue hating my body.  Diets, classes, tanning beds, limiting food, thyroid disorder diagnosis, all of it just fed this hatred.  

I surrendered my life to God on, January 2nd, 2010. I consider this my reborn date. I was raised a Christian, was baptized at a young age, and even had a relationship with God and Jesus… but this day I fell to my knees and surrendered EVERYTHING to God.  I told Him I couldn’t do it all anymore.  I needed Him to take over.  I said I was done striving, I was done trying.  I just wanted Him, His will, and His plans.  In this powerfully emotional time with the Father, I said that if He was to break me of my image issues, He’d have to walk me through it because I had no idea how to do it on my own.  I did not hear from Him that night, but I knew He heard me.  I trusted and I woke up every day afterward VERY differently.  At church in the next week or so, they announced they were going to have FREE physical fitness classes twice a day, 3 days a week.  Each class would start with a devotional and prayer and end with an encouragement.  Um, thanks God.  Fast forward a few months and God led me to live in Malawi, Africa for 6+ months.  While there, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “I want you to fast.”  I kinda shrugged it off thinking, “HA! That’s ridiculous.”  Then a month or so later I heard it again.  I dismissed it until one night, some friends and I were watching a Darren Wilson film and I heard it again.  Though this time it was not a whisper.  He was serious and busted out the almighty-ness.  I prayed and asked what the details were for the fast and He said 30 days, sunrise to sunset.  Day 1 of the prayer, I took my anti malaria medicine (as I did every day) and became VERY nauseous, as expected since the medicine is meant to be taken with food. I had a choice- throw up (to get the meds out) or ask Him what He saw in this situation. I chose not to throw up.  For 30 days, I prayed and fasted… for my image, for my body, for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, for my impoverished kiddos who go without, for God to break me… 30 days flew by.  You’d think it would have dragged on and on… but really y’all, I spent so much time with the Father that it made me crave Him even more.  

That was 8 years ago and I have not thrown up since. Yes, I have thought about it… when there is a situation in my life that makes me REALLY mad or makes me feel completely out of control, I revert to the one thing the enemy told me I had control over.  And as we all know, he is a liar.  I gave birth to my sweet daughter a little over 2 years ago and I had hyperemesis my entire pregnancy.  If I didn’t learn my lesson living overseas and fasting, I absolutely did after that season.  I NEVER want to throw up again.  Again, the act crosses my mind, because it is the thorn in my flesh, but I won’t do it, because Jesus already has me, it covered. He died and took that with Him.  He was raised and gave me the power to say no.  He lives in me and fights for me and with me.  I may not be skinny.  I’m not even fit (and definitely not keeping much track as I’m 6mo pregnant with my 2nd), but I sure am thankful for a healthy body despite what I put it through for years… God’s grace and mercy covers us from beginning to end, backwards and forwards.  We think we’ve used up all of what He has to offer and He just keeps coming through.  


Hi lovely ladies (and gents)! I’m Morgan Campey. I live in Nashville, TN but have several “homes” all over the world. I am passionate about all things early education, women empowerment, and mission work. I have devoted my life to mentoring, ministering to, and discipling women. The most remarkable of these women are in Malawi, Africa, one of my homes away from home. In a small slum outside the capitol city, you will find the women of The Duwa Project (www.theduwaproject.weebly.com). These are the women who make me want to be better and who push me to help other women be better, as we’ll. I’m a firm believer in the story behind every person and that in some way it has power to impact the world and the Kingdom, enter Catalyst Women (www.catalystwomen.info). I’m the co-founder and floored at all God is doing through CW! I am married to my wonderful husband, Kyle, and we have a daughter, Lairyn, and a baby boy on the way. We also have a Blue Heeler named Stevee (who was our first baby girl)! I believe in fairy tales, helping people, dark chocolate anything, and acoustic music. In my spare time you’ll find me reading, resting, or reflecting- all key ingredients to my quality of life!
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An open letter to my rapist.

April is very important to myself and so many sexual assault survivors. It's sexual assault awareness month and we have a guest blogger who is absolutely incredible. Meet Jacqima!

Jacqima (ja-ki-ma) is 20 years old and lives in Gibraltar, a British territory next to Spain. She helps raise awareness for sexual assault in her community. This year she really challenged herself to express her voice through her art. She recreated rape scenes, herself as the model and did all of the special effects make up. These photos were then used by the local police and schools to raise awareness about physical relationships and rape. To spread the message that "no" means "no."

Below is Jacqima's story she so bravely shared with us and allowed us to share with you. This is a graphic story that is powerful and all too common. 

*Trigger Warning* it is a rape story so please proceed with caution if you feel it would be a trigger.


An open letter to my Rapist 

There is a deep rage within me. To know that he’s still out there, knowing 

what he did. On Friday the 3rd of February, I was raped. 

This was someone I knew. This was someone my fiancé (at the time) said I 

could trust. I mean, they worked together. They had trust between them, 

but it excluded me. How silly of me. How stupid of me to trust someone who 

sees women as objects. That night, on the 3rd of February 2017, I had been 

drinking. I had let my guard down. I had decided to let loose. How stupid of 

me to think I had that right. I remember drinking with my friends, feeling 

the happiest I could have ever felt, but that was stripped off me in a matter 

of minutes. 

You. The man who raped me. You live everyday knowing what happened. 

You live everyday with no worry in the world, but I, I felt like my world was 

shattered. I felt like my worth was torn into pieces. Do you remember? How 

you offered to drive me home that night. More like forced. You dragged me 

past the police station and put me into your car, as a police officer watched 

on. Help me. I was too intoxicated to even shout, let alone run away. He had 

offered me a drink before then. Silly me to have accepted it. At that time I 

hadn’t thought he would spike my drink, was I wrong. 

Driving around I asked him to pull over so I could use a restroom. He pulled 

over on the side of the road and told me to go do my business on the beach 

behind a storage room. I stumbled out of the car, swaying side to side as he 

grabbed my waist forced. Once I finished my business, I began to pull my 

underwear up. He appeared and took them off me, putting them in his back 

pocket. He sat on the cold sand, pulling me down towards him. As I sat 

opposite him, I began to cry. I knew what was happening. I knew what was 

going to happen and there was no one around at 5am to help me. I began 

babbling to him, my mind racing at 100mph. I spoke about my 

grandmother; I found that whenever I spoke of her it calms me. 

So there I was, sitting on the cold, damp sand at 5am with no underwear on, 

and a thin black bodycon dress on. I had my jacket on, but he insisted I take 

it off. As we walked back to the car, I sat in the back of his car as he stood 

over me by the open door. I felt sick. Intoxicated. My stomach churned. 

“Take me home. Take me home now.” I pleaded. On the road again, he gave 

in to taking me home. On the way home he kept placing his hand on my 

thigh. His fingers crept up higher, closer to my bare vagina. “Stop. I have a 

fiancé.” He pulled back, only to start squeezing my thighs tightly, causing 

me to squirm in my seat. “Stop. You’re hurting me!” I raised my voice as I 

pushed his hand away. I felt my body slipping away. That’s when I saw the 

smirk on his face. That’s when I knew he had most definitely spiked my 

drink. 

I felt my eyes roll back. My body became lifeless, as I sat there in his car. I 

could still here him breathing. I could still feel his hand creeping up my 

dress. I tried to stop him, but my body wouldn’t move. I was paralized.  At 

this point, I felt a tear fall down my face. He began fondling my breasts. 

Caressing my cheek as he kissed me forcefully. There was nothing I could 

do. I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t run. I could just pray. Pray that this will be 

over soon. Pray that I wake up not knowing what would happen. 

The next day I woke up in my bed, with no underwear. My body feeling sore 

as bruises covered my thighs. My make up smudged and my hair a mess. As 

soon as my feet hit the floor, I ran for the bathroom. I spewed my guts. 

Black, All I saw was black leaving my mouth. What drink is black? I thought 

to myself. That’s when everything that happened last night came flooding 

back. I stripped the black dress I had on. Tossing it in the bin, along with my 

bra. Anything he had touched, I wanted to burn. Including myself. I wanted 

to erase him from my memory, but now he haunts it. That day, I took 7 

steaming hot showers, and scrubbed myself till my skin became red and 

irritated. Throughout the day I had spew my guts too many times. How do I 

tell him? How do I tell my fiancé? He’s going to leave me. I told him. He got 

mad. Mad at me for trusting that man. Mad at the man that stole every 

ounce of my dignity. 

I cried myself to sleep every night for countless months since that 

happened. I would store spoons in my freezer, so I could place them on my 

swollen eyes in the morning. I continued having hot showers. I continued 

thinking it was my entire fault, because maybe it was. Maybe I was asking 

for it, Right? That was the beginning and end of many things. Depression 

came swooping in, taking over me. The end of a relationship with the man 

who loved me wholeheartedly. The beginning of walking around and seeing 

my rapist. My rapist. I say that as if I owe you but, no. You. You, the man 

who raped me and stripped me of my soul and mind are the one who 

owned me, but not anymore. Not anymore. I am no longer your victim. 

Three suicide attempts later, popping pills to keep my anxiety at bay and 

talking to a stranger about my problems, I have to admit, you had me in the 

palm of your hand. You crushed me. You broke me. You ruined my life. 

What would you do if you heard that I had tried to take my own life because 

of what you did to me? Would you feel guilty? Would you feel remorseful? 

Would you hate yourself like I hated myself? The day after you did that to 

me, you decided to wave my underwear at work in front of all your Military 

friends. My fiancé was there. My fiancé was feeling betrayed, angered. All 

he wanted to do was kill you. He took the underwear back and threw it 

away, as if everything would disappear. It didn’t. 

From then on I was called a whore. A slut. A cheat. A liar. A bitch. All 

because you told everyone a lie. You told everyone I wanted it, you told 

everyone I liked it. You told everyone I wanted to cheat on my fiancé with 

you. How insecure and inhuman do you have to be to want to ruin 

someone’s life? You ruined a lot for me, but guess what? 

I got back up.
You hear me? I got back up! 

No matter what was thrown at me, no matter how hard it was to get 

through (still is), I conquered. You are nobody to make me feel worthless. 

You are nobody to make me feel unloved. You are nobody. You are a spec 

on this planet of ours, but your consequences are much bigger. I hope you 

think of this from time to time. I hope you think of what you did to me. I 

hope you lie in bed at night starring at the ceiling wondering where you 

went wrong like I did for countless months. 

I forgive you. I forgive you for what you did to me. I forgive you for myself. I 

forgive you so I can move on with my life, because it’s what I deserve. I 

deserve to take control of my own life. It is no longer yours. My mind is no 

longer yours. I am free. I hope you are somewhere praying. Praying for 

forgiveness. Praying for some light. Praying that you never do that to 

another girl ever again. I am no longer a prisoner of my past. I have learned 

to love my life and love people who love me endlessly. The past can no 

longer haunt me. You can no longer haunt me. 

 

The United States does not have a rape problem—it has a rape epidemic. 

woman in this country is raped every two minutes, 42 percent of victims 

are raped before they are 18 years old. 

One in three Native women report being raped, as do almost 

Ninety-seven percent of rapists will never go to jail. 

 

To victims of rape, you are not alone. Never. You are strong, courageous, 

and beautiful, and you deserve to be here. You deserve to be loved. You are 

worth so much more than you think. You were put on earth to make a 

difference. You were put on this planet because you have a voice, and 

together, we’re unstoppable. All my love. 

A victim no more. 

 

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 model - Macey Brooklyn

model - Macey Brooklyn

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Jessica Ellen Cummings photography

 

The One That Got Away...

I was recently chatting with a friend about dating. See, I know how amazing this person is and I watched them get anxious and unsettled while waiting for a text from someone they had met recently and gave their number to. Days went by as we kept going back and forth wondering why they haven't texted yet and the longer we both waited, the more anxious and confused my friend grew. This is the same conversation I've had many times with single friends and hello, I was doing the same thing just a few years ago! I remember freaking out to my friend Whitney about Justin and whether or not I was reading into his reply or if he was really into me, when he would text, etc. 

Then this rang through my mind and I don't think I heard it enough when I was single: Don't be afraid to be the one that got away. 

I recall two specific times when a guy would say, "You're the one that got away," and I would think, "Yeah, but you're the one who let me get away. You made that decision." I would be so annoyed, but now I'm so thankful to be the one that got away to those losers because the Lord paired me with someone who is better than I ever imagined and never once let me get away. 

Have you ever had a friend go back to the same ex over and over expecting different results? Like the definition of insanity, it drives me crazy when someone doesn't realize how incredible they are and they fall back into old relationships that are doomed from each "restart."

When you are your most full, confident, passionate self, you understand your worth and that it's okay to be The One That Got Away...don't be afraid to be that if someone doesn't value you enough.

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Never Forget Your Worth

Sometimes I think back to years ago, or even months ago and reflect on how much I’ve changed. That seems to be a constant thing, change. Yet we don’t really notice when we’re in the thick of it, the fire. When I was younger I had an idea of how my life would go, I mean most of us do, right? We think we’ll have our shit together and accomplish everything, save the world, or conquer an empire all by the time we’re twenty two, or in the “real world.” The hard reality of it is time. Things take time, it’s why we take four years to go to school and think about our careers only to realize we won’t always have it together or know where we’re heading. 

It takes time to make a decision to move to a new city or take on a new job, and until these decisions are made you kind of feel like you’re flailing out in the middle of the universe, lost, confused and a little upset it’s taking so long to figure things out. One thing I can confidently say however, is it does get better, these decisions get made and we move forward. Always. Because if we don’t make the “right” decision we learn from it and grow, either way we move forward. For instance I can look back to six months ago when I hit my rock bottom, completely unable to be alone with myself as I couldn’t stand who I’d become, and laugh today because I’ve grown since then to the point where you have to kind of pry me away from my alone time. When I was in this dark period of my life I realized I have some issues with the way I was seeing myself and my body, I didn’t even realize my own thoughts and what I said out loud about myself was affecting me subconsciously. Think about when you meet someone new, you get a vibe that comes off of them whether its good or bad, you feel it from afar and make your decision whether you want to befriend the person or not, right? Sometimes you just know, hey, that person has a sucky vibe I don’t want to be around him. Well I truly believe this is based on what you’re sensing from that mind-body connection. Now think about your own vibe, is it overall positive or negative? Are you saying kind things to yourself everyday, uplifting yourself like you would with your best friend? Do you ever feel like you get lonely after spending your time constantly with other people? Are you happy with yourself? These were all pretty negative when it came down to it for me, I didn’t want to be alone and I felt completely unloved, like I wasn’t being cared for or wasn’t important to anyone. Depressed would be the word. And anxious that I couldn’t fix myself or feel like I was doing something with my life. 

I made a choice one day after my friends said something to me. I was going to make some changes and I felt this like a fire in my soul. I was in the thick of it, but again, it would take some time to get out. First, I worked on my self love. To tackle this task is easier said then done and to be honest, being a woman in this world, it is going to be a constant struggle. Ladies, you know just as much as me how complex it is to be a woman, to deal with society’s idea of what we should be like, what we need to look like or act like, and on top of it all not receive the same benefits as men or other countries for that matter. But you’ve all heard this before, its just another piece of news that we know about but continue to stand still on the subject. Well self love becomes a war when you consider all of these outside factors. But the battles for now, are won for me. I trained myself to consider that I am more then my past and my decisions every day impact who I become. My thoughts for myself are consistently positive as I think about all I’ve gone through in life, that in my senior year of college I didn’t think I would ever be happy with myself enough to get out of the constant cycle of depression. Today, I confidently say that I am happy. I am growing and learning and have so much to offer the world. A lot of it, I will admit, comes from involving yourself with the right people, those who motivate and uplift you. If you have people in your circle that don’t do that for you, cut them right now. I’m sorry but that is a must at this point. To have that reciprocation between you and your friendships is to understand you deserve to be loved and appreciated. With the right people motivating you (including yourself) you can conquer so much more then you would ever think of. 

Today I have started to really map out a plan for my consistent growth, to move forward and despite my fear do what I want to do. If I want to travel the world, I’m going to make it happen. If I want to be happier with my own body image, I’m going to eat the right foods to fuel my body, think the right thoughts to fuel my mind, and make being active the most exciting part of my day. I’m to the point where I love my body, I love sweating out my day in a 45 minute cycle or yoga class. 

I could write pages on what you should do to get to this point but that would be overwhelming for you I’m sure so here’s what you should take away from this. Changing your thoughts is the first step. Waking up every morning and making that first thought “Today is going to be a good day, because I am fucking fantastic.” Again, that mind-body connection is crucial here, that when you create that first experience of the day, your mind and body will eventually follow suit. You are in control of each and every day. Let me say that again so it sinks in here: you are in control of each and every day. What you make of that, of every second, is up to you. 

 

xx Backpacking Bee xx

 
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You know Bee as 1/2 of the Bohemian Babes that did an amazing job with our previous blogs. We can't get enough of her and hope you are just as inspired by her writing and radiant soul. 

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WHAT OTHERS THINK ABOUT YOU IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS

Have you ever made a lifestyle change and had people give you a hard time for it? Maybe they disrespected you behind your back or even to your face? I had an experience like this a few years ago. I decided to make a change and had a few friends who were all of a sudden not so friendly. I remember being really upset because I didn’t know WHY they felt the way they did. Being a people-pleaser, I desperately wanted to make it “right”— I thought if I was nice enough, if I worked hard enough, if I bent over backwards to accommodate them, if I could figure out WHY they felt the way they did, that I could change their minds about me. I felt like I began walking around with this aura of desperation floating around my head like PLEASE LIKE ME! I PROMISE I AM A NICE PERSON! I AM WORTHY OF YOUR RESPECT. It was exhausting. I tried everything I could think of to remedy the situation. I tried reaching out to them—asking if they would talk to me about it. I tried convincing them that they had it all wrong—that I really was a good person. I tried talking to third-party people—maybe someone else could shed some light on the situation. I tried to act like I didn’t care—even though I definitely did. I tried being polite knowing they were still talking about me behind my back—sometimes even disrespecting me to my face (or my personal favorite—through text). I tried being as nice as humanly possible (sometimes over-the-top nice) to overcompensate, but no matter what I did, it didn’t matter. Nothing I did changed their behavior.

 

The saddest thing about the whole experience wasn’t the “friends” I lost. It was that I had allowed this negativity to seep into my life, and I let it steal my peace and my happiness. I wanted to be liked SO badly that it had completely consumed me. I was literally losing sleep over it, and I cared so much about what these people thought of me—people who are not in my life at all anymore. Letting negative people have that much power over you is exhausting and debilitating.

 

Not everyone is going to understand you or agree with your life choices. The good news is—you don’t need anyone else’s approval. Your worth doesn’t depend on other people’s acceptance of you. Because when you choose kindness, regardless of how others treat you, God (or the Universe, Buddha, Mother Nature, Jehovah – whoever or whatever you believe in) already sees you as good, and there should be great comfort and freedom in that (my friend Bree taught me that).

 

So much of my time has been wasted trying to win people’s approval and prove my worth. It gets to a point where your life isn’t really your own anymore—all of a sudden you realize that you are living your life for someone else, and that isn’t how it should be! You cannot prove your worth, and you cannot change what others think about you. Respect isn’t earned or even demanded—no matter who you are, how hard you work, or what you’ve accomplished so far in life, respect is not something that you can expect from others. You can only show others how YOU respect YOURSELF. People learn how to treat you based on what you allow. If you are allowing people who continually disrespect you to stay active in your life, they will continue to do so.

 

If a person is bringing anything but positivity into your life, you’ve got to find a way to remove them. You don’t have to be mean or rude or yell or scream or say anything at all for that matter. You can literally just cut them out of your life, and you don’t owe them or anyone else an explanation for it. Fight for your own inner peace. Because if you let it, that negative energy can and will suck the energy right out of you.

 

So how does anyone ultimately move past a nasty rumor or eliminate a toxic person from his or her life? Good news—you may not be able to control others, but you CAN control your own actions and behavior. Whenever I run into this issue, I (still to this day) have to make a conscious effort to stop giving it my attention. I pray a lot—I pray for them, and I pray for myself! I pray that God helps me to worry less. I spend more time focusing on the people who invest in me, encourage me, support me, and love me. I have to consciously STOP trying to gain the approval of those few negative people, and let me tell you—there is nothing more freeing. Because PSA: YOU CANNOT CHANGE PEOPLE’S OPINIONS OF YOU. You can be the hardest worker on your team, the most helpful kid in your class, the nicest person in the world—there will always be people who find a reason not to like you. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

Keep in mind that when someone mistreats you, it likely has NOTHING to do with you. These people are dealing with their own issues and insecurities. Some people are sad, lonely, hurting, jealous—the list goes on. Some people NEED to put others down in order to feel better about themselves. Just be kind to them—whether you receive the same treatment back or you don’t—have peace knowing that you chose kindness.

 

My husband and I recently discovered this TV show called Superstore—it’s a comedy about the dynamic in the workplace (it’s similar to The Office, but this show takes place in a Super Walmart-type store, and it’s really funny!). We recently watched an episode where the boss (his name is Glenn, and he reminds me so much of myself) reads a particular nasty review about his store on Yelp. He tracks down the guy who wrote the review and brings him back into the store to try and remedy the situation (I would do this). This guy (his name is Tim) seems pleasant, and after he leaves, Glenn checks Yelp to see if Tim has updated his review. He is upset to read that Tim has written an even nastier review than before! Glenn tries again and again to change Tim’s mind, bringing him back in multiple times, but it always ends with nastier and nastier reviews—sometimes even with Tim personally attacking Glenn. The episode ends with Amy, a manager at the store, paying Tim a visit at his house. It turns out that Tim lives with his very sick mother and his home has been overrun by what appears to be dozens of wild rabbits! Not saying you should laugh at anyone living in these conditions, but just to circle back to my original point, the people who mistreat you are dealing with their own issues so try not to take it personally—even though it may be really hard.

 

I truthfully don’t believe that people are inherently evil or that people actually just like being mean and live to hurt other people’s feelings, but I do believe that people can be incredibly troubled, unaware, selfish, and insecure. It is NOT your responsibility to babysit people’s insecurities. You should not feel obligated to shrink yourself so people can meet you at a level they are comfortable with. Continue being yourself. Continue growing and evolving. Live your life how YOU want to. Be a nice person. Take an interest in other people’s lives and endeavors. Encourage and support them. It might be cliché, but I truly believe that you should treat others how you want to be treated. Support your friends and those around you because it is what you would want them to do for you. Choose kindness. Choose love. Choose happiness. Forget the other stuff.

  My name is Erin, and I am 27 years young. I was born and raised in Louisiana, played Division I college tennis at the University of Kansas, and even tried my hand at stand-up comedy in California. I consider myself to be a pizza connoisseur and a Netflix-binger. My husband and I now live in the beautiful state of Colorado, and we have one furry kid—a cat named Penny (we love dogs, too!). My husband is a hip-hop artist, and I am a personal trainer, Rodan + Fields® skincare consultant, and a lifestyle blogger. In other words, we can work when, where, and how much we want! We both live sober lifestyles and love Jesus more than we love each other.  I strive to bring joy and laughter into the world on a daily basis, and I hope that by sharing my own experiences through my writing, I can inspire self-love and encourage love and kindness among others.  _____________________  Erin is one of my childhood friends who I have such sweet memories with. I always laughed the most with her and she continues to inspire me daily. Thank you, Erin!!! 

My name is Erin, and I am 27 years young. I was born and raised in Louisiana, played Division I college tennis at the University of Kansas, and even tried my hand at stand-up comedy in California. I consider myself to be a pizza connoisseur and a Netflix-binger. My husband and I now live in the beautiful state of Colorado, and we have one furry kid—a cat named Penny (we love dogs, too!). My husband is a hip-hop artist, and I am a personal trainer, Rodan + Fields® skincare consultant, and a lifestyle blogger. In other words, we can work when, where, and how much we want! We both live sober lifestyles and love Jesus more than we love each other.

I strive to bring joy and laughter into the world on a daily basis, and I hope that by sharing my own experiences through my writing, I can inspire self-love and encourage love and kindness among others.

_____________________

Erin is one of my childhood friends who I have such sweet memories with. I always laughed the most with her and she continues to inspire me daily. Thank you, Erin!!! 

Why the Relaunch?

I've gotten this question so much, it's time we chat... Why the relaunch??

My heart for teaching girls their self worth and unveiling the lies behind life controlling issues through media is more on fire than ever, but over the last two years I've personally had a TON of life adjustments that were very overwhelming and made it difficult to keep Unveiled at the quality I wanted it to be. Two of my grandfathers passed away, I was in a stressful job scenario and one of my best friends had a huge health scare. So, I took a little break from videos while I lived in NYC to focus on self care and make sure those around me were okay. Now, guess what. We are BACK! My husband and I have moved from NYC to the south again and filming has commenced! I'm so excited for 2018 and can't wait to serve you better. 

I hope you'll love our first video and blog of 2018. Daphne's story, bravery and recovery has inspired me through her music. She's incredible. Show her some love! 

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Bohemian Babes - Savannah

Growing up, I constantly struggled with my identity in a career and self doubting questions of what I could actually accomplish. I’d start a fitness blog and share it with no one or journal while traveling but leave it untouched in my notebook. I was fearful of getting judged on social media by my skills or mindset. I wouldn't share my fitness routines yet my friends would ask me to train them. Out of fear of incompetency, I declined saying I was too busy.

That all changed in college when I realized you aren’t doing something right unless you are consistently making yourself go out of your own comfort zone. No one stays happy with “what could have been”. My dream was to move to California (away from the rainy city of Seattle), I was infatuated by the idea of living somewhere people vacation. Along with that, I knew I could make connections with what I was passionate about, fitness, wellness, and entrepreneurship. Once I graduated, it wasn’t even a question on where I’d move, so here I am now! Living in Huntington, a few blocks from the beach, I’ve met so many incredible individuals that teach me what 1% can accomplish if you pursue your own passions or businesses and give your all.

The first question I was almost always asked when I said I was moving my life to California is: why? My only response is: well, why not? nothing was holding me back other than myself. That usually ends in silence because they realized how ridiculous the question was in the first place. Never let your fears get in the way of accomplishing all you’re truly capable, and when in doubt, jump. Go for it and make the mistake because that’s what life is about.

 

Savannah Wright

Boho Babes

________________________________________

Unveiled has partnered with Bohemian Babes. Here's a little bit about them: 

Bohemian Babes was an idea we created in our old work setting. We met as graphic designers for the university we attended. Both of us constantly blogged at work, (we did that a lot) and started talking about our strong suits and weaknesses when we realized that if you were to combine us we could really be something rad. It’s been a slow and steady process but we really want to get it right and eventually grow into so much more. What’s kind of unique about us as digital marketers and bloggers is that we each bring such different aspects to Boho Babes. Sav is the yogi, fitness freak, with a great mind for business and always constantly challenges us to be better. Bee is passionate about writing, working with charities and focusing on the social media aspect. Together, we both love traveling and adventuring through whatever comes our way. Plus, I mean working with your best friend is the dream, right?

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Bohemian Babes - Bianca

When it comes to my own story, I look back at everything I've gone through and think damn, I’m amazing. That’s not me being self-involved or anything, it’s me acknowledging that I went through the ringer but continued through the trenches to get to where I am now. Often times we as women have this concept of shame in never feeling good enough, all while at the same time feeling like we’re too much. It’s absolutely ridiculous if you ask me. My first thought when I think of other women is how strong and beautiful they each are in their own unique way. So why is it so hard for us to think of ourselves in the same context?

When I was younger I had this dream of creating my own non-profit and to this day it’s actually still something I work toward. However, this past summer I went through quite a few hardships and starting doubting my goals because of course, I felt I couldn’t hack it. I had been broken and lost to the point where I didn’t think I was good enough for anything I had planned for my life. What to do when a complete life breakdown happens? Travel. Solo. For the first time.

Taking a cue straight out of eat pray love, I decided to head to Italy, France, and Germany to find myself again. Travel, in general, is always a good idea, it clears your mind and gives you a perspective on life in other cultures, keeps you out of your comfort zone and surrounded by new people. Over this trip I blogged like crazy, writing out my every thought in my journal and every day capturing a new story to tell, I was reminded of who I was and to never falter in that confidence in myself. In the end, that’s what matters. 

When it comes to confidence in one’s self it’s not something that comes easily though, and I still struggle with it to this day, as I’m sure every human being does. What makes a difference at the end of the day though is recognizing that you matter, you create your happiness, and you’re in control of how you deal with everything that comes your way. And what you do with all of that is everything. 

 

Bianca Dukesherer

Boho Babes

_____________________

Unveiled has partned with Bohemian Babes. Here's a little bit about them: 

Bohemian Babes was an idea we created in our old work setting. We met as graphic designers for the university we attended. Both of us constantly blogged at work, (we did that a lot) and started talking about our strong suits and weaknesses when we realized that if you were to combine us we could really be something rad. It’s been a slow and steady process but we really want to get it right and eventually grow into so much more. What’s kind of unique about us as digital marketers and bloggers is that we each bring such different aspects to Boho Babes. Sav is the yogi, fitness freak, with a great mind for business and always constantly challenges us to be better. Bee is passionate about writing, working with charities and focusing on the social media aspect. Together, we both love traveling and adventuring through whatever comes our way. Plus, I mean working with your best friend is the dream, right?

 Bianca

Bianca

Dear Unveiled,

Sweet girls (& a few guys!),

I've been thinking of you constantly for the last 4 years. My heart yearns for you to look in the mirror and see beauty and strength looking back at you. I want you to know how incredible and worthy you are. My heart feels like a brick as I type this, remembering the flood of stories that came through my email when we first launched, January 14th, 2014. You all have been through so much. I reread some of them recently and my fire has never gone out for you. I've wanted to give up, trust me, I have. I wanted to walk away from the effort, planning, filming, and writing. I wanted to "get a real job" and forget this dream. Yet, here I am. I'm happy to announce that we have officially received 501c3 status which means we are OFFICIALLY A NON PROFIT!! I honestly never thought this day would come and as I read the approval letter, each of your faces raced through my mind. This is for you. For the girl who was abused, for the self-harm scarred and for the one skipping meals. I will continue to serve you, using every resource, skill, and effort I have in me. I will. I'm so glad I never gave up so I could write this post. I want to encourage you not to give up on yourself. Take a bite, get off the scale, put down the weapon against yourself. I pray our community continues to grow and support one another with kindness and encouraging words. It's only just begun <3.

- Ainsley B. 

13 Reasons Why, for Parents!

If you have a teenager or young adult, you need to watch 13 Reasons Why. 

I’m going to be honest with you. It’s a hard show to watch. I mean at some points my skin was crawling for the door while my eyes hid behind the steel trap door of my fingers. I was dying to whip out the Sword of the Spirit on these fictional characters as my heart ached for them. 

Despite the fact that it’s hard, it’s real. As I was watching, I could identify each character as someone I knew when I was in high school. Maybe they went to my school, maybe they went to another one, but Justin, Jessica, Hannah, I knew them all, just with different names. 

It’s scary to think that. It’s also crazy that most shows are dramatized, but this one didn’t seem as unrealistic as most.

I know, I’m not a parent so who am I to be giving advice, but hear me out:

Remember your first heartbreak? Or when you didn’t make the team that one time? What about the rumor your ex-boyfriend spread about you? Now those things don’t seem like such a big deal, but back then, remember, it felt like an earthquake. That was the first time you felt betrayal, anxiety and other emotions that you had no idea existed before. Or maybe you had an idea, but not in this magnitude. Also, this stuff called social media isn’t helpful either. Teens and young adults are constantly scrolling through beautiful photos of places and people that they are comparing themselves to. I was the teen of dial up internet and the very beginning stages of Facebook, Myspace, etc. I’ll never forget the pain in my chest when I read negative comments on Facebook about myself from classmates or the drama that followed who you did or didn’t include in your Top 8. Why will I never forget? Because it was the first time I’d experienced anything like it. Had I known that life was going to be a lot more painful and beautiful at the same time, maybe it wouldn’t be so significant, but I didn’t know. It felt like an earthquake. Oh, and hormones and body changes and the pressure of doing well because your entire future hangs in the balance of your 17-year-old self, so it seems.

Keep in mind, parents, that it’s likely that your teen is facing some serious issues for the first time and doesn’t necessarily have the coping skills to actually deal with them. This is their first encounter with an eating disorder, self-harm, sexual harassment, etc. When I was in middle school, yes, middle school - every Wednesday was a day that the guys were allowed to grab our butts. I don’t remember who made the rule up, but I remember feeling violated. During my senior year of high school, one girl per week was “exiled” from the group and couldn’t sit with us at lunch. WHAT!? The nonsensical actions of peers make it difficult to cope. Your teen feels the impact of these experiences in a big way, so please don’t be passive if they bring it up or tell them they’ll get over it. 

If you want a glimpse into their lives, watch this show. Learn how to use social media. Reach out and I’m more than happy to teach you. I’m sure you’re doing a phenomenal job at loving them and that’s great, but they also crave to be understood and heard. 

My prayer is that we can build a bridge of communication between parents and teens so we can eliminate life controlling issues in young adults. Please watch this show & for more awareness videos & resources, visit UnveiledCampaign.com

Hearts & Rockets,

Ainsley

What to do when your friend tells you they've been abused...

*True story, names changed.

Madison and Grant have known each other their entire lives and are best friends. She helps him with Christmas presents for his mom, he helps her with the latest guy drama. He’s a bit more reserved, she’s a wildcard. They’re very close and Madison, for the first time, is about to be more vulnerable than she’s ever been. 

Madison: I have to tell you something.. 
Grant: What?
Madison: It's serious and I haven't told anyone
Grant: Wait what? What’s wrong?
Madison: I was raped. 
Grant: Oh, you don’t remember, you already told me that. Whew, I thought it was serious. Wanna go to Starbucks?
Madison: Oh. Um, I guess.. yeah.

Madison thought to herself, “Wait what? I don’t remember telling him that, but I guess I did…or maybe someone else did? but who would know?  but… he still just brushed it off and acted like it wasn’t a big deal…I guess it isn’t THAT big of a big deal, I mean…I’m okay now…kind of…” and this topic was never brought up again. Not when Madison felt triggered, not when she had flashbacks and nightmares, not ever. 

Why do I tell you this story?

It’s important to know what to say or do when your friend tells you something like this, whether it’s the first or second or third or seventeenth time. 

When your friend tells you they’ve been sexually or physically assaulted:

  1. Do not brush it off and act like it doesn’t take courage to tell someone. If they feel comfortable enough with you to tell you something like that, sympathize and thank them for being vulnerable enough to share such a tough situation. Understand the gravity of the situation.
  2. Don’t panic. Maybe on the inside it’s inevitable, but keep a calm and caring front with them. They are probably panicking themselves and need someone that isn’t going to jump to conclusions on what actions to take right away immediately.
  3. Ask them if they are okay and how you can help, but NOT about the details if they don’t voluntarily share them. 
  4. Don’t make a police report without their consent
  5. Tell the victim about RAINN or any Rape Crisis Centers in your area. It’s important to know what their safe options are.
  6. Don’t treat them like a wounded bird. They’re still your friend and likely don’t want to be treated differently long term. He/she wants to be heard, supported & not patronized. At the end of the day, your friend is still your friend. 

I hope this is helpful on what to do or say when your friend discloses shocking news. Don’t be like Grant. 

 

Refer to the Resources tab on UnveiledCampaign.com for the RAINN website.

Inhale the good, exhale the bad.

I'm reposting this from last year on my personal blog because I never realized how the same emotions can pop up even one year later. The pain of loss isn't temporary, but community and support makes it a little bit more bearable. Tell someone you love them today. 

_________________

12/1/16

May I start by saying that my brain has successfully turned to mush because when I was typing the title of this,  this is how it went:

"Inhale the good, outhale the bad. *wait* *backspace* exhale the bad."

Mush. 

Continuing to walk through grief during the holidays is such a whirlwind. Tears attack at any given moment with no warning. I wondered to myself how long I'm supposed to keep Poppa's picture on my phone background. Sometimes I see it and I smile, some times I'm too distracted with my task at hand to notice, and some times I look a little too long and a complete and total meltdown rises up and boils over. Luckily, I live in NYC and I don't seem that crazy when that happens, but on a a serious note... when is the time?

I don't want to rush the process. I want to properly go through the emotions and be sad that Poppa is gone and mad that he won't be at my future wedding and devastated that he won't meet my future children. My eyes are already raw from wiping them just thinking about the reality in that last sentence. My heart feels like a 500lb. weight is rested on it for the pain my sweet grandmother must feel. I truly can't imagine.

As we go through the holiday season, add an extra ounce of joy to pass around. You never know who needs it. 

(I realize I didn't write remotely what I meant to, but I'm keeping the title because of the great example of my brain mush as mentioned in the beginning. carry on.)

Ignoring the issue...

Ignoring the Issue

 

By Gregory Henn

 

Fingers tingle with anticipation as they type the words out, each one more hopeful than the next.  When the final message is constructed, it gets read and re-read countless times to ensure that the wording is just right and conveys the exact feelings we want it to.  We hover the mouse, or our thumbs, hesitantly over the “send” key and mentally try to not think about the outcome, no matter how nervous we are.  And then, with one click…it’s done.  The message is sent off into the great oblivion to hopefully be read and responded to quickly.  But sometimes, that just doesn’t happen…

 

Ignoring people is by no means a new concept, but looking around lately, it’s not hard to see that it’s become much easier.  So easy in fact that we’ve been trained to ignore people on a daily basis.  We ignore the people around us at Starbucks by being on our phones as we wait for our drink.  We ignore the homeless person asking for spare change on the street corner.  We ignore knocks at our door or phone calls from numbers we don’t recognize.  Granted, some of those are for safety purposes, but if we’re being honest, sometimes we just don’t want the bother of interaction.  Now, before I proceed, please understand I am NOT advocating that we engage with every single person we come into contact with, because that’s just not wise.  However, when I look around at all the “barriers” people have created around themselves, it’s a wonder that interaction with other people is even possible.  Perhaps the worst perpetrator of all is how we engage one another on social media. 

 

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, all encourage their users to interact with other people.  That is after all, the “social” part of social media.  Yet how often do our comments, messages, and other methods of reaching out fall off unanswered into the silent abyss that is the Internet?  Forgetting about celebrities for a second, how often do we try and communicate with even our own friends and find that we are faced with…silence?  When we later discuss it with them, they apologize for not checking, or for simply forgetting to respond and the issue is quickly forgotten.  Except not entirely, because simple excuses do little to quench the pains of being ignored. 

 

Why do we do this?  Well, in short, I think we ignore because ultimately we want to be the ones to decide who gets special access to our lives.  By putting yourself on social media (unless you become totally private) you are allowing yourself to be open to incoming attention, both wanted and unwanted.  But the genius rests in the fact that since you never actually sit face to face with the person, you get to plan out your response in a careful and calculated way.  If this individual doesn’t seem like someone you want in your life, you can ignore their friend request and hope that they eventually lose interest and go away.  When you get a reply to a tweet you wrote, you aren’t obligated to respond.  In a sense, it was designed that way.  Never before have we had such platforms for people to be “connected” on, and ignored simultaneously.  It’s truly a marvel.    

 

If you stop and think about it, none of this would exist in the real world.  It would be far too awkward.  Imagine you’re sitting down at a table at Starbucks and a person comes in and sits down across from you.  Now imagine that they begin talking to you.  If you just sat there and did nothing (silently hoping they’d just go away), people might begin to think there was something wrong with you.  Yet, somehow we don’t even think twice about doing this over social media.  One can make the claim that they are just inundated with messages and comments and that it is hard for them to respond to them all, but I cry foul on that.  Even within your own inbox, you will prioritize who you want to respond to or not. 

 

Now, while being ignored for any length of time hurts deeply, it’s when we are never responded to at all that hurts the most.  People who never get a response are left with a million unanswered questions, while the other party involved gets to skip and jump and play their life away feeling “free” from the annoyance.  But, speaking as someone who has been ignored quite frequently in my life, let me encourage you that a non-response is the worst thing you can give another person.  Please believe me when I say that we would rather all be recipients to the truth than to silence. 

 

Truth seems to be one of the few remaining currencies we still have as humans.  When we give truth, we often gain truth in return.  Truth about ourselves as well as truth about someone else.  This whole mentality of ignoring something and hoping things just go away on their own is actually quite damaging to people.  If someone is repeatedly ignored because they maybe do things a certain way, but no one ever tells them, do you think they’re going to keep doing it?  Of course they are, because they don’t realize that what they are doing is resulting in them being ignored.  It usually just takes one honest person to finally tell them the truth, and they’ll realize where they’d been going wrong all those years.  One honest person that could have prevented years of heartache and confusion.

 

There’s that age-old phrase that says, “the truth will set you free”, and I think that is definitely true.  But there is another aspect to it as well.  Truth not only sets you free, but it sets the other person free as well.  People who are frequently ignored often harbor negative feelings about themselves for a long time.  Someone who is repeatedly ignored might grow to feel they have less worth than they originally thought and begin to question their sense of value compared to others.  The often ignored might grow to become a bitter and jaded person who seeks to avoid human contact, or worse.  Now, I am not suggesting that ignoring someone once will turn them into a sociopath, but the truth is, you don’t always know where the other person is coming from at that particular moment in their life.  You might just be yet another in a long stream of people who have ignored them in the past, and this time might push them over the edge.  (I admit I’ve seen a few Lifetime movies.  It never ends well.) 

 

So what do we do with this?  Are we to engage every single person we come into contact with in deep meaningful conversations?  Definitely not.  There is a time and place to keep things short and surface-level with someone.  But I think we need to re-assess the way we look at ignoring others as a good avenue to take.  What might appear on the surface to be an easy out, rarely ever is.  We might think we’re doing nothing wrong, but I can guarantee you it hardly feels that way from their perspective.  I think if we truly considered the other person’s feelings above our own initial comfort level, there would be a lot more honesty being tossed around.  And while the truth might hurt their feelings at first, in the long run, everyone winds up better for it.  

Who Runs The World?

*Steps onto soapbox*

During the past 10 months or so, we've been in wedding mode. Planning, working, enjoying and laser focusing in on our relationship as the exciting events surrounded us. Everything was about "us." While that's so fun and exciting, I forgot to focus on myself as an individual and what fills my tank. I can't speak for Justin, but I know I sucked at keeping up with my friends and what was happening in their lives. It was all wedding all the time, or if not the wedding, then work or Unveiled or Hearts & Rockets. My mind was so cluttered that I was 100% a sucky friend (sorry yall...).

PSA: Husbands don't like to talk about the same things you like to talk about. They can't relate to your cramps and get super grossed out when you say anything related to Aunt Flo. Kardashians are the last thing they want to see on TV and "OMG I HATE THE BACHELOR BUT HOW FAR DO YOU THINK I WOULD'VE MADE IT ON THIS SHOW?.. " - direct quote from Mr. Glenn.

So, 

The other night my friend Sarah came to NYC for work and we went to grab dinner. As we shared the most delicious kale & sausage pasta and dipped our overpriced cookies in milk, we talked about all sorts of girl stuff. I probably talked her ear right off but it was so refreshing and fulfilling to just talk about nail polish and The Skimm and the highs and lows of living with a boy (They are so weird. Must've been some side effect of the cootie shot. You hear about those in vaccines you know). 

Then, the next morning, I went to breakfast with my friend Lauren who also happened to be performing in NYC at Carnegie Hall (I cried. It's cool. whatever). Listening to her Grandmothers tell me about how one of them met her husband when she and 48 other students sailed overseas was like a real life rom com storyline and the other lived in Colorado for a while and threw caution to the wind in her sassy car was so fun and inspiring! Remembering our middle school church trip and how one of the girls got caught kissing one of the guys by the lead Pastor, was all so fun and silly and as my heart overflowed with a giddy feeling, I remembered how insanely crucial your girlfriends are. 

I was always the girl who had more guy friends than girl friends because "I don't like drama" when really, I just wanted attention and to be "cool." This changed around the time I turned 19 and realized how much I love having girls I can be silly and dramatic with. Yes, of course girls (including myself) can be crazy, but at the same time, they are the ones who you can stay up all night nail painting and hair braiding with. Girls are the ones who will watch that RomCom movie and eat pints of ice cream with you, and I swear we will go to Pilates tomorrow, yet when tomorrow comes, Pilates turns into brunch and bottomless mimosas. While, having a husband/fiance/boyfriend and being in love is such an incredible feeling, it's also so important to be able to relate on the most random things like which nail salon is the best and who did your hair because I can't live with this mop on my head any longer!?

What I'm trying to say is to cherish your girl friends and nurture those relationships as you keep your independence and individuality while in a relationship. Justin actually loves when I have girls nights. Girls encouraging girls brings out a sense of confidence and joy. Let's nurture that in each other and love on one another. 

Beyonce said it best. Who runs the world? GIRLS.

*Steps off of soapbox*