Award

6 years ago I attended a benefit event at the Drake Hotel for Girls on the Run. I would be presented with the Superstar Award for Outstanding Coach at the event. What I did not know is that it would be a night that would change my life forever….just as Girls on the Run has changed the lives of countless girls.
Several weeks prior I had bought a dress on sale. The dress was a total splurge….even on sale for $30! At that time, I never bought things for myself much less a fancy dress! I was not allowed to spend money of “frivolous” things. I felt so good in that dress, so beautiful and powerful. That dress still hangs in my closet waiting to be worn again.
I did my own hair and then my daughter and I drove into the city to Barney’s to visit one of my best friends. My friend is a makeup artist and had never done my makeup before, heck, I had never had anyone do my makeup before! When she was finished, I felt so beautiful!
She also did makeup for my 16 year old daughter, who was my date for the evening. My daughter, who was my first girl on the run and the reason I started coaching the program. My daughter who deserved a fancy night out with her momma.
We arrived at the Drake greeted by valet parking and cocktail hour. I felt so special….and out of place.
I felt like I didn’t belong. I was instantly transported back to the grade school girl who never fit in and was always teased. The girl in high school that struggled with her looks and never felt like an “insider.” The college girl that drank to forget feeling left out.
I took a deep breath and, like a gut punch, it hit me. I was everything I was teaching girls NOT to be…….. I was a woman married to an unfaithful, abusive man.
I went to the bathroom to catch my breath and fix my makeup. I put on my new lipstick, plastered a smile on my face and headed in the the event to join my daughter. I was going to make the best of this night, celebrate Girls on the Run and this accomplishment.
During the day and into the evening, my wasband was texting me. He anger and jealousy was palpable. I was not “effectively managing” my children by going out for the evening, leaving my oldest daughter (18 at the time)in charge. He had been invited but had refused to take the night off work. Seeing me get an award was just too much for him to handle. And, looking back, I am so grateful he was not there.
My daughter and I had a wonderful dinner and I was able to teach her how a live auction works! She tried mightily to get me to bid on things that were well out of our price range but a girl can dream, right?!
After the auction, it was time for the presentation of awards. When my name was called, I walked to the stage, feeling weak in the knees. I straightened my spine, smiled, and stepped up to accept the award, graciously thanking the presenter. As I walked back to my seat I made a decision. It was a decision that would change the course of my future and the future of my children. I made a choice to be done.
I wanted out but didn’t know how to get out. I wanted to leave my marriage but didn’t know how or when it would happen. I was sad and lonely and in pain. I really was done.
I wanted to find a way out and that night showed me that I needed to find a way. I could not preach self love and empowerment to others all while living a lie of abuse and self hate.
I went through the motions in my marriage for a few more months. Soon enough, the lie I was living exploded. I mustered the courage to confront my wasband. I asked him to make a choice….our family and marriage or his “other life.” He wanted both. I knew that would never work so after a few weeks, I secretly met with a lawyer and filed for divorce.
Don’t get me wrong, I did the “pick me” dance for weeks, begging him to give us a second chance. I waited up all night for him to come home night after night only for him to ignore me or fight with me when he finally arrived. His contempt and indifference was something I will never forget. He taunted me repeatedly with, “I will never agree to a divorce…”, “You will never go through with it….you don’t have the guts….”, “Shut up! You will wake the kids….” and “Think about others would you?! She has small kids! Keep your mouth shut….” Over and over…..night after night….until he was served.
For years, every week I taught my Girls on the Run teams lessons in empowerment and self-esteem. What I failed to realize was that I was the one that needed those messages. I was the one that needed to learn to love myself and have confidence in myself. I needed to find the woman I had stuffed down deep inside me. I needed to be my own outstanding coach.
We never know what will turn the tide in our life. We never know when we will be faced with a moment of truth. We never know what moment will be the defining tipping point. However, when that moment does arrive, we need to be brave enough to face an uncertain future and be prepared to ride the waves of change. We have it in us! We just need to dig deep and find it!
We need to be our own SuperStar…..Our Own Outstanding Coach!
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Help

We all need it sometimes but admitting that to ourselves and others is no easy task. I grew up with the understanding that asking for help was a sign of weakness. So….. I never asked for help. I learned to figure shit out on my own. I grew up BI (Before Internet). The library, Encyclopedia Brittanica, Dear Abby and late night TV were my go-to help advisors. 
I love to help others. Helping people fills me up and I love when I can make life better/easier for another human. In the past few years I learned that asking for help is not weakness but a sign a strength. What I also realized was that I needed to give people the opportunity to help me… especially my kids. 
I used to get angry that my kids didn’t help around the house and when/if they did, it was not good enough for me or the way that I would do it. I have realized we all do our best and can not assume anything. My children and friends are not mind readers. If I can be vulnerable and brave enough to ask for help, others are more than willing to step up to assist. I have also had to let go of the notion that my way is the only way to do things. My children and my friends have great ideas. They are all thoughtful as well as generous if I let go of my ideas of perfection. I have even learned some things along the way!
I am grateful that I am growing as a human. I am proud of myself for stepping out of my comfortable, albeit lonely, space allowing others in to help me when I need it…and even when I don’t realize that I need it!
Love yourself enough to allow others to help you once in a while. It will benefit all involved and you will all grow closer together.
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Connection

2021 Pay-It-Forward:
The first five people to connect with me will receive from me, sometime within the calendar year, a handwritten note, perhaps with a gift attached. There will likely be no warning and it will happen whenever the mood strikes me.
Let’s all pay it forward this year!
🖊
Pay it forward!!
Let’s connect!! Peace, #tutulady #forwardisapace

Healing

Healing is not linear. It is a process. People would love for you to move on NOW. Why? It makes life easier for THEM. Healing from pain and trauma is not about THEM….it is about YOU.
Coping with trauma takes many different shapes and forms. Some people stuff it down and bury it. Some people choose to smother it with addictive behaviors like alcohol/drugs/food/gambling/etc. Some put on the mask of happiness telling all ask that they are “fine.” The problem with those and other unhealthy responses is that they are just that….unhealthy. The trauma is always still there, just under the surface, waiting to rear its ugly head at an inopportune time. Moving on is not fast nor easy and those that tell you it is are lying.
Time does not heal old wounds. Healing takes work and dealing with trauma is work. Offering ourselves the same grace we give to others is not easy. It is difficult learning to create and hold boundaries. It is emotionally exhausting to do the painful work of growth, self improvement and self love. Grieving the loss of dreams of the future is often overwhelming. Processing all the emotions can debilitating. Sounds like a super fun party, right?! Not really, but the time invested in healing from trauma is worth all the pain, making us stronger and healthier humans.
One vital part of healing is sharing our story. Sharing our story, is not only empowering to us but also to others. Giving a voice to our experience validates our pain, our process and our healing. Sharing our story helps others in similar situations. It allows others who may feel alone in their trauma and pain to find a safe space of validation. How we share our story is ours to decide.
Not everyone will understand your process or have the patience to endure the time involved with your healing. Some will be critical of the choices you make in your healing process. Some will listen, leaning in, offering a place of grace sitting with you in your process. Some will love you through it all without judgement. People’s opinion of you, your choices and your process is …well….none of your business. You are on a healing journey from victim to victor, from survivor to thriver. You are in charge of your future and you decide who is a part of that future. This part of your life’s journey is invitation only. Choose wisely.
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Pictures

I love pictures! I have photos all over my home. Framed images of a moment in time that was captured forever. Looking at a photo brings back all the memories. I love pictures…just not pictures of me!
I grew up in the the era of cameras and film on a spool. The time of dark rooms and self developing. The days of photomats and ordering duplicates. Way back when we had to wait to see if there were any “good”(or incriminating!) photos and to see what we actually did at that party! I remember ordering pictures and having to request color or black and white. I remember wasting a whole roll of film on over/under exposure, running out of film, and a dead camera battery. I came of age in the era of digital cameras which moved to cell phone cameras. The cameras on cell phones are so advanced now that It is a rare occasion for me to drag out my trusty Nikon.
I love being behind that camera taking the photos. It is where I feel safe. Looking at life through the lens provides a completely different perspective. Therein lies my dilemma. Being a business owner and coach, people want to see photos of me. That makes me uncomfortable. I have spent years looking at the person in the mirror and being so cruel to that girl.
Growing up I was picked on and teased a lot for the way I looked. I was the “fat girl,” the girl with the big butt, the girl with the “brace face,” the one that never really fit in. As I grew older I projected this persona of confidence, the loud life of the party. Inside, I was slowly dying. I was constantly worried about what people were saying about me behind my back. Back then I knew nothing about anxiety so I starved myself, made a tons of crappy choices, drank, went out with bad boys, and kept everyone at arms length so they could not see my weakness.
That anxiety and cover up spiraled into a marriage to a “badboy.” I thought the feelings of insecurity would go away once I got married. Nope….things only got worse. I became a mom and thought the insecurity would go away. Nope….things only got worse. The person I thought was the love of my life used my weakness to gain an advantage over me. I could not do anything right. I was a “failure as a mom.” I needed to get in shape and was “too fat” for my own good. My hair was too long/too short/no blonde enough. The list was endless and the negative comments were never ending. Slowly it all wore me down. I lost myself. I disappeared behind the camera lens. There are many lost years where there are no photos of me with my family or my kids.
Fast forward to this past week….I stood in the background on a trip to the apple orchard watching my teens take photos of themselves. I stood and watched as they “hyped” each other, fixing clothes and hair for each other and suggesting poses. It was a joy to watch them! Then I mustered up all my courage and asked them to take a photo of me. They all “hyped” me up and helped me pose. I was afraid to look at the photos and waited until I got home. I chose one to post and still looked at what was “imperfect” but not them….they saw what was beautiful. Sure they filter and facetune their photos but for the most part, they post photos of themselves with abandon! Me? I just post the photo they tell me is “the one!”
I shared with them my feelings about photos and how I hate photos of myself. Vulnerability is uncomfortable but I am pushing myself! They suggested another photo shoot at the house. I needed photos for the website so I agreed. I mean if I hated the photos, it cost me nothing but time, not like the old days!. So I let the kids play. They did my makeup, styled my outfit and my “look” then took the photos. They told me how sit, smile and where to look. I was soooo uncomfortable but we had fun and got some great photos (according to the kids!) Honestly, if there is one things kids today know how to do, it is get the right angle and find the light for the camera.
What I didn’t realize until I was on the outside of the frame looking in was that I was looking for a place to belong and someone to love me. I spent years looking for someone to tell me I was beautiful and mean it. For someone to tell me I am perfect just the way I am.
I grew up but never grew into my own skin. It took therapy, being on my own and the love of my kids to help me realize that the person I was looking for was right in front of me all along. She was staring me right in the face. It was ME. I needed to love me. I needed to accept me. I needed to see my own beauty. I needed to love that girl I was looking at in the mirror.
I still look at photos of me and see the imperfections. But I also see the beauty that is far more than skin deep. I finally love the myself and the skin I am in. So take all the photos. Ask others to take pictures of you. Delete the ones you don’t like. Keep more than you delete. And post the ones that make you happy. That photo is only a moment in time but the memories are forever!
Peace.
#tutulady
#forwardisapace