In Part I of this blog series, I left off with how Indrani Goradia, and the work of Brené Brown changed my life and launched me into the world as an activist. Who knew I could be an activist? Did I really know what it meant to be an “activist.” So first, let’s define the word, “activist.”
An activist is a person who campaigns for some kind of social change. When you participate in a march protesting the closing of a neighborhood library, you’re an activist. Someone who’s actively involved in a protest or a political or social cause can be called an activist.
I don’t know about you, but this is a strong word for me that holds a lot of power and responsibility in the world. I was scared and felt vulnerable to even admit that this word was calling me. Who am I to be an activist? What can I offer the world that can help hundreds, thousands, or even millions of women around the globe. Or, who am I, to help just ONE woman? Well, here are the answers to my questions…. I am worthy, I am loved, and I matter.
Do something for me right now. It’s a very quick exercise. Say out loud, “I am worthy, I am loved, and I matter.”
What feeling, or feelings came up for you when you said those words? I can share with you that I was barely able to get those words out of my mouth, and I definitely felt uncomfortable, and incapable of loving myself. I asked myself, “Where in the hell did this come from?” I love people, I love to serve, I love to take care of others, so why didn’t I give a damn about myself?
This is where Indrani Goradia entered my life in September of 2013. I was at Andrea J. Lee’s, Wealthy Thought Leader Conference in Baltimore, MD ….. and Indrani appeared on the big screen with a personal video message for all of us who were seeking to help end gender based violence. Now, due to my training and experience as a police officer, it was difficult to get me physically or emotionally excited about things. I was good at keeping my feelings hidden, and I certainly didn’t cry unless I absolutely had to. But when I saw Indrani’s face, heard the passion in her voice, and listened to the “call to action,” my heart started to beat rapidly …. I had that fluttering feeling in my chest, and my hands started to sweat. I tried to hold back the tears welling up in my eyes, but they began to stream down my cheeks. It was then I knew Indrani’s Light Foundation was in my future … I just didn’t know when, or how.
Fast forwarding to 2014, I decided to listen to my inner warrior and become involved with ILF. I signed up and participated in the Live-A-Brighter-Life teleconference class that spring. I was so impacted by the curriculum that I was the first person to sign up for the 2014 Train-the-Trainer Course in Austin, TX. I became a certified ILF Trainer, and started teaching the workshops to my own community in Portland, OR.
In the Live-A-Brighter-Life curriculum, Indrani includes the work of Dr. Brené Brown. This is where everything shifted for me around my guilt, humiliation, and embarrassment with being a rape survivor, a victim of discrimination, and my bankruptcy. THERE it was all along! “SHAME.” I realized before I could be an activist to end violence against women in the world, I had to practice the four elements of shame resilience that Indrani teaches in her Live-A-Brighter-Life workshop. Brené Brown tells us we need to:
- Recognize our shame and understand its triggers
- Practice critical awareness
- Reach out and connect with people, and own your story
- And speak about your shame, while asking people what you need from them
Are you asking yourself how YOU can start practicing these things, and begin the journey of healing? Well maybe the “Readers Digest” version of my life story can help you put a plan together and start your work as an activist for women.
Part 3 of this guest blog series is on its way. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear from you and the feelings that came up for you while you were reading this blog. There is no shame or judgment here. You can begin your journey of healing right now.
With deepest gratitude,
Director of Education & Training