Tag Archives: Live a Brighter Life

#TBT Special Interview with Janine Shepherd

Defiant_J.Shepherd_CVRIn 2012, Indrani Goradia hosted her “Unpasteurized Joy” podcast.  She had the honor of interviewing her friend, and author, Janine Shepherd, who is an internationally renowned speaker, and inspired over a million people who watched her TED talk, “A Broken Body Isn’t a Broken Person.”  She’s was featured on “60 Minutes”, “This is Your Life”, and CNN’s “Turning Points”, with Dr Sanjay Gupta.  Since then, Janine has written a book called, “Defiant: A Broken Body is Not A Broken Person.”

janineJanine is also known as the “walking paraplegic,” after a tragic accident stripped her of her Olympic dreams and changed her life forever.  You can watch her TED talk here:  https://youtu.be/bX32U_hfri4

 

Since the political climate in the United States has been incredibly polarizing in recent months, we wanted to share some inspiration and hope with you today.  If you are feeling overwhelmed with emotions of hopelessness, this #TBT podcast is for you!

Please SHARE this interview with a friend or family member if this inspired you.  Also, Janine’s book, “Defiant” gives a detailed account of her story, and it will blow you away. Purchase her book HERE!

What is the Caregiver Project?

Some of you are wondering what our Caregiver Project is all about.  Well, let’s start by defining the word, “Caregiver.”  There are a few variations of the definition, but this is the one that best fits our mission:

“Relatives, friends, or professionals who provide a wide range of paid, or unpaid care to dependent relatives, friends and/or people needing physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual support. Caregiving is the action of providing care to these individuals.”

Caregiving can include:

  • Emotional and social support (e.g. visiting, transportation, talking about emotions)
  • Finding and accessing services (e.g. housing, medical supports)
  • Behavioral support (e.g. communicating effectively, managing challenging behaviors)
  • Financial help (e.g. financial support, managing finances)
  • Practical assistance with basic activities of daily living (e.g. housekeeping, shopping, meal preparation)
  • Personal care (e.g. help with monitoring medication, bathing)
  • Physical help (e.g. assistance with movement, supervision, direct medical care)

Overarching all of these activities, caregiving is the assumption of responsibility for providing care, along with the concern, worry and emotional involvement this entails.

Why is ILF involved with the Caregivers at women’s shelters?

Early last year, the founder of ILF, Indrani Goradia, began talking with the staff of shelter facilities who were caring for victims of violence.  They began sharing their concerns for the high turnover rate of staff within their organizations, and the burnout that naturally happens due to the nature of this work.

Indrani quickly went into action.  She knew if we were losing these passionate people who work with victims of violence, we could lose the shelters, or cut the number of women, men, and children who need be housed.   Now, how could ILF help?  We can train and educate the shelter staff (the Caregivers) how to keep from burning out.

 

What we teach the Caregivers?

  • Our trainers are teaching the caregivers about different tools they can use for self-care, and lead a more balanced life.
  • We educate caregivers on how to recognize their own triggers of shame, guilt, and humiliation that effect their work and personal lives.
  • We help them improve their personal boundaries, and how to say “No” to things that compromise their well-being.
  • And we remind them that they matter, that they are loved, and that they are “seen,” for the work they do.

 

Where can we teach the Caregiver Project?

  • We can send our trainers to anywhere in the United States, and some areas of Canada.
  • We teach in women’s shelters and organizations that directly have contact with victims of violence.
  • We are currently training ILF trainers all over the world to help us reach the caregivers in other countries.

 

How much does the training cost?

We offer the Caregiver Training at NO COST to the shelter or organization.  We do, however, rely on donations to fund the 2-day training class. The training requires two certified ILF trainers, and the cost for travel, transportation, food, supplies, and pay for the entire training is approximately $5,000.00.

How can you help us with the Caregiver Project?

  • You can SPREAD THE WORD! Use social media, email, or mention us at a party or event. (facebook.com/indranislight  Twitter: @indranis_light)
  • You can BECOME AN ILF TRAINER! We will be offering the Train-the-Trainer Course every year to certify trainers to teach our ILF curriculum to their own communities and shelters.
  • You can DONATE! Here is where you can donate ANY AMOUNT to help our Caregiver Project, or any other area of our mission to end domestic violence.

 

We need your feedback. 

  1. What do you think of the project?
  2. Is this something you would love to support?
  3. How would you like to support us?
  4. What more could we do?

 

If you have already supported our mission in any way, we want to extend our deepest gratitude.  If you would like to do more, or maybe you haven’t taken the step to support us yet, please reach out to our Director of Education and Training, Amy Dier, at amy@indranislight.org.  She will be more than happy to talk with you about your options.

 

Love & Light,

 

Team ILF

 

I am an activist to end violence against women: Part 3 – The Rape

How has my personal story been sitting with you so far?  My hope is to help you begin your journey of healing shame, and become the activist you desire to be!  Meanwhile, I’m taking a DEEP BREATH.  What I’m about to tell you will help me “Live-A-Brighter-Life.”  This is the vulnerable place that Brené Brown talks about. This is the place where Indrani Goradia encourages me to be brave.

UntitledSo, in the Part 1 blog I slightly touched on my story of being raped as a young teenager.  As a young girl, I was walking tall, confident, and very secure in myself as I entered into the high school scene.  I was involved in all of the sports, highly regarded in my church, played many instruments in our school band, and never broke “the rules.”  My parents were known as responsible and loving people, who were living the blue collar “American Dream.”  But as we know so often, many of these kinds of families are hiding a secret.  Our secret was I had an older brother who was suffering from his own demons of a mental illness and drug abuse.  This was back in the 70’s and 80’s when families rarely talked about their private lives.  As you can imagine, I made sure I was the “good little girl,” and wanted to make sure I never disappointed my parents, my community, or my church.

In my youth, I was taught that being a “good little girl” meant that you should help people, and do the things God would want you to do here on earth.  I thought that was a reasonable request, so I set out doing my best to do JUST that.  I had found and befriended a teenage boy who was older than me, and living in a challenging home situation.  I continued a friendship with him against my father’s wishes.  You see, my parents had some kind of gut feeling about this boy that I wasn’t aware of.  So (on a rare decision to disobey my father) I decided to go to this friend’s house and invite him to church.  This is where my nightmare began, and did not end for 30 years.

Many of you reading this article right now can completely relate to this story.  Certain feelings are stirring up in you, and you can understand the rush of trauma I was experiencing during and after I was raped.  Some of you have been raped, sodomized, or sexually abused in your life.  You know the feelings of guilt, shame, humiliation, denial, anger, confusion, betrayal, uncertainty, and grief about the loss of innocence that was taken from you.  The nightmares have been haunting you for years, and your entire existence revolves around this suffering.  And then the biggest question of your lifetime…. Do you tell anyone what happened to you?

I made it home somehow that horrific day, crept into the shower, and felt frozen in my body.  I made the painfully conscious decision that I could not tell my parents, or report what had happened.  I had disobeyed my parents, and “this is what I deserved.”  I told my best friend at the time, and throughout the years I have felt obligated to tell my partners.  My parents found out just a few years ago about my rape, and even after a 30-year career in law enforcement and private investigations, I could not NAME my feelings about what had happened to me.

UntitledIt’s been almost four years since I received the opportunity to start REALLY healing from my rape.  When I began to tell my story, the grip it had on me began to release.

What story is gripping you tight?  What story is holding you hostage?  I had not been open to therapy…. Ever!  But through the encouragement and help of people I trusted, I began to see a therapist for my PTSD.

At Indrani’s Light Foundation, we encourage our community to reach out to the people they trust if they need help.  In module 4 of the “Live-A-Brighter-Life” workshop series, we teach about “Finding Resilience.”  Indrani teaches that separating and insulating yourself from others is a petri dish for shame.  Brené Brown’s book, “Daring Greatly,” is my new Bible now, and as I continue to teach Indrani’s “Live-A-Brighter-Life” curriculum, I continue to heal my shame.

Part 4 of my blog series is coming up next.  If you’ve been a victim of discrimination, or have ever been shamed or treated differently because of your race, sex, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or any other situation, I encourage you to keep following my blog series.  I lost my beloved career because I was a woman, and a lesbian.  I will talk about how I coped with this loss, when the grieving process began, and how I have come to understand this trauma.

 

With love & light,

Amy

I am an activist to end violence against women: Part I

UntitledI’ve always had a passion for helping women who have suffered abuse of any kind.  Why did I choose this particular passion?  I am a rape survivor.  As a young teenager, I fell victim to an older teenager who preyed upon my kindness of wanting to help him with his “demons” by inviting him to church.  He disappeared after the rape, and I chose not to report the rape to police, or my parents for many heart-wrenching reasons.  I told my best friend at the time, but my nightmares only seemed to get worse.

I did, however, make sure I got into the front seat of a police car as a police cadet soon after I was raped.  I felt safe, and I believed I could help other girls and women if I was a police officer.

As a police officer, I made every effort to handle the domestic violence calls, the reports of Untitledrape, sex abuse, or teenage girls who were being abused by their parent or guardian.  I investigated every case with a fine tooth comb, dotted every “i,” crossed every “t,” and wanted justice for girls and women who cried out for help.

What I COULDN’T do in my 20 years in law enforcement, was advocate for the girls and women who DID NOT, or COULD NOT seek help.  Police officers must remain objective, and are ethically held by the rules of law.  I did what I could to encourage these women and girls to report their abusers, but that was the extent of my power.

UntitledAfter 20 years in law enforcement, I became a private investigator, and working criminal defense cases came with this territory.  After being a defense investigator during these abuse cases, I became acutely aware of both sides of the stories.  After interviewing and representing multiple “alleged” abusers, many of them told me their family history, the abuse they, themselves, suffered as children, and the demons they fought for most of their lives.  Many of these men admitted their guilt and asked for help.  Other abusive men admitted their guilt, but showed no remorse, and believed the woman “deserved what she got.”

UntitledNow that I’m retired from law enforcement and private investigations, I was left with confusing thoughts, beliefs, and judgments, with no clear answer of why men are so abusive to women in our world.  The latest statistic from the United Nations is that 1 out of every 3 women will suffer abuse on this planet.  This is a staggering pandemic.  This means that YOU, or someone you know … a sister, mother, grandmother, aunt, cousin, best friend, or daughter ….. has suffered some form of abuse.  Maybe you are the abuser? Maybe you were a victim of verbal, physical, or sexual abuse as a child? Or maybe you are being abused now. Where do you go for help?  Who do you trust?

In the next “Part 2” blog series, I will share how Indrani Goradia, Indrani’s Light Foundation, and Brené Brown came into play for me.  Meanwhile, I’m feeling vulnerable about sharing my story this way, so I’d love some feedback about how this blog is resonating with you.   Do you have a similar story?  Do you have mixed feelings about becoming an activist?  Tell me your thoughts.

 

With deepest gratitude,

Amy
Director of Education & Training
Indrani’s Light Foundation

 

 

 

 

Being vulnerable……

ILF_Wtagline_Logo rgbIndrani’s Light Foundation teaches a free workshop series called Live-A-Brigher-Life.  (You can listen to the free podcast series here.) In one of our lessons, “Finding Resilience,” we teach you how to ask for help, and that being vulnerable can free your shame, humiliation, guilt, or embarrassment.  We also teach Brené Brown’s strong belief in the power of empathy, and how you can understand another person’s feelings.

Here is a short story recently told by Indrani that may help you understand.

Indrani was recently in New York City and finally got the opportunity to climb up to the crown of the Statue of Liberty.

Being vulnerable.

“This was the step count up to the Crown of lady liberty.

I sometimes get claustrophobia.

Half way up I could not breathe and started to freak out.

My dear friend, Eva, came down to me and started to help me breathe.
Big deep breaths.

My dear Erik started telling me about the firm construction of the statue.

My new friend Yuki stayed close and was ready to support my ascent.

3 amazing people when I needed them.

I made it with a smile on my face.

I am so grateful.

The lesson?

Ask for help.

Accept the help.

Be grateful for angels around.”

 How does this story resonate with you?  Would you ask for help from trusted friends in this scenario? Or would you have tried to “tough it through” and suffered the entire way up the stairway?  These three friends came to Indrani’s aid with empathy and with no judgment.

Maybe the story is different for you.  Who can you reach out to if you are being abused?

A parent? 

A best friend? 

A counselor?

A religious community member?

A sibling?

A coach?

Who is trustworthy, nonjudgmental, and patient?  Who can you entrust with your story?  Reach out to them today.  Not tomorrow, not next week….. but today.  Speak your shame.  Speak your truth.  It’s time to feel safe again, don’t you think?

If you, or someone you know need resources to get help, have them visit our webpage at www.indranislight.org/resources/helpful-links/

 

 

Brighter Life Bit #24: The Wash of Shame

ILF_Wtagline_Logo rgbYou can listen to the original teaching at the 1 hour 15 minute mark of the Class 3 recording. You can download the audio from iTunes here  or from the ILF website here. 

The “Wash of Shame” comes from the work of Brené Brown. Here is how it works.

Exercise

Let’s “Go to the movies” like we did in module 1.

Think of a “medium intensity” event that happened in your childhood, as a young adult, or maybe something that happened yesterday.  Put yourself there again.  Watch it like you’re at the movies. What was the weather like? What were you wearing? What did you smell? Were you inside or outside? Who was there?

Answer these questions:

  • “I physically feel shame in my …..” (name a part of your body).
  • “I know I’m ashamed when I feel …..”
  • “If I could taste shame, it would taste like ….”
  • “If I could smell shame, it would smell like ….”
  • “If I could touch shame, it would feel like ….”
  • Look at your responses…. This is YOUR “Wash of Shame.”  

The first step is to acknowledge your shame. Share your experience with how these exercises worked for you in the comments of this post.

Brighter Life Bits #23: What are your triggers?

ILF_Wtagline_Logo rgbYou can listen to the original teaching at the 55 minute mark of the Class 3 recording. You can download the audio from iTunes here  or from the ILF website here.

What are your triggers?  What circumstances bring you straight to shame?

Grab your journal or open a word document on your computer and write the following statement to yourself:

“I want to be perceived as ……”

Now write the following statement:

“What I DON’T want to be perceived as …..”

Examples of shame :

Body type, skin color, sexual orientation, class, religion

This exercise is a gentle way to recognize the power that these triggers have over you, and to understand that power.  It’s a process and needs practice.

Share your experience with how these exercises worked for you in the comments of this post.

Indrani prepares for TEDx

12122540_10153724816049048_3691618882161301749_nThis has been an extraordinary year for Indrani and the team here at Indrani’s Light Foundation.  The opportunities Indrani has been given to speak about the pandemic of violence against women has superseded her expectations, and has launched our mission into high gear.  Not only has she spoken to the United Nations this year, but she has spoken to audiences in many countries about her dream to end gender based violence globally.

What’s next you ask?

Indrani has been invited to be a keynote speaker at the TEDx Port of Spain this month! 

As Team ILF helps Indrani prepare for her talk, we observe and feel Indrani’s passion and desire to use this platform to speak for all of us who want to help abused women in the world.

Time is ticking ….. every second that passes, a woman in the world is being abused, raped, kidnapped, beaten, or killed.  TIC TOC. 

Would you like to join our mission to end violence against women?  Take a look at this short interview with Indrani, and her explanation as to how just one person can change our world.

If you would like to be a volunteer, go to our website at and learn about our Train-The-Trainer Online Course which starts on October 16th.

If you would like to help our mission by sharing our updates and events with your friends and family, go to our website at www.indranislight.org and sign up for our newsletter.

You can also follow Indrani on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/indranislight

Stay tuned for the aftermath of Indrani’s TEDx Talk at the Port of Spain.  We will publish the talk as soon as it becomes available.

 

Love and Light,

 

Team ILF

Someone Like You Can Change the World

UntitledYou might be wondering how “someone like you” can change the world. You might try to convince me you are afraid to speak in public, you are in introvert, or you don’t feel you could say the right words to comfort someone in pain.

Well I’m here to remind you that you don’t have to speak on stages, you don’t have to be a “socialite,” and you don’t have to always find the right words to comfort someone.

Here is a simple “everyday” story that Indrani shared with us the other day. This may help you understand how you can be an activist by just sitting on a train.

Indrani’s Train Scene:

I am sitting on a train.

A woman enters and is very nervous.

Woman: “Does the train to go city hall?”

Indrani: “Yes it does.”

She sits and I can feel her anxiety. We talk …she has important business. Her breathing is very shallow.

I teach her how to belly breathe. She does it for the whole time.

Woman: (Smiles at me) “Where do you teach?”

Indrani: “Right here.”

What is the lesson in this story for you?

You see, people need YOUR wisdom.  People deserve YOUR compassion.  And you CAN make a difference in the world by just sitting on a train.

Let’s pretend we know the ending of this story.  How did this simple breathing exercise that Indrani taught this woman make a difference, and how did the actions of this woman at city hall eventually effect hundreds of lives in a wonderful way.

Yes, YOU can do this work.  You can be an activist in a quiet way and still change the world….. One woman at a time.

I invite you to join Team ILF, and our mission to end violence against women.  You can begin the journey to be an activist by listening to our FREE Live-A-Brighter-Life recordings, available here at: http://indranislight.org/engage/intro-course/

You can also become a Master Trainer for ILF by enrolling in our brand new ONLINE TTT Course beginning October 16th! Yes, you can be trained from the comfort of your own home or office. Click here for the details of this amazing opportunity.

 

With deepest gratitude,

Amy

Director of Outreach & Training | Indrani’s Light Foundation

 

The Gift of Presence….

Photo Credit: Jen Haile | PSII have been working in India for the past few weeks and I am back on the soil of the good old USA. The trip was thrilling and productive and the whole team brought their best game.

One particular bit of information stands out for me.

One of the members I met in India told someone that “Indrani was so normal and down-to-earth and we really got to see who she was.”

I was quite surprised as I never see myself as anything other than down-to-earth and me being me.

It was explained to me that the team in India did not know me as “me” but as a philanthropist who has invested in a project.

My photo is boldly displayed, (which kind of scared me, truth be told) and my bio is on the poster and I was simply a one dimensional character that blocked the doorway when they were in a hurry to get into the office.

I am glad I did not show up as that flat personality.

I greeted them with hugs and laughter.

We did the training and I burst into song and dance (caught of video, to my chagrin) and insisted that they all sing and dance with me.

We visited projects in the field and instead of sitting down as a proper lady should, I heard the singing and drumming and my Trinidadian feet just started moving to the beats. Soon the abuse survivors were up on their feet and dancing with me.

The Executive Director simply said, “What an ice breaker.”

I keep forgetting that there is ice to break!

I keep forgetting that people don’t know me as I know me.

And that is ok.

The only person who needs to know me is ME.

I need to remember who I am…

A survivor of abuse turned thriver in a full life.

A woman who dreams about ending abuse globally to women and children.

A person who has lived many years and has much love left to share.

As long as I remember these few tidbits, I will be ok.

My environments may change…
Houston
New York
New Delhi
Trinidad

AND I stay the same.

I laugh out loud.

I smile big and bold.

I see the divine in everyone.

A person on the trip asked me how it was that I don’t get sad with all the survivor stories and I said that I know their pain will go away so I focus on their courage and bravery and see only their divine selves.

This formula works for me.

When it stops working I will change it.

What’s your winning formula?

Tell us how it works for you.

 

Love and light,

Indrani