she used to climb trees…

she used to climb trees…

She used to climb trees, enjoying the thrill of her strong body skillfully navigating the higher branches, while happily wearing her brothers’ clothes. Riding her bike for hours, excitedly peddling up hills while anticipating the rush of lifting her feet off the pedals as she flew at great speed down the other side. Her body was her fun and robust friend to adventure with; they always had a blast together.

“Soon, your bottom will change,” a family member commented, looking at her. Something in the energy of the words made her stomach turn– why was someone else noticing and commenting on my bottom? She wondered.

Soon afterward, she noticed sideways looks from men her father’s age, observing her body change, as though she didn’t have peripheral vision. There was that icky energy again.

In her teens, she was astounded by the free-for-all on commenting on her body. It seemed to be uncomfortably interesting to so many. Family members, family friends, their co-workers, strangers she just met– legs, bottom, and now boobs too, leering and objectifying disguised as lighthearted jokes that were to be received as compliments. She could see it all clearly. It was not okay, and it made her furious inside, but her small-town community still held this as acceptable behavior.  When she showed any irritation, she was accused of not having a sense of humor, and older females coached her to ‘just ignore them.’ Pushing her fury downwards inside, she quickly developed new survival skills to navigate awkward and often abusive and frightening situations without making anyone else uncomfortable — especially for some reason, the males persecuting her at that moment.

She wasn’t sure how she felt about her body anymore. Her inner fury and the icky energy she was receiving had to go somewhere; she turned it towards herself. She abandoned her strong, fun, and adventurous friend and joined everyone else, objectifying herself. Somehow it made sense at the time, as a piece of her brain snapped at way too many comments that long exhausting year. She bought into the concept that her body ‘should look a certain way’ to please others. 

Wounded, she accepted this as her new truth, which in her teens involved withholding food from herself and then comfort eating, followed by hours in the gym working to be ‘enough.’ She became an expert at disconnecting from her old adventurous friend and the complex and intense emotions about it right below the surface. 

Meanwhile, her body powerfully carried two healthy babies to term, nursed and sustained them. It stayed up all night to nurture sick children, chased them around at the playground, built forts, and later stood in goal as soccer balls needed to be saved for their entertainment. It walked around airconditioned supermarkets, seemingly endlessly moving products from shelves, to carts, to the car to the fridge. It scrubbed, cleaned, pruned, walked the dog, ran errands for friends, and facilitated endless cuddles.  

While carrying an extra 30 pounds, her body was sometimes the butt of some fat jokes (because her body was, of course, still open to be judged and commented on by others). Still, it was better than the earlier attention and all the ‘ick’ she had locked away somewhere very deep inside. Keeping the weight on felt safe.

Much of her blessed and abundant life had a side of sadness attached to it, and she wasn’t sure why. She had not yet identified the emotion as being the sadness of her body. The friend that had loved and supported her family all these years, while being ignored and judged instead celebrated. It still showed up for her fully each day but was sad at the self-disconnection and sabotage. As her body patiently and faithfully waited for the long-withheld love, it began to deteriorate naturally, signaling distress with aches and pains.

Reluctantly having to pay closer attention to her body’s needs at first, more vegetables were consumed for the nutrients needed instead of how they made her body look. Exercise and hydration were focused on improving muscle function, not the appearance of tone or a preferred shape. Without realizing it, she had began to work with, instead of against, her own body. Rest and quiet moments were intentionally chosen for spirit to feed her soul and heal her wounds. She began to choose kind words to describe her body and secretly appreciate and praise it for all it has achieved. She did this secretly because she had learned that her voice alone was the only feedback that mattered to her body. Her body is her business alone – “I’m so sorry,” she whispered, “Thank you, I love you” she added, as they reconnected in light inside of her.

 Her mind-body and spirit were once again in harmony, and she was able to grow in self-love and feel a sense of joy that reconnected her back to her days climbing trees and riding bikes until twilight in her youth with her brother. 

No longer sad and growing in confidence, strength, and durability, her body continued to proudly sustain her through a fulfilling career and as a busy and needed grandparent. Her sacred vessel was finally being treated with the love and respect it had always deserved.

She reflected on her healing journey during long walking adventures, smiling as she past the beautiful tall trees she once climbed with her fun and robust friend, with gratitude bursting from her heart and her soul finally at peace.

 A short healing story by Joanna Peters.

 

Sink deeper into what it means to fully choose yourself, in A Woman’s word by Joanna:

 

“Beautiful souls, our time to rise is now. But first we need to stop believing the lie that every other woman has it all together except us”.

Bombarded with unrealistic societal messages about what being successful as a woman looks like, A Woman’s Word is a compelling and refreshing confirmation that we all doubt ourselves, break down in tears, struggle with comparison and wonder if we are ‘enough’ at times.

Joanna Peters has had the honor of standing beside some seriously remarkable warriors on their healing journeys. Leveling the ‘secret shame’ playing field with no topic off-limits, she shares her first-hand account of nine women’s heartwarming, emotional, and empowering healing stories and their brave journeys from darkness to light. She shares their courageous and complicated stories in support of all women, so we can see ourselves in their struggle and find a way forward in our lives.

Too often, our journey to peace is compromised by trying to hide the fact that we are a human with flaws. Darkness is a part of everyone’s journey that needs a light shined through it to heal.

Follow Rosa’s heart-wrenching journey through teen addiction and homelessness, Sophia’s relatable struggle with perfectionism and anxiety in corporate while battling secret shame, or cry with Brenda as she fumbles through motherhood battling depression and devastating grief.

A Woman’s Word shares the raw and empowering true stories of nine brave women healing from the darkness of trauma that beckons and inspires healing, acceptance and self-love in us all.

www.joannapeters.com/books

HOW TO SURRENDER WHEN YOU ARE STUBBORN, BUT ALSO EXHAUSTED

HOW TO SURRENDER WHEN YOU ARE STUBBORN, BUT ALSO EXHAUSTED

I don’t know about you but I’m kinda stubborn. Surrendering anything is super hard for me. Control in parenting, choice of paint color, anything.

The curse of the recovering perfectionist.

In addition to that personality trait, my childhood experience had me toughen up and take responsibility for things I shouldn’t have at an early age, which can be a hard habit to shake.

That type of experience also tends to have us put up some protection walls somewhere, that makes words like “vulnerability” or “surrender” be less desirable than ‘strong’ and ‘powerful”.

It feels strong and powerful to resist ‘what is’ and put up a fight.

But then we feel exhausted and overwhelmed. What if there is another way…?

It’s a little funny how I came to the ‘surrender realization’ I am talking about.

 I was not raised to be particularly spiritual. I was invited to a church in my 20s by a friend, and when I went, I felt alone and sad.

 There were people there with joy in their eyes, with peace and genuinely hugging each other hello. I knew I didn’t have what they had and I didn’t know how to get it.

 During the worship that day, my mind was wandering. I was so bored, they were singing the same verse of a song over and over again.

I was not entertained, so my mind was wandering on how I can get to the level of peace and joy that I had witnessed.

 What was I missing? What did I need to do?

The boring song was repeating that same verse over and over again..(I had such an attitude) “I sur-render. All to you. All to you”

“ I I I sur-render. All to you. All to you”…. “

As soon as it connected in my brain that I was being given my answer in the song, I had opened a teeny-weeny gap in my armor and spirit flooded into my body.

Physically feeling spirit pour into my veins, head spinning and my heart pumped with loving energy and support instantly.

Tears were coming to my eyes, although like the warrior I was, I was trying to swallow them down so no one saw or knew I was crying.

In that moment I knew it was true. There is a loving force, I am not alone. I skipped home smiling randomly at strangers because I loved them all.

I feel that powerful loving energy when any faith is praying, my Jewish and Muslim friends access the same energy. We are so loved.

I know this to the core of my being, yet there are days I feel overwhelmed and throw a tantrum. Why?

Because I am human and this surrendering thing is super hard!

We have to do it daily and our ego hates it.

If we want to BE in control (which ego does, because we feel it is in our best interests and protects us), we wind up FEELING in control and responsible – that is – to have the weight of the universe on our shoulders.

I like to call that process ‘promoting myself to managing director of the universe’. I feel responsible for the outcome of all the things around me, and get overwhelmed.

Then my thoughts escalate to things like “how am I going to get this done? Will it be good enough? Will I fail?

I continue to add more thoughts to this ever growing overwhelm, increasing my anxiety, until I remember – finally – that I am not actually the managing director of the universe. (phew!)

My job is to:

  • Take my little action step, then surrender and trust.
  • Trust that He (God/the Universe) is better at this than me.
  • Trust that since He created the entire universe, He can probably handle my situation.
  • Trust that his way will work out even better than the version I am trying to ‘strong arm’ into existence.
  • Trust in His timing (my personal worst struggle, I’m so impatient).
  • Breathe and trust. That’s how this whole thing works best for everyone. Especially when things on earth here are super hard, we need to do our part, then let go.

So when I remember, here is what I know to be true, and it’s the opposite to the way my brain is naturally wired –

The hardest thing possible for a human to do is to trust something, or someone enough to surrender our ego’s will.

Faith therefore takes tremendous continuous strength, not weakness.

The challenge, daily, is to quit the self-appointed position of being the managing director of the universe, in exchange for being divinely loved and supported instead.

Doesn’t seem so bad a trade when I remember.

If any of this resonated with you, I invite you to take the quiz below to determine which inner traits are currently blocking you from living in flow and connection with yourself and the universe.

Sending so much love,

Joanna Peters, Coach & Author: Guiding soul weary women to heal from their painful pasts, shed shame and finally live with the peace and self-love they deserve. 

 

    do you know what is causing your personal exhaustion?

    If you want to gain a complete picture of what inner traits are draining you the most right now take my signature Quiz.

    After the 2 minute quiz, I will send you more goodies tailored to the top three causes for your exhaustion, including a personalized report.

    what if you aren’t lacking patience, but boundaries?

    what if you aren’t lacking patience, but boundaries?

    When my kids were little, I tried so hard to have patience. Everyone would tell me how patient I was, but they weren’t around at that moment when I lost it. That moment where my head would start to spin and I was outside of my body watching, as this lady I barely recognized yelled and screeched things at my precious babies.

     Five minutes before that scene, I would be overtired and resentful for all the times they pushed my boundaries that day, yet I would still be trying to keep a patient and fun tone with them.

     Then later would come the shame attack. When they were in bed and resembling angels again, my mean voice would take over: “I blew it – we had such a lovely day and this is how it had to end” …the mean voice wasn’t finished…. “They are only little for a short while; I need to have more patience!.”

     Observing me with my children around that time, my Mum lovingly brought to my attention that I had it backward: “Jo, you don’t need to be more patient, you need to be LESS patient!”. I wasn’t clear yet what that would look like.

    I want to share my lessons in being “overly patient,” especially during this time when so many families are cooped up together and moms everywhere are understandably losing it and feeling bad.

    When my kids were small, I was missing an extremely important element to my parenting – that I matter too.

    When I remember that I matter too, I monitor my own happiness throughout the day, as closely as I do my children’s, and I speak up about my needs before I turn into an overtired and resentful version of myself.

     

    Here’s the personal check-in concept that helps me around patience:

    Feeling resentment and anger usually means I need to review my boundaries.

    • What did I want to say “no” to and said “yes” to instead?
    • Who need I need to speak up to?

    For me, this included cutting off their playtime when I was tired, saying “no” to the extra game of tumble purely because I was finding it annoying (and that was okay!), and stepping up my parenting to include immediate consequences for whining.

    Saying “no” to my kids more meant I had to energy to say “yes” to myself in other ways, like having the clarity of mind to make healthier food choices, or choose a 5-minute meditation in the bathroom. All of which served to keep everyone happier.

    The other key I learned to not becoming resentful and angry was taking care of my physical, emotional and spiritual needs during the day, too (for more on that click here). 

    I got a handle on speaking up about my boundaries when my kids were little, and I’m so glad I did because it was a necessary warmup for the teen years. Not only do I need to remember that I matter, but I have to guard my personal boundaries like my sanity depends on it, because it very much does!

    I think we all get that one child – the one who makes you earn your mommy badge. The pre-teen version of mine, perhaps a lawyer in training, would ask repeatedly and in multiple ways for whatever thing he was hyper focused on that day.

     I would say “no” and explain “why,” – then say “no,” and explain “why” again. Then later say “still no” and “here’s why.” It was exhausting. He wanted what he wanted, regardless of the words coming out of my mouth.

     At times I felt bullied by his persistence, and my tone would switch to annoyed and defensive, and then I would lose my patience. Then I would feel bad.

     Thankfully with age comes wisdom and healing. It didn’t take many rounds of this for me to remember that feeling angry and resentful was my personal indicator that I needed a boundaries recheck. I matter too, and this behavior was not OK.

     The problem was that I was being overly patient with his bad behavior.

     So, I set a new boundary around this behavior and a consequence. If he asked me something more than once, and I felt I had provided an adequate explanation, he lost his phone immediately.

     He still loses his phone a lot. I even choose to be a little amused by it. I admire his persistence; it will serve him well one day.

     He does not, however, get to rob my peace with his antics. I set that boundary and I guard it fiercely. While he stomps around phoneless in his room, I am sipping my coffee in peace, self-reflecting on a job well done.

    So, to my fellow peacekeeping, overly patient, people-pleasers out there, may this be a reminder to establish your boundaries and/or recommit to them with all the people in your life, especially in these hard times.

    If would also encourage you to take the Exhaustion Matrix Quiz below, to reveal which other personal traits are creating unnecessary stress in your life. In addition to your detail personal report, you will receive additional tips and tools to help you work back to a state of ‘flow’ in your life. 

    Sending so much love,

    Joanna Peters, Coach & Author: Guiding soul weary women to heal from their painful pasts, shed shame and finally live with the peace and self-love they deserve.

     

    Originally posted on The MOPS Blog

    I Matter, Too

     

      do you know what is causing your personal exhaustion?

      If you want to gain a complete picture of what inner traits are draining you the most right now take my signature Quiz.

      After the 2 minute quiz, I will send you more goodies tailored to the top three causes for your exhaustion, including a personalized report.

      The Fire Isn’t the End of the Story

      The Fire Isn’t the End of the Story

      I watched “Forests” by Our Planet on Netflix last night. I was mesmerized as I watched the incredibly detailed connection and dependency between species and plants work beautifully.

      I then saw it get brutally wiped out by fire and human indifference or carelessness.

      But guess what guys, that wasn’t the end of the story. I saw it regrow, heal and repopulate often in new ways.

      Some plants can’t exist in the forest without the fire that came before it.

      Even Chernobyl has been re-vegetated and populated to the food chain level of wolves now.

      More than just a metaphor, it’s an accurate reflection of what happens in our heart and soul after loss and hurt.

      Which make sense, since we have the same loving powerful creator and we are His (Her/It’s) most prize creation.

      Most prize creation – hard to internalize after you watch the beauty and miracles in all of nature, but we are so loved and supported.

      We can’t possibly comprehend the ‘why’s or the ‘how’s of life in our brains, but we do have the capacity to learn to love ourselves as much as we are loved, and trust that it’s okay to not know how it’s all going to come together.

      God has the power to take care of the rest.

      Maybe we aren’t yet where we want to be, or who we want to be; we may be uncomfortable or it may feel like everything is being burned to the ground around us.

      But it isn’t the end of the story yet guys.

      Little miracles happen around us all day every day.

      Unlike the plants though, we have free will, so we do need to ask for help.
      We need to say “Please help me” or “Show me how to feel more peace and trust”.

      Then we need to create the silence in our lives to listen and surrender and learn and heal.

      We will regrow, heal and come back a wiser and more resilient version of ourselves; but the real win will be if we also learn to love ourselves harder, if we step closer to Source and surrender a little, perhaps even learn how to reach for and claim moments of peace.

      The fire isn’t the end of the story. Ask and receive, and watch the miracles happen ???