Check out my NEW website!

Hey there everyone!

So at long last, after years of procrastination, dreaming, overwork, dreaming and more procrastination, I have FINALLY started my own website. Officially. With a blog this time.

Check it out at: labringle.com . Follow me there!

While I’ve had several blogs throughout the years – the one about my travels in Paris about a million years ago, the one about healing after a lifetime of abuse, and one about searching for what comes next – I’ve decided to combine all my various interests under one header. The only thing that describes how it all comes together…

Me.

Moi.

Myself.

I.

Narcissistic? Really hoping not. Just simplest I believe.

The other blogs provided me with opportunities to hide myself behind my writing. To take shelter behind my words. To not really admit that it was me saying those things. Me writing those things.

They provided me with beautiful opportunities to spread my wings. To test things out. To push myself further. To open up my voice without all the fear of rejection and recrimination that comes sometimes when you really attach your own self to something.

They were my blogs for crawling. But now I’m ready to walk.

Don’t worry, you’ll still get to read my stuff – I haven’t changed and yet I’m completely different all at the same time.

I’ll still try to post the struggles, the inspiration, the yoga and the triumphs of life. I haven’t forgotten you.

It’s just time to start spreading my wings. Time to start trying to turn this whole writing thing into more than a side hobby I sometimes can’t seem to make time for and into something that actually supplies…dare I say it?…an income? 

Ooo that word gives me chills.

The truth is, we writers need to eat too y’all!

So join me on my search for food – through words.

See you there.

Lauren

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Be Kind to Yourself

Recently in the blog, I’ve been exploring the idea of forgiveness.  Of forgiving yourself, and of forgiving the people who’ve hurt you.  Here’s something to keep in mind as you struggle with the issue of self-judgment:

“My beloved child

Break your heart no longer.

Each time you judge yourself you break your own heart.

You stop feeding on the love which is the wellspring of your vitality…

Let go.

And breathe – into the the goodness that you are.”

Post that above your bathroom mirror, so that every time you see yourself, you’ll view yourself with kindness.

Forgiveness

I spoke in an earlier blog about the need to forgive yourself.  In terms of healing, forgiving yourself is the most important thing.  As I spoke of already, the biggest challenge and most radical change we can make sometimes is just to love ourselves.  So if you haven’t already read those blog posts, I recommend you start there.  If you have, or if you are exploring the idea of forgiving someone else, read on.

If you’re anything like me, you were raised in a conservative church atmosphere that preached forgiveness as a necessity to being a good Christian.  Growing up, I was taught that I am required to forgive someone, no matter what they did.  No matter how they wronged me, or how sick and messed up they are.  In this version of forgiveness, I was told that it was my job to tell that person that I forgave them, and then it was their decision whether or not to accept my forgiveness.  That view was then supported by my abusers.

“You have to forgive me, or otherwise you’re a bad person,” my brother would say after he’d hurt me.  No wonder I viewed forgiveness as a terrible, horrible thing.  Forgiveness was essentially a license awarded to my abusers that allowed them to continue hurting me with a cleansed conscience.  No wonder I, for the longest time, refused to forgive.

Well guess what?  I’ve got a bone to pick with that type of forgiveness.  Maybe I wanted to explore my confused views about forgiveness.  Maybe I wanted to know if that’s really all there was to this big, overused, misunderstood word, “forgiveness.”  I couldn’t shake the feeling that some people really found peace through the action of forgiveness though, so I had to look into it.

The following is what I discovered in my search for forgiveness:

The most important was the radical idea that forgiveness is not for someone else.  It’s not so that my abuser’s conscience can be assuaged.  Forgiveness doesn’t mean that I give someone permission to hurt me again, permission to be in my life again, or permission to do anything at all, honestly.  Forgiveness is for myself.  Forgiveness is a way to let go of the past a little bit, to find some peace, some release.  It’s something I will never let my brother know that I’ve done.  I will probably never tell him that I forgive him.  Because again, my forgiveness is not something for him to accept, it’s something for me to let go.

Forgiveness is not easy.  It’s NOT required.  And honestly, if you’d like, you can go your entire life without ever forgiving someone or some situation.  But that’s not how I want to live.  I feel like if I cling to something my entire life, whatever it is, a bitter thought, a tragic flashback, my childhood abuse, anything negative, that I will allow that negativity to permanently have control over my life.  And I don’t want that.  I choose to take control over my own life.

But forgiveness didn’t come naturally.  Like I said, I had to forgive myself first.  I had to find healing within my own life first, compassion for my situation, kindness to my body, mind, and soul.  I had to go through counseling, support groups, yoga therapy, travel halfway across the country, start dating again, read countless self help books, and talk to what seems like a hundred other survivors before I could even consider the idea of forgiveness.

So what made me finally decide to forgive my abuser?  It was the blinding knowledge that I knew he couldn’t defeat me.  The realization, again after years of healing, that what he did to me would not control the rest of my life, because I wouldn’t allow it.  It will not ruin the rest of my life either, because I refuse to let hurt and bitterness govern the rest of my days on this planet.  I am confident now that my life from here on out will be ruled by love, by compassion, by my ability to set boundaries and stick to them, and by my ability to recognize red flags and avoid allowing negative influences into my life again.

Ultimately, forgiveness is my way to finally, finally, be free from his control over my life.  Forgiveness does not mean that my brother is back in my life.  It does not mean that I will ever allow him to hurt me again, because I most certainly will not.  It doesn’t mean that I trust him, that I’ll talk to him all the time.  In terms of outward manifestation, my decision to forgive him will not change how our relationship of hardly seeing each other or ever communicating works.  But that’s okay.

Because I have forgiven myself.  I have forgiven him.  And the feeling is one of beautiful, sweet release.  My life is now completely my own.

Fresh Start

New Year’s resolutions.  For many I feel like it’s simply an exercise in dieting: lose weight, don’t eat this, don’t eat that, shed the holiday fat, miraculously become a new person.  As if during that 10 second countdown on New Year’s Eve before the clock strikes 12 or the ball drops, your life will change completely.

And maybe, for those lucky few, their life really does change.  Good for them.

But perhaps we put too much pressure on ourselves.  Too much pressure to say, this year I will forget about what happened, move on, “be healed.”  Especially in this day and age, we expect to see results fast; to be able to measure them with rulers and goals, awards and achievements.  When it comes to healing though, our bodies and minds may not quite work that way.  We can’t force ourselves to be “over something.”  We can’t snap our fingers, wave our wands, and forget.

But we can’t give up either.

This year I challenge you.  I don’t challenge you to force yourselves or to reach enlightened, nirvana like healing.  I challenge you to be kind to yourself.  To accept yourself for exactly who you are now, in this moment.  To see your beautiful flaws that only make you human and to forgive yourself for them.  To forgive yourself for what happened to you when you were younger.  This year, I challenge you not to change yourself, just to change how you view yourself.

It’s easy to get caught up in the new year – new you, you’re not good enough, rush.

But this year, become radical enough to love yourself.

How animals can help

In my last blog, I wrote about the issue of touch.  About how uncomfortable it used to make me feel and how I mostly needed to find the right people to hug.  This blog, I want to share with you some more techniques that have helped me find touching and being touched easier.

First of all, establishing boundaries is very important.  Decide where you are and art NOT comfortable being touched, and stick to those limits.  It all goes back to establishing your boundaries, that I wrote about in an earlier blog.

Establishing and sticking to boundaries is one way to become more comfortable with the issue of touch.  But there’s also another way; a cuddly, fluffy, bundle of fun way.

That’s right, I’m talking about animals.  There are times when I don’t know what I would do without my parents’ black lab/german shepherd mix.  His name is Blue.  He is an enormous dog, weighing almost 100 lbs, but is the sweetest, biggest baby who is even scared of thunderstorms!  When I had my knee surgery, Blue never left my side.  When I felt lonely, Blue was always willing to cuddle.

And did you know that petting an animal can lower stress?  And help manage cholesterol?  And help Autistic people get in touch with their senses?  Owning a pet can be a wonderful, life-altering thing.  Check out Web MD’s slideshow called “27 ways Pets can Improve Your Health”  for more details.

For me, I’ve found that petting a dog, and having to play with a dog and care for one, has helped open up my heart.  It has made me more vulnerable and more open.  And simply through the act of petting, I have become more comfortable with the act of touch.

So if you are feeling lonely, feeling repressed, depressed, unhealthy, or unable to open up…get a pet!  Rescue one from the local animal shelter, and save two lives! (yours AND the pet’s I mean).

Or, if you can’t have/aren’t ready to own a pet, there are also wonderful Equine Therapy Programs available.  If you are tired of traditional talk therapy, or feel that nothing else is working, or even just want to try something new, Equine Therapy can be a wonderful outlet for healing.  My sister, who has experienced abuse and trauma as well, has worked with horses for years now, and admits that it is the only way she has been able to open up, connect with people, and find peace with herself.

Animals are willing and able to help.  All it takes is a little love, a little exercise, and a little food, and they will give us lots of love in return.

One with Nature; fight depression with sunshine

Maybe you’ve heard of this idea.  Pocahontas and Fern Gully and recently, the over-rated combination of the two, Avatar, have lauded the qualities of a simplistic, outdoorsy lifestyle.  While movies may be dramatizations, and animated movies are most certainly fictional accounts, there is some truth to the idea that when humans spend more time in nature, they are happier.  For those of you who don’t believe me, check out this page on the National Wildlife Federation Website, that underlines some of the benefits of outdoor play.  Specifically, the article speaks towards the benefits for children, but is there really that much of a difference fundamentally between a child’s needs and an adult’s?

Now, I’m not talking about going out into the deep wilderness by yourself with only a pocket knife type of nature experience.  But just spending a little time outside each day can help improve mood, fitness, and Vitamin D.  Take a walk in the park nearby, go for a bike ride, lay in the sun to check your email or read a book.  There’s science behind the idea that sunshine really does make you happier!

While obviously, a significant amount of dedication and work is required to heal from traumatic experiences, this is a simple way to give yourself an extra little mood boost.  If you are anything like me, when I experienced depression, all I wanted to do was curl up in a dark, cool space and hide beneath my covers.  But that just makes things worse!

So here’s a simple solution; go outside.  That’s it.  Exercising outside would be ideal, but even just sitting out there can help.  Here’s the challenge, for those of you who wish to accept it; start spending 10 minutes every day outside for the next 2 weeks, and see if your mood improves any.  If you have any experiences that you’d like to share about this topic, please post them in the comments section below this article.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!