Monday, December 29, 2014

Oppressing Others to Stay Silent About Sexual Abuse and Assault Is Not An Answer

Staying Silent About Abuse 
So Others Can Stay Comfortable
Is Not An Answer

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

"Truth is like the sun. 
You can shut it out for a time, but it ain't going away."
[Elvis Presley]

I love this statement; it hits the nail right on the head!  How many people around you have asked you to stay quiet about your childhood sexual abuse or sexual assault experience(s)?  For that matter, how about any truth?  Even if they haven't asked you in words, their body language will clearly tell you.  I've experienced this my entire life, but, the thing is, I still see it today.  Many people don't want to hear about the gory details, and this has to change.  Why?  Because when childhood sexual abuse and sexual assault survivors get recognition regarding their story, they begin to heal.

HEALING is not. . .

Healing is not about visualizing your hurt gone; it is not about blowing your hurt to the heavens; it is not about smothering your hurt with positive thoughts; it's not about asking yourself what you have learned from the experience!; and it's NOT that you asked for it.  Healing is, however, about facing the hurt, knowing that it was real and it was not your fault, and acknowledging that, yes, you were violated viciously, and it is a criminal offence.   

It still flabbergasts me that some parents (parents that have children) refuse to listen to the adults of childhood sexual abuse and sexual assault, yet they have children of their own.  It floors me to see this sort of attitude.  Are they not concerned about their own children's vulnerabilities when it comes to sexual abuse and sexual assault?  Do they think that their child(ren) is invincible to this?  Many of us refuse to acknowledge the truth because living in darkness gives us a sense of comfort.  The truth almost always creates upheaval and shakes up one's life; who wants that when we have a seemingly happy and content life?  

"Many people, especially ignorant people, 
want to punish you for speaking the truth, 
for being correct, for being you. 
Never apologize for being correct, 
or for being years ahead of your time. 
If you are right and you know it, speak your mind. 
Speak your mind even if you are the minority of one. 
The truth is still the truth.
[Mohandas Gandhi]

It's time to wake up regarding the abuse against our children.  Wake up and see the truth.  By denying the evidence or not wanting to deal with the matter does not make it untrue.  Wake up and recognize the many individuals that have experienced childhood sexual abuse and sexual assault; this is the least we can do to allow these individuals to heal completely.  Break the silence.  Give them the space to tell their story. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Do You Cringe When I Mention Child Sexual Abuse?

Do You Cringe When I Mention Child Sexual Abuse?

Even If You Do,
I Will Not Stop Talking About Child Sexual Abuse

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

There is something real ugly going on; it's not the ugliness of childhood sexual abuse; although, that in itself is very very ugly; it's the silence society keeps regarding childhood sexual abuse.  I can feel this hum of emptiness, a hush, when I or others talk about childhood sexual abuse.  

The concept of childhood sexual abuse is simple, I believe anyways.  You and I, both, would do anything to protect our child(ren) from predators that prey upon our innocent children, yet when the adults of childhood sexual abuse begin to voice themselves, there is a sense of disbelief on the part of the listener.  There is a sense of shaming they offer to the survivor, almost as though they are bestowing the cause of the sexual abuse to the child.  Because the adults that have survived the ordeal of childhood sexual abuse are finally speaking out, they do not deserve your indifference.  They deserve interest, empathy, and concern.  They deserve to be listened to.  

I remember when I told my brother about the sexual abuse--the time when I finally spoke up about it "out loud."  The entire family knew about the childhood sexual abuse, but nobody talked about it; it was prohibited!  Nonetheless, my brother straight out said that he "didn't want to hear about it; he didn't want to hear about the gory details" and proceeded to shut me down and move onto a different topic.  I don't know why I was so surprised, though; somehow I thought that over the years, and as we all got older and more 'mature,' we would be able to talk more openly about the topic of childhood sexual abuse, but I was wrong, obviously.  I said to him, "Aren't you concerned about your sisters and why they have suffered so much?"  He plainly wasn't interested.  Sad but true; I still have a lump in my throat when I state this.

Today, I see the challenge childhood sexual abuse survivors have in getting any recognition: recognition for the horror they endured; recognition for speaking the truth; and recognition for being able to survive the heinous crime and the consequences it tainted us with.  At the same time, coming out--speaking up about the crime that was committed on you--can place us in a lonely and isolated corner with even family and friends abandoning, shaming, and blaspheming us.

There are various theories about how and why change happens, but the essence behind change is a complete paradigm shift in the way we think and what we accept as normal.  Many of us say that we do not accept childhood sexual (or other) abuse; yet, when confronted with a story, we turn our backs--our actions prove otherwise; so, once again, we continue to keep it in silence. 

Being passive about a cause doesn't make it go away; it only buries it deeper while the consequences surface like puss from a wound.  As Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, "Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals," not by passivity, ignorance, and denial.  

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Suffering Alone. The Battle with Depression

Suffering Alone;
The Battle with Depression

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh
"This Christmas and holiday season, let's bow our heads in empathy and look to understand the complexities of depression, and how we can all support our loved ones that suffer with it." 
*Wake Up to Live by Desiree Leigh

I battled depression as far back as I can remember.  I grew up with a mom that had depression (she lived with a man that assaulted and abused her weekly), so it was easy to learn the habits of depression; however, it wasn't that clear-cut and simple.  I also suffered a life of childhood abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence with mental abuse.  I believe that when you are vulnerable, as I was with depression and a history of violence, you can fall into relationships that are abusive without recognizing (or ignoring) the signs.  Looking at all of this, I can understand why it was a daily struggle to stay above water.  I used to tell my adult children that I was underwater, and yet I was still breathing.

I don't think anyone that hasn't suffered with this mental illness can really relate to or understand what we have gone through or what we struggle with; perhaps, unless you have had a family member or a friend that suffered with it.  I heard so many comments such as the old proverbial chin-up, but to solve mental health issues it's not that simple and to say such a thing to someone that is suffering with depression is just wrong; it's wrong because of the lack of education others have regarding the complexities about depression.  Each and every one of us has a different genetic make-up and different environmental factors; as a result, there is no one-fits-all solution.

Robbin Williams death from depression woke many of us up but for how long?  We read about it, talk about it, and then we close the chapter only to re-open up the book when another death occurs, but is there a real concern?  I don't know.  I hope so.

This Christmas and holiday season, let's bow our heads in empathy and look to understand the complexities of depression, and how we can all support our loved ones that suffer with it.

Wake Up to Live is about awareness in every aspect.  Wake Up to Live is about eliminating the biases; although it is difficult to do, we must Wake Up to Live, and be responsible for our actions: the actions for ourselves and others.  Wake Up to Live and be aware if and how you are stigmatizing mental illness; we all do it in some form or another at some point in our lives without sometimes recognizing it.  Be sensitive to the cause and wake up to live!

Much Love, 
Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Are You A Hater of the Psychiatric Profession?

Are You A Psychiatric Profession Hater? 
Could This Be Your Way of Stigmatizing Mental Illness Without Even Knowing You Are?
Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Why are so many professional and clinical counselors afraid of psychiatric nurses or psychiatrists.  In counselling school I heard regular bashing of these last two professions (but I still love all my past class-mates and colleagues).  The counselors perspective (assumption) is that the psychiatric profession only want to prescribe pharmaceuticals, and they are closed-minded to therapies that are not research-based.  In other words, the professionals of psychiatry are narrow-minded in the wellness of their patients/clients; they follow protocol and don't steer away from that system.  It was even recommended by some life and business coaches to stay clear from that direction because of their concept of healing the mind.

Over the years, I continued to hear this sort of a rant, but I wasn't convinced.  I never am, convinced, by someone else's rant unless I investigate it for myself (and isn't that what we should all be doing--checking out the facts for ourselves).  If you know me at all, you know that I am always up for a challenge, and I am not one to just take the opinion of another.

As the years passed, I would welcome others talking about their concerns and beliefs regarding the psychiatric profession.  I wanted to hear it all from nutritionists, ministers, other psychiatric patients/clients, and many counselors.  There was this anti-psychiatric era in the air, but in the end, what I have concluded is simple.  Not everyone can function without medication; communication is simply not enough.  Just like not every nutritionists form of eating to heal is a standard prototype for all, and not all forms of therapy work for everyone.

I know I am only one case study, but I had my own experiences, too.  I, at one time, was convinced that it was me that was causing the problem in my head.  If only I could solve the problem (as so many self-help gurus tell you that you "should" be able to do), I'd be clean from depression and anxiety.  I tried meditation, nutrition, doses and doses of vitamins, yoga, reading spiritual scriptures and prayer, acupuncture, colon cleanses, herbal therapy, aromatherapy, Thai massage, staying positive, changing my way of thinking and attending various workshops and lectures on different ways to heal the mind, communicating endlessly, being social, etc., etc., and etc.; anything that was a form of healing.  I started to feel guilty and shameful when I thought about resolving to take any kind of medication.  Eventually, passing through the highs and then the lows drained me to the point I could not function anymore.  I, too, was tired of spending thousands and thousands of dollars on these so-called natural forms of healing; then, when they didn't work, I felt guilty about it--like I must be the cause!

Psychiatrists (and psychiatric nurses) are there to heal, and they do have the power to prescribe medications to individuals (with bipolar, schizophrenia, cyclothymic, or major depression) that, especially, need it; that is their job as is psychotherapy.  Who are we to judge that patients/clients with mental health issues don't need medication?  Most arguments against psychiatry are based on outrageous claims without any scientific research; it is usually about who did what to whom gossip.  I won't deny that other countries may treat mental illness differently, but I am staying close to home--North America.  I, also, don't deny that there are bad apples in the psychiatric profession, but there are bad apples in virtually "every" profession; so let us not stigmatize the psychiatric profession thinking that because they have the power to prescribe medication to help the patient/client that that is the only form of therapy they are open to.

Let us also remember that alternative healers are in the business to make money, as are psychiatrists, psychologists, ministers, counselors and life coaches; that is how we survive and pay our bills.  So, of course, each one of us will sell our product(s) as being the best and most effective; however, I got tired of spending thousands and thousands of dollars on healing products that did not work, and I finally stood up for what worked for me.

If we are to solve mental illness, let us ALL stop stigmatizing it including stigmatizing medication and one of the professions that support mental health.  The anti-psychiatry movement (or other groups of professionals), some religions, and some natural healers that only believe in the almighty "natural" way of healing without medications have based their assumptions on hearsay.  (I am not condoning that all of the alternative therapies don't work; they just didn't work for me for mental health).  Furthermore, who are we to judge what form of healing works for the individual!  Everyone's genetic make-up and environment is different.

Wake Up to Live is about awareness in every aspect!  Not just particular areas you like or prefer.  Wake Up to Live is about eliminating the biases; although it is difficult to do in any profession, we must Wake Up to Live, and be responsible for our actions.  Wake Up to Live and be aware how you are stigmatizing mental illness; we all do it in some form or another.  Be sensitive to the cause.

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Doubting Your Abilities

Doubting Your Abilities

Wake Up to Live
with Desiree Leigh

We all doubt our abilities to do things, but will it be your doubt to hold you back and keep you stuck from your aspirations or will you unlock the cage, spread your wings and fly?  There is always uncertainty regarding something in our lives: a new job, relocating, going back to school, getting married, or having children.  For me, its deep and passionate love.  Am I complacent in my ways thinking that it will never happen or that I am doing okay the way I am now?  I am sure I may be at times, but flying, in my opinion, is not a rash decision, either.  We are not birds; we are humans.  The process of stepping forward is just that: a process which takes risk resulting in some fear.  A decision needs to be thought through; it's just knowing when it's time to jump (or fly).  Waking up to live is not about making life-altering decisions, taking on daring aspirations, or, perhaps, fending for yourself after many years irrationally.  Sometimes people think that that is all they have to do is just jump in without thought to overcome their doubt or prove to themselves (or others) that fear isn't holding them back.  Waking up to live is not about that.  Waking up to live is about consciously weighing your options, doing some soul-searching and research, asking questions, and then jumping in if and when it's right.  Waking up to live is not the unconscious risk-taker. Waking up to live is conscious thought: realize your doubt, feel your doubt and fear, acknowledge your doubt, and see it for what it truly is; then walk through it knowing you have the strength to pass through it.

Wake Up to Live by Desiree Leigh

Monday, June 2, 2014

Those Who Stand for Nothing Fall for Anything

~Alexander Hamilton
Wake Up to Live by Desiree Leigh

Those Who Stand for Nothing Fall for Anything

When will it be your turn to Wake Up to Live a life in which you stand firmly to what you believe in.  If you passively and obediently walk through life with an acceptable opinion to satisfy others and so that you don't rock the boat, no change can happen and no justice will happen.  Lively debate must occur to open up the spectrum of thought and ideas to discover solutions, but all parties must be willing to debate 'and' to listen to the debate without blasphemy or ridicule and then take action.  Wake Up to Live now; sacrifice your voice and your time for the love, safety, and health of humankind and the world.

Wake Up to Live by Desiree Leigh

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Two Sides to A Story

Two Sides to A Story

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Waking up to live a life full of inspiration on a daily basis is sometimes challenging, especially if you have suffered from trauma or other mental and emotional issues in your life.  Proverbs are a great way to wake up; they seem to come at a time in life when you need reflection, a change in direction, or an uplift in motivation.  I sometimes use proverbs in my blog posts and my professional Facebook page.

A proverb means an expression of truth based on common sense or the practical experiences of humanity (Wikipedia).  Proverbs, nonetheless, are single cause statements, and, although they may seem true in your life at some point, they are not accurate.  Behavior, actions, and emotions are not from a single cause.  There are a multitude of factors that cause someone to behave and feel a certain way.  When we are feeling less than par, we look for signs to help us, to validate our suffering or hardship; we look for some sort of confirmation; as a result, we latch onto proverbs that suit us.

This post is not to make you turn away from proverbs; instead, it's to make you become aware and open-minded when you hear/read about various proverb.  Proverbs are used as marketing tactics, as well; a way to build up guilt and doubt in your current actions so that you quickly buy something that will make you a better, stronger, or richer person.  Wake up to live a life with awareness and then make choices from there.

In the end, you are never too old to learn something new, but you may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks.  Remember, there are always, at least, two sides to a story.

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Your Choices Don't Exist In A Vacuum

Choices Don't Exist In A Vacuum

Once you wake up to live a life that is truly selected by you, this doesn't mean that life will, all of a sudden, become easy.  It doesn't create immediate joy, either.  Contrarily, when you wake up you become aware, and this awareness brings more work, hard realizations, and difficult choices.  You see, when you are asleep to life, life takes you like a river with no direction. You're at life's whim.  Once you wake up to life, you see this knee-jerk reaction with absolute clarity sometimes feeling disheartened or dismayed, and you realize, at that moment, hard choices need to made; otherwise, you will be swallowed by someone else's dreams or lack of vision, old and unsuitable beliefs, or the overwhelm of compromised values.

Perhaps, you fell into a love relationship believing it was true, only to realize that your choice was driven by childhood beliefs, and it was a comfort zone; instead, the relationship is filled with silence and abuse.  Maybe you bought a home because this is the typical American dream everyone wants.  Right?  Now you find yourself mortgaged to the hilt and strapped to a lifestyle that is draining and restricting you.  Perhaps your unaware choices seem very normal when you review them, but now that you are fully awake to live, you see that, possibly, you have followed other people's (family, culture, and society) ways.

Life doesn't exist in a vacuum.  Your choices don't exist in a vacuum either because they will always, to some degree, be influenced by something or someone, but when you wake up to live a life with awareness, you have a better chance at making choices that are more aligned with you and your values rather than others. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Ask Relevant Questions

Ask questions to move yourself closer to your goals
 and wake up to live, love, and laugh?

Always ask relevant questions to live fully.  Don't be complacent or apathetic in your own life about anything.  As I write my research paper, for instance, I continue to wake up and ask the questions how I can make it more concise, more clear, more detailed, and more interesting.  When I am stumped at a fork in the road, I ask the questions what is it that I want to accomplish, and is it in alignment with my values and goals?  If there is conflict in a relationship, I ask what does the other person need, or what may I be saying or doing that is triggering this reaction?

Every single day, I ask questions to gain clarity, direction, and vision and to wake up to live, love, and laugh.  Are you?

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Monday, March 17, 2014

We Are Star-Stuff

We Are Star-Stuff

Neil DeGrasse Tyson is the narrator and host for the TV show 'Cosmos;' he made reference to Carl Sagan an astronomer, astrophysicist, and cosmologist.  Here is one of his quotes as Neil mentioned on the show.

Wake up to live is about raising consciousness: going against traditional beliefs and understanding truth and not scripture which has been handed down to us to believe without question.  Carl Sagan and Neil DeGrasse Tyson are truth seekers.
Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Social Bullying: A National Crisis

Social Bullying: 
A National Crisis
By Desiree Leigh, Wake Up to Live

I am not a Rob Ford supporter, and I find him to be a total disrespect to the political institution; but, I am a counsellor that advocated respect and anti-bullying.  There is huge talk right now about Rob Ford on the Jimmy Kimmel show (March 3rd, 2014).  Google it first and get your own opinion.  
Kimmel's actions are accurately described as bullying at its best.  Kimmel taunted Ford, ridiculed him, bombarded him with past events, and then professed that "everything seemed fine."  Of course Rob Ford was going to laugh it off, and I am sure he expected some very harsh and real questions, and probably some taunting; but, Kimmel took his taunting to another level which totally discredited him and his show.  When there are so many people watching late night shows to have a bit of a laugh,  you have a responsibility to the viewers and the guests: to take care of them in the most respectful manner whether you agree or disagree with them.  Kimmel's so called interview was absolutely disrespectful and distasteful; it was actually disgusting and gross and reflected Kimmel's "true" personality.      

At the same time, it is really sad to see that society, in general, has to scorn, insult, and and humiliate others that are weak or vulnerable and even disgusting, so that they can look good or have a good laugh. They then justify their bullying by saying that the person deserved it, or (I like this one) get others, perhaps influential figures, to support their tactics as Kimmel has.  So when you are weak and vulnerable--not at your best--and have been disgraced by society and did less than respectful things (as Kimmel and Ford have), is it then okay for others to slam you on national television?  There is dirt in everyone's closet; but would it be fair to get your dirt spread throughout your community on billboards?  
I've heard since, that Kimmel's rating have gone up.  No doubt, Kimmel had an underlying intention all the way!  Just as Miley Cyrus had an intention for her public nudity.  Nonetheless, what is most disheartening is that "his ratings increased!"  What does this tell you about people?     
In my opinion, doing such a thing backfires.  It backfires with the next generation.  We have some people in society creating awareness about bullying and then we have a majority of society still indirectly bullying and righteously justifying it.  This is what we are teaching our children people.  This is hypocrisy.  We promote wellness, good mental health, and respect; yet, so many of us still bully in their roundabout way.

Below is a great read by Kate McCoy about Bullying and Media Culture. 
Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Bullying and Media Culture: How TV Teaches Children to Bully

Most Americans think of bullying as youth problem. In actuality, it's more of a cultural problem. It seems that everywhere you turn, today's youth can see the bully mentality on full display. Nowhere is this phenomenon more prevalent that throughout the media. Kids consume on average around 8 to 11 hours of media a day, depending on how you tally the overlapping types of media consumption. This is more time than they spend interacting with their parents or teachers or any other significant influence in their life. So to understand the problem of bullying, one must start with our media culture.
If you were to flip around to different channels on standard TV and basic cable, odds are you'll come across dozens of programs that either directly or indirectly celebrate a bully culture. Take a reality TV show such as Survivor. On the surface, Survivor may not seem like it has anything to do with bullying. But think about the premise for a minute: contestants are encouraged to use and manipulate their fellow brethren in order to further their own advancement, forming special alliances or cliques that can be used against the others, only to turn around at the end and betray those who have been loyal to them. It not only condones but encourages all forms of relational aggression; backstabbing, misleading, gossiping, spreading false rumors, and so on. Other forms of reality TV are even more direct in their aggression. Think about the example set by the narcissistic antics of Snooky. Or how about the message derived from watching a group of women degrade each other in competition for the affections of a single man on a show such as The Bachelor. What do teenage girls learn from this? Given how popular such shows have become, it's little wonder that relational bullying has been on the rise in recent years.
It's not just reality TV that's the culprit. You can find all the components of the bully mentality throughout most forms of television. Turn on just about any talk show, and you're likely to see a mob audience ganging up to scorn a certain individual. Flip around to the comedy central and you'll find Tosh.0, a show featuring humiliating internet videos narrated by a snarky comic who cracks jokes about the people in them. Even videos of children enduring horrible injuries are turned into entertainment. In one episode, a little girl who has just been so badly burned across one side of her body that much of her skull, neck tendons, and shoulder bone are exposed is made fun of my Daniel Tosh, who cracks jokes about how she now looks like the Terminator.
Dateline NBC has built an empire on the basis of public humiliation and schadenfreude, disguising the pleasure and joy we get from reveling in the downfall of others as an act of community service. Most local news shows these days have gone to a similar format, devoting most of their newscasts to "name and shame" stories that expose some alleged wrongdoing while encouraging viewers to judge and condemn the accused without knowing all the facts. National Geographic, which was once and educational channel, has resorted to running episode after episode of police and border patrol shows, which are watched whether consciously or subconsciously, for the pleasure and feelings of superiority we receive from seeing other in a vulnerable or desperate situation. This superior feeling is one of the basics of bullying psychology.
Even seemingly noble shows such as Law & Order promote every aspect of the bully mentality, hiding it right in plain site: A snarky detective or prosecutor, full of self-righteous indignation and moral superiority, dishes out both insult and injury as he persecutes those deemed deserving of such treatment. We don't see it as wrong, because the cruelty is directed towards "bad guys" who "deserve it." Yet the underlying message is clear: those who are different, those who make mistakes, those who are struggling with problems we don't have, or those who hurt or offend us must be sought out, humiliated, condemned and destroyed. This message is reinforced throughout the movies, which justify and celebrate every form of aggression up to and including murder, so long a it's the "bad guys" being punished. The problem is, who gets to determine who is the bad guy?
Throughout television, it's hard to find a show that doesn't promote one of these aspects of bully psychology:
- An Us versus Them or Us versus Other mentality
- Name calling and verbal aggression
- Labeling or stereotyping people (predator, monster, illegal, looser, pervert, reject)
- Group versus group aggression
- Relational aggression (gossiping about or manipulating others for self-advancement)
- Feeling pleasure and satisfaction in the suffering or persecution of others.
While no one program is directly responsible for kids bullying one another, the cumulative effects of this exposure can be profound. What we provide as a model, children will bring with them into their own world. They'll apply the same mentality when it comes to their own feuds and their own ideas about who deserves to be persecuted.
Our children are learning these lessons well. Take the case of the youths who bullied Phoebe Prince to the point of suicide, continuing to taunt her even after the 15-year-old's tragic death. Their cruelty shocked the nation. Yet the kids involved seemed utterly baffled by the angry responses that were then directed at them in return.
If you try to put yourselves in their shoes and think about it for a minute, we can understand their confusion. After all, from their perspective, they were just doing some of the same things that everyone else in the world at large (as they see it) seems to do. They were conniving and manipulative, just like the people who win the million dollars and earn celebrity status on Survivor. They were relentless in scorning their enemy and well-versed in the art of insult and humiliation; the same traits they see celebrated in the heroes portrayed throughout movies and television. They persecuted their victim with the same self-righteous indignation and narcissistic hatred that you can see exhibited on every single episode of Law and Order. They were doing exactly as our media culture had taught them to do.
Article Source:

Monday, March 3, 2014

Correlations Between Animal Abuse and Child Abuse

 Correlations Between Animal Abuse and Child Abuse

"The awful wrongs and sufferings
 forced upon the innocent, helpless, and faithful animal [and child]
 form the blackest chapter in the whole world's history."

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Wake Up to Live is about awareness in every aspect.  Waking up to live life is about questioning the social norms and the things that feel uncomfortable to talk about.  Wake Up to Live is about becoming awake to our biases, prejudices, and injustices. Waking up to live life is about waking up from unconsciousness to see what is really true.  Although waking up to live life with awareness and clarity may be difficult to do because now we must begin to make the hard choices, we must strive to Wake Up to Live and be responsible for our actions and the actions of others.  We are in this life together!  

Friday, February 21, 2014

Nourish Your Soul

Nourish Your Soul
By Desiree Leigh, Wake Up to Live

When was the last time you nourished your soul?  Many of us in the capitalist world are over-stressed, under paid, work long hours, get less sleep than desire, and usually lack the exercise needed to sustain ourselves from day-to-day.  To move through the day with a sense of inner strength and a clear head, we must (not should) nourish our selves daily and then again weekly.  It really doesn't take long at all.  

I take an Epsom salt bath everyday to relax my body, to release toxins, and to just chill.  It's my "look forward to" every single day!  It doesn't take long, perhaps 15 minutes at most; but it gives me so much.  Weekly, I like cook a different meal; I like to be creative in the kitchen.  I don't have the time everyday; but I do try to fit in the creativity at least once per week.  I find baking especially to be meditative (for me anyways) when I finally get inspired to do that, too.  In the spring, I like to tinker in the soil, planting seedlings or flowers.  I like to dehydrate kale (especially) or make dehydrated cereals, crackers, or cookies once in a while.  I also love to walk my yard of forest.  I call it the woods, and I love it.  The ocean is nearby, and it's another beautiful serene spot to nourish my soul.    

What about you?  What is it that you like to do?  It shouldn't always be the same thing.  That could get mundane and work against you rather than nourish your soul.  Every week, month, and season will spur something different.  Take time for yourself.  Life is pretty short, really.  Give it a try and nourish your soul.

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Make It Happen

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Which Type Are You?

A Wanter?
Are you just talking about what you want?  Are you pinning up poster boards on the walls of your room, or are you collecting nick-knacks and storing them in a box, hoping that your wants will somehow magically appear in a life-like form?

A Wisher?
Are you daydreaming about your wishes saying if I only think about them long enough, they will appear?

A Maker?
Are you the maker, wanting and dreaming, and then taking action: doing the physical labor that is required to get what you want to achieve your goals?

In the end, be a wanter, be a wisher; but, always remember, to be a maker, too.

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Healing: One Day At A Time

Healing: One Day At A Time

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

I don't think most people can truly understand someone that has gone through sexual assault and childhood sexual abuse except for others that have experienced it themselves.  Sexual assault and childhood abuse is too complex; and, there are too many variables associated with it.

The simple-minded, especially, don't get it.  They regularly have endless ideas about what "should" be done (seek God, don't grieve or look back, think good thoughts, live in the present, or make it beautiful).  It really does, and continues to, trouble me when I hear their virtuous comments.  They, especially, do not know what is in the minds and body's of the abused survivors.  Perhaps, in their own weird way, they think they are helpful; but, I can almost guarantee, that it is more about them than it is about the survivors.  Most people, that have experienced these heinous crimes, have tried various ideas and treatments, and more.

What I can say about sexual abuse is that there is a presence that is left behind.  It is something that lingers deep within the soul.  It is part of our biology.  And, it never really goes away.  For many years, I thought I could 'kick it,' just like kicking a bad habit; but, now that I am almost 50, I realize that it is a piece of my being.  It won't go away.  It does leave, for many periods at a time, however; and then, voila, it reappears when least expected.  The best way, for me anyways, to compare it with is an eating disorder [not otherwise specified (NOS)] I experienced for several years in my teens and my twenties.  When stress comes crawling, it is a feeling in the background so real as if it were yesterday.  A feeling that consumes the mind and body.  Somehow, this thing feels stuck inside; something that I want to purge but can't; something I can't get rid of.  This feeling was a huge reason why I, in the past, continued to purge.  I would have nothing in my gut; but, in my mind, I had the memories left sickening and nauseating me.

Today, when stress increases, my guard goes down; and then, it is difficult to get through the day.  Those thoughts creep back with putrid smells.  They haunt me every once in a while.  The anxiety escalates; panic attacks start; and then those sleepless night.

What I want to say to the survivors, is be good to yourself especially when stress comes crawling in.  To heal yourself (at any point in your life), it is best to go one day at a time.  When those thoughts or feelings creep back because there are other stressors affecting you, take a deep breath, sigh, and, if possible, get outside with nature--where love is--pet your dog, or call a trustworthy friend.  We are a group of individuals that survived a wicked crime; and, if we survived this monstrous crime(s), we can continue to survive together.  We may be tough (strong-willed and strong-minded), rough to the touch, cold and callous at times, and numb.  It's not easy to let others in, and it's not easy to trust.  We are highly clued into our surroundings--the smells and the sounds.  We are hyperaroused, at times.  We have grown to be this way, though;  we had to protect ourselves.  We have also been stripped from our childhood.  This event, ultimately, is within our cells--our being; and, we have to work together with it, not against it.  It's kind of like a family member that gets on our nerves, at times; but, we take the good with the bad.  The good aspects is that this event made you who you are today: strong, resilient, quick-witted, genuine, and protective.  The bad: perhaps, short-tempered or closed-off to love or friendship.  Nonetheless, it is about balancing that relationship.  Try to kick it out;  and it only comes back because you resist it so.

If you were the lucky ones to be surround by loved ones that supported you after you experienced these criminal acts, I am happy for you.  You probably have a great support group.  If you weren't one of the lucky ones, and had family and friends dissociate from you, I understand.  I am in your group.  Be well.  Do what it takes to keep your head up without toughening yourself up too much.  If you reach out, there are people (even strangers) that will give you a helping hand; but, the point is, you must reach out.  If they don't know anything, they can't help, and you deserve the support like everyone else.

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

ACTION! Must I say more.

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Whatever it is you need to do - clean the floors, journal your thoughts, yoga class, exercise, eat more nutritiously, go to a therapist, see a physiotherapist, create a sales presentation, call up your mother... - ACTION is what is needed whether it feels good or not.