Friday, November 30, 2012

Core strength, continued...

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Click on the below article link to obtain background information to this blog post:
Examiner article
While at the gym and after ½ hour of cardio on the elliptical machine, I was on a weight machine lifting. My shaky arms were looking pretty rough as I pushed 50 pounds over my head. Normally, this isn’t too difficult but this day I wasn’t really on my game; it was impacting me more than usual.
As a response to push through the reps, I tightened my stomach and when I did this I noticed the shake in my arms disappeared.
I know you’re supposed to do this anyway but I hadn’t done it often (only last year when my personal trainer was yelling at me to do it).
What I’ve noticed after more than a month of a daily gym workout is that my stomach is feeling toner (inside). Yes, the outside is starting to take shape (the top has two abs defined) but there is still flab through the mid-section. I’m sure with a diet in place I’ll eventually tone everything but inside it is starting to feel tighter like the under muscles are taking shape. It is difficult to explain but the feeling is inspiring me to continue.
Since tightening my stomach made such a difference to my strength lifting, I’m engaging these muscles more during my workout now and I know it is helping me.
Are you working out? What seems to help you? Leave me a note.
Here are the exercises that recommends:
“Prone Bridge
In a face down position, balance on the tips of your toes and elbows while attempting to maintain a straight line from heels to head. This exercise focuses on both the anterior and posterior muscle groups of the trunk and pelvis.
Lateral Bridge
Start on your side and press up with your right arm. Form a bridge maintaining a straight line from your hand to your foot. Rest on your elbow to increase the difficulty. This exercise focuses on the abdominal obliques and transversus abdominus.

Supine Bridge
Lying on your back, raise your hips so that only your head, shoulders, and feet are touching the floor. The supine bridge focuses on the gluteal muscles. Stronger gluteals help maintain pelvic control.

Pelvic Thrusts
Lie on your back with your legs bent 90 degrees at the hip. Slowly lift your hips off the floor and towards the ceiling. Lower your hips to the floor and repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.

Russian Twists
1. Start by sitting on the floor with hips and knees flexed to approximately 90 degree angles. 
2. Grasp a medicine ball or small dumbbell and swing it to the right and left as you keep the hips from rotating with the shoulders. 
3. The arms are not perpendicular to the torso, but instead, kept low, near the thighs, as the medicine ball is swung to each side.

Good Mornings
1) Stand with feet shoulder width apart with knees slightly bent (at 20).
2) Start position: Grasp bar with overhand grip shoulder width apart. Back should be straight in a neutral position.
3) Bending at the hips, lower bar to approximately knee height. Keep knees bent at 20 throughout movement.
4) Return to start position.
5) Remember to keep back straight - movement should occur at the hip. To facilitate this, shift glutes back as if ready to sit down. Knees should not move forward beyond the toes.

Dumbell Lunges with Crossover
1) Start position: Stand with feet hip width apart. Grasp DB's and hold out in front of body.
2) Step forward 2-3 feet forming a 90 bend at the front hip and knee. DO NOT allow front knee to extend past the big toe - may cause injury. As you are lunging swing dumbbells across body towards the hip.
3) Pushing off front foot, return to start position with legs and dumbbells.
4) Remember to keep head and back upright in a neutral position. Shoulders and hips should remain squared at all times. 
5) Watch for proper knee alignment - do not let front knee extend past big toe or deviate laterally or medially. Back knee should not come in contact with floor.
Other excellent core stability exercises include:
                  Lat Pull Downs
                  Leg Presses/Squats
                  Crunches and crunch variations
                  Regular lunges
                  Back extensions

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Weight loss venture, continued...

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Click on the below article link to obtain background information to this blog post:

Examiner article

I am grateful that I am 15 pounds lighter this year than this time last year. And, since I just about doubled this weight-loss at one point, I know I can do it! It felt really good as I saw my waistline shrinking!

So, the good news, I have a great mindset for my newest challenge. And, 21 days in, the routine of healthy eating will officially develop (at least this is what the experts say). By Spring, it will be at the 66-day point with a neuropath created!

I'm inspired by a new more energized me in 2013. I would love any healthy living tips you might have, leave a comment. Until then, I'll keep up with my protein AM shake, workout, drink lots of water, and eat veggies supported by light eating!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Privilege to inspire, continued...

Photo of Nadine Lajoie by Ginger Hendrix

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Nadine Lajoie, President/Owner of Nadynn International, Inc., talked about her road to a healthy mindset as we continued our interview.

In her words, “By realizing that whenever you are in a situation where you don’t see light ahead, then you are looking in the wrong direction. Rather, you need to look for a ray of hope, focus on your dreams and passions, listen to good music, watch an inspirational movie, confide in your mentors and one of these will eventually help you break the threshold of darkness. So, whenever you are in the dark, try to compromise, contemplate, look for hope and be positive.

Also with determination, focus and balance that I learned during my career as a champion motorcycle racer.  I now use my life, business, and motorcycle racing successes to inspire audiences (both teens and adults alike) to race toward their own dreams with passion and balance.”

She put everything into her work, “In 2006, I sold my house and car to purchase a recreational motor home and set off on a solo tour of 21 of the United States. During this unique journey, I expanded my professional network with a team of nationally recognized advisors who helped propel my success. I also discovered my mission during this trip: to inspire people against depression and suicide with my life story. My drive to inspire and help others has pushed me to always learn from the best. I obtained certification at Train The Trainer – Levels I & II with T. Harv Eker, best-selling author and renowned business consultant. I have also trained with leading experts like Berny Dorhmann, Les Brown, Jack Canfield, Marianne Williamson.  

My message is to IN-Power countless others worldwide with a completely UNIQUE NEW twist using motorcycle racing as a metaphor for life and business; and provide a powerful and energetic message to embody success, adrenaline and power with softness, music, personal growth, and business/finance concepts.”

Her words for teens, “I would help a teen by talking to them with advice to open their hearts and go deep inside to touch the spirit that will change their lives and help them RACE towards their dreams!  Tell them never to give up even when they feel sad or uninspired.  I would tell my story as an example and inspiration in this trying time.  When I was fed up and saw neither hope nor light in my near future, and had decided to commit suicide. The only thing I did at that time was to give my mother one last call, and that call gave me a little ray of hope. This little hope then expanded to become the savior of my life and lead me to continue to pursue my dreams.

I am able to inspire teens by providing them with the inspirational message that I too, have been there and overcome the setbacks that often impact youthful optimism.”

Nadine offered her bio, “Nadine Lajoie is an international keynote speaker, best-selling author of Win The Race of Life, 4 times Book Awards finalist, and known as a Champion Motorcycle Racer who Sings like an Angel. From suicidal to semi-retired at 36 years old from her financial business, Nadine is a Premier Acceleration Coach Canada-USA, with over 800 clients since 1995, who will guide and energize you with tools and strategies to achieve high performance, accelerate your success and put you on the fast track with actions to realize your dreams with balance and passion…at 180 mph!”

Contact Nadine: , and (free teleclass and powerpoint)

Abundance and detachment, continued...

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Click on the below article link to obtain background information to this blog post:

Examiner article

It really is amazing to me that the concept of detachment or letting go of the control of something by handing it over or surrendering it to the universe, manifests abundance.

It seems like polar opposite thoughts but they connect and support one another. I found this to be the case when I used to stress over the bills, I would just get an upset stomach and more bills would arrive. But when I did my best by managing the budget and then handed the situation to God to take care of, it just always seems to work out. It really is something.

Do you have any stories about abundance or lack thereof? If so, drop me a note, I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, November 23, 2012

An abundant life, continued...

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I have realized as of the last few years that when I’m not focusing on material wealth, my world is full of riches. And, if I keep this appreciation in the forefront, everything else continues to be nurtured and grows.

The more I grow spiritually, the more I value such a perspective. It creates a foundation that continues to manifest positive growth.

Thanksgiving does offer a calendar date to remind me but most of the time, it is already part of my psyche. I live an abundant life and, for this, I am grateful.

I could list many things that I want more of but why should I focus any attention that fuels negativity? The key is to appreciate and focus on “my have’s” instead of “my have not’s”.

What are your thoughts about abundance? Leave me a note!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Taking flight international, continued...

Logo provided by Dr. Jane A. Simington

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Dr. Jane A. Simington continued the interview.

She shared, “This discovery touched me deeply, for I was keenly aware that my deepest need was to heal my soul pain and that I did not know how to do so, for while I knew something of religion, I knew nothing at all about spirituality.

So one more time I returned to the halls of learning, this time to explore spirituality in detail and in depth. While formally this study was to focus on the application of spirituality to care-giving practices, informally the quest was to satisfy the numerous and imponderable soul questions that begged for answers. My search led me to other cultures, worldviews and belief systems, and to the discovery of the notion of soul loss. Immediately knowing the worth in this discovery, I worked with traditional healers and a Shaman who helped me reclaim those parts of my own soul/self that had fled so many years previous. Following my own healing in this way I studied with these masters and not help others who need to reclaim any parts of the soul/self that remain frozen-in-time, at the scene of a tragedy.”
Her soul purpose has evolved, “While in the beginning my quest was to find methods that would heal my own heart and soul, my life’s purpose and therefore my Vision is to spread this knowledge and its application to people around the world. My Vision is to apply what I have learned, from my own experience of grief and trauma, and from the healing I have done and witnessed in others, to help heal the physical, emotional, mental and soul wounds of the millions in our world who have been deeply wounded. My Vision is to let the world know that true healing is possible, that it can be each person’s reality. My Vision is to offer to all who choose healing, regardless of where they live, what culture they are from, or what religion they profess, the therapeutic tools to make this happen.”

Jane’s career followed her soul work, “I have a background in both Nursing and Psychology and had practiced for many years as a nurse, often helping those who were dying and those who were grieving. When my son was killed I quickly recognized that the knowledge of grief was very different than the experience of grief. My need to return to the formal halls of learning to obtain a master’s and doctorate degree was based on my need for the information on how to heal myself. It was also based on my knowing that there had to be better ways of helping people move through grief and tragedy than I had previous studied.

When I completed my doctoral studies I accepted a position as a university professor. Within a few years the teaching I was doing was no longer meaningful to me. I knew I had so much more to offer the world and that I had to be in charge of how that important message was delivered. My business, Taking Flight International Corporation became my venue to combine my extensive academic knowledge of trauma with my own lived experience of grief and healing.

My first contract was to work with federally sentenced women who had been traumatized. Since information, in and of itself, did not heal my trauma I suspected that neither would it heal their trauma. I dared!  Instead of cognitive programming, I used therapeutic art methods. I taught them mediation and imagery. I helped them understand and apply the messages from their dreams and I guided them to reclaim their personal power. The effects of these methods while positive for them were very encouraging for me. Their feedback gave me the courage to apply those same strategies with other individuals and groups and to document the effectiveness.”

She continued, “To date I have used these methods locally, nationally and internationally, with more than 4000 people of various ages and of both genders. I have found the methods effective during individual counseling, in small group settings and with participants during training. I have introduced and applied these methods during large group sessions such as at conference gatherings. Evaluations in each setting are excellent. Participants note that the methods make a significant difference in their grief and trauma. Participant comments indicate that the methods promote healing regardless of the sources, be it from the effects of significant grief and long-term trauma such as results from early childhood abandonment, or abuse or domestic violence, or from the trauma associated with a catastrophic onetime event such as witnessing a tragic death or being shot at. By helping to heal the stored memories and their associated flashbacks, these methods make a difference in the personal and professional lives of participants.

I have published numerous articles about my beliefs and methods in both professional and lay journals. I have written chapters in textbooks and have published a booklet, Responding Soul to Soul: During Difficult Life Experiences.  I have written two books, Journey to the Sacred: Mending a Fractured Soul, and Setting the Captive Free. In the first, I share my story of healing and transformation, in the second book I describe the work I now do and offer directions and guidance for others to model. I have produced two award winning videos, Listening to Soul Pain and Healing Soul Pain, as well as three CDS. All focus on the application of methods for advancing along life’s journey.  All are positive, inspirational, empowering and motivating.

I now focus much of my effort on teaching the application of these methods to therapists and other therapeutic healers.  I have designed and developed two graduate level certification-training programs, The Trauma Recovery Certification Program, and the Grief Support Certification Program. Certification in both programs can be transferred for credit toward a Master’s Degree in Counseling.  Both programs provide up- to- date and relevant information and effective experiential healing strategies, thus engaging and reintegrating the brain’s two hemispheres, an essential component of grief and trauma therapy.”

Jane talked about her books, “My book that I highly recommend for those who are grieving the death of a child, or grieving any tragic death is Journey to the Sacred: Mending a Fractured Soul. While this is not my latest book it is the one I highly recommend for them. It is available at it is available on my websites at and
My newest and soon to be released book is THROUGH SOUL’S EYES: Reinventing a Life of Joy and Promise:
Through Soul’s Eyes acknowledges that, for many, the most intense suffering following grief and trauma is that which surfaces from deep within. In Through Soul’s Eyes, Dr. Jane Simington, PhD., validates the experiences of soul pain and teaches strategies she gained from her personal tragedy and healing, and from her professional work with thousands of people. In Through Soul’s Eyes Dr. Simington offers you both her assistance to move your life more gently into the brightness of your new beginnings, and ways to help you live a life filled with joy and promise.”
Her advice for a parent suffering the loss of a child, “Take care of your relationship with your partner and pay attention to the needs of the living children.”
Click here to read her guest post, Death of a Child, on Kimberly Pryor’s blog, Indestructible Relationship.
Jane offered this support for your living children:
1)    “Listen

·      Face the one who is speaking
  • Open posture – so you can hug if you need to
  • Eye contact is essential
  • Without interrupting
  • Avoid advice – Use language of encouragement – powerful for building esteem
      -“What have you already tried?”
-“What else could you try?”
-“How do you think that will work?”

2) Encourage expression of feelings by sharing openly
  • “This is how I am feeling. I wonder if you are feeling this too.”
  • “This is what I do when I feel this way. What works for you?”
  • Read or sing to a young child, then reflect on their feelings about the topic

3) Help them rebuild their self-confidence and self-worth
  • “That reminds me of your brother, but I think you do it better.”
  • Send notes in the lunch bag, in their pocket
  • Write a letter to the grieving child
  • Remind the child of the power of their thoughts
  • When I was unable to talk I cut out poems, clippings of positive sayings and placed them on the fridge so the children could see them
  • Read to a younger child, simple stories explaining grief
  • Leave books, videos, etc around the house – on grief and self-esteem
  • Remind the child that healing and forgetting are not the same thing
  • Praise the child to others –within the child’s range of hearing

4) Tell family and friends to also acknowledge the child’s grief

5) Honor the living child
  • Make a special scrap book of his/her activities
  • Set his/her picture in just as beautiful and as large a frame as is the picture of the child who has died
  • Get involved in a special and unique activity with each child
  • Make a point to spend quality time alone with each child
  • Touch, hug, hold – when you cannot speak, they will still feel your love

6) Use art, music, dance and ritual to help express feeling and to heal.”
Jane’s contact detail, “Readers can view my work on my website at, email my office at or telephone my office at 780 473 6732.
If readers want to have me speak at a conference or offer a healing workshop in their area or if the media want to connect with me they can contact Jodi at
If readers want more information about the Greif Support Certification or the Trauma Recovery Certification training I offer, they can visit my website
For training information, professionals can also contact Marlane at”

Jane’s work continues to be acknowledged, “For my visionary work in helping other achieve healing following grief and trauma I have received the YWCA 2011 Woman of Distinction Award, the Global Television Woman of Vision Award, March 2011, The CARNA Nurse to Know , April 2011, and the 2012 Life time Achievement AARN Award.”

Saturday, November 17, 2012

21 Day meditation challenge, continued...

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I was introduced to Deepak’s 21-day Meditation Challenge on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. Unfortunately I had DVR’d the program so I joined the challenge a few days late. I’m thankful for the timing of this gift.

It has been a tough week and this has helped me stay the course. If you follow my column, you know that Monday I put my cat to sleep. She was approximately 15 years old and suffering early kidney failure, congestive heart failure and the latest illness, Pneumonia.

It felt like my spirit was broken. It is cold and rainy here in Michigan. Between the weather and my emotional state, I coped through a 3-day migraine and now I have a horrible cold in the aftermath of her death. I pushed myself to meet my obligations this week but otherwise I’ve been struggling.

I usually meditate but with my health and mental state, focus has been tough. Deepak’s guided meditation has helped me quiet my mind and enable needed destress/relaxation.

I also think it is helping me connect with Charcoal, my cat, spiritually. When I went to my drawing class yesterday, one of my students told me about a cat she once had that was named Gray. It looked like my Charcoal. Last night, while on Facebook, I looked down at the list of “Friends I might know” offered up to me and Gray Cat was the first name on the list. Of course, I sent a friend invite; pretty amazing, huh?

Try the Deepak Chopra 21-Day Meditation challenge and let me know how it helped you.

Monday, November 12, 2012

In loving memory, continued...

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Click on the below article link to obtain background information to this blog post:

Examiner article

My precious cat was diagnosed with Kidney failure in August of this year. At that time we put her on a special Renal diet. This, in some cases, has given up to 2 years of life for pets. I found vomit from her this past Wednesday although, when she is sick, she disappears and hides. She still seems a bit wild and withdraws when not feeling well. I looked for her all day Wednesday. Thursday morning she came out and wasn't breathing well. I took her to the vet and they diagnosed her with Pneumonia. The vet hydrated her with a drip, gave her a shot and sent medicine home with me. Her condition didn't improve through the weekend. She was a bit out of her mind. All she wanted to do was crawl inside her water bowl. I kept drying her off because she was soaking herself.

I had this sick feeling that she wasn't going to be able to beat this. I took her to the vet this morning and discovered, on top of everything, she was fighting congestive heart failure. It was all too much for her to fight.

It broke my heart to let her go. I've never put an animal to sleep but I couldn't let her suffer knowing she wouldn't be able to get better. I've prayed for the past week and today I continue to pray that God crossed her over and he's embraced her into his peaceful retreat.

She will be with me in my heart always!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A rehabilitated abuser, continued...

Photo of Kathy provided by Kathy Collard Miller

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Kathy Collard Miller continued our interview.

In her words, “When God opened doors for me to write and speak about His help, my desire for His glory deepened. I knew it wasn't about me doing things perfectly, but about how He intervenes in even the most difficult circumstances. As a result, He receives greater praise. I've had the privilege of speaking in 30 states and 7 foreign countries. I never would have expected Him to use my struggle in that way but He is creative and faithful.”

She offered a glimpse of an abusive mindset based on her journey.

Kathy explained, “One main reason I chose to hurt is because I believed the lie that other people made me feel a certain way or do something. When I took responsibility for my reactions, I began to be able to control myself more. Previously I thought once Larry meets my needs, I'll be content and happy. Therefore, it seemed reasonable to blame him for my problem and take out my anger on him. Or, I thought if my daughter would obey me, I could be patient with her. But learning that I was responsible for my reactions helped me see I could control myself. My life wasn't in the hands of others.

I also hurt others because I'd never learned how to deal with my anger. I thought all anger was wrong. Therefore, I tried to stuff it and not acknowledge it. But it only turned into a boiling volcano beneath the surface. I learned that anger is a human feeling that everyone experiences. I don't need to hide it. By acknowledging when I feel angry, I can deal with it, before it grows and overwhelms me.

In reference to my toddler daughter, I recognized that I thought of her as a reflection of me. When she disobeyed in public or even at home, I felt like it was a message that I was a bad mom. Although it's true I was a bad mom, I had to learn that even good parents have misbehaving children. And “bad” parents have good children. Children make their own choices and unless I told my daughter to have a temper tantrum, (which I wouldn't), her temper tantrum was her own choice. Therefore, I didn't have to be embarrassed in public and react in anger. I could calmly give her a consequence for her disobedience. I could continue to love her because I realized children can't be perfect.

In the relationship with my husband, I heard God tell me (in my heart not an audible voice), 'Tell Larry you love him.' I refused because I knew I actually hated him. God persisted and directed, 'Then think it the next time you see Larry.' I agreed to that because I feared if he heard the words, he would think I was giving him permission to continue being gone and not meeting my needs. He worked two jobs (policeman and real estate agent; plus he flew planes for a hobby).

When Larry returned from a flight that day, I made myself think, 'I love you.' Then I added, 'Not really.' It wasn't true as far as I was concerned.

But making that choice to love began to set me free. I learned that love is a choice, more than just a feeling. And I continue to make a choice to love him and do loving things for him. That also released the anger from its hold over me.”

Her advise to other abusers, “There is hope! There is help available. Keeping it a secret only increases its hold over you. Find the help you need. Go to an anger management class. Get professional counseling. Take responsibility for your reactions and stop blaming others. Ask the person you've abused for forgiveness. Tell someone you need help and accountability. There is hope!"

She found love for herself and others and this helped manifest a healthy life.

He life today, “Larry is now my best friend, greatest encourager, fantastic lover, and we love being with each other every day. My daughter calls me almost every day and we see her frequently even though she lives at a distance. I love God and am so grateful that He always loves us, even when we struggle."

Kathy’s passion, “I love to write and am currently marketing three more books. I've worked with a variety of publishers for different projects. I also have over 200 magazine articles published in a variety of magazines.

As a writer, I love to receive responses from my books and articles. I started when the way to connect was through regular mail. Now, I'm thrilled when I receive emails from my readers.

Because I took a sabbatical from writing for five years, most of my books are no longer available. Now that I'm back writing, I hope the three new books I'm marketing will be accepted soon. Three of the books that I self-published from my out-of-print books are:
1. When Counting to Ten Isn't Enough: Strategies for Confident Parenting
2. Why Do I Put So Much Pressure on Myself and Others?: Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist
3. Partly Cloudy with Scattered Worries: Finding Peace in All Kinds of Weather"

You can contact Kathy for more information or to purchase her books through her blog and/or email her,,

Friday, November 9, 2012

Benefits of self hypnosis, continued...

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Click on the below article link to obtain background information to this blog post:

Examiner article

I'm someone who meditates and when I initially discovered self-hypnosis, I wondered, "What is the difference?" But, the more I looked into it, the more I realized the following:

With meditation, your intention is present but then it is surrendered while your mind quiets and interfaces in the connected space within you linked to the universe. It silently release your intention outward and then absorbs the divine space.

While during self-hypnosis, your physical body rests but your mind remains active in the subconscious state. It takes direction and absorbs the affirmation. The intent is present actively during this process. Hypnosis helps to create a healthy routine that results in the actions required to implement your intention. It helps keep this mindset in the forefront to create a habit from your routine and this allows the subconscious mind to lead. Once this happens you're not fighting the priorities of your logical awakened mind. You just do it without thought because it's programmed within.

I'm working on improving my health. When I followed the download self-hypnosis lesson, I did reach a state of relaxation and I did feel a tingling in my head when this happened. I believe this is a positive form to implement change, a new tool to utilize for a healthy life.

I'm going to pursue this discovery. What are your thoughts?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Obama needs celestial help

Click on the below article link to obtain background information to this blog post:

Examiner article

It amazes me how the minds of Washington D.C. can be so inflexible. We all live in the same country and instead of getting over themselves, they embrace gridlock. Bullying in our government only fuels bullying in America, it's inappropriate and it needs to stop!

So, a new term for Obama means new hope for me. I'm praying that the heavens open and offer their assistance to a serious cause. I have faith that we can flood the world with kindness and serve for the better good. I believe our President has heart and good intention. He needs all of the prayers he can get.

Please help me, say a prayer and spread kindness. It's the only way to live!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Story of heartbreak hardship and growth, continued...

Photo provided by K. Dawn Goodwin

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K. Dawn Goodwin continued, “When my husband — a man who’d never once been alone with all three kids at the same time – decided to punish me by testifying that I was a derelict mother, I lost custody of my babies. I was relegated to the shameful role of visitor, and the doors swung open on the darkest years of my life. 

But I did emerge, and with many lessons learned.

The first was, how blindly I’d been trusting humans and human-made institutions. I realized that it didn’t matter how good your heart, how noble your deeds, how honest your words. The judicial system – like so many other institutions – simply doesn’t work. It doesn’t even care that it doesn’t work. It daily grinds up the innocent and spits them into the same pile as the guilty without so much as a moment’s hesitation. Justice isn’t about truth; it’s about who tells the worst lie. 

I began to look with new eyes upon people accused of crimes, those incarcerated and stripped of rights and freedoms and custody. What were their stories? Were they like mine? If injustice could happen to me, your average suburban white girl, it could happen to anyone. Indeed, the more I looked, the more I asked, the more I realized it was happening all around me. 

During this time, most of my friends receded, disappeared, or revealed themselves with cold behavior and callous comments. At my children’s claustrophobically small school, there was an unspoken consensus about my guilt, as if my scarlet letter was obvious to everyone but me. When I got over the shock and pain of that, it dawned on me that a large gaggle of girlfriends is really not much more than an illusion; that fun feeling of togetherness is based on a very tenuous set of superficial rules. This understanding helped me let go of my lifelong need to care what others thought of me. I began to cleave more closely to myself, to my own path, my own heart. I honed a keener sense for when people are being true-hearted, as opposed to just blowing smoke up your ass. 

Ironically, the wreckage of my life gave birth to a renewed sense of self respect. Because instead of letting my spirit get snuffed out like so many women do, or cowering inside the prison of groupthink, I had stepped forward and asked for more: more love, more help, more time, more freedom. A better life. And instead of waiting for someone to save me, I had saved myself. This act of uncharacteristic courage made me wonder about Who I Really Was and what other great things I might be capable of.  Yes, my husband and the powers that be had soundly smacked me down, but something told me they wouldn’t have the last word.

As I managed through those years only seeing my children half the time, without rights or the ability to shape their destiny in any way, reduced to following the cruel orders of other women, of my ex-husband, of his mother, I felt truly bereft and broken, as if I’d been thrown into a raging river and was careening toward my doom. No matter how much money I spent or what lawyer I called or how many letters I wrote or evidence I dug up – no dry land appeared.  Those times were scary and terrible.  Scary and terrible doesn’t quite do it justice. It made me want to give up. But each time I survived another one of those moments, the light inside me seemed to shine with greater tenacity. I had always had within me a kind of irresistible inner knowing. Before I detoxed from Christianity I used to call it God. I have other names for it now. Call it whatever you want to, the point is when you’re about to drown, that still, small voice gets pretty loud.

I stubbornly believe that adversity arrives to teach us about ourselves, if we’d like to learn. But as my life broke apart before me, I often felt like I was fighting against a deadly current. Could I let go and trust that this river was here to carry me, and not to kill me? Often I did both simultaneously. Sometimes I alternated. But I always sensed that no matter which perspective I chose, it was just that: a choice. I was going to end up at the same place regardless. The only thing that changed was my experience: one way was pain, the other peace.

I practiced meditation and visualization to help turn down the volume on all the worst-case-scenarios churned out by my computer-like brain. Sometimes I just sat and breathed in light. Other times I shook my fist at the universe and demanded reinforcements and restitution for this, my broken life. But in that practice of quiet connection, a deeper vibration began to resonate – a detached sort of certainty that I would have my children back, somehow, some way. A way would reveal itself. The tides would turn. This knowing lived alongside my ragged emotions but did not intersect them. It didn’t stop the pain of not seeing my children, of losing battle after battle, but it helped me let go of the pain more easily. I didn’t have to understand the resolution to know it was coming. I didn’t have to stage a resistance every morning. I could feel the way forward with my heart, instead of hammering it to death inside my head. Whenever I had my babies with me, I would fill them with my love, and whenever I didn’t, I would trust. And when I couldn’t do either very well, I would write like I’d never written before. 

During this period, after five  years of my babies being constantly underfoot and in my arms, it was horrifying and heart crushing how quiet my house was. The phone calls to my babies, who were 1, 3 and 5 at the time, nearly broke me. I was so worried. I was so powerless. It was so unfair. At the same time, I had no choice but to deal. You can only cry so much. You can only call your mom so many times a day. So I began to write – not about the divorce, but silly stories from my childhood. Stories about trying to be a Christian girl when none of the Bible’s messages – or the world’s messages for that matter – made any sense. The stories I penned were simple and funny on the surface, but something deeper was going on underneath. I was turning over old stones. I was seeking truth.  I was finding my voice. I was answering my calling. It didn’t look like much at the time, but it didn’t have to. The most remarkable things never start out looking very remarkable.”

Her advice, “If I could offer any advice to women going through divorce, I would encourage them to take back their power, in whatever form that takes.

If you’ve been living for a long time in a world where you don’t matter, where you exist only to take care of everyone but yourself, standing up and demanding to be treated as well as men may send shockwaves. Your world may get turned on its ear for a while. You may lose friends. Sometimes there is a moment of overcompensation when the ship is righting itself. But when you have enough courage to put yourself first for a change, to find out who you are and what you have to say? Miracles can happen. And, the ripple effect? You can’t even imagine.

Everyone always told me, when one door closes, another opens. But they usually forgot to mention the long, dark corridor that exists between the two. Your past just locked you out and your bright shiny future has no guarantees of ever opening up. It’s like Dead Man Walking, only every day there is a stay of execution so you can walk it all over again tomorrow. But this lonely stretch of unknown was the space where I learned to pursue my bliss; where I had enough solitude to let my talents come out of hiding – and where I was desperate enough to rely on them. I followed my imagination doggedly, even when it seemed like it was leading me in the wrong direction. I just wanted to find out if there was a method to its madness. I wanted to find out if I really had something inside me worth sharing.
I can’t tell you how to handle what you’re facing, but I can tell you what I learned: that there is value in tragedy and loss. It destroys, but it also clears away the bullshit, and quick. And then it will pass, and leave you with gifts, like earth that becomes richer after a fire. Someday you can use those wounds to heal others. And that pain you’re suffering will become your most beautiful song.”

Dawn closed with detail about her books, “My current memoir, Until He Comes (Simon & Schuster 2011) shares my personal, hilarious and raunchy girlhood failures as I tried to navigate the murky waters of fundamentalism, sex, and the search for Any Available Savior. My upcoming memoir, Country Wrong, is about the fallout: being pregnant, barefoot and na├»ve – with three kids, no money, no help and no future. It’s the story of the brutal punishment I received from the kangaroo courts of the deep south – and from other mothers – as I fled the sinking ship of my marriage and tried to course-correct. It’s about curling up with a sweet country song and waking up in the middle of the American nightmare.”

Contact Dawn at and visit her website, to read more about her books,