Friday, September 30, 2011


Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said:" The strong one is not one who can out-wrestle others. Rather, the strong one is one who can restrain themselves when angry. [Bukhari& Muslim]

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse can take many forms, from denying you all access to funds, to making you solely responsible for all finances while handling money irresponsibly himself. Money becomes a tool by which the abuser can further control the victim, ensuring either her financial dependence on him, or shifting the responsibility of keeping a roof over the family's head onto the victim while simultaneously denying your ability to do so or obstructing you.

Financial abuse can include the following:

-preventing you from getting or keeping a job

-denying you sufficient housekeeping

-having to account for every penny spent

-denying access to cheque book/account/finances

-putting all bills in your name

-threatening to force you out of the house and make you homeless and destitute

-withholding information about welfare benefits

-demanding your paychecks

-spending the money allocated to bills/groceries on himself

-forcing you to beg or commit crimes for money

-spending Child Benefit on himself

-not permitting you to spend available funds on yourself or children

-making you give up your savings

-not working themselves but forcing you to work to pay for everything

Financial abuse can have serious and long term effects on women and children experiencing it. Women and children can become trapped in a cycle of poverty, they can experience physical and psychological ill health, isolation and feeling that they can’t escape from the abusive relationship.

-YWCA Factsheet


Here is an excerpt from my favorite part of "The Big Book"

"...acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation - some fact of my life - unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God's world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could no stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes." (448)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I have really been struggling these last weeks over the issue of fairness.

Fair is a relative term. Life, in general, is not fair. But in my mind, it should be.

I was devastated by the execution of Troy Davis. I can barely write these words without breaking down. I, like millions of others, had held my breath until the last second, only to get the bad news.

I can only hope that this, like so many other things that are happening in our world now, will create some sort of tipping point, where the rest of us finally fight back for what is right. I am really happy to see so many people demonstrating on Wall Street and throughout this country. I hope this movement will continue to grow.

"There is a huge number of Americans who simply don't realize that they've been victimized by Wall Street – that they've paid inflated commodity prices due to irresponsible speculation and manipulation, seen their home values depressed thanks to corruption in the mortgage markets, subsidized banker bonuses with their tax dollars and/or been forced to pay usurious interest rates for consumer credit, among other things." - Matt Taibbi

I know about unfairness all too well in the money department. For someone who tries to think the best of people, this has hit me especially hard. I've come to realize that when there's money involved, any good that was there (if there ever was any) quickly dissolves.

It's very hard to completely heal when things continually seem unfair. I am trying to accept that things will never be fair between us.

I need to accept that I will never get a full amends from my ex or his family no matter how many AA meetings they attend. The rules for the rich and entitled are different than those for the rest of us.

The only thing that is "fair" in terms of my divorce is that my ex is no longer married to me.

All I can do is move on the best I can, raise my kids well and be happy with my new life. The saving grace is, I do have a new life.
"Dear World:

I appreciate you waiting for me to be born, but please, stop neglecting your child named today.


- Mark Gonzales

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"No great thing is created suddenly. There must be time. Give your best and always be kind."

- Epictetus

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sara's Steps for Incest Survivors

I put together the following version of the twelve steps in my process of recovering from incest. When I wrote these steps I never expected anyone but me to see them.. What I wanted was a personalized set of the steps, one that brought together ideas and words that were particularly meaningful to me....These steps are based on the words of the SIA (Survivors of Incest Anonymous) Twelve Steps, the Feminist Steps, and the many people who have helped me to recover. Take what you need and rewrite the rest.

1. Admitted that we had been sexually abused, were powerless over the abuse at the time, and that its consequences had deeply affected our lives.

2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves and deep within us could restore our hope and bring healing.

3. Made a decision to seek help from our higher power and others who understood.

4. Searched deep within to honestly appraise our strengths and weaknesses, and how they affect our lives and others around us.

5. Admitted to our higher power, ourselves, and another person the exact nature of these concerns.

6. Became ready, with the help of our higher power and others sent to aid us, to discard behavior and thinking that was no longer useful or healthy.

7. Honestly desired to abandon these behaviors and pursue instead those that bring strength and renewal.

8. Made a list of the people we had harmed, including ourselves, and became willing to make amends when possible, change our behavior, and forgive ourselves.

9. Made amends with respect for all concerned.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and, when falling back into harmful behavior, promptly acknowledged it and started again, remembering to appreciate how far we've come.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our contact with our higher power and inner spirit, seeking to realize our potential for a generous and meaningful life. Came to believe that every time we accept our past and respect where we are in the present, we are giving ourselves a future.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we sought to spread this message to others and practice these principles in all our affairs.

- Charlotte Davis Kasl, PhD, Many Roads, One Journey: Moving Beyond the 12 Steps

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Be Full of Yourself

My daughter is convinced this girl is her - I have it hanging up both in my office and in her bedroom.

- Imagine a Woman International

Saturday, September 24, 2011

"To dare to live alone is the rarest courage; since there are many who had rather meet their bitterest enemy in the field, than their own hearts in their closet."

- Charles Caleb Colton

Friday, September 23, 2011


I realized today that I feel happier than I have probably ever felt.

This is something I have been working on for a long time: just to be happy.

For some people it probably seems like a simple thing. But for me, it has not been.

I had so many negative thoughts constantly popping into my head that I think I needed to completely re-arrange the way I thought. For me, listening to meditations and other positive, affirming voices really helped.

I've been listening to Patricia Lynn Reilly's Home is Always Waiting Meditation (which is wonderful!) every night when I put my daughter to sleep. Sometimes she wants to just talk to me, and that is OK. But I think we both benefit from her words and her peaceful voice. Throughout the day, beginning with breakfast for me and the kids, I listen to Chakra meditations. This is an area of work my sister has encouraged in me for years. It was only recently that this did not seem "weird" to me.

I have been walking my hilly neighborhood daily and following up with my Kundalini Yoga DVD afterwards. The walking helps me clear my head so I can really experience the yoga. When I tried to do yoga just by itself, I would often get distracted with thoughts or things to do mid-way through.

I was really hard on myself for not doing the yoga and walking daily, but when I let go of that and just decided to do what I could, I started to really enjoy it - and make it a priority every day.

I also decided to make myself a nice salad every day at lunch. In the past, I only made salads when other people were eating with me. I don't know why. But I've figured out a method to make a nice single salad, the way I like with with lemon and olive oil, without it being too much fuss. I actually enjoy putting it all together.

I have more time for me now. Part of this is that both my children are in school all -day now. I never had time to do all these self-care acts. I have never had a live-in partner. And I never demanded partnership. I think in a lot of ways I felt lucky just to have the "privilege" of being married. Even if it was to someone who could not give back to me in any way other than buying me off. Contrary to what Alanon promotes, I don't think you can be happy or healthy in a toxic environment. I don't believe children can be either.

I feel so grateful to have such a loving and supportive partner now. I am constantly amazed at his support of me. I never knew a love like this existed, at least for me.

Now that I am healing myself, I have more creative energy than I have ever had. I have so many projects that I am working on and am excited about. Previously, everything looked good on the outside, but I was a miserable mess. Now, by all accounts, I should probably be miserable - at least by my old value system. But I am really, really happy.


“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability... To be alive is to be vulnerable.”

-Madeleine L'Engle

Thursday, September 22, 2011

After I had a child, it was hard to find out that I, like my own mother, felt I had to purchase the right to create by doing something useful.

- Antonia Malchik

The Low Road

What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
They can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break
your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can't walk, can’t remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover. They can do anything
you can’t blame them
from doing. How can you stop
them? Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.

But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.

Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organisation. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fund raising party.
A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;
a hundred thousand, your own media;
ten million, your own country.

It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again after they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.

--Marge Piercy

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lupe Fiasco - Words I Never Said ft. Skylar Grey [Music Video]

I think that all the silence is worse than all the violence
Fear is such a weak emotion that's why I despise it
We scared of almost everything, afraid to even tell the truth
So scared of what you think of me, I’m scared of even telling you
Sometimes I’m like the only person I feel safe to tell it to
I’m locked inside a cell in me, I know that there’s a jail in you
Consider this your bailing out, so take a breath, inhale a few
My screams is finally getting free, my thoughts is finally yelling through

It’s so loud Inside my head
With words that I should have said!
As I drown in my regrets
I can’t take back the words I never said

- Lupe Fiasco
"There is a life-force within your soul, seek that life."

Monday, September 19, 2011


"I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I'm a human being first and foremost, and as such I'm for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole." ~ Malcolm X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Sunday, September 18, 2011


"In the end, I didn't need to be the mother of all mothers. All I had to be was what I am, what most people are, a person who learns." - Hilda Raz

Saturday, September 17, 2011


"Women are not fragile. Not in any sense of the word. We are ultimately strong, physically, mentally and emotionally. We allow our selves to use all our characteristics. Yes, including the emotional ones. Tears, laughter, anger, joy, sorrow, frowns, quiet mumbling and loud yells.. all of which help us to understand ourselves and others and we have strong emotions because we use them. Frailty is a myth." ~ Anon

Friday, September 16, 2011

Your Soul is Oftentimes a Battlefield....

Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against your passion and your appetite.

Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul,
that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness
and melody.

But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay,
the lovers of all your elements?

Your reason and your passion are the radar and the sails of your seafaring soul.

If either your sails or your radar be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas.

For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.

Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion,
that it may sing;

And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.

I would have you consider your judgment and your appetite even as you would two loved guests in your house.

Surely you would not honor one guest above the other;
for he who is more mindful of one loses the love and the faith of both.

Among the hills, when you sit in the cool shade of the white poplars,
sharing the peace and serenity of distant fields and meadows --- then let your heart say in silence, "God rests in reason."

And when the storm comes, and the mighty wind shakes the forest, and thunder and lightning proclaim the majesty of the sky --- then let your heart say in awe, "God moves in passion."

And since you are a breath in God's sphere, and a leaf in God's forest,
you too should rest in reason and move in passion.

~ Khalil Gibran

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Definition of Addiction

"When a person becomes addicted, the personality splits into two distinct parts, each denying the existence of the other. Addiction involves the words powerlessness and unmanageability, both of which the person denies. It is though the person has two sets of dreams, two kinds of values. Addiction is like having two sides - the addict side and the healthy side - engaging in a life-and-death struggle to control the inner world...the addict part is a terrific con. Its goal is to avoid pain, achieve euphoria, and have control. It wants immediate gratification. As the addict side progressively gains control of the personality, the denial and delusional state escalates...

While people derive temporary feelings of pleasure through their addictive behavior, harmful consequences are sure to follow. They may be almost imperceptible at first, but once the addiction takes hold of the personality, the individuals ability to order her life slowly disintegrates and she falls more and more under the control of an unknown force within. The progression may take years or happen rapidly. Health, relationships, work, play, parenting, creativity and peace of mind slip away as the person slowly builds a wall around herself and becomes increasingly difficult to reach with either love or reason. Eventually the addicted part sees other people out there, but does not see other souls.

The addicts friends increasingly tend to be addiction buddies who enable the disease by colluding in the denial...

Addiction usually occurs within a social system that colludes by denying the problem."

-Charlotte Davis Kasl,

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

As it was in the Very Beginning....

- "Trinity", Imagine a Woman International

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

For Longing

Blessed be the longing that brought you here
...And quickens your soul with wonder.

May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire
That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.

May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease
To discover the new direction of your longing wants you to take.

May the forms of your belonging, in love, creativity, and friendship
Be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.

May the one you long for long for you.

May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.

May a secret Providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.

May your mind inhabit your life with the sureness with which your body inhabits the world.

May your heart never be haunted by ghost-structures of old damage.

May you come to accept your longings as divine urgency.

May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.

by John O'Donohue

Monday, September 12, 2011

Missed Opportunities

"We miss opportunities because we're too afraid to put anything out in the world that could be imperfect. It's also all of the dreams we don't follow because of our deep fear of failing, making mistakes, and disappointing others."

- Brene Brown

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Imagine a woman who remains faithful to herself through all the seasons of life.
A woman who preserves allegiance to herself even in the face of opposition.
Whose capacity to sustain interest in others deepens as she is loyal to herself.

Imagine a woman who participates in her own life.
A woman who is fully engaged in each of her relationships.
Who takes responsibility for their quality, meaning, and content.

Imagine a woman who assumes equality in her relationships.
A woman who no longer believes she’s inferior and in need of salvation.
Who takes her rightful place in the human community.

Imagine a woman who values the women in her life.
A woman who sits in circles of women.
Who is reminded of the truth about herself when she forgets.

Imagine a woman who loves herself.
A woman who is at home and at peace with herself.
Whose relationships reflect her relationship with herself.

- Patricia Lynn Reilly

I am now an Imagine a Woman Certified Facilitator-Coach.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Priest says Hell is an invention of the church to control people with fear

"People don't need to be born again. They need to grow up!" - John Shelby Spong

Thursday, September 8, 2011

“Why have laws that only apply to the less powerful? There’s an incredible unfairness here.”

-Melanie Sloan

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart
and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms
and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue.
Do not now seek the answers,
which cannot be given you
because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is, to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps you will find them gradually,
Without noticing it,
And live along some distant day into the answer.

-Rainer Maria Rilke

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Take care of all our children

"If I had an opportunity to stand on a mountain and make my voice heard across the land, I would yell, Take care of all our children. They are the future, they are sacred, they deserve our care. Whatever we don't spend on them in terms of care, opportunity, and love will haunt the next generation in terms of more violence, sickness and apathy. And it will haunt us all on a spiritual level, because allowing children to starve and go without education is a crime of the spirit.

One of the greatest connections we need to make is between the care we give our young children and their ability to be productive, sock conscious adults. I can't stress enough that the seeds of addiction are planted during the first critical years of life. If addiction is being in denial, then the most addictive part of our culture is the way we deprive children of care and love - and then act surprised when they get into drugs, become violent, or have babies to fill up the emptiness. The cost to society is staggering, and the prognosis for the children of these children is terrifying. Yet we massively deny the needs of infants and young children, move them around and ignore all the research on the importance of early bonding and consistent care with loving and competent caregivers."

- Charlotte Kasl, PhD

Monday, September 5, 2011

Whitney Calvert, 2008

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Women for Sobriety - 13 Statements

A woman-centered approach to the 12 Steps

The Women for Sobriety Program - Statements of Acceptance

1. I have a life-threatening problem that once had me.

2. Negative thoughts destroy only myself.

3. Happiness is a habit I will develop.

4. Problems bother me only to the degree I permit them to.

5. I am what I think.

6. Life can be ordinary or it can be great.

7. Love can change the course of my world.

8. The fundamental object of life is emotional and spiritual growth.

9. The past is gone forever.

10. All love given returns.

11. Enthusiasm is my daily exercise.

12. I am a competent woman and have much to give life.

13. I am responsible for myself and for my actions.

(c) 1976, 1987, 1993
Women for Sobriety, Inc.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Name Your Own Gods

Imagine a woman who embodies her spirituality.
A woman who honors her body as the sacred temple of the spirit of life.
Who breathes deeply as a prayer of gratitude for life itself.

Imagine a woman who names her own gods.
A woman who imagines the divine in her image and likeness.
Who designs a personal spirituality to inform her daily life.

Imagine a woman who refuses to surrender to gods, gurus, and higher powers.
A woman who has descended into her own inner life.
Who asserts her will in harmony with its impulses and instincts.

Imagine a woman who experiences her oneness with all that is.
A woman who honors her intimate connection with the natural world.
Who embraces its rhythms and cycles as her own.

Imagine a woman whose words and actions flow from her beliefs.
A woman who designs spiritual practices based on her beliefs.
Who chooses communities of spirit that embody her beliefs.

- Patricia Lynn Reilly

I am now an Imagine a Woman Certified Facilitator-Coach.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hezbollah Funeral

I visited Lebanon in 1996 with my husband. I was a new bride, barely twenty, and this was my first trip out of North America. My husband was older than me and due to the wars, had not been back to see his parents for nearly 10 years. They were ecstatic to see him and greeted me warmly with great affection.

It was a “dangerous time” for an American, and my family did not want me to go. But it was a quiet time relative to all that has happened there.

One of the first things we did was visit the mass grave site in Qana, where Israel had massacred more than 100 civilians months before. I had never seen anything like it. The UN had taken pictures, and they were horrific. There were mementos still up of all the victims, but there were also pictures of UN Soldiers holding up various body parts, afterwards. One soldier held up a leg. Another held the severed-off top of a child’s body. Many of the victims were children, and I remember all the teddy bears lined up on the grave like a nursery.

A relative drove us into the area of Hezbollah where they used to be prohibited. We couldn't go all the way because the soldiers warned us of bombings. So we went up through villages of destroyed homes and Hezbollah flags.

We went to another southern area where the soldiers stopped us. It's too close to the border, my husband said, and so primarily black, presumably African UN soldiers stood at checkpoints with wide smiles and friendly English. Their looks were so different from the black men I saw holding up legs and arms in disgust, putting babies into bags that were too big.

We saw three Irish UN soldiers who joked with me about it not being safe to eat sunglasses. I was gnawing anxiously on my husband’s glasses. I hated to drive there, especially on narrow, winding rocky roads where life means close to nothing. My husband would point to areas on top of mountains and say, "Israel is there" and after 20 days, I had to tell myself to feel nothing.

I had never experienced fighter jets above my head constantly, and I asked his family, Why don’t you just shoot them down? In America, we would never stand for that! We would just shoot them down and it would be done.

They said they could not do that.

Further into our visit, another boy was killed randomly by Israel, and we decided to go to the funeral. My mother-in-law gave me a head scarf to cover up my hair, and we went down with another relative to a mass of people. Mourners came from villages all around, swarming to the funeral. There were thousands of people there, many of whom were Hezbollah, and I worried that Israel would bomb us all while we were standing out there so vulnerable. If they could kill children, they certainly would have no qualms about killing me or anyone else. I kept looking at the sky nervously.

This boy was a hero for them. A dark eyed, beautiful child, not more than 15. His only crime was being in the wrong place at a terrible time. The Hezbollah marched in front shouting and hitting their chests. My husband said they were saying they would love to die as him, for God, for Lebanon. Other men marched behind quietly. Fewer women followed.

My husband brought me to the dug out grave while they marched. Near the front, they held up his body, wrapped in a yellow Hezbollah flag. Behind that, a man held up a huge picture of the teen before his death. At the top of the hill, in the home of the boy’s mother, women wailed. The noise was hard to bear. Not the stifled cries you hear at an American funeral, but the gut-wrenching wails and screams from deep within. I will never forget their wailing. I can still hear it in my head, and after having two of my own children, the pain and understanding has only intensified. I stood there, unable to move, sobbing.

After a while the procession began again back to the Mosque. We had to be careful of our place because my husband and I needed to stay together, but we were separated by gender. We stood in between the men and women, right next to the boy's grandfather and his mother, an oddly intimate location within a family we didn’t even know. When the women began to weep again by the grave, my husband started too. He held his face in his hands and tried to stop himself, but he couldn’t. I felt choked, but wouldn't let myself cry again. I might not stop.

Men read the Qur’an, separated again by gender. The men inside the graveyard, the women outside the stones. All but two women were scarved. My husband got mad at them. No respect, he said.

When it was over, we drove back to our village. My head was exploding with thoughts. The blown-out house next-door to my in-laws home, where they used to live. All the pictures and memories that had been lost. The bullet hole scar in my husband’s arm from the day Israeli soldiers opened fire on his school. The family of his best friend they killed that day, who had lost their son at only 8-years-old. The father who sat there sobbing when he saw my husband, now a grown man. The difficulty to forgive people in my own life, who had done so little to me in comparison. And the enormity of even beginning to heal any of this and move forward into a peaceful and prosperous new beginning.

Beginnings of AA

"Alcohol was officially recognized as an addiction in 1937. Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA, was the first succesful model for treating addiction, and it started a new trend. Begun by Bill W., AA established a model composed of twelve steps intended to support abstinence from alcohol and lead to spiritual recovery. The wisdom underlying the steps draws from Eastern teachings aws well as Christianity and is profound in its understanding of the process of healing. The wording of the steps, however, carries a deefinite patricarchal Christian tone, using the image of an all-powerful, external male God and implying that on's goal is to get rid of "character defects" rather than balancing, integrating, accepting or transforming them."

-Charlotte Davis Kasl,

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Dear Woman

This video was very healing for me, particularly for the men in my life who will likely never apologize.