New Year, New Me

Here we go 2017, like it or not, 2016 is over.  You have things to come to terms with as the year closes.  You have proud moments and shameful, embarrassing ones.  Maybe you accomplished a goal, or 10, or none.  Maybe you’re sad to see 2016 go, or maybe you are in a sad and depressed state hoping 2017 will treat you better.

What can you do, say and remember in order to do your part in making sure next year is a memorable one?  How can you turn 2017 into a year that you look back on and say, “What an amazing year of growth, love, and change in the direction of my heart.”  or something like that.

You’re going to have to rewind 2016 and remember the things that made you sad, hurt your heart, stalled your growth, and kept you feeling stagnant.  Then you are going to have to put a name to exactly who or what evoked those unwanted feelings, and then you have to decide if you like those things, and people more than your own well being.

If you decide in favor of your own well being, and have decided to go into  the new year a few things and people lighter, then I would like to share with you the things that help me most.

I’m no Oprah, therapist, or rich and famous somebody.  I’m just a humble and happy housewife that use to look more like a severely depressed, sometimes suicidal, anxious, irritated, alcoholoic/drug addict, whom was eager to be hateful with my words.

One book, one thought, one therapy session, one word, one goal, one quote, one yoga session, and one belief at a time I decided that I wanted to feel different, I decided I was worth it, and I decided to just move forward in the direction of my heart one breath at a time.

If you are feeling stuck, (like we all do at times) and are ready to ride this wave of new energy into 2017, then I have a few helpful words in my self help stash that you may, or may not be helpful.

As always, take what works for you and leave the rest behind.

 

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New Year, New Me

Not a smoker?  Move on to next section. 😉

I don’t feel like googling, but if I had to guess, quitting smoking is probably amongst the top 3 resolutions made.  And, it’s probably the hardest to break as well.  I had my first drag of a cigarette when I was 11 years old.  We’d take turns stealing our parents cigs and sneak to the woods for our after school smoke sessions.  Yes, 11.  I have struggled to quit off and on until as of late.  I was always able to release my addiction with pregnancies and breast feeding, but as soon as the baby was done with me, back to smoking I’d go.

It was my best friend, confidant, go to stress reliever, security blanket, and it was also killing my body and spirit.

Smoking is no doubt a love/hate relationship, or at least it was for me.

I no longer smoke, and I don’t miss it.  I’ve quit 100 times, and have always missed it. I missed the taste, smell, and insta gratification it brought, or at least I thought I did.

Until I read, Allen Carr’s, The Easy Way to Stop Smoking.  He gives you the mental tools you need to put in your tool box, and hammer away at this addiction.  I could not recommend it more highly.  Buy it, read it, and read it again.  Make sure you seal the info in your mind and power yourself with enough knowledge and understanding to commit to this goal, and never look back.

You don’t have to quit before you read the book.  In fact, he encourages you to “enjoy” your habit as you read and release the need to see smoking as enjoyable.

Cancer, and disease is hard, quitting is not.  Decide you are worth reading a measly old book and give it a shot.  What have you got to lose?  Or, better yet, what have you to gain?

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So, what is your goal?  Have you wrote it down?  What’s your goal feel like?  How will it feel to let the words slip out that you accomplished it?  Do you notice how reaching it will benefit others?  Do you feel bigger, better, and brighter just thinking about achieving it?

Let all those feelings of accomplishment build and then maybe create a vision board, meditate on those thoughts 5 minutes everyday, write or draw about it everyday, talk about one thing that will bring you closer to it everyday, and keep those feelings alive and thriving with new questions on how you can get there from here while living in gratitude for where you are and the process it takes to get there.

Have you told someone you trust to encourage you towards this goal?  Have you made small actionable steps that can lead you there?  Have you found quotes to write down, hang up, sticky note and tattoo on your body that will help fuel your mind with hope and courage?

Have you found a therapist or life coach to help you sort out the thoughts that keep resurfacing causing you discomfort, and stagnation?  Have you found a way to release your doubts and fears surrounding the situation so that you may focus on what will get you there, instead?

Have you found a mentor or idol that has accomplished a similar goal, and picked their brain, blog or book apart, finding all of the pieces that will help you put your own puzzle together?

Have you started to get to know yourself more deeply through journaling?  Maybe spend 5 minutes a day connecting with your worries and wants, and then allow solutions, insight or peace to come to mind after.

Do you think maybe committing to a book a week on a relatable topic instead of a Netflix serious could be life changing?

Do you have a plan?  A planner?  Maybe a Passion Planner or Happiness Planner could help you create a plan.  Google them, buy one, you’re welcome.

Do you know how amazing it feels to get the proper amount of water and nutrients in you?  Your body and mind comes to life a little more with each drink and eachbite.  Chug 8 oz-8 x’s a day, drink a green smoothie, and stay out of the drive thru’s.  You are what you eat, eat food that is alive and well, so you know what that feels like.  One healthy decision at a time, that’s all.

Have you realized that you are not giving up anything, but in fact gaining many amazing things by letting go of what you are trying to release?

Have you decided that you want to know and feel the gratification that comes from reaching your goal?

Have you decided that you, your life, your wants, your needs and your dreams are worth trying day after day after day?  Because, time will pass anyway, goals or not, dreaming or not, believing or not, it’s coming and going, ebbing and flowing, and you’re either creating better days to come with the day you have now, or you are adding to your future pain.  And, that’s the harsh reality of being human.

Ask yourself questions, and give yourself time to answer them.

Make healthy habits and fulfilling routines come to life ONE good decision at a time.

Surround yourself with things and people that will encourage you towards the goodness you seek, or find the words that speak to your heart in a book or a blog, and marinate in them as often as possible until they soak into your being and become who you are.

And, when you want to stop or give up:

Write yourself a letter, pour out your heart, write down the pain that you’re trying to transform, put your heartbreak on paper, and then write down how you want to transform that.

Remind yourself of how you want to feel, what you want to know, and what is possible with a little effort.  Put your pen to paper and pick your favorite uplifting quotes and advice that moves you when you read them, then read that sh*t everyday, every bad moment and every time you want to give up.

Remember and feel the heartbreak and guilt behind your bad decisions, and ask yourself is what you’re about to do worth taking a step back towards that, or would it feel a hell of a lot better if you took a deep breath, and took a step forward.

Shed your old skin, right now!  You don’t have to own your past mistakes, short comings and fails.  You can learn from them, thank them for teaching you, and decide that even though it happened, it doesn’t have to keep happening, and you don’t have to keep participating.  Crawl out of your old skin so that you can crawl into bed with success and love.

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I hope you make it.  I hope you find love.  I hope you find ways to love yourself.  I hope you open yourself up to possibility.  And, I hope that you trust yourself enough to take the steps, read the words, let go of the old and embrace the new.  Old is familiar, it’s comfortable and it’s easy.  But, are you happy?

And, if at the end of the year the goal is not 100% accomplished, I hope you can look in the mirror and love the hell out of yourself and your efforts, anyway.

The reality is that we are all on our way to our grave.  Are you going with guilt and sadness of what could have been, or are you going there with the amazing memories you chose to create in tow?

Are you taking your cigs, cupcakes, and crass remarks with you on the way out, or are you taking the soul you built up, and the heart you filled up while you were here?

You can’t control the details, others, circumstances, sudden loss, reasons to grieve or unforeseen obstacles.  But, you can control what you do with your time in between.  You can control how much strength you have to put into your fight.

You can decide that you are worth handling such things with a little more grace, a little more compassion a little more forgiveness, understanding, and a little more self love.

You can choose to enjoy a New Year and a New You, or you can just repeat last year, and the year before.  Whatever feels good, do that.  And then pass on the good vibes for brownie points.

Happy New Years to you.  I hope you ride the energy wave in like a boss ready to find your flow, learning to bend not break as you create the content, calm, kind, abundant, fulfilling life you crave and desire.

In Love,

Danielle

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“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
Mahatma Gandhi

 

I wrote my self a love letter as suggested by an old life coach a couple of years ago.  I pull it out when I’m feeling stuck and down on myself.  I must continue to acknowledge my downfalls as I continue to climb towards my goals of leaving this world a better place one word, one breath, one act of love at a time.  I encourage you to write one and pull it out when you need reminded of your worth and your reasons as you move through this next year.  Namaste

 

Dear Danielle, My Bell

What can Isay to help propel you into a life where you feel happy, healthy, whole and well?

How may I lead you to your fairy tale?

I want you to dance, laugh and sing.

I want you to know you are amazing.

I want you to find kindness wherever you go.

I want you to love reaping what you sew.

I want love to be your intentions and your wishes.

I want love to be the motivator behind your every decision.

I want love to be your purpose, passion, and mission.

Because, love is the ultimate ruler of health, happiness, and wisdom.

You are one of God’s perfect miracles.

Your presence here is biblical.

Nothing about your life is typical.

Use your thoughts and gratitude to make life magical and mystical.

Think and thank your way to healthy, happy, and whole.

Let love be what molds you and unfolds for you that which is yet to be untold.

Oh, Dear Danielle, My Bell be fearless, be brave, be bold,

and know that the love in your heart will be the force that leads you to your goals.

~~Danielle Atherton-Rutledge~~

 

 

 

 

 

Change of Heart

Do you wonder why you’ve been given this life?  What it’s all about?  What are we doing here, anyway?

I’ve come to the very uneducated conclusion that it is to change as many hearts, thoughts, and words from fear back into love as we do what we are naturally drawn to and enjoy.

Do you agree?  Do you have what it takes to do that?  Do you really matter?  Does anyone really care about what you have to offer?  Are you really the change you wish to see?

My thoughts:  You do matter.  What you have to offer matters, your simple talents and small gestures matter, every smile, every hug, every vote of humble confidence, every droplet of creativity, every thought and word-all of you matters.  I wonder how many go to their grave never realizing their impact, their worth, their value.  And, I wonder how many people live out the mundane day to day-never realizing all of the opportunities around them to make simple but powerful impressions in order to live a more meaningful life.  How are we going to make the world a better place if our own corner looks a mess?  A question I’ve made friends with.

So, when I asked myself how I was going to make a difference in my corner and what I was going to do in this life to leave my mark I decided to ask myself who has impacted me most?  Who around me embodies what I hope to express in this life?  What are my most treasured gifts from this person?  The answer is and was, Alice Lucille Atherton, and it’s because she grounded me in faith so I could let go of fear.

I want to leave a legacy as gorgeous as my grandma’s.  You’ve probably never heard of her, but she changed this world, I am certain of it.  So, I took a good look at my Grandma and who she was, I dissected her piece by piece to discover what it is about her that made her love and memory so lasting to me and so many others in our community.

I wanted to know exactly what it was about this earthly angel that made her so magical, because I want to give what she gave to me to the world.  She made me feel safe, loved, secure, faithful, hopeful, healthy, warm, and like I was all that mattered when I had no reason to feel any of those things and I watched her do the same for so many others.  People came to her scared and lost and left loved and hopeful-that’s magic.

Are you looking for who you are and where you’re going?  Are you wondering what to do to help in today’s times?  Are you looking for a change of heart in this life?  Maybe a simple story of Alice can help mold your heart like she did mine, and guide you into the future more secure in who you are becoming like she still does me:

She was dirt floor poor as a child and young woman, severe burns on her legs from a chemical accident as  a young girl; she married a man of war who came home a traumatized vet, and  who happened to be a severe work and alcoholic, raised 5 mischievous boys and lost her only daughter, Alice Fae at birth, then her husband, Dallas to liver cancer.  I know there are more hardships and details to share, but I won’t share any more, and she wouldn’t either.  She would tell you she had a good life filled with love and joy.  She’d tell you that her blessings were too many to count.

You may think someone who lived with so little, and had so much loss, and hardship might resemble a bitter old hag that you’d rather steer clear of but not my grandma.  She had a glow, a feel, she had faith, and it radiated from her to me and to all who knew her.  She knew how to make the most of what she had.  She knew how to give life all she was given even if it didn’t seem like much.  I’ve never spoke about my grandma to ANYONE and NOT seen their face light up as they reminisce of her.

Growing up I remember she drove an old dumpy station wagon, lived in a trailer, wore Wal-Mart sale rack clothes, and not a stitch of make up.  I still feel her warm hugs and wet kisses and the way her wrinkly thin skin felt-not interested with how she looked only curious who she could love and how she could help.

I remember how she hollered, “yellow” when answering the rotary phone, and how she asked you to close the “winda”.  She whistled like the trains and various birds, loved to fish in the pond, take her loyal pup, Daisy Mae for walks, and just be.

Grandma spent Sunday’s at church with her grandbabies, and the rest of the neighborhood while listening to 20 or so children bicker over who got to sit on her lap at story time.  She loved and called every singe one of us her baby.  You felt like Jesus himself told you that you were special when she hugged you.

Stockings were all she could afford for Christmas each year:  the way the cotton pink ribbed socks felt on my tiny feet, my little heart lit up knowing she gave them to me.  It wasn’t ever about what she gave it was the love infused into it that mattered.

She was a cook in a small town restaurant and a care taker for family, friends, the elderly and anyone who asked.  She loved everyone the same, because that’s what real hero’s do.  She never wondered if this is where she was suppose to be-she loved to fill up bellies and hearts and so that’s what she did, knowing it would never fill up her wallet, but that wasn’t her goal, any way.

She took in neighborhood kids and others in need through her years, my mom and us 3 kids being some of them.  After 7 long years in a domestic violence home my mom left her abuser with my grandmas help.  She moved us into her 2 maybe 300 square foot house and I’d still live there today if I could.  I was safe, warm, loved, and nourished with her faith, and the best chicken and dumplings you’ve ever had.

At 15 I saw her struggle to take some of her last breaths.  I’m still trying to understand why or how we’re supposed to live without her.  There was no safer place in the world, then on my grandma-ma’s lap.  I cry, actually I sob as I type this, so many tears I can barely see the screen, because her love was so profound that I’m still unsure of how to live without it.

Then, the tears dry and my head clears and I remember it never left.  It’s in the eyes and hearts of people who have met her and knew her, and, so I rest a little easier knowing pieces of her heart are sprinkled all over.  I feel grateful to know that my grandma gave me and so many these memories, morals, and manners to live with.  I am thankful that because she lived and believed that she and I mattered, because she knew when to stand up, speak up, and be strong I am here happy, humble, and healthy ready to embody her spirit now more than ever.

Grandma Alice changed her corner of the world, she changed my heart, my life, and many in our community as well, and she didn’t even have enough change in her empty wallet to do so, she did it with a kind heart and faith.  She did it to make sure the good got done.  Her heart inspires me to be better to this day.  Her love calms me and nourishes me still.  This is the love, memory and legacy that I will try to create one day, one neighbor, one good deed, one helpful hand, and one kind word at a time.

I hope my sweet grandma’s heart inspires you to change your heart and those around you daily.  I hope you understand that your name can carry a vibration of love long after your gone if you realize your worth and value now, and work to give it away a little at a time no matter what your next step may bring.  I hope you ground down in faith that good will prevail if you just continue to let good and God work through you.  I hope you let go of the doubts, worries, expectations, and fears so you have space to breathe in the love that is here for you to experience, and then I hope you pass on the good vibes to all you pass.

Twenty years later and I still feel her heart beating in mine, I still come alive with love when I sit with my thoughts of her.  I only hope more of us strive to leave such an imprint.  What a wonderful world it could be…..

With Love in mind,

Danielle Atherton-Rutledge

Change of Heart

A penny for your thoughts a nickel for your kiss?

But, I haven’t money to spare for things such as this.

Your thoughts could calm me, and your kiss could cure me, please Mr. or Miss,

Could you spare just one thought and one kiss?

I know you’re busy, and that you’re worth my dime

I wish I could buy your love all of the time.

But, my wallet is empty, and so is my heart,

I was hoping you’d be the one to help me start

Loving my life and doing my part.

Your thought could bring me wisdom.

Your kiss may help me come alive.

Just 6 cents and I could begin to thrive.

For under a dime you could change my life,

Could I pay you back another time?

Your thought may change my mind

Your kiss may help me find

Loving ways to make a dollar out of a dime.

Danielle Atherton-Rutledge

 

Little Girl….Gratitude and Forgiveness

Domestic violence lives in your neighborhood.  Do you see it?  Do you see the little girl with matted hair, stained clothes that don’t fit, painfully shy and scared of everything?  Do you think she can take you or your child’s glares, criticism, or judgements?  Do you think to yourself,” she’ll be o.k.”?  Or do you pull her hair back into a braid and remind her she’s safe?

Do you see the young bully feeling left out and angry?  Does his trouble start at home?  Do you know who taught him how to hurt?  Will you be adding to his pain?  Or, will you invite him over for dinner and ask him about his day?

How will you know if children were taught to fear, hurt, and harm?  How will you know if they need your kind words and helping hands?  Or, are we to assume they were just born this way?

I was raised in a domestic violence home.  I was painfully shy, terrified to speak, and scared of life.  Deathly afraid of the dark, of the light, of going to sleep, of losing my mom, of him stealing us from her, and definitely too terrified to tell anyone. I thought if I just showed up cleaned, helped, did good things and stayed quiet, then bad things would stop happening.  So I stayed very quiet most of my childhood.  I grew into an angry, snotty, and hateful teenager ready to bite back at life.  I was bullied at school, “you look like the neighborhood dog, go back to the river whole you climbed out of,” and many more mean words were spewed at me before I finally decided no more miss nice girl.  Then I found alcohol at 15 and could loosen my tight grip for a few hours, then I found heavier drugs that numbed me out so I could sleep and cope.  I stopped caring about anything besides my next drunken and drugged extravaganza.  Then I started having kids and feeling like a crappy human for my habits and started to put my life back together piece by piece by removing the pieces of the puzzle that simply just did not fit in.

My anxiety and depression had taken its toll on my body and mind and so I had to rewind and figure out what and how I went wrong, so I could start to go right.  It was time to give a voice to my little girl that I shut up so long ago.  The past was my present because I never healed my old wounds.  I had to go back and feel what I tried to bury and numb so that I could let it go for good, and experience what now feels like without the burden of the past.

Remembering back to my childhood there were teachers, parents, family, and children that made my already deep wounds deeper and more painful, and there are some that gave me so much love and hope in humanity that I’m able to sit here today.  I want to encourage you to be the latter in a child’s life no matter how difficult they may seem.

I have too many moments to count where my spirit was broken at home and at school.  I gathered a lot of painful memories and moments that have and still need to be forgiven.  I start with gratitude, move to forgiveness and end in gratitude:  I sit here safe and loved now, even though he was a psycho and “stole” parts of my childhood, BUT….. I did climb trees, ride bikes, splash in the pool, cuddle with my mommy every chance I got, and enjoyed the horse that lived in our neighbors back yard.  I did play in the woods until dark, eat fresh apples and pears off my dads trees, raise baby ducks and geese, and always had a dog.

I don’t have to carry around the sadness of what was not when I forgive.  When I let go of the pain, I leave room for love to surface.  I don’t have to be a victim anymore when I forgive.

I’ve always identified with the victim:  first as a child watching my mom be strangled, choked, spit on, beaten and berated, then I was bullied, spit on, name called, left out, and shamed, then I became the abuser of drugs, alcohol and numbing myself and the pain.  Not being the victim is hard when you’ve always identified yourself as one because of unfortunate circumstances.

Forgiveness lets me identify with who I want to be and who I am becoming, rather than owning what was and identifying with the pain of the past.

Forgiveness feels good.  Really good.  I have been able to heal a petrified little girl, quiet a mouthy adolescent, and calm my inner drunken and drugged self using forgiveness and gratitude.  I am able to look in the mirror and see a kind, compassionate, helpful, loving, loyal and creative young mother, woman and wife with plenty of room to grow.

I didn’t and don’t do it on my own.  My families support, therapists, life coaches, hundreds of self help books and blogs, church sermons, journaling, meditation, yoga, and more have helped pull me out of my darkness and instead helped me shed light on what helps me move in the direction of my heart.

I know that life and people can be difficult and challenging, I know that the weight of the world and your burdens can be too, and I know you want to be happy and free.  Let gratitude and forgiveness show you what freedom feels like.  Let your little boy/girl speak and feel.  Let him/her turn their pain into passion, anger into action, bitterness into forgiveness, and grumbles into gratitude.

I can tell you from experience that a smile can save a life, a thank you can transform a mind, an I’m sorry can close and open new doors, and forgiveness tastes like freedom.

I hope we all have more moments where we are able to bite our tongues and  swallow our pride, so we may savor the simple and satisfying flavors of life.

Hateful, rude, inconsiderate, angry, aggressive, and evil people exist and some of us are affected by them more then others.  Running and hiding from what happened won’t fix it, pretending it didn’t happen doesn’t work, being ashamed and embarrassed is useless, repeating the pattern is dangerous and damages your soul, and staying the victim will minimize your spirit.  But, if you can find time in your schedule to sit with your pain and space in your heart to forgive, then you are able to do what you came here to do:  turn pain, evil, and darkness into love.

 

In Love, Danielle

(Please know if you are reading this poem, that the man I am referring to is not my real father, but an old boyfriend of my mothers)

********************************************************************** Little Girl

I’m sorry you were scared and alone.

I’m sorry that no one picked you up and carried you away to the safe place you craved.

I’m sorry you cried.

I’m sorry for all of the times you had to run and hide.

I’m sorry that everywhere you went, your time was spent, trying to protect yourself from fear and pain.

So little and fragile, just trying to grow every time it rains.

Instead always feeling emotionally drained, never knowing what the next breath would bring.

More screaming, yelling, throwing, strangling, hitting, sobbing, my heart throbbing, and my hopes and dreams for a life of love slowly dying. You were prying the innocence from my mind as you filled it with thoughts that would scare me to death and keep me up at night.

“Hide, run, go!” She screamed at us with a knife at her throat. The hate in his eyes, would he take my mom’s life? I closed my eyes, paralyzed in fear once more, as this has happened before.

He finally loosened his grip, and let her slip to the floor, where she begged and pleaded, “please, God, no more!”

I was a helpless witness and an innocent victim at the mercy of him, and his anger.

I could let my urge to play those rolls linger.

I could cry, scream, and yell about all of the injustice, and all of the wrongs; or I can choose to sing a different song. Because many times I was loved, hugged, cuddled, kissed, and given reasons to smile.

And, sometimes I was allowed to be an innocent child.

Some days others took my hand, held my heart, and made feel safe.

And, those are the memories I will choose to cherish and recreate.

I will allow all the love I did feel, and learn, to outshine all of the fear, pain, anger and hate that you placed within me. I’ll be the voice that sets me free. 

I can’t wait for your apology, or permission to let go of being the helpless victim.

Many years I have wished I could hear an, ‘I’m sorry, I love you, and please forgive me from everyone that did, and didn’t notice my pain. But, that won’t restore the love in my heart, again.

Some said sorry, some have not, most still don’t realize there was a reason to say I’m sorry at all. 

But, I no longer need to hear the words I once sought.

Because, you taught me what it looks like to hold on to resentment, anger and a victim mentality. You showed me your pain, I saw it, felt it, and lived it. 

And, so I say for you, “I’m sorry, I love you, please forgive me.”

 

I know you wish you had the voice to say it, and mean it. 

I know you wish you didn’t know the pain well enough to share it.

I knew you wanted to be stronger, you wanted to do better, and you wished you could. And, in those moments when I was brave enough to look into your eyes, I understood that you were scared and alone, too.

In those moments, I wished I could help you forgive yourself, and move on to new. I’ll let go, for me and for you.  God bless you.

 

In Love,

Danielle Atherton-Rutledge