Born: April 4, 1928 (age 86)
“I tend to be cynical about a lot of things, but Maya Angelou is somebody that no matter how much I pick her apart, she still has integrity. She was a victim of incest and rape, and she worked as a stripper. And now she’s a literary icon and Nobel Laureate. It goes to show that life is cumulative, and you can’t devalue any type of experience.” – Humans of New York (HONY)
“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and
it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way
he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree
lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them
when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as
making a ‘life.’ I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that
you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to
throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart,
I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to
be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love
a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but
people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou
FYI: This post has it’s own page under the tab “Healing photo-shoot” because it is one of my Projects.
After doing the photo shoot, Emilee shared this Song with me. After the Storm by Mumford & Sons And I thought it was perfect.
“And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.”
The idea of this photo-shoot was to capture the growth I had accomplished so far, about nine months after my experience. I didn’t realize it when I came up with the idea, but the flower crown fit all too well with the concept.
I found this on Wikipedia about controlled burning:
“Controlled or prescribed burning, also known as hazard reduction burning (HRB) or swailing, is a technique sometimes used in forest management, farming, prairie restoration or greenhouse gas abatement. Fire is a natural part of both forest and grassland ecology and controlled fire can be a tool for foresters. Hazard reduction or controlled burning is conducted during the cooler months to reduce fuel buildup and decrease the likelihood of serious hotter fires. Controlled burning stimulates the germination of some desirable forest trees, thus renewing the forest. Some cones, such as those of Lodgepole Pine and Sequoia, are serotinous, meaning they require heat from fire to open cones to disperse seeds.”
I know what you’re thinking;
“Okay Annabelle what is the point of that?”
Well I saw a parallel between the process of burning and the result of being damaged by suffering.
When at first I could only see the destruction the fire left behind in my own life, I am starting to understand and appreciate the flowers that are blooming out of the ashes.
In other words, for a while at the beginning all I could see and feel was how lost and broken I was. It was after I came to terms with my situation and gave my suffering a purpose that I started to learn about the importance of the experience of being broken and how to be broken.
In this analogy, suffering, pain and hurtful experiences are the fire and we, humans, are the trees. The trees seeds can be equated with our potential or happiness or both. In the middle of the paragraph it reads:
“Hazard reduction or controlled burning is conducted during the cooler months to reduce fuel buildup and decrease the likelihood of serious hotter fires.”
What is viewed as a horrible fire can actually prevent something worse form happening.
The suffering I have gone through has prepared me to endure worse pains or help others with theirs to reduce the risk of a bad situation becoming worse.
One might associate this along with God too.
A lot of people don’t understand why God allows us to suffer. “Why is there Suffering in the world if God loves us so much?”
At the end of that first paragraph on the wiki page it reads:
“Some cones … are serotinous, meaning they require heat from fire to open cones to disperse seeds.”
Like these trees, sometimes we have to get burned down to release something else within us.
I’d like to use myself as an example of this:
As happy and mature as I thought I was before I was raped, I would never have been able to do what I’m doing now. People say Rape changes your life forever and it does; but for me it was also good! I would not have been able to create the art I have created, connect with the people I connected with or understood myself the way I do now with out being shaken, broken, and lost.
And let me emphasize the fact that the process was NOT fun.
I became depressed, I had breakdowns, and I hurt other people unintentionally because my judgement, values, and principles had almost completely dissolved into darkness. One of the scariest and most helpless feelings in the world is to feel lost in your own skin. With everything clouded, I had NO idea who I was and I tried filling in the gaping holes in all the wrong places. But that’s how we have to learn sometimes. And because I suffered a lot, I learned a lot. That’s why I’m always posting “Motivational Mondays” on Instagram. I’m so excited about the things I’ve learned
Anyway I believe that God lets us go through the bad experiences because it opens our seeds. It lets us understand ourselves and others more deeply. In fact, I don’t think that we could connect with people as deeply if there wasn’t suffering.
Our job is to keep our heads up and have faith that after the fire, our seeds will open up and our flowers will start to bloom.
Words: Strength, Vulnerability, Compassion
In this section of the photo-shoot I wrote words in the sand and expressed them the best way I could in a single photograph.
This kind of strength is not physical, but emotional, spiritual, and mental.
It’s an endurance of self.
The strength of my friendships is what gave me the support I needed to get through it.
The strength of my faith in my self, and in God.
The strength of my mindset.
The strength to get back up when life had knocked me down.
The kind of strength that could only make me stronger.
Each of these things are so incredibly important in happiness.
And all of them require strength and discipline.
Without vulnerability there’s no way anyone can help you. Including yourself.
Being vulnerable is allowing yourself to be seen; allowing you to see yourself.
Vulnerability requires you to trust people sometimes which is so scary.
I am being vulnerable by putting my experience on the internet…(like whaaat!!!?) but I trust that it’s going to help someone else, and I trust that it’s going to help me too.
Tears are a great example of vulnerability that EVERYONE has experienced. In our society tears are a sign of weakness. But through my experience they have been so cleansing, and people keep saying to me “you’re so strong” “tears don’t mean you are weak they mean you’re alive, and you’re feeling” – which for a while there was a problem. (Read more about that here) . But when you cry, people can physically see your pain, happiness, or fear. It exposes you, and that’s a scary thought. But in the end, it is so good for you.
What I want to emphasize here is that you CAN be strong and vulnerable – becoming vulnerable takes strength.
One of the most beautiful things about a person is the compassion they can share with the world. Compassion is a nurturing emotion and is often an indicator of our capability to love as well as a pretty accurate measure of our individual humanity. If we spend too much time beating ourselves down instead of understanding ourselves we become broken. This is self harm, even if you can’t see it in cuts or bruises, and it doesn’t help you get better.
A lot of what I went through was confusing and I constantly found myself asking “What’s wrong with me?” Well, a lot. But if I hadn’t had compassion and patience, I wouldn’t have gotten through it. Or learned anything from it.
At the same time, compassion for others is super important. Especially if they were as broken or as lost as I was. There will be times you may not understand why or how another person is hurting, but I guarantee if you just love them through it, they will start to feel the difference (even if you can’t see it). It’s the biggest way to make a difference in someone else’s life. It’s the best way to show the love of God.
Just love them through it all. Just the way they are. Let them know their brokeness is okay, and can even be a good thing. Let them know that there is hope to heal.
My friends were so good at that.
I owe a lot of credit for the blooming of my beautiful flowers to them.
Unfortunately this post isn’t ready yet!
(Sorry if you got here from a different page on my blog)
But keep checking back, it will be up soon!