Powerful learning on her healing journey

This is a posting from a Vital Cycles group member.

In the two years I’ve been working on my healing I’ve learned so much.

I can sometimes see what triggers me and why. And I can choose to leave the room or situation, or change the channel on TV. I can now realize that what has happened to me is not my fault… it’s those that hurt me. And no wonder I feel like I live in hell. Who wouldn’t? I know my anger is really intense. I feel a lot of pain and sadness. I know when the memories are coming in, and it’s ok to sit and feel that pain and cry some of it out… even though it hurts to be there. It’s ok to talk about it now to my therapist, they can’t hurt me anymore. And I will be listened to and believed. I can accept I have been abused and mistreated by the people who were supposed to love me. I mistakenly learned to think of that as love. That’s not ok, but I accept it. And it’s also ok if some days I don’t feel any of this acceptance and struggle to get through my day. It’s ok to be stuck feeling that I’m in hell too. All I can do is the best I can do. It’s hard work and I’m far from done.

It’s amazing how much I’ve changed. All of you, Vital Cycles, and my wonderful therapist have helped me so much. Thank you for listening …   🙂


Empower yourself

One of my favorite Healing Principles is the Empowerment Principle. “We shape our own healing process choosing what best serves us.

We can develop the skills to make good decisions for our healing so we can lead lives of joyous dignity.

An important skill for our healing journey involves learning to access and trust our inner wisdom, sometimes known as intuition. By developing our connection with our inner resources, we gain valuable insight to help guide our choices. Ways to access one’s inner wisdom include journaling, visualization, creating art, meditation and prayer. Developing this connection and aligning ourselves with it is an enriching lifelong process.

Consulting our inner wisdom helps us discover our needs. Knowing more about our needs gives us power! We can proactively seek ways to meet our needs, taking care of as many of them as possible. The sense of empowerment gained in recognizing our capacity for self- nurturance leads to increased self-respect and dignity.

As we build self-awareness, we discover there are many ways we can begin to meet our needs. It’s vital we become expert in discovering what works for us and adapting it to fit. After all, we are the only ones who can truly know what is best working for us.

Gradually, we gain the emotional maturity to choose the paths that are most healing for ourselves. Gradually, we shift from seeing ourselves as victims, to seeing ourselves as survivors and over time as thrivers. This is more of a cyclic process than a linear one. Even after much healing has elapsed, we may still find aspects of ourselves feeling like victims at times. It helps when we can turn towards these aspects with empowered compassion.

As we continue to make empowering choices for our healing and deepen our connection with our emotions, our capacity to experience joy grows, and our lives feel progressively richer and more fulfilling.

Vital Cycle: The better we shape our healing process the more empowered we are. The more empowered we are the better we can shape our healing process.

Positive Reframing – guest blog by Teresa Vandergriff

Some years ago, I noticed that one of my friends took care to put a positive spin on things by changing “I’ve got to” to “I get to.” For example, “I’ve got to do my laundry – big hassle, takes time, I hate to iron, etc.” changes to: “I get to do my laundry-I own clothes that I like, I’m glad I chose washable things so that I’m not running to the dry cleaners every other day, etc.”

Gratitude came easily with that little change of words. At the time, I thought it was a nice idea, but I have since learned that changing my words to create gratitude is one of the best things I can do for my well-being. Those little changes keep me going forward. For me, a typical day brings up a long list of “got-to”: obligations to support my health, have a comfortable home; earn a paycheck, look presentable, take care of my family, spend time with friends, prepare for the next holiday or clean up after the last one, and so on and so forth. To get a handle on that list, I try to listen for the underlying “got-to” that I’m telling myself; often it’s not the list dragging me down, it’s the attitude: “I’ve got to deal with lots of stuff I don’t like, and I’m angry before I start!” That’s not only a negative approach, it’s a limited one; the glass is not only half-empty, it’s also half-full. I work on switching to “get-to” statements: “I get to choose my thoughts, attitudes, and actions; I am not stuck. I get to see-and use- my strengths and my resources to make today a great day.”

From that place of empowerment, I celebrate that half-full glass and the many blessings in my life. I hope we all “get to” see many blessings in our lives, today and always!

Maria Teresa Vandergriff is a Special Advisor to the Vital Cycles Board on grant writing. She is a professional grant writer and tireless advocate for women and children’s empowerment. 


Gratitude comes easily with a little change of words!

Looking at the Glass Half Full!

Sometimes in life all we can do is hope for the best and have a little faith that things will turn out okay. Its so easy at times to get wrapped up in the “what ifs” or what may happen. The truth is no one can predict the future and as hard as that is, we should try to enjoy the day for what it is, and deal with whatever happens as it comes. I have spent so much time in my life worrying about all the things that “MAY” happen, that I ultimately wasn’t allowing myself to enjoy the positive things that were happening. The last few months I have kept a conscious goal to not allow “the what if’s” to consume me. An individual’s mind is very powerful and can find a downside to almost any situation, however every situation also has a positive side that can be looked at. An example of this is that the other day I saw my primary care physician, she told me it was necessary to see my cardiologist. At the age of 28 with a heart condition It is very easy to get down and frustrated. I could hear the “what if’s” begin in my head (what if I need another procedure will I be okay etc?)

I have begun to realize that as much as a situation can frustrate me, there’s going to be times that there’s nothing I can do to “fix it”. I unfortunately can’t make my heart cooperate.  It doesn’t matter how much I worry or think about it. In fact worrying and adding more stress on my body probably doesn’t help the situation.

Through acceptance and seeking out the positives in a situation, I find myself to be more relaxed. I feel that seeing the positive in situations allows for me to be more optimistic about my health, my life, and who I am as a person. Not allowing the “what if’s” to consume me, not only allows me to think more positively, it allows me to live in the moment, enjoy each day, and even allow time for some FUN!

To learn more about how Vital Cycles talks about positivity check out the Affirming Healing Path on page 67, and the Focus Healing Principle on page 11.

Feeling like a grinch when people tell you to be merry

Grinch that Christmas

Acceptance: We honor all emotions and memories.

This healing principle can be especially important during the holiday season. If you’re like me, sometimes everyone around me seems to be saying that I should be “merry”, “it’s the happiest time of the year”, etc., and yet I feel like saying “bah humbug! it’s the hardest time of the year”.  I used to just want to avoid the whole darn thing. I never thought of mixing family and Christmas was a present for me.

To be honest, I still don’t mix the two. Now I spend time with “family of choice”. Dear friends who give me the space to feel whatever “coal in the socking” feelings I many be feeling at the moment. I choose now to spend time with those folks who are fun, relaxed and don’t make me want to run screaming from the house.

I now create my own holiday that works for me.

Here’s a toast to living having a truly merry holiday!

Bob Faw

Make the holidays happy

Create your family

December is here and the hustle and bustle of the holidays are in full swing. Lights are being hung, holiday music is being played, family and friends are gathering, and gifts are being bought. Some people look forward to this time of year, while others either feel like a holiday “Grinch” or simply look forward to the holidays being over. If you love the holidays, despise them, or are in between you’re not alone. In fact for many people this time of year is quite painful.

For myself I feel holidays tend to highlight the importance of family and being together. In my own life, family doesn’t equal being loved, accepted, and supported. It has equaled being abused, feeling rejected, and living with a hole in my heart. It’s why this time of year can be so difficult not only for myself, but also for others that have experienced trauma. Memories can surface, and the feelings of sadness, anger, rejection, and hurt can easily be triggered.

Family can be one of the biggest triggers for many that are healing from trauma, thus it is why it’s important to remember to take care of yourself! You are the one that knows yourself best, and knows what works for you. For myself I journal, I enjoy doing art, and love to cook. My cat Chloe can always put a smile on my face and spending time with friends keeps me feeling upbeat.

There have been many things I’ve learned about myself over the last year; however the greatest of all has been the need to DISTANCE myself from my family. In order to heal, be happy, and reach my goals, I can’t put myself in a situation that is constantly re-traumatizing, no matter how much I love them. Distancing myself has not been easy, (especially during the holidays). Who doesn’t want to feel loved by their own mother? These feelings I believe are completely normal for anyone to have. The difference this year is that I’m beginning to accept that as much as I may want my family’s love and acceptance, the reality of me getting it, is slim to none. By beginning to accept this, I have opened myself up to creating my own “family”, the family I’ve always wanted. My “family” which I’ve created for myself is made up of friends. It’s full of love, support, and unconditional acceptance. It’s filled with hugs, laughter, and quality time together. It’s about cherishing one another for who they are and being thankful for what you have. Family I’ve learned is what you make it. For me my family no longer needs to be defined by “blood relatives”. I’ve created my family with the people who love me for who I am. This Christmas will be in some ways very sad for me, but in other ways very special. I will have a holiday that is full of friends that I love and am thankful for. For the first time in 28 years I won’t feel the need to “pretend” or be “on guard”. For the first time I will have a holiday that is actually about spending time with loved ones and having a good time which is something very important to me.

I hope by sharing a piece of myself will help someone this holiday season. This time of year is not easy for many of us. Beginning new traditions and breaking out of old patterns takes time and being gentle with ourselves. I personally love volunteering and get a sense of fulfillment by helping others. One holiday season a few friends and I went and sang Christmas carols at a children’s hospital and handed out teddy bears. Another year I visited an animal shelter and donated my old towels and played with the animals. Whatever helps you during this time of year DO IT! Bake those chocolate chip cookies, or take a warm bubble bath. Take a hike through the woods. Reach out to a friend or loved one and remember you are not alone this holiday season. Come to a Vital Cycles meeting, share with others how you’re doing as well as what helps you this time of year.

make these the best holidays you’ve ever had,

Kerry Humes

Vital Cycles Blog October 2011


We shape our own healing process choosing what best serves us.”


            In this Vital Cycles healing principle it states, “As we build self-awareness, we discover there are many ways we can begin to meet our needs. It’s vital we become expert in discovering what works for us and adapting it to fit. After all, we are the only ones who can truly know what is best working for us.”

The key word in this quote is “adapting”. There are waxes and wanes, in what one is drawn to at any given time in one’s life to assist one’s growth and recovery.

We are where we are. Where we are today, may or may not differ from yesterday or tomorrow.

As we learn and grow we meet supportive people on the same path. Some have healing methods which may be new to us, while others may be familiar; and therefore, more “comfortable” or secure feeling.

The literature on this principle also encourages the use of one’s own intuition to be one’s guide to decide which methods to embrace, and which to put aside (perhaps for another day and time).

Part of “choosing what best serves us” is acknowledging, what no longer serves us; even if it did sometime in the past.

Being a support to others on the road of recovery sometimes requires honoring another person’s exploration of a method which we might consider a part of our personal “past”.  If and when we are able to do so; we honor our own healing journey as well.

The literature also states, ‘The better we shape our healing process the more empowered we are. The more empowered we are the better we can shape our healing process.” The key to shaping or forming the healing process is found in the choices we make.

It is through our choices, and recognition of our ability to make decisions, which empowers us.

May we all be empowered to strive towards healing and thriving!

Heather Hood

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