March 27, 2013

A Beyond Survivor's Story: Hope's Tapestry

Today I am so excited to share with you the story of Catherine Darnell.

"Catherine is a powerful advocate for sexual abuse victims. In her early childhood, she experienced the trauma of abuse within a faith community that was supposed to be safe. After decades of living with ambiguity in her life and faith, Catherine sought answers for the meaning of her life."

I'm sure you will be inspired by her story that fearlessly explores abuse that occurs within a community where safety and faith are supposed to be present and solutions to this epidemic problem:



Also, be sure to visit her website to learn more about her and the amazing work she is doing.


March 13, 2013

Thinking Your Way to a New Path

It has been such a pleasure having Misa on as a guest blogger these past few weeks. I hope you have enjoyed reading her as much as I have and I know you'll certainly take away something from her final post today.
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Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
By Portia Nelson

1.
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost…I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

2.
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place,
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

3.
I walk down the street
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there,
I still fall in…it’s a habit.
My eyes are open…I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

4.
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

5.
I walk down a different street.



The change happens here:  “I know where I am.  It’s my fault.”  Creating awareness of what is no longer working and taking responsibility to change it is the beginning of transformation. 

What street are you sick and tired of walking down?  What hole are you ready to be finished with?  Is it your bad habits in your self-care, or cowering every time someone asks you why you did something a certain way?  Maybe it is your inability to tell someone what you really need.  Perhaps it is just disconnecting from your emotions.  Whatever it is, know that we all have those holes, every single one of us.  And those holes keep us from living out of our authentic selves and thriving in the lives we were meant to live.

It’s all wrapped up in the way we see things.  “I am helpless.  It isn’t my fault.”  That’s the recipe for failure and misery.  When we can’t see that we are actually affecting our own outcomes, we give away the power to change our lives.  We might as well set up camp in that hole, because we’re going to be spending an awful lot of time down there.
It is when we change our thinking to “I know…it’s my fault,” that we begin the process of transformation.   That doesn’t mean that you dug the hole, darlin’.  Maybe you were even pushed into that hole the first 20 times you went into it.  But it DOES mean that you can choose to stop going there now.  You can find a new street to walk down.  No one but you can make that decision.  And no one but you can plant your steps in a new direction.

So, where do you start?  Becoming aware of how you think is a good first step.  I don’t just mean what you think about your job or that jerk who just cut you off in traffic.  I mean what you really think deep down inside, in the hidden places- the core ideas you hold about yourself.

Take a few minutes each day this week and write the answers to these questions:
  • When I think about my body, I believe…
  • When I think about my strengths, I believe…
  • When I think about my weaknesses, I believe…
  • When I think about my past, I believe…
  • When I think about my future, I believe…
  • When I think about myself, I believe…
Slowing down your thoughts and becoming aware of your core beliefs creates new possibilities.  Your thoughts come from your unconscious beliefs which propel you into certain feelings and those feelings lead you to certain actions.  If you learn to slow the process down and find the beliefs that lead to your thought patterns and feelings it will give you a lot of power.   You can have conversations with yourself and other safe people about what you have been doing and what you’d like to do differently.  You will begin to uncover the unconscious thoughts and beliefs that lead you into that hole and you’ll figure out what new things you’d like to do instead.

There is great hope for transformation after trauma.  You can not only heal, you can become a better person than you ever would have been had you not suffered.  If you would like more information on transforming your trauma into beauty, I’d love to talk to you.  Check out my website at www.misacoach.com to learn more about my coaching and spiritual direction services, Beyond Abuse Radio and my nine month Living from the Heart course.

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Misa Leonessa is a life coach and spiritual director specializing in trauma recovery, relationships, communication and spiritual growth.  She has walked the path from surviving to thriving herself, and has a passion to help people heal from childhood abuse. She loves to work with individuals who are committed to pursuing greater relational, emotional and spiritual wholeness.  She created Living from the Heart, a 9 month course and group coaching experience to help people grow deep, authentic intimacy. 

Misa is the host of Beyond Abuse Radio where she shares the wisdom gleaned from her own journey of three decades of healing, as well as interviewing other survivors, helpers, and experts in trauma recovery, providing support and encouragement for those on their healing journey.  She facilitates workshops and conferences for people ready to break patterns of fear and self-protection to find their new inheritance of life, love and joy.

Misa has BA’s in Sociology and Non-Profit Administration from University of the Pacific, is a graduate from Life Skills International and holds a certificate from Mercy Center’s Spiritual Director Institute in Burlingame, California.  She a member of Spiritual Directors International.   She also volunteers for the Survivor’s Healing Center of Santa Cruz and is a TEDX speaker trainer.

Learn more at www.misacoach.com.

March 6, 2013

Breaking Free from Self-Abuse


In this installment from Misa Leonessa Garavaglia, we learn some practical steps we can take to break free from self abuse.

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"Oh, what a dummy! There I go again, always late." Oops. The thought slipped in before you even had a chance to catch it.

Moving from the inner thoughts that reject and condemn into embracing all of yourself in love is a process, and one that doesn’t happen overnight. First of all, there is no perfect way to do it.  Second, extending grace and patience to yourself on the journey is important.  How many years did it take you to develop the warped way you speak to yourself?  10, 15, 20?  And how long have you been practicing that habit?  Probably awhile! So don’t get all up in your grill when you blow it.  You will.  And that’s okay.

The thing that is helpful to hear from yourself right now is that you will keep moving forward, keep working to learn to love yourself.  And that it’s worth it.  There are great things to be gained by changing these thought patterns of self condemnation and rejection.  What are the potential benefits?  I’m glad you asked, because I was just about to share them with you.

When we reject ourselves, we send out messages in our verbal and non-verbal language that it’s okay for others to reject us, too.  In fact, if someone really tries to love us in the midst of our self-perceived messes, we’re likely to reject that love.  When we don’t love ourselves, there is not much room for anyone else’s love, either.  Nor do we have great capacity to love someone back.  So embracing all of ourselves in love opens some pretty incredible doors for growing healthy relationships.

When you become honest with yourself (one of the first requirements for loving yourself) you can also become honest with others AND set the standard for honesty in the relationship.  No more denial, minimizing, blaming, skirting the issues, dumping, etc.  Healthy relationships require honesty. 

You also become free from others’ opinions of you, enabling you to live from your heart rather than out of fear of rejection.  Woohoo!  Imagine living in that freedom.  This in turn sets you free from being dependent on other people for their approval.  No longer held captive to another’s control, you are able to be what you really are inside—the beautiful creation that lies under all those layers of self-protection.

When you stop trampling on yourself and set boundaries that keep others from trampling you too, you may have a challenging adjustment period.  As you grow to see yourself through the eyes of gracious truth and you require others to treat you respectfully (because you treat yourself that way now!), not everyone may be happy.  Expect to encounter mixed responses.  You might even lose some “friends.”  Really, if they have a hard time treating you well, they weren’t the friends you really want to keep.  You will begin to attract new friends—people who see your worth and treat you accordingly.  All because YOU know your own worth now!

In addition to the amazing relationship changes that will take place over time, you will likely find yourself achieving goals you had always dreamed of because you are living more in the present and less out of your fears of what might happen in the future.  You may have more courage to take risks and try new things and to have more hope for what is to come.  Inner peace becomes attainable and you begin to find joy in living out of your most authentic self.

In my life, I have endeavored for decades to come to see myself through the eyes of my Creator.  I believe He loves me radically, and as I shed the voices of condemnation that were planted in my mind and heart by those who abused me, I find myself opening up to receiving His love in new and deeper ways.

Rebecca O’Donnell, author of Freak, The True Story of an Insecurity Addict, writes, “Nobody abuses us the way we attack ourselves.  Once I began self love exercises, my self-loathing kicked into high gear, telling me what a moron I was for even attempting anything but the contempt and hatred I was used to showering on myself.  But I kept at it.  Six months later, I had my first glimpse that it was working.  Now I truly love myself, and my entire life has changed radically because of it.  It’s wonderful, and well worth the enormous effort.”

Good work, Rebecca, and thanks for sharing your experience!

Something you might like to try this week is to make two lists: one of your strengths and one of your weaknesses.  Self-love is not about convincing yourself that you are perfect.  It is about accepting all of yourself, just as you are.  Take the first list and read your strengths out loud each day this week.  Then take the list of your weaknesses and say this out loud for each one:  “Even though I do___(one of the things you wish you didn’t do), I fully and completely accept myself.”

Next week I’ll be sharing more ideas and exercises for the journey into freedom and the thriving lives that we can have after surviving trauma.


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It is my desire to walk with individuals who are ready to discover their beauty and embrace themselves in love.  If you are interested in transformation work through coaching or spiritual direction, check out my website at www.misacoach.com or send an email to inspire@misacoach.com   In the meantime, learn to be kind to yourself and it will radically change your life.



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Check in next week for the conclusion of Misa’s story.

Misa Leonessa is a life coach and spiritual director specializing in trauma recovery, relationships, communication and spiritual growth.  She has walked the path from surviving to thriving herself, and has a passion to help people heal from childhood abuse. She loves to work with individuals who are committed to pursuing greater relational, emotional and spiritual wholeness.  She created Living from the Heart, a 9 month course and group coaching experience to help people grow deep, authentic intimacy. 

Misa is the host of Beyond Abuse Radio where she shares the wisdom gleaned from her own journey of three decades of healing, as well as interviewing other survivors, helpers, and experts in trauma recovery, providing support and encouragement for those on their healing journey.  She facilitates workshops and conferences for people ready to break patterns of fear and self-protection to find their new inheritance of life, love and joy.

Misa has BA’s in Sociology and Non-Profit Administration from University of the Pacific, is a graduate from Life Skills International and holds a certificate from Mercy Center’s Spiritual Director Institute in Burlingame, California.  She a member of Spiritual Directors International.   She also volunteers for the Survivor’s Healing Center of Santa Cruz and is a TEDX speaker trainer.

Learn more at www.misacoach.com.

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