Let me introduce you to the lovely and talented Camille. She is a big part of Brave Girls Club and has been since the very beginning when she joined us for our very first Brave Girl PRACTICE Camp. Since that camp she has been by our sides working her tail off to help us spread our message. She has been to almost every single one of our camps and we don’t know how we’d get along without her.
Camille is awesome – always the first one to jump up and volunteer to do the hard jobs. She is talented, as you will see from some of the artwork (all hers except the first collage, which is by Melody) in this post. She is generous with her knowledge and skills and is an excellent teacher. She is loyal and true and we always know that she has our back…(we have yours too, Cam!). She is sooooo fun to be around and we’re glad that she has been with us this long. We hope she’ll stay with us forever.
Since Cam has been with us since the beginning, and since things (and Brave Girls) tend to change over time, we asked her to write a blog post about how we and she have changed in the last 2 years. What she wrote is honest and lovely. We hope you’ll take the time to read it. You’ll love her just like we do.
When asked to guest blog about the past two years of Brave Girls Camp and what it has meant to me, I immediately said yes. If I had stopped for a moment to consider that writing a meaningful post would entail I would have run for the hills.
I learned at Brave Girls club a visualization technique that teaches us to view our soul as a house. The people we allow in close to our heart have the opportunity to build us up or tear down what they find. It is not their house, so generally there is a lack or sanctity and respect. As we become accustom to the de-sanctification of our soul-houses we allow more and more abruptness, destruction, and vandalism to occur…. Until one day we look around and find we are surrounded by filth, and dirt and grimy ick. We have allowed other people and things to come into the most sacred places in our heart and punch holes in our walls, and pee on our carpets, and break out our windows leaving behind what feels like an irrepairable amount of damage.
When we find ourselves in this condition… when we can recognize what has happened to our once beautiful soul, we have the option to continue to live in the mess as it is, or to shut down, lock up and begin renovation… Soul Restoration.
2009 ick… actually 2008… That’s when I began to open my eyes.
My problems really lie in that I have kicked everyone out and boarded up my house in its damaged and dirty state, trapping inside all the mess, guilt, anger and destruction. And then I walked away from my soul house… far away… with no intention of ever going back. I categorized my soul as a total loss. Salvage value only, and there was not much to salvage. Leaving my soul house and walking away was so very lonely. I could not stand the silence. The silence rang louder in my ears than any busy noise ever could, deafening my senses and blinding my eyes. I was so alone, so very displaced, and disoriented.
September 25, 2009 – Post Brave Girls Practice Camp
It was BRAVE. Very Brave… This Brave Girls Camp. Lots of crying going on, and all that business. Good crying. Soulful, deep, brave crying. The kind that feels like you’ve had a goodnights sleep and can start fresh when it’s over. It’s my favorite kind of crying because it brings with it hope, and strength, and fuel.
I found some balls at Brave Girls [Practice] Camp. Literally.
I didn’t have any… and I’ve needed some for a long time so I could correct some things that were occurring in my life. Things that should have never been allowed.
And they were HEEEEEEEEAVY.
I’m going to grow some muscle hauling these babies around.
And I’m going to be a little bit tough.
And I’m going to stand up for myself.
And I’m going to demand things for myself… things that I didn’t think I could expect before… let alone demand.
They are mine. Cause I’m tough, and I have big heavy balls. Just so you know…
Before Brave Girls I didn’t feel like I had anything of consequence to offer anyone. I shied away from successful, assertive, confident people. I was so easily intimidated. My opinions bent with the wind. I so badly needed for everyone to like me, and I based my self-esteem entirely on the thought and feelings of others. I was used to, and had accepted, that I did not deserve better. I had no higher expectations. I was resolved that this was my life.
I had learned how to live in my trashed out condemned house.
Brave Girls Club showed me a sliver of what my house used to look like, and what it could look like again. And let me just tell you… It was scary. It was scary to consider that I could face what was holding me back, and that I might just soar. It was scary and so incredibly confusing to meet new people… people who seemed so confident and beautiful, and have them see in me things… I was convinced were not there.
At Brave Girls Practice Camp I made a “Truth Book” to remind me of what I had learned. My book has birds which represent a messenger sent to bring me truth about myself. Things I had forgotten, or never understood.
In my book my birds have leashes on. The leases have two representations. First, the struggle I have with giving my truths full reign. Sometimes it is easier to refuse to hear or even see truth. It’s easier to accept WHAT IS and say IT is the truth. Second, the leashes also represent my own struggle with letting go of what is comfortable and familiar. Change is so difficult. It’s easier to see the truths, but accept how things are rather than take the risk of change.
Sunday, October 11, 2009 (the Sunday before the first official Brave Girls Camp.)
It’s time. The REAL Brave Girls Camp.
You have a choice, you ALWAYS have a choice.
A life of happiness and peace is always possible, make the choice to make it YOUR life.
I wake up every day and put on my leash. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like I have a choice, but I do. Every day, every minute of every day, I have the choice.
And yes, a lot of people will be very angry and upset with me when I make the choice that I will not be wearing the leash any longer. But that is not my fault, or my problem.
Sometimes, it’s a bit more than uncomfortable or difficult. Sometimes it seems terrifying, impossible, absolutely horrifying. Most of the time it feels so much easier to just say to myself, and to the world, “Oh never mind… this is soooo very hard.”
“Will someone please help me with this leash? I need to put it on. I need the leash. I need it. Please?”
You are not your past, you are not your mistakes, you are not your pain… you are a perfect, beautiful soul. Life is a series of beginnings and endings, let the old stuff go, embrace the new.
It might feel uncomfortable, maybe even difficult, but this is exactly where you need to be for where you want to go.
Sometimes it feels like so many people around me are holding out a leash, and saying, “Here, you just need to put this back on. Everything will be okay. Just let me help you into your leash.” Some of them are not nearly so kind about it, but yell and scream and gnash their teeth, demanding I return to my leash at once or they will no longer love me.
Sometimes I feel very, very, alone in my decisions.
I was so afraid to go to Brave Girls Camp. I felt like I needed to work like a madman the entire time I was there in order to prove my worth… that I was only worth my labor. I did not feel like I was on the same level with the rest of the staff or the guests. I just wanted to work. Work and solve problems (as long as they were not my own). My worth came from the praise of others, and I needed that validation like I needed air to breathe.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Can you be BRAVE?
What does it mean to be BRAVE?
1. To encounter with courage and fortitude; to set at defiance; to defy; to dare. [1913 Webster]
What is a Brave girl?
A brave girl faces her life problems head on. Without wavering.
Oh, she feels fear…
and even despair at times.
And disappointment… can’t forget disappointment.
And change… Change that she did not want, but needed, and was prepared for… if she knew it or not.
A brave girl has inner fears… and denial… and hang-ups…
And a brave girl is SO STRONG. She has inner strength inside screaming to take charge.
Brave girls have dreams… BIG dreams… dreams to change their lives… and the lives of those around them… and then maybe… the world.
And she dreams her dream,
And dreams her dream,
And then dreams her dream again… until she gets it right.
And, man alive… she gets it right. She really listens and gets it right…
Brave girls do not hold back.
Brave girls know… it’s all good… ALL of it. All the trials, and meanies, and heartache, and pain… it’s ALL good.
Brave girls are not afraid to show their fear… and Brave Girls do not ever let fear stop them.
Brave girls take time for themselves… no matter how much they cannot afford it.
Brave girls share their love and their strength with those around them.
Brave girls assess what they have been given, and they make their lives amazing.
Brave girls do not give up, or cop out…
Even though they might want too…
Even though the temptation is SO strong…
Brave girls persevere.
Brave girls know life will be great! Really GREAT…
Maybe not today…
But if they continue to be brave.
And brave girls smile.
And put on a brave face…
Laugh till they cry, and then laugh some more.
Brave girls know after the rain the world is clean, and refreshed…
And that the world has to have rain…
And rain often… to create beauty.
A brave girl has the strength and self- confidence to look you square in the eye.
I have been asleep all my life.
Drifting… not really knowing what I want or need… carrying around baggage that wasn’t even my baggage.
I admit… I am not fully awake… but I am stirring….
When I got home from Camp I went home to an empty house. Feeling very, very, alone in a very, very quiet house. I was so skittish and terrified. I had no idea how to be me, and worst, no idea who I was. I’d been in this place for a long while; I had just been so successful with keeping the noise up that I had not even noticed what I had lost. I didn’t know if I liked or hated what I saw, I just knew I was so scared. I felt disoriented and out of place. Lost in the only familiar place I had ever known.
And for a while I wished I had never heard of Brave Girls Club because I know I didn’t want to change.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
I want to change. I’ve wanted to for a very, very long time… But I didn’t know how. I still don’t really… I just recognize that change needs to happen.
Anyway, I found these pants.
Because they remind me to be confident…
And they remind me to be brave.
And besides, I need cargo pants to carry my baggage.
…I SOOOOO wish there was a self-esteem store.. well there sort of is.. it’s at the mall, but unfortunately self-esteem that you have to buy doesn’t usually last past the 3rd wash cycle….
I am still sitting on my porch outside my boarded up house, only now I have built up walls around me and my house to hide from the world what I see as MY shame over not having it all figured out, for the mistakes I make, and the mess that is my life. Most days I can sit and face my house. I can look at it. I can sometimes sneak over to the window and peer in through the cracks. Overwhelming; that’s how it feels, which is why I crawl back over to my corner of the porch and wait. I don’t leave the porch. I have a distinct need to own my house, especially in its destructive state. Anyone can claim a beautiful clean house, but it takes a certain kind of personal responsibility to own ones faults. This is where I am. Every once in a while I seriously consider opening the front door, but I’m not ready. My door is still painted red, and I am horrified of what I will find behind it.
Even though I can’t face everything I need to face, I can look back and remember the feeling of where I was and realize I am fixing me… I am not in the same place. I am not whole yet, but my restoration has started. I am confident, secure in who I am, and aware of my value. I feel like I am fixing me and once that’s done… then I can fix my house.
But then, it occurs to me, I AM my soul house.
Maybe the windows are not quite so boarded up.
Maybe this is okay.
Maybe I can do this.
Maybe I already am.
I am Cam, and I am a Brave Girl.
You can find more of our lovely Cam and her artwork on her blog: http://shesonehotmama.blogspot.com