I am so excited to announce that I am now $309 closer to my fundraising goal. I just want to thank the generosity of my pastors, as well as my In-Laws for allowing me the opportunity to share this with our congregations.
I want to extend my sincerest thanks to the generosity of my friends Natasha & Diane who so unselfishly spent hours in the kitchen baking and then donated their treats to help support my cause. They are both so amazing to me for doing that. I thank God for them because even though we don’t have close relationships they were willing to step up and take a step with me because they believe in the message of the Overnight.
I am excited not only because of the money that was raised through sales and donations, but because of the opportunities that I am granted to speak about what is on my heart. I am participating in this walk because I believe in it, I believe in the help and the hope that this money will help to provide. I believe in the love and understanding it helps to offer to the lives hanging in the balance. And most of all I believe in the message: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
But, I am also participating in this walk for myself. I believe that talking about what I have struggled with and where I am now, is all part of the healing process. I may always struggle and it may not always be easy, but I know that I am being healed a little more each and every day. It heals me to see the love and support from my pastors and friends, who know how I have struggled first hand. It heals me to see the hope in the lives of the people I meet along the way. It heals me to see that there are thousands of people who are willing to take this journey to stand up for so many others who are hurting. I am thankful for the journey leading up to the event, and I know that the Overnight will be a life changing night for me and for so many others.
I want to say: Thank you to all those who are standing with me and behind me as I go through this process. You have no idea what an impact you are making in my own life, as well as the impact you are going to have on all the people who are going to be helped.
I had the perfect weekend, not because I was lounging around doing nothing or watching TV, but because I was doing something I really loved and I was recharging my batteries in the process. I was selected to attend a community conference for To Write Love on Her Arms. (TWLOHA) It’s not something most people would consider to be a relaxing weekend. It involved two full days of hearing and participating in lectures about topics that are usually pushed to the wayside in our society: depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self injury, addiction and suicide. We had the opportunity to have an open environment where we could voice our feelings, knowledge and even personal struggles with each of these issues. I wanted to participate in this conference because I felt a longing to be a part of something bigger. But to tell you truth I expected to be drained at the end of the weekend, because I know that the topics are heavy subjects and it can take a lot of you to really come face to face with them, especially if you have struggled with them in the past. But at the end of the two days I was more hopeful than I have ever been. It was an incredible experience to hear some of the stories of pain turning into hope and redemption, it was inspiring to see groups of college students who wanted nothing more than to change the lives of those around them, but overall it was energizing for me to know that I am not alone in my hopes and dreams for a better world. I was truly touched by many of the people I came in contact with, whether they know it or not. I admire the strength of all those who were willing to share their stories, viewpoints and ideas with a group of strangers. We all came in knowing hardly anyone and we left with the overwhelming feeling that we are actually part of something much bigger than ourselves, and that together we can make a difference in this world.
After the TWLOHA conference I am filled with this need to do something meaningful with my life. I want the life I was created for… I believe my life and my story is here to make a difference, I believe that they can and will impact people in this world. I want something more than what I have now. And I am willing to do all I can to see that happen.
In my own way I am opening the door for real conversations about these topics. At my desk at work I have my flyer for the Out of the Darkness Overnight displayed, and when people have asked me what it is, I share a little bit about the Foundation as well as my motivation to walk. I am not ashamed of my past and I have gotten an overwhelming response. The majority of my donations so far have been from my coworkers which is an amazing accomplishment for me. The conference allowed me to interact with others that are in the same boat as me, and gave me the extra push to come out of my shell and speak about what is on my heart without having to make the other person or myself feel uncomfortable.
I am thankful for the opportunity to participate in the Overnight Walk because it gives me the motivation to keep these conversations alive in the world around me and it continues to add fuel to my passion to be a part of something greater than myself. By participating in this walk we are giving a voice to those who have made the decision to end their lives. We are showing that this is something that can be prevented with the right help, funding and support. If we don’t take the stand and fight the stigma…how many more people will lose their lives to the battles in their minds. I for one will never stop fighting to break down the walls.
In order to change the world, you have to step out of the box in your comfort zone first. I was brought up with this deep feeling that my life had to be more than just for me; I guess I have always wanted to change the world. A lot of that comes from my parents and the way I was raised and the things I saw as I was growing up. (Thanks Mom and Dad) But as much as that desire burned strong within me, I sometimes found myself silencing it because of fear, because of finances or any other number of reasons. I always had an excuse for why I couldn’t go out there and do the things I dreamed of doing. I got stuck in the comfort zone of putting up barriers and having explanations. It was as if I had to keep up the façade with my words, but I wasn’t willing to work for it with my actions. Sadly, that attitude began to creep into so many areas of my life. On paper I seemed like this amazing person who was going to do so much and be so much for the world and for those around her, but in person I was ashamed of myself. I wasn’t doing anything to make sure I reached the goals I had told everyone I wanted to reach. But I am sick of trying to convince myself to believe that I can change the world just by sitting on my couch. I am sick of trying to get by on just my words alone and believe that my dreams will just fall into my lap someway somehow. I am sick of being disappointed when I look at my life, and think of where I could be if I just applied myself. I have to set goals for myself and stick to those goals; I just have to start small because I don’t want to get overwhelmed. But I will no longer start the race with a running head start only give up and watch from the sidelines long before it is over. My first goal is :To raise the money and complete the 18 mile walk for The Out of the Darkness Walk for Suicide Prevention. I have wanted to participate in this walk for about 3 years now, but I never even bothered to try because of fear. I looked at the $1000.00 fundraising goal and immediately doubted that I would be able to raise that amount. I feared that I wouldn’t be able to complete the 18 mile course before I even attempted to train for it. I killed my goal before it even had the chance to see the light… But not this year… I put aside the fear and took a leap of faith and I registered. I have only raised $365 to date but I know that God will make a way and provide. I have challenged myself to start training and start saving some money by walking the 5 miles home from work at least 3 times a week and move up my training from there. I know that I will push myself to finish the 18 miles, I have to for my team and for myself. My second goal is: To complete my IMALIVE Online Suicide Intervention Specialist training before the summer. I am almost halfway through the program, but I let fear, distractions and life situations take a hold of me and I had to take a break. I was so sure of myself going in, but as I neared the end I got so nervous that I wouldn’t be good enough or that I would fail as a counselor. But as Gandhi once said, “you may never know what results come from you action, But if you do nothing there will be no result. So for now those are two goals I have set for myself, I know they are attainable, so its up to me to keep my word and get up off the couch and start taking the steps to help me reach my dreams.