Then & Now: The Evolution of Soul-inspired Storytelling

1980’s

Since I was a young girl, I have enjoyed drawing and exploring my creativity. When I was in elementary school, my art teacher was attuned (rather than annoyed) with my behaviors and consequences. I had a feeling she was aware of the turbulence in my life; that’s why she took me under her wing when she found out I was in trouble again. Instead of detention, she volunteered to watch me during recess in her art room.

While I “volunteered” in her art room, I cleaned every shelf and all of the art supplies. The attention she gave me, was not a reward for my bad behavior, but it was an expression of care, which changed my life. I remember writing “Art is Cool” on just about everything because she also taught me how to become a better artist. She also invited me to join the art club and welcomed me to her house with the other students; that’s when I saw a horse for the first time. She also chose me to be art student of the month and took me to Wendy’s when they still had a salad bar. She gave me drawing challenges, my very first canvas, and advice. She told me that she believed in me and I had the choice to always be & do better.

One of my favorite memories was when our art class would sit in the midst of our mini- school arboretum and draw. She sat on a tree stump, with a pencil behind her ear. I would watch her draw portraits and was completely in awe of her. She became my hero and I knew I wanted to be an art teacher when I grew up. She helped me develop a growth mindset, before it was ever a buzzword in 2015.

1990’s

When I went into foster care in eighth grade, she found me and sent me a gift and letter. I still have these items today. She let me know that she would always be there for me. During 1996, when I was a senior in High School, I did a career internship with her because I still wanted to be an art teacher. My foster foster drove me about an hour to her school, just so I could have this experience. Even though I would never get licensed as an art teacher, I would always have a desire to pay it forward and make a difference.

2000’s

During my final semester of college, she attended my senior art exhibit. It was surreal. She was one of the few people who knew me my whole life.

2010’s

When I had a child, we reconnected again, this time, she met my son, my most creative expression ever. I didn’t feel any judgement from her; I was a struggling single mother and she still loved me. She invited us for dinner and my son met her horses!!!!!! It was surreal. She was still in my life.

In 2015, she attended a Mother & Son Art Exhibit. She always has this way of showing up in my life and I am so very thankful for her.

2020 Reflection

My art teacher instilled within me, a soul-inspired purpose & passion to always strive to do my best and to create with passion. She never knew that when I was in elementary school, I was being sexually abused by my step father and that I was afraid for my life. She didn’t know that my mother and I fought almost constantly and that she repeatedly yelled that she wished I had never been born. It was in fifth grade, my mother grew even more violent and threw a chair at me. She also hit my body with wooden utensils until she successfully broke all, but one of them. Life was tumultuous, painful, frightening and I never knew what to expect. My art teacher’s compassion changed my life.

When I think about the evolution of my journey, I think about the transformation cycle that has revolutionized my life. Arts, writing and speaking have all been tools of empowerment that have helped me become a soul-inspired storyteller; creativity has helped me to overcome and reflect with intention as a motivator to take action. Soul-inspired Storytelling is a process that I have developed, which includes 8 steps: 1) Learning, 2) Listening, 3) Discovering, 4) Fostering stories, 4) Waiting (for it…), 5) Being Open, 6) Developing Insight, 7) Taking Action, and 8) Growing & Changing.

By learning to write, vocalize, and illustrate my story, I realized that I could help others take one step at a time and enact meaningful action in their own lives. Vision boards, mapping, doodling, imagining and understanding our stories through the arts is a way to capture a-ha moments and be inspired to create change every single day.

This Past Week……

A couple months ago, I was invited to join the TEDx Cincinnati Team as a visual artist. I created maps for each of the TEDx speakers. I listened to their talks multiple times to capture their stories. On Thursday, August 27, we gathered at the Main State Event in Oxford at the Holiday Auto Drive-In to watch the TEDx Cincinnati talks. I handed out all the framed maps to each of the speakers and I saw my drawings on the big screen. The whole experience was amazing. I have always wanted to be a TEDx speaker; it’s been on my bucket-list for a long time. I honestly feel like I have so many ideas worth sharing. I have never advanced past the submission phase and have always received the email notification that states that “This year, there were way to many submissions and we can only pick a select few; thanks for your submission.”

Instead of living with regret, I kept my resolve and moved forward. However . . . this year, COVID-19 happened. All of our lives have been turned upside down, but nothing hurts more, than to know that 182k people have died in the United States. I could get political, but I am going to save that discussion for the experts.

This year, a door was opened and I gladly walked through to discover the following lessons…..

  • We are all the same. -Dr. Sanjay Shewakramani
  • Give First. -Kent Wellington.
  • Inspired people inspire people. – Sole Bros
  • Stay true. -Jenn Jordan
  • We can eradicate poverty through the power of the font. Renee Soward
  • We can change the story of our city & nation. -Dora Anim
  • We need to Advocate, Empower & Educate. Dr Somi Javid

I want to extend a huge T H A N K Y O U to the incredible speakers, team, ambassadors, sponsors and guests; you all made this event, an evening to remember. It gave me the opportunity to draw, be creative and hopefully, be a blessing to others. This process helped me fulfill my soul-inspired purpose. Thanks for inviting me to be a part of the team; it was so much fun to celebrate every speaker while promoting their idea worth sharing!

In closing, I want to encourage you to take the time to dig deep and do something brave to advance your purpose and passion. Draw or write down your strategy, from the first step to the end-goal, make a bucket list, and go for it every single day, even if it seems impossible, uncomfortable, or frustrating. Things can change course at any moment; what was once impossible becomes possible, what was uncomfortable becomes enjoyable, and what was frustrating becomes a blessing. Please remember, it’s more than a map, it’s a pathway to reaching your full potential.

Soul-Inspired Reflection

  1. This Are you ready to take that next step and explore your future?
  2. What five people/experiences have influenced or changed you the most?
  3. How can you promote a growth mindset?

Mapping is a way that promotes discovery and understanding of myself and others. It’s a process that happens simultaneously while listening/learning.  I strive to practice reflective listening by opening my heart, soul and mind while drawing. Fostering storytelling is important in my artwork and it helps me process my experiences while also celebrating other people’s voices. I seek to synthesize and harvest information while visually celebrating a-ha moments.  I am not just recording output, but I am striving to unravel the meaning and essence of our stories.

-Kimberly Rhyan, TEDx Cincinnati Visual Artist & Soul- Inspired Storyteller

@soulinspiredkcr (Instagram & Twitter)

Exploring My Ancestry

#tedxcincinnativirtualcircle #tedxcincinnati #globalfamilytree #geneticenvironmentalimpact

I got a DNA kit for my birthday last month. I spent some change to get it but I have been wondering if I should really do it. I wanted to get the kit to explore my bio mother’s family. She was adopted in Maryland when she was 4 years old. She always expressed a desire to get to know her biological family. I could see and feel her pain, but I couldn’t ease her pain.

There is a beautiful twisted irony within my family tree. When I was 14, I went into foster care and never went home. My mom chose her husband over me. Her exact words, “Don’t make me choose because I will always choose him.”

Her abandonment when I needed her most, created a deep wound. I have spent a lot of time in therapy and support groups figuring how to love myself because I always felt so unloved. Looking back, it’s ironic that my mom allowed me to stay in foster care and become a ward of the court, when I knew that she always wanted to know who her biological family was but never found out.

After not communicating for ten years, I reconnected and introduced her to her grandson for the first time back in 2011. The moment was magical and just three years later, she died from brain cancer. I made peace and forgave my mom because I wanted her know that she was loved.

I realized she felt pain just like me. She never got to make peace with her biological family. She never identified them or found out why she was given up for adoption. This year, I decided that I wanted to honor my mom by exploring our roots. Her family gave her up just like she gave me up and I decided to keep my son when several close friends and family told me to give him up for adoption because I was going to be a single parent. I decided to be a mother. I chose my son. I chose love and to break the cycle.

So far, I haven’t taken the DNA test. I didn’t think this step would be holding me back. I keep asking myself, “Am I ready?” What happens if you don’t get the answers you want?” “What if I should just keep the past in the past?”

And….then tonight, I joined a virtual circle with the Cincinnati TEDx team.

TED Circles is an open platform of small groups that engage in conversations about ideas. Circles can take place 100% virtually so they are helping communities stay connected, especially now. Hosted by volunteers, Circles watch and discuss a TED Talk. They share takeaways online to consider each other’s perspectives and create a global conversation.

https://www.ted.com/about/programs-initiatives/ted-circles

We watched a TEDx talk by AJ Jacobs and I was completely shocked to discover his talk was about our interconnectedness and our global family tree. And then he joined the conversation! The whole hour was surreal. I just kept thinking, “I better do the DNA test!!!!”

Update(s):

7/9/2020

I did the DNA test and gave it to the mailman today. Now, we just wait, 6 – 8 weeks for the results. I plan on blogging about my journey. Very recently, I also connected with a woman through a Facebook group about genealogy and she encouraged me to start the process too. She told me that once I get my results, she would help me find my mother’s family!

8/21/2020

I got my results! I visited the site an researched nearly 1,000 connections and found a cousin, Benjamin, possibly from my mother’s side of the family (he said that I was allowed to write about him). He was adopted, so we are both looking to discover our roots. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I have been slightly obsessed, okay, I have been very obsessed and I’m excited to really begin this process! More updates to come!!!!!

8/27/2010

I was looking at the tree for my bio mother’s adoptive family. I always describe my grandmom as a mother. She taught me so much about her faith, how to make a pie, how to keep a marriage strong, etc. She passed in 2002 and inherited all her photos. I have had her pictures in storage because I lived in NYC for eight years. These photos are so beautiful, including tons of black and white photos from the 40’s and 50’s. Because of Ancestry.com, I found my great- aunt’s daughter’s and grand-daughter’s on Facebook. I am going to send their pictures next week! I never expected to find them; I never knew their full names. I imagined they were married and had kids. The good news is that I found them!!!! I hope to develop a more meaningful connection and learn more about my grandma. I promise, more updates to come!!!!!

Kimberly is an experienced speaker, trainer and consultant that teaches and inspires universities, schools, organizations, foster care agencies, foster youth and families to practice resilience strategies via storytelling, creative arts and heart work. Her passion is to empower individuals and organizations to succeed!

Please contact kimberly.c.rhyan@gmail.com in regard to booking your next event and/or consulting services.

2019 Lessons: Balancing Goals to Create 20/20 Vision

Soul-Inspired Lessons:

Life is a Journey. . . Never Give Up. Prior to 2020, I began 2019 with a vision board, which I hoped to achieve six primary goals:

  • Get three new clients & speak in five states
  • Publish Memoir & Start a NPO
  • Take a family vacation
  • Prioritize self-care

2019 Goals/Reflections:

Get three new clients & speak in five states. Last year, I began working with the Fostering Change Network Foundation and this opportunity emerged from networking with another alumni success. After we discussed our goals and passions, I was invited to provide consulting services, which radically opened the eyes of my heart. I have been invited to co-facilitate a week-long series of workshops for Foster youth in Mississippi in 2020!

In 2019, I provided my first training for foster parents about resiliency and the foster youth experience with a foster agency in Ohio. Throughout my training, I learned from foster parents as I shared my journey and facilitated hands-on experiences to build strengths for foster youth and families. I also traveled to Maryland, Kentucky, Florida, California, and throughout Ohio. I spoke at the following conferences, celebrations, training opportunities:

  • Alumni Powerhouse Network Conference, Workshops
  • HEMI, Moving Forward Ceremony for Graduates, Speaking
  • PCSAO, Champions for Children & Families, Workshop
  • California Blueprint Pathways Conference, Workshop
  • Columbus State Scholar Network, Lunch & Learn, Workshop

Publish Memoir and Start a NPO. Throughout the past three years, I have been sharing lessons learned on my blog at kimberlycrhyan.com (formerly, kimberlycolleen.com). These lessons have revolved around resiliency, mental health and self-care. I am usually very open about my story and hope that my words can be helpful to others. I just realized this past week that I hadn’t posted any new blogs for three months. I have been diligently working to finalize my memoir and anticipate publishing it this spring! The official release is set for Foster Care Awareness Month in May 2020! I have three months to go and I am busy with the final details, from the cover design, to promotion to rolling out a complete marketing plan, The most important step in this process is forming a not-for-profit foundation, which will focus on growing inter-generational foster youth’s talents. When I look back over my life, there is one constant protective factor which has helped me to cope and practice hope through resiliency – the Creative Arts and freedom of expression to share my story. I seek to provide Creative Arts opportunities to foster youth, no matter their age. Everyone deserves a chance to discover and build their strengths.

Take a family vacation. We traveled to Florida and visited Disney, Lego-land, Clear-water Beach. My son and I had an amazing trip! We celebrated his 9th birthday and spent quality time with our family.

Prioritize Self-care. If you followed my blog from last year, you would have read about my self-care journey towards wholeness. At first, I wanted to get more sleep, get fit, get counseling, eat right, journal and meditate daily. Instead of accomplishing all of these goals, I addressed self-care on a much deeper level.

Fatigue. Exhaustion. Loneliness. Isolation. These were all feelings that lingered daily. No mater how positive I tried to be at home or work, there was a weight on my shoulders that wouldn’t ease up. The more I ignored it, the heavier it grew, until one day, I sat in the doctor’s office. My doctor asked me how I was feeling and that’s when it happened (again). Tears flowed from overwhelming grief. Was it seasonal affective disorder, or was it depression? Anxiety was always present. Fight or flight was always in my DNA. I has spent two years avoiding my feelings and putting on a facade that everything was okay. Just minimum okay, just barely surviving and wearing a mask. It was something I learned to do at a young age, when I was abused, I would close my eyes and pretend I wasn’t being violated, but it was the worst time of my life because I was a child and afraid to ask for help and threatened daily, that if I spoke the truth, I would lose everything and everyone. And guess what? In eighth grade, I went into foster care.

In June, I wrote about my anxiety and that’s when I started believing that things could be different, but it would take four more months to have a very honest conversation with my doctor. And that’s when I truly began prioritizing my self-care. After nearly 30 years of struggling with depression and anxiety, I was finally prescribed an anti-depressant

Wholeness VS. Brokenness

Healing does not always mean wholeness –

Sometimes we impede our own healing

when we use a band-aid

when we really need a cast.

Brokenness remains

when we don’t challenge ourselves

to get the support we need to succeed.

I realized that I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone. I also learned that healing is different for everyone because trauma, wounds and hurts exist at different depths. For me, healing means that I have hope through resiliency which propels me to break the cycle and give my child a future.

Time can tell us a lot about true healing. I don’t know if time heals all wounds. Cher sings a powerful song which I listened to over and over on cassette, as an 8th grader – “If I could turn back time.” Some wounds are treated with a band-aid, when they really need a cast. Our choices change nothing or everything.

Sometimes we have to do heart work and hard work, but it doesn’t always have a deadline or due date.  Support looks different for everyone. Personally, I have an advisory board, people who I ask for help when I am struggling, questioning or hesitating. I utilize counseling, which is very hard because I do experience complex -PTSD. I don’t want to open up old wounds but my regular avoidance is a strong indicator that I need to see a therapist. The emotional hurt and trauma impede me from being my best and I know I will do better.

Last year, when I agreed to take an anti-depressant. I always thought I had to be strong. I thought in order to be a survivor, I had to use other coping mechanisms. There is so much stigma around medication, why did it feel like a failure to try something that was designed to help me have a better life? I very much struggled with my past and it took almost 30 years to accept that an antidepressant could help me have a better quality of life. I am now healing in ways that my guilt and shame are being transformed. The weight of the world has been lifted. We have to be open and willing to take as many steps as it takes to move forward, even when it is is uncomfortable.

I previously told myself, “I cannot be broken.” I believed this mantra would be the title of my memoir. I even visualized my book-cover at a bookstore and days later, it occurred to me that even in the places where I have tried to overcome my brokenness, gaps existed where healing was needed. More than ever, I had to be honest and change my coping strategies. This work cannot be done in isolation. A support network is everything and I appreciate my advisory board and my friends/family for believing in me, every single day.

Action – 4 C’s:

I am not a statistic. I am an alumni success! As I dream forward and make plans/goals for the next 11 months-

  • Cope and trust the healing process:
    • I will manage my stress and continue to build resilience.
  • Choose wisely:
    • I will be mindful and be kind to myself and others.
  • Create order:
    • I will maintain my progress and not procrastinate about my self-care/ I will journal weekly.
  • Change our future:
    • I will improve myself and prioritize my well-being to “break the cycle” and transform my the trajectory of my family.

Affirmation:

My words become reality. I am finding a way to create order in my life with patience and persistence. I am a lotus growing in muddy waters – I am one with my purpose and affirm my place in the universe.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What lessons did you learn in 2019.
  2. What do you need to complete? Start?
  3. How can you be more kind to yourself?
  4. Who will you ask for help?
  5. How will you track your lessons learned in 2020?

Kimberly is an experienced speaker, trainer and consultant that teaches and inspires universities, schools, organizations, foster care agencies, foster youth and families to practice resilience strategies via storytelling, creative arts and heart work. Her passion is to empower individuals and organizations to succeed!

Please contact kimberly.c.rhyan@gmail.com in regard to booking your next event and/or consulting services.

Day 1. Really, Day Won.

It’s not a secret, I have kept a blog since I moved to New York in 2003 and written privately, in over 200 journals. I know writing is more therapy than anything, but it is still never an easy process.

In recent weeks and months, I have written a lot about my mental health and been reflective, wondering what lessons should be cultivated because of what I am learning about myself.

Lesson #1- Self-Evaluate

We can be our own worst critic and talk ourselves out of our purpose. I recognize what challenges us to grow can also cultivate our greatest successes.

We need to do more than consider the pros vs. cons. We need to evaluate our purpose, goals, action steps and results. We determine each and every step of our lives and we need to evaluate ourselves in such a way, that we can make progress no matter the process.

Lesson #2- Develop a Growth-Mindset

Self-doubt is my Achilles heel and I know that I need to work on my self-belief and confidence because I know I am capable of rising above mediocrity.

Self-doubt sows more self-doubt and suddenly a “maybe” becomes a “indefinitely maybe.” I don’t know why, but it is very easy to step back into old patterns of thinking and stop short of goals because I choose to wade in self-doubt. I need to make a list of the “cans” rather than the “coulda, woulda, shoulda’s.” Finally, and I mean FINALLY, I need to focus on the possibilities rather than improbabilities and lead with purpose.

Lesson #3 – Focus Forward

I am focusing forward. If I do fail, I can start again. I don’t have to be ashamed of failure as long as I learn the lesson forward.

Showing weakness gives me an opportunity to develop my strengths and step into my future.

We cannot step forward alone. I definitely have a circle and advisory board that helps me cope and rise above life’s challenges and setbacks.

Lesson #4- Speak Affirmations

Insecurity,  fear, self-doubt, toxic relationships, and negative self-talk is dangerous and impacts mental health, so we need to learn to change the narrative and change how we speak power, kindness, and affirmations into our lives and everyone around us.

Our mental health depends on us to speak up while silencing stigma.

Lesson #5 – Choose Solutions

I saved this lesson because real change requires more than seeking and being open to the idea of it. We have to be proactive and choose to live differently. In my life, this is  bigger than self-evaluation, developing a growth mindset, focusing forward and speaking affirmations. Yes, I needed all of those lessons but they were not enough by themselves. In the middle of my mental health journey, I decided to ask my doctor for help. We discussed my medical options to improve my mental health and for the first time, I chose an antidepressant.

This solution had been offered previously, but I refused it.  I had these messages that replaced my daily affirmations.

I thought if I took meds, I would be confirming that my past held me captive.

I didn’t want “them” to win or still have power over me.

My parents had already changed my life when I became a ward of the state. The changed my life and I didn’t want them to further influence my life.

I wanted to prove that I was okay on my own  and that “I had made it.” Taking meds would prove that I was still a hurt teenager.

Finally, I was afraid of the side effects and didn’t want to experience suicide ideation, so I avoided meds.

Avoiding medical help made me feel like I was a survivor but finally accepting it made me feel like a warrior, someone who has a real chance of winning my struggle with anxiety and depression.

So, here is to Day 1. Really, Day Won!

Reflection:

1.  Do you self-evaluate regularly? (Not constantly, just enough that  you know you are making progress on your purpose?)

2.  What are you doing daily, to develop a growth mindset? What prevents you from focusing on your “cans.” If you do not have a list of “cans” make one now.

3. Draw a circle. Who is in your circle? Write down the people who support you (in the valleys and mountiantops). If you don’t have anyone, start asking for help.

4.  What daily affirmation or mantra can you practice to help you cope and grow?

5. What solutions so you need to choose for yourself? What will you need to do to make change in your life?

Soul-Inspired Affirmation:

You can choose to break free but your decision requires you to change. You can do this but it is going to take effort. All change begins with one step. Are you finally ready?

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Kimberly is an experienced speaker, trainer and consultant that teaches and inspires universities, schools, organizations, foster care agencies, foster youth and families to practice resilience strategies via storytelling, creative arts and heart work. Her passion is to empower individuals and organizations to succeed!

Please contact kimberly.c.rhyan@gmail.com in regard to booking your next event and/or consulting services.

My Mental Health Journey

“I live with anxiety and depression and try to do and be better every day.  Living with both makes me obsess and not care at the same moment, because it can feel like everything is crumbling around me and I want to fix it, but sometimes it feels like I don’t have hands to do anything at all.”

World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health. Need help? National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. 1-800-273-8255

Trigger warning: Molestation and sexual abuse.

My journey struggling with mental health began as a child. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in my 30’s but I had symptoms and signs throughout my life, noticeably as a teenager but very present during college.

Stressors and trauma began when I was just a baby. My parents divorced when I was a year old, when my mom entered tumultuous relationships; she did not keep me safe and I went into foster care. She eventually got me back with my siblings, but life didn’t get better. I grew up with abusive parents that were non-supportive and not present emotionally. I was constantly berated and tore down by my mother’s words. She would say that she wished I was never born. As a result, I never wanted to give hugs to kisses to any of my family. I don’t remember feeling safe or wanted.

All of these feelings flowed through my body by the fifth grade and that’s when the molestation and abuse began while my mother ignored and refused to take action against my step-father. I didn’t have a relationship with my biological father and when I asked to talk to him, my mother said I couldn’t because I didn’t even know him. This was not a normal childhood.

Entering foster care at age 14 was frightening and life-changing. I was glad that I was safe, but I really didn’t feel safe. I didn’t know if I was going to fit in or be wanted. I continually lived in fear that I would be rejected. These feelings still haunt me, even now, as I write these words.

I literally remember sleeping in my best friend’s backyard. I told my mom that I was spending the night, but really, they were not at home. I slept in the backyard all by myself and I don’t remember being afraid. I was numb and didn’t know how to ask for help. I also remember that I would mentally fade out as a kid. Especially when I was being abused. I physically would fight at first and squeeze my legs together, so I wouldn’t be violated. When that wouldn’t work, I would pretend I was in the story of one of my books. And I kept a diary/journal. That’s how I coped because I never asked for help until I was in eighth grade. I remember hating my step-father in fourth grade and writing in a diary about him. My mom found the diary, didn’t’ take me seriously and told me that I wasn’t allowed to keep a diary anymore. That’s when I started to write on pieces of paper and hide them in my room.

Yes, I am a survivor and warrior, but I am still surviving my trauma. A certain phrase comes to mind, “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” Walking around with trauma, is walking around with a wound that you can’t see, but it still hurts, months and years and decades later. The tough part is that there is such stigma around mental health and foster care, that people can respond to people’s past traumas, with generalized statements, such as….“It’s in the past, get over it.” or  “You always act like a victim.”

I was two years old and in the foster care system and I am positive that in the 70’s no one was aware of PTSD and trauma like we are today. I never got treatment for being a victim of domestic violence. I grew up thinking that there was something very wrong with me. I felt like my life didn’t matter to anyone. I cannot count the times, that I said, “I wish I was dead.”  I hurt myself often and no one noticed.

Triggers are memories that feel like you are living your nightmare of a past all over again.

I live with anxiety and depression and try to do and be better every day.  Living with both makes me obsess and not care at the same moment, because it can feel like everything is crumbling around me and I want to fix it, but sometimes it feels like I don’t have hands to do anything at all.

Fortunately, I learned how to build my resilience, since I was a child.  Not every survivor can say this, but people have always intervened and helped me along the way. I also built resilience as a teenager when I attended mandatory counseling and participated in a support group for victims of sexual abuse. I learned to cope in new ways, and recognized that when I cannot handle my emotions, that’s when I have to seek professional support and counseling. Every time, I have faced insurmountable odds, that’s when I decide to pick up the phone and call a counselor. For example, I was assaulted on a date and was afraid for my life in 2014. I called my support network but I also went back into counseling. It’s not easy admitting that you cannot do everything on your own, but I know that without support, I could end up being the statistic everyone has always said I would become. The pressure of failing, helps me cope, even though I recognize how unhealthy it has become, to constantly re-center myself on the belief that I just have to keep it together another day and another month and another year. It works, but it’s not the best solution.

I know it is mandatory to ask for help when my anxiety increases because if I don’t, I become irritable, angry, and cry a lot. I also self-sabotage relationships and distance myself into isolation. I have always prided myself in not being tearful- it’s easier to put up walls and be tough to prove to everyone that I am going to keep surviving. When I feel completely overwhelmed, I know I need to take care of myself.

My past traumas were caused by others and some were caused by my own deficiencies and poor decision making-skills. We cannot erase or wish away the hurt. Some push it away, but it always seems to be the loudest voice, fighting to be heard.

When I experience anxiety, there are small steps I take to cope. Meditating, journaling and making art are my three go-to coping skills. I also keep Aromatherapy lotion on my desk at work and post inspiring messages. I practice positive self-talk and speak affirmations when I start to overthink. When anxiety is overwhelming and I cannot stop being overly anxious, I schedule a counseling appointment. I know I can’t cope on my own and it took me a while to recognize that that is nothing wrong with me visiting a therapist. I think it has only become more difficult as a single mother to make the call, because I don’t want to be judged as a parent and caregiver of my child. Regardless of my fears and insecurities, I know this step forward is the most important decision that can be made during my mental health journey.

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As a survivor of trauma, there are additional steps that I have taken in my life to practice resiliency and maintain growth in my mental health journey. Also, there have been lessons learned about managing myself to safe-guard my future. Here are a few actionable steps that can replenish and restore us before everyday tension and pressure become cumulative and overwhelming:

  • #1- Reconnect: Do not disconnect. Don’t be stubborn and try to figure it out all on your own. Build a support circle. Find a therapist. Learn from your friends but don’t rely on them for mental health support.
  • #2- Reflect: Take time for yourself. Don’t feel bad about taking a “mental health day.” Your self-care is necessary. You cannot help others if you cannot help yourself first.  Take time to realize your growth and successes and what lessons you still need to learn.
  • #3- Reevaluate: Do not avoid the most important step – Pay attention to your needs. Take care of your physical body. This means drinking plenty of water and getting the rest you need every day. It means that you actually go to the doctor and do what he/she/they tell you to do.
  • #4- Regrow: Nurture your joy and inner peace because you need to focus forward more than ruminating on the past. We all need to know where we come from and share our story as a testament of our progress. But that’s not the place where you should be walking through every day.  You need to add to your life, not beat yourself up for what you didn’t do first.

Again, we need to Reconnect. Reflect. Reevaluate. Regrow. These are four ways to practice resiliency when you are feeling anxious and depressed. Your mental health journey matters and make the call to a mental health counselor if you are in need of more support.

Reflection:

  1. What are three ways you cope with stressors?
  2.  Draw your support circle on a piece of paper and hang it up where you can be reminded that you not alone.
  3.  What do you need to do today to take care of yourself?
  4. How can you add joy to your life?

Soul-Inspired Affirmation

You are capable of growth and full of potential to become greater than your past. Do not let anyone define you, but allow yourself to be refined by setbacks and hardships because you are a SURVIVOR and WARRIOR. You got this! 

 

Kimberly is an experienced speaker, trainer and consultant that teaches and inspires universities, schools, organizations, foster care agencies, foster youth and families to practice resilience strategies via storytelling, creative arts and heart work. Her passion is to empower individuals and organizations to succeed!

Please contact kimberly.c.rhyan@gmail.com in regard to booking your next event and/or consulting services.

Expanding Mantra: So here I am.

I am not quite sure when I started writing this mantra, “So here I am.” I do remember that this phrase was articulated in high school but showed up later in my art and writing in college (As evidenced by the print below).

As the years pass, I continue to gain insight and life experiences, which solidify a longer mantra: “So here I am right now with you.”

Combining these phrases together celebrates how I have learned to focus my life forward.

Confused?

Let me explain, from the beginning.

So….

“So what? So why? So who? So when? So how?”

My “so” is tied to many negative messages from my childhood and adolescence:

“So what? Get over it.”

“So why do you harm yourself? Is it because you want attention?”

“So who do you think you are? You know you have it better than other foster kids, right? Why aren’t you grateful for what you have been given?”

“So when are you going to quit having this pity party for yourself? Go ahead and ask yourself, “Is it going to change anything? Never!”

“So how do you expect to change if you keep overeating.”

“So here I am.”

This was my mantra for many years. Ironically, I proudly thought this phrase embodied my stubbornness and tenaciousness to never give up. However, my “so” also trained me to doubt everyone, including myself.

I spent most of teenage years exclaiming, “Life isn’t fair.” And guess what? It wasn’t fair. I lost a lot and no matter the gains, loss is learning to live with a permenant vacancy and hurt always feels just heavy enough that you cannot imagine wrapping your arms around anyone else.

Despite setbacks, I was always expected to bounce back and be resilient. And I learned to navigate through every single “so” and that’s how I managed to proclaim, “So here I am.”

Looking back, my artwork that I created during college seemed to tell a different narrative. I drew a little girl sitting crouched in a corner with her arms wrapped super tight around her chest while a light bulb hung down from the ceiling.

“So Here I am” was a metaphor for my life, which represented the common practice of hiding. As a youth, I hid in the closet, behind my dresser and under the bed to avoid my abuser and people’s judgement.

I also remember hiding under the desk at the police station and hiding in the basement of my foster home. More than hiding my body, I also hid in other ways. For example, I went to counseling sessions but I felt like a zombie. I was hiding under a smile, to show that I was strong, when I was really thinking about ending my own life.

During my first 33 years on this earth, I was fighting and hiding at the same time, which made my existence all the more agonizing and unrecocognizable. I felt like I was never meant to arrive because I was always trying to avoid judgement or reproach from others while failing in my relationships. Surface stuff was fine, but beneath all my accomplishments, I was filled to the brim with anxiety.

I isolated myself from others, creating distance, emotionally. My relationship choices were less than ideal and I kept avoiding the pain, which only intensified with every failed relationship. Honestly, I let those men gut my spirit like a fish.

“So, here I am” was a coping mechanism – It let me escape my body when I was violated, threatened or made to feel unsafe. Technically, this is called dissociation and because of it, I survived, time and time again, even as an adult survivor of assault.

I guess you can say that I used the abandonment from both my parents as an excuse to embrace the hurt, rather than accept hope and healing. I allowed the pain of abandonment to hold me back until I learned to embrace life’s most meaningful lessons….

#1-

“So, here I am….right now.”

Yes…here and now.

I practice presence over perfect. (THANKS Holley)

Slow is fast is another way to think about purposely not rushing progress. (THANKS Sarah)

I have spent my life earning my resiliency wings & I am not ashamed to celebrate my transformation from despair to hope, anxious to inspired and fear to courage. I wasn’t on a journey to make peace with my past, but it happened when I learned to let go of my questions and began accepting that my life had a unique purpose.

After I became a mother, it was difficult to hide and for so many reasons. My son needed all of me, a whole woman guided by purpose. My son saved my life and taught me to love.

“So, here I am, right now” is the best way I can describe my healing journey that allowed me to forgive my parents. Only now, am I empowered to move forward.

I am standing- not cowering.

I am peaceful – not left in pieces.

Ultimately, I bounced back because of my mentors and teachers who affirmed my gifts and supported me- even when I my flaws and decisions made me less than perfect.

#2-

“So, here I am right now, with you.”

I discovered in my graduate program for Creative Arts Therapy about the power of symbolism. There are key symbols in my earlier artwork. As an artist, I can tell you that the lightbulb meant I wasn’t completely in the dark; initially, the light represented hope but through the years, the lightbulb’ symbolism became a metaphor for healing and connection; a source of energy greater than myself.

My resiliency is a reflection of you….

My mission has evolved from my hurt and healing, but it is also derived from a gradual evolution of self-belief that I am not alone. My mission grew from this lesson. I don’t want people to feel like they have to figure out life and solutions on their own:

I strive to lead with purpose & help others affirm and celebrate their journey forward.

Rueben Welch wrote a book called, “We Really Do Need Each Other.”

It’s truly another mantra that reverberates in my mission. Thank you for taking the time to learn about my story. But this is also our story too. I hope you will take the time to think about your purpose and mission. No matter the hurt, relational resiliency gives us a chance at developing ourselves and progressing. Do not go this path alone.

Okay?

Reflection/questions:

  1. What prevents you from achieving your purpose?
  2. How do you live out your mission each and every day?
  3. What goals can you work on in the next six months?
  4. Do you need support? Reach out to a mentor, coach and/or friend. Personal plug: You can also contact me for coaching (check out my bio below).

Closing affirmation:

You got this. Believe in your purpose and imagine how we can achieve our missions together.

Kimberly is an experienced speaker, trainer and consultant that teaches and inspires universities, schools, organizations, foster care agencies, foster youth and families to practice resilience strategies via storytelling, creative arts and heart work. Her passion is to empower individuals and organizations to succeed!

Please contact kimberly.c.rhyan@gmail.com in regard to booking your next event and/or consulting services.


Just a little perspective.

AnXiety-

You X the spot where I don’t want to be.

Even in the light, you sneak around it and make it impossible to feel safe and in the worst of situations, you completely cover it up like it never existed. Anxiety is very sneaky and I know it is coming. I am its prey.

The irony is how my insta-happy photographs do not capture everything. During one of recent joyful trips, I experienced a panic attack that left me wiping away tears, while I was hiding in the bathroom to protect others from seeing me so defenseless.

Stigma sarcastically insinuates how anxiety doesn’t have validity because we have all been through something tough and most people get over it, so anxiety launches grenades and asks,

“Why can’t you just get over it?”

“Why do you constantly act the victim?”

“Don’t you know this is your fault?”

There are moments when I can’t remember basic things and the reality is that anxiety is
wrestling for my attention because I feel mentally exhausted; there are times when it is difficult to bounce back but I am fighting trauma dating back to the day I was born.

There are instances where I check, double-check and tripple-check electric outlets just to make sure nothing bad is going to happen and then I get into my car, only to go back inside and check one more time. Anxiety just sits back and has a good laugh.

I literally have moments where I just hate the way I am feeling and I have to push through because someone is counting on me and I cannot give up or tag out or quit. I just take a deep breadth and exhale all the chaos trying to make me to lose my sh*t.

Anxiety has this way of speaking bold-face lies and sabotaging potential – potential of a job, relationship, friendship, opportunity and/or possibility. People who judge me need to reevalute their hearts, but for the people who love me, thank you for never giving up on me.

And anxiety has cruel intentions. It tries to convince me that because I failed once, I must be a permanent failure. It constantly presses me into a corner of a boxing ring that I cannot be ejected. Anxiety forces me to box my way out, but I manage to only relocate to the middle of the ring, which imagine, is not more safe at all. No matter where I stand in the ring, a fight is a fight is a fight. Arms up. Defenses raised. Heart dismantling again. Prepared to be defensive, it is hard to believe what life could be like without anxiety. Where is the peace? Where can I find a white flag?

Let me say it another way.

Anxiety has triggers. It happens to you without your permission.  You strive for constant composure and togetherness but at times it feels like everything is falling apart. It takes resilience to decide not to let self-doubt sabotage any potential of success. It takes hope to break through fear and anxiety, but over time, it can distintegrate your confidence and exhume the past. It mercilessly takes every bad decision and every lesson learned and turns it into one hell of a mental parade of ache and agony that needs deflated. I have to choose to let it go and preserve my energy.

Some may say that anxiety is all in your head and that you simply have to renew your mind, but anxiety can be a mental shredder that takes positivity and destroys it with a tsunami of dis-belief that literally reinstates untruths.

It’s not fair how a simple thing can become a very complicated something while making you feel like nothing.

This is anxiety. It kicks you in the shin and while you hold your ankle and wonder what could feel worse, anxiety kicks you in the gut and while you are hugging yourself from the pain, anxiety will show no remorse or compassion while it proceeds to kicks you in the head. Anxiety doesn’t write rain checks. It is always ready for purchase, even when the account has a zero balance.

When I post that perfect Instagram picture, just realize that picture represents all these words and a thousand more…

I cope. 

I am healing.

I am working on myself. 

Anxiety isn’t laziness; it doesn’t care if I care. It doesn’t complete an assessment to determine its path of destruction. It just comes, as an unsuspecting setback and it sucks the life out of you and tries to defeat you in the ring.

Depending on how I view myself…

I choose to let it go.

OR

I just hold on for dear life and hope it doesn’t wipe me out.

The real message:

Recovery from trauma is possible.

It is strengthened by relational resiliency, so when we fall down, we have to ask for help. And when the tears come, it feels good to have people in OUR corner. I am thankful for the compassionate people in my life that have supported me during every single battle round and kept me from complete defeat. I am surviving, thriving and arriving because I am working on my growth strategy and you can too.

I strive to lead with purpose & seek to fulfill my soul-inspired mission by helping others affirm and celebrate their journey forward.

In closing, I clearly have rough moments but I am okay. Those tough moments are opportunities to be refined, but they don’t define me!

But please check on that one friend…who you know is struggling but may not want anyone to know…

CLOSING QUESTION:

  1. How honest are you with yourself and others about your anxiety?
  2. How do you cope with your anxiety?
  3. Will you commit yourself to journaling or meditating to ease your anxiety?

Closing Affirmation:

Anxiety happens but don’t let it deter you from living your best life. And a better life may feel different a year from now, but just start with today.

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Kimberly is an experienced speaker, trainer and consultant that teaches and inspires universities, schools, organizations, foster care agencies, foster youth and families to practice resilience strategies via storytelling, creative arts and heart work. Her passion is to empower individuals and organizations to succeed!

Please contact kimberly.c.rhyan@gmail.com in regard to booking your next event and/or consulting services.

Relational Resiliency & Foster Care Awareness Month

For the past four weeks, I have been doing something for ME and I have to thank my friend because she is babysitting my son and  making it possible for me to take a 6-week class on Thursdays. It just so happens to be Foster Care Awareness Month and my class is about Relational Resiliency (Hosted by “The Hive”).

I signed up for the class because I thought it would enhance my perspective and practices at work. But it has also provided a safe and authentic space for me to be ME an so much more:

  • As a bonus, I feel like my son and I are part of a community with other families. I believe that Carter has a village (here in Cincinnati) that embraces and cares for the both of us.
  • Guess what? I can finally breathe, after 20 months of living here. Say what!?

My class has been opening the windows of my soul and inspired me to expand the periphery of my heart… and it keeps me aligned with the daily reflection process to acknowledge that heart work is hard work and that we really do need each other.

More about Relational Resiliency….

I have always been a night owl and when I think about time itself as a resiliency factor in my journey, I recently stepped back and took a big long pause…. I considered how much time that it has taken to heal, forgive, grow, thrive, and finally arrive…

I have been specifically recalling how much time it took to reconcile with my bio mom and how for ten years I didn’t speak a single word to her and then one day, I showed up with my son. And then about 18 months later, she was diagnosed with brain cancer. And I was angry because I wanted answers to my life’s questions. But in the midst of hurt and heartbreak, I had to let go of my questions to just forgive her and make peace with my past. And people ask me all the time, “how were you able to forgive and move forward?”

I believe the passage of time and the wisdom from waiting my whole life for this moment, helped me repair the rupture. It wasn’t easy. I knew since my mom was adopted that she came into this world feeling unloved and unwanted and I didn’t want her to leave this world thinking she wasn’t loved or wanted.

And the rupture was deep and wide. Just this week I recalled the day I went into foster care and it was the same day as a court hearing where my mom asked me to lie and I refused to tell the version of the story she wanted and it was on this day she was pissed at me. And it was on this day she decided to find a note in my room, the same room that I had been hiding notes for 6 months. My mom cleaned my room every day and left items that were out of place, on my bed. And so I know she must have found other notes and ignored them. But on this day, I defied her, & she chose to find a note and my life changed forever. She was suppose to protect me on so many levels and she failed me and she set me up for failure.

This is the mother who said, “Don’t make me choose between my husband and you, because I will always choose my husband.”

Understanding resiliency has allowed me to appreciate time as a way I have recovered through my foster care journey. I am continually processing my trauma and adjusting my practices to prevail. It’s never just one and done. It’s about never giving up.

I look back over my life and I feel blessed instead of cursed. I walk away with lessons learned instead of feeling burned. I look forward and know hope despite all the hurt. I am not just a survivor, I am an over-comer and advocate for you.  I am here to say, “You got this too.”

As a result of the past year and specifically, the last month,  I definitely have a better idea about the difference I seek to make every day-

Update on my goals & a Few Announcements

Today is the last official day of Foster Care Awareness Month and I want to make some special announcements (if you are still reading….).

When I started this year, I had very three specific goals in mind- 1) I wanted to gain three new clients, 2) speak in five different states,  3) publish my memoir and 4) launch a not-for profit. I’m excited to share that I have four new clients and I have been invited to speak in four states this year (of course, I am including Ohio). Finally, this August, I hope to find out if my memoir will be picked up by a publisher, or else, I will choose to self-publish.

The memoir I have been writing for two whole years is finally, finally wrapping up this month, just in time for my 42nd birthday.  One of the reasons that I have been stalling is that I want to start a foundation and allow 100% proceeds from my book sales to help fund other foster youth to follow their dreams.

I seek to broaden opportunities to grown inter-generational foster youth’s talents through the arts, educational scholarships and mentoring circles. More details will be forthcoming this summer/fall about this new network!

In closing, it is important to share my vision because I believe you have to name your goals to make them a reality. This is really happening and it is not just a dream!

Closing Question:

What’s your dream and what are you willing to do, to make it happen?

Closing Affirmation:

You got this!

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. (Lao Tzu)

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Kimberly is an experienced speaker, trainer and consultant that teaches and inspires universities, schools, organizations, foster care agencies, foster youth and families to practice resilience strategies via storytelling, creative arts and heart work. Her passion is to empower individuals and organizations to succeed!

Please contact kimberly.c.rhyan@gmail.com in regard to booking your next event and/or consulting services.

Purposefully Playing the Hand that You’re Dealt

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#happiness💕
#reflectionsfromaformerfosteryouth

#mothersday
#mentalhealthawarenessmonth
#nationalfostercaremonth

May is National Foster Care Month. Foster care is more than a label & Foster youth are NOT a statistic.

This month and all through
the year, may we foster strength and humanity by celebrating foster care voices.

Voices of Foster Strength: I am sharing my own journey!🎉

This week, I stepped out of my comfort zone ( I am an intravert) and conversed with a Humanist, someone who believes in the necessity of kindness as an expression of community. I re-learned that within community, we can just be ourselves, hopefully without judgement, too much self-criticism or fear.

Fear of what? Rejection. Isolation. And being less than.

And I suppose that’s why I reached out for conversation in the first place. I thought a conversation would be helpful, so I could better navigate my path in life. I was in search of wisdom and insight. Ultimately, I was curious and hopeful that something could be gained from sharing our stories, because something about his story resonated with mine.

And throughout the conversation, I felt this heaviness being lifted slowly as I realized how much fear I had been holding onto because I had become attached to guilt and uncertainty.

And I finally accepted that my guilt and uncertainty wasn’t necessary. Over the course of my life, I  had developed coping mechanisms (with good intentions), which simultaneously made me feel like a constant failure for not measuring up.

So what about the hand I was dealt? No matter how much my cards were valued, I made matters worse, due to my actions or inactions, which only served to increase my anxiety.

Where did my anxiety start? All throughout my life, I was hoping for parents to love me unconditionally.  My anxiety showed up in school when I couldn’t focus. It revealed itself when I wouldn’t hug or kiss my own family. I lived in fear for my life and anxiety poured out of my pores in my body.  I didn’t trust anyone’, not did I feel loved. Which is why my entrance into foster care at age 14 convinced me that it was up to me to break the cycle. I was going to live my life differently and make better decisions than my parents. They gave me up, and my mother’s mother gave her up. I decided that I would never have kids to prevent myself from making their mistakes.

And at age 33, I was staying the weekend with my HS English teacher (who inspires me to write and share my story) and she asked me if I ever wanted to have kids and I quickly said, “No.”

And ironically, my cards at the time were not visible, but I was most likely pregnant at that very moment. I was also in desperate straits and broken. I was living a facade and lost. I was existing in complete darkness. My remaining shell of a person was blockaded by self loathing, insecurity and fear of disappointing the people who loved me; and frequently wanted to hurt myself, but I was determined to push through the pain anyway. Externally I was a survivor and thriving in a career, but internally, I was undoubtedly failing and crashing into a downward spiral of self-destruction.

Even in the midst of my depression and anxiety, I wouldn’t give up.  I didn’t want to become another statistic. I fought through my anxiety everyday but still experienced frequent panic attacks. They were regular episodes in my life. I am being very honest about my mental health because the facade I had carefully built had limits.  I had coped by binge-eating and causing self-harm. Taking away all these extra paragraphs, it would be easier to just write that I didn’t love myself. 

Despite my worst efforts,  I kept holding on, no matter how empty I felt. And deep down, I hated myself.

I thought my fall from “grace” was permanent exile.  I didn’t think I was worthy and defaulted to one unhealthy relationship after another.

It hurts so much that my son doesn’t have two parents in his life;  I haven been heartbroken for a little boy that wants to know which parts of his biracial identity he got from each of his parents. And the devastation and the weight of making the wrong choices during the darkest point in my life, ultimately brought me my greatest gift. I am not perfect, but my #1 goal is to be attuned to my son and help him develop his strengths and overcome any barriers he may face. I know he hurts because he doesn’t have all the answers- I know that feeling and it’s heart-crushing and unfortunately, creates self-doubt.

And I wondered what everyone else wondered…

Would I even be a good mom? I doubted myself  and honestly, I needed an intervention, and that card was handed to me on a day that I was volunteering in Seattle, Washington. Prior to leaving for alternative spring break with 12 female students, I didn’t know the many ways my heart would begin to transform and heal.

However, Abortion was always a choice and I scheduled my appointment and was confident in my choice to end my pregnancy. I am pro-choice and you cannot tell me what I can do with my body.

And  back to Spring break,  I volunteered with an organization that supported mothers recovering from addiction. A mother walked into the playroom and handed me her child with a full bottle. I never held babies and was never a baby person. Naturally, I was resistant but I looked around the room and all of the other volunteers had tasks. I took her child in my arms and fed her. That moment changed my heart and when I returned from the service trip, I never went to my abortion appointment.

And my pregnancy at 33 became a gift that revealed to me that my purpose could begin with hope. I put my child first and took care of us differently. I started to practice self-care and re-prioritized my goals.And the miraculous wonder of having my son, is that I learned (and still learning) to love and respect myself in ways that I never loved myself before I became a mother.

And my son’s love for me, is a huge bonus. His life affirms my existence. All those times I wanted my mom to wrap her arms around me and whisper she loved me, I make sure that my son knows he is loved. We have a nexus that is celebrated everyday and I make sure to squeeze him and whisper, “I love you.”

The idea that I was dealt some cards that made me feel abandoned, unloved, and disregarded always weighed heavy on my spirit. My parents were asked if they wanted me back, and they passed. My mother actually said, don’t make me choose between my husband and you, because I will always choose my husband. I thought that was her way of telling me that she wished I had never been born.

I never wanted my son to feel the pain of not having both his parents present in his life.

And yet, this past week in a coffee-shop, during a powerful conversation, I recognized I am here for him and how good I am.

And not how bad I am.

I am a product of a heartbreak and hurt, not the best hand, but I am not defined by what cards I have been dealt, but I am held accountable for what I do with them next. I choose healing everyday. I choose love. I choose to forgive. I choose to be the change (Thanks Gandhi).

After all, I had 48% chance of graduating H.S. and despite failing “Transition to College Math,” I graduated as an honor’s student.

I was once held back in third grade, but I went on to earn my B.A and M.A degrees. Not too bad for a foster kid, right?

I am still here. Never perfect, but I am becoming a better version of myself everyday. I am coping and building hope through resilience. Not too bad for an adult with mental illness, right?

I am  NOT a statistic. I am a leader, mother, warrior, artist, writer, advocate and so much more.

I recognize that I was “dealt a hand” I didn’t want,  but it made me the woman I am today….

And when I met with my new friend, this metaphor hit me harder than I thought possible, which caused tears to cascade down my face. My hurt showed & vulnerability exposed my deepest fears. But it’s okay because I am human and challenging myself to grow. I hope I can help others figure this mess out too.

I know my son doesn’t have the best hand either, but he is going to be okay too. I am giving him my best and he will get better at life as he matures and grows too.

This is the life I want….the life where I don’t live in fear, but rather, accept the hand I have been dealt and figure out another way to bounce back from adversity. This is the hand I am fighting everyday to win for the both of us.

Closing Questions:

  1. In your own life, what will you fight for today?
  2. How will you choose to be resilient and bounce back?
  3. Will you take a deep breath and forgive (yourself and others)?
  4. Will you choose to believe your purpose is greater than your imperfections?

Closing Affirmation:

You got this. Your life matters. You will recover from trauma, foster care and/or mental illness.

None of these things make you less than someone else. Purposefully leverage the lessons you are cultivating and step into your future!

Kimberly is an experienced speaker, trainer and consultant that teaches and inspires universities, schools, organizations, foster care agencies, foster youth and families to practice resilience strategies via storytelling, creative arts and heart work. Her passion is to empower individuals and organizations to succeed!

Please contact kimberly.c.rhyan@gmail.com in regard to booking your next event and/or consulting services.

Gratitude & Ending the Cycle

I’ve always wanted to write my memoir because I want to help others overcome.


I didn’t realize until very recently, that my son and I had very similar hand gestures that we made as babies. And for some reason…the very thought of us being uniquely the same, even though it’s just represented in a few photographs, makes me affirm grace at work within our lives. It began with a determined heart-I was convinced that this child was not going to be put up for adoption.

And for some reason, a few people along the way tried to convince me that adoption was best for my child. I completely respect anyone who makes this sacrifice. I also know there are so many people who want to adopt & we need their love in this world for so many children.

Honestly, there have been times, in the middle of the night, when these thoughts attack my spirit, “Am I a selfish person for keeping my child?” “Does he deserve better than me?” Many times throughout my life, God was at work in my life and I knew he loved me, even when I couldn’t love myself. I know my son deserves ME & I offer him the best version of myself every day.

After all, my mother was adopted and my mom gave me up when I was a teenager because she chose her abusive husband over me.
And guess what? For some reason, I survived, thrived, and arrived!

Those tiny fists and little waves represent determination & success.

We are mother & child. We were destined for this journey together.

We are family and on our way to breaking the cycle of abuse.
I am not angry anymore about the people who told me to choose adoption. Life’s challenges changed me and made me the mom I am today. I am not perfect. My son will probably tell you that! He knows more than anything, how much I loved him from the start. I have self-belief & aspirations for an even brighter future; this didn’t just happen overnight. The irony is that the same people who told me to give up my son for adoption…they are the same people who told me when I was in fostercare, that I could change the cycle of abuse when I was 14 years old. My anger has transformed into gratitude & only strengthened my resiliency….


#resiliency
#thepathwaytosurvival
@soulinspiredkcr

Closing Questions:

  1. What are some of those negative thoughts you tell yourself and how can you change them into affirmations rather than self doubt?
  2. Where does your strength come from?
  3. What are you thankful for?
  4. What can you do today to express your gratitude?

Closing Affirmation:

Your life represents determination & success. You are destined for this journey.  You are on your way and nothing can stop you.

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Kimberly is an experienced speaker, trainer and consultant that teaches and inspires universities, schools, organizations, foster care agencies, foster youth and families to practice resilience strategies via storytelling, creative arts and heart work. Her passion is to empower individuals and organizations to succeed!

Please contact kimberly.c.rhyan@gmail.com in regard to booking your next event and/or consulting services.