Thursday, February 19, 2015

Has my 'why' changed?

As part of a free training program I am enrolled in within Damsel in Defense (have I ever mentioned how much I love free training programs?), we are given homework.  This week's homework was on our why.  What was it when we started, and has it changed?

 Originally, my why was just about helping other women not have to survive anything I have had to survive.  I was on a mission to spread awareness that bad things can and happen, and they happen in the blink of an eye, but now you have the choice to fight back. 

Left to right, Co-Founder Mindy Lin, myself, Co-Founder Bethany Hughes
My why changed the first time I met Mindy and Bethany, the Co-Founders of Damsel in Defense.  It was at the first ever leadership conference for Damsel in Defense, and their passion was so contagious.  I sat next to women who had turned their side business into a full blown company and were able to completely replace their income.  'Wow,' I thought, 'there really is something to this.'  Then, I fell very ill and had to fly home and was taken immediately to the hospital.  The first message I got was from Mindy, and then I received a phone call from Bob Hipple, our CEO.  Both wanted to just make sure that I was okay, that they were sending all of my stuff to me, and to make sure there wasn't anything that I needed.  The way this company cares about its field is unlike any company I have ever been involved with.  They became part of my why.  That was the moment my why left infancy and became a toddler. 

The biggest change in my why was on the heels of a trip Mindy and Bethany took to the Philippines to see first hand what trafficking looked like, and the work that one of the charities we support was doing. Suddenly, it wasn't just about women fighting back, but it was about saving women who were in bondage, fighting for them, and pushing back the darkness to shine a light for them to find a way out.  I always tell people about seeing Mindy and Bethany for the first time after their trip and seeing those girls from the Philippines staring back at me through the tears in their eyes, and I couldn't fail them.  That was the moment my why grew from a toddler to a preschooler.

At Conference in 2014, my why changed again as I listened to the founder of Hope82, a Portland organization that  fights sex trafficking speak about what trafficking really looks like in America.  It forced me to come to terms with that part of my story...the one that didn't realize was as serious as it was until hearing the truth about trafficking and broken young girls.  Then, I stood and emotionally vomited my life in front of over 200 people.  In the aftermath of that, my entire world was shaken.  I had to take some time off and really focus on healing myself and trying to understand what was happening to me.  So many things changed for me as a person that day, and my why grew and grew into a teenager filled with raw emotion.  This was when I came to understand that not only do we spread awareness and teach women to stay safe, but  that #wedohardthings.

After conference, I helped birth several survivors from their victim wombs just by telling my story, which made me face the fact that everything I faced in my life, no matter if it was good or bad, happened for a reason.  I began to understand my story was a tool for helping victims be reborn as survivors.  My why grew into a woman and a midwife.

Another part of letting my story free in the world was that it also freed the butterflies trapped inside of me.  I tried and tried to keep a hold of them, but it seemed that every time I tried to work my Damsel business they would fly in a million directions and I couldn't stay focused.  It was all I could do not to come apart.  I loved the emotion tied up with having them, but they took a toll on me and I lost sight of my goals and missed Director.  Someone very important to me then told me that I didn't need to hold on to the butterflies, I needed to teach them how to fly in formation, and imagine how unstoppable I would be if I could do that.  It was like being given a magical power and having to learn how to not turn everything I touched into toads. 

I am a survivor, that's why Damsel in Defense made sense to me originally.  I am passionate about ending trafficking, that's why Damsel found a permanent place in my heart and soul. Helping birth survivors from women who called themselves victims means that my why has officially enrolled in med school and I will dedicate the rest of my life to working on my doctorate in doing hard things to build strong women by helping them set fire to their old selves in order to be reborn, a phoenix from the ashes of their former selves.  My official title will be Dr. Phoenix, WDHT.

Through these many months of redefining myself, I have spent a lot of time in prayer and reflection. I realize that my strongest emotional ties to my story are from when I was 11-13 years old.  My focus is now going to be on educating at risk girls to the realities of what can happen to them in an effort to stop trafficking before it happens in as many of them as I can.  Damsel in Defense is the vehicle I will use to spread awareness, get in front of as many of them as possible, and to keep me-and my butterflies-grounded.   It's also going to build an income for me to be able to leave my 60 hour per week job eventually and have more time to write, speak, spread the mission, and awareness. 

My why hasn't changed so much as matured from infancy, through childhood, and into its adult life.  I have focused and honed in on where I really see myself going.  I am honored to be a part of the Damsel family, and I feel the prayers for our journeys coming from our home office.  I'm ready to focus and move to the next level.  Damsel has never given up on me, and I will never give up either.

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