Overcoming

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My life has been somewhat rather challenging, many obstacles that I never dreamt that I would ever encounter in life as a young man.  I have quietly rebuilt my life no less than 4 times from the ground up.  Choices of others have continually and directly impacted my life.  While I am able to see clearly that these choices have created difficulties for me at times throughout my life and without the choices made by others I would never have faced the overwhelming challenges I have.

Hindsight creates a unique perspective.  Without these challenges that I have endured I would not be the man I am today.  I know this to be true.  I also know that one key characteristic in my life that has defined who I have become and prevented utter destruction of my soul is that I have never allowed anyone and their choices the create a stumbling block of blame for where I am in life.  Each time that I have stepped up after being beaten down I have risen stronger, higher and with more determination than ever to be the one controlling my life.

Never have I let anyone dictate what I would and would not accomplish.   I have experienced decades of of attacks from others whom by their choices they meant to destroy my life and future.  From an ex wife to employees committing fraud, Each time that I rose above the obstacles created I have experienced a renewed effort at times by others to tear me back down in an attempt to keep me there.  There have been many who know of many of these struggles who have often commented that it would have destroyed them.  I beg to differ, for what doesn’t destroy always makes us stronger.  It is ALWAYS our choice in what we let destroy us.  No one else can ever make that choice for us.

As each of us will certainly encounter severe struggles, disappointments, heartaches and roadblocks in our lives, some created by our own choices, others created from the choices of others, we alone make the choice of where we allow them to take us.

Many times the urge to blame others for our own misfortunes exist, sometimes rightfully and justly so.  It is when we give into this urge and blame other people, government, religion, circumstances or other,  for our current circumstances in life that we surrender our will to their desire for us.   We abandon our own self each time we pass blame.

It is only through faith,  determination and belief in oneself that someone is able to rebuild a life, a career and family when others choices are involved.  For my choices to let certain people into my life in the first place added to my own heartache.  Taking responsibility for my own choices, my own life and staying determined to not be kept down.  Anyone can rise above any obstacle placed before them, it starts by faith and believing on yourself!

There are No Rules in Domestic Violence – My Story

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 I was asked to speak today to some of our state senators and representatives.   Here are my remarks:

I am a survivor and former victim of Domestic Violence.

I have been mentally, emotionally, verbally, physically and financially abused by my ex wife.  I have been bitten, hit, kicked, cut, and bruised.

There is a lie in our society that men cannot be victims of abuse and that if a woman abuses a man the man is somehow weak, or they did something to provoke her and deserve it.

There are no rules in domestic violence.  It is not conditional based upon gender or age.   It is not specific to your level of education, race, income, religion or social status.  It is a plague that is destroying families and our children and we must act to put an end to this scourge.  Abusers will blame the abused for making them into the abusers they are.  This is part of the manipulation process abusers use.  Sadly, many of us fall victim to this lie and believe it.

If we falsely believe that domestic violence will go away by ignoring it, or if we fall victim to the many lies about this plague we are abandoning our children and grandchildren to continue perpetually down this evil path in our society.

Domestic Violence impacts every one of us in this room.  Whether or not it is public knowledge or anyone outside the victims immediate family knows about it, such as in my case, we all know someone who lives this hell.  It could be your daughter, your son, father, mother, grandchild, or neighbor.  It could be a leader in your church or a teacher at school or your coworker and friend.  Most victims are silent, looking for help and not knowing where to turn.

In Utah we are surrounded by many who by outward appearances have great and amazing families.  From an outward perspective, I had it all, a great family, a great wife, a great job, a beautiful home and great kids.  No one ever suspected the hell I and my children were living as a result of her abuse.

Many have asked me afterwards why if things were so bad would I stay in the relationship for so long.  First and foremost I will tell you that I love my children and am a deeply devoted father.  I worried for their safety and well being if I left.

Remember I had been told by the many police officers and those in the legal profession that I turned to for help, that a man cannot be a victim of domestic violence and if it is happening then he provoked her to it.  Utah has a terrible history in family law, one that quite frankly we should all hang our heads in shame over and that is the blind obedience of the judges to mothers and custody.  This was the single largest issue that kept me in this abusive relationship.  I didn’t want my children to suffer without my protection for them.

In the end, like most abusers, she left when she found someone new.  My relief at this being over was minimized as the courts gave custody to her.  My biggest fear in leaving came true.

My other primary reason for staying is abuse doesn’t always start off being physical.  Abusers manipulate and make the abused feel worthless and that they don’t deserve anything better and that they deserve what they are getting.  This lie held me hostage for years.

It was upon finally being freed from this abuse that I began to know about the resources in the community like the Domestic Violence shelters and what they do.

I have spent countless hours volunteering to help with anything the local shelter was in need of, from painting, to moving furniture, to fixing toilet seats and washing machines.  I have spent the time to know and understand what they do and why they do it.    While a handful of the shelters will take in men, and shelter them from abusers, there are many that do not primarily due to funding issues.  I don’t believe I would have sought shelter as financially I was in the position to leave if I needed.

What I wish with all of my heart and that would have saved me and saved my children from witnessing the abuse is the knowledge available through the community outreach efforts of the shelters.  The education and resources they provide that would have given me direction and support were not known to me.  I was unaware that anyone could help my children and I during this nightmare we were living.

The South Valley Sanctuary currently operates a community outreach center in West Jordan to assist those in need of resources and support prior to the need to seek shelter.  We need more of this in our communities.  We need to ensure that our children are protected and that the resources are given to those making a difference on the front line of this plague everyday!

The domestic violence shelters need your support to continue to operate and not only provide the shelter from the violence, but the ongoing community outreach, training and resources to those in need prior to the need to flee. It is far less expensive to make certain that resources are available to those in need than it is to prosecute and house the perpetrator and bury the victims when the violence turns deadly.

We cannot end the violence if we are merely reactionary.  We must provide the resources in addition to just shelter that many in this community are in dire need.

As you review the funding this year, I hope that my story resonates with you and opens your eyes to the need for additional resources that will help these shelters continue to provide safety as well as resources to your daughters and sons experiencing violence at home to get the help that they need, before your need to plan their funeral.

FINDING JOY IN THE JOURNEY

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Finding joy in our journey here on earth at times can seem daunting as life’s challenges and obstacles can create sometimes seemingly overwhelming sadness, sorrow and depression. Overcoming this cycle many of us find ourselves in at one point or another in this life is key to finding that lasting joy we all seek.  It is upon learning, understanding, believing and then acting upon the belief, that we are in control of our own happiness and joy, that we can finally take control of our own lives. We can discover the true joy that exists and that we alone control.  Perspective, gratitude and focus are some of the most powerful tools we have at our own personal disposal to change our own lives and find Joy in the journey.  We alone control these tools, ones that can be used to change or destroy our lives.  The choice is ours and ours alone, no one else can control that choice but ourselves.

Perspective and how we view ourselves, others around us, the circumstances we find ourselves in and the world around is critical to the level of happiness and joy we can attain in this life.  By shifting our perspective towards a more positive outlook and looking at things from a broader view of the world we can eliminate much of our self doubt we encounter along the way.  We will discover as we look through different lenses that the most difficult of life’s events can be overcome and that these moments can make us stronger. We will gain wisdom, understanding and clarity as we widen our view with which we see things.  It’s all a matter of perspective.

Gratitude provides us the opportunity in our lives to see the blessings we are given each day.  As we identify and write down the things we are grateful for our hearts and minds will be opened to seeing the positive in our lives.   It may be as simple as a shirt on our backs, a dry place to sleep, to our children and families.  Sincere gratitude for what we have in our lives and the blessings we are given, opens our hearts to recognizing that happiness does not come from no problems in our lives, it comes from our abilities to handle the problems we are given.  Epicurus said it best “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” Be grateful in all things.

Focus is a fundamental key to finding joy in our lives,  The law of attraction is immensely powerful, we attract into our lives that which we focus upon. Finding a clear perspective in everything allows us to master this law of attraction and bring these things into our lives we all desire, for “man is that he might have joy.”  The things that we focus upon in life are the things we attract in our life.  If we spend our time and effort focusing upon the negative things that happen to us, our circumstances, or what we deem “unfair” we will attract more the those negative situations into our lives.  An individual who is sick and spends their time focused on the sickness, always seems to get more sick.  Individuals who focus on others, and service to others, are always surrounded by great friends while those that focus inward and their loneliness, find themselves more lonely.  A positive focus in life will bring about positive effects in our lives.  We master that where we spend our time and energy (focus).

Our lives are meant to be filled with happiness, joy and love.    We alone control our success or failure in these areas.  We are the captain of our own ship, the choices we make with our perspectives, gratitude and focus will determine the level of success in life we find.

“At the end of the day, let there be no excuses, no explanations, no regrets.”  Steve Maraboli

NO PAIN, NO GAIN – The Personal Perspective

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We have all heard the mantra “No Pain, No Gain”.  We see this in the local gym and is referred to most often in terms of exercise and physical fitness.   This too applies to personal growth.

I have often stated that I would never change anything in my life because the struggles I have personally experienced have made me the man that I am today.  I look back over my challenges and I can see clearly the growth in personal strength, an increase in my compassion, understanding and wisdom that could never have been developed within me without the struggles of life.  Just as in the gym, with pain comes gain.   The greater the pain, the greater the opportunity for gain.

Our lives are filled with wonder, opportunities and joys.  Many times these treasures are overshadowed by the heartache, grief and sorrow that also come with life.  I have many family and friends whom have experienced much greater trials and obstacles than my own.  As I have watched the different methods that each of them have employed in overcoming said obstacles I am struck by the differences in personal outcome depending upon the method chosen to handle the trials.

There are several differing ways that people handle trials.  One is to blame others, including God.  Another is to accept that trials are a part of this life and try with grace and dignity to overcome them.

Life is not fair!  There are no limits to challenges that some will face. 

My experience with those that play the blame game in their trials in life actually create more obstacles and hurt in life.  As we blame others, we build the walls that keep out the very help that we can receive from others that will aide us in overcoming.  Blaming creates hate and poison within us that actually cause us further harm, it weakens us physically, mentally and spiritually thus creating for ourselves additional challenges and trials in life.  This includes the blame game that many play of blaming themselves.  Blaming others or ourselves actually creates PAIN, where there can be NO GAIN.

When we choose to accept the trials that are before us, no matter the difficulty or the journey with the effort to understand and use them for personal growth and development we allow others into our lives whom can help us and oftentimes teach us through their own experiences in ways to handle trials with dignity.    Trials in life are meant to help us gain something that we could otherwise not achieve.  Some of the greatest leaders that have ever lived have experienced tremendous personal loss and burdens in their lives.  Great leaders have always used that heartache to grow and then share that growth and wisdom they have learned in ways that lift and help others they encounter.

I have had opportunities in life where I have been able to experience the pain that deep personal heartache can bring.  I have spent times on both sides of this equation.  It is through the deepest of despair that I led myself into while blaming others for choices that affected me that I was taught this lesson.   When I began to embrace my heartache with the knowledge that I was going through this and I could come out a bitter individual or a wiser one, I chose the latter.  It wasn’t easy to change my outlook.  I am deeply grateful that I did.

Tremendous growth comes from tremendous pain when allowed to work within us. When against our challenges, and we play the blame game we create more pain and postpone the gain or growth that will occur within us.  Our perseverance and acceptance will help us through our struggles in the healthiest manner possible, which will more fully open our eyes to the wonder, opportunities and joy of life that exist for each of us thus enabling each of us to grow and become what we are destined to become.