“We all are so much stronger and braver than we realize.”
In the late 1970’s, at the age of 13, Madeleine Black was gang raped by two young men at knifepoint. Threatened with her life if she told anyone, she kept the secret of her trauma locked away in her psyche where it wreaked havoc for years.
“It silenced me for years, alongside my shame and my guilt and my fear.”
That silence, like it does for so many, took its toll, including an eating disorder, drug and alcohol abuse, admittance to a children’s psychiatric ward, and an attempt at suicide. She had completely shut down, likening the keeping of that secret and shame to holding a beach ball under the water. The pressure was immense, and eventually, as part of her healing and recovery, she decided to forgive.
“I didn‘t need them in front of me to tell me that they were sorry. It was a decision I could make quietly inside in […] my heart. But I’m not saying that in order to heal you have to forgive. This was my choice, and I’m not saying that I will ever forgive the act of rape, because I won’t, but forgiveness just brought me peace. It was my key to freedom.”
Madeleine’s journey to forgiveness did not happen overnight. It was a process of stripping back the trauma layer by layer over time. It took attention and intention. She had to keep at it. As one can imagine, this was not an easy story for her to share. Once she did, however, others began finding their way to forgiveness, as well.
As women, we have to remember that the bravery we show in sharing our stories gives others the bravery to do the same. It creates empowerment and fosters healing. Madeleine took a long time to find her voice and her words, but she now says that she’ll speak out about rape and shame and hope until her dying breath.
“We never know where it ripples out to […]. I do think that if we hear a story at the right time in our lives, it can just totally set us off on a healing journey, because I really believe if we can find our voice and speak our truth, then we start to stand in our power. We start to reclaim what was lost.”
So many are grateful for having heard Madeleine’s story, and now you can hear it, too. Someone helped her find her voice; perhaps her interview will help you find yours.
Maybe the time has come to release your beach ball. Maybe it’s time to forgive.
You can hear Madeleine’s inspiring interview by clicking HERE (also available on iHeart Radio, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever your favorite podcasts live).
“The dream is a gift. […] We don’t have to force anything out of it, and wherever it leads us is where we’re supposed to be.”
Kat Edmonson knows what it is to dream. Many of the rest of us do, too, but her dream has become a reality and an inspiration to others. Her new CD, Dreamers Do, speaks to the unfolding of a dream, from its initial inception to its obsessive gnawing and never-ending pursuit.
I could go on and on about how brilliant her fifth CD is (and it is), but I’ll sum it all up by saying BUY IT! Dreamers Do has now made it to my top 10, and that isn’t an easy mark to hit. What I’ll elaborate on here, instead, are the endless insights I’ve gained from listening, both to the music and to her responses to my questions.
“I have something that I learned, specifically from the making of this record. […] I needed to make it to answer this question: Is it ever too late to dream?”
Jesus. Who among us hasn’t asked that existential question? I’ve found myself tortured by it more than once in the last few years, but Kat blessed me with just the right words of encouragement.
“Every time I returned to this question, […] and I got really quiet, I knew I had to keep going.”
But what if you’ve consistently kept going (and going and going and going), and you feel like you’ve been sold a bill of goods? She shared some wisdom on that, too.
“There’s a quiet power in merely having a dream […]. Expecting something specific out of the dream, by all means it’s great to have a goal and to go in that direction, but the dream is more powerful than the goal.”
Hmm. Oddly, I’ve heard the popular quote, “It’s not the destination; it’s the journey,” a million + times, but something in the way she laced her words together gave its meaning new wings. After all, Kat’s strength is in words – speaking, writing, singing, conveying sentiment – and she recognizes purpose in their interpretation.
“It’s a very adult decision that I’m doing this […]. I’m not here to ask permission, and maybe by doing this, everyone else will feel comfortable to be themselves, too.”
And there in lies purpose for us all. As we live our passions and stand up to fear, we can take solace in knowing that someone is watching. Someone, because of our actions, will brave their what-ifs and take their crucial step forward.
I feel like I’m always taking steps forward, but there are a few key areas in my life that have been left behind and won’t stop nagging. Kat Edmonson may have created a monster, because I’m about to step it up.
If you’re in need of a swift but gentle kick in the butt, you seriously won’t want to miss this interview. You might just find yourself stepping up, too.
Listen by clicking HERE.
Also available on iHeart Radio, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever your favorite podcasts live.
Yes, that could be me! 🙂
By some random chance, Jonathan Senior, of Funky Thinkers, found me through LinkedIn. This connection has since led to some seriously funky fun! A few years ago, I taught a crash course on writing that was facilitated by Jonathan, and over the past several months, I’ve been competing on his interactive conversation show online called FunkQuest. I’m loving this!
Well, after 25 Funksters and 42 episodes, little old me has made it to the grand final round. The prize is the title, but how cool to add “Grand Champion Funkster” to a resume? I mean, really?!
The only way I can do it, however, is if enough people vote for moi, so you can help (yes, this is a shameless ask). Simply email “VOTING” to Leana@FunkyThinkers.com You will NOT get signed up for emails or put on any lists. It’s a one-time, super generous thing, and I’d love you for it.
You can watch the final competition by clicking this pic:
THANK YOU, FELLOW FUNKSTERS! And if you’d like to be on the show yourself, just send me a message, and I’ll hook you up.
Stay tuned for updates!
“I feel sorry for all these poor ladies who don’t have a great grandson like I’ve got.”
Great grandson, indeed, and the first and only man to ever be on Girlfriend, We Need To Talk! Why did I break with the show’s tradition? Because this story belongs to two people, not just one, and thanks to them both, we’re able to virtually tag along.
In the middle part of the last decade, Brad was chatting with her grandmother, Joy, when he discovered that she’d never seen a mountain. He decided to fix that and maybe even help her climb one, so at 85-years-young, Joy’s adventure of visiting every national park began.
“I decided, I’ll do it. I don’t mind trying something once. You never know. If you don’t ever try, you have regrets the next day you didn’t do it.”
There are 62 national parks altogether, and Joy and Brad only have two locations left now to visit: Sequoia and Alaska. Alaska has 8 parks of its own, so they’ll be spending a lot of time up there, which is planned for this coming summer. But as much as this trip has shortened their bucket lists, it has also provided a space to address fractured families and the beauty that comes with reconnecting. Joy and Brad lost a decade of life that they didn’t get to share together, but they’re making up for it now on the road.
“I really recommend [this] for anybody who’s trying to reconcile with somebody that they care about and love. I think when you’re in a vehicle, and there’s nowhere to go, you have that time. A lot of conversations that are much needed will inevitably emerge from the silence, and I think that, good or bad, tough or easy, those are conversations that need to happen, and […] it’s all for the best in the end,” Brad stated.
All of their trips were by vehicle until they had no choice but to fly. And, you guessed it. Joy had never flown before, either.
“It’s a long way down. I kept my fingers crossed. I don’t know if it helped or not, but I did.”
Joy is turning 90 this month, but she shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, this trip has made her look visibly younger. You just have to follow their Instagram posts to see the evidence, but Brad’s watched it firsthand.
“Her coordination and balance have improved and her mobility has improved, but I see it in her eyes, as well. There’s just no getting around the healing power of Mother Nature.”
They both admit to feeling a bit emotional as their 4 years on the road draw to a close, and I think I can speak for many of their followers when I say that we’re feeling it too. Thankfully, there are plans for a book on the horizon, and I can’t wait to get a copy.
This is definitely a story of connection. It’s about the love of family, the absurdity of ageism, and the strength of the human spirit, and I feel personally blessed to have spent just a few minutes talking with Joy and Brad. I can now close my eyes at night and hear not only nature and the crackling of a wood fire but also a conversation that spans generations and reminds us all of what’s truly important in our lives.
I think Brad said it best:
“No matter how ordinary we see ourselves, we all have the ability to have an extraordinary impact on other people.”
And my biggest takeaway from Joy?
“People keep telling elderly people, You’re old. You can’t do that. That’s the worst thing they can do.”
Grandma Joy’s full interview can be heard but clicking HERE.
Also available on iHeart Radio, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever your favorite podcasts are playing.
Wow. My podcast is a year old! Hard to believe.
Yes, Girlfriend, We Need To Talk! is moving into its second season, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Interviewing 52 outstanding women from around the globe has brought me inspiration, connection, and some pretty amazing new friendships. #blessedgirl
As some of you know, I started the show a year ago, because I missed having deep, get-to-the-heart-of-it conversations with girlfriends. We’re lucky in this lifetime if we can develop even a couple of relationships that deliver in this way. With one bestie lost to breast cancer, and the other living miles away, I decided to be proactive in connecting with inspiring women who had something say.
I loved every one of these interviews, but some highlights of the last year included Dr. Betty Edwards, author of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, leadership expert Sally Helgesen, style influencer Debra Rapoport, and most recently, Joy Ryan and her grandson, Brad, of Grandma Joy’s Road Trip. And suffice it to say, that after each conversation, I’m inspired to try something new.
The show’s new season will see a couple of changes, including a new spiffy intro and delivery every other Monday (versus weekly), with my blog post, The Girlfriend Takeaway, coming out on alternate weeks. In this way I can focus on some exciting new projects and continue to bring amazing women into your headphones that will hopefully make a difference in how you see the world and conduct your life.
And I’m THRILLED to announce that my first interview of my second season is with the incomparable KAT EDMONSON! I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with her recently at The Kessler in Dallas, TX, and I can’t wait for you to hear what she had to say about our inner most wishes and dreams. Her episode will air on Monday, March 9th.
Thank you SO MUCH to those who have followed the podcast for the last year and continue to show their support. My hope is that you gain great insights into your own potential through these interviews and that you consider yourself outstanding just the way you are.
Women rock, girlfriends, and we become unstoppable when we share our stories and build each other up. Never, ever stop believing.