Mojo Monday ~ Healing Wounded Hearts

Necklace made by Michelle Fairchild while healing her wounded heart.



Many people are familiar with the term “aha moment.”  We Cosmic Cowgirls refer to them as “awe ha!” moments.  I had my own shift recently after attending the latest Cosmic Cowgirl Hodown member conference.  My realization was that I don’t feel wounded by the old stories of my life anymore.  This was a truly beautiful realization for me, as in fairly recent years I went through some significant life changes and also experienced some difficult life challenges.  


In fact, I am not being overly dramatic when I describe the period as the dark night of my soul.  My personal struggles led me to retreat from some long held relationships. Thankfully, instead of going down a completely self-destructive path, I chose to dig in deep and accomplish some incredibly cathartic soul work.  I underwent a period of the unburying of the old hurts with the guidance of two therapists, and my husband and I also went through counseling together.  During this time frame I had questioned my lovability and likability. Anger and rage that I had stuffed also needed to be addressed and processed in healthy ways.  There was a point where my natural sunshiny ways of spreading love were dampened and I questioned deeply what love meant to me. This proved to be a profound experience.  I now see that making it through the dark times has led me to a lighter place, one where the love is deeper, the grace so much more profound and the forgiveness so much more freely given. I have also seen my spiritual wings grow stronger and more sure of themselves as I look at the world with awe and wonder.


I agree whole-heartedly with the brilliant author and motivational speaker leader, Iyanla Vanzant, that in order to heal our pain three things to need to happen, we have to feel our pain, we have to deal with it (really deal with it) and then we can heal it.  Feel, Heal, Deal.


I also must add that one of the gifts of belonging to the tribe of Cosmic Cowgirls is the way we are encouraged and even challenged to open our minds and think about things in new ways.  In courses I have taken with Cosmic Cowgirl University I have continually been reminded of our ability to write our own Legendary story however we choose.   I have been going through the process of doing this work with Cosmic Cowgirls for the past four years and there were initially times where my story made me sad.  There were parts that brought up pain and old losses and I would get stuck and just stop.  There was a time frame when I realized that the rose-colored glasses I had been wearing for years had developed some serious cracks in them and I couldn’t go on.  


Now I see so much more clearly how everything that has occurred in my life has contributed to who I am, and I really truly love who I am.  My Legendary story is a big adventure with plot twists, exciting heart-stopping drama, exotic adventures and whole-hearted love because of the joys, the losses, the love, the lows and the highs.   

In the eight years I have worked for a private non-profit fost-adoption agency I have learned a great deal about special needs children, wounded hearts and souls, and the therapeutic process.  My knowledge and understanding of how wounds affect behavior and our choices expanded ten-fold during those years.  


Then with my most recent “awe ha” moment it became even that much more transparent how many people are living lives as the walking wounded.  While I will not allow others to intentionally hurt me and I have learned a great deal more about healthy boundaries in relationships, I also have compassion for others, knowing that how some people respond or act is due to their unhealed wounds, which in most cases I have nothing to do with at all.  For example in best case scenarios those who are wounded, but haven’t dealt with it, do things like living life reactively, being blind to why things push their buttons, acting defensively, when they would really prefer to act lovingly.  


In the worst case scenarios the walking wounded can cause others grievous harm and pain. These are the situations that lead to violence, cruelty, and committing crimes.  One way of viewing those who are wounded and then act out by hurting others can be through the lens of a quote by buddhist Thich Naht Hahn, “When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over.  He does not need punishment, he needs help.”  Iyanla Vanzant goes more in depth about all the things stuffing and masking our pain can lead to, such as addictions (ie drugs, alcohol, food, sex, gambling), criminal behavior, as well as such things as low self-esteem, depression and lack of direction in life.  Iyanla also shared during her live show with Oprah about how people can also become addicted to their story of pain.  She tells one man who had been addicted to drugs and alcohol for twenty years, and after ten years of being sober and is still unhappy and has been thinking about using again, that he has become addicted to his story.  She challenges him on what he would be doing if he was to really choose to be happy and move forward with his life, instead of living in the past.


One of the events that helped push me over the hump and firmly into a new  awareness took place at the most recent Cosmic Cowgirl gathering.  During the closing ceremony, beautifully directed by a member, each woman went around the circle and one-by-one, linked arms with each woman and while looking into one another’s eyes said these words, “I see you.  You are my sister.”  It was a very moving, and at times emotional exchange, for those participating.  Days following that event, when I was asked by someone, who I had described the experience to, if saying those words was difficult, and my response was “Not at all.”  I shared that when those exchanged took place it was about really seeing a person and their inner soul.  In my spiritual practice it was also about seeing that God essence that exists in all of us and is that which connects us all.

Do you feel wounded?


Are there things in your past that still feel left unresolved?


What are your thoughts about healing?  


What are the stories you tell yourself about events that were hurtful?


How do things from the past affect you now in the present?  


What if you decided to start telling a different story?


What would happen if you were to heal and move on?  What would you be doing?  Who would you be?  




More to explore about healing the wounded heart:

There is a documentary called The Dhamma Brothers.  It is about an Alabama prison, known as “the house of pain,” that allowed a Buddhist meditation practice to be brought within its walls and taught to some of the prisoners, most of whom will spend the rest of their lives behind bars.  It is eye-opening and moving to hear some of the prisoners share their experiences with the meditation course and the changes it brought to their lives.  One of the prisoners in the documentary shared how he was more a prisoner when he was out on the streets, acting out all his pain in hurtful ways.  He will be in prison for the rest of his life, but the meditation practice led him to finally feel his pain and then deal with it, which finally allowed him to heal.  He actually stated that he feels more free now then he did prior to being in prison.  The reality is that he was in a prison of his own making, as are others out living lives in which they are hurting, unhappy, addicted to alcohol or drugs, which they use to dull the pain.  


Here is a brief video with the director presenting at a TED talk about the making of The Dhamma Brothers.


One other great show to watch is the first episode of Oprah’s Lifeclass the Tour.  In the first episode Oprah meets with Iyanla Vanzant who talks about “Stopping the Pain.”  You can watch the full episode by going clicking on this link: 


Fat Cow

Fat cow.

I would say that most of the people I know wouldn’t dream of calling someone a fat cow. Saying something mean and hurtful like that just wouldn’t happen. While I don’t know Oprah Winfrey personally I would hedge a bet that she also wouldn’t dream of calling someone a fat cow. She is just too nice and too respectful to do such a thing. She is the type of person who works on helping people feel better about themselves. She sincerely wants people to have better self esteem. This is why she moved years ago to covering all the positive topics on her program.

It is interesting that while many of us wouldn’t consider calling someone else something like fat cow, we might easily take a verbal punch at our self and call our self a nasty name.

“I felt like a fat cow.” This is a statement Oprah makes in the January 2009 issue of her magazine. This particular remark was made in regards to her feeling she had hit bottom when she wanted to stay home from a show as fun as one with Tina Turner and Cher in Las Vegas. She said she was supposed to stand between them onstage and wanted to disappear. She added that she was thinking to herself, “God help me now. How can I hide myself?”

I went looking for photos of Oprah with Cher and Tina as I hadn’t seen the show. In the photo above I see Oprah looking attractive as usual. She is wearing some sassy heels and a gorgeous dress. When I finally found a clip of Tina and Cher performing Proud Mary at the end Oprah joins them on the stage. It was amazing to think that she actually thought she looked like a fat cow. Her dress was very flattering and she looked like she had a nice figure.

Truly I felt a little disturbed by Oprah’s comments about herself. When I think of Oprah my thoughts travel first to her amazing life story. I believe that Oprah has the following she does and is loved by thousands because of that life story. People love to see someone rise up from the bottom. She has succeeded in spite of being born to two young people who weren’t prepared to have a child. In spite of the poverty. In spite of being female and a minority. In spite of being molested as a young girl. In spite of working in a field that is very competitive. In spite of her weight.

Once my thoughts get past all of that I then think of all the good works she is doing in the world. Her school in South Africa for girls and the Angel Network are just two examples. Oprah is an amazing woman who is extremely hard working and intelligent. It is thinking about these accomplishments that makes it so sad to hear how she could be so reduced to focusing on the physical that she would feel like a fat cow. She also fell into the trap of comparing herself to others and in this case it was none other than Tina Turner and Cher. Oprah shared “As I interviewed them, I was thinking, ‘Who’s the real older woman here? I am. They didn’t just sparkle; they glittered.” I believe that MANY women, if put on the same stage with Cher and Tina Turner, would find themselves lacking if they began a comparison game.

Oprah talks about the struggles with some health issues, medications, and letting her life get out of balance, to the point she wasn’t making time for herself. She is honest about her frustration and how she began eating whatever she wanted. She says specifically “My drug of choice is food. I use food for the same reasons an addict uses drugs; to comfort, to soothe, to ease stress.” I also took note of her sharing a comment made by her friend and author Marianne Williamson. Marianne said “Your overweight self doesn’t stand before you craving food. She’s craving love.” Oprah added to that observation, “Falling off the wagon isn’t a food issue; it’s a love issue.”

Reading Oprah’s self disclosing article was also a powerful reminder to me about my own issues with my current weight. I too have felt embarrassed about my weight gain. I too have avoided gatherings, parties, photos, going to my old town with the fear of running into someone who would quickly notice how much weight I had gained. Like Oprah I also thought I had the weight thing all figured out and that the battle of the bulge was finally over once and for all. I worked out six to seven days a week for one to two hours for a good number of years. I watched what I ate all the time. It seemed like I could do that forever. It helped that I didn’t have a relationship or children. The two biggest portions of my life consisted of work and working out. I filled in all the other moments with playing on two volleyball teams, riding my bike, gardening, dancing, rollerskating, swimming, doing arts and crafts.

I think that some of us, maybe lots of us, have that tendency towards wanting perfection. I sense that even though Oprah says she wants her new program to be about her health and not about being thin, she also really wants to look like she did in 2005. She wants to look like Tina Turner and Cher. How many of us strive and desire to look like the stars and models who taunt us from the covers of magazines? This focus on how we look can create such dissatisfaction with ourselves. Even when I was a skinny size 10 and looked great in clothes and in workout wear I knew that I wasn’t completely satisfied with how I looked naked. I actually had thoughts that the only way I would ever look “perfect” was if I elected to have surgery.

I believe Oprah is right about health being the ultimate goal. Health is truly the golden chalice. If you do not have your health the quality of life can begin a tailspin off a cliff very quickly. I attended a conference where the speaker was a woman who had an impressive career as an endurance athlete. When she stood in front of the audience even I would admit she certainly didn’t look the part of an exceptional athlete. She wasn’t a model and she didn’t have an exceptional figure. In fact she was an older, shorter, slightly overweight woman. The people in that audience were from the local community and I recognized many as top trainers from the local gyms who happened to be impressive athletes in their own right. A number of these trainers happened to be in their 40’s and 50’s. I also knew some in their 20’s and 30’s and while some of them might fit the expected look of a gym trainer, that certainly didn’t pertain to all.

I ended up sitting next to a young man who introduced himself as a sales rep for body building supplements. He was attractive with muscles bulging. I suspect he was willing to talk to me because I was young, thin and had defined muscles of my own. As he looked around the room he stated that he expected to see more athletes and body builders at this talk. I figured he was looking to make some contacts, do some networking, with the ultimate goal of making some sales of his products. I realized as he spoke that he had no idea who was in that room. I shared with him that some of the top physical trainers from the local gyms were present and that many were impressive athletes. What I left unsaid is that he wasn’t recognizing this because these people weren’t matching his expectations of what you see in the magazines. Not all athletes or people with great health look like Olympic models. Not all athletes have muscles in all the right places.

It is an adjustment to anyone who has craved to look attractive and beautiful to change their mindset. There may be a certain internal struggle about “settling” and about not striving to be the best. Questions may start to spiral. Can I settle for being healthy? Can I settle for not attaining the type of thinness that the media propagates as ideal? Can I quit beating myself up? Can I quit feeling like I failed? Can I quit thinking that I am a disappointment to my husband? Can I quit fearing that I am an embarrassment to my children?

The deeper and more real questions to start posing are the following: What do I win for being thin? Am I a better person if I wear a size 6, 2 or zero? Will I really have the perfect life if I look perfect? What do I accomplish by beating myself up? What do I gain by pointing out all my flaws and imperfections? What good comes of comparing myself to others, especially women who find it necessary to meet the physical expectations of Hollywood?

The truth is that barraging oneself with negativity leads to lowering self-esteem, greater self loathing, depression, more fear, increasing stress and this can easily cycle into believing we are worthless. The worst case scenario is that it can even steal our desire to live.

We get to make choices about what really matters. Some may make career choices that dictate they need to look a certain way. I for one would never want a career that was based on my appearance. I believe that more people need to set examples about what really matters in this world. It shouldn’t be about looking like Tina Turner or Cher.

We are each unique with our own set of genetic DNA that can dictate a whole lot about the size of our behind or how easily we gain and lose weight. It is about time that we begin to truly value and respect diversity and that means not just diversity of skin color or culture. We need to respect that we aren’t all meant to be a size 0. We aren’t all meant to fit into a size 6 shoe. We aren’t all meant to be 6 feet tall with legs that last forever. A woman can be larger and healthy. Just as a woman can be skinny as a rail and completely unhealthy with high cholesterol and a heart condition.

Copyrighted to Himalayan Academy Publications, Kapaa, Kauai, Hawaii.
I would love to have a conversation with Oprah and remind her that in some cultures a fat cow is revered, almost like a God. A cow is one of God’s creatures. It is almost humorous that the poor cows are getting a bad rap from her again and this time it isn’t about their meat. Oprah was once sued by the beef industry and had to appear in court. The beef industry lost its case as it grew apparent she hadn’t meant to defame their industry intentionally. Hopefully the Hindus won’t take her to task for insulting one of their most sacred animals. They love all cows -fat, skinny, tall, short, young or old. It doesn’t matter. They all get the same amount of respect. Isn’t that how it should be for us all?

Suggested Reading ~ You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay
“Overweight is another good example of how we can waste a lot of energy trying to correct a problem that is not the real problem. People often spend years fighting fat and are still overweight. They blame all their problems on being overweight. The excess weight is only an outer effect of a deep inner problem. To me, it is always fear and a need for protection. When we feel frightened or insecure or “not good enough” many of us will put on extra weight for protection.
To spend our time berating ourselves for being too heavy, to feel guilty about every bite of food we eat, to do all the numbers we do on ourselves when we gain weight, is just a waste of time. Twenty years later we can still be in the same situation because we have not even begun to deal with the real problem. All that we have done is to make ourselves more frightened and insecure, and then we need more weight for protection.
So I refuse to focus on excess weight or on diets. For diets do not work. The only diet that does work is a mental diet—dieting from negative thoughts. I say to clients, ‘Let us just put that issue to one side for the time being while we work on a few other things first.’
They will often tell me they can’t love themselves because they are so fat, or as one girl put it, ‘too round at the edges.’ I explain that they are fat because they don’t love themselves. When we begin to love and approve of ourselves, it’s amazing how weight just disappears from our bodies.
Sometimes clients even get angry with me as I explain how simple it is to change their live. They may feel I do not understand their problems. One woman became very upset and said, ‘I came her to get help with my dissertation, not to learn to love myself.’ To me it was so obvious that her main problem was a lot of self-hatred, and this permeated every part of her life, including the writing of her dissertation. She could not succeed at anything as long as she felt so worthless.”