Tell Your Story, Heal Yourself Part 1


Asking Ourselves Important Questions

Many women have asked me to write their stories after reading my memoir, Unbridled, and Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife. Writing these books taught me the healing power of storytelling. While it is sometimes challenging to be honest and raw about aspects of our journey, the more we open up the better we can see our lives from a different perspective and make clearer decisions going forward. Putting our experiences into words transforms and heals.

With that in mind, I'm launching this series of posts on the power of storytelling.  Every journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step. Let’s begin writing the stories of our lives whether we publish them or not. In August, I'll be leading a writing workshop for the wives of wounded warriors in partnership with Hearts of Valor, and will dig even deeper into these themes! If you're interested in attending, you can apply here to join Hearts of Valor.

But for now, let's talk about storytelling as a tool for reconnecting with ourselves.

Exploring your inner past

Sharing our stories is vital to our healing processes. When we write, we show ourselves compassion.  Navigating the events of our past can help us access own inner Sage. Our inner wisdom, our intuition, what some call the voice of God.

Journaling requires more of us than just talking and thinking. Writing forces us to access different parts of our mind and opens up other realms within our psyche. Write drunk and edit sober! Meaning, write first uninhibited and don’t worry about the finished product. For some, the final transformative step in recovering from or understanding the past  is to edit on a computer and publish their work, but just journaling is transformative, too, and the first step toward publishing. Write truthfully and fully, but with great compassion. 

Telling your story, sharing your struggles and triumphs, is one of the most powerful actions a person can take. Casting yourself as the hero in your own tale, seeing your journey on the larger stage of the world, and recognizing your power to create change helps you cultivate empathy and perspective. And when you won't or can't tell your story, you can end up feeling trapped, alone, lost, and constantly wondering what's missing from your life. Telling your story to just one person will connect you out of your isolation and will heal other people realizing they are not alone.

So what's the first step in writing your story?  Mindful journaling.

Journaling exercise 1: What do you want?

Before you can undertake mindful journaling in earnest, you need to unlock your goals. Writing uninhibited about anything that comes to mind can be very freeing, but healing requires more focus. So ask yourself:

  1. What do I want?
  2. Can I admit this is what I want? Most of us feel guilty saying what we want or don’t even take the time to ask ourselves this question.  Can we give ourselves permission to ask for what we want and own it?
  3. What are my options? How can I move toward getting what I want?

Be honest and open as you answer these questions. You don't ever need to show your answers to anyone!

Journaling exercise 2: Changing vocabulary

Think back to a specific event in your past that was disturbing or difficult. Now make a two-columned list and label one column “Negative” and the other “Positive.” Under the first, make a list of negative words or feelings you are holding onto about this event and would like to release. Under the second, either try to capture the flip side of the negative word (instead of “frustrating,” try “challenging”) or just add a gentler, more positive word or emotion you'd like to associate with this experience instead.

We can do this in one of two ways.

  1. When you encounter a trigger and would ordinarily think, “I feel frustrated, pissed, angry” try removing yourself a little. Say, “Frustration is there” instead.
  2. When your “frustration” trigger comes up, think back to the flip-side version of “frustration” that you listed in your Positive column. (Challenging.)

These changes sound small, but they can have an astonishing impact!

Journaling exercise 3: Perspective and the active narrator

Consider a troubling event from your past. When you re-visit this episode, and feel the emotions associated with it, does it feel like something that is being done TO you? Step back, breathe, and re-envision it. Write a new version of this story from your past. You can do this in one of two ways:
Create some distance by writing the story as yourself today. When you summon the memory, you drop yourself back into a younger self. Instead be the current version of you, and write about the event as someone who has a different perspective, more knowledge, and the emotional support to cope with whatever happened back then.
Allow yourself to fictionalize the episode. Make yourself an active narrator, or even better a hero. Write a version of this story where you take control, shift the power dynamic, and create a more satisfying ending. Think this is lying? Well, the way we remember past events may be more influential and important than the events themselves. And in some cases, completely rewriting those events can help us heal.

Attitude and control

The events of your past are in the past, and you cannot change them. You can rewrite them, shift your perspective, and do your best to heal, but you cannot fully erase them. And you shouldn't want to. Instead, focus your energy on what you CAN control: changing your attitude toward them. These mindful journaling exercises will help you do just that.

If you are the wife of a wounded warrior yourself and would like to share your story in person with other spouses, I would love for you to apply here to attend SPA Day in April! By opening up to others you will heal yourself, connect with others to feel less alone, and help those around you begin the healing process.

Can't wait to share more on the power of storytelling with you next week!

Find Your Inner Beach


Happy First Day of Summer!


What a waste of time and energy we expend! Most of our stamina during the day is spent on things/activities that don’t really matter.

We are bombarded with pressures to accomplish this, acquire that and measure up to someone else’s standard. We go to bed at night with our minds racing of yet what we need to do, feeling that whatever we have accomplished is not enough. Our poor souls are flooded with the misguided notion we need to do “more”.

Why don’t we remember who we really are and why we are really here?

Besides the mental ambush, we are bombarded with “notifications”. Our peace and quiet is disturbed with beeps, ring tones, chimes, horns and a host of other alerting sounds calling us to more action.

Sometimes we need to take a vacation to “get away”…get away from our normal routine to put things in bigger perspective. We need some “me time” some “alone time”.  When we can “get away”, all the items on the “to do” list seem a little less important.

With a travel vacation we find new surroundings, different people, and diverse milieu, we are forced out of our rut and jolted into a new awareness, like a breath of fresh air. The pressures gripping us release, our shoulders may drop and we exhale experiencing true peace.

But instead of waiting for a yearly getaway, I think we need to carve out “beach time” during EACH of our busy days.


What gives you peace? How do you maintain an attitude of calm, keeping your life centered amid the pulling pressures without jumping on a plane to “find your beach”? 

Besides meditation there are other “getaways” that can help us like taking a walk, listening to music, yoga or just sitting still relaxing with breathing exercises in the quiet.  Maybe lounge in a bubble bath. Do you like to paint, play the piano, dance or swim?

Make time for yourself… plan your getaway.

Whatever we choose, we need to unplug (maybe literally), to find our own personal beach bringing peace to our busy souls.  

 Find your beach….

Thank you to for this post.

If you have a blog post to share please email me at

Have a Beachy Day!


LOVER | Madonna | The Chameleon

“Be strong, believe in freedom and in God, love yourself, understand your sexuality, have a sense of humor, masturbate, don't judge people by their religion, color or sexual habits, love life and your family.”

~ Madonna



Controversial. Beloved. Misunderstood. Worshipped. As Lovers go, Madonna is definitely one of the most polarizing! This singer, dancer, actress, mother, and philanthropist has reinvented herself again and again, but somehow always stayed true to her authentic nature. Although her iconic name casts her as the perennial virgin and she was raised by a devout Catholic family, Madonna rejected the Church’s strict teachings from a young age. She knew her true vocation was being authentic to herself and embraced that instinct instead of following the script that was handed to her by her conservative upbringing. 


She’s been a rebel since the beginning, and now that she’s in her 60s, Madonna has grown into an inspiring example of a woman who owns her youthfulness and inner Lover regardless of age. She loves to have fun, wants to entertain and be entertained, but above all she wants to stay young and desirable. A force of nature, a deeply sexual being, and an astonishing chameleon of a woman, Madonna has remained hypnotically fascinating throughout her multi-decade career.


Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone was a performer from day one, studying dance as a child and moving to New York as a teen to start her career in showbiz. There, she bopped from job to job, working as a backup singer, a drummer, and a dancer, taking full advantage of the electrifying underground club scene of the late 1970s.[1]But she felt certain that she was destined for something more. Madonna wasn’t going to be anyone’s background dancer; she was meant for the spotlight.



In 1981, she hired a powerful woman manager, Camille Barbone, to help kick her budding singing career into hyperdrive. Camille was a perfect partner, teaching Madonna to make her way through the male-dominated music business and training her to leverage her seductive charms in negotiations. And it worked: By 1982, her song “Everybody” hit number one on the charts.[2]She had transformed herself from a scrappy club kid into a bona-fide rock star.


Fans loved her music, but also adored Madonna herself. And no wonder! She was utterly original and undeniably bewitching. Her early looks were based on lace, lingerie, fingerless gloves, and fishnet stockings, and fans all over the world copied her provocative style.[3]Those same fans were fascinated by her open, almost aggressive sexuality. She created visually stunning, deeply sensual music videos to accompany songs from her second album, the worldwide hit “Like a Virgin.” When she saw that commanding her own sexuality both thrilled and angered people, she began to see the link between controversy and power. That link would guide her for decades to come.


Soon she began to explore emotional and contentious topics in her songs, like unwed motherhood (“Papa Don’t Preach”) and sexual liberation (“Express Yourself”). She continued to push boundaries with her music videos, too, including the wildly controversial 1989 hit “Like a Prayer,” which featured burning crosses and an eroticized black Jesus. She was a spokesperson for Pepsi at the time, but when the Vatican spoke out against the video, her deal was yanked![4]


Unsurprisingly, she would not be silenced. In fact, in the years that followed, Madonna focused her work more directlyon sex and sexuality. In 1991 she released the film “Truth or Dare,” a titillating backstage peek into her life and bedroom exploits during the Blonde Ambition tour. In her book Sex, she showcased herself in erotic poses and dabbled in soft-core pornography, once again claiming her sensuality and power. The book became the most successful coffee table book ever released![5]  



In 1996, at age thirty-eight, Madonna broke out of a decades-long acting slump and won a Golden Globe for Best Actress for her leading role in “Evita,” the story of Eva Peron (who is featured under Integrated Women in this book!) Her love for the story and the music that accompanied it pushed her to change and morph again, and surprise the world with the stunning results.


In recent years, she has dedicated herself to staying young, both mentally and physically. Madonna continues to dance and write and learn, all activities that keep dementia at bay. Unwilling to accept sagging boobs and wrinkles, she’s stayed incredibly fit; She continues to work out regularly and embrace modern medicine to improve her body. Some people hate her for it, while others are inspired by her example, but she is simply being true to herself, even if the masses says she should give up her youth and act her age. Madonna knows better; She knows that we should all have some say in how we age. She continues to show women everywhere that they can and shouldembrace their sensual selves and their inner Lovers with wide-open arms. 


“I am my own experiment. I am my own work of art.” Madonna not only creates fashion, music, choreography, and movies, she lives a creative life reinventing herself to stay forever young. Whether you see her as trash diva, cyber-dominatrix, spiritual guru, or any of the other innumerable personas she’s adopted over the years, this ageless lover is not going lightly into the dark, forever young at heart.








LOVER: Dita Von Teese

“I’m more attracted to glamour than natural beauty. The young Marilyn Monroe was a pretty girl in a sea of pretty girls. Then she had her hair bleached, fake eyelashes, and that’s when she became extraordinary. It’s that idea of what you’re not born with, you can create.”

~ Dita Von Teese




When you think of Burlesque, what comes to your mind? A woman with a Mona Lisa smile sidling onto a smoky stage in a gorgeous satin bustier and sky-high heels? Watching her gracefully remove one article of clothing at a time, revealing the curve of her breast and alluring stretch of her thigh? If it weren’t for modern-day Burlesque pioneer Dita Von Teese, you might have envisioned something far less artful! This form of slow, tantalizing stripping focuses on seducing the audience through subtle but deeply sexual dancing ... but for decades people associated it with seedy carnivals and strip bars. Thanks to Dita, thousands of women have embraced Burlesque as a potent way to explore, own, and express their white-hot sexuality.


In 1974, Dita was born as Heather Sweet, and grew up in small-town Michigan and later Orange County, California.[1]Even as a young girl, she was mesmerized by the Golden Age of Cinema, images of voluptuous pin-up girls, and lacy vintage lingerie. So she set out to transform herself into a glamorous, sexy, powerful woman like those she admired.[2]


She recalls the first makeup moment that changed her life, saying, “I remember really vividly the first time I put a red lipstick on. I was maybe 13? It was the ‘80s ... and everyone was wearing that foil-y pink lipstick—Revlon Pink Foil. I loved that color, but I remember one time putting on a red and thinking, ‘This changes everything. This is all you really need.’”[3]


She kept experimenting with her image, dying her blonde hair black in honor of Bettie Page and refining her vintage-inspired fashion sense. By the age of 19, Dita was living in L.A. working as a go-go dancer; a few years later she had upgraded to stripping[4]; and by the early 2000s she was using her ballet training and passion for gorgeous costumes to thrill audiences all over the world![5]Today, Dita Von Teese is credited with single-handedly reviving the art form that is Burlesque.



And rightly so. Her touring acts are famous for pairing sensuality with glamour, titillation with class. Her famed “martini glass” routine involves her slowly revealing her alabaster skin and 

flawless figure, then climbing into an oversized martini glass to splash around[6]; deeply sexy, but also fun and playful. Classic Lover!


And like her idol, legendary stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, Dita has continued to practice the art of seduction well into her 40s.[7]What a powerful message to those of us cruising through the later decades of our lives: that being sensual, sexual, and attractive are about energy and attitude, not age.  


Dita Von Teese loves her job, and loves the sex-positive messages her glorious Burlesque act broadcasts to women the world over. She’s thrilled to see Burlesque classes popping up in cities everywhere, and hearing how learning this seductive art form is reconnecting women of all ages to their inner Lovers. She owns her power, as a sex symbol and a woman, and does it in the most inspiring way. In an interview with the L.A. times, she said, “I'm not the youngest. I'm not known for being at the forefront of the burlesque movement because I'm all those things. I'm there because I'm something different. Otherwise you'd be talking to an 18-year-old, beautiful, 5-foot-10-inch, leggy blonde girl that can high kick. Why aren't we talking to her? Because she didn't want it as badly as I did.”













INTEGRATED: Wonder Woman


“You are stronger than you believe. You have greater powers than you know.”

-Antiope, Wonder Woman’s aunt


Wonder Woman is the most beloved and enduringly popular female comic-book superhero of all time. And she’s got serious longevity: Only Superman and Batman have been in print longer. Since the first Wonder Woman comic books appeared on the shelves in 1941, young girls everywhere have looked up to her, been dazzled by her, and ardently wished to BE her. Just like other superheroes, Wonder Woman has a secret identity. Unlike her super compatriots, she also has a fascinating and slightly salacious backstory!

The creation of Wonder Woman

“I am who the world needs me to be. I'm Wonder Woman.” 

~ from DC Comics


Comic books were a brand new medium back in the late 1930s. The first issue of Superman launched in 1938, and in its wildly successful wake, publishers scrambled to create equally appealing characters.[1]The majority of these heroes were men, but a shrewd and unlikely author saw that the world was hungry for a strong woman character to headline her own comic.


That author was Dr. William Moulton Marston, a psychologist and co-creator of an early prototype of the lie detector. He’d never written fiction before and had actually been hired by a comic book company to defend the entire medium against calls to ban comics. Mothers and teachers across America were calling comics violent, amoral, and a terrible influence on young readers. After spending some time in the trenches with the writers and illustrators and colorists, Marston decided that the best defense against these moral high-ground critiques was to create a woman superhero. After all, the aspect of comics that got most American mothers in a tizzy was their brutal masculinity. Bring in a lady to calm them down![2]


“Well, Doc,” Maxwell Charles Gaines, founder of DC Comics told him, “I picked Superman after every syndicate in America turned it down. I’ll take a chance on your Wonder Woman! But you’ll have to write the strip yourself.”[3]


Marston was an outspoken feminist and had every intention of making Wonder Woman comics into subversive propaganda. He’d use them to subtly fight for women’s rights and show readers across the world that women could be strong, powerful, and wise. (In other words, INTEGRATED!) Marston was also a sexually adventurous man, and littered his Wonder Woman scripts with bondage imagery. He lived with his legal wife and a second, undocumented wife and based Wonder Woman’s character largely on these two women. Gaines may have hired him to quell controversy, but Dr. Marston just ended up stirring the pot![4]Luckily, Wonder Woman comics were a wild and nearly instantaneous success.


After William Moulton Marston died in 1947—just six years after the first copy of Wonder Woman appeared—DC Comics quickly began eradicating the feminism, toning down the bondage, and taking the character in a less controversial direction. Over the decades, the company has changed her origin story, re-launched the series multiple times, and made more changes than can be counted. Marston once said, “Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who, I believe, should rule the world.”[5]His vision may have gotten lost a few times over the course of her evolution, but that powerful core still remains.

Wonder Woman’s origin story

"The gods made the Amazons to restore peace to the world, and it’s what I’m going to do."

~ Wonder Woman


Enough about the man who created her! Let’s talk about the hero herself!


Again, DC Comics has published several iterations of Wonder Woman’s origins, but the original Marston story is the one that purists favor. In it, Diana is young a princess living on the secret island of Themyscira, a tropical paradise inhabited only by women warriors called Amazons. The Amazons were granted this island by the Greek gods and, Diana’s birth smacks of Greek mythology: She’s the daughter of Queen Hippolyta, but she was brought to life from a clay sculpture![6](Marston did this very much on purpose: He didn’t want men to be part of Wonder Woman’s origin story.[7]) Diana loves her life of learning and sparring and training, having never known any other world.


The gods created the Amazons to bring a message of peace to humanity, but they never lived out that fate. Instead, after being enslaved by men for many years, they hid themselves away from the brutality and ignorance of man’s world, and built a matriarchal society brimming with magic and powerful sisterhood. As World War II rages outside their island, they are blissfully ignorant.[8]


Then Captain Steve Trevor crashes his fighter plane on the island, and begs for the Amazon’s help in the war. Hippolyta holds a tournament to determine who will return with Trevor, and (of course) Diana wins. She is given gifts by her loving sisters, including the Lasso of Truth and sandals that allow her to run at great speed. She does not, however, accompany the captain back to fight, but instead considers herself an emissary from Themyscira charged with bringing her ancestors’ message of peace to a tumultuous world, a Warrior-Sage.[9]


Of course, after she arrives, she is unable to remain peaceful for long. Although she takes on the mild-mannered alter ego of Diana Prince in daily life, she transforms into Wonder Woman whenever she needs to fight the forces of injustice. And she’s been fighting since 1941, in more than 700 comic books,[10]several television shows, and a big-budget Hollywood film.

Wonder Woman’s cultural impact

“If you need to stop an asteroid, you call Superman. If you need to solve a mystery, you call Batman. But if you need to stop a war, you call Wonder Woman.”

~ Gail Simone, comic book writer


Wonder Woman has been an icon of female strength, wisdom, and power for generations. Even women who don’t identify with the Warrior often adore and revere her, seeing her as a level-headed Sage, ardent Lover, or caring Mother to all of humanity. She holds near-universal appeal because she is such a perfect balance of female archetypes. We can allidentify with Wonder Woman on some level.


And we’ve all loved and admired her from the moment her comics hit the newsstands. She paved the way for other women superheroes, and did so early in the history of comic books and superhero sagas. She has earned legions of loyal fans, and more join the ranks every day. The 2017 film sparked a new wave of interest, a new throng of young girls carrying Wonder Woman lunchboxes and backpacks to school, dreaming of being as strong and wise as she is. 


Our culture loves nothing more than to tear down a powerful, confident warrior woman. Physical prowess, bravery, speaking our minds, showing emotion, all of these things make us targets for ridicule. And millions of women worldwide, when faced with scorn and derision, put their hands on their hips and stand tall, imagining Wonder Woman rising up within them.















Get Unstuck: 7 Rock-Solid Steps to Overcome Inertia, Build Willpower and Implement Change by Lorena Knapp


How often have you said, “I know what I need to do” or “I’m planning on it” but days later (or weeks or months) you still haven’t taken action? You want to do it. You mean to do it. You should do it. But you aren’t.

You’re stuck.

Why? Inertia.

Inertia is the disinclination to move or act.

Inertia is powerful. It keeps us in the job we hate, spending time with “Debbie Downers”, or from shedding the extra 15 pounds. We are creatures of habit. We don’t like change.

To overcome inertia you will need to apply force. In this case, the “force” is the decision to act and moving from thinking to doing.

Overcoming inertia is simple but it isn’t easy. It will be work. You’ll want to slide back into your old habits. Starting an exercise program and getting into shape? Not that fun. Staying in shape? Not nearly as difficult. In the beginning, you will need willpower to develop momentum and establish a new way of being.

What we know about willpower: 

It is a limited resource.

You have a finite amount it willpower. The more choices you make, the more you deplete your willpower. After I’ve been flying for several hours, making countless decisions about the weather, our route, the fuel required, and how to best assist the crew and the patient, my willpower is depleted. This is when I am most likely to make poor food choices. The package of cookies in the vending machine or a fast-food meal seems like a great idea even though I often have healthy snacks in my flight bag.

Finding ways to limit your choices will help preserve your willpower.

Having a system helps. A routine prevents you from having to make as many choices. President Obama’s diet and wardrobe are limited. He says,“I don’t want to waste any time deciding what to wear or what to eat. I have difficult decisions to make.”

Believing in your willpower makes it stronger.

Research has shown that if believe you have the willpower to do something you are much more likely to succeed. If you believe your willpower is weak, you are much more likely to give in or settle. When you tell yourself, I have no willpower to resist moose tracks ice cream (the best ice cream ever), this is true. But if you tell yourself you can resist, then that will be true. Stop telling yourself you don’t have any willpower. You do. Once you strengthen willpower in one area of your life, it will carry over to other areas of your life.

7 Rock-Solid Steps to Overcome Inertia and Implement Change

1. Start Small. All you want to do in the beginning is have a tiny bit of movement. Think of a train. It takes time to build momentum. At first, all you need to do is get out of the station. What is one small action you can take today? Go for a walk? Research job opportunities for 15 minutes? Declutter one drawer? Replace one soda with water? Small actions lead to big dreams.

2. Create a Routine and Make a Date with Yourself. At a recent writing retreat with Ron Carlson, he said, “You wouldn’t not show up for a coffee date with a friend, so why aren’t you showing up for a date with yourself?” He was referring to a writing practice but the sentiment could be applied to anything you want to do. Scheduling a date with yourself is like the “pay yourself first” financial strategy. Carve out time for you. Preferably daily. Make it into a routine. Working on something for a shorter period of time daily is preferable to a longer block of time less frequently. Even twenty minutes is effective. Show up.

3. Be Specific. You’ve scheduled a time for your project. Now make it as simple as possible. Remove as many choices as you can to preserve your willpower. Decide exactly what you will accomplish. I often feel resistance when I am working on my book. Thoughts of “I don’t know what I’m doing” threaten to derail me. At the end of each writing session I make a note about what to work on next. Then when I open my Scrivener file, I skip the scariness of a blank page and instead have a clear direction for the day. Choose what you’ll do for your workout. Decide the topic of your blog post ahead of time. Know what tweaks you want to make to your website. Pick which drawer you will declutter. Be specific.

4. Create Consequences. Consequences can be positive or negative. I work much better with positive consequences. In the beginning, keep the rewards small and frequent. Once you’ve developed some momentum, you will be able to sustain yourself for longer and work toward bigger rewards. I wanted to read a juicy new book about the Pilgrim family but didn’t allow myself to start it until I had finished my writing for the week. What will you earn if you work on your project three days in a row? Dinner with a friend? A movie? Downloading a new song?

5. Believe in Your Willpower. Tell yourself you can do it. Your brain believes what you tell it. If you tell yourself you can be organized, you’re more likely to be organized.  If you tell yourself you work out regularly, you will. Create a new normal.

6. Don’t Worry if You Miss a Day. Don’t let one off day or crazy week derail you. Restart. Recommit. This is about progress, not perfection. Each time it will be easier to get going again.

7. Enlist Support. An accountability partner or a supportive community increases your chance of success. Don’t go it alone. Check in with these people regularly. Tell them about your project. Have them ask you about it when they see you. You can’t fall off the radar when you enlist support.

The hardest part of getting unstuck is getting started. By using your willpower, you’ll build momentum and implement lasting change. What change are you implementing?


Photo Credit: Charlotte Anabar

Guest Blogger Bio: Lorena Knapp is a medevac helicopter pilot and writer living in Alaska. Her website, Big State, Big Life, is about sharing the tools, ideas and resources you need to live your own personal Big Life. A life where you are fulfilled and connected with the things and people that matter. No more “somedays,” we are living a Big Life today. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Oh, and you can watch her TEDx talk “Get Uncomfortable: Living in the Yellow” here.