You are worthy. You are loved. You are powerful.

Dedication: Dedicated to all past, present and future women of the world and their life helpers.

My story, of course, like all amazing women, started at birth. I knew from childhood I was different. I saw things differently. I was softer in my response to situations and people. I tended to see the whole person, not just what was on the outside. My mother always said I was a social activist since birth. I stood up best for those who needed someone to help them feel empowered. The unfortunate piece is that I didn’t recognize that I needed to stick up for myself and let my own needs known. That was neatly reinforced by society. I can tell you today, It is okay to ask for what you need. It is okay to take ownership of those traits that speak to you. Look at them for what they are and how they fit to your life’s passion and purpose.

When I was growing into adulthood, it was not at a time that it was okay to take ownership of your emotions. My father died when I was little and I learned instantly it was not okay to talk about it. It was not okay to be sad. “Wipe your tears, it’s time to move on. Everything will be okay.”

I moved through life quite successfully doing what I knew was expected of me. I went to college. I was gainfully employed. I married and had three children who are now full grown and successes in their own right. I raised one son and 2 daughters who are strong and able to keep working through challenges. I took care of my mother the last 5 years of her life, at the same time, worked from home designing children’s clothing, homeschooled my children, and tended to homemaking duties. But through all of this, I gradually was becoming aware of my inner strengths and was working my way to having my own identity. I was more than a homemaker and wage earner, community leader and volunteer. I loved those roles and wouldn’t want that part different, but there were other sides to me.

All of the things I went through leading up to that period, however, were important. That’s a message that all people growing up should know. Experiences are necessary for growth. It’s what you do with them that will turn the outcome. People will come and go in your life. It’s okay to process those times. Rejoice in what they brought to your life, mourn their leaving and welcome new people in. Sometimes, some of those people will come back. Sometimes they won’t. Where do they fit? The universe wants you to be happy. It truly does. Keep asking for whatever you need and want, do what is necessary to make those things happen, and trust the universe will supply that or better! That trust will get you through any challenge.

My life journey has had its ups and downs, as all journeys do. But the major shift in my life which has brought me to peace today, started when I had emergency back surgery 10 years ago. December 22, 2006. A few years later I had an emergency cystoscopy, also in December, just before Christmas. Something in those experiences changed me. I know that each slowed me and gave me reason to evaluate my life and an excuse to be kind to myself. Sadly, I like so many women, did not have balance in my life. I worked and looked after the world, more than I played. Take time to play.

Then December 31, 2008, after I had the cystoscopy, I abruptly quit my job. To this day, I do not know what spoke to me to do this, but I listened. I went back to college. This time for Business Economics, because, really, what does one do with an English major? It had seemed to not serve me well. It was the ideal choice. I chose classes that spoke to my inner voice. While I pushed myself to juggle home and get straight A’s, in spite of my family not being acquainted with my being this selfish. It was a tough 1 1/2 years, but true to who I am, I did it all. Including, taking on the care of my mother-in-law. It was this last experience that brought everything to a head and brought me, ultimately, to my true passion in life. My purpose for being here.

In taking care of my mother-in-law, my in-laws were well, let’s say, unkind. No matter how much I did, it wasn’t enough and they were greatly critical even though they did not help. What happened first was a major breakdown and was followed by a serious health crisis. One which I am still dealing with. I had a year of seeing doctors’ tops in their field, but had no idea of a diagnosis. I gave up on what has come to be traditional US healthcare. I followed my intuition and sought out Shamanism (which I had started exploring just before my health crisis) angel therapy, Reiki, mediums and Shamanic journeying. Prior to my health crisis, I had started my own business which was just becoming successful and that took a backseat for about a year while I healed from abdominal surgery. But it was in perfect Divine timing. I had a year of going to doctors who had no idea of a diagnosis. I could eat before the surgery. Following surgery, I could only drink broth and milk and eat eggs and cheese.

I have surprised myself over and over with my tenacity. My mother always said I was one to see what needed to be done and I would do it. I eventually realized that I needed to ask for my own needs, but it was well into late adulthood. I needed to find my voice. I needed to recognize it was okay to own things I knew intuitively and use them to good purpose. It was not okay to let people have their expectations of me without my permission and then be disappointed I didn’t meet them!

I have learned that I can believe the good things people say about me. I recognize that all of my life experiences have been wonderful lessons. And I’ve learned that everyone has a life journey. Their story is their story. I shouldn’t own their story, and they should not own mine. I love empowering women, yes. I love empowering people in general. I’m very good at it and incorporate it into my work.

After several setbacks, my business is finally growing! As a Community Visionary, I work fearlessly on raising human trafficking awareness, with my strength coming from being around people who share the passion of helping others; I am writing two books (making use of that English major! Remember, no lessons are without purpose); and I connect people with food access, with an eye to buying local.

There wasn’t a magical moment. My life journey has been trial and error and that’s all to the good. I know that if I were to die at any given moment, I have given life my best shot.

If I could tell all young girls and women one thing it would be to remember through all of your life journey, it would be to stop saying no to yourself. Answer the call of your inner voice and say yes! Trust yourself. Be kind to yourself. Remember every day is a new opportunity to reinvent yourself. It is never, ever too late. Do to the best of your ability. When you know better, do better. You are worthy. You are loved. You are powerful.

Story shared by...

Lillian Lake

I am a Community Visionary. I am an advocate for several important political and social causes. I speak and write on local food, human trafficking, and caring for the caregiver. I believe building community is about justice, environment, sustainability, retreat. I use this philosophy to weave together people and ideas from diverse areas.