As spring approaches, people begin to tire of being sequestered in their inner sanctums. They want to rush outside and enjoy the returning sun rays. A sense might be felt that after all the time spent looking inward, now is the season to see the beginning of the new phase of life we have craved.
However, before we enjoy the fruits of our hard work, we must tend to the shoots of new growth. This can be a frustrating period, and we must face it with grace and perseverance. This work can be made more empowering by taking a creative look at your situation. While you are working to heal and reclaim your voice after sexual abuse, you can use your hobbies and creative outlets as tangible manifestations of the growth process.
Activity One: Gardening
As the winter thaws, you might see residual leaves from fall around your lawn. As the temperature begins to warm this a good time to go outside and tidy your landscape. Find a patch of landscape that you want to cultivate and infuse it with your hopes and dreams for the coming year and the next chapter of your life.
Begin by mindfully clearing away the debris. Think about yourself shedding layers of beliefs, emotions, thoughts and patterns that no longer benefit you. Pay attention to any natural new shoots beginning to spring forth from the ground. Meditate on their journey from seed to seedling, and the resilience they show against the temperamental elements. Think back to how you have been reborn after pain and how you too have persisted in the face for both internal and external doubts and hurdles.
Envision the vibrant and diverse ecosystem that will become a home for birds and bugs while providing you a feast for the eyes. Notice how the garden you picture is similar to the many facets of your story. Dahlias can be your determination. Pansies can represent your goals of inner peace. When you look at the irises flourishing you can draw inspiration to blossom through even the most trying of times.
Enjoy how this activity can be broken up into multiple steps, that give you multiple opportunities for reflection and self-growth. From planning, to tilling, to planting to tending, your garden will give you a plethora of moments to turn your inner world outward and receive the blessings of each lesson. Make sure that you include a space in or near your garden for a sanctuary of self-care to promote moments of quiet contemplation and rejuvenation.
Activity Two: Cairn Building
Cairns for millennia have been used as attention-getting markers that highlight sites of importance. In modern eras, they guide weary travelers to a reliable trail. Cairns help those feeling lost and disorientated find safe haven. Use this exercise to build a cairn which celebrates the journey you have made from victim to survivor to thriver!
Select a space outdoors that best honors your spirit. It can be in the woods, in your backyard or near a body of water. Next, you can choose to buy or collect items that you use in making your cairn. Begin, by select either rocks or pieces of wood to build a mound. You can also choose to either leave the items in their natural state or paint them with words or images that spark joy in your soul.
Journey to this outdoor space and begin to assemble your cairn. Start the process with a deep, cleansing breath. Think about the story you want the cairn to tell about your journey towards wholeness. Let the creation process honor your pain, strength, and vision for tomorrow. As you establish the base, reflect on the sexual assault survivors further back on this voyage towards healing. Allow the artistic spirit to move within you. Let the various angles the items produce help provide those survivors with light and hope, guiding them into the serene harbor they deserve. When you feel you are done, show yourself and your guiding Force gratitude for this moment to reconnect with yourself and to provide hope for those feeling lost and alone. This simple act of “paying it forward,” is the best way to honor all the ways your trauma changed you and enabled you to be the beacon of light, inspiration, and action you are today.
After the dark introspective winter, the return of spring implores us to turn our insights into actions. Although new life is emerging through the cold, hard, ground, these shoots are still vulnerable. Just because you ventured out into the woods doesn’t mean that you don’t run the risk of getting turned around. This is the time to nurture hope. The results might be slower than we would like to unfurl. Yet with time, energy and mindful tending, we can redirect ourselves towards the next phase in our life. Moreover, we can pay it forward to those survivors just beginning the expedition of hard work and grace to rebuild their life after trauma.
Focus on the forces in your life that help steer you around life’s potholes and reinforce that you are more than someone who was violated. When you look around you will see signals and helpers along the way that can help you adjust your sails and guide you through the rough waters. When you get to shore, rest awhile, honor your voyage – but then take up the mantle and usher the other pilgrims of trauma into this harbor of peace. Teach them how moments of clarity ground us, and reconnect us with our inner wisdom that provides insight into ways we can thrive.
We encourage you to share stories of how tending your garden or creating your cairn aided in your thriver story. Email us, engage with our social media channels or leave a note in the blog comment section. Thank you for being an integral part of this uplifting and loving community.