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Stories From Women How I Learned to Love Myself Stories

WOW! We received such wonderful and inspiring stories from our Facebook contest “How I Learned To Love Myself.” Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with WomenSpeak.

Our judges selected the first five below to each receive a $100 VISA Gift Card. We know that EVERY single one is a winner, so we have included them all here for your enjoyment.

Smart amazing women learn to love themselves. Read how below…

Congratulations to Our Winners

Abbe Ehlers – $100 Gift Card Winner

Once, in an earlier time, my then-husband said to me “you smile too much, you laugh too much, you obviously don’t get how serious life is.” In essence he was trying to put a lid on my joy. And I thought, “I must be very shallow and missing something here.” So I read serious books and tried to look through critical eyes and after a while I learned “I am one of the lucky ones, I was born cheerful, I can spread joy, it takes courage to be happy.” That is how I learned to love my joyful self.

abbe

Jennifer Rigano Denbo – $100 Gift Card Winner

I am 32 years old and found a lump on my breast during a self-exam in December. This was only months after a routine doctor’s office breast exam showed nothing. I’m learning to love myself again after having a double mastectomy last month. Things I once took for granted are more cherished and things that were so important (like my hair style), become frivolous. Learning to love yourself is a lifelong process, but can be achieved with an inner strength and determination. You can follow my journey here: http://www.takingitfromthetop.com .

jennifer

Terri Reed – $100 Gift Card Winner

How I learned to love myself:  I learned to love myself by loving the people around me:  my grandmother for the little bits of wisdom she shared with me every day.  My mother for the strength of character she demonstrated while raising six kids as a single parent.  My brothers and sisters for the unconditional loyalty they’ve shown to me through the years.  My friends for the unconditional acceptance they willingly offer whenever I show up on their doorsteps  Each of them has given me a piece of their own hearts to cherish: how can I not love that?

terri

Yelena Bosovic – $100 Gift Card Winner

I learned to love myself when I gave myself permission to be me. Growing up as a first-generation immigrant, I stood out from my peers: I spoke funny, had different traditions and a combination of acne and frizzy hair to top things off. It took years of mimicking my classmates in hopes of being accepted, before I realized that my flaws and characteristics make me who I am.  I don’t have to be the smartest, the most beautiful or the thinnest to be happy, I just have to be me. I am enough.

yelena

Suzanne Janick – $100 Gift Card Winner

I started to love myself the day I decided I was worth saving and began to plan leaving my abusive marriage of 22 years. Pretending to be the perfect family while behind closed doors I lived in fear of triggering his rage. With the help of a couple who had seen his anger, neighbors who had heard his abuse, my family who had prayed I would leave him and family services, my six children and I moved out. Going back to college, graduating, cultivating new friendships and interests have been ways I have learned to love me again.

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Honorable Mentions

Even though the powerful stories below did not win the Gift Certificates,  they all touched our hearts and inspired us. We thank you for submitting them. Read and enjoy!

Penny Suddock

After a 17-year marriage to an emotional and mentally abusive man I got divorced and took my two kids and moved away. I decided to go to college and get a degree in computers. After three years, a stroke, and our house burning down, I finally graduated from Labette Community College with an Associate’s Degree as a Executive Administrative Assistant. It made me realize I was still a good and loving person after everything my ex had done to me. I became a stronger woman and someone I was proud of and I loved myself for being able to climb higher than I ever thought I could.

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Cheryl White

Early in my life, choices were made, lives were destroyed, and the young woman I had grown into was left with doubts and confusion, doubts about marriage and confusion about being loved. My father’s choice to leave a 27-year marriage and start over, without his family, shaped my life and my choices for years. I made poor choices and never felt truly loved. I rushed in and out of marriages twice. I am now an adult woman who loves herself completely. I no longer long for my earthly father’s acceptance. I ACCEPT me and more importantly, God accepts me.

cheryl

Kristy Nelson

I have a confession: I hated being pregnant. I hated how I looked. And to top it off, all the extra attention and comments paid to my growing stomach. I dreaded labor so much that I skipped those chapters in all of the pregnancy books. But of course, that time came. After 16 hours of labor, my bundle of joy arrived. While physically exhausted, I was amazed at what my body had gone through over the last 16 hours and the last nine months. And I realized that I loved my body (cellulite and all) because it had strength and purpose.

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Denise Johnson

I learned to love myself when I realized the only person I needed to please in this world was ME. This revelation led to leaving a prestigious consulting firm, downsizing my current lifestyle, and setting clear boundaries on what I would not tolerate in my life. I’m not sure if this change in attitude facilitated a late-in-life pregnancy, but I know I never would have been ready to be a mother living my past life. Now, I wake up knowing I am who I was created to be and I’m only getting better, stronger and more confident each day. (www.showmesimplicity.com)

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Karen Parry

I think I started loving myself when I started taking Yoga classes. Today, our teacher Molly, told us to breathe in health and strength as we filled our lungs. I know that I am stronger and more flexible than before Yoga. I like to practice the ancient stretches, and as each class ends, Molly gently tells us to “take another moment to be grateful for this time that you have set aside for yourself.” When I practice Yoga, I am “loving” myself in an active way – sending love and life and strength to all parts of my body – which is, indeed, ME! I don’t remember ever doing that before. Thank you, Molly!

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Roza Andrukhovych

I was an overweight child, and I hated myself for that. I couldn’t understand why I didn’t look like my friends. My heart felt broken, and I kept my pain inside. Tears rolled down my face when I looked through a magazine, or into a mirror. I remember praying every night, and asking God to make me beautiful. As I became a teenager the weight came off on its own. However, losing weight was not what made me love myself. It was an internal understanding that I am unique, and that true beauty is found in the heart.

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Christy Wilkins

After my sons were born, I stopped exercising and started experiencing muscle cramps, arthritis, insomnia, foggy thinking, heart palpitations, crying spells, bouts of constipation/diarrhea. Five years ago while skiing I was hit by a snowboarder. I started experiencing tingling numbness, barely sleeping, having increased diarrhea. My doctor diagnosed depression. I was bone thin. I began to love myself after firing my doctor and spending $17,000. I had a simple blood test for food intolerances. December 15, 2012 began my new life. I am back to exercising, being creative and loving life without pain. In May, 1/2 Marathon here I come!

christy

Go Red & Connect4Good Billboard Up

WomenSpeak’s Women Connect4Good Foundation has teamed up with American Heart Association’s Go Red. This billboard went up on James River Freeway at the Chestnut Expressway exit. Click on image for close up of billboard.

Women Connect4Good & Go Red Billboard

Connecting with Professional Colleagues

Dr. Nancy at ASPPB San Francisco

I have been looking forward to this meeting of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. Members of this group are responsible for licensing and credentialing of psychologists and this is the 52nd annual meeting.

I’m honored to have served on the Missouri State Committee on Psychology for several years, and to have a role in maintaining standards of professional practice. This meeting in San Francisco this week is a great opportunity to get an even broader perspective on my profession. It’s especially a pleasure to renew relationships with colleagues like fellow psychologist Sharon Lightfoot.  Not to mention the fact that San Francisco is one of the great cities of the world!

Dr. Nancy Speaks at Big Brothers Big Sisters Rededication

Dr. Nancy delivers opening remarks May 17 at the the re-dedication of the Big Brothers Big Sisters facility at 3372 W. Battlefield in Springfield, Missouri. The expanded facility will give additional space for the Development staff, a larger Match Room, and a volunteer/intern space to support the 1,000+ matches Big Brothers Big Sisters made in 2011.

During the last five years in its current building, Big Brothers Big Sisters has experienced an 85% growth in number of matches supported.

She is a founding member and continuing strong supporter of the Springfield organization.

Related Articles

Should Women Learn To Handle Guns?

I met Kathy Johnson when I enrolled in a two-day Tactical Handgun course at the APT firearms academy she and her husband operate here in the Ozarks. In addition to being a co-owner, Kathy is a personal safety specialist who is proficient in gun-fighting and an instructor in women’s safety.The course was worthwhile but exhausting for me because I felt very tense with the responsibility of having and using a gun. I feel strongly the importance of personal safety but it was hard to handle the noise of weapons training. I felt a very positive connection with Kathy, who also offers classes for women in concealed weapons and handling guns.
I will go back, and next time I will take a course just for women. I expect I will find it less intimidating than being around bunch of macho guys! I asked Kathy to write something for WomenSpeak about personal safety for women. Here is her article.

Personal Protection for Women Helps Them Stay Safe

As women we constantly hear how we can empower ourselves, we are smart and capable of doing anything we set our minds to but when it comes to the subject of protecting oneself with a firearm most women tend to shy away from it. Because of fear or lack of knowledge or believing the media’s propaganda that guns are bad, it is easier to think it best to avoid or even outlaw such “evil devices.” Therefore, less effective ways are chosen for self protection. Yes, martial arts training, pepper spray and tasers help, but in the land of self defense the pistol is king. A woman well trained in awareness and a handgun is a formidable creature.
The key to security is awareness first. Controlling one’s environment to the best extent is next, including tactics such as: where and how you park your car, choosing your seating in a restaurant and mental preparation for an assault. To be truly empowered a woman must be able to live her life without fear of physical attack. Although security can never be guaranteed, training in personal security and firearms can really enhance her ability to survive an encounter.
Since children, we have been taught that if you are on fire you must stop, drop and roll. If a building is on fire you must exit the building and we know to wear seat belts while riding in a car and a helmet when riding a bike. But if we find ourselves being assaulted, we are taught to call 911 or kick the attacker in the crotch, which rarely works. My husband, a S.W.A.T. Commander for a Sheriff’s Department, always says, “The police are only minutes away when seconds count.”
In closing, knowledge is power. The knowledge and training in the safe and effective use of a firearm has saved countless lives. We need to get away from the mentality that guns are bad and viewing someone who is security conscious as paranoid. Learning more about firearms for protection and getting the proper training is a very good option.
Remember, the right to keep and bear arms is our second amendment but our first freedom. That is something we must embrace.

by Kathy Johnson, Personal Safety Specialist
 

 

FLiP's Evening in Paris Raises Over $26,000

In its first annual Evening in Paris event, Female Leaders in Philanthropy netted more than $26,000 to fund the group’s three service projects in Springfield, Missouri. FLiP is a United Way Women’s Initiative. The funds will go to support:

  • Formally Yours, which provides prom dresses for needy teens (discontinued program)
  • Suit Yourself Boutique, which outfits women in transition with work attire
  • The Ozark Food Harvest Backpack Program, through which FLiP provides weekend food for needy students at eight elementary schools

The evening drew hundreds of attendees who purchased $75 tickets, bid on silent auction items, competed in live bidding for French-themed paintings donated by eight local artists, and pledged support for the coming year. In addition, a ninth painting, depicting a vibrant couple dancing, was selected for reproduction as a poster, which will be available for purchase throughout the coming year. The crowd partook of a cash bar, hors d’oeuvres and a lovely buffet dinner with dessert provided by the Tower Club in Springfield.

Jim Anderson, President of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce, served as master of ceremonies. Chairman Dr. Nancy O’Reilly spoke representing Female Leaders in Philanthropy. As part of the program, Aleah Woodmansee described how she benefited from Formally Yours after a car accident depleted her savings. Lisa Miller explained the importance of business attire she received from Suit Yourself Boutique. And elementary school principal Dr. Kevin Huffman recounted the crucial role played by the weekend food provided through the backpack program.

Kudos go to Diamond Sponsor The O’Reilly Family Foundation; Emerald Sponsor Karen Krittenbrink; Ruby Sponsor Arvest Bank; Sapphire Sponsors Penmac and PJC Insurance; Pearl Sponsors Empire Bank, Great Southern Bank and Magers Management.

Thank you to auction contributors, artists and event volunteers!
Acacia Spa Raylene Appleby Bank of America
Competitive Fitness/Kellie Smith Cornerstone Jewelry Sandra D’Angelo
DB Salon/Duane Bone Haven Richardson Cheryl Dandridge
Dickerson Park Zoo Esthetiques Fabuless Interiors
Grove Pharmacy & Spa Natalie Hodges Dr. Kevin Huffman
James Decor Jelly Beans Lisa Miller
Meyer Center Missouri State University Athletics Mud Lounge
Obelisk Ozarks Regional Y Ozarks Technical Community College
Chalen Phillips Lotus Rain Reynolds Plastic Surgery
Springfield Art Museum Springfield Business Journal Springfield Hot Glass Studio/Terry Bloodworth
Springfield Pottery  The Review Shoppe  The Tower Club
 Town & County  Trailwood Designs United Way/Jennifer Kennally
Waverly House Aleah Woodhouse   Wine Styles
Tammy Crabtree Alicia Farris Cindy Kopenhafer
Nancy O’Reilly Sharon Warren Cindy Quayle
Charli Stout Debra Sutherland Dorie Bauer
 FLiP Membership Team    
Betty Parnell Judy Bilyeu Paula Adams
Candy Letterman Karen Krittenbrink Ramona George
Charlotte Horsman Kristy Chastain Raylene Appleby
Cindy Howell Cindy Norman (Evening in Paris Chair) Merry Hogue
Sallie Hazelrigg Diane Homan Nadine Ridder
Sandra D’Angelo Dorie Bauer Nancy O’Reilly
Shannon Handwerker Hayley Hutchins Pat Dierking
 Tamara deWild    

Dr. Nancy Accepts $25K Check for FLIP

FLIP receives matching check for United WayFebruary, 2011. Female Leaders in Philanthropy Chairwoman Dr. Nancy D. O’Reilly, far left, receives a check for $25,000 from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks Executive Vice President Julie Leeth, along with FLIP members Raylene Appleby, second from right, and Cindy Howell. FLIP raised more than $75,000 during the recent campaign, which included a CFO matching challenge for up to $25,000.

Dr. Nancy Appointed to Board

drnancyoreilly-confirmationtomissouristatecommitteeofpsychologists

Licensed psychologist, Dr. Nancy O’Reilly, was confirmed January 2010 in her appointment by Governor Jay Nixon to serve on the Missouri State Committee of Psychologists until August 2011. The board oversees the practice of psychology in the state. Pictured with Dr. O’Reilly are Drs. Mark & Jami Skrade and Missouri Senator Norma Champion (left to right).

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