WEEK 22 – THE 52 WEEK LOVE PROJECT
Welcome to Week 22 of The 52 Week Love Project – Acts of Kindness. The project designed to recognize 52 inspiring humans who are giving back to our community – whether in a small way or by creating a movement for change and inspiration.
The project will showcase LOVE at it’s finest, share their stories – what they do and why they do it! It’s an opportunity for us to find out what inspires them and what keeps them going when challenges or self-doubt assail them.
Meet CJ Scarlet, The found of Seserys (meaning sisters). This is how CJ gets past self-doubt:
‘Self-doubt comes from believing we are not worthy—of love, of success, of happiness. I wrestled with self-doubt for decades until I committed to working through my issues and took responsibility for my choices—all of them. This work led me to fall madly in love with myself! I’m like a teenage boy I love myself so much! LOL. This radical self-love left no room for self-doubt and I find I feel fearless when confronted by challenges now.’
WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN?
When I was a small child, maybe 4 or 5, I had a real honest-to-goodness vision. I had just been spanked for some long-forgotten misdeed when it appeared before me. The vision was of a woman standing on a marble balcony overlooking acres and acres of tulips. As I toddled up to her side, I looked up and realized that the woman was me, all grown up, confident, happy and at peace. And I knew in that moment that no matter what happened to me in my life, my job was to grow up to be that woman and stand on that balcony.
This vision literally kept me alive at times when I wanted to end it all because of the molestations and sexual assault I endured. In my darkest nights of the soul, I held onto that vision and refused to give up.
While I’ve not yet stood on that exact balcony, I have become the woman I envisioned—confident, happy and at peace. I made it my mission a long time ago to help lead others out of victimhood and into a life thriving with possibilities.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
My mission is to use my hard-won victim experience to teach others how to protect and defend themselves from violence, and how to release negativity and regret so they can be a positive source of love in the world.
Leaning on the principles found in my two books (details below), I am working now to fund a charitable organization called Seserys (which means “sisters” in Lithuanian) that will educate people in imperilled communities to claim their power and defend themselves against spiritual, emotional, physical, and sexual brutality.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU?
I was dying. Years of depression and anxiety from childhood abuse and rape as a teenager resulted in severe post-traumatic stress disorder. By 1990, the dark secrets I harboured and the stress they caused led me to develop two life-threatening autoimmune conditions which, in 2002, left me fighting for my life. In 2004, I was told my condition was terminal. I became so debilitated I had to crawl on my hands and knees to get upstairs, and I couldn’t lift a cup of coffee or hold a hairbrush. I became very deeply depressed and anxious about my impending heart failure.
Then I was offered the opportunity to meet privately with a Tibetan Buddhist lama for advice. I hobbled up to his house, made a pitiful bow and burst into tears! I waited for him to shower sympathy on my oh-so-deserving shoulders. And I waited… and I waited…
And that’s when I learned that lamas don’t do dramas! Instead, the lama kindly but sternly commanded me to “stop feeling sorry for myself and start thinking of the happiness of other people.”
Daunted but determined, I began performing small acts of kindness—letting the mom with the crying baby go ahead of me in line, giving my cane to a woman who was struggling to walk and volunteering at the Red Cross after Hurricane Katrina. These simple, spontaneous acts made me feel happier, so I did more, and the more I did the better I felt, until I reached a point where my heart was so full it no longer mattered whether I was sick or well, or even living or dying—I was simply filled with gratitude for each moment.
At that point—all within 18 months—my condition went into remission! Today, I feel better and happier than I ever dreamed possible.
HOW DO YOU GET PAST SELF DOUBT?
Self-doubt comes from believing we are not worthy—of love, of success, of happiness. I wrestled with self-doubt for decades until I committed to working through my issues and took responsibility for my choices—all of them. This work led me to fall madly in love with myself! I’m like a teenage boy I love myself so much! LOL. This radical self-love left no room for self-doubt and I find I feel fearless when confronted by challenges now.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS WHO WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE/CHANGE IN THE WORLD?
What’s stopping you?
Seriously, most people want to make a difference in the world, but the task looks so daunting, so overwhelming that it often feels hopeless. This leads to a sense of helplessness and inertia, which leads to zero action.
The cure is to recognize that change can only happen one person at a time, and that any action, however tiny, you take to make the world better for someone else affects all of humanity. And, on the plus side, while it may not heal your body as it did mine, it will almost certainly heal your heart.
DO YOU HAVE A QUOTE OR EXPRESSION THAT YOU LIVE BY?
“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” (Source unknown)
I passionately believe that only love can overcome hatred and negativity. This awareness was hard-won after decades spent drowning in anger and victim thinking. I felt like life was happening TO me and that other people held power over me.
One day I realized that hating and resenting my abusers was like drinking poison and waiting for them to die. I was the one who was suffering as a result. I saw that harbouring anger toward them was continuing to give them power over me. Eventually, I grew tired of renting space to them in my head, so I kicked their asses out!
I learned that in every second I have the power to choose my experience. This was a huge revelation and it took courage to accept this as truth because it meant that from that moment on, I had to accept complete responsibility for everything in my life—from my thoughts to my emotions to my actions.
As daunting as this realization was, it was also tremendously liberating! Now, for the first time, I held the “magic wand” that would grant any wish I desired. The trick was, I learned, that my intentions had to be in alignment with my integrity and values for the wand to work. You can’t fool the Universe, so when my intentions were driven by ego and self-cherishing, my desires were inevitably thwarted and I experienced frustration. But when my choices were made with a generous and grateful heart, I almost always got the result I desired—or better!
It has been said that the Universe has one of three answers to every request—”Yes,” “Not yet,” or “I have something better in mind.” Sometimes that “something better” initially looks like the opposite of what we wanted; it may even look like the end of the world as we know it. But what I also learned is that every experience (and person!) is a teacher, and holds a gift for us in its hands, if only we have the heart and eyes to see it.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO?
I am an advocate for people who have been victims of sexual harassment and assault, as well as a personal coach and speaker on the topics of transforming personal pain and obstacles into opportunities for growth.
HOW CAN OTHERS HELP/GET INVOLVED?
My work, my passion, my life is devoted helping others, particularly survivors of violence and abuse, find personal peace and joy. I’ve found that living an authentic life—by loving our selves and others—is the path. I don’t have all the answers, but this much I know: you CAN be the change you wish to see in the world.
Here are some of the ways I can help you do that:
- My first book. Neptune’s Gift: Discovering Your Inner Ocean, is about the life lessons I learned when I was working to overcome my terminal prognosis. An allegorical tale likened to the bestselling Jonathan Livingston Seagull, it’s a quick read and I recommend it for every spiritual seeker. It’s especially great for kids of all ages who enjoy the colorful sea creatures that share their wisdom throughout the book.
- My new book. The Badass Girl’s Guide: Uncommon Strategies to Outwit Predators, is all about claiming your power to protect and defend yourself from violence. In the guide I cover everything from how predators groom their victims to how to out-think, out-talk, and out-fight them; all the way to how to navigate the criminal justice process and deal with the trauma. For every book sold, I donate one copy to a rape crisis center or domestic violence shelter.
- My personal coaching. I am a certified professional coach and work with a very limited number of clients who need someone to hold up a mirror to reflect their divine nature and act as a guide along the path.
- List of Friends and Resources. If you or someone you care about is or has experienced any form of violence or abuse, you will find a list of helpful resources on my Friends & Resources page on my website.
Profits from the above books go to fund the Charity Sesery. If you would like to donate directly you can contact me via email to find out more: here
Connect on Facebook: here
Connect on linkedin: here
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