Ashleephoto“The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud — the obstacles of life and its suffering. … The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. … Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death. If we strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness and more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus and open each petal one by one.” – Excerpt from ʻA Lotus Grown in the Mud.ʼ

Aloha, my name is Ashlee Friedman and I am sharing my healing story… With the help of Teri Callaghan , my counselor, also the influence of the Light On foundation and my own personal power I have been able to shift my life in amazing and magical ways. My healing journey began almost four years ago and is very similar to excerpt I shared about the growth of the lotus flower. When my journey began I was so insecure and unsure of myself that I did not even know where to begin. I had a lead a life up until that point of being a doormat, people pleaser and a total victim. My only healing resources were numbing out with drugs and alcohol and blaming other people for my misfortune. I began seeing Teri and she slowly started assisting me in peeling back my layers of protection, piece by piece. My healing path has been a slow and steady process and like the lotus flower petal by petal, I have allowed pieces of my true self to be revealed. As a child, I raised in an environment that was surrounded by dysfunction and chaos. I never got the blueprint of what it looked like to be in a healthy relationship or how to be an empowered woman. My father died when I was 2 and half years old and what a huge impact that had on my self esteem and enforcing my fear of abandonment. I was raised with the fantasy of love from the movies, since I was a little girl I have been waiting for my knight and shining armor to come and sweep me off my feet. And then I always thought, my life would be perfect and nothing bad would ever happen again. Little did I know that lIfe doesnʼt work like that and with each negative event in my life, I would put up one more wall of protection. Until pretty soon, I was so protected in my cocoon that I could not feel anything.

Through my teenage years and twenties, I encompassed the mask of being the total party chick who was wild, crazy and always down for an adventure. I used drugs and alcohol as my badge of courage, to get over my shyness and to create the image that I was the happiest girl the world. Unfortunately, that role begins to take a toll on yourself and there is only so much pain you can stuff deep within soul. One day everything you have been holding back is gonna explode like confetti when you least expect it. About three years ago I became sober from alcohol and peeled off one layer of the mask. And let me tell you that being sober and having to feel everything was a total unknown concept for me. I thought that I would be a party girl into my crone years. Partying was all that I knew, I never imagined my life without it. Quitting drinking and gaining clarity was the best decision I ever made, my whole life opened up in such an awesome way. I never imagined that sobriety could be so fabulous, but it took a long time to get to this point. It has been a crazy ride to have to recreate myself, but now I understand that being real, empowered and clear headed is way cooler then being so protected that you no one can really see you for who you really are.

Being an empowered woman was such a foreign concept for myself. I was under the impression that one day I would wake up and be confident in all aspects of my life. I realize now that being empowered means becoming clear, peeling back all the layers of protection and allowing your real self to shine through and inspire the people around you. It is a journey, not a destination, it is all about going with the flow, living in the moment and accepting yourself as you really are. It was such an amazing moment when I began to focus on all of my strengths, instead of comparing my self to other people and focusing on all of my weaknesses. We are all here to shine and to be the best versions of ourselves. The parts of your life that come easy to you and make you feel joy is the direction that you should flow. Recently I created an art show at Island Naturals and it was so magical to reignite my creativity and allow the community to see me for who I really am. I allowed my real, true self to shine and bring joy to others. For the first time I feel comfortable in my own skin. And I now realize that it is way more effective to let your gifts shine and inspire other people to be the best version of themselves. Raise your vibration and hopefully those around you will follow, feeling good is my new goal in this life and it makes everything so much more interesting and exciting!

In closing I would like to give a special thanks to Teri, Lisa and Vanessa, they are co founders of the Light On Foundation. And these woman are all guided by their hearts and are working together to lay the groundwork to revolutionize the way we heal from sexual abuse, domestic violence and child abuse. With the combination of Teri, my own personal willpower and the events of the Light On Foundation, I have become conscious and empowered. The Light On events plays an integral part in my the healing process. I needed to heal on a internal level, one on one with Teri and amongst the other women in the group, in order to holistic shift my life on all levels. Having a safe place where I could come and be comfortable with other woman is so amazing. Being able to support each other as women is so much more effective then being in competition. All the events thus far have been awesome, they offer tools of empowerment for ourselves and tools to share with others. Our last event was incredible, it took place at the beautiful Paleaku Peace Gardens in South Kona. We began the day with yoga which an amazing way for us all to settle in together and make the group energy cohesive. Then it was followed by a magnificent lunch which was very nourishing for the soul. And we concluded our day by doing aromatherapy workshop, which was very informative and empowering. By the end of the day we all so connected and comfortable with each other. Hanging with women in a supported environment is so healing. I am so grateful for the opportunity that Light On has offered for women. I have undergone so much change over these past few years and I am appreciative to all the factors that played a role in my healing. Thank you for allowing me to share my story and I hope that it will inspire others to share as well. Sharing our stories is incredible way to shift from a place of fear into love, we all have trials and tribulations and now is the time to support each other and offer a safe environment for growth to happen. We need to support each other and use kindness and compassion in to shift our world to better place.