Introducing a new and innovative program to help survivors articulate their powerful stories.

2020 INNOVATION PRIZE C3PRIZE WINNER

Stay in touch as we roll out this program!


STORY HEALING EXPERIENCES

Want To Learn More?

We are constantly rolling out new classes and opportunities- give us a way to keep you in the loop!

Meet Lisa McKenzie, Innovation Prize Winner of the 2020 Astella's C3 Prize for treatment beyond cancer. 

  • Cancer is not your only story

    Although cancer has happened to you, it's not WHO you are.

  • Empower yourself & inspire others

    By learning how to craft your story, sharing it with the world may lift up someone who needs encouragement.

  • Reflect on your SHEro's jourrney

    Sometimes you can't see who warrior you are until you reflect back on the entirety of your life.

CRAFT YOUR STORY.  GAIN INCREDIBLE INSIGHTS AND THERAPEUTIC BENEFITS.

Cancer is not the star of your story, you're the star of your story

SHEro Kristyn Kemp

Story Crafting Group Feb 2021

I was worried that my story wouldn't stand up against the other stories because I haven't a traumatic life.  My parents loved me, I wasn't abused in any way, I was always taken care of and my adult life has been pretty easy going as well.  But what I came across was a need that I have to feel worthy and I came to realize that I really am worthy through this process.  

I enjoyed getting to know this group of women on a very deep level.  I enjoyed sharing with them and opening up to them and also hearing their interest and thoughts about what I was writing.

SHEro Mary Jolicoeur

Story Crafting Group Feb 2021

 

 

My words seem to just flow from me now because of the opportunity I had to participate in this writing group experience.  I was really hesitant about participating because of the fear and trauma I experienced in my past.  Each week, I was able to unfold very intimate parts of my story and develop them into a story of triumph and determination.  The wisdom I gained from this writing group only affirms the strength that lies inside my heart and what I can offer to others who are struggling.  Thanks so much Lisa McKenzie for always being an advocate for women.  Grateful and Truly Blessed.

SHEro Lisa McKenzie

Story Crafting Group Feb 2021

2020 was an incredibly stressful year for me, where besides the Pandemic, many traumatic situations seemed to rear their ugly heads in my life at the same time.  I walked around with heaviness in my head and my heart, and felt that I was tyrannized by thoughts that were impacting my mental and emotional well-being.  I'm the program creator of the You Crown Story Crafting Experience, and felt that perhaps if I participated in a small group, I could find relief.  This is the second time I've participated in my own course and both times, the stories that came out of the program have been life-changing and extremely therapeutic.

February 2021 Story Crafters

Group Experience

These are just some of the many stories that have been created using our Story Crafting Formula.

 

SHARE YOUR STORY, JUST LIKE THESE SHEroes!

Kristyn's Story

Subject:  Learning to practice self-care and self-love

Story Crafting Group Feb 2021

Imagine a sprinkler

Dsh dsh dsh dsh dddddssssshhhh.  That’s how I felt, always going and always making sure everyone else was ok.

 

When I was single I lived downtown and loved finding Happy Hour deals at fancy restaurants.  I got to affordably be fancy.  Because there was a deal every night of the week, I was always busy and found myself needing “me time.”  I came up with "Treat Yourself Like a Princess Day" where I'd wear pink, and do whatever I needed to get done whether it was pay bills, clean or just get a good night's sleep.  I did not “allow” myself to go out to dinner or hang out with friends; I had a reason or excuse to decline offers.  I required myself to go home after work and take care of me.  

 

When my dad passed away, my friend offered her help.  I asked her to move my pink clothes from the washing machine to the dryer.  I still remember her response.  Of course she helped me but a full load of laundry, that was all pink???  Yes, I had one of those.  My Pink Days were sacred to me.

 

A few years later, after settling down a bit, I found myself reading my daily devotional while I sat on the toilet in the morning because that was the only time I had to read.  

 

After my son was born I had to find new ways of getting things done.  Because of my husband's work schedule, I couldn't go to a gym so I figured out ways to work out at home.  

I found that online work outs worked best for me and they were even better with Bravo playing in the background.  There's seldom a time that I only do one thing at a time.

 

Being told I had cancer in 2012 continues to be a blessing on my life.  Although I faced many challenges, I was also forced to slow down.  I was able to stop working my 9 to 5 job.  I had one thing to work on – getting through treatment. 

 

It wasn't until the fall of 2019 when a friend shared a challenge she'd found online.  I decided to try it.   Based on guidance from the challenge founder, I decided to "make A promise to myself and to not break that promise."  I committed to this challenge.  

I went all in.  

 

I started getting up 1 hour earlier than I needed. Getting up an hour early gave me time to do things I never found time to do before. I finally read the book my friend wrote.  And I was able to read other books.  I practiced gratitude and wrote down 5-10 specific things I was grateful for, every day.  I moved 30 minutes a day.  I worked out.  I walked.  I started running again.  I found out that I had no desire to run more than a 5k.

 

I finally had time to do things for myself while NOT on the toilet!  And I didn't even mind getting up an hour early!  Plus, my entire morning was better because I wasn't rushing to get myself and my son out the door.   

 

Recently I read a book where the author started going to her closet, turning off the lights and taking 10 minutes to just be.  The author would set a timer and at first, the 10 minutes took FOREVER.  I tried this.  I went in my closet, turned the lights off and set a timer.  And at first, the 10 minutes took FOREVER.  I tried to not look at my timer to make sure it was still running because it always was.  

 

As I laid there, on the floor of my closet, I took the time to REALLY think about things on my mind.  I actually was able to think through things, fully.  

 

As I continue on my personal growth path I'm discovering that I need to take even more time for me.  Shockingly, I'm discovering that I am worthy of even doing nothing.  I don’t have to be busy just because everyone else is.  And being busy doesn't give me value. I can decline invites without a reason and I can accept them when I want to.  

I can relax, stay in bed, have no plans and still have value.  I'm working on accepting that I am inherently worth everything I ever wanted and I don't have to prove myself to anyone. Or, to water their needs first.

 

I started as a sprinkler, dsh dsh dsh dsh, and am emerging as water that flows freely, that can stand still like a bayou or get wild like a wave in the ocean.  That can still nourish others even while putting myself first.  Water is abundant and beautiful.  It can warm me up or cool me down.  It calms my nerves.  It quenches my thirst.  

I used to treat myself like a princess every now and then.   Now I will treat myself like a princess Every Single Day.

 

Tammy's Story

Subject:  The entrapment of cancer

Story Crafting Group Feb 2021

The Jungle

 

As a cancer patient currently undergoing chemotherapy, I feel like I am trekking through a dark thick, scary jungle full of icky, wet leaves and snarly, unsteady footing.

Life before chemo was one of independence and adventure. I could drive, I was involved in my daughter's afterschool events, I had full use of my hands and feet. I wore makeup, jewelry and wigs. I went on dates with my husband and pain was manageable without heavy medications.

The alarm that triggered the trauma was a pet scan that revealed cancer metastasis to soft tissue again. This was a dreaded shocker because I had always heard that soft tissue intrusion was much harder than cancer hiding in the bones. Somehow, I thought the cancer would never re-enter my soft tissue...and certainly not a major player like the liver! Suddenly, I felt like a real cancer patient whose timer had been finally set. However, even so, I was ready to fight this disease again. So I thought that since I had been through chemo before that I could do it again and I would breeze right through it.

Slowly my life began taking a turn into the jungle.  Inside this mangled tree universe, the thickness of the close leaves were scraping my skin and arms. It represented all the needles and multiple pricks from medical staff and scans. As my prickled arms pushed aside flora and branches to make my way through, I found myself stepping into a huge ant nest and getting stung multiple times. These stings represented the numbness of neuropathy and walking like Frankenstein's wife as a result. The swatting away of the ants with my bare hands represented the neuropathy in my hands. I cannot open pill bottles, turn on a lampshade, open a bag of chips or put socks on my cold feet without assistance. I drop things and break my favorite dishes. 

 

The embarrassing incontinence in my fresh pajamas is cruel. It is as if after hiking all day, nighttime arrives in the jungle and I have finally found a warm, safe spot to sleep for the night. But alas! I suddenly feel the untimely pressure of a full bladder and I am too scared to move. What’s more, my wobbly Frankenstein legs may fail me. So I pee on myself.

After finally drifting off into a self-pitying, urine-soaked slumber beneath the trees, sometime in the night I accidentally roll onto poison ivy. This contact represents the extreme itchy skin that comes as a side effect of chemo. It is relentless and exhausting!! I am so ready to be done with this jungle!!

It seems my wish is granted as I finally come upon a hidden stream. It is beautiful and serene. It represents a break from my six treatments of chemotherapy. Enter Covid. Contracting Covid19 is a welcome respite. I can finally sleep and due to my mild Covid symptoms, all I have to do is nap and wipe my nose. No steroids to take. No trips to the doctor because everyone is afraid of me. Cool. A nice break!

Now that I have survived one half of my chemotherapy treatment in this jungle, the one thing I would share with others is to expect to surrender, let go and let God. You will need help so don't be too proud to ask for it. During this time it is okay to be dependent on others. There is no place for pride because humility will find you.

The gift I received was witnessing my husband and daughter figure out a household cleaning routine between them...without me. I was doing most of the housework anyway, as many moms do!

Well, I started off in this unfriendly jungle, but now that I am at this sparkly stream, I think I will float a while and surrender to its flowing waves until the time comes for the continuation of my treatment. However, I must remind myself that I am halfway there! 

 

Anonymous

Subject:  Taking flight despite the trauma of the past

Story Crafting Group Feb 2021

The Angel Story

 

I am an angel with wings that are infinite to the touch. Upon my head was a crown surrounding my skull.  Upon my chest is an armor of steel with a massive shield.  My wings are strong and can take on anything that comes my way.  My shield has rough edges from all the battles that I sustained through my flights. 

 

My life has been a flight that has been soaring through many skies.  Those skies have been blue and clear with the sun rise in the horizon.  Other skies have been dark, gloomy, with lighting bolts striking at my wings wanting to take me down. 

 

Before I became an angel, my life was one not feeling wanted was one of great pain.  As a child I was very vulnerable and feared what bad thing would come my way.  I was a meek and timid child.  How can parents just not want to take care of their children anymore?  I felt like trash just tossed aside.   

 

I felt happy when that GOD gave my sisters and me new parents, but then the sky started to turn gray and tumultuous.  Lighting and rain poured all around us.  The hurt and pain inflicted by my father felt like daggers piercing my heart as well as my sisters hearts.  My wings and shield were being attacked from every angle.  I didn't know if I could hold on much longer.   My sisters left the cage we were trapped in. 

 

When I finally broke free of the chains that were bounded around my ankles, I finally was uncaged and became independent caregiver for a hearing impaired girl.   I realized I was free.  However, I struggled daily because my sisters were married and had children and I had no one.  I did contemplate not wanting to live during this time.  I did not have a thought out plan but I did cry out to the LORD what do you want from me.  I had turned to personal dating sites and finally decided I wasn’t going to do this anymore until I received a message from my current husband who had an amazing little girl.  He stated I was the only ad he responded too.  It was like a dream to finally feel wanted and loved again.   I was able to smile.  I was able to be me again. I was finally free. 

 

GOD answered my prayers and I answered GOD by being an advocate for others.  I was a mother to an amazing little girl.  My journey continued until my world got turned upside down and I got diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  God finally called me to him and told me the task he wanted me to do.  That’s when I came to terms with my inner struggles. GOD made me into the person I am today.  I am whole.  I am worthy.  I AM ME.  No one loves me more than God..  He made me into a beautiful woman.  I want to thank myself for being strong. 

 

I never gave up on myself.  I continued to cling to the hope that GOD would save me internally.  He was healing my wounds.  He made me an angel in others eyes, although I didn’t see it yet until now.  I am that angel clothe in a majestic gown with jewels and a wing span to carry all who need it.  My shield is stronger that ever and nothing will stop me.  Watch me FLY!

 

 

Lisa's Story

Subject:  Facing the giants of 2020

Story Crafting Group Feb 2021

Giants

I’m not afraid to climb rugged mountains.  As a Capricorn, it’s in my nature.  Step by step, I carefully and skillfully make my way up even the roughest of terrains.  “Goats” as we are referred to - rely on our innate sense of stability to keep climbing...step by determined step.  Goats seldom fall off their mountains, unless a predator gets in our path.

 

Such is the position I found myself in in 2020, where my climb to the top was interrupted by an avalanche.  And the interesting part of that avalanche was that I knew it was coming and yet I chose to climb that mountain anyway.  That’s what we Goats do.  Cracks, crevices, or impossible rocky terrain in front of us.  We keep climbing. 

 

When the avalanche made its way toward me, the ground beneath me shook and I lost my sure footing as I reached out and grabbed anything that I could hold onto...precious parts of my life that seemed to be crumbling away.  With closed fists grabbing whatever parts I could take with me, I fell down, down, down until I ended up on my side, curled up, scared and naked in the dark muck in an unfamiliar pit. 

 

When I opened my eyes, I was terrified to see horrifying, towering Giants surrounding me.  They were laughing at me and taunting me.  The first Giant’s name was “Marriage”. He looked at me and said, “What ever made you believe you deserved a “til death do us part life.  You aren’t worth it”  The next Giant’s name was “Romance” and he snarled and said, “who would ever want to love you? The next Giant’s name was “Loneliness”.  He laughed and said “This is what you deserve.  You see -- It really is lonely at the top.” And the last giant - who was the ugliest and whose name was Defeat said, “Stop climbing. Your place is here with us in the bottom of this pit.”’ 

 

I wept and was sorrowful and started believing that maybe this is where I truly belonged. I lay in that position night after night, calling out to God to save me. The nights were horrifying, but thankfully, the days were easier because that’s when the Giants were out of the cave and I had more time to think and pray.

 

Sometimes, through the opening of the cave, I would hear a voice and it would blow in like a faint and gentle breeze.  Each day, as I concentrated on hearing it, the voice would get louder.  One day, I heard the voice commanding me to open my fists. I forgot that I was still clenching them and when I opened my hands, inside of each fist were rocks that I had grabbed while falling.  The first rock had the word, “Love” written on it and it was glowing so bright that the brilliance of it nearly blinded me.  The love rock reminded me of the many people who I have loved and who have loved me along the way.  The second rock had the word “Promise” written on it. As I held it, I felt the wrap of wings around my body as they gently lifted me to a seated position.  Inside those wings I felt safe.  The third rock had the word, “Courage” written on it.   “Do Not be Afraid, for I am with you it” the courage rock said, and it commanded me to stand up. And the last rock had the word “Faith” written on it. 

 

As I studied the faith rock, thousands of words started falling all around me like a giant waterfall.  As I looked down I saw that words were swirling around my feet until they formed the shape of a golden platform, that I found myself standing on.” Inscribed on the platform were the words Psalm 91: A thousand may fall at your side,  ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

 

That night, as the giants approached me, they were confused, because they saw that I was no longer laying in the murk and that I was standing tall on the golden platform. They were enraged and demanded that I show them what I was holding in my hand.  Although my first instinct was to start retreating, I held out my fists to reveal the rocks in all their glory.  I wanted to throw these rocks with anger at these giants, but instead I tossed them gently in the air -- and they landed on the Giants as light as confetti 

 

And here’s where the story gets weird.  When the giants realized I wasn’t afraid of them anymore, they lost their interest in taunting me and The next thing I knew, I was dancing with them in the cave.  Oddly enough, by befriending them, they took on an entirely different look to me. They weren’t as ugly as I had thought they were in the darkness. I actually ended up hugging them, as they became the most unlikeliest of friends to me.  I told them that my time in the cave had come to an end. 

 

As I walked into the sunlight toward the base of the mountain, I noticed that the Giants had linked their bodies together, forming a bridge that extended to the top of the mountain.  They beckoned me to climb up on their backs and said,  “Use us to get back to where you need to be.”  I thanked them for not hurting me and for showing me the way back home.  As I said goodbye to each of them, I took one steady step off their back and onto the mountain and then took another step and then another, and like a Goat, resumed my climb.

 

DISCLAIMER AND RESOURCES:

Story Crafting is a therapeutic self-help tool, but is not intended to replace traditional therapy.  Should you find that the subject matter is too difficult to process, please reach out to a licensed professional.  We have included some helpful resources here.

ONLINE THERAPY Book a private therapist online. It’s not just chat. It’s a complete toolbox. You get all the support and tools you need to be happier.  https://www.online-therapy.com/?ref=244790​


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