It was almost 28 years ago that I first attended my first New Directions workshop. It was November 1985 and my employer required that all managers attend the workshop for professional development. Like the others, I dreaded that class and only afterward realized what a gift my employer had given me.
I had so many bad feelings inside of myself (left over from years of abuse as a child) that I was actually experiencing physical pain as a result but from that very first class, I learned that I had control over my feelings and used what I had learned to control that pain.
When they brought the class to Fresno and asked if I would help assist the instructors with the class I was very excited and happy that I now had access to the class that had changed my life.
I regained the self-esteem that had been beaten out of me as a young child. Most importantly, I learned to love my family and show them how much I loved them before it was too late.
I learned that I was in control of my body and my emotions and that no matter how bad things that had happened to me or may happen to me in the future, I was in control of the impact as long as I was still living.
I now understand that what happened to me is not as important as how it made me feel and what I decided about myself as a result.
Since that time, all of my immediate family has attended the workshop; we communicate openly with caring and love. Even bad news is shared with the assurance of love and support because as my children have reached adulthood, lost their father and been through their own challenges, we have become a tight group that offers support and love, even when we disagree.
I take the events of my life (from magnificent to horrific) with me to the workshop and open myself up to the idea that I could be wrong in my beliefs and that I can still change that and take another look at what meaning I gave an event. Whether I attend as a student or as a graduate assistant, I always find myself working on something new that is important to me and makes my life better.
Before New Directions I was consistently unable to take any project or idea to completion. The things I have learned about myself and others has allowed me to take on challenges that were important to me and complete them. From 1993 through 1998, I spearheaded the grass roots effort to create and Fresno County chapter of Court Appointed Special Advocates to give abused and neglected children a voice in court. I researched, purchased and managed the installation of my new home as owner-builder. I completed by Bachelor’s degree which increased my earnings potential by 60%.
By living the things I learned at New Directions, I have gained the self-assurance to know what I want out of a relationship, what kind of friends are the best for me, and that I can attempt anything I would like to do. I also believe that most of the things people do that might have previously upset me are really not about me. Like most people, I am all about myself and those I love, when I apply that principle to others, I find that I do not need to take anything personally. Those people who love and know me, matter to me. If one of them tells me that something is about me, then I will take it personally, but not necessarily as a bad thing.