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What are growing pains?

No, not the show. We all have experienced growing pains some time or another.  Part of growing up means leaving behind something we once treasured.

I'm not a victim.

More of my art here.

So naturally, along with the beautiful concept of Post Traumatic Growth comes growing pains.  It can be a scary ride on the way up from the ashes.

Nietzsche once said that “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.

I believe it.  People need adversity, trauma and setbacks in order to grow, change, evolve,  develop as a person, find their inner strength and become a richer, deeper version of themselves.  A Wounded Warrior.

This fascination started (besides experiencing my own crazy detour) listening to Dr. Martin Seligman’s TED Talk on the psychology of Happiness.

It’s a great talk, so I won’t sum it up – give it a watch!  In fact, I loved it so much that I bought his book, Flourish.

Although I like to think of myself as “thriving”, I happen to like the term Flourish very much…in fact, I recently wrote about Flourishing with an ostomy – thank to an amazing nurse.  That is, as Seligman notes, a KEY to happiness – other people.

Anyway, it’s a great book, and I highly recommend it!  It’s more than for those who have experienced trauma, or what a “lack” of bad feelings in their life.  It’s a way to increase more good feelings in our lives.

In this book, he talks about Post Traumatic Growth, and explains a Post Traumatic Growth Inevntory he gave to those in the military – a test I think we all need to take to build our resilience!


This was a great questionaire in the book that you would take after having experiences a crisis or traumatic event in your life – whether it be an illness, a breakup, a lost job, lost puppy, or just a difficult time.  How has that event shaped who you are today?  After taking this test, you might be surprised…

FIVE ASPECTS OF LIVING are assessed by answering 25 questions in the 5 categories listed below.

  • Relationships to Others
  • New Life Possibilities
  • Growth in Personal Strengths
  • Spiritual Change
  • Appreciation of Life

When taking the test, score each question from 0 to 4 according to the following:

No change occurred following my crisis = 0

A small change was experienced = 1

A moderate change happened = 2

A great change occurred = 3

A very great change happened = 4

So assign each of these a number, 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5:

1. I changed my priorities about what is important in life.

2. I have greater appreciation for the value of my own life.

3. I have developed new interests.

4. I have a greater feeling of self-reliance.

5. I have a more supportive understanding of spiritual matters.

6. I see that I can count on other people in times of trouble.

7. I have established new paths for my life.  (      )

8. I have a greater sense of closeness with others.  (      )

9. I am better able to express my emotions.  (      )

10. I now know I can handle difficult life situations.  (      )

11. I believe that I can do better things with my life.  (      )

12. I can now better accept the way things work out.  (      )

13. I now have a heightened appreciation for each day.  (      )

14. New opportunities have opened up for me.  (      )

15. I have more compassion now for others.  (      )

16. I am putting more effort into my relationships.  (      )

17. I have a stronger religious faith.  (      )

18. I have discovered that I am stronger than I thought I was.  (      )

19. I am better at accepting the needs of others.  (      )

20. I am more likely to change things in my life that need changing.  (      )

21. I am more inclined to be of service to others.  (      )

22. My prayers and meditations are more meaningful to me.  (      )

23. I feel a stronger loyalty and love for my country.  (      )

24. I have a greater appreciation of the importance of mercy and forgiveness.  (      )

25. My personal relationships have become stronger.  (      )

Now the fun part – mathematics!

Relationships to Others:  Add up your score for questions: 6, 8, 9, 15, 16, 20, & 25  =  __________ (28)

New Life Possibilities: Add up your score for questions: 3, 7, 11, 14, 17, & 21   = __________ (24)

Personal Strength Growth: Add up your score for questions: 4, 10, 12, 19, & 24   =  __________ (20)

Spiritual Change: Add up your score for questions:  5, 18, & 22 =   __________ (12)

Appreciation of Life: Add up your score for questions:  1, 2, 13, & 23  =   __________ (16)

How have you grown from your crisis?

Anyway, this test is just a starting point – I’m sending you to the expert on this – read Mark Seligman’s book – it will change your life!

***In no way affiliated with Dr. Seligman.  But if you’re reading this, Hey Dr. S – very cool stuff!

Finding the gifts of my own trauma


I’d like to think I’ve been quite resilient on my own beautiful detour.

Relationships to Others:  Well – I never would have had the amazing people in my life – including my husband!


New Life Possibilities:  If I wasn’t stuck in the hospital, I never would have discovered painting.

art maya perpetual you AMY magazine cover

Personal Strength Growth: I never knew what I was capable of until a coma made me start from scratch and rebuild an even more beautiful life.


Spiritual Change: Waking up from a coma, I felt like I was rediscovering the world again with a newfoudn appreciation of nature and the beauty of life.


Appreciation of Life:   I have a deeper sense of gratitude than ever before, and gratitude is the essence of living a fulfilled life!  I’m no doctor….but it worked for me!


Storytelling helps you find the Post Traumatic Gifts.

When I started to tell my story, I was able to reframe my narrative and make things happen for a reason – suddenly life made sense.  I coudl tell myself that the events that had happened in my life – which appeared tragic at one time – were all to shape who I am now.  Read my article for Huffington Post on this, but when we are the authors of our own story, we are the HEROES!  Victim – say WHATTT???

Sexual Abuse27 Surgeries6 years unable to eat or drinkComatose for monthsAn exploding stomach

I turned my story into….a musical? Why not? Humor heals!

Places you can reframe your own narrative:

On that note, I want to encourage you to share YOUR story.  I had the honor of sharing mine with – learn about them here.  You can view my feature below or on their site.

“Living with mental illness is many things, it can be ugly, painful, exhausting and life threatening, and it can also be tender, beautiful and transformative. 1in20 is a place where you can connect, both heart and mind, with those who have walked before you, and others who walk alongside you.”

“More than an awareness campaign, more than healing through art, more than stigma-fighters, 1in20 is a living breathing community offering validation, support and a creative outlet for people coping with and surviving mental illness.”

See my story below, and don’t forget to subscribe here for more tips on finding the gifts after trauma….there can be so many beautiful flowers to see along that detour…


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