Healing Hands

 

'Healing Hands' was inspired by a close friend and the blessed St. Chiara Bedano who once said, "I have nothing left, but I still have my heart, and with that I can always love."  I believe we express love is many different ways and we are all given unique gifts and talents by God. We may express our love through simple acts of kindness, speaking through experience, reaching out to someone in a moment of need, or being bold and courageous enough to take a path that helps inspire someone else to do the same. As a way to project the true beauty and inherent good in the world, I decided to photograph family, friends', and strangers' hands. I asked them to share their lives with me and write a brief prompt about what good they were bringing forth into the world 'with these hands'. For some, it became a platform on which they could speak openly about their lives without shame. Whether they were an instrumental part of my life or simply served me breakfast, I found incredible hope and love in each of their hearts. I pray that you feel as inspired and empowered as I did. Whether these individuals were aware of it or not, they helped revive my spirit. I found hope in humanity. I was able to learn how to fall in love with my life again. Thank you. I love you.

This is my tribute to all of the beautiful souls who give of themselves to serve others. Thank you for allowing your words to be heard. May you always be blessed.

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With these hands...

and my mind and body and faith, I became a three time MAC Hurdle Champion. I climbed the corporate ladder in a male dominated industry as the youngest district manager. I earned my MBA and graduated with honors. I became a wife and a lifetime partner. I raised three beautiful children. I ran the Boston marathon. I became sick, but I learned how to heal myself. I learned to pray and ask for God's help.

With these hands...

I made everyone breakfast today.

I served a blind man.

I spilled whipped cream.

I created something spectacular from nothing.

With these hands...

I have created balance. I have learned to balance running with yoga to create a full-body sense of balance from my head to my toes. This physical balance has allowed me to find balance in my mind as well. I have learned to balance sadness with happiness, hate with love, jealousy with admiration, restlessness with peacefulness, and sadness with cheerfulness. Finding balance within myself encourages me to show balance to others. I was previously closed off to others and the idea of helping others seemed like a waste of time. With these hands I learned how to be a light for others and to show them the balance that can be achieved first physically and then mentally. With these hands I learned that helping others is, in fact, a true passion of mine. I am now pursing that passion by building my career around it. With these hands I have discovered my true energy and my true calling and for that, I am thankful. 

With these hands...

I will take hold of my trekking poles that will help me walk 2190 miles, completing the entire Appalachian Trail. I want to hike the Appalachian Trail so that whenever I tell people that they can do much more than they think is possible, I will know it is true!

**This hiker left March 27th, 2017 and is hoping to arrive in Maine, in September or October. Wishing you safe travels and an incredible journey of a lifetime my friend!

With these hands… 

I struggle. I struggle to manifest the desires of my soul in this materialistic world. 

I fight. I fight to create a safe and caring environment that will prevent sexual violence from happening so the pain, hurt, and fear that burdens so many and tears at my heart will be no more. 

I create. I create opportunities for myself and others to be vulnerable and experience growth.  

I destroy. I destroy the walls I have created to distance myself from others – layer by layer – to reveal my vulnerabilities and experience life with my whole heart. Each layer, filled with confusion that has pushed so many away, is replaced with clarity and openness. 

I give. I give beyond myself to add value in this world so that love, worth, and positivity are left behind in a wake of my daily interactions. 

I balance. I balance on the edge of the unknown and my comfort zone; knowing that a flourishing life and endless opportunities lie on the other side of fear and vulnerability. 

I enjoy. I enjoy the process of the journey without succumbing to the pressure of the results. 

I challenge. I challenge the status quo with integrity, authenticy, and empathy. 

I support. I support dreamers, survivors, idealists, believers, but most importantly I support myself. 

I am vulnerable. I bring forward my vulnerabilities knowing innovation, creativity, and change will propel me from a work in progress to a semi-finished good (because no matter how hard we try, we will never be a finished product). 

With these hands, I collect the memories and moments of this short and finite life to remind myself to never be complacent and always move forward. Excelsior

With these hands...

I give unyielding love through God's grace to others. A life of Christ is to know love and to know forgiveness. 

With these hands...

I praise The Lord through the good and the trying.  With these hands I get to do the Lord's work: massaging broken spirits filled with pain, sadness, depression, trauma, or disease.  In return I get to see the Lord exchange beauty from their ashes. Through these two palms I get to pour love, comfort, and energy medicine into the greatest creation God ever made, his very own children.  And with these very hands I pray to the Lord of all Jesus Christ in hope and faith for things unseen, which are more real then the seen.  

With these hands...

With these hands I’m spreading positivity. God has given me the ability to see have a positive outlook on life, and I’m using my hands to pass this gift along to others. These hands are great at bringing lunch to my grandma on my day off, so that she’ll have someone to talk to and spend time with. These hands are great at offering help to those who need it, whether it be doing a bit of yard work or helping move out of an apartment. These hands great at picking people up when they could use a little bit of sunshine, in the form of a hug, a reassuring pat on the back, or just a simple thumbs up.One day I hope to travel the country, seeing not only the sights but the people too. I want to see all the beautiful places and hear all the stories that go along with them. As my journey moves on along the country I hope to leave a trail of positivity. That's what these hands will do. 

With these hands...

I have the courage to start, to lace up my shoes, and to keep going. Running fast, running slow, running a little or running a lot. I log miles and memories and many lessons learned. No matter how many obstacles I face or how many setbacks I have, I will always be a runner. 

With these hands...

God has blessed me with the ability to share my love of crafting and card making with so many wonderful people. I offer classes twice a month and welcome guests into my own home. I'm always anxious to share new techniques! By doing this, my stamping friends are able to make their own cards (with their hands) into "personal works of art". My hope is that others may use their hands to share what my hands have taught them. God is so good!

With these Paws... 

I give them to people in exchange for treats. I am well-behaved most of the time. The little beastie inside of me accounts for the not-so-well-behaved side that goes crazy and rips out all of the stuffing of my new toys. It's involuntary I swear. Just like the time I ate Pa's expensive rug. That was a big mistake. He still loves me though. We go on walks together with Momo. Trail runs with Mom are my favorite. I have a best friend named Sandy. She's old, but we still play tug of war. Mom thinks she rescued me, but really I rescued her. I was found on the side of a highway and she adopted me at the shelter. I never leave her side. We protect each other when we get scared. And we like to snuggle...a lot.  I'm the little spoon and she's the big spoon. No one could love each other more, and that's why we're best friends.

With these hands...

We've held each other through 58 years of marriage. We started our journey together on August 1st, 1959, and since then we've been to many places and experienced many fond memories. We brought three children into the world and into our hearts, which then grew to nine beautiful grandchildren, all of which are very close. We love one another and continue to hold each other through the ups and downs of life. 

With these hands..

I am holding yours and you are holding mine. Lifting each other up and hanging on for life. With these hands I offer healing, acceptance, and peace. In this chaotic world, these hands are bringing people together. These hands are scarred with tragedies. These hands are scarred with lies, manipulation, rape, beatings and torture. Depleted of their joy, these hands have felt ugly, foolish, lost, wary and used. These hands have felt completely broken. These hands have self-harmed and wanted to die. These hands were tricked, told that they were loved only to be used and raped over and over again. These hands didn’t understand what real love was for a long time. Then someone grabbed a hold of these hands who didn’t want to hurt me. They held on to these hands through every breakdown and psychosis I had, they never let go of me. They held on even when I accused them of being the same as everyone else, another abuser, user, liar, torturer.  They taught me that I can use these hands for healing. I don’t have to ball these hands up into fists, I can open them, gaze at their scars and secrets, and offer them up to the world for whomever may need to be held or picked up. They taught me I can turn my hands inward and heal myself. With these hands, I am an unstoppable survivor. With these hands I have enough strength to carry myself and others through a warzone. With these hands, I have hit a jagged rocky bottom and been buried, only to sprout roots and grow upwards, stronger than ever. With these hands I offer you a hand to hold on to, pull you up and give to you a moment of peace, waiting for when you’re ready to use your hands and heal yourself, too. 

With these hands...

I create lessons to instill knowledge among the youth of our planet. I grade several thousand papers each school year with various colored pens, while leaving notes of encouragement and guidance. I touch the lives of hundreds of children each year and treat each of as if they were my own. I provide assistance to high achieving students in service and leadership in the National Honors Society. I open doors to things that my students never dreamed were possible. I conduct experiments and see the eyes of my students widen with joy and wonder. I help to mold my students into their best future selves. I learn how to open my heart to many different ideals and many different individuals each day. I hold the capability to become more understanding and selfless with each passing tick-tock of the clock. I am taught how to be patient and kind, even in the most difficult times. I hold and cherish every moment, the good and the bad, I share with students. With these hands I teach as equally as I am taught.

With These Hands...

I intend to build the life of my dreams. This is a journey I’ve been on since my senior year of college, since my “quarter-life crisis”, one of the greatest and most profound moments of my life (thus far). No longer could I continue down my current path; I was forced down the road less traveled. While this road was often dark, scary and uncomfortable it took me to foreign countries, it helped me develop my passion and it ultimately led me back to health and happiness. As I’m nearing 30 and I look back on the time I’ve spent since college, I’ve got to admit, my 20’s have been pretty bad-ass!!!!! And I’m just getting started.

What I intend to build with these precious hands of mine (aka life goals): 

Life Goal #1: become a women’s holistic health educator

Life Goal #2: marry the man of my dreams

Life Goal #3: develop holistic wellness center for the community

Life Goal #4: continue to build fun, loving, trusting relationships with friends and family

Life Goal #5: put my unique energy into everything I touch, everything I do

Life Goal #6: live every day in the present and to the fullest 

Life Goal #7: play by my own rules, do what I want, do things well, only do things I enjoy doing

Life Goal #8: own Colorado ski house

With these hands...

I write pretty words about bad things on lined pages. With these hands I've brushed dirt off my knees from being pushed down to rock bottom. With these hands I took the dead and broken things that were inside me and built myself up from the ground. With these hands I've told stories, loved others and exchanged embraces. With these hands, I have learned that kind and inspirational acts are contagious. With these hands he almost broke me, but instead, I survived. 

With these hands..

I loved a drug addict. He was addicted to percocets. But he was my friend and I fell in love with him. His brother raped me. It was the day of a big game. It was recorded at home, but I went instead. He was six years older than me. When I think about it now, all I want to ask him is, "Why?". Why did you think that trying to get me more drunk was okay? Did you think that gave you permission to do that to me?  After it happened he texted me later that night, "Come over." He doesn't even know. That's what's crazy. How can you not know you did that to someone? I wondered if deep down his brother knew. I think he did. He asked me once in a real serious way if I was okay. No. No, I'm not okay. Your brother raped me. And you were there, but you didn't stop it from happening. I called a rape crisis hotline once. I ended up going to rehab. My parents sent me there. They didn't know what else to do. They are still my parents and no one will ever love me the way they do. My sister said it was my fault, but she didn't know any better either. People sit here and judge me. But they don't know what I've been through. I picked myself back up. I put my life on hold to get better. You what I love the most about myself? That I knew I needed to take a step back to get help. Most people go through their whole lives never acknowledging that they need help. But I took the time to see a therapist to work on myself. My most liberating moment is when I promised myself and told my parents, "This person isn't going to ruin my life." And he hasn't. Look around. I have so many blessings to be thankful for. I am so blessed. We are all so blessed. 

With these hands...

I am one year cancer free. With these hands I hold the Lord's right hand so tightly and step forward to each precious day! I pray “Thank You” for all the moments and memories. I am blessed to touch my eight beautiful grandchildren's hearts one more time! Life is a miracle to hold and nurture. With these hands, I have found truth.

With these hands...

I have been hurt, broken, beaten, raped, talked down on, shamed, unappreciated, abandoned, taken advantage of, and stripped of my innocence. With these hands I have been through so much pain and misery. With these hands I didn't give up or think of hurting myself. With these hands I have become wiser, stronger, I hold my head up high, I smile, I laugh, and uplift others. With these hands I am speaking my truth and claiming the space I stand in. With these hands I have the last say in my happiness, and I choose to be happy. I choose to give what has taken from me once upon a time. I choose to be PEACE. I choose to be INDESTRUCTIBLE. With these hands I am growing stronger with time.  I choose to not believe the message I have been given which is that I am invisible and I don't matter. I choose to make a difference. I choose to be the FIRST of the change I want to see. I choose to be authentic. On this journey I choose to me ME! Unapologetically.  

With these hands...

I strive to add value to the world and the lives around me, leaving each person, place, or thing better than before. This world can push us towards shallowness, but  I am eternally curious. Curiosity nurtures hope and optimism. It inspires invention, nourishes intelligence, and drives progress. I break down tasks into manageable elements, which gives others perspective, courage, and strength to overcome adversity. I also share my smile. This is my way of opening up and sharing my inner warmth. It brings sunshine to each interaction. It radiates light and is contagious to all. 

With these hands...

I have been given the quality to teach. I went through a difficult period where I took it upon myself to heal physically and psychologically. I was able to persevere and live out my dream as a professional soccer player. Through all the ups and downs I have learned who I am. I have learned a lot through the process and I would like to help others who have had similar experiences such as myself. We are on this planet to help each other and I would love to unite people toward a common cause free of suffering from psychological and physical ailments. Much love to all those who read this post. 

With these hands...

We uplift one another.

We help each other grow and accept ourselves the way we are.

We are empowered and recognize that our individual voices do matter.

We make more decisions out of love rather than fear. 

We are united. Together we stand. 

With these Hands...

I have fought the storms of life; and with these hands, I have stood against the relentless and traumatic strife. 

With these hands, I have sowed in tears prayers for those soldiers who kept me strong in my own faltering years. Vowing to keep and take to my grave your every secret.

These hands, I lift in praise, and I worship the Alpha, Omega; the Ancient of Days.

Finally, with these hands, I reach out for the lifter of mine head and rest assured in HIM. I put my life in HIS Hands. 

With these hands...

I picked myself back up along with all the pieces of my broken heart and made myself whole again.  I once loved someone so deeply that I believed the entire world was going to stop for us.  He made me feel something I had never experienced. There was this sweetness and sensitivity about him that was so contrary to his strong, masculine frame. He talked about God and his dreams and spoke to my soul with tenderness. I always had this righteousness in me that wouldn't allow anyone too close. I had been hurt before, but he tore down my walls, and in flooded the light. I fell madly in love with him. I told his mother that the first time I visited their hometown. We were at a parade in a large crowd, when she unexpectedly asked me how I felt about him. The words just kind of slipped out. Our eyes met and filled with tears because we knew we shared something special that only the two of us could understand. Her son told me once she had prayed all his life for me. He confessed that as a child they would pray together to bless his future spouse. And he wanted me to be that future spouse. He asked me a hundred times to marry him. I said yes. We couldn't afford a ring, so I bought myself this one and I promised him forever. 

His mother sent this mirror to me when I was in the hospital. The first conversation we ever had was about Italian mosaics. We shared the same love for Italian culture and art. She wrote me this beautiful letter using the mirror as a metaphor to describe me as both timeless and classy. I never had a chance to tell her what her words meant to me. Her selfless love gave me healing.

And so did her son. He didn't understand how powerful his love was. No one knew that for many months he had taken on the weight of my struggles as his own. He told me he lost himself completely to help me find peace. And when he left, I blamed myself for months. It took me a long time to realize it was never about me. There was something inside of him that he couldn't let go of. But I told him he was loved. Tried showing him he was capable of forgiveness. Because we all are. Sometimes we just have to mend well the garden of our own souls before giving our love to anyone else. And maybe that's why he left. Maybe he was trying to find himself too.  Or maybe he decided I wasn't really the one and didn't have the heart to tell me. I'll never know for sure. When things ended, he cut all ties and communication with me. I reached out, but there was always no reply. It broke my heart over and over again. I used to listen to old voicemails just to know that our love was real, that I didn't simply imagine it, and that kindness in him did once exist. Whatever the reason was, it doesn't matter anymore. I forgave him a long time ago. All I have is love for him. Because my heart still believes he is the one.

I know no one else will understand that, but you can't replace a love that burns your soul. I've only desired one love all my life, and I found it. I gave him my heart, and there's not a return address on that thing. No one is perfect, but even in his stubbornness my soul felt like it was made for his. I doubt he has any idea how hard I've prayed for him. I used to ask God every single day to return him to me. But it doesn't work that way. We must first turn to God to heal our lives instead. Now, I only pray for his heart to soften and return to love. I've had to learn to trust God completely and fall in love with the love inside of me, so that I didn't die of a broken heart too.

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