Human Worth

1. All have infinite internal, external and unconditional worth as persons.

2. Even though you may excel at some skill over others, all have equal worth as human beings.

3. Externals neither add or diminish.

4. Worth is stable and never in jeopardy (even if someone rejects you).

5. Worth doesn’t have to be earned or proved. It already exists.

As Kelly Clarkson said so well…
“I am still here because I am me, and I don’t really care either way. I love myself and It’s cool if you dig it, it’s cool if you don’t. I’m totally down either way”.

Hard Times

Hard times are often blessings in disguise. Let go and let life strengthen you. No matter how much it hurts, hold your head up and keep going. This is an important lesson to remember when you’re having a rough day, a bad month or a crappy year. Truth be told, sometimes the hardest lessons to learn are the ones your spirit needs most. Your past was never a mistake if you learned from it. So take all the crazy experiences and lessons and place them in a box labeled “Thank You.”

Raven’s Story

“Experience is not what happens to you, it is what you do with what happens to you.”
- Unknown

As a mother of three children, a daughter, a wife, and taxpaying citizen, I write this to express remorse for the bad decisions that I made. I realize how my actions victimized a system designed to provide for the welfare of all citizens. I am ashamed. I am sorry. I regret what I have done.

Obviously, I know and understand that I cannot offer excuses to justify any violations of the law. Laws hold our society together. Every citizen has responsibilities and duties to observe and live in accordance with the rules. I never intended to live as a “rule breaker.” The irony is not lost on me that in my advocacy for special-needs-children, I’ve pushed others to abide by rules and policies. Yet in this instance, I failed to set a good example for my children. In this instance, I am guilty of violating the law and I am both humiliated and remorseful.

Although I cannot offer excuses, I would like you to know more about me as a human being. Things I typically hold private, yet influences that led me into this predicament. They do not excuse my behavior. And I understand that my explanations do not go far enough in recompensing the victim of my crime, the US Government.

In order to ask for forgiveness, I feel compelled to explain more about my background and what I learned from this experience. I want you to know how I am striving to make things right and why I will never put myself in a situation that could result in criminal charges again.

To help you understand how I got here, I need to begin with my background.

Background

My parents did not have a great relationship. They got together in College and I was born in July of 1977. By the time I turned three, my parents divorced on account of my father’s having an affair. He went on to build a successful career as an Insurance entrepreneur in Oklahoma and Texas while my mom and I lived in Maryland.

It was not easy for my mom to rear me alone and I could tell that she felt a lot of stress. She never rebounded from my father’s infidelity or the divorce and I felt that as if she took her anger out on me. Both physical and verbal abuse were routine during my childhood. My difficult childhood has influenced the way that I mother my own children, as I want to surround them with love and support.

When I was 10, my paternal grandfather sexually molested me. That experience resulted in my having to proceed through the judicial system, meet with attorneys, and testify against him in court. It was a bad experience that left many scars on me. My grandfather died in prison and my father at the time, blamed me for putting him there.

Those experiences made my childhood quite difficult, and my adolescence wasn’t too much better. I did okay in school and in 1995 I graduated from Seneca Valley High School in Maryland. My hopes were to continue my education and become a nurse. That is all I ever wanted to do.

Unfortunately, childhood experiences did not bring great critical-thinking skills. I wanted to escape, to find something better. My boyfriend from high school and I had dreams. At 18, I got pregnant with my first daughter and gave birth to her in June of 1996. When I was 6 months pregnant my boyfriend and I broke up. We got back together when our daughter was born but that was short lived and six months later, he went on to live his life, leaving me with the responsibility of raising my infant daughter alone.

For two years, I juggled the responsibility of childcare with my quest to continue my education. While attending Community College, I met a man and we married in 1999. He joined the Coast Guard, so we married quickly without much planning or preparation. In retrospect, we were not ready for the responsibilities. I suspended my pursuit of an education so that I could move to South Carolina for his career with the Coast Guard. For the next few years, I lived in military housing, mostly alone because he would stay out at sea for three months at a time.

In June of 2000, I gave birth to my second child, a son, and I struggled with Post-Partum depression. I felt depressed and would lie for hours in the fetal position, sad with all that had gone wrong with my life. Doctors recognized that I had Post-partum depression and prescribed medication so that I could function more normally. Since I have struggled off and on with anxiety and minor depression. We moved to Rhode Island because my husband got stationed there in 2000 right after our son was born. I was a stay at home mom and ran a licensed daycare watching Military Children. We struggled on his E-3-E-5 income so I did what I needed to do so I could be home with my children. I also took online classes through the Community College of Rhode Island. Once 9/11 happened things went downhill. The realization of the situation and how quickly life can be taken, the impact on America and devastation, and then my husband was gone the minute it occurred. The lack of structure and stability led to a divorce, and in 2004 I returned home to live with my mom in Fredericksburg, Virginia. At 26, I was the single mother of two children under the age 7.

With support of living at home, I tried to resume my pursuit of nursing school, having gone to the Community College out of High School and while married I had all my pre requisites finished. I went to Germanna Community College and got into the competitive Nursing Program. This was so exciting because thousands applied and only 56 at a time were accepted. Despite earning a 3.3 GPA, and accumulating a lot of student loan debt, I had to drop out from the nursing program. Responsibilities of childcare and having to work to pay the bills would not allow me to fulfill demands of clinical rotations for nursing school. I would have had to stop working and have flexibility of doing rotations at random and selected times. I did not have that kind of support from my mother because she too worked and I had bills.

A brief relationship with another man resulted in my unexpected pregnancy and I gave birth to my third child, in August of 2005. He made it clear that he did not want the responsibilities of fatherhood.

Not knowing how I fit into the world, or what I would do with my life, I worked to continue my education with online studies. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 2005, and in 2007, I received my Master’s degree Specializing in Management. I even went on further and received all of my credits but 3 in Educational Leadership and Behavior Modification. With academic credentials, I aspired to live as a responsible and contributing citizen.

My early decisions led to enormous challenges during my 20’s. They were a very difficult time for me, and they became much more complicated with the birth of my 3rd child. Three months into her infancy, doctors diagnosed her with viral meningitis and admitted her into the hospital. To treat her, they pumped many drugs into her young body. By the time she was four months old, I could see from her behavior that she suffered from severely complicated health issues. She was always sick and in and out of the doctors and hospital for the first year and a half of her life.

Since moving back to Virginia, I earned a living by providing licensed daycare services. At first, I cared for my children and a few others. Later, I took on more children and had up to 12 children. One of the children I cared for was Autistic, which made me familiar with the symptoms and traits of Autism. I could see many of those symptoms and traits in my daughter, and in time, doctors diagnosed her as being Autistic. This was after me going to many doctors trying and begging them to tell me what was wrong with my baby. As a mother, this is a horrible feeling of knowing something was wrong, but not knowing the diagnosis or what steps I could take to improve my daughter’s life.

As a single mom of three children, one with special needs, I was grateful for an opportunity to earn a living by providing childcare services. I love kids. it was one of the few opportunities that would allow me to work from home, to be there when my children needed me, and to complete my online studies. Obviously, caring for up to 12 children, plus my three children, required full attention. Besides career duties, motherhood, and schooling, I needed to research everything possible to learn about Autism so that I could advocate for my daughter. She needed me to fight on her behalf, to get every benefit that was needed and appropriate for her.

In an effort to care for my child, I applied to social services with a request for additional support. Her diagnosis authorized her to receive a waiver which allowed me to hire a caregiver or caregivers, and Medicaid compensated her caregivers at $11.47 per hour. As the responsible party, I was required to sign the timesheets for each caregiver. Medicaid provided those caregivers for her. Since I had two other children, and a Childcare requiring care for 12 other children, there was no shortage of work. My childcare paid $8.50 for caregiver assistance.

I made a bad decision. The caregivers that I employed were supposed to be for my daughter only. When they tended to her, Medicaid would pay a higher rate than my childcare could afford to pay for help with the other children, I signed timesheets verifying that they were caring for her rather than the other children, as they wanted the higher rate. Both the caregivers and I knew that the caregivers were caring for all of the children in my house.

I wrongly authorized Medicare expenditures that I knew to be false. In so doing, I victimized the Medicare system by causing higher expenditures. Further, my childcare received an unfair benefit by not having to pay out of pocket. These actions violated the law, and I am truly sorry for what I have done.

Personal Story

In December 2011, I married my current husband. Our relationship began with complications, as he had children from a previous marriage that needed his attention.

In October 2012, I began to suffer from chronic back pain after I tripped and fell down a flight of stairs. Doctors prescribed Percocet, Tramadol, and Motrin 800 to treat the severe sciatica pain. The pain was intense, and to cope, medication seemed to be the only temporary relief. Later, an MRI test revealed that I had two bulging discs on my sciatic nerve. To treat the problem, I went through back surgery to remove the disc from my nerve in November 2013, but I’ve never fully recovered - you never do with back surgery.

Then, on June 9, 2015, my life almost ended with another tragic accident. While I walked across a street, a truck struck and crashed into me- - yes, I was walking. It threw me 20 feet in the air. The collision severed and decapitated the bones in my arm. It broke my pelvis, my sacrum, many other bones, tore my MCL at 80% and tore other ligaments that required hospitalization for over three weeks. A mild TBI (brain injury), resulted. I lost my short-term memory for several months and now suffer complications that include loss of focus, insomnia, and anxiety. These complications will be with me for the rest of my life.

Personal Challenges and Remorse

I am remorseful for what I have done. Although I am a parent that advocates fiercely for the needs of children, I should not have signed timesheets for caregivers when they were not tending to my daughter’s needs, I was. My actions resulted in losses for the Medicare system, and I’m doing everything within my power to repay those losses.

Fortunately, I’ve built a business as a health coach and educator for women who want to get healthy, feel alive again, and tackle emotional eating. I have also become effective at advocating and learning laws and policies that allow parents to get what is needed and appropriate in the educational system for their children.

Although I plead guilty to Health Care Fraud and Theft of Government funds, I hope that you will see the goodness of my character despite what these charges reveal. I was sentenced to 24 months at Alderson Prison Camp.

“What got you here won’t get you there.”
Marshall Goldsmith

In serving time, I have learned, I believe, the most valuable lessons in life ever.

1. To be Humble.
2. To have Faith.
3. To have Gratitude.

I believe I am returning as a better person who sees life differently and with less judgment. Someone who has a whole lot more to give this world and serve others.

Yours in health,
Raven

P.S. I had to let fake news fueled by social media, be just that. It is embarrassing for the sloppy outlets who have chosen to write such incorrect information. However, I care, so I had to write Raven’s story.

5 Ways Almost Dying Saved My Life – and What You Can Learn from it

My life changed forever in the middle of a small downtown area in Maryland on June 9th 2015 at sunset. 

I was walking across the street to teach a class on Essential Oils. I teach classes all the time, but this day was different. I had just gotten off the phone with my husband and friend, climbed out of my truck, gathered my stuff and proceeded to walk across the street, just as I’ve done all my life. 

In a split-second, everything changed as a dump truck struck me and threw me 20 feet. 

For several minutes, I ceased to exist.   

My arm was mostly severed (it literally looked like someone had cut it off with a pair of scissors!).  

I broke my pelvis, sacrum, transverse F5 vertebra, tore my MCL at 80% and sustained a stage 3 Traumatic Brain Injury. Which meant I lost all short term memory for 4 months. 

Because of the brain injury, I had to learn how to dress myself all over again, and I’d get sick just turning my head. I got horrific migraines, my vision blurred…and I forgot everything. 

On my journey back to health, I learned to compensate and make things work due to my limitations with memory or simply not being physically strong enough.  

I have to rethink every time I go to pick something up. Or carry heavy items. Even lifting weights is limited because of my injuries. 

But I also learned a number of other things that I want to share with you today: 

1. Life is short. Don’t let fear get in your way of the things you want to do in life. Push through it so you can create your dreams, visions, and goals, because you are worth it. Not because of what anyone else says. 

2.  Learn to compensate. We already do this in life, in all types of situations. For me, compensating means thinking “outside the box” in new, creative ways and willing to make the things that are important to us happen - even if it means doing them a little differently.  

I have three children and my youngest has Autism. Thinking outside the box is something she does every day. But for most of us, it’s much harder. Yet, there are times in our lives that we have no other choice.  

After I was hit, you can bet my options were limited.  

I lived with stick-it notes beside my best friends’ photos. Multiple calendars set up with alarms. But most of all, I had to be okay with not being perfect and not be so hard on myself.  

Give yourself some slack but learn to compensate to make things work for you. 

3. Be open about your weaknesses, especially if they bother you, so you can heal in the process. The more we talk and communicate about something, the more we are actually healing ourselves. We all need this.  

So instead of looking at it as a bad thing, I see it as a good thing, along with creating understanding and awareness for others which they appreciate as well.  

I’ve been an open book and upfront about my struggle since my accident, but not because I’m looking for sympathy. I love how positive I feel in how much I’ve grown, how it’s changed me for the better, and how I feel more empathetic towards others who have their own struggles and challenges in life.  

I help them find the strength they have within themselves, and now know this is my superpower. Recognizing and being aware of our weaknesses is critical so it doesn’t become something we use as a crutch. 

4.  What you can offer others, from a life-changing experience, is wisdom and hope. The more I talk about my accident the more I heal, but I also see how conquering my challenges has given people hope, purpose, and something to hold onto. It’s transformational. 

I’ve always said that if I can help just one person, I’d be happy. And instead of using my story as a pity party, I’ve used it to give strength and hope to so many.  I have put a smiles on faces of people who have not had that glimmer of happiness in a long time and have helped people create an unshakeable belief system that was lost due to life events. 

5.  Keep moving forward. It’s as crucial to your well-being as it is to others who love and care about you. Being patient and kind to yourself, allowing yourself a good hard cry every now and then, and realizing it is okay to get frustrated and it’s okay to be sad sometimes.  

I joke and tell people that you’ve got 24 hours to feel sorry for yourself and then you need to dust yourself off and keep moving forward. Learning to move through the hurt is huge!   

We can’t change the past, we can only change the future, and we might as well make it good. 

No matter where you’ve been, what you’ve done in the past, you can create the life you want. I’m living proof! 

So what’s the #1 thing holding you back from having unshakeable belief in yourself and going after the life you WANT?  

Drop it in the comments here.

Create your unshakeable belief system

Emotional eating sucks, and yet we all do it. 

And often, society makes it glamorous. I mean, how many TV shows have you seen where women dunk their broken hearts in a tub of ice cream or binge on chocolate? 

But some take it to another, uncontrollable level for various reasons. Could be our past, a bad relationship, a tough childhood, or some other hurt or pain we’ve stuffed way down deep. 

Whatever your reason may be, it’s time to heal and move on. You’re worth it!   

Part of the problem with emotional eating is that we tell ourselves the same old broken B.S. stories. It’s proven that we believe what we tell ourselves over and over.  

The good news is, it works for BOTH negative and positive self-talk. Which means it’s reversible. 

So I’m issuing you a challenge.  

In the beginning this is going to seem weird, but it will eventually become routine. You’ll start believing more and more in yourself, and that fire that lies inside you.  

Weird or not, this is one of the action steps we must take so we feel worthy, we feel loved by ourselves, and in time, this creates a strong belief system. 

Why? Because you ARE worthy and you MUST first love yourself and believe in yourself before you can work hard at beating the emotional eating cycle that you’ve been stuck in for years. 

Here’s how to do this challenge: Every day, look in the mirror and say these things to yourself. Out loud. 

Do it every day for the next 7 days and see how you feel. I guarantee you’ll find a big difference! 

I am powerful 

I am strong 

I am magnetic 

I am health 

I am patience 

I am amazement 

I am vibration 

I am illumination 

I am whole 

I am creativity 

I am generosity 

I am intuition  

I am acceptance 

I am worthiness 

I am love 

I am fun 

I am intelligence  

I am empathy 

I am love 

Work at this each and every day to be better than the day before. As you slowly gain confidence and feel better, you’ll have more belief in yourself and your limitless power within to Choose You, Screw Excuses.  

When you have an unshakeable belief system, you’ll have the confidence to be successful in ANYTHING in life.  

There is no secret.  If you’re capable and committed…you can do anything. 

Let me know in the comments what your biggest “A-HA’s” are from doing this exercise, or what’s making you uncomfortable. I’m here to support you!

For your free cheat sheet with the statements above so you can keep it handy with you always

The ONE thing diet “gurus” aren’t telling you

Many people feel that when they want to lose weight that bam! They just start and are ALL IN. 

The first few days go awesome…but then something happens. 

Their mindset changes.  

Things start to get hard.  

The cravings are worse than ever (hello Domino’s? I’d like an XL double pepperoni to go…) 

The sugar withdrawal (I just want to eat ALL the cake and candies!)… 

The lack of energy… 

And ohhhh, the headaches! 

That awesome new plan that was supposed to make them feel better only made them feel worse.  

So now they’re wondering, What the hell? 

And that’s why I see so many people ditch their plan to change their eating habits and get healthy. They start to experience symptoms from a radical change in what’s going into their bodies. These huge changes will be uncomfortable at first. And, if they’re not eating enough, then their energy will drag and they’ll be sluggish and headachy. 

So they quit. Which then starts what I call an emotional roller coaster.  

Emotionally and physically they’re caught up in this cycle of being “all in” one minute and then not. 

This on/off fluctuation sucks. And, it creates anxiety, depression plus other emotional distress when it comes to “changing their lives”. (So. Much. Pressure.) 

Their biggest problem? They’re looking at it as a “diet”. Which is exactly the wrong mindset.   

But what the diet “gurus” and experts aren’t telling you is: 

When you set out on the mission to change your life, it’s not something done on a whim or an overnight success.  

It’s done (and achieved) slowly and purposefully by making small changes every day.  

In other words, by setting yourself up for success instead of failure. And being patient. 

That way, when you get a taste of success - of winning - you want more of it, which creates momentum and drive.  

People crave winning. It’s something that’s built into our nature. And without seeing even just the smallest win, we tend to give up easily. 

The key for long term success, especially after years of not paying attention to the food you eat, is to plan. Change your mindset. 

Be ALL IN for the LONG HAUL and set yourself up for success from the start. Baby steps.  

Your weight didn’t balloon in a day or even a week. It won’t come off rapidly, either.  

The best plan is to make 1 or 2 changes a week, and build from there. 

What 2 changes can you make this week to get started? Pick two from the list below, or think of your own. But I want you to promise that you’ll stick to it. 

Some ideas are: 

  • Replace all soda with water. If you don’t like plain water, make it fancy by adding a squirt of lemon, or Lemon essential oil, lime, or lime essential oil, berries, and other fruits are great as well.
  • Instead of fries, make potato wedges at home.  This is fun and super easy.
  • Eat your burger without a bun.
  • Replace your nighttime snacks with healthy options: a piece of fruit, 100% applesauce, dried fruit (not too much!) or nuts…I love Almonds.
  • Rather than eating 3 big meals, split them into smaller ones throughout the day and eat 5 smaller meals.
  • Eat more veggies, sweet potatoes, yams and squash to keep you filled up longer.  If you are visual like me, make sure to cut them so they “LOOK” good.

What are you committing to changing this week? Share your 2 things in the comments below so I can support you!