“Celebrating the Small Wins” Reylena Lopez, MSW

When talking to most women I usually hear them say that they are on a journey towards completing something amazing, whether that is prepping to finish school, plans for a big move, starting a new job, rejuvenating their health or a new business venture. They are pursuing a goal, setting a vision and taking steps to get there. As humans, we are always aspiring towards something. But what gets in the way and what can we do to keep us moving forward despite obstacles? Obstacles like self-doubt, lack of motivation, distraction, fear of failure and lack of support systems during the journey.

We are all familiar with the obstacles, but we overlook the small wins during the journey. Without the milestones, we could never achieve our ultimate goal. Here are three reasons to celebrate the small achievements during the journey:

1) When we meet a milestone, whether it is small or big, the reward system in our brain is triggered. As a result, the brain releases dopamine, the “happy” chemical. In better terms, your mind is throwing itself a party! This act serves as an intrinsic reward system and serves a motivation for the future.

2) Jodi Clarke, MA, from VeryWell mind states that “While celebrating your milestone is important, it is equally important to reflect on how you got there”. Here are some questions to reflect on during the journey: what strengths did you utilize to achieve your goal, how did you overcome the obstacles, and who helped along the way? These reflective questions slow us down; help us identify what we did well and what it took to get there. It is a way to honor the process. For more ways to slow down, check out this mindfulness page for more tips: https://www.mindful.org/meditation/mindfulness-getting-started/

3) The smallest day to day tasks may seem mundane, but without them the goal is unachievable. Burn out is common, especially when trying to achieve a long-term goal. So in 2011, the Harvard Business Review stated that “Of all the things that can boost inner work and life, the most important is making progress in meaningful work.” It would be easy to overlook the mundane tasks, but this is the progress we as women need to celebrate with one another.

Let’s work to celebrate our tribe’s milestones. The women in our lives need encouragements in their journey. What are some ways can we support each other?

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The final goal is what we show on our social media; it is the picture-perfect product. However, the small day-to-day successes were the best milestones.

It was when no one was looking that you were slowly succeeding.

These are the moments to savor.

Sexual Assault: re-traumatization, triggers and caring for yourself and others By: Reylena Lopez, MSW

When stories of sexual assault are shared on the news, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook it may be our first reaction to take sides, comment or ignore it. What is even better than making a point to your followers is checking in on your loved ones who have experienced abuse, assault, or rape. According to the United States Department of Justice, 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of attempted rape or completed rape in their lifetime. While we may think that hearing these stories on the news can be harmless to other survivors there is such a thing as re-traumatization. And no, no one is “overreacting”. Re-Traumatization is real; it is experienced by survivors of trauma, such as people in the military, sexual assault survivors and individuals of extreme disasters such as September 11th.  For women hearing or seeing stories of sexual assault or violence on the media, it can be, “triggering”. This can look like, reoccurring nightmares, flashbacks of the incident, hyper-vigilance or loss of interest in activities. Memories and images are stored in our brain in a very unique way and they do not disappear for survivors just because they reported the incident. However, with the help of friends, family, therapy, or other religious supports survivors can lead full and beautiful lives. Many women feel empowered to share their story to keep other women safe. However, if you are not there yet and in case women in your life were feeling like they were “overreacting”, remind them that these experiences are normal and they are not alone.

If you are not directly affected by sexual assault and violence but want to support other women who are, here are some ways:

  • Check in with your friends, if they don’t respond give them space and time. It may not be that they can share their story, but they need to feel supported and safe

  • Encourage the women in your life who have not sought help to find a counselor, specifically a therapist that works with this topic

  • Remind survivors to monitor social media, if there are friends that they need to, “mute”, delete or “unfriend” it is important to do so

  • If you are a survivor and feel triggered you can ground yourself. Grounding yourself requires you to identify things in the room that you can feel, touch, smell, taste, hear and see. While grounding yourself it is important to say, “my thoughts and feelings are valid at this moment, but my body is safe right now”

Remind yourself and others that women are resilient, we are strong. Our brains, body, and souls can heal.

For other support, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.