Darcy Lewis Design

Adventures in "Good Enough" Design

Archive for the month “May, 2016”

On Being AWESOME! – Revised

I had a bit of revelation last night that resulted in a vital perspective shift I would like to share for those of you who are in similar situations.

When you see a speck of lint float across your floor, it doesn’t bother you. It’s not threatening. Similarly, when anything happens in your life that is not threatening to you, you don’t react, or you react calmly. The only time you go in to “MUST DESTROY” mode is when there is something that terrifies you or threatens you on a fundamental level.

So for all of us who were in abusive relationships – whether with a toxic parent or partner, stop and think about this: They invested EFFORT into hurting us, into trying to break us, into controling us. They invested time, money, energy, into surpressing us. They didn’t bother doing that to every single person they ran into, they chose US. Why?

Because we are awesome, glorious, uncontrollable, and so far above and beyond their reach, that we scared them sh-less and became a threat to their personal narrative. You cannot surpress awesome forever, and we eventually broke free, but they will never be free of their constant need to supress threats and feed their personal (fake) narrative of power. And everytime someone breaks their control and leaves, it gets worse for them. We will go on to live our awesome lives, but they will be forever haunted by the little nagging voice in their head which gets louder and louder through the years, shouting at them how worthless and pathetic they are. So they look for awesome people to break, and tell those awesome people how worthless and pathetic THEY are, hoping that the awesome person will believe and that will silence the voice in their own head. But you can’t keep awesome down, and we will break free and it will rebound on them in shrieking waves.

Because we are awesome.

NOTES: As I shared this and discussed this, I realized there were a couple points that needed clarifying:

Breaking Free – I AM NOT saying this is a simple or even clear cut process.  Breaking free is always a PROCESS (not an instant act), often a slow one, it is never simple, direct, easy. You have to find and have faith in your awesomeness to cut those clinging tendrils.  This is not a change that happens all at once. But whether you find your awesome and leave, or leave because you can’t take it anymore and then slowly find your awesome as you heal, both processes are normal and valid. In fact, there is almost definitely going to be a lot of ups and downs – days when you’re Captain Awesome and days when you’re so depressed you can barely get out of bed. All of that is normal and ok. Hold on to the awesome and try to remember that you’re awesome, but be forgiving of the process and how slow it can be.

Making excuses for our abusers is one of the things we do to survive. You may reach the breaking point on your own, it may be a threat to your pet or child that does it, but you still has a long road of healing and finding you awesome ahead of you. A road that is sometimes so hard, you wonder if it isn’t easier to go back (studies show women leave their abusers an average of I think 3-4 times before they finally leave). The healing process can be awful and wretched. HOLD ON TO YOUR AWESOME TIGHTER – even if at first it’s just a note you read that you don’t believe. Remind yourself that you were awesome enough to upset someone, and you can never take awesome away. LOOK for your awesome – what do you for yourself and others that’s pretty cool? Sometimes that means, “I helped my friend with her new baby and did the laundry for her!” and sometimes that means “Even though I feel like crap and can barely move, I got myself up and ate food!” These are all wins. You are still alive, you are fighting to survive, you are awesome!!!

But I Don’t Believe In Myself – When you have endured an abusive relationship, you internalize a certain amount of that abuse and you suppress a lot of yourself so you can survive it. Cleaning that crap out and learning to not suppress can actually take YEARS!!! DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED!! You are still awesome, you just need to “detox”.

But My Abuser Was Abused Themselves, So I Feel Bad For Them –  The fact that they were abused is terrible and tragic and you can acknowledge that without it binding you.  THAT DOES NOT NEGATE OR EXCUSE THE EFFECT THEY HAVE ON OTHERS.  They may have been awesome and unable to break totally free, that doesn’t give them the right to try to squish the awesome out of their child/partner in retaliation and the child/partner has to know that it’s ok to break free and be awesome themselves – without shame or guilt or pain for their abuser’s toxicity.  Being hurt NEVER gives you the right to hurt others.  Knowing no other way ALSO DOES NOT GIVE YOU THAT RIGHT.


This part is so important, I will repeat it:

LOOK for your awesome – what do you for yourself and others that’s pretty cool? Sometimes that means, “I helped my friend with her new baby and did the laundry for her!” and sometimes that means “Even though I feel like crap and can barely move, I got myself up and ate food!” THESE ARE ALL WINS!! You are still alive, you are fighting to survive, you are awesome!!!

Introducing: The Giving Warmth Project

I am beginning a new project, and I would like to invite you all to join me!!  This is not exactly an art project, it’s a life project.

What is the Giving Warmth Project?

It’s a project to start giving warmth to the people in your life by sharing the truth about what you value about them.  Giving them a warm hug they can hold to their hearts on the days when they are cold.


At our wedding, people said some unbelievably awesome things about us and about how they felt about us.  While I will forever regret not having them in writing and that there is no video of this, I will hug their words to my heart for the rest of my life.

Shortly after that, a friend struggling with depression posted a public call asking for friends and family to write down what they valued about him so that he would have these notes to forever pull out and read when he was low.

And I started thinking about how much I needed those same notes, but was unable to ask for them (and people never say the same things they do with requests like that as they do at your wedding or funeral), and I thought about how much we all have a need for these kind of notes, but never get them.  So this year for my husband’s birthday, I asked people for notes for him.  And the notes were a fascinating blend of naked honesty and glossy self-protection that all nonetheless meant ‘I love you’ in some way.

I have always wondered why we go through life flinching back from raw honesty and saying simple “I love you” or “luv ya, bro” or the meaningful backslap half-hug that men often do, or all these other ways we have to convey love and affection without fully pulling back the veil and revealing not just our naked feelings but the SPECIFIC ways and whys we love someone.  Parents can easily relate to the feeling that while they may love their children equally, they love very specific DIFFERENT things about each child.  But if we ever do say these same things about the adults in our life, we wait until their weddings and stutter out a toast, or their funerals when we sob out a eulogy.

We are uncomfortable with emotion – our own or someone else’s, and while the extent of that discomfort varies by culture, family, and individual, nonetheless, we never say these things.

So why should we wait for funerals and weddings and hope that brilliance strikes, rather than taking a moment to compose a thoughtful – even if brief – note about what someone has meant in your life?  There are so many people who gave me a little lift whose timing just made so much difference in my life, I would like them to know that, and I would like to ask you to join me in telling the people in your life how they helped you or what they mean/meant to you.

I’m not really comfortable with saying this…

No one understands this better than I!  I don’t like exposing my emotions, being vulnerable, being PUBLIC with my feelings…  But this is not about being comfortable.  It’s about sending things out into the world without any expectation of anything, just to give someone a warmth that they can hug to their heart on days when they are coldest.

How will this work?

Set a goal for yourself, once a month? Once a quarter? to write a note – short or long, it can be an email, a snail mail card (I personally love the act of sending and receiving snail mail – especially in this electronic day!), posted publicly on social media, sent privately via PM, even a text – but it MUST be WRITTEN!!  – to a person who means or has meant something in your life or who got your back or stood by you when you needed it or tossed you a lifeline when you were drowning or whatever moment you cherish.  The person can be alive or dead, a current friend or an ex, someone you know in real life or someone you’ve never even met.

You expect nothing in return.  They may reply, they may not.  They may be really uncomfortable reading your note since we are afraid of honesty (please see parameters below!).


The Giving Warmth Project is about creating warmth in the lives of others while they are still alive enough to enjoy it!  This is NOT a time to tell your ex how they ruined your life, confront others with what you don’t like about them, or use as an excuse to send creepy stalker messages.

Keep the tone light, warm, friendly (the reaction you ideally provoke is, “Awww, how sweet! I never knew they thought that!).  DO NOT be possessive, sexual, hysterical, or otherwise inappropriate.  If you are not sure if you are crossing that line, you probably are.

I encourage you to include a link to this post or just explain that you are participating in The Giving Warmth Project – it will help them understand why you sent it and that you expect nothing in return, and hopefully they will also participate!

I would love to hear what you do with this project!!

You can also join in on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/GivingWarmthProject/

My Favorite Books…(Fiction)

As a VORACIOUS reader and bibliophile, I am frequently asked for book recommendations and to share a list of my favorites.  While I always have suggestions, I have deferred on actually publicly listing my favorites because I feel a bit like a parent being asked to choose between my children and thus my compilation has remained a vague set of preferences in my mind – I have all these stories alive in my mind, and replay my favorite bits all the times, but confessing my favorites aloud….!!!

But, I have decided to write this, so here are my favorite fiction books.  You may note that several of them are children’s or young adult books… I still reread them actively, these are not just things from childhood that I’m saving for my kids someday.

SO, roughly in descending order of current favor:

  • Kim, by Rudyard Kipling
  • Oliver’s Travels, by Alan Plater
  • Phryne Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood
  • anything from Jennifer Crusie
  • The Venetian’s Wife, by Nick Bantock
  • Wintertide, by Megan Sybil Baker
  • Wisdom’s Daughter, by India Edghill
  • Shiva’s Fire, by Suzanne Fisher Staples
  • Pockets, by Jennifer Armstrong
  • the dragon series (Dealing with Dragons, Searching for Dragons, etc.) by Patricia Wrede
  • The Dot & The Line – a romance in lower mathematics, by Norton Juster
  • The Lost Prince, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • the Aunty Dimity detective series by Nancy Atherton (the stories are cute, but the writing sometimes annoys me)
  • House Husband, by Ad Hudler
  • Mistress of the Art of Death, by Arianna Franklin
  • Q & A, by Vikas Swarup (don’t “LIKE”, but absolutely riveting! Later made into the movie Slumdog Millionaire (which I haven’t seen. Read the book a few years before, could never then see the movie.))
  • select books by Piers Anthony (Death Rides A Pale Horse was immensely comforting after my father died, and his Gaia and Xanth series helped me deal with difficult teenage years)
  • The Cat Who series by Lilian Jackson Braun (also like the stories, but find the writing annoying sometimes)
  • A Quiver Full of Arrows, by Jeffrey Archer


I had been asked for a list of my top 10… I went into my office and started pulling books off the shelf, muttering to myself, “Oh yes, this has to be on the list! Oh and this too…” and somehow, as you can see, my list is a bit longer than 10 items before I was able to force myself to walk away….

I think this amply illustrates the problem I’d mentioned at the beginning…

Anyways, I would love to hear what your favorite books are, and what you think of any of mine if you read them!!

Post Navigation