I am beyond honored to share the following guest blog post with all of you. Kimberly Preske has been a Vision Fest attendee since 2015. She has been so gracious to share her experience and outcomes. Happy reading!
I had heard about vision boards for several years and never made the time to make one until I began working with Samm in 2015. Now I look forward to Vision Fest every year with anticipation.
In 2003, I was involved in a school shooting that would take me on a path through 5 years of untreated Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and 10 years of suicidality. Grief, survivor’s guilt, shame, and pain were constant companions. Once I started working with a spiritual director and trauma specialist, the work of unwinding the barbed wire of traumatic experiences that were keeping me quiet, reactive and ill began. How I wish that I knew in the aftermath what I know now.
As I became healthier, I dug through everything available about trauma, grief and disaster response at a breakneck pace. Cold calling professionals around the world to ask questions that took them to uncomfortable places. Often ignoring the pain that it created with a diligent fervor of keeping a promise to my murdered boss to “do better next time.”
In all the years of working through, the trauma specialist I worked with would share about favorite foods, events, traveling and eventually broached the subject of happiness. To which she would get barked back at with “why”, “I have no interest in that” and a flat out “no.” Before the shooting, I was happy and in the twistedness of trauma, I felt like happiness was destroyed because I didn’t deserve it and it no longer had any value for me. With lots of additional help from friends, family, peers, and professionals, I regained a sense of functioning again and completed a Master in Social Work in 2014. I feel privileged to work alongside people as they travel on their own journeys. Professional fulfillment does not always equal personal happiness, however.
My vision boards have reflected and driven the changes over the years from purpose-driven and word-filled to brighter colors and living things. Last year I dragged others on a journey through trying new low cost and free things like Roadside America and new foods. Even through my husband’s job loss and the ongoing stress of financial losses still remaining from the shooting, I remembered how to be present and relax in the moment. Frequently enjoying time back with my love of plants and playing behind the lens of a point and shoot camera where all the world disappears except what is in the frame. Which is amazing because trauma survivors focus on safety and are hypervigilant like first responders. Our ears are trained to respond to noises that no one else notices. So this year I am choosing to focus on joy. Joy does not mean that life is perfect, stress-free, always safe or stable. It is a moment between transitions. A peacefulness even for the briefest of instances.
Vision Fest has given me the time, tools and support to change my perspective over the years. And I am excited to discover what appears on my board this year.
I hope 2020 brings you what you seek and that Vision Fest may provide the opportunity to help you get to a place you have not even thought of.