It was during this conversation I realized I didn’t just want to share my own story. I wanted to write about other women who have crossed my path and made me look at life in a different way. I wanted to share stories from everyday moms who are strong, compassionate women and have made the decision that an experience does not define who they are or limit who they can become. I wanted to feature women who spread their light by following their passion and help others to shine. Let’s celebrate those moms who are fighting for the community we live in, who don’t have it all together, who invite others into their mess, and really want to hear the answer to the question, “How are you?” Let’s champion all types of healers and survivors and entrepreneurs and learn from their story. Here is a snapshot of Miracle’s story in 2015:
Today is Miracle’s Birthday. As a doula and a creator of art, it is only fitting that her story is shared on the day of her birth. After all, every time each of us tells even just a part of our story we discover a little more about the miracle of who we are.
Miracle Balsitis posted a photo of the gorgeous flooring she created out of pennies. I loved that she used coins from specific years of importance in her life- and asked several of her neighbors to contribute coins to be a part of her penny floor, too. I reached out in hopes that she would let me use the photo for the launch of the Lucky Penny Found website. It was clear we both were interested in finding connection within community and decided to meet.
Miracle moved to Connecticut from the city of Montreal a few years earlier with her husband and two children. In her second year here, she realized she had many acquaintances, but few real friends. “I remember the day I realized ten moms had said hello, two had asked me about the Brownies event coming up, and one called to see if I would be willing to bake something, but no one had really asked about me.” She remembers feeling very lonely and longing to make deeper connections. “I realized I knew of people, but I didn’t really know them. The only way I was going to be able to create deeper relationships with other moms was to invite them into my mess.” She decided to be the first one to start. “I try to live by the quote, “Be Kind, for everybody is fighting some sort of battle.” It wasn’t easy. I had to be kind to myself first, but I think it is important to invite others into our homes and into our lives.”
One of the main things that helped Miracle was to focus on her passions and sharing them with others. It also became the perfect time to evaluate what she wanted in her life. “I struggled with the pressure I felt, especially being a mom, with an overabundance of choices, on how to parent, on what to eat, how you can live…it started to feel daunting. My husband and I decided to write a mission statement for ourselves. I wanted to decide what was really important to us. Not just what things were good, but the “yes” things. For me, the three main things after family, are art, my faith and community.”
This reminded me of Stephen Covey’s experiment of putting the “big rocks” in your jar first. When you don’t know what is important, other stuff like sand, pebbles and debris fill up your jar. If you wait until later, often they won’t fit. “When I am overwhelmed, overcommitted and feel off track, it is usually because things are not lined up with these three threads.”
Miracle makes a point to choose her big rocks carefully. Growing up, while living with an abuser, she felt like her jar was full of sand. “My need to give back comes from my childhood story of brokenness.” In sharing of our darkest days, we give less power to what once had a hold on us. We start to look at our own shame differently when we share and when we find others who say, “me too, me too, me too,”…in our silence we remain a victim, but in our sharing, we often find our strength. “We fight for community, because we don’t have family here, we want to share our lives with people who will honor my story, as I would honor theirs. “
This is one of the reasons why Miracle decided to become a support person in births, a Doula. “Being a doula has given me the opportunity to enter into a sacred time in someone’s life and to hear their story. As a birth support person, I learned that I can’t empower anyone but I can help women learn how to empower themselves. They give me permission to hear their story because i provide a safe space. My hope is that we can we start being doulas to each other, to our spouses, to our kids, to each other. This is how we create deep community, by stopping and taking time for each other, so we can ask risky questions in a safe way, so we show we are willing to listen.”
Her faith and belief in community also led her to become involved with an international organization called Love146, which works to end child trafficking. Miracle’s husband, ran the task force in West Hartford and decided to volunteer at the Eleanor House, a residential home for teenage girls in Hartford. “We wanted to find something we could do with our kids and to see the problems communities around us are facing. We wanted to learn what the real needs are. We make it a family event. We help make dinner for the girls and sit and eat with them. We believe we need to engage our children with the world outside their community, too.”
Miracle’s other love is for art. She created an art program called Shine Girl, which is 5 weeks of empowerment classes for girls. “We make art and talk about the value of having a voice and what it means to be a Shine girl. It is an amazing opportunity to take my passion for art and work with young girls, encouraging them to see the value in choosing empowerment.”
It hasn’t always been easy. Now though she makes herself a priority. “I know I need time for deep breaths and give myself the space to be creative. We all want to make the best decisions for our our family. For me, the missing piece was finding people who were willing to be a little more vulnerable. Many people are living with this quiet dissatisfaction. It is so easy to think other moms have it all together. We need to be gentle with each other. Find that one friend who you can go over their house with our pajamas on and have a good cry. find that one thing you are passionate about, even if means taking a risk.”
Miracle invited me into her home. Her radiant energy pulled me in and I found her bubbly assertiveness refreshing. Her life seemed bursting, full of color, artsy, and passionate. I loved her conviction to share her life with others and her willingness to evaluate what she puts in her life. I found myself envying the easy way her life now flowed.
I must have had that twinkle or a yearning in my eye, as she announced, “The one thing I wouldn’t want people to take away from my story is that their life should be like mine. I’m a big hot mess most of the time. I definitely don’t have it all together! When people hear my story, I hope they just think, “How can I share my passions with the world? Who am I going to tell my story to today?” ” In all of her passions, Miracle has learned the art of holding space for both women and girls to learn how to empower themselves. Just being in her presences, I felt more centered, willing to let go of my facade and to join her in being labeled as a “Big Hot Mess!”
I am so thankful we connected over a floor full of pennies. It was during our conversation I realized that I wanted to feature moms who identify with solving problems and have an entrepreneurial spirit. We need to hear from other strong, compassionate women in our community who have made the decision that an experience does not define who they are or limit who they can become. I want to feature women who make spreading their light and following their passion as necessary as drinking water. Let’s celebrate moms who are fighting for the community we live in, who don’t have it all together, who invite others into their mess, and really want to hear the answer to the question, “How are you?” Let’s champion all types of healers and survivors and encourage those who are ready to share their story. For me, Miracle is definitely my Lucky Penny FOUND!