As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves - Mahatma Gandhi
Ann Marie Evans is a woman of greatness as described above in a quote I love by Gandhi.
Ann Marie came to us while experiencing what I call “a universal ass-kicking” or what Pema Chodron more eloquently calls getting “nailed” by life. This is when everything you call “good”, falls apart in an instant without notice and everything that was once consistent and dependable evaporates into thin air. An experience that might have made her angry, bitter, or fearful, challenged her instead to lean in and surrender to “more”, allowing a scary and painful reality to instead, grow and stretch her. Ann Marie’s wounds were fresh – she came anyway, courageously allowing herself to be seen by our team, and witnessed by our camera lens. She thrust herself even further outside her comfort zone, and gave herself permission to just let it go. Ann Marie’s photographs impacted many who know her, and many who do not. When they were launched she had an outpouring of love and support which was almost exactly a year ago, and she’s here now to tell “more” of her story which will amaze and move you. One thing you need to know about her Ann Marie is that her strength of spirit is all of us. Within each of us is a friend and sister to all, and the ability to “remake ourselves” when we feel most alone and broken. Something to know is that she means it when she says that she’s here for you if you should need support.She comes by this ability because she’s chosen to lean in to life regardless of how messy or unpredictable it gets. She knows first hand what it takes to “show up” to life, and that sometimes, life can look pretty shattered when it’s all working out.
Thank you Ann Marie for being such an inspiration to so many, and for giving us a glimpse into a painful time in your life, and allowing us all to witness your greatness- you are truly amazing. Truly.
TRP: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and where you are in your life at this point?
Ann Marie: I have two exceptional children who support me 100% and amaze me every day. I am divorced, however I prefer to refer to myself as just “single” because being single represents independence. I have learned that my divorce was a result of a failed marriage, but instead that
“failure is simply the opportunity to begin again more intelligently” Henry Ford.
I have a successful career where I enjoy going to work every day.
Regarding the divorce which was extremely painful for me-
I have learned the hard way that a “story” that disempowers you is your enemy. It makes you constantly sad and you are the only one who can change the way you feel about something and that there is only one solution…you have to divorce your “story”!
It’s like a relationship that doesn’t serve you. You are staying in it, and you know it is beating you down. You have to draw the line and stop telling the same story because the more you talk about it, the more it’s creating your reality and hurting you.
My strategy on how to overcome my feelings of sadness? I needed the right mindset to motivate me and that would help me to move forward. I had to stop creating the thoughts that were disempowering me, and that the loss of my 17 year marriage meant that I’d have to dash my idea of being 80 years old sitting on a rocking chair next to my husband watching the sunset.
Tony Robbins said “If you have a story about a bad relationship it is going to stop you from finding a great relationship for you. You have to change your belief system.” So I did! I started to think about myself for once- and my independence. How I have much to be grateful for- I am educated, and intelligent , and I am a worthy woman who does not deserve to have feelings of inadequacy due to the fact her husband had a mid-life crisis which he was unable to overcome and that this event in myself does not have the power to define me.
TRP: Name three things you love about yourself:
Ann Marie: Why is it so hard to answer this question? Because I don’t normally think about myself! I am too busy trying to please others, isn’t that what we constantly do as women? Whether it is your family, your friends, your boss…we are always trying to be the best we can be for others and not consider the fact that we need time alone to just focus on ourselves. After thinking long and hard, I came up with a few:
I love the fact that I enjoy positive quotes and pass them onto others. To me it is so satisfying to see a friend’s reaction when I send them a text, email or post on Facebook a quote that I have saved on my computer for the right moment. Here is one of my favorites: by: Rev. Charles Swindoll,
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.” Attitude to me is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think, say, or do. It is more important than appearance, talent, or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes.”
The fact that I have raised two fantastic children who are not afraid to speak their mind. Here is an example: my 16 year old son Brett posted this on Facebook status a few months ago: “I am the proudest son on Earth to say my mother is the strongest person I know! The most tragic things have happened to our family since the beginning of this year and she has done nothing but get stronger. She takes day by day going through this nonsense but by the end of the day she knows she is superior and will get through this a new person. I want to thank every single person who has helped her through this; it means the world to our entire family! ”
I love the fact that I have an exceptionally close relationship with my family who live 400 miles away. I can pick up the phone at any time and continue a conversation where we left off when we last spoke. We don’t argue about anything, we truly enjoy anytime that we spend together. When I go home to Maryland for a visit, the entire family will drop everything for a Saturday night or late Sunday afternoon dinner because my kids and I are in town. It is such a great feeling to know that I have vested love from each and every one of them.
TRP: Share three things you are “working on” about yourself:
My overall physical health. I had a skiing accident on December 30, 2011 where I broke my Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) which is one of the four major ligaments in your knee. Four days later my husband left me for a woman whom he had been having a secret affair with. Emotionally and physically I was a wreck. January 25, 2012 I had surgery to replace my ACL with a cadaver’s. I could not walk without the use of crutches and was masking the pain with high doses of ibuprofen. Twelve weeks of physical therapy followed. Each day I had to climb out of bed and not only take care of myself and my suffering knee, but I had to put on the best face I could for my two children who were experiencing the loss of their Dad in their daily life. To make a long and emotionally painful story short, I am divorced as of April 30, 2012 and my knee is completely recovered. In addition, I have completed one 5k and a 9k and realize how much better I feel on the days that I jog. My knee is a symbol of my weakness that evolved into the powerful strength it has today, and how strong and capable I am when thought I could not go any further.
Being alone and, “becoming the +1″ a quote from my great friend Suzanne D’Agostino. Recently I took an “Independent Vacation” meaning all by myself with no kids. It was one of the best experiences of my life. In addition to a week’s worth of clothing I brought my golf clubs and four bathing suits. I planned to spend time on the beach alone in my thoughts and really think about myself and my future. I figured out that I don’t need my ex-husband to be happy. I am all I need. I make my own choices on a daily basis to decide what I am going to do, where I will go, and who I will be with. My life no longer revolves around anyone but me and my children, which is an empowering feeling.
Becoming the “girl I used to know”. That girl was confident, carefree, self-supporting, strong-minded, and self-sufficient. She left her childhood home in Maryland and has a family who loves her so much they let her go to follow her dreams of a college education in New England. She financially supported herself completely through 6 years of college to earn a Master’s Degree. She could walk into any situation whether it is a crowded room of strangers or a solitude space of an elevator and strike up a conversation.
TRP: Please tell us something about yourself that most people do not know:
Acupuncture works for me. When I was going through my divorce I literally cried everyday for 90 days straight. I met with my therapist Melissa weekly in addition to texting her daily; she told me I was ready for the “next level”. She recommended I go see Dr. Zellda Keath who is a Dr. of Chinese medicine. I secured an appointment with her three days later and this experienced changed my life. Zellda listened to my entire drama filled story, I cried my eyes out, she took notes, and she looked at me straight in the eye and apologized for everything I had been through these past 90 days. Then I got up on the table, she sprayed her Hawaiian floral aromatics all over me and reminded me to breathe deeply and think positive thoughts. Then she asked me to take a deep breath to warn me when each needle was going to be inserted. For each needle, there was brief pain and each place that was pierced had a resounding effect on a different part of my body. A few minutes later, I fell into a deep sleep. She left the room and let me enjoy my slumber. When she came back she gently woke me up and I felt like a new woman! I remember her telling me I looked 15 years younger; my eyes did not have that overwhelming reflection of sadness. I felt terrific! The most amazing part of this experience? I never cried again from that day forward about my situation. I continued my Acupuncture treatments twice a month for 4 months afterwards to relax me.
Feeling completely secure one day as a wife to the following day realizing my future is completely unknown. What will my life be like without my husband? Will I be able to handle the emotional roller coaster of two hormonal teenagers and their journey of coping with their Mom and Dad no longer together? These challenges are accepted by me and I am working on them one day at a time.
TRP: What frightens you?
Being alone. I don’t want to live the rest of my life as a single person. I have entered the dating world…which honestly is very overwhelming but I am taking it one step at a time and most importantly I am being very patient. I want to find my soul mate, the one I want to grow old with.
TRP: What is your “Life Mission?”
To be an inspiration to somebody else. I am hoping this interview with resonate with someone who is or was in the same place that I was. If you are that person, please know that you are not alone and you will get through this firestorm and rise from the ashes a better person because of it!
TRP: How do you keep yourself inspired by life?
Constantly remind myself how fortunate I am to be healthy. I focus on my children and enjoy them while they are still living at home with me. In a few years, both will be living their own lives and not need me as much as they do now.
TRP: Have you ever hit “Rock Bottom?”
What I thought was “Rock Bottom” didn’t turn out to be the case at all. When my ex-husband left me for another woman I thought I could never feel worse. So many people told me I would be in a much better place six months from that point. I had trouble believing that could ever be true. How did I get to the point? I focused on my kids and took advantage of every single friend that offered me their help. Think about it….how many people have reached out to you and said “if you ever need anything don’t hesitate to call”. So I did. I went out to breakfast, lunch, dinner, cocktails, coffee, tea, the movies, pedicures, friend’s houses, a friend’s boat, campfires with s ‘mores, trips to the beach during the day, and at sunset. The list goes on and on… I can’t count how many minutes on the phone and the number of text messages I have sent and received from my faithful friends. Friends are the best support network that you have, it is up to you to take full advantage and reach out to them.
TRP: What did it teach you?
I discovered my own personal formula for surviving a divorce and focusing on new beginnings. I would like to share it with those women that are going through their own heart ache.
Anne Marie’s Remedy for Surviving a divorce:
- Cry your eyes out…it’s ok…have your own personal pity party….yes, it could take months of crying everyday, but get it all out of your system. You have every right to cry and don’t let anyone tell you when they think you should be done.
- Tell your “story” to your friends and family who reach out to you and offer to listen. Ideally find a recommended therapist who you can rely on for as many sessions as you need.
- Pay attention to the heartfelt offers from your friends. They will reach out to you and lend their support…it is up to you to follow through and reach back to them to receive that help they extended.
- Forgive. I know…shocking huh? Forgiving is not the same as forgetting. I believe if we always just forget about it, we would never learn anything. We don’t just learn from our own mistakes, but those of others as well. So I don’t believe forgiveness = forgetting forever, but here is what I believe it is supposed to mean. It means not living in the past. Living in the past traps us from living out our daily lives because we are instead holding on to past hurts and then fearing those hurts will occur again. Fear and living in the past are VERY powerful. Fear can drive us crazy if we let it. Strength for any situation comes from within. In the end, it will actually help you, possibly even more than the person you forgave because it will help you live in a healthier, less fearful and negative state of mind.
- You are going to feel like an emotional mess. Sorry to break the news to you but it will happen. When it does, recognize that you are the only one that can pull your head out of your sorrows. This is the time to search for something that will bring back your vitality. For me, it was acupuncture and jogging, for you it could be yoga, meditation, martial arts, running, painting, journaling, writing, etc… Find the one thing that will bring you back to your center of calmness.
- Now remember everyone that offered you help? Now is the time to fill your calendar. Literally…look at your calendar and start filling the days of the week with activities of things to do with your friends. Keep your mind off of “your story”. In fact, if a friend of mine wanted to go out with me and all they wanted to talk about was my “story”…that was the last time I spent time with them on a one on one basis. Why? Because your goal is not to surround yourself with episodes of unhappiness. Your “story” has sad emotions tied into it. Going out with your friends should be fun…you should be smiling, laughing, and at the end of the night say “we should get together more often” and then plan it. Recognize that your friends are your most valuable asset you have.
- Find a great lawyer. Ask friends and family for a referral. A friend recommended William F. Holt to me and I was completely satisfied, here is his website in case you need it: www.holtlawri.com
- Love your SELF well!
- TRP tribe is always here to lean on; YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Email, facebook group page (private), and personal contact and even coaching is always available.
TRP: Is there anything in particular that made you feel like being part of the Revelation Project was a good idea right now?
When I saw my friend Brenda Langlais’ photos I saw something in her eyes that sparked my spirit. I had an overwhelming feeling of “I need to do this”. I am one of those people who will listen to her inner voice and I follow it. I have always been that way and it is one of those gifts that I am thankful for.
About the shoot:
TRP: What did you think about the approach of the upcoming photo shoot (before you got there) and what were the results you were expecting?
My photo shoot was done on a Friday morning in July 2012. I spent that morning packing my suitcase with a variety of outfits wondering what the girls would pick out for me to wear for my photos. I was excited about having them do my hair and makeup and feeling completely open to whatever was going to happen that day. I knew that these photos were going to be published and I would have to accept the results.
TRP: How did you feel during the shoot and was there anything in particular that made you feel more or less relaxed or open to the process?
I was anxious because I had never met The Revelation Project ladies before and did not know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised at how caring, spiritual, and connected they were as a team. They synced perfectly together to make me feel like I was meant to be there with them on that particular day in my life.
TRP: Can you describe in three words the way you felt before we shot?
Anxious, Receptive, and Ambivalent.
TRP: Three words for after?
Relieved, Accomplished, and Excited.
TRP: Three words for when you saw the results?
Surprised, Flattered and Lovely.
TRP: After you left but before you saw the results, did you have any thoughts about the experience? What were some of the things you thought about on the drive home?
I wondered how the pictures would turn out. Normally when your picture is taken you see a big flash bulb and you get to see the digital result instantly on your camera. There were no flash bulbs; every photo was taken with natural light from the overcast day. In addition, I didn’t get to see the photos, I had to “let it go” and just put my trust in these three confident women who kept reminding me how beautiful I am on the inside and out. On the drive home I thought about my 12 year old daughter and how proud she would be of me if she was standing in the room while my photo was being taken. I couldn’t wait to get home and share my experience with her.
TRP: When you saw the results what was your first impression?
My first impression was “wow…I never saw that side of myself before”. Then it was “what will my co-workers think”? Then I just had to let it go and remember “it is what it is” and I am just fine being me.
TRP: What was it like to receive feedback from those who saw your photographs?
I was overwhelmed by the positive response from my friends. Specifically friends who I have not heard from in a long time reached out to me to praise me. Their kind words inflated my heart.
TRP: What are some words you would use to describe how those comments made you feel?
Beautiful, Proud and Brave.
TRP: Did you learn anything new about yourself from the experience?
I learned that I always knew I was confident, but what I didn’t realize is that I had suppressed that self-assurance for the past few years. I now know that I always had the authority within myself and it is up to me every day to bring it forward and use it.
TRP: Did you feel empowered?
Yes I do, because I am responsible for my actions each and every day. I decide what I am going to do, who I will do it with, and where I am headed in my future. I have a new-found independence that I recognize, and I am very excited for my new beginnings.
TRP: Since the shoot happened, what is the lasting impact of the experience?
I have discovered how brave I really am. I went into the photo shoot not knowing who Monica, Kim and Terry Lee were. I listened to my heart and put my trust in these three beautiful women who took me to a new level of spiritual wellness and trust.
TRP: Has it altered the way you view yourself and your surroundings?
I am now more open to new things. I want to try activities that would normally not interest me. I have a new level of confidence that I was lacking in my past.
TRP: Do you think this was an important/valuable experience for yourself? Why?
Yes. Placing myself in a vulnerable situation is outside of my personal comfort zone. I have convinced myself that I am more courageous that I thought I could ever be. I believe this will guide me into new situations that I normally would shy away from.
TRP: How will you use the photos moving forward? Professionally? Personally? As gifts?
I may give a few as gifts to some very special people.
TRP: What is your favorite song and why?
My Wish by Rascal Flatts. My favorite lyric is, “My wish for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to, your dreams stay big, your worries stay small, you never need to carry more than you can hold.”
Listen to all of the lyrics, why wouldn’t you want this for yourself and for those you love?
TRP: Why do you think this project is important for women?
TRP is unique because it showcases a variety of women whose stories are all so different. Considering the population of women who find this website, there is an individual TRP woman for each to relate to.
TRP: If you could sum up the experience what would you say?
If given the chance, I would do it again…not the divorce, the TRP experience. That is how much I feel I have grown as a person because of TRP.