A deep post (it’s been a long time since I’ve typed up one of these!) Today was big. Really, really big.
A few months ago, one of my podcast guests referred me to an entity for funding projects. The guidelines are pretty simple . . . must be an artistic venture AND benefit the community/world in some way.
I registered on the website, read all of the info they directed me to, watched all of the videos, and signed up for a webinar scheduled for this past week. During that webinar I asked if a podcast fell under the “artistic” realm. I was advised it most certainly does and it’s their newest addition.
I completed a very lengthy application including my personal bio, project goals and mission, a projected budget, and more.
This evening I was advised: “The Healing Place Podcast has been approved by our Board of Directors and is now active. Welcome to a vibrant community of artists and organizations who are critical contributors to the creative sector’s vitality, autonomy, and innovation!”
My heart continues to overflow with gratitude and joy. This soul work I am doing is a blessing to many. But also to me. I have learned so much along the way. About . . . Healing. Hope. Editing. Interviewing. Marketing. And now funding.
I have self-funded for 2 years. Now it is time to take this to the next level. This is no longer a hobby. But a business. A trauma-warrior pursuit to help bring healing to the world. With a goal of reaching one million people with inspiring stories of hope and healing.
When I was little I wanted to be a doctor. I told my parents I wanted to “help make people feel better”. I may not be a physician, but I am a healer. A healer who welcomes other healers onto my show to help shine the light of hope into the world.
Right before I received the congratulations notice for the podcast, a beautiful friend and her adorable daughter stopped by to drop off this heart necklace she was gifting me. The timing was perfect. Most definitely a God sign.
I am sitting upstairs savoring this moment before heading into my sacred writing space to edit another podcast (this next episode is a conversation with one of the most adorable and brilliant bundles of energy I’ve encountered yet!)
Wishes of blessings go out to all those needing a reminder to never give up on your dreams. And hugs filled with gratitude to heart-bearing friends, boards of directors who believe in my podcast, brilliant guests who’ve helped me reach souls in thirty-eight countries, and a family that cheers me on every single day. Blessed beyond measure.
Thank you for your support, cheers, and love. Being a part of the ACEs Connection community has helped this podcast continue to grow in its reach. Both through amazing guests who have reached out to join me on air to discuss their vital work in trauma-related fields and/or personal stories of triumph over trauma, but also in my audience. I feel blessed to be a part of this space.
What a beautiful, laughter-filled, heart and soul connection I experienced during this interview with Ingrid Helander as we discussed her work as a therapist, group leader, author, teacher, and more. Ingrid shared her insights on worry and anxiety, along with helpful information on healing avenues; her book: Calm Your Worries: Unlock Your Secret Code to Lasting Stress Relief and Self-Confidence; and much more.
Rev. James Encinas joined me on air for a heart-felt conversation to discuss his work with teachers on a trauma-informed and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) healing level, his personal story of triumph, along with a discussion on his books: Wheeling to Healing: Broken Heart on a Bicycle and Your Own Wheeling to Healing: A Guide to Healing Yourself and Groups of People Who’ve Experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and much more.
“A former actor and grade school teacher, now a parent education specialist, teacher trainer and public speaker, James Encinas uses his creative skills in experiential workshops to instruct participants about the impact of trauma on childhood development. The non-judgmental space he creates allows probationers to engage in healing their emotional damage, learn about prevention of future child abuse and domestic violence, and to educate teachers to work with students who live in unsafe environments. James wrote Wheeling to Healing…Broken Heart on a Bicycle: Understanding and Healing from Adverse Childhood Experiences, a book and curriculum. He is a Fellow from the first class of Aspen Institute’s Teacher Leaders, a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network and an activist for healing.”
Hello to all of you #traumawarriors (both survivors and advocates alike). Thank you for the work you are doing to help shine the light of hope into the lives of those with ACEs history.
I am back from my summer hiatus from interviewing guests on The Healing Place Podcast. Exciting news to share is that, as of today, the podcast has been downloaded in audio format in 38 countries around the world, along with video format views at 4,629. That is beyond exciting! People have been listening in on iTunes, Spotify, Blubrry, YouTube, and my website. Thank you for helping spread the word!
If you know anyone interested in joining me on air to discuss hope, healing, ACEs, trauma-informed practices, stories of triumph, book publications, etc., please feel free to share their contact info with me or have them reach out to me at email@example.com. I am looking to schedule in September, 2019 and beyond.
Thank you again for all you are doing to help others along their healing journey and helping me achieve my goal of reaching one million healing souls with stories of hope!
I loved connecting with a kindred spirit in Robyn Baldwin as we discussed her Autoimmune Thriving pursuits, her personal journey combating Multiple Sclerosis (MS) symptoms after living life as an over-achiever and fitness guru, her book Love Lost, Life Found, and much more.
“Robyn Baldwin is the founder of Autoimmune Thriving and an MS Thriver. Her mission in life is to empower those living with an autoimmune disease to thrive and not just survive. Autoimmune Thriving includes yoga retreats, an online program on healing and a treatment fund for those in need of holistic healing assistance.
Robyn lives in Ottawa with her husband and 2 fur babies. She is a full-time Digital Marketing Director, a health & lifestyle blogger at RobynBaldwin.com, the author of Love Lost, Life Found, a yoga teacher, the host of the Alpha Female Podcast and a passionate Essential Oil Educator. She loves weight lifting, running, yoga and making seasonal bucket lists. After being diagnosed with MS in 2014 and starting out on a new health journey she’s transitioned from being an MS Warrior battling an auto-immune disease to an MS Thriver and living well with the health sidekick.”
It was an absolute pleasure to engage in a soulful conversation with Karen Salmansohn to discuss her upcoming book, Instant Calm: 2-Minute Meditations to Create a Lifetime of Happy; her personal story of triumph; the philosophies of Aristotle (along with other fascinating letter-A subjects from Encyclopedia Britannica); and much more.
“Karen Salmansohn is a former stressed-out advertising Senior VP and award-winning designer turned healthy living expert, best-selling author, and longevity research geek. After leaving her successful career in the advertising industry, Karen stepped out on her own as a writer and designer of books.
Karen became a multi-best-selling author, having sold over 2 million copies of her books internationally and has gained a loyal following of almost 2 million people. At the age of 50, Karen realized another dream when she gave birth to her first child.
Karen has been profiled in the NY Times, Business Week, Chicago Tribune, the LA Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Time Magazine, ELLE, Marie Claire, and Fast Company.
As a late-in-life mom, Karen loves to research a wide range of longevity boosters and share with her audience how to slow down the aging process and live not only longer – but better – with greater health and clarity of mind. Karen is excited to head up a tribe she calls “The Wellderly” – a community of people who positively embrace getting older and aging into their happiest, highest potential selves.”
I thoroughly enjoyed sitting down with Cedric Bertelli, founder and director of the Emotional Health Institute, to discuss the profound healing effects of Emotional Resolution. Please join us on The Healing Place Podcast to listen in as Cedric shares his brilliant insights and wisdom regarding trauma recovery and his work training others in the mental health and education arenas.
“Cedric Bertelli is the founder and director of the Emotional Health Institute. Cedric is of French origin and has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for over ten years. He began his training in Emotional Resolution in 2009 in France and has continued this work in the United States since 2011. In addition to working with clients individually, Cedric trains mental health professionals and educators across the United States on Emotional Resolution.”
A huge thank you to Elisabeth-Ann Pitt for joining me on The Healing Place Podcast! Elisabeth shared her beautiful insights on alignment, empowering women, stress, her coaching course, Byron Katie’s The Work, and more, along with her personal story of overcoming adversity and finding alignment.
“Elisabeth-Ann Pitt is a Life Coach, with a mission to empower other women to live their lives fully as themselves. She creates simple solutions to help women reconnect with their true selves, figure out what they want and who they are – in other words, she helps them choose ALIGNMENT OVER PERFECTION in every area of their lives. That means giving up everything we’ve ever been taught about who we’re supposed to be and what we’re supposed to do. “
Having a C-PTSD diagnosis myself due to my complex trauma exposure during the first twenty-two years of my life, I know the craving for relief from overwhelming symptoms. I find such comfort even in just touching the softness of an animal’s fur. When I was a child I used to create a stuffed animal fortress around me before falling asleep. I found comfort in holding them close to me or reaching out to touch them when afraid.
There was Lenny the Lion (a royal blue lion with a cherry red main), Bobby Bear (clad in his Pampers diaper I took from a babysitting job in our apartment complex), shorts and a t-shirt, along with Billy Bear (also wearing a diaper covered up by his baby blue overalls). I had Greenie and Brownie, two worn little creatures who possessed broken music boxes for insides, one being green and the other brown, surprisingly. Sammy the Snake was always tucked along the small space left where my mattress didn’t quite meet the wall. Just in case anything might try to sneak up on me in that crevice. I still have Lenny, Bobby, and Billy in a bag in my basement, tucked among some other treasures. There were a few others, whose names I now forget, yet they stood guard each night, protecting me from the boogie man. Or in my case, a drunken mother standing in the shadows, watching me sleep, her blank stare concealing murderous ponderings of sending me to “be with Jesus.”
Jump ahead a few decades and I no longer sleep in a stuffed-animal fortress. Instead it’s a dog snuggle-fest. Max, our Schnoodle, thinks he’s a bad-ass in his little thirteen pound body. Except at bedtime he wants to sleep on my pillow and bury his nose into my neck. Sometimes he places his little paw on my shoulder, just to make sure I’m safe. Personally, I think he likes the reassurance, but don’t let him know I’m on to him! Sammie, our Labradoodle, curls up as close as possible somewhere behind my legs. If she could, she’d sleep on my pillow, too. She thinks she’s a lap dog trapped in a fifty-five pound body.
Sammie recently passed her two year re-test for her therapy dog registration. She was amazing. Truly amazing. A perfect score as she followed my every command (or as I like to refer to them . . . suggestion). She watched me for visual cues and listened for words of encouragement.
That’s my girl.
You’re my favorite.
I’m so proud of you.
Way to go, Sam-Sam!
Nice job, Sammie.
You’re a rock star.
Following is a list of seven benefits I find as I work with this sweet pup (whose 5th birthday we celebrated yesterday! Happy Birthday, Sammie Doodle!):
Sometimes I feel selfish for walking away from our therapy dog sessions with my heart overflowing with joy, a smile radiating from my face AND heart. I love watching this dog turn a child’s tears into giggles. Sammie has a thing for kids. Her tail wags every time she sees one. Whether we are walking the halls at a school or the trails at a nature preserve. She wants to meet them all and offer a snuggle. As a result, her tail thumps in canine happiness, and I just can’t help but grin.
We were visiting a school last year when the counselor asked if it would be okay if Sammie had an unscheduled visit from a child who was having a difficult morning. Of course he’s welcome to visit with Sammie! Immediately, upon this nine-year-old boy entering the room, his face stained from tears, Sammie moved toward him. He found his way onto a bean bag chair and Sammie was instantly next to him. Her pointy elbows tickling his belly as she climbed closer to love him.
That’s her secret.
Pure, simple, unconditional love.
And that kind of pure love can only result in pure joy.
I love it that I absorb healing benefits while doing healing work as a therapy dog team with Sammie. Whether she is comforting a child experiencing anxiety symptoms, offering solace to a room full of teachers headed to a co-worker’s funeral, or just greeting kids in the hallways on testing day, she is happy to be there radiating comfort and compassion. I usually step back and witness, avoiding my human interference in a wordless exchange. A hand reaching down to pet Sam’s head, her snout pressing up against a leg, even just a pause in time as she locks eyes with someone needing reassurance.
I watch all of this and allow it to radiate into my being, as well. There is a magic that happens. An energy exchange so powerful I can’t help but pick up on it. And, again, my heart smiles as a result. Perhaps I sense it because I’ve opened myself up to healing. I seek it, I welcome it, I treasure it. Therefore, when I see it and feel it, I know it’s happening and let it in.
A Course in Compassion
This amazing therapy dog has taught me so much about compassion. Whether a child is crying or a teacher is nervous, if a kiddo is expressing his needs through defiant behavior or a grieving adult is standing quiet and still in a corner, or maybe there’s the high end-of-the-school-year energy pulsating through a classroom making for loud voices and stressed staff, regardless, this dog treats them all the same. All she knows is there is a human, usually a smaller and younger one, that just might be interested in a hug.
She listens without interrupting or offering her input.
She offers a snuggle but isn’t offended if she’s turned away. She merely moves on to the next soul needing love.
She’ll stand in quiet solidarity with anyone needing silence, perhaps leaning against a leg just as a little added support.
She won’t nip or bite or growl if hurt. A woman accidentally stepped on Sammie’s tail and foot during a job fair. She happened to be wearing a heavy plastic boot to stabilize an injured leg. Sammie yelped in fear. But then wagged her tail at the woman. As if to apologize for startling the lady with her yelp for help. A child once stuck his finger into Sammie’s ear. Sammie shook her head and moved away as I gently reminded the child to respect Sammie’s body and use gentle touches. But, all the while, Sammie stayed calm.
She is just there to love. To comfort. To listen. To allow. Compassion at its finest.
One of Sammie’s best qualities is patience. I witness it first-hand when we hike. I’m in my fifties and my knees and ankles just aren’t as nimble as they used to be. Therefore, when we hit the steep treks, as I slowly make my way down the rocky trails with protruding roots and crooked rock paths, this sweet dog will pause and look back at me as we descend steep grades. I never taught her this. It just . . . happened. She is the essence of patience.
I witness this same gift being shared with children. She teaches them through modeling as she patiently listens as they talk her ear off, or patiently wags her tail as they rub the same spot on her head for fifteen minutes.
As I sit here typing this, Sammie is sitting in my office, staring at the closed door. She hears our little dog, Max, playing with our daughter. I look at her and she nods at me, as if to say, “When you have a minute, could you let me out.” I can’t help but smile. No barks. No whining. No digging at the door. Just a patient stare. And a wag of the tail as I open the door.
As we walk the trails at our local nature center, Sammie approaches all dogs with a wagging tail. She looks to me for guidance. I usually remind her to leave it as we keep moving forward. Every now and then, however, the hiker coming towards us will ask if Sammie is friendly and if we can stop to allow a doggy meet-n-greet. I always agree. Which makes Sammie one happy girl. The dogs do their usual dog-thing when it comes to meeting another dog. And Sammie walks away knowing she has made a new friend. I will say, though, that there is one particular breed of dog that cannot stand Sammie. Every time we encounter this breed, they always try to eat her. Without fail. Yet, she still wants to be friends.
I’ve studied this. In regards to my own interactions with people. Do I approach with a “wagging tail” and welcoming aura? If so, most people will respond with reciprocatory warmth. And if they are one of those rare few who do not, I’ll just walk away . . . wagging my tail behind me.
Sammie has brought new friendships into my life not because of anything I’ve done, but because of her willingness to approach each and every person she meets with gentle curiosity. As if she’s inquiring, “Do you need some love?” A beautiful thing to witness really. She could care less about skin color, what someone is wearing, religious affiliation, what car they drive, if they have stinky feet or a pimple on their forehead, whether smiling or frowning, upbeat or beat up . . . she just wants to meet them and offer her support.
Filling a Personal Need to Give Back
I have this compelling need to give back to the world. I want to give out hope by the fistfuls, money in anonymous surprises, and time in a I-have-more-of-it-than-I-really-do way. Maybe because I grew up in home where money was always a problem. Or, I guess I should clarify, the LACK of money was always a problem. My dad struggled to keep a job and blew through my mom’s paychecks with his latest “get rich quick” schemes. They never did pan out. Maybe because I spent the first forty-something years of my life struggling with heartache and trauma-related anxiety and panic disorders. And now I know peace. Maybe because I’ve battled my way through darkness and currently celebrate the light.
Working with Sammie as a volunteer therapy dog team truly makes my heart happy. I love the kids, the school staff, the giggles, the joy, the tail-wagging, and the love I witness transcending between souls. Beautiful on so many levels.
Offering hope to children through Sammie’s gentle ways gives me a sense of creating change in a world where sadness and anger seem to be gaining traction. Maybe that’s just social media. All I know is that having a sweet lady offer me hope as an eight-year-old second-grader changed my world. I still treasure the gift of that teacher. I’m hoping Sammie and I can offer that same gift to children. A pay it forward kinda thing.
This dog is truly a rock star! We were hiking through Cincinnati Nature Center last year when someone stopped us on trail and asked, “Is that Sammie?” I laughed and responded with an enthusiastic YES. This person went on to explain, “I know her from the internet.” I mean, seriously, rock star status, Sammie!
Sammie joins me on The Healing Place Podcast, as well. Not as a co-host. That’s Max’s job. He has his own chair and everything. Sammie just insists on being in the office with me when I record shows. She lays at my feet or snoozes in a corner. Every now and then she pops her head up to greet my guests. And whenever she does, the response is always the same. A huge smile appearing on my interviewee’s face. Along with, “Oh, hello, Sammie!”
I love it that this sweet pup has a reputation in Cincinnati for offering love and support to children. We have a project called Sammie’s Bundles of Hope. We fill bags with donated trinkets of hope (PlayDoh, journals, stress balls, bubbles, and more) and disperse them to children with trauma-history, anxiety struggles, recent loss, homelessness, etc. These bags represent everything Sammie. Relief from pain, fear, worry, stress . . . by focusing on something soothing.
This super-star dog even has a book written about her, The Doodle with the Noodle. My daughter and I wrote a book geared toward preschoolers a few years ago when my daughter was in fourth grade. We wrote, illustrated, and published it through Kindle Direct Publishing. And now we donate a copy in each Sammie Bundle of Hope we disperse.
Anticipatory anxiety is where a person experiences increased levels of anxiety by thinking about an event or situation in the future. Rather than being a specific disorder in its own right, anticipatory anxiety is a symptom commonly found in a number of anxiety related conditions, such as generalized anxiety. Anticipatory Anxiety can be extremely draining for people as it can last for months prior to an event. The worries people experience specifically focus on what they think might happen, often with catastrophic predictions about an event. The nature of negative predictions about the event will be the difference between an anxiety level that is incapacitating or merely uncomfortable.
A friend recently reached out to me prior to her drive from Cincinnati to Chicago to inquire about mindfulness practices. As she spoke, she talked about her fears of traveling alone, the possibility of heavy traffic, not knowing where she was going once she arrived in Chicago, and the known fact that she would be driving over bridges. All of which were causing her to experience heightened anxiety. I love it that she reached out to me, trauma-warrior research guru that I am, to discuss options.
I advised her to begin practicing mindfulness as that is my favorite go-to when experiencing anticipatory anxiety. I just happen to be working through my own bout with that pesky little symptom of my C-PTSD right now. We are preparing for a trip to Denver to visit my oldest son. While I am super pumped to see his cute face and the beauty of Colorado, I am also fretting flying, the high elevations, and being far from home.
I am well aware of these fears and why they are present, after my four year stint in EMDR therapy, so I honor their presence and just notice them without judgment. I remind myself these are physiological responses triggered by chemical surges in my brain in relation to past traumatic events. I am working at re-wiring my brain and creating new neural pathways, but that is still a work in process.
Think: brain pep talks! Do what scares you, Teri. You got this, girl!
My personal anticipatory anxiety goes something like this:
Lying in bed. Thinking about staying at The Grand Hyatt in downtown Denver with its rooftop pool and tennis courts. Then my knees start to sweat. Rooftop pool? How does that water not crack the roof and cause the building to crumble? Is there a guardrail? How high is it? Will I be able to ride the elevator up there? Will I feel it swaying? I swear, if that kid of ours goes near the edge, my heart will stop. I wonder how the drive is from the airport? I’m hoping we aren’t in heavy traffic. Especially on a busy highway. I’ll have to sit in the back. You should check out the city and enjoy it, Teri. No. What if you have a panic attack. You haven’t had one of those in a long time.
That all transpires in a mater of seconds. Ah, the joys of racing thoughts. But, then I reach into my coping skills tool box and start to pull out my calming strategies and redirect my thinking.
Deep breath. Closing my eyes slowly, I savor that breath. Now another. A smile creeps into the corners of my mouth. Another breath follows, even deeper. I reach over and grab a grounding stone lying bedside. I love this stone. It’s cool to the touch. And heavy in my hand. So smooth. Other than that rough little edge where it dropped into the gravel on a hike once. I wonder sometimes how long it might take for me to rub it smooth again. My fingers engage in their rhythmic dance along that edge.I’m excited to walk the one block trek from our hotel to the 16th Street Mall. I’ll let John pick a fun restaurant since he’s now a Denver pro. My sweet boy. The best hugger ever. Looking forward to that hug. If something triggers some anxiety, I’ll just hold onto his arm. He knows how to help his momma stay grounded. So blessed to have these children in my life. This trip is going to be amazing. I am going to savor every one of my senses. The sights of the city and atop the mountains in Estes Park. The tastes of new eateries. I wonder how crisp the air will be without Cincinnati humidity? I look forward to breathing it in, smelling The Rocky Mountain flora. We will definitely need to rent a boat on the lake so I can feel the cool water mist splashing onto my face. Oh, to hear the laughter of my children as they catch up with one another after months apart.
My anticipatory anxiety is now silenced. Perhaps it will poke its annoying head out of hiding again. But, I know how to put it in its place.
Back to my friend who was traveling to Chicago.
She called me today as she drove back home to Cincy. I was happy to hear her voice sounding perky. When I asked about her trip, she replied, “Oh, Teri, it was wonderful!” Yay! I then inquired about the six hour drive. She spent the next thirty-one minutes telling me about the strategies she used throughout her trip. How she brought along one of her stuffed otters someone had gifted her from the Cincinnati Zoo, having stuffed the little guy into a pocket of her purse, and reaching for him to touch the softness as she approached a sky-way bridge into the city. She discussed the pep talks she gave herself, You’re fine. You’re doing great. Just stay focused on your lane. The songs she sang along with and the phone calls she made in order to pass the time and keep her mind re-directed from anxious thoughts.
Her friend lives on the fortieth floor of a high-rise condo overlooking Navy Pier so her fear of heights was another anticipatory anxiety. She explained how the elevator ride was smooth and quick and her friend kept the shades shut in the bedroom in order to allow her to settle in. She took stunning photos of the scenery from forty floors above the city streets, but avoided stepping onto the balcony. Honoring her needs. I love that.
She also challenged herself to new adventures, such as an architecture tour of the city from a boat cruising along the Chicago River. Her friend praised her for how well she was doing throughout their escapades. She even watched the fireworks display through the windows of her friend’s condo upon returning from their day of tours and sight-seeing. She told me she continued to use mindfulness techniques to shake off her anxieties and enjoy the present moment. Again, I love this!
Mindfulness as defined by me: reminding myself to re-direct any old habitual scary thought patterns back to this moment, right here, right now, and all the joyous beauty to be found in it by use of my senses. I open myself up to all things smile-inducing in this moment in time.
So, how do you stop anticipatory anxiety? Practice mindfulness. As often as possible. Soon you will be living mindfully aware. And anticipatory anxiety may try to sneak in a word or two, but you can mindfully remind it to sit down and shut up. You have a beautiful life to enjoy without its input.