Receiving a Rock for Christmas: ACEs Parenting 101


“Mom, Your life and work are so inspiring. Your social media presence is a light for people on a day to day basis. Your podcasts are influencing in all the right ways. Your writings are beautiful works of love that all need to hear. Keep up all your hard work and the dividends will exponentially grow. Remember that love is everywhere and I will always support you, even from across the country from atop mountains. Love, John” 

John Wellbrock – letter to mom, Teri Wellbrock, Christmas 2018

I have been collecting hearts for a few years now. My friends will send me photos of hearts they find. I will post pics on social media of my heart finds. I even recently wrote an e-book, Stop Thinking . . . Just Love, filled with over six hundred heart photos. I have a collection of hearts on their own page on my website. And in my sacred writing space, I have a collection of special hearts given to me by loved ones, friends, and therapists.

Christmas 2018 I added a special Rocky Mountains heart to my treasure. My oldest son, John, my kindred spirit, my boy with a physicist’s mind and a poet’s heart, gave me the gift of a rock for Christmas.

Yep. A rock.

Plus, a letter. Written from his heart.

I have sometimes questioned my parenting skills. Am I doing this right? Did I coddle them too much, trying to compensate for my own painful childhood, filled with moments of terror and abandonment? Did I do too much for them? Overprotect them to a fault? Should I have let them fall and stumble more often? I wanted them safe. I wanted them to feel loved and protected and treasured. I wanted them to know they were wanted and their opinions mattered.

Or I’d ridicule myself for not being strong enough to fight for them. For emotionally abandoning them when I was lost and hurting. Those endless years I’d spent holed up in a dark room, smoking cigarettes, playing mindless computer games or seeking solace from strangers in AOL chat rooms, shooing my children away.

Learning to forgive myself, forgive my parents, and forgive my transgressors, altered my life. It’s not for everyone. But, that’s what worked for me. That’s my message to the world. Take it or leave it.

I reminded a friend the other day that no matter what decisions we make regarding our children, if we do so with love as our driving force, with intentions filled with hopeful promise, then, yes, we are doing it right.

Years ago, I told my children I was so very sorry for anything I had done to hurt them. I explained that none of it was ever done in malice. I accepted responsibility for my actions in hurting them. And they graciously offered the beautiful gift of forgiveness to me.

Yesterday, on Christmas morning, 2018, as my tears flowed, and I threw my arms around my now twenty-five-year-old baby boy, I knew in my heart . . . I did it right.

And as I kissed my eighty-three-year-old mother good-bye, as she left our home, my heart overflowing with joy at her having made it through our first family Christmas celebration EVER without drinking alcohol, I realized that she did it right, too.

She had abandoned me emotionally as a child while lost in her own pain and her self-medicating through Valium and booze. She had summoned my father to hit me when she wanted silence. Yet, I know on a soul level, she loved me. And some how, some way, that love permeated.

So here we are. Healing a once-festering wound. Enjoying our new normal, a relationship filled with phone calls and shopping and laughter and movie dates. Mother-daughter endeavors I had only dreamed of having and had envied in others.

I now realize my mom needed to heal her own pain. Did she hurt me in her flailing? Absolutely. Am I saying it was acceptable? Absolutely not. What I am saying is that parenting is a struggle . . . especially when we have lived adverse childhood experiences ourselves and are still working through our own healing process. Yet, love prevails. It really does.

Some may disagree with me. That’s fine. But, I like to look at the positives and focus on the hope. The hope of healing. The hope that permeates forgiveness. The hope that is love.

So, yes, here we are. Loving our children, my mom and me. We did it in our own ways. But, we did it right.

#nevergiveup

Defining Resilience Series: Step 7 – Learn to Become Our Own Hero

Defining Resilience


Step 7: Learn to Become Our Own Hero

Before diving into step 7, a reminder about resilience: it is defined as the ability to overcome adverse conditions; with healthy bonding relationships, guidance, support, and compassion as the catalysts. Basically, it entails having the capacity to bounce back from stressful or overwhelming experiences. 

What are some steps we can take to ensure we are building resilience in our lives?

  1. Focus on the positives. 
  2. Seek out and nurture supportive relationships.
  3. Utilize self-care strategies. 
  4. Take action steps to create positive change.
  5. Work on healthy habit formation. 
  6. Find a guiding hand to hold.
  7. Learn to become our own hero. 
  8. Be gentle with ourselves.

Today we will cover Step 7: Learn to become our own hero.

One of those ah-ha moments in my life came when I realized that it was not up to anyone else to “save” me. Instead, I started to look to myself for empowerment. I experienced what I call “a shift” in 2013. Think of it as a change in philosophy, a willingness to open myself up to healing and answers. I allowed myself the gift of becoming my own hero. We all have the capacity for becoming our own superhero; we just need to open our hearts, minds, and souls to the possibility.

So, how did I learn to become my own hero? A whole helluva lot of research . . . along with some trial and error. The sole purpose of my Unicorn Shadows: From Trauma to Triumph – A Healing Guide book that I am finishing up the manuscript on is to guide others through the research I completed and allow readers an opportunity to engage in the steps I utilized. 

I will give you a head start here and offer five suggestions for starting your superhero work (go ahead and put that cape on!):

  • Build your knowledge by reading, watching, listening, and absorbing all you can about healthy self-care strategies: I have a resource library full of books I have read (filled with mark-ups for ideas that spoke to my soul). I will be adding those titles to my website some time over the next few months. I’ll be sure to send you an access code once I do so you can dive into those books and articles. I also have a bookmark folder on my web browser filled with articles and websites that provide healing guidance. I would list them all, but what speaks to MY soul might not speak to YOURS. Therefore, I recommend you search for self-help topics that pique your interest. Do searches on your local library site (did you know you can check out books online, too?), Amazon, YouTube, Vimeo, web browsers, by key words, Pinterest, Facebook – the options are endless. 
  • Be open to crazy awesome options for healing: When I started opening my mind up to new possibilities for healing my trauma wounds and relieving the resulting symptoms, miracles started to happen. No, seriously. For real. I started practicing exercises such as Ho’oponopono Hawaiian healing technique, the Ah Meditation, energy healing, and so much more. Next on my list is goat yoga! Watch my beautiful podcast interview with Belinda Farrell of Huna Healing for more information on Ho’oponopono. 
  • Choose one and try it: This seems pretty self-evident, but how many times have we made grandiose plans, done the research, but then stopped right there. It’s scary sometimes to try something new. Right? But, the best way to learn if something will help you feel more empowered is to simply DO it. Give it a whirl. Maybe a few whirls. If it works . . . yay! You can add that patch to your superhero cape. If not, see the next suggestion.
  • If it does not work, file it away, see it as a learning lesson, and move on to the next idea: This can be tough, too. We feel like we are giving up. Or maybe questioning, “Why does this work for other people, but not me?” Please know that we are all different with an eclectic mix of backgrounds. What works for one person might not work for us because of genetics or experiences (such as adverse childhood experiences or ACEs) or a combination of factors. Regardless, it’s okay. Put it in the “life lesson” file folder and move on to another superhero adventure. 
  • Build your superhero portfolio to use as needed: Once you have established a collection of tools . . . think of Batman’s utility belt . . . you will feel more empowered just by having more choices from which to turn to for your self-care strategies. But, keep on adding options as you grow stronger. Get yourself ready for your superhero strut. Watch out, world. Another bad-ass trauma-warrior is in the making.

Coming up next month: Step 8: Be gentle with ourselves.

*Excerpt from my upcoming Hope for Healing Newsletter . . . I would love to welcome you onto the Hope for Healing team! Join me here!