I feel honored to have had the opportunity to sit with Louise Godbold, executive director of Echo, whose mission is “to educate trauma survivors (including parents and service professionals) about trauma and resilience in order to promote survivor empowerment, resolve individual and community-level trauma, and create the safe, stable, nurturing relationships that break the cycle of generational trauma”. We engaged in a beautiful conversation covering such topics as:
her Harvey Weinstein #metoo experience
the purpose and passion of Echo
alternative approaches outside of therapy for healing
and her upcoming 2020 Annual Conference featuring Survivors Becoming Empowered!
“Louise Godbold is the Executive Director of Echo. Before joining Echo in 2010, she worked for over 15 years in the nonprofit field, both in nonprofit management and as a consultant. For several years she was retained by UC Berkeley to provide statewide technical assistance to county alcohol and drug administrations. She has also worked for The California Endowment and the Los Angeles County Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, as well as innumerable nonprofits, providing assistance with evaluation, strategic planning and creating research-based programming. Louise is the developer and lead trainer for Echo’s curricula on trauma and resilience. She is a trauma survivor and #MeToo silence breaker.”
What a delightful conversation I engaged in with the passionate and compassionate Shenandoah Chefalo, author of Garbage Bag Suitcase: A Memoir and faculty member of The Center for Trauma Resilient Communities. We dove into the depths of:
the healing work of Crossnore and The Center for Trauma Resilient Communities
“Shenandoah Chefalo’s early childhood and subsequent placement into foster care has given her a personal insight into the trauma that children in our nation experience every day. As an author, coach, and nationally-recognized speaker, Shen advocates for foster children everywhere she goes. She also encourages and challenges those in power on state and federal levels, as well as those providing care, to provide the best care possible for these children. With a lengthy career as a paralegal and director of a law firm, Shen has also seen the legal side of children’s care and how much more trauma may be experienced as a child’s case proceeds through the court system.
Shen has been the owner and chief training advocate of two firms in Michigan offering business and life coaching, consultation, and training across the United States. She has consulted with both private and public sector clients providing group and one-on-one training and coaching, workshops, webinars, and keynote speeches. Shen is particularly adept at helping clients identify and address issues, as well as achieve goals, specifically related to the topics of trauma and adversity.
In addition to her work, Shen has authored three books: Setting Your Vision and Defining Your Goals (2013), Garbage Bag Suitcase (2016), and Hiking for Stillness: Healing Trauma One Step at a Time, expected to be published in 2019. Shen earned a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Science, Human Resources, & Society from Michigan State University, and is a 2011 graduate of Coach U in Atlanta, Georgia. She is a member of the Michigan State Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and currently serves as the State Chairman of DAR Schools.
Shen is married to Gerry and the couple have one daughter, Sophia. The Chefalos enjoy adventure and their travels have taken them around the globe. They especially enjoy their family trips during the Christmas holidays and in 2018, they will be hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro, a dormant volcano in Tanzania. This trip will also raise awareness for children in foster care and funds for Crossnore School & Children’s Home.”
“Missy Garcia is a wife, mother of two as well as a powerful sex and leadership coach for women who are desperate to escape from their dull and disconnected lives. She is warm, authentic, funny and deeply vulnerable, offering sage advice about sexuality and leadership from a raw place that has developed through her own journey of self-transformation. Missy is passionate about empowering women with tools to come back into the true beauty of who they are, guide them to open their heart to completely loving all of themselves, and totally embracing their badass queen within. She coaches women to access their inner power, be healed from within and bring back the juiciness into their life, careers and relationships.”
Learn more about Missy and her mission at: W: missyagarcia.com E: email@example.com FACEBOOK: @themissyagarcia INSTAGRAM: @themissyagarcia LINKEDIN: linkedin.com/in/missy-a-garcia/ TWITTER: @MissyAGarcia YOUTUBE: Missy A Garcia
I have said for years, as I felt my way along a sometimes rugged and dark healing path, that I had to return to the darkness in order to make it into the light. Those dark spaces held my trauma, the negative energy needing to be released from my body, mind, and spirit. I used to dish this advice to my then-best-friend in regards to her traumatic past. She would scoff me off.
Just when I thought I had processed the worst of my traumas (sexual abuse, bank robberies, murder, physically abusive parent), this said-friend ghosted me. Gone. Just like that. No closure. No good-bye. No “piss off” to send me on my way. Just silence. After seven years of texting every day, weekend hang outs, girls’ trips adventures, deep talks, and laugh-til-we-peed gatherings. Done.
Only two weeks prior had I sat across from her at one of our impromptu lunch dates, telling her that my therapist and I had discovered my biggest fear during my last EMDR session: the fear of abandonment. I told her how it linked back to my mom and her alcohol addiction, how she had left me feeling emotionally abandoned my entire childhood. She knew most of the history of life with my mother: partying with her co-workers after banking hours, stumbling into our apartment hammered a few nights a week; pouring herself a vodka over ice with a squirt of lemon juice on those nights she came straight home from her teller job, sinking into the worn recliner, held together in places with duct tape, losing herself in a book from the library, yelling for my dad to silence the children, which always came with the jingling of a belt-buckle prepping to beat us quiet; belittlement at our not using our God-given talents and, therefore, disappointing Jesus, God Himself, and all of the heavenly hosts; attempted stabbing of my dad when she raged at him with a butcher knife; attempted drowning of her children when she decided we’d be better off with Jesus in lieu of living in this “valley of tears” called life; showing my school photo to church friends, in my presence, and laughing as she declared, “Look how ugly she is!”, later to remind me, “I was just joking”; and so on.
I was struck with an inkling of curiosity when this friend’s head cocked a bit to the side as she replied, “Really?” to my announcement that my biggest discovered fear was that of abandonment. Not bridges or highways, even though I cannot drive on them. Not death, even though I had faced it too many times, from beneath bathtub water, when staring into a revolver placed to my head, when confronted with the firing end of a Luger during a second bank robbery. Not heights, even though my dad had found it funny to dangle me from the Natural Bridge in Kentucky on a rare family outing or had me look out the window of our beat up station wagon at the Ohio River below us as we crossed the humming bridge into Covington, Kentucky to visit my grandparents, as he proclaimed, “See those river sharks? Some day this bridge will crumble. It was built in the 1800’s you know. And when we fall in, those river sharks will eat you”, then he’d laugh and laugh at his humor, while I stared at the muddy water, positive I saw those river sharks. Not flying, though I could not even think of climbing onto a plane without Xanax in my blood. Not cockroaches. Nor being buried alive. Nor fear itself. Abandonment – linked to my fear of rejection, my insecurities, my unstable sense of self, and my deep craving for approval and affection.
Really? That word would haunt my next year as I sorted through the processing of her disappearance from my life.
Only by giving yourself over to your feelings can you find your way out of them.
Susan Anderson in “The Journey from Abandonment to Healing”
I am guessing God’s timing was, yet again, perfect. It was time for me to visit the darkness that was my relationship with my mother. Still swirling in the chaos of her addiction, I never knew who I would encounter upon my calls to check in or visits to her retirement community. Sober mom was kind and doting. “Teri, I don’t know what I’d do without you. Thank God I have you.” Drunk mom was cruel, “I hate you. I want to put a meat cleaver in your forehead.” When I brought that one up during a sober conversation, she insisted, “Oh for Pete’s sake. I was joking. Get a sense of humor. You know I’d never say something like that to you.”
And then the friend-ghosting occurred. And I cried into my journal for a year. I cried at restaurants. I cried at sappy commercials. I cried when I’d hear songs, listening purposefully to tear-jerker ballads. I cried at Facebook memories popping up. I cried all . . . the . . . time. I just cried. For a year.
And as I did so, I read this book. This amazing book filled with comfort and wisdom, reminding me I would survive this, too. Just as I had survived all of the horrors of my past. This ghosting was a reminder that I had not yet faced the pain I had stored away in regards to trust and love, a heart-hurt melded in the hands of my parents. God was opening that attic door and shining a light on that long-avoided box of sadness.
Being left by someone we love can open up old wounds, stirring up insecurities and doubts that had been part of our emotional baggage since childhood.
Susan Anderson in “The Journey from Abandonment to Healing”
My grieving journey had begun. What was triggered by a ghosting, turned into a beautiful journey of healing those old insecurities and heartaches, helping me find forgiveness for my parents, as well as helping me release the ghosts from that abandonment attic. All of them.
The author takes us into an understanding of the five states of abandonment: shattering, withdrawal, internalizing rejection, rage, and lifting. All of which I circled through. The beautiful gift I discovered during this grief journey was that of embracing my own vulnerability even more than I already had. I learned to console little Teri all the while learning to empower adult me.
Susan Anderson, author of this powerful book, offers an action plan for readers to help us along our continued healing journey, as well. An action plan I fully implemented.
The key to change is opening your life to new experiences. Even small changes in your daily routine can lead to new discoveries about who you are becoming.
The key to reconnecting is to cherish the gift that abandonment has given you, to remain open to your vulnerabilities and to the vulnerabilities of others.
Susan Anderson in “The Journey from Abandonment to Healing”
Since reading this beautiful book, I have done exactly that. I opened myself up to new experiences: starting a successful podcast with a growing global audience (The Healing Place Podcast); meeting amazing souls from all over the world who are working to help others along their healing journeys; starting this blog; creating a website aimed at helping others heal from ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) and trauma; becoming a YouTuber (that is still in its infancy stages); standing on stages to share my story of hope; creating our Sammie’s Bundles of Hope project to help children struggling with anxiety and trauma history; volunteering with our sweet therapy dog, Sammie Doodle; and opening myself up to new friendships.
Thank you, Dr. Gretchen Schmelzer, for enlightening us even more about the “journey through trauma”. Listen in as Gretchen shares her insights on trauma GPS, her work in the field of trauma-recovery and healing on individual and societal levels, Nelson Mandela, her five phase cycle for healing repeated trauma, and more!
Welcome to The Healing Place Podcast! I am your host, Teri Wellbrock. You can listen in on iTunes, Blubrry, Spotify, or directly on my website at www.teriwellbrock.com/podcasts/. You can also watch our insightful interview on YouTube. These hope-infused episodes are also now available on Deezer, Google Podcasts, Podbean, and more!
“Gretchen Schmelzer, PhD is a licensed psychologist, trained as a Harvard Medical School Fellow and the author of Journey Through Trauma published in 2018 by Penguin Random House. She is a trauma survivor, who has worked for twenty-five years with the complex issues of trauma, integration and behavior change across every level of system from individuals, to groups, to large systems and countries, including her role as the expert consultant for documentary film The Silence which aired on April 19, 2011 on Frontline regarding priest sexual abuse in a Native Alaskan Village to ensure adequate resources for viewers and for proper follow on support for trauma survivors.
Since 2002, Dr. Schmelzer has also been a senior consultant with Teleos Leadership Institute, an international consulting firm serving leaders of fortune 100 businesses and major not-for-profit organizations such as the United Nations. Her expertise in long term trauma was used to inform the design and delivery of a four year large scale intervention for the UN in Cambodia. She and her colleagues worked with 150 leaders each year who were survivors of the Khmer Rouge in a large scale leadership initiative to strengthen the county’s response to HIV/AIDS. The program integrated work in self-awareness and self-regulation, gender issues, communication skills, relational skills and action learning. This program was rated one of the most successful leadership development programs run through the United Nations Development Program by an independent research team.
Gretchen received her doctorate in Counseling Psychology from Northeastern University, and her Master of Science degree in Counseling Psychology from Springfield College, and BA from Mount Holyoke College. She completed her clinical training as a Harvard Clinical Fellow and completed her postdoctoral fellowship in Behavioral Medicine at UMASS Medical Center and The Center for Mindfulness. Since October 2014 she is the founder and editor of The Trail Guide, a web-mag featured on www.gretchenschmelzer.com dedicated to healing repeated trauma.”
Book three in this blog series – Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy by Francine Shapiro, PhD.
This book was recommended to me by my therapist in the midst of our four year, ninety-eight session, EMDR healing journey. For those unaware what EMDR is and how it helps, I will give you my trauma-warrior perspective, a view from the inside. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. During most sessions, I would watch a light bar flash from left to right and back again or hold vibrating paddles in my hands, alternating left, right, left, right. This would result in my eyes naturally falling into a rhythmic back and forth as I was encouraged to revisit traumatic events from my youth.
What would arise during these sessions ranged from body memories, such as a feeling that someone was squeezing my left shoulder in a fierce grip, to flashbacks of images, such as seeing my mother’s face from beneath water as she held me down, to sensations of a spirit presence in the therapist’s office (I believe it was my deceased father trying to help me). Naturally, I would at times experience panic attack symptoms, and would almost always cry. Sometimes slow tears cascading down my cheeks. Other times full-on ugly crying, requiring a pause in the action.
While at times I found this to be terrifying, my therapist was always there to remind me to keep myself grounded, be gentle with myself, just notice the body memories or panic symptoms without judgment, and to guide me to tuck the session into a storage box, until next time, so I was able to walk out of her office, most days, emotionally exhausted but able to continue with my day. EMDR was life-altering. I would not be in the place of tranquility I am today without it.
This book, penned by the developer of EMDR, kept me holding on to hope as I weaved my way in and out of horrific childhood and young adult memories. It was my reminder that the symptoms of my Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) diagnosis need not be permanent. I could learn to process the memories in a healthy way, release stored negative energy, rewire neuron pathways, and create healthy coping strategies and new habitual patterns. Whew! Sounds exhausting, right? It was. But, wow, was it worth it.
PTSD makes life unmanageable. It pushes people into trying to do something to survive the chaos within them.
Using real-life stories throughout this book to guide us readers through the lessons to be learned about trauma and its effect on us in brain/mind/body/spirit levels, helped me feel not-so-alone in my journey. Dr. Shapiro also took me by the hand, along with my therapist, and guided me toward a better understanding of the physiological processes that had occurred during the traumas, and helped me understand what being triggered was doing to me in the present day.
Dr. Shapiro takes us into exercises we can utilize as we move along our healing journey. Trying to survive the chaos within me was a heavy load to carry each day. Not knowing when I would be triggered. How severe the panic attack would be. Wondering if I would actually die from it this time (a racing thought that haunted me mid-panic). However, these self-help techniques outlined in the book encouraged me to believe in the possibility. The possibility of relief. The possibility of hope. The possibility of true healing.
Basically, life is not just about getting rid of suffering. It’s about expanding our potential while embracing feelings of joy and well-being.
This incredible book introduced me to life changing concepts such as mindfulness (which I practice on a daily basis now, particularly on my nature hikes), post-traumatic growth (which I can proudly claim has occurred in my life), and Hope for Healing (my own coined term for what I experienced in my life as a result of EMDR – and also the name of my monthly newsletter).
I hope you find comfort in this collection of stories and pertinent information on trauma-recovery. You are so very worthy of the possibilities EMDR can offer.
What a heart-warming conversation I engaged in with Heather Askew, co-founder and co-director of Jojo’s Sanctuary, a beautiful space that works to re-unite children with families and provide opportunities for children in Northern Thailand. Heather has been a foster parent to three Thai teenagers herself and is currently parenting a teenage son. Please join us as we discuss her journey from the film industry in Los Angeles, California to changing lives in the villages of Thailand.
“Heather Askew, originally from Washington State, was a script supervisor in film and television for ten years before moving to Thailand. She moved to Chiang Mai in 2011 to work at Taw Saeng as program coordinator for the after school program. While there, she taught English, gave piano and guitar lessons and planned field trips for the children. After working with Taw Saeng for 3 years, she was invited to join the team at HUG Project as the case manager for child victims of human trafficking and sexual abuse. While at HUG Project, she also started an after school program with her Thai colleague, Win, for the Burmese children who lived in the neighborhood and were at risk of exploitation. The program, called Moulding Stars, continues today and Heather volunteers teaching English once a week to the pre-school class. Heather left HUG Project in 2016 to found Jojo’s Sanctuary with two Thai colleagues, Butsaba and Jay and acts as the co-director. Heather has also been a foster parent to three Thai teenagers and currently has a 17-year-old foster son.
Jojo’s Sanctuary seeks to educate, protect and empower vulnerable children, families and communities in Northern Thailand. They aim to prevent human trafficking by focusing on family strengthening and keeping children in families rather than orphanages. Jojo’s Sanctuary was named in honor of Jojo, an 8-year-old boy who died as the result of child abuse at the hands of an aunt. Their goal is to provide families with the tools to maintain a safe and loving home for every child, regardless of their socioeconomic status. Jojo’s Sanctuary provides educational scholarships, child protection and parenting workshops, assistance with citizenship for stateless children and a holistic family strengthening program for lower income families.”
Thank you, Dr. Kathleen Friend, for sitting down with me to discuss your philosophies on mind/body/spirit connection in regards to healing, your recently released children’s book The Greatness Chair, your beautiful approach to honoring children and their caregivers in the therapy setting, and much more!
“Kathleen Friend MD is a Child Psychiatrist, children’s author, musician and heart rhythm meditation teacher currently living in Tucson, Arizona. Her mission is to expand the paradigm of Child Psychiatry to embrace a holistic view of mind, body and spirit. Dr. Friend now teaches a simple, accessible method to help grownups bring out the best in children through the concept of the greatness chair. Her recent book, The Greatness Chair (2019) published by Words Matter Publishing is a children’s story to inspire a shift to seeing the positive in children in order to build their emotional wealth from the inside. This work is based on seeing clearly with our hearts what is true about a child and helping them see themselves in a new light. This is not false praise or “good job”. Finding greatness means uncovering the truths about a child’s individuality so they can grow into that and learn to contribute to the world in their own unique way.
She is available for book signings, workshops and lectures and can be reached at drfriend@drfriend .net or through www.greatnesschair.com or through the Facebook page: The Greatness Chair. Further information can also be found on her author page at Words Matter Publishing.
The Greatness Chair is available through Amazon (kindle or paperback) or Words Matter Publishing.” Learn more about Kathleen and her mission at: https://greatnesschair.com/
As I sat here contemplating ideas for my next article, I glanced around my sacred writing space only to find myself staring at a beautiful stack of books. This assorted collection of signed copies of books, written by my podcast guests, their pages filled with the light of hope and healing, reminded me how a perfectly timed read can truly change a life. I am that person who makes a book my own by highlighting those ah-ha phrases or drawing five giant stars on a page so I can easily flip through the book to find those “spoke to my soul” words.
Today my eyes fell upon the small stack to the left of my podcast guests’ collection. And there it was . . . Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao by Dr. Wayne Dyer. A deep, poetic, powerful, life-altering translation of the Tao Te Ching. While I can go on about what the Tao is and give you the low-down on its original author, Lao-tzu, I will merely allow you the opportunity to discover it for yourself in the reading of Dr. Dyer’s book, just as I did.
Instead I want to share its impact on me and my healing journey. Perhaps then you will be inspired to pick it up yourself and allow a similar transition to happen for you. There were many more books, which I will review in this series, which have had a powerful affect on my journey, such as Bessel van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma and The Power of Now: The Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle.
I have been saying for awhile now that I finally learned to “find the gifts within the chaos,” meaning I am now able to search for the positives that resulted from traumatic or what I used to only perceive as negative events or circumstances in my life. I told my sister the other day that I now look for the positivities of growing up with an addict as a parent. Instead of seeing an alcoholic who struggled to offer her children emotional support, a mother who dished out criticism as a “joke,” one who chose nights out partying with co-workers over tucking her children into bed, I now say to myself:
My mom worked six days a week; she taught me work ethic. My mom drank after work with her followers and fans; she taught me loyalty to friendships. My mom was a partier; she taught me how to entertain. My mom was traumatized, too; she taught me how to keep going in the face of adversity. My mom was a “Jesus-freak”; she taught me how to believe even when in doubt.
Learning to find my gifts within my chaos has changed everything. Everything.
In the preface of Dr. Dyer’s book, is the following quote from one of his journal entries, which speaks directly to this philosophy:
Nature doesn’t create a storm that never ends. Within misfortune, good fortune hides.
Dr. Wayne Dyer
This review will be poetic in nature as I could truly write another book in response to this book’s based on my highlights and exclamation points and stars scribbled onto its pages. Here is my simplistic analysis of the first twenty verses as translated by Dr. Dyer and how I try to live them based upon the lessons I learned in their depth:
I try to be present in the moment.
I live to be me and the universe simultaneously.
I want to serve others.
I give the gift of myself.
I let my creativity radiate.
I try to meet the needs of others.
I allow my thoughts to flow freely.
I seek joy in the act of doing in lieu of the results.
I let go of what is mine so it may become someone else’s.
I allow silence.
I treasure what is within rather than what I can possess.
I trust my own perceptions of me.
I practice walking meditations.
I allow my life to unfold as planned.
I observe life.
I allow others to travel their own path.
I am virtue, not virtuous.
I learn to let go of attachment through generosity.
I let go and let God.
There are eighty-one verses total.
Eighty-one powerful lessons surrounded by and filled with an infinite number more. Different for all. Yet, the same.
I hope you gift yourself this transformative translation of the Tao.
First off, I apologize for the feed issues with the sound in a few spots! I put forth my best editing efforts. Still on the learning curve with editing software. Thank you for your understanding.
Thank you, Christina Beauchemin, for sharing your beautiful insights with me and The Healing Place Podcast audience. Christina and I discussed her book, Let My Legacy Be Love, her work as a passionate speaker and truth seeker, as well as her coaching practice where she works to guide others along their healing journeys.
“Christina is an author, speaker, and truth seeker. She is an advocate of curiosity, courage and honesty as a path to personal transformation. She facilitates workshops as well as working privately with those who are serious about changing their life for the better.
Christina is married to her best friend, Rick and is a mother to two grown boys. A combination of running, Zumba, and yoga keep her healthy and a positive attitude keeps her happy. Her only real complaint is her unfortunate allergy to many dark chocolates.” Learn more about Christina and her mission at: