Every Tuesday morning this school year, Sammie and I have visited the kids at Terrace Park Elementary school. Sammie melts my heart as I witness her work her therapy dog magic with these sweet little humans. The idea of helping a child who is experiencing anxiety or feelings of overwhelm touches me on a soul level. I know how much small gestures of kindness and gentle acceptance meant to me as a child. That’s what helped me live through my hell and come out smiling. Sammie is helping me pay it forward with her gentle ways with kids.
Today these kids and the amazing staff at that school made my heart smile . . . and Sammie’s tail wag. A lot!! They gifted us with a new backpack (mine was falling apart and my menopause brain kept forgetting to switch over to another backpack!), bags of dog treats, much needed Dentastix (Sammie has stinky dog breath even though I brush her teeth), toys for Sam, even toys for our puppy Max . . . and noodles!!!
But, the cards. These hand-written thank yous teared me up and, again, had my heart smiling. To know my beautiful dog touches so many lives just by radiating love and giving stinky kisses and sharing hugs (she has started to put her head on a shoulder and push her head against the hugger’s head) . . . is fulfilling in ways I can’t really express in words. It’s like my soul is filled with light.
So I send out a thank you to the awesome staff who welcome us each week with smiles and dog treats in the office before we head upstairs, thank you to the amazing teachers who invite us into their classrooms, thank you to Tricia and Liz for helping me continue to learn the gifts contained in just listening and for offering Sammie a space to shine, thank you Jen Hrovat for introducing us all and giving an adorable hint on the rainbow tennis balls. And THANK YOU to the kids for loving my Sammie girl and brightening our Tuesday mornings.
I love this dog. She’s a therapy dog. She’s The Doodle with the Noodle. She’s sweet. And snuggly. And funny. And overflowing with love. She’s my best friend. And my snuggle buddy. My hiking pal. And my calming presence.
But most of all, she is love. A lot of love in a furry body.
Laughter is a healing tool and we shared the gift of laughter during this deep conversation on a difficult subject. Thank you, Donna, for helping others along their healing journey by sharing your powerful story, your beautiful gift of writing, your talents and truths.
“Founder and Director of Time To Tell – with a mission to spark stories from lives affected by incest and sexual abuse to be told and heard. She wrote and performs her one-woman play, What She Knows: One Woman’s Way Through Incest to Joy, which is based on her own experience of surviving incest, at conferences and in communities. She leads writing workshops for survivors interested in finding their voice and using it. Her book, Healing My Life from Incest to Joy, is a memoir of the choices she made and experiences she had that helped her heal from her childhood trauma. ”
What a beautiful conversation with Maria Dunlap, founder and CEO of Vivian’s Victory, about the difficult subject of losing a child and parenting a child with a chronic illness along with a discussion on the gifts that come from grief and the healing journey. Thank you, Maria, for sharing your heartache, triumph, and light of hope with those needing support and guidance.
“Maria Dunlap is the Founder and CEO of Vivian’s Victory. Vivian’s Victory is a nonprofit dedicated to bring hope, building community and bridging gaps for families that have a child diagnosed with a chronic illness. After Maria’s daughter, Vivian, died in the hospital at 59 days old in 2012, she knew families needed to receive support during perhaps the hardest moments of their lives. Since the inception of Vivian’s Victory in 2014, over 2,000 families have been impacted through their mission.”
I so enjoyed this amazing conversation with Amit Janco (I found it fascinating to be talking to someone on the other side of the world who was already in tomorrow!), discussing her personal continued healing journey after falling from a bridge, the exciting release of her book (Un)Bound Together: A Journey to the End of the Earth (and Beyond), the healing aspects of nature and art, and so much more. Thank you, Amit, for sharing your brilliant insights (I love your ability to paint a picture with your words) and shining the light of hope.
“Amit Janco is a writer, serial walker, labyrinth designer and yogi who has lived in Bali since 2011. As an artist, Young Living oiler and Narrative Therapy practitioner, she loves to design multi-sensory experiences that inspire creative expression. After falling from a bridge in early 2009, Amitset off, like thousands before her, on a journey of physical healing along the mythical Camino de Santiago. What was slated to be little more than a rehabilitative adventure of walking across the undulating terrain of northern Spain, would become an unexpectedly gratifying, comical, and, at times, emotionally tumultuous odyssey through physical and emotional recovery, into the very heart and soul of her existence. Part memoir and part Camino pilgrimage, Amit’s newly-released book, (Un)Bound, Together: A Journey to the End of the Earth (and Beyond), reveals how a quest for whole healing can unfold in unlikely ways and places.”
WARNING: Confessions of a frustrated co-dependent. Things a child, no matter how old, should ever have to go through.
My mother told my sister last week, “Tell Teri to go to hell and I never want to see her again.” Obviously, intoxicated. This was a result of my discovering she was using a younger family member to drive her to the grocery (where there is a liquor store) and I informed that family member’s parent.
Two days ago she advised a family member she would be “drinking herself to death”. Same old story I’ve heard since I was a kid. Drunken slurs told to me as a child like, “Teri, this life does not matter. I want to be with Jesus. I just want to die. Death is beautiful. If you died I would celebrate. How lucky would that be.” A child. Being told by her mother that she would celebrate her child’s death.
I used to wake up and find my mother standing over me with a butcher knife in her hand. Her eyes would be lifeless. As if she was staring through me. I would cry as silently as possible so as not to startle her. My little sister always found her way into my bed and would wrap herself around me. It was a comfort for both of us.
Today I sit here furious. And bitter. And sad.
She is on another “I haven’t eaten in 3 days. I am no longer taking my medications. I am only going to drink until I die” missions.
I called 911 two days ago when she first threatened to kill herself as we cannot get into her secured building. She turned them away. Today I called her doctor and was advised to have the police accompany the paramedics as they will force her to go with them for a psych eval. Her building social worker called to tell me, that even though she had a “huge bottle of vodka” sitting next to her and a glass filled with it, the police left without taking her. And no paramedics were with them.
So I just printed off the “instructions for filing an emergency guardianship” paperwork. It states a physician must appear before the magistrate in a hearing to justify it is necessary to avoid immediate harm to the ward. I cannot get her to a hospital as she refuses transport.
She cannot live on her own, per her doctor’s own words, but I cannot force her to move until she’s no longer competent enough to make the choice. Apparently the police think she’s still competent enough to decide.
Therefore, we sit and wait. For our mother to sober herself up. Or die.
No child should EVER have to go through this hell.
I lost my mind on the social worker. I snapped. I cried. I screamed, “I’m fucking done. Let her die.”
I’ve reached out so many times for help. I just don’t know what to do anymore.
This is the lady I grew up with. A bottle of alcohol always next to her. She would come home from work and pour a drink and sit down to read. I learned early on to lock myself in my room and put my headphones on and escape into my music. If I approached her, she would slur at me, “Can’t I just relax for five minutes? Just leave me alone!” Or, if I approached with happy news, “Mom! Look! I got a 93% on my test.” (A 93 was still an A back in the 70’s) Her response, “A 93? A 93? God gave you a brilliant mind, Teri. And you are wasting it. Why wasn’t it a 100%? You are disappointing God. And me.” And I would turn away, once again, belittled and shamed. Shamed for not being good enough.
She tried to drown me in a bathtub when I was 4, holding my head underwater. She told me I would be happier with Jesus. Until my dad came in and sucker-punched her across the bathroom. She landed between the toilet and cabinet.
She tried to kill my dad with a butcher knife. But, he lifted a chair in time in front of him as protection to have the blade completely penetrate the wood seat. I witnessed her hauled off in handcuffs on that occasion. I was 4 or 5.
She beat my sister relentlessly. She didn’t like her and made it clear. I got to listen to the screams from behind a locked bathroom door where I would hide for hours until it was quiet again.
She told me I was frumpy and ugly and used to show my 7th grade photo to people and laugh about how ugly I was. I had braces and a unibrow and yes, pretty hideous, but really?
When I was in my 20’s (after the bank robberies) I dressed conservatively for business. She would laugh and call me, “Margaret Thatcher” and advise me I needed to brighten myself up so people would think I was happy.
Yet, I have fought and fought and fought for this lady’s love and approval my entire life. All I wanted was for her to love me and accept me.
I know my life motto is #nevergiveup, but damn is this a tough battle to keep fighting. Please pray for strength and answers as we move forward with guardianship. And that I keep my cool and not explode in frustration again. I’m starting to reach the end of my rope with this one.
I am ever so grateful for the opportunity to sit down with Ingrid Cockhren, ACEs Connection Midwest Regional Community Facilitator, and Sue Fort White, Executive Director of Our Kids, Inc. Thank you, Ingrid and Sue, for the incredible work you are both doing to help create a more trauma-informed world and helping those who are on the healing journey.
Sue Fort White, Ed.D.
Our Kids Executive Director
For more than 30 years, Sue Fort White has mobilized resources for underserved populations, including victims of domestic violence, teens and families in crisis, children in foster care and families affected by child sexual abuse. Sue’s work at Our Kids starting in 2006 was a natural progression of her deep commitment to social justice and her desire to connect children and families with the services they need.
Sue is an experienced nonprofit and community leader with specialized skills in:
ACEs Connection Midwest Regional Community Facilitator
As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Ingrid Cockhren knows first-hand how impactful trauma and toxic stress can be on children, families and communities. Subsequently, she has dedicated her professional life to investigating and educating the public about the link between early trauma, early adversity, Adverse Childhood experiences (ACEs) and possible negative outcomes across the lifespan.
Mrs. Cockhren graduated from Tennessee State University with a B.S. in Psychology and from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College with a M.Ed. in Child Studies specializing in early interventions for children from minority and low-income families. Her research areas are African American parenting styles, Adverse Childhood Experiences, historical trauma and intergenerational transmission, brain development, developmental psychology and epigenetics. She is currently an adjunct professor specializing in developmental psychology at Tennessee State University and the TN & Midwest Regional Community Facilitator for ACEs Connection.
Mrs. Cockhren is also a member of leadership with ACE Nashville, a collective impact in Nashville, TN dedicated to the mitigation of ACEs in the Greater Nashville area. She is currently Chair of ACE Nashville’s Parent & Community Education Committee and serves as an advisor on both Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research’s Community Engaged Research Core Advisory Council and the Lloyd. C. Elam Mental Health Center’s Advisory Board. In addition, she is the creator and moderator of The State of the Black Woman-Nashville. Ingrid’s experience and affiliations also include Metro Nashville’s Public Schools, Tennessee’s Dept. of Children’s Services, Tennessee’s Office of Child Safety, Meharry, Vanderbilt University’s Peabody Research Institute & Special Education Dept. and Youth Villages, Inc.
Ingrid Cockhren is a Clarksville, TN native who currently resides in Nashville, TN with husband Jurnell Cockhren, founder of Civic Hacker, a software development consulting agency. Ingrid loves painting, cooking and spending time with daughter Yves.
What an absolute joy it was to chat “across the pond” with the beautiful, hilarious, and inspirational Jaz Ampaw-Farr. From her TEDx talk to her international motivational presentations, she is empowering others along their healing journeys. Thank you, Jaz for helping leave this world a better place – from your Tampax donation in the school bathroom to your work in prisons to your ability to make us laugh – your enthusiasm is contagious.
I encourage you to grab your tissues and watch her 11 minute TEDx talk. I promise it will be worth it!
“It would be easy to say, you’ve never met anyone like Jaz before. Her passion for the potential we can uncover in ourselves when we are just 2% braver and her insight into how to remove the barriers that hinder connection between us and those we seek to influence make Jaz one of those people you will never forget.
Jaz’s story is one of growing up in the midst of most appalling abuse, poverty and hardship during which she encountered five adults (and, importantly, one pimp) whose belief in her literally saved her life. She shares her fantastic journey of how saying yes first allowed her to progress from council estate and foster care to advising international governments on education policy.
There are many messages leaders take away from listening to Jaz deliver keynotes across the UK, in the US (where she’s being called ‘The British Oprah’!) and elsewhere. Clearly, the impact that we have to connect and transform lives comes through loud and clear but there is more to it than just that.
Jaz also embodies the idea of bravery and the willingness to be defined by what you’ve tried even if you fail, rather than by what you could have done. Both her (very) brief stint on TV’s The Apprentice, more substantial skills as a presenter on BBC’s Hard Spell Abbey and her career as a stand up comedian are good examples of this. And she shows that a human being can be subject to the worst depravities of her fellow humans and not only survive, but thrive – and do so without anger or bitterness.
It is true, we are more than our stories, and Jaz shares strategies and insights in her work with humour, energy, honesty and an unswerving optimism in people and in authentic connection in particular. Full of practical advice, for leaders from all industries, including the corporate, health and education sectors, her message is neatly summed up in her own words to those five teachers from her past and the title of her best selling book – Because Of You – This Is Me.”
I want to share one coping strategy a month. These are strategies I use (or have used) in my own life as I travel the healing journey. I hope they bring you tranquility, as well!
WRITE LETTERS OF FORGIVENESS
Write letters of forgiveness to those who have hurt you. Then burn them. Set them free. Not for their sake, but for your own. Write a letter to God. To the universe. To fate. Whatever you feel has burdened you with something unbearable. Be honest in your letter. Release the emotions and, just like with the journaling, do not edit yourself. Let it flow. Free it! Free yourself!
Welcome to The Healing Place Podcast! I am your host, Teri Wellbrock. You can listen in on iTunes, Blubrry or directly on my website at www.teriwellbrock.com/podcasts/. You can also watch our insightful interview on YouTube. And I am excited to announce that you can now listen in to my hope-filled conversations with amazing guests on Spotify!
Thank you for listening in on this thought-provoking conversation with Karen Zilberstein, discussing her philosophies and work in the parenting arena. Thank you, Karen, for helping shine the light of hope into the lives of those who might be struggling in their parenting roles due to additional pressures and lack of resources.
Bio: “Karen Zilberstein, LICSW, is a practicing psychotherapist and Clinical Director of the Northampton, MA chapter of A Home Within, a national nonprofit that provides pro bono psychotherapy for individuals who have experienced foster care. She has co-authored a children’s book entitled Calming Stormy Feelings: A Child’s Introduction to Psychotherapy and published numerous journal articles on child therapy, parenting interventions, the treatment of foster and adopted children, and the clinical implications of attachment and complex trauma in children. In her latest book, Parents Under Pressure: Struggling to Raise Children in an Unequal America (Levellers Press, March 2019), she provides a candid look at how parents contending with poverty, trauma, disability, or other constraints are expected to do so much with so little—and the price they and society pay.” Find out more about Karen’s inspirational work at https://karenzilberstein.info/.
I very much enjoyed the opportunity to engage in a hope-filled conversation with Dr. Leslie Cole to discuss her work and philosophies in regards to opiate addiction and her hope-inspired book, Quit Pain Pills: Without the Withdrawal. Thank you, Dr. Leslie, for sharing your personal story regarding your food addiction and your work helping others along their healing journey from addiction to triumph.
“Leslie Cole and her husband, Tim, are from Nashville, Tennessee. She is a physician specializing in addiction medicine and is the author of the new book “Quit Pain Pills without the Withdrawal. How to Break Free from Your Dependence and Finally Wake Up Feeling Normal.” She is very interested in the role that attention, hope, kindness, and safe community can play in the healing of people, having experienced healing herself. You can learn more about her book at www.quitpainpills.com where you can find her contact information.”