Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): It is not your fault.


The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study — the largest, most important public health study you never heard of — began in an obesity clinic.

What ACEs do you have?

Chronic Illness Trauma Studies: How Adversity Shapes Health & Why it’s Not in Your Head

Other resources:

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk; the 30k plus, 5 star reviews on Amazon say it all.

Dr. Gabor Maté is on the same wavelength as van der Kolk, brilliant, truthful, science-based, leading with heart. Maté approaches trauma, ADD, addiction, and disease with kindness and compassion, and aims to de-stigmatize mental issues. His new book is coming out in Oct 2022, called The Myth of Normal. His website is below.

No post on ACEs and trauma would be complete without mentioning researcher & storyteller, Brené Brown ; and California’s first ever Surgeon General, Dr. Nadine Burke-Harris.


KNOWLEDGE IS POWER, AWARENESS IS KEY, RESILIENCE IS POSSIBLE.

Lost perspective? Try this linguistic trick to reset your view | Psyche Ideas

findings about distanced self-talk build on decades of research showing that psychological distance – taking a perspective beyond the ‘here and now’ – is an essential ingredient for aligning our thoughts, feelings and behaviour with our goals.

Lost perspective? Try this linguistic trick to reset your view | Psyche Ideas

Belonging

Last semester in social psychology, I wrote my final paper on the topic of belonging. Today I needed to find a clip of a speaker whose speaking style I want to emulate (for my Art of Communication class). I knew Brené was my gal because I have always admired not just her content, but her speaking style as well. She is relaxed and engaging whether she’s having a one-on-one conversation, like in the video clip above, or on stage in front of a big audience. Her mannerisms–eye contact, thoughtful pauses, facial expressions–all work to convey that she is present, she is at ease, she is listening, and she is genuinely interested. Plus, she a good laugher. Brené is coming out with a new book and is clearly making the interview circuit of late, which is how I happened upon the piece above. The fact that she talks about belonging to ourselves first, and this is the very thing which I wrote my paper about, I was like, Whaaaat! Yes! Sure, it’s a bit of an ego boost, I won’t lie. But more importantly, it is a beautiful serendipity, a confirmation that what I am putting out in the world is being reflected, and not just in my reality, but into the world at large. These healing vibes are catching on. There is a wave of change that is happening. Yes I live in California, in the Bay Area, and there’s definitely some confirmation bias as a result. But a wave is a wave, and they have to start somewhere!

Brené speaks about belonging to ourselves first, video starts at 1:40.

This video clip is one of those uncanny coincidences, the kind of which give me hope for the future, even in spite of the despair and bullshit that we are seeing in the news. Maybe the astrologers are right after all, and we are moving out of the Piscean Age, which has been marked by deceit and darkness, greed and control. Maybe the Aquarian Age is finally working her magic slowly but surely, using the higher frequencies of love and kindness, equality and justice.

Earlier this year in the Spring, in my first semester at CIIS, I wrote my neurobiology final paper on the topic of ADD and Sound Healing, and used HeartMath Institute and their research on coherence as a resource. Then two months ago, Pam Gregory astrologer, whom I follow on YouTube, mentioned HeartMath in one of her videos. And now I’m hearing many others use this word, too. Coherence, vibration, frequency. What’s so cool about coherence is that the more we practice coherence with our own heart-mind, and others do the same, an exponential effect begins to happen, as we all begin to increase our resonant field and this in turn effects the Earth’s energy field, too, creating positive healing global coherence. When we are in coherence, our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) is activated and we feel calm, focused, centered. It is the opposite feeling of being in fight-flight-freeze. I will post my neurobiology paper at some point. In the meantime, read about coherence and HeartMath here: https://www.heartmath.org/science/

“Light is the game changer, and love is the checkmate”.

Pam Gregory, astrologer

Essay: Belonging to Ourselves First

This is my final paper, submitted for Social Psychology, CIIS, Summer 2021.

Facing the Problem

            When something intended as metaphor is believed as literal, it is called ontological confusion, and we see examples of this when people take biblical stories at face value. Similarly, there are some who are convinced that our reality on planet Earth is a computer simulation. This kind of thinking is not as harmless as it may appear; it is a setup for disappointment and failure because even if it were a screen that could be cracked to reveal the ‘real world’, if there were a man behind the curtain, or what not, there is one problem that remains- us. We are still the same person inside the simulation or outside of it, inside the matrix, or not. It might also encourage a nihilistic mentality, as in we’re not really here, so let’s burn it all down. Yet we are here. Our brains, our neuroses, our problems, our monkey minds, jumping from one conclusion to the next. Wherever you go, there you are. Simulation or not, we remain. From an existential perspective, the solution is often contained inside the problem. The answer may not be outside of ourselves at all, but within us.

Last night I received two dreams about facing my shadow, and I believe they speak to this topic at hand. In the first dream it is nighttime, and I am holding a clear plastic bag in my left hand, the kind used for fruit or veggies at the market. The bag is not tied or knotted, just gathered tightly at the top. Inside is an extra-large, other-worldly spider. My grip lessens and the arachnid will soon be released, set free. I can only protect him for so long. His long, limber legs paw gently at the opening. The focus is on this spider—my spider—and he looks scary, but in truth he is a gentle being. It is my perception of my fear that I am most afraid of. I tell myself I have sequestered the spider to protect those around me. But I am the one who holds the bag. I want to embrace the younger me, the girl who holds him. There is nothing to fear, I want to say. My shadow is only scary when it is Othered.

In the second dream, I am in a house. Someone has left me there. Many people coming and going, strangers, chaos. Why is my house not my own? I’ve misplaced my medications, my things are not where they should be. There is discord and disharmony, and I am so tired. Finally, I stand at the mirror, ready to be myself. I remove the false fronts from my teeth, the veneers. They are plates, front-facing coverings, adhered with glue or something to just the fronts of my real teeth. They come off easily. I stack these cover plates on the counter, running my tongue against my original teeth which have been covered up too long. There is nothing wrong with my teeth. It feels good to shed the layers, such relief to be my real self.

This semester in our Social Psychology class at CIIS, we confronted the many ways that humans engage in social behavior, and the resulting dynamics that occur from being the social animals that we are. Conformity, dissonance, relational aggression, propaganda. The research brought to bear in The Social Animal (Aronson & Aronson, 2018) was at times confounding and, in all honesty, depressing. More than a few times, I found myself wondering, are we truly this predictable, this limited…this hopeless? When I examined my own life, I found evidence of these unconscious mechanisms at work in my life, which is exactly what made it so humbling to face. Yet, just as in my dream, to accept my shadow spider, i.e. my dark, disowned parts, I would have to face myself in the mirror, without the veneers, without the false face and just be real.

When we abdicate responsibility, we also abdicate a solution…of course we must accept that there is a problem first. And this brings us to said problem: humans at large, avoid self-inquiry because it is too shocking, too painful, too vulnerable. Looking at ourselves truthfully is not glamorous; without filter, without makeup, without our social masks to hide the many flaws we have deemed unacceptable. This honest self-examination might be one of the most difficult, painful, bottom-of-the-barrel tasks we are ever called to do…which is exactly why we must do it.

Belonging

According to Aronson & Aronson (2018), the need for belonging is the strongest of the five central social motives of human social behavior humans (the others are understanding and prediction; control; a need to matter; and trust).

What does it mean to belong? The desire to belong drives so much of our behavior that we rarely think about it. Yet, marketers, propaganda, and mass media most definitely do think about it. If fact, they use this central social motive to sell us their wares, get us to see issues a certain way, use their apps and products, and influence us in myriad ways. Most people are unaware of how often we are played on a daily basis, just like puppets in a play. The average person has never thought about how we are being manipulated, how everything that is competing for their attention—billboards, apps, pop up ads, targeted facebook ads, mailing lists, politicians, movies, tv shows—they are all selling something. And they are using our need to belong against us.

Yet, what about belonging to ourselves? What about facing ourselves in the mirror and being honest about our own humanness. Whatever is hurting and eating at us inside, does it not also deserve love and kindness? What are the thoughts going through our head when we engage in our destructive behaviors, our repetitive thoughts that keep us stuck. What are we thinking about when we are binge eating, or drinking ourselves to sleep, or pushing away anyone who tries to loves us, or sabotaging new opportunities, or having a hard time speaking honestly to our partner, or getting defensive every time our partner gets that tone in their voice, or cutting ourselves to feel better, or ignoring sensations of pain, or never allowing ourselves to cry? We are not weak because we engage in these things, although they do harm us. We are made weak only by never examining the backstory of why.

Belonging to ourselves is not something that is taught, nor are we given examples of what this looks like. Our capacity to be our own protector, our own best friend, it is a superpower we give away when we give into thoughts, emotions, behaviors that have never been examined. We may be told that in order to love another, we must first love ourselves. But how many of us berate ourselves cruelly when we make a mistake, or forget a date, disappoint another, or do something we swore we wouldn’t do again?

If we are to become aware of these social motives that are unconsciously driving us, especially our need to belong, we must learn to love ourselves fiercely, more than we ever have before. This is not selfish; it is the most compassionate, kind thing we can do. As Ghandi said, and I paraphrase, to see a change in the world, we must be that change we wish to see. To love ourselves is a daily experience of opening up to acceptance and then letting go of control. It is about learning what feels right and what does not, what we are okay with and where the line must be drawn, creating boundaries and then being vulnerable, sensitive, honest, and present within that.

While therapy can be incredibly valuable, many people may be skeptical. Or they may feel self-conscious about how they would be perceived if a family member found out; many see therapy as a demeaning, that they are not enough. However, every human on this planet feels some measure of pain if for no other reason than that we are all connected. It is not shameful to ask for help, but it is a tragedy to carry a burden as a point of pride, or a medal of honor. It is no secret that the Earth is in pain and we humans along with her; we are all experiencing some level of dis-ease. We may be struggling right in this moment.

Ho’oponopono

One way to address this problem of self-avoidance is through practicing forgiveness and self-love. Ho’oponopono is a Hawaiian healing prayer which offers a unique opportunity for addressing the pain we carry. The word Ho’oponopono roughly translated means, to put things right, to move back to balance. It is a tool for connecting to self-love, belonging, and forgiveness. Meant to be said in repetition, like a mantra, it can be said to yourself, or direct it outwards to someone whom you seek forgiveness from. The prayer goes like this:

I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you, I love you.”

I’m sorry serves to recognize there was a wrong done (by you, or to you). We can only change that which we acknowledge. Please forgive me is the sincere contrition. Thank you serves as appreciation for the recognition and the apology. I love you completes the circle, offering wholeness and closure.

Ho’oponopono is a balancing practice to facilitate mental and emotional release and connect you to your heart center. Recite the prayer in your head, or speak it aloud, at any time of the day. To do this exercise in front of a mirror is especially healing; this is because a mirror does not lie. For instance, if we say this prayer in our head, but at the same time we are thinking of other things, then the energy of the words are blocked because we are distracted. Yet, in front of a mirror we must gaze into our own eyes and there is nowhere to hide. We might say I’m sorry and wince, or I forgive you and begin crying. This tells us there was something there inside of us that needed recognition, which was tender and hurting.

Love fosters belonging, which in turn allows for understanding and trust. When we trust ourselves we are better equipped to look honestly at the disowned parts of ourself and decide if we want to integrate them or discard them when they no longer fit. It is only when we keep them “safely” contained in a bag, unacknowledged and unexamined, that they do us harm.

Pledging allegiance to ourselves in earnest is not something that has been modeled in our society. We have been a culture that looks outward, avoiding our insides at all costs. We have only recently seen evidence of people on the world stage, like Simone Biles, being courageous enough to honor their inner knowing, trusting their heart and their boundaries.

We do not need to try and change our driving social motives extrinsically; for in truth, there is nothing wrong with these motives in and of themselves. In fact, they often serve good purpose in the social nature of groups and community. What is wrong, however, is to continue to move blindly along in life, remaining in pain, remaining asleep, when we have the tools available to wake up.

References

Kriss, S. (2016, October 13). Tech billionaires want to destroy the universe. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/10/silicon-valley-is-obsessed-with-a-false-notion-of-reality/503963/

Annie Lowrey. (2020, Sep 15,). The bunker magnates hate to say they told you so. The Atlantic https://global.factiva.com/en/du/article.asp

Aronson, E., & Aronson, J. (2018) The social animal (12th ed.). Worth Publishers. http://public.eblib.com/choice/PublicFullRecord.aspx?p=6418106

Wisdom Weavers of the World. (2019, January 30). What Does Ho’oponopono, the Hawai’ian Phrase, Mean? [Video] Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3eBAD8KgaM&t=1s

Map of Emotion*

In 1995, David R. Hawkins’ wrote about the Map of Consciousness® in his book Power vs. Force. According to Hawkins, emotional states produce an energetic value. I’ve heard a couple astrologers that I follow on youtube talk about gratitude being above joy, but I could only find one image that mentions gratitude. Here’s where I would say, see image below, but I had to remove all the images at the request of Veritas Publishing/Hawkins’ trust *.

Go here to see some of the Google images of this map.

Or go here to purchase it from Veritas Publishing.

It is interesting to see where the emotions sit on the color spectrum, too. Shame, guilt, and grief are practically black, which I guess makes a lot of sense. While not ever feeling the black and blue emotions seems improbable, it is when we stay in those spectrums it becomes destructive and painful. For me, I have found that a gratitude practice helps me access the higher emotions on a more consistent basis. Also when I do go into the blues, I don’t stay there as long as I used to. Pain is an excellent teacher, but we’re not meant to build a house there.

The scale/map/image thingy that Hawkins created had to be removed. Copyright issues. This is the book to check out though, if you're interested in learning more about Hawkins's work 

*Apparently, Hawkins wasn't keen on having his worked freely shared post mortem. The reproduction of the copyrighted and trademarked Map of Consciousness®, and the term itself, as well as all the charts, diagrams, and tables in any of the publications by Dr. Hawkins is prohibited by International Copyright laws.
References
Hawkins, D. R. (2014). Power Vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior. United Kingdom: Hay House, Incorporated.

The Gift in Everything

This year has cracked me open and I’m ready to let go. 

For a while now, I’ve been in a state of deep questioning, about my purpose, what I really want, and who am I meant to be, if not an interior designer. This started well before the pandemic, but of course, 2020 has magnified everything. 

Growing up I was surrounded by fabrics, wallpaper, and the fabulousness that was my designer grandmother, Judy- a savvy, independent woman from The Bronx with a penchant for red toile, pine antiques, and Pall Mall cigarettes. My aunt is also an interior designer, my father a talented woodworker, my mother, a painter and jewelry maker. Design is in my blood. 

In 2002, I got a job as a design assistant and from that point on, the world of interior decoration has kept me challenged and engaged, helping me grow as a woman and an artist. I worked for several talented designers and learned all the intricacies of the business. In 2013, bolstered by an agency partnership that would handle my marketing and billing, I started my own business, librastudio. It was the perfect situation, allowing me to focus on what I did best- design. They took a percentage, but it was well worth the portfolio building and the growing of my brand.  Once I began to generate my own leads, the agency reliably filled in any gaps.

But then last year, the agency folded, my momentum dipped, and I turned 45, in that order. A mid-life transformation was upon me. All the trends and the catchphrases and the cookie cutter-ness of the design world had started to bug me, the frivolity of it all. I knew the value- the absolute importance!- of having a beautiful, functional space that welcomed you in and nourished your spirit. I knew this in my bones, yet something in me had shifted.

At first I blamed Instagram, because it seemed like every time I was on it, my stomach hurt. So I kept my distance, but the gnawing feeling wouldn’t leave. With time on my hands, I dove into marketing, business development, reading blogs, doing courses on growth and honing my niche. I even did a holiday gift show, sewing a slew of small eye pillows to sell. All of it felt like a slog. (That’s a lot of ’s’ words.) But I persisted, because I knew that there were times in life when work just felt like work. Being a small business owner doesn’t mean it’s easy. In someways, it’s harder than a regular job, especially when you’re wearing all the hats. But usually, there is a kernel of joy somewhere in there because it’s all for you and you are in charge.

I leaned in to the unknowing, confident that there must be a way to revive my mojo and get me feeling inspired again.  That or I’d have to venture into a new field, into unchartered waters. (The latter scared me a lot- the starting over.) At the end of last year, we took a trip to Israel, and I felt hopeful I’d find clarity in The Holy City. Perhaps, I’d find my purpose there.

Door in Jerusalem
Door in Jerusalem
Wings in Tel Aviv
Wings in Tel Aviv

Well, that didn’t happen. ‘Wherever you go, there you are’ is a circular platitude that happens to also be true. It was a good trip, with an interesting paranormal experience in Jerusalem (another story), but I returned home just as unclear as I’d left. 

Then it was January and a lucrative commercial project landed in my lap. While I’d done some small commercial jobs, residential has always been my forte. Yet, was eager to work, hungry to find my spark again. Besides, it would be a good portfolio piece and the client was from Jerusalem (which felt synchronistic). In mid-March the job was 80% complete when the shelter-in-place happened.

As the days and months of 2020 both dragged on and flashed by, I could feel myself getting unmoored. Not having projects or clients to be accountable to, I was finding myself stuck in the rabbit hole too often, and every week seemed to bring a new experience. My routines were held together with mediation and morning pages, zoom meetings with my writing group, daily walks when the air was clear. The quarantine what-day-is-it-syndrome and the fires, and that one day when all of us in the Bay Area woke up to a red sky and we couldn’t tell whether it was day or night- that day, I looked outside and I cried into the windowpane, wondering, ‘Is this the other shoe dropping? Or are there more shoes to come?’ 

Yet even on the up days, and especially on the down ones, the questions of purpose and calling kept rattling inside, demanding attention. I felt guilty for having so many questions and impatient with no clear answers. What was I meant to BE?? What did I want to be? Did I still love design? If so, was there a way to take the process and make it meaningful? The Copy Cure, a top-level copywriting course that I’d enrolled in and which I knew was amazing and would eventually yield success, had me stalled  at my ideal customer. How could I figure out my ideal client if I had no idea what the what the hell I was selling? Or more precisely, if I wanted to keep selling it.

Then a proverbial window opened. I listened to Marie Forelo interview Dr. Edith Eger, a 92 years young holocaust survivor from Budapest. The talk was about Dr. Edie’s new book, The Gift, and was full of powerful stories and lots of “Edie-isms”.

“Love is not what you feel, it’s what you do”

&

“Love is the ability to let go…what are you holding onto?”.

Dr. Edie Eger
Dr. Edith Eva Eger is one of our favorite MarieTV guests of all time. In this uplifting interview, she shares the miraculous lessons she learned as a Holocau…

Love is action. I like it. 

In the hour long chat, Seeing the Gift in Everything, there were more than a few moments of deepness (that’s right, not mere depth- deepness!). I was in the park, waking with Coco and I just had to sit myself down in the grass and cry. It was beautiful, really. I looked up at the blue sky, felt the warm sun, and the fresh, wet grass beneath me.

That day, I took a step forward and reached out to my therapist. It was okay to admit that I could use some help climbing out this time. 

Love is action. 

“The most damaging prison is in our mind, and the key is in our pocket.” – Dr. Edith Eva Eger

This monumental year has cracked me open and I’m surrendering to it. Yes, I’m a little bit scared, too, but it’s an exciting scared. I prefer when things are tied in a bow, but that’s not what’s on offer right now. Sitting in uncertainty, the one thing that has held me together has been my writing. Showing up consistently to the page, I’ve been graced by the muse and encountered some true moments of flow- where time and space disappear and it’s just me, in the zone. 

So yeah, I don’t know exactly what’s next and in what form, but I know for me, it’s about creative expression. I guess for now, I’ll just keep writing.

🦋♥︎ -Libra