• Anxious parenting: Parenting with ACEs

    When my daughter was younger I was anxious. I didn’t have full-blown anxiety attacks, as some do. I had an almost constant anxiety motoring within me that would ebb and flow.

    Sometimes, it lasted days. Other times, weeks. It always returned. When it did, it was hard to read, concentrate or focus. It was hard to eat or sleep or work.

    It was hard to parent.

    Sometimes it came with dread because I’d feel dreadful about being so anxious.

    How I felt in my body scared me. I wanted to be someone else. Someone who felt different.

    Anxious time moved slowly. An hour felt like a month and a day felt like a year. Watching the clock, I’d try to will it to pass. It was the opposite of being present. I was trying to be absent. Absent of anxiety that was consuming. Anxiety felt like a way of being, not a feeling or symptom.

    Getting through the day was my biggest goal, the high bar I hoped to reach. At those times it took all I had to rise to that challenge. To do that, while not falling flat on my face, as well as in my role as a mother, felt nearly impossible.

    Bad. All of it felt bad. But being unable to enjoy or attend to my daughter the way she deserved was the worst part.

    She was too young to complain. But she felt it.

    I knew that. I always knew that.

    She would get clingy. She would move in closer as though she could  keep the balloon of me from floating out of her reach. Did I feel like an out-of-reach object of security, like a binky dropped from a high chair or a blanket from the bed? It must have scared her to see the shaky shadow version of me. It was scary to me.

    It was as if I was disappearing and being crowded out by anxiety that was sucking up all of the space and air. It felt as if my anxiety was contagious, as if I was a flu that shouldn’t be nearby anyone or anything. Just being me, while anxious, felt like awful, terrible, no-good mothering.

    There was no denying she noticed either. As she aged, she’d  say, “I feel like we were together but not together” or “I need more Mama time.”

    C. White, Trigger Points Anthology, edited by D. White & J. Brandt

    Part of me was  proud of her ability to know and express her feelings and needs.

    Part of me was frustrated.  Her words felt like an insult, a demand and an accusation.

    “I’m doing the best I can,” I wanted to scream.

    “Do you know how much worse I had it at your age?” I’d think.

    Self-hatred, guilt, and shame piled one upon another like pasta, cheese and sauce in a baking pan. They blended, baked and melted in the oven of me, only the dish cooked up was barely edible.

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  • Greater Kansas City first responders, educators, health care workers, sports & faith community embrace learning about childhood trauma, practicing resilience

    In a video on the Resilient KC website, police officer Mikki Cassidy notes that “my regular day is everybody else’s worst day.” Then she describes how mindfulness training has helped her find peace amid the clamor: “This moment, right here, I’m okay.”

    Later in the clip, Sonia Warshawski, a Holocaust survivor, recalls being shoved onto a train to Treblinka and, later, losing her mother to the gas chamber. “One of my highest points is when I speak in schools, when students tell me, ‘You changed my life,’” she says.

    And Josiah Hoskins, a youth raised in foster care, talks about the mantra that helped him survive: “Even if all you have is yourself, with a wall behind you and the world coming at you, you can make peace with yourself.”

    The video concludes with four words—“Stories Matter. What’s yours?”—and an invitation for others to share experiences of adversity and healing.


    Awareness on Both Sides of the State Line

    The campaign is just one prong of Kansas City’s multi-sector effort to raise awareness about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and build resilience on both sides of the state line. Resilient KC — a partnership between the pre-existing Trauma Matters Kansas City (TMKC) network and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce — has worked to cultivate “ambassadors” who can bring the ACEs message to colleagues, clients and community members in business, the armed services, education, justice and health care.

    ACEs are adverse childhood experiences that harm children’s developing brains so profoundly that the effects show up decades later; they cause much of the U.S. and the world’s chronic disease, most mental illness, and are at the root of most violence.

    The CDC-Kaiser Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study), a groundbreaking public health study, discovered that childhood trauma leads to the adult onset of chronic diseases, depression and other mental illness, violence and being a victim of violence.

    The ACE Study looked at 10 types of childhood trauma: physical, emotional and sexual abuse; physical and emotional neglect; living with a family

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  • April the Giraffe: An unplanned social experiment and what we can learn from it

    Viral videos are not new. Every few weeks, something will be posted in a forum such as YouTube or Facebook; a few friends will share the video with one another, and then suddenly, that video is being watched by millions. The most recent viral video takes this to a new level. April the Giraffe was not just a video, it was a live camera streaming online, allowing viewers to watch a pregnant giraffe and ultimately watch the birth of her calf.

    So, what makes the viral giraffe cam different than other viral videos? The answer is simple: the length of the video. Instead of a clip lasting several minutes, April was streaming live for days, and then weeks. And people were tuning in consistently, day after day, for hours at a time — that was new. April delivered a healthy baby boy calf on Saturday, April 15, 2017. On April 17, Good Morning America estimated that more than 1.2 million viewers watched the birth live on their computers or mobile devices.  Jordan Patch, the owner of Animal Adventure Park, estimates that more than 300 million people viewed April the Giraffe since the park installed the live camera.

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  • San Diego’s stop-and-go progress to becoming a trauma-informed community

    At Teralta Park, Arturo Soriano (l) with his wife, Gabby, holding baby Joshua, and their kids Daniella (between them) and Adrian (kneeling), spend time with Kenneth (arms folded), Claudia Ruiz and her mother, Michelle Massett. Behind them, Coach, wearing red gloves, comes to the park to spar with the youth.

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    It’s a warm spring afternoon and Arturo Soriano is in his old stomping grounds—at Teralta Park, a small urban park atop a sunken freeway in San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood. As a teenage gang member in the 1980s, Soriano roamed the park and the surrounding streets before spending the better part of two decades in prison. Now 40, he has returned with a different mission.

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