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What to Give on “Giving Tuesday” 11/30/21

Giving Tuesday is like St. Patrick’s Day for non-profits.  We are all seeking that proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and hoping to enchant enough folks along our journey to discover that, by the time the clock strikes midnight, our pot of gold is full and too heavy to even carry back to our humble homes.  If you’re like me and in the social services field, you will receive around 30 email requests to give to particular agencies on Giving Tuesday.  Many have secured matches for donations, which can double or even triple your impact, and doesn’t that feel good to turn just $10 into $30 or $100 into $300?!  In order to not get overwhelmed with this multitude of emails, I take a quick note of who’s sending something, check to see what they’ve highlighed, and then delete the email.  This is becasue I want to go to my deleted files today and easily find all the requests.  Otherise I’m flagging 30 extra emails or I’m sifing through all the approximately 100 emails I received yesterday.  I run a non-profit and I support the non-profit members of the Tristate Trauma Network in whatever ways I can throughout the year, giving a donation here or there, choosing a different agency’s fundraiser to attend each year (way too hard to attend 40), praising their work, lending assistance, etc. I also have some agencies that have personal meaning to me (eg. The Parkinson’s Foundation, Wounded Warriors, Salvation Army, St. Jude’s, St. Rita’s School for the Deaf, Welcome House, all my alma maters, my own agency of course: The Tristate Trauma Network, and United Way, which really supports the majoirty of non-profits in the area) which I support in the same way, giving during specifc donation drives or supporting events during the year.  The Parkinson’s Steady Strides 5K is my family of origin’s favorite way to honor my dad each year since his passing from complications related to Parkinson’s Disease in 2015. Truth is, I don’t have a lot of extra money to give and usually end up keeping to an annual budget of around $300-500 for donations.  Thus I’m forced to go small on my contributions for Giving Tuesday.  I’ll pick about 5-10 agencies to give $10-$20 each to. If these get matched, even better!

But I also like to acknowledge the good work the non-profit agencies are doing in and for our community.  Last night I was at a fitness class and noticed a man with a Talbert House Team tshirt.  I approached him at the end of class to ask him if he worked at Talbert House, as they’ve been very involved with the Tristate Trauma Network since early on.  He said he had recently retired, but had spent many years there working, his last position being in charge of housing, and always found it to be a great and fulfilling experience.  I found myself thanking him for his service to the community, much like I thank military folks for their service to the country, and law enforcement folks for their service. It felt right coming out of my mouth and he was very appreciative, “Oh, well thank you so much for saying that. I always thought they did good work and was happy to be part of the team there.” Mic drop, heart warmed. What a beautiful thing to say in return and this was genuine. I’m going to call this man a Trauma Hero, even though that wasn’t the point of this blog entry.

Getting to the point now.  On giving Tuesday, of course I encourage you to give to at least one non-profit whose work speaks to you. If it happens to be my agency’s work for trauma survivors, fabulous. But if it doesn’t, that’s okay too.  You see I thrive on knowing that any non-profit doing good work in our community is getting supported by community members/the general public.  I want all of us to be strong financially so we can fulfill our missions. There’s a whole lot of good being done right outside your door. If you can’t give money, please give a compliment to an agency that touches you in some way. Or to a person you know working at a non-profit. I can tell you that those compliments/praises are worth their weight in gold (see, I brought you back to the pot of gold analogy). I have been the recipient of many of those compliments over the years (36 years working in the non-profit sector) and it does drive me to keep going amidst stress and hard times.  That is my ask of you regardless of what else you “give.” I thank you in advance for lifting up our non-profit heroes!

May your Giving Tuesday be sprinkled with HOPE and may you sprinkle others with HOPE today too!

Melissa Adamchik, Executive Director, Tristate Trauma Network

P.s. I wouldn’t be a good ED if I didn’t also mention that you can find our yellow DONATE button on the bottom left corner of any page of our website: www.tristatetraumanetwork.org , if it seems right to give today or any day.

Thanks & Giving in a Persisting Pandemic Year 11/24/21

Last month, at our conference, a very courageous woman named Dr. Rama Kasturi, described her PTSD and the ensuing symptoms that led others to believe she had depression. She very eloquently described the “depression” part as wanting to be in the dark, nesting, safe and secure in her mother’s womb.  It was the only way she felt safe. The protective, warm, nourishing enclosed environment of the womb could only be recreated in her dark basement with lots of heavy blankets enveloping her scared and “frozen” body.  The type of frozen body that comes from shutting down completely when things are too overwhelming to bear, similar to an animal that “plays dead” to keep the predator from attacking it further and actually killing it.  Wow, what an analogy that makes so much sense and perfectly describes all the symptoms of depression!  So what does this have to do with Thanksgiving, you ask? Quite a bit actually, with thanksgiving and with the holiday season in general.  If you’ve lost a loved one near the holiday season, you know what that feels like.  If you’ve lost a loved one any time during the year and they are not present for the first time at the Thanksgiving table, you know what that feels like.  It is heart-wrenchingly difficult, if one allows oneself to actually feel the feelings that come up.

So here we have the winter holidays starting and not everyone enjoys them, go figure! They dread “Uncle Hal’s drunkeness” and “Grandma Sally’s drama” and their own mother’s strict adherence to a schedule with emotional breakdowns when something doesn’t go “right.” Sound familiar at all?  What if these relatives’ behaviors that we don’t particularly care for are coming from a real place of fear and sadness that they can’t bring themselves to talk about? What if they don’t feel like saying thanks for something when everyone goes around the table and shares what they’re thankful for, because all they can feel is emptiness from loss or past tragedy?  What if they feel they have nothing left to “give” that day or that week or that whole season?  How do we deal with that? What do we do as the person’s social support system (friend, loved one, acquaintance, colleague)?

Something very simple actually: See them, hear them, validate their feelings and give them permission to feel them, permission to not put on that fake front. Let them know they’re not alone; let them know that when they don’t feel strong enough to stand, they can reach out their hand; and when they’re broken and on the ground, they will be found. By you.

“You Will Be Found” Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen soundtrack.

 

Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving, sprinkled with HOPE and compassion,

Melissa Adamchik

I’m Holding Out for a Hero 11/20/21

Well friends, first I hope you are all well.  Second, I am looking for “Hero Stories”.  As Bonnie Tyler’s infamous ’80s song would say, “I need a hero, I’m holding out for a hero till the morning light.”  Bonnie’s Hero song  And for those of you like me, who can’t unpair this song from the 1984 film “Footloose,” I’m also giving you the Scene from Footloose 🙂

See below for a description of our Hero Highlights category. Material can be submitted  anonymously. Word expectation: 600-800 words is typical, we can talk about more words, and will always take less, as impactful messages can be very brief sometimes. Contact me or submit your blog entry for consideration at: madamchik@tristatetraumanetwork.org

Hero Highlights category of the “The Hope Chest” blog:

In our Hero Highlights posts, we will be focused upon trauma-informed “heroes” in our community. Professionals and/or agencies that exemplify what it means to be trauma-informed or trauma-responsive will be written about. These can be posts from consumers receiving their services or posts from the agencies or professionals themselves, sharing stories about what they did to be more trauma-informed or responsive in their practices and what impact that had upon those they serve or upon their fellow employees.

Thank you for being part of our Network! I look forward to your submission for this blog!

May your day be sprinkled with HOPE!

Melissa Adamchik, Executive Director, Tristate Trauma Network

A Trauma Warrior Learns To Be Her Own Hero Part 2 11/13/21

This is a continuation of Teri Wellbrock’s blog post on 11/7/21, titled “A Trauma Warrior Learns to Be Her Own Hero”.  Go back and read that one if you haven’t already 🙂

….And I dove in. Spending weeks creating content, editing, mulling over ideas, cheering myself on, submitting lectures to my Teachable Onboarding Specialist for her feedback, and launching a pre-sale on the two courses I completed: a Trauma-Warrior 1-Day Introductory Course and a Be Your Own Hero 10-Day Course. I cried tears of joy as they went live, knowing the pain of my past was weaved with the hope of my triumph to create these complimentary healing lessons!

The Course Curriculum for the Trauma-Warrior course, which is intended to give students a sampling of content available in the more in-depth Be Your Own Hero course, includes:

Trauma-Warrior Welcome

Module 1: ACEs Science Introduction

Module 2: Healing Strategies Intro

Module 3: The Positive Effects of Hope

Module 4: Positive Affirmations

Module 5: Mini Meditation

Module 6: Continue Your Hope for Healing Journey

 

The Course Curriculum for the Be Your Own Hero 10-Day Course, which includes videos, challenges, prompts, a bonus gift, and more, consists of:

Welcome!

Day 1: Review of 1-Day Course and Upcoming Content

Day 2: ACEs Science and Writing

Day 3: Healing Strategies

Day 4: Hope Science

Day 5: Power of Positivity

Day 6: A Deeper Dive into Forgiveness

Day 7: Mindfulness & Meditation

Day 8: Creating Your Own Healing Plan

Day 9: Summarizing What You’ve Learned and Additional Material

Day 10: Continuing Your Healing Journey

Warrior Coaching

I also elected to meet with my fellow survivors in a coaching role. Not to delve out therapeutic advice, as I gladly leave that to the licensed professionals, but, rather, to offer a hand to hold in a been-there-done-that survivor role. Only I’ve transitioned into thriver mode and have a plethora of street cred to share. I joke that I have a PhD in trauma survival! My goal with this service is to walk alongside those with trauma history or adverse childhood experiences, particularly those with higher ACEs scores, me on one side, a therapist on the other, both of us holding a hand, encouraging our triver-to-be, “You’ve got this! I believe in you!” as their inner trauma-warrior learns to be their own hero.

Peace and blessings,
Teri Wellbrock

Trauma-Warrior #hopeforhealing

P.S. Register for courses and/or coaching at academy.teriwellbrock.com and subscribe to my Hope for Healing Newsletter at https://teriwellbrock.com/ Also, be sure to join me for hope-filled conversations on The Healing Place Podcast on your favorite podcast audio outlet or on the Teri Wellbrock YouTube channel.

Teri’s online Trauma Warrior courses handout 

Thank you for this wonderful resource that you’ve placed in the TTN Hope Chest, Teri!

There Goes My Hero (one of my favorite Foo Fighter songs of all time)

May Your Day Be Sprinkled with HOPE,

Melissa Adamchik, Executive Director, Tristate Trauma Network

A Trauma Warrior Learns To Be Her Own Hero 11/7/21

This post comes to us from Guest Contributor and Two-Time Trauma Survivor Speaker at our Annual Fall TIC Conference (2017 & 2020): Teri Wellbrock

For those of you working as trauma recovery advocates, I applaud you. And I thank you with all of my heart. I could not have made it to this beautiful place of tranquility and joy without the guidance of my therapists, most notably my four years in EMDR therapy. As healing guides, you know that it is up to survivors to do the necessary work. There is no magic wand to be waved over the adverse experiences and their resulting impact on the brain, body, and spirit. As much as we survivors wish it so. We are the ones who must return to the darkness, and, at the very least, allow the remnants of those bleak experiences to be processed in a healthy manner.

As I dumped my compartmentalized traumas onto the floor in the safety of Dr. Hensley’s office, I was also working in a mental health agency with kids through the school system. There we were, these struggling kiddos and me, learning about breathing strategies for re-regulating our bodies, and silly-fun animal yoga poses, and taking nature walks on the playground searching for treasures and heart-shaped pebbles. I was helping them build their coping skills toolboxes . . . not realizing I was building my own in the process. A beautiful podcast guest on my show once named these skills: complimentary healing strategies. And that spoke to my soul.

I walked away from my Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (that’s a mouthful!) therapy and my mental health agency position feeling empowered and hopeful. Knowing my brain was malleable, due to learning about the science of neuroplasticity, I knew I had to share my story of hope with others in every way possible. A blog. A podcast. A book. Therapy dog volunteer work. Speaking engagements. Online summits. Interviews. And now . . . online courses and coaching!

I had reached out to several of my previous podcast guests, many of whom are #1 best-selling authors and successful therapists, coaches, researchers, and motivational speakers, asking for their guidance on growing my audience, publishing my book, and helping my soul work blossom. Over forty of them responded with an enthusiastic, “Of course I’ll help you!”. I now have a spreadsheet filled with resources, from the names of their publishers and agents, to marketing ideas and free Facebook groups for writers, podcasters, coaches, and healers. What a treasured gift.

Several of them advised me, “Teri, you need to take your incredible trauma recovery knowledge and create online courses.” The survivor in me thought, “Me? Why would anyone want to learn from ME?” The thriver in me, however, did a happy dance and exclaimed, “Yeah, I do!” So, I started researching my options. Kajabi, Udemy, Thinkific, Podia, Teachable, and so many more had my head swirling. However, as I always do, I persevered and finally narrowed it down to Teachable. It helped that I had just joined PodMatch and its creator, Alex Sanfilippo, had reached out to me seeking my advice on improving his platform. As we chatted, I mentioned creating an online course and possibly using Teachable, when he responded, “That’s who I use.” That answered that prayer!

And I dove in. Spending weeks creating content, editing, mulling over ideas, cheering myself on, submitting lectures to my Teachable Onboarding Specialist for her feedback, and launching a pre-sale on the two courses I completed: a Trauma-Warrior 1-Day Introductory Course and a Be Your Own Hero 10-Day Course. I cried tears of joy as they went live, knowing the pain of my past was weaved with the hope of my triumph to create these complimentary healing lessons!

The Warrior by Scandal ft Patty Smyth

Stay tuned for full information on Teri’s Trauma Warrior and Hero courses in the upcoming Part 2 of this blog!

Wishing you a day sprinkled with HOPE,

Melissa

TTN’s 7th Annual Fall Conference Amplifies Trauma Understanding & Survivorship and Ignites Participants 11/3/21

The TTN 2021 Annual Fall Conference entitled “Building a Legacy Beyond Trauma-Informed Care: Bridging Historical with Current Practices” took place a week ago today on October 26, 2021, but it honestly feels like it was yesterday, as the effects of it are rippling through every day since for me.  We had 177 people join us via Zoom for this momentous day where passions were ignited, minds were opened, and ideas and struggles with implementing trauma-informed care were shared amongst participants and speakers.  Several people who have been fans of TTN’s Annual Fall Conferences, attending for most if not all the 7 years of it so far, stated this was the best year yet. I felt it, but that was just me, the host, I could have been biased; thus I was thrilled to hear that our network participants felt the same! In fact one attendee commented “7th Year is the Charm for sure.”- April Barker-Casey, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.  Another said, “Fabulous conference!! Thanks to all of you for all the hard work it takes to make this happen!! Looking forward to the 8th Annual being even better 😊” – Jenny Berndsen, Every Child Succeeds.

We had the privilege of starting our day with the incredible words of wisdom from Dr. O’dell Moreno Owens, M.D., MPH, a groundbreaking physician, educator, and valued leader in Cincinnati. Dr. Owens combined his lifelong love of science and his desire to help people into a successful career in medicine. He welcomed our members to the conference and shared why he pushed his team at Interact for Health to fund TTN with more grant money than asked for when TTN was in a financial crisis due to COVID last year. “You’ve done so much with so little…you had to survive. We needed you on the other side of COVID and we are so glad you’re still here…there is much work to be done.”

Trauma and PTSD: A survivor’s journey with breast cancer and trauma

Following O’dell’s motivating words, we heard from Dr. Rama Kasturi, who for the first time ever, shared her personal experience of trauma/PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) related to her multi-year breast cancer journey. Rama almost poetically, using the most beautiful and heartbreaking metaphors, walked us through the trauma that she experienced and that her children and other family members experienced, and highlighted how important it is to understand the full effects on an individual and their family of a cancer diagnosis. Dr. Kasturi touched on the development of PTSD due to her mental health misdiagnosis and PTSD from the cancer diagnosis and harsh chemotherapy treatment itself. It was a powerful first-hand experience that provided insight and understanding of what a cancer patient goes through.  It also illuminated the ways in which a misunderstanding (or even full ignorance) of trauma and its effects can be so very damaging to an individual.  Rama relates that she knew there was more to the story regarding her physical and mental presentation, but no one could give her the words or correct diagnosis for it until she was staying at an airbnb years after her cancer diagnosis, and the host happened to know about trauma and handed her SAMHSA’s Tip 57 booklet to read.

Breakout Sessions

Following Rama’s talk, participants attended their choice of 3 breakout sessions, where incredible information was relayed and rich discussions took place. The first breakout option was “An Introduction to Trauma and Grief Component Therapy for Adolescents (TGCTA)” was led by Erna Olafson, Ph.D., PsyD, of the University of Cincinnati and, until her recent retirement, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center’s Mayerson Center for Safe & Healthy Children. It was co-led by professional counselor and trainer and Xavier University Adjunct Professor, Erica Ogletree, of TREEmendous Counseling, LLC. Concurrently, Libby Murdoch, LPCC-S, founder of Brain Based Counseling, LLC, presented: “The Key: Unlocking Health and Happiness with Lessons from Neurology” which focused on how we can leave a legacy beyond being trauma informed by examining how concepts in neurobiology can help us and our clients achieve true psychological freedom from recreating, reenacting, and re-enforcing outdated narratives and programing from our past. The third breakout session option was “Introduction to the Clinical and Personal Uses of Emotional Freedom Technique ” led by Gregory Handleton, LPCC-S, TRCC, of Clermont County Juvenile Court.

Keynote: Transforming the Living Legacy of Trauma 

After lunch, we had the honor of welcoming our keynote speaker, Janina Fisher, Ph.D, a psychologist, consultant, trainer and author of “Transforming the Living Legacy of Trauma: A workbook for survivors and therapists”. In her discussion, she highlighted that we now understand that trauma’s imprint is both psychological and somatic: long after the events are over, the body continues to respond as if danger were ever-present. Her professional mission for 25 years has been to bring a neurobiologically informed understanding of trauma to both clients and their therapists. Participants of the conference learned how to interpret trauma-based symptoms, such as dysregulated autonomic arousal, overwhelming emotions and sensations, intrusive images, numbing and disconnection. They also discovered how to use psychoeducation to help clients manage these symptoms and begin to change their relationship to the traumatic events. Dr. Fisher’s talk was informative, enlightening, and full of information participants could put into practice.

What’s Next at TTN
We know not everyone was able to attend our conference this year and some are just tired of the zoom training experience – zoom fatigue and overwhelm is Real! – but this is just one event that TTN offers throughout the year. You can visit our website’s Events page for a list of upcoming events available for registration, including the revival of our Lunch N’ Learns in November! These will take place 11:45-1:15pm  on Thursday, Nov. 11 (“Districts CAN Create Integrated SEL/Trauma Informed Classrooms: Integrating TI/SEL into Tier 1”) and Tuesday, Nov. 30 (Our Sprouting Minds). Hop online and register today. We’ll see you there!

Trauma Survivors remind us that the work of surviving is challenging and that they need our support to make it through to the other side. Resilience may come from within, but it was planted there by interactions with those outside of the person.  Let’s remember that “the ability to bounce back” hinges on the ability to connect to and attach with others. Survivors of trauma weren’t “born that way,” even though we all have that instinctive survival drive powered by our stress response system. Survivors of trauma had at least 1 caring, loving person in their life; ideally they had more than 1 to “flock” to.  It takes a village, it always has.  

Gloria Gaynor’s Live performance of “I Will SURVIVE” 

Wishing you a day sprinkled with HOPE,

Melissa Adamchik, Executive Director

Can We Erase the Stigma of and Shed Some Light on Suicide? 11/2/21

Friends, I must ask for your help on this one. We need as many people as possible to understand this multi-layered message around suicide. On Oct. 30, 2021, in the wee hours of the night, I received the below email from my colleague friend and Board Member, Alison Savage. As you can see she asked me to share the information around her husband’s tragic suicide, so that it may shed some light on the shadows that always envelop such a situation. I am honored that she trusted me with this information and the sharing of it. As a society, we don’t talk about these topics enough: trauma, mental illness, the depths of emotional pain experienced by people. So grab a cup of coffee and let’s talk.

Hi Melissa,

My husband took his own life on Monday. We are devastated to say the least.Here is a link to his obituary: https://neidhardminges.com/book-of-memories/4762093/Savage-John/index.php

I want to take away the stigma of suicide and would love if you could share with our TTN board and network as you deem appropriate.

Thank you for all the support you have given me. It has meant the world to me!

Alison

My response after finding the email:

Oh Alison, my heart breaks for you and your children and his other children and family members. Sometimes the pain of life and its many stressful circumstances becomes so overwhelming that it feels insurmountable and I can imagine what he must have been feeling (and not wanting to be feeling) to be led to take his life. That sort of pain is familiar to too many of our fellow human beings. Some find their way out or past it with whatever magic key and some do not. I was reminded myself on Monday evening of a distant relative of my father’s who died by suicide 8 years ago at the age of 16, I think. It was the first time I’d ever spoken with his mother about it and the disbelief still in her voice of him doing this of his own accord was there. I imagine you’ve perhaps had that sense too.

Yes, I am happy to pass this along for you, and I will turn this into a blog for THe TTN Hope Chest to shed a light on Suicide awareness and true understanding. It’s been brushed under the rug for far too long and keeping it secretive and shameful does not serve anyone.
I will make a donation for the children to the go fund me or perhaps direct to you from TTN and me personally.

My heart is sad, but it is also strong enough to send you strength, love, and support to help you and your young children bear the intense grief of this loss. Please send me an address to which to send my donation for them.

May God and his angels wrap their loving arms around you and your “littles” at this time,

Sincerely, Melissa Adamchik
Tristate Trauma Network

Friends of TTN, I invite and encourage you to talk about this story in a way that honors the victim as well as the survivors’ wishes.

Chris Stapelton’s “Fire Away” written to being awareness to suicide

Hoping your day is sprinkled with HOPE and that you spread that HOPE, so that it radiates out to our community in need of so much healing,

Melissa