Wisconsin aims to be first trauma-informed state; seven state agencies lead the way

Some of you know that I live in Wisconsin, and I don’t always agree with my governor, but here is a story that shows what can be done when people work together setting partisan politics aside and focusing on wellness and health for children who come from adverse childhood experiences. That’s what ACEs stands for. It is my fervent belief that unless we address this, many of the problems with kids we see have will continue to spiral like a snowball down a hill, culminating in major adult problems that run the gamut from sexual abuse to violence. What Governor Walker’s wife Tonette is doing is nothing short of a miracle. And I applaud her for it. And everyone that works within this incredible system. Every state needs to look to Wisconsin and try and duplicate what they are doing.

ACEs Too High

Here in California, many people think that it’s only liberal Democrats who have a corner on championing the science of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and putting it into practice. That might be because people who use ACEs science don’t expel or suspend students, even if they’re throwing chairs and hurling expletives at the teacher. They ask “What happened to you?” rather than “What’s wrong with you?” as a frame when they create juvenile detention centers where kids don’t fight, reduce visits to emergency departments and shrink teen pregnancy rates….among many other things.

Because they do all this and more by abandoning the notion of trying to change people’s behavior by punishing, blaming or shaming them, and instead using understanding, nurturing and healing, some people might think this approach belongs to the purview of one political party.

Mmmmmm….Not so fast.

To paraphrase Tonette Walker, the First Lady of Wisconsin, married to…

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Illness and Childhood Trauma

Make sure you tell your physician if you’ve had childhood trauma. Ongoing adversity in childhood leads to a chronic state of “fight, flight or freeze.” Researchers at Yale recently demonstrated that when inflammatory stress hormones flood a child’s body and brain, they alter the genes that oversee our stress reactivity, re-setting the stress response to “high” for life. This increases the risk of inflammation, which manifests later in cancer, heart disease, and other autoimmune diseases, and often death decades earlier than our non-traumatized counterparts.

donna-book-coverDonna Jackson Nakazawa has studied autoimmune illness and chronic illness extensively, partly because of her own history.  She also wrote the book “The Auto-Immune Epidemic” which helped me understand my mercury toxicity much better. This new study on traumatic childhood experiences is groundbreaking and every doctor should add the questions about childhood trauma to their initial intake/history. This blog post I’m linking to below shows the power of functional medicine and intelligent questioning.  Instead of writing more of a post, I am choosing to share it in it’s entirety.  Please take a few minutes to read it.  Especially if you or someone you love has had childhood trauma such as abuse, alcoholism, death, divorce, etc. It may factor into your (or their) adult health much more than you realize.

Heidi Aylward spent much of 2015 going to doctor’s appointments for back and joint pain, dizziness, swelling of the legs and feet, high blood pressure, elevated platelets, heart palpitations and extreme fatigue. 2016 isn’t looking much better. She’s worn a heart monitor, had a bone marrow biopsy and continues to have blood work. She holds down a job as a full-time project manager, tends to her daughters, home and pets.

But she feels like her body is falling apart.

“I’m not going to make it to 60,” she said, “Why do I even contribute to my retirement savings account?”

Heidi is 39.                              [read more…]


You can overcome your past.  It starts with understanding what effect it has had on your health:  physical and mental.

Direct link:  https://acestoohigh.com/2016/07/07/the-single-best-medical-appointment-of-my-life-was-when-a-nurse-practitioner-asked-about-my-adverse-childhood-experiences-aces/







Cravings Rewired

Psychiatrist Judson Brewer poses some fascinating thoughts on how we can turn TO our cravings to eventually lessen them.


Addiction MonitorTry using this mindfulness and see what you learn!  How often do we smoke, eat, drink without REALLY thinking about what we are doing?  Probably more often than we want to admit.  Getting curious breaks that cycle.  It works on any intrusive addictive pattern you might have. Rewire your brain and lessen the hold that food, smoking or any other obsessive behavior has on you.

Try this for a few weeks, I’d be curious to know if it helps.

We compare our insides to other people’s Facebooks…

insides-outOne of my favorite quotes is attributed to many.
I think this wisdom is timeless.

“We compare our insides to other people’s outsides”.  

Spot on.

And that is never more true in the era of social media, where sometimes the most unhappy people can convince themselves and others that they are happy, successful and without a care in the world.  We’ve all seen it.  Just look on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Vine, Instagram… take your pick!

insides-out.2…here’s the thing to remember.  They are only showing you what THEY want you to see. So don’t view their posts as their life.

They aren’t going to write “came home, had three drinks, drove carpool, stopped at Dairy Queen for a blizzard before dinner, and slapped my husband when he came home late because I know he’s seeing someone”.

STOP COMPARING. Because it’s like comparing apples to a screwdriver — not even remotely related!

You are comparing your inner thoughts, often full of self doubt, questions, and insecurity (read = NORMAL) to someone else’s made up and carefully crafted “what I want the world to see about me”.

Keep that thought in your mind the next time you compare yourself to somebody else’s wall… And remember a wall is often built to keep things locked away from sight.

Related articles:

We Filter Things Through a Funhouse Mirror

Do You Expect the Impossible?

The Anatomy of Trust

Brené Brown, who is a researcher and best selling author whom I greatly admire, recently offered a free course called “The Anatomy of Trust”.  I decided to “take” it (it is online, link at bottom).  I found out some things about myself, and realized I have areas to work on, and areas to pat myself on the back.  But she breaks trust down using this definition, which I find really helpful:

“Trust is choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else.”  (Charles Feltman)

This is important, as we should give our complete trust to people who we feel can honor our vulnerability.  I only have a few friends and a husband who I can say fit all these criteria. And that is true of most people as you look at the acronym and think about who in your life you trust.  Do they meet these criteria? Here is how she breaks it down, using the acronym of BRAVING to define the components of when to trust someone and also to make sure that self trust is present (choose courage over comfort).



She also talks about asking for what you need (see non-judgment above) and it reminded me of a situation earlier this year that I handled better-than-usual.  My mother, who has an unusual form of dementia that has robbed her of most of her vision, needed to move from assisted living to memory care, as she was needing more care than the staff could give her. The room was available and I had no idea if one would become available in the future.  BUT, I had just had a knee replacement and was still using a crutch, and was pretty uncomfortable.  I knew I could not do this alone.   So, I reached out to four friends who I knew wouldn’t judge me, good friends who have caring hearts.  They all readily agreed to help me. I was soooooo relieved.  Moving day came, and they were there right on time.  We moved her, with the help for the heavy stuff, completely in 3½ hours.  I was exhausted and feeling guilty I couldn’t help more.  That is where I need to work on self-trust, and know that I wouldn’t judge a friend in the same situation, yet I judge myself.  So, they did what good friends do.  They yelled at me to “sit down and put your leg up”!  And so I did…

Four hours later my Mom came into her new room, which also had been arranged with new fall decorations by my friends who found them and put them out.  It looked almost identical to her other apartment.  And I would NEVER have been able to do it without help.  The carpenter who was hanging up a few photos/pictures for her looked at me and said “You have the NICEST friends!”  Yep.  I do.  And I know I’d do the same for them in a heartbeat.

I am lucky that I have these friends, who I can be vulnerable and holler “I need help!”  And they come.  No questions asked.  And it felt so good.  It felt right. I trusted myself, which is something that has been hard for me to do in the past.  I wanted to be totally self sufficient, to prove to the world I was competent.  But that robbed me of a wonderful experience:  being nurtured by friends.  I need to practice this more.  Note to self:  DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP

Brené says something equally important:  If you judge yourself for asking for help, then you can’t give help to others without also judging them. 

To take Brenés free online course, The Anatomy of Trust, click here.

2016 – The year to NOT…

It’s January 1st, and for many of us the new year heralds the all too familiar “this year I’m going to (insert self critical phrase here — eg; get thinner, work out harder, ramp up my career or be a better parent)…”  STOP. Just STOP. And make this year different. Make 2016 the year you become kind to yourself.

 That doesn’t mean you can’t improve your life, or strive to be a better version of your present self. Go for it! But don’t base your changes on self-criticism– because that is a guarantee of failure. Over 90% of NY resolutions fail. The math is not on your side!

Besides cutting yourself some slack, make your goals realistic.  It’s fairly simple if you use the concept of “baby steps”. Pick one goal related to your desired change —

  • I want to lose weight so I will stop drinking soda of all kinds and replace it with water this week. Next week I’ll take another small step.
  • I want to be a better parent, so instead of yelling “stop arguing!” at my kids, I’ll explain why it is painful to ME to see them hurt each other, I’ll use “I” statements that don’t shame them.
  • I want to be taken more seriously at work, but that involves me respecting myself first — I will be on time, set goals, or sit down with my boss and discuss how my ideas can contribute. Or I’ll take a course I’ve been putting off.

And then master that ONE change and add another when you’ve got the first one down.

In the meantime, try these 5 ways to be kind to yourself:

  1. Change your thoughts: one of the best ways is author Elizabeth Gilbert’s idea of a Happiness Jar.  Take one minute each evening to jot down one thing that brought you joy, and pop it in the jar.  Read more here, but this is a practice, like a Gratitude Journal, that can quite literally shift your thinking.
  2. Take time to set intentions each day.  Wake up 5 min earlier and give yourself time to focus on what you want to accomplish and if that list dovetails with your goals. If not, challenge yourself to ask if you need to change your “to do” list.
  3. Take time for nurturing your soul— what gives you joy?  Art? Music? Books? Yoga? Meditation?  Whatever it is, CARVE out time for it. If not daily, then at the very least several times a week. If you are type A — put it in your calendar and make it non-negotiable until it becomes more natural. And if it doesn’t bring you perspective, find something else to do that fuels you.
  4. Surround yourself with friends who bring you laughter and will call you out on your sh*t! Nurture those friendships. It isn’t quantity with friends, but quality.  Talking deeply and vulnerably with good friends gives us a new vantage point to see ourselves more objectively.
  5. When you find yourself full of self criticism, STOP. Take a deep breath. Ask yourself one question would I treat a friend this way?”  If the answer is “no”, it is time to look at yourself differently– cut yourself the same slack you’d give a friend.

2016 could be the year you get a new best friend:  YOURSELF.