Childhood Trauma Affects Your Entire Life

Childhood Trauma Affects Your Entire Life

This. This is the piece of the puzzle from my childhood that I've been missing. This. This is the secret I've been hiding behind my smile. This. This is what countless children and adults in every zip code, every corner of your life face while navigating learning, relationships, careers, and even their long-term health.  Exposure to adversity in childhood by trauma or chronic stress actually changes our physiology, affects our brain development, and even alters our body's transcription of DNA. Childhood trauma does NOT just go away as we grow up. As an elementary teacher for fifteen years, yes, I have lived, experienced the hardships trauma and chronic stress cause for a child. I have seen children struggle to learn, battle for impulse-control, toil to maintain friendships, all while suffering tummy aches, headaches, lack of sleep. But that's not the end of their struggle. These children left my classroom, having learned to read and add and subtract.  But what about their tummy aches, headaches, and chronic deprivation of sleep?  What happened to those beautiful...
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Love and Loss

Love and Loss

Sharing Love Through Heartbreak When I came across this image, the love I saw through their loss, my heart stopped for a moment, and then I read the corresponding news article about the last day of a five year-old girl who died in the arms of her parents. The image was heartbreaking, yet beautiful. The healthy little girl, diagnosed with a quick-growing, rare form of brain cancer, left the family with limited time to share. The hospice nurse captured this moment as the little girl drew her last breaths.  She lay on her mother and father as they held her, gazing sweetly at her while her favorite Harry Potter movie played in the background. They were there for her first breath, and they remained there for her last. All Humans Love, and All Humans Experience Loss This picture evoked a human empathy that touched me personally.  I recognize through my relationships other parents who have faced love and loss.  I, myself, have lost...
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Happiness is Easy to Find and Yours to Give

Happiness is Easy to Find and Yours to Give

The Gift of Giving Unexpected gifts are the best. Last week, I received a beautiful memento from a friend. I had been looking for a special statue to rest at my brother's gravesite, but I was struggling to find just the right one. My friend knew of my desire and made it her quest to locate just what I was looking for.  Presenting me the beautiful fairy statue was a symbol of our friendship, but also a touching reminder that giving is the key to happiness. Suffolk Fairy Emily Statue by HomeStyles True Happiness is Giving it Away The fact is, the graciousness you reveal by the act of giving is even more valuable than the gift itself.  You can give a smile, give your time, give your compassion, all with no cost but great benefit to you.  As Maya Angelou so thoughtfully said, "When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed."  Remember, every time you give your happiness away, you are gaining happiness in...
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The gift I didn’t know I needed

The gift I didn’t know I needed

I've spent thirty-two years with the mistaken belief that because my brother died in my childhood, he didn't really exist.  Strangely, I always had him in my thoughts and on my mind, but it was more like a fantasy life I was experiencing, wishing him to be there, but believing he was only a figment of my own imagination.  I wasn't consciously aware that I was practicing this disassociation routinely until I wrote a blog post this year about my experience living and loving a terminally ill sibling and shared it on Facebook.  The responses I received were overwhelming.  Childhood friends and my brother's teachers all reaching out to me, sharing their own memories of my brother, Mike.  I got choked up reading these online conversations reliving our experiences with Mike from so long ago.  I read stories I wasn't even aware of, because I had stopped talking about my brother in seventh grade when he died.  Only the handful of closest...
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Why So Blue?

Why So Blue?

Today has the most beautiful blue winter sky. The sun is shining brightly through hues of indigo melting into a cornflower blue, dotted by puffy, cotton like clouds. Yet, through the beauty, I was feeling the blues. Yes, even the cheerful can get down. The more I wrote and reflected on my rich life I shared with my beloved brother, the ache in my heart grew stronger. I miss him. A lot. But we all have grief from a loved one lost, either through death, a breakup, or distance. The memories shared, as lovely as they are, can still bring the sadness. I don't want his memory fade, and sometimes the grief I feel makes his memory more present, more real. It was this thought that made me realize that I shouldn't shy away or suppress these feelings. I can embrace them knowing that the most beautiful rainbows are comprised of blue. ...
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Winning Through a Loss

Winning Through a Loss

He lost.  The long struggle to win was lost.  But he never quit fighting.  He might have been the weakest, but he was a strong fighter.  And I was his eternal cheerleader.  He was only thirteen when he died from the disease he was born fighting.  I was only twelve when I lost my brother, Michael, my best friend.  He taught me so much in those twelve years...how to fight the good fight, to never let struggle get you down, to appreciate what you've been given, and to have the faith that we've all been given a special path to travel in this life that will lead us to our purpose, and possibly, that purpose is to touch the hearts and inspire others to keep up the good fight. His struggle to catch his breath, have a productive cough, or even simply convince someone to please pick up that Lego piece he had dropped for the hundredth time, stole every bit...
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Don’t Look Back

Don’t Look Back

So, I was driving down the road of my life, and I hurriedly made a decision.  Not a bad decision, nor a good decision-just a decision based on the best information I had at the time.  After receiving news that the decision could have, should have went the other way to benefit me more abundantly, I started to look back in my rear view mirror to see the path I missed.  While doing so, I failed to see what was right in front of me - clear open road to more opportunities...the opportunities that are laid out directly on the path I am traveling.  I quickly placed my eyes back on the road and thought, "I don't need to waste time looking back, that wasn't meant for me."  Keep your eyes on the road and enjoy the ride!...
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