Teresa Maranzano was a beautiful child in her Catholic school jumper, asking god, “Why me, why this body?” In this episode of DC&CM, Teresa talks about unlearning what society tells us about our bodies. Teresa calls it “re-parenting” yourself. She asks listeners to challenge negative thoughts about our bodies and more. We can simply do this by asking, “Who told you that?” “Where did that message come from?”
Teresa lives in a bigger body, a social worker, a speaker on eating disorders, and conquering another dream. She is currently in an accessible yoga teacher training. Years prior, Teresa Maranzano believed she’d have to lose weight in order to achieve her dream of making change in lives of others. She learned that is simply not true. Also, by doing the work she does in the body she lives, she is an agent for change.
By putting herself out there and building a platform she is showing her clients and the world, that joy, amazing life experiences, and advocating for others does not have a size limit. Through her yoga teaching training, she is building a new relationship with herself and her body. She wants us to know that you don’t need to have any particular body, yoga clothes, or an expensive mat to get the spiritual and physical intended benefits of this practice.
We hope you enjoy this conversation, and it awakens an urge in you to question the messages you have received that no longer serve you. Additionally, please subscribe to the show where you listen to podcasts. We would also love you tell a friend about us.
Teresa recommends following her yoga teacher and fellow body positive yoga practitioner Amber Karnes, @amberkarnesofficial. Also, she suggests getting “Accessible Yoga,” a book by Jivana Heyman.
Alé believes this episode pairs very nicely with episode 12, a conversation with Lisa Schlosberg. Additionally, if you’d like to see the picture she references in the episode check her out on instagram, @alexandra_mc88.
Margie Mays, remember her from her viral American Idol Audition? [If not watch here.] We fell in love with Margie’s quirky energy after seeing her video. Your DC&CM hosts agree with Katy Perry, she’s one of the greatest people we’ve met! We are so glad we got to talk to her and hear her back story. It was SO not what we were expecting.
Sweet, energetic, Margie Mays grew up very shy and quiet, surrounded by academic family members. She towed the company line, as they say. Margie was quite the study bug and athlete, living by her dad’s message of, “Effort and attitude.” While working towards becoming the valedictorian of her high school class and excelling in sports, Margie had a secret dream. Singing was much more than a fun hobby.
After finishing her education at an Ivy league university, Margie Mays, could not shake her deep knowing that she belonged singing on a stage. After enrolling in music school she got a huge surprise that nearly destroyed her prospects at a musical career. We won’t spoil the episode, so make sure you listen to hear what happened next, and what Margie is up to these days.
The People Need to Know
Margie Mays, after graciously singing us an intro for “The People Need to Know,” gave us two movie recommendations. The first is “JoJo Rabbit,” current in theaters. Also, “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” available to stream on Amazon Prime.
Betty’s brother has an intellectual disability, which makes her recommendation close to her heart. She wants everyone to watch the show “Atypical,” which you can catch on Netflix.
Finally, Alé was blown away with the documentary, “Ask Dr. Ruth,” on Hulu. It is truly an amazing story of a dream chaser and change maker.
Adele Jackson-Gibson has found success as a fitness coach and model, as well as an accomplished career in sports journalism. She earned degrees from some of the country’s top universities. Before this, she was having a great life and didn’t feel a need for spirituality to be a part of it. Adele started looking into self-help books and researching how leaders and thinkers were finding their path. The theme of spirituality kept coming up. Then, she thought to herself, “If these people have a spiritual life, maybe, so should I.”
Adele started out in a spiritual setting where faith traditions are put into historical context. The people were cool, but she felt admittedly bored. Her and her partner, (now fiancé, congratulations, Adele), attended a New Thought church. There she expanded her spiritual thought and experience. Next, she continued her research and read more and more books. Adele Jackson-Gibson realized, the same questions theologians and spiritual seekers ponder, often overlap with questions physicists and other types of scientists ask too.
As a healer, whose work centers around the body, the more Adele understands the connection between body and spirit, the more she may be of service. So, we hope you enjoy the insightful conversation we have on this episode!
Connect With Adele Jackson-Gibson & The People Need to Know
Now, for the People Need to Know this week, Betty recommends “The Politician,” a series airing currently on Netflix. Adele suggests the comedy movie, “Booksmart,” which can be watched on Hulu. Alé strongly advises that anyone who wants to become more familiar with challenges adoptees face, check out “Not Your Orphan,” on YouTube.
Finally, thanks for listening to our conversation with Adele. Remember to subscribe & review and please tell a friend about us!
Briana Banos’ life changed due to Red Skin Syndrome (RSS), a condition caused by topical steroid withdrawal (TSW). Before, she was professional dancer and newlywed with a world of possibilities in front of her. Briana never imagined that her pesky eczema would change her life’s path.
Briana followed her doctors’ orders and applied steroid cream to her itchy skin and eventually found it was actually making it worse. To her surprise, stopping the steroid led to inflamed and oozing skin and tremendous pain. Unable to find relief, she took to Google, and found she was not alone. Reading the symptoms, she discovered that her condition matched a condition called Red Skin Syndrome, and she was not alone.
A once very active person, a person who loved to make people smile, Briana’s felt suffering alone and mindlessly binge watching television was not the most she could make out of her life. She began documenting her journey of Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW) on YouTube. Briana found a network of other people also dealing with the effects of Red Skin Syndrome. She also learned that the most medical community were not recognizing their condition as real. In the spirit of Briana Banos, she felt she could do more to spread awareness.
Preventable: Protecting Your Largest Organ, A Film by Briana Banos
Despite still very much dealing with her own painful symptoms of RSS, Briana Banos, in true dream chaser fashion, and no professional filmmaking education, set out to make a documentary. She fundraised, and was in awe of the support she received through fundraising, a not of approval from International Topical Steroid Addiction Network, (ITSAN), and the National Eczema Association.
Briana Banos, one woman film crew, flew not only around the country but around the globe. She talked to families affected by RSS and TSW and heard their stories. She interviewed medical professionals that were not only agreeing that this is real- but providing treatment to patients. You can view Briana’s documentary here, for free.
Connect with Briana Banos and DC&CM/The People Need to Know
You can find Briana on her instagram page for the film, @Preventable_Doc, or on her YouTube channel, here. For the People Need to Know, she suggests Brené Brown’s Netflix Special, A Call to Courage. In addition, she recommends Ruthie Lindsey’s instagram, @RuthieLindsey.
For the first time in DC&CM history, Betty and Alé share the same People Need to Know. They HIGHLY recommend Meggan Watterson’s masterpiece of a book, “Mary Magdalene Revealed: The First Apostle, Her Feminist Gospel & the Christianity We Haven’t Tried.” Purchase, here. Also, Alé recommends Meggan’s free meditiation, Prayer of the Heart, which you can listen to here on Apple Podcasts, or search wherever you listen to Podcasts.
Adoptees face so many difficulties and hardships that non-adoptees do not even consider. When we decide to share that we are adopted with you, we deserve an empathetic response. We should be able to steer the conversation, and non-adoptees should listen. The five statements and questions below are responses we get all too often. When holding space for an adoptee sharing their truth and experience, please avoid gaslighting by staying far away from these 5 things.
1. “You don’t look adopted.”
Some adoptees, myself included, do not stick out as the adopted kid in the family. (Although, I am a transnational adoptee from Brazil, my skin is white and so is my adoptive family’s.) When an adoptee discloses that they are, in fact, adopted, they are sharing an intimate and complicated part of their lives with you. I’m not sure why the impulse is to tell us you couldn’t tell. What I do know, it’s an invalidating response, that further erases our truth.
So please, don’t tell us how much we look like x, y, or z person in our adoptive family. We probably don’t see it that way. It is painful to grow up simply imagining which features you might share with members of a biological family. Knowing your hands are shaped like your father’s or you share a similar body-type with your mother are aspects of being a family that adoptees do not grow up knowing, for the most part.
While we are on the topic of being able to blend in as a member of an adoptive family, it is worth mentioning that in the US, adopting a white baby is more expensive than a baby of any other race. Google it. Also, transracial adoptees have done painstaking work to highlight their experiences, so I suggest doing some research about the experience of adoptees who grew up outside their race, written by the adoptees themselves, not adoptive-parents.
2. “You were chosen!”
Oddly enough, those that bear witness to our stories will often tell us that adoption is so special because out of all the children out there to be adopted we were chosen to be a part of our adopted families. Even as a kid, I called BS on this.
First of all, a large majority of us were adopted because of our parents’ infertility issues. Sounds like second choice to me. We were adopted because we were the next fresh out the womb, healthy baby ready for adoption. Many of us were adopted because we matched the race of our adoptive families. Nothing beautiful or special about it.
Also, chosen for what? Adoption trauma? To wonder where we came from? Forced to battle gate-keepers to find out the truth about our identities? If you engage with adoptee communities online, you will quickly find that most of us do not feel like being adopted meant winning a golden ticket.
3. “Adoption gave you better life!”
Adoptee communities commonly say we were given a different life. Being separated from your biological family, whether at birth or later is trauma. Adoptees are more likely to experience serious mental health issues, struggle with substance abuse issues, and four times more likely to die by suicide than our non-adopted counterparts. (Again, this is all google-able information.)
While adoptees are not a monolith, and some of us may believe we were better off adopted, you have no idea if our life is better than something we never experienced. Adoption, in and of itself, regardless of the circumstances of our biological parents, puts our psychological health at risk. Every single adoptee I have ever met in my life, again, myself included, have been in inpatient treatment for mental illness, substance dependence, or an eating disorder. We were all adopted at birth.
Consider the seriousness of the challenges we face as adoptees before suggesting that we have been saved from the life we may have had if we were not relinquished. So again, telling us we have a better life, or we have been rescued, or we are lucky is an erasure of our truth.
4. “Do you want to meet your biological family?”
Simply put, it’s none of your business. Adoptees have an array of extremely valid feelings towards their first families. If we want you to know whether we are in reunion with our biological families, searching, or not interested in knowing, we will tell you.
For me, personally, I am a pretty open book, and have shared aspects of my story publicly. Hell, I did several episodes of DC and CM about it. However, I choose when and where and with who I tell my story. Some adoptees searched and found their biological and were rejected. Others are so angry and hurt about being relinquished that we don’t want to search. Some of us searched to no avail, or only to find that our biological parents are deceased.
I have been asked about searching so casually by people I hardly know. It’s not a casual question. It is extremely personal to each adoptee and takes emotional labor to answer. Like I said, if we want you to know how we are feeling about reunion, or if we are in reunion, we will tell you.
5. “Adoption saved you from abortion!”
Yep, we get told this. I’ve been told this. When adoptees come forward with how adoption has affected us, when we tell the truth and it is not a sweet story, when we are angry about all we have endured, for some reason, all empathy is lost and people say, “Your biological mother could have had an abortion.”
Well, anyone’s mother could’ve had an abortion. Also, adoptees have abortions too. Your stance on abortion is irrelevant here. If a person is spilling their soul to you, about how they have been hurt so deeply by adoption, telling you of the trauma and hardship they lived simply by being adopted, and you say, “At least you weren’t aborted,” I suggest you watch Brené Brown’s video on empathy before you engage in any more human interaction.
How do I talk to an adoptee sharing their truth?
If you are confused about how to be an empathetic listener, watch that Brené Brown video on empathy. Instead of telling us it could be worse, or about a happy adoptee you know, meet us where we are at. Know that we have experienced something you have not, and we’re the experts on what it is like to be an adoptee. Listen more than you talk, do not bring up counter points. In a world that tells us how beautiful adoption is over and over again, while narratives are often controlled by adoptive parents, and adoptees are told how they should feel, it is brave and radical for an adoptee to share their truth with you.
Little known fact about me, I love comedy. Stand-up comedy, comedy podcasts, memoirs written by comedians, drag shows with comedy queens, shows written by and starring comedians, sign me the eff up. In the last few years I have become a huge fan. So I knew, when I visited L.A. I wanted to go to the Hollywood Improv and see a stand-up show hosted by Marcella Arguello, called Women Crush Wednesdays. I was souped to see some hilarious female comics.
My cousin Jill lives out in L.A. and told me she was off work Wednesday and would take me wherever I wanted to go. I immediately screen-shotted the WCW flyer on Marcella’s instagram and it was on.
We got there early so I got a drink at the bar. An announcement was made that they were ready to seat the Marcella Arguello show a little early and to line up. The bartender said, take your drink, the entrance is to the back of the bar, right around the corner. They took our phones and locked it in a little phone jail pouch and we were shuffled to our seats in a packed house in a huge room. I didn’t mind relinquishing my phone, because as I have learned listening to hundreds of hours of Nicole Byer’s voice on her podcast, “Why Won’t You Date Me,” comedians work out new material at shows like this so it really sucks when people sneak videos and post it online.
So Here’s What Happened…
Right away, and I said this to Cousin Jill, that the venue was not what I expected. I thought it would be an intimate little room. However, I was happy that it was in a much bigger room and was impressed that so many men came to see feminist comics. We were told we each had to purchase two items, which confused me because the flyer said, “Never a minimum.” But whatever, we needed dinner anyway. The food was okay.
When they introduced the host, and it wasn’t Marcella Arguello, I thought, “Well maybe she closes the show.” The first comic was a female comic who did about five minutes, and was very funny. Then she introduced the next comic, named Anthony, something or other. That might not even be his name, to be honest.
I was pretty sure Marcella had been clear that only female comics perform on WOMAN Crush Wednesdays. The flyer literally says, “No men ever, so stop asking.” I quickly rationalized and said maybe she is doing a favor for a good friend, or maybe he’s gay and she allowed him to perform during pride month. What the fuck do I know?
No Something is Definitely Wrong
First, this comic came on stage and made jokes about audience members appearances, he went on to let us know that he is a very successful up and coming comedian. Sure, cool? Then he made some fat jokes about an actually successful female comic. Now I am annoyed. Not what I signed up for, and was even more annoyed at the audience laughing at these not very clever cheap shots.
The real eye rolls came when he went onto say, “You can’t joke about anything anymore.” OMFG, here we go. Translation, white male comedians can’t get on stage and be misogynistic, racist, transphobic, fatphobic, hacks with successful careers anymore. (Apparently, you totally can, but back to that later.)
Like I said, I consume a lot of comedy content. None of it grabs for low hanging fruit by making jokes at the most vulnerable members of our society. It’s fucking fantastic, I cry laughing, and sometimes, like Hannah Gadsby’s Netflix special, “Nanette,” it is so smart and so real, I cry real meaningful tears.
No Seriously, May I be Excused?
Well, Anthony something or other, continued on with his set. He did a several minutes on the #MeToo movement. First defending Kevin Spacey and saying how he did nothing wrong. Then claiming, that if you are good looking, sexual abuse allegations just don’t have the same career ending effect. Here he cites the demise of Louis C.K. and nothing really happening to James Franco. Every time the crowd cackled my stomach churned a little more. I felt a little stupid that it took me so long to wonder if I was in the right place.
He closed his set with a bit that seemed to last hours about transgender athletes. His “observation” here was that only male athletes transition so they can outcompete women. Multiple times he commented on how the liberals weren’t laughing. Get me the fuck out there.
Sweet Relief- There’s Marcella and Women who Crush!
I finally flagged down a server and asked if this was Marcella’s Women Crush Wednesday. He very kindly and quickly got us the fuck out of there. We were ushered to a much smaller, but equally packed room. We were lucky enough to get two seats at the bar.
There was Marcella Arguello, on stage doing a spot on impersonation of Beyoncé. Man, I was starstruck. Marcella is something special, tall and beautiful, smart and talented. Also, the curator of a show where I felt I was home. [Bonus: I even tried to pay for a club soda and the bartender winked and waved me off and slid it over.] While, we unfortunately missed a big portion of the show we got to see a comic who I believe identifies as nonbinary, an Indian woman, a pregnant lesbian, and Latina comic, who had a much funnier take on #MeToo to turn the tables on men.
Not one of these comics started any of their sets with, “Oh man, you can’t joke about anything anymore.” They didn’t have to. They relied on their actual creativity and talent and their own experiences navigating this shitty world. The world in which white male comics pack houses, with expensive drink minimums taking cheap shots and talking about things they can’t joke about anymore, (but do anyway?) The world where actually skilled and talented women of all different races, sizes, and life experience actually are doing great work in a smaller room off to the side. If that is not a metaphor on the state of nation, I don’t know what it is. Hard to be a straight, cis, white man these days.
However, infuriating that I had to listen to a man say his Corvette identifies as a Prius so he can race in Prius races, (? – unclear of his message) I did get to meet Marcella after the show, and wow, she is out of this world. She was so friendly and welcoming. If you find yourself in Los Angeles. Check out Women Crush Wednesdays at the Hollywood Improv. Just make sure you’re in the right damn room.
On most of our episodes we talk to each other or our guests about childhood. We wonder what we might tell that child. Then Alé was watching an episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” where Ru had the contestants speak to a picture of themselves as a child. Betty and Alé decided to come up with a new set of questions for episodes going forward and decided to borrow this exercise from Ru. So we will have a new segment called, “Conversations with Your Inner Child.”
If Our Inner Child Could See us Now! Reflecting on our favorite Episodes
Additionally, Betty and Alé reflected on the episodes that impacted them the most. Which ones stuck on their guts, and they wished everyone would hear immediately. They agreed the episodes where guests spoke the loudest truths and were the most vulnerable were amongst the most powerful. Betty chose Episode 20, a conversation we had with Billye Jones, about how we all play a part in the perpetrating or prevention of childhood sexual abuse. She gave us insight in to ways we can interact with the children in our lives to prevent abuse. Also, we outlined this information in a blog post, here. Betty also loves Episode 4, with Aly Trudeau, where she recounts her experience with having an abortion, and why it is so important we talk about the topic as a means to relinquish shame and the taboo nature of the topic.
Alé also had two favorite episodes. She thinks Episode 18, is a great one to listen to because it highlights some of the most impactful host and guest moments on the show. If you are a new listener it’s a great place to start to see what DC&CM is all about and see which episodes you might like to binge. She also chose Episode 12, with personal trainer, holistic wellness coach, and MSW, Lisa Schlosberg. In that episode Lisa, has personally lost and kept of 150 pounds outlines her research on what it means to be truly healthy. We won’t give you the secret here, but hint hint, it’s not diet and exercise. What Lisa had to say really resonated with Alé, as someone who struggles with body acceptance and body image issues.
The People Need to Know – Episode 21 [Conversations with Your Inner Child]
The people need to know for this week include a continued endorsement of “When They See Us,” they story of the Exonerated Five, formerly known as the Central Park 5. Also, in the vein of celebrating Pride Month, an amazingly casted and produced show about the lives of the gay and trans people in the late 80’s ballroom scene, “Pose,” season 1 available on Netflix, and season two available on FX. Finally, “The Bad Kids,” a documentary on Netflix about an alternative high school in California where they believe autonomy, love, and compassion is the best model for student success.
The people need to know about Kevin Gaffney, for whom this episode was dedicated. Kevin was a gay man with a physical disability, who never got the opportunity to heal his inner child. Kevin was Alé’s best friend and passed away in 2016. Although, on the surface he was full of life, hilarious, and fabulously inappropriate, his struggles to find love for himself in a world that can be cruel and dismissive, caused him to lose his life. This Pride Month and every month, we use Kevin’s life to remind us be empathetic, to be welcoming, and to be absolutely fabulous.
Parents and those and those closest to the youngest members of our society do all they can to protect the health and safety of children. We don’t like to think about the possibility of the children we love being at risk for sexual abuse. The fact is, the threat is real. 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 3 boys will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday. The good news is there are things we can all do to end it, forever. We interviewed Billye Jones, an expert and leader in the movement of childhood sexual abuse treatment prevention.
Learn 5 tips to prevent sexual abuse and what the process of grooming looks like, which is a process that abusers use to identify and perpetrate against victims. Additionally, she talks about how she moved through the social work profession, her own loss that led her to a social worker who changed her life, and how she became a powerful voice in the fight against childhood sexual abuse.
People Need to Know for this episode include, the memoir, “Becoming,” by First Lady Michelle Obama. Also, the Netflix series, “When They See Us,” by Ava DuVernay. Finally, Betty’s mom’s new book! You can learn more about Billye and her work on Facebook, or her website. You can follow DC&CM on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Furthermore, read about about Billye’s five childhood sexual abuse prevention tips, here. Please do not forget to rate, review, and subscribe. Thank you for listening, and learning this necessary information about ending childhood sexual abuse.
One out three girls and one out of five boys will be victims of sexual abuse by the time they are eighteen. Ninety percent of children who are victims of childhood sexual abuse are perpetrated against by someone they know, not a stranger. Nine out of ten children who are victims do not report their abuse. Families do everything they can to keep their children safe, and that is why these uncomfortable conversations have to take place. Perpetrators of childhood sexual abuse are able to groom children, in part, because frank discussions like the one we had with Childhood Sexual Abuse Prevention Expert, Billye Jones, are too few and far between.
In our latest podcast episode we talked to LCSW, Billye Jones. (Listen Here.) Her mission is to end childhood sexual abuse through prevention. She told us that every single one of us has a part to play in the perpetrating or prevention of childhood sexual abuse, whether we are parents or not. It is our choice what side we are on. My immediate reaction was how could I be helping to perpetrate childhood sexual abuse? I would never hurt a child. Because I don’t want to be part of the problem, and assume, neither do you, here are 5 tips we can all do to aid in the efforts of childhood sexual abuse prevention.
Childhood Sexual Abuse Prevention Tip #1
Teach Children it is Okay to Question Authority
Billye says, developmentally speaking, kids take things quite literally. If you say, “Listen to your [insert authority figure here, i.e. babysitter, grandparent, etc], I want to hear how good you were when I get back!” Your child believes you literally mean do whatever they say. Children do not have the innate ability to discern between listening to an adult that has the child’s best interest in mind and someone giving them directives with cruel intentions. Kids need to be taught and have it reinforced that when something does not feel right, they are allowed to question and say, “I don’t like that, I don’t want to do that.”
How we ALL can Help: If you are a teacher, a coach, medical personnel, a family member, or anyone who has contact with children, respect their boundaries. If they are expressing discomfort or seem uneasy about something you are asking of them, honor that. Discuss it. Be respectful and do not punish! If it is something that must be done and is aligned with your duties while that child is in your care, explain everything. Be patient. Do not coerce or bribe with treats and at do not force the child to do anything they are uncomfortable doing.
Childhood Sexual Abuse Prevention Tip #2
No Forced Hugs or Kisses by Anyone, Ever
This is a topic I have heard a lot about that Billye explains very well. By forcing kids to hug and kiss relatives or friends we are not teaching them they have autonomy over their bodies. We are teaching them that adults are allowed to touch their bodies whenever they like. When our children are forced to kiss and hug we may tell them they aren’t being good or respectful or even embarrassing us. They are getting the message that allowing themselves to be touched when they don’t want to doesn’t matter, adults have a right to their bodies.
Billye says the rule for her daughter is, she has to say hello and goodbye but the way she is greeted and greets is up to her. Sometimes her daughter wants to hug, sometimes not, sometimes it’s a high-five or fist bump, sometimes not. Talk to your kids about how they want to say hello and goodbye. Aside from teaching kids to set boundaries with their own bodies, we need to teach the adults to respect those boundaries. If the kid says no, it’s a no! This is a message about consent children will take with them whether you are by their side or not. They are allowed to decide what is comfortable for them, and the other way around.
How we ALL can Help: Respect children’s bodily boundaries. Allow children to greet you in a way they like to be greeted. Follow their lead on this one. If the child’s parent tells the child to hug or kiss you and they look like the don’t want to, say something like, “Hey that’s okay, it’s so nice to see you!” I know I have been in this situation plenty of times as a child and an adult! As a kid, it would have been a relief to have someone tell me I didn’t have to give a kiss if I didn’t want to.
For more information about teaching children consent please refer to Billye’s blog post on the topic, here.
Childhood Sexual Abuse Prevention Tip #3
Have Kids Call their Genitals their Actual Names
I’ve heard this one before, and knew that children should not be given cutesie names for their genitals. We’ve talked about it with Dr. Stef Ros on how to have sex talks with your kids in a previous episode. Billye clarifies why this is so important with two reasons. The first goes back to grooming. If your child refers to their genitals as penis, or vagina/vulva, a perpetrator of childhood sexual abuse will get the message that the child is having conversations surrounding their bodies with caregivers. They will likely think twice about offending against this child. The second is, if abuse does take place and the child tries to report it, they have the language.
Billye says, often children will try to report and parents or caregivers will miss it. She gave the real life example where a young girl said that someone touched her purse. The girl was taught to call her vagina a purse. She did not have the language to say, “Someone touched my genitals.”
How we ALL can Help: Now, if we are not a parent it may not be our responsibility to teach children the correct names of their genitals, and unless that actually is your job, I don’t suggest you take that on. However, we can still help. Let’s take the example Billye gave with the purse, if the child is reporting something to us, we could ask more clarifying questions. “Are you hurt?” “Where is your purse?” Even if the child is not reporting something as serious as abuse, it is important that we try our best to try and understand exactly what a child is communicating. They may not have the language we understand to communicate what happened.
Childhood Sexual Abuse Prevention Tip #4
Do Not Tell Children That You Will Kill Or Hurt Anyone Who Hurts Them
Billye says that children oftentimes do not report because they are afraid what will happen to the people they love if they do report. Guess what? If you tell a child you will kill or beat up someone who hurts them, they are not going to want you to be in trouble and be unable to be around for them anymore, and/or they are not going to want anyone else hurt or killed.
I was sexually assaulted when I was a teenager, by another teenager, and this is the exact reason I did not tell anyone until I was much older. At the time, I was somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be doing something I wasn’t supposed to be doing and was assaulted. I did not want my parent to go to jail, nor did I want the person who assaulted me to be physically hurt. I was also drinking at the time and did not want myself in trouble either. However, more about that in Tip #5.
How we ALL can Help: Whether you are grandma or grandpa, or anyone else important in a child’s life, they will take you at your word. Just like mom and dad should not threaten violence against a perpetrator, neither should you. It’s not helpful.
Childhood Sexual Abuse Prevention Tip #5
Have a No Secret Policy & Allow Kids to “Tattle”
The Problem With Chastising Tattling
In the episode, Billye explains this quite eloquently. Perpetrators of childhood sexual abuse use a process called grooming to target victims and eventually offend. She used the following example in the episode. Say your child is going trick or treating and your neighbor, who you know quite well, gives out the full-sized candy bars. They say to your child, “I will give you five candy bars, but don’t tell your parents because it is our secret.” If this neighbor happens to be an abuser, who will they more likely offend against? The child whose parent returns and says, “Hey nice try with those candy bars!” Or the child who snuck the candy up to their room and did not tell a soul, as instructed?
The Importance of Having A No Secrets Policy
Ninety-percent of incidents of childhood sexual abuse go unreported for a plethora of reasons. Your kids need to be taught that they can come to you, or someone else they trust, with anything. Talk to your kids about who they will talk to when they are upset or uncomfortable. Let them tell you who they will tell. In the episode, Betty talked about how she talks to her five year-old daughter about things that happen in school. Sometimes her daughter is the one who was in trouble. They still talk about it. If we are reactive and jump to punitive measures children will close off. In my case, if I had been more comfortable telling my parents I snuck out and drank, I would have been more likely to report.
Even if children are nervous about going to their parents about something, kids need to know that someone will listen. It is important that be established while they are still young. Billye also says this is a great time to teach kids the difference between a secret, surprise and privacy. Your child and your cousin got mom a present for mother’s day, surprise! That cousin is staying with you and is going to bathe and asks the child to leave, privacy. Your child and your cousin watched a video they should not have seen, secret. Surprises are okay! Privacy, understood! Secrets are not allowed and they have to tell someone, even if that someone is not you.
How we ALL can Help: Don’t ask children to keep secrets, ever. I have recently been guilty of this when I snuck my nephew an extra cookie. He told, so good for him! After the conversation we had with Billye, I see why this, however seemingly harmless, could have dangerous consequences for a child.
For more information about the problem with secret keeping, read Billye’s blog post dedicated to the topic, here.
More Information on Childhood Sexual Abuse Prevention
All the information gathered for this list was taken from our conversation on Episode 20 of the Dream Chasers and Change Makers podcast, with Billye Jones. You can access the episode wherever you listen to podcasts, or right here through the blog.
Learn more about Billye and her expertise by visiting her website, which you can access, here. Additionally, you can “like” Billye Jones Consulting on Facebook, here, to be kept up to date on her blog and other services.
[Content Warning: This episode contains discussion of an eating disorder with specific weights and calorie amounts mentioned and talk of suicide attempts.] Jessica Gardner felt empty and confused as an adopted child, she was diagnosed with learning disabilities and .heavily medicated. Then the bullying began. The one thing she could control was her weight, and at least the kids wouldn’t bully her about that. Jessica’s eating disorder led her to depression and anxiety, and she found herself numbing with drugs and alcohol. Her first time in inpatient rehab was not her last, however, in her first treatment center, a seed was planted. She knew if she recovered she would share her story and she has with us in this episode. The people need to know information for this episode include the book “Signals” Joel Rothschild, an instagram post asking influencers to tell the truth about their bodies from Sierra Neilson, and the Instagram account @i_weigh. You can follow Jessica Gardner on Instagram @littlechronicwarrior. If you would like to hear about Alé’s time in mental health treatment go back and listen to Episode 3, Bravely Vulnerable. You can join the DC&CM community on social media on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, under the handle @dcandcm.
On every episode of our podcast, we ask our guests what the people need to know about, whether that is a tv show, a movie, a social media account, or a book. It is common for our guests to make a book recommendation and here is a list of the books they say the people need to know! Links to buy the books provided and links to their episodes as well!
This book recommendation was made by Betty, in episode 1! We cannot tell too much because it is a secret, but this book is an in-depth explanation of the Law of Attraction and how you can have, be, and do anything you want.
This book recommendation was made by Michael in episode 9. The book that details how to live a more clutter free minimalist life. There is a hype around the Netflix series, but the book gives an explanation on how to properly do away with things that do not bring you joy.
This book recommendation was made by Dr. Stephanie Ros in episode 11. This Pulitzer Prize finalist is an autobiography of a neurosurgical resident that ends up battling stage IV lung cancer. This page turner is about a doctor who ends up becoming the patient.
This book recommendation was made by Kristiana Tarnuzzer in episode 7. A must read for anyone who needs an extra push. This self-development book gives plenty of tips on how to stop doubting yourself and start living your best life. A quick read too!
This book recommendation was made by Diane in episode 14. Whether or not you are a fan of her comedy, Amy Schumer captures the attention of all her readers as she touches on topics such as gun violence, a father with a disability, a husband with a high functioning autism, and laws in this country.
This book was recommended by Betty in also in episode 14. A former stripper recounts her tale of how she wound up in the adult entertainment industry, her different eventful interactions with customers, and how she left the lifestyle.
Nash Azarian recommended this book in episode 15. Funny, detailed, and tear jerking! This true story describes the story of a trans identified, high school student who is transitioning and confirming their true gender.
This memoir was also recommended by Nash in his episode. A nineteen year old who shared her journey on gender confirming surgery. An important story to read for anyone who knows, loves, has heard of, is acquaintances with of anyone who identifies as transgender.
A third book recommended by Betty on our list! Our girl loves to read. This nonfiction tale follows the story of a black nurse who tried to revive a suffocating infant, and wasn’t successful in her attempts to do CPR. The twist is that the newborn patient had a very specific note on his file saying that no black hospital workers were to attend to this patient.
Recommended by Ryan in episode 16! Ever wondered why high achieving people are looked at differently? Represented differently? Speak differently? Read this book and find out how to become one of those individuals. Spoiler: it’s not about what they do or how they act, but where they came from.
One more book recommendation from our guest, Ryan! Bernie Mac takes us through the tale of how she discovered at just five years old that he knew he was going to be a comedian. A true story of someone who chased their dreams and found success!
Our final recommendation was written by Marlee Garza, featured on episode 17! Marlee is a former escort and sex worker. After applying to numerous jobs and not being able to find work, she found work in a nonconventional way. She tells her stories of certain customers, how much money she was making, and how she left the lifestyle.
This month Alé graduated NYU with her MSW. Our girl has mentioned Brené Brown about a million times, everyone’s favorite celebrity social worker. In this episode, we look back at past episodes and see how your hosts and our guests have shared on topics related to Dr. Brown’s social work research, such as shame, vulnerability, being brave with your life, and the power of connection and true belonging. We have talked to people from all walks of life including a filmmaker, a trans identified true crime writer, a former sex worker, a woman who had an abortion, a young lady who left her isolated and fundamentalist Catholic home, and many other dream chasers and change makers. We have found that our stories prove we are all connected and therefore belong to each other. If you aren’t a Brené Brown fan yet, we hope you will be after the episode! Follow DC&CM on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook all under the handle @dcandcm.
[Content Warning: Sexual Abuse, Explicit conversation around Sex] Marlee Garza, a single mother of three found herself on the verge of homelessness. She found sex work as way to make end meets for her family, and marketed herself as a MILF seductress named Sandhal. People need to know for this episode include two shows on Freeform, Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists and Siren, a show on Netflix called “On my Block,” and two podcasts called “Girls on Porn,” and “The Oldest Profession.” You can buy Marlee’s book “White Envelopes,” on Amazon. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram and support her art on Red Bubble, her stuff is super cute, so check it out! Follow DC&CM on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, all under the handle @dcandcm.
Ryan Cole has been a filmmaker for over fifteen years, has one many awards, including an Emmy. However, it almost didn’t happen for him, he almost quit before his journey even started. Ryan has is used to being one of the only black people in a white spaces, but when he attended New York Film Academy’s six week filmmaking program, he was literally the only student of color. Hear about that story and more of Ryan journey in this very motivational episode about what it takes to connect to your fellow man, the importance of teamwork, and how no achieves their dreams overnight or alone. The people need to know for this episode are two books, “Outliers,” by Malcom Gladwell, “Maybe You Never Cry Again,” by Bernie Mac, a Will Smith Movie, “Seven Pounds,” and a new Hulu series, “Ramy.” You can follow Ryan on Instagram and Twitter. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest under the handle @dcandcm.
Layla is an aspiring weather person and is also talented at adding on her fingers. She has a passion for playing Robolox and practices self care by eating snacks while she plays her favorite game. In her nearly six years on this Earth, she has learned important lessons about love that we all need to be reminded of. People need to know for this episode a video game for big kids adults who like video games, called Robolox, a movie called “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” a movie and Netflix series, “Boss Baby,” and the Elephant and Piggie book series by Mo Willems. You can follow Dream Chasers and Change Makers on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, all under the handle @dcandcm.
Content Warning: This episode does briefly mention a suicide attempt and intimate partner violence. Nash Azarian began his truest and most beautiful life six years ago when he began identifying as a transgender man and began to medically transition. Before that he lived a life identifying and presenting as a butch lesbian, and being both bullied and profiled for it. That led him to living a life where he was constantly victimized, and in turn became and angry standoffish person, so far from the warm person he truly is. Nash opens up about relationships, transitioning and complications that came along with it and so much more in this vulnerable and deep diving episode. The people need to know for this episode include novels, “Some Assembly Required,” by Arin Andrews, “Rethinking Normal,” by Katie Hill, “Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story,” by Jacob Tobia, “Small Great Things,” by Jodi Picoult, and the Transitional Wisdom Podcast. You can find Nash on Instagram @nashazarian. Additionally, follow Dream Chasers and Change Makers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, all under the handle @dcandcm.
Child life specialist, Diane Morales spends her time helping young patients through the process of being in the hospital. She watches patient after patient being assessed, treated, and discharged. It was frustrating to her when she woke up one day with a mysterious and dull neck pain. No big deal though, until it wouldn’t go away, for years. Thus leading Diane into a journey of trying to deal with this pain, causing her to look into painful moments in her life, when she began to believe the pain could be somatic. Diane recounts the tragic death of two friends and one of the scariest days of her life. The people need to know for this episode include, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo, by Amy Schumer,Oprah’s Super Soul Conversation with Amy Schumer, and Candy Girl, by Diablo Cody. You can follow Diane on Instagram @adventuresinchildlife or check out her blog at adventuresinchildlife.com. Get involved with DC&CM community on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, under the handle @dcandcm.
Diana Foster has had people make assumptions about who she is her entire life. They assume her her race, her sexuality, and more. Now she is called to be a fierce protector of the most vulnerable in our society. Not only is she the badass mama to her three kids, additionally, she opens her home to foster children, others deem “hard to manage,” and a host of misfit pets. Diana, talks about foster care, race, and sexuality, as well as being the mother to a transgender child. Find Diana, on instagram, at @yourmamadressesfunny and her son Charlie’s art page at @cats_can_art.
Now, the people need to know for this week include the hilarious television series “Schitt’s Creek.” Also, a recommendation to introduce overalls into your wardrobe in all their glorious forms. Lastly, a movie called “Second Act,” starring Jennifer Lopez. (Alé loves this movie because it links back to her adoption story which you can hear in Episode 6.) You can follow Alé and Betty on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, all under the handle @dcandcm.
Lisa Schlosberg weighed over 300 pounds at 17 years old. Since then she’s maintained a weight loss of 150 pounds, but her story and her message is not what you’d think. Lisa knew she deserved a better life, and diets were thrusting her into disordered eating. She never believed she had a lack of will power. She began to research about diets and weight loss, and the secret key to it all is not what what you’d expect. Lisa is now a certified health and wellness coach, personal trainer, and soon to be social worker.
The lack of quality in the sex talk the majority of people get has left so many women seeing sex as function, when at its core, it’s meant to be fun. In this episode, Dr. Stephanie Ros delves into her journey with maternal fetal medicine, and also provides information about pleasurable sex, myths around pregnancy and birth, and how to educate young people about sex. This is not your mother’s sex talk.
Kelley Fraga was afraid that if she shut her eyes and went to sleep her newborn would die. She went sometime without being able to recognize her irrational thoughts as postpartum depression and anxiety. In this episode, we discuss Kelley’s experience in her fourth trimester, the importance of a support system, mom-shaming, and the lack of access of mental health care for new moms and otherwise. If you or someone you know is struggling during postpartum, or what Kelley refers to as, “the fourth trimester” please check out Postpartum Support International, for resources. The People Need to Know for this episode include: two instagram pages, called 4th Trimester Bodies Project, and Ruby’s Rainbow, Ellen Page’s Viceland docuseries, Gaycation, and Pen15 on Hulu. You can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, all with the handle @dcandcm. The biggest way you can support us is by leaving a review, if you can, on your podcast app and tell a friend about us!
Michael Fundora has a degree in environmental science, after graduation his path took unexpected turns. In the episode Michael talks about his identity as a gay man in a Hispanic family, taking risks, and his experience as being a deeply feeling person. He talks about being painted in a one-dimensional light, as good-time party guy. The People Need to Know for this episode include, “Tidying Up,” a book by Marie Kondo, The Broke Millenial’s web-series, and a film called, “Eighth Grade.” If you enjoy the podcast, the greatest support you can give us is writing a review. Thank you!
Being an overseas adoptee from Brazil is a huge part of my story and my identity, interwoven into the fiber of my being. Whenever I feel like I have my footing and a deep understanding of my adoption story, the universe never fails to provide a new lesson.
A few months ago, I received one of these messages, in the form of an Instagram Post from an educator on race and womanhood, Rachel Cargle. Rachel often challenges her followers to think critically on issues of race and feminism, she insists white women #dothework, and confront hard truths.
One post in particular asked us (white women), to think about the way we have interacted with and perceive domestic workers. I learned from Rachel, that second wave feminism was largely about encouraging women to get out of the house. Feminism was framed as a way for women have careers, and lives of their own. For black and brown women of color in this country, having to work was not some profound new wave concept. It was a means of survival. Droves of white women liberated themselves and began careers outside the home. Meanwhile, women of color were entering the homes of white families to clean and raise children. In turn, losing time to spend with their own children.
The Circumstances of My Adoption
As I read Rachel’s post, over and over, my mind was doing flips. I went twenty-eight years not knowing my birth story. I heard things like, “She (your biological mother) gave you up.” Even more harshly stated, “She didn’t want you.”
In 2016, my biological mother and I connected on Facebook. I heard my story, our story, for the first time. My biological mother took a job as a live-in domestic worker for a much wealthier family. If not for this job she would have no income, no place to live, she had no options. She was 21 at the time. She realized she was pregnant. Her boss said there was no way she could keep her job with a newborn.
My biological mother already had a daughter in the care of the child’s paternal grandmother. She turned to the father of her unborn child. As I understand it, she quite literally had a door slammed in her face. She was given two options, live on the streets with her baby, or place the baby for adoption. Clearly, she chose the latter.
After my birth, she fell into a serious depression. She was ridden with guilt and uncertainty about the choice she made. The same boss who told her to relinquish me or face job and housing loss, told her not to worry about where I was because I had died shortly after birth. Not sure how that was meant to be helpful, or encourage her to get back to work. However, she did tell me she never truly believed her boss and knew I was out there. My biological mother lived with that pain for twenty-eight years until that day we connected on Facebook.
Being Raised in Part by Brazilian Domestic Workers
The nuances of this story dig deeper. My adoptive family (I never refer to them that way but for the sake of avoiding confusion in this instance I will), were privileged enough to be able to hire help. I was raised by many strong women, including my adoptive mother, grandmother, aunt, and two live-in Brazilian domestic workers. Both of those women had sons back in Brazil. In order for them to provide for their children, their best option was to come to United States and help take care of other people’s homes, and help raise other women’s children.
I am not sure irony is even the right word here, but the irony, of me, an adopted Brazilian child, being raised by Brazilian domestic workers, who are not even able to live in the same country as their children was lost on me. That is, until Rachel’s gut wrenching, thought provoking post. It is an incredibly painful thought to begin to comprehend. Those women also had to pretend they didn’t know I was Brazilian, because I didn’t discover the truth about my my adoption until I was twelve. Those two women were actually from the town in Brazil where I was born and could not share what it meant to be Brazilian with me, nor be with their own biological children.
I must admit I am still grappling with my feelings around this. Adoptees are often told we should be grateful. Grateful our biological parent’s gave us a “better life,” grateful our adoptive parents took us in for this, said, “better life.” Being adopted into the family I was adopted into gave me a lot of opportunity and privilege, and a loving family. Adoption also meant tremendous loss, loss of a first family, lost of my first language, first culture, first country, and starting life off with adoption trauma, the neurobiological consequence an infant faces when being permanently separated from their mother.
If you have the need and are privileged enough to be able to hire a domestic worker, the point is not to shame you here. I stand with Rachel Cargle in asking you to think critically about your relationship to the women you are bringing into your home. Are you considering they are people with full lives and families who love them? Do you compensate them fairly for the sacrifice they are making to help you clean your house and/or raise your children? Are you being considerate of their time? What do you know about their culture? Is what you expect fair and just? Do you know their long term goals?
Betty was ready to dump her boyfriend. Then she found out she was pregnant. She opens about what it was like to be a senior in college, pregnant, and in a toxic relationship. In the episode she discusses the lack of intimacy in her relationship during and after her pregnancy. She reveals the difficulty she had embracing the beauty early motherhood, and things like breastfeeding, because of her emotionally compromised partner. After discovering a huge secret and his escalating anger, Betty decided to leave. Listen to hear the full story. The People Need to Know: Alé recommends the TV show Shameless, available on Netflix and Showtime. Betty suggests the short YouTube Documentary: Camilla Cabello – Made in Miami.
I did the math, and engaging in community service during high school earned me $67 an hour. Yes, you read that right. I earned a full scholarship to college, largely in part because of the hours I committed to giving back. No student loans for me!
Community service is so near and dear to me, not only because of the financial rewards but because I truly love every second I put into it. That is because I find causes that are meaningful and align with my values. In a previous post, I offered 3 steps explaining how to use your, or if you’re a parent, help out your college-bound teen use their time wisely to make the community service portion of your college application shine.
Contact your local elementary and offer free tutoring services after school.
Love computers? Art? Music? Find the email addresses of those teachers on the local elementary school’s website and ask if there is any way you can get involved!
Host a book drive or supplies drive! Many schools are underfunded and in desperate need of basic supplies. You can have a huge impact here.
This one can be tricky but if you can work with your school and a partnering school to come in and help out during school hours as a classroom aid, or a book buddy, this would be a fantastic way to give back.
STEM is a huge hot button topic right now. If you are able to organize a science fair at your school or a neighboring school, that shows interest in a specific area and leadership.
Love Animals? Plenty of Community Service Opportunities There!
Shelters often need blankets, towels, and other household items for the animals. Reach out to local shelters and help host a supplies drive!
Have a special skill when it comes to training animals? Offer complimentary dog training classes, or see if you can help out in an agency that offers this service.
Contact a local farm and see if you can help out! Maybe they need an extra hand caring for the animals, or perhaps could use your help collecting supplies.
Shelters are always looking for a helping hand. Check out the websites of local shelters and see if there is a volunteering page.
If there is a rehab clinic for rescued animals, give them a call or shoot them an email and see how you can help, whether that means giving your time to help directly, or collecting supplies they may lack.
Faith Based Organizations have Tons of Volunteering Opportunities
Organize or volunteer with existing youth groups.
Host yard sales or bake sales to raise money for your institution.
Have a skill you’re really good at? Teach a class or offer services to members of your congregation.
Raise money for an organization by hosting a car wash through your faith based institution.
Organize a food or clothing drive for a less fortunate parish or nonprofit.
Make an Environmental Impact Doing Community Service
Live near a beach or visiting one during vacation? Organize or join a beach clean up!
Maybe a local park or even your school could use some sprucing. Get permission to beautify the space with art or by planting.
School go through a lot of paper! There could be a way that you could get involved making sure paper or plastic is properly recycled at school or in your neighborhood.
Educate others about their environmental impact. If you get involved with an organization or program with children, teach a lesson surrounding the theme “reduce, reuse, recycle.”
Do a quick google search and see if there are any nearby organizations that focus on the environment as see how you can get involved. Nonprofits are always looking for a helping hand!
Give Back to Those Who Serve Our Country
Contact your nearest VA hospital and ask if there are volunteer opportunities available to high school students.
Collect items for the VA.
Organize or participate in a letter and care package sending campaign for those currently on active duty.
Many of our country’s veterans are currently homeless. Contact a local shelter and inquire about how you can get involved.
Host a “prom” or some kind of event at your school for veterans (or senior citizens!)
Does the Issue of Homelessness Tug at Your Heartstrings?
Reach out to a nearby homeless shelter and ask what products they could use. Many places have plenty of clothing donations but need things like hygiene products or socks. Once you have this information organize a drive through your school or faith based organization.
Help directly at a soup kitchen. A lot of times people are willing to give their time during the holidays, but shelters and soup kitchens could use a hand year round. Contact a local organization and find out how you can help directly!
A lot of nonprofits, like shelters, could use money. Set up a fundraising event, such as a bake sale or car wash and donate the proceeds.
Local food pantries often need nonperishable items. Reach out and see if a food drive could be helpful. Organize one through your school or faith based organization.
Homelessness a systemic issue, do a little research and write to your local legislators about how life can be made better in your area for those that are homeless. A lot of laws and policies make life more difficult for people without secure housing.
Having a robust history of community service can really make a college application stand out. Taking initiative and organizing also displays leadership. Getting involved also make us feel good, especially if it is a cause that is meaningful to you!
In the name of brave and vulnerable truth telling, I have something to confess. My life is quite often a literal mess. While I can run a blog, produce a podcast, be a graduate student, and am a budding social worker, doing an internship providing psychotherapy to college students, my life is far from tidy. I have struggled with chronic disorganization my entire life. The explanation is far more complicated than, “I’m lazy.” Nor am I irresponsible, and my head is not in the clouds (for the most part.)
While I live out my big dreams, chores like picking up my medication, getting mail sent out on time, and putting away my laundry is asking a lot. I’ve had this issue from varying degrees since I was little kid. I talk about it in detail on the podcast during Episode 3. I want to share for the same reason I think storytelling is important. You are not alone, I am not alone, and our stories and our truth connects us. So, here is the dirty truth right here.
Since I was little, adults were pretty sure I had Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). I was carted off to be tested by my elementary school’s child study team, the people in a school who decide if students could benefit from special education services. But no, I was never diagnosed with any learning disability. So it was always curious that my papers were constantly disorganized because I never put my papers in the right folders. Finding my homework was a constant struggle. I remember shame and anxiety rising in my little body when a teacher asked us take out a worksheet from yesterday. My bedroom was a mess and I found it difficult to bathe when I was supposed to.
If I didn’t have ADD What the Heck Was Wrong with me?
I would like to say the answer came easily and I stopped staring out the window and was squeaky clean little girl. Not the case. Up to this writing I still struggle with completing tasks that seem like no brainers for others. My GPA is fantastic, I am growing the DC and CM community. I also have plates next to my bed that need to be thrown away.
In my mid-twenties, I went to see a therapist and explained my chronic disorganization. She had me fill an assessment for, you guessed it, adult ADD. I told her I had taken medication for it in the past, it triggered my anxiety and I just didn’t like it. We talked alternative treatments. She recommended something called neuro-feedback and explained it as going to the gym for your brain. She gave me the number for her guy.
I went, and the first session, the man did something called a brain map. He put all this goopy stuff in my hair and attached some wires to my head. It looked wild, but committed to “fixing” my ADD, I let him goop me up. The map was supposed to show how my brain works and how the treatment could help. Writing this out it sounds like a sci-fi movie, it felt that way too. I came back a second time to have him explain the results. The first thing he said to me was, “Did something happen to you?” I looked at him, confused. “Well, this brain map shows a PTSD brain, not an ADD brain.”
Me and My PTSD Brain
I returned to therapy dejected, and cried to my therapist. I had experienced partner violence in the past. After that incident, I was diagnosed with PTSD. However, I got a lot of help and a lot of therapy after that. It STILL changed the wiring of my brain? That thought pissed me the eff off. To think one person had the power to affect my brain was unacceptable. My therapist said, “But didn’t you have the issues of disorganization way before you were diagnosed?” Yeah, I did. I continued to feel like a failed science experiment that just could not be figured out.
The universe is beautiful and loves me, and did provide a framework in which I could better understand myself. Thank you universe, and thank you social work school. I learned two things that changed my relationship to my chronic disorganization. First, in a class studying children and attachment, I learned that being separated from your biological mother is trauma. It is traumatic even if you were adopted as a newborn baby, like I was. (You can hear all about that in Episode 6 of the podcast.) Odd as it sounds, I felt relief that the adoption was likely the root of my PTSD brain. That scummy ex just triggered it. However, it did not explain my chronic disorganization and struggle to complete menial tasks.
Then I got the second piece of the puzzle. My professor for human behavior is an expert in childhood trauma. She said, “In my opinion, I believe ADD is almost always misdiagnosed PTSD.” My jaw dropped. BINGO! My parents adopted me in the late 80s. The information about the affects of adoption was nothing like it is now. No one would have thought a girl adopted as a newborn would have any trauma. Little Alé, staring out the window while her teacher is talking, or frantically looking for last night’s homework, must have ADD.
The Cure for Chronic Disorganization: Letting Go of Shame
It would be lovely to say I made this self-discovery and my chronic disorganization problems lifted. Not so. With that said, this insight has changed my life. Being “messy” and having a hard time doing the boring stuff, like dishes, has been the source of a lot of shame for me. I was always afraid people would think I was lazy, heck, I even thought I was lazy.
My brain being a “PTSD brain” is no more my fault than my brown hair is my fault. I am not lazy or broken. This is not to say I accept life living in a chaotic mess, but when life does get messy (literally), I can be gentle with myself.
However, I know the areas that are difficult for me and I do my best to make my life a little easier. I know running errands is tough for me, so when I can I get things in bulk so I don’t have to run to the store as often. I get my anti-depressants in a few month supply. Paying bills on time and getting mail out was another point of struggle, so enrolling in auto-pay and emailing have been other beautiful gifts from the universe. Also, I ask for help. Often. When something is hanging over my head and really stealing my peace, I am not afraid to reach out to the people in my life that I know can help me handle it.
Kristiana spent a lot of her life doing philanthropic work, founding charitable organizations, and being heavily involved in the world of giving back. Becoming a mother, moving with her family across country made living a life dedicated to social good more difficult. She felt confused and frustrated and knew she wasn’t alone, realizing many others may feel stuck when it comes to giving back. As a solution to this problem she founded The Cause Bar, an organization that links people to philanthropic events and socially conscious brands that fit into people’s lifestyle. The People Need to Know for this episode includes: You are a Badass by Jen Sincero, a free meditation app called Insight Timer, and a hilarious Instagram page, @NathanWPyleStrangePlanet. Follow us across social media @dcandcm!
Setting intentions has been at the forefront of my mind, thanks to Betty, my podcast co-host/personal law of attraction and manifestation guru! Also, I have learned that setting intentions allows us to know our values and leads to less procrastination and more overall self compassion. Yesterday was my 31st birthday, and I have decided it will be the best year of my life, because like my toddler niece says, “Because I said so.” To celebrate this fresh, clean, shiny new year year of my life- I have written out 31 goals both big and small, I intend to accomplish in my 31st year on this planet.
Alé shares how she figured out she was adopted and what that was like for her. She explains how she dealt with her parents who were not forthcoming about it. Later, she shares the story of how she reunited with her biological family after a lifetime of not knowing anything about them. The details of this adoption story will have you drop your jaw and touch your heart. The people need to know include: Alé asks that DC and CM listeners make a contribution to Together Rising, for Betty and Alé’s March birthdays. Betty recommends “Workin’ Moms” on Netflix. We are @dcandcm across all social media, so join in the conversation of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Community service is not giving your time up for free. It is an investment in you and your future. Having so many community service hours opened a lot of doors for me. I was awarded several scholarships, including the Gates Millennium Scholarship. Because I was given that competitive scholarship, I graduated college with zero dollars of debt and not a penny came out of my pocket for college. I did the math one day of how much money I got in scholarship divided into how many community service hours I had. It came out to about $67.00 an hour!
My Community Service Experience
Because of my circumstances at the time, I was able to rack up an impressive amount of community service hours. I didn’t know it at the time but that was a hidden blessing for me. When it came time to apply to college, that part of my application really stood out.
Money was always tight for my family. Sending all her kids to summer camp was not really an option for my mom. So, every summer from 7th grade to entering my senior year I volunteered at my brother’s summer camp. He has Down Syndrome and went to a school that tailored to individuals with disabilities. Financially, It was the best option for my mom. Instead of paying for me to go to summer camp I went to volunteer my time. I did that every summer for six years. If you know me, you know I love being around people with disabilities, so it was a really special way for me to get a ton of community service hours. There were campers I wouldn’t see all year, so, come summer I would get to see how much they’d grown and learned in a year. That is special memory for me!
3 Steps to Make the Most Out of Community Service
Step 1: Identify Your Passion
What are you very passionate about? Education, animals, your faith, homeless awareness, cancer awareness, veterans affairs, the environment, human rights, city beautification? Find what moves and shakes you and something you’ll love dedicating time to.
Step 2: Take Action!
Do a little research and find an organization doing community service at your school or where you live, that lights that passion. If you can’t find one that is exactly right, create your own. (There’s leadership right there. Two birds, one stone!) Find a way to support a cause you are passionate about and think of ways to contribute. For example, collect blankets for your local animal shelter, conduct a book drive for a local school, host a canned food drive, etc.
Determine how many hours you have to dedicate to community service, and while you are volunteering, log those hours. If you have extra time, dedicate a few more hours. Reach out to local nonprofit organizations. Many of those places would be overjoyed to have an extra pair of hands! There is always an opportunity to volunteer.
While you plan any of your events and activities ensure that there is an adult or member who can attest to the work you put in. They may come in handy when you are looking for a college recommendation letter later.
In my last post I mentioned four areas to focus on for a superstar college application, including leadership, academics and grades, SAT/ACT scores, and community service. I recommended really honing in on three out of those four categories, without completely neglecting the fourth, of course. Now that you have plenty of information about how to get started with community service, stay tuned to read more about how to make those other areas shine.
Need a podcast recommendation that will inspire, uplift or make you laugh?
Looking for a podcast recommendation? There are 18 million podcasts currently available to stream! If you are just getting started out listening to podcasts, or are looking for something new to add to your library, read on. Having a three hour daily commute has given me the time to listen to a lot of podcasts. This collection of six podcasts will uplift and inspire you, or just make you laugh out loud. If you are enjoying the Dream Chasers and Change Makers Podcast, you’ll find another show you love here! (If you haven’t heard our show, stop reading and go listen!) Click any of the titles to get a direct link to my podcast recommendations.
Esther Perel invites listeners into her office as she provides couples’ therapy to her clients. I love being a fly on the wall in other people’s therapy sessions! The clients reveal the strains in their relationships, ranging from infidelity, to substance use, to abuse. Esther’s skillful and direct approach, and her French accent make the show both educational (for a budding therapist like me) and entertaining.
Something I am working on is open communication with people who think and believe differently than I do. That is why I love CWPHM. Dylan Marron started this podcast interviewing people who had sent him cruel and hateful messages and comments online. Now he often connects guests who have received online hate to their haters. The conversations are thoughtful and everyone is treated with respect and dignity. The show reminds us that, “There is a human on the other side of the screen.” Dylan’s approach to this topic is refreshing and fills me with hope!
I mean, obviously if it’s Oprah, it’s got to be good. At Dream Chasers and Change Makers, our whole “thing” is deep, brave, vulnerable conversations. Super Soul Conversations is exactly that, with some of the world’s brightest minds and spiritual teachers. This podcast goes deep! Oprah interviews guests about topics like spirituality, the afterlife, the human condition, and life’s hardest lessons.
MFM is a true crime/comedy podcast, hosted by the hilarious and talented Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff. Their comedic timing, impeccable storytelling skills, and chemistry makes this show a treat. Not only do they recount the stories of infamous murders, the hosts give us a glimpse into their lives, and are candid about their mental health battles. They are very conscious of respecting victims and tear down perpetrators in side-splitting ways. Their fandom is #goals. The My Favorite Murder community is enormous. Join in on the fun by subscribing to the fan cult or one of the hundreds of Facebook groups.
You know her, you love her, she is Nicole Byer, host of Netflix’s Nailed It! In her NSFW podcast she asks the question, “Why am I so single even though I will [insert wild sexual act here.]” Nicole has guests talk about their dating and sex lives, and has them review her multiple dating profiles. I have to say, almost nothing makes me laugh as hard as this delightful podcast. Not only does she make me pee my pants in laughter, she is all about embracing her body, sexuality, and bold personality. Even the ads are ridiculously funny. 10 out 10 recommend for podcast recommendation!
We love supporting our friends and independently produced podcasts like ours! I proudly make this podcast recommendation. Hosts Nash and C talk all things trans*, including medical transitioning, dating while transgender, allyship, and more. If you are part of the LGBTQ+ community, love someone who is, or want to learn more about the life experiences of those in the trans* community. They also feature captivating interview from high profile people in the trans* community, parents of trans* children, and supporters of the LGBTQ. No matter how you identify, this podcast has something for you.
Hope you podcast recommendation that you love! What would add to our list? Let us know in the comments!
Published by Alé Cardinalle |LMSW Candidate NYU 19’| Podcast Enthusiast
Story time, gather round! I am going to tell you a story about failure and how at first I was a hot effing mess before I was able to manifest success. I landed my dream position after being told no! Through self advocacy, I wound up exactly where I am meant to be. If you have areas of your life that could be improved if only you found the strength to speak up, then you’re going to want to read on.
I am in the last semester in getting my Masters in Social Work. (Woo-Woo–Class of 2019!) As part of our training we are placed in two internships for a year each. In the second year, your fields of interest are considered and there is a bit more say on our part of where we wind up. Social work is a big field, social workers are EVERYWHERE. The type of social work I entered the program wanting to do is psychotherapy, I want to be a therapist.
Envisioning My Path
When I spoke with my advisor, I made it clear that I wanted to be placed somewhere I’d work clinically and directly with clients. She told about an opportunity at a well known university to work in the counseling center. The catch was, unlike most internships for social workers, this one is highly competitive. I could be rejected. PSHHHH! I am a fantastic interviewer, a passionate student, and an asset to any team I work on.
I looked at the counseling center’s website and fell head over heels in love and knew that is exactly where I belong. The school was far from where I lived, but other than that it was exactly where I wanted to be. Their training program is unmatched. I would be co-facilitating groups and doing individual therapy with undergraduates and graduates. Being the manifester that I am, I was there. That position was mine.
I was actually visiting Betty in Miami when I got the call that they liked my resumé and they invited me for an interview. Betty, my lovely personal hype-man, amped me up even more, giving me all her good vibes and energy. A couple days later I flew home, and the next morning I woke up very early and made my way to my interview.
It went awesome! They gave me the position on the spot! Big JK here!
Grappling with Failure
So, that’s not what happened at all. Here is what really happened: I spent the next two weeks checking my email 5 million times a day. I was waiting in agony to hear back. Finally, an email from one of the people I interviewed with popped up on my phone, right as I was about to take a group of eighth grade students into state testing. I didn’t get the position. To prepare for testing, I had to lock my phone away. I was going to have silent and with my thoughts for an indeterminable amount of time. Cool. 😒
I tried so HARD to fight back tears. Especially, because I did not want to distract my students while they were taking their tests and have them wondering what has Ms. Cardinalle crying about in the middle of PARCC testing. (I LOATHE state testing but that’s another story for another time.) It was my responsibility to “circulate” the room while the students tested.
It isn’t easy for me to tell you this– but in the name of being vulnerable and truth telling, I bawled my eyes out while my students sat at their computers taking their tests. Turns out teachers are real people and sometimes when they get bad news circulating the room is just not a viable option. I tried to hide my face the best I could and let the tears pass, and eventually they did, and then they’d come up again.
After testing they asked my why I was crying and I told them. Some of them shared stories about not getting into the high schools where they applied. They offered words of encouragement to me and each other. They were so sweet, I miss them very much.
One of my interviewers sent me a kind follow up email. She said I was a “high caliber” candidate, however, she the team felt that my interests weren’t aligned with the agency. No! What they hell did I say to make her believe that?
Later on I spoke with my advisor and told her I would have to interview elsewhere. She said, “This barely ever happens, just a few times in my career.” Awesome.
My advisor sent me other placements and I looked at everything with disappointment. I turned down another position I offered to me. That original internship, that was my internship. Maybe I am stubborn, maybe I can’t deal with being told no, maybe I just know exactly what is right for me, or maybe school is expensive and I want the most bang for my buck. I could not let go of the place that had rejected me.
Advocating for Myself After Rejection
I couldn’t get the words from that second email out of my head. I AM right for this position! It’s aligned with my I called my advisor and said, “Would you please ask them to reconsider?” She told me the spot still was available and she said she would call.
They granted me a second interview. I tried to remember all the questions they had asked the first time and how I answered them. Playing it all over in my head, I tried to prepare. I did not want to have to cope with rejection for the second time.
That second time I interviewed with a different team, and yes, I got it! I have been there six months. It has been one of the greatest learning and growing experiences of my life. This is the work I am meant to be doing.
Self Advocacy May Open Doors to Success
Why do have I shared this with you? Great things can happen when you advocate for yourself. Doors open! Can’t promise it will turn out for me in this scenario, it will unlikely happen this way for me again. The point is we will never know unless we take a chance and SPEAK UP!
A few people said to me, “I knew it wasn’t really no.” I also knew it wasn’t really no. Asking for a second chance was really brave. Even if they didn’t give me a second interview, I think it was an important step in learning to empower myself. This time it worked out great.
My call to action for you is to look at your life and see if there are any areas you can be advocating for yourself. Are there areas of your life that are not living up to your vision? If you can speak up on your behalf and campaign for what you know in your heart is right, I highly suggest you do so. Your story may be different from mine. No matter the outcome, I can promise, if you are clear in your intentions, self advocacy will be an empowering experience.
I shared this story with a classmate of mine. He told me he wrote a letter to a college asked them to consider his rejection. They did reconsider and let him in! Persistence can go a long way!
Let us know in the comments areas of your life that could improve, if only you advocated for yourself!
In this episode Amber, pronounced umber, like number or cucumber, shares how her intense journey to radical self love after the devastation of her divorce. She talks about how her emotional pain manifested physically in her body. While healing from her split she went to the hospital with chest pains! After that she suffered terrible sciatic pain, until she found chiropractic. Amber is one strong and badass woman with a lot of strong opinions, she isn’t afraid to let us know it either. This is a fun and wild episode, if you enjoy it share it, and make sure you rate and review. Learn more about Amber- @drmajik or @mbrmjk
The transition to college is a theme that has come up on our podcast again and again. It has been the source of the most difficult times for Alé and myself. On the third episode of Dream Chasers and Change Makers, we shared our stories of simultaneously transferring to the University of Miami . It was a serendipitous meeting of deep connection! Our roads to applying and transferring to UM had been chock full of heart break, trauma, and mental health battles. Our transitions from high school to college were troublesome for the both of us. The obstacles we endured proved to be challenging for out mental well being. In the episode we revealed the most difficult details to our listeners.
After Episode 3 began streaming, we received an out pouring of love. So many friends and people who I have not met in person reached out to thank me for my honesty. Also, they told me they related and shared their similar experiences. I heard from countless people who had a difficult transitions from high school to college. (Some who took other paths other than college too!) The years after high school graduation are such important rite-of-passage.
My Commitment to Those Transitioning to College
This time period is riddled with strife for so many. Learning this has inspired me to use our platform as a resource for those are about to transition to college. I have committed to writing a series of posts that deal with life during and after high school. This is all in hopes to inspire some college bound dream chasers and change makers. If you are a parents of a college bound teens, you are also in the right place!
Click here to learn my tips to make out of your high school experience so you college application shines! Make sure to stay tuned for more information!
For those of you who are looking for tips on what to do in high school to get into college of your dreams – this post is for you! I have identified four areas that will make your college application shine.
Back in 2013, after my daughter was born, I had opportunity to serve as an ambassador for the Gates Millennium Scholarship. I spoke to students from several high schools in my area, and boy, did I love it!
In my experience, people working in admissions for these four areas to be strong.
Academic Performance (AKA Grades!)
I have great news! If three out of four of these areas pop, that is more than good enough to make you a highly qualified and high-caliber applicant.
I was accepted to several top tier universities. Guess what? I did terrible on the SAT! Acceptance letters still rolled in because my application showcased my strong academic performance, involvement in community service, and leadership roles I took on. A friend of mine had the minimum requirement for community service but was very strong in the other three categories and she got into MIT! The lesson is, do not stress about perfection. If you are already strong in the four areas, that’s an amazing feat. What is most important is to have a well-rounded high school experience!
Now, although I am suggesting that three of the four be strong— I do not mean to abandon the fourth! Do try your best and work hard in all four areas. Your grades should always be as best as you can maintain them. Join as many school activities and organizations as is enjoyable and comfortable for you. What I do not suggest, is letting anything be all consuming.
Trying to perfect all four will almost certainly be a drain on your energy and may wind up making certain areas weaker. For example, if I would have spent countless hours studying even more for the SAT, I would have never had the time to plan a 5k to raise money to support the Down Syndrome Association or had the time to enjoy a trip to New York with the photography club!
So there you have it! Lesson one— schools want a well-rounded student. My action item for you: Reflect on which of these three areas you can focus on. Again, we don’t want to abandon any category!
Stay tuned because my next post will be all about how to make the best in each area.
My bachelor’s and master’s degrees are in education, however, I do not work in an admissions. All suggestions given from my extensive experience!
In this post we will give you bios of 11 black change makers you didn’t learn about in school. Learn the rich history from yesterday and today of some of the most influential, pioneering and badass black Americans who influence our history.
1. Alvin Ailey
Alvin Ailey was a child during racial segregation and lynchings and grew to have the nickname, “Cultural Ambassador to the World,” for having danced and toured all over the world. He had a strong sense of black pride that developed at an early age while attending a southern baptist church and juke joints. He found dance at Lester Horton’s dance school. Ailey went on to popularize modern dance and his show “Revelations,” is the best known modern dance performance in history. He founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and later the Alvin Ailey school. Although the dancers were multi-racial, Ailey wanted to ensure black dancers were given opportunities because they were often turned away from other performances. He died in 1989, and after his death Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Honor. @alvinailey‘s dances theater continues on today.
Dr. Jemison became the first black woman in space in 1992, going into orbit on the Space Shuttle Endeavor. She was selected to join the Astronaut Corps by @nasa while she was serving the @peacecorps in the 80’s. Currently she is the principal of the 100 Year Starship organization. Oh, and she’s been an actress too! She’s been featured on Star Trek: The Next Generation. 🚀
This man’s resumé is more than impressive but here’s a little info: @keithboykin1 was the editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties law review, while attending Harvard Law. He later went on to be the highest ranking openly gay staffer in the Clinton White House, as special assistant to the president and Director of Specialty Media. He published his first book in 1996, “One More River to Cross: Black and Gay in America.” He is often seen as progressive broadcaster and commentator on CNN, and he is the cohost of “My Two Cents,” a talk show on BET.
If you’re like me, you have never heard of Anna J Cooper despite her impressive contributions to society. Not only was she the first black woman to earn her PhD, she is often referred to as “The Mother of Black Feminism.” Ms. Cooper was born enslaved and at only 9 years old she was able to earn a scholarship and began her teacher training and road to academic excellence.
@angelarye is a change maker currently impacting history. She is an attorney and a liberal political commentator on @cnn and a political analyst for @npr. She is involved in several organizations– including the Congressional Black Caucus Institute and the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network. Angela also co-founded @impactstrategies which encourages young professionals to engage both civically and politically.
Rejecting the idea to become a secretary, Octavia E. Butler entered a field dominated by white men, and became an award winning science-fiction writer. Ms. Butler spread her success around by teaching several writing workshops as well. Furthermore, Octavia Butler’s stories explore far reaching issues of sex, power, and race. Her writing garnered her a diverse following, and she claimed black readers, sci-do fans, and feminists were her most loyal fans.
@janetmock is a transgender activist, a New York Times bestseller, a TV producer & host, an NYU grad (woo woo), and has been a magazine editor. She was assigned male at birth but affirms that she always been female. Her book Redefining is the first book written by a trans person who transitioned in their younger years. She’s also been a guest on Oprah’s (😍) #supersoulsunday. She stands as with other black and trans change makers, like Laverne Cox.
Despite his brilliant mind and his PhD in physics Edward Bouchet was unable to get a job as a college professor because he was black, even though he was one of the only people in country to have attained that academic achievement. Additionally, he taught at some of the only schools that offered rigorous curriculums of chemistry and physics offered to African Americans for 25 years. It was only after death that his work was given accolades with several awards and honors.
If you haven’t heard of her yet, @rachel.cargle is an educator and academic. She is one of the most influential black change makers of our time. Her work focuses on the intersection of womanhood and race. She has a large Instagram following where she asks her followers to #dothework and unlearn the racism that has been perpetuated throughout white culture. For black history month, Rachel has posted a prompt for people to google and learn about important black history. She also is a speaker and tours the country with her lecture, “Unpacking White Feminism.” Rachel writes for Harper’s Bazar. She is also a student at Columbia University, and an entrepreneur.
Ella Baker is one of many black change makers who worked largely behind the scenes with famous civil rights leaders, like MLK. She was a mentor to many other activists. One of her mentees was Rosa Parks. Her work involved empowering the oppressed to advocate for their rights. She also called out racism and classism within the civil rights movement. Ms. Baker worked within the NAACP for 15 years. She started as a secretary and worked her way to becoming the highest ranking woman within the organization. However, she challenged hierarchies within organizations all together.
Atlanta based rapper, Killer Mike is half of the Grammy award winning rap duo, Run the Jewels. He is a political activist whose work leads to empower the black community. In the 2016 election and now, he has been an outspoken supporter of Bernie Sanders. He invests in property and owns a barber shop. Killer Mike aims to show the black community how they can find financial security and success outside of sports and music. He has recently produced and released a Netflix series, “Trigger Warning: with Killer Mike.” It is enlightening and HILARIOUS, he is certainly one of the highest ranking entertaining black change makers.
Angela Davis is a writer, activist, educator, and revolutionary. Her work is vast and spans decades. She is known for work in prison abolition, she herself was jailed, accused of participating in a prison outbreak but was later cleared. She has written several books, including a title called, “Women, Race, & Class.” Throughout recent history she has spoke out on major events like the Vietnam War, LGBT rights, the war on terror, and was a co-chair for the @womensmarch on Washington in 2017.
By, now we’ve all heard the term “self care.” You may have heard it explained with quotes like, “You cannot pour from an empty cup,” or “You must put your oxygen mask first, before you can assist other passengers.” That is all great information, and very true. While self care is specific ways to take care of yourself, from the mundane like making sure your space is tidy, to splurges like a day at the spa, self compassion is more of a way of being.
Self compassion, as I define it, is fine tuning that voice inside your head to speak to yourself as you would a loved one. Extensive research has shown that the power of self compassion reaches farther than having high self esteem and those that are high on the self compassion scale are more productive and tend to procrastinate less. I would say that is a super power for any dream chaser and change maker!
1 Little Exercise Before we Dive In!
Stay with me, because before we get into the 5 ways to cultivate self compassion in your life we are going to do a little exercise. Think of the last time that you did not live up to your own expectations. What did you say to yourself? Really take a second to think of the self talk you used. I’ll be waiting right here.
Okay! Now I want you to think of someone you love very much, maybe your partner, your best friend, or a parent. Would you EVER speak to them the way you spoke to yourself? Probably not. Maybe you said something cruel about your appearance, or marked yourself a failure. These are lies and are not serving you in reaching your highest potential. Negative self talk does not motivate you to persevere, nor does it bring you any closer to joy or fulfillment. While self compassion is a way of being kinder and gentler with yourself, it is no means giving you an “out” to slack and not get things done.
So where do you start? Well, read on and I’ll tell ya.
1. Define your values.
Now is a great time to dust off that old notebook or journal that’s been laying around your bedroom and write or even draw symbols of what is REALLY important to you. What is the driving force in your life? What are you striving for? Where do your priorities lie right now? If you are a student, why do you show up for class and complete your assignments? If you are a parent, what is the vision you see for your family? Perhaps you are an entrepreneur trying to grow your business. Whatever your circumstances may be, take this time to explore your “why.”
Being well oriented with your values will help guide and anchor you. When life gets complicated and important decisions have to be made, falling back on what is really important to you can be a helpful tool.
2. Nip Negative Self Talk in the Bud
We can say awful things to ourselves and not even think twice about it. I will challenge you here to be more conscious of that– I don’t want you saying mean things about my friend! So, you, my friend, make an effort to notice when you are using unkind words to speak to yourself. We train our brains, and while making a new habits like this we create new pathways in our brain.
When you do catch yourself, take a pause and ask yourself, “Is there another way I can say that?” For example, if you did not land a job you really wanted, or a presentation did not go the way you had hoped, instead of saying, “I am such a failure,” you could say, “I did my best and I have learned from this experience.” You tweak this to your specific circumstances, and make sure the kinder words you chose are also true. You want to believe in those empowering words.
The more you catch yourself and the more you practice speaking kindly to yourself, the more natural it will become. This is scientific fact folks!
3. Keep Calm and Use an Affirmation
An affirmation is simple statement often used to uplift and motivate and can be a really useful tool in cultivating more self compassion. There are tons and tons of affirmations online you can access with a quick google search, for example, “affirmations for a positive body image,” or “affirmations for bringing wealth into my life.” You can also write your own that is custom tailored to you. I think that makes it all the more empowering. You can repeat your affirmation to yourself as often as you like.
Find or write one or a few that speak to you and make them visible. Sticky notes are your friend! Often, I will suggest my clients stick their affirmations on their desks or work spaces, in the mirrors in their bathrooms, on their bedroom wall, or wherever they experience negative self talk the most. For clients who feel a little strange that people may see their affirmation I suggest they keep it handy on their phone and stick a blank sticky just as a private reminder to themselves to use their affirmation.
Examples: I am powerful and loved. | I am enough. | My body is a gift that carries me through life. | Everyday I am attracting money into my life.
4. Touch Yourself!
I am not being funny here. Touch releases oxytocin, a chemical in our brain connected with love and positive feelings. When you feel like you need a boost you can give yourself a hug. It may sound strange, but again, we can’t argue with science! Stroke your arm, give yourself a little squeeze and release that oxytocin!
5. Yes, and Self Care!
Although self compassion and self care are not interchangeable terms, self care certainly would fall under the umbrella of self compassion. If self compassion means treating yourself as you would a loved one, taking time to meet your needs is essential.
What your self care looks like is up to you, as you are the expert on you! Mine ranges from making sure I am staying connected to friends and family to making sure I pick up my prescriptions are filled and picked up on time. If you want more information on what self care and what it may look like for you, again, google is our trusty friend. Maybe it is yoga and mediation, maybe it’s more sleep and well-rounded eating. Maybe you are a busy parent and it is setting boundaries to make sure you’ve had the time to bathe and sit down for a meal. The point is, ask yourself what you need and prioritize that.
Dr. Kristen Neff (literally) wrote the book on self compassion. For more in depth information and the research behind this stuff head to her website: https://self-compassion.org/.
Betty and I have been working hard to create a community surrounding the Dream Chasers and Change Makers podcast. I have been doing research on how to engage more social media users who would be interested in brave and vulnerable content. One thing I have learned, from social media guru, Jenna Kutcher, is that users like to know the faces behind the pages they are interacting with. That translates to: we need to post pictures of ourselves!
In my past taking photos was something I loved to do. It was my self-care before I even knew that buzzword. It may sound superficial, but for me it was therapeutic. When my life felt out of control, and I was anxiety ridden and depressed, when I had the energy, getting glammed and having my photo taken just felt really freaking good. If I couldn’t get a handle on how I felt, at least I could control how I looked. Pictures were a way for me to encapsulate this. Actually, my dear friend, who has since passed away, Kevin, would sometimes say to me, “Do you want me to take your picture?” when I was feeling down. He knew me so well.
In the past few years, for the most part, this has not been the case. I tend to shy away from the camera. My body has grown and aged some. When my picture is taken I get pangs of fear and think horrible thoughts, that I would never say about anyone else, like, “Oh God, I hope I don’t look disgusting in that picture.”
It’s funny because, as a clinical social worker (in training!) I tell my clients all the time, to try and speak to themselves the way they would a friend and in this situation I am totally not taking my own advice. Realizing this, and then learning that a way to start a community online is to show people who you are I decided I was going to have to get my picture taken.
I recently spent a couple days in in New York City. I brought a couple cute outfits with me and decided I was going to fake it until I make it and pose in cool looking places all over the village. I was feeling very self conscious and worrying about what passerbys may think, like, “What does this girl think, she’s a model?” I really wanted these pictures to come out nice, so I threw caution to the wind and posed my little heart out.
I was doing a pose where I was looking over my shoulder (what a professional, I know) and this tiny little girl, maybe three years old passes by perched on her dad’s shoulders. She has this fleece hat Velcro-ed around her cherub face and she squeals, “Daddy look! She is SO pretty!”
My heart melted into a puddle, obviously. It reminded me that all the little kids and babies riding on their dads’ shoulders are not born hating their bodies. WE teach them that. Every time we say how unhappy with our bodies whether it’s because parts are too big or too small, not firm enough, too wrinkly, we normalize shaming bodies. We are teaching children to look at their little bodies and the bodies of other children and comparing and judging and eventually hating.
These past few months I have been reading and learning about diet culture, and how as kids we were indoctrinated into this belief system about what a body must look like in order to be beautiful and healthy. That’s why I was an eight year old looking at my thighs underneath the bubbles in my bathtub praying to God to make them thinner. I stepped away from learning about these things because it was a lot of information and honestly very overwhelming to take in. One thing that has been good for me is following people on social media that have all different kinds of bodies, and not necessarily body positivity pages exclusively, just all types of people living their lives with purpose in the skin they’re in.
Unlearning what I learned about bodies is a journey, and that little moment on the street was truly a gift from the universe. Joy is beautiful. A free spirit is beautiful. I am so pretty, and in the words of my three year old niece, “Because I said so.”
Aly, known in episode 3 as Betty’s hero, talks about making a decision in her teens that she feared could and end a friendship but wound up really saving a life. Aly stood firm in her decision then, and later in life she stood firm making another difficult decision, in taking charge of her own life. Aly shares her experience of leaving a toxic relationship and terminating a pregnancy. Things of the week in this episode include Betty’s recommendation to watch the show Parenthood, and Aly suggests a podcast called, “The Abortion Diaries.”
Listener discretion advised. This episode includes discussions of sexual abuse, intimate partner violence and themes of suicide. There is also a ton of hope and joy and laughter, but it’s a heavy episode. Get to know the hosts of the show on a bravely intimate level. If you like the show please rate and review, it helps us tremendously. Connect with us on all social media @dcncmpod. Enjoy the episode.
In our first guest interview, we talk to Becca, who shares the story of how she navigated her way out of a secluded upbringing. She tells us why and how she left the heavy influence a devoutly religious parent to find her own truth. Listen now to find how Becca went from being a little girl picketing outside women’s health clinics, to teaching kids from 6 to 60 to play music and rock on.
In our first episode meet the hosts of Dream Chasers and Change Makers! We will set our intentions for the podcast, share what makes us tick and what breaks our heart. Don’t forget to comment what and leave a review tell us what change making work you are doing in your life and we will read it next time. (Social Media Accounts we love: @therealalexandrabillings and @kimamani)
Betty and I are in YouTube University’s podcasting bootcamp. We are in the process of learning the ropes to bring you a high-quality and captivating podcast. You will hear from extraordinary people as they share their stories of the windy roads it took to chase their dreams and make change in their lives and the lives of countless others. If you aren’t already, please make sure to follow us on Instagram.
Betty and Alé are working hard to smooth out the kinks and get this new podcast off the ground. We can’t wait for you to listen as we talk to inspirational people about the change making work they do and the messy roads they took to chase and realize their dreams. Our interviewees will be from all over the country, with a variety of social and cultural identities, who hold stories that will undoubtedly break our hearts and make us jump for joy. Stay tuned for more information on a launch date and where you can listen.