Cindy McMahon

What does it mean to have heart?

As the principal of The Community School, the importance of having heartis a foundational part of our culture. We designed our school with the commitment that we could create and maintain an environment where every person was free to be all of who they are. A safe and inviting school where our hearts are just as important as our minds.  

These commitments are captured in our beliefs, beginning with the powerful statement that ‘Every individual has infinite worth.’ By holding this belief, we allow for the full expression of every student and staff member. Having infinite worth means we are supportive of each others growth and discovery. This requires having an open heart–relinquishing judgment and being curious about who we each are and how we belong in this community. Having an open heart means I share who I am and honor who you are. It means seeking to understand the other, creating acceptance of those who experience the world differently than me.  

The OneHeart project started with an encounter, an idea, and a shared belief in the power of relationship. While we honor and support each other’s unique individuality, we also paradoxically hold the notion that we have so much in common. The constructs that can divide us — race, nationality, gender, age, religion, politics–fall away when we realize that our lives are entwined by our human connection. The OneHeart project is the embodiment of this truth–that we can break down the walls and barriers that create separateness and open our hearts to each other–with respect, and tenderness, and Love. Even at school. And I would say, especially at school. Children learn to trust, take risks, and thrive in an environment that is loving and accepting. I am so fortunate to be part of this community.  

I am also incredibly grateful to the gift of the OneHeart Call, to have been invited to join Christinas vision that is reaching so many people by connecting us through word, art, music, and dance. Through the most primal of all rhythms, our heartbeat. This is the universal language that brings us together — to appreciate both our uniqueness and our one heart.’  

Community Voice_2

I was born during World War II

I was born during World War II in Berlin and actually an uncle of my husband bombed at that time in Berlin. He was embarrassed to tell me that he had been bombing Berlin at the date when I was born, but I told him I said “Who started the war and it was the Germans fault, so I can not complain.” I grew up during the poor time, we children did not notice it that we were poor because everybody was poor, but we had a very good life. When I got older, Berlin was rebuilding and there was lots of work available. Anytime you wanted to make some money there was work available in the factories or in department stores and young people used that and made money there. I was fortunate that I was able to attend the highschool and was able to go to the University afterwards. The year that I graduated from highschool, that was 1961, is when the wall in East Berlin was built, and up to then we had been able to go into East Berlin, and we saw the different life that a communist country had versus the Western world. I have from that time always been very grateful to the Americans who lost so many lives during the war and who gave Berlin and Germany a new future. It bothers me very much that in Germany people seem to have forgotten that part and have no respect for this country. 

So we lived in Berlin and up to 1961 we could go over into the East, we could even shop there, not that they had much to buy. The stores were usually quite empty and if something was available long lines of people would form at the stores and they would get into the line without even knowing what was being sold because they figured it was something that they could not normally get and when you went over there everything was kind of grey. You had to be very careful what you said. You could not say anything critical because there were so many people over there that would spy on each other, and you never knew whom you could trust. It was just so grey over there as if dark clouds were hanging over everything, and you were relieved when you got back into West Berlin where everything was colorful and lively and life was just good.

Looking back on the time after the War and the rebuilding of Berlin and of Germany, I realize how grateful we have to be to the Americans and the other Allies who fought for us to free us from Hitler’s government and to take us out of the War. I am grateful for so many people that died for that purpose, and I feel very much for the families who lost their fathers or brothers in the War. It makes me very sad when Germans do not realize that nowadays anymore and are so critical of the United States. I feel there is some gratefulness in order. Germany does owe a lot of gratefulness to the United States for their sacrifices that Germany benefitted from.

Then when I was about twenty-three or so, I met my husband when I had a small job at the army base. I met him there and we became friends and decided that I should come to the United States and get married and we did that. I lived for a month with his parents and then we got married and moved to Portland, Oregon, and I got pregnant immediately and that took care of my desire to continue the schooling that I had started in Berlin. That was always on my mind that I wanted to go back to school and when our son was maybe fifteen or so I went back to a Community College and took some classes. I worked hard and I did very well and later on I chose the subject of Biology because that interested me. I attended different Universities and Colleges, and I graduated in California at the University of California at Irvine. This made me feel very good that I finally had achieved my goal. Then we returned here to Spokane and I had trouble finding a job. At that time the Californians were not very welcomed here and the company where I worked it seemed they brought in all their relatives and friends before they let in any outsiders. I worked for a small company, I won’t mention the name for a few years and from there on got into a bigger company where I worked for the rest of my working life. I enjoyed the work, I worked in a laboratory. We tested pharmaceutical products before the FDA allowed to sell them, they had to go through procedures of testing to prove that they were functioning or that they were what they were supposed to be. So we were always actually under pressure, we worked hard but I worked with good people. I enjoyed the people that I worked with, and I enjoyed the work. 

Alison Dyer

I am a sexual and physical and spiritual abuse survivor

Hi, I am Alison Dyer and I am a sexual and physical and spiritual abuse survivor. I wanted to share my story with you in connection with the heartbeat because when you experience trauma you heart feels like its been shattered. Your body is no longer your own. If you suffered spiritual abuse you loose that connection with God, so it [my abuse] was in the Christian context, my abuser was my pastor, and I lost that connection with the church.

All my years of therapy brought me up to the IFS [Internal Family Systems]. I started therapy when I was 23 and it was the tailend of the sexual abuse with the pastor and I was really depressed and suicidal. And what I noticed throughout my years of healing and being in therapy especially the last five years working with an Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapist is that you actually do not loose your core self or that soul spirit of you, that part of you goes through life undamaged and for me that was a game changer.

So your world has been shattered, I remember telling my therapist when I was recounting my childhood abuse, I looked at my life and it looked like a bomb had gone off and I was in millions of pieces with no hope of coming back together. 

Then in my thirties from my childhood abuse I had one memory, a huge expanse of wasted space, where I had no memory and then I had an end memory and I knew intuitively that something horrific had happened to me inbetween those two spaces of memory. So in my early thirties I believe it was divine guidance, I decided that I needed to report the pastor to the church. So I did, found out that there were twenty of us involved total throughout his ministry and as I was at the tailend of dealing with that I was overwhelmed with these feelings of shame and my body and my heart. I remember sitting one night on my couch and I could literally feel and hear a click in my brain, and I was flooded with my childhood memories. PTSD, you know for twenty, forty years. 

Fast forward to a lot of other stuff that happened in my world,  I moved to Spokane. My nephiew comimitted suicide. It put me back into therapy. The trauma therapist I was working with she moved to Sacramento, and my nextdoor neighbor was seeing my current therapist now for cranial sacral work and so I wanted to work with her just on my hip pain. I wasn’t going to deal with the emotional sexual abuse because in my mind I was done, been there done that didn’t want to touch it again.I said upfront to the therapist I am not going to work on sexual abuse, I just want to work on my hip. That lasted maybe three sessions and I dumpster dived into my abuse and it was the best thing I did for myself but for at least a year maybe more I had this part that I swear every session with her I like… that is the stupidest thing I ever heard of, I can’t believe we are doing this but its working, so I’m going to keep going, but this part of me that thought it was so stupid was one of my protector parts. So, I am grateful and grateful for the guidance. I have always felt that the people I needed to meet have always come into my life when I needed and I was ready to hear them. So I really can speak from authority when I can say this particular therapy is hands down the best I have used and I have been in therapy since my twenties, I am fifty-eight. So I have a lot of years of experience with therapy and reading different books, trying different ways of helping, and I have never felt like it was getting to the core of me because it wasn’t, it wasn’t accessing my Self energy so that I could go back 

You go to the amygdala in your brain where all those memories are stored and if you do not go there you will not be able to truly heal because your brain has changed; when you have trauma it changes the chemistry in your brain, your brain is no longer the same. It is not unfixable, it’s not, but you have to go there and you use your imagination to access that. You don’t use your frontal cortex, the logical [part of brain] bless its little heart, but you have to go to your mammalian reptilien brain to deal with trauma and you can safely with Internal Family Systems heal. It is very safe.

So through years of hard work, through years of facing my demons, for getting help, I realized that I could put myself back together in a way that allowed my heart to actually be bigger, the fragmentation actually made it stronger and bigger and more open. I remember seeing this puzzle years ago where it had on one side a human body, this whole person and on the other side [of the puzzle] was the heart; so when you put the whole human back together, there was the heart all back together or you can put your heart back together [and] you flip the puzzle over and your whole body was back together. That image really struck me then and in thinking about what I wanted to share today with the heartbeat and the recordings that you make of hearts beating that really correlates with my experience with abuse and this notion that you loose the life that you had. Your heart literally feels like it is broken. 

Also, what I wanted to share is the hope, the hope that you can put yourself back together and for me truly the greatest piece of that was through the IFS work  and this understanding that I can have access to my self energy. I have access to that connection with the divine, I was able to get that back, that it was mine, I can heal myself, I can contact that part of me that was not broken, that was not damaged and that part of me can work with these other parts of me that experienced the abuse, not only mentally but in my body. Your body has its own story. Your body remembers everything and so to be able to reconnect including your heart, to be able to reconnect with that is phenomenal; and well, certainly grief. Certainly I have grieved the loss of my life from my childhood on, it was a huge loss for me. I am not minimizing it, I am not minimizing the hard work it takes and the devastation that it brings to a person but I do want to offer hope. Your heart does continue to beat. Your body can come back. You can come back home to yourself after you have been abused. It is possible.

Internal Family Systems is actually a therapy modality that was brought together by Dr. Richard Schwartz in the eighties. He is a family therapist Ph.D. and in working with his highly traumatized clients he was not getting anywhere. They were acting out with cutting or addictive behaviors. There was no way he was connecting with those parts and the client couldn’t change that. So when he listened to them he started noticing that they were talking in parts, like… a part of me feels like I want to cut myself,… a part of me feels like I am incapable of doing anything, … a part of me feels like I am a super star. So when he started hearing those, and he started actually addressing those parts as their own person, showing curiosity, having compassion for those parts he was able to listen to those parts, those parts could tell their own story and they could heal. 

And he also found out that we have what he calls the protector and the firefighters. Those are the parts of us that protect us from the exiles, those really little young parts of us that have been hurt. He realized if he could work and make a relationship and heal those protector parts of us, he could get to the exile part, the part that has been really wounded and then that part also could become unburdened and could come and live in the present.

When you access your self energy, that internal leader that you have, you can really on your own and with other people make that connection. You can literally become reconnected with yourself. 

I loved it so much I’d been taken the [IFS] training to be a Level I IFS practitioner because I found it to be the most helpful and probably the only thing that has truly helped me feel like I am healed, and I am back home in my own body. 

And more and more recently there has been this marriage of IFS and the somatic [trauma work]. In Richard Schwartz’s newest book, second edition of IFS has a whole chapter on bodywork. 

That is something I have done a lot with my own therapist not only with my sexual abuse but I also had five surgeries on my hip and one on my shoulder from a car accident and the trauma in my body went through from that. Yes, your body holds.

You can listen into your body, if you are experiencing a trauma and when you listen in and you say where in your body do you feel the tension, where are you feeling the tightness, that is one way to access those parts because they live in your body. They show up in your body, but another thing that I found fascinating for myself is thay my hip is its part with its own story, so I can listen in to the hip that has been hurt with surgery or traumatic sexual abuse.  I can listen to the body’s story and the body can actually release that energy that it stored. When you have experienced an abuse it leaves an energetic imprint in and on your body. So yes, you can use IFS to release that energy and to heal you body the same way that you do with your emotional and mental wounds. You can do the same with your body which is my passion.

You can also find several books Dr. Richard Schwartz wrote and other people have written that you can read if you want more information and if you want to start off kind of figuring it out on your own. 

The IFS-Institute.com, you can type it in and go online. You can also find IFS trained therapists or IFS practitioners in your community and you can reach out to them for help.

Since this interview Allison successfully graduated from the IFS Institute as a IFS practitioner and now practices in Spokane. 

Dante Sellgren and Caleb Hoffman

So our piece is basically, we use popsickle sticks and just any piece of wood we could find, affirming.

We kind of wanted it to resemble someone embracing the world as it is, that’s why he has his arms out in a V form just embracing the world as it is. The colors we chose for the bottom is black and purple for the dark planet he is on and his upper body is kind of white as in plain and then his arms are transitioning from life because he is embracing the world and just not caring about what people think about him. And just like thanking for like what he has, just embracing what he sees and not caring for it but caring for it at the same time, affirming.

I see myself as someone who does that. I try and impact other people around me by making their life feel better and making them forget just the hardship of life. 

Yes, I really try to like put everybody else before myself like making sure everybody else feels good before I kind of take my own, like take my own stuff I want to do in life you know, like taking the initiative, like making sure that before my needs are met I want everybody else’s needs to be met. I want to make sure they feel happy, they are being cared for.

Whenever there is a chance to open a door for someone I don’t even know I’ll do it and they usually either thank me or not thank me. I really don’t care either way as long as I just open the door, affirming, I just feel good about myself doing that thing for them, affirming.

Or if I take the bus so there are some people that talk to me on the bus, I just think like when people get talked to on the bus they usually think it is weird affirming and they do not want to have a conversation with them. I’ ll be there like sit and talk with them like ‘how was your day?’

When my energy is low I usually just slip down onto a slope of just ‘I do not want to talk’ , ‘I don’t really want to do anything.’  I just sit there in my own world affirming and don’t really focus on anything else. I just try not to waste energy, get throught the day affirming.

For me like I just when that happens I sort of drift away from everything else you know, not necessarily have as much contact as I would. I’d say let it go and then come back eventually later, maybe in a day or later another day in the week affirming.

I just like want to thank everybody in the world just for having a great community and just supporting everybody that supports me personnally through like my struggles, my high and lows. Thank you.

I would like to say when you are feeling down just don’t look at it as if it’s a bad day, look at it as if’ it’s a day that’s bad and it can improve affirming. Don’t just quit and stop having a good day, continue on and push forward.

Harris Kahler

I found my own way to express myself and bring joy to other people

My family is super into theater and stuff and they like to express themselves through acting, singing and using their voice. I tried it for a while but I didn’t really like it. Then my mom put me into dance, and I realized, I liked expressing myself through movement and with my body. For me it was really fun because I found my little way to express myself that was different from the rest of my family’s. You can express yourself in unbelievable like crazy different ways. You can express any emotion you want and any feelings or stories. For me I like it because I don’t have to say anything. I can get really nervous when I have to talk. I do get nervous when I have to dance especially before I go on stage but it’s easier for me to control my nerves and use them for my advantage and use the exilerated heart rate to make it through a long dance.

There is this exercise we like to do where we’ll get in groups and will have to come up with a story. We’ll create a dance using that story line. Then they give us a reign of piece of music that we haven’t heard before. We have to try and do the dance we create. The short can be anywhere from thirty seconds to a couple of minutes. We have to do this dance with whatever music. We have to try to still express the story we are trying to do but sometimes not necessarily to music that would go with it. So we have to try and show certain emotions and the music is trying to give a different one. It’s really complicated to like try and plan it out, it’s really fun. When you are working with certain choreographers they are not always super clear with what they want and sometimes they want the dancers to help add to the story and add to the dance. So some leave it super open and we can try and put our own stories into it and kind of add our own feelings. There are certain dances where they purposely don’t have much of a story line or they are kind of hard to understand so people can add whatever storyline they feel it gives them.  I think that is really cool that like a dance that could be seen as like really happy to one person it can be more emotional than for another. It is one of the craziest moments when I am backstage or out in the auditorium and someone would come up to me and be like ‘that dance that you did really touched me.’  A few weeks ago this lady came up to me and brought up this dance that I did years before. She was like ‘I’ve remembered this dance for years and I’ve always wanted to talk to you about it and it just really touched me and it was amazing.’  They are creating another dance to the same movie, it was from the movie ‘Schindler’s List.’ She is going to create a dance based on ours to honor it in one of their performances coming up.

I have been dancing for years and it can get really hard and it takes up a lot of my day and just like week after week of dancing and dancing and dancing and dancing. It does get hard sometimes like ‘man, do I want to keep doing this?’ There are so many careers I can do that way easier like physically and mentally but it’s moments like that when someone comes up to me and says ‘ this really touched me’ or they liked my performance that it gives me that spark ‘okay, there is a reason I am doing this.’ ‘I am touching people.’ ‘I am helping people through situations’ or ‘I am just entertaining people for a little while.’ It is really motivating to hear that kind of stuff. 

It does get hard sometimes when trying to balance school and dance because I spend all mornings until the afternoon at school and then go straight to dance every day. I am there until pretty late at night. In class they give us breaks and stuff where we can stretch and drink water and all that. Those breaks are really nice, because you are dripping and sweating, you are like ‘groan’  and they are like ‘Okay, take a break’ and everyone is just on the ground, it’s really fun. For food a lot of people think that dancers are super healthy which some are. For a lot of the guys, especially guys in dance we actually have been told by nutritionists ‘just eat  everything. With the amount of stuff you are doing you just need to constantly be eating whenever you can.’ I do that. I eat a lot. I try and stick to the healthier foods when I can but I don’t always do it. 

It does get really mentally draining sometimes like when you are rehearsing a heavier piece like the one Schindler’s List. It is a serious topic and you are in this same room with the same people for hours rehearsing it over and over and over again and trying to express those deep emotions and stories. It can be really stressful, so it’s nice to take breaks and every now and then they will give us a break where we can just have fun and joke around and relax. When I am at home, I try just to relax and take that time to decompress and let my body relax especially because of all the physical stuff I have to do.

It’s really just the joy that it brings me and it can bring other people. When it starts to get hard and stuff I just think of all the people I’ve touched in my life just by dancing. I don’t have to express myself through talking like the rest of my family. I found my own way to express myself and bring joy to other people and show people a way to express feelings and emotions and stories. Even in everyday class I know that I am working to make that ability to express myself even better and it will bring more joy to more people. I would say just to go and try it. Find a studio near where you are and just go to a class because you are not going to know unless you try it. And this doesn’t necessarily just apply to dance. If there is something you have been wanting to do and say there is pressure from like friends or family that say ‘no, you shouldn’t try it or something,’ you should try it because you never are going to know and if you don’t, you’ll regret it and if you do, you will know whether you liked it or not. For dance, I did not like it at first. My mom put me in and I was like ‘what, are you crazy?’ but then I was at my first class and I just absolutely fell in love with it. I had no idea. Since then I always try and do things that I wouldn’t necessarily like and things that scare me or other people like ‘oh, you shouldn’t try this.’ I always try to do these new things because you never know if you are going to like it. I didn’t think I would like dance at first and then I went to it and I absolutely fell in love with it. Now it is like my whole life.

Jack Stell

I am a marriage and family therapist.

My name is Jack Stell. I live in Spokane Valley and I am a marriage and family therapist.

I’d like to share with you some things about my life that have taught me so much about how I interact with other people. My story, my life story has helped me to better understand other people’s life story as I have gone along. So I’d like to share some of that with you.

I was born to a mother and father who had very very difficult lives as they were growing up and today we would say that they were probably pretty seriously mentally ill. When I was born for about the first of five to ten years of my life I lived in a very violent unpredictable family environment where I was pretty much beaten by my dad every day which made it very difficult for me to function in a positive way outside of the house. I started developing a police record when I was nine years old for shop lifting and because the abuse at home got more and more difficult so did my acting out. So I started hanging out with people that were like me having difficult family lives.

I progressed then into things like auto theft and had quite a police record. The court decided finally and told my parents either they find a place for me or they were going to put me in the state reform school in Beaumont, in Richmond, Virginia. So my mom found a couple in Pennsylvania, a young couple that decided to give me a chance for that summer, and I owe them a lot for that. And from there I went to a place called Cal Farley’s Boys ranch in Texas for about two years. It also was very violent, but it was predictably violent where at home it was not. I stayed there for two and a half years developed a kidney disease that almost killed me and I was transferred back home again and shortly thereafter the court put me in a place called Fairfax House which is a residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed boys. All of these points that I am sharing with you are going to be tied together by a concept at the end of what I am sharing. So, after I was a boy at Fairfax House, I was psychiatrically hospitalized and had what back then it is called electro shock therapy for forty sessions, basically it was like doing a reformating of a harddrive on a computer. It took me a year to learn how to talk again, and so I have the distinction of having in my high school career three years of the ninth grade, skipped the tenth, one of the eleventh and two of the twelth but I did graduate.

After I got out of Elba hospital I spent what I called my four years, the four lost years and during the lost years I did a number of different jobs like being a leaf raker for the county, yellow cab driver, a number of different things until finally through an amazing series of events I was accused of a crime that I did not commit and I was sentenced to a year in prison and I spent five months of that year and got out on good behavior. That’s when my life really changed dramatically because one of the ministers that came to do therapy in the jail and I got to know each other and when I got out he hooked me up with a way to get into college. So I got into college in early 1972 and in 1974 ran out of money to stay in college.

I got married and we moved back to the Washington DC area where I came from. I am not sure why things started going as well as they did for me then but I think the one thing that remained with me constantly was the feeling of hope. I did not know how or why things were going to change I just knew that they would and I had faith that they would change. I spent six months as a laborer working on a concrete highrise site when there was a strike that shut it down and I said I got to do something to keep food on the table and a roof over my head for myself and for my wife. 

I looked around and decided to join the military and took the entrance test and I almost aced it. I could not go into what was then the nuclear power  program because of my police record but I was able to get into the next tier of assignments as an advanced electronics technician and at that time navy electronics training was the best in the world. So I went to bootcamp and many many stories from bootcamp that were amazing for me but it was a very positive experience going on to my advanced training and then finally having an opportunity to become a person who was selected for the US Navy Submarine service. It was like I went through the eye of a needle to get in there given my past record but I did well. I served on four US Navy Submarines. I stayed in the Navy for twelve years and after I got out I spent the next eighteen years working in intelligence. I worked in almost every type of inelligence that there was at the time, communications intelligence, signal intelligence, image intelligence, the rocket launch signature intelligence, the only one I did not work in was human intelligence or what they called human. When I was working for eighteen years it was not a pleasant experience because there was a lot of infighting, it was a very toxic place to work. 

One night when I was in therapy I made the decision to get out of that field and go into the marriage and family therapy field. I have been in the marriage and family therapy field now for almost eigtheen years and its not a job for me, it is not even a passion for me, it is who I am, it is part of my identity. So I told you that I would tie this together in a way. In the first semester of my marriage and family therapy masters program I was doing a project where I was to go back and find people in my life that were meaningful to me in my life journey. So I went back and I found now this would have been in 2004 and I went back and found the psychiatrist that I was treated by with the electric shock therapy. He was practicing in the same physical office as he was when I saw him in 1968. It was an interesting meeting because I had to pay as if I was a client and I went in and he did not know that I was coming in so I took my wife Kathleen in with me. He was sitting behind the same desk that he sat in forty some years before, and I reached my hand over to greet him and he pulled back because I did not realize at the time that he deals with some very very severely psychotic clients and I can understand why he was like that but I sat down and told him in a thumblike nail sketch of what I have just told you and I told him, I said I remember that when I was in group therapy with you, that you said I could count on fingers on one hand the number of people who have came back and thanked me and I said I want to be one of those people and he leaned back and he said: You know, I can still count on the fingers of one hand the number of people who have come back and thanked me. And so he leaned back and he closed his book because he was going to be taking notes as if he was going to be treating me but he realized this was not a therapy session and he said, you know about fifteen years ago I had an operation on my liver and I lost about 23 pints of blood during that operation and almost died. He said I woke up that night and saw the doctor sitting at the bottom of my bed watching over me. He said I have always thought I should go back and thank him and now I am. So I moved that psychiatrist to go back and thank that doctor for what he had done. It was like paying it forward. 

As I started going deeper and deeper into this assignment that I had, I decided that I was going to start writing a book, and I called the book “The Vertical Moment”. And a vertical moment is defined as that time where a person metaphorically recognizes another person in need and reaches their hand out to help and the person who needs the help recognizes that there is help available and reaches back and when their hands touch it is a vertical moment that has no time and no space, some people may call it a God moment.

I am the recipient of so many vertical moments in my life and I wanted to go back and find those people that had reached their hand out to help me like the psychiatrist, I also found the young Amish couple that I stayed with when I was fifteen years old and I was able to go back and thank them and show them that what they gave in allowing me to stay with them what it manifested over the years. I found the judge that sentenced me four times when I went in front of him as a juvenile, I found my sixth grade teacher, it was amazing, he had retired to Florida and he was in his late eighties and my wife and I found his number and I called and a woman answered the phone obviously his wife and I said “may I speak with Frank” and she said “who is this?”, I said “it is Jack Stell” and you could hear her yelling in the background “Frank, do you know a Jack Stell?” and all of a sudden I could hear in the background “Jack Stell?” and he came to the phone and we had an amazing three hours conversation where we were able to connect in a very special way and share the paths that each of us have traveled during the almost 55 years, it was a very precious experience. All of those people that I was able to reconnect with were part of that vertical moment series of stories. So now I am a marriage and family therapist and I work with such a diverse group of people but the people that I work with that I most deeply connect with are those who have experienced trauma. Most of the people that I have worked with not all that have experienced trauma have experienced what I call stacked trauma, which is trauma in childhood with trauma in adulthood stacked on top of it. These are the very special people who have the seeds of amazing leadership inside of them once they are able to heal. The way I approach my practice is that and it has gotten deeper and deeper every year, I approach my practice with gratitude and humility. Gratitude that I get to do at this time in my life, I just passed seventy years old, at this time in my life the things that I am doing with the people I am doing it with; and gratitude and humility because every client that I have, from my six year old all the way up to my eighty-two years old, is my most profound teacher. So I have been able to what I am trying to help my clients do, is take these experiences that they have had that have been so hurtful and so painful and like I have been able to do, be able to turn them into gold, being able to turn them into things that they can use to enrich their life instead of a ball and chain that they drag behind them. And so as I end this, I end this as I began it, that my life is a story of hope. I always felt irregardless of what experiences I was going through that there was always something better for me and I don’t know why I felt like that but I did, and I am glad that I did because I am able to do what I am doing today and I wish the same for you as well.

Ashiah Campbell

Ashiah Campbell