The Surviving Spirit Newsletter April 2020


Healing the Heart Through the Creative Arts, Education & Advocacy

Hope, Healing & Help for Trauma, Abuse & Mental Health

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars”. Kahlil Gibran

The Surviving Spirit Newsletter April 2020

Hi Folks,

Obviously we are all experiencing some very trying times and this makes it hard for so many to be with others. Truly a time that we all need the healing power of human connection. Social distancing makes that extremely challenging. And yet, there are so many shining examples of people stepping up to the plate to do the right thing to help others. A few examples of that are shared in this newsletter.

I’ve always found it interesting how the big things of life, the harder challenges don’t bother me as much as the little things, the spilled coffee, the silverware dropping into the sink or a plate falling to the floor and the resultant noise. One would think a grenade just went off. Computer frustrations or making a mistake with my TV or internet connections cause great anxiety. But a health crisis, the fire in a home, a car accident, a bully picking on someone, etc…those I have always been able to step up to the plate and feel a sense of calm in a time of great stress for others. But those little things wreck havoc upon me for a bit until I catch myself to breathe and relax. How the respective traumas of our lives and its impact upon our mind, body and spirit is still a wonder to me and how we all react differently to stress. I strive everyday to know more about this phenomenon and share that information with others in any way that I can.

Knowledge is power and it is freeing…For me to understand myself better and to have gained greater compassion for others lets me know that my pursuit of learning about the long term consequences of trauma, abuse and mental health challenges is a reward unto itself.

I’ve always joked with friends and folks that I meet if there is ever a crisis, major snow storm, loss of power, etc…just come to my home and we can ride it out for several months. My food pantry and other items of survival have always been well stocked since I became an adult. For some, it may have looked like overkill…but in a time like this, I didn’t need to stress over lack of food or supplies. If someone was teasing me a bit for this overabundance, more often than not, it was not a time for me to share with this person why I have so much food, etc.

We don’t always share of how a trauma impacted us. For me as a little boy, I went hungry many times…for a variety of reasons. Perhaps it was because the father of the home had spent his pay check on booze, gambling or women. And sometimes just out of spite and meanness, he withheld funds for food shopping. Or, it may have been my escaping out of the house as soon as I could, to get away from my parents. Going to school hungry was more the norm for me. Nah, most times we cannot always share with others why we do what we do. Our little survival skills that helped us navigate a sometimes cruel and uncaring world are left unsaid.

Fortunately, today there is greater awareness by so many of the trauma in children’s lives. And making sure meals are provided at school is an important step in healing…A connection of caring and love to a child who so desperately needs that human compassion. It shouldn’t hurt to be a child or an adult and the world needs more acts of kindness like this.

I hope all is well for everyone and those you love…we will get through this. Until then, my thoughts of caring and love to all.

Speaking of gifts of love and kindness, Marla Handy is offering a free download of her book, “No Comfort Zone: Notes on Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” until April 20th.

No Comfort Zone exposes a jagged slice of humanity that is all too present, but often shielded from our view. The author challenges us to see life as she does, so we can understand a bit of what it’s like to live with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). With insight and humor, she describes the fear and unpredictability of growing up in an unstable household, the terror of being raped as a young adult, and the confusion and shame of living with perceptions and reactions that are often so very different from others’. After years of treatment for depression, a diagnosis of PTSD came as a surprise. Isn’t this something that only happens to combat veterans? But it made sense. In writing this highly personal account, Marla Handy helps the rest of us understand what PTSD is and that it happens here at home, too.

Marla Handy, Ph.D., has over 25 years of experience consulting with nonprofit and community organizations in the areas of strategic planning, governance and managerial development, and has worked domestically and in South America, Africa, Asia, the South Pacific, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. She recently retired from teaching at a large university.

And here is the rest of this month’s newsletter.

All the best, Michael Skinner

Trauma is personal. It does not disappear if it is not validated. When it is ignored or invalidated the silent screams continue internally heard only by the one held captive. When someone enters the pain and hears the screams healing can begin.” – Danielle Bernock

Only love can heal. Start by healing yourself. LOVE!” – Abhishek Kumar

Newsletter Contents:

1] How to strengthen your immunity during the coronavirus pandemic: Exercise, meditation, sleep and stress management By Lisa Drayer, CNN

2] Reconnecting to your Body after Peritraumatic Dissociation @ by Raffaela Milner

2a] Authors site – Raffaela Milner

2b] The Association Between Peritraumatic Dissociation and PTSD Symptoms: The Mediating Role of Negative Beliefs About the Self by Johanna Thompson-Hollands,1,2 Janie J. Jun,1 and Denise M. Sloan1,2

3] CPTSD Foundation – Successfully equipping complex trauma survivors and practitioners with compassionate support, skills, and trauma-informed education since 2014.

3a] Call for Writers @ – Are You Passionate About Inspiring Others in Their Healing Journey, Through Your Writing?

4] The Arc – For People With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

5] The Definition of Insanity @ PBS – Premieres April 14, 2020

6] Compassionate Approaches to Crisis Webinar Series – National Empowerment Center [NEC]

6a] NEC Response to COVID-19: Emotional CPR goes online

For listings of online and phone supports during this time check out PeerGalaxy, Western Mass RLC’s Listing of Online and Phone Supports, and Peerly Human.

7] Broken Places Film A film by Roger Weisberg

8] Childhood hardship has lasting effects up to old age – By AGENCY @ The Star Online

9] Brave and Unbroken – Pennie Saum, author & advocate

10] Healthcare Heroes Sing “You’ve Got a Friend” to Show Support During COVID-19 Pandemic – You Tube

10a] Coronavirus outbreak: How music is connecting people amid the COVID-19 pandemic – YouTube

Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” Lucille Ball

We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” Virginia Satir