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How to do the Inner Child Work? Why is Inner Work Important in Parenting?

Written By Tina Hamilton, Parenting POV

She was quiet when she got in the car. It was only the second week of school, and I could tell something was off.

“How was your day, love?” I asked my daughter, knowing full well that this isn’t the question that is going to get me answers.

“Fine,” she responded, looking out the window.

“What did you have for lunch?” I asked, because this girl loves to eat. It’s always my gateway into her day.

“Rice, beans, chicken, melon, salad, and a cookie,” she responded, still without looking at me.

“Who did you play with at recess today?” I asked, trying again.

Silence.

“Sweetheart, are you OK?” I asked – hoping she would let me in to whatever hurt she was carrying.

Silence, still.

We locked eyes in the rear view mirror. Her eyes told me she wasn’t fine. Her eyes pleaded with me to stop asking questions, to just be there with her, to take her hand, and to love her as only her mama could.

Reaching my hand into the backseat, I said, “I love you, chickee.”

“I love you too, mama,” she said, taking my outreached hand in hers.

We sat in silence for much of the ride home, but as we exited the highway, she said, “Mama, I sat by myself at recess today.” She said it so quietly, I almost didn’t hear her, but my body heard her clearly. All of the air was sucked from my lungs. My heart immediately tightened, and a familiar lump formed in my throat. Hot tears threatened to stain my flushed cheeks.

I was transported back to my elementary school playground, my eyes frantically searching for a friend, someone to play with. But there was no one. 

At least no one who wanted to play with me.

Disappointed, sad, and lonely, I slunk away to the corner of the playground, longingly watching the other kids laugh and play together. 

Turns out, that pain never left me, and watching my daughter navigate a similar situation flooded my body with a deep ache that left me breathless. 

It is parenting moments like this that open the door to usher in healing. 

The unhealed part of me – the lonely little 8-year-old sitting alone at recess – wanted to email my daughter’s teacher to demand answers.

How could you let a little girl sit alone during recess?

What safeguards are in place to protect against bullying?

Were you even paying attention?

Do you know what it feels like to feel so alone as a young child?

But the wiser part of me recognized that this was an opportunity to dive deeper into healing. The flood of emotions signaled a wound that was ready to be examined, processed, and released. 

Last month, I shared that as parents, we will parent from a place of learned behaviors and thoughts patterns. We will pass down the lessons that we learned without considering whether or not we believe those messages. 

Moments like the one I just shared are opportunities for us to question whether we want to act on the initial, knee-jerk reaction – in this case, emailing the teacher a rather curt email demanding she do more to protect my daughter from being excluded – or, if we want to sit with the flood of emotions, allowing them to show us what needs healing. 

My hope is that you’ll choose the latter. 

So how do you get started? 

The first step in any inner healing work is to bring awareness to the behaviors, thoughts, and habits that are surfacing. You’re unable to change anything that you are unaware of, and the more awareness you bring to every situation, the deeper healing you’ll find.

There are four main areas of awareness to consider:

Physical Awareness: What sensations are there in your body? Where do you carry the tension? What part of your body do you feel the emotion the most? 

In the story I shared, I was short of breath, my eyes filled with tears, and there was a lump in my throat. I immediately felt like there was a belt around my heart, and my stomach turned. I then felt the hot flash of anger bubble up inside of me. My cheeks flushed, my fists clenched, and my throat was tight.

Mental Awareness: Consider the thoughts that you had before and during the situation. Is there a particular story that you are telling yourself? A belief or thought pattern that you are holding on to as truth?

My daughter’s recount of her lonely recess immediately triggered fears of not having friends, of being alone, of sadness, and then of anger and resentment. I felt angry for my daughter and for my younger self, sitting alone at recess. My mind was racing with things I wanted to say to the teacher, and worse, the other 8-year-old girls who were excluding my daughter. 

And I also recognized that rushing in to save her from her pain would not serve her. It would not teach her how to fully feel and process her emotions, nor would my intervention help her navigate the tribulations of childhood.

Spatial Awareness: Consider what was happening in your surroundings – the level of noise, the mess, the chaos – before you were triggered. What about your surroundings could have been unsettling for you?

Prior to my daughter sharing, my instinct told me she was upset. She was not her usual bubbly self after school. She was quiet and wasn’t open to sharing about her day. In hindsight, I can see how her different demeanor triggered a place of worry within me, even before she shared about her day. I knew something was wrong, and I was bracing for it.

Emotional Awareness: Begin to build awareness of the 87 different emotions2 that humans experience, from the more well-known emotions like anger and frustration, to the more obscure emotions, like hubris (excessive pride) or schadenfreude (pleasure from another’s misfortune). The more familiar you are with the different emotions available to you, the better you’ll be able to identify and process them as they come up.

Because of the work I had done prior to this moment in the car, I was familiar with the range of emotions that were popping up for me. I was able to feel and identify them as they came, and rather than act on them, I was able to allow them to move through me freely. I didn’t rush to offer solutions or comfort. I sat quietly and processed my own emotions first.

When we got home that afternoon, I climbed into the backseat with my daughter. She barreled into my arms and let her tears flow. I held her in silence, allowing her the space to move through her own emotions.

After a few minutes, she sat up, dried her tears, and asked, “can I go play?”

As parents, it is so important to build your self-awareness so you can begin to understand yourself at a deeper level. When you recognize the signs that you are unsettled, you can shift your behavior toward an intentional response, rather than an explosive reaction. 

I could have reacted emotionally when my daughter first divulged that she was alone at recess, but that would have made her pain about me. It would have taken the space she needed to process her own pain and made it mine, and this moment would become a core memory with messages and a wound that remain unprocessed in her body.

By doing your own inner work, you not only become better acquainted with the wounds and messages that you’re carrying from childhood, but you’ll also become more aware of the moments when your children need your silent support over your ungrounded solutions.

Tending to Wounds Before Trauma Takes Root

Written By Jennifer Chesak, Psychedelic POV

Recently I fell on wet pavement and skinned my knee while walking to a comedy show. No one ever accused me of being graceful! As is my nature, I dusted off the debris, smoothed my skirt, laughed it off, and carried on.

I sat through the show, blood dripping down my leg, and then eventually cleaned and bandaged my knee when I got home. About a week later, I noticed the wound was growing larger and more inflamed rather than healing. So I hauled myself to urgent care, where a doctor prescribed an antibiotic for a bacterial infection. Another week later, the wound was worse yet. This time I headed to the emergency room, where doctors determined I also had a rapidly spreading fungal infection. Good times, I tell you!

My knee is better now, but the incident staunchly reminded me that when we don’t tend to trauma, it doesn’t go away. Instead, a litany of issues can come back to bite us. My scraped knee is an example of a minor physical trauma that could have turned into a major health issue if I hadn’t addressed it. But we can say the same for our psychological traumas.

Research shows that people who experienced trauma in childhood may be more prone to having metabolic health issues, such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease and more. That’s because trauma can change our stress response, which is tied to our metabolic health. Trauma in general is associated with many physical and mental health issues.

The good news: we now know that psilocybin has the potential to help reduce the psychological response to trauma. My psilocybin journey was beneficial in reducing the effects of multiple traumas for me, one related to pet care and loss, something we don’t talk about enough as a society. But I want to talk about it in this column.

About two years ago, we had to let go of our dog, Fiver, who had been battling congestive heart failure from a congenital valve defect. He’d gone into kidney failure from his medications—something we knew might happen. So we took him to the vet, knowing we wouldn’t be bringing him back home.

We had received the heart failure diagnosis about two years before his passing. Over those two years, I’d lost hours of sleep dispensing medications in the middle of the night, letting him out to potty frequently, and counting Fiver’s breath rate while I fretted about when the time would come that we’d have to say goodbye. Fiver was my soul mate. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say those two years, and the grief after, were traumatic. But in many ways, that’s exactly what I was doing, lying to myself in the moment.

As is common when we’re in the thick of trauma, we often don’t acknowledge it. We can look back to my minor knee scrape as an example. I was too intent on not ruining the night to tend to the wound. We also often don’t acknowledge trauma after the fact. This was the case for me after losing Fiver. I was relieved, for his sake, that he was no longer dealing with his illness. And although I grieved deeply, I didn’t stop to think about the stress and worry of the past few years. I just soldiered on, throwing myself into my work, as I’m wont to do.

We sometimes ignore trauma because it’s triggering. If we think about our traumas, they bring up fear, anxiety, depression, and more. So we avoid them. In the altered state of consciousness that psychedelics induce, however, we can view trauma with a filtered lens that protects us from those triggers. Researcher Gregor Hasler, MD, calls this the “helioscope effect” of psychedelics. A helioscope is an instrument scientists use to safely look at the sun. Well, when we’re on a psychedelic, we view trauma through a safe lens as well, often seeing it with more detail but without the overwhelming triggers. This can allow us to reprocess our trauma and reduce the psychological effects of it.

During my own psilocybin experience, I was able to think about the years of palliative care with Fiver and acknowledge that they were tough and traumatic and that the loss was devastating. But I was also able to find true peace in this great loss, gratitude for every moment I got to spend with my best bud, and even gratitude for the whole experience. Instead of avoidance of the trauma, I’m now able to lean into all my feelings related to everything that transpired. And I’m OK.

I’m better than OK, actually. I still get a thickness in my throat and a welling behind my eyelids when I think about Fiver, but those symptoms are always followed by immense joy in knowing I got to have him in my life, in thinking about memories of him, and in knowing that he is not really gone but instead is always a part of me. Psilocybin, and the work I’ve done with this plant medicine, has turned the pain into feelings that fuel me rather than deplete me.

We have many tools available to us to tackle trauma, from therapy, meditation, and various forms of self-care to—you guessed it—psychedelics. The bottom line is that we indeed need to tackle our traumas—big and small—in some way. And sooner rather than later—lest those traumas fester, a la my scraped knee. The knee incident also reminded me that healing isn’t necessarily linear. Some days our wounds will feel worse. But that’s a reason to stop and take stock of one’s emotions, rather than shoving them down where they undoubtedly will gnaw at you.

Woomersly JS, et al. Childhood trauma, the stress response and metabolic syndrome: A focus on DNA methylation. Eur J. Neurosci. 2022 May;55(9-10):2253-2296, https://doi.org/10.1111/ejn.15370

Card KG, et al. Therapeutic potential of psilocybin for treating psychological distress among survivors of adverse childhood experiences: evidence on acceptability and potential efficacy of psilocybin use. J. Psychoactive Drugs. 2023 Oct 10:1-11, https://doi.org/10.1080/02791072.2023.2268640

Hasler G. Toward the “helioscope” hypothesis of psychedelic therapy. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2022 Apr:57:118-119. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.euroneuro.2022.02.006

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Written By Kathryn Marsh, Prosecutor POV

The phone beeped and Jane jumped a little.

Her friends asked if she was going to check her phone. “Not now, I’ll check it later”. Jane didn’t want to check her phone. She knew it would be Mike, wondering where she was, again. Jane also knew it would be worse if she didn’t respond, but she was just so tired. Tired of responding, tired of coming up with excuses, tired of trying to answer all his questions, tired of being on edge, and tired of being afraid of the consequences if Mike didn’t like her answers.

It hadn’t always been like this. When they first started dating, Mike was the perfect boyfriend. All her friends were jealous. He would leave her notes in her locker, show up when she was out with friends just to hand her a rose and leave. He would call every night to say good night and tell her he loved her. But somewhere along the way those sweet gestures took on a more sinister tone.

If Jane didn’t answer his call or text right away, Mike would get angry and accusatory. If he showed up where she was and there was another guy there, suddenly Jane was cheating on him, it didn’t matter that the guy was dating one of her friends. He insisted on knowing where she was and who she was with all the time, and yesterday he pushed her for the first time.

Jane figured she was probably overreacting. It wasn’t like Mike hurt her. He just pushed her against the wall to make sure she was listening to him, but still, she was tired. When did dating stop being fun?

Jane isn’t alone, she is one of millions of young people in the United States impacted by teen dating violence. Dating Violence can take place in person or through technology. It can include physical aggression, sexual violence, psychological aggression, and stalking.

Too often, dating violence or intimate partner violence is seen only as physical or sexual violence, and psychological aggression and stalking gets left out of the conversation, especially when talking with our teens.

The CDC defines psychological aggression as “the use of verbal and non-verbal communication with the intent to harm a partner mentally or emotionally and exert control over a partner”. We can see this play out in relationships like Jane’s with repeated texts and calls and cheating accusations.

Psychological aggression can also be seen in belittling one’s partner, “you’re ugly”; “no one else would love you, you’re lucky to have me”; “why can’t you put more effort into yourself” or making threats or intimidating one’s partner “Don’t make me hit you”; “Do I have to come over there and show you” and sometimes the psychological aggression is threats against themselves. “If you leave me, I’ll kill myself.”

Being a teen and going through puberty is hard enough on its own. Trying to figure out all the changes in your body, and managing changing hormones without adding psychological aggression on top of it.

Stalking is defined by the CDC asa pattern of repeated, unwanted attention and contact by a current or former partner that causes fear or safety concern for an individual victim or someone close to the victim.” However, in the teen dating violence realm stalking can start out a lot more insidious, as stalking behaviors are first seen as romantic or sweet as opposed to unwanted or scary. It can be the ultimate gaslighting tool. By the time a victim realizes that their partner is leaving things in their locker all the time, or tracking their phone, needing to know where they are 24/7, and showing up when they’re out with friends isn’t romantic, the victim often doesn’t feel they can report the behavior, or even complain because they have allowed it to happen.

Teen dating violence is common, approximately 1 in 3 adolescents is a victim of abuse by a dating partner and violent dating behavior often begins between the ages of 12 and 16. Young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience dating violence at a rate 3 times the national average.

While teen dating violence may be common, it’s not talked about. It’s not talked about by parents, rarely in schools or faith organizations, and hardly ever by victims. In fact, only about 33% of teen dating abuse survivors have ever told anyone about the abuse. . February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and it is imperative that we break the silence that surrounds this topic to help save lives. Approximately half of teens who have experienced dating violence or rape have attempted suicide. 

Prevention of teen dating violence starts with talking about healthy relationships and discussing the warning signs of unhealthy relationships.

10 Signs of a Healthy Relationship by OneLove.org

  • Comfortable Pace
  • Trust
  • Honesty
  • Independence
  • Respect
  • Equality
  • Kindness
  • Taking Responsibility
  • Healthy Conflict
  • Fun

10 Warning Signs of Teen Dating Violence

  • Using insults, intimidation, or humiliation
  • Extreme jealousy, insecurity, or controlling behavior
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Unwanted sexual contact of any kind
  • Explosive temper or unusual moodiness
  • Constantly monitoring social media activities or location
  • Invasions of privacy; showing up unannounced
  • Leaving unwanted items, gifts, or flowers
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs
  • Threatening or causing physical violence; scratches, bruises

In addition to talking to teens about the signs, there are a number of tool kits and websites that families can utilize to further the conversation on dating violence, below are just a few :

  1. www.loveisrespect.org
  2. www.womenagainstabuse.org – resources for teens
  3. www.joinonelove.org
  4.  Matters Toolkit – https://vetoviolence.cdc.gov/apps/dating-matters-toolkit/

Leave The Other Half Behind, Look For A Cherry Instead

A newlywed’s advice on the first step one should take for finding ‘the one’ in the healthiest way.

Written By Sarah Correa-Dibar, Gen Z POV

When my friends or colleagues ask me how it feels to be married, my true response is “complete.” It’s not because my husband is my ‘other half’ or ‘he completes me,’ but because I feel like I don’t need anything else — I feel complete with the love I receive. Being married was a dream for me, and my wedding was every dream come true.

When I was younger, I would read Hollywood magazines that would write about celebrity couples and how they were each other’s ‘halves,’ and I never understood what was so great about that. I would think: “Why would you want to be half of an orange?” (I’ve always digested the things I read visually, so when I read ‘half’ I pictured half of an orange). So I developed my visual analogy. Instead, I wanted to strive to have a love like two cherries: Complete and flavorful by themselves but linked together by one stem. Safe to say, I married my very own cherry.

I have found that I was ready when I didn’t need it (I never liked the phrase ‘it comes when you least expect it’). It came when I felt like I could walk into a bar by myself, take myself on a walk and read a book in a coffee shop, or take myself out to dinner. That is when I found I was ready for true commitment.At this stage, you know what is worth your time and you have an expectation of how you want to feel on dates with this person – as comfortable as you are when you take yourself out on a date.

Before I met my husband, I felt the most confident and self-sufficient I’ve ever felt. Not just physical confidence but confidence, emotionally and mentally, too.

I felt good knowing I had routines that did not depend on anyone else, not feeling like I needed the affirmation that I was pretty from some guy at the bar, not caring that I missed out on a pregame with some girls who were too busy in their own world to care.

Whenever you get to the point where you feel like you do not need company to feel good about yourself, that’s when you start to subconsciously draw closer to true love.

Similarly, I believe it’s important to take yourself out on solo dates or dedicate quality time for yourself to be able to set the bar that fits your measurements for how someone should treat you.

I feel it’s important to carve out time in your day for your self-care routines or hobbies you like to do. The person who respects the time and energy you dedicate for yourself does ultimately respect you.

It is important to note that self-love is a never-ending journey with many highs, lows, and no final destination.

I think it’s important to love yourself enough to know how you want to and should be loved by someone else. That way you don’t have to be in too deep in a challenging relationship to stop and think, “Would I treat myself like this person is treating me?” If the answer is no, you value yourself enough to walk away simply because that treatment is not reaching your standards.

I married my first love because I knew I would. Throughout high school and college, I would not stick around with someone who, on the first couple dates, showed mannerisms or etiquette I did not want to be around.

I’m not going to lie and say I never wanted a boyfriend because to be honest, I feel like everyone wants a partner. I wanted one for the same reason everyone else did – someone to have for yourself to tell everything to, confide in and feel comfortable with. I also did not want to waste my time on anyone who I did not immediately feel could give that to me from the first couple of dates.

This realization comes to people in many different ways. For some, they have gone through a hard breakup, for others, they moved to another city, and for me, it was annoyance and selfishness (selfish with my own time and emotions).

Self-love doesn’t stop once you’ve found the one you want to marry, it should always stay with you.

A healthy relationship doesn’t grow if you forget to cultivate it. A healthy courtship is separate, each partner starts dating showing their own ‘best self’. Once the courtship becomes a real relationship, and slowly, into a potential marriage, improving your ‘best self’ is no longer done as individuals but rather as a team.

You should want as much more for yourself as your partner does, and vice versa. As you both strive for more within yourself, you’re simultaneously striving for more in your relationship. Self-love is self-improvement, and the same goes for your relationship.

I realized this after completing a marriage prep course. We were told that during the Catholic wedding ceremony, the Holy Spirit brings the individuals in a couple into one. After that, it all made sense to me as to why relationships are healthy when both spouses strive to lift each other and push each other up every hill – because at the end of the day, you are helping yourself reach the top of that hill.

Overall, I believe that finding love starts with prioritizing yourself, including your time, values, emotions, and limits. Once you begin to recognize them, you’ll have the confidence you need to be self-fulfilled and not need a filler person to occupy the time while you find your future spouse (you rarely will ever know you found ‘the one’ with another person standing in your way).

Love yourself enough to know how you want to be loved by someone else, set a standard for yourself, and put up the caution tape you need to. And finally, always strive for more even in your relationship.

A Bad Trip: A Good I.D.E.A?: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, & Access Strategies in Mental Health &  the emerging Psychedelic Industry for 2024 

Written By Martin Ali Simms

Mental Healing is widely regarded as a “journey.” Journeys are synonymous with the word “trips.”  Coincidently, Psychedelic experiences are called “trips” as well and are regarded as a “part of the  healing journey.” 

I’ll share my experience of my own personal observations in dealing with the mental health space and emerging psychedelic industry through the “journey” and “trip” metaphors. I will share insights,  emotions, triumphs, disappointments, and then solutions. 

“The Road Trip” 

Now imagine you are preparing for a family road trip. This is a trip that your family regularly takes and  one that you are always anticipating, but somehow when it’s time to take the trip, you are either placed in an uncomfortable corner under the weight of baggage, isolated, or left out altogether. EVERY YEAR! 

You’re made to feel like when they do bring you, it’s because of some reluctant obligation as  opposed to someone who is truly wanted and welcomed on the “trip”. 

When it’s time to take breaks and get snacks and resources needed for your comfort for the trip, everybody  gets to decide first what their resources are and if there is enough budget left over for you, you can get what’s left to choose from.  

If not, sorry, they just didn’t have it in the budget to begin with, yet they are all enjoying that which the budget provided them, despite what you didn’t get. 

When you speak up about it, you’re told of all of the obstacles and barriers that were present so they just couldn’t do it for YOU. Sometimes you’re not even thought of when the decisions are made, not even factored into the plans at all. 

Imagine you are the reason that these “trips” are even taken in the first place. These healing “trips”  were your idea. YOU provided the plans, procedures, rituals, and practices that began this “road trip”  of healing in the first place. YOU made it a sacred practice and now you’re only regarded as an afterthought once everybody else realized that this activity could help so many people heal, and the amount of profits that could be made from this becoming a legalized mainstream practice.

So even when you are on this “trip” with them it really just feels like shit. 

But you know you still need the “trip” yourself because you know the history and how powerful it can be for your own transformation. 

This is the metaphor for the indigenous who originated these sacred plant medicines for these  healing road trips. 

“The Road” 

Despite the stigmas surrounding both mental illness and psychedelics, there has been significant  progress in both industries and a recent surge of interest, intention, and investment, accelerated by the  conditions of the Pandemic. 

I’ve been advocating and working on the convergence of sports and mental health for over half a  decade. 2023 was a breakthrough year for me professionally so I was able to gain access to some  spaces that were not only inaccessible to me before, but they were also unknown. This includes  traditional talk therapy and psychedelics. 

I was presented the BET Joy Award for my Mental Health Advocacy presented by Taraji P. Henson’s Boris L. Henson (BLH) Foundation. BLH has been providing no-cost therapy solutions to the black community for over 5 years now. I attended the Psychedelic Science Conference presented by MAPS in Denver. I also had a Keynote Address, plus 3 Panel Discussions at the Wonderland Conference in Miami. I was also a featured speaker on various Online Mental Health Conferences throughout the year. 

In gaining access to new networks, as a newbie, and a relative outsider, you notice things that the  current occupiers of the space miss because they only see what they’ve been seeing.  

Blind spots on a road trip could be deadly, so I will point them out from a different viewpoint as  someone who is in the vehicle but not in the Driver’s seat. 

“The Trip” 

I had a bad trip that was hands down my most profound and impactful psychedelic experience. I went  back to the site of the most traumatic moment that I witnessed as a child. The one that triggered me the most intensely as an adult. I attempted to process it all through a Magic Mushroom trip with a Shaman friend of mine who held space for me.  

My intention was to process the traumatic event that took place when I was a child. That 

incident just so happened to be outside of my childhood home. It wasn’t my intention to have to  process the ‘OTHER’ past events, experiences, and effects of that house but DAMN THERE WAS A  LOT OF ‘OTHER SHIT’ TO PROCESS. 

I suppressed more shit than I was consciously aware of.  

This is where I learned of how strong our ability is to suppress difficult emotions from the traumatic  events we experience. The effects have grave implications. 

The industries of psychology and psychedelics have both suppressed their histories of prejudice,  discrimination, exclusion, and exploitation. 

My goal is to bring solutions to this, which brings me to a known ally for haphazard conditions on  “trips” 

“AAA”  

“AAA” represents the solutions I have identified for the leaders and innovators of these industries to create healing change that prioritizes those of underserved groups that are so easily forgotten about.  

The “AAA” Solution is to:  Attract. Access. Amplify 

Attract: Reach out to leaders of Underrepresented Demographics by: 

  • Creating awareness campaigns that target and welcome these demographics to explore the  breakthrough possibilities of mental health solutions and psychedelics. Include them in the planning and execution of the campaigns. 
  • Utilize their leaders and influencers in the promotions and advertisements of events and experiences that are being offered to other demographics. 
  • Leverage supportive athletes and former athletes, who have been proven to transcend cultural and racial divides, to promote to the underserved groups 

Access: Provide Access via Scholarships and Sponsorships to: 

  • Events such as conferences and networking events to offset some groups from being excluded  due to being priced out of these opportunities. 
  • Educational courses, such as trainings, courses, workshops, and seminars to help increase their knowledge bases. 
  • Certification Courses – which allows each individual to increase their knowledge base and their  professional offerings

Amplify: Use already established platforms to help increase exposure to leaders and innovators of  Underrepresented Groups by: 

  • Prioritizing speaking opportunities for them 
  • Booking the leaders for radio, TV, and Podcasting appearances 
  • Contracting, employing, and seeking insights from them in the preparing and planning stages of  events and experiences so that they can be authentically represented and financially supported for their contribution to the growth of these healing modalities and industries.

At the end of a “trip” we want to feel like we had fun, adventure, and that we had access to all the things that were available for us to experience. We also don’t want to feel as if the things that are being championed, celebrated, and promoted to others are being denied to us, for whatever reason.  

We want to experience THE BREAKTHROUGH EXPERIENCE, too, and not feel like we are “trippin” for  wanting to be included in it. 

New Year, New You

12 steps for each month of the new year to be the best you

Like I always say, if you don’t take the time out to take care of yourself, your body will force you to do it. And it’s usually at the most inopportune time.

Last year, I made an attempt to drink plenty of water. The difference I felt was significant. I didn’t wake up groggy. My headaches were less frequent. And I felt like I moved better post-ACL surgery. I also felt more energized. It wasn’t until I slipped up and went back to my regular routine of feeling sick from dehydration.

Even a little bit of self-care goes a long way. So here are a few of my top self-care tips, I plan on digging into in the new year. Here’s to being the best you, you can be.

Get a healthy amount of sleep

Experts recommend that adults sleep between 7 and 9 hours a night. Sleep restores the body and improves energy levels, so waking up well-rested can have a positive impact on an individual’s mood. It also promotes heart health and helps regulate insulin levels.

Drink plenty of water

The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is: About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men. About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women.

Start a Skincare Routine

Moisturizing daily and protecting your skin from the sun with a daily SPF will provide long term benefits. The largest barrier between the outside world and the body, skin has an important job. Not only does skin protect the body from the elements, but the state of a person’s skin also projects what is going on internally. A good skin care routine is simple, and the benefits may end up being surprising.

Give yourself a time limit with technology

Reducing screen time and being mindful of the toxicity of social media can have profound benefits for our physical and mental health. By consciously disconnecting from screens and social media, we can enjoy improved sleep, reduced eye strain, and enhanced posture.

Start an exercise routine

Being physically active can improve your brain health, help manage weight, reduce the risk of disease, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve your ability to do everyday activities.

Find a balance between work & play

Almost everyone has to work but combining that with time to rest and do things you love will feed the soul. If you can find a good balance between work and other demands, you are likely to be happier, more productive, and take fewer sick days.

Stretch more

It’s thought that stretching may also release endorphins that help to reduce pain and enhance your mood. Besides feeling good and helping to relieve muscle tension and stress, stretching can also increase your flexibility and circulation, boost your athletic performance, and improve your posture

Add healthier foods to your diet

Fruits and vegetables contain important vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals. They also contain fibre. There are many varieties of fruit and vegetables available and many ways to prepare, cook and serve them. A diet high in fruit and vegetables can help protect you against cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Take some time to notice your breath

Focusing your awareness on the smooth, repetitive rhythm of your breath can help soothe your mind and nervous system. As noted above, evidence suggests conscious breathing can ease anxiety and stress in college students, as well as anxiety, depression, and sleep issues in middle-aged adults.

Write down one thing you are grateful for everyday

Enhances positive emotions: Writing down what we are grateful for helps us focus on the positive aspects of life. By reflecting on and recording experiences or people that make us feel satisfied and grateful, we can evoke feelings of joy and happiness within ourselves.

Declutter your space

By decluttering, you can open up space for new ideas and creative expression. Improve sleep quality. A bedroom that is cluttered with clothes and objects can be disorienting and negatively impact your ability to relax and get quality sleep. Enhance self-esteem.

Get your finances in order

It can bring you one step closer toward financial security. Having and sticking to a budget can keep your spending in check and assure that your savings for emergencies and longer-term goals, such as a comfortable retirement, stay consistent.

I’m an HR Chief. This is how I handled my own harassment claim

Written By Kimberly Williams

I was only three weeks into my new job when the outbursts began. Initially, the episodes felt random. Sometimes I would walk into a friendly conversation with my boss and other times I felt like I walked into a buzzsaw. Quite soon, the situation grew all-consuming. I worried about finding another job quickly, my bills, my family, and my ability to protect my team. I also worried about how I would navigate this terrain. 

I could not go to Human Resources, because I was HR. Any investigation out of my own shop would be tainted. And in moments like this, one can normally rely on in-house counsel. After paying them a visit, I learned that this behavior had gone on for decades. I also learned that no one wanted to address it – including them. I was told this was a matter I would have to take up with the board.

So I did. The Chairperson at the time was immediately empathic and invited me to explain to the full board that we had a problem. I agreed, and in that meeting, I shared my experience and added that there were many other women experiencing the same thing. A few board members pushed back but then acknowledged that there was an issue. One raged. He jumped up and down in his seat and forcefully stated that he did not want to participate in this conversation. 

Two days later I met with my boss who had been fully briefed on my closed-door discussion. It didn’t go well, and I left with a strong conviction that I was officially on my own. No one would be coming to my aid anytime soon.

That night I stared at the ceiling until 3:00 a.m. before finally reaching for my laptop. I drafted an email to my boss detailing everything that had transpired between us to establish a record and a clear path forward. I noted where behaviors and actions had been unlawful and clearly stated how I expected to be treated on a go-forward.

The next morning, I walked into work, cleaned up my late-night email, and hit send.

I braced for what would happen next, but no response came, and our next meeting was pleasant. So were the meetings that took place over the next several weeks.

But with time, small flashes of rage returned, growing ever extended and ending in an angry, yelling fit. I drug myself back down to my office to write up the behavior once more.

These callouts bought some reprieve, but didn’t last. I never had majority support from the board, and the boss’s long-time supporter soon took over as chair. Nevertheless, I continued to engage.

I asked for an investigation, but they opted for an executive coach. When it didn’t help, I asked again. They sent someone who worked for the executive coach to interview me. Then they informed me that they were not going to do anything further.

Once again, I wrote the chair documenting the number of investigations my office had conducted into workplace complaints and asked why they were refusing to follow the same procedure our organization followed for every other person who worked here.

They finally opened the investigation. 

At its conclusion, several months later, they informed me that there was a finding of abuse, but it was not unlawful and did not violate any policy at that time of the event. Then they firmly stated that they considered the matter closed. 

By this stage, I had a significant amount of documentation, which I handed off to an attorney. A few days later, I walked away with a check and a changed perspective on workplace abuses. 

Here’s what I wish more people knew:

The data is terrible, but you are not alone. The entire system is built to hide the numbers. Even the EEOC does not give you a complete picture. No company is going to self-report a claim against them, but workplace climate studies, like those conducted by Glassdoor, point to a much larger problem. If it’s happening to you, it has likely happened to someone else at your organization. 

There are often two sets of rules. Many companies will take swift action when low-ranking employees violate a policy but hesitate when an executive does the same thing. This is often intended to limit liability and protect the organization. The higher up the food chain, the more potential damage to the organization, so admitting fault becomes more costly.

Everyone is scared. You may be terrified thinking about challenging someone with more power than you, but as someone who has spent years managing workplace investigations, I can tell you that the odds are your boss is scared too — especially if the complaint involves a highly valued employee.

Your words can change everything — especially if you put them in writing. Management will weigh their next steps based on what you say and how you say it. Calm, clear statements that cite company policy and how this situation is affecting you are more effective than informing the company that you are hurting. They can serve as direct evidence that your supervisors knew about a problem and ignored it. 

The good news right now is there has never been a better time to assert your rights to a workplace free from harm. The laws are rapidly changing and moving in the employee’s favor. Whether it’s high dollar jury awards, breach of contract cases against employers who violate their own policies, or shareholder derivative suits against public boards who ignore executive abuse, accountability is coming. 

Even better, a new anti-bullying bill designed to hold bad bosses in check is gaining traction in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. If passed, these would be the first laws in the country allowing employees the chance to seek damages for psychological abuse at work. And it will likely trigger similar bills in states like New York, Colorado, and California. We can all support this effort, regardless of our home location, by helping to spread the word or introducing a similar bill in our city, town, or state. But no matter how one might engage in this space, it’s important to recognize that each time someone speaks openly about workplace misconduct, they aren’t just changing the environment for themselves, they are contributing to an ecosystem of accountability that ultimately supports us all. 

Trophy Wife to Surgeon

Written By Victoria Johnson, MD

Through the 20 plus years that I have been an aesthetic medical doctor, my patients ask me how I do what I do. I really didn’t know the answer. So, I decided to write it down.

I spend about 50-60% of my time counseling patients and staff.  When a patient comes to see me, they already have something that they are unhappy with. I feel that is my most rewarding challenge. To get to the bottom of why they are seeking aesthetic treatments.

Patients confide in and are usually a little embarrassed. They say things like, “I really want to tell you something but I’m afraid that you won’t be able to understand.”

After a while as I was writing my book, I wanted to share some of the many difficulties and misery that I suffered in my quest to break free of abuse.

I thought to myself, everyone has bad memories or situations that they are currently in or have experienced. I wanted to share my struggles.

My motivation to change came with the extreme emotional pain that I suffered at the hands of my husband. I realized that I had become a nobody! I felt like an empty shell. My husband would just say your job is the shut up and look good!

The pain became unbearable, and I turned closer to God and Jesus Christ. I went into a period of devout fasting and prayer. I told the Lord that I was going to hold onto his robes until he healed me like the woman with the issue of blood in the Bible did.

My devotion and prayers were nonstop. I was not going to live in this pain any longer. There had to be something that I could do.

Then one night I was awakened and went into my living room. I felt the need to kneel and pray. I heard the Lord say, “you are going to be a doctor!” I was amazed and in disbelief.  I only had a high school diploma ten years earlier.  Nonetheless, I thought that I had no other choice, so I began to explore the possibility of going to college.

The struggles continued for four more years with my husband, but I was so rock solid in the faith that I had a calling on my life. That knowledge gave me the strength to endure his abuse which was considerable.

I began to get emotionally stronger and was able to fend off his attacks. He slowly eased up as he saw my resolve, but he was still quite abusive.

I began to not only believe in the message from the Lord, but to believe in my own growing emotional and spiritual strength.

I share my story with my patients as I feel it might help them.  I love my patients and my staff and find ways to help them with their daily lives. 

I love asking myself, why this patient is here about their outer appearances. 

I believe that all that I have endured and thrived through could help others have the faith and confidence in themselves to keep going. Keep pursuing your goal, no matter what.

Fear is the greatest liar! I learned as it would come over me, that if I just walked straight forward through it towards my goal, the victory would be mine!

I have also become quite confident and fearless. I want to impart that to others. Take risks!

Just take a deep breath and jump!

Keep your hearts and minds close to God and His Son and you will have help beyond belief!

I want people to look at me and say that if I can do it then so can they.  Stand up to abuse and fight for your independence.  Believe that you are worth it! 

As I continue my journey, I feel a rocklike stillness and strength in my spirit.  It’s almost as though the Lord has placed a protective shield around me.

 I had to write my book. I wanted to share the struggles I went through but also the love and joy that is in my life now.  I want my story to hopefully help others who are downtrodden to have hope.

 If I can do it, then so can they!

Psilocybin and Interconnectedness: Understanding ‘Oceanic Boundlessness’ in Psychedelics

Magic mushrooms can teach us a valuable lesson about our support systems, making us feel less alone

Written By Jennifer Chesak, Psychedelic POV Contributor

We all need a little oceanic boundlessness in our lives in 2024. If you’re opening your favorite travel app to book a cruise or a beach vacation right now, that’s not what I mean.

“Oceanic boundlessness” is a term to describe feeling at one with the world as whole, as if you’re part of something greater than yourself. It’s a feeling many experience while on psilocybin.[1] And after a macrodose, the lasting effects of oceanic boundlessness can have profound benefits for well-being.

Oceanic boundlessness showed up for me during my psilocybin journey. I felt as though threads of light were connecting me to everyone I know and love and who I know loves and cares for me. Their love for me surged my way—almost as if along an electrical current. And I sent my love to all of them while visualizing their locations as points on a map. Their love cradled and buoyed me, as if they were holding space for my unfolding experience and championing me on. The best part: the feeling has been lasting.

“Oceanic feeling” is a philosophical term coined by Romain Rolland, a French mystic, in a letter to Sigmund Freud nearly 100 years ago. This term encompasses the concept of having no bounds, or boundaries, between self and other or the world at large. It’s a sense of universal interconnectedness. This oceanic feeling, Freud suggested, is present when we’re young, before we develop our identity or ego. But as we become more preoccupied with sense of self while growing into adults, we lose that sensation.

So how do we get back to oceanic boundlessness, and why is it beneficial? Psilocybin, and some other psychedelics, can facilitate oceanic boundlessness through another concept called “ego death” or “ego dissolution.” We have a network of brain regions that work together to form our sense of self. This network is called the default mode network, and when we’re on a psychedelic, some parts of the DMN that normally connect will temporarily disconnect, while other parts that don’t normally connect will connect. As a result, we may experience elements of ego death, where our sense of self becomes less of a focus. Therefore those boundaries between self and other, or the rest of the world, dissolve. Hence, oceanic boundlessness.

Who makes up your support system? Right now you’re probably thinking of various friends and family members. You generally know you can call or text this person or that person if you’re having a bad day. But have you ever really “felt” that support system—felt it in your body?

That’s what I experienced on psilocybin. I could feel the tenderness that one of my oldest friends Mark has for me—and I for him. I could feel the unbreakable bond my friend Sara and I have. I could feel the entirety of my relationship with my husband. I felt these sensations in my every cell—and I’m still feeling them.

Oceanic boundlessness gives you the profound knowledge that, no matter how alone you might feel during certain life challenges, you are never truly alone. And that has made all the difference in my life going forward.

In 2018, my mom was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. And in 2019, she was diagnosed with a different cancer. Although my mom is doing well now, these cancer diagnoses, the fact that both my parents are in the last stretch of their lives, and the process of helping to manage their care have all given me a lot of anxiety. We all lose our parents eventually, but knowing that these losses are a fact of life did nothing to resolve my distress. When we’re going through these difficult times, often in middle age, we tend to feel alone and isolate ourselves in our worries. But that doesn’t help us. What does help is tapping into our support systems—but how often do we do that?

I embarked on my first therapeutic psilocybin journey in 2022. Now, I no longer feel isolated by what I’m going through; instead, I feel more connected than ever. I joke that the mushroom acted as the Kool-Aid Man from those ’70s and ’80s commercials, crashing through the walls I’ve carefully built around myself and my feelings. These walls weren’t protecting me; they were isolating me. The walls have come down, and I’m not afraid to show others when I’m not OK or when I’m struggling with something.

Now I get to walk through this world knowing that my support system is always there. The remarkable people who make up this support system aren’t an invisible safety net to catch me when I fall; rather they forge a foundation holding me up in this life. Plus, I know that I’m part of others’ support systems—returning the love, the empathy, and the I’ve-got-your-back mentality. Both feeling my own support system and feeling that I’m a base reinforcing others has dramatically reduced my anxiety.

In 2024, I challenge you to make a list of your support people and how they make you feel less alone. Make a list of whose backs you have too. Lean into this interconnectedness and know that you are not alone as you walk through this new year and beyond. Oceanic boundlessness can be unlocked for you, too. You just have to be willing to knock down your walls. If you’re having trouble doing the brick breaking, psilocybin may be able to help.


[1] Griffiths RR, et al. “Mystical-type experiences occasioned by psilocybin mediate the attribution of personal meaning and spiritual significance 14 months later.” J Psychopharmacol. 2008 Aug; 22(6): 621–632, https://doi.org/10.1177/026988110809430

Human Trafficking Awareness

Written By Kathryn Marsh, Prosecutor POV

Human trafficking is modern day slavery. While one may be forgiven in thinking human trafficking is a fairly recent phenomenon, having caught the media’s attention in the last decade, in reality human trafficking has been in existence since the beginning of time.

Legally human trafficking is split into two distinct categories: Labor Trafficking and Sex Trafficking.

Labor trafficking is not publicized to the same degree as sex trafficking. The Department of Health and Human Services provides services for trafficking victims and of the victims in Fiscal Year 2022, 62% of the adult survivors and 73% of child survivors they served were survivors of labor trafficking with an additional 12% of adults and 4% of children being survivors of both labor and sex trafficking. [i]

What is labor trafficking?

Labor trafficking is defined in the Trafficking Victim’s Protection Act as ”The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.” Basically, this means forcing someone to provide labor or services against their will or choice. Labor trafficking is often accomplished through physical force, threats of force, isolation and the trafficker holding the workers pay or documents the worker would need to leave (license, visa, passport).

The industries where labor trafficking is most prevalent are: agri/aquaculture, domestic work, construction, landscaping, factories and manufacturing, and healthcare.[ii]  In the United States the most prevalent victims of labor trafficking are citizens of the United States, Mexico and Honduras.[iii]

You can learn more about Labor Trafficking at the US Department of Labor or Polaris websites. To make a report of suspected labor trafficking call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text INFO 233733.

What is Sex Trafficking?

 “Sex trafficking encompasses the range of activities involved when a trafficker uses force, fraud, or coercion to compel another person to engage in a commercial sex act or causes a child to engage in a commercial sex act.”[iv]

Sex trafficking, in reality, is rarely what we see in the movies where someone is kidnapped and forced into a brothel or auction. Victims are often trafficked by family members, loved ones, or trusted individuals. Due to grooming, obligation or fear of their alternatives, a victim may not even understand they’re being trafficked.

Anyone can be trafficked, but traffickers are master manipulators and look for some vulnerability to exploit.

Some vulnerabilities may include; mental health, substance abuse, homelessness, recent relocation, intimate partner violence, and involvement with child welfare/foster care system

What can you do to help reduce trafficking? 

Become familiar with the signs. Polarisproject.org provides ways to recognize trafficking in all its forms. Additionally, Polaris hosts a human trafficking training program on their website.

Watch what you buy. The Department of Labor keeps a list of products produced by forced or indentured labor.  Find the list here: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ilab/reports/child-labor/list-of-products.  

Support survivor led projects and businesses that help provide survivors with job stability, housing, and mental health services.

Below I highlight three but there are hundreds more you can support.

Thistle Farms (thistlefarms.org) is a non-profit that helps women survivors by providing them a safe place to live, a job and a support system., free of charge.  You can support this mission and purchase products made by survivors on their website.

Atlanta Redemption Ink is a non-profit founded by trafficking survivor Jessica Lamb, is a national network for tattoo services and scar revisions.  They provide support services, tattoo removals and coverups to survivors of trafficking. You can support ARI at arionline.org.

AnnieCannons provides technical training to trafficking survivors and engages survivors on paid projects to build strong work portfolios and practical experience.  Survivors have designed and built software applications that have helped fight trafficking and gender-based violence.  Learn more at anniecannons.com


[i] 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report: United States; U.S. Department of State

[ii] Office for Victims of Crime – Human Trafficking Building Center “Understanding Labor Trafficking”

[iii] https://www.state.gov/reports/2023-trafficking-in-persons-report/united-states#:~:text=Of%20the%20731%20foreign%20national,in%20persons%20unspecified%20to%20HHS.

[iv] https://www.state.gov/what-is-trafficking-in-persons/

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