June 14, 2019 at 8:50 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It is not freedom of speech…it is regular and consistent violations of the Hatch Act.  It makes no difference what your beliefs are….the laws of our county and values of our society must be sacrosanct.  Violators cannot hide behind the first amendment.  You know what the rules are when you take the job!

People…democrats, republicans, independents….must not continue to allow this destruction of our set of laws, rules and VALUES


Center for Child Counseling: Playful. Healthful. Hopeful.

June 11, 2019 at 12:23 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

[I ‘borrowed’ this from the Center for Child Counseling]

The Power of Language: ACEs and Trauma, Kerry Jamieson  May 30, 2019

ACEs and trauma are different. Gain an accurate understanding of adversity, ACEs, trauma, and toxic stress to fully understand how best to fight adverse experiences in childhood.

Language, or the words we choose to describe experiences to ourselves and others, is powerful. Words influence the way we think, and how we choose to think about ACEs and trauma influences our actions. So often, we use the term ACEs and the word trauma interchangeably, but they are different. While this educational series is part of our Fighting ACEs campaign and therefore focused on ACEs, we cannot afford to ignore the full range of childhood adversity, including social inequity, and how children can respond to it in many ways.

Before we get into definitions, it’s important to remember some concepts we’ve discussed before. Every child is unique from the genetic level up. The way they react to trauma can and will vary dramatically. Because their brains are still growing, children are vulnerable to situations that can alter their chemistry and hamper normal brain development. But they also have neural plasticity which makes them adaptable and responsive to healing interventions. Two children (even siblings living in the same home…even twins!) might experience the same traumatic event then process and respond to it very differently. There are no rules for how we can expect a child to react or behave after a traumatic event. Of course, expert therapists trained in childhood mental health, like those at the Center for Child Counseling, can make some predictions based on years of experience and work with a child accordingly.

Certain types of childhood adversity are especially likely to cause trauma reactions in children, such as the sudden loss of a family member or witnessing intense domestic violence. Other events, like divorce or separation result in a wider, less predictable range of responses. Some children are deeply traumatized when their parents’ divorce; some fare well and may even thrive, especially if the divorce removes a negative influence (such as an abusive, alcoholic father) from the picture thus stabilizing the relationship between mother and child.

General Adversity in Childhood

Let’s consider adversity in general. Adversity describes any number of situations or events that threaten healthy development for a child, both physical and psychological. Adversity can include circumstances like abuse, neglect, domestic and community violence, bullying, extreme poverty, and discrimination. Adversity tends to be a condition that exists for an extended period of time; it is not a one-time event. Adversity is a general living condition that is often, or always, present.

Certain groups of children, including minorities, receive a disproportionate dose of adversity because they belong to a group that has been historically disadvantaged and continues to face the challenge of inequity. Science shows that enduring adversity for long periods can affect the developing brains of children, resulting in lifelong physical and mental health issues. However, adversity is only one half of the equation because it seems that even the most harmful experiences can be balanced out, or even negated, if a strong support system is in place.

ACEs Defined

General adversity is not the same thing as ACEs which are a clearly identified set of adverse situations. ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) is an acronym that emerged after a study originally conducted by Kesier Permanaente and the Centers for Disease Control in the 1990s. This study was the first to identify a strong correlation between certain adverse experiences in childhood and poor physical and mental health outcomes (e.g.: heart disease, diabetes, substance abuse, depression, etc.) later in life. The term ACEs describes a more specific set of adverse experiences outlined by the original study and subsequently added to.

The original study placed adverse experiences into seven specific categories based on 10 questions:

  • physical, sexual, and emotional abuse
  • a mother who was treated violently
  • living with someone who was mentally ill in the household
  • someone who abused alcohol or drugs in the household
  • incarceration of a member of the household

ACEs vs. Trauma

So how do ACEs differ from trauma? Trauma is one possible outcome of prolonged exposure to adversity. We tend to think of a trauma as a sudden, cataclysmic event like a serious car accident or a tornado. While it’s true that those experiences can qualify as ACEs, trauma is also the result of sustained periods of toxic stress over weeks, months, or even years.

The original ACE questionnaire was not definitive. More recent, expanded studies have added questions about peer victimization (bullying, etc.), serious physical illness in the household, especially where the child might become a caregiver, and one-off traumatic events with long-term consequences (a car accident, for example). No survey can cover the full scope of what might be an adverse experience for a child, not only because the variables are endless but also because not every child sees or responds to the same experience as an adverse one. Adversity and ACEs are, to some extent, in the eye of the beholder. What is traumatic is very much about perception. This perception is often unconscious or automatic rather than a considered reaction.

In simple terms, not every child who experiences a traumatic event is traumatized by it.

When a child experiences an adverse situation, let’s use a school shooting as a sad example, in the moment they will feel the associated emotions (terror, panic, helplessness) and the physiological responses (rapid heartbeat, adrenaline surge) as well as the after-effects which may manifest themselves immediately or much later. These manifestations may last far beyond the event itself and can include responses like bedwetting, nightmares, and stomach aches.

The same is true of the intensity of the experience. A child who witnessed the shooting and saw friends harmed or killed versus a child who was in the school during the event and experienced the panic but did not necessarily witness anything, might behave differently. The services they will need will likely differ, too, but again this depends on genetic vulnerabilities, prior experiences that have damaged the stress response system, or the presence of limited healthy gene expression (learn more about gene expression in our post about epigenetics).

PTSD and Toxic Stress

While the event is the same, two aspects may be very different: the physical experiences of the event and the individual’s response to it which can be based on nature (genetic resilience), nurture (coping skills that have been learned) and the support they have received in their lives thus far as well as the support they receive after the event i.e.: the immediate presence of crisis-trained buffers as well as the support of long-term buffers. Of course, one child who experienced the shooting may recover quickly without significant distress, whereas another may develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and benefit from professional help and services – crucially, those provided by a trauma-informed team of caregivers. Swift intervention can certainly help children express and deal with the aftermath of an intense traumatic event, mitigating or buffering against that stress and preventing it from harming their development or well-being.

If trauma is unaddressed and prolonged, it can result in toxic stress which we’ve discussed at length in an earlier post in this series. It is really the effects of toxic stress on the body that can result in lifelong negative outcomes. Toxic stress wears down the body’s natural response systems over time and is the real villain in the story of ACEs, building up insidiously and causing countless potential future ills for the individual and for society.

Knowing Better = Doing Better

As our understanding of adversity, trauma, and ACEs grows, and as awareness grows among sectors who work with children and the general public grows, too, opportunities to intervene will reveal themselves. Some opportunities are already self-evident, however. Knowing that adverse community environments breed ACEs, we can focus on children living in these conditions who are most likely to need therapeutic intervention. We can provide preventative and early intervention services to support these children and avoid retraumatizing them. Sound knowledge can also help us avoid over-diagnosing or over-medicating children who are responding well to their circumstances or demonstrating the resilience that is the antidote to toxic stress

Let’s be specific in our language and avoid jargon and catchphrases which don’t accurately describe the situation. Labels can be vague and dangerous. The more specific we can be with our words and their meanings, while understanding the differences and uniqueness of each individual, the more effective we will be as buffers and healers for our children.


June 7, 2019 at 12:24 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“A man devoid of hope and conscious of being so has ceased to belong to the future.”
Albert Camus

Where does hope come from?  What internal wellspring keeps pumping out hope against a current of challenge, frustration, dishonesty and tyranny?  How do you reach the life raft of hope?  Where is the island of opportune moments?

Martin Luther King shared a vision that expected that “it is always the right time to do the right thing.”  I believe that.  I try to make it my mantra.  But there are times, on dark nights inside my head, when I wonder if the …right time, right thing….. that I pursue so vigorously, is trumped by the self-serving right time, right thing of the 1% that own the country


June 6, 2019 at 12:21 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“By declaring that man is responsible and must actualize the potential meaning of his life, I wish to stress that the true meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather than within man or his own psyche, as though it were a closed system. I have termed this constitutive characteristic “the self-transcendence of human existence.” It denotes the fact that being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other than oneself–be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself–by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love–the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself. What is called self-actualization is not an attainable aim at all, for the simple reason that the more one would strive for it, the more he would miss it. In other words, self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning


June 5, 2019 at 3:15 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”  James Baldwin


America is not yet the country it strives to be—a place where all who are willing to work hard can get ahead, join a thriving middle class, and lead fulfilling lives. Our country derives much of its strength from its core value as a land of opportunity. But, today, economic mobility is actually greater in a number of other countries. Despite this challenge, we know how to work toward the solution: access to a world-class education can help to ensure that all children in this country with dreams and determination can reach their potential and succeed.

Yet, far too many students, especially in underserved groups and communities, lack robust access to the core elements of a quality education. That includes free, quality preschool; high, challenging standards and engaging teaching and leadership in a safe, supportive, and well-resourced school; and an affordable, high-quality college degree. [US Department of Education]

Adverse Childhood Experiences

May 31, 2019 at 3:21 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) is the term used to describe all types of abuse, neglect, and other potentially traumatic experiences that occur to people under the age of 18.

Adverse Childhood Experiences have been linked to

  • risky health behaviors,
  • chronic health conditions,
  • low life potential, and
  • early death.

As the number of ACEs increases, so does the risk for these outcomes.

The presence of ACEs does not mean that a child will experience poor outcomes. However, children’s positive experiences or protective factors can prevent children from experiencing adversity and can protect against many of the negative health and life outcomes even after adversity has occurred.


May 30, 2019 at 5:53 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov


Fact-checking Trump’s flurry of lies Thursday morning

By Marshall Cohen Updated 1:24 PM ET, Thu May 30, 2019

Washington (CNN)One day after special counsel Robert Mueller publicly refused to exonerate President Donald Trump and hinted at potential impeachment, the President responded Thursday with an avalanche of widely debunked lies about the investigation and its findings.

Over a few hours Thursday morning, Trump spread several lies and falsehoods about the Russia investigation, Mueller’s findings, the cost of the probe, and the legal restrictions that Mueller faced when grappling with the possibility of a President who broke the law.

Here’s a breakdown of Trump’s comments.

Cost of the investigation

In a tweet, Trump said the Mueller probe cost “$40,000,000 over two dark years.”

Facts First: It’s not clear where Trump is getting his numbers. The latest information from the Justice Department goes through September and says Mueller-specific expenses were around $12 million. Mueller’s final price tag will be higher than that, but the data isn’t public yet.

The Justice Department spent another $13 million investigating Russian meddling, costs that would have been incurred even if Mueller weren’t appointed. That’s a total of $25 million, though the price tag will be higher because that doesn’t cover the last seven months of the probe. It’s unlikely that the final amount for Mueller will reach the $40 million figure claimed by Trump.

Cooperation with the probe

In a tweet, Trump said Mueller had “unlimited access, people, resources and cooperation.”

Facts First: The White House largely cooperated with the investigation, but it’s wrong to say there was “unlimited” cooperation. Trump repeatedly refused a sit-down interview with Mueller’s team. Some Trump campaign associates “deleted relevant communications” or gave conflicting information. Others lied to investigators and were charged with obstruction offenses.

Trump submitted written testimony about Russian meddling but refused to answer any questionsabout obstruction. Mueller made it clear that Trump’s responses were “incomplete” and insufficient. The President’s son, Donald Trump Jr., also declined an in-person interview.

At least three Trump associates were charged with lying to investigators, which is an obstructive act, and two others were charged with lying to congressional inquiries about Russian meddling.

Mueller’s conflicts of interest

In a tweet, Trump said Mueller was “highly conflicted.”

Facts First: Mueller did not have conflicts of interest, and Trump knows it. The Justice Department cleared Mueller of any conflicts when he took the job in 2017. Trump’s top aides told him that these perceived conflicts were “ridiculous” and were not considered true conflicts.

Trump has long claimed that Mueller was conflicted for a few reasons: Because he once sought a refund from a Trump-owned golf course, because he interviewed to be FBI director after Trump fired James Comey in 2017, and because his old law firm represented key figures in the investigation.

When Trump raised these concerns with his top aides, they “pushed back on his assertion of conflicts, telling the President they did not count as true conflicts,” according to the Mueller report. These White House aides included former chief strategist Steve Bannon, former chief of staff Reince Priebus and former White House counsel Don McGahn, according to the report.

Legal constraints on Mueller

In a tweet, Trump said, “Robert Mueller would have brought charges, if he had ANYTHING, but there were no charges to bring!”

Facts First: This is the opposite of the truth. Mueller’s hands were tied by longstanding Justice Department guidelines that a sitting President can’t be indicted. In his public comments this week, Mueller specifically said charging Trump was “not an option we could consider.”

Mueller made it clear in his public comments on Wednesday that the guidelines had a significant influence on the investigation, tying his hands from the very start from even considering whether a crime had been committed. Trump is therefore creating a false narrative by asserting that Mueller “would have brought charges” if there was evidence Trump broke the law.

In fact, Mueller’s report presented substantial evidence that Trump obstructed justice on a few fronts. But Mueller didn’t offer a conclusion on whether Trump should be prosecuted, because he was bound by Justice Department guidelines that stopped him from even considering it.


May 29, 2019 at 1:27 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning


May 23, 2019 at 1:47 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“What we call our destiny is truly our character and that character can be altered. The knowledge that we are responsible for our actions and attitudes does not need to be discouraging, because it also means that we are free to change this destiny. One is not in bondage to the past, which has shaped our feelings, to race, inheritance, background. All this can be altered if we have the courage to examine how it formed us. We can alter the chemistry provided we have the courage to dissect the elements.” ― Anais Nin

What is the character of our Nation?  Are we continually willing to subjugate morality, decency and shared responsibility for greed and self-interest?


May 22, 2019 at 12:17 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters”    Albert Einstein


I realize that politics is fraught with shading and obfuscation.  That does not release our leaders from an obligation to be truthful.  I am not talking about their interpretation of the facts, of the situation.  That is dependent on their level of understanding and their point of view.  I can deal with that.  I cannot deal with a person who has a platform, creating “facts” to make their position palatable or popular…that is akin to being a snake-oil salesman!

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