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How Trauma Affects the Brain and How I’m Healing from PTSD

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do.” ~Brené Brown 

Several months ago, I was stoked about writing a piece on the living legacy of trauma, sharing how much we think we know about these so-called injuries of the mind, body, and spirit when, in reality, we know diddly squat.

I thought that a piece on this topic would inform and help folks like me. I’d suffered long and hard from PTSD, triggered initially by the sudden death of my brother and, simultaneously, the unfortunate finding of an email that confirmed

Available Now: Tiny Buddha Shirts and Posters

Hi friends! Since I’ve received numerous requests to bring back the Tiny Buddha shirts, I’ve decided to make them available again, right in time for the holiday season!

You can choose from six shirt designs, in multiple colors, in a T-shirt, hoodie, or sweatshirt. Here are my favorites:

I’m planning to add a few new shirt designs next week, so stay tuned for an update then!

I’ve also added three (unframed) quote posters to the store.

To grab a shirt for yourself or a loved one, visit the store here.

Please note these

The Beautiful Life I Didn’t Plan For: On Raising a Special Needs Child

“I’ve learned that you can keep going long after you think you can’t.” ~Unknown

As far back as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a mom. I held onto the belief that my life wouldn’t feel truly “complete” until I had children.

This dream finally came true in 2010 when I was twenty-seven years old, when my son, Logan Patrick Arnold, entered the world. The moment I laid eyes on him, I sensed something was different about him. And though it might not sound flattering, he looked more like a middle-aged man than a Gerber baby.

Upon

How I Am Learning to Trust My Body More, and Control It Less

“I’m a beautiful mess of contradiction, a chaotic display of imperfection.” ~Sai Marie Johnson

I don’t identify as having an eating disorder. I don’t struggle with anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating.  Yet I exercise precise control of my weight, down to the pound. If I gain a mere two pounds, I can feel it. First in my stomach. Then in my face.

That’s when the self-loathing kicks in.

I beat myself up for gaining those two pounds.

I wear a shirt to sleep at night, instead of being naked like I am when I am two pounds lighter.

I …

The Secret to Finding Yourself Again: How to Come Alive

“‘Finding yourself’ is actually returning to yourself. An unlearning, an excavation, a remembering who you were before the world got its hands on you.” ~Emily McDowell

Somewhere between becoming a parent, a wife, and a career woman, I began to lose myself.

I wouldn’t say it happened all at once or as the result of any one thing. Instead, it was a gradual process of disappearing under layers and layers of masks I had to wear in order to play the role of the person others needed me to be.

The caretaker.
The rescuer.
The helper.
The teacher.
The nurturer.…

Take Good Care of Yourself When You Do Well AND When You Fall Short

“Kindness is choosing love over hate, light over darkness, compassion over judgment.” ~Raktivist

One of the things about being “good” (and for me that includes things like patience, kindness, and being agreeable) is that people assume things about me. They think I’m always patient, I always make the right decisions, and I’m an all-around great person.

Well, I’m not always anything—except human. And that means I make mistakes, big ones even. This week I did NOT set an example of perfection. I had a moment when I became the exact opposite: loud and emotional. I melted down.

Why did this

How I Finally Starved the Disorder That Was Eating Me Alive

“If we are ready to tear down the walls that confine us, break the cage that imprisons us, we will discover what our wings are for.” ~Michael Meegan

It’s weird, isn’t it? One day you’re playing hide and seek with friends without a worry beyond the playdate you’re having or dinner options for that night. But in a blink, those carefree days vanish. That’s what happened to me, and my teenage years started ticking away right in front of my eyes. Eleven, thirteen, fifteen, seventeen, nineteen…

And a realization hit me: “It’s still eating me alive.”

Maybe it wasn’t …

How I Healed My Strained Relationship with My Addict Mother

“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.” ~Sam Keen

Like so many of us, my relationship with my mother throughout my life is best described as complicated.

We’ve had our fair share of turbulent times in our journey, and her alcoholism and drug abuse while I was growing up fueled great dysfunction on every level: literal physical fighting when I was a teenager (yep, Jerry Springer-style), seemingly continual acts of rebellion, a total lack of understanding, deep mistrust, unwillingness (or likely even an inability at the time) to …

Why True Happiness Is Not Just About Reaching Your Goals

“Success isn’t about how your life looks to others. It’s about how it feels to you.” ~Michelle Obama

Do you have goals? Why do you have these goals? What will change if you accomplish them?

Will you be happy?

Think about this for a second: You’ve already achieved goals that you said would make you happy.

Pause.

Think about that again.

You’ve already achieved goals that you said would make you happy.

Well, that’s a humbling reality check, isn’t it? So why aren’t you experiencing everlasting happiness and satisfaction?

No matter the goal’s size, the reward level, or the …

How I Found My “Why” in Life After Struggling for Years

“Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it.” ~Gautama Buddha

Each time I start a new course, training, or venture, the teacher or leader asks me “why?” “Why are you here?” “Why are you taking this course?” “What’s your ‘why’?” “What’s your purpose?”

And I’m never prepared.

You’d think by now, after all the years of working on myself and studying, I would have an answer on the tip of my tongue.

Yet, I find “why” to be a difficult question to answer.

I have wondered, “Do I really not …

Feeling Pressured to Follow the Crowd and Become Someone You’re Not?

In a world that pressures us to conform and toe the line, it can be hard to live a fulfilling, authentic life.

We can easily spend years trying to be someone or something we’re not—checking off all the right boxes, meeting everyone’s expectations—all in a bid to gain approval from society, our peers, our parents, and even ourselves.

But this comes at a steep cost to our well-being. Not only do we lose ourselves and slowly disconnect from everything that brings us joy and meaning, but we can also end up hating ourselves for struggling to measure up… when ironically, …

When It’s Time to Let People Go: How I’ve Lightened My Emotional Load

By

“Love yourself enough to let go of the people, thoughts, and habits that are weighing you down.” ~Karen Salmansohn

More than a year ago I started unpacking and cleaning out my ‘backpack’ of life in a different way.

I have always tried to remain friends with exes, and even though we didn’t necessarily socialize together, there was still the odd keeping in touch, helping them with a favor, or “Happy Birthday” text.

While most of them are generally nice people, the truth is that if I never dated them, I probably wouldn’t be friends with them now. We’re just on …

7 Steps to Deconstruct Your Anger So It No Longer Controls You

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” ~Buddha

For as long as I can remember I’ve struggled with anger.

My earliest memories of my anger are from junior high school, but it was around much earlier than that.

The only emotion that was ever shown in my house growing up was anger. My dad had an anger problem, and my mother showed no emotion at all. This is what emotional normal looked like to me—either nothing or anger.

I was the …

Why It’s Hard to Hold a Boundary and How to Make It Easier

“The only real conflict you will ever have in your life won’t be with others, but with yourself.”  ~Shannon Adler

I sat in my chemistry class during my junior year of high school staring at the periodic table and wondering if I was going to make it through. Bored and lost, I struggled to find value in the class or make sense of why I was there. It felt purposeless.

Until I met Kevin.

Kevin sat a few seats away from me and was a senior. I knew of him, but I had never really noticed or paid attention to …

How I Created My Own Roadmap for Happiness When I Was Feeling Lost in Life

“Doing what you like is freedom, liking what you do is happiness.” ~Frank Tyger

Life is a web of uncertainty, where we often believe we are on the right path, only to realize we’ve been wandering down the wrong road all along. Ever been there? Thinking you have your whole life planned out? Deciding to go after the things that you think will make you happy, only to end up disappointed on the other side? If so, I completely understand how you feel.

There’s no definitive map leading to a happy or fulfilled life. There is no right or wrong …

How I’m Learning to Feel Confident Without Approval

“Children need to feel seen. Adults do, too.” ~Unknown

As a teenager, I played the flute for about nine years. I never practiced—apart from that guilt-ridden last half hour prior to my weekly lessons. It was important for my parents that their children learned a musical instrument, and so I was given the flute, while my brother played the clarinet (bizarrely, because our grandmother had wanted someone to play Mozart’s clarinet concerto at her funeral).

Truth be told, I think my brother would have much rather learned the guitar, while I was very envious of his clarinet (he got around …

Why I Give Without Expectations (and Don’t Think It’s a “Toxic Trait”)

“Some of the kindest souls I know have lived in a world that was not so kind to them. Some of the best human beings I know have been through so much at the hands of others, and they still love deeply, they still care. Sometimes, it’s the people who have been hurt the most who refuse to be hardened in this world, because they would never want to make another person feel the same way they have felt. If that isn’t something to be in awe of, I don’t know what is.” ~Bianca Sparacino  

I recently came across a …

A Little-Known Truth About People-Pleasing and How to Stop (for Good)

“Being a people-pleaser may be more than a personality trait; it could be a response to serious trauma.” ~Alex Bachert

Growing up in a home, school, and church that placed a lot of value on good behavior, self-discipline, and corporal punishment, I was a model child. There could have been an American Girl doll designed after me—the well-mannered church girl with a nineties hairbow edition.

I was quiet and pleasant and never got sent to the principal’s office. Complaining and “ugly” emotions were simply not allowed. Though I was very rambunctious and “rebellious” as a toddler, all of that was …

Dysfunctional Family Survivors: 7 Myths that Hold Your Healing Hostage

I have never known a patient to portray their parents more negatively than they actually experienced them in childhood but always more positively–because idealization of their parents was essential for their survival.” Alice Miller, Thou Shalt Not Be Aware: Society’s Betrayal of the Child

If were born into dysfunctional families and, by some miracle, manage to recognize theres something really wrong there, we can end up devoting a huge portion of our time on Earth (if not all of it) to piecemealing a life not defined by the despair and pain we felt as children.

How a Barbell Helped Me Confront the Harsh Voice Inside my Head

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” ~Elbert Hubbard

I’m breathing fast; my heart rate is off the scale. I close my eyes and try to fill my lungs with air. My pulse starts slowing down.

Still forty seconds of rest left, my timekeeper shows. A single drop of sweat is running down my back, tickling me. I open my eyes again and drink a sip of lukewarm water, then I get ready for the next series.

Six down, four to go. This is a good day, I