Far be it from me –


A SUMMER SQUALL – Sat 24 – Mon 26 August
We’ve been quiet, getting this year’s Summer Squall ready, and now we’re nearly there…
Thanet Open Studios kicks off the fun this weekend (17/18 August) with artists in Ramgate, Margate, Broadstairs, Birchington and Westgate opening their doors. http://ramsgatearts.org/squall/open-studios
The Squall bursts into life at 10am on Saturday 24th when doors open at the UpDown Gallery for the Open Art, selected by Piers Secunda, Cedric Christie, Margaret Buck, Ben Weidel-Kaufmann and gallery owner Kate Smith. http://ramsgatearts.org/squall-event/open-art-exhibition
On Ramsgate harbour, there’s a host of activity! Toc de Fusta from Spain, The Caravan Gallery, Sunbeam Walkies, our open air stage programmed with music and dance, The Barber of Seville (or Salisbury)…have a peek at the programme to see all that’s on around town. http://ramsgatearts.org/a-summer-squall
We have a Fringe programme for the first time! Some of town’s best bars and groups are putting on events in celebration of summer and the Squall. http://ramsgatearts.org/squall/fringe
But we need your help…Urban Exposure is a whole new concept for the Squall and we still need to raise £1500 to make this amazing day for Thanet young people happen. Jestressflo use freerunning and creative activities to captivate and enthuse young people. We’ve teamed up to present a day of tryouts and inspiration, culminating in a parkour freerunning display at 8.30pm A huge scaffold tower, lights and action – please, we need to make it great for them. If you can donate just £1 it will help us reach our target. Here’s the link http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/urban-exposure-at-the-ramsgate-summer-squall
AND….volunteers….we still need stewards for events, so if you can help for 2 hours, please get in touch urgently. It’s a great team and fun to be part of it all. Please contact suegyde@hotmail.co.uk
We can hardly believe we’re here again! We’re indebted to Ramsgate Town Council, Thanet District Council and Arts Council England as major supporters and to London Array and Thorley Taverns. There’s a huge number of people who make this happen with help in one way or another. Thanks to all, and here’s to seeing you, your friends and contacts at the Squall!
The Trustees, Ramsgate Arts
Ramsgate Arts
Creating inspiring new activities for local people and visitors

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From Ramsgate Arts : A Summer Squall 2013


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The Surviving Spirit Newsletter – February 2013

 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

Hi Folks,

Before we dive into all of the wonderful resources to share from some truly amazing people, I thought I would take this time to ‘gently’ let you know of the Surviving Spirit’s presence on Facebook. We have two sections, first is our Surviving Spirit Facebook Page – where we hope you “Like Us”, but more importantly, a place to visit and learn from some of the great postings shared there – recent examples include:

Jeanne McElvaney – Recognizing the difference between ordinary memories, trauma memories, and dissociated memories can empower us ~

Rachel Grant – Today’s Blog: Embracing Yourself in Love

Misa Leonessa Garavaglia – Spiritual abuse is the misuse of a position of power and the misrepresentation of information.

And then there is our Surviving Spirit Facebook Group which is a place to visit and share what’s going on in your life, find peer support and share your creative expressions. It is a closed group, so log in and ask to join. Thanks!

Once again we are honored to share with you some helpful insight and information…and as the saying goes, “take what you like and leave the rest.”

1] Joining Forces: Empowering Male Survivors to Thrive Dr. Howard Fradkin Foreword by Tyler Perry

Joining Forces: Empowering Male Survivors to Thrive is an inspirational new book written to empower male survivors of sexual abuse and assault at any age to develop skills they can use to overcome the effects of their trauma and learn to thrive in their lives.  Visit the pages on this website to learn more about my book.

The book is organized to reflect the critical steps I believe are necessary to heal and fully recover from sexual victimization of any form.  The first part focuses on essential skills needed to begin the healing process; while the second part focuses on additional skills needed to move toward thriving. Throughout the book, I have incorporated the stories and the wisdom of a group of alumni of our weekends program, who I call the “Silence Breakers”.

Dr. Howard Fradkin – Words and Wisdom – Welcome to my website! I hope you will find inspiration, hope and healing here! I have devoted my career and my life to helping others, and I hope in the words, articles, interviews and links provided here, you will find help for yourself too. What I know to be true is that healing from sexual victimization, no matter what age it started or ended, is absolutely possible and achievable!

I have the pleasure and honor of knowing Howard for many years, dating back to when Male Survivor was first formed, back then they had a really long name, not so now, Male Survivor says it all!

Howard is the real deal….he gets it and his caring and love of helping others shines throughout this powerful book that is a testimony to hope, healing and help. His insight, knowledge and compassion speaks right to you – and that is what I felt while reading this book. I truly felt as if he was in the room talking to me directly, in a gentle and thoughtful manner – that is a wonderful gift of love that he shares, and that is not a word I throw out frivolously. His allies and friends in healing, the “Silence Breakers” also give wonderful insight and testimony on healing throughout the book.

My only ‘disagreement’ with the book pertains to the chapter on Forgiveness. I share his belief that we must learn to forgive ourselves for what was done to us…but I take exception to forgiving those who hurt us – some of us have been able to heal and thrive without having to forgive…and that is okay. That should be a personal choice and belief…

What is Male Survivor? We are committed to preventing, healing, and eliminating all forms of sexual victimization of boys and men through support, treatment, research, education, advocacy, and activism.

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love & belonging & joy— the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” Brené Brown

2] Thursdays @ 10am pst Svava Books answers questions in the OneHealth chat room about childhood sexual abuse.

Register free – http://sexualabusesupport.onehealth.com/   & 2:12 minute audio clip

A safe place to heal – OneHealth is a private and confidential community where you can feel safe and secure when sharing with others and managing your health goals. 

A 24/7 source of community and support – Feel instant fellowship with our online community of people who share your health goals. 

A set of clinical tools that work – Set and keep track of your goals, and share your experience and progress. Find online community meetings when and where you need them. Share your story and life journey with others.

“If I am overwhelmed, I may be trying to do too much. Today I will try to “Keep it simple.” Courage To Change

3] Kids At Risk Action (KARA) – Advocating for the Rights of Invisible Children

KARA is a non-profit advocacy network focusing on issues related to neglected and abused children. Founded by Mike Tikkanen, a businessman turned socially-concerned citizen, KARA works to educate individuals and communities about the need to protect the rights of children.

OUR MISSION is to advocate for the welfare of at-risk children and youth through the identification and promotion of people, programs, and policies that work.

OUR INITIATIVES include raising awareness of at-risk children by:

  • sponsoring KARA Community Forums
  • organizing children’s rights Community Action Networks
  • offering free audiobook downloads of  Invisible Children
  • Contact KARA for information about public speaking engagements & workshops

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” Hans Hofmann 

4] In mental illness, is ‘stigma’ the wrong word? How about ‘discrimination?’  Arielle Levin Becker  The Connecticut Mirror

“When I had cancer, I got cards and flowers,” Karen Kangas’ sign reads. “When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I got no cards and a pink slip.”

A picture of Kangas holding the sign hangs in the state Capitol complex, part of an exhibit called “Discrimination: A Roadblock to Recovery.”

The title is no accident.

People often talk about the stigma of mental illness. But some, including Patricia Rehmer, prefer the term “discrimination.” It’s stronger. It makes people uncomfortable.

And it more accurately describes what people with mental illness face when looking for jobs and housing, in social situations, and even in some legislation that’s been proposed in recent years, said Rehmer, the state’s commissioner of mental health and addiction services.

“I always say it’s the last bastion of discrimination,” she said. “I can’t really think of another group that’s still so discriminated against.”

“Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” Carl Bard

5] Ark of Hope for Children brings awareness of and provides emotional care for victims of child abuse, child sex trafficking and bullying (peer abuse). Ark of Hope focuses on care, habilitation and life transformation to help victims become empowered survivors.

When loving people stand in the gap with sacrificial and unconditional love, the trajectory of shattered lives can change forever. Through Ark of Hope programs we encourage local, church, state and international mobilization on behalf of abused, trafficked and bullied children.

 Ark of Hope programs:

“Love is a great beautifier.” Louisa May Alcott

Ruth Jacobs is another great example of a Surviving Spirit who has taken her own pain and suffering and turned that into a force of greater good for helping others – please do visit her website. And her Facebook pages [ https://www.facebook.com/rujacobs & https://www.facebook.com/SoulDestructionSeries ] where there are all kinds of great sharing, resources, hope and healing.

6] Ruth Jacobs – author   http://ruthjacobs.co.uk/

I write a series of novels entitled Soul Destruction, which dispel the ‘happy hooker’ myth and expose the dark world and the harsh reality of life as a call girl. My debut novel, Soul Destruction: Unforgivable, will be published in 2013 by Caffeine Nights. I studied prostitution in the late 1990s, which sparked my interest in the subject. I draw on my research and the women I interviewed for inspiration. I also have firsthand experience of many of the topics I write about such as posttraumatic stress disorder, and drug and alcohol addiction. My short charity publication, In Her Own Words… Interview with a London Call Girl, is available on Amazon.

To view the series of interviews for Human Trafficking Awareness Month, January 2013, click here.

In Her Own Words… Interview with a London Call Girl is available to download from Amazon. All royalties will be donated to Beyond the Streets, a charity helping women exit prostitution. The publication is 77p from Amazon UK here & 99c from Amazon US here. It is also available worldwide.

“Today I will make use of the precious gift of imagination. Thus I will turn away from negativity, self-doubt, and fear, and celebrate life instead.” Courage To Change

Some great news to share from my friend and fellow advocate and member of Males 4 Trauma Recovery, William Kellibrew of the William Kellibrew Foundation [WKF] 

7] WKF Stories of Surviving and Thriving

As the national conversation about violence prevention continues it is important that the voices of those who have been affected are heard.  

Each month we will share at least one story in order to build awareness, educate policy makers and help shape the public policy conversation. 

1. Send an email to – info@TheWKFoundation.org  

Include: Name, Age, Location, Your Story 

2. Be prepared to record a 3-minute video sharing your story.  

– What happened? 

– How did you feel then and now?

– How are you coping?

– What do you hope will be done to prevent this type of violence in the future?

– What do you think is an important message for others to take away from your story?

We start with a courageous woman from Kansas, Linda Oktach, whose husband was murdered in 1968 on Thanksgiving Day. In response to Newtown, Linda tells her story of survival; raising her 22 month old son who survived the day she lost her husband.  It is stories like Linda’s that give us hope. Thank you for your courage Linda. Linda now lives in Kenya. 

WKF Stories Restoring Lives: Linda Oktach – YouTube   4:54 minutes

“The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.” Hubert Humphrey

8] The Road To Resilience  

How do people deal with difficult events that change their lives? The death of a loved one, loss of a job, serious illness, terrorist attacks and other traumatic events: these are all examples of very challenging life experiences. Many people react to such circumstances with a flood of strong emotions and a sense of uncertainty.

Yet people generally adapt well over time to life-changing situations and stressful conditions. What enables them to do so? It involves resilience, an ongoing process that requires time and effort and engages people in taking a number of steps.

This article is intended to help readers with taking their own road to resilience. The information within describes resilience and some factors that affect how people deal with hardship. Much of the article focuses on developing and using a personal strategy for enhancing resilience.

“The more light you allow within you, the brighter the world you live in will be.” Shakti Gawain

9] 10 Journaling Tips to Help You Heal, Grow and Thrive – Loran Hills @ Tiny Buddha

Keeping a journal has many positive benefits. Journaling can help with personal growth and development. By regularly recording your thoughts you will gain insight into your behaviors and moods.

Journaling can be used for problem-solving and stress reduction. It’s been proven to improve mental and physical health. It can lead to increased self-esteem.

10] You Can Be Your Own Hero – You Tube

Here’s a forum where you can share your own video of speaking out regarding sexual abuse as these courageous folks have done.

“To improve the golden moment of opportunity, and catch the good that is within our reach, is the great art of life.” Samuel Johnson 

11] Rethinking mental health: Local practitioners, groups reject mainstream treatment – Tracy Rose, Mountain Xpress Asheville, NC

Asheville psychiatrist Daniel Johnson didn’t set out to transform his profession. But he’s now part of a growing movement, both locally and nationally, that’s challenging the most fundamental assumptions about mental illness.

Dr. Johnson launched a private practice here in 2010 and, like most psychiatrists, he prescribed medications for his patients. But a controversial article he read nearly a year and a half ago got him thinking and eventually led to a profound shift in the nature of his work (see sidebar, “By the Book(s)”).

“Unfortunately, and sadly, more often than not, medications do more harm than good,” Johnson now maintains. “And of course I had contributed to all that in my own practice. I had a lot of soul searching and reckoning to do on a personal level.”

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” Oscar Wilde

12] The Voice from the Spectrum: My First News Appearance on Autism Awareness

Ryan Comins is a graduate of Oakland University. In December 2012 Ryan received his Bachelor of Science and Business Administration with a major in marketing and a minor in English. While attending school, he was a member of the marketing honor society Alpha Mu Alpha. Ryan was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder (otherwise not specified autism) at age 12. Through use social media and internet radio, Ryan uses his eloquent way with words to help raise autism awareness.

“If I can see pain in your eyes then share with me your tears. If I can see joy in your eyes then share with me your smile.” Santosh Kalwar

13] How Child Abuse Primes the Brain for Future Mental Illness – By Maia Szalavitz TIME Magazine – Health & Family

Child maltreatment has been called the tobacco industry of mental health. Much the way smoking directly causes or triggers predispositions for physical disease, early abuse may contribute to virtually all types of mental illness.

Now, in the largest study yet to use brain scans to show the effects of child abuse, researchers have found specific changes in key regions in and around the hippocampus in the brains of young adults who were maltreated or neglected in childhood. These changes may leave victims more vulnerable to depression, addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the study suggests.

& Study: How Chronic Stress Can Lead to Depression Maia Szalavitz

“They do not want to hear what their children suffer. They’ve made the telling of the suffering itself taboo.” From Possessing the Secret of Joy, by Alice Walker

14] America Has an Incest Problem – Mia Fontaine The Atlantic

Mia Fontaine is the author of Come Back and Have Mother, Will Travel, and a speaker on the subject of incest and child sexual abuse. She has written for the New York Times and Ms. magazine.

People are rightly horrified by abuse scandals at Penn State and in the Catholic church. But what about children who are molested by their own family members?

Last year offered plenty of moments to have a sustained national conversation about child sexual abuse: the Jerry Sandusky verdict, the BBC’s Jimmy Savile, Horace Mann’s faculty members, and a slew of slightly less publicized incidents. President Obama missed the opportunity to put this issue on his second-term agenda in his inaugural speech.

Child sexual abuse impacts more Americans annually than cancer, AIDS, gun violence, LGBT inequality, and the mortgage crisis combined—subjects that Obama did cover.

Had he mentioned this issue, he would have been the first president to acknowledge the abuse that occurs in the institution that predates all others: the family. Incest was the first form of institutional abuse, and it remains by far the most widespread.

“Child abuse casts a shadow the length of a lifetime.” Herbert Ward

Kudos to Mia Fontaine for writing this…I would take this a step further and add in child abuse in all of its forms – the silent epidemic that is causing so much suffering throughout our world…someday this silence will end, till then, we all continue to do what we do in our respective advocacy endeavors…and thank you for that.

Take care, Mike, Mary, Zsuzsi, Rachel, Cynthia & Mary Ann

ps. Please share this with your friends & if you have received this in error, please let me know. 

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King, Jr.

                                               A diagnosis is not a destiny  

The Surviving Spirit – Healing the Heart Through the Creative Arts, Education & Advocacy – Hope, Healing & Help for Trauma, Abuse & Mental Health 

The Surviving Spirit Speakers’ Bureau

The Surviving Spirit Facebook Page

mike.skinner@survivingspirit.com   603-625-2136  38 River Ledge Drive, Goffstown, NH 03045 

@SurvivinSpirit Twitter

“BE the change you want to see in the world.” Mohandas Gandhi

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From Michael Skinner – The Surviving Spirit Newsletter January 2013


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 secret to living the life of your dreams is to start living the life of your dreams today, in every little way you possibly can.” Mike Dooley


“Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect.” Alan Cohen


Hi Folks,


Wow, 2013…another New Year and wishing all of you the joys, hopes and dreams that the New Year may offer and bring to you as you work on new ideas, resolutions, opportunities, self examination, trying new things…and old things, new goals, plans, dreams and ambitions. Whatever they may be, wishing everyone all the best in your pursuit of these endeavors.


“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” Saint Francis of Assisi


Our hopes and plans for The Surviving Spirit are to be expanding and improving our Website Resources and the newsletter – some of which is being worked on now. Slowly but surely we are getting there…a work in progress. All of our Board members are also quite busy with their undertakings of work and creative projects.


For myself, I will be starting the recording process soon for my fourth album, “Truth, Love & Light”…very excited to be doing this. It has taken me a bit longer to get to this stage due to the surgery I had a few years ago that involved the removal of my left thumb joint – it has taken a while for my fretting hand to get back in shape to do this. This has been another teaching lesson for me in the art of learning patience…sometimes I can be a slow learner, but with time, I eventually get there.


Once again we have compiled some helpful and insightful resources to share with you and very excited to open up with some ‘new’ things for the New Year from Rachel, Beth & Debbie. Despite some of the pain and turmoil going on in the world, there are still so many others doing what they can to help make the world a better place – the resources we are sharing in this newsletter are some great examples of that…


1] Fellow board member Rachel Grant is pleased to offer her newly published guidebook, Beyond Surviving: The Final Stage in Recovery from Sexual Abuse

Rachel Grant Trauma Recovery & Relationship Coach
In the world of recovery, there has been a shift from using the word “victim” to “survivor” when describing those who have been abused. This new label conveys strength-to empower and to embolden you as you begin the journey of recovery. While moving from victim to survivor is an important step in the healing process, it does not go far enough in framing an identity that leads to a thriving and powerful life.

In Beyond Surviving, author Rachel Grant, provides an understanding of the three stages of recovery-victim, survivor, and beyond surviving-and offers survivors guidance and tools for reaching the third stage of recovery. Based on cognitive behavioral techniques, neurological science, the power of language to heal, and Grant’s personal journey, Beyond Surviving teaches you how to actively challenge and break the patterns of thought and behavior that result from sexual abuse. It explores how different areas of life are impacted by abuse and communicates valuable skills for gaining a new perspective that inspires action and change. It provides an opportunity to reflect and practice these new skills through exercises and assignments.


Available for purchase in paperback or Kindle on Amazon or download a free excerpt.


2] A rooted mind….Reflections on saying yes to beauty, wellness and deeply rooted mental health – Beth Gager, singer, writer, advocate, peer and a gentle spirit


These past few years I have been working really hard on getting what I need in my life. I have been pushing myself to be what I need be in the world. I had covered myself up and held myself down for a long time because I had experienced so much pain and disillusionment with my experiences when I was in and out of the hospital and I needed to work at getting my life back together. I forgot who I was for a while and I needed to find my center again. I needed to uncover my roots and feel my feet on the earth. I needed to stretch my arms toward the sun. I needed to let the breeze be my gentle friend. But now, step-by-step, I have done that. My roots are strong. My fingertips know how to touch the sky. I have uncovered myself bit by bit and now I can see who I am again when I look in the mirror. And now, I am ready to be in a different place. I don’t have to be covered up but I also don’t have to push anymore.


It’s about letting the quiet that is inside me also surround me. It’s about beauty. And I say yes.


3] Deborah Louise Trueheart – Living Into Wholeness


I have many passions, which include the evolution of consciousness and spirituality, complimentary holistic health and a non-disease approach to mental health, and creativity.  These passions culminate in the development of a curriculum called, “Living Into Wholeness.”



Since we are all connected, I believe we see ourselves in each other. We gain and give strength, hope, courage and inspiration to each other by sharing ourselves. The Native Americans say that our story is medicine. My desire is to hold a mirror up to you of your own beauty, your own magnificence, your own wholeness and your own Divinity. May you find medicine in my story.


“We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves, otherwise we harden.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


4] Increasing Self-Compassion in PTSD – Countering Negative Beliefs and Thoughts about the Self by Matthew Tull, PhD  @ About.com Post Traumatic Stress


Many people with a diagnosis of PTSD struggle with self-compassion. The symptoms of PTSD can be very intense and can disrupt many areas of a person’s life. As a result, people with PTSD may start to experience feelings of guilt or shame, have negative thoughts about themselves, or feel worthless or like a failure.


A lack of self-compassion can have a huge impact on recovery from PTSD. A lack of self-compassion may decrease motivation to continue through those difficult moments in treatment. It may increase feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.

[Folks, we all need and deserve self-compassion, whatever your struggles may be]


5] ‘Homeless Yoga’ And ‘The Art Of Panhandling’ by Kevin Sullivan – producer/WBUR Staff – Here & Now  [Please note, this link allows you to hear the audio clip for the radio show {16:09 minutes long} and a full story on The Pilgrim Magazine – worth listening to and reading…powerful and insightful]


Thumbing through Wednesday’s Boston Globe, back in the Metro section, there’s a story about a man found dead Tuesday on a park bench in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood.

Police suspect he was homeless, and won’t be able to identify him for a few days.

His story may never be told. But the stories of other homeless people, written in their own words, are being told.


James Parker, a columnist with the Atlantic, last year began publishing “The Pilgrim” with help from Boston’s historic Cathedral Church of Saint Paul. Each issue contains stories, essays, poems, even comics, written by the homeless. It started when Parker began a writers’ group for the homeless at the church. “As soon as these guys started writing, I became aware instantly that I had some amazing material,” Parker said.

The stories are stark and serious, ironic and funny.


Read the December 2012 issue of The Pilgrim  Pilgrim Magazine PDF


The Pilgrim is a journal produced by members of Boston’s homeless community, published by the Cathedral Church of St Paul, and dedicated to the proposition that homelessness is a state of acute pilgrimage. It features poetry, memoir, prayer, reportage, jubilation and despair. To quote one of our regular writers: “This paper is real. It don’t get realer than this.”


“It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.” Nelson Mandela


6] The Irish Times – Slow progress in mental health service as tide goes out on Victorian-era hospitals


Many patients say an understaffed community mental health service has left them isolated and disempowered. Miriam O’Shea was looking for help. She had spent several months in a psychiatric hospital, where she was treated for bipolar disorder. But after she was discharged and looked for support in the community, she felt she couldn’t find any.


“Drugs work for some people but for me they just numb my emotions,” said O’Shea, who left hospital last February. “I needed the kind of peer support in the community and the kind of therapy that treats you as someone with emotional and spiritual needs. I couldn’t find any of that . . . All I was being offered was medication and more medication.”


“Keep on beginning and failing. Each time you fail, start all over again, and you will grow stronger until you have accomplished a purpose – not the one you began with perhaps, but one you’ll be glad to remember.” Anne Sullivan


7] Dark Side of the Brain – The National CBC Television Video clip 8:12 minutes


New research suggests that when the brain is in a resting state, it isn’t as dormant as previously thought, CBC’s Kelly Crowe reports on new research to help heal “mental trauma”…


CBC interviews a woman who experienced multiple gang rapes between 11 – 14 and all of the different diagnoses she was given – bipolar, schizo-affective disorder, depressive disorder, borderline, etc, etc.


This is a fascinating and informative report that is well worth watching to help understand how trauma severs the connections in our brains for so many of us impacted by trauma and abuse and some new thoughts and ideas on healing. The brain scans of a ‘normal’ brain versus a traumatized one helps put it into perspective.


8] Childhood Trauma Leaves Its Mark On the Brain – Science Daily


It is well known that violent adults often have a history of childhood psychological trauma. Some of these individuals exhibit very real, physical alterations in a part of the brain called the orbitofrontal cortex. Yet a direct link between such early trauma and neurological changes has been difficult to find, until now.


“This research shows that people exposed to trauma in childhood don’t only suffer psychologically, but their brain also gets altered,” explains Sandi, Head of EPFL’s Laboratory of Behavioral Genetics, Director of the Brain Mind Institute, and a member of the National Centers for Competence in Research SYNAPSY. “This adds an additional dimension to the consequences of abuse, and obviously has scientific, therapeutic and social implications.”


“We heal the past by living in the present.” Marianne Williamson


9] ‘Sliver Of Sky,’ Barry Lopez Confronts Childhood Sexual Abuse:NPR audio clip 44:18 minutes


Barry Lopez is known for writing about the natural world. His books include Arctic Dreams and Of Wolves and Men, where he explores the relationship between the physical landscape and human culture. But in a new essay in the January issue of Harper’s Magazine, Lopez writes that he was sexually molested by a family friend when he was a boy, and says the man was never brought to justice.


The abuse began when Lopez was 7 years old. The man, named Harry Shier, oversaw the alcoholism treatment for a relative of Lopez’s mother at the sanatorium Shier supervised in North Hollywood, Calif. He presented himself as a doctor. Lopez writes that Shier said there was something wrong with Lopez, and that the rape was treatment for that problem.

Lopez, who lives in Oregon, says this piece is the hardest he’s ever written.

Sliver of Sky – Confronting the trauma of sexual abuse  Harper’s Magazine

“The advantage that I had,” he says, “is that I’ve been a writer all my life, and I had somebody at Harper’s – Chris Cox – who was an exceptional editor, who could do what I could not do, which is I could not find and hold the emotional distance that I needed from this material in order to write about it in the way that I thought I had to, which is, in the end it’s not about me, it’s about us.”

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the voice at the end of the day saying, I will try again tomorrow.” Mary Anne Radmacher

10] Showcase your art. Create your own free website – an online Art Portfolio

Your Website. Your Way.​ Change colors, text, backgrounds, pics and more to create your own unique site

11] Etsy – Your place to buy and sell all things handmade, vintage, and supplies

12] ReverbNation – The best tools for musicians and the best music for everyone else.

Home to Over 2.72 Million MusiciansVenuesLabels, and Industry Professionals


13] Webs – Make a free website & get free hosting Create a Free Website:


  • Easy Website Building Tools
  • Professional Website Templates
  • Powerful Business Applications


14] Hayden Kian – book publishing – Donna Kshir & Sandra Potter also with Dreamcatchers for Abused Children


As accomplished authors who have been published both professionally and self-published, we know firsthand there are many routes you can take to complete the publishing process.

You can spend months and sometimes years submitting your manuscript to agents and publishers, and a majority of the time your manuscript is deleted, unread. As an alternative you choose to self-publish, but the process is a long and complicated process that tends to feel like you are trapped in a nightmare.

We at Hayden Kian want to change all that. We want to make the process as easy and convenient as possible.


“No human relation gives one possession in another – every two souls are absolutely different. In friendship or in love, the two side by side raise hands together to find what one cannot reach alone.” Kahlil Gibran


15] Survey from the Office of Victims of Crime – Adult Survivors of Child Pornography Production


Are you an adult survivor of child sexual abuse that involved sexually explicit images taken of you when you were age 17 or younger? If so, please consider helping others by taking this survey, which aims to find ways to help meet the complex needs of victims of this crime.


The survey is funded by the Department of Justice, Office of Victims of Crime. It asks about help you received, barriers to getting help, and suggestions for improving how victims of these crimes are treated by police, prosecutors, courts, and counselors. It also includes a few general questions about the crimes that you experienced.  You are free to skip any questions you do not want to answer and you will not be asked for any information that could identify you.


Click here to find out more information and take the survey.


I was sent this Survey due to my affiliation with the RAINN Speakers Bureau….I’m hopeful that my responses can help others, but it certainly took the wind out of my sails for a few day due to what it dredged up. I think my first act of defiant advocacy was when I was eight or nine years old and scooped up a pile of magazines containing child pornography that were in my parents basement – full of fear, I took them over to the woods across from my home and buried them….


“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Theodore Roosevelt


Finally, some words of wisdom and compassion from Deb Trueheart along with a few articles addressing the horrific tragedy in Newtown, CT.


“This has also been a time of deep contemplation for me after the latest school shooting in Connecticut.  I seek within myself to find the soul-level response to these events.  When I go to my deepest wisdom and seek the highest guidance, I continue to be called into Oneness Consciousness, which reminds me that we are all interconnected and interdependent and that violence evolves out of a place of alienation; that real solutions require a change in social attitudes and practices that alienate whatever/whoever we don’t like, don’t agree with, or are afraid of and call it “other.”


“My sense is that the more we develop awareness and practices that reach out, in goodwill and loving kindness and help create communities where difference is honored, where we truly act on the notion that we are all one, then we create a place of belonging for all.  This is the world I want to live in; the one I choose to help create.  We all long to know we belong.  When we have that, I believe there is a supreme sense of safety.”


“The world is changing because we are changing it. And that makes me understand at least what kind of person I’d like to be…to seek ways, big or small to heal the world. That to me is spirituality and one’s soul.” Carl Safina


16] It Shouldn’t Take a Tragedy to Improve Treatment New York Times  By Harvey Rosenthal – Executive director of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services 


The recent tragedies in Newtown and elsewhere are especially abhorrent to those of us in the mental health community, particularly since studies have shown that people with mental illness are 12 times more likely to be victims of violence, and no more likely to be violent, if they are not substance abusers.


Nonetheless, horrific acts of violence are inevitably associated with mental illnesses, often because the motivations for them seem unfathomable, and they end upgetting sensationalized front page coverage.


This has led to a wholesale vilification of conditions that 1 in 5 Americans share. That’s the sort of profiling that has been the fate of some racial or religious groups.


17] Mass Murder: Is There a Mental Health Issue? Huffington Post

By Michael Friedman, L.M.S.W.  Adjunct Associate Professor, Columbia University Schools of Social Work and Public Health


From time to time, a person with a severe mental illness (or assumed to have a mental illness) commits a murder that makes headlines. As the tragic slaughter of children and teachers in Newtown, Conn. illustrates, the reactive call to address “the mental health issue” is entirely predictable. Sometimes the call to improve mental health policy and practice comes from people trying to distract us from issues such as gun control. But often it comes from politicians, journalists, and social advocates (even mental health advocates) who sincerely believe that addressing the so-called mental health issue could reduce mass murders in the United States. Are they right? Are there interventions that would reduce the incidence of mass murders?


Those who call for addressing the mental health issue in criminal violence have disparate and often unclear views of what can be done to help. But, despite their differences, they appear to share three highly questionable assumptions.


18] Let’s Stop Blaming The Mentally Ill  Arizona Daily Star  By Lollie Butler – director of the program Heart to Heart, through the National Alliance for Mental Illness of Southern Arizona.


There is a bloody war being waged in America; gun advocates versus those who would ban guns. This “civil” war may go on for a long time.


Meanwhile, those suffering from mental illnesses unfairly shoulder the blame for atrocities committed against the innocent. This is an unreasonable situation. Armed persons firing into crowds, whether at schools or shopping malls, defies reason and causes all of us to feel vulnerable. It also takes its toll on those with mental illnesses. Words like “crazy” and “deranged” fly across the front pages, and the mentally ill in treatment, saddled with severe funding cuts and ongoing social stigma, take it on the chin.


A 2009 study in the Archives of General Psychiatry states, “If a person has severe mental illness without substance abuse and a history of violence, he or she has the same chance of being violent during the next three years as any other person in the general population.” “It’s unproductive to besmirch a whole group of people recovering from (mental) illnesses as if they are all dangerous – when in fact, they’re not,” says Duke University medical sociologist Jeffery Swanson.


“Every truth passes through three stages before it is recognized, in the first it is ridiculed, in the second it is opposed, in the third it is regarded as self-evident.” Arthur Schopenhauer


Take care, Mike, Mary, Zsuzsi, Rachel, Cynthia & Mary Ann


ps. Please share this with your friends & if you have received this in error, please let me know.


Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King, Jr.

                 A diagnosis is not a destiny


The Surviving Spirit – Healing the Heart Through the Creative Arts, Education & Advocacy – Hope, Healing & Help for Trauma, Abuse & Mental Health


The Surviving Spirit Speakers’ Bureau


The Surviving Spirit Facebook Page


mike.skinner@survivingspirit.com   603-625-2136  38 River Ledge Drive, Goffstown, NH 03045


@SurvivinSpirit Twitter


“BE the change you want to see in the world.” Mohandas Gandhi

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From Michael Skinner -The Surviving Spirit Newsletter December 2012


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


Greeting folks,


I hope this finds you well….and yet I am mindful that this being the Holiday Season, it is not always a ‘joyous’ time for all…and for many reasons. This newsletter is not meant to be a ‘downer’ or a depressant, but we do need to be aware of others [and of ourselves] and the pressures and concerns that can be brought on because of the holidays and what they entail. I find the advent of Halloween to be a harsh reminder of the slow walk through the Hallmark Seasons that more often than not, I wish were over. And yet, I do find great joy for the season in spending time with friends, seeing the holiday decorations, get-togethers and so much more…such a darn contradiction.


The term “triggered” can sometimes end up sounding so clichéd…but there is power and truth to that simple word…especially when one has been impacted by the trauma of abuse or losses in life, whatever they may be. Our struggles with trauma, abuse and mental health challenges have their own special way of affecting our lives and those we care for. I wish I knew back then what I know now – it could have helped me to understand why I could go into some deep funk or just numb out, even when in the midst of my happy children and ex-wife in times of celebration. As a child and a teenager, I never knew what was going to happen on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day – the home would look like it was decked out for the holidays and food was being prepared…but one never knew what explosion of rage, brutality or perversion was going to erupt at any moment. I stuffed those memories and feelings down as far as they could go…but all I needed was the slightest trigger of some remembrance, a feeling, a holiday song, a word, and most frustrating, many times I just didn’t know what came over me and I would be numb and oblivious to those that I loved….I can only imagine how confusing and frustrating that was for them. But we weren’t supposed to talk about the past, we were supposed to suck it up and just get over it…aahhh…if it was only so simple. I couldn’t understand the power of dissociation back then…and would just look on at my family in some blank stare…I was there physically, but I had checked out mentally and spiritually.


New Years Eve has its own mixed message…a time to ring in the new and my time to look back over the year and express the thanks and gratitude for what I do have in my life – and yet, it is the time that my brother David took his life…December 27th is my brother Danny’s birth date, he too ended his life several years ago. The calendar has its own unique way of reminding me of past hurts – December 26th and the 29th are the birthdates of my parents, the people who caused me so much trauma and abuse in my young life. Mindfulness has helped me in coping with all of this and taking the time to be good to myself and giving thanks in counting the blessings that I do have in my life. My own personal belief is that one never truly just gets over it….we survive, we heal, and we thrive…but some pains and hurts may always be with us.


“When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.” Peter Marshall


I have friends who have lost loved ones to cancer and other health concerns…so they too struggle at this time of the year, loneliness can kill us inside – so the power of peer support and reaching out is so important for everyone touched by hurts and losses. In last month’s newsletter, we shared “Rocking the Cradle”, a study regarding parents and disabilities – a sobering and horrible statistic was the one that “80% of parents with psychiatric disabilities lose custody of their children”. I think of all the people I know as friends and peers who are part of that shameful fact; all of them good people and good parents, their only misfortune was to have that diagnosis of being labeled “mentally ill” and how that was used as a weapon against them by an angry ex-spouse or partner to cause them to lose the rights to their kids – I am one of those parents and that hurt never goes away…so the holidays can be one painful reminder of something so near and dear to your heart that has been cut out of your life for all of the wrong reasons.


“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” Elisabeth Kübler-Ross


I truly believe that it is okay to acknowledge our hurts, our losses, our struggles and our grief…to embrace those feelings as they come up and find the way that is special for you in letting it be….and then turn to the things that do give us comfort and joy to soothe us and help us heal, especially when in the midst of the Holiday Season. Hopefully some of the resources that we share in this newsletter and from our website can be of assistance to you in your healing journey.


Taking care of yourself is so important. So many survivors forget how because of the trauma they’ve endured.” Marie Waldrep


1] Surviving & Getting Through the Holidays – please visit our website, we have links to twenty one resources that cover trauma, abuse, divorce, loss, vets, staying sober & safe, depression and so much more


“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” Soren Kierkegaard


2] Grief Recovery – we share eight resources to help you and those you care for


“If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” Meister Eckhart


3] How Gratitude Can Change Your Life


Gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you’ve been given. Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present. In addition, behavioral and psychological research has shown the surprising life improvements that can stem from the practice of gratitude. Giving thanks makes people happier and more resilient, it strengthens relationships, it improves health, and it reduces stress.


“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” Marcel Proust


4] Gratitude – Psychology Today 


Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for  what one has – as opposed to, say, a consumer-oriented emphasis  on what one wants or needs—and is currently receiving a great deal of attention as a facet of positive psychology. Gratitude is what gets poured into the glass to make it half full. Studies show that gratitude not only can be deliberately cultivated but can increase levels of well-being and happiness among those who do cultivate it.  In addition, grateful thinking – and especially expression of it to others – is associated with increased levels of energy, optimism, and empathy.


“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”  Elizabeth Gilbert


5] What Is Positive Psychology, and What Is It Not? – Psychology Today   


Positive psychology is the scientific study of what makes life most worth living. It is a call for psychological science and practice to be as concerned with strength as with weakness; as interested in building the best things in life as in repairing the worst; and as concerned with making the lives of normal people fulfilling as with healing pathology.


Nowhere does this definition say or imply that psychology should ignore or dismiss the very real problems that people experience. Nowhere does it say or imply that the rest of psychology needs to be discarded or replaced. The value of positive psychology is to complement and extend the problem-focused psychology that has been dominant for many decades.


“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” John F. Kennedy


6] “I Sparkle When I” – Beth Gager M.Ed. Coordinator of Consumer Empowerment


Back in October I had the honor to give the keynote presentation for the Region Ten Community Services Board Consumer Advisory Council’s 7th Annual Recovery Conference “Once Upon a Sparkle: Remember what makes you shine!” in Charlottesville, Virginia. Beth Gager had created this wonderful handout for the conference and this is worth sharing because we all deserve to Sparkle and Shine.



I Sparkle When I

*sing *dance *laugh *move *create *paint *draw *write *play *sculpt *love *pray *work *run *walk *mother *father *talk *listen *feel *breathe *speak *act *perform *imagine *dream *wonder *hope *believe *think *cry *shout *praise*thank *journal *flow *sit *read *study *craft *encourage *support *fly *dive *swim *soar *experience *care *live *help *assist *cook *clean *wear *dress *adorn *adore *accept *understand *enjoy *practice *plan *think *eat *drink *make *discover *explore *find *bring



If you would like a copy of this sent to you separately as a Word Document, please let me know – it looks great in a picture frame Mike.Skinner@SurvivingSpirit.com  [Thanks Beth!!!]


“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” Norman Vincent Peale


7] Georgina Whitehead and Inner Child Concerts – London, England


Georgina is a gifted musician who also uses her musical gifts to help those affected by trauma and abuse – she has recently produced her highly acclaimed ‘Solo Guitar CD’ which has been featured on BBC Radio Norfolk and Radio Yare. For further information and audio samples please visit her CD page.


“The Inner Child Concert is for survivors of all types of abuse and trauma. She will be presenting one of her special concerts on December 30th for The National Association for People Abused in Childhood. To learn more, please visit –http://www.napac.org.uk/eventscurrent.asp


“If children grew according to early indications we should have nothing but geniuses.” Johann Wolfgang Goethe


8] While we are visiting “across the pond”, we would be remiss if we did not feature one of our other gifted and creative friends, Judith Haire, author of the book,“Don’t Mind Me”.


“Don’t Mind Me” is the story of her dysfunctional childhood and teenage depression, her abusive first marriage and experience of rape and domestic violence, her terrifying descent into psychosis and her recovery. A very powerful and poignant book….written by a deeply caring and compassionate individual…and a dear friend.


9] The Awakenings Project – Empowering and healing through art


The Awakenings Project is a grass-roots initiative whose mission is to assist artists with psychiatric illnesses in developing their craft and finding an outlet for their creative abilities through art in all forms. The Awakenings Project also works to raise public awareness and acceptance of the creative talents of people living with psychiatric disorders who work in the fields of fine art, music, literature, and drama


The Awakenings Project has grown over the years to encompass several efforts, including Awakenings Fine Arts, The Awakenings Review, Awakenings Music, andAwakenings Drama. The Awakenings Art Show, which debuted in 1996, is now a regular activity of the Awakenings Fine Arts program, along with the operation of a working art studio. At the Awakenings studio, artists have access to a “drop-in” environment providing a supportive creative environment including work space, friendship, and solitude for those who seek it. The studio, located in Elgin, Illinois, since July 2008, is also used for other functions, such as writing workshops, play rehearsals, and receptions.


“Go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” Kurt Vonnegut


10] Lunacy Lost: A Memoir of Green Mental Health by Sue Westwind


A Family’s Shame:

Growing up with my suicidal grandmother, watching my brother’s fall into schizophrenia…I was hospitalized in the late 1960’s for being a teenage runaway with a drug problem. Psychotherapy was king, and it blamed the parents. My parents blamed our genetics, “the Wohler Madness.”



As a young woman in California, I devoured the writings of R.D. Laing, Thomas Szasz, and the Madness Network News. I believed electroshock and medications were deployed for social control of persons who were simply different. It was the Vietnam War era, and so much in our culture seemed poised to change.


Healing Myself / Helping Others:

In the ’80′s and early ’90′s I studied many forms of inner work and self-therapy: the Inner Child process, gestalt, yoga, Transcendental Meditation, feminist therapy, shamanic journeys and more. Finally a successful hypnotherapist in private practice, I gravitated to the works of John Weir Perry and Stanislav Grof:

madness as visionary experience.


“We are paying dearly – with our epidemic of mental and behavior disorder – for poisoning our air, water, soil, and each other.

The solution is open to all.  I learned from autism, and found green mental health.”


“If you wish to know the mind of a man, listen to his words.” Johann Wolfgang Goethe


11] Eight Weeks to Whole Health: National Council Offers WHAM Peer Trainings


The National Council for Behavioral Health (National Council) now offers 2-day in-person trainings in WHAM – Whole Health Action Management – a new science-based program that teaches participants to set and achieve whole health goals through weekly action plans and 8-week support groups. The training prepares persons with mental illness and addiction disorders, employed in behavioral health organizations, to facilitate WHAM groups that help their peers reach whole health, wellness, and resiliency goals through effective self-management. Trainings are offered anywhere in the country for interested organizations and regions.

To learn how the National Council can bring a 2-day WHAM training to your site, contact Daisy Wheeler, National Council Consulting Manager, atDaisyW@thenationalcouncil.org or 202.684.7457.


“Remind me each day that the race is not always to the swift; that there is more to life than increasing its peed. Let me look upward into the towering oak and know that it grew great and strong because it grew slowly and well.” Orin L. Crain


12] Defining Trauma: Give Us Your Feedback


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA] is now seeking input from the public on the concept paper, SAMHSA’s Working Definition of Trauma and Principles and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach.


For ease of review, the paper is divided into three sections:

1.   Definition of Trauma

2.   A Trauma-Informed Approach

3.   Guidelines for Implementing a Trauma-Informed Approach.


Each section has a separate link and unique forum to provide comments and, if you wish, to vote on comment offered by others. You have up to 10 votes to endorse other comments, and you may revise your votes throughout the comment period.


The feedback forum will be open from the period beginning Monday, December 10, 2012, and ending at midnight Eastern Time on Friday, December 21, 2012. This forum will provide an open and transparent process for stakeholders to offer their comments about the definitions, principles, and guidelines, and also make suggestions for improvement.


13] Why schizophrenia medication only works for some people – Mental Wellness Today  – Your Partner in Mental Wellness


“Despite considerable scientific and therapeutic progress over the last 50 years, we still do not know why some patients with schizophrenia respond to treatment whilst others do not,” said Arsime Demjaha, MD and colleagues. “Treatment resistance in such a disabling condition is one of the greatest clinical and therapeutic challenges to psychiatry, significantly affecting patients, their families, and society in general.”


“People were created to be loved, things were created to be used; the reason why the world is in chaos right now is because things are being loved and people are being used.” Unknown


The Surviving Spirit is glad to welcome Mary Ann Goughler to our Board of Directors – besides being a caring and compassionate advocate, she is also a gifted artist. Please do take a look at a few of her incredible pieces of art. http://store.survivingspirit.com/webstore/visual-arts.html?p=2


We also want to thank John Mark Clubb for his efforts and time in service to the Board – we know he will continue in his advocacy endeavors of speaking out and writing to help others affected by trauma, abuse and mental health concerns. http://johnmarkclubb.com/


And a ‘gentle reminder’ – The Surviving Spirit is a 501C3 so your gifts and contributions are greatly appreciated – thank you.


We truly hope that our words, thoughts and resources help you in your healing journey…and as the saying goes, “take what you like and leave the rest”.


“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.” Maya Angelou



Take care, Mike, Mary, Lynn, Zsuzsi, Rachel, Cynthia & Mary Ann


ps. Please share this with your friends & if you have received this in error, please let me know.


Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King, Jr.

                 A diagnosis is not a destiny


The Surviving Spirit – Healing the Heart Through the Creative Arts, Education & Advocacy – Hope, Healing & Help for Trauma, Abuse & Mental Health


The Surviving Spirit Speakers’ Bureau


The Surviving Spirit Facebook Page


mike.skinner@survivingspirit.com   603-625-2136  38 River Ledge Drive, Goffstown, NH 03045


@SurvivinSpirit Twitter


“BE the change you want to see in the world.” Mohandas Gandhi


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