Healing the Heart Through the Creative Arts, Education & Advocacy
Hope, Healing & Help for Trauma, Abuse & Mental Health
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars”. Kahlil Gibran
The Surviving Spirit Newsletter May 2021
Greetings from New Hampshire….spring has arrived and the weather has been all over the place – it is nice to see flowers, shrubs and trees in bloom.
I found joy, wonder and magic with nature as a child. It helped to sooth my troubled mind, body and spirit. Nature still provides me with comfort and peace….
May has been observed as Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States since 1949 – there are many paths to healing. I know that peer support has been a lifeline for me….starting back in the 1980’s when I began attending Adult Children of Alcoholics. My peer support circle has grown tremendously since then.
Honored to have been a part of this webinar with my good friends, Marsha Woodland, Justin Volpe & Joan Gillece on May 12th. – Transformation Transfer Initiative 2021 Informational Exchange on Peer Support
Peer Support. What a difference it makes – You Tube 1:hour & 17 minutes
Presented by The National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors [NASMHPD]
Marsha Woodland – An established professional, consultant and peer working with the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) since 2010 and former consultant for National Council for Behavioral Health and many others. Marsha is uniquely qualified to do this work, her violent story of personal and systemic abuse inspired her to challenge the status quo. She has been in recovery for almost 25 years and on the road to unimaginable accomplishments.
She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Maryland University College and is currently an MSW candidate at Walden University. Her lived experiences, training and education reinforce her commitment to “Providing Help that doesn’t Diminish Hope”. She is committed to advocacy that inspires trauma informed systemic change that is gender specific, person centered, and strength based.
Marsha founded Building Bridges Foundation (BBF) in 2008. Through the organization she has provided technical assistance to approximately 500 criminal justice, law enforcement, military, faith-based, behavioral health, social and human services organizations nationally. She has completed hundreds of keynote speeches at various organizations to advocate for harm reduction and strength-based frameworks to helping individuals impacted by trauma and addiction. Her goal is to inspire hope and resilience.
Marsha works locally to ensure that victims of violence are treated and served with dignity and respect. As a member of the DC Mayor’s Violence Interruption Initiative. Building Bridges provided hospital-based, bedside services to individuals impacted by gun violence, and families affected by homicide for 3 years. Through BBF Marsha was instrumental in reducing the violence at families experienced when encountering emergency room security during one of the most horrific times imaginable.
Through her first book “Doomed to be Nothing” she found her voice. In her book she shares her journey from helplessness to hope and from hurt to healing. She has been honored at the United Nations for her work in Women’s Empowerment, received the Joe Mann Black Capital award for her work and expertise in domestic violence, providing outstanding community services with the Legacy award and the Living Legends award for community service. She is honored daily, to live her favorite quote, “Purpose In My Pain” (PIMP).
Justin Volpe – Certified Recovery Peer Support Specialist, 11th Judicial Circuit Criminal Mental Health Project Jail Diversion Programs
Justin Volpe is a Certified Recovery Peer Support Specialist who has worked with the 11th Judicial Circuit Criminal Mental Health Project, Jail Diversion Program since 2008. As a successful graduate of the program, Volpe has firsthand knowledge of the importance of timely, high-quality behavioral health treatment services in the community. After experiencing a series of psychiatric health care crises that lead to a period of unstable living conditions, disruption of family and social supports, and brief involvement in the justice system, Volpe became engaged in treatment and support services in the community. Today, he enjoys a full and productive life in recovery, serving as an inspiration and role model for others. Since 2011, he has also served as a national consultant and has travelled the country sharing his message of hope. Volpe has helped train more than 2,500 CIT officers in Miami-Dade County and assisted in getting more than 1,000 people out of jail. His experiences make him uniquely qualified to speak to the importance of ensuing people have access to care when and where they need it, as well as the unfortunate consequences that can result when they do not. Having overcome significant challenges, he is now married with two sons and is a homeowner.
Michael Skinner is an award-winning advocate, educator, writer and critically acclaimed singer, songwriter, guitarist, addressing the issues of trauma, abuse and mental health concerns through public speaking, writing and his music.
He has spoken at the National Press Club, was a keynote presenter for a conference held by the United Nations, The State Department and Georgetown University on the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children and adults and he was part of the groundbreaking Oprah Winfrey Shows that addressed the issues of males sexually abused as children.
Since 1993, Michael’s uplifting and heartwarming story and songs of Hope and Healing has impacted thousands of people every year throughout the country. His presentations at colleges, universities, high schools, mental health centers and conferences, churches, civic groups, sexual assault and domestic violence support centers and conferences, including a women’s correctional center in Hawaii are highly acclaimed.
He has appeared on many TV, radio and Internet shows and has been the subject of many news articles regarding child abuse and mental health. Michael is also a frequent and sought after blogger on several websites and writer of articles for mental health publications. He has contributed chapters for three books, “Jyu No Tobira” [ “The Door To Freedom – Live Your Life From Today”] published in Japan, “Our Encounters with Suicide”, Europe and Great Britain and, “You Can Help: A Guide for Family & Friends of Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Assault”, United States. Michael is also featured in the film documentary, “Hold Me Right”, addressing the aftermath of sexual abuse.
His role as a consultant and trainer for the Federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s, National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors has been crucial in helping to shape the policy initiatives and directives for the delivery and implementation of trauma informed care and services. And he has worked with organizations nationwide to address the stigma of mental health and ending the silence of child abuse and suicide.
Michael is also the founder and director of The Surviving Spirit; a monthly newsletter and website sharing resources to help those impacted by trauma, abuse and mental health challenges.
I shared this song, “By My Side” in the presentation – a tune I wrote to express my thoughts and feelings about the peers and friends who have been important in my life.
BY MY SIDE(c) Michael Skinner Music –
By my side
I’ll walk through pouring rain
I’ll face the freezing snow
I’ll fight the dogs of war
I’ll hold my head up high
Cuz your by my side
I feel this sense of peace
I cherish your light of love
I feel your hand in mine
It helps to lighten the load
By my side
There are times when life has beaten me down
I find the ways to stand
Once again you’ve extended your hand
I know I’m not alone
You’re by my side, By my side, By my side, By my side,
I can travel this road
I know I’m not alone
A shelter from the storm
By my side
And now I want you to know
As we travel this road
I’m extending my hand, your friend for life
I’m by your side, by your side, by your side, by your side,
I’ll carry the light
To help show the way
As we travel this road
I’m by your side, by my side, by your side, by my side
& “By My Side” – Recorded live @ The River Ledge
NASMHPD – Serving The Needs Of The Nation’s Public Behavioral Health System
MISSION – NASMHPD will work with states, federal partners, and stakeholders to promote wellness, recovery, and resiliency for individuals with mental health conditions or co-occurring mental health and substance related disorders across all ages and cultural groups, including: youth, older persons, veterans and their families, and people under the jurisdiction of the court.
“…stories that rise from deep suffering can provide the most potent remedies for past, present, and even future ills.” – Clarissa Pinkola Esté
“We rise by lifting others.” – Robert Ingersoll
1] Want to Make Someone Feel Better? Validate Their Feelings by Christopher Bergland @ Psychology Today
2] Emotions After Brain Injury by Veronique Theberge
2a] Brain Injury Association of America
3] Surprising Ways to Beat Anxiety and Become Mentally Strong–According to Science by Olivia Remes
4] The Definition of Insanity – Feature Length Film
5] Do You Have Superpowers? – Looking for forthcoming book contributors.
6] Inflammation a Core Feature of Depression by Sarah Edmonds @ Medscape
7] PEER-A-PALOOZA 2021: Call for Proposals Now Open
8] Homeless Oaklanders were tired of the housing crisis. So they built a ‘miracle’ village by Gabrielle Canon @ The Guardian
9] David Axelrod: I’m sharing my father’s story to help end a stigma
10] Links Between Trauma, PTSD, and Dissociative Disorders By Matthew Tull, PhD @ Verywell Mind
Some Closing thoughts on the passing of Jay Mahler – Mental health activist and advocate
“It doesn’t have to be a bad day, it can just be a bad moment.” – Mindfully Evie
“Healing trauma involves tears. The tears release our pain. The tears are part of our recovery. My friend, please let your tears flow.” – Dana Arcur