Trauma, Addiction, and Autism: Watching “THE WISDOM OF TRAUMA” with Dr. Gabor Mate.

World Mental Health day is October 10th! I love that we have a day to think about our most important organ, our minds. Zumba decided to dedicate a whole month to this and in regards to what Zumba and Zumba instructors do for the world’s mental health, a month seems more fitting. As a parent of a child living with the label of Autism, Mental Health is a huge interest of mine.

Yesterday kicked off the first day of the “Wisdom of Trauma” movie release and 7 day event of talks and content discussing the unseen epidemic of Trauma in our society. I often talk about the connection I have seen between trauma and Autism in my own life. The generational impacts of trauma, that can dysregulate the body/mind connection have been my focus of recovery for Jace and myself. As I am watching the movie, I open a page to write, so many emotions and connections, that I just have to put them somewhere. As I type this through tears of relief, knowing that I am not alone, that we are all alone, together, that life is pain and the beauty of healing, I am empowered by the ability to share this bc, we don’t have to be alone. I hope this post brings you relief and comfort from your traumas as well. And when all else fails get to a Zumba class, preferably mine lol, and dance it out! Give your brain a break and give it a beat!

Some of my favorite points Dr. Gabor Mate makes:

  1. 2 basic human needs: Attachment and Authenticity; how the need to attach out of a sense of survival as an infant and child shapes our relationship with our authentic selves.

2. Generational Trauma: It’s not your parents fault! Letting go of blame can seem like an impossible task. It goes back, it happened to them and their parents and so on. Generational trauma dissects us into groups experiencing similar traumas ie; genocide, slavery, economic, societal, and racial expectations. For example, when my ancestors moved to America, they had societal expectations to contend with as well as racial expectations put upon them, not to mention what they experienced in their homelands. This shaped the way my ancestors raised their children, and so on until it came to me and even I was raised believing that I had to prove these stereotypes wrong, focusing far too much energy on past ideals rather than my own natural ideals.

3. Addiction- Gabor sees addiction as a response to trauma, treat the trauma not the addiction. No longer are addictions seen solely as drug or alcohol use, addiction is anything that takes us away from our loved ones, harms our health, or suppresses our authentic self. It is a response to the void left by traumatic experiences and a way to self soothe our trauma. It can be anything from a syringe to an iPhone or a pair of designer shoes or even unnecessary late nights at the office. These are considered escapist behaviors in which we engage in behaviors that allow the conditioned mind to get out of the way for a moment of temporary joy, inevitably leaving us dissatisfied and craving the next fix.

4. Perception of reality: Often times, we don’t respond to what happens we respond to our perception of what happens. We are not responding to the present moment, we are responding to the past, a past trauma, and often we are alone in this perspective which creates anger, confusion, and buries the truth and facts.

If this content interest you please click the link below to learn more about “The Wisdom of Trauma” movie and access talks from the worlds leading experts in this field of mental medicine. I do not have any affiliates with this organization nor am I being paid for this, I am just a huge fan of Dr. Gabor Mate and his work.

Click here to register for this 7 day event

“With our thoughts, we make the world.”- Buddha



Hello Zumba Gold Lovers!
I have had so much fun dancing with you all. You are all doing so well with the new rhythms! We will continue to work on new rhythms; Cha Cha, Bachata, and this week we have added a really fun Mambo!
The Fall is such a beautiful time in Warwick it’s hard to stay indoors, so let’s dance under the Autumn sun amongst the beautiful foliage! We will meet on the lawn of the community center(weather permitting), by the second parking lot. PLEASE BE ADVISED: The grass can be moist from the morning dew so please prepare your feet appropriately for your comfort. As we get more into Fall, we will continue to hold class outdoors. We really get our sweat on in class so please remember to dress appropriately for your health and the changing weather.  Class will take place inside the building if the weather does not permit us to be outdoors. 
Speaking of clothing, I am currently stocked with these 3 Bright and Bold Zumba Wear Tees! 1 for $12 or 2 for $20. Rock your Zumba pride and get excited to come to class with these great looks! 







Here are songs featured in weeks 2 and 3:
“September””You Should Be Dancing (Serban Mix)””Shining Star””Tu Eres Ajena””Cien Años “”Bidi Bidi Bom Bom””Sahara Oasis””Lolita””Don’t Let Me Down””Tu Remedio””El Marciano””Be My Baby””El Tango de la Bodega””Zumba Lluvia””Resonance””Terrapin”

Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow!
See you on the dance floor!
Jessica Duggins 


Getting Help: Self Directing a Community Habilitation Worker.

As Jace heads full speed into the Teen years, I am noticing how much more he wants to be social. Unfortunately, as much as I would love to take him to every event that our special needs community offers and more inclusive activities as well, having an active two-year-old doesn’t make that the easiest task. So what is a parent of a special needs teen to do? Hire a Community Habilitation worker. Sounds easy right, not exactly. You will have to do a fair amount of paperwork and it will take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to get finalized, depending on how diligent you are with your paperwork. But once you are approved and you match your teen with an appropriate worker it will open up a world of opportunity.

So First things first is your teen old enough to start the self-direction process? If your child is of age, 16 and older, in NY other states may differ,  you can contact your MSC (Medicaid Service Coordinator) and request to start the process. Then you will have to find and hire a self-direction broker and finally after all that you will be able to hire yourself one of these amazing people who will hopefully connect with your child in a way you could not. Some people prefer to use relatives or neighbors as their workers, people they feel comfortable handing their child over to. You can also put out an ad on indeed, linkedin, or other hiring websites. I actually like to personally recruit an individual that I think will match well with my son, after all, no one knows your children better than you. I met both of my son’s workers through chance encounters, both while I myself was “Com. Habbing” an individual other than my son. People tend to be the best version of themselves on an interview and who they really are during everyday life. So it gave me a glimpse of what it might be like for Jace to be in the community with them and I liked what I saw, positive, upbeat, calm people. May not work for you but I rely on my instincts when it comes to my children. 

Warning: Self Direction is not for everyone. If you do not like paperwork and I mean like it gives you hives and your body physically rejects it, this might not be for you unless you are up for a challenge or can hire someone to do the paperwork for you. If you are not an organized person nor desire to become more organized, this may not be for you. And lastly, if you are already overwhelmed in your personal experience of raising a special needs kid you may be better off going through already established services that can do most of the paperwork for you and help guide you through already established services. There are times that it has been overwhelming for me, but I remind myself of the freedom it has granted me in choosing classes and services that are tailored to Jace’s changing interest. 

However if you are like me, a searcher, learner, and someone constantly willing to grow as an individual to meet the needs of my children, then buckle up! Going the self direct route will make you face your own challenges in a way that put me on a path of reorganization, priority alignment, goal focus and self awareness that I had no idea I was about to embark on and am forever grateful to Jace for jump starting. 


As always please post any questions, I do my best to get back with links to help.

Learning to Love My Teen the Way He Needs to Be Loved

By Jessica R. Duggins

We all want to be loved, adults and children a like. And when we are loved, when our needs are met, we feel supported, confident, and empowered and all is right in the world. So how does this help when parenting? It reminds us to parent with love first, and responsibility second. Once we are fluent with the way our children respond to love, once we are in tuned with their needs and motivators, we can gain their trust and in turn guide them with cooperation, respect and love to healthy development.

I’m so excited to share one of my favorite visual tools that I use to remind myself of this focus. A simple chart I came across while feeling frustrated in another relationship of importance, my marriage. I found myself feeling resentful, exhausted, over entitled, and unfulfilled. I was in a rut and I put myself there by holding my most loved ones to expectations unbeknownst to them. My expectations. The expectation that they will love me as I expect them too and if they don’t then I will self destruct and hold them all responsible. That’s crazy, right? But all to common, maybe not so dramatic but common. And we deal with it, we live life banging our heads against a padded wall going maybe someday they’ll get it, if I beat it in their heads enough, maybe they will care about the things I care about at my intensity. Why would I really want that anyway? I love these people for who they are and what makes them unique to my heart.

What if instead we empathized, one of my favorite words when it comes to parenting. What makes my kiddo happy, what puts a smile on his face, what lifts his heart? Not mine, not what makes me feel safe and cozy and cared for but from his perspective.

I am a physical lover, I love hugs and cuddles, and spooning, and nuzzles.  And although I may enjoy that and maybe my two year old does also but my teen on the spectrum not so much. Physical contact makes him visibly uncomfortable. That’s not to say he doesn’t return it, but that’s because he knows its my love language, it makes my heart rise when he hugs me on his own, my smile cracks from ear to ear when he kisses me on his own, and he knows it, he’s so smart.

So how do you figure out how your child loves, when they have challenges communicating simple daily needs, or any words at all? Observe and learn. try some different approaches. The chart below is printed out over my computer because that is the place I tend to get most frustrated with my children because I am not trying to focus on them but myself.

5 languages of love- children

This moms site has some great printbles to get you started for free, after a simple email subscription, and I do suggest you print it out and put it somewhere your kids seem to get your goat most, maybe the bathroom, or kitchen. The visual concrete reference will help to create this process of rethinking your approach when parenting and hopefully ease frustration. I did not invent the Five Languages of love, no, just lucky enough to stumble upon Dr. Gary Chapman’s ideas in my research to better my communication and understanding skills in my nuclear family.

True love, unconditional love, is not easy, it does not just happen. You have to do the work and commit to change no matter how uncomfortable it may feel in the beginning. You have to make the effort to see another way of life, of love. As with all new habits, it has to be habitual for results, but when we falter we have to be kind enough to forgive ourselves and start over. Good luck guys, please comment below and share if this chart helped you out or even if  it didn’t.


Glasses and the spectrum

Every year it seems we have a new challenge with Jace. Phases of broken technology and the hundreds of dollars to get through said phases are all to familiar when we move on to the new challenge, glasses, specs, readers 🤓

Last year we discovered Jace needed glasses. We have been through 7 pairs now. I swear if companies need people to test the durability of something our kids are the perfect candidates. Each pair revealed its flaw as the months passed. Bringing us to today.

So the new pair is fairly durable and lasted much longer than any other pair. I’ve been waiting to have some success to share before writing about this.

Miraflex was our miracle. If your having issues with a fidgety or destructive child

these are great, they really work for us.

Above: Jace with his Miraflex

I would recommend getting scratch resistant lenses as well, that’s what happened to this new pair, they got scuffed up but the frames are still good.

Good luck


Over due but still on time

So if you are still checking in you maybe wondering where the promised post of July are. And to be honest I was a little uninspired. I was falling into the rut of motherhood when you just focus on the kids Bc everything else around you is turning to shit. “As long as I’m a good mom,” I tell myself, ” then I’m doing the most important thing right.

But I think one of the most uninspiring things I did was start neglecting myself, the things that fuel me and give me life, new air in my soul that brings me back to motherhood a new, better woman. And one of those things is writing. So here is my short but , Hopefully inspiring return. Now I’m gonna try to get some sleep.


-As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death- da Vinci

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