What's the F***ing Point episode 04: Annie Diomedes on "Won't You Be My Neighbor?"

You guys. Last weekend, I watched a movie that left my jaw on. the. FLOOR. Afterwards I said that watching it felt like someone had reached into my chest, ripped out my heart, and gave it a giant hug. So many tears, but not necessarily sad ones.

My friend Annie watched the same film over the weekend, and we both felt so passionate about it that we got together and had a juicy conversation about feelings, unconditional worth, education, mindfulness, yoga, and more. 

The movie was the recently released documentary about Mr. Rogers, "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" directed by Morgan Neville. I urge you to listen to this episode whether you have seen the film yet or not (it's a documentary y'all, spoilers are not a thing), because the topics we get into (and a few clips we listen to) transcend the film itself or even Fred Rogers himself. (Though I do absolutely recommend that you go watch it as soon as you possibly can — and catch trailer embedded at the bottom of this post.) 

"Won't You Be My Neighbor?" is especially poignant right now, because our country really needs to ask ourselves what Fred Rogers (or Ghandi, or Jesus, or Mother Teresa) would do. And I guaran-damn-tee you, right now he'd be doing a LOT to put a stop to the insane separation and detention of immigrant families and children.. And each of us can afford a little time and or cash to do our part, too. 

So let this serve as yet another reminder of the need for your voice and your support right now.

"We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It's easy to say, 'It's not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.' Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” -- Fred Rogers

To listen to today's episode, you can stream or download from the embedded player below, or find and subscribe in your fave podcast listening app. (And just a note, Apple is being slow AF with getting my new podcast art updated in iTunes, so if you're finding the pod that way, you'll still see art for WholeYou, a former mini podcast venture I did.)

Thanks for listening, and if you dig, please share it with a friend and review the podcast on iTunes

About Annie Diomedes (according to yours truly)

My guest for this episode, Annie Diomedes, is a fellow Nashvillian hailing from the midwest who teaches yoga and piano to kids. She is also an all-around Renaissance woman who can make you a killer playlist, bake you a fluffy loaf of homemade bread, and crochet you a blanket to keep you warm. Annie is also a featured teacher at 2018 Music City International Day of Yoga happening later this week! And she likes Buffy, which gives her instant credibility. You can keep up with her on the gram at @anniediomedes

Mentioned on Today's Show:

the lasting impact of childhood emotional neglect

the lasting impact of childhood emotional neglect

At this point, hopefully most of us are on the same page that physical or sexual abuse of a child is wrong (read: as morally repugnant as it gets) and incredibly harmful to them long-term. If you're not yet familiar with the term "Adverse Childhood Experiences" (ACEs) or the landmark ACEs study done by CDC and Kaiser, taking a few minutes to explore these will help you understand the link between early childhood trauma and the majority of our societal and public health issues — like substance abuse, depression, and the cycles of poverty and violent crime, to name just a few.

While some people who enter into therapy know they have endured traumatic experiences (and might also know that these experiences are at the root of the other things they struggle with, like anxiety, an eating disorder, or relationship issues), many others have minimized their childhood experiences to an extent that they are not "connecting the dots" with how they are still being impacted by the things that happened (or should have happened and didn't) in their early years of life. 

The Risk of Overlooking Covert Trauma

Emotional abuse tends to be a particularly slippery issue. For instance, if someone is physically or sexually abused during childhood and doesn't know at the time that this was wrong and not "normal," often they learn this fairly early in adulthood. (Though due to the internalized shame of abuse, sometimes it takes increasing pain from dysfunctional coping behaviors before a person is ready to enter therapy for help.) Hopefully with this recognition, and the support of a skilled trauma therapist, the wounds they need to heal are fairly evident, and the path for healing, though not easy, is clear.

With emotional abuse and neglect, however, the experience is often more covert, and thus harder to identify as the root cause of whatever present-day issues someone is struggling with. Sure, some types of emotional abuse are more overt; but again, hopefully in these cases the person is aware that what was happening was not okay, and then has the opportunity to heal. But many times, the impact of more subtle forms of emotional abuse or neglect are like a rust that erodes a person's sense of self (healthy ego development) over time, until she takes on a world view that she is inadequate, does not matter, cannot trust others, will not be loved if others find out who she really is, and basically, better be able to figure things out on her own. She may not make the connection that the impact of a highly critical grandfather and workaholic mother is still impacting her beliefs about herself 25 years later. (And if no one ever helps her to make that connection and do the healing work, she will likely struggle with feeling like no amount of affirmations, anti-depressants, and cognitive behavioral therapy ever seems to help, so she must be right about herself that she's just fundamentally flawed.) 

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WholeYou Podcast #9: Fourth Chakra (Anahata)

WholeYou Podcast #9: Fourth Chakra (Anahata)

Want to deepen your relationships with others and with yourself? Check out Episode 9 of the WholeYou podcast!

You can listen to the show (stream or download) on the embedded SoundCloud box on this post, or find it on iTunes of your favorite podcast app. Thanks for listening! 

Fourth Chakra At a Glance:

  • Sanskrit Name: Anahata
  • Location: Heart area
  • Element: Air
  • Color: Green (also sometimes pink)
  • Issues: Love and self-love, relationships, intimacy
  • Goals: Balance, compassion, self-acceptance, connection
  • Basic Rights: To love and be loved

What we Discuss in Episode #9:

  • How to know if your fourth chakra is out of balance
  • Signs of a deficient and excessive fourth chakra
  • Love, self-love, relationships, and boundaries
  • Yoga poses, meditations, and pranayama to balance your heart chakra
  • Fourth chakra affirmations

Lauren and I are really appreciate you taking the time to listen and share your comments. If you like the show, subscribe on iTunes or your favorite podcast app, and please take 1 minute to leave us a review on iTunes  — it helps us to reach more people, and we'd be so grateful! 

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the power of simple compliments


I'm typing this from the window seat as I fly back home to Nashville from Boston, where I just attended and spoke at the fabulous MEDA annual eating disorders conference.

I am gradually feeling more confident about this whole speaking thing, and left feeling reenergized about eating disorder recovery —excited to dig deeper into some of the topics that were presented and share about them here.

I had pretty limited time to tour Boston for the first time, since it was a short trip and much of my time was well-occupied with the conference (not to mention that the hotel was in a 'burb about a 20-minute Uber ride from the city). Still, I had a lovely few hours exploring the city this morning.

In the Back Bay, I stumbled upon The Fairy Shop — anyone who knows me well would say "that's definitely a Val thing." The guy inside told me I looked like a real fairy, which is probably one of the best appearance-related compliments I could get ;) and he agreed with my father-in-law's assessment that I should be cast in the next LOTR film. Ha!

I have to share the poster I bought there — hilarious.


Anyway, one of my favorite moments was—believe it or not—in the TSA security line at Boston Logan airport this afternoon. When I got close to the people who scan your ID and boarding pass, I heard one of them (an early 20's TSA agent) give a genuine, enthusiastic compliment to a customer about his glasses. Glasses guy grinned widely as he thanked him. Then, the lady behind him was complimented on her beautiful sweater. I was up next, and he said, "You hair is looking lovely today. [Scanning my ID] And Valerie — great name. You should thank your parents." (Hey, thanks Mom & Dad.)

As I continued on into the next phase of security, he just kept going with each traveler. The girl behind me noticed too, and laughed, saying, "Most entertaining security guy ever!" I was laughing, smiling, and truthfully, fighting back tears as I listened him continue to compliment each person who came up to his station. I couldn't always hear exactly what the compliment was, but I knew it happened every time — I'd look back and see another person thanking him and smiling.

A cynical younger me might have brushed it off, thinking, "Whatever, he's just trying to pass the time, and he doesn't mean any of that stuff, he's just trying to be nice because that's his job. He especially doesn't mean it because he's complimenting everyone, so I'm sure a lot of them are BS."

I certainly still have a cynical (well, perhaps just more "realist") side... and even though so much of what I hear in my professional work is about the atrocities of humans hurting each other, as I get older I seem to gain more faith in (and love for) humanity, rather than less. 

As I heard that young man offer compliments to each of these strangers that he encountered, this is what was going through my mind:

"I wish you could know the power of the loving words you're sharing. I wish I could tell you how much those words touched me at the core — far deeper than the seemingly surface-level compliments, to an acknowledgment of our shared humanity. A humble recognition of the love that we can have for each other, even as complete strangers. You have no idea of the gift that you're giving with these simple words."

The funny thing about this statement is that I wrote it before I came across the Hafiz quote (that I ended up using as the image for this post) a few minutes ago, while window shopping for UU stuff on Etsy, and don't think I'd ever seen it before.

Freaking synchronicity.

I came across a post by writer Alexandra Franzen a few months back called "It all matters." (I highly recommend reading it.) In short, a male hairstylist was engaging and kind with a female customer who came in one evening with plans he had no idea about. She had planned to kill herself that night, and wanted to look nice at her funeral. But because of his kindness, something shifted enough in her to drive herself to the hospital that night instead. As Alexandra so eloquently wrote about this,

Your words, your actions, your art projects, your efforts, every small, tender, beautiful thing that you put forth into the world matters so much. So much more than you may realize. Every single day, as you go about your work, you have no idea whose life you could be impacting for the better — often, in ways you can’t even imagine.

I know compliments can get a bad rap — we shouldn't need external validation, blahblahblah. But I believe that, especially between strangers, a simple compliment is like a hug, a wink at our common humanity and our desire to connect despite the many forces pulling us in opposing directions in today's world. 

Perhaps I'll try to send this to Boston Logan TSA to see if they can get it to that young man. I want him—and everyone like him who offers kindness, simple compassionate words and gestures to strangers— to know how noticed and appreciated their efforts are.

Compliment someone you love. Compliment someone you've never met. Love is what binds us, forever and ever.