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Greetings to you all, fellow wanderers, way-finders, lighthouses and beacons,

It would be remiss of me to not name the heaviness on my heart (feel free to skip this first section if your well is dry).

This Lunar New Year saw mass gun violence tragedies in the Asian communities in the United States, during a time that is traditionally about celebrating with family and friends in community. Within the same week, video footage of police violence that resulted in the death of Tyre Nichols was released.

Activist and award-winning author of The Wake Up, Michelle Kim, captured it best:

...Feel where the shock, grief, rage, desperation, sadness, or fear lives in your body.

You don't need to justify it, explain it, convince anyone of it.

Let the feelings be seen and move through you.

Take deeper breaths.

And then remember what's at the root of these feelings. It is care. It is love. It is community upon which we draw our aliveness, our knowing, our being. It is the now distant memory of feeling safe, perhaps even happy, sharing hot bowls of soup and laughing over silly jokes about aging another year, something that no longer feels like a promise too far too many. It is our deep yearning for what could be, what could have been. It is love...

We deserve safety. we deserve to live. 

May we continue our fight while never forgetting what we're fighting for -- not only against.

Amidst the heartbreak of the world, I make conscientious efforts to pause on beauty when beauty presents herself...a love that is large enough to hold our collective pain and grief, so that my heart can waterfall open into this deep love so that it can flow back through me into a quiet, riotous uprising of love as I reach towards life (to paraphrase Peia).

Moose photos taken by me on my drive into work.

Northern Lights photo credit: Bee the Light Imagery

~It’s not too late to sign up for this cohort of the Somatic Certificate. Join me as we learn to manage our nervous systems so we can better deal with anxiety, overthinking, emotional flooding, and being overwhelmed.
Learn more & register
~I’m happy to have contributed to the Shift Network’s upcoming Spirit of SEL Summit where I discussed Managing Emotions through Nervous System Regulation - the landing page is not ready yet…so be prepared for a separate email in your inbox with the details!
~The Master Series: Pain Edition is being presented on February 10-11. Hear from presenters: Gita Vaid, Isaac Matthai, Les Aria, Licia Sky, Christiane Wolf, Wayne Kampers, and Catherine Oxenberg as they do careful examination of the profound relationship between trauma, mental anguish, and chronic pain. This live event features unique interactive presentations and one-of-a-kind experiential learning opportunities. To get a 20% discount, please register with code: LT20

~Part storytelling, part community singing, I am exquisitely delighted to present a three hour workshop, Song as Medicine: Metabolizing the Ambiguous Grief of Refugees, for

Music and Medicine: History, practice, and future possibilities at the Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Wimpole Street, London on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th of March 2023.

This is a two day event on music and medicine with UK, and international speakers and facilitators. View the full programme here.

The first day is a conference, with talks and panel discussions.

The second day of the meeting is an experiential day, consisting of workshops allowing participants to explore in greater depth particular themes of interest for them. Active participation and music-making will be encouraged throughout the workshops, there will be musical interludes during both days, and opportunity for attendees to network, as well as ask questions during the panel discussions.

Lately, I have been reviewing classes that I took last year with Dr Kenneth Hardy, a brilliant Black psychologist and professor emeritus at Syracuse University.

Dr Hardy eloquently and insightfully speaks to the invisible wounds of racial trauma:

  • Internalized devaluation
  • An assaulted sense of self
  • Learned voicelessness
  • Psychological homelessness
  • Complex ambiguous grief and loss
  • Survival orientation
  • Rage

Without this lens for recognizing racial trauma, it is easy to mis-diagnose and pathologize BIPOC individuals (youth, in particular) through the lens of attachment theory, poor parenting, and ACEs.

Speaking for myself, I experienced all of these searing, invisible wounds of racial trauma and it has been confusing for me that I seemed to exhibit symptoms and behaviors of a severe abuse/neglect history (my attachment history is one of parental emotional and physical unavailability with no interpersonal violence, other than the trauma of fleeing Vietnam) and has left me for searching for a trauma/abuse history that doesn’t exist. 

Dr Hardy’s work adds an additional dimension to what has been profoundly missing for me and for other racialized bodies in Twelve Step programs, self-help books and groups, and psychotherapy modalities (while acknowledging that I’ve gotten extreme benefit from all of the aforementioned offerings).

I am eagerly awaiting the release of his next book, Racial Trauma: Clinical Strategies and Techniques for Healing Invisible Wounds, available on pre-order here.

Racial oppression is a traumatic form of interpersonal violence that can lacerate the spirit, scar the soul, and puncture the psyche.

~ Kenneth V. Hardy, PhD

~Last year, MasterClass launched a brilliant educational series, Black History, Black Freedom, Black Love: Lessons from Influential Black Voices to celebrate Black intellectuals who are reshaping conversations on race in America. This programming offers 10+ hours of amazing content. I was only able to get through about a third of it last year (my mind and heart were blown open and I wanted to digest it all slowly in conversation with those in my life), and I plan to continue watching it this year.

Last year, it was also available free of charge on YouTube…and I’m not sure if there are plans for this, this year. Watch the trailer here:

~Thank you to the IFS Institute. I had a wonderful time assisting at a recent Level 1 IFS training. I intentionally applied to assist in this program in order to be the person that I wish I had’ve had in my IFS trainings

~To the folx who did the Safe & Sound Protocol in an online group environment over the holiday break, thank you. We got to co-create a container for exploring embryology and restoring developmental actions of attachment in order to restore capacities for secure attachment propelled by the healing power of the Safe and Sound Protocol.

~I’d also like to thank Trauma Research Foundation for inviting me to be a part of their third annual Social Justice Summit!

Information to purchase the recordings should be available soon. This year’s Social Justice Summit focused on Big Conversations, which are not always easy to have or even show up for.

~Thank you to Fairbanks Native Association’s Community Services division for inviting me to “teach” Alaska Native Elders (most of whom were subject to the abuses of the residential school system) about the historical trauma of colonization. 

Within the context of decolonized education, I was not The Expert who was brought in To Educate You. I am the Invited Outsider who speaks from my heart about the impact of colonization, war, forced displacement, and assimilation on myself and my people. Not research. Not powerpoint slides. No handouts or timelines. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of this - it’s just not culturally appropriate in this setting.

The role of the Invited Outsider within a tight-knit community can often be to initiate difficult conversations within the container of a talking circle. Insiders often experience challenges around the perception of making a friend / relative / community member “feel bad”.

This then opens up the possibility of your sharing about these difficult topics. (For example, why do we all have White People names, and how did that come to be.) We learn from each other, for each person holds a different and significant part of lived history. (For example, we learned that names got taken away at residential schools, by missionaries, and by census takers a few generations before us.)

Bearing witness to the living impact of historical trauma in a communal setting is decolonized mental health care and it was such an honor to be a part of this.
“Do more of the things that cause you to remember who you are. Do less of the things that cause you to forget who you are.” 

-Linda’s grandpa

When I am with Elders, I remember who I am.

If you would like to hear some stories from Alaska Native Elders, I invite you to check out a project by Tanana Chiefs Conference, Legacy of Our Elders.
~Andrew Lam’s piece, Who Will Light the Incense After Mother’s Gone?, invoked memories of my mother’s daily lighting of incense at our home’s ancestral altar and a wistful nostalgia for the comfort of home and a deeper relationship with my ancestors.
I decided I was going to light incense every day to my ancestors and speak truthfully to them about whatever was on my heart.
This less-than-two-minute practice has become a ritual of holding reverence for those who have come before and offers me continued sustenance throughout my days.

~Having lived in interior Alaska since 2008, there is something magical about watching exquisite beauty growing during the coldest darkest months of the year. I truly believe that Amaryllis was created on a day that god was a drag queen!!!

Nourishment is also found in the small things….and no, this is not a s'mores sandwich. It’s vegemite and cheese toasties made on a wood stove while out at a remote cabin recently.
~I’m looking to crowd-source resources for deconstructing toxic masculinity - so if you have any, please, share them with me so that I can share them into this community in  future newsletters. For now, I want to offer a shoutout to Joyful Gifford (cis-white male) who shared this resource with me recently, which has resulted in many gleeful moments with my husband being cute with me.
~Continuing on with my desire to actively consume more popular culture involving/created by Vietnamese / South East Asian / Asian people:

After watching Ke Huy Quan’s emotional acceptance speech for Golden Globes’ Best Supporting Actor and his post-acceptance interview, I just had to watch Everything Everywhere All At Once (highly recommended!!!). 

Ke is a fellow Vietnamese-Chinese-American and former child refugee (a Vietnamese Boat Person, like me 💜) who, after his success in Indiana Jones and the Goonies, struggled to get further roles in the US. His background in martial arts led him to choreograph fight scenes (e.g. X-Men), however, it was only after being inspired by the success of Crazy Rich Asians that he put himself back into the acting scene, in 2020….at the age of 49.
~This year, I am making an effort to read BIPOC authors only. To start, I read these books:
We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World by Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani female education activist and the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. (Awarded when she was 17, she is the world's youngest Nobel Prize laureate.)  This book explores Malala’s own story, and the personal stories of some of the incredible girls she has met on her journeys — girls who have lost their community, relatives, and often the only world they’ve ever known. You can purchase here.
I also read a children’s book, Adrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy's Story of Survival. It is beautifully illustrated, and I got to linger over the illustrations and use my imagination to enter into the devastation of a 6-year-old Vietnamese boy who had to flee with his family. You can purchase here.
My invitation for you all: to intentionally add BIPOC authors and content creators to your newsfeed / recreation / professional explorations.

With love,

In solidarity,

And in ancestral strength,


May you be riotous in your own quiet uprising as you reach for life
~ Peia
Copyright © 2023 Linda Thai, All rights reserved.

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