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Blessed greetings to each of you, to your ancestors, and to your communities,

March saw a hot minute at home on the snow-covered subarctic tundra, underneath unusually magnificent northern lights displays, before continuing to venture a little bit further into the “civilized” world: London and Washington DC.

Photo credit: StephC Photography whose Etsy store is here.
Awe is the emotion of self-transcendence.
~ Jonathan Haidt
In preparation for visiting “civilization”, it was time to get a real haircut - my first one in over ten years (ugggh). One of the many joys of living in rural Alaska is that I get to live rather free-range and unkempt…..and, truth be known, I intensely dislike the sensory-overwhelm and trauma re-triggering of haircuts. I truly feel that we need more trauma-informed and sensory-processing-disorder-informed hairdressers. (I made a FB post about this topic.)
After all the traveling that I’ve been doing these last couple of months, I’m looking forward to attending to the needs of my individual clients as well as my non-negotiable self-care, learning needs and rest.
On Saturday, July 17th, I'm excited to be presenting Healing the Legacy of Historical and Transgenerational Trauma for the Asian Mental Health Collective! I would love for you to join me for this all day event on June 17th from 12:00 - 6:00pm ET.
Learn more and register
This April, I am making a return to the Trauma Research Foundation’s TRF Tuesday series. I hope you can join me for Trauma 101 starting on April 4th at 4 pm ET. These bite-sized presentations (20-30 minutes) will use visuals to help to illustrate concepts and will be interwoven with somatic practices to enhance learning, to create a bridge between theoretical knowledge and practical, life-affirming skills.
Free registration
For the next few months, I’m extending myself by tiptoeing into the world of couples therapy (eeeek!), enrolling in Level 1 of Terry Real’s Relational Life Therapy model for working with couples. Big thank you’s to Asian Mental Health Collective and Collectively Rooted for collaborating with Terry Real to create an AAPI-affinity space with discounted tuition.
Many of you know that I’m a big fan of communal grief-tending as non-negotiable self-care. To live - fully embodied - in the perilousness of hope, amidst the heart-break, soul-ache and senseless brutalities of this world means to continuously tend to my grief and sacred outrage.
Grief becomes the way home when home itself is lost
~ Meenadchi

~ Big thanks to Christos Sideras and the Royal Society of Medicine for inviting me to speak at their two-day symposium, Music as Medicine, on Song as Medicine for Grief.

~ Heart-gratitude to Benjamin Fry, founder of Khiron Clinics, in the UK, for inviting me to lead a one day training for his staff, The Dynamics of Racism, Oppression, Power and Privilege.

~ Thank you to the team that organizes the Psychotherapy Networker Symposium in Washington DC. It was an outstanding conference and I’m looking forward to attending again next year!

~ Joyous heart thank you’s to the team at Two Chairs for inviting me to present to their team of amazing 200+ clinicians The Ambiguous Grief of Adult Children of Refugees and Immigrants.
HOME vs. HOMELAND

I've spent these last 15 years in Alaska.

In a way that parallels my parents, for whom Australia is now *home* and Vietnam is now their *homeland*, Alaska is now *home*....and Australia has become my *homeland*.

Homeland: the place that was once my home.

Home: the anchor that all other experiences get compared against.

There is a disorientation during the transition period, when "here" is not home, and when "there" is not homeland: a suspended psychological homelessness of being neither "here" nor "there". A liminal space ***and*** a threshold - betwixt and between all worlds.

When I lived in Australia, I never felt home there. I needed a third place - Alaska - which revealed to me the depths of my Australian-ness and my Vietnamese-ness.

Edward T. Hall, a cross-cultural anthropologist who consulted for the CIA during the Cold War, says that: when you travel to somewhere else, you are not getting to know the host culture; you are actually getting to know your culture-of-origin.

Read more here.

While in Washington DC, I attended the National Museum of African American History & Culture (shout out to Dawn Stern for sharing tickets with me….apparently getting tickets for this Museum is extremely challenging and highly encouraged).

As an adult immigrant into the United States, I was not ever required to learn about the history of this country….which I have sought to do in recent years.

__________________
I get it now. 

Not as an intellectual knowing.

But rather, 

in every cell of my body.
___________________

The United States is built upon indigenous genocide and the horrific trade of humans from Africa - abduction, enslavement, rape, torture, and forced labor - soul genocide - in order to make money and get rich.  

Orienting whole-heartedly towards the atrocities of colonialism is my tribute to the teachers and teachings that have guided me to metabolize my pain into fuel for unbearable compassion.

In this last month, I’ve been reading about Korean-ness, from Korean authors. My own identity (Vietnamese) has been so infused with war that I have been reticent to learn about Korea - because of the ways in which Korea and Korean-ness has become conflated with the Korean War - and wanting to avoid the dominant narrative that underrepresents the lived experiences of us who lived there and were deeply impacted. 

Fortunately, these days, there are additional voices - Korean voices - from whom I can learn about Korean history, Korean comfort women, the impacts of war and racism, and the loneliness of assimilation and White proximity for Asian-bodies within the racial hierarchy of the United States. Each of these books is highly recommended. (You can click on each image to learn more about each book and add it to your wishlist.)
While I was at it, I decided to learn about the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II from George Takei.
Not long after finishing all these books, I found myself stumbling upon the Korean War Memorial, while en route to the Vietnam War Memorial. The profound senselessness of war (the day after the African American History Museum) seeped through my heart and out my eyeballs.

I went to a drag show in DC with Brian Spielmann and Ian MacPherson of Therapy Wisdom, to revel in the glamor, to celebrate in the unfettered joy, and to grieve in the outrageous love, in community. (I “only” thought about the sudden appearance of a mass shooter three times during the night.) 

I had blast-ya-tits-off-screaming-FUN!! (a muscle that I’ve forgotten how to flex!)

This is my bad-ass clinical practice professor, Michelle Palmer, from my MSW program at Simmons University who saved me (on multiple occasions) from having almighty meltdowns and quitting the colonized education system in order to avoid the colonized structures of gatekeeping and legitimacy. She found me at the Psychotherapy Networker Symposium (the official reason why I went to DC) because she saw a banner with me on it, squealed in recognition, to which a friendly person responded with, "Oh, Linda’s here if you want to find her."

Ain’t it wild when you finally meet IRL friends-from-pandemic-times? Meet Darrel Toulon, who was born in Dominica (Caribbean), moved to Europe at the age of 17, and became a much-acclaimed ballet dancer, choreographer, and theater director before transitioning into teaching. His passion is working with vulnerable populations (Bosnia, Uganda and Vienna) at the intersection of trauma, positive youth development, theater creation, and politically relevant theater. 

Darrel gave me the personal walking tour of the London of his youth, when the world opened up to meet dreams bigger than he thought possible ❤️

One of my favoritest things to do when traveling is to connect with fellow Vietnamese Boat People who, like me, ended up far from home. Meet Sonny Tran, who at the age of 10, fled Vietnam with five siblings and their parents. They were out in open ocean, met with starvation, dehydration and on death’s door, when picked up by the UK merchant marine vessel, SS Sibonga. They certainly would have died without the compassionate leadership of the ship’s captain, Captain Martin. 

Here comes the bit that got me blubbering:

In 2019, after discovering the whereabouts of Captain Martin, Sonny rounded up fellow rescuees to trek to a nursing home in northern Ireland, to thank Captain Martin for not turning away from their plight. You can read/watch about it here.
Reconnecting with Stephan Wolfert and Dawn Stern while in DC. I learned more from Stephan’s one-man show, Cry Havoc, about his experiences of military PTSD than from any class on this topic. You can watch the trailer and rent the production here.
Pooky Bear helps me to get through all this online learning that I’m doing with Relational Life Therapy.
As does Buttons (and my sensory-soothing jacket).
I often go for the hand-on-heart + hand-on-belly, however if you’d like more inspiration for self-holding, self-swaddling and self-containment, check out a little video that I put together with lots of suggestions for you to play with!

I leave you with an invitation - an inspiration - to lean towards the practice and discipline of hope: Glory by Common and John Legend, which won an Oscar for Best Original Song in the movie, Selma, and their acceptance speech, as well as an invitation to use your voice to advocate for gun reform, inspired by the Detroit Youth Choir’s version of the Guns’n’Roses classic, Sweet Child O’ Mine.

And, as always, a reminder to find ways to nourish yourself

With care,
In love,
In ancestral strength,

Linda

Thái Kim Ngọc 蔡金玉
she, her, hers

www.linda-thai.com

Trauma therapist | Educator and consultant | Speaker and story-teller | Group facilitator | Collaborator | Infiltrator | Cross-pollinator | Community-builder | Agent of change | Former child refugee | Happy human being

May you be riotous in your own quiet uprising as you reach for life
~ Peia
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