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No Barriers Podcast Episode 118: Leading with Vulnerability: Chris Prange-Morgan

Erik and co-host, No Barriers Board President, Tom Lillig, speak with recovering idealist, adventure seeker, and trauma specialist, Chris Prange-Morgan. The adoption of her son in 2009 immersed her in issues of developmental trauma, which continued to have a significant impact on her family after she suffered a life-changing accident in 2011, and became a trauma survivor herself (a result of secondary PTSD).

Chris Prange-Morgan has worked extensively in the field of mental health and is familiar with the topics of trauma and resilience, grief and loss, adoption, and adapting and overcoming obstacles. Today, Chris and her husband, Scott, host a podcast and website, Full Catastrophe Parenting, which is dedicated to helping parents and professionals in the trenches of working with challenging family/life circumstances.

Over the past several years she has provided clinical pastoral care to hospitalized patients, created an adaptive rock climbing program, taken second in the para-climbing nationals (2015 female leg amputee division), and summited her first Colorado 14’er with her family.

Chris’ book, Full Catastrophe Parenting: Adoption, Disability, Trauma and Other Joys of Motherhood, is forthcoming.


WEBSITE:  https://www.fullcatastropheparenting.com/

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/full_catastrophe_parenting/

FACEBOOK: https://m.facebook.com/cprangemorgan

PSYCHOLOGY TODAY: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/contributors/chris-prange-morgan-ma-msw

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Episode Transcript

Chris: We didn't ask for this life, whatever it is, but you're in it. And if you keep looking at I wish it was or whatever, fill in the blank, you miss those opportunities to find out what you really need to learn. And for me that was huge because I always thought I knew... I was the social worker, I was the person that was going to save the world. I was going to save the life of this child. And in the end this accident taught me, you've got a lot to learn, Chris.

Erik: It's easy to talk about the successes, but what doesn't get talked about enough is the struggle. My name is Erik Weihenmayer. I've gotten the chance to ascend Mount Everest, to climb the tallest mountain in every continent, to kayak the Grand Canyon, and I happen to be blind.

Erik: It's been a struggle to live what I call a no barriers life, to define it, to push the parameters of what it means. And part of the equation is diving into the learning process and trying to illuminate the universal elements that exist along the way. In that unexplored terrain between those dark places we find ourselves in in the summit exists a map. That map, that way forward is what we call no barriers.

Tom : Hi, I'm Tom Lillig, board president of No Barriers. Today on the podcast Erik and I have Chris Prange-Morgan. Having an educational background and extensive work experience in the field of mental health, Chris is very familiar with the topics of trauma and resilience, grief and loss, adoption and adapting and overcoming obstacles. However, as Chris can attest, there is no textbook that can prepare you for the experience of living through it.

Tom : The adoption of her son Kai in 2009 immersed Chris in issues of developmental trauma which continued to have a significant impact on her family after she suffered a life changing accident in 2011. Chris considers herself a trauma mama, a recovering idealist, and an adventure seeker. And I will add that she is one heck of a writer. She's been featured on the Today Show, The Huffington Post, and Psychology Today.

Tom : Chris created an adaptive rock climbing program, took seconds in the [inaudible 00:02:38] climbing nationals, and summited her first Colorado fourteener with her family. Today Chris and her husband Scott host a podcast and website, Full Catastrophe Parenting, which is dedicated to helping parents and professionals in the trenches of working with challenging family and life circumstances. Without further ado, here's our interview with Chris. Take a listen.

Erik: Hey everyone. Welcome to our No Barriers podcast. We have Tom Lillig on, who is co-hosting with me today. My name is Erik Weihenmayer. Chris, nice to have you aboard too.

Chris: Hey, thanks for having me. Glad to be here.

Erik: Yeah, cool. So Chris, you have a background in social working and mental health, you have all kinds of degrees, and you adopted two kids from China. And they turned out to have special needs that we will talk about. So, did you think that all those degrees and all that experience that you had learning about that would help you, would prepare you as a parent and equip you to be a parent of kids who would have challenges? And did it equip you in any way or was it radically different from what your training would have taught you?

Chris: Yeah, boy, that's a loaded question. Yes, and yes, and no. First of all, I need to mention, my husband's a school psychologist. We did all these things that they tell you. And I understood child development, and they always say the first two years are the most important years of child development, but they don't necessarily drive that home so specifically in the adoption process, in the waiting process.

Erik: Right.

Chris: You know what I mean?

Erik: So, our daughter, we were lucky, she was smart when she came to us. She was 26 months when she came into our family, and we were lucky that she was healthy and she had received good care in her orphanage. I mean, not perfect, I mean, she still didn't know what a family really was because she had been living in an orphanage and she had to learn that right, but. So that feat wasn't too difficult to kind of take the baby steps to work toward that. And then when we adopted our son, well, similar to, I know in your story you had a daughter and you needed a sibling, right?

Chris: Yeah.

Erik: We did the same. We said-

Chris: Emma needed a little brother to irritate her.

Erik: Exactly. Aha. And has it stopped?

Chris: No. Emma just turned 21 and Arjun is 19. Arjun is our adopted son. We adopted him from Nepal. And, yeah, he still irritates Emma to this day and vice versa-

Erik: That's good.

Chris: ... by the way.

Erik: Yeah, I felt like in the sibling experience you have to have irritation in the formula or it's not a complete family.

Chris: Right. I agree. Well, and having a girl being the older has... There's an element of responsibility that females tend to have, and that's been really helpful in retrospect now. Not sure if that was the case with your family, but yeah.

Erik: Well, this isn't about me, but I do have one funny story that you might relate to, which is, Arjun came home at 5:00, and Emma had the whole room prepared for him all perfectly and gave him more than half of her room because they were going to sleep in the same room. And so she had this collection of prize piglet dolls, and AJ came into her room, saw those piglet dolls, they were like six of them, and just started doing kung fu wars, farting on each other, throwing them against the wall, stomping on their heads, and Emma was mortified. She's like, "Any way, dad, we could return him maybe? Is there a return policy?" And I had to explain to her that there's no return policy on a human being.

Chris: Oh, yeah. I mean, it's interesting. I mean, they're their own little people and you have to honor that, right?

Erik: So you made the decision to adopt a little boy, and he was different than your daughter.

Chris: Yeah.

Erik: Tell us about that.

Chris: So, he was quite different. And because, to go back to your initial question as well, when we were awaiting our adoption of our son, and I remember specifically looking and waiting to see photos of my son as we were awaiting our travel, and I wasn't seeing any pictures of him anywhere. And I was like, what's going on, did they give my kid away, we weren't having the best communication back and forth from our adoption agency.

Chris: And we did learn that he was 13.9 pounds at 21 months and he was not thriving, for whatever reason, we still aren't really sure. We think that he was very likely put in what they call a dining room, and there's a 1990s film documentary about the dining rooms of China. They're incredibly depressing. But we think that was the case with our son. What we do know is that he had horrible orphanage neglect, he needed to get sent to a pediatric healing unit in Beijing for a couple of months where they essentially fattened him up and fed him non stop and they thought he was going to explode.

Chris: But those behavioral manifestations of that early neglect just don't disappear. They don't go away. And that was what we inherited when we got to China. And when they placed him in my arms he was covered in feces. And he had ballooned out into like 30 pounds practically. He'd become this Buddha belly child that had no muscle control whatsoever. He felt like an infant in this rotund body that they placed in my lap.

Chris: And you probably remember that experience, there's this elation of like, oh, I'm going to be a parent and this child is going to complete our family, and I just felt this sense of doom, like, wow, this is so much more than I had thought, this is way much more than I had intended our family to take on, but here we are.

Erik: Yeah. First of all, educate us on the proper terminology, because I've watched or, I should say, listened to a bunch of your interviews and read your articles and so forth and I read all kinds of phrases to describe the diagnosis, extreme orphanage trauma, developmental trauma disorder. It seems like people are trying to just throw out all kinds of different phrases to try to explain something that's very complicated.

Chris: Yeah, right. That's a really good question. So, the Diagnostical and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM, which is what gives mental health professionals diagnostic codes to get services, put the term into the DSM, reactive attachment disorder several years, like years and years ago. And because a lot of the etiology of what children like my son come into our families with starts with disorders of attaching to a primary caregiver.

Chris: Somewhere along the line it was discovered that it's a lot more than just the attachment disorder, there's this developmental trauma that happens when there's actually a change in the way that a brain operates in its ability to attach to a primary caregiver. So it impacts the child's entire life, it doesn't just impact them in their earliest years. And this can be with children that have any disruption of attachment in their earliest years and months.

Chris: So, we had a neuropsychologist that did an assessment on our son that was trying to get into the DSM institutional autism, because he was thinking that our son had a form of institutional autism. And it never made [crosstalk 00:11:37]-

Erik: That's another diagnostical phrase.

Chris: I know. But really, I mean, people are people, right? You can slap all kinds of codes and names on things, but they are who they are and you do what works.

Erik: And he couldn't hold that up. I remember you wrote about the idea that he wouldn't look you in the eye. He looked away, he recoiled from touch, he was often totally in a different world. Is that accurate, that kind of example?

Chris: Oh, yeah. Oh, absolutely. He did what they call dissociated. He blacked out and went down this tunnel, like he was not even reachable. He would lay on the floor and he would take a truck or car, a matchbox car or something, and he would just look at the wheels and move it back and forth across the rug and he felt really uncomfortable being held. He'd gorge on food. I mean, a lot of that is typical for kids that are from orphanages. I'm sure you probably saw some of that with your son as well, right?

Erik: Yeah. 100%. Right. Yeah. He couldn't stop eating for a long time. I thought he was going to be one of those dogs that just ate until he exploded.

Chris: Yeah. So, yeah, it's all part of that early trauma.

Tom : Yeah. Well, when you're in the middle of that, I'm really curious, it's like when you were handed him, you said you had this mix of emotion of both elation and possible doom for the family, right? I'm wondering, did those same dual feelings continue throughout that period of, frankly, working and intervening, or did a different set of emotions emerge during that time period?

Chris: Yeah, they arose simultaneously, I think. I went into my social worker mode. I went into doing mode, supermom mode. But then I would swing back around into this huge overwhelming sense of grief, this grief that... and this sense of isolation and loneliness because my parenting didn't feel like it should.

Chris: And I just felt robbed early on, and then I felt like I couldn't mention anything about that because you should be happy, you should... all those shoulds, right? And especially we moms, we... women are hard on each other, whether or not you guys are aware of that. We're like, we size each other up as women and we look at the way our kids are with other people. It's this weird dynamic that women have with one another.

Chris: And I remember living in the suburbs at the time, we're not there anymore, but really feeling like, number one, we don't fit in because my kids are Chinese and there's no other kids of color out here, number two, my children aren't... they're not warming up to me like your children are warming up to you, I shouldn't say that, my son wasn't. He had some odd behaviors too. I don't know how else to put it but things that I felt like I had to keep explaining. There were all these feelings that kept arising.

Chris: And I was glad to have the clinical background, but it also... I couldn't be ignorant, I couldn't just kick back and go, oh, well, that's just typical of kids, because I knew it wasn't.

Tom : One of the things that I am most curious about is when you're in the thick of this, and there are some pretty severe challenges that you were in the middle of at that time, how do you keep going? How do you, as a parent, just not go to the side of I can't handle it? I mean, were there moments that you had of like Erik's daughter of saying like, is there a return policy here available? Were there moments that you had on those terrible awful days that I'm sure you encountered?

Chris: Oh, yeah, I mean, more than I can count, but I had to wrap myself around the mindset of taking it in perspective and looking at, regardless of how hard the experiences on a daily basis, I mean, it's gotten easier over the years, but it still isn't a picnic, I have to look at the fact that my son was at death's doorstep. He was about as... low as you could be.

Chris: In fact, recently I've been playing with words as I'm doing this writing, and the word inert and the word inertia come from that same root. And the word inert is a disinclination to move or to act. And in physics, I have this written down so I wouldn't forget it, because it's just been so profound to me lately, it's the tendency of a body to preserve its state of rest or uniform motion unless acted upon by an external force.

Chris: So my son was in the state of complete inertion, like waiting to die, to expire in his crib. I can't wrap my head around that. And then he comes into this family, we're a bunch of extroverts, we're a bunch of adventure junkies, and he was not going to be sitting around feeling sorry for himself. And my husband and I will talk about this a lot, we're like, you know what, this kid thought he was going to have it easy, we're going to kick him in the pants and get him going.

Tom : That makes sense. So that's such a shock, from inertia to this incredible force and energy pushing against him?

Chris: Yes. I mean, I think about implosion, that must have been... I don't want to put my head into that head space of what it would have been like for him to be waiting to expire in his crib, but when I think about that word, and this is some of the stuff that, in my book, that I'm having to rewrite so I can go deeper, because it's hard to go there because we all resist change.

Chris: And some of us embark on adventures because there's something about embracing life and all it has to offer, and every once in a while I just have to tell myself, Chris, well, this is what we signed up for. He's kind of a miracle kid. We had a therapist say that, "Your son is a miracle." And I'm like, I don't want to hear this. Yeah. Do you have any idea how much work it's been, and then we haven't gotten into my accident yet, but it's affected us in so many ways.

Erik: You've talked about hard to talk about or hard to go there, well, I thought you said something earlier that was really profound, which, I bet you, a lot of people don't think about. And I do think it's a mom's... I know I'm generalizing, but I do think women put more pressure on themselves and each other, being a mom, and oftentimes women are still the primary caregiver. But you mentioned being robbed, feeling robbed.

Erik: And I remember my wife Ellen had that similar experience where she's all excited to play soccer, because she was a soccer player, with Arjun, and he was kicking the ball away from her, he wouldn't pass the ball to her. And she said the same thing, she's like, "I just walked away feeling robbed."

Erik: Chris, you called yourself a recovering idealist, right, she had this idealistic idea of like, she's going to connect with this boy, and it's going to be perfect, and we're going to show him love, and love will conquer all. And it just was way more complicated than that. So, yeah, I think that's fair to feel like you got robbed of some experience that your mind was hoping for. Right.

Chris: Yeah. And to give myself, and for your wife, to give ourselves permission to be okay with saying that. I grew up in a family where we were very moralistic, I mean, I went into social work because I wanted to save the world, and at some point I just had to cut myself some slack and be like, look... In fact, when my accident happened that was the first time, I think, that I was able to say, you know what, you can stop trying to save the world now and just focus on you. And, I mean, if your kid doesn't have you, that's not good either.

Tom : Right.

Erik: Yeah. Well, that might be a good jumping off point to talk a little bit about your accident and how it affected you and overall your outlook on life. Do you mind sharing a little bit about your story?

Chris: Sure. Yeah. So, my son was about four years old, and he was in early childhood special education. I was home a lot with him at the time when the therapists were with him, and in the afternoon he had classes. And this one particular day, I didn't even realize how stressed out I was, but he had his ABA therapy, and he was going to Children's in the afternoon and I was going to take him. And I went to the climbing gym because that was how I blew off steam. Some people go running, and I would go to the climbing gym.

Chris: And I walked into the door. And I knew my friend Alex was working behind the desk, and I was like, "Alex, I've got an hour, I'm going to do some speed climbing so I can get out the door and get Kai to appointment by three o'clock."

Chris: And he is like, "Yeah, we've got some new routes." So I went in and I started talking to people like I do. And my son sat on the floor and started lining up his matchbox cars. And there was this new route, it hadn't even had a rating on it, but it looked cool, and I was talking, and I decided to go over and climb it, and I totally forgot to clip in. It was like this stupid brain fart.

Chris: The first thing that they tell you, you have to have this presence of mind, which I didn't have. And so I got up pretty close to the top, and I wanted to reach this hold, and I missed it, and it was like in an instant I was like, man, I'm not clipped in. And I fell straight down. And I fell onto my right side, my right foot caught my fall. And immediately the first thought in my head was, you can't do this, what the hell, you can't let your mind not be present when you're climbing, but I did. I let myself go.

Erik: And it turns out you had broken a bunch of bones and hurt your leg pretty badly?

Chris: Yeah. So, I busted my tibia, went through two years of limb salvage, 11 surgeries of trying to fix it. They'd still be trying to fix it if I didn't do the research and realize prosthetic technology can be better. But I broke my pelvis and they had to put in some hardware to fix that. I broke some vertebrae, I broke a rib and spent a couple of weeks in the hospital and then back in and out of the hospital to try to fix my leg, which never really worked.

Erik: And when you were lying on the floor hurt in the gym what was going through your mind at that point? I mean, because I know all this other reflection came later. What was going through your mind initially though?

Chris: Yeah. Yeah, well, while I was laying on the floor I was just so angry. I felt like a wound up top. And I was just processing all of that pissed off-ness and angst, and later just this sense of loss, the loss of the dream that I had had and the way that my life had unfolded was just in this crumbled heap on the floor and I was just lamenting, and our poor gym manager got the brunt of all that. He listened as I just like... I didn't feel anything physically at the time. I was just in this emotional space in my head.

Erik: And it's hard to probably kick out of parent mode too, right? You were probably thinking like, okay, my son has an appointment at three o'clock and we get him here and there. So, I'm wondering if the pattern of your life was still kicking in right then.

Chris: Absolutely. Yeah. I'd forgotten that piece. Right. My son had an appointment, and yeah, I literally was going through the Rolodex, my mental Rolodex, and coming up with numbers to give to the desk staff to call my husband at work, to call Children's and tell them I wouldn't be there. I had a part time job working for the YMCA teaching swim lessons at the time. I said, "Can you call the YMCA and tell them I'm not going to be at work tonight?" All this stuff was kicking around in my mind.

Chris: And, yeah, you're right, parenting mode did not totally kick off. I was vacillating between crap. I just messed up my body, but I'm still a mom and all this stuff. Yeah. It was a lot.

Tom : You wrote something so beautiful and so powerful in an article that I read about this time period about your slowing down. And if you're okay with this, I'd love to just read this one paragraph, it's very short.

Chris: Sure.

Tom : Slowing down has also taught me to listen with my ears, eyes, and heart. When my son's behaviors are out of control I look into his eyes and see fear, fear of not being good enough or not being in control. It is no coincidence when I notice these feelings come full circle, bite me in the ass, touché, I think, slow thy self down, connect. What a beautiful reflection, honest and raw, but also so wise for all of us in our slowing down, in our working with our children to keep in mind.

Chris: Thank you. But I still struggle with that, the slowing down part, because it's not naturally part of who I am.

Erik: So that slowing down, I want to understand that. So you were forced to slow down, right, Chris? You were forced to slow down by this terrible accident. And so, is the idea of slowing down, the idea, is that connected to this connection, meaning, you slow down and that gives you a chance to really figure out the depth and the connection between your family and how your kids are seeing the world and struggling and so forth?

Chris: Yeah. I think about it as presence, a quality of presence, which is rare nowadays. You pass somebody on the street and you say, "How are you? I'm fine. How are you fine? Fine.", and then you keep going, but I've learned that there's a quality of presence when you're able or when I'm able to sit with my family without being distracted by all this other stuff. And, I mean, distractions are always going to be there, it's not like they go away, but my kids have needed me to be there 100% to find those teachable moments when they arise.

Chris: It's not unlike climbing and finding the right hold when it's the right time to find it. It's like, you can't make that happen, you have to be in the moment and you have to be able to seize it when it's there, and if you're not there for it it's gone. And I don't want to ever miss that.

Erik: So, we're racing from thing to thing, from appointment to climbing session to work out to the competition and you're missing those moments of teaching and connection. And it sounds like you could have easily missed the idea of like, when you see your son you don't see the fear, you don't see the emotion behind the emotion.

Chris: Yeah. Because it's a process, right? You see the behavior on the surface and you want to react to the behavior, and it kind of goes into the mindfulness mentality where it's easy to react without thinking or having this attitude of curiosity, hmm, what's that about, I wonder why he's reacting this way, hmm, I bet that's coming from wherever, and then to maybe search that out a little bit. And maybe that wasn't the case or whatever. And then even if, like with my children, if you don't solve the problem, or...

Chris: One of the things I've noticed in parenting, particularly my son, is he has to relearn things because it doesn't stick the first time, and so to keep paying attention to those moments that arise in our daily lives, to use them as teachable moments so that he doesn't keep making the same mistakes.

Erik: Yeah. Is there a lot of that? In this No Barriers journey or this map or whatever we want to call it there's so much counter intuitive stuff going on. It's not logical. In fact, I have a friend who said emotion and logic are just two totally separate things, right? And so there's so much counter intuitiveness along the way.

Erik: And then there's the rejection that you sometimes feel as a parent, right? I mean, I think we feel this all the time, but for an adopted kid with challenges, I mean, you expect them to be grateful for your love? Right? They had no love and now full heart you're bringing them into your family and you expect this weird kind of gratitude and instead it's rejection. Right? That's got to be insanely hard.

Chris: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

Erik: How do you not get triggered?

Chris: I do get triggered. I do. I don't want to lie. I'm glad to have a spouse that I can bounce things off of. Usually, we play one on one defense, and my husband is the one that takes my son, and he's a guy, and he does guy things, which sounds pretty familiar, I'm sure. And then I just take my daughter and we do girl things, and we just accept that this is just how it is, you're not going to get the full Monty, you're not going to get everything you want, and it's not going to maybe feel good sometimes, and that's fine. And that's what's helpful for me.

Chris: When I think about No Barriers and I think about all the people I've met, we didn't ask for this life, whatever it is, but you're in it. And if you keep looking at I wish it was or whatever, fill in the blank, you miss those opportunities to find out what you really need to learn. And for me that was huge, because I always thought I knew... I was the social worker, I was the person that was going to save the world, I was going to save the life of this child. And in the end this accident taught me, no, you're wrong, you've got a lot to learn, Chris.

Erik: How did that change the relationship now that you have a disability, you lost your leg? Did that change the relationship or did it teach your kids anything? Did it change the dynamic of how you guys interact?

Chris: Yeah. I've found that my kids have become a lot more empathic. They just understand that things take longer for mom. I have some residual chronic pain issues, and sometimes I'll be crabby, and they'll understand that mom's having a high pain day, she's having a bad day, and they just go about their business and do their thing and they don't take it personally.

Chris: My daughter has made friends with a lot of kids that she finds a lot of depth in those relationships with, and my son now is... he just loves animals. And he's a great kid, he's into skateboarding. And while he still struggles with friendships and things like that I think that just growing up with me and then getting to know other people in the disability community has given them this richness of life experience that they would not have had had my accident not happened.

Chris: So, I'll think about when I started this adaptive rock climbing program here in Wisconsin. There was a guy, his name is Pete, he is a veteran, and he was in a power chair, and he would come to our climbing get togethers and he would put our son on his lap and he'd ride around the climbing gym and give Kai a ride. And I just saw the connection between those two, and it was just so powerful.

Chris: I mean, I knew in my mind Pete had this... he was in Vietnam, and I'm sure suffered PTSD in addition to Agent Orange, and my son had this horrible trauma in his life experience, and here they were riding around on his wheelchair in the gym. And, by the way, and that guy was... the whole gym knew him as the beast as he would campus up the wall on the one side of the gym. And it was just really amazing, and I'm just so thankful that my kids have had that opportunity to understand that differences just exist and they're just part of life.

Tom : Yeah. One of the things that you just touched on is something that I also saw in your writing, and it's a concept that's very close to all of us at No Barriers, and it's this concept of rope team. As you said, you can't be the super parent, you can't be the super mom all the time by yourself. What is a way in which you would want a friend or a neighbor or someone that may not know your family intimately, how could they support you, how could they be a good part of your rope team?

Chris: Yeah, good question. I think, to lead with vulnerability first knot is something I deal with as a hospital chaplain a lot, is people will say, "Oh, just let me know how I can help.", right, or, "Just give me a call if there's anything I can do." Well, no one ever is going to pick you up on that, because no one wants to admit they're vulnerable. But if you're a struggling parent and you reach out to me and say, "Hey, you know what, I'm there. I hear you. I've been there too. I know how isolating it is. I want to talk."

Chris: I mean, I don't want to offer help, because we want to be on the same playing field, right? We don't want to feel like we're that poor, sorry person that can't do it by themselves, because that makes us feel bad. But if everybody starts to begin to lead with this idea that no one's got it together. If you approach it from that place of vulnerability and real interest and understanding, I think that's where it starts.

Tom : Yeah. You used a great-

Erik: It's back to the connection thing.

Tom : Yeah. Real open human connection is what I have read that you had written. And I think you're absolutely right. The world needs more of that now than ever before. We've all been isolated for a year, and we've all been on social media so much that real open in-touch human connection is needed.

Chris: Oh, for sure.

Erik: So, Chris, end by telling us about Full Catastrophe Parenting. I love that title. That's going to be the title of your upcoming book, right?

Chris: Yeah. So the full title is Full Catastrophe Parenting, adoption, disability, trauma, and other joys of motherhood. And there's plenty of humor in there.

Erik: Yeah, there's humor even in the title, or I should say irony or something.

Chris: Yeah. But The Full Catastrophe is based off of a book by Jon Kabat-Zinn called Full Catastrophe Living, and it's about being mindful really. It's about being in the present and in the moment and making those connections and allowing those moments to teach you and to guide you. And that was what worked for me. And that's why my husband and I are starting to look into mentoring other families that have challenging parenting circumstances, whether that's parenting a child with special needs or being a parent with special needs that needs some support.

Chris: I mean, and we're not like... we don't have the answers, we lead with our vulnerability. We're totally upfront, and so, yeah, we have a website, fullcatastropheparenting.com. We've started dabbling in podcasting too and sharing stories of other families. We're just getting started on that. Yeah. It's exciting.

Erik: That is exciting. That's awesome. Yeah, the world needs it for sure.

Tom : Yeah, we'll have the links in the show notes so people can continue to follow that along. And one of the questions I had is, what advice would you give to other families that might be going through some form of trauma, whether it be on the parent or raising a child who's experienced trauma?

Chris: Yeah. My biggest piece of advice would be don't do what I did, not like don't take a 30 foot fall, but don't...

Erik: Well, yeah, let's get to the low hanging fruit right off the bat. Don't fall 30 feet and lose your leg. Okay. That's one.

Chris: You're right. Right. Yeah, because it's an expensive club, right, it costs an arm and a leg to get one of those [crosstalk 00:39:28]. Right. Like you've never heard that one before.

Erik: That was good.

Chris: But yeah, don't think you can do it on your own. Reach out and find your rope team, whatever that might look like. For me I had to be active, I had to be with other active folks that got it and used... I like the phrase get out of your mind and into your body because I inherited that from my father who was an athlete, and my dad struggled with depression, and back to that inertia, or that inert word, I could see that it is very easy to become depressed if I don't move and have some kind of goal.

Chris: So, those would be some suggestions that I would have, find your people, get out of your head and into your body, and don't give up.

Tom : Wise words, for sure. Erik, any final thoughts or reflections or questions?

Erik: Also, I was getting out of the conversation a lot of this idea of nourish yourself, right, as a parent, as a mom. Because you can't just give, give, give, give, give, you got to nourish your mind and body with something. And maybe it's that rope team, maybe it's that support that you get from other parents, right?

Chris: Oh, yeah, whatever it takes. For me I'm going on a bike ride this afternoon and I'm going to put in some miles there and we're going to go to a beer garden later today. We're going to have a date night coming up, all those things that you think, well, can't take the time away from the kids, but you need to.

Erik: Yeah, that's really important right there. Cool. Well, Chris, thank you so much for being a part of the podcast. Tom, thanks as always.

Tom : Thanks, Erik.

Chris: Yeah, thank you guys so much. This was so much fun. I enjoyed talking with you. This was awesome.

Tom : Yeah.

Erik: No Barriers to everyone. We would like to thank our generous sponsors that make our No Barriers podcast possible. Wells Fargo, Prudential, CoBank, Arrow Electronics, and Winnebago. Thank you so much for your support. It means everything to us. The production team behind this podcast includes senior producer Pauline Shaffer, sound design, editing, and mixing by Tyler Caitlyn, and marketing support by Heather Zoccali, Stevie DiNardo, Erica Howey and Alex Schaffer. Special thanks to the Dan Ryan band for our intro song, Guidance. And thanks to all of you for listening. If you enjoy this podcast we encourage you to subscribe to it, share it, and give us a review. Show notes can be found at nobarrierspodcast.com.

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