The Mindful Midlife Crisis

Episode 98--Understanding How Adverse Childhood Experiences Impact Society with Dr. Shree Walker

May 17, 2023 Billy Lahr
The Mindful Midlife Crisis
Episode 98--Understanding How Adverse Childhood Experiences Impact Society with Dr. Shree Walker
Show Notes Transcript

In this week’s episode, Billy talks with Dr. Shree Walker, the founder of Resilient Walker. She formerly served as Director of Special Education and Special Education Local Plan Area in Los Angeles County and as the Director of Section 504 and Special Populations for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools in Nashville, Tennessee. She also served as an Adjunct Professor at Belmont University and serves on the leadership committee for the Sexual Assault Center, Nashville, Tennessee. She is here today to share how she navigated her own adverse childhood experiences and why taking ownership of our own self-care is so important.  

Billy and Dr. Walker discuss:

–The adverse childhood experiences she has experienced in her lifetime
–How the brain changes after experiencing trauma
–How the financial impact of ACEs not only affects the individuals who undergo the trauma but also impacts the American taxpayer
–Dr. Walker’s rebuttal to Dr. Hovington’s “Nature vs. Nurture” take
–How resilience and grit differ but work together
–How gratitude, compassion, and mindfulness help build resiliency

Be sure to check out Episode 71--Navigating Trauma through Resilience with Dr. Shree Walker as well!

Want more from Dr. Shree Walker?
Check out her website and IG. You can email her at:

If you liked this episode, check out these episodes as well:

  • Episode 72--Acts of Service As Self-Care with Dr. Lina Haji
  • Episode 22--How to Normalize and Prioritize Mental Health Conversations with Our Children with Tandra Rutledge from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

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Billy: Coming up on The Mindful Midlife Crisis

Dr. Shree:  That's why I think it's very important for us to really self-assess. Like the body scanning when you're experiencing something, because sometimes your emotional brain versus your thinking brain clashes and you're like, okay, I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do. And so this fight or flight, so the brain is forever altered with the rewiring.

And so sometimes we have to be surgeons, so to speak, and discover ourself and sit with our so to challenge self distortion. So sometimes I'm struggling with my self perception, I struggle with my self-worth, I struggle with doing too much, not doing enough because of the traumas that I've experienced. And so I have to make sure I am reminding myself of who I am, reminding myself of the truth, because it has been altered over time and you have to do the work to rewire that.

Billy:  Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis, a podcast for people navigating the complexities and possibilities of life second half. I'm your host, Billy Lahr, an educator, personal trainer, meditation teacher and Overthinker who talks to experts who specialize in social and emotional learning, mindfulness, physical and emotional wellness, cultural awareness, finances, communication, relationships, dating and parenting all in an effort to help us better reflect, learn and grow.

So we can live a more purpose filled life. Take a deep breath, embrace the present and journey with me through The Mindful Midlife Crisis. Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. I'm your host, Billy Lahr. Thank you for tuning in wherever you are. The purpose of the show is to help others navigate the complexities and possibilities of life's second half with more curiosity, compassion, openness and awareness so you can take an inspired, intentional action to jumpstart your life.

I do this in two ways. First, by sharing how cultivating my own daily mindfulness practice over the last ten years has helped me navigate the trials, tribulations and successes of my own midlife crisis. And I'm teaching you how to navigate life more mindfully through my virtual mindfulness sessions. So if you're interested in learning more about how cultivating your own regular mindfulness practice can help you live with more focused and heightened cognitive flexibility, while also managing your stress and anxiety in a much healthier way, visit and join our mindful midlife community.

I also provide a platform that gives people the space and permission to share their expertise and life experiences so you can use that information to enhance your life with whatever you find relatable and practical. And remember this free and useful information is helpful to people of all ages. Wisdom isn't about one's age. Wisdom comes from our ability to reflect, learn and grow from our own life experience says, while also learning from the experiences of others, regardless of what stage of life we are in.

Because you just never know what life is going to throw at you. So there just might be a conversation or two from past episodes that help you feel better prepared for the challenges you might face in life or that you're facing right now. Whether those challenges be your emotional mental and or physical health, your relationships with others, including your partner and children, your career, your finances, whatever curveballs life is thrown your way right now, just know that you are not alone in your experience.

And the conversations I'm having here are with people who have been there before or have done the research to help you navigate these situations with more awareness, openness, curiosity and compassion so you can jumpstart your life. And trust me, I take all of these conversations to heart as well, and I try to apply what I'm learning from these conversations into my own life.

Because my hope is that you can see and hear the growth I'm making so that it inspires you to seek out the connections between our shared experiences so that you too can take inspired and intentional action. If you're looking for some ways to help, you better navigate whatever you've got going on in your life from someone who has been through it before, check out some of our other episodes under the fan Faves tab at or wherever you get your podcasts.

This week's episode focuses on adverse childhood experiences and how to navigate those as we get older. It also ties into last week's episode with Dr. Cindy Covington around ways to invest in your children's emotional intelligence. So be sure to check out that episode as well. If you want more episodes like that, check out episode 72 with Dr. Leena Hajji about how acts of service are also acts of self-care.

You can also check out episode 22 with The Boss babe herself, Tandra Rutledge where she talks about normalizing and prioritizing conversations around mental health with your children. Also, be sure to check out my previous episode with today's guest Episode 71 with Dr. Shree Walker. That's right. She's back again because people loved that conversation that I had with her, where she talked about navigating trauma through resilience and because she just loves talking to me.

I mean, she's all human, right? Who can blame her? She's back again. So all of those episodes will be linked in the show notes. So with that, let's meet today's guest. Our guest today is Dr. Shree Walker. You may remember her from episode 71 where we talked about navigating trauma through resilience. Dr. Walker is the founder of Resilient Walker.

She formerly served as director of special education and Special Education Local Plan Area in Los Angeles County and as the director of Section 504 and Special Populations for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools in Nashville, Tennessee. She has also served as an adjunct professor at Belmont University and serves on the Leadership Committee for the Sexual Assault Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

Dr. Walker pretty much does everything. I'm always impressed by everything that she has accomplished in her life. She received a doctorate of curriculum and instruction from Tennessee State University, an education specialist of administration and supervision from Tennessee State University, a master of special education from Lipscomb University and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Fisk University. Dr. Walker participated in a public education leadership project with Harvard University and published her first book, Resilient Walker, in 2018, which you can access in the show notes or by visiting

She is here today to talk about aces which are adverse childhood experiences. We were going to talk about it last time we didn't get a chance to do it so I'm super excited to welcome her back to the show. So welcome to the show. Dr. Shree Walker.

Dr. Shree:  Thank you. Thank you.

Billy:  Thank you. Because I know you've had a crazy two weeks and it is really early in the morning where you are and it's late in the evening where I am. But I really, really wanted to have this conversation. I loved the conversation that we had last time. So thank you so much for carving out some time to chat with me again today.

Dr. Shree:  Thank you so much for the opportunity. I'm very grateful to be able to see your face again and have a conversation as it relates to how do we change the world. So thank you.

Billy:  So the last time we talked, we did our ten roles. And and you mentioned author, teacher, entrepreneur, daughter, sister, friend, forever learner servant leader, motivational speaker and connector. And the three that you were most looking forward to in the second half of life were servant, leader, learner and connector. So I just wanted to circle back around and see how are things going when it comes to being a servant leader, a learner and connector since the last time that we talked.

Dr. Shree:  Who start off with a few of my peers, right? Like who? Because all of those things are happening, right, with being an entrepreneur, servant, leader, connector I like all of those are happening in real time. So I think I want to add one more that's not really in addition, but I think it's a through line. It's just being I want to make sure I am just I'm being it just being and experiencing and being resistant and being fluid as I'm being the servant leader, the connector, the forever learner, because things are changing in real time.

So everything is going well, but I'm being challenged and I'm being stretched and I'm experiencing all those things. So I want to add just being a.

Billy:  I love that idea of just being because when we talked to Sarah Rudolph Beach in episode four, she talked about this difference between doing mode and being mode. And when we're trying to be more mindfully present and we're trying to be more aware, it's important for us to just be rather than doing so often. So what is it that you're doing in order to just be what is being Moe to look like for you these days?

Dr. Shree:  Being is staring out the window a lot and finding novel things in the area where I live and noticing, being more aware, being is taking the time to really do bathtime bath. Time is my jam, right? I'm in the tub for at least an hour and a half to 2 hours. No music, no candles, no lights just in the tub.

Just be a journaling, walking, feeling. So if it's a feeling of emotion, I'm allowing myself to feel like, why am I crying? And instead of saying, okay, stop that, it's really figuring out where is this coming from? Why am I cry? It's sometimes just allowing the tears or even the laughter, even the frustration. It's a fluid or continuum of allowing myself to just feel and be aware wherever I am, and in most cases verbalize that.

So when people ask, How am I doing? I refer back to the being, you know, I am well, or you know, what today, possible scattered showers, maybe some some tears may be flowing. So being is just that whatever I'm doing in that moment, I am I think there's a quote that says and I don't know who said it, be where your feet are.

So I am wherever my feet are at that moment in allowing myself to really feel an experience. So it's a lot of different things. But the staring out the window and the bath time are two of the go tos when I'm trying to get myself back to center.

Billy:  We're going to talk about this a little bit later, too. But, you know, the last time we had you on, you talked about using resilience to navigate through trauma. So how does this being mode build resilience within you? Because we're going to get to this in a little bit. Your adverse childhood experiences, but you have developed resiliency over time.

How does this being mode continue to develop resiliency? How does that help you navigate the difficult challenges that you're facing, especially when we're talking about education, You're putting a lot of heart into helping others.

Dr. Shree:  I think it helps her story you. It helps centers you, you know, when you're able to unplug or take a moment, you're actually replenishing yourself in those areas. You know, it's kind of like being a superhero and going out into the world and finding all these different things and coming back. And you are scarred, you know, you're scarred or you're damaged or you're bruised.

And sometimes we have to make sure we are water in ourselves. And being able to sit, stare out the window, take a bath, journal, cry. It's a opportunity for me to wear the lease so I can't actually operate at the highest capacity possible because the world is going to do what it's going to do it right. Life is life.

And you know, life is going to life is kind of lacking. And sometimes it's hard and it's challenging. Right. And so you have to make sure you can put on your full armor or have the skills and the equipment you need to navigate the challenges of life because it's going to happen. Your kids are going to behave the way they're going to behave.

Your job, the people, the bureaucracy see the frustration, and the only person you can control is yourself. So with water and myself being fully present, it helps build the resiliency because now I can navigate through the shenanigans or or identify that, you know what? She typically is upset and she typically is frustrated with whatever she's dealing with, with life and projecting on to me, I have two choices.

I can respond in a positive way or in a negative way or in three and make this a teachable moment with what are yourself or taking the moment to restore your self, withdrawing whatever it may be for you. It helps you to really be resilient and navigate those worlds.

Billy:  I think one of the reasons why I admire you so much is because the resiliency that you have developed throughout the course of your life and you touched on this a little bit the last time that we talked that you have an ACE score of seven, and the highest is, I believe, ten. So for people who are like, well, what does that mean?

Aces seven out of ten. Can you talk about what is aces and what were the aces in your life? Because I think getting people to understand that will give them maybe even a smidge of more appreciation, like what I have for you, for what you have accomplished in your life.

Dr. Shree:  Yeah. So with adverse childhood experiences, right. We all have experienced them in some capacity, right? More than others. And for me it was product or born to a mother and father who are 15 years old. Now, in addition to that, I was abused by my stepfather at five. A female neighbor at ten inappropriately touched my grandfather, 16, raped at 19.

I grew up in an impoverished neighborhood, lack of books, resources, witness violence. People in my family went to prison, jail around in the neighborhood. Crack was sold. So all these adverse things that children are exposed to that impact and shape their world or change their brain or sense of understanding, right. Adverse childhood experiences. And so for me to be able to experience all of those things and have all of those accolades that you just read off, it's like how in the world, you know, or as my grandma will say, hot hail, you know, like what this like how, how is that possible?

How is that even possible? And so most people who experience one or two or three of those things, you know, in life struggle with addiction, struggle with self distortion or low self esteem or obesity or lack of self-worth, all these different things that shape your self perception with dealing with the adverse childhood experiences. So we have all experienced them in some capacity, but it's a matter of taking the experience.

How does it impress upon your subconscious and then what do you do to move through the experience that may have occurred?

Billy:  So when you reflect on all that you've endured and all that you are, how in the world are you here? We touched on this a little bit too, is when I asked you, is resiliency something that people are born with? Is it something that you're developed? Is it something that is nurtured for you when you look back on it?

How did you develop that resiliency? Do you think you were born with more resiliency than the average person? Do you think you just developed it over time and how did you learn it? Where did you learn it? Who taught you that?

Dr. Shree:  I think it's a combination of nature versus nurture. I think it's nature with nurture. I know that there have been several studies, things like that, but I like how you framed it. Like in my world, in accordance to my research of my life. For me, it was I think it was intrinsic motivation. Of course, in addition to that, my faith, although I didn't understand that it was a faith thing or a just a higher being that I was exposed to, but nothing that was forced upon me, but something just outside of myself.

In addition to that, I saw my environment and compared it to what I saw on TV. So growing up, I was born in the seventies, late seventies, 77, so I watched a lot of television in the eighties and in the eighties there were television shows that showed you family structures and these ideals. And I looked at magazines such as The Spiegel's magazine and Toys R US and commercials.

And so I saw my reality. I listen to what I was hearing in church, in songs, in church. It was do unto others as you want done. And to you in school it was you go to school, you can become in reality it was you can be whatever you want to be. You dream it, you can have it.

And then I saw my reality. They're drugs. People are fighting, you know, people are struggling. People are don't have light electricity. I'm one of those people. Then I saw television. You have two moms, you have two dads. You sit down and you talk through your issues. We're going to have these adversities, but you come together. And so when I saw all of those elements, it was I want that.

I want the life where I can travel. I want the life where I can have time to prepare for bed, have books in the house. Now, how do I get it? I don't know, but let me do trial and error. They say you go to school A, B, C, D is going to happen. I want to be a teacher.

So let me go to school. And I showed up as myself navigating those worlds. Although I was the kid who didn't have electricity at times or went to four high schools, I was a kid who understood that life may be off. You need to sit up front. I was a kid who understood that people in my house may not know, know how to do my homework.

So let me go and ask the teacher, because in the back of my head it was I desire that other life that was out there again. It was in TV land, right? It was in the books, it was in my head. And I just kept feeding on that, feeding on that at times, having to go back and rely on my higher being with questioning like, Oh God, this what we do, you know, like this is a little tough.

And at times I struggle and I would have to sit in my frustrations, sit in my depression, sit in the impact of the abuse, the impact of my reality, because I'm actually going uphill, you know, and it's easier just to quit. And so over time, I learned to sit in it, But this is uncomfortable. And so if I'm going to be uncomfortable, I'd rather be uncomfortable in this different world and have to be a learner.

So I'm okay with starting over and being a freshman in different worlds and different environment. So I definitely respect research out there. But I know for me in my world, in the study, in accordance to Dr. Shree Walker, it was a combination of all of those things nature and nurture.

Billy:  Do you ever just get exhausted from it all because your work is very much in the thick of it still like you're putting yourself in the mix still? Is that exhausting to the point where you're like, What am I just going to stop? When am I going to take a break? Or is it all you know, and you're drawn to it, you're consumed by it, but it's in a sense replenishing because you're like, as difficult as this work is, I know what this work did for me.

So I want to give it unto others as well.

Dr. Shree:  Hell, yes, I spoke to.

Billy:  All of it. Right.

Dr. Shree:  Well, I've come a mighty long way, right? I've come a long way. And I've endured a lot. So rest is very important. Rest is very important. And so rest for me is sometimes being in the bed, not watching TV, the staring out the window, going to the beach, going to the park and sleeping in the park. I'm one of those that I will go to sleep in the park for 2 hours.

And I live in Los Angeles, so there are other people sleeping in the park so people don't bother me. So there's a lot of unhoused people in Los Angeles, California. So I'll grab them. We just pull over and be like, You know what? I'm going to go sit in the park. I'll grab whatever's in my trunk, whether it's a blanket or a beach towel or some clothes and just kind of make a pile and I'll go to sleep for a couple of hours.

So rest is very important for me When I travel. I'm very intentional about where I stay. I'm one that I could stay in a $80 hotel. However, today I don't have to, you know, so I want to make sure where I'm staying is somewhere where I'm excited about saying it's a beautiful place. So I'm actually on vacation when I travel all the time.

I'm not going to have to take a break from my work. I experience life as I'm doing it, and so I'm mindful of getting the rest. But then I'm also I don't have any children, so my legacy is my work. So it is very important for me to know that when I encounter you or you experience me, that I am forever impressed upon your subconscious because people will forget what you said, forget what you did, but never forget how you made them feel.

And so I want to make sure that each encounter that I'm having with people, they remember that. So I'm constantly resting and then being reminded of I have a job to do. I'll be 46 next week, next Wednesday, May 17, I'll be happy early birthday. Thank you. Thank you. And not to sound morbid, but we all know I'm on a clock.

You know, I got a good 40 more six summers, you know, I'm hoping. And so there's this invisible clock. And I want to make sure that as I navigate my journey, that I'm doing what I'm supposed to do and pouring out because I definitely want to die empty. So resting is very important. In addition to resting, I'm constantly drawn back to this is my work.

This is what I was born to do. I have a responsibility. So let's get back to it. But while I'm in it, I'm mindful of where I stay. Let's go to a museum. Let's go for a walk. Let's go to a play. So to answer your question, yes, it's both of those are all of those.

Billy:  Well, I want to bring it back to aces here a little bit. Just because, you know, when I'm hearing your answers, I'm hearing this intensity and this drive. And again, it's always impressive to me that people who navigate trauma in the way that you've done and so many others have done are able to do so and come out on the other side and not say, you know what, I'm done in stead, they say I'm going to go back into the fold and I'm going to continue doing this really, really important work.

Because when we take a look at the physiological changes that the brain undergoes when we experience trauma, we wouldn't fault somebody for just saying, no, I'm going to take the rest. I'm not going to subject myself to this anymore. So taking a look at this more clinically, what are some of those physiological changes that the brain undergoes? When we experienced trauma.

Dr. Shree:  You just never know how someone's going to respond to it, right? It goes back to having PTSD living in this state of continuous fight or flight, distorted self perception, lack of self-worth, questioning everything, lack of trust. So each time you're experiencing the challenges of life in whatever capacity your being alter, constantly being an author and your brain is being rewired as to how do you respond, your spidey sense as far as we go up more often than not, or you don't even pay attention to them?

That's why I think it's very important for us to really self-assess, like the body scanning when you're experiencing something, because sometimes your emotional brain versus your thinking brain clashes and you're like, okay, I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do. And so this fight or flight, so the brain is forever altered with the rewiring.

And so sometimes we have to be surgeons, so to speak, and discover ourself and sit with ourselves to challenge self distortion. So I sometimes I'm struggling with my self perception, I struggle with my self-worth. I struggle with doing too much, not doing enough because of the traumas that I've experienced. And so I have to make sure I am reminding myself of who I am, reminding myself of the truth, because it has been altered over time and you have to do the work to rewire that.

And sometimes that looks like journaling, writing things down that are the inverse of what you think. So for example, I'm very thin. I may not look like an on camera because I think they say they add about ten pages to you, but I'm very thin and I thought that I was really skinny. And so I used to have the journal.

I am the perfect weight. I used to hide my smile and I used to hide it. I used to say, This is how I used to smile over and over. I have a beautiful smile. And so you have to really figure out where you are based upon how your brain has been altered or your emotional state of being has been altered, and be willing to sit with it and figure out what you need to do to rewire it to get you back to your true self.

Billy:  And I think the reason why I want to unpack this idea of adverse childhood experiences is because when I was doing research for our conversation, I saw some recent research that said that across 25 states they interviewed adults and 61% of them reported having at least one adverse childhood experience and one in six reported having four or more.

And the likelihood of heart disease, cancer, stroke, COPD, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and suicide increased significantly. If you fall into that four or more category. And I'm just curious, why aren't we exploring this more as a society? Why aren't we trying to get a grasp on this as a society so that we're providing more care for particularly the youth who don't have a lot of say in how they're growing up?

They don't have as much say as we actually have in that and providing them opportunities and safe structures in staff societies.

Dr. Shree:  I believe that we as a society walk around and act as if I got it all together. Nothing has happened to me. And if it did happen to me, no one needs to know about it. Those type of things happened to those people over there. It's their fault, right? And so if we really sit with everyone has been impacted by some adverse childhood experience or even adult experiences in life like life as well, I think everyone is experiencing the impact of life in some capacity, but we put on these airs as if I got it all together.

I'm not struggling financially, I'm not struggling with self-perception, I'm not struggling with trying to get ahead. I'm not struggling with the choices that I made in life. And so we don't share. We don't share how we got through. And then sometimes people struggle with doing the work. So oftentimes when we sit with people who are open about the challenges they've experienced in life, you've got to ask the question, do you want to get well?

Do you want to do the work? Do you want to get better? Because the cycle that they may be in, it's normal doesn't make you right. But it's normal. And it's much easier for me to stand this reality than to rewire myself and move around. So I think we as adults who 61% of us have experienced some type of aces in some capacity, I think we have to make sure when we are connecting with people and there's an opportunity for us to share how we got through with our struggle, whatever capacity it can be, divorce, it can be abuse in some capacity.

We need to take that opportunity because I like to say we are free to heal ourselves. We are free to heal others. And so if there's a sharing of information and showing people how to move through that, I think we can actually change the world. But do we really want to? Because it requires me to be vulnerable. It requires me to let you know that I don't have it all together.

It requires me to let you know that some days I just sit and stare out the window and I have 150 things to do, but I don't have anything to give. Or some day I'm in the fetal position in the bathroom crying because I'm just exhausted or I'm overwhelmed or I've dealt with listening to everyone else's stuff and now I have to release it in some capacity.

And that's how it's coming out. You think like and you're a speaker and you're out here pouring into people telling them what to do. So then we start struggle with the imposter syndrome. So people who have experience or not even at their shouting experiences in addition to vast childhood experiences, just life, people who are struggling in life don't want to expose themselves.

We don't want to be seen. So it's just easier for me to not tell which. I don't have children. But I'm sure there are many parents. They know what their kids see when they're crying. They don't sit down at the table and that to scare the kid, but really show the children like bills and money management and why we don't have enough and they don't do that.

You Oh, I got it together and Mama made it work and Daddy figured it out. And so then it's kids thinking that you do A, B, then C is automatically going to happen. And they don't know that there's a one and a two and a three and a jump to Z before you can actually get the B They don't understand.

In addition to we live in this instant gratification world and people really don't know how to do the work. So I'm biased. I believe Generation X is the dopest generation ever.

Billy:  I agree with you 100% right.

Dr. Shree:  Because we have to learn a lot because our parents were, you know, I don't know what they were doing, but we had to figure it out. We had to figure it out. And I think with figuring it out, we're in this space to where we have no problem with moving through things. But I don't know what's happening to the kids that the Generation Xers have had because we were outside.

You go outside and you figure it out. Or in addition to that, it was we were just given the freedom to actually discover and learn. So I think if people were more vulnerable and again, you're not just walking around telling everybody, Hey, I was abused as a kid, you know, where you abuse, let's talk about it. You're not doing that.

But when given the opportunity to help someone walk through their wilderness, whether it was they intentionally walk through it or not and sit with them while they're in it, to let them know that they can get out. It reminds me of allegory of the cave. You know, it's kind of like I'm out and let me let you know that these flames and this is not really the reality, but I still have to ask the question, how long do you want to stay and do you want to leave?

And some people hold on to their truth in their struggle because they don't want to be seen.

Billy:  Or they want to be seen as the victim? Maybe. So it's interesting you took this down a different path because it seems like you're seeing this is more on the individual's responsibility to manage the trauma than it is society's responsibility to be proactive in the trauma. Am I misreading that? Or maybe I missed something in there.

Dr. Shree:  No, no, no. You're right on target. Because if I take care of myself, right, if I do my work right, in a perfect world, if I take care of myself, if I hear myself and you heal yourself, then we all need more healing because we wouldn't need society to have all these programs. But that's not the world we live in, right?

And so we live in a world where it's a fallen world and we have hardships and we're going to have adversities. And so I think it's twofold. I think people who can actually work through and heal themselves by going getting other resources and things like that. When you come across other people who don't have access to other resources, I'm free to heal myself.

I'm free to heal others. So let me share with you. My experience is I tried this, this, this, this, and this. This is what works for me. Let me expose you to what works for me and hopefully it will. Cost is domino effect too, where you know what Billy is like. Well, sure you can do it. I can do it.

Let me go and try this. Let me go on. Try that. And so when we heal, we're free to heal others. And hopefully we can get rid of the harm and the hurt and the pain. For example, people who have been abused. I don't know what the statistics say, but people who have been abused sometimes abuse others. Right.

In some capacity. Right. Some capacity that wasn't a battle for me, right? I didn't do it to anyone else. I did it to myself. I internalize and it was the the girl who was that girl Promiscuous, right. Trying to navigate When I say with who, where, how? Because I wanted my power back right. And so once I figure it out, I'm not hurting someone else.

I'm hurting myself. I had to sit with it, sit with it and rewire myself over time, I have met other people who, because of various things, harming themselves, whether it's drugs, whether it's sexual promiscuity. And they ask me, How did you become like this? And I sit with them and I share it with them. Sometimes I'm sitting with them when they're in the wilderness on their way to get high, on their way to have sex with the boyfriend or the one I said.

And we sit and I meet them different times along their journey and I'm pouring into them and they're pouring into me. In some cases people come out of it. And so I was free to heal myself. I'm free to heal others and so it's this continuous, mutualistic, sometimes parasitic relationship where I'm pouring out and only pouring out, and then sometimes it's reciprocal.

So I think it's both. Because of the world we live in, we have to figure out how do we heal ourselves utilizing the resources that are out there and then helping people along the way so we can live in this utopia of a world. And it may just be in your area, your city and your family. But I think is both.

Billy:  Is it important then, for us to bring more attention to adverse childhood experiences to the society if it's upon the individual to heal? Because if the individual isn't utilizing the resources or doesn't have access to the resources, does that individual then pose not necessarily a danger or a threat, but maybe just a burden on the society as a whole, especially if we have not necessarily one individual.

It poses the burden, but a collection of people who have not been able to heal over that time. So then how do we kind of take this? It takes a village mentality in order to help people who are experiencing adverse childhood experiences or trauma in general and provide them the resources so that they do seek them out?

Dr. Shree:  No, you're absolutely right. Right. Because not everyone knows how. Right? Not everyone knows how and not everyone knows how to access it. So it's twofold. It's those people who did get exposed to the how and know how to heal themselves and utilize resources when now that you know, they're going to be other people who don't know because they haven't been exposed or it is something that in their culture you just don't do that.

You don't do body work, you don't go to therapy, we don't tell our business. And so it's a matter of now that there's a group of us, a collective people that know how, know what's possible, what can we create to help those who haven't been exposed get access? Right? And so that is our responsibility in the sense of I healed myself, now let me heal others.

And so it's very important for that exposure, for that marketing on self-help, what does it look like? But telling the truth, really telling the truth of what healing is people think. You take two of these, call me in the morning, you're going to be healed. Like, that's not how it works, right? I'm still healing from stuff that happened back in 88, which I dealt with in 98, 2008, 2018.

And it looks different throughout the process. So when we help those people who don't know how to heal themselves in this current state of being, we need to create systems and programs and meaningful engagement that is going to really tell them the truth of the process of healing.

Billy:  I understand better now why you continue to go back into the fold, because it sounds like it's a pay it forward approach for you that you healed and now you have the resources, you have the knowledge to help others heal, and it's incumbent upon you to share that experience, to share that wealth of knowledge so that you can help others in the same way that you were helped.

Or the resources and the work that you did helped you. So yeah, that really resonates with me. That all became crystallized right there as you were sharing that answers, Well, let's do this. Let's take a quick break. And when we come back, we're continue talking to Dr. Shree Walker about the impact adverse childhood experiences has on all of society and what we can do to continue to mitigate those trauma experiences and navigate those trauma experiences.

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Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. I'm here once again talking to a doctor, Sherry Walker. You might remember her from episode 81. We talked about using resilience to navigate trauma. You can go to if you want more from her she's got a book there we're going to talk about this idea of resilient walking in just a little bit but the last time we talked I asked you if it's possible that people are born resilient.

We talked a little bit about that already. It's almost like it's a gene they acquire fear and you landed again somewhere in the middle of nature versus nurture. Last week I talked to a neuroscientist, Dr. Cindy Covington, and she drew kind of a firm line in the sand and said it's nurture. Now, to be fair to Dr. Cindy, I did see if it was a Mortal Kombat match to the death, which one would win.

So it was almost like she had to choose one or the other. So so that's why she drew the firm line in the sand and said if I had to choose one, I would choose nurture. But then when we look at your adverse childhood experiences, do you feel like those conferred erm her assertion that it's nurturing or do you look at what you've accomplished in your life despite a score of seven on the Aces scale and say well if it's nurture then what the hell am I doing here?

Kind of like what your grandmother had said, right.

Dr. Shree:  So indeed indeed it is going back to the mortal comet. Right. I would say they both die at the end, right? They both because it's nature versus nurture and they both because that's the way if you had to ask me, I would say they both shout out their superpower and they hit each other and they both pass out because I believe it's both of them That much.

That much? Yeah. What am I doing here? If we're going to go with nurture? For me, it was both. Now, the things that nurtured me indirectly, right? So how are we defining nurture? Because there are some things that nurtured me, which was my environment, which I was like, That's not for me. So is that the argument that it doesn't necessarily mean that there are people, right?

Billy:  So you used what you saw as a nurturing to nurture yourself.

Dr. Shree:  Yes.

Billy:  Oh, so just like so you just flipped it on its head and said, oh, I see that. I know. I don't want to be that.

Dr. Shree:  Yes. Yes.

Billy:  Okay.

Dr. Shree:  So that's why it's kind of like, how are we defining nurture? Is it really someone nurturing you and pouring into you and showing you the way? Or is it. Yeah, that's not that's for me. I don't know how to fight. I never been to a I stereotypical girls who grow up in the projects, supposed to know how to fight.

That's not my story. I'm playing with color pencils, you know, like I work with baby dolls. And so I saw my environment and was like, That's so television nurtured me seeing this Everton and cutting her sandwich. And the way she packed her bag like that nurtured me. So for me, that's why I say it's both nature with nurture.

Also, I believe some people may be more or less or how you define nature and nurture, because I can think of people that in certain environments they are doing the best they can. But if you put them in another environment, the outcomes may be totally different. I'm thinking about flowers, right? Plant seeds, soil. You get a package of flowers and seed.

You know that this should be a sunflower. You know that this should be an orchid. You know, this should be some lilies. And you have to make sure the soil is properly set and cultivated for it to actually become the thing they're supposed to become. But you can take a gladiolus, which blooms all year, which can withstand any other conditions, and it's going to bloom.

So you have to really know who you're dealing with, what's in them and what can be drawn out of them and understanding the conditions that they need to be put into, get what you need to get out of them. Does that make sense?

Billy:  It does. I'm like still processing how you took what you would saw and were like, No, I know that that's what I don't want. And to me that is such a compelling argument for nature. But on the flip side, I'm also a strong believer in the nurture too, so it's just such a fascinating conversation. I could have the nature versus nurture conversation every single day of the week.

It's so interesting to me and I think to like what you were talking about with gladiolus is like, okay, so what you're saying is they can thrive in any climate and any that's just their nature. Yeah. So that's how again, I could have this conversation every single week. So I just find it always so fascinating. I'm going to be talking to a doctor, Miriam Zilber Glatt here soon, and she wrote the book called A Three Year Cycle of Life, which if people want, they can find that book and read it before she comes on the show.

And then when you're done with that, make sure you read Resilient Walker by Dr. Walker here as well. But we were talking about burnout a while ago, and she's going to come on the show and she's going to talk about burnout. And in one of the conversations she and I had, she explains how gs plus grit equals post-traumatic growth.

So that's the three year cycle goals plus grit equals growth. But one thing that I found interesting is that she said resilience only gets us back to base level when it comes to post-traumatic growth. And I'm just curious what your thoughts are on that. Is resilience the same as grit, or is resilience what picks us up off the mat after we've been knocked down?

And grit is why we keep punching, so to speak?

Dr. Shree:  Yes, the ladder, I believe grit is I'm doing this, I'm doing this, I'm doing it. I failed, right, because I believed in a certain outcome. I'm over here, get knocked around. I'm frustrated. I'm angry. I've been rejected over and over time trying to figure it out. And it's like, I'm done the whole I'm done, I'm tired. I quit.

You quit for the moment. You quit for the hour. You quit for the day. You quit for two weeks. And the resilience is I got farther than I was supposed to the last time. So let me get back out there. Right. And so it's like, now I know not to do this, this, this. Now I know how to reshape.

Now I know how to reframe. And so it's a combination of the grit. Is that desire that's driving you forward to move you through. And the resiliency is no matter what comes your way as you're driving forward, you're going to roll with the punches, so to speak, or you're going to lay on the mat for a minute if you need to, but you're going to get back up because there's something inside of you that just does not.

But you can't live with the alternative for me, I just cannot live with the alternative. I'm in the process of creating a nonprofit, right. And so as I'm talking to my friends about it, they're looking at me like I'm crazy. And I have to tell them, Well, the place we're in right now that started off with an idea, this was literally an idea for someone, and they just kept going and going and going.

They got rejected. People probably thought they were crazy, was unrealistic. And so that's where the resiliency comes, where the grit is. This is the idea. This is the possibilities. And dealing with all of the failures, the rejection, the nose, the crazy looks, even fighting against yourself. Because sometimes we have to have this internal conflict because the world is telling us one thing and our mind is telling us something else.

That's all of the grit and the resiliency is getting yourself back to center and being willing to move through it. It reminds me of this poem that my friend wrote. It's called Measure for Measure. When the roofs grow down before the trees grow up, does it measure any taller or is down not enough? Why do we always measure only what we see when what grows down is what makes the tree?

And that's by my friend Michael Dale. I said, And we're thinking about soil tree's resiliency, nature, nurture and grit. It's kind of like a lot of stuff is happening underneath the surface, going back to the brain, and it's a matter of deepening our roots is very important for people to understand that that's a metaphor for what's happening in life right now.

We are deepening our we're having this conversation and sharing information, and we have to be mindful of what we share, what we need to know, what's important, what's not important for us to really shape and grow over time.

Billy:  So along with resilience and along with grips, you're also a believer that gratitude compassion and mindfulness all help build resiliency and resiliency is a key component of emotional intelligence. Let's break these down here. How to gratitude, compassion and mindfulness all help build resiliency.

Dr. Shree:  I think the core of what it means to be resilient, right? Like being able to deal with the adversities of life, whether you're a child or an adult and being thankful in some capacity. Right? Being able to not just see the brighter side of things, but being in the now at this moment, right now, Do I have any problems?

No. At this moment I'm breathing, I'm talking to you and for like, do I have a problem in this particular moment? No. So finally, some type of gratitude, thankfulness in the moment, right? Having some kind of gladness or appreciation for the moment, the people you're with, with your health, something because there's something we can all be grateful for in some capacity as it relates to mindfulness.

Right? I think it's going back to just be aware, like being aware, as we talked about earlier, like being mindful of what's actually happening, what am I feeling, what's going on with me? And so when you put all those together, you're able to process through the grit, the frustration, and then here we go, resiliency, because it's this cycle is a cycle.

And what was the second one?

Billy:  Well, I was going to ask it for me, I think compassion is the hardest part because it's so difficult for us to be compassionate towards ourselves. You know, there's that idea. We would never say the things that we say to ourselves, to our best friends, right? That's something that as I'm coaching people now through my mindfulness sessions, is really helping them be compassionate towards themselves when they are doing mindfulness wrong.

And it's like, No, you're not doing mindfulness really. It's yes, it's a challenge to stay focused with your breath. It's a challenge to stay focused with intention. So let go of that judgment when you are thinking that you're doing it wrong, No need to be so harsh on yourself and bring yourself back to your breath with compassion and say, Oh, you know what?

I'm no longer focused on my breath and I bring myself back and I continue moving forward and just even doing that is compassionate rather than saying I screwed up. Right. And so that compassion builds resiliency, because when we talk about getting knocked down and resiliency picking you back up, it's that compassion that says, hey, things are going to happen.

Maybe you made the mistake, but how do we learn from it? Move forward so that grit kicks in and we can continue on?

Dr. Shree:  Yes. Yes. And that internal dialog is very important. Right. And it's fluid and it goes back to being aware. So you have the gratitude, the compassion and the mindfulness. And so it's a continuous cycle. So when you are aware, you can offer the compassion, because when you are aware, you're saying to yourself, well, that was in nice to say, why did I actually say that to myself Just a few minutes ago, You know, I was feeling this way and all of a sudden I'm having this different thought, Where does this come from?

So it's this internal, constant dialog between the gratitude, the compassion and the mindfulness. And when you're able to do that, some days you can do it really quickly and you're constantly staying in this state of awareness. And then other days it's a challenge because sometimes I think we like to go to our default mode and because the default mode is the woe with me and you want to do the woe, it's me.

And so then you're binge watching and every thought you're having is validating your current state of being or you have a thought and it changes your current state of being to validate the thought, right? And so some days we have days like that. But if we are able to move, get up and go for a walk, do some movement, find something and figure out what's novel about that new thing.

We're back to the gratitude, compassion, mindfulness in real time. But I think people can be afraid of that because it's like, am I not supposed to be frustrated? Am I not supposed to be overwhelmed? Am I not supposed to have anxiety? Am I having a midlife crisis because I'm just jovial or not even this happiness thing? But this going back to the being, I am a living, breathing, being, and that's what we're just supposed to do.

And I think the jellyfish are the most like true. As example of a living thing when they just are, you know, or they just be and this is living. And if we can learn how to get our mind, body and soul in this rhythm of gratitude, compassion and awareness, then we can change ourselves and we can change others which changes the world.

Billy:  I want to get you out of here on this. You have this very beautiful image of the resilient walker. And all this time I just thought that you know was just a clever play on your name which it sort of is but yes this image is actually really what resonates with me is so can you talk about what this image is of the resilient walker and why these two words together are so connected?

Dr. Shree:  Yes, yes, yes. So the way the name came about it is a play on my last name, but I was trying to figure out a name for the book and I was like, Well, I'm resilient, you know? But maybe the book should be called Resilient Beautiful Soul, or I was just coming up with different kind of names and like, Resilient something I was like, resilient.

Walker Right. Because to be resilient, right, is a certain state of being. And then also walking is a certain state of the that when you kind of put the two together. It's this continuous state of being and I want to read it to make sure I get it right. If you have a copy of the book, it's on page six.

But it says to be a resilient walker is to walk through pain and heartbreak into joy and comfort, to proceed through trials and tears, to start to smile and play, to withstand torment, to sing loudly, to be present, to show empathy, to withstand the evil, in order to do a greater good, to be a resilient walker is to realize that the world is full of monsters with friendly faces and angels full of scars.

To be resilient, Walker means never to be only resilient or only walking, but to marry the two so they can hold hands with one who knows the difference. So it's a constant state of being in a state of walking, right? So being meaning moving through and sometimes as physically walking and processing, sometimes as actually sitting and being where you are, right, wrong or indifferent, you know, And sometimes sitting with others who are in their state of being right, wrong and or indifferent, but knowing that life is going to be laughing.

But there are also people along the way that can help you move through the challenges of life. And so I go back to we are free to heal ourselves. We're free to heal others, and we're all resilient walkers.

Billy:  Well, it is such a pleasure for me to be in your presence. And I really once again want to thank you so much for taking the time for chatting with me today. I really appreciate it.

Dr. Shree:  Thank you.

Billy:  Hey, if you enjoyed this week's episode, be sure to look in the show notes for all of Dr. Walker's contact information, as well as links to the episodes I referenced at the beginning of the show. Oh, and don't forget to subscribe to this show wherever you get your podcasts so you never miss an episode. If you're an Apple listener, you can do that by clicking the plus sign in the upper right hand corner.

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Finally, I know Dr. Walker and I would greatly appreciate it if you would share this episode with the people in your life who may also find value in her expertise and life experiences. Remember, the purpose of the show is to help you navigate the complexities and possibilities of life's second half. And I hope this conversation provides some insight that will help you reflect, learn and grow so you can jumpstart your life.

So for Dr. Walker, this is Billy. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. May you feel happy, healthy and loved. 

Take care, friends.