Healing Charlotte Podcast: Hannah Kay Herdlinger, Thread Talk

Today’s conversation is with Hannah Kay Herdlinger, the founder of Thread Talk.  The company came from her personal story as a domestic violence survivor who wanted to give back to other survivors and shelters.  Thread Talk sells blankets with names such as “Confidence, Love, Serenity, Strength, and Resilience” with 10% of the proceeds going back to local domestic violence shelters through domesticshelters.org.  This website includes many resources as well as “live wish lists” for individual shelters.  It was important for Hannah Kay to share her story because of the power of telling your story and connecting to others who have been through something similar.  When she opened up about her personal story she started hearing more and more stories of domestic violence.  Currently the statistics are 1 in 4 women and and 1 and 9 men are survivors.  Her mission was to help start that difficult conversation.  She has also created a “Thread Talk Trailblazer” program to help spread the word, give survivors a way to give back, and to help develop a community around this.

“The way I discovered I could do that best was by selling cozy products such as blankets that everyone has in their home and uses all the time and then donating 10% of my proceeds back to domestic violence shelters.”

The pandemic has created some shifts in the domestic violence space.  Before last year, they had a hotline for survivors to reach out and since the pandemic started, created a texting/written platform.  This was implemented since many survivors may be at home with their abusers and cannot call a hotline for assistance.  Shelters remain overcrowded and underfunded but this last year they have worked with hotels and other programs for collaborations to support survivors.

“It feels so good to know that you are not alone and that someone else can relate to something that you are going through.”

Domesticshelters.org has been influential in Hannah Kay’s work as she appreciates the resources they offer, the survivors stories, and inspiring songs.  In Charlotte, there are resources such as Safe Alliance, The Umbrella Center, and Mecklenburg County Community Support Services all geared towards supporting domestic violence shelters.  Hannah Kay moved to Charlotte after she literally picked it out of a hat.  Since moving here she has found it to be an amazing place where people rally around each other.  Her advice for those seeking healing is to let it be known to others that you are in that you will have someone who could listen to you and support you, not to mention may offer referrals.  A healer in Charlotte that Hannah Kay is inspired by is Greg Jackson of Heal Charlotte.  She has been amazed at the work he has done and most recently how he supported our neighbors at tent city.

You can purchase a blanket from Thread Talk on their website here.

Healing Charlotte Podcast: Meghan Lowery, Honest Elderberry Co

Today’s podcast guest is Meghan Lowery, the owner and founder of Honest Elderberry Co. The company officially started in March 2019 and was especially vital in supporting her family during 2020 when her husband lost his job. Honest Elderberry Co sells syrup in 3 sizes as well as a “make your own kit” where one can get creative with adding their own sweetener or no sweetener at all. She has some more offerings coming out in the future including an elderberry body butter that is currently in the works. Meghan has always had an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to help people especially after a lifestyle change many years ago.

Elderberries have been used for centuries for their anti-viral properties and some of Meghan’s customers have used her syrup for their inflammation. Elderberries are also known for their bioflavonoid properties meaning that they attack sick cells and viral strains. By this, research studies have shown that they can shorten the duration and intensity of an illness. Meghan’s syrup also uses aroniaberries which have the highest anti-oxidant properties of any fruit. Other ingredients include organic cinnamon sticks, organic ginger root, organic whole clove, and North Carolina/South Carolina honey. All of these ingredients together can create a powerful immune support. Meghan suggests taking 1 tablespoon daily for general wellness and can up the dosage during an illness. The difference in her syrup versus a more commercialized brand is that it has to be refrigerated, meaning that it has no preservatives, alcohol, added sweeteners or thickeners. Honest Elderberry Co also has recipes on their social media for different ways to use the syrup including mocktails, glazes, and in smoothies.

“We use fresh, organic elderberries. We have a couple of partnerships with a couple of berry farmers throughout the United States. So we source our berries directly from them.”

Meghan loves building relationships in the community especially when she gets to meet customers at Farmer’s Markets or other events. She also enjoys working with her retail partners and her husband. He just created his own apparel line during this time called Amen Apparel Co. Counseling, eating well, and Christianity is what keeps her grounded. She wants to heal Charlotte because of her desire for people to have an experience with the healing powers of plants, herbs, and berries.

“First and foremost, I’m a big people person and I love getting out and building relationships with people and meeting people in the community. My favorite people I love working with is when I go to Farmer’s Markets and meet people I get to hear their story and I get to know who they are. That’s one of my most favorite things.”

It’s important to Meghan and her husband to also give back to the community. They have donated financially and products to several organizations including; Catawba Terrace Care Center, Children’s Attention Home, Palmetto Women’s Center, and the Uptown Farmer’s Market who has partnered with Roof Above. She is inspired be the following healers; Green Brother’s Juice who provide high quality smoothies and juices, Uptown Farmer’s Market, and Carolina Functional Nutrition.

If interested in buying some Honest Elderberry Syrup, they are located in 35 stores currently in the Charlotte region(click on the Locations tab) or you can order directly from their website. This Spring and Summer season, you can find Meghan and her family at the Uptown Farmer’s Market and various other events in the area.

Post-Traumatic Growth

sakura tree
Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

Many people outside of Mental Health professionals have never heard of this term. Ironically, those who exhibit PTG have definitely not heard of it. Quite interesting that one embodies this phenomenon without even knowing that’s what it is.

So what is Post-Traumatic Growth? Well, it’s a term coined in the 90s by researchers, Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun, a couple of researchers at UNCC. They found that trauma causes suffering but that it can also be a catalyst for something bigger, perhaps a new meaning in life. After hundreds of interviews and years of research studies, they found that those who exhibit Post-Traumatic Growth, show the following traits:

  • Increased inner strength
  • Open to new possibilities in life
  • Closer and deeper relationships
  • Enhanced appreciation of life
  • Stronger spirituality

So how is this different than “bouncing back” after a trauma. All humans have the capacity for resilience. Think of a rubber band; when you stretch it out and then let it go, it returns to its original shape. PTG goes beyond that; you don’t return to your baseline, you recalibrate to something new and better. I like to think of the difference in “surviving” and “thriving.” You aren’t just assimilating to your new circumstances, but adapting.

What might this look like in the real world? Once you know this concept, you tend to find numerous examples of this in everyday life. Listen to survivors’ stories and you will hear it. From the survivor of a horrific accident who is now paralyzed and become a motivational speaker to parents who have created a non-profit to support other parent’s who’s child is going through the condition that their child passed away from. A classical example is of Viktor Frankl who wrote “Man’s Search for Meaning.” Frankl was a Psychiatrist in Poland during the Holocaust who had started research on helping other’s find meaning in their life. It had not really gone anywhere and then Frankl survived at least 3 concentration camps. He lost his wife, parents, and countless friends and contacts. His research took off afterwards. If he could find meaning in his life by surviving something as horrific as the Holocaust, he certainly could be inspirational to others in doing the same. Had he not gone through what he did, he may not have been as effective in developing logotherapy which is helpful in finding meaning in one’s life.

Are all individuals capable of PTG? All individuals are capable but the research shows over half of those who experience a trauma fall into this category. It’s not something that one should strive for after a trauma. The work takes time. Research shows that those who fall into the category of PTG have the following characteristics:

  • Strong social support
  • Have spirituality
  • Optimistic
  • Curious or adventurous
  • Better at self-regulation and have a problem-solving focus

What may assist someone in this growth? Certainly not jumping right into it. Give yourself time and space to began healing from what you went through. Let this unfold naturally when you are ready. Asking for support, social and professional, develop a gratitude practice, find an outlet to express yourself(writing, art, music, dance), and create connections with others who have experienced something similar. Tedeschi and Calhoun developed a term called “deliberate rumination.” This means actively tackling the new challenges by spending time thinking about it in an adaptive and productive way.

Is there a way to support someone in this? As a support person, you can have patience and just listen. As support people there is a pressure that seems to develop inside in wanting to “help them feel better” when in actuality they just want someone to listen. Give the survivor time and space to heal.

Interested in other resources on this topic? The following books and workbooks may be helpful:

Upside by Jim Rendon

Mindfulness & Grief by Heather Stang

Post-Traumatic Growth Workbook by Richard Tedeschi

Finding Meaning by David Kessler

I was interviewed on “The Wandering Widow” podcast by Kelly Howard on Post-Traumatic Growth.

Katie’s Bookshelf: Neurofeedback 101 by Michael Cohen

The book “Neurofeedback 101” by Michael P. Cohen is an easy to read and understand text about a subject that can be complicated to explain. Neurofeedback is a form of biofeedback where sensors are placed on the scalp and electrical impulses are given back to the brain in the form of “feedback” which could be a variety of things including video, pictures, and sounds. The brain takes that information and learns over time to self-regulate better. The book goes into what it is and how it works, the history of it, and what it can help with. One of the more helpful aspects of the book are the vignettes. Lots of case examples of what symptom(s) someone came in with and what their experience was like with Neurofeedback.

“Neurofeedback simply assists you in improving your brain timing–which in turn helps improve brain function or symptoms. It’s exercise that helps your brain ‘do better’ or be more efficient.”

The vignettes cover the common issues people come to Neurofeedback for including; sleep, racing thoughts, mood, speed of learning, chronic pain, headaches/migraines, and mood disturbances. They also articulate the results people tend to get including; more stability of mood, improved handling of stress, focus, fewer or less intense headaches/migraines, memory, improved sleep, and improved relationships.

“The technology doesn’t change your brain. It only assists you in doing it yourself.”

The final section goes into common questions people have regarding Neurofeedback. The author address questions such as if there is research on it, what ages can do it, can I get off medication, and why haven’t I heard about this before?

Overall, this book is a quick read and easily digested. It’s really written for the client or potential client, not an experienced practitioner.

Read this book if:

  • You are considering Neurofeedback training
  • You have started training
  • You are considering it for a loved one.

Buy It Here

Cohen, M. (2020). Neurofeedback 101. Florida. Center for Brain Training.

Healing Charlotte Podcast: Anna Egleston, Yoga Retreats

On this episode, we meet Anna Egleston, the Chief Zen Officer, of Above Yoga. She leads Yoga Retreats for adults. She has combined her love for yoga, travel, adventure, and professional background in corporate travel to cultivate a community of adults. Anna has lead international retreats to places like Ireland, Cambodia, and the South of France to name a few. She has trips booked for Croatia and Morocco this year and is looking to add domestic destinations in the near future.

Anna compares her retreats to “adult summer camp” because of the mix of yoga, culture, food, adventure as a way for people to meet and cultivate relationships in adulthood which can be challenging.

“We don’t get those kind of interpersonal experiences as adults.”

Anna has completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training and is currently involved in her 300-hour training as well as finishing up her Master’s Business Administration. She loves having guests on her retreats who are new to yoga as well as experienced. It excites her to have people who are maybe new to international travel, group travel, or yoga and assimilate quickly and grow during the retreat. A differing factor of Above Yoga retreats are that Anna scouts the area at least a year in advance, develops relationships with the vendors, and familiarizes herself with the area to help her guests feel comfortable with it and her as the leader. While her retreats offer yoga, culture, and physical activity such as hiking or biking, Anna leaves it up to each guest to determine how they want their vacation to go.

Anna has been inspired by The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz after a friend gave it to her during a challenging time in her own life. She reminds herself of each agreement daily and as a way to feel confident in the service she is providing to others.

She discusses how a yoga retreat can help someone grow by the relationships and community formed on the trip. She speculates that it could take years of day-to-day life interaction to form the connections that someone can make during a week-long retreat.

Anna has been inspired by Jillian Longsworth of Noda Yoga. Jillian’s influence has been woven throughout Anna’s yoga journey. She attended her first yoga retreat with Jillian to Italy, completed her 200-hour teacher training, and has invited her to co-teach at one of her own retreats. She loves the inclusivity of her studio and the broad range of styles of yoga that she offers.