When Getting an Ace isn’t Great

I had the great privilege of working recently with a changemaker who supports children through their healing from trauma. It was during our work together that I learned about the ACE Score. ACE stands for adverse childhood experiences and is a series of questions that when one answers “yes,” they score a “1.” The higher one scores, the more likely as an adult she is to experience chronic disease, as well as social and emotional problems. Most people score at least a one on the ACE with 87% scoring more than a one.

A handful of ACES

I was curious what my ACE Score was so I took the quiz, calculating my total. Eight. Like eight out of ten. As I stared at the number, I felt nauseated. Could these traumas have been the root cause of my autoimmune disorder? My inexplicable weight gain? Migraines?

Then I reflected on how, with a health coach’s support, I reversed most of my health issues. I went from being on five pharmaceuticals to zero. I kept my autoimmune disorder under control and had no more migraines. I’ve even reversed knee pain and plantar fasciitis.  No mediation. No surgery.

Concurrently, I dug into my shame. Examined my behaviors and tuned into my heart. I spent years healing the wounds I unconsciously picked at and decided to find the gifts in each experience. That, my friends, made all the difference.

I looked in my rearview mirror and realized more deeply how incredibly blessed I have been. Statistically, I ought not to be doing well. Yet, here I am, thriving. I wondered if knowing earlier what my ACE Score was might have impacted what I believed about myself and what was possible for me.  Perhaps.

Deal me in

At the end of the day, it doesn’t much matter what my rating on a scale is. What does is celebrating my tenacity to dig into the dirt, unearth painful memories long buried, and allow my light and love heal my heart.

“Now I can cry until I laugh and laugh until I cry/So cut the deck right in half, I’ll play from either side” ~Mary Chapin Carpenter, “I’ll take my chances”

The process I teach in my Journey program is the one I followed to unpack hidden hurts and heal them. Getting unstuck gave me the freedom to create and live the life of my dreams—a life full of joy and possibility, connected relationships, and adventure.

Let’s Play

If this is the year you, too, wish to become unstuck and finally heal those old wounds, schedule a virtual coffee date with me and let’s see if we’re a good fit to work together.


Are You Late for Your Life?

My Pop-pop and me at our family reunion. Williamsport, PA. 1976.

The other morning as I prepared for the day, I listened to my Mary Chapin Carpenter playlist. The song  “Late for Your Life” came on. My hand froze in mid-air, one eye made up and the other not, hooked on the song’s chorus. Call it chance baby, call it fate / Either one is cause to celebrate / And the question now is why would you wait / Don’t be late for your life

A vision of my beloved Pop-pop’s face swam behind my eyes in the tears that pooled. Lately, I’ve felt a strong pull to the past, specifically to my grandparents, all now dead. Perhaps it was the holiday season bringing up long-held memories. I’m not sure. What I do know is that I feel on the verge of tears most of the time.

A Grand(father) Story

My grandfather, a Pearl Harbor survivor, died in 1980 after a series of strokes brought on by an inoperable blood clot. He never talked about his experiences in the Pacific theatre as a Naval medic, but he relived them daily. His favorite thing to do was plop down on the couch after having enjoyed a breakfast of purloined steak and eggs (my grandmother would pull filet mignon from the freezer in advance of dinner, and inevitably Pop-pop would use one of the four for his decadent meal). He’d turn the television on and tune into “World at War.”

That’s how I remember him most: glued to the television, watching. Sometimes I would sit on the floor in front of him, and he would brush my long hair as we watched the horrors of World War II play out in front of us. I never filled the silence with questions, knowing instinctively that he wouldn’t answer.

When it came time to die, he stubbornly refused. I visited him in the hospital on Father’s Day. By then, he’d lost the ability to speak, and so I sat next to him, holding his hand. His eyes—so liked mine—stared intently at me as if he desperately had something to say.

My grandmother said to Pop-pop, “Just look at our girl. She’s so smart, and we’re so proud of her, aren’t we?”

Then the doctor came into the room and pulled a nearly sheer white curtain like a shroud around my grandfather and me. On the other side, my grandmother whispered something to the doctor.

The doctor said to her, “I’ve never seen anyone with such a will to live.”

I felt a blaze of red, hot anger and I’m sure my eyes reflected all that emotion to my Pop-pop. I thought, for years he’d sat around, reliving the past, and when it came time to go, he wanted to hang on. I can recall his grip on my hand as he tried desperately to communicate with me. I wondered what he wanted to say but never found out.

My grandfather died the next day.

His Will Ignited a Fire in my Belly

As I left the hospital that day, I made a vow to not put off living. And, for the most part, I haven’t. This means my life’s journey has been full of ups and downs, triumphs and regrets. I believe I was born a restless spirit and our frequent moves exacerbated my nature.

The interesting dichotomy is, of course, that my roots run deep. They’re firmly planted in Pennsylvania, where I’m from, despite not having lived there since 1991. When I’m asked where I’m from, I still reply, “Bucks County although I’ve lived outside Baltimore since 1995.”

I guess that’s part of the reason Mary’s words affected me viscerally. When I leave my earthly body, I want to have no regrets. I want to have lived and, since none of us knows where or when our deaths will occur, I endeavor to really live daily.

If you’ve been feeling stuck or unfulfilled, I invite you to join me for a virtual coffee date, where we can explore what might be possible for you.