This week is the third in my three-part series of interviewing friends to share their wisdom – although there may be a bonus fourth interview next week! I love learning from others and hope this has been helpful for others as well – learning what those “one the front lines” working with people every day around mental health and wellness have learned in the past six months.

This week’s interviewee is Kristee Jo Rosenow Trumbo, LPC. She is one of the most fun people I’ve ever known and I really should have done a YouTube video to go along with this.

She has the best laugh you will ever hear and always gives me sage advice and tells me wickedly funny stories.

CAA: For the benefit of the readers, what do you do?

KT: I am the Coordinator of Mental Health Outpatient Services at the Eastern Shore Community Services Board on the Eastern Shore of Virginia (that little strip of land hanging down from Maryland and Delaware that 50% of mapmakers forget to add to Virginia maps making everyone on the Eastern Shore crazy.) I’m also the Supervisor for licensed clinicians and Residents in Parksley, VA – and if that were not enough, I have my own private practice Capture Your Own, PLLC serving children and families. 

CAA: What have you been working on that you think applies to all of us?

KT: I love learning something new every day. Over the past few months what I’ve learned is helping me to better understand how the unknown, what every human fears the most can be both rewarding and damaging. The unknown can empower us to react, set us running hard and fast, or paralyze us. Some know this to be fight, flight, or freeze responses. The unknown creeps its way into all areas of our life and the lives of our families with both rewarding and damaging effects.  Both have the ability to transform us in one way or another. Transformation is powerful. Transformation is healthy when not founded on unending fear of the unknown.

CAA: What lessons that you give to your clients specifically can be applied by everyone else?

KT: Families worldwide are struggling not only to make ends meet, but how to find an end to anything. An end that will allow for the shared experiences within the home to be of value to each individual when they are tired of being together. An end that means something has been accomplished, something has become permanent, and someone has found closure. Ironically, most families are not prepared to recognize or acknowledge a need for a different way of being. Having to understand that this new scary process is healthy when guided by a counselor, life coach, or personal guide is tough enough.

Now we are all trying to make sense of so many ‘new’ ideas that we typically do not know where to begin this process. I’ve learned to celebrate the process no matter how awful it is – to welcome newness, welcoming a new routine to keep everyone safe is never a bad idea and leads to more possibilities for each family member.

Offer time and space for each person to say out loud the things that scare them and not be laughed at. Holding on to an object that brings joy for a bit longer regardless of its intended purpose, size or shape. We don’t have to grow up or grow out of everything all at once. Even the welcoming of something that makes us feel very uncomfortable is accepting and facing the unknown head on. Yes, especially when it is accompanied by fear. 

The only other option (to welcoming in the situation and process) for facing the unknown is to hang on to fear so tightly and fight so hard that we not only damage ourselves, we damage the opportunities for growth.

CAA: How can we pivot and be welcoming in the new reality?

KT: Growth allows us to listen to what is happening to more than just us. How we weigh the options that pertain to us and our personal lives requires us to pay attention to the how and why of national guidelines and make decisions accordingly. Some feel it is easy and others are not willing to accept that the guidelines matter.

How many times should we wash our hands, sanitize, and rewash? Which is the ‘right’ face covering and how long do we have to wear it?  Who do we believe? I want to hug my friends.

What is often forgotten is the fact that we have the ability to make and be comfortable with healthy decisions within and for our individual families. We are being given opportunities for growth within scary times and a health crisis. Opportunities for creativity and self-awareness. Damage control goes hand in hand with being mindful. The only person we can control is ourselves. We can’t and shouldn’t want to control others especially when we fight vehemently when anyone tries to control us.

It is critical for each individual to manage their environment, teach children how to make difficult decisions, support partners or spouses, and hold conversations that all family members will benefit from. One decision at a time. One plan for moving forward. One goal to achieve. One achievement that provides hope. One affirmation in one family will encourage individuality. Individuality with love and support from a family is a well-developed opportunity for growth. Growth in the unknown is all of the above. 

CAA: What do you think is helpful advice for all of navigating this new normal?

KT: Remember the important titles you hold, no matter what happens. Titles with meaning include mother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, father, son, grand father, brother, uncle, nephew; titles that have responsibility in a family unit regardless of what that family looks like. Each title carries a name, a place, and a purpose.

Birth order matters. Zodiac signs and descriptions are often correct. Moon phases and planet alignment can wreak havoc. Sleeplessness and worry are on the rise in children. Panic attacks and high anxiety are driving prescription medications for adults and children. Tempers are rising more quickly and more often. Many feel threatened in their own home. The unknown is surrounding us and some feel that it is choking us.

But, this unknown chokehold is manageable when it is dissected into the bits and pieces of what it actually is!

The unknown is understanding how dedicated you can be toward learning something new every day about yourselves and how to manage a crisis or pandemic. The choice for walking into the unknown is not an either or… it’s choosing to work through damages to find the rewards. Both are right in front of you. You just have to welcome in the situation. Process it. Be mindful. The only other option is struggle and damage.