A trauma specialist's open letter outlines some essential truths about our lives right now
Photo by Claudia Wolff on Unsplash

Let's step back for a moment and take stock of our situation, shall we?

We are currently living through a global pandemic which, up until a month ago, was a theoretical disaster we'd only ever seen in movies and history books. We now tap into the news each day and watch the numbers of confirmed cases and deaths rising. A growing number of us have family, friends, or acquaintances who have fallen ill or died. Even if we don't, we may have loved ones who are elderly or immunocompromised or we may fall into that category ourselves, so we fear what exposure to this virus might bring.


At the same time, we are stuck in our homes without our normal social outlets. Some of us are alone and lonely. Some of us are trapped in homes that are not healthy or safe. Even those of us who appreciate having some extra family time might be feeling the strain of constant togetherness. People are stressed over trying to work and educate kids and try to provide structure and security in the midst of chaos.

Some of us are forced to go to work in essential jobs that put our lives at risk. Some of us are newly and unexpectedly unemployed, while others are watching businesses they've built crumble before their eyes. Some of us are wondering how we're going to put food on the table. Many of us have watched future plans and goals and dreams being swept away, just like that. We know that the economic fallout of this will be huge, but we don't know how huge or what that will mean for us individually or collectively.

Our lives have been upended, quickly and with very little warning. We're surviving, most of us, but that doesn't change the fact that life as we know it has been dramatically altered. And we don't know when or how or if things will return to "normal."

Then there's the human toll of the virus itself. We bear witness to heartbreaking stories from medical workers on the front line. Medical workers who don't have enough supplies and are having to pile bodies into refrigerator trucks. Bodies of patients who died without loved ones by their side. Patients whose belongings are piling up in hospital storage rooms, waiting for the day when family members can come retrieve them. Family members who can't even gather together for funerals to comfort one another as humans do.

And that's just an overview. And it's only been a month. And we're not yet at the peak. And we're being told there may be resurgences in coming months, meaning we don't know what the next year holds.

This is no small thing, friends.

Trauma is defined as the emotional response to a terrible event. And it's totally understandable that a global pandemic and sudden, widespread economic hardship would evoke a strong emotional response in most of us. And yet, many of us likely haven't thought about this experience as "trauma" because it hasn't been one single event. It's a slow emergency of sorts, one we had to prepare for before we saw it for ourselves. And now we're living in a weird state of limbo where nothing feels normal, widespread worry and uncertainty surround us, and yet it's all covered in a thin veneer of calm.

That veneer is deceptive. On the surface, we're just being asked to sit at home and watch TV—what's so traumatic about that? But simplifying it in such a way denies the entire reason we're doing it—to prevent mass death and suffering as much as possible. That's a heavy reality. We've had to upend life as we know it in order to preserve lives in general.

And yet even with our seemingly extreme efforts, we're still watching the numbers climb and seeing the terrible stories. Even if we aren't directly impacted, we're still immersed in it and experiencing trauma vicariously. If we have any sense of empathy, we will have an emotional response—one that we might not recognize, since this is like nothing we've experienced before.

Licensed professional counselor Jennifer Yaeger shared some words of wisdom about our current circumstances and the importance of acknowledging the emotional and psychological toll of it all on Facebook. She wrote:

"I want to acknowledge that living through this pandemic is a trauma.

As a trauma specialist, I think there are a few things that are helpful to know:

- Parts of our brain have shut down in order for us to survive

- As a result, we are not able to fully process a lot of what is going on around us

- Feeling somewhat numb and out of touch with our emotions is normal, especially if you have lived through trauma before

- Some people are also more apt to feel hypervigilant or anxious, while others become hypoactive or depressed. Neither means anything other than indicating your predisposition to dealing with extreme stress

- In-depth processing of trauma happens years later, when we feel emotionally safe to deal with it

- When in the midst of trauma, just getting by emotionally and functionally is okay. Lowering expectations and being kind to yourself and others is vital."

So don't judge whatever you're feeling—or what anyone else is feeling—through all of this. When you feel overwhelmed or stuck or numb—or even guilty for not feeling any of these things when you're in a state of joy or gratitude—just let it be. Most of us are experiencing a dozen different feelings every hour, so do what you need to do to care for mental and emotional health.

Be gentle and patient with yourself, and do the same with others. This is hard, but we'll get through it. Our emotions are one thing that unite us as human beings, so if nothing else, we can at least take comfort in the fact that none of us is alone in what we're feeling.

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Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


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Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given all that we've seen in the past half-decade, it makes sense for many to believe that race relations in the U.S. are on the decline.

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Photo courtesy of Macy's
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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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