How do you feel your confidence has changed over the past 10 years? 

My confidence has changed drastically over the past decade, but even more so in the last year! I have learned that at almost 60, I can tackle almost anything that comes my way, I always find a way to make things work! In what I’m currently doing, it’s all new territory! I have also really found my “voice” in my advocacy work. I have developed and created a weekly podcast called Invisible Wounds: Healing from Trauma with a companion website, YouTube channel, and social media pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Invisible Wounds has developed into my own organization.

Working with survivors of trauma, Intimate Partner Violence, and Traumatic Brain Injury (I am also a survivor of all of it!) and using the Trauma-Informed Care approach I’ve been able to “reset” the way I talk to and work with others!

I also got the courage to go to college at the age of 51 and graduated with honors from Grand Canyon University with a Bachelor’s in Sociology. I have become a Certified Trauma and Resiliency Life Coach and a Certified Trauma Support Specialist through the Arizona Trauma Institute. My love of learning has really changed my life!

 Why do you think that is? 

As a survivor of lifelong trauma starting with my earliest memories, I never had a sense of who I was as an individual.

School was a nightmare, we moved around a lot when I was growing up and I was teased and bullied in every school. I didn’t think I was capable of learning; didn’t think I was smart or capable even though I’ve had successes in my life.

Trauma brain keeps us “stuck!”

So, in late December of 2022, I started thinking about doing a podcast. I really had never listened to one before, so I started listening to what was out there in regard to trauma. I didn’t find a lot of good podcasts from a survivor standpoint and especially not much that was trauma informed! So, I began learning, researching, and putting together all of the pieces I needed in order to record, mix, edit, and distribute a podcast! Then, it was deciding on content. I found that writing my episodes and adding actual coping skills, grounding techniques and other exercises to each one that listeners can learn and use to build a mindfulness toolbox helped me as well!

I love the process of creatively recording, editing, mixing, releasing, and tracking each episode. Then I learned how to take the exercise portion of each podcast episode, “clip” it, and put it to beautiful music and video for my YouTube channel!

Finding something I love to do, while helping others, has been an extraordinary and healing experience for me and has boosted my confidence so much!

Do you feel invisible in some aspects of your life? How does that show up? 

This is an interesting question! I feel invisible to some members of my family. One person in particular, my partner. He’s almost 73, and we’ve been together for many years. He isn’t a very introspective person, and I would love for him to really understand what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and how much of a journey and a struggle it’s been for me. He thinks he understands, but he really doesn’t. So, I sort of generalize everything and don’t go too “deep” with things. He’s better on a more “surfacy” level and I’ve come to terms with that!

Tell me about a woman who is older than you, inspires you and why? Describe how she makes you feel. 

My Aunt Janie Walker is my hero! She’s always been my “sane” mom! She would come pluck me up out of the chaos, dysfunction, and trauma of my homelife as a child, and show me what it was like to have an adult around that cared for ME! She took me places, showed me things, we had fun! She was also the one who noticed that I needed glasses at 13, took me to the eye doctor and got me a pair! She has always been my support, my guide, my rock, and she still is! She’s in her late 70’s now, but still just as amazing! We talk every week, and those calls are so important to me!

What worries you about ageing? 

I worry about getting older for a lot of reasons. My trauma history, my brain injury, and having survived a ruptured brain aneurysm at 20 leaves me open to a lot of issues. For example, I have a very high ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences) score of 8. A high ACES score can mean that your life expectancy can be shortened by 20 years! I am also at a higher risk of getting dementia, Alzheimer’s, or CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy). So aging is a concern for me!

What excites you about ageing? 

What excites me is really the fact that I’m still here! I was lucky to have survived the aneurysm, many don’t. I’ve been through many other things that I was lucky to have lived through so I’m very grateful for every day!

What advice would you give your 15-year-old self? 

My teen years were not good. I was completely self-destructive. I would say hold on to you, hold on to yourself! Find the strength to understand that you need to have and hold boundaries, protect yourself. Don’t give away all of the pieces of your heart and soul to those that don’t deserve it! No matter how dark things seem, you will learn, grow, and find peace in your life. You WILL surround yourself with good, trusting people that are safe! Hold on!

And finally, my last interviewee & very good friend, Ashton asked 4 questions and Kerri was happy to answer them all…

What would you say feeling self-assured means to you? 

Being or feeling self-assured to me means that I know (in spite of my not feeling it at times) that I have the capabilities I need in order to accomplish things. I have learned so many things “on the fly” or under pressure, and I do my best! No one can do any more than that!

What tips do you have and/or what techniques do you use to help improve situations that make you feel nervous? 

I am nervous a lot! As a trauma survivor my nervous system is always on the alert, scanning for danger. It’s a lifelong habit, one I have had to learn to “reframe!” The first thing I always do is what I call “mindful belly breathing.” Breathing in through the nose slowly, your belly naturally pushing out as you inhale, to a count of 5. Hold your breath for a count of 1. Then slowly exhale to a count of 5 out of your mouth, belly naturally moving in as you exhale. While I do this, I might “ground myself” by rubbing my hands over my upper arms, feeling the texture of my shirt sleeves.

Another way is to connect to the feeling of my feet on the ground. Then I remind myself that I am safe in this moment, I am grounded, I am connected and present.

What would you say is the one quality you love most about yourself, and why? 

This is something new for me, but I have discovered that I am creative and that I love learning new things even though it can feel scary! I love writing, creating, mixing, editing, and creating videos for my podcast! The entire process is fun for me and something that I love to do!

Then I get to do my other number one favorite thing: help people!

How do you feel you support other women around you to feel more confident?

I absolutely love cheering other women on! I have a number of women that I mentor in many different ways! I love being able to help them be successful and realize just how amazing they are!

If you would like to see more of Kerri’s work you can find her website here