If one more person calls you impressive, you're going to lose it.

What the observers can't see, is that you handle everything because you don't know another way.

It's an automatic reflex. Passed down to you. A learned behavior, modeled to you by those who came before. Over-functioning feels like a sacred sweater, a family heirloom, something to be worn with honor. So even though it is tattered and has that musty scent of a damp moldy basement, taking it off would go against the grain, disrupt long standing family norms and traditions.

Taking it off would also require that you learn to stop long enough to peel it off your body, put it through a spin cycle, and prioritize your needs for a moment.

Ain't nobody got time for that.

So you can't sleep? No big deal. The bone-deep exhaustion is the price you pay to remain in the familiarity and comfort of this role, this sacred intergenerational clothes.

You used to tolerate, even gloat in the glare of being "impressive" to others. This was the acknowledgement from others that your self-sacrifice was worth it. So your polite nod and disenchanted smile sufficed until you got home, poured a big glass of wine and turned on Power by Beyonce. 

But here is the thing dear one... those days are gone. Because the world is on fire. On a personal and planetary level, we are all living through unprecedented trauma. And dare I say it, not even Bey makes it better anymore. If anything, her lyrics have been stoking a quiet fire inside of you.

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The world is on fire. And as a result you are living in a state of survival.

You’ve heard this term before, “survival mode” but didn’t think it applied to you until recently. When you barely escaped that work event before having a full blown breakdown at being called, "so wise." 

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You are used to being the only one like you in most spaces you occupy. The one that sticks out in a crowd. The one that is noticed for her "eclectic" jewelry. 

But that day you just couldn't handle it. Because the news of the world was weighing heavy on your heart. Another group of innocent children killed in Gaza. Another discriminatory anti-LGBTQ health bill passed into law. More news of deforestation out of the Amazon. Plus you were still reeling from the conversation with your mom the night before. Your fears of raising children in this world being trumped by her need to be toxically positive in the face of emotional intensity. 

So there you were, mid-bite of a delicious goat cheese and fig appetizer when your co-worker shared her thoughts with you about your eloquence. "I'm just so impressed by your vocabulary."

The rage began to bubble. 

First in your belly, then your chest. It got caught in your throat. "Why can't I just enjoy this damn food?" you wonder quietly to yourself. You’re so tired.

Tired of being observed but aware that you needed the “be pleasant” code-switch to turn on. It was like you got paralyzed and couldn't access this survival skill. 

Simultaneously you felt indignation and fear. Imbued with audacity at a person's ability to be so extractive of another, and deeply fearful that everyone else's comfort was about to get disrupted while "the angry brown woman" joined the party.

But captivity crushes the soul of any wise and beautiful being.

That day you felt like a caged Lion being gawked at for her exotic colored eyes and bold mane. 

It was the same familiar gaze. That same well meaning, well intentioned person. The one that tokenizes you while seeking your approval. 

So, a quiet rage bubbled up.

You couldn't tamper it. You couldn't steady the boat.

First, you felt heat. Then, tension and tightness.

Then, panic.

Quick, loud, intense heart beat.

In your throat heart beat.

“Can other people hear it?” you wonder.

Fast Breath.

Short and Shallow. In the chest. 

“Get your shit together” you think. 

A sudden change in temperature.

Sweaty, cool, clammy.

Now they were really looking. 

"I have to excuse myself..."

You whisper through a clenched jaw before darting for the nearest exit. 

Just like a caged lion, you bolt the first chance you get. 

“What the fuck is wrong with me?” You wonder while wiping the sweat off your brow. You're supposed to be able to handle the stare. You're supposed to be able to handle it all and be alright. 

On this day, something snapped. Your body said, "no more."

So naturally, you turned the confusion inward first.

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“There's something wrong in the village

They stare in the village

There's nothing wrong with you

It's true, it's true

There's something wrong with the village

With the village

There's something wrong with the village”

-Wrabel

Screenshot 2023-11-21 at 10.07.50 AM
Demographic Marginalized Group Non-Marginalized Group
GenderWomen, non-binary and gender non-confirmingMen
Sexual OrientationAsexual, bisexual, fluid, gay, lesbian, queer, questioning, two-spiritHeterosexual
Disability Has a disabilityDoes not have a disability
IndigenousIs IndigenousIs not Indigenous
Race/EthnicityBlack, Caribbean, Asian, Indigenous, Latin American, and Middle EasternWhite

 I am here to let you in on a little secret.

There is nothing wrong with you.

Especially if you are queer, trans, black, Indigenous, multi-racial or multicultural AND you are stuck in survival responses, it’s not your fault. 

There is something deeply wrong with the systems and structures that surround you.

Here is the thing

about Survival Mode:

What it is:

A trauma response of the nervous system (fight, flight, freeze, fawn).

An evolutionary process that occurs in our bodies & brains.

A response that evolved in nature- where we used to live.

In charge of keeping us safe.

ENERGY IN THE BODY.

What it is not:

A rational process or a choice you are making.

Meant as a mode of daily operating. 

Sustainable for long periods of time.

Good for your overall health when it gets stuck as your baseline. 

Your fault.

exhausted?

capitalism fatigue

lonely?

white individualism

imposter?

white supremacy

depressed?

traumatic shock

enraged?

ancestral trauma

anxious?

gatekeeping

insecure?

gaslighting

fearful?

internalized colonization

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So day to day it's not JUST that you don’t rock the boat. The memories of colonialism live so deep in your bones, that you’ve been indoctrinated to steady the boat while oppressive forces and people around you create stormy waters that rock it.

How about you let that boat sink and swim to shore?

I’ll be waiting for you there, with a warm blanket and a smile. Shining light on a different path than you have likely ever traveled.

When you are ready, let’s take a walk together…

Permission to Release:

Where healthy disruption begins.

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Living in survival mode is a legacy of colonial trauma.

Let’s shine a light on it.

Let’s normalize and destigmatize what is allowed to be addressed in therapy. This means you are the expert of your life and experience, not me. Sometimes, we need permission to release that which doesn’t serve us, before we can feel into our inherent power. Because I am invested in sharing power with you, the container of your healing will feel different from previous therapy. So, let’s go back to the scenario that brought you to me in the first place. If survival wasn’t queued up at that moment, what would you have loved to do or say instead of bolting?

This question is disruptive because it assumes there is another choice. I invite you to consider your answer with full breath and imagery. Full permission to be yourself without compartmentalizing, getting small or code-switching. You notice that same rage bubbling, but this time, it feels… okay. Not comfortable, but also not dangerous. It is given voice, texture, sensation, color, and feeling. It is given radical permission to take up space in therapy. First by me, and eventually by you. Make no mistake, this will take real commitment and effort. AND you will never be alone with it.

“Boundaries are the distance at which I can love you and me simultaneously.” - Prentis Hemphill— The Embodiment Institute

Transforming Intergenerational Trauma:

Hi. I’m boundaries. Let’s talk.

Disruption and release processes provide SPACE in your body and brain to think clearly about boundaries. Ever wonder why you couldn’t just say what you wanted in the meeting? Or to your parents for that matter? This part of the brain goes offline in survival mode:

Prefrontal Cortex (1)
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As we walk this path together, you might start to question why boundaries are so hard for you to set. Curiosity replaces survival as you practice release. Realizing that you may have not gotten what you needed in earlier years can feel vulnerable and overwhelming. And sometimes, things will feel worse before they feel better. 

You will need curiosity and radical compassion to avoid staying stuck and overwhelmed during this excavation process. My job is to remind you of that over and over.

The context of intergenerational and historical legacies of trauma matter in your family. Who raised you. Who raised the people who raised them. What soil they were born on and how that soil informed their life. I cannot say it enough. CONTEXT matters in effective trauma processing.

Transformation will begin to occur not by changing what has happened to you but by shifting how it feels inside of you. And how much you choose to carry on behalf of your ancestors and family members who aren’t able to do this work.

You need so much compassion, which I can help you create.

“Acting like we are separate from nature has caused so many problems.”- Adrienne Maree Brown

deepening
decolonial healing

If we believe we are separate from nature then we will become disconnected. If we believe we are a part of nature, we will never feel alone. 

In our work together I will challenge you to consider when your relationship to nature became severed as it has for so many of us. Remember, this is not your fault. This is an incentive of the colonial paradigm to keep you feeling separate, isolated, and without resources.

Remember when I told you the container for therapy will feel different? This is especially true if we decide to move our work outside for Ecotherapy.

Ecotherapy sessions with me occur on the ancestral homelands of the Piscataway Conoy, and Nacotchtank (Anecostan) First Nations. Our first session begins with the acknowledgement of these people because they are still here, this is still their home, and this context intersects with yours.

Land Matters in your story.

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The flowers, the water, the dirt, the eagles, and the trees are alive. They have memories too.

Imagine if you will, sitting on the side of a still pond looking down at the water’s reflection of yourself.

What do you see in that reflection?
How do you see yourself?

Nature mirrors our process back to us. Are we conditional with ourselves? Are we overly attached to one part or attribute of ourselves? Do we see the whole picture or only the minutiae? How narrow or vast is our perspective?

And within all of that inquiry, our nervous system has access to processes beyond the rational and intellectual. Imagine being able to access your most intuitive, energetic, spiritual, creative states in this work. 

Some might say this doesn’t sound like therapy. I say, call it whatever you want as long as you get to feel unapologetically yourself for a moment.  

reuniting with self

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Picture this:

We’ve been working together for three years and you are dialed in.

You honor and protect your weekly resiliency practices around self-care, regulation and intergenerational healing. Your relationship to nature is unshakeable, uniquely yours, and deeply meaningful. At this point you engage without prompt in sessions about how systems of oppression impact your mental health because you see it everywhere you go. As a result, your boundaries are now strong and steady

You have traveled through time to explore inner parts of yourself in order to reclaim this beautiful authentic core self. She has learned how to take up space, assess for safety, and explore her desires and needs in relationships. 

Earlier in our work, when I would ask how you were doing during emotional processes you would tell me you were “FINE” (freaked out, insecure, neurotic, emotional). Now, you have learned skills of discernment and choice that allow you to feel autonomy over your emotional responses. You trust that moving through even the most intense emotional work, will lead you down the liberating path. And you have found safe places and people that support your liberation. 

Most importantly, you have found internal safety. So now, rest is an act of resiliency for you. From time to time you will still get triggered into survival mode because… life doesn’t stop. But you have learned how to take care of yourself when it happens. 

“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.”  – Toni Morrison, Beloved

Intentional
Integration

Healing is not linear. Sorry to tell you, but even when you reach therapy goals, you aren’t “fixed”. But that is because you were never broken to begin with.

Even so, sometimes the hardest part of therapy is knowing when to end therapy.

After you scatter the seeds of a flower into a pot of fresh soil, it needs time to settle before it sprouts. The flower needs time to find its rhythm in communion with its new environment, including the air, sun and water, before growth becomes integrated and rather effortless. And even then, the flower will eventually outgrow the pot.

Disruption will one day be necessary again for continued flourishing. But until that day comes, even the flower needs rest in order to fully bloom.

Learning to free yourself from the survival states that the colonial capitalist patriarchy traps you in, is brave, arduous, cyclical, deep, life-long work. Because the powers that be don’t want you to be free. So if you decide to do this work and eventually taste that sweet nectar of liberation, you must stop and enjoy it. Otherwise, what is the point?

Flower (1)
Untitled design (1)

It’s not easy to be seen when you are used to feeling dehumanized, tokenized or cast aside. 

So if you’re feeling uncomfortably seen at this point, great. That means that we might be a great fit. And if you’re not feeling seen, I hear you. Is it because you cannot relate or because you won’t allow yourself to?

Resistance is workable without rigidity. In fact, I delight in working with the most stuck clients, because freedom tastes even better when you don’t think it’s possible.

Now before you continue reading, let’s acknowledge how intense reading about colonial and personal trauma can be. 

Let’s take three long deep breaths together. 

Make the exhale last longer than the inhale (3-4 seconds inhale/5-7 seconds exhale).

Beautiful job. 

You are not alone and you don’t have to carry all of this by yourself. 

You need a relational trauma therapist with lived experience of marginalization, who understands you on an energetic, non-verbal, body level.

Hello dear one, Bem-vindo.

I’m Laura

I am a white passing daughter of immigrants from South America, born on Turtle Island. My feet, my soul, and my body have always felt split between two vastly different worlds. But they are both a part of me, and they inform my relationship to you, to nature, and the world. So I will bring them to our work together. 

Intergenerational assimilation can be an uncomfortable inward process to challenge. I know this because I have lived it. Similarly, I understand how internalized oppression, trauma and unconscious resiliency move through my own body.

If you know nothing else about me yet, know this: 

I will never ask you to do work I have not done myself first. 

Let me also introduce you to my trusted friend and co-facilitator in this work with you. Natureza. This is the word for nature in my native language of Portuguese, pronounced na-TOO-reza.

We’ve got you.

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FAQ

Frequently asked questions

How to get started

You have all that you need to begin. 

The only way out is through, so let’s get to work.

step 01

Book your 20 minute Free Consultation Call

step 02

Fill out your questionnaire

step 03

Talk to
Laura

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