Buzzfeed wants to know which Tim Burton character best represents our fall. Doctors want to know how much we weigh. That person at the bar is curious about our astrological sign. Mira Cassidy? She wants to know our ACE Score.
Mira can tell a lot about us based on our ACE scores: medical conditions, tendencies, relationships, and toxic cycles. Mira Cassidy takes a holistic view of health and life in general. She says knowing your ACE score is as important as knowing, monitoring, and controlling blood pressure, as getting monthly massages, as daily workouts.
My conversation with Mira Cassidy covers ACE scores, the importance (and attainment!) of mental/physical/emotional health, and breaking toxic cycles. Join us!
What’s An ACE Score, Anyway?
ACE stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences. ACE scores measure 10 types of childhood trauma.
- physical abuse
- verbal abuse
- sexual abuse
- physical neglect
- emotional neglect
5 Are related to other family members:
- a parent who’s an alcoholic
- a parent who’s a victim of domestic violence
- a family member in jail
- a family member diagnosed with a mental illness
- the disappearance of a parent through divorce, death or abandonment.
- Each type of trauma “scores” as one
There are traumatic situations outside abuse/neglect or related to other family members, of course: natural disasters, hard but necessary medical procedures, etc. All of us have an ACE Score. When the CDC conducted a comprehensive study about Adverse Childhood Experiences they were flabbergasted by the trauma recorded. It didn’t matter the race, employment status, etc, of the study participant (in fact, most were white, college educated, health-care having individuals)—we’re all messed up.
The other shocking constant of The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study was the link between the ACE Scores and adult-onset physical and mental health problems. Heart disease, anxiety, diabetes, death by suicide: the higher an individuals’ ACE score, the more likely to be plagued by these problems.
The higher the ACE score, the more life you can lose-up to 20 years! I don’t want that for my children. They’re my most important clients.
“It’s all the stress [these experiences cause]!” Mira exclaims. “Stress causes inflammation in the brain, that’s a medical fact.” And inflammation leads to a variety of issues, physical and mental. Mira considers stress a persona non grata and has learned to manage it, no matter how chaotic life gets.
Plan, Plan, Plan
First, Mira plots her day, goals, obligations, etc, in a physical planner. Most importantly, she refers back to her planner often. (I have trouble with that; I start doing whatever by mid-afternoon, forgetting what I wrote down.)
Mira plans her health. She takes quiet time in the morning to go over her schedule, stretch, and take deep breaths. She works out a few times a week, schedules a monthly massage, and eats well. “It all goes together,” she says enthusiastically.
Mira says it’s okay to get away from it all sometimes. In fact, she encourages it. Mira schedules quarterly “mommy vacations.” She checks into a hotel, sleeps uninterrupted, orders room service, you know, boss stuff. These periodic breaks help Mira destress and unwind.
Resilience Can Be “Trained”
The link between chronic health problems and Adverse Childhood Experiences doesn’t mean all is lost for the trauma-scarred. Mira subscribes to the notion that not only can we manage our response to situations (controlling stress), we can “train” our capacity for resilience.
Breaking Toxic Cycles
Mira explains how high ACE scores (and the situations that contributed to them) lead to toxic cycles. Sometimes the toxic cycles that await us in adulthood can damage us more than the original trauma, amirite? Mira knows this and wants to help.
She points to the human tendency of using destructive influences (drugs, overspending, bad romantic interests, etc) to cope with trauma, which can create more toxic cycles. Mira works hard to teach her children-and her clients-how to break toxic cycles; cycles perhaps made through no fault of their own. Maybe they’ve experienced generational violence like Mira has. She describes herself as a third-generation domestic violence survivor. Mira says the high ACE scores abounding from generational violence “tainted my family tree.”
In Mira’s desire to scrub her own roots clean, she’s created tools to help others. Her program Breaking Toxic Cycles and her book Bounce Back From Tragedy detail ways to slow self-destruction and increase resilience. She gives motivational speeches on these subjects to inspire roomfuls, and helps others one-on-one, with life coaching. Mira has worked with the Indiana Coalition on Domestic Violence to make policies and procedures more survivor friendly. She also volunteers at Coburn Place Safe Haven.
“If You Want Something Done, Ask A Busy Person”
Mira stresses the importance of planning because girl has got a lot to plan for. She’s a single mom of three kids, aged 18, 15, and 7. She’s a writer of two books, Let Mia Tell It and Bounce Back From Tragedy, a self-titled website, the Breaking Toxic Cycles Program, and Scoop Magazine (the Food and Eat Column). Mira is a motivational speaker and performer (she did her monologue from Let Mia Tell It at the Wayne County Writes Workshop and it was amazing). She hosts the Scoop podcast, The Food and Eat Show and co-hosts The Cliff Robinson Show (available on Spotify, Google Play, Breaker, Stitcher, and the like).
I’m not done though. She’s a life coach studying to become a health and wellness coach (figuring she might as well train bodies, too.) Oh! And she’s writing a play.
I want my own schedule, working on my own passion. Every day I do something that gets me closer to that goal.
Mira gets things done. Her books, materials, and speeches teach and inspire others to get things done, too. She was a joy to interview over video, laughing in her car (so the kids wouldn’t interrupt, you understand), the dome light shining over her head like she was some kind of angel.
Mira Cassidy is a gifted writer, dedicated mother, helluva motivator, and phenomenal public speaker. Be sure to follow her on Facebook!
Happy toxic cycle breaking!