The Creases of Collective Trauma: Reflections from 9/11

Image credit: Village of Willow Springs / Clerk’s Office News, Community News, Fire Department News, From the Mayor’s Office, Police Department News, Public Works News, Upcoming Events / Willow Springs Feature

On this day 20-years ago, I remember watching the news in disbelief as I begrudgingly ironed my clothes for work. At that time, I was a student affairs administrator. It had only been a short time since I earned my master’s degree from USD and now I was an employee. 

I can’t stand ironing. I see it as a fruitless chore connected to respectability politics. I’m sure Jesus wasn’t worried about wrinkles while out there healing the sick and loving on those the “Well-ironed crowd” shunned. I mean, really. All this to say, I was engaged in a process that didn’t matter on a day when my urgency to show up mattered way more than how polished I looked.

I recall rushing out of my apartment and during my drive to campus, I felt it all. Rather, I could taste it: Fear, sadness, confusion, helplessness, hyper-awareness, calm, out of my body/mind moments. Driving on the freeway in California was an eerie experience as well. There was this collective sense of unknowing/uncertainty, tied to disbelief and helplessness that was a thread connecting every driver on the highway that day. I did not know then to call it Collective Trauma, but I know it now. That moment, combined with the historical trauma that already lived in me from my African and Muscogee ancestors were active that day. I had to get to work and be a part of a community that had to support our students. What I did not know on my drive to campus was what that support was going to entail. 

That level of trauma was one like I had yet to experience (until 5 months later). It did not occur to me until I got to campus just how many of our students and employees had ties to the East Coast. Students were either from the area or had family members who travelled to NY, DC and or PA for business. Community members who had loved ones who worked in the Twin Towers. Colleagues that had friends who worked in the Pentagon. 

Image Credit: Orange County Register via Gulnara Samoilova/AP Photo –
Survivors of the World Trade Center attacks make their way through smoke, dust and debris on Fulton St., about a block from the collapsed towers, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001 in New York.

When I got to my office, I put my purse away, found my supervisor to be directed to the students that needed support the most and went to work: Comforting students while my colleagues and I got on our cell phones dialing the phone numbers of loved ones to confirm what we could confirm. To this day, when I hear the words “We got through” or “We got one,” there is a momentary sense of relief that comes over me. You see, those phrases were yelled each time a member of our team was able to get hold of someone who was feared to be in the line of tragedy. 

Moving between screaming, sobbing students while “numbing out” in order to stay radically present, became my attire for the rest of that day and night. I am sure the wrinkles in my tear-stained clothes did not matter at all that day. 

Reflecting on that day as I enter my second semester back at the institution I left in February 2002 (five months after living through a family tragedy);  I think about the importance of just showing up just as we are. Not perfect. Not knowing what the hell to do at times. The simple act of showing up with our imperfect selves and having enough courage to love another person in pain. 

I have a faint memory of “Stolen Moments” when my colleagues and I would take a break to shed our own tears, breathe, hug each other, then go back to supporting our students. On that day, we felt like we were all we had. And, what we had to offer was more than enough.

 Oh, how the times have changed.

It shouldn’t take a national tragedy to bring out the best in us. Now, we’re in a time in this country where tragedy ushers a full-on assault from us on to each other. No, this is not an argument to go back to some fantasized or glorified, “Good Ole Days” because let’s face it, dehumanization through oppression makes for pretty awful millennia. What I will say comes in the form of my 7-Questions:

  1. What are some ways you have allowed yourself to 1) acknowledge collective trauma 2) release the collective trauma out of your body? [An excellent resource for Mind-Body-Soul work is the book “My Grandmother’s Hands” and the process of Somatic Abolitionism a practice championed by Resmaa Manakem]
  2. What, if any, are some rehearsed stories in your mind-body about a time of collective trauma that you may need to interrupt (i.e. question their validity and utility) in order to reveal a path towards healing?
  3. Who (if anyone) do you want to express gratitude to for helping you through the collective trauma (Divine Power(s), loved ones, strangers, ancestors, yourself, others)?
  4. Who (if anyone) would you like to extend forgiveness towards as you continue to process any of the collective traumas you have experienced (Again, Divine Power(s), loved ones, strangers, ancestors, yourself, others)?
  5. What questions, if any, do you wish you could have answered to help break up any mental blocks that may have you recycling/replaying the collective trauma?
  6. Depending on your age when the collective trauma occurred (if you were even alive when it happened), what expressions of love would you have wanted to receive in order to help you regulate/reconnect you to your humanity?
  7. Given the  uncertain times and collective trauma we are experiencing right now, how or in what ways have you “loved on” those who matter most to you?
Image Credit: Orange County Register via Robert Spencer/AP Photo –
A woman looks at missing person posters of victims of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City on Sept. 14, 2001.

On this day of somber reflection, during a time when fear and hatred are threatening our ability to critically self-reflect;  take a moment with me to re-member. As I have said in prior posts, you are still here serving as a Blessed Ambassador of those who we have lost. Please know, we are so glad you made it.

And to my USD colleagues who lived the experience of 9/11 twenty years ago with me: I see you. We got through. We got us. 

In closing, please know that I will “Say A Little Prayer” for each of you as we all work towards love, justice and liberation.

A Word of Gratitude: From You to You

Can you believe that July is almost over! Before you know it, it will be 2022 (hopefully it won’t take any notes from 2020 & 2021)!

So before there are any more surprises, let me jump into my reflections for this week:

I have been thinking about what I learned  from my three-part conversation with educator, entrepreneur, and “space curator,” Alisa France. During her interview, Alisa reflected not only on the professional decision made by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones; she also talked about a workplace trauma that showed up in how she engaged and performed in future roles (career trauma) and how she has made peace with it.

Your Majesty: Nikole Hannah-Jones pictured here. Image Credit: nikolehannahjones.com | John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation | Copyright: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

It has been a few weeks since we recorded Episode 19 and I am still reflecting on what Alisa’s story has inspired in me on a personal level. Something that immediately comes to mind is that we can (and often do) continue to make great strides while still making sense of painful situations that happened in our past. 

As functioning adults with families and other responsibilities, we don’t always get the opportunity to sit, reflect, process, gain support, question our thoughts and destructive patterns, etc. We just keep on going like the Energizer Bunny (even that rabbit ran out of energy at some point). 

Processing past traumas takes time. Whether we are talking about personal  trauma, professional trauma or both. Here is a personal example of how better understanding our experiences can provide an opportunity for us to become better advocates for ourselves (and others).


I recently had a great session with a therapist that afforded me an opportunity to pause as I move forward in this next phase of my personal development journey. The therapist asked me about my earliest recollection of a particular trauma I want to dismantle in my family (and for the generations to come). I could not recall the origin of the trauma at that moment, so I interrogated myself as I drove home from my session. Not only did thinking back to the first time I experienced that specific trauma help me see the patterns created from that experience; it also helped me uncover an aversion and consequently, my reaction when people have something difficult to tell me (or even an otherwise pleasant surprise) and are working out how to say it to me while I am in front of them (I am sure most people feel weirded out in those moments, but I digress). To this day, I cannot stand when someone has something difficult to share with me and they do that awful pregnant pause as they gather their words.

“Oh dear God! Spit it out, will you? Rip the damn bandage off already!”

Yes, Nicey Nash! Hurry up and cut to the chase, please!

I realized that my reaction stems from my childhood and the day I was told my father had died. Understandably, my mother was searching for the right words to explain to a seven-year-old child that her father had died. However, while she searched her head and her heart for the right words to say, I was just standing there for what felt like hours. Finally, my mother’s best friend broke the news to me.

Had I not been asked about and had the willingness to think back to my earliest memory, I would not have 1) learned the source of an area of emotional discomfort that shows up for me now and how I respond to others; thus 2)  allowing me to communicate with others what I need in order to respond best to them in similar situations (self-advocacy). 


I share this story as an example of challenging our taken for granted assumptions and ways of engaging in order to have you think about an area of your life (personal, professional or both) where you may hold additional angst or anxiety (be reminded of what Anthony Parham explained during our episode about anxiety triggers being a part of society long before we were born). Here is a selfwork exercise that I often use with my clients that may be a useful tool for you: 

  • Think back to a time when a personal or professional trauma took place and the stories that you created about the experience.
  • Write down the various meanings/stories created from the experience and their impact (if any) on you now.
  • After reviewing the list of stories you have created to keep yourself safe (physically, psychologically, spiritually, etc.), consider any healthy/helpful lessons that can be derived from the incident (even if it is simply learning how to spot red flags).
  • Last, write a letter of gratitude to your past self (the one that experienced the traumatic incident) from the space of where you are now (who you became post-incident), then switch and have your past self write a letter of gratitude to who you are now.

Disclaimer: For some people, reviewing these origin stories may cause additional distress or trauma. I strongly encourage you to seek out a licensed counselor / therapist who can support you in this process. 

I hope this exercise is useful and helps you as you continue to move towards love, justice and liberation in your life.

Thank you for taking the time to read this entry. I look forward to hearing from you regarding any Aha’s that come to you after watching/listening to this 3-part episode with Alisa France entitled: The Nikole Hannah-Jones Effect: The Black Woman’s Artistry in Flipping Scripts and Tables. Feel free to listen on your favorite podcasting platform or watch all three parts on YouTube.

In closing, to anyone who needs to have a difficult conversation with me OR if you have a surprise you want to share with me, please do so expeditiously. I’d greatly appreciate it! 🙂

Sending you all love and blessings.

In Solidarity,

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Reflections: Black Love, Black Genius and the Power of Sankofa

An Interview with Dr. Satira Streeter Corbitt

It has been a while since I have conducted an interview for the podcast. I have been busy processing and working on my next book Emancipation Papers: A Truthtelling Journey Towards Awakening, Healing and Transformation. That said, I have now resumed my interviews and cannot WAIT to share episode 17 with you.

Here is a description of the episode:


In this episode, Dr. Kecia speaks with Licensed Psychologist, Dr. Satira Streeter Corbitt (“Dr. Satira”). Dr. Satira talks about her journey to supporting the love, genius and wellbeing of families through her practice, Ascensions Psychological Services, Inc. She also shares parenting tips and advice for couples, as well as shares excerpts from her first children’s book “Black Genius: A Journal of History and Affirmation.” Feel free to reach out to Dr. Satira at www.drsatira.com/ to learn more about ways she can support you and your family.

Song for this Episode:

Title: “Move On Up”

Artist: Curtis Mayfield

Album: Curtis

Released: 1970

Copyright ©: Curtom Records

Feel free to enjoy this song and others on our playlist! Simply search for: More Than Metaphors: The Playlist.—NEW! Want to represent your new favorite podcast? Order your More Than Metaphors shirt or mug today at www.drkeciab.com.co/!


Take a listen and let me know any Ahas! Oh-oh’s! or Oh Wait’s! you had as you think about your relationships with your partner, family members and any children in your circle.

One Aha! Moment I had from this episode was when she talked about “The 4 Horsemen: Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt, and Stonewalling. Dr. Satira called them “…the four things that they [couples] do in relationships that are the four biggest indicators of divorce.” It is these ways of communicating (or not communicating) our feelings to our partners AND the children in our lives that are highly detrimental to those relationships. As we talked, I began to realize that these forms of communicating live in our assumptions and expectations of others. Further, there is a connection to what Dr. Mohamed referenced in episode 12 as “…the story we tell ourselves about ourselves,” and the stories we tell ourselves about the other people in our lives, our expectations of them and their intentions towards us.

Big time Aha! Moment!

Speaking of relationships and expectations, Jay Sheatty has an interesting episode of his podcast On Purpose where he talks about 8 Unrealistic Expectations We Have in Relationships & 8 Ways to Replace Them for Success in Love. Jay and I had an argument about these expectations (albeit the argument was in my head…no matter). I will share those musings with you in a future post. in the meantime, take a listen to episode 17 of More Than Metaphors and leave me any comments or questions that come up for you!

Looking forward to continuing this journey towards love, justice and liberation with you!

In Solidarity,


Check out Fiverr for your creative needs!

7 QUESTIONS: Your Mental Health Continuum

Happy Father’s Day to all dads and dad-like adults who serve as supporters of our next generation leaders!

I hope you and your loved ones are healthy and safe on this post-Juneteenth Sunday! 

If you are unfamiliar with Juneteenth, it was first recognized by newly emancipated African Americans in 1865 and now has now been recognized in the United States as a national holiday. You can learn more about the holiday celebrating the emancipation of our African American Foremothers and Forefathers from the institution of slavery that was instated in this country. One of my personal favorite resources and one that has helped me explain the holiday to my 11-year old in “TikTok Timing” is this video clip from the Show “Black-ish” by one of my favorite bands, The Roots.


My goal for my message to you today is to be nice and concise (such a Poet)! 

I have had so many conversations that are examining what it means to thrive and go beyond all of the destructive, toxic and debilitating confines created by ourselves and others; whether from an individual, group or institutional level, that I felt the need to share a few of the concepts and questions that come to mind:

THE MENTAL HEALTH CONTINUUM

I was working with one of my brilliant scholars at the University of San Diego a few months ago regarding their research on thriving for Black Queer and Trans students. As we were researching existing frameworks on Thriving in general, we came across a model of the Mental Health Continuum by the organization, Delphis Learning:  

The folx at Delphis Learning clearly do not know that “COVID Crunching” and “Processing-by-Pantry’ is a response to when we are in crisis mode.

Our conversation went in a number of directions, including what survival versus thriving may look like for those communities that have dealt with various forms of trauma and complicated grief, as well as how “excelling” may be defined differently by various communities based on their experiences.

Love this quote by my “Mentor-in-my-mind” Oprah Winfrey: “Turn your wounds into wisdom.” Image source – Thrive Global 2019 article: The True Face Of Women Empowerment: Oprah Winfrey

LIFE: A VERY PATIENT TEACHER (Notice I did not call it a “nice” teacher)

I think we can agree that we have all lived through something, right? Regardless of the emotional weight of the experience/experiences, Life is a very patient teacher and has a way of calling on all of us regardless of our roles in society. 

As a way to think through Life’s Lessons as they relate to our mental health and wellbeing, I would love for you to take some time to think through these 7 Questions with me:

  1. What are some of the ways I have been taught (intentionally or unintentionally) to deal with crises? Who did I learn my crisis management lessons from and what (if anything) would I change about how I deal with crises?
  2. How do I react when I am struggling emotionally? Who or what do I turn to or turn away from when I feel overwhelmed, fearful, etc.? Again, where did I learn this strategy? What if anything would I do differently?
  3. What does “Surviving” look, sound and feel like to me? What are some of the messages I have learned about what it means to survive as the person I am and/or the communities I represent (write out the messages)? Do these messages help, hinder, harm or support my healing?
  4. What does “Thriving” mean to me? (I asked this and several related questions in my post 7 Questions: Thriving. Feel free to take a look back).
  5. Has thriving been something that has been discussed in my family or other circles I frequent? If so, what are the messages and if not, what impact (if any) has the omission of what it means to thrive had on me as I move towards healing?
  6. How would I define “Excelling” for myself and my situation? What is my vision for excelling in my family, intimate relationships, work relationships, etc. that I want to actualize in the short-term and in the long-term? 
  7. What role, if any, does love, justice and liberation play in how I navigate through the continuum towards my vision?

Again, I am walking this road right along with you! Matter of fact, I have an upcoming episode of my podcast with Dr. Satira Streeter Corbitt, Executive Director of Ascensions Psychological Services, Inc., where we talk about mental health, our wellbeing and so much more! I look forward to sharing the episode with you!

Ok, ok! I said I was going to keep it short! Sending you and your loved ones love and light! I look forward to sliding in your Inbox again soon!

In Solidarity.

Related Videos

Episode 13: Love & Liberation Beyond the Vortex

Episode 10: A Poetic Love “After the Snap”

Reflections: Endings, Beginnings and Gentleness

Before I begin, I would like to say Happy Pride Month to all of the LGBTQ+/Same Gender Loving readers/listeners in the 30+ countries my blog/podcast has reached thus far! I am deeply grateful and appreciate you for letting me encourage and amuse you with my reflections during my healing journey. 

Now that we are filled with so much gratitude, let’s dive into the reflections for this week:

ENDINGS & BEGINNINGS

The past two weeks have been filled with lessons on Endings and Beginnings. So much so that one of the videos that is now in heavy rotation with my colleagues and clients is one entitled A Meditation on Endings. Check it out if you are in the midst of a transition of any kind.

Whether we are talking about endings/beginnings related to a job/project, health or relationships; endings and beginnings require our attention. However with the constant distractions, we may not give the proper time to acknowledge, celebrate, or mourn situations that end, begin or that we expect to happen but do not (Nancy Schlossberg calls this a “nonevent”). Examples of a nonevent are the job offers we expect, but do not occur; the child that was expected to be born, but is not; or waiting to be asked out on a date, but they ask Marcia instead (Brady Bunch reference).

What I am also reflecting on is the very human response to harden from these experiences. We can become guarded, if you will: Protecting our mind, heart and resources.

Can you relate? 

Yes! The situation ended! Whether it was an unhealthy relationship, moving from one state to another, or the end of cancer treatment. However, there is always a tiny voice in our heads that asks: 

What if this move was a bad idea? 

What if this relationship is like the one before it or worse? 

What if the cancer returns? 

I don’t know about you, but even as I give praise for all of the blessings I have experienced, there’s a part of me that says, “I don’t care what happens, I am not going through THAT again!”

And it is in those moments when I begin my job as a bricklayer and begin building walls around my heart, my health, my family and my business. 

Whether we are talking about endings/beginnings related to a job/project, health or relationships; endings and beginnings require our attention. However with the constant distractions, we may not give the proper time to acknowledge, celebrate, or mourn situations that end, begin or that we expect to happen but do not.

Taking refuge behind walls has become commonplace during this pandemic. Clearly, there are times when it is wise to have healthy boundaries (BTW, I am still giving folks air hugs…stay away from me!). In addition to healthy boundaries that could be developed, sometimes our hearts harden a bit and we lose our ability to be gentle with ourselves and others. I would like to share a recent experience of my (re)learning to connect to my gentleness for your consideration:

TRY A LITTLE GENTLENESS

During our family therapy session, my daughter and I re-learned how important gentleness is to us in our ability to end difficult conversations and begin to transition to a point of psychological safety. After a difficult conversation, our therapist gave me a small tube of lotion and asked me to lotion my daughter’s hands. 

Sounds easy enough right? 

So I, being a Black mother who has navigated personal and historical trauma; having been raised by a Black mother who navigated personal and historical trauma (and so on), went about my task. I proceeded to apply the lotion to my daughter’s hands with such vigor and purpose that the top two layers of her skin were likely being rubbed off. Our therapist, seeing me go into exfoliating mode, said one word to redirect me: “Gently.”

At that moment I thought “What? This is how I’ve always…ohhh. Got it.”

My daughter of course looked at me in that moment to telepathically communicate “See, this is EXACTLY why we need to be here!”

My eyes softened and so did my grasp. I focused on rubbing my daughter’s hands gently and communicating, without words, that everything was ok. The hard part was over and healing begins with acts of gentleness.

I am sharing this experience with you because we live in a world that is constantly training us away from our gentleness. Think about the last time you heard one of these (or similar) sayings:

  • “You need to develop a thicker skin!”
    • “You have to be ruthless in this field/role!”
    • “We go for the jugular in this family! You better get used to it if you want to be successful in life!”
    • “Mama said knock you out!” 

Ok, so the reference to LL Cool J’s 1990 album was a bit much, but you get the point. 

As you reflect on the previous messages, how many times have you been told to be gentle with yourself or with others? Have you ever been told to be gentle in relation to ending/beginning experiences in your life? 

Whether you are a graduate who is transitioning from one learning environment to another; someone with a new work opportunity (even if you are newly “liberated” to explore other endeavors); or a shift in a relationship with a family member or intimate partner, how might you be able to add gentleness to your ways of engaging in the world?

No matter what we have heard or what we have experienced, let’s not let anyone or anything rob us of our ability to be humane to one another. AND,  even if we have hardened our hearts or ways of engaging with others in order to navigate our circumstances, we can find our way back to being intentionally gentle to those who matter to us while creating rest for our souls. 

I thank God for your healing, thriving, loving and liberation! Looking forward to continuing on this journey with you!

In Solidarity,