Monthly Archives April 2023

Amy Lewis – Yoga and Sacred Space

Ashia Headshot

By Ashia Gallo
Wholeness Collective Coordinator at Mosaic Georgia

Amy Lewis has been drawn to spirituality since she was a child. Born in Tyler, Texas, Amy describes her childhood home as tense and a bit stressful. Religion became her first escape. As the youngest of her siblings, Amy lone followed her mother into the Southern Baptist Church. She loved the service-oriented part of religion, and by the time she was a teenager, felt “called to the ministry”.

“I knew I wanted to do counseling and recreation, I just wasn’t sure how they would fit together,” remembers Amy. “And I wondered – could women even go to seminary?”

Amy got her answer as she pursued her education. She earned a bachelor’s in social work and master’s at Seminary in Marriage and Family Counseling and Religious Education. She gained a ton of experience as an adult hospice chaplain, a pediatric oncology chaplain, as well as opportunities in community pastoral care. Amy began working with survivors of sexual trauma during her master’s practicum in 1994.

“It’s a privilege to listen to people’s stories,” Amy says. “Being in spaces where people are grieving, and having the honor of walking alongside them as they figure out how to continue to live with loss sparked my passion.”

It was also during this time, after Amy married a man she met at seminary, that she moved to Decatur, GA. Living in a very diverse and free community, Amy began to ask more questions about herself for the first time. Though she and her husband had a ton in common (including a baby girl born in 2001), Amy began realizing some truths about her sexuality.

“My pregnancy was one of the first times I paid attention to my body,” recalls Amy. “It was also the first time I took a yoga class! It was a pivotal moment of finally realizing ‘there’s nothing wrong with me, I’m just a lesbian!’”
Amy came out around the same time she was being ordained, her daughter was 18 months, and the family had moved to a new city. It was challenging to find a therapist who understood and believed her about her sexuality in the small Midwest town. With grit and determination, she found a therapist who supported her and her husband through their divorce with the primary goal of becoming the best co-parents they could possibly be for their daughter.

Amy finally felt she was living her truth, and after another decade of pastoral care work, Amy needed to expand her understanding and experience of embodiment practices.

“I had done grief and loss work as a chaplain for about 20 years at that point. It is important for me to do embodiment work. I needed to move and metabolize the pain and grief that I had experienced personally and vicariously.”

After a happy marriage to her now wife, another child, and a decade off her mat, Amy was ready to embrace her yoga practice again. As she sought an embodiment practice, her first yoga teacher, Kath Meadows, also worked with incarcerated women in Maryland. Amy learned a lot through Kath about creating space within ourselves and was inspired by the abundant ways yoga was making a difference in the lives of people who were suffering.

“My life shifted when I dove into embodiment,” says Amy. “Studying how the body transforms through movement felt like a natural next step in my personal and professional spiritual development.”

Upon completing her RYT 200 certification in 2014, Amy has been dedicated to teaching yoga in many mental wellness programs. She worked at a school for traumatized children, where she taught yoga and mindfulness as a part of teaching coping skills.

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Someone’s Gotta Say It

3 Steps to Protect Our Kids from Abusers: On-line and In-person

Marina Headshot (1)

By Marina Sampanes Peed
Executive Director at Mosaic Georgia

A friend used to be a kid who went to the same school or lived down the block. Today, friends are met online with few, if any, community supports. This is a predator’s playground.

“It’s not IF, but WHEN” your child will be exposed to people who may want to harm them. As parents and guardians, we must adapt our strategies to protect children. This means we are going to get uncomfortable. It is easiest if we start talking about physical, emotional, and sexual health with kids from an early age as a normal part of living. Kids get messages about their changing bodies, their body autonomy, and relationships every single day. Even the most engaged, helicopter parents cannot control the harmful messages kids receive.

“Stranger Danger” doesn’t help because over 90% of sexual abuse/harm is done by someone with easy access to your child. Someone they don’t think of as a stranger. A friend used to be a kid who went to the same school or lived down the block. Today, a “friend” is someone they “met” online – via SnapChat, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, WhatsApp, Kik, Discord, Kanakuk, Reddit, Yik Yak, and numerous dating/meet-up platforms.
Most of the youth we see at Mosaic Georgia were abused by trusted adults in their lives. A growing number were groomed by people they met online. You may have seen the show “Catfish.” It documents people who create fake identities and personas online to deceive people looking for relationships.

It starts out seemingly innocent and the abuser cultivates an emotional attachment without ever being in the same room. Then manipulation to send photos, videos, and then plan to meet. If they get uncomfortable and try to disengage, threats to publicize images/conversations or send to parents/school/employer are used.

So what to do? Resilience is built through factual information, a sense of self-worth and belonging, and coping strategies.

1. Don’t Worry, Get Ready! Talk With Your Kids provides great tips and information for parents and caregivers to nurture education, healthy behaviors, and relationships throughout a child’s development. Age-appropriate information that tracks a child’s developmental curiosity help grown-ups feel more comfortable with the conversations. Please, use anatomical words to describe all body parts – not just eye, nose, ear, hand, knee, etc. The more you normalize names for genitals, the easier your conversations will be as the kids grow.

2. Talk with your kids – regularly, over time. When you look, you will see prompts almost every day to explore situations, perspectives, healthy alternatives. Ask, “have you seen this?” “what do you think of …?” “how do you think they feel?” “what would you do?” Listen as much as you speak. Acknowledge the inevitable eye-rolls, and let them know you are trying. You love them and want to keep them safe.

3. Practice what you preach. Encourage kids to trust their intuition about their personal safety. Encourage them to use their voice. A real friend won’t ask you to do something that you are uncomfortable with or don’t want to do. Help them determine their personal physical boundaries with family, friends, and others. Don’t force them to hug someone they don’t want to. (You can tell the overbearing adult that you appreciate their support in helping the kids manage their personal boundaries.) Let them know that IF something happens, you will be there for them and they won’t get in trouble if they tell.

Teens and adults who derive gratification from abusing and controlling others – especially kids – look for vulnerabilities that open doors for access – kids who are hungry for attention, less likely to assert themselves, or tell someone about the “special” relationship.

You can provide protective factors that will reduce their risk and improve their recovery should such harms occur. Remember: the responsibility always rests with the abuser.

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Why Kids Don’t Disclose Abuse: Ambivalence

Kendall Circle Headshot

By Kendall Wolz
Mental Health and Wellness Manager at Mosaic Georgia



1. the state of having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone.

One of the hallmark experiences of child sexual abuse is ambivalence. While some people still hold tightly to the idea that abuse occurs at the hands of the creepy, old man driving an ice cream van, many people have accepted the reality that abuse most often occurs within relationships. Abuse perpetrated by a stranger far less frequently results in feelings of ambivalence compared to abuse perpetrated by someone known, loved, and trusted. Ambivalence is a gift to the abuser, but superglue to the lips of the victim.

No one really likes ambivalent feelings. If you’re like me (as an adult), I just want to know things. I don’t enjoy being caught in the middle. I didn’t know what I felt as a kid had a name, and I certainly didn’t know how to navigate the complex and confusing feelings I held. Many adults struggle to navigate ambivalence. It can leave us feeling paralyzed. As a kid, it was incapacitating.

My abuser was someone I loved, trusted, and wanted to know and be known by. He was someone I saw every single day. My family accepted him and welcomed him.

If you’ve followed my blog or read previous posts, you know the excitement I expressed for the popular television show, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. I literally could not wait for the show to air in 1999. We only had antennas and two televisions in the trailer where I could watch the show. One television was in the living room but that is where my siblings often did their homework in the evening. The other television was in my mom and stepdad’s bedroom. When my stepdad invited me to watch the show, it seemed like the best of both worlds. Time with the person I trusted and loved AND I got to watch what I believed would be the best show ever.

It seems strange to label sexual abuse as gentle, but from a physical perspective, it was, in the beginning. I didn’t leave the room that first night in any kind of pain. But emotionally, I was filled with ambivalence.

I LOVED the show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

I ENJOYED getting the undivided attention of my stepdad.

I TRUSTED my stepdad would never do anything to harm me.

I was DISGUSTED by the evidence of the abuse on me.

I was CONFUSED by the passive threat he made before I left the room.

I FEARED someone would find out about our new secret.

At eight years old, these were strong, complex emotions that totally overwhelmed my system. I could not assess what was true, right, or healthy. As a result of the ambivalence, I had to rest on my default belief which was based on a general trust of people older than me. I needed those people to survive. If I could not trust them, how would I make it in the world?

Kids should be able to long for and love quality time with a parent. It is normal and healthy for a child to desire those things. My need for that perception of love was normal. I chose what was normal over and over- quality time with my stepdad and getting to watch my favorite show. Though it came with other hard feelings, the desire for love and acceptance won, over and over again.
So, ambivalence kept me quiet for a long time. And it keeps a lot of kids quiet.

When you hear a child disclose abuse, please know they have likely fought through the power of ambivalence. It is an incredible step of courage and bravery to go against the defaults to tell their story. Please accept that the ambivalence will not disappear overnight. Healing takes time.

Kendall Wolz heads up the Mental Health and Wellness team that provides individual, family, and group therapy to those seeking care at Mosaic Georgia. As a survivor herself, she has a unique insight into the challenges of living with past trauma, how it impacts lives daily, and what the process of healing truly looks like. Her personal website, Brave Girl, Speak unpacks some of the complex issues that come along with being a survivor of sexual violence. Visit Kendall’s site to read more about her personal journey healing from trauma and peeling the layers to reclaim her true self.

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