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 Thuy Nguyen, on self-empowerment & breaking free from a cult-like religion, overcoming postpartum depression, choosing gratitude & the pursuit of joy

(Publication Date: 5.21.24)

Overview: In this episode of We Are Chaffee’s Looking Upstream podcast, Adam Williams talks with Thuy Nguyen, a poet, writer and speaker on self-empowerment.


Thuy came up in a cult-like religious environment. When she was a teen, she was preyed upon by a church leader and, ultimately, shunned by that community. Adam talks with Thuy about those experiences, how she broke free from the church, and what she’s learned about leadership, accountability and forgiveness in the process.


They also talk about mental health, including Thuy’s experience of postpartum depression – the fear, the extreme paranoia – and how she worked her way through that and found the light again.


The We Are Chaffee: Looking Upstream podcast is a collaboration with the Chaffee County Departments of Public Health and Housing, and is supported by the Colorado Public Health & Environment: Office of Health Disparities.


Along with being distributed on podcast listening platforms (e.g. Spotify, Apple), Looking Upstream is broadcast weekly at 1 p.m. on Tuesdays, on KHEN 106.9 community radio in Salida, Colo., and can be listened to on-demand via


Thuy Nguyen, The Twiggy Mother



YouTube: The Twiggy Mother


We Are Chaffee






Looking Upstream Host, Producer & Photographer: Adam Williams

Looking Upstream Engineer & Producer: Jon Pray

We Are Chaffee Community Advocacy Coordinator: Lisa Martin

We Are Chaffee Graphic and Web Design: Heather Gorby

Director of Chaffee County Public Health and Environment: Andrea Carlstrom


Note: Transcripts are produced using a transcription service.

Although it is largely accurate, minor errors inevitably exist.

[Intro music, guitar instrumental]

Adam Williams (00:00:16): Welcome to We Are Chaffee's Looking Upstream, a conversational podcast of community, humanness, and well-being rooted in Chaffee County, Colorado. I'm Adam Williams. Today I'm talking with Thuy Nguyen. 

Thuy is a poet and writer, a life coach, and an empowerment speaker, and we get into some really good, deep, meaningful stuff in this conversation. Thuy's story is one of self-empowerment and resilience. There's darkness in it. There's also lightness in it. There's inspiration. 

She came up in a cult-like religious environment. Not only that, when she was a teen, she was prayed upon by a church leader and ultimately shunned by that community. She shares something of that story here, how she broke free, and what she's learned about leadership, accountability, and forgiveness in the process.

(00:01:01): We talk about mental health too, including her experience of postpartum depression, the fear, the extreme paranoia, and how she worked her way through that and found the light again. Naturally, these are some of the experiences that Thuy draws from as a coach and a speaker to help others. 

So we talk about the Twiggy Mother, that's the name of her business and website. We also talk about the role of gratitude in Thuy's life and her pursuit of joy. The Looking Upstream podcast is supported by Chaffee County Public Health and the Chaffee Housing Authority. 

Show notes with links and a full transcript of this and all Looking Upstream conversations are available at You can further connect with the podcast through wearechaffeepod on Instagram. Supportive reviews of Looking Upstream on Spotify, on Apple. Those are really helpful for spreading the good that we're trying to do here by connecting the community through meaningful conversations. 

Okay, let's get to it.

[Transition music, guitar instrumental]

Adam Williams (00:02:10): I hope that I pronounced your name reasonably well, but out of respect and appreciation for you, I would love it if you would not mind saying it for the audience so that they can understand how to properly pronounce your name.

Thuy Nguyen (00:02:23): No problem. It's Thuy Nguyen.

Adam Williams (00:02:26): Okay, thank you. I'm not sure that sounds exactly how I was able to say it, but thank you very much for doing that. 

Now let's get going, and I'm going to do that by asking you about homeschooling, which is one facet I know of your busy day-to-day life right now, and it's something that we have in common. I was homeschooling our two sons for more than two years during the pandemic, and I'm curious how that's going for you. You have three kids.

Thuy Nguyen (00:02:52): Yeah, so I will say I feel very lucky and grateful that I have a job where I work from home. So I am a working mother taking care of my three children. So it does come with extra... I'm the cook, I am the cleaning lady, I am their teacher. I am their playtime overseeing all of that. 

But so far, so good. I will say that as much as it's another added responsibility that I've taken on, it's a choice that I made in order to help my children, I think just some of the struggles that they were having in public school at that year that I took them out.

(00:03:29): And so for me, I look at it as being able to spend more time with my children, especially when they're young. I don't know how long I'll be able to do it for, but I just know right now I'm doing it and it has its days where it becomes stressful. We're home a lot together, so I think that's where I've had to find the balance to get them out and expend more energy on my part to make sure that they're getting their playtime outside. It's added responsibility, but the choice that I made it for and to be able to spend more time with my children is why I do it.

Adam Williams (00:04:01): It really ends up being a balance of challenge, joy, and there is some stress for sure, and I think that's only natural and honest for us to acknowledge with people, and anybody who's listening who does homeschool their kids, I'm sure this is really resonating with them.

Thuy Nguyen (00:04:17): Yeah.

Adam Williams (00:04:18): What is the age range on your kids?

Thuy Nguyen (00:04:20): So my oldest, my son, he's 10. He jokes that he's a decade old. He knows that. And then I have my two girls, one is seven, almost going to be eight this July. And then my other one is actually five today.

Adam Williams (00:04:34): Oh, wow. Okay. Thank you for being here and for sharing in this conversation with me. Again, I acknowledged a moment ago you're very busy and of course you're speaking to that. But I know that we also have so much good stuff to get into, so much depth and heart that you at some point come around to being willing to be vulnerable and share with the public.

Thuy Nguyen (00:04:57): Yeah.

Adam Williams (00:04:58): Sometimes I ask people why you share or what is the value you see in being vulnerable and open and raw sometimes and soft to share the things that have happened in your life and the places that you're working on yourself.

Thuy Nguyen (00:05:14): Yeah, so the work on the self is I think a lifetime project is what I see it as. But for me, being vulnerable and authentic and really sharing experiences, it opens the way for healing, to be able to release the... I think for me, I've had a lot of abusive experiences, traumatic things that weighed upon my soul. 

And because I've done the healing work, I now am empowered to be able to share my stories to help others. And I think that's something that has driven me, is I went through a lot of my periods of what I would... Accumulation of dark periods in which these were negative experiences that I transformed into growing me, developing me, and how can I now put this out to help others, to maybe give them some guidance or really be a support for them as they're going through theirs.

(00:06:06): It's very dark and I blindly led myself through a lot of these periods. And I was scared a lot of the times, I didn't know what I was doing, but now I paved the way. I found the steps to be able to now offer it to others. And I think being vulnerable is so key to letting others know that they're not alone and they don't have to go it alone, although I did, but now I can be a sense of support to hold your hand and say, "Hey, I have some steps so that you don't have to trudge it through so difficult and just knowing that you're not alone in it."

Adam Williams (00:06:41): How did you find that strength to do that alone?

Thuy Nguyen (00:06:47): I think when you're going through that, it's either sink or swim is what it boils down to. I didn't have an out in a lot of my circumstances, and so it was up to me. And I think you just find that strength along the way. 

And it's something that I now look back and I think I didn't feel strong when I was going through it. It's something that when you emerge from it, when you choose to pick yourself back up and keep going and you don't give up on yourself. 

For me, a driving force was my children. I was the one who was responsible to be their mother, to be taking care of them. And so they were my driving force to get up day in and day out despite the challenges that I was going through on top of my own personal dark mental state, abusive experiences, I had to pick myself up.

(00:07:36): And eventually by emerging from it, by doing the work to keep going, it brought out a mental strength. It then resulted in strength that I never would've known it existed within me. And it's something that I think a lot of times I look back and I think, "Wow, it's worth it to keep going because the result is you will become stronger from it."

Adam Williams (00:07:56): What are some of these experiences, the traumas, the darkness, whatever, whatever it was you went through that you had to overcome? Do you mind diving into that in whatever way feels comfortable to you right now?

Thuy Nguyen (00:08:12): Well, thank you. So I'll start from my childhood, my childhood upbringing. To give some context, I'm first generation American, so my childhood home and cultural upbringing, it came with I think you can say a certain upbringing that American culture or society would deem abusive. And there were times in which discipline was maybe pretty harsh or just in a way that... I know you've said in another podcast that gentle words or a sense of a compassionate approach would've been helpful instead of having to go to the extreme of being physically disciplined to the max, to an abusive extent. 

For me, this is something where those were scary to have to face the consequences of parental forms of discipline that can be extreme and harmful. That's not only physical, but it leaves a mental and emotional effect I think.

(00:09:20): For me, just in general, I think the abusive you could say upbringing, because I truly loved those who I had an abusive experience with, they were my loved ones that I truly loved, this is the key that helped me to offer a sense of understanding and to see them through a lens of compassion that they brought their own issues from their upbringing, their cultural conditioning. 

There's so many layers that I think can affect why people approach things in the way that they do. It's what they know that is right or what they've always known. And so when we approach I think abusive situations in that lens of empathy and compassion, it allowed me to free myself from the trauma of it to be able to offer more understanding with love to say, "I can freely forgive you because I think that's what you just knew to be right at the time."

(00:10:14): And then another thing that helped me to be able to move on from those experiences is not only forgiveness, but also gratitude. Being grateful for my life that I am now a woman who is able to be a mother and I get to change the course of my narrative. I get to be the mother that I probably would've needed when I was a kid, but I now get to choose to be that for my children. And I get to now undo the things that I experienced as a kid, I don't have to pass that on to my children and I can choose to parent differently, and I can choose to create a home and a sanctuary for my children that is much differently. And I think that's a thing too. 

Now, as a mother, I still have to discipline my children. They still get in trouble. They still have things that need to be worked on that I as their parents, their mother have to correct, but doing so differently from what I was raised as in my upbringing, you can say.

Adam Williams (00:11:12): I think becoming a parent, it takes us back into that space where we were a child to have to reconsider an awful lot and look at specific things. And at least I remember how I felt for a lot of things, not just the memory or the thought, but it's how did that make me feel? It's empathy. 

And now I'm having to bring that back out and say, "Okay, now, what choices do I want to make as a parent? How am I going to handle this moment? Because this is how it was handled with me. Am I going to do it the same way, or am I going to change something and hopefully make a different feeling for my children that they carry forward?"

Thuy Nguyen (00:11:51): Yes, and I think that's the beautiful thing is when we are consciously aware that we are empowered to actually change the course of what we've always known or have been conditioned to, we actually get to change that narrative and being the parent that we maybe didn't receive as a child and now being that for our kids.

Adam Williams (00:12:10): Another big component to this that I think you've already started sharing some publicly has to do with what you've described as a cult-like religious environment. Is that part of the cultural piece that you're referring to at all, or was this totally independent of what you're referring to as Vietnamese culture from your parents? Is that something that was just here in the US when they came over that they became part of and then that became a factor in your life as well?

Thuy Nguyen (00:12:38): Yes. So that was actually not part of the cultural, they were actually of a different religious upbringing. So when they came to the US that is when my mom took... It was actually my dad. He's the one who got introduced to a certain religious organization that he then introduced my mother to, and she's the one who took to it and became pretty involved with the organization. 

My dad fell back from it and wasn't a religious person much at all. And so it was my mom who took to it. And so as a young girl, we went to the congregation, is what they call it, to where we were... Ever since I was a little girl, that's what I knew as my religious upbringing.

(00:13:21): It wasn't until I was a teenager though that I personally took to it. And for me, I saw this religious organization as a pathway to be able to undo the things in my upbringing that I didn't agree with or didn't feel that was right with who I wanted to be. And so I looked to this religion as a source of being able to develop spiritual qualities, qualities that I wanted to be as a person. And so in my teenage years is when I really took to it for myself. I independently made that choice.

Adam Williams (00:13:54): When you say cult-like, can you describe some of that for us? Because I think obviously that is a word that people are familiar with and they're going to start conjuring certain things like maybe it's David Koresh or there's all kinds of organizations that have done this kind of thing. And so I want you to have the opportunity to describe, for us to have clarity, but also for us not to maybe misconstrue and start thinking the wrong thing.

Thuy Nguyen (00:14:17): Yeah, I think that is so important. I think when we think of cult, we think of those dramatic sensationalized news reports of one leader really taking a whole group of people down to a destructive end, you can say. And so in this case, it's more so cult-like because they... It's mind control. It's really influencing the way you think and the way you behave to then where you're conditioned over time with their teachings, their indoctrination to really consume who you are as a person to dictate I think a lot of your personal choices in life and your ability to really truly think for yourself. And I think that's where the danger is. It's in the mind. And what we put into our mind is what then affects our actions, how we behave, how we do things.

(00:15:06): And I think that's the dangerous part for me is when someone can control your mind and control your way of being based on the things that they're teaching you that they claim is good and it's under this illusion that you're free to be in this religion, and yet they're actually controlling you through the indoctrination. I know when I was in that religion, I was so devout to it. 

I truly believed it with all of my heart, and this was something that I truly felt was a pathway to draw closer to God or a higher source. And so I took to it and I know I made a lot of decisions that were, you could say, a bit robotic. I didn't think for myself. And a lot of the times then I consequently hurt others in the process because I was a bit rigid and robotic in my way of being because of the indoctrination that I believed so much within my heart.

Adam Williams (00:16:02): Is this a deeper indoctrination than, say, typical religion? What's the difference between what was your experience and the dogma of conventional religions?

Thuy Nguyen (00:16:13): So I didn't explore many other religions to truly have a full understanding, but I just know within this organization they put themselves on a pedestal that they are God's organization, that they are the truth. And so you start putting that into your mind thinking that, "Oh my gosh, we are of..." 

It's a bit of a superiority complex in which they feel that they are elite, they are the ones who are the only ones who are going to be saved. They are the only ones who have the truth. They have the anointed ones. So this is something where they put themselves on this pedestal in which you can feed into it, believe it with all of your heart, and that's where you become a robot for it.

Adam Williams (00:16:59): Or potentially be shunned or somehow socially treated in a negative way if you are not fully embracing.

Thuy Nguyen (00:17:05): Yes.

Adam Williams (00:17:06): You're either with us or you're not.

Thuy Nguyen (00:17:07): Yes, and that's where we've experienced that as well, the shunning part. That's where I will say I've been on the other side of shunning as well because of the indoctrination. And so it makes me think I've been on both sides in which I have shunned others because they were deemed harmful or not safe or they were of the world kind of thing. And then I've been on the other side where we've been shunned or looked down upon because we were a little iffy because we thought for ourselves or maybe we didn't do everything according to what they taught was the structure.

Adam Williams (00:17:43): How did the revelation come to you, whether that was a spark of a moment or maybe it was over a period of time, but what was your doorway to start thinking for yourself in a new way and to get out of that situation and realize what you were a part of and it wasn't what you wanted anymore?

Thuy Nguyen (00:18:02): So overall, at the end when I decided to leave that organization, it was actually very gradual at the time I had my firstborn, so I think there was the weight of being a new mother and it just... I could just see some of the dysfunctions within that organization and not really... It was a hard time for me in which I had to take a step back from being able to attend the congregation as much. And so in that way I was treated a little bit like, "Oh, maybe something's wrong." In a sense I was cast with judgment instead of understanding that I'm just a new mother, I'm struggling right now, and instead of receiving help, I was met with a lot of judgment.

Adam Williams (00:18:44): I'm sorry, judgment for what?

Thuy Nguyen (00:18:46): Judgment for not being able to show up to the congregation consistently and maybe not being more involved in the ministry activities and things like that. So that raises a red flag for them like, "Oh wait, what's going on? What's wrong?" Kind of thing. Instead of just saying, "Oh, maybe she's struggling, maybe we can offer a hand and be helpful." 

And I'm not saying that that never occurred. I think there's many times in which I have been lent that hand and support, but a lot of the times overall there's just a sense of judgment because they're on alert to protect themselves from what they deem is dangerous if a person's falling back or falling behind kind of thing.

(00:19:28): There was one particular experience when I was a young teen, when I had first taken to it in which I was in a predatory experience with an elder who was of a respected high standing within the congregation, a position of power and authority. You can say we were conditioned to look up to them, respect your elders. That for me is not the determining factor for why I left the religious organization, but it was eye-opening to how unprotected an individual can be within that religious organization set up. I'll just go into it.

(00:20:16): So I was about 17 or 18 when this occurred. My family had just moved to a completely new congregation, and so we were susceptible to not knowing anybody and anyone that offered a hand of friendship was something that we're truly grateful for. And so in swoops this elder who volunteered to conduct bible studies with my brothers, I had four brothers at the time that I was living with, and then I'm home with my parents. I was the only, a teenager, and the oldest amongst my four younger brothers.

(00:20:52): So in he made his way by conducting Bible studies with my brothers and my father, but my father... Then he just slipped away after that and it was mainly my brothers that he gave attention to, but that was the first step of being able to come into my family home to have access, you can say into my personal life, aside from being able to see him at the congregation. 

Slowly over time... I was naive, I was a young girl and I really was at a period where I was just focused on doing my home study so that I could graduate my senior year early. And I was also very actively involved and busy in the ministry work. Those were my two focuses at the time. There was no reason that this elder should have sought me out for attention or to be in isolated conversations.

(00:21:50): It was very gradual. And this is where now I come to understand the grooming process. It's very subtle and this is the danger is it's so subtle that by the time you find out that something doesn't feel right or it's not right, you're already down that path way too far to then know that you're in danger possibly. So it all started very gradual in which he would invite me out of my room that I always stayed isolated in, to myself just focusing on my studies to invite me to be with my family more.

(00:22:25):And then eventually he sought me out more to have isolated conversations that he's just building encouragement. And I then to where he sought me out in coming by the house when nobody else was around because only my car was parked outside. So it slowly woke me up that there was a predator that had his eye on me. And after all the he said, she said deliberations. 

This is something too I will clarify. I was not assaulted. I spoke up just in time to save myself from that. I do think that if I had not spoken up, regardless of what had ensued afterwards of not being believed, I spoke up just in time to be my own protector, to prevent that full extent of the experience from I think taking hold and really becoming a traumatic experience on my body.

(00:23:27): But after all the he said, she said deliberations, the men that I turned to did not offer me protection and I was the one that was written off and dismissed as the crazy one, just like my mother. And he maintained his position as a respected elder within the congregation. And as a young 17, 18-year-old, I would sit there in the seats down below as he would take the stage and stand at his podium to scold me indirectly using his power and authority to pretty much say, "Don't spread untruths in the congregation. 

Don't be gossiping." And I never intended to do that. For me, I just wanted the experience to go away. I was scared and I was alone in it. All those that I turned to did not believe me and were skeptical of me. So I'm sitting there in the congregation as he scolded me from his stage, and this is where... And then being applauded after his speech.

(00:24:31): And I think that's something that brings me into societal and systemic issues as well with things being swept under the rug and as the victims are there being victim shamed or blamed, and then the perpetrator, the one with not good intentions is being applauded and supported. And that was such a lonely, scary time for me. It was pretty traumatic. 

I didn't... Until I had some space to heal from that, I still had to be in that same congregation with him as everyone still respected him and adulated him. I had no ill will, it was more so I was just afraid. I was scared and I was alone in it at that time with no one believing me and those, my friends looking at me with skepticism because I was the only one who spoke up and I had to do it for myself.

Adam Williams (00:25:24): When you spoke up, your family?

Thuy Nguyen (00:25:30): I confided in my brothers and they were the only ones to hold me at that time, to really help me know that I wasn't alone. But they were my younger brothers and I felt an obligation to protect them, and so I really didn't speak too much on it and I tried my best to handle it so that I can be strong for them. They needed their big sister, and so I... They knew what was going on, but all they could do was just hold me with genuine concern.

Adam Williams (00:26:02): You were all very young at that point.

Thuy Nguyen (00:26:04): Yeah.

Adam Williams (00:26:06): I would imagine that every time in society we see anything like this, this power dynamic, this taking advantage of and the manipulations of the narrative that for everyone who has experienced something like you, it is a reopening of the wound, maybe fear, the whole experience. Is that fair to say? Is that something that continues to re-traumatize?

Thuy Nguyen (00:26:30): Yes. And this is where it really brought an awareness and it woke me to the need for leadership that is honorable, that is founded on moral and upright integrity in which the people that they are overseeing, that they have a responsibility to, they must act in a way that we as their people can turn to them to trust that we can turn to them and be heard and protected. 

And I think a lot of it is society as a whole, we each can do our part to hold our leaders or those that we look to to a higher standard of ethics and truly holding ourselves to not turn a blind eye to these things that go on. And the victim blaming and shaming, that's where it can actually do the damage because we are protecting the abusers and their misconduct by following the illusion or the deception that is going on instead of thinking for ourselves.

(00:27:32): That's another thing too, is critical thinking. Think for yourself. Know a person for who they are so that when they tell you something, you can validate if it's true or not. And then to then know that this person can be believed to then be able to take action to be a sense of support or to be their protector as well. 

I think that's something for me, I just feel like our leaders, they are in a position of privilege and to be able to lead their people. And so this is a high honor in which I think if we can encourage it to be more I think just upright and of integrity, then we as a society can trust that these cases, cases like this where in the religious organization there is no legal consequences. 

You're taught to just be quiet about it because it's within the organization. It's not out here in the public to... You could run to the police or make a case out of this, but a lot of the times, because of the indoctrination, everything stays within that organization to keep quiet and be dismissed.

Adam Williams (00:28:42): I would imagine you've given thought to society wide when these things exist, why it is that people opt to uphold the person on the pedestal, to favor the aggressor and not the one who needs the empathy, compassion, and support. Why do you suppose people choose that instead of having belief and compassion for the one who really is hurting and needs the support?

Thuy Nguyen (00:29:14): So I have quite a few thoughts on this. I think it takes both sides. So I think we as a society, we each are part of society and have a responsibility to not feed into the dismissal of these cases. And really taking action where we can without putting ourselves in harm's way, I think is also the balance. 

But at the same time, having the courage to speak up for those who are being wronged. When you do see misconduct or injustices going on, can you be brave enough to stand up and say, "I will help this person. They don't have to be alone in it."

(00:29:49): And then there's also the other side in which I think victims must also be responsible in sharing their accounts, their stories with accountability for their part as well, how possibly they may have fed into it or why things occurred. 

They must also take responsibility and also come with the proper intent not to destroy someone's reputation. I think that's the other part that taints it, is there's those who have a vindictive spirit or they want revenge, and so they're willing to twist the narrative to then go after a certain person to... And that may be of a good name or may be someone who is... Oh my gosh.

(00:30:30): So I think basically it just requires responsibility on both sides. Responsibility for us as a society to hold those who are abusers accountable to their misconduct, and then us or those who are our victims to really make sure that they're being responsible in how they're sharing their stories. That way those who are truly being abused will be heard and not dismissed, and then they can receive the protection and be heard for their experiences.

Adam Williams (00:31:01): I would imagine with an experience like this, there is a tremendous amount of shame and fear on the part of the person who is the victim in this situation and that they're already asking themselves, "What did I do?" And they're examining everything in their life to say, "Did I bring this" on myself? I think that's a common narrative, isn't it?

Thuy Nguyen (00:31:18): Yes. Thank you for bringing that up. That is what happened is how I felt is when I was in a sense gaslit by my community. Those that I had turned to, no one heard me. And so it made me turn to myself and victim blame like myself and think, "How did I let it get this far? How did I not see where this was going?" 

And a lot of the time it's because the grooming is so subtle, you don't see that road. And then as a young girl, I didn't know what this person's intentions were. And so I think that's a lot. Not only are we gaslit, we're unheard, we're dismissed, but then we deal with the self-blame on top of it. The weight on the soul is so heavy with bearing all these burdens of the whole situation. And then just to be silenced.

Adam Williams (00:32:09): The gaslighting is such a twisted manipulation to make you think, "No, no, no. You're seeing this wrong, you're hearing it wrong, you're feeling it wrong. Whatever it is, you're wrong. Not me. It's not what you think it is." So I wonder how anybody can really reliably look at themselves and say, "What is it I'm accountable for, and how do I get out of this when I can't even be clear in my own mind? Am I to blame? Did I do anything wrong? Would I be wrong if I tried to hold this person publicly accountable?" It's a very, I would imagine, difficult entanglement of the mind and heart as you try to go forward.

Thuy Nguyen (00:32:51): Yes, that is perfectly what it sums up. Gaslighting is such a cruel thing and especially when they gather those two come behind them to stand as if their lies are... And that's the danger too, is some actually believe their lies as truth to then spew it out as truth, to then gain supporters to basically cover over their bad behavior, their misconduct. 

And it does require... I will say, my life experiences, that's the one blessing or the gift from it, is that it's helped me to be very mentally aware to make sure that I have my facts and my story straight, because I had to make sure that I was the only one that had my back. So I'm going to have my back and have my story straight.

Adam Williams (00:33:36): Do I remember correctly if you've said that you journaled throughout the process? Did you write down things to in hindsight now you can look back and maybe get some clarity on some of the thoughts or uncertainties in your mind?

Thuy Nguyen (00:33:50): Yes. So that was actually the key. Journaling is so powerful because you get to write down your... My thoughts. I got to write down my story in a way that I remembered all the facts and how everything led to one thing to the other. And really documenting the experience, which not only freed that experience out of my soul, my being, it was such a weight that I was able to then just release it without judgment or criticism. I was able to just put it onto the pages of my journal, which was healing for me, but then also being able to recount everything that had occurred, my part in it, and then the things that he had done that I knew were inappropriate or...

(00:34:31): So it really helped me to put my truth out on paper and know my truths. And that's where I think it was so empowering. Journaling, it's such a simple thing, a journal, a piece of paper and a pen to be able to release that from your soul. And also it helped me have my... It built my self-assurance through the writing process to know exactly what I remembered despite anyone else believing me or not.

Adam Williams (00:34:57): I think we will probably talk more about writing and what that serves in your life and how you use that now publicly to help others. But before we get there, I want to maybe wrap up that piece of the story where you did ultimately leave that organization and you've transformed something in your life as you've moved forward. And so I'm curious how you ultimately, or maybe even how long it took to go through that process and to break free and start a new life for yourself in a way.

Thuy Nguyen (00:35:34): Yeah, so that incident with the predator took me many years to release. That was a big baggage in which I would wake up some days just completely seized with fear and anxieties of how close I got to really... I think for me the fear was being assaulted, having to feel that experience to the full extent. And so to leave the organization ultimately because I saw a lot of the dysfunctions along the way and awoke to the control and the manipulation that they disguise as being loving counsel. It was such twisted narratives and I just knew that I felt bound. I wasn't free in my way of being.


(00:36:24): And so that whole process to not only release the predatory experience from my soul, but the indoctrination to allow that to shut off of my mind and my heart was years long. I would say it probably took close to a decade and it was leading up from my teenage years all the way until I became a mother. 

And this is the beautiful blessing that I feel very grateful for is I don't have to pass that on to my children now. I now am able to parent my children free from those belief systems that held me down to now where I can now parent my kids free in their way of being and allowing them to be and me just focusing on being the best mother that I can be for them without all this extra baggage, you can say.

(00:37:08): So it took me many years, but I consciously chose to undo all that. I think the reality is some are not able to move past their experiences, and I think it's a conscious choice that a person has to do for themselves. No one else can do it for them. You can go to therapy and seek the help, but is ultimately up to you and your mindframe, your mindset to say, "No, I will not be a victim to these experiences from holding me back to live my life moving forward and to live it fully and in a way that I know is right and true for me."

And I think that's where I've been a bit stubborn. I've had to will myself. Later down the road I'll talk probably about going through postpartum depression as well, but I've had to will myself to choose life, to live my life and not succumb to these dark periods of my life, to say, "No, I'm going to get back up and I'm going to live my life no matter if it's finding the small joys in the everyday life or seeing my life overall as a whole, that I am a woman now, a mother who is able to be empowered to choose differently for my life."

Adam Williams (00:38:18): I wonder about cycle breaking because I'm confused about why or what goes into who can break the generational cycles that they are part of, and who doesn't. Why did it take so many generations of persisting in ways that maybe weren't as, say, humane in parenting for an example? 

And what is the difference between maintaining that and perpetuating that status quo of an organization, or again, a family, generation to generation, and then the person who says, "I'm thinking differently here and I think we can do this better"? 

Have you given thought to that sort of thing and what the power or strength is that you as an example of a cycle breaker in some regards, you are able to do that when others before you, they did not?

Thuy Nguyen (00:39:04): For me, it's just in me. I think when it comes to injustices, I personally cannot... I have a very small tolerance for it, and I think that is a gift of mine to have broken these cycles to say, "No, I'm going to choose differently." If stubbornness and pride has a benefit, it was in these cases in which I said, "No, I will not succumb to the dark periods. I will not allow these cycles to continue and I will be aware..." I think awareness too. Self-awareness is so key. And when the more self-aware, you actually are empowered to create your life intentionally now moving forward.

(00:39:43): I think a lot of people sometimes are scared of taking accountability, being self-aware because then they might suffer the consequences of making a wrong choice. But how about the flip side? How about enjoying the blessings of freeing yourself to be empowered to create your life intentionally? 

So I think it's just that self-awareness to say, "No, I'm going to break these chains that perhaps I think in my family's situation, my upbringing, there were dysfunction that was normalized." And I think that for me was like, "This is not normal. Maybe for you but not for me and I'm going to change that narrative." And so I think a lot is just conscious choice, self-awareness, and being a bit stubborn to say, "No, I'm not going to conform to what has been normalized."

Adam Williams (00:40:29): I can't remember who said it, but I think there is a suggestion of 90 or more percent of the population, of humans, pretty much just go along with status quo. Day-to-day life is not examined and they're just cruising along in whatever groove they're in. And so they're not giving that self-examination about life and these human elements, which is what I often come back to. If I think of politics or I think of religion or anything, my first place is, but what makes sense human to human? Get outside of the dogma or whatever structures of rules, does that make sense to yell at my kid this way right now in the bigger picture?

(00:41:13): And that's had to be a process of growth for me over the years that my sons have been around, which are now, I have a tween and a teen. So it's been a number of years for me to fix that for myself and be like, "My losing my patience right now does not set us up for a good relationship when they're grown," which is something that I've decided I prioritize over any given moment. I don't need to control that moment because what I really want is when my son is 25, he calls me and says, "I've got this going on in my life. What do you think?"

Thuy Nguyen (00:41:44): Being able to turn to you. Cultivating that kind of relationship?

Adam Williams (00:41:47): Yeah. And with that in mind, I'm curious then if we can talk more about being a parent and maybe how that influences what your bigger picture view is and how you approach these things with your kids.

Thuy Nguyen (00:41:59): Yeah, so I think because I am consciously parenting, I think that's the part is you're consciously aware of how you are reacting to maybe stressful situations and how you're then administering that discipline to your children and the effects on them. 

So I think it takes a lot more effort, I think especially because I am undoing the things... I'm teaching myself how to parent my children differently from what I've always known or how I was raised and brought up. I think that's wonderful that you are also doing it. I think we're just trying to be as best as we can for our children, and that does mean undoing a lot of the damage or the healing, the things that maybe traumatized us or messed us up so that we are able to be better for our children.

(00:42:47): And for me, the way I see it in the bigger scheme or bigger picture of things is that our children are the future. They are of the future generation in which how they are raised and how we impact our children is going to actually pave the way for the future generations of how they behave and respond to things and how they see the world. I think that's another thing too is my children are individuals. 

They have their own path. They're going to go down and make their own mistakes. All I can do to ensure that I can contribute positively towards the future is me being the best that I can be in my parenting, undoing and being aware of the things that I don't want to pass on to them or negatively affect them, to then where I can just trust and hope that if I just be the best mom that I can be, hopefully they'll take flight and be good hopefully.

(00:43:37): And I hope that I can nurture a relationship just as you to where my children feel safe and in a good place with me to be able to come and turn to me when they need to. But being independent as well to take flight and be their own people.

Adam Williams (00:43:52): I think a thread that's running through a number of the things we're talking about here comes down to what people perceive as a need for comfort through certainty, to have control of life. And if that means you're a boss or you're an elder or you're a parent and you're trying to control everything, your ego is involved in that. 

And what I have been working with myself, in the past few years at least, is I'm realizing more and more that so much of life is not under our control. It's an illusion when we tell ourselves it is. And that the more we maybe embrace the uncertainty and the fact that we don't know answers, and as a parent then I have to look at it that way too and say, "I can't come at this as if I am the authority with all the clear answers. My kids are going to find out I'm wrong. Because just like everybody else, I don't actually know all the answers or any answers."

Thuy Nguyen (00:44:47): Yeah, I think I came across a quote or... Albert Einstein, but he pretty much said, "The more we think we know, we actually realize that we don't." There's so much to learn and I think you have to approach life with humility to really say, "Hey, I'm just as much of a student of life as I'm trying to teach my children and be the teacher." 

So it's constantly transitioning between that. And I think in the spiritual sense, going back to what you talked about, control, we cannot control anything. All you can do is... My approach to life is take what life hands you and make the best of it. You navigate and maneuver it as best as you can, but really you have to just go with the flow.

(00:45:25): If you think about it, change is constant. It's the only thing. We wake up every morning and every day is actually different. You don't wake up on the same side, you don't wake up... One day you might wake up with drool and then the next day you're completely dry. Every day is different. And I think it's how you approach it to embrace it as, "Hey, this is how this day is going." 

And when you have those days that are going wrong and chaotic, it's an awareness that you actually can't control anything, but you can control how you respond to that day, to those things that fell out of control. That is the only thing we actually truly control is our own response and our behaviors and how we navigate and maneuver through those many changes that can occur within a day or within our entire lifetime.

Adam Williams (00:46:12): Spirituality clearly is a big piece of your life at this point. And so I'm curious how you went from this religious experience, the experience of this religious organization, and you have come out of it with strength and positivity and self-accountability and all these things that are not bitterness, anger, resentment, fear, and there is a spiritual component to how you live your day-to-day life and how you view your life and life in general, I think. 

Can you tell me about some of that? What is it that is at the heart of how you view spirituality as that plays a place in your life and that you manage to pull all that together out of that original experience with religion where you're like, "Okay, I don't need some of this stuff, that doesn't feel right to me," but the spiritual core of it, "Okay, there's something worth keeping"?

Thuy Nguyen (00:46:59): Yes. So that is something where I will say, let me just put it out there. I still respect religion overall as a means for people to... I think it's a pathway to develop their own spiritual connection to a higher being, to God, to a higher source. For me, that's what it was. I truly felt that it was my pathway to be able to really establish and develop my personal connection with God. 

I think I've always innately been... I think always been a spiritual person even prior to being part of that religious organization. And that's where I think it was just always within my spirit to guide myself towards feeling like there were higher forces watching over me.

(00:47:40): There have been so many situations and experiences in which I know that if there were not divine forces out there, I don't know how I would've gotten through some of the things that have occurred. And so that solidified my faith that there is a spiritual realm and that there are beings watching over us and helping us, guiding us along our path. I think that can open up a whole... I know there's so many different belief systems even within the spiritual community. All I will say is I respect and I'm open to hearing their perspectives on that.

(00:48:14): But I know for me personally and me just being self-aware of my personal connection to a sense of divine forces, that's what really led me to see the stark difference between religion having, I think, I would say a hold over you in conditioning your belief systems the way you are to then being a spiritually-led person in which I feel free, I feel free to be me and to guide myself according to what is within my soul, to know what is deemed right or wrong.

(00:48:45): And I think it ultimately boils down to there is no black and white of right and wrong, good or bad, it's more so what impact do we have on those around us, the world around us? Is it positive or negative? And if it's negative, do something about it. You can change that. You can actually... If we need control, control how you're impacting others around you. And a lot is in our response to difficult situations, changes, things that the ego wants to try to maintain and control.

(00:49:15): I think the stark difference then for me is when it comes down to the ego versus being spiritually-led, the ego is always trying to maintain these labels, the appearance of things, trying to stay confined into a box, which is a comfort because when we put things in boxes, we're able to then feel like, "Okay, I have a control of understanding what this thing is." 

Whereas spiritually, you flow with your life, you flow in your way of being. You just are. You're not having to maintain appearances or any of that. And so I think in comparison to religion and spirituality, religion I felt bound to in having to conform, whereas with spirituality, I'm free to be.

Adam Williams (00:49:59): I view spirituality as the essence that is in all things and all beings. And then if we look at that as a point of connection and commonality for all of us and maybe let some of the labels, identities, again dogmas, and things fade out a bit, that I think is a positive thing if we see that in each other and recognize the possibilities.

Thuy Nguyen (00:50:23): Yes, so that brings me back to it or you gave me a good thought. Religious organizations, I think the aspect that it can cause divisiveness. Whereas when you are more spiritually-led, we are all connected, we are all here to learn from one another, to teach one another and to also see that we all need one another in order to grow and evolve in our personal development. 

But also I think as humanity as a whole, we're all connected, and I think that's the thing is with any organization, whether it's religious or anything else, that must put itself on a pedestal. It's dividing itself from amongst the others to feel like we are the only one. And so I think that was a major eye-opening thing for me as well to appreciating spirituality is that we are actually all connected. We are not to be divided, we need one another.

Adam Williams (00:51:17): Yeah. Yeah, that's well-put. You mentioned postpartum depression. That would seem to be another aspect, a period of darkness that you were referring to at the beginning of this conversation. I think that that's probably something that is important for an awful lot of women and families, the partners and spouses that go through that with someone. If there's something there that you feel like maybe you learned in that process. 

In the way I'm saying this, I'm assuming you feel like you have cleared what that experience was, so please share whatever needs to be shared there, but your insights on that experience and maybe also for me as a spouse to someone and anybody like me listening, what is it maybe we need to understand where we can be helpful in that experience?

Thuy Nguyen (00:52:03): So that was probably one of the more recent dark periods that I've emerged from. I'm so thankful that I trudged my way out of that. It was something that I felt like once I had my second daughter, it was... I never knew a darkness like that before. My mind was shot. I lost my mind to irrational fears in which all the childhood traumas... 

And there was a particular incident in my childhood that that incident, the fears and anxieties made me lose my mind during post-partum depression, and I was scared. I was like a crazy person. My mental state was a prison to then where I was then creating a physical prison of locking me and my children inside my home like a crazy person.

(00:52:55): This is something I will attest for individuals to take a mother seriously when she is going through post-partum depression. It is not like she's just sad or she's just feeling down today. No, this is something where it affected my mind and I didn't think that I would regain my mind again. I was not normal and I had so many irrational fears and anxieties just seize me, and I felt like a prisoner to the traumas that resurfaced, that not only did I have to undo those traumas, work through them while going through depression and caring for my two young children at the time.

(00:53:32): If I can describe it, a visual depiction of what was going on is I would be inside my house looking out my window, hoping that this particular person from that childhood incident wouldn't come back and harm me and my children. And I would lock every bolt in our house, secure every window latch like a crazy person. 

I knew even myself in my mental illness that I was not well, and yet I was too scared to speak up because I thought, "Oh my gosh." Then that's another thing too that I think society thinks, "Oh, a mother is a danger to her children." And I think that's something in my case, maybe for some it may be, which I think that requires discernment on their loved ones to really take that into consideration or discern that.

(00:54:19): But for me, it was me being extra protective in a very extreme way of my children to feel scared that they would take my children away if I were to speak up. And I think that for me was like, "Oh my God," I couldn't... I would lose my mind completely. And I was so mentally not myself. I was mentally unwell. I even knew it, and I was alone in it as well. Those that I had turned to didn't have any experience to be able to offer true compassion and understanding at that time, and as well as they were well-meaning and wanted to help, it wasn't the support or the help that I truly needed.

(00:55:00): This is where it brought me to an awareness of the need for true, genuine empathy. When we give out the false sense of empathy and compassion, it does more damage because at the time when those individuals that I turned to would be like, "I understand," or, "I know," it made me feel like, "No, you don't. 

I feel that much more alone. You have no idea what I'm going through. You have no idea how much suffering I'm going through, and I just need someone with understanding to hug me and tell me that I'm going to be okay. I'm actually going to make it out of this, and that you're... As much as you feel crazy, I don't see you as crazy. You're going to be okay. You just have to keep fighting through it." And I didn't have that. And so when others would give that, that false sense of empathy and compassion, I just felt so much more alone.

(00:55:53): This is where I feel thankful now that I actually have the experience of it, I've emerged from it to now be able to extend that empathy and compassion out to other women and mothers who have been or are going through postpartum depression. And I think the key for me to getting out of that dark period was being grateful. I woke up every day finding something, one thing to be joyful for and grateful for, to wake up and choose life. 

And a lot of the times my darling children being able to see them come and greet me and say, "Mommy, mommy." And as much as I was like, "Oh my God, another person who needs me when I need to take care of myself." But their sweet giggles and they're joyful, laughter is what kept me going to say, "Okay, mommy can get out of bed today. And as much as I feel numb and empty in my physical body, I can get up and feed you, and then your sweet voices are going to help me to get through this day."

(00:56:51): And so every day, every day during that period, every single day I had to choose to get up and choose to find something to be joyful for until that joy started to become my way of being. That gratitude for life started to become my way of being to where I emerged positive and joyful.

Adam Williams (00:57:11): How long did that period last?

Thuy Nguyen (00:57:13): So this was just a matter of months, but it felt like a long time because of the depth of darkness that my mental state was in. And because it was like an everyday fight, it felt so exhausting and it felt... And then because I didn't know if I was actually going to be okay at the end, it just like a fight every single day for a matter of months. 

I would say probably six months until I finally emerged one day to wake up and feel like, "Oh, I think I want to live life again. I think there's some kind of drive for me to see that there is beauty in life again." And then once I started doing that, then I started living life again and being the mother that I am now to my children and being so grateful that because of them they were my driving force to have emerged from that dark period.

Adam Williams (00:58:02): Did you keep a journal during that time that also, if you look back, tells the story of this day by day experience?

Thuy Nguyen (00:58:11): Yes. So journaling was another mind savior. This is where, I will tell you, journaling is the most effective tool for mental health and it doesn't cost a thing except to buy a journal. When I look back on those pages, I rarely go back into that journal and a lot of it was just filled with all my anxieties and fears, but it gave me the release that I needed so I wasn't tormented in my mind with all these thoughts and fears.

(00:58:40): And as I read them back, some of them I look and I think, "Oh my God, I was ranting like a scared, crazy person." But some of them I think, "That's what I felt at the time." And so I can read these without judgment and say, "Thank you for allowing me to release this craziness." Some I still believe or know to be true, you can say, as far as the thoughts that were written in it, not the fears and anxieties, but some of the thoughts that I expressed within my journal still ring true for me. 

And I think, "I still had my mind together" even though some of them are mixed with all my crazy fears and anxieties. But I think that's a beautiful thing of journaling too, is you're able to reflect back and if you don't judge yourself and become self-critical, you could just say, "Thank goodness I'm not in that place again or anymore."

Adam Williams (00:59:26): I wonder how long your journaling history has been or the consistency of it. I was not consistent in early years. Not until about the last seven years or so, it's a morning ritual for me now. Did you start when you were a young girl or how did you get started with this remarkable tool?

Thuy Nguyen (00:59:44): So I would say it's been in the more recent years. I did more scrapbooking when I was a kid, so that was my thing. I loved putting pictures together and doing memories. But I think writing... So for me, I've always thought of myself as an artist at heart. I've loved drawing, painting, artistic things. 

Writing did not become an artistic form of art for me until it was during these dark periods. So it was during my experience in that religious organization, the fears and anxiety. So a lot of them were the dark thoughts that I had to release from me. It was weighing on my soul and that's what moved me to say, "I need to write this down and out of me."

Adam Williams (01:00:26): And you had no one to go talk to, so maybe that's a natural turn we take is, "I have to do something to express this."

Thuy Nguyen (01:00:33): Release it, right. So yeah, that for me I think was the effective way because those that I had turned to by speaking about it did not believe me or didn't have experience to offer the responses that I needed in return, it was like, "Okay, then journaling is what will help me feel heard and to also release it from my soul."

Adam Williams (01:00:54): And writing, including poetry, is I think a significant piece of what you're doing now and what you're offering in the world. I want to ask you about the Twiggy Mother. That is the name of your website. It's also your social media accounts. First of all, if you don't mind sharing with me, I'm curious what the Twiggy Mother, I assume that has resonance for you, the name of that. So if you'll tell me what that is.

Thuy Nguyen (01:01:18): Yes. So not the model that I had come across and I thought, "Oh, I don't know if this is a good idea because I don't want to of course take away anything from the actual big name of the Twiggy model." But for me it was my love for nature. I always think in twigs and branches. And then for me, I thought my slogan, it's a branch that I'm extending for healing, enlightenment, and empowerment. 

And then also another aspect is I've always been skinny as a twig. This is something where it's not self-flattery, but I can't help it. And those around me would actually bully me in calling me, "You're so skinny as a twig" and make it into a demeaning thing. And so for me, this was my way of turning that narrative around to be empowering to say "Well, this is me. I cannot change my physical appearance or body." And I was shamed in a sense for my body the way it naturally is and so I've learned to embrace it.

(01:02:19): So a part of it is also my business name is really embracing all that I am and all my experiences and turning them into empowering sources that I find inspiration in now.

Adam Williams (01:02:32): What is it that you offer through your website for... I don't know if it's just women, but for whoever your intended audience is to be able to read what it is you're putting out into the world?

Thuy Nguyen (01:02:43): Yes, so I did start my website as a blog initially because, for me, I would turn during my dark periods when I was met with no understanding because no experience. I turned to articles that were so helpful to me and I thought, "Oh my gosh, I'm not so alone. 

There's other mothers who have recovered, they're still alive to be writing their articles. I want to contribute to this and be a voice alongside theirs to be able to write the things that I know from my own personal experiences to then help other women and mothers, whether it's depression, abusive experiences."

And I think a lot of it too is enlightening, giving enlightening perspectives through my blogs on building up who you are in character. Spiritual growth and development, those are big topics for me. And just really by educating yourself, by becoming your best self, you then are empowered to lead your life, but also empower other women and mothers along the way. 

And so I hope as I continue on my work, it's been quite a long journey, it's been like a ten-year vision and a seven-year project that I have been constantly despite the dark periods as well. It's been a source of strength and inspiration for me to keep it going. And then now to where I feel, I hope that the things that I've been working on in my writings will be helpful. I think in whatever way, however, whoever comes across it, I hope to impart that.

(01:04:05): And then some of the services that I hope to be able to offer soon is being certified in being a motivational speaker, being someone that can open the dialogue for mental health awareness. I have known it through abusive experiences and depression. So speaking from my own personal experience and the way that I have been able to emerge from it is because I've done the work. So now I can be able to share that with you and show you the way, the steps that you can take.

(01:04:37): And then eventually being an introspective transformation coach, using introspection as a wonderful tool to transform your mindset so that you can change your life for the better. Everything that we put into our mind is actually what then trickles effects into the way we behave, the way we create our life, our reality. We are actually in control or empowered to be able to create our life from the source of our mind.

Adam Williams (01:05:05): I've talked about permission occasionally with guests on this podcast because it's something that I don't think most of us realize that we have the power within ourselves to permit ourselves to be and do in the world as we wish. 

It's like we're waiting for whether that's a parent or a coach or a teacher or a boss or a spouse or somebody to say, "No, it's okay for you to be whatever it is," to have that empowerment. So I think it's incredibly, well, powerful for you to share this of yourself with people. I think my last question is that I have read on your site that pursuit of joy is part of this for you as well. And so I'm curious what you're doing now in pursuit of joy.

Thuy Nguyen (01:05:49): For me, joy it's a way of being within your soul. That's one thing I will clarify, is being happy can sometimes be reliant on external sources, but truly being in a state of joy is within a person's being. And to cultivate that, you have to do more of what sparks your soul up with joy. I started to follow what brings me joy, which is creating beauty. 

And I think that's something where it's not in a state of vanity, but in aesthetics I have a deep appreciation for craftsmanship and creating beauty, whether it's in my home, beauty styling. As a girl, fashion styling and beauty is I just love it. It's just in me. And now that I'm a woman working, I am able to now be in a position to create more of that and do more of just being a beautiful person as well. That's the key.

(01:06:39): Before I create all these beautiful things on the external, I have cultivated trying to be a beautiful person to others and to the world. And in my thoughts, my writings, the things that I've overcome, instead of succumbing to that darkness, I've chosen to become my own light, to be a beautiful person that I can be. And still working on it. I think there's still things that I'll always be working on to just make sure that I'm positively impacting those around me and then being able to now do it on the physical. I think everything starts within to then come outwardly.

Adam Williams (01:07:14): That's all beautifully said.

Thuy Nguyen (01:07:16): Thank you.

Adam Williams (01:07:16): Thank you very much Thuy for your time and sharing so vulnerably. I know that it matters for someone out there listening. Anytime you speak, you write, you share when we are vulnerable, I absolutely believe it makes a difference for someone whether we hear about it or not.

Thuy Nguyen (01:07:31): I hope so, and I think this is the key, is I hope that my voice reaches those who need it. And if I could just take a quick moment to speak to those who have had similar experiences or challenges that I have, I will tell you, you are not alone and you can actually thrive in the aftermath. I'm only one amongst the many who have done this for myself. 

It is actually up to you to release the heaviness of the traumas or abuse that you may have suffered to then choose yourself, choose to empower yourself to release all that baggage so that you are able to live your life in joy and gratitude. Find every little thing that will spark you up to live your life more fully. It's never too late. 

You're never too late to make the change that you want in your life to free yourself from the burdens of the past. These bad things happen, we cannot change them, but we can change how we respond to it and empower yourself to free yourself from those experiences weighing down on your soul. And I send you all so much love.

Adam Williams (01:08:35): I have experienced as well those times where you feel like there is a darkness that might be caused by someone else, we can feel like, and we're waiting for someone to rescue us. And it might be difficult for someone in that position to hear, but I agree with you that the truth comes down to we have to be willing to stand up somehow for ourselves and start taking one step at a time to make that progress, to pull ourselves out of that situation. We have to be self-accountable and self-empowered to do it. And so I concur with what you were sharing and thank you very much for that.

Thuy Nguyen (01:09:10): Thank you. Yes, I totally agree. We are the ones who empowered. I was in that state for a while, being a damsel in distress waiting for someone to rescue me for my problems, my heaviness. But ultimately, after some time you realize, no, it's actually up to you. So we are empowered. It is up to us to choose ourselves, to choose joy, to choose gratitude despite what we've gone through and to choose to build yourself back up and thrive. It is actually up to us.

Adam Williams (01:09:37): Thank you.

Thuy Nguyen (01:09:38): Yes.

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Adam Williams (01:09:50): Thanks for listening to the We Are Chaffee: Looking Upstream podcast. If our conversation here today sparks curiosity for you, you can learn more in this episode show notes at 

If you have comments or know someone in Chaffee County, Colorado who I should consider talking with on the podcast, you can email us at We invite you to rate and review the We Are Chaffee: Looking Upstream podcast on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or whatever platform you use with that functionality. 

We also invite you to tell others about the Looking Upstream podcast. Help us to keep growing community and connection through conversation.

(01:10:26): Once again, I'm Adam Williams, host, producer, and photographer. Jon Pray is engineer and producer. Thank you to KHEN 106.9 FM, our community radio partner in Salida, Colorado. To Heather Gorby for graphic and web design. To Andrea Carlstrom, Director of Chaffee County Public Health and Environment. And to Lisa Martin, community advocacy coordinator for the We Are Chaffee storytelling initiative.

(01:10:48): The We Are Chaffee: Looking Upstream podcast is a collaboration with the Chaffee County Department of Public Health and the Chaffee Housing Authority, and it's supported by the Colorado Public Health and Environment Office of Health Disparities. 

You can learn more about the Looking Upstream podcast and related storytelling initiatives at and on Instagram and Facebook @wearechaffee. Lastly, until the next episode, as we say here at We Are Chaffee, share stories, make change.

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