To the Woman at the Swimming Pool with the “Perfect Body”: A Poem

An ode to summer…


To the Woman at the Swimming Pool with the “Perfect Body”


The water glistens and ripples

Pool blue and inviting

I see your body and immediately feel shame

On a deep level I know it is nothing about you

But about me and my body-mind game


That it will never be good enough

That I will never be good enough

I sit and dwell

And stew


The way I perceive my body

If you only knew

Do I need to change me

To be more like you?


Losing focus on why I am there

The love I have of swimming and treading and kicking

That I feel free when I do so

My muscles tensing and retracting

My legs pushing me from one end to the other


For the moments that I focus on you

And what I project

I lose sight of all of that

Of what really matters


You have no idea the power you hold

Or that we have placed on you

All of us with bodies that we deem “flawed”

(and maybe that’s you…too?

I really have no idea what you’re going through)

Or that society says are askew


The pain of countless souls

A communal weeping

I place all of this onto you


You don’t deserve that

I don’t deserve that

No one, No body deserves that

The messages that we receive are the villains

And try to be the thief of joy


Comparison is the thief of joy


And yet all of us can relate

To that thought that says

I must change

There’s something wrong with me

Lose weight

But only in the “right” areas

Then you will truly love yourself


Thin is “in”

Fat is “out”

Where do you fall?

Try to catch the moving needle

Of body image ideals

It will never stop

You will never win


Now I look at you

I look at all of us at the pool

Men women kids babies




And I feel anger

Anger at the power of body shame

And judgmental standards



Rises up in my throat

Like a ravenous flame

A fight to change the dialogue

All bodies are good bodies

We all deserve the same


And I dive into the cool refreshing pool

Holding my breath



-name withheld


#healthateverysize #bodyacceptance #selfacceptance

#bodyimage  #recovery #advocacy




When Our Struggles Show Us Our Strength: My Journey through ED Recovery, Infertility, and Becoming an Author

Late last year I received news that I thought was only the stuff that dreams were made of: I had procured a contract with a large publishing company to write a book! (what?!?)

Ever since I learned to write, I’ve been concocting stories, poems, journal entries, manifestos — pretty much any form of writing that I could get my hands on.  After grad school (where there was no shortage of writing assignments!) I channeled this mostly into my blog entries, which serve somewhat of a journal as well as a way to get to know me professionally.

And now I get to do it in the biggest way possible! Holy crap!

I haven’t written much publicly about my infertility and pregnancy loss that I experienced in 2014, but that is about to change in a big way so I’d better get comfortable with it (or at least get used to sitting with the anxiety).  My upcoming book will be published in 2019 and is entitled “The Clinical Guide to Fertility, Motherhood and Eating Disorders: From Shame to Self-Acceptance“.  It is a mix of personal stories (including my own and many of my clients and other people I interviewed), research overviews and clinical tools for working with women who struggle with these issues.

I am writing this book for many reasons, but the primary one is that I would love to spread knowledge and resources about these issues so that other women may prevent or heal from the same struggles that I did.

When I was struggling to become pregnant after about 9 months I finally did conceive but then went on to suffer two miscarriages in a six month timespan. I plunged to deep depths of despair, pain, anger, and shame.  I had thoughts like: “this is my fault. Because I had an eating disorder {over 10 years earlier}, I directly caused my body to not function in the way it should.” And “You’re a failure“.

Huge blanket statements that I know (and knew) to not be true, but they damned well felt true at the time, and came to me through such a mean and convincing voice in my head. . . much like the voice of my eating disorder all those years earlier.

I will never forget this time of my life.  It rocked me to my core, and my husband and I were devastated by reoccurring pain.  Loss after loss after loss.


Pushing Through the Pain

I have had two experiences in my life that I would say changed me in ways that I had never thought could be, and after both I was not the same.  The first was recovering from my eating disorder and if you are reading this and know much about EDs, you know how hard that is.  I fully believe that one can recover from an ED and give so much respect to anyone who commits themselves to do it (and also know how many ups and downs there can be in that process). But it is damn HARD.

The second was going through the infertility and losses that we endured and coming out the other side.  I now have a healthy, headstrong, smart and adorable two year old daughter who I cherish each and every day.  But the scars of what we endured are still there…and always will be.

I embrace my scars.  My scars of my eating disorder. My scars of my fertility challenges. They make me who I am today and I wouldn’t at this point wish them to be any different.  But there were days – weeks – years – where I wished my life was so different.  Where I wished that I was not me.

Finding Hope

I am now on a writing journey to help others heal or accept their own scars, and I feel so good about doing this.  I also feel anxious and overwhelmed sometimes.  Can I do this? Do I have what it takes? Can I get out of my own way?

The answer is yes (I hope 🙂 )!  Stay tuned for more on my book writing journey, which I already know will be yet another life-altering experience for me.

I am here today, writing to you, because I want to say to you that YOU CAN DO IT TOO.  Whatever it is: trying out for the school play; asking a girl/guy on a date; starting your own business; calling up a therapist and getting help; applying to college; becoming a parent.

None if us knew we could do these things until we tried. So, I don’t have all of the answers but if I can be a place where you can turn to for encouragement to climb that mountain you are looking up, please reach out to me.  I’m happy to be an email buddy or give you resounding moral support from afar.  We are all in this together and together we will shine.




PS: please feel free to share any challenges that you are overcoming or have overcome in the comments.  It helps us all so much to hear of others’ bravery and resiliency!

Recovering my Period, my Body, and my Life: A Story of Recovery from Orthorexia

Today I am honored to feature a guest voice on my blog!  Ritta Shikwana is a Holistic Health Coach who helps people going through something she herself has recovered from — orthorexia.

Have you heard of orthorexia before?  While not officially included in the DSM-V, it is a condition that is running rampant in our society today and has serious health effects.  It is described as “an unhealthy obsession with healthy or ‘pure’ foods” that begins to get out of control, and takes over one’s life.  Eventually food choices become so restrictive, in both variety and calories, that health suffers – an ironic twist for a person so completely dedicated to healthy eating.

Read on to hear about Ritta’s desire to get pregnant and have a family, and what she has learned about the way eating disorders can threaten the things we value the most.


Recovering my Period, my Body and my Life: A Story of Recovery from Orthorexia

Have you lost your period? Do you want to get pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy? Not long ago I used to desperately search the internet on how to get my period back. I had lost my period due to excessive exercise and struggling with orthorexia (click here to take a self test to see if you might have some of these behaviors too).

Not feeling womanly, not having a period and not being able to get pregnant caused me to have so much more stress than I needed.

Focusing on numbers like calories, macros, body fat percentage, BMI, what time of day I was allowed to eat etc, was driving me crazy. I quickly realized that my addiction to exercise and being orthorexic came from me not feeling like I was in control over my life. I realized it was really never about food, but mostly about control.

I thought that by controlling those numbers, I’d feel in control of my life. But it was really just an illusion. You never have control over your life when you’re controlling the food you’re eating. You’re actually letting exercise and food control and run your life instead. It’s a false sense of control that you gain from doing this.

Perfectionism and Control

At that time I was trying to be a perfectionist and also had a lot of masculine energy in me. It’s very IMPORTANT to have masculine energy, but when you’re trying to get your period back, do you see how important it is to have a feminine approach to it?

Consider asking yourself the following questions:

-Where in your life do you have an unhealthy or unbalanced relationship with control?

-In what area(s) can you allow yourself to begin letting go of control? Maybe it’s going to a restaurant without studying the menu a million times before you go? Maybe it’s by going for a nice walk instead of going to the gym? Or maybe it’s as simple as getting on your knees and praying to God?

I wanted to share this part with you because I never found this kind of information when I was trying to get my period back. Every article out there gave me general information, such as eat more, exercise less.

But I needed something deeper.

Something that told me that my eating disorder, my exercise addiction and my amenorrhea (loss of period) really had nothing to do with food, but with not being nourished in other areas of my life. It wasn’t until I understood this and put it into practice that I actually got my period back.

At the time I was trying to get my period back, it wasn’t because I wanted to get pregnant. But the idea of not being able to have kids sure stressed me out because I did want kids one day! Once I got my first period back I did everything I could to maintain it, but NOT in a controlling way.

I will say that I’m actually happy that I went through this. I’m glad I lost my period, because firstly it showed me how smart my body is (it wasn’t trusting me to feed it, so it shut off my reproductive system) and I would’ve never learned so much about myself and my body otherwise. Sometimes we have to go through rough and tough times, get a kind slap in the face in order to wake up and get out of our heads.

Once I regained my period I knew that it also meant that my body was starting to trust me again. It was trusting me to even get pregnant which I am today!

Along the way, I had to make some physical and mental gains. I had to work a lot on eating more, exercising less, managing stress, meditating, eliminating caffeine, sleeping more, gaining weight, and accepting my new and natural body size. I knew that having a six pack wasn’t going to help me get pregnant, so letting my belly grow and gain some extra fat was important in order for a healthy baby to grow in there.

Improving my Sleep Hygiene

Sleeping more has made a huge difference in my health. I went from 5-6 hours of poor quality sleep every night to about 7 hours of quality sleep. It wasn’t an easy process. Having a very low body fat percentage, an eating disorder and exercise addiction affected my sleep.

Gaining weight has helped me greatly in getting better sleep. But I also put other things into practice to help me sleep better. I created a sleep sheet that contains my favorite teas for relaxation, favorite bed time yoga routine and a couple of affirmations. You can download that here if sleep is something you struggle with. You can also watch this video where I share the best tips on how to get better sleep. 


Feeding Ourselves Outside of the Plate

In order for us to regain our health to get pregnant, we can’t just focus on eating healthy.

We need to focus on feeding ourselves outside the plate. You can eat all the kale and broccoli in the world, but if you’re dissatisfied in other areas of your life you’ll find yourself relapsing and never feeling fulfilled. Mental health is just as important if not more important to work on than physical health.

One of the most important things I can tell you in order to regain your health is that no one in the world is smarter than your own body. You are your own best doctor. No one can tell you exactly what to eat, not eat, or how much you should work out.

Your body is the smartest bio computer, it knows exactly what it needs in order to feel its best. If you choose to listen to it, it’ll be the best thing you could do for your health. Just because a specific diet, a specific workout routine and a specific lifestyle works perfectly for someone else, it doesn’t mean it’ll work for you.

Listen to your body, make mistakes and through trial and error, and you’ll learn better lessons than any doctor/specialist can give you.



Ritta is a certified Holistic Health Coach from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Her mission is to help women develop a healthy relationship with food, their body and exercise. Because she overcame Orthorexia, Depression, Exercise Addiction and Amenorrhea, she now coaches women who are going through similar struggles. You can connect with Ritta on here website And also connect on social media at YouTubeInstagramFacebook

Owning my Humanness: How My Postpartum Body Image Journey Challenged Me to Open Up Even Further

Owning my Humanness: How My Postpartum Body Image Journey Challenged Me to Open Up Even Further

by Kate Daigle, LPC

Therapists Are Humans Too!


I remember being 18 years old and sitting in my therapist’s office, looking at her sitting across the room from me and thinking to myself “she must be perfect. She must not have any of the problems that I have to be in her position.


This was the first therapist I was truly connected to, the one who supported me during the most crucial times of my eating disorder recovery. I put her on a pedestal and idolized her. This, of course, was something we processed and worked through and I grew to understand what was going on inside of me that projected these concepts on to her.


She was not, of course, perfect. She shared just enough with me for me to finally get that. Though I will admit that when I learned she also had faults, I was both relieved (“I can be imperfect too”), and devastated.


I was trying to heal a broken part of myself and I had the idea that if I found someone who had it “all together”, then I could be that too someday. So when I found out this was not possible, I experienced devastating loss which blossomed into a beautiful state of freedom and acceptance.


I have learned through my own recovery and also through my work as a therapist now that there is no such thing as “having it all together”. And if there was, it would be boring and unrealistic.


Often, the conversation comes up with my own clients that I am not perfect, I struggle with things, and that it is okay if they do too.


Breaking Down the Barriers to Connection

It feels to me sometimes that those of us in the helping profession — whether it be doctors, nurses, dentists, social workers, therapists, etc – are held to a standard that we need to uphold. That we must be the models of valor and the experts in our field. That we must not have faults.  That has at times to me felt a little bit suffocating, like we can’t be human too.


Granted, I fully believe in and respect that we do have an ethical responsibility to help others in the best way we can. We are put in a position of power in our relationships with our clients of which we must always be attuned.


But we must have shadows too. We must show some degree of humanness. This is how we connect most authentically with those who turn to us for help.


It would be like expecting your dentist to never get a cavity (I know I have wondered about this myself), or for your hairstylist to always have the most hip and perfect looking hair. What if your doctor gets sick or breaks an arm? What does that mean for our concept of what a doctor “should” be?

A recent post from Jenni Schaefer, author of the bestselling book Life Without Ed, inspired me to delve more into this topic.  She wrote:

“We are real people just like everyone else. How we feel about our bodies, what we eat and why, and how we react to family and friends varies from time to time. Yes, we have learned, as other professionals, to strive for balance. But, sometimes, the expectation is for us to have a so-called perfect balance of “mental and physical being.” Really?! Who decided that?!”

My Postpartum Body Image Journey

This has been on my mind more regularly as of late because I have been going through some of my own body image struggles.  At times I have looked at parts of my body with judgment instead of love.  This is when I know I need to check in with myself to see what else is going on.



I have had the thought: “I help others heal from body image issues and learn to love and accept themselves on a daily basis; how could I struggle with this too? Am I an imposter?”


I know this is not true. I know that by being aware of and owning my own humanness and imperfection, I am more available to support others in their own healing. But a little voice in my head sometimes likes to jump in and place doubt.


I had a baby 18 months ago and my body is different than it was prior to pregnancy. This is true for every woman who has a baby, and yet it feels like we need to “get our body back” (whatever that means) as soon as possible.


People, my body GREW A HUMAN. And then fed it for over a year after giving birth to it. Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you can possibly imagine? So, why is there so much shaming of women’s bodies?? Ugh, I’m so sick if it.


My experience loving my postpartum body has been one of the most raw, real, and healing processes that I have ever had.

Part of loving my body now is also about redefining who I am as a woman in my various roles. I am now a mother; I am also a wife, a business owner, a daughter, a sister, and many other things. I am not the same person as I was before becoming a mother. I’m stronger…deeper. I’m still learning (not sure that ever stops).

And just as my body is different, it’s stronger too because of its journey.


I’m choosing to embrace that. Even if that annoying little critic voice shows up from time to time.


That is okay. I choose kindness over judgment.


I hope that anyone who can relate to my story can also choose this for themselves. We are all a work in progress.  Please SHARE this post or comment if this speaks to you too!

Is It the Baby Blues or Am I Feeling Something Deeper? A Look Into Postpartum Mood Disorders

Today I am honored to feature the voice of Christie Sears Thompson on my blog!  Christie is a prominent Child, Couples, and Family Therapist with Trade Winds Therapy & Relationship Coaching in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. She is also a mom, wife, and recovering perfectionist. Christie specializes in helping new and young families find balance and harmony in their lives and relationships.

I had the pleasure of being a guest blogger on Christie’s blog last month — check out my post about how to maintain a strong relationship with your partner during the first year of your baby’s life and some real-life snapshots from the trenches of my own experience with this 🙂

Christie is one of the therapists I partner with and turn to when discussing pregnancy, postpartum and new parenthood topics and today she is discussing a very important topic that many of us have some connection with…

Is It the Baby Blues or Am I Feeling Something Deeper? A Look Into Postpartum Mood Disorders

by Christie Sears Thompson

Some people will tell you that the first year of marriage is the hardest on your relationship. I would argue that it’s the first year (at least) of your child’s life that brings much more conflict and struggle into a marriage. Of course, there are wonderful things about bringing a baby into the world. But it also has many challenges.

Introducing a child into your family is one of the most stressful transitions a couple will experience. Not only are you sleep deprived, being peed and pooped on, screamed at, and physically exhausted, but if you add in serious conditions like postpartum depression (PPD) or postpartum anxiety (PPA), it can be an almost unbearable time of life.

Postpartum Depression

You may have postpartum depression if you have had a baby within the last 12 months and are experiencing some of these symptoms:

  • You feel overwhelmed. Not like “hey, this new mom thing is hard.” More like “I can’t do this and I’m never going to be able to do this.” You feel like you just can’t handle being a mother. In fact, you may be wondering whether you should have become a mother in the first place.
  • You feel guilty because you believe you should be handling new motherhood better than this. You feel like your baby deserves better. You worry whether your baby can tell that you feel so bad, or that you are crying so much, or that you don’t feel the happiness or connection that you thought you would. You may wonder whether your baby would be better off without you.
  • You don’t feel bonded to your baby. You’re not having that mythical mommy bliss that you see on TV or read about in magazines. Not everyone with postpartum depression feels this way, but many do.
  • You can’t understand why this is happening. You are very confused and scared.
  • You feel irritated or angry. You have no patience. Everything annoys you. You feel resentment toward your baby, or your partner, or your friends who don’t have babies. You feel out-of-control rage.
  • You feel nothing. Emptiness and numbness. You are just going through the motions.

read more…

What About Postpartum Anxiety?

You may have postpartum anxiety or postpartum OCD if you have had a baby within the last 12 months and are experiencing some of these symptoms:

  • Your thoughts are racing. You can’t quiet your mind. You can’t settle down. You can’t relax.
  • You feel like you have to be doing something at all times. Cleaning bottles. Cleaning baby clothes. Cleaning the house. Doing work. Entertaining the baby. Checking on the baby.
  • You are worried. Really worried. All. The. Time. Am I doing this right? Will my husband come home from his trip? Will the baby wake up? Is the baby eating enough? Is there something wrong with my baby that I’m missing? No matter what anyone says to reassure you, it doesn’t help.
  • You may be having disturbing thoughts. Thoughts that you’ve never had before. Scary thoughts that make you wonder whether you aren’t the person you thought you were. They fly into your head unwanted and you know they aren’t right, that this isn’t the real you, but they terrify you and they won’t go away. These thoughts may start with the words “What if …”
  • You are afraid to be alone with your baby because of scary thoughts or worries. You are also afraid of things in your house that could potentially cause harm, like kitchen knives or stairs, and you avoid them like the plague.
  • You may feel the need to check things constantly. Did I lock the door? Did I lock the car? Did I turn off the oven? Is the baby breathing?
  • You may be having physical symptoms like stomach cramps or headaches, shakiness or nausea. You might even have panic attacks.

read more…

It Takes a Village

Even without the challenge of PPD or PPA, many couples have decreased satisfaction and increased conflict in their relationship after the birth of their baby. Research by Drs. John and Julie Gottman of The Gottman Institute proves that nearly 66% of all new parents report they are unhappy post-baby. Sadly, many couples power through it without support and may even end up dissolving their relationship. There is additional research stating that couples wait an average of seven years to get the help they need through counseling. By then, the conflict has become so hurtful and ingrained in their pattern of communication that it is too late for a large portion of these families to recover.

Add a mental illness complication to this equation and the terrain becomes more precarious. PPD and PPA are sometimes referred to as “baby blues”, but when the symptoms do not lessen after a few weeks, it may be time to reevaluate how to care for a parent who is struggling. PPD and PPA can affect either parent, not just the parent who gave birth. Symptoms may not even be present immediately. It’s important to keep an eye on both partners’ moods, communication patterns, reactions, and behaviors in the first 12-18 months post-baby.

Remember that help is always available as well. Contact family or friends for support, a babysitter who can give the parents a break, a professional counselor who is trained to help guide parents through this tough life transition, or a trusted physician who can medically evaluate and possibly prescribe medications.

Above all: there is no shame in reaching out. It truly takes a village not only to raise a child, but a family. There is danger in putting 100% of the focus on the child. Parental self-care and relationship-care are crucial in child rearing to develop and nurture a healthy family.

Christie Sears Thompson, MA, MFTC is a Child, Couples, and Family Therapist with Trade Winds Therapy & Relationship Coaching in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. She is also a mom, wife, and recovering perfectionist. Christie specializes in helping new and young families find balance and harmony in their lives and relationships. She can be reached at or you can follow her blog here:

When The Grass Appears Greener Over There: Using The Four Agreements to Embrace Your Own Messy, Amazing Life

The lens through which we perceive our life means everything.

We can see it through color, or we can see it through darkness and despair.

Has this ever happened to you?

You wake up one day and see that most things are out of place: the coffee stain on your white shirt that happened yesterday isn’t coming out, your dog/child is sick for the umpteenth time, you snap at your partner and can’t really figure out why, and you look in the mirror and only focus on the bags underneath your eyes. Your mind might wander in its tired and overwhelmed state: “if only I had {this house}, {this career}, {this income} {this family}, then it wouldn’t feel so bad.”


Then you open your social media account and see photos of smiling faces peering out at you from the top of a snow-capped mountain, or trapezing through the streets of Barcelona and you can’t remember the last time you left the state for vacation. There are photos of a friend’s newborn child, which just seem to dig you deeper into a hole of sadness as you compare their family to yours.


The Slippery Slope of Comparison


You start to slip into the Comparison Monster coma, and can’t help yourself from scrolling and scrolling and just feeling worse and worse. “Their life must be so much easier, and so much more joyful than mine.”  In my office I’ve heard so many times: “I just need to lose those last ten pounds.  Then I’d love myself!


This is a recipe for despair, depression, and self-pity. I’ve been there, and you might have been too.


The truth is, we don’t know and can’t know what it’s like to be in anyone else’s shoes, and assuming that they must have a ‘perfect life’ just leads for us to suffer more. No one has a ‘perfect life’, everyone feels pain, loss, joy, and the plethora of emotions that we are capable of feeling and that is what makes us human. We grow and learn from these emotions.  We create connections and love from feeling ALL of the emotions.

As one of my favorite researchers, Brene Brown says: “We can’t select which emotions we want to feel.  If we don’t want to feel pain, we can’t feel love or joy either.”


How we cope with life’s ups and downs can have a significant impact on our mental health, and it is something we have a choice about!


The Four Agreements as a Guide to Self-Acceptance


Recently I had the opportunity to hear Don Miguel Ruiz and his sons speak. Don Miguel is the author of The Four Agreements, which is a reknowned book offering insight into “the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering”. The gentleness and wisdom of his spirit reverberated throughout the room and it was easy to understand why he has become such a powerful force.


He outlines Four Agreements which can help us find more peace in our lives, even if they are messy and imperfect.


1st Agreement: Be Impeccable With Your Word

“When you are impeccable, you take responsibility for your actions, but you do not judge or blame yourself.”


2nd Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally

“Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.”


3rd Agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions

“The way to keep yourself from making assumptions is to ask questions. Make sure the communication is clear. If you don’t understand, ask. Have the courage to ask questions until you are as clear as you can be.”


4th Agreement: Always Do Your Best

Under any circumstance, always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Everything is alive and changing all the time, so your best will sometimes be high quality, and other times it will not be as good.”

(Source: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz)

This does not mean never making a mistake or feeling pain, but living your life authentically, honestly, and mindfully. He states: “The first step toward personal freedom is awareness. We need to be aware that we are not free in order to be free. We need to be aware of what the problem is in order to solve the problem.”


How the Agreements Can Help You Find Self-Acceptance


Here are just a few of the ways that these Agreements have helped me as well as some of my clients:



Often times when we are not being mindful of our boundaries, we can become more reactive and less present, which can lead to feeling overwhelmed and suffering.

I know that when I take on others’ emotions too deeply, that I have some tending to do of my own needs and feelings. The 2nd Agreement has guided me to try to define what is mine and what is not mine and to not take things too personally.


Self-Care and Self-Assurance

The 4th agreement has encouraged my clients to learn about who they are, what matters to them, and to do their best to live their lives in alignment with those values. If I have a value of honesty and then I am dishonest with my partner, I am going to suffer and potentially my relationships will as well because of this. Doing my best means knowing and accepting who I am and knowing that I have a lot to offer. So do you!


Connection and Closeness

The 3rd Agreement offers the opportunity to ask questions from a place of openness. Assumptions only cut us off from the world, from support, and from creating close relationships.  When we make assumptions we are doing so from a place of deeper pain. Open and clear communication with ourselves and with our support system helps us stay present and non-judgmental.


How can you use the Four Agreements to help guide yourself to recognize the gifts and strengths you possess in your own life?

Three Things I Never Thought I’d Be Grateful For in 2016

Three Things I Never Thought I’d Be Grateful For in 2016 + Happy Holidays!

By Kate Daigle, MA, LPC

Happy holidays from Kate Daigle Counseling!!

2016 has been a remarkable year all around, marking my 6th anniversary serving clients in private practice and in the community, and it has been a year that has brought personal and professional growth to me in a way I had never experienced before.

I celebrated the birth of my first child in March and becoming a mother has deepened my human  capacity to feel for love, fear, hope, grief, and sadness among other emotions immensely.  I am so very grateful to the community of family, friends, doulas, fellow sleepless mothers, my husband, and yes, my clients for allowing me to grow and explore this additional role in my life in such a meaningful way.

What has surprised me are several things that I’ve found I am truly grateful for this year that I might not have expected to be.  I wanted to share this list with you as perhaps it could help you reframe or discover healing and growth in your own lives in unique ways.

Three Things I NEVER Thought I’d be Grateful For in 2016

1.) Sleepless Nights.  Whhhhaaat?

Okay, not really.  I love love love my sleep and it is a huge part of my mental and physical health.  Having a new baby certainly throws you for a loop in this department and shows you in not-so-subtle ways that you actually are NOT in control!
When my daughter would wake up, especially in those early weeks, and wants to eat and cuddle, my heart swelled 5 sizes. You know how the Grinch’s heart swelled 10 times bigger than it ever was? Well, my heart wasn’t quite as small as his was initially 🙂  but this time offered me pause and an opportunity for reflection.  Those quiet moments actually were times where I was able to most clearly reflect on what is important to me in my personal life as well as in my professional life and truly grounded me.
This mindful nightly pause has contributed to more presence in sessions, being more connected to who I am, and deepened my capacity to empathize with clients whom I serve.  And the good news is that I am sleeping much better now 🙂

2.) Rebuilding my practice from (what felt like) scratch:
I took three months off to be with my daughter, and at the end of those three months I thought that I would return to my practice and it would fill up quickly to be where it was before I left.
This was not actually the case.  Many clients were on other journeys and doing really well, or seeing other therapists where they were thriving.  It was wonderful to see them using their wings and flying 🙂
This also meant I needed to rebuild, renew, and redefine who I was and how I wanted my practice to look.  Who am I? Am I different in some way now? Who do I serve?
It’s still a work in progress, but I am happy to say that my practice is thriving again and I believe this is due to two things 1) Really honing in on who I AM, who I serve most effectively, and knowing who I CANNOT help and referring them out to qualified colleagues and 2) Setting very clear boundaries, with my time, my structure of my practice, and my own self care.

Whoa, this is hard sometimes but it is essential to being able to be present both in my career and at home.

3.) Losses that I have experienced.

Whether it is the loss of a relationship, a hope, a pregnancy, a fantasy, the promise of the first female President, or anything else, loss is something that guts us all the way down to the depths of our soul and challenges us to ask: can we survive?

The answer, I’ve found, is YES.

Many many people survive loss and have to truly look at their capacity to be resilient because of this.  While 2016 has brought birth and blessings in SO many ways, there have also been several significant and painful losses.  Our capacity to survive loss also deepens our capacity to experience love and to connect with and heal with others.  I sit with clients every day who have survived immense loss and I hope that they can feel safe to know that I am in it with them.

Here is something I am not surprised at all to be grateful for: my community and my clients.  THANK YOU for your support and for inviting me to be a part of your life.  I am so very grateful to be able to do the work I do and it fills me to the brim with hope for our planet to heal and connect in peace and not in conflict.

Wishing you and your loved ones a very safe, joyous, and FUN holiday season!

Photo credit: frankieleon via / CC BY
Photo credit: Claricethebakergardener via / CC BY-ND

Post-Election Repair: Three Steps to Not Losing your Sh*t when Election Results Don’t Go your Way

Your phone rings. You look at your screen and notice it is your relative calling you, your family member who voted for the candidate who won the presidency, the candidate whom you did not vote for.

Suddenly all of the sadness, fear, grief, anger, and worry flood over you again. You have been feeling waves of these emotions for the last two days.

Sometimes they are so intense that you burst into tears.

Sometimes they hurt so much that you want to curl up in a ball and hide. It’s a situation that you don’t know how to handle, an unprecedented time of uncertainty and feeling out of control.


Coping With Feelings of Grief and Sadness

These experiences are being felt all over our country right now. No matter who you voted for, you are aware of an energy of divisiveness, fear and judgment that has percolated into our souls like a poisonous drip over the past year and a half.

Stress of this kind shows up in our bodies in somewhat unusual and perhaps unrecognizable ways – physical exhaustion, irritability, difficulty focusing, using destructive behaviors to self-soothe (or to attempt to), digestive problems, sleeping problems, volatility in your closest relationship because you don’t know how else to cope, avoidance, among many others.

The future is uncertain. What will happen next is unknown in many ways, and this can feed our fear even stronger. So what do we do? How do we discuss this with our children when we can’t wrap our heads around it ourselves?

Fear has run rampant in our country ever since the beginning of this election season and it came to a head Tuesday night when the country became more divided than ever before. Fear breeds hate.  We must not feed the hate.


Three Steps to Taking Care of Yourself and Finding Meaning in Despair

I certainly don’t have all of the answers on how to get through this difficult and trying time, but I have been leaning on many of my loved ones and listening to how they are coping. I’ve learned some quite amazing and …hopeful… things.  Here are a few ideas:

1.)  Let yourself feel. Many of us are in shock. Shock affects our nervous system in intense ways, slowing down our responsiveness and our abilities to integrate our minds with our bodies effectively. We are more susceptible to reacting with WHY and HOW COULD YOU, than responding with mindfulness. This will ease up.

 But for now, taking care of yourself and your loved ones in ANY way you need to is our           priority. Leave work early to go home and cry in your bed; call upon your neighbor to come sit with you and hold your hand; attend a gathering in your local community. Don’t try to change your emotions today. They are there for a reason and need to be given space to run their course. It won’t always feel this intense.

2.) Set boundaries. How might you mindfully address the family member in the beginning of this post? Give yourself permission to kindly and gently tell them that you are not able to talk with them right now and that you love them. That you will call them back later when you feel more able to come up with words to speak. This is on your own timeline, there is no deadline.

This is how boundaries are enforced: by identifying your need and your emotion, by recognizing who and want can either help with those needs or who might hurt those needs, and then communicating with them what needs to be in place so you can move forward.

Set boundaries with news sources and with social media. Social media can be a way of connecting with others who feel your pain, but it also can easily become an obsession and lead to more suffering. Choose your battles, and know when to turn it off.

3.) Lean in and come together. This is one of the most beautiful results of the recent election that I have witnessed so far. When we are united in pain, we can move forward to heal it. Connect with your neighbor and smile at them. Organize with your community to rally for local causes that matter to you. Volunteer. Attend a spiritual service. Recognize that we will get through this, stronger together than divided.


Nurture Your Spiritual Self

I’m noticing within myself a need to reconnect with my own spirituality as my soul has felt hurt and broken recently. I have wanted to avoid feeling things instead of trying to be with them and understand them.

I know that I tend to this part of myself when I am in nature. I am uncertain how else I can heal it, but I do know that spirituality connects us with a part of ourselves that is empowered to heal us. How can you connect with your spirituality?


Repairing with Love Instead of Dividing with Hate

In closing, I want to touch on how we might repair the love and connection that our society so desperately craves right now. We all make assumptions about people….this is a huge part of why there is so much fear, hate and judgment in our country right now.

We fear and we judge what we don’t know. Fear loses its power when we open up and allow.

The person who has different views than you do, whether they are a family member or friend or just someone you see walking down the street: try to offer them loving-kindness. Even if it doesn’t seem to make sense. Even if it feels like the most difficult thing to do in that moment.  You don’t know what it is like to be in their shoes, and if we can try to accept and allow instead of judge, then we’re one step closer to finding hope in our lives once again.


Steps to Self Compassion

Here is a mediation adapted from HeartMath that teaches us how to practice compassion for ourselves and for others:

  1. Recognize what you are feeling.
  2. Focus in your heart area and breathe in love for about a minute.
  3. Now breathe self-compassion through the heart area and throughout your entire body for a few minutes.
  4. Find a still, quiet place inside where you can feel this compassion. If negative thoughts or feelings about yourself arise in the mind, gently return your focus to the heart area.
  5. Radiate compassion out from your heart to any issues you are addressing – perceived failure, a feeling of inadequacy, insecurity or self-pity – with an honest understanding of what you are going through. Continue to do this for a few minutes, longer if needed, all the while creating within a heart-filled environment of compassion.


I’d love for you to leave a comment with any ideas you have for how to persevere despite adversity and how you have taken care of yourself in a time of turmoil and pain.  We are stronger together!

Mind Over Matter: When Grieving Your Postpartum Body Opens the Door to Acceptance

Today I am excited to continue my blog series about pregnancy and postpartum experiences with body image and recovery.  I am very fortunate to feature the voice of a local Denver therapist Brittni Fudge, who has a specialty in helping new parents navigate the trials and tribulations of parenthood, and she comes with a plethora of experience as a parent to three children herself. She writes today about accepting your body after pregnancy…from a unique perspective.


Mind Over Matter: When Grieving Your Postpartum Body Opens the Door to Acceptance

By Brittni Fudge, MA, NCC, LPCC

Pregnancy and the postpartum years bring so much change—it seems not an aspect of life is left unchanged. Aside from the obvious physical changes in my body as my baby grew from the size of a blueberry to a pumpkin, my body has never functioned like it did pre-pregnancy.

Even though my youngest is 3 years old, I am still trying to get my pre-pregnancy body back… not in terms of weight or size, but in terms of its function. For me, carrying and delivering three babies has impacted the way I walk, stand, my posture, and my hips.

I’ve seen seven different physical therapists and one surgeon who all say in a knowing voice, “well, pregnant-bellyyou’ve had three kids” as they assess my hip and pelvis function. I’ve had two hip labrum reconstruction surgeries and over a year after the last surgery, I am still seeing a physical therapist to try to sit, walk and stand without pain.

In the past eight years, roughly three of those years were spent in pregnancy, three in the postpartum period, and a year and a half (and counting) have been spent on recovering from hip surgery. That leaves about a year of fairly problem-free issues.

All of this has taken a toll not only on my body, but my mind. There are days when I have been so angry with my body and the fact that my functioning causes me pain that I can’t think of anything else. There are several days when I pass a runner on the street and will find myself fighting off tears knowing how far away I am from that goal.

Once I heard one of my favorite running songs come on the radio and started crying on the spot. This is all fairly abnormal for me, but it speaks to the degree to which I’ve been ignoring my feelings about all of this. Even as a therapist who knows the value of acknowledging and processing feelings, it has been easier to shove them down and focus on something else (which let’s face it, with three kids, I’m constantly focused on their needs instead of my own).

Lately though, I’ve started to grieve the functioning I’ve lost and am looking forward to continued healing. I’ve learned that my body is more resilient than I give it credit for. I am realizing that on the days when I can’t ignore the pain for more than a few minutes, I have to remember how resilient my body has been. What I’ve noticed is that when my mind can be as resilient as my body has been, my pain decreases. My frustration with my body can quiet a bit and I can truly see how far I’ve come. This lesson has been my saving grace.

Whether pregnancy and the postpartum journey have left you frustrated with how you feel in your body or how you look in the mirror or, let’s face it, the fact that you no longer can sit through an hour long meeting without having to pee, there are some things we can do to view our bodies from a place of peace and acceptance rather than contempt and frustration.

Here are a few practices I do to help:

  1. I keep a gratitude journal – Gratitude has been proven in tons of studies to be one of the largest predictor of increased wellbeing. Taking a few moments to write down what I’m grateful for keeps me focused on the positive while giving me an opportunity to look back at how far I’ve come. (For example, in April 2015 I wrote “I’m thankful my surgeon says the surgery went well” while in May 2015 I wrote “I’m thankful for my ice machine that helps with the pain” and in May 2016 I wrote “I’m thankful I could do two Walk+Talk sessions (link to with minimal pain).
  2. I repeat positive mantras to myself. These include:
  • I can do this.
  • My body is getting stronger and more flexible every day.
  • You got this.
  • Chin up.
  • It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
  1. I adjust my expectations and try new things. For a long time I was in an exercise rut out of necessity, as my injuries didn’t allow me to do much. But then for a long time I was in an exercise rut out of habit and fear.

walking-photoAfter 6 months (yes, half a year!) of debating whether I should try my neighborhood Bar Method Studio, I finally made myself try it. And although it was so hard in the beginning, I found out there were so many things my body could do that I didn’t realize was possible.

I became stronger, more flexible, and my pain started to decrease a bit! Next on my list is to try cycling and yoga. It might take me 6 more months before I actually try it, but I’m adjusting my expectations and realizing there’s a lot more out there than running. It turns out that an endorphin boost from Bar Method or walking is just as good as the endorphin boosts I miss from running.

What this all comes down to is what I was taught as a young competitive swimmer: mind over matter. While I had been focusing so much on how weak my body had become, I was given the opportunity to strengthen my mind to overcome these weaknesses. It’s still a difficult battle that I fight every day, but with mind over matter, my good days are starting to outnumber my bad days. And I am forever grateful for the lesson.




brittni_1_49Brittni Fudge owns Kindred Counseling, PLLC, where she provides counseling for moms in all stages of motherhood. Brittni’s first role is a mother of three children under age seven, and is also a mental health therapist, Love & Logic facilitator, parent coach, and former school counselor. Brittni is on a mission to support mothers in their mental health so they can be fully present with their littles.


Back to School, Back to Relapse? How to Start Fresh this Fall Without Losing Your Recovery

people-woman-coffee-meeting-largeThe crispness in the air. The energy of excitement and anticipation that reverberates among your peers, your teachers, yourself. Maybe you’re moving into the dorms for the first time…or your first apartment away from home.  You’re attending the homecoming football game and dreaming of what the year will bring.

We all know what it’s like to start another school year.  Sometimes you’re going back to the same school, one grade older.  Sometimes you’re starting a new middle or high school, or even going away to college.  There’s the unpredictable — who you will meet, what you will learn, how you will change.  There’s also the underlying anxiety and nervousness of “will people like me?”, and “will I be accepted?”

As a popular blog post of mine noted, Back to School Stress can show up in many forms, and sometimes the overwhelming feeling of expectations and rules leads to the development of disordered eating or unhealthy body image as a method of ‘coping’.

How do you deal with it all without losing your self?  

Here’s what I learned (the hard way) and what I help my clients learn (in a healthier way): manage your expectations, discover what really matters to you (and what doesn’t), and find productive ways of dealing with stress.  This could be:

  • Set up a schedule for yourself of when you will study/have free time/sleep/eat, etc so that you can plan for everything you need to get done in a day.
  • DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF to others…I know, this can be difficult to do.  However, you are on your own path, at school for your own personal reasons, and have your own unique talents that will guide you.  Try to focus on that instead of getting caught up in the comparison game.
  • Plan for downtime!  What do you like to do for fun? Play soccer? Go hiking? Write poetry? Make sure to create space for all of this…it is essential to your success.
  • Know who you can talk to if you need help.  Is there a parent, teacher, counselor that you can turn to if you feel stuck, lonely or depressed?
  • Recognize the triggers and warning signs:  How do you know you’re on a destructive path?

Disordered eating (they don’t have to be full-blown eating disorders to be dangerous!) can show up in the form of restricting amount and type of food; it can trigger a feeling that you can never exercise enough and that “goal” weight just keeps getting smaller; in other instances, disordered behavior can involve bingeing on food until you cannot feel anymore, and then purging or using laxatives.

All of these behaviors, in some combination or another, really underline the emotional pain that is underneath.  It is a pain that pangs as you wonder if being yourself, as you truly are, is “good enough”.  It is a vicious cycle of being ashamed or embarrassed by these behaviors that you do not understand, and in turn hiding or lying about these behaviors because they have, at some point, “helped” to cope with overwhelming feelings.  These behaviors in fact make the pain worse, and feelings of isolation and despair continue to intensify.

What can you do? Whether you are a parent, friend, or person affected by an eating disorder or body image struggle, first know that you are NOT ALONE.  With over 10 million women and 1 million men (reported by the National Eating Disorders Association) showing symptoms of an eating disorder, the epidemic is growing and impacting us all.