New Year’s Resolutions? How About Embracing Ourselves As We Are?

Happy New Year!  

flat,550x550,075,f2013 is opening up as a bright, fresh breath of air, full of possibilities!  How do you approach the New Year?  Are you one who makes resolutions to change something, start something or stop something?  Are you one to focus on deepening practices that you are already currently doing?  Whatever your approach, the underlying theme that I hear from clients (and from myself!) is: I want to be happy and healthy.  This is a very doable, energized mindset — but what if you are setting yourself up to fail?  The way that we approach this goal is critical to our end result.

The #1 New Year’s Resolution in America is to lose weight.  We have all been there.  I have been there.  I committed myself to working out every day for 30 minutes and had a “goal weight” that I wanted to reach by a “goal date”.  Then, when my stamina for getting up early to go work out wore down, I felt badly about myself.  When I wanted those delicious foods that I really enjoy but couldn’t have them because they weren’t part of my “diet”, I felt badly about myself.  When I lost 10 pounds, I felt proud, like I had accomplished a goal (more of an uphill climb). .  . but then that satisfaction wore off and the weight I’d lost came right on back.  I felt devastated.  This is very common.  Why?

Why does weight loss have such a powerful and motivating force upon us?  It can make us feel elated — for a while.  Then when it’s not sustainable it can make us feel some of those uncomfortable feelings (guilt. . . shame. . . disappointment) . . .when we don’t “succeed” at it.  This sets us up to continually feel badly about ourselves, initiating a cycle of dieting and deprivation that only leads down a road of misery and yearning for that chocolate chip cookie.  Dieting is the leading cause of eating disorders (note: not everyone who goes on a diet develops an eating disorder, however, the diet mentality is a strong trigger for those who might be at risk for eating disorders) and can also lead to bingeing, purging, and other self-destructive behaviors.  Losing weight can “talk a big talk” and convince us that we will love ourselves if only we weighed X amount.  It sure is convincing — and a lot of pressure!  What’s the deeper need? And how can we meet that as well?

I’m not saying that it’s not okay to have goals, intentions, motivations — I think those can be very healthy and enriching things!  I am asking us to contemplate the types of goals that we set and the reasons we are setting them.  As I mentioned earlier, the most common desire for those setting resolutions is to be happy and healthy.  Yes, for some this means losing weight in order to lower blood pressure or decrease the risk of diabetes or other health-related reasons.  For those who are looking to lose weight so that they will feel better about themselves, I believe that there has to be more to it than that.  Just losing weight is not going to make you feel better about yourself (see above).  In face, it may have the opposite effect (again, see above).

I ask you: what are you really looking for?  What do you truly need?

Some answers might be:happiness-1

  • happiness
  • self-acceptance
  • self-esteem
  • self-love
  • energy
  • feeling healthier
  • being accepted by others
  • fitting in
  • having something to be proud of

…and others.  Does weight loss bring these things to you?  I want to invite a radical idea:  what if you accepted yourself just as you are today?  What if you didn’t need to change/add/subtract/stop anything about yourself to be happy and accepted?  Close your eyes for one minute and try to imagine what that might be like.  You. Are. Beautiful. Just. As. You. Are. !  These are intentions that foster recovery from eating disorders, addictions, low self-esteem, and other issues.

Special New Year’s bonus:  Download my “NewYearsIntentions” handout that encourages reflection of the past year and includes a guided meditation to embrace intentions for 2013.  I hope that this year is a happy, balanced, nourishing year for you all!

Looking for a guide on your journey of self-discovery?  Send me an email and let’s chat! I offer a complimentary consultation to explore what this exciting chapter of your life might look like!


Kate Daigle Counseling Holiday Newsletter – May You Have a Peaceful Holiday Season!

holiA few months into my third year of private practice, I am reflective and grateful for the gifts I have been given since I opened my doors in August 2010.  The courage, resiliency, and hope that is experienced and shared by my clients strikes me each and every day as I walk with them on their journeys.  The professional colleagues and mentors that support me, offer me consultation and their expertise, and encourage me with a new perspective when I might feel stuck — I am so grateful for you!  Kate Daigle Counseling is thriving and and growing and I could not do this alone!  I’m eager and excited for what 2013 brings and am looking forward to offering support, hope, and empathy to those who are taking steps to make their lives as happy and healthy as they can be.  I am offering a special discount for new clients in January and am pleased to offer two new workshops in the beginning of 2013.  More details? Contact Kate!

Our nation has experienced a challenging year and as 2012 draws to an end, I hold in my heart those who are in pain, who have lost a loved one this year, who are in recovery from a mental health concern, or who are coping with difficult events.  I stand encouraged that in the wake of tragedy, we come together with love and hold each other up.  We are our each other’s greatest healers.

A Happy and Healthy Holiday Season To You, and a BRIGHT New Year!

holi2

(This is a portion of Kate Daigle Counseling’s Holiday Newsletter; if you would like to be added to the mailing list to receive the full newsletter, please sign up on the homepage, or email Kate)


Eeyore’s Very Bad Day? A Powerful Message of Acceptance Through the Lens of ‘Winnie The Pooh’

images-7Growing up, I spent many giggly hours watching ‘Winnie the Pooh’ and reading the books about Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit, Owl, Roo, Kanga, Christopher Robin, and all of their friends.  As an adult, I look at these stories and realize the powerful messages they send us: unconditional love and acceptance, the beauty of simplicity, that we are all unique and different.  The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet offer extended meditations on these lessons of peace and understanding.

Today I re-watched one of my favorite episodes, “Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore”.  The psychotherapist in me couldn’t help but focus on the different roles adopted by the characters as well as the humanity in the story.  This particular episode centered on Eeyore, the gloomy donkey with a rain cloud perpetually hanging over his head.  Many of us, myself included, can identify with the sadness and despondency that envelopes Eeyore each day.  Perhaps there is a part of you that really relates to this.  Do you allow this part to have a voice?  Do you push it away and try to ignore it because it feels consuming and dreary?  Do you judge it and tell it that it doesn’t belong?  These actions are the very thing that Eeyore fears. . . that being himself is too heavy for anyone else to love or accept.

When Eeyore goes to hide away and isolate, Pooh goes to find him and try to understand why he is so gloomy that images-8day.  Pooh, finding out it’s Eeyore’s birthday, goes to round up his friends to bring him gifts and celebrate.  Of course, things go awry (Pooh, unable to control himself, eats the honey that he was bringing for Eeyore, and Piglet trips on his balloon gift and it pops).  In the end, all of these characters, who might represent parts of ourselves, sit down at a table and celebrate Eeyore’s birthday.  Giving Eeyore space, love, acceptance, attention, and not trying to change him in any way — these actions allowed Eeyore to feel safe and enjoy himself after all.  He found that the popped balloon fit better in the (empty) jar of honey than it would have it it was still intact — showing us all that sometimes when things don’t go as planned, they actually turn out better.  The silver lining of an unpredicted experience.

Who are the parts of you?  Do you have a Tigger — a part that struggles to focus or commit, sometimes says or does the wrong thing but is lovable just the same?  Do you have a Piglet — a worrier who wants everything to be okay but doesn’t always know the answer?  Do you have a Pooh — a thinker, with great ideas, a peace-keeper, also lovable for his faults?  An Owl — wise, knowing, but overcompensating for not being perfect?  An Eeyore — gloomy, sad, despondent, brought to life and empowered when his voice is heard and validated?  Can all of these parts of you sit down at a table and share a birthday celebration without judgment, exile or banishment?

As Pooh says at the end of this story: “Everybody’s alright, really”.  This is a very healing perspective on the essence of human nature — after all, Pooh is the bear that can heal us all.

Take a look at the video yourself and share your perspectives on what Pooh and his friends can teach us — as children, but even more meaningfully as adults.

 


The Power of Vulnerability: “It’s where courage meets fear”

Close your eyes.  Take a deep breath.  Try to think about the last time that you felt vulnerable.  What were the circumstances?  Do you remember what it felt like?  How would you describe that feeling?  How did the feeling show up in your body?

Was it akin to: feeling open and naked, wondering if you are going to fall off that very high limb that you just put yourself out on?  Out of control?  Free-falling?  Terrifying?  Exposed?  These all might be words to describe the feeling of vulnerability — among many others.  I’m currently engrossed in Dr. Brene Brown‘s newest book: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead in which Dr. Brown spends a lot of time uncovering different facets of vulnerability and tells her own story with this concept that many of us seem to avoid.

Dr. Brown’s definition of vulnerability invited me to pause and truly reflect on my own relationship with being vulnerable.  She describes it as:

“I define vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. With that definition in mind, let’s think about love. Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love us back, whose safety we can’t ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moment’s notice, who may be loyal to the day they die or betray us tomorrow — that’s vulnerability.”

Reading that might cause a ripple of anxiety go up and down your spine.  Our society today has adopted a kind of fear mentality that breeds anxiety and avoids vulnerability.  We have been through so much in the past decade — war, violence, loss, recession — that we feel we must protect ourselves.  But what Dr. Brown asserts, and what many of us might now know, is that being vulnerable comes from a place of power.  “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, creativity, belonging, joy, courage, and empathy.  It is the source of hope, accountability, and authenticity.  If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path,” asserts Dr. Brown.

In short, vulnerability is feeling and feeling is connection to our life’s purpose.

In perusing this, I reflected on my own life story and the character that vulnerability has played.  What has it taught me?  How has it helped me grow?  In exploring this, I am able to help my clients find their own empowerment through vulnerability (while holding space for fear of exploring this topic).

Here are some things that I have done that have made me vulnerable:

  • started my own business
  • explored my own emotions, feelings, and dark spots
  • chosen recovery and didn’t look back
  • fell in love
  • used my voice and asserted myself with risk of losing a relationship
  • pushed myself to take risks that I hadn’t done before

And this is how I felt: naked, somewhat raw, but also solid.  Dr. Brown surveyed many people with this same question — what did you do to be vulnerable and how did it feel? — and the most common response was “naked”.  Naked is what we are when we were born and despite all of the layers we put on throughout the years of our lives, naked vulnerability is the place where we find the inner peace we’re looking for.  Why?  Because we are expressing ourselves honestly, directly, and wholeheartedly, a light shining from our true selves.  When we are our true, open self, we are in touch with emotions that make us human — all shades of emotions, from “dark” ones to “light” ones.  And if we can offer acceptance and not judgement to our wide range of emotions, then we are able to overcome challenges and build resiliency.

Dr. Brown suggests that we shy away from vulnerability because we feel we need a “shield” in a society that constantly tells us that we “don’t have enough” or that we “aren’t enough”.  This passage, taken from the book The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist, really struck me:

“For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is “I didn’t get enough sleep.”  The next one is “I don’t have enough time”.  Whether true or not, that thought of “not enough” occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it.  We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of. . . Before we even sit up in bed, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something.  This internal condition of scarcity lives at the very heart of our jealousies, our greed, our prejudice, our arguments with life. . . “

What if we embraced that we are enough just as we are today?  We don’t need to do anything else?  Would that make being vulnerable less scary?  What change might happen if we were to embrace vulnerability?  And what if being vulnerable was the vehicle for the change that you’re yearning for?

As we continue to explore the complexities of vulnerability and its relationship to shame and other emotions, please take a look at Dr. Brown’s talk about the power of vulnerability — a video that has touched people around the world.

How can you “dare greatly” today?


Gratitude in Recovery: What I Learned from my Eating Disorder and What You Can Too

I love this time of year because there is so much energy given to gratitude.  Thanksgiving is a holiday that may bring trepidation and anxiety to folks recovering from eating disorders such as bulimia, anorexia, or binge eating disorder, but it is also a day where we are invited to sit down and be thankful for what we have.

There’s not a day that goes by where I am not giving thanks for my recovery from my eating disorder.  As I sit and hold space with my clients who are finding their own journey to recovery, I am regularly reminded of my own process and the steps that brought me to where I am today.

The recovery process of an eating disorder is fraught with ups, downs, twists, and turns, and many frustrations and confusions about these peaks and valleys.  Why can’t I just stop these behaviors? some might wonder….or, Why am I not able to see myself the way that others do?  I have had to answer these questions myself, and the passion I felt for my own health and healing ignited my career path to becoming a psychotherapist who helps others get here too.  Sometimes my clients and I contemplate what they could learn from their eating disorder.  What is its function?  What are its needs?  What is it trying to tell you? And even: What is it wanting to help you with?

I know, thinking of an eating disorders as “helpful”  might seem bizarre and unconventional.  Eating disorders are painful, destructive, and demeaning, you might say.  I agree — they are those things.  But by looking at it in a new way, in one that invites gratitude and healing instead of illness and pain, we might find a more peaceful path towards the end goal: recovery.

In the spirit of gratitude and thanks, I wanted to offer some insight into what I learned from my eating disorder (perhaps that I might not have learned in the same way if I hadn’t ever had an eating disorder) — and what you can too.

What My Eating Disorder Offered to Me and How My Recovery is Deeper Because of It:

  • I have feelings.  Some muddy.  Some sticky.  Some smelly.  And they are all ok!  I remember that before I developed an eating disorder, I experienced many complex and somewhat foreign feelings (maybe part of being a pre-teen!) and I didn’t know what to do with them.  I pushed many of them — ones that felt ‘unacceptable’ — inside and tried to forget about them.  Oh how they grew and festered!  This then caused me to feel overwhelmed and not know what to do with them.  Disordered eating was one way of trying to manage.  In my recovery, I have learned to find ways to sit with and sit through all of the feelings I experience and to understand that they are part of what it means to be a human being.  I am grateful for all of my emotions, as they give me depth, character, and space to grow.
  • I can eat!.  When I embarked on recovery, one of my biggest fears was that I wouldn’t be able to eat foods that I really loved and feel satisfied by them.  I worried that my relationship with food would always be somewhat warped and abnormal.  I am so grateful for the relationship I have with food and eating today.  There is truly nothing  that I tell myself that I cannot eat, and I check in with my body daily to ask it what it is wanting.  When I am able to do that, I can eat until I am satisfied, enjoy my meal, and leave the table knowing I can have it again tomorrow if I wish.  Freedom from destructive eating behaviors is so liberating and my whole view on food has shifted!
  • I know myself pretty damn well.  One of the requirements for recovery from an eating disorder is a willingness to explore, accept, and challenge yourself.  Through my recovery journey, I have deepened my connection with my body, I have found acceptance with my emotions and feelings, and I have developed a peaceful perspective about who I am and what makes me unique.  These are things that I believe I learned so deeply (because I had to)  in my recovery and I’m not sure that I would have explored myself so intricately if I hadn’t developed an eating disorder.  I am still always growing, learning, and changing, and will forever be on a quest of self-discovery — and I feel like my eating disorder allowed me to be open to that challenge.
  • My body is mine.  And it’s beautiful.  I was walking down the street yesterday, noticing my steps, my pace, the way my feet felt in my shoes.  I realized that I didn’t want any other body.  I spent so many years wishing I had a different body.  But if I had a different body — blue eyes instead of brown, etc — then I wouldn’t be me.  I am the only person who could be me, and this body is a gift that I am given the responsibility to take care of.  And it will give back to me a hundred-fold.  And it does.

These are a few thoughts that came up as I was contemplating gratitude today, Thanksgiving Eve.  I learn new things every day that I am grateful for in my recovery as well as things that my eating disorder has taught me.

I invite you to think about what you are grateful for today and every day and to foster some energy in that direction.  If you have recovered from or are in recovery from an eating disorder, what are you taking from the process?  What do you want to look back on in ten years and remember about this journey?

Recovery is lifelong.  Every day brings a new opportunity to utilize skills, tools, and learnings from our life’s path.  And I’m always growing and learning.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving.  I am grateful for all of you!

Are you looking for support on your journey to recovery?  Please contact me today or call me at (720) 340-1443 to schedule a complimentary consultation!


Getting to know your inner critic — and enlisting his or her help!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am enrolled in a writing class through Original Impulse where I am delving deep and becoming more connected to my writer self.  This week, we did an exercise where we introduced ourselves to our inner critic (or gremlin) and tried to get to know it instead of avoid it.  This technique made me think of principles in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), as it encourages going into the emotion and engaging it with acceptance instead of trying to rid ourselves of it.

I often work with my clients in a similar way to identify and get to know their critic voice.  For those struggling with an eating disorder such as bulimia, anorexia, or binge eating, there can be an “eating disorder voice” or “critic voice” that speaks negatively or destructively to them and damages self-esteem and healthy coping.  In getting to know the voice, speaking back to it, individuating ourselves from it, we can feel empowered and free.  We can even utilize the voice’s power for our own good — try to understand what it needs, what it wants, and how it can help us instead of harm us.

I thought I’d share the exercise we did in writing class, altered slightly to speak to the eating disorder voice or whatever the critical voice means for each of us.  We all have an Inner Critic.  How can we reach across the aisle and enlist his/her support?

When we challenge ourselves or commit to a difficult task (like recovery), sometimes our inner critic can get LOUDER and try to convince us that the effort isn’t worth it.  Have you ever had that experience?  This is common, so if you come across it don’t let the critic voice get in the way of pursuing your goals.  Instead, get  to know it  — give him or her some direct attention:

  • What’s your inner critic’s gender? Name?
  • What’s his or her favorite color, game, food?
  • Where does she live?
  • How big is she? How old is she?
  • Try to engage in a dialogue with your Inner Critic

Once you have a clearer picture of your Inner Critic’s way of life and personality, you can separate yourself from her and notice your voice as opposed to hers.

Some tactics in working with your Inner Critic:

  • Instead of discounting or deflecting her voice, notice her and then set her aside.  When she’s been acknowledged and your voice is distinctively used beside her, she loses some of her power over you.

If your Inner Critic is full of “should’s” and is driven towards perfectionism (as mine sometimes is!), try to remember that the drive for perfectionism keeps us stuck and away from our goals.  Recovery (and life) is messy and certainly doesn’t fit into neat little boxes.  I like the saying that “Perfect is the enemy of beginning.”

Finally, ask your Inner Critic two important questions:

  • What do you want for me?
  • How can you help me?

I notice that sometimes the drive under the critic is actually desiring to help us in some way.  For example, my critic’s drive for perfectionism is actually her way of trying to help me find whatever I’m looking for to cultivate inner peace.  When I am able to notice that, I can reframe the voice, change the words, and funnel that energy into self-care activities.

After you’ve tried this exercise for yourself, feel free to leave a comment about how this was for you or anything you discovered about your inner critic.  Has your relationship with her changed?  In doing this, we can connect with, utilize, and befriend all parts of ourselves and not feel like we need to “banish” any of them — even our Inner Critic.

 


How can you be more honest about your relationship with time?

I’m invested in my first online writing course with renowned Denver writing, creativity coach and mentor Cynthia Morris.  Her business, Original Impulse helps writers just like me find their “writing juju”.  This is the first week of the course “Make Writing a Happy Habit” and I was struck today by Cynthia’s coaching question: “How can you be more honest about your relationship with time?”.  She asked us to list our five top priorities and denote how they take up our time every day (along with other things that take up time but aren’t top priorities).  Here’s a sneak peek as to how I answered this question:

” I think that I try to set too high of expectations for my time.  I also allow myself to get distracted easily by technology, animals, noises, the internet.  I think that if I scaled back what I expect of myself every day, then I would be able to feel more productive with my time.  This also goes the other way: if I don’t have a lot planned that day, I’d like to enjoy my free time instead of feel like I “should be doing something”, as commonly occurs.  I would describe my relationship with time as circumstantial.  I think it’s common to feel that time speeds up when I am enjoying it (ie: weekends), and it slows down on days where it feels like I am bogged down in work or when I am bored.  Unstructured time has felt exceptionally anxious at times in my life and it has typically been something that I avoid. “

I wanted to pose to you this same question.  In my work with people recovering from eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder, I often process with clients this very same issue:

  • how do you choose to spend your time?
  • how do you prioritize your time?  what are your top five priorities?
  • how do you manage unstructured time?
  • how to you cope when you feel as if you have no free time or time to accomplish goals?

Sometimes we uncover deeper roadblocks to scheduling time; perhaps over-scheduling one’s day can also be a way to avoid being alone with thoughts or emotions.  Often, we forget or neglect to schedule in time for daily self care. Don’t allow a day to go by without doing some form of self care, and make this a priority — a minimum of 15 minutes a day!  What do you do that gives you joy?

Signing up for this writing workshop was a form of self-care for me personally, as well as productive for my business and my writing goals.

I came across another great blog post about self care and self-love today.  Tara Sophia Mohr writes on her blog wise living about how to actually foster and develop self-love in tangible steps.  Sometimes this is easier said than done, as Tara writes: “How we feel about ourselves is like the color of our inner skies. If we could just change the color to a prettier one, we would.”  Check out her post to learn how to make self-love a daily practice in your life.

How can you be more honest about your relationship with time? And how can you approach that relationship to help you deepen self-love?  I’d love your comments and feedback!


Nourishing Growth and Giving Breath to my Hungry Private Practice

I’m very excited to be selected and featured on the Inaugural Private Practice From the Inside Out Blog Carnival!  Private Practice From the Inside Out (PPIO) is a blog and professional resource center created in 2003 by Tamara Suttle, M.Ed, LPC, and is “designed to help [therapists in private practice] cultivate an openness to new and different ways of developing your practice into a vibrant story of possibilities”.  She has been an invaluable resource to me as I build and nurture my own private practice and I encourage you to sign up for her weekly blog posts of you are thinking of starting your own practice!

The theme for this blog carnival was “Creative Responses in Building a Private Practice”.  Below you will find my reflections on tending to my hungry practice and “feeding” its needs.  Please note the links at the end of the article to posts by my colleagues who were also featured in the blog carnival.  I’m so grateful to be among such talented, creative, and dedicated colleagues.

Nourishing Growth and Giving Breath to My Hungry Private Practice

 

The day I founded my private practice, Kate Daigle Counseling, I breathed life into a dream I’ve always held.  Today, more than two years later, my practice can breathe on its own, as I continue to tend to its hunger, its fullness, its voice, its energy.

I have imagined my journey to developing my private practice as akin to nourishing a living being.  My practice grows; my practice breathes; my practice slows its steps and stops for reflection.  I find I can best support my practice by not only becoming informed in business-building skills, networking opportunities and clinical best practices, but by also approaching my practice as a creative and unique entity whose needs are always evolving.  By relating to my practice in this way, I am also able to tune into my own needs in my personal, clinical, and professional life and notice where I am starved, where I am satisfied, where I am growing my branches to connect with others.

Developing a successful private practice involves embodying multiple roles, some of which might feel out-of-sync with our clinical therapist training.  Therapists, myself included, can feel uncomfortable standing up for the financial needs of their practices and shy away from the business side of this career.  Networking with large groups of other professionals might feel intimidating to a therapist who thrives in small one-on-one environments.  At times, the work involved in this journey can feel exhausting and overwhelming and might dry up our internal resources.  When this occurs, I try to tune into what my practice is asking for.  As I use body-centered techniques in my work with clients to try to heal the mind-body connection, I similarly need to support my practice and myself in the healthiest and most authentic way so that my business can grow deep roots and I can maintain energy to breathe into it.

What do living things need?  How do trees grow deep and sustainable roots so that they may provide clean air and shade to those in need?  How can I tend to my practice so that I can continue to offer support to clients and take care of my own personal needs, allowing me to be as present, open, and connected as possible?

Wearing my “new” therapist shoes  – I am of the mindset that I will always be learning and growing throughout my career – I have settled with a few observations as to how I can support the authentic, creative, and organic growth of my private practice.

  • When it’s thirsty, give it water.  This might mean different things for each practice, but I know that my practice needs to be watered in several ways.  I try to make time for writing, both personal writing and business-related writing such as blogging; I make time to read articles related to clinical practices as well as business-building; and I plan days that are not too demanding on me so that I can have energy available for my clients, who are the most important part of my practice.  I also must schedule in self-care and make it just as significant as anything else.
  • Help it to connect to others so that it may grow, learn, and rejuvenate.  One of the most nourishing things for my practice is its connection to other therapists, practices, and other health professionals.  As my practice extends its branches all over this city and into other cities, I am able to deepen my knowledge, identify referral sources, and find solace that there is always support out there if I need it.  This, in turn, helps me identify my ideal client, refer out when a client’s issues are out of my competency, and support my clients in a comprehensive and complete manner.
  • If your practice seems under the weather, there’s always a remedy (even if it’s the one you’d least expect).  One of the things I love most about having a private practice is its uniqueness wherein I am able to have creative freedom in how I structure my approach.  In this way, when I come upon a problem or feel stuck, there are numerous possibilities to try to attend to it.  This might feel overwhelming at times, but I remind myself to reframe and become open to alternatives.  A hard-learned lesson about supporting my practice has been allowing my business to digest, breathe and settle.  Why is this challenging?  Because there is a feeling that I “need to always be working on something related to my business” and that “it won’t succeed unless I’m meeting my daily goals”.  Well, these goals have led me to feel burnt out and drained at times, and by stepping back and taking a day off, I am able to truly give back to my practice in a refreshed, mindful way.

By approaching my private practice as a living, breathing being who has needs and hungers, its heartbeat enables me to offer compassion and space for it to grow.  In this way, I can creatively plan ahead for how my practice might look as it matures over the years, and how I can continue nurture this meaningful dream.

 

Don’t forget to continue your ride at the PPIO Blog Carnival!  Other informative and interesting submissions include:

Please feel free to comment on my post and any of these unique posts and begin a discussion about your own creative responses to building a private practice!

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“And I am much more than a number on the scale”: A powerful message about body love, not body hate

Jennifer Livingston, a local news anchor in La Crosse, Wisconsin, spoke out yesterday on her news show about weight bullying, weight bias, and asserting that her self worth is NOT defined by a number on the scale.  Her words, delivered in a empowered and confident manner, touched thousands.  Jennifer’s message yesterday was in response to an email she got questioning why her “physical condition has not improved” and stating “surely you don’t consider yourself a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular.”

Women and men, of all shapes and sizes, are continually bombarded by messages that “thin is healthy” and “fat is unhealthy”, where in reality health does not have much to do with weight at all.  You have been given this message.  I certainly have.  The message that we don’t hear as often is the strong, admirable, determined voice of those such as Ms. Livingston, who will not tolerate bullying about weight or anything else.  The email that Ms. Livingston received is a form of public bullying, and Ms. Livingston’s response was spoken for all children, women and men, who experience discrimination and judgment because of their physical appearance every day.  The message of this role model, one who promotes healthy self-acceptance and self-esteem is the most positive message that can young girls (and boys) can receive.

I felt compelled to write about this today for several reasons.  I deeply admire Ms. Livingston and proudly applaud her strength and efforts to speak out — when so many others feel like they cannot.  The video of Ms. Livingston’s response was viewed by 50,000 people yesterday — as much as the population of La Crosse, Wisconsin.  It has the power to continue to spread and affect lives if we continue to share its message.

In addition, October is National Bullying Prevention Month.  We all can do our part to speak up when we notice bullying, when we are bullied, or when we are playing the part of the bully.  There are safe and confidential people to talk to such as school teachers, school counselors, or a parent.  Ms. Livingston took a stance to state that the email she received could have taught children it’s okay to bully and that this is not acceptable.

Her words inspire me: “Learn from my experience that the cruel words of one are nothing compared to the shouts of many,” she says.

Finally, this video touched home for me.  I am dedicated to helping others find self-acceptance, restore self-esteem, and empowering my clients to strongly believe in themselves and their innate strengths and values.  I believe that everyone is beautiful.  I also have had personal experiences with feeling uncomfortable and unwelcome in my own body and when I was younger, experienced a good deal of negative feelings about my body and myself.  Ms. Livingston’s message renews my energy to fight for body acceptance and body love for everyone that I can reach.  The story also saddened me to know that there is still so much work to do.

Local resources like Health and Every Size and the Boulder Youth Body Alliance help spread the word about celebrating body diversity every day.  You can do your part too!

What can you do?

— Leave positive, inspiring positive notes in random places to spread the word about beauty and acceptance.  See how it’s done at www.operationbeautiful.com.

— Speak up when you notice someone getting teased, judged or bullied about the way you look.  You can also tell a safe person such as an adult friend or teacher.

— Talk about beauty in ways that are not just focused on weight and appearance.  Beauty comes in energy, mannerisms, smiles, laughter, authenticity.

What other ideas do you have?

Check out the video of Ms. Livingston’s public message here:


Welcome, autumn! Loss and re-birth as a new season emerges

As we welcomed the arrival of autumn on September 22nd, we opened a new chapter of crisp fall air, changing colors, brisk mornings, and harvest dinners.  This is what fall is all about and for many, it brings an inner comfort and a desire to snuggle under the blankets with a big cup of hot tea.  What else does autumn represent?  As each season passes, I am always mindful of the gifts from the outgoing season and the promises of the one yet to come.  As nature cycles through her natural patterns, humans and all animals alike take notice of this change.

Change is embraced by some and feared by others.  When one is in recovery from an eating disorder such as bulimia, binge eating, anorexia, or any other type of disordered eating, change can bring overwhelming anxiety as it suggests a shift in an all-too-familiar routine.  I often sit with clients and hold space for them to share these anxieties, excitements, worries, and anticipations of upcoming changes in their lives.  I like to remember that with every change comes a loss as well as a new birth.  Moving into a new home is a significant change in someone’s life, bringing new things to adjust to, new neighbors, new routines.  Going back to school similarly offers some “unknowns”, some uncertainties of what is yet to come which might feel unsettling for some.  A birth of a new child is a huge shift in a family, as the child is welcomed into the fold and the parents adjust to new responsibilities, expectations, and roles.

If you feel stuck in a destructive cycle of bingeing and purging, negative self talk that devastates your self-esteem, or any other type of harmful behavior, you might be ready to make a change in your life.  Clients bring with them this hope for change, for a life without self-destructive behaviors or thoughts, and with a hope for accepting and loving themselves.  They can also admit to some fears about what they might have to “give up” or “confront” when making this change.  This is completely normal!  Just as fall eventually turns into winter, a time of hibernation and reflection, change is inevitable — and it can feel simple to slip into a mindset of “dreading” or “avoiding” change.

I try to remind my clients (and myself, if I find myself getting stuck), that winter has its own gifts to offer and that spring will come again.  While some may see winter as a time of cold and darkness, you also might approach winter as a time of rejuvenation, slowing down, resting, and preparing for the birth of spring.  A new routine, a different way of approaching and caring for yourself, trying to accept your feelings instead of push them away — these all represent change in our lives.  And instead of focusing on what is wrong about them, perhaps we could ask ourselves to notice the benefits of this change and remind ourselves that a re-birth is yet to come, whatever that looks like for each of us.

Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself about your relationship to change in your life:

— What am I losing in this change, and how can I offer myself kindness and compassion around this?

—  What am I gaining with this change in terms of growth, healing, and self-care?

—  How can I be mindful about this change, and check in with myself daily around my feelings about it and try to remind myself of the gifts of the present moment?

Don’t forget to turn your attention inward and notice your emotions around this transition.  New beginnings, like autumn or any new beginning in your life, might bring up unresolved feelings or issues from previous life cycles.  Perhaps autumn reminds you of a friendship that was lost last autumn which you haven’t allowed yourself to feel in some time.  Maybe autumn brings the birthday of a child and each year you are reminded of the pure joy you felt the day he or she was born.

allow yourself to feel.  Journal about what you feel, draw what you feel, sing what you feel, dance what you feel.  There are no “good” or “bad” feelings, and like a wave in the ocean, each feeling will eventually ride out.

Nature allows us endless opportunities for healing, re-birth, renewal, and getting back in touch with ourselves.  How are you going to embrace this new season in your life?