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 Foter.com / CC BY
Photo credit: Claricethebakergardener via Foter.com / 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 http://www.kindredcounseling.com/services/walk-and-talk-therapy/) 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.


Three Reasons You Should Never Have to “Learn to Love Your Body”

Three Reasons You Should Never Have to “Learn to Love Your Body”


My body will never be the same.hands-918774_640 copy

Three months ago I welcomed my sweet daughter, Natalie Grace, into this world and this week I am excited to return to my practice and accept new clients as well as reconnect with my current clients and colleagues.

In my recovery from my eating disorder, I have learned –sometimes painstakingly—to nourish, protect, and nurture my own body and my self. I now have a little one to take care of, and she is teaching me the deep joy and responsibility of being a parent in ways I could never have imagined.


In the past year, my body has undergone a significant transition. Becoming pregnant and growing a child within me was never something I imagined I could do when I was struggling with my eating disorder. I discovered that my body is truly amazing in the way it was able to create this little being  and give birth to a healthy bouncy little girl. The journey continues as my body feeds her and heals from all of the changes it has undergone. This renews my hope for my clients who yearn to heal their bodies and perhaps have a family someday as well.


The sobering truth is that my body will never be the same as it was prior to pregnancy. And I am 1000% okay with that. Honestly. What irks me is when I read blog posts online about “learning to love your postpartum body”, which are synonymous with those other posts you’ve seen about “learning to love your body at any size”, or “learning to embrace your imperfect thighs”.


I think that these posts have good intentions, but what I took from the underlying meaning of them is that they are implying there’s something inherently wrong with your {insert adjective such as ‘postpartum’} body that you need to learn to cope with. And this feels shaming to me.


Why must we be told there is something wrong with our bodies in the first place? Because we don’t all look the same? How boring would that be if we did!?

Stop Learning to Love Your Body

heart-700141_640 copySo here’s my somewhat “controversial” idea: why don’t we stop “learning” to love our bodies in whatever form they are in and instead celebrate them for the unique, magical specimens they are this very moment? No learning needed.


I can’t imagine telling my daughter there is something wrong with her tiny little powerful body. I LOVE all of the fat rolls that cover her legs, her arms, her chin. Adorable! Unfortunately, she will get told that there is something wrong with her, and she probably will think that herself someday, too.

What can we do? We keep fighting. For acceptance and love. Now moreso than ever!

Here are my Three Reasons You Should Never Have to ‘Learn to Love Your Body’:


  • Learning to love your body implies that you are imperfect (which you are, we all are, and that’s perfectly okay!) and that there is inherently something wrong with it that takes time and skills to accept. It’s a sneaky way to add to the shaming that surrounds us. How about instead: find three things every day that you are grateful your body does for you.
  • “Learning to love your body” also implies that there is a better body type than others. Typically the thin body type is most celebrated. Some people are naturally thin, some are naturally heavier than others. When we try to manipulate our bodies in unhealthy ways to be something they are not inherently meant to be, we can get into a danger zone of developing an eating disorder or deeper body image struggles.
  • It perpetuates our society’s twisted relationship with food and bodies. The diet industry feeds and thrives on our dissatisfaction with our bodies, to the tune of profiting more than $50 billion a year from it. By implying that we need to “learn to love our bodies”, we contribute to the diet industry’s message that we must change ourselves before we can love ourselves.


I want my daughter to grow up accepting herself inside and out and will do everything I can to support this in her. Of course I will mess up…I’m human.


We all deserve to live a life knowing there is nothing inherently wrong with us. Unfortunately we are constantly bombarded with advertising that tells us the opposite. Whether we are three months old or sixty three years old, we all have an opportunity every day to heal our relationships with food, our bodies and ourselves.


I am so excited to continue to do the work I love doing, with the added ferocity of a new mother! If you or anyone you know is looking for support in healing disordered eating or body image please contact me.

The One Body Image Struggle I Never Expected to Have During Pregnancy – and How I’ve Coped With It

The One Body Image Struggle I Never Expected to Have During Pregnancy – and How I’ve Coped With It

Body Image and Pregnancy, Part 2


“Oh my gosh, you’re due in March?! But you’re so TINY!”

“You haven’t put on any weight since your last appointment; I really would like you to put on a few more pounds” (~doctor)

“Your breasts are so large!”

“You’ve hidden your pregnancy so well—You can barely tell!” (PS: I’m not ‘trying’ to hide anything)


These are all comments I have heard in the past few weeks. How is one supposed to respond? Ummm…thanks? Are any of these familiar to you? Or perhaps the analysis of your belly sounded a bit different than what I am experiencing.

No matter who you are, when you’re pregnant people can’t help but make comments of some form about your body, shape and size and overall how you look. These comments, while well-intentioned, most likely will have an evaluative or comparative piece to them—large, small, healthy, unhealthy, looking great, looking fat. They can leave an impact.

In my previous post about body image and pregnancy, I discussed the various ways our bodies grow and change during this special time in life, much out of our own control, and with the potential to cause discomfort and body image struggles.

Today I want to shine a light on the impact of external sources on how we feel about our bodies


during pregnancy, whether those are comments by others, things you read, the shape of another pregnant woman’s body, or expectations placed upon you.

While I felt I was well-prepared to face my own potential body image struggle during my pregnancy, the one I am actually experiencing is much different than I would have imagined.

When my doctor advised me to put on weight, I had a mixture of reactions. One was shock: “Wow, I’ve never been told that before. I am more accustomed to hearing from the voice in my head that I need to lose weight, not gain it.” A second was “But how can I eat more? I am trying my best to get a good, healthy assortment of foods.”

Yet another was a deep sense of failure. Was I failing my baby by not being able to gain weight like I ‘should’ in pregnancy? Was she healthy and happy in there? There were no indicators that she wasn’t, but I still worried.

This one comment from my doctor sent me on a rollercoaster of anxiety, fear, worry, and ultimately acceptance.

The voice that I ultimately chose to listen to: I’m doing the best I can. Which is amazing.

Then, a few days ago someone told me how shocked they were to learn I was only a little over a month away from my due date. I was just that tiny. I’m not that tiny. I’m an 8.5 month pregnant lady. But again, that comment triggered a deeper fear that there’s something wrong with me. There is something deficient about my body…it is failing somehow.

Body Image During Pregnancy

I work with my clients every day to address these types of fears, helping them to recognize that they are not based in truth, but at the time they can seem incredibly real.

Our thoughts can run rampant if we don’t become mindful of them and the effect they can have on our deeper selves. When you are in a vulnerable time of your life, whether it is during pregnancy, during early stages of a relationship, or after a big move to a new city, words are powerful.   They can have the fortitude to change your whole day. Which words do you want to internalize and truly listen to?

As a pregnancy develops and women’s bodies grow in such amazing and unprecedented ways, the comparison monster can easily rear its ugly head. Pictures posted on social media, seeing a woman walking down the street; we can’t help but compare our bodies to others’ — how ‘should’ we be looking, feeling, changing? Take a moment and think back to the last time you compared yourself in some way to another person. How did it feel?

Whether it’s thinking that your belly is ‘too large’ or ‘too small’, or tasting any other flavor of the not-good-enough-potion, most pregnant women have gone through some version of their own journey with accepting their changing bodies. How we look can seem to be first and foremost in other people’s minds, sometimes even before how you are feeling or how healthy your pregnancy is. It’s tough to not let that seep in.  How do we cope?

Remember, every woman’s body is different. We are built differently, and we will experience changes to our bodies differently. There is no “right way” or “wrong way”. There’s just YOUR way. And you’re doing great.



Here are three methods that I have chosen to help me cope. I hope they can also help you or someone you know:

  1. Remember that size does not equal health – of you, or of your baby.
  2. Set strong boundaries with external influences – put down the pregnancy books, sign off social media, and reconnect with yourself in a way that feels refreshing and genuine.
  3. Keep the end goal in sight – your baby. Pregnancy is a unique and magical time of a woman’s life and while it is uncomfortable in many ways, it is all for a very good reason. Try to picture gazing at your little one and in that moment nothing else will matter.

Share your tips! Have you been pregnant or are you pregnant and can relate to this? Share in the comments below ways that helped you cope.  Connecting together and supporting one another can make a huge difference in mental and physical health!

Quit ‘Should-ing’ On Yourself!: The Top Three Dangers of Feeding that Nasty Inner Critic

Quit ‘Should’ing’ On Yourself!: The Top Three Dangers of Feeding that Nasty Inner Critic

And how to bust your mind’s self-destructive cycle and truly listen to yourself.


I have a confession to make.  I was pretty darn resistant to writing this blog post today.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely not because I don’t want to connect with you and share some of my experiences and thoughts.  That is exactly what I do it for!  I’ve been blogging for over five years and it’s a significant cornerstone of my practice of self-care and connection with those whom I serve.

Mostly today I found myself playing Candy Crush Saga and scrolling through the internet (instead of writing) because my mind was Should-ing on me.  It told me in not-so-nice terms: ‘you really should blog today.  Why haven’t you blogged yet?  You won’t feel like you’ve done anything productive today unless you complete a [high quality and catchy] blog post.  You will feel like a FAILURE.’  {dun-dun-dun- the F word!!!}

Can you relate?  Even writing this now, it sounds ridiculous.  Of course I’m not a failure (and neither are you!), and WHO gets to determine that anyway, the crabby voice in my head that sounds like it’s sleep-deprived or my own true, authentic self?

Truth is, our minds are sneaky, brilliant, terrifying, invigorating, and powerful mechanisms that play a significant role in the decisions we make each day.

I’d like to share a working definition of “Should-ing”: You have a list of ironclad rules about how you and other people should act.  People who break the rules anger you, and you feel guilty when you violate the rules.

Our minds can deeply affect the feelings and emotions we have daily also, if we let them.  If I had chosen to listen to the Should-ing Voice (aka: the Critic, or Judge), chances are I would feel pretty low and disappointed with myself (DESPITE all of the other amazing things I could have focused on about myself today) until I fulfilled demands.

Here’s how that conversation might have gone:

Critic: You really had better blog today.  I don’t care if you have no idea what to write about.  It’s time to blog and if you don’t do it, you will feel like a failure at the end of the day. You will BE a failure.  {evil eye stare and sinister laugh} {oh no, now it’s telling me about not just what to feel, but what I am.}

Me: Really? Gosh, you are right.  I really should blog today.  If I don’t, I’m not meeting your expectations and then for SURE I will fail and who knows what is next? Eminent doom! {feeling anxious patterning in my chest}.

I then would have written a blog post, which I am sure would have been fine, but wouldn’t have come from my true genuine desire to write to you all, it would have come from fear.

FEAR of not being enough.  FEAR of failing at expectations (mostly from my own mind).  Then, the Critic would have won and would have come back later with even more stamina in his stride….instead of being put in his rightful place.

Here’s what I did instead:

Critic: Hey. YOU. You’d better blog today. Or ELSE.  F-A-I-L-U-R-E. ~!!!!!

Me:  Hey, Critic.  Nice to see you again.  I know that you’re there, and probably always will be.  Instead of fighting you off today, I’m going to try to take a step back and decide if I really want to listen to you today.  Or if I’d rather listen to someone else.

Critic: Wha?? Good luck with that.  I know everything and it’s only a matter of time before you come crawling back.

Me: We’ll see about that.  {deep breath}

Honest confession:  Part of the reason I am writing this blog post today is to connect with my inner wisdom and tell that Critic to GO AWAY.  It’s healing for me.  Writing about my own human-ness is therapeutic for me, and I hope it helps you too.

Another part of why I’m writing is that I genuinely LOVE writing and get very angry when the silly critic living in my mind tries to take that pleasure away from me.  Because the truth is that the harshest critics in the outside world probably can’t hold a light to the mean things my own inner world can say to me sometimes.  And that just isn’t right!


I have a feeling some of you out there may relate to my experience today.

Here are Three Dangers of Feeding that Nasty Inner Critic — and how to reclaim your own sweet powerful voice:

1.) Listening to Mr. Meany (or Ms.) and internalizing what they are saying devalues and negates our own true, natural feelings.  Yes, it is ingrained in us to have negative self-talk and to listen to it sometimes.  But can’t it become natural to listen to the positive voices too?  At what university did Mr. Critic earn his doctorate degree?

Try This: Try to name the cycle that happens for you and notice its costly effects.  Accepting the Critic’s voice as truth will overshadow the calm and steady assurance from your Inner Wisdom that “you’re doing just fine”.  By bringing awareness to the cycle that occurs, you’re more apt to distance yourself from it and define a new way of relating to your thoughts.

2.) Getting Stuck in a negative feedback loop in your mind takes you away from your body’s innate signals and needs.  This can be costly in self-care and can distance you from feeding the true hunger inside.

Try this: After practicing #1 and getting good at naming your negative cycle, notice how it feels in your body when you allow the Critic to be King.  For me, I get an intense flutter of nervous energy in my chest that makes it difficult to breathe.

Then, try to separate your mind from your body and ask your body “What do you need right now? What are you trying to tell me?” It may take practice, but it is possible to reconnect in a nourishing and affirming way with your body that helps regulate your relationship with your mind as well.

3.) Affirming the Critic distances you from relationships that are healthy, nourishing, and meaningful for you.  If you believe the Critic, and you are just as terrible as he/she says, you are more likely to push people away, or notice people distancing themselves from you.  Would you want to be friends with the Critic? No, he’s smelly and snarky.  So, if you become fused with the Critic’s voice and believe it as your own, it’s going to be more difficult to sustain positive relationships.  And then he will have won 🙁

Try This:  Be vulnerable.  Talk to your partner, therapist, friend, or mother, about what it’s like to Should on yourself so much, and the pain that causes.  Shed that layer of Expectation to be Perfect, and let your soft side show.  Chances are, that’s where connection and healing happens.

Let me know how this goes.  We’re all a work in progress.  But I’m sure glad I wrote this to you today.

xo ~Kate 


When You Wake Up and Your Whole World Comes Crashing Down, Try This:

FullSizeRenderWhen I woke up this morning, my entire business had disappeared.  Literally.  My website had vanished, and my business email account had been wiped clean.

It started as a moment of disbelief — I had just finished revamping my site and had thousands of important documents, emails, and connections all hosted through that central technological system.  Then it came to a place of bargaining — okay, what I do is not based on my website, am the core foundation of my business and the avenue through which people find healing and recovery.  However, my website is the primary method that people searching for recovery find me and begin their healing process.  Can I get it back if I promise to not obsess over it so much?

Deep breath.

Maybe the universe was sending me a message?  As the morning wore on and the sense of panic began to rise up inside of me, other events occurred that were out of my control, were difficult for me to grasp, and left me feeling helpless and disoriented.

Sitting at my computer looking at the blank screen, I had a thought: “What am I needing to listen to right now that I am not hearing?”.

I am currently quite intrigued by the concept of ‘non-attachment’.  This is for several reasons, one being out of curiosity because a great deal of the way I work with clients in counseling is through the lens of attachment and safety in our relationships.  So why would we study non-attachment?  Does that mean isolating and disengaging from connection?

A recent blog post on interconnectivity vs. codependence asks the question:

‘How do we balance the innate need for autonomy with the desire for connection and intimacy? We not only enjoy feeling wanted and appreciated but need to have a purpose.’

I discovered that non-attachment doesn’t mean disengaging from ourselves or others.  It means finding the balance in our relationships so that we are able to maintain a safe and secure connection to our own innate sense of self while also being connected to others in a meaningful and sustaining way.

This struck me this morning as I considered my attachments to relationships in my life and the way those relationships make me feel: my relationship with my husband, my family, my body, my work, and to myself.

I realized that this situation that I had no control over — the crash of the server that hosts all of my accounts — offered an opportunity to look at how I attach myself to these things that are important to me, but that I may place too much merit on sometimes.

One thought kept swirling around: am I codependent with my work?

As someone who has so much personal passion and experience that led me into the line of work that I currently practice, of course I am attached to it!  And I feel that can be a huge asset.  However, as in all things, it can be sometimes challenging to find a healthy and sane balance between myself and my work.  I have to remember that I am not my work.  But it is a part of me and I care about it deeply.

Work (like food, alcohol, drugs, sex, etc) can be another distraction from the wound that I most desperately need to address: the relationship I have with myself.

Amidst the tremors and hyperventilating that occurred every time I looked at my computer, I forced myself to shut it down and to take a step outside.  Here is the mantra I repeated to myself and what I did:

take a moment to look around you

surround yourself with the beauty of the earth

breathe it in

the flowers the animals the blades of grass the bright blue sky

notice the energy that fills you with panic, dread, fear, anxiety, hopelessness, worry, anger

notice the thoughts that fill your mind. .  . the negativity, the self-judgment and judgment of others

be kind to it

imagine that energy flowing out through your hands and your feet

be mindful as it leaves your body

breathe, let the negativity, the judgment, the suffering leave you

accept what you cannot change, allow what you can

imagine an orb of white brilliant light engulfing your heart

touch it, feel it, let the warmth of this light fill you

this is your center, your soul

let the light fill your whole body, breathe into it

allow your awareness to fill with the sights, sounds, sensory gifts that surround you

give thanks

imagine an openness to all that can be, allow the struggle to melt away

and experience calm.

FullSizeRender 2

I spent an hour in City Park, my oasis.  After doing this meditation, I felt a renewed sense of connectivity to myself, and a peaceful acceptance of the way things are.  I also knew that it would all be okay.

I am hopeful that this meditation and my vulnerability can be of some support to you.  We all have days, weeks, months where we don’t feel ourselves, or notice something tugging us to look deeper.  Look at your attachments.  How safe and healthy do they feel to you?  Where can you practice non-attachment?

P.S.: the server was fixed! That is how you are able to read this 🙂  woo hoo!

She’s Better Than Me and I’m Going to Fail: 3 Signs You are Stuck in the Comparison Trap – And How to Get Out of It.

Ohhhh boy. Have you been there? I know I have. Many times. And it doesn’t feel great. I’m talking about The Comparison Trap. Where you compare yourself to someone else and ALWAYS fall short.

Where did that come from and how did it EVER feel like a good idea?

The truth is, it just never ends well. For me, I notice that I get stuck in a cycle of insecurity and low self-esteem that compels me to compare myself to someone else (whether I really know them or not!). . . which just feeds that self-criticism monster even more.

When I was younger and did not have as much self-awareness as I do now, the Comparison Trap contributed to the development of my eating disorder, a self-destructive way of trying to soothe those feelings of not-good-enough that quickly turned into an out-of-control monster that ruined my relationships, my health, and my life.

In the age of social media, comparison runs rampant and unfortunately fuels so much of our society. “Who Wore It Better?”, “Look Who Lost 10 Pounds and Look Who Just Can’t Stop Eating!”, and endless edited and photo-shopped photos on Facebook of lives that yours simply can’t ever seem to measure up to. You could NEVER be that: happy; rich; successful; thin; perfect; etc…..etc….etc.

I know this because I have been there. And many, many of my clients struggle with the Comparison Trap and yearn to get out of it, get back in their own lives, and feel empowered, confident and strong. The good news: This Is Possible!

Here are Three Signs you may be caught up in the Comparison Trap – and how to free yourself from its grip.


#1You notice that how you feel about yourself is determined by factors that are not in your control. I like to look at this in terms of intrinsic vs external validation. Basically, this asks: where do you get your power from?

Do you place a lot of value in what other people think, say, feel, and how they react towards you? More value than you place internally, asking what do I think? Does that feel true to me? Do I agree or disagree? How could I respond in a way that would feel most authentic to me? When we give so much of our internal worth to the outside world, we are risking feeling out of control, inferior, and set up to unrealistic expectations.

Try this: go through your day and notice feelings, thoughts, and emotions. Ask yourself: where is the power right now? Is it coming from within me or am I giving it away? How can I take my power back in this moment? (I always turn to my breath.)


#2You get that icky, hollow, dark feeling in the pit of your stomach.

Here’s a scenario, maybe you can relate: you go to a networking meeting. You have been to this meeting before, and know a few of the folks who come regularly, but don’t feel like you know them super well. Not well enough to truly let yourself be you. As each person gets up to introduce themselves and performs their elevator speech, you notice yourself getting increasingly anxious and nervous. Yes, this is natural to happen in this circumstance. However, you notice that with each person who speaks, a voice in your head says: ‘you could never say it that eloquently’, ‘you aren’t as successful as they are’, ‘why didn’t you try that years ago? Now you couldn’t’ be as good at it as they are!’ and my personal favorite: ‘YOU’RE GOING TO FAIL!!’.  

These thoughts contribute to that feeling in your stomach that feels empty and unsettling. Why? Because those thoughts are draining your unique, awesome, special essence that dwells within you.

Have you felt that way?

Try this: When I notice that empty feeling, I try to bring awareness to what is going on. Why am I feeling this way? What triggered me and where have I felt that before? I try to be gentle with myself, remind myself of why I am there and why I do what I do, and speak from the heart. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and sometimes acknowledging that makes it a bit easier. Each person has their own unique gift, story, and purpose in this world. You don’t have to be them. You have to be YOU.


#3You notice yourself Facebook-stalking people that you can compare yourself to. This is one that we all have done, but not many of us admit it. Have you ever noticed yourself looking at people’s Facebook pages – people you know moderately well – and seeing where you can measure yourself up against them? Come on, you know you have. I have! How does this feel? NOT GREAT.

For me, I notice that when I am struggling with some aspect of myself, or something that happened that day or in my life that I feel I don’t have control over, I compare my life to someone else’s. This is in an effort to try to soothe myself that “I am okay”….however, it’s not through the most therapeutic or effective means. It can do more harm than good. PLUS, social media is in essence deceptive and not based in reality, so comparing yourself to the perception of another person’s life based on social media is just pushing you further and further away from what you are really looking for: self-acceptance.

Try this: If you notice yourself going to social media or any other outlet to compare yourself or your life to someone else’s, ask yourself: What is going on? What do I need right now? Is this method the most appropriate place for me to find this? Instead of going toward something that will make you feel worse (comparison on social media), try to go toward an avenue that will make you feel better and more connected to yourself: doing an activity that inherently soothes you and reconnects you to yourself. For me, this is being in my garden.

What is it for you?


#4 – BONUS. This one is one of the most dangerous: when you notice yourself changing inherent, intrinsic, and authentic parts of yourself because “I’m not good enough” as something/one else that you compare yourself to. DON’T DO IT! You don’t need to change ANY part of yourself unless you truly want to. Again, that needs to come from within, not from the outside.

Try this: talk with a trusted friend , family member, or professional counselor if you are feeling this way about yourself. Help is out there and it can feel a WHOLE lot better 🙂


So, I challenge you to read, internalize, and try these four suggestions. None of us is perfect. You may still find yourself imbibing in the comparison cycle and falling into its deep, dark, enticing trap. That’s okay. Just try to gently notice this, ask how it feels, and try to come up with three things you can do to come back home to yourself.


You are awesome. You have a solid, special, very important reason for being here and the world is awaiting your presence. Go be a rockstar. There’s more than enough room for all of us!!


The Gift of Sadness: How ‘Inside Out’ Shows Us That All Emotions Matter


Inside Out, the new Disney/Pixar movie about a little girl named Riley and some major life changes she goes through, is told through the lens and view of five of her emotions: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear. It is a delightful feast for the eyes as most of the movie takes place inside of her head and invites us to take a ride on the Train of Thoughts, to play with her imaginary friend BingBong, to build aspects of her personality like Family and Silliness, to delve into her subconscious, and to sing along with the rainbow-haired pony that colors her dreams.

Much has been written by members of the psychology and counseling community (such as myself) about the way that this movie portrays our emotions and the important role that each of them play. It is pretty exciting to find a major Hollywood movie that looks so deeply at the emotional experiences we all feel, normalizes them, and does such a good job at it.

I am not going to give away any major spoilers, as I highly recommend that you go see this movie for yourself, but it is widely known that each of the emotions is given a personality and a role in determining Riley’s state of mental being.

Riley experiences a major life change in the movie, moving to California from Minnesota, and Joy, the brightest and most exuberant emotion, is determined to keep Riley a “brave and happy girl” even though other emotions are along for the ride.

Sadness is a star player in the movie too, and initially gets painted as a lazy and annoying emotion who Joy tries to keep away from Riley’s memories and feelings in order for her to stay a “happy girl” (sometimes we just don’t want to or can’t be happy. . .and that is okay).

Trying to keep Sadness in a corner where she cannot touch anything, as Joy attempts to do in the movie, causes all sorts of problems. As Riley plummets into depression, she risks losing things that are dearest to her, like her morality, family connections, friendships, her love for hockey and her sense of silliness.

Sadness didn’t just stay in the corner where she was shoved. She knew that in order to save Riley from the depths of depression, she needed to help.

Really? Sadness can help to relieve depression? Yes, if sadness is allowed to be felt.

As Anita Sanz, clinical psychologist says:

“Not being able to feel what is normal to feel in a situation is what causes problems for all people, just as it did for Riley.
If you’ve been abused or traumatized, there are all kinds of feelings that you don’t get a chance to feel or “process” because you’re too busy trying to survive. If you’re trying to feel something other than what’s really inside, or trying to be someone you’re not, same problem: There’s incongruence or a mismatch between the inside and the outside.”

Furthermore, the movie helps to identify the feelings of loss that Riley is experiencing by allowing Sadness to ultimately be part of the control panel in her mind.

The loss of childhood, the loss of her home and friends, among other losses, are not fully realized or digested if Sadness is shunned to a corner. Only when Sadness was allowed to touch some of Riley’s memories was Riley able to define the loss she was feeling and begin to form a new identity that could help her move forward and connect to what really matters to her.

Researchers who study emotion concur that all emotions (not just Joy) play their part in allowing us to move through and process our experiences.

Drs. Dacher Keltner and Paul Ekman echo:

‘And toward the end of the film, it is Sadness that leads Riley to reunite with her parents, involving forms of touch and emotional sounds called “vocal bursts” — which one of us has studied in the lab — that convey the profound delights of reunion.’

One message I took home from the movie: Embrace sadness. Embrace Anger. Even embrace Disgust.

Because these, along with our other emotions, make up who we are, allow us to construct aspects to our personality and help us to build deep, intimate, meaningful relationships with others.

That, and go back and reconnect with your imaginary friend ☺

What about you? Have you seen Inside Out? What did you think and how do you feel about how it portrays emotions?