Meet Katie Vitale, bad ass Producer of Issues for Your Tissues on KOOP Radio

Y'all, I was lucky enough to meet with Katie Vitale, bad ass producer of Issues for Your Tissues on KOOP Radio. If you are not familiar. this radio show is AMAZING! (Right now, you can catch it on KOOP Austin 91.7 Thursdays at 6pm.) Each week, Katie explores a topic related to women's health and reproductive justice. This is not an easy job in Texas, and Katie does it with passion. High five to you Madame! Her inspiring interview is below, and it is a must read!

Tell me about yourself and what you do:

Since graduating from UT 12 years ago, I’ve worked, advocated, and volunteered for women’s health and reproductive justice. In 2007 my radio show, Issues for Your Tissues, earned its spot on the KOOP Radio schedule. It’s been my not-so-secret joy to bring women’s health topics onto the air and out into the open. I produce, engineer, and host the show weekly, and serve on the board of KOOP Radio. In producing the show one of the many goals is for it to be a nexus for the reproductive justice community here in Austin and beyond. Many women contribute to this justice, and they all deserve a place to be recognized and to recognize each other.

What motivates you to do what you do?

The need for medically-accurate, direct honest talk about women’s health, sexual well-being, and reproductive justice has grown. There are a number of reasons leading to this growth. One contributing factor could be the reduction in comprehensive sex education among young adults in Texas; abstinence-only education leaves more questions than answers for young Texans. Another factor could be the increasing sexualization of pop culture. This isn’t to be necessarily lamented, but it spurs any number of conversations about sex that I can’t imagine having faced 15 years ago. Who ever thought we’d be wondering what “truffle butter” had to do with sex? It could probably be argued that more sexual health knowledge is leading to the rising sexuality in pop culture. Either way we need more medically-accurate information out there.

I love thinking about women listening to the show and then broaching these topics with people they might not have otherwise or delving deeper into these topics with their friends. The conversations we have break down the stigma shrouding these issues. Communication is key to health. Increasing health literacy, or the courage to advocate for your own healthcare, or the gumption to ask your partner for what you need is only possible when we feel empowered and equipped to take on what may feel risky at first. I hope Issues for Your Tissues equips and empowers its listeners to think about and then talk about things outside their comfort zones.

Tell me about a moment when you felt truly awesome:

One time I was out on the town with friends and met some friends of theirs. A woman from the group told me I looked very familiar to her, but I didn’t recognize her. Later in the evening she told me that I had been her counselor when she had her abortion years before. She told me that I had made the experience a positive one for her. That was meaningful for me because my goal in counseling was to give clear, supportive, and accurate information to women the day of their abortion. Normalizing the experience breaks down stigma and shame. She felt good enough about her experience that day to tell me and everyone in the group that night that she had had that abortion and it was positive. In my work there, I never really knew how close I had come to reaching that goal. Was I sex-positive enough? Did I sound at all judgmental? Could I have supported her by sharing the information differently? While all women are unique and I cannot definitively claim that I made all their lives better, knowing that I had done a good job of supporting her and normalizing her abortion made me feel successful. I reflect on this experience when I need to remind myself why I do what I do. I bet each of us have a story that can connect us to our purpose--even if we haven’t identified it yet.

How do you get through periods of self-doubt?

There are plenty of potential sources of self-doubt. Whether it’s something I have no control over or a situation I created for myself, some scheduled, regular self-care keeps me functional. This can be but is not limited to a massage once in a while. Whether taking time to read some fiction or a magazine, a weekend nap, a day without my cell phone, a long dinner with a friend, self-care isn’t relegated to the spa. All these activities that sustain us, but are not directly supporting our purpose are good self-care. Go to that movie, spend time on your playlist, or whatever it is to make your life richer [here’s the crucial part] without feeling guilty for it.

It’s really easy for me to look at my to-do list and become overwhelmed, doubtful of my capacity to do everything I tell myself I want to do. The most helpful thing for me to do, and it’s hard because you can get trapped in perfection paralysis, is to employ a little awareness, broaden my perspective, and remind myself of all of the things I have completed, accomplished, or checked off of that same list at another point in time. It’s not always the best motivator, but it really squashes the self-doubt. We’ve all done something that took tons of time and every one of our skills. Remember that thing. You did that.

What do you want other women to know about self-acceptance and self-celebration?

Too many times I’ve seen people get so down on themselves, berate themselves in ways they would never berate another living person. Let’s treat ourselves as we would treat our friends, speak to ourselves as we would to our besties. We cannot rely or wait for the validation from others to accept ourselves or expect anyone else to give us that which we won’t give ourselves.

There are so many wonderful truths in this interview. It's hard to narrow them down, but I will pick a few: 1. Pursue your passion even in tough political and social climates, 2. Recognize that your work has an impact on others, 3. Remember that skills gained from past successes can help tame perfectionism, 4. Talk to yourself like you would a best friend. Hell. Yes!

If you want help taming your inner perfectionist and connecting with your inner bad ass, check out my offerings for individual therapy

- Lauren, HHT

An Ode to Not Knowing It All

Everyday, I have clients who come into my office, and they are UPSET. They throw their arms into the air and cry, "I don't know it all. I don't have it all figured out. Everyone else knows what they are doing, and I don't. This makes me feel crappy, and I hate it." I imagine that you might feel that way too. 

I have news for you: NONE OF US HAVE IT ALL FIGURED OUT!

Everyone has their issues (E V E R Y O N E), and none of us know what the heck we are doing all of the time. It's true that some of us are better at faking it than others. It is also true that some people are more plan-oriented than others. However, you are not a bad person if you haven't figured out which life path you want to take, what life goals you want to achieve, and when exactly you want to accomplish them. This is a highly perpetuated myth that social pressures (see also: social media) and our anxious/perfectionist brains have brought upon us, and it's bullshit.  

In fact, I hear these exasperated feelings from so many people, so often that I wrote an ode to not-knowing-it-all. I figure that this concept could use a spotlight in order to fight this shame-inducing hell spiral. 

An Ode to Not Knowing It All

We feel like we must know it all
We must have our lives planned from birth
If we don't, we've dropped the ball
Our selves no longer having worth
People will know
We're frauds, fakes, and fiends
Everyone will run away, leaving us alone
We will toil through life with nothing to show
Never having reached our dreams
Our life never really being our own

Believing everyone else has it figured out
Our friends, family, and neighbors constantly thriving
They have everything, you scream and shout
They always know for what they are striving
Their social media is full of joy
Their lives are so easy
They never question their options or choices
Their lack of a plan will never annoy
They will never know what it is to wake up feeling queasy
Their constant response to life is to say YES with their voices

Take heart, one and all
None of us really know what we are doing
We're all meandering down the life path feeling finite and small
Our fingers are crossed and our feet constantly moving
We're hoping to minimize our pain and strife
All the while recognizing that we know very little
And we can control even less
Take solace in knowing that you are making the best decisions for your life
Instead of feeling like you must know it all now, your path consistently whittled
Celebrate not knowing by inhaling a deep breath and giving yourself some peace from the must-know-it-all stress
Remember that you are doing what you can
You are evolving at your own pace through YOUR lifespan

If you want help breathing deeply as you grow at your own pace, check out my offerings for individual therapy by clicking here

- Lauren, HHT

My Most Helpful, Advice-giving, Navigation-supporting Work of Last Year

I am a lucky therapist. Last year, I was invited to do quite a few amazing things, including co-host a body positivity workshop with Path Nutrition and contribute to a re-imagined, anxiety-themed, Candy Land game for Almost Real Things. I facilitated a workshop for Moms to help break the silence around parenting perfectionism. With Launch Wellness, I created an opportunity for other therapists to acknowledge how freaking hard it is to be a business person and a clinician simultaneously. I also interviewed several bad ass Austin women, including journalist Jessica Luther and comedian Maggie Maye

If I had to pick my most helpful, advice-giving, navigation-supporting piece of last year's work, I would choose guesting on the Help Wanted podcast to discuss vulnerability (i.e. the stuff that makes us go AH! ICK! UGH!) It was great to talk about such a blech-inspiring topic with smart, honest, funny women! They asked me insightful questions and challenged my therapist brain. I shared a bit of my experience with the icky parts of vulnerability, as well as helpful tips and tricks for how to deal with the blech. If you have ever thought, "Oh hell no, I am not sharing _______________ with anyone ever. Just the thought of it makes me want to run and hide and never leave my apartment," then this podcast is for you! Check it out here

- Lauren, HHT

(Metaphorically) Set Your To-do List on Fire

I have a recurring dream. In it, we all set our to-do lists on fire and frolic in the Zilker Park grass instead. We talk about all of the wonderful life experiences we have had thus far. We slowly drink iced tea and ponder how the wildflowers became so persistent in their growth. We give ourselves permission to swim in Barton Springs and to hug puppies. We hike the Greenbelt and revel in the fall weather. Later, we eat at one of the new Austin restaurants that are always popping up. We do not talk about what we accomplished that day, and we do not hive five one another for completing more tasks than we thought mortally possible. Instead, we talk about our deep, soulful wishes. We close the evening by playing music and dancing under the stars, reveling in our freedom. Our to-do lists have gone up in smoke, and there is no turning back.

Okay, how many of you completely missed the beautiful imagery of frolicking and dancing, because you were hyperventilating at the thought of your to-do list crumbling to ashes?

Take heart. Having worked with perfectionists for a few years, I recognize the beauty and the curse of the to-do list. The beauty is that it keeps you organized. It is a way to prioritize and manage your workload. It is a concrete way to measure your productivity. You get to triumphantly mark off your accomplishments. Getting through it can be a slight (major?) adrenaline rush. People high five you for completing your to-do list. All of those things are great. (Yay!)  

The challenge is when your to-do list becomes an overwhelming, life-squashing, fun-killing mechanism for your inner perfectionist critic to beat you down with. If you consistently think, "I can't go to ____________, or I can't do ___________. I stall have things on my to-do list. I always complete the day's list. I must complete the day's list. It's what I do. I FINISH MY TO-DO LIST NO MATTER WHAT," then you might want to rethink your relationship with your to-do list. It could be tipping into unhelpful territory. (Boo!) 

If and when you are ready, here are some helpful questions to ask yourself in order to help you tame your to-do list (or set it on fire, whichever you prefer). Use your responses as a guide to shift your relationship with your daily tasks:

  • Can a human realistically complete everything on your list and take care of themselves at the same time? Is there anything on this list that could wait until tomorrow? Next week?
  • Where is the pressure coming from to complete everything on your list NOW? What would you like to change about that? What feels possible to change?
  • What will happen to you physically, emotionally, socially, financially, and spiritually if you do not finish everything on your list today? Is this picture accurate?
  • What is one joyful thing that you could do with your day if you re-prioritized your tasks?
  • Have you ever had a day when you abandoned your to-do list and chose to frolic instead? What did you need in order to get into that head space? How could you get back there?
  • What meaning have you associated with completing the items on your list? Do you want to keep feeding that story? What is one thing that you could do in order to step away from that myth?
  • What do you need to start doing in order to make it possible to tame your to-do list? What do you need to stop doing? What is necessary for those to happen?
  • What can you tell yourself in order to soothe the to-do list monster when it raises its ugly head?
  • If you feel comfortable involving others in the process, how could the people in your life help you? How could you ask them for support?
  • What sorts of reminders could you keep around in order to support yourself in this change? A quote? A song? A drawing? A scent?

I will close with a therapisty piece of advice if you choose to accept this quest: Remember that changing your relationship with your to-do list is a process. Some days are going to go more smoothly than others. Some tools will be more helpful than others. The important thing is that you recognize the issue and are trying to live differently. 

If you want extra support around this, set up a therapy consultation session with me

Lauren

 

An Interview with Maggie Maye, Hilarious and Bad Ass Comedian

This month, I got to interview Maggie Maye, a hilarious, bad ass comedian. I first met Maggie at a Texas Women in Business conference where she spoke about her evolution as a comedian over several years. Her ability to move between light humor and honest vulnerability spoke to her skill of the craft; she made the audience laugh and cry at the same time. I knew that I HAD to interview her, and I am so glad that she agreed!   

Tell me about yourself and what you do:

I’m Maggie Maye. Long story: I’m a stand up comic, improviser, sketch performer, writer, lover of the Oxford comma, and actress. Short story: I’m a comedian.

What motivates you to do what you do?

I’m motivated to do this because it’s what I’ve always wanted to do. Making people laugh is the best thing in the world and I genuinely love doing it.

Tell me about how your self-image has changed throughout your comedy career:

Experience has made it so that I no longer just feign confidence on stage. I’m able to see myself as capable because the experiences I’ve gone through have proven it.

How do you get through periods of self-doubt?

In periods of self-doubt I make myself keep working. It can be really toxic to allow yourself to be incapacitated by those feelings, so I continue to put in the work. I remind myself that I am talented and competent, regardless of how I feel. I like reading mantras and inspiring stories because in addition to encouraging me they remind me that I am not the only one who goes through those feelings, and that others have pushed through and become better. I also try to keep in mind that these feelings are temporary, and use prayer and meditation help me to center myself.

What do you want other women to know about self-acceptance?

Self-acceptance is something you always deserve. It doesn’t mean you’re perfect, it means you are worthy of love as you are. It doesn’t mean you’re complacent. It means in your journey to become a better version of yourself, you give yourself a break when you commit a human error. It's not vanity or a crutch; it is self-care. I encourage you to not only accept yourself, but to love yourself. You deserve it.

I love that Maggie speaks to her shift in self-perspective as capable with comedy. The idea that this image can change is key. We are not stagnant people; we are always evolving. Our experiences can help us recognize how strong we have become and how capable we are. That self-reflection is an amazing thing! Thank you for reminding us of this Maggie! If you would like to learn more about Maggie Maye’s work, you can check out her website here.

If you need help connecting to your inner strength, you can check out my services for individual therapy here.  

An Interview with Jessica Luther, freelance writer, author, and social justice spotlighter

Photo taken by Janelle Renee Matous

Photo taken by Janelle Renee Matous

This month, I was fortunate enough to interview Jessica Luther, freelance writer and social justice spotlighter. She is doing truly powerful, transformative work around sports and violence, a topic that many sports professionals and fans would like to ignore but shouldn't. Luckily, Jessica won't let us. 

Tell me about yourself and what you do: 

I am a freelance writer and journalist who most often covers the intersection of sport and violence. I have a book coming out in September titled, Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape. I'm perhaps most known for co-reporting with Dan Solomon about Baylor almost a year ago and breaking that story wide open. 

I am also a mother to a nearly eight year old. I've been with my partner for over seventeen years and married to him for thirteen. I bench press, I make good biscuits, and I read a lot of romance novels. 

What motivates you to do what you do?

It feels cliche to say it but a sense of justice (or, maybe, the feeling of constant injustice) motivates me. I want the world to be a better place and I believe it can be. I believe each of us, in small actions in our everyday lives, can do that. The work I do is an extensions of this, perhaps on a larger scale. I demand care and empathy and precision in my work so I expect it of my peers, as well, which is why I find myself not just reporting but also doing media criticism. That all stems from this motivation to correct injustice as much as I can, given the limits of this world, society, and my own abilities and time. 

Tell me about a moment when you felt truly awesome:

Every single time my son, on his own without prompting, extends empathy to a friend or even just someone he has heard about, I feel like I have succeeded in life. Whenever he recognizes other people's right to bodily autonomy and expresses the importance of consent, especially in regards to other children his own age, I feel truly awesome. 

Professionally, seeing the results of our work on the Baylor story, the consequences that are still unfolding from our initial reporting, is intensely gratifying. 

How do you get through periods of self-doubt?

I have intense self-doubt that is often layered with extreme anxiety; the two feed each other. I find that the best way for e to deal with these moments is to withdraw from the work for a bit, let it simmer, and wait until I am feeling more confident. Sometimes this can take an hour, sometimes three days. And more than anything, I have to give myself permission to do this. I can't get angry that this is the best way for me to handle it or I only feed the anxiety, which then continues to fuel the self doubt. 

What do you want other women to know about self-acceptance and self-celebration?

That it's necessary and more than okay to have self-acceptance and to practice self-celebration. This doesn't make you selfish or egotistical. In a world where women so rarely are awarded those feelings and actions, providing them for yourself is critical. 

I love that Jessica points out the importance of taking time to grow in confidence. In a fast-paced, immediate-gratification society, it can be easy to forget that we need time to simmer. This is especially true in social justice work that can leave us feeling vulnerable and raw. That permission to simmer and self-compassion around the process is key. If you would like to learn more about Jessica's work, you can check out her website here. You can also pre-order her upcoming book, Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape, by clicking here

 If you would like to learn how to grow in your self-acceptance, check out my offerings for individual therapy and therapy boot camp.

Why I named my practice Hope and Humor Therapy

Over the past few months, several people have asked me why I named my practice Hope and Humor Therapy. Oftentimes others are taken aback by the name; they will ask me to repeat it once or twice. I am guessing that they expected it to be more straightforward or speak just to the pain and suffering of clients. Those things just don’t happen to fit my perspective on therapy. 

I chose Hope and Humor, because I think that those are the things that get us through the rough stuff, and they create space for joy in the therapeutic work. To me, hope is your belief that things can change. Perhaps you need me to hold the hope for you every once in awhile. Maybe you don’t know how or what needs to change in the moment, but you believe that a shift can happen. You know that your soul wants to sing a different tune.

Humor is your ability to see the lighter side of the darker moments. You won’t see it all of the time; otherwise, it wouldn’t be a tough time. Perhaps just for a second you can catch a glimpse of the lighter side. Something unexpectedly catches you as funny, or you specifically take a moment to watch a hilarious cat video. Whatever it may be, these moments break up the “blech” feeling that can envelop you during a hard time.

Both of these are key to therapeutic work. You have to believe that you can change, and you have to hold onto light moments while you change. Trying new things, creating new ways of thinking, letting go of old patterns, all of these are required in therapy, and all of these can really suck sometimes. These skills are brand new to you, and you aren’t going to be good at them at first. In fact, you might be downright horrible at them. That’s okay! Your hope, your humor, your resiliency, and our work together will get you through.

The name Hope and Humor also creates space for joy in therapeutic work. As you move through the tough stuff and learn new ways of handling it, you can have really ecstatic moments. I have them with clients all of the time, then they ask me if we are really, “Doing therapy,” since they are having fun. The answer is: Hell yes! All feelings and experiences are welcome here; this is your space to feel however you feel and experience whatever you need to experience, hope, joy and humor included.

If you are ready to experience a different way of doing therapy, connect with me here

- Lauren, HHT 

An Interview with Valerie Nies and Regina Soto, hilarious Help Wanted co-podcasters and bravely honest women

Everyone, meet Valerie Nies and Regina Soto, the two hilarious women behind the weekly podcast Help Wanted, where they interview experts on self-help topics. From first listen, their funny and heartfelt exploration of each subject stands out. They truly want to learn more about living differently, and they bring listeners along for the journey. 

Tell me about yourself and what you do:

Valerie - I write marketing communications during the day. My evenings are filled with creative projects: writing, performing, and watching comedy (I host a regular stand-up showcase at The Institution Theater) and producing and co-hosting Help Wanted. 

Regina - I'm an improviser and a podcaster living in Austin, Texas. I work for the wonderful state of Texas for my day job and enjoy being a part of the thriving Austin improv community at night along with recording Help Wanted. I have two of the sweetest dogs anyone could ask for and I cook a mean steak. 

What motivates you to do what you do?

V - Validation, usually in the form of laughter, from other people. 

R - I enjoy making people laugh, I have since I was a kid. Improv and podcasting allows me to do that and collaborate with some amazingly talented people at the same time. My end goal is to leave the world better than I found it. My hope with our podcast, Help Wanted, is that people will be able to relate to our honesty and ourselves and get some helpful life tips at the same time. 

Tell me about a moment when you felt truly awesome:

V - I felt truly awesome when I first published a piece in McSweeney's -- a humor website I've loved since college but didn't have the guts to submit anything until over a decade later. That lasted about a day. In the 6th grade I took first place in the school-wide geography bee, which surprised even me. The prize was a book on natural disasters from National Geographic, which is super funny to me. "Congratulations on knowing about European mountain ranges! Now read this book about wind speed destruction during tornadoes!" I think this might in part explain why I enjoy success for about a second before I'm overcome with dread and anxiety.  

R - I was a radio DJ many years ago. I had an idea for a half hour talk show. I wanted to talk about self-improvement topics and how to live a better life. I decided to pitch it to the President of the radio station, I so I asked him for an hour of his time, drafted up a plan to pitch to him and summoned every bit of confidence that I could find to tell him my dream. He said, "Yes, do it!" I walked out of there amazed that I had the guts to do it and that I was heard and that I got what I wanted. I felt truly awesome. 

How do you get through periods of self-doubt?

V - This is a fascinating question. I experience a lot of self-doubt with writing. The path out of it for me usually involves reveling in it first. I feel doubtful, I procrastinate and distract myself with things of varying degrees of self-destruction. I'll wast time comparing myself to others on social media, binge-watching critically acclaimed comedy, shopping, Tinder, involving myself with someone else's problems, lately I've been into small-batch artisanal ice cream. Eventually something shakes me out of it; I think I get tired of listening to myself and isolating, and I start desiring connection with other people who are doing what I do.

R - Self-doubt is tough. It'll stop you from even trying anything new, because you can talk yourself out of it so easily. I still allow myself to have thoughts of self-doubt, but I push forward and past them. When I was younger, I read a book called, Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway. It changed my life. It's okay to have doubt and fear, but you have to do things anyway. Oftentimes you have to do them while you're feeling scared. I realized that the more I did things I did think that I could do, the more confidence I gained. Even if I didn't succeed, I learned something either about myself or how to do it the next time I tried.

What do you want other women to know about self-acceptance and self-celebration?

V - Self-acceptance and celebration feel unnatural and challenging to cultivate. I'm super fortunate in that I'm surrounded by an army to remind me to do this: my therapist, friends, strong women mentors, massage therapist and self-help resources... So I think what I want other women to know is that it's our role to help other people remember to accept and celebrate themselves, because no one is going to remember to tell herself that on her own, all the time. Also, Louise Hay has a bunch of books and audio on affirmations, which sound cheesy, but I think help. 

R - I want women to know that not accepting yourself as you are is really an attack on your spirit. It makes life harder and sadder and takes joy away from the moments that could be wonderful. Life is hard enough. We don't need to add no accepting ourselves into the mix. Once you accept and celebrate who you are and what you bring to the table, life becomes easier because it's one less thing to obsess about and worry about and be sad about. We're not perfect. Our bodies aren't perfect, but who cares? We need to cherish ourselves and be grateful for what we have and not focus on what we don't have. The older I get, the more I realize how much time I've wasted putting myself down or comparing myself to others. I want to be comfortable with myself because it makes life so much more fun.

See what I mean about honesty and hilarity? I love that Valerie and Regina speak to the struggles with self-doubt. Those feelings and real, and you can also work through them. We can forget that sometimes. It takes effort, but it is possible! I also appreciate the tips of surrounding yourself with supportive people and cherishing ourselves for who we are. So great! If you want to learn more about their work, you can check out Help Wanted here

If you want to learn new ways to accept yourself, check out my offering for therapy boot camp. In five sessions, you will walk away with a new sense of self-acceptance and new ways to fight your self-doubt.

- HHT

An Interview with Jennifer Aldoretta, CEO of Groove and all around Bad Ass

Everyone, meet Jennifer Aldoretta. She is a fucking powerhouse who is empowering women around their reproductive health. Holy shit! That is a cause that I can get behind. I am so very glad that Jennifer exists and that she has chosen to do this work.

Tell me about yourself and what you do:

Put simply: I’m a women’s health nerd. In 2013, after more than a decade of being on the pill and struggling with painful periods, I started my company, Groove, because I wanted to help educate others about reproductive and menstrual health. That education takes many forms, including our period tracking app, online courses, Humans with Periods project, and humanitarian initiatives. I’m passionate about helping people feel empowered by their bodies and breaking down destructive period taboos that affect people across the globe. I spend an embarrassing amount of time reading medical journals, I love riding my bicycle, and I enjoy lounging around the house with my pup, Bailey.

What motivates you to do what you do?

My mom has been sick on and off for most of my life, and, when I was in high school, one of my sisters was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease that she still battles today. On top of that, I’ve struggled for most of my life with excruciatingly painful periods. So at a very young age, I became aware of how fragile and precious life is, and how quickly health problems can overrun your life. As I’ve gotten older, those experiences have helped me realize that I’m not willing to wait around hoping that someone else will make the changes that I want to see in the world — if everyone waited for someone else to take that leap, nothing would ever change. Steve Jobs once said in an interview, “Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it.” It’s true. I have something unique and wonderful to offer the world, and so does everyone else.

Tell me about a moment when you felt truly awesome:

The moment that comes to mind is probably the first time one of Groove’s app users emailed us and told us that she was pregnant. She and her partner had been trying for quite some time with no success, and then this app that I helped create gave her the education she needed to finally conceive. She was so grateful, and it was the best feeling in the world. That was probably the moment that I felt truly confident in my decision to dedicate my life to helping people understand and feel empowered by their bodies.

How do you get through periods of self-doubt?

When I start to doubt myself, either in my work or in my life, I try to take a step back and think about what my goals are. I try to remember that my life and my goals are so much bigger than a few moments, days, or even weeks of doubt. Recently, I’ve adopted the mantra “Focus less on what you fear and more on what you want.” I repeat it to myself whenever I’m feeling down about something, and it works. It helps me reframe my thinking and focus more on my goals than on my negative feelings in that moment. 

What do you want other women to know about self-acceptance and self-celebration?

Self-acceptance isn’t always something that comes easily — especially in a society that tells you it’s conceited to celebrate yourself. It requires a lot of diligent, consistent work. Everyone has moments of self-doubt, but it’s what you do in those moments and how you treat yourself in those moments that make all the difference in the world. The great thing about self-acceptance is that it has a snowball effect. Even something as simple as repeating a mantra can change the way you feel about yourself.

I am struck by the fact that Jennifer took something painful in her life and turned it into her life’s work. That requires some serious self-empowerment, which we assume is an inborn trait that either you have or don’t. Not true! Jennifer’s interview reminds us that empowerment and self-acceptance are skills that we can practice. The more we use them, the better we are at them! If you want to learn more about Jennifer’s work at Groove, check it out here. You can also meet her and the other women who have been interviewed for Humans with Periods, like yours truly, at a happy hour this Sunday. Click here for details!

If you want to work on flexing your empowerment muscles, check out my individual therapy or therapy boot camp offerings!  

An Interview with Laurel Kinney, stylist for your core self!

This month, I interviewed Laurel Kinney, personal stylist and genuinely kind person. I have been lucky enough to meet up with Laurel a few times to discuss her work. She is so caring and empathetic! Every time we chat, I feel so appreciative of her views on style and self-confidence. They are deep! Check out her thoughts below 

Tell me about yourself and what you do

I am a personal wardrobe stylist and I love working with creative professionals and general bad asses who want to better reflect who they really are via their personal style.  I work one on one to figure out who you are, and how to align your mission & beliefs with the clothes you wear.  I have a really fun, therapeutic, efficient process which includes sorting the closet, personal shopping, and styling new outfits with everything in the closet.  I also am launching a group online course in style discovery this June called the Style Shift Workshop!

What motivates you to do what you do?

I am motivated by the depth of personal style.  I truly believe that everyone can experience the power, confidence, connection, and creativity having a style you love can bring.  Your style is the first way you communicate with people, and it matters on so many more levels than just the surface.  I feel more motivated, focused, and free when I know my outfit is aligned with who I am, and I want everyone to have that feeling.  It's exciting because it looks different for everyone, and I never get bored! 

Tell me about a moment when you felt truly awesome:

Recently I had a client who needed a new wardrobe for her new career.  Seemed simple enough, but when we scratched the surface we realized the clothes she'd been wearing were very related to a hardship she'd experienced in her life, and were being used as a shield to protect her from anyone getting too close.  When you're dressing in a very overtly loud way, you're shouting to the world "I'M FINE, DON'T MIND ME!" but this doesn't always serve us once we've dealt with our sh*t.  It was really exciting to explore a more approachable (but one not devoid of personality) style that supported the person she'd become, and was reflective of where she wanted to go next.  

How do you get through periods of self-doubt?

I usually find that my self-doubt comes from fear/anxiety about the future. How will I make a million dollars?  What if I put myself out there and people don't like me, or worse, no one even notices at all?  I have a really strong group of entrepreneurial women pals and a business coach who all know what it's like to experience the ups and downs of business ownership and providing a service, and I really rely on them to be a touchstone when things get icky or weird.  It also helps to remind myself to celebrate the fact that I am actually living out my dream career every day, warts and all. 

What do you want other women to know about self-acceptance and self-celebration?

DON'T FORGET TO CELEBRATE!  I realize I already said it but it's so important!  It's so easy to meet a goal and shift right on over to the next one, but without acknowledging the work you've done and the things you've accomplished, what exactly is the point?  On the personal style tip, I have to mention that many people think they need to look a certain way or make a certain amount of money before they address their personal style, but I know it is possible to feel amazing in your clothes no matter what size, shape, or income you have.  By wearing what makes you feel confident, you're opening yourself up to far more possibility in life than you know! 

As someone who has changed careers a few times, I can truly appreciate the need for shifting clothing in order to fit a new path in life. It really does make a different in how you carry yourself and how you approach situations! (At least it did for me.) Feeling good about yourself and what you present to the world is so important; style should reflect and support that! You are so right Laurel. If you want to learn more about Laurel's work, you can check her out here. 

 

An Interview with Julie Gillis, producer, speaker, and all around bad ass

Last week, I was lucky enough to have lunch with Julie Gillis, teller of stories, social justice warrior, and critic of the patriarchy. During lunch, she shared her thoughts on self-acceptance, social constructs that keep us from appreciating ourselves, and the importance of telling your story. Spending an hour with her made me feel so energized and intellectually engaged. She is so fucking cool! I really love that I get to share her ideas below. 

Tell me about yourself and what you do:

I’m a producer, speaker, and facilitator focused on stories, social justice, and building community. I produce transformational storytelling events merging art and social change. I also consult on projects for both stage and screen, supporting groups seeking to forge the most impactful narrative in their work. I speak, write, and support those who need to reclaim the narrative in their lives. In addition, I'm an activist focused on gender, sexual, and racial justice. I've been a producer of BedPost Confessions, a storytelling series about sexuality and gender, and produced Ladies Are Funny Festival for 6 years.

What motivates you to do what you do?

That's a good question! I just feel the call to do it and so I do. I've always been a helper type, even since childhood and I've always been drawn to the theater and performance. It made sense that over time those two drives would join up. I believe people need each other to get through life, that life itself is messy and it's only by sharing our stories that we find clarity through it all. The more I've seen amazing results from people sharing their stories, the more I want to do the work. It also brings me a lot of different groups - activists, artists, local political groups, educators and more. I love getting to work with so many different people who themselves are trying to make the world a better place. 

Tell me about a moment when you felt truly awesome:

There have been moments after BedPosts where someone will tell me how the show has really helped them personally and that means so much to me. I have a belief that we impact people all the time and often we don't hear about the "how." It's very special to me to get to hear from someone who has had a moment of that impact, to know that the work I am doing is important in some way to someone. I also will admit to feeling awesome on the rare days I get to sleep in especially if it coincides with a thunderstorm. I love thunder. 

How do you get through periods of self-doubt?

With bourbon? No, seriously, I tell myself this, "Just last week you felt great, and I can remember when you felt bad say...three weeks ago. Things will get better." Self doubt is always there, for me at least, and I figure its there for a lot of us. It's important to have a group of friends to talk to, learn from,and be able to admit that doubt. And to track the ups and downs so you have real proof that you come through it. 

What do you want other women to know about self-acceptance and self-celebration?  

That it's okay to fail at it so long as you try to accept and celebrate the fact that you fail at accepting and celebrating. I know that's ridiculous, but sometimes the meta is what you need.  As a generalization, women aren't taught to celebrate themselves, their power, their craft. It's good to practice it in little ways, and accept that in many ways culture is pushing against us. So keep at it, keep little reminders of your accomplishments and know that acceptance takes time and practice. At least for me it does.

Julie is so right about celebrating failure as an important part of life. Women especially aren't taught to accept and celebrate setbacks, which is to our detriment. Failure is inevitable. Let's remember those growth moments as well as our accomplishments. They make up our story! If you would like to learn more about Julie's work, you can check it out here!

If you want to learn more about how to celebrate all of yourself including your failures, you can check out my individual therapy services here!

An Interview with Jessica Pearson and Beth Barnett-Boebell, the Awesome Women of Path Nutrition

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Jessica Pearson and Beth Barnett-Boebell, the food coach and functional medicine dietitian behind Path Nutrition. They offer Austinites nutrition counseling with personalized support, and they are fucking rad! I asked them to share their insights about their work and their lives, so we can all bask in the glory that is two bad ass Austin women doing great work! 

Tell me a bit about yourselves and what you do:

Beth is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and I'm a Food Coach. We met in culinary school and realized we share passions for travel, coffee, and things that make us snort laugh. After graduation, we started to share work projects. We realized we can make a bigger impact working as a team than as individuals. We created Path to provide reliable nutrition counseling with a uniquely personal approach. 

What motivates you to do what you do?

We put a lot of thought into refining the "why" of our work. We know that when we feel our best we are able to do more of the things we love. When we feel that joy of doing what we love then we are able to give more of ourselves back to those in our lives and to our community. We feel great when a client tells us that they finally feel good enough to start living the life they really want. That is why we believe nourishing yourself allows you to take on the world and make it a better place. Just think what the world would be like if we created more happiness in ourselves.

Tell me about a moment when you felt truly amazing:

We had a hard time picking just one moment! Tapping into your inner awesome really allows the amazing moments to flow. When you nourish yourself, you can find that amazing feeling in so many ways. Sometimes just nailing that Vinyasa flow or clearing out your inbox can feel as good as a vacation. My most recent moment was last Saturday at my husband's show. He is a musician and when he plays and I'm surrounded by close friends and everyone is dancing, my heart is full.

Beth recently had a particular moment where she explored an old passion that you can read more about here

How do you get through periods of self-doubt?

Luckily, we have each other. We often joke about this roller coaster ride of being entrepreneurs and women. We have been through enough individually and experienced enough therapy to be able to check-in and observe our feelings.

So sometimes it is just about feeling that emotion and knowing it will pass soon. Or, if it feels intense we communicate with each other or our spouses. We lift each other up with a little pep talk and that helps us get over the hump. Movement is a very helpful mood boosters and sometimes a nap is all you need. 

What do you want other women to know about self-acceptance and self-celebration?

Self-acceptance is about being who and where you are right now and knowing that you are enough. I think self-celebration supports self-acceptance. Taking some time to praise ourselves and acknowledge the work we do and the joy we experience brings more acceptance and confidence. If we aren't able to accept ourselves now, then will we be able to accept ourselves when we get to this imaginary place we created in our minds in the future? Probably not. The work is here and now. The joy is all around us. :)

Gosh, they are so right! Sometimes, we forget the connection between how we treat our bodies and how we feel. That can really effect the lives that we lead, especially if we are sensitive digestive souls! We all deserve to live a life full of self-celebration, and our nutrition issues should not hold us back. I am so glad that Austin has a resource like you two! If you would like to learn more about Path Nutrition, check out them out here!  

If you want to dig deeper into your own feelings around self-acceptance and self-celebration, check out my offerings for individual therapy here