Building Healthy Habits for Mental Wellness

You have probably seen or heard lots of different suggestions on what to do if you are feeling down, depressed or anxious. I.e. “go outside”, “exercise”, “journal”, etc. It can be frustrating when we know the things to do, however, we just can’t seem to do them. Or we struggle to do them consistently. If you have ever found yourself feeling frustrated for “falling off” of a healthy habit, this is for you! 


First- Identify the healthy habit you are wanting to start.

Make sure it is small, measurable, and reasonable. 


Second- Identify why this habit is important to you.

Make sure your answer to this is personal and bonus points if you can identify what value it is aligned with. Try to avoid your reason being “because it is good for you” or “because someone told me to”. Yes, these can be the initial reasons, however, if the only reason we are doing something is because we “should” we are not likely to stick with it. Try to dig deep and find a personal connection to this habit/action. For example, if your healthy habit is to journal daily 1 positive thing and 1 thing you struggled with from that day. You might connect this with your value of balance or value of gratitude. By connecting our habits with a value, we have more buy in to continue to engage in the healthy habit. Another option is to align your healthy habit with a larger goal you have. This could be exercising or training for a race.


Third- Identify what time of day you are most consistent.

For some of us, we are most consistent in the morning because we have a morning routine we engage in prior to work. If you have a more fluctuating or busy morning, you might find more consistency in your evening routine. Once you have identified the time of day you are most consistent, pair your new healthy habit with an already established routine. This could be when you take your vitamins or medicine, or when you wash your face in the evening before bed. 


Finally- Be realistic with yourself.

You are not going to engage in your healthy habit 100% of the time. It is important to remember you are human. If you are too black and white, you will not be successful. If you miss a day, give yourself grace and re-commit for the next day. If we beat ourselves up for missing a day and give up, we are going to stay stuck. 


Remember, building habits take time. The more you connect and align with your habits, the easier it is to stick with it. Don’t forget you can always go back to the drawing board. If a habit is not working for you, come back to this and try again. You may have picked something too big or not aligned fully with your values. Start small, stay mindful, and you will succeed!




Amy Narusas, LCSW is drawn to helping clients process difficult events, find their meaning in life, heal from past experiences, and cope with anxiety, depression, and life transitions. She has a specialization in substance use and mental health and is trained in Cognitive Behavioral TherapyAcceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy.


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How to Overcome Self-Sabotage

In our series, From Dr. Frock’s Desk, we sit down with Dr. Frock to gain a psychiatrist’s perspective, anecdotes, and tools on a variety of topics. This month, we are talking about why it can be so hard to do the things we know are good for us, and how to overcome self-sabotage.



Can you explain what self-sabotage is?


It’s important to understand that self-sabotage is something we all do. It’s not inherently pathological, or representative of a specific personality issue. The best way to think about self-sabotage is as any behavior or action, conscious or unconscious, we engage in that is directly in opposition to a stated goal.

There are some more dramatic cases that we all might be familiar with. For example, someone is in a loving and healthy relationship but then engages in behavior that might abruptly end the relationship. It can also be something comparatively minor like procrastination or perfectionism. There’s a wide range of self-sabotage – so you can think about it as a broad term that describes a behavior that takes us down a path that seems to conflict with our goals.



Procrastination is such a common example. We know it’s not helping us, so why do we do it?


Procrastination is often perceived safety. We are consciously or unconsciously thinking, “I’ve never really done this before, so why try so hard just to fail?” It might seem appealing to just not try and avoid the failure up front. Perhaps in the past, not reaching a goal led us to disappointment, pain, or embarrassment, so we self-sabotage as a form of short-term relief from the anticipated failure. “If I don’t try, I can’t fail.” The payoff of procrastination is short-term, but ultimately it is quite limited and doesn’t get us anywhere.



If we’ve learned the hard way in the past, should we listen to our brains?


It depends on the issue. There was a point in time when it really benefited us to be trained to be afraid. If you imagine living in 4000 B.C. and you were attacked by a tiger after walking past a specific tree, it would be very advantageous for you to think about the tiger attack every time you walk by a similar looking tree, and even avoid those trees altogether.

The legacy of that primal fear response has carried over to the present, but in our day-to-day lives in a modern and much different society, our brain tends to treat things as a threat that simply aren’t life threatening. For example, just because your last four relationships have gone badly, doesn’t inherently mean that the fifth one always will. In this way, “protecting” ourselves by ending the relationship prematurely, isn’t actually helpful even though our brain may see it this way overall.    



Could you explain how to overcome self-sabotage?


The opposite of self-sabotage is self-care. However I don’t mean the kind of self care that people often think of – the consumerist driven idea of self-nurturing (like bubble baths and candles, spa day, etc), but rather being honest with yourself and caring for yourself with tough love. We want to be careful to not engage in “self-care” that is actually just further avoidance. 

An example might be, if you’re struggling financially, yet continue to live paycheck-to-paycheck. Instead of wondering where all your money goes every month, sit down and make a spreadsheet of all your debts and spending so that you can address the root of the problem. Another example, for folks who struggle with deadlines or assignments, would be to actually buy a calendar, take some time to map everything out in a highly detailed way. Self-care is not an inherently pleasant thing and is more so an investment in your future self. 

In order to overcome self-sabotage, we need to assess the situation and what we truly want, and then look in the mirror and say, “I don’t want this. I’m not going to settle for less. I’m going to change it.” 

There is a radical difference between offering ourselves self-care through tough love and self-care through nurturing. Both have their place, but the tough love is the one that will see you address the elephant in the room, break through any self-imposed boundaries, and take action to feel better about yourself and your situation.



If self-sabotage seems to be a cycle, do you have any tips for combatting it? 


Before we really engage in the kind of self-care I mentioned, we actually need to assess what is going on. What is the behavior I am actually doing, and what is it getting in the way of? When we’re doing something that is different from what our stated goal is, there’s definitely something there to explore. We have to identify what is actually underneath the surface and what’s driving this self-sabotage behavior. 

First off, we might not actually want to do what we say we want, but it’s rather something we feel like we’re expected to do. However, if we do indeed want to achieve our stated goal, there could be a painful core belief getting in the way of productive behavior. For example: “I’m not very smart, so I’m not going to apply to this program.” or “I am not lovable, so I’m not going to put myself out there.” 

Sometimes these behaviors are so ingrained in us that even after we’ve identified them, we’re not sure what the next step is. I think it’s okay to admit that, and to work with a coach or therapist to help jumpstart our behavior change and learn how to not avoid hard and/or scary things.



What if you can’t identify the driving behavior?


It’s very common to identify a pattern of behaviors but not be able to grasp the deeper meaning or root cause. In fact, I would say that almost everyone has difficulty with this when dealing with more complicated aspects of our lives, such as relationships. We are overall just not very proficient at self-assessment in an objective way. I think this is exactly where psychotherapy comes into play as it can help us uncover these triggers and limiting beliefs that might be holding us back from our full potential.

This is actually a common reason, whether they know it or not at the time, why people might seek psychotherapy or coaching

Without this deeper level of understanding, self-sabotage behaviors lead many of us to thinking “What’s the point?” This then can drive emotions like anxiety, anger or depression, and behaviors like isolation or acting out. This is often a chief issue that can be addressed in therapy with the goal of bringing about positive change.



In it for the Dad Jokes

I never thought I’d find myself in the role of “Dad.” It always seemed like it was something that was for somebody else, not for me. When I found myself facing the inevitability of becoming a parent, I knew I had an opportunity to design this role from scratch, in a way that worked for me – a way that would complement my identity and individuality (if possible), but still allow me to be proud of my job as a parent. I didn’t have a lot of traditional models of what this was supposed to look like, so I looked inward.

So, what does that look like? Spreadsheets…just kidding. I saved the spreadsheets for tackling the nursery projects, but for something like this I needed to sit with my thoughts and self-reflections. For me, this was visualizing my kid 40 years in the future, and listening to her talk about what her dad was like. How did I want her to remember me? What did I want her to say?

Thinking of these future words that would not be mine to speak, but would be mine to influence through action, made it clear that I had to actively choose how I wanted to show up as a dad. Did I want to be like my dad? Did I want to be like Don Draper? What kind of dad did I want to be? What does the narrative look like, and what did I need to do to bring that narrative to life?

To answer those questions, I had to think about my own values. Not only what my values were, but also the values that I wanted to outlive me. Life hack: discuss these values with your partner, and ask them to share theirs, so you can get in agreement and operate from a unified front. Parenting is a full contact, strategy-based team sport.

Talking about my values with my wife, listening to hers, and making some new ones together was the hard work (big surprise, we share a lot of the same values. Some that brought us together in the first place, and others we adopted along the way). The values that came out of those conversations have informed the big and small decisions we’ve made, and will continue to inform the ones coming down the pike that we don’t even know about yet. There’s no time to figure this shit out in the middle of your first, “does this qualify for the emergency room?” moment.

Things change and parents constantly have to adapt, but starting with a plan that’s based on your values lets you respond on the fly from a strong base. It sets you up for success. You’re not always going to be right, but at least you’ve made thoughtful decisions instead of just letting things happen unintentionally.

So, we know the pre-work is important, now it’s time to think about how the rubber hits the road…as in, how do you deploy this information? To me, it’s kind of like doing a group project – you have to put together a plan, work together, and tackle it. From my perspective, it’s hard. It’s boring at times. But, boy do I get a kick out of it.

We can all agree that communication is a crucial skill in a group project. I’m not really sure if the impetus for my improved communication was a result of becoming a parent or what my wife does for a living, but I’ve learned that there’s no such thing as over-communicating and explaining my intentions and thought processes. My natural inclination is to share as little as possible about what I’m thinking, and I am certainly not one to jump at the opportunity to explain “why” I’m doing something. The 15 year-old-boy in me still thinks sharing is stupid, but I realize that it’s a necessity. Parenting involves a lot of multitasking, and with at least one eye and one ear on the kids at all times, it’s no surprise that intentions and motivations can easily get lost. When you communicate your motivations, you can understand where your partner is coming from, leaving a lot less room for (mis)interpretation, and a lot more room for appreciation.

Dads are important. I’m half of the equation shaping my kids’ future. I’m half of the puzzle, so I’m equally as important and accountable to being a role model for our kids. The first time I heard the f-bomb come out of my two-year old daughter’s tiny, high-pitched voice, it became clear that she is watching and listening at all times, and is emulating me (and my colorful language), whether I like it or not.

I’m not going to lie, all of this can be exhausting. I’ve had to be really thoughtful about what I put my energy into. I realized quickly that there’s a lot of distracting shit out there, and how important it is to prioritize. You’ve got to work on your day job, keep up your relationships, and make sure your kid doesn’t turn into Darth Vader. Sometimes you’re just trying to survive, and that’s ok. Role modeling grace will go a long way for your kiddo. So, crack yourself a Natty, you’ve earned it dad.

Wesley Belden, Founder of Raise Financial and Scholar Raise and father of two, builds tools to ensure a brighter financial future, no matter where you currently are on your financial journey.

Happiness Hacks: Mental Health Month – Week Five

That’s a wrap! What an amazing month it has been! Our guests have blown us away with their insights, honesty, education, and openness, and the last week was no exception.


Grace Goodwin Dwyer

Grace is a registered dietitian and lactation expert here in Nashville. She helps women to prioritize when it comes to nutrition.

On Intuitive Eating

She gave us some wonderful advice on how to incorporate intuitive eating into our daily routine. Intuitive eating is based on the idea of eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full. Simple right? But in today’s culture of a million diets, intuitive eating promotes a healthy attitude towards food and body image. She gave us some wonderful advice on satiety and how to incorporate intuitive eating into our daily routine.When it came to wanting sweets after a meal, Grace had three suggestions:

  1. Ask yourself if you are still actually hungry and you need more of the meal that you just ate (remember eating slowly and with intention will help you decide this!)
  2. If the answer is no and you are satisfied, but still can’t get rid of that sweet tooth, then Grace suggests satisfying that craving in a manageable amount so that later on you don’t over do it because you denied yourself for so long.
  3. Move on sans guilt! (We love this)

On Mental Wellness

As with many of our other takeover guests have recommended, Grace recommended getting recommended getting that a daily dose of fresh air and moving your body in some way as a simple way to manage stress and boost your mental wellness each important for mental wellness.

On What to Eat

Finally, Grace gave us some killer ideas for wholesome meals. Her key: eat food that makes your body and mind feel good. Here is one of our favorites, simply pick an item from each of the 3 categories and you have an easy, balanced and satisfying snack:

Category 1

  • dried apricots or figs
  • cherries, berries
  • sliced apples, pears, peaches, melon
  • cucumbers, broccoli, celery, pickles

Category 2

  • toasted bread
  • pita chips
  • seed crackers
  • tortilla chips
  • flatbread crisps

Category 3

  • nut butter
  • guacamole
  • yogurt dip
  • edamame
  • sliced meat (deli or leftover)
  • tofu cubes
  • nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios, peanuts)
  • seeds (pumpkin, sunflower)
  • spreads (pesto, tapenade, hummus, babaganoush)

For more, visit Grace’s website.



Amanda Bell

Amanda Bell is the owner and manager of Bend and Zen Hot Yoga Nashville. She shares why yoga has been so pivotal to helping her maintain mental wellness.

On the Ripple Effect of Yoga

Originally, Amanda was drawn to yoga for the physical benefits, but as her practice continued to develop, she began to notice a ripple effect. She started to gain mental endurance, learning non-reactiveness and resiliency, and taking those lessons and applying them “off the mat”. She learned how to use breathing techniques as a source to calm and realign herself with the present moment. And most importantly, she learned how to connect with her emotions.

On Movement and Emotions

Yoga has given her a safe space for her to experience and show her emotions. As a business owner, she had often felt that she needed to keep her emotions under lock and key. She has found that during her yoga practice, she is able to tap into emotions that she has been storing her body.. Sheshared these insights for deeper emotional connection:

  • By moving your body you are changing hormone levels. This endorphin release can help to bring about an improvement in mood.
  • One does not always need to maintain a  tough and strong persona. Allow yourself to show a softer and more vulnerable side in order to create depth in your emotional range. Doing this in a safe space is a great place to start.

On Where to Begin with Yoga

  • Studio hop! Explore each of the studios in town to find a place that feels like home.
  • Give yourself permission to let go of something that isn’t serving you, knowing that you can show up however you need to the class.
  • Show yourself some love and grace when starting your yoga practice.

On Meditation

  • Meditation doesn’t have to look a certain way – all you need is a quiet space.
  • Taking a moment to breathe can help you move forward from a place of anxiety.
  • It is not about not thinking, but controlling what you are thinking about, choose one single touchstone as your focal point.

Decide what takes real-estate in your head.

For more, visit Amanda at Bend and Zen.



Ali Schaffer

Ali Schaffer is a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in reframing and helping clients find a new perspective. Reframing is not about simply putting a positive spin on situations, because we’d miss the lessons from big emotions and difficult conversations by doing that. Reframing is about creating a new view or experience of something so that we can arrive at new solutions that we might not have seen before. Remember, some situations don’t end in a solution, but a new ability to exist in an elevated level of understanding.

On Big Emotions

Ali reminded us that big or heavy emotions have value. The ability to experience these emotions improves the depth and the richness of our human experience. In fact, trying to avoid, run away, or diminish heavy emotions could be taking more of a toll on us than we realize.

On Comparative Suffering

Comparative suffering can be explained as “This isn’t as bad as someone else’s situation, so I am not justified to feel this way”. When we experience emotions through comparative suffering we:

  • Set ourselves up to discount or diminish what we are experiencing, creating an unhealthy view of the emotion or experience.
  • Put a value or judgement on the emotion.
  • Set ourselves up in a place where we can’t move forward.

Instead, Ali suggests taking a “both/and” approach

  • Both aware of your own experience and acknowledge the experience of the other person/people.

On How to Approach Therapy

  • Think about what you are looking for? What is going on in your life, can you name it? If you don’t know the answers specifically– that is ok!
  • Schedule an intake phone call. This is a great opportunity to have a conversation with a therapist to see if they are the right fit for you.
  • Go to a session!
    • You don’t have to be an expert at “going to therapy”.
    • You can let the therapist know that you need help navigating the experience.
    • Virtual sessions are making going to sessions even easier.
    • Try out a few sessions, the first few might feel a little awkward, but you are learning about yourself and the process.
    • If it is not a good fit, most therapists will help you connect with someone who is a better fit for you.

For more, find Ali on Instagram.

Happiness Hacks: Mental Health Month – Week Four

Time sure flies when you’re having fun… and being inspired! Our guests during Mental Health Month have shared their hearts and a TON of knowledge, and this week has been no different. Let’s dive into our recap of week 4!


Nicole Volpetti

Nicole is the founder of Creative Girl Corporate World, a community built for women who are on a journey of self-discovery. She is on a mission to to empower women to live and lead consciously; guiding them to deepen their inner self-connection.

On Mental Wellness

Mental wellness doesn’t have to look like perfection, it can be little things that you incorporate into each day which serve as stepping stones towards bigger leaps of mental wellness.

Try starting your day by turning away from your phone and tuning into your needs:

  • Instead of fighting it, Nicole has accepted that she is a slow riser, so has built 30 minutes into her schedule to allow herself to wake up gently.
  • She enjoys spending 10 – 20 minutes to enjoy her coffee while journaling, or listening to music or a podcast.

Be aware of being on autopilot:

  • Recognize your feelings and when you feel out of alignment
  • Experiment with various spiritual and wellness tools (bath, breath work, meditation, movement, etc) until you know what works for you, so that you can develop an emotional wellbeing toolkit to tap into during times of stress

On Physical Wellness

Take a moment to notice your body and what it might need throughout the day. This might look like taking short breaks to stand up and stretch, or going for a walk. When it comes to working out, give yourself a little grace. It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress!

On Mindful Eating

Try your best to step away from your computer at lunchtime and enjoy your food with intention. This can help with:

  • Taking a moment to slow down mentally
  • Better digestion
  • Creating more awareness around your body’s need and satiety cues

Nicole loves to eat outdoors while listening to upbeat music.

Prompts to Help you Explore your Wellness:

  • What are some of the things I already do every morning that I can start enjoying more by taking the time to slow down?
  • What area(s)of my body feels like it needs my attention? Pro tip: identify the areas in your body that need your notice using your intuition, then research what Chakra (our Spiritual energy centers) is related to that area of the body.
  • Look for the emotions associated with that Chakra and how that might be manifesting physically.
  • What tools have I cultivated to support emotional well-being?

For more, visit Creative Girl Corporate World


Valerie Martin

Valerie is a licensed therapist, yoga teacher, animal advocate, and literal tree hugger. Every weekday morning she hosts the podcast {re:}charge, which is all about supporting you in getting aligned and energized for the day ahead.

On Simplifying your Routine

The first thing she does after waking up is move her body as a way to connect with her body before connecting with her brain. Val recommends simplifying your routine with consistency. By removing extra decisions, like what to eat or which workout to do, you can start your day off in an organized way, and you’re more likely to stay consistent with your goals.

On Getting Outside

Getting outside daily by taking walks and connecting with nature is a non-negotiable for Val’s mental wellness. Breathing fresh air is such a basic element of self-care, yet so many of us skip over it.

Fun fact: Val often records her podcast while taking her walks to capture the sounds of nature in the background.

On Being Inspired

Val encourages everyone to find something they can read every day that can help inspire, realign, or ground yourself.

Write out a list of your “essentials”, the things that ground your or bring you joy. When you’re having an off day, there’s no need to make a decision about what might help, you can simply refer back to your list.

Pro Tip: Val hangs a childhood picture of herself in her office as a reminder to be kind to herself.

Follow Val on Instagram.


April Dace

April is a respected producer and creator of music videos, documentary shorts, photography and television series. As the owner of Dace & Mohr, April’s name is tied to all kinds of high profile projects, yet she’s maintained a passion for personal connection and authenticity.

On Having the Confidence to Start Her Own Business

April flipped the production company model on its head, by seeing an opportunity to create a roster of directors, producers and buyers who aren’t tied in to the old contract model. It took a while to get the courage to go out on her own, but she recognized that she had it in her to take the leap and bring her vision to life. Her top tips for those wanting to start their own business:

  • It has to come from your heart – something you’re passionate about.
  • Don’t be afraid of a new approach.
  • You will have moments of fear, but trust your gut.
  • Don’t be tempted to do something for success or recognition that is not for you – you will be miserable.
  • Lead with your heart.

On Mental Resilience

When one aspect of her overall wellness is lacking, she can feel it begin to affect other areas of her life, which is why mental wellness is an important part of April’s overall wellbeing. By nature, the entertainment industry is an industry of rejection, so to keep herself in a good mental space, April surrounds herself with life giving people. This looks like:

  • A support system of people who build you up, and not knock you down.
  • Surround yourself with people whose skills complement your strengths, but also challenge you to grow. People who will push you back into the ring.
  • Negativity can be contagious, so it’s important to cultivate a positive culture, with a healthy perspective on life’s ups and downs.

When things get tough, April taps into her spirituality and faith, with the understanding that she doesn’t have to be a fountain of confidence all by herself. When she feels out of alignment she leans in to exercise and physical activity. She also checks in with herself:

  • What is true?
  • What am I feeling?
  • What could be causing this?
  • She then leans into those truths, acknowledging that this is not all for her to carry.

For more, visit Dace & Mohr.


Kelly Hagan

When not performing violin, Kelly is the patient advocate for companies and publications that deal with the treatment of clinical depression. She aims to shed light on treatment options, new technologies and new outlooks on mental health.

On Depression

Kelly was diagnosed with clinical depression when she was 13, and it took every ounce of energy to hide it. Kelly was a different face of depression. There’s a huge misconception that depression looks like one thing, but Kelly was so high functioning, that it was hard to spot. For Kelly, depression wasn’t sadness, so much as it was feeling completely numb. She unsuccessfully tried dozens of medications, which either had horrific side effects, or didn’t work at all for her. Just like there is no one-size-fits-all face of depression, there is also no one-size-fits all medication. This can lead to many people opting to take medication that isn’t effective for them, just they don’t experience any side effects. That was the case for Kelly.

By 21 years old, Kelly had become suicidal. Luckily, she was introduced to Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) which ended the numbness and fog that she’d had to live with for 10 years. This led to Kelly becoming a patient advocate, because she realized that depression isn’t something you just have to live with, you just need to find the right treatment for you.

“It’s one thing to have a bad day, or a bad week, but when you start to have a series of bad months in a row, it’s time to reevaluate what’s going on, and get some help.”

On Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

In Kelly’s experience, TMS uses magnetic pulses to stimulate nerves in a clinically depressed brain. Foil is fitted over the forehead and rapid magnetic pulses are administered for about 30 minutes. The  pulses were painless – Kelly likened them to the feeling of someone tapping on your forehead. Typically, people need to go for 20-30 treatments.

If you’re trying to decide whether or not TMS is the right treatment for you, you need to understand the difference between clinical and situational depression:

  • Clinical Depression: Is not influenced by outside factors and will not go away without treatment
  • Situational Depression: Outside factors and experiences can create a situational depression – all of us can go through it from time to time, to a certain degree.

On the Healing Power of Music

When Kelly still suffered from depression, playing music allowed her to feel alive and feel a sense of relief. This isn’t an isolated experience or a coincidence – music is extremely unique in how it activates the brain. No other activity uses all the sense the way playing music does. It also causes the brain to release dopamine a.k.a. the feel-good hormone.

On the Music Industry

The music industry can be very mental fatiguing, Kelly’s advice is to find small ways to take the career aspect out of it for as long as you need to, because it can be easy to get caught up in the hustle and lose the craft. Regular check ins can help prevent you from burning your passion to the ground.

On Advocacy

Kelly is a patient advocate for Neurostar, the first TMS company to receive FDA approval in the USA. Being a patient advocate means that Kelly is the face of the treatment, letting people know her experience and spreading the word. After going through something as horrible as her clinical depression, Kelly wanted to find a purpose for her experience. She wants to help anyone who feels as lost and unfixable as she did for so many years.

“If I had survived cancer, or a life saving surgery, I wouldn’t be embarrassed to talk about that experience, so this [depression] shouldn’t be any different.”

Follow Kelly on Instagram.

Happiness Hacks: Mental Health Month – Week Three

We’re more than halfway through Mental Health Month and our brilliant guests keep bringing the wisdom! Here’s the recap, you might want to get a pen and paper to take some notes. 😉


Kenya Raymer

Kenya blew us away with her outlook on the connection between mental health and spirituality. Kenya is a spiritual guide with a masters in social work, a combination that allows her to deliver a unique service called Spiritual Therapeutic Sessions, which are spiritual readings that incorporate therapeutic theories. This interview was filled with so much wisdom and light, that we really don’t know if we’ll do it justice here. But, you can check the recording out for yourself here.

On Spirituality

The spiritual journey is two-fold. The first part requires you to connect with yourself and your gifts (btw “gifts” don’t have to be something supernatural. Think about what you’re good at and what comes naturally to you). This is where the deep dive into your self-awareness comes in, and this part of the journey brings you meaning. The second part of the journey is to connect with Spirit and use your gifts for the collective. This part of the journey brings you purpose.

The way Kenya defined spirituality had us levitating, it was so inspiring. She defines spirituality as “getting to know myself at the most authentic level, so that as my awareness of self deepens, my ability to experience the world expands.”

On Embracing Discomfort

As Kenya says, “you can’t Love + Light your way through healing or to wholeness. You MUST do shadow work/ego work/inner child work.” If you don’t get honest with yourself about what’s bugging you, you’ll always be out of alignment, regardless of what positive mantras you have. You must address the root of the problem and sit in the discomfort of those feelings before you can truly move through to be your highest version of yourself. Pro tip: never go to bed out of alignment.

On Going to Therapy

Kenya talks about therapy as an investment into your life, and something that everyone should do at some point. Obvi we couldn’t agree more. In her spiritual work, she helps bring people into awareness of past traumas or issues through which they need to dive more deeply. When you intentionally avoid those traumas and issues, it stays in your body as energy, and talking through these things help move the energy around and release it, so you can move past what’s bringing you down. Preach.

If you’re not ready to pull the trigger on therapy or readings yet, grab a journal and start to get curious. Here are some questions to get you started: “Who am I?”  “Who am I without a connection to other people?” “What is freedom?” and “What is my truth right now?”. Those might keep you busy for a while.

On Balance

Do away with it. It’s not realistic to be 100% in all areas of your life at all times. It’s so important to carve out dedicated personal time to check in with yourself and understand what you need. Honoring what you need in the moment is critical. When you set boundaries and organize your day/week/month into different areas – me-time, family time, work time – you can be more present in each of these areas vs trying to be all things at all times. Understand when you are spreading yourself too thin, and above all, give yourself grace. “Seek to pass all words, actions and thoughts through Unconditional Love, Universal Compassion for all, Grace for yourself and others, and your Truth.”

On Truth

You are the absolute authority on yourself, so “don’t seek externally for something that only exists internally.” Know that your truth can change. When you get to know yourself more deeply, your awareness expands and allows you to experience the world differently, thus what we know to be true evolves with us.

“Be more like the moon. She only shines once a month. The rest of her time is spent resting and evolving. Cycles are necessary for alignment.” 

Continue to follow along with Kenya’s story on Instagram.


Paul Nyhart

Speaking of truth, Paul Nyhart spoke to us about finding purpose with a refreshingly honest and passionate insight. Paul is many things – an author, producer, Podcast & TV host, and marketing pro – but his most precious moments have been advocating for communities who can feel unheard and ignored. Paul’s latest project, a podcast called “The Story of Bao,” highlights the experiences of individuals defining the moment in their lives when they realized what was precious to them.

On Telling Your Story

In general, people undervalue themselves. As a society, people have been trained not to share their truths, and because of it, we often don’t even realize that we’ve gone through life changing, and often inspiring, experiences. Telling your story is so important, regardless of the audience – you could share your story with the world or simply share it with a friend – you’d be surprised who you might inspire with your words. Plus, it’s a super helpful way to process your experiences.

On Finding Yourself

It can be so easy to bury the interesting things that are going on around you right now because it’s hard to be present in the moment. We’re not trained to think in moments, but rather, we tend to think in vague chunks of time, like “past” and “future.” Without even realizing it, we miss out on the joy that’s right in front of us.

But, what if you don’t know what brings you joy? Start by trying five new things, dive into them, and actively think about which of those really click with you. For example, through his work as a TV and Podcast host, Paul found that what made him tick wasn’t the idea of being behind the microphone, but rather from hearing other people’s stories – those who have typically been ignored in the past. This led him to continue this outside of the studio – advocating for the homeless and mentoring the incarcerated. It was through these experiences that Paul found happiness, purpose, and a deeper understanding of himself.

Finding joy is a journey, so don’t shame yourself if it feels like you don’t know! Similar to “Part 1” of the spiritual journey that Kenya discussed, Paul believes that “happiness is discovering who you are.” Anyone else have the chills?

What’s Precious To You?

Well, what is it? This is Paul’s signature question to help people dive into their self-awareness and ultimately happiness. We turned the question back on Paul, and his answer was all about connection with others and finding inspiration from unlikely places. This reminds him that people are inherently good and strong, which inspires him to do the same.

“If you can connect with a person, that makes you precious to them. By being who you are, you can inspire someone that you don’t even know. Both the beauty and the curse of life is that you’ll never know who you are inspiring.”

For more, visit

Happiness Hacks: Mental Health Month – Week Two

Two weeks into celebrating Mental Health Month and we’re more excited than ever! Not only have our guests been dropping truth bomb after truth bomb on us, but we’ve been so inspired that we’ve incorporated some of their mental wellness tips and practices into our day-to-day. If you missed any of this week’s content, not to fear, here comes your weekly recap…


Rachel Beauregard

Rachel is a musician and yogi, and we couldn’t wait to learn how she cultivated her wonderful sense of confidence and comfort in her own skin. It all started with a really positive and supportive upbringing, but Rachel noted that at some point you take your mental state into your own hands, and have to do the work to start understanding your tendencies and values.

On Loving her Body

When it comes to having a positive body image, it’s important to remember it’s a daily practice of figuring out how to be your own friend, instead of your enemy. Rachel also finds strength in the affirmations: “You HAVE a body, you are not your body.” She also noted that it’s important to recognize that you will have bad days, and no book or mantra will bring you out of it. At that point it’s important to acknowledge and be honest about your thoughts and your feelings, so you can eventually move on. Remember, “You HAVE thoughts but you are not your thoughts.”

On Acceptance of Change and Cultivating Grace

Rachel’s confidence and ability to go with the flow comes down to putting in the work:

  • Create a Routine
    • Makes you accountable to yourself
    • Allows you to start your day with presence
  • When Things get Tough
    • Have a check-in buddy, so that you don’t feel the need to hold it all in
    • Talk to a therapist
  • Start with Humility
    • Acknowledge that you can’t do it all, and that’s okay
    • Understand that what you can manage can look different from day-to-day
    • Make small changes, without beating yourself up for missteps
    • Be accountable and don’t make up excuses, but accept that you can make mistakes

On Pregnancy

  • Find a community, or person that you can reach out to that won’t shame you for your feelings
  • Understand that you can be SO grateful for the gift of a child, but that your hardships are still valid. You are allowed to complain
  • Ask for what you need

“Feelings are truth, but they are not you as a person, they are not your character.”

Follow Rachel on Instagram


Kathy Thomas

Kathy is a photographer, mother and the owner of Collective 615, the first women-owned coworking space for women in Nashville.

On Mental Health

As Kathy has grown wiser over the years, she allowed her own experiences, and the experiences of those closest to her, pique her curiosity about mental health. She began slowing down and peeling back the layers of her twenties and thirties, where she admittedly didn’t prioritize things like spiritual and mental health; and instead focused on who she is as a person.

“You cannot move forward until you truly face yourself.”

On Career Change

After working in corporate America, Kathy decided that she wanted to own her time, but found working from home alone isolating. She began looking into it and saw that women who worked from home saw an increase in depression. From experience, Kathy felt like her home was no longer her home, but her job. She had trouble with boundaries, with work infiltrating her personal and family time, and infiltrating a space that she wanted to feel sacred.

This inspired Kathy to open up her heart and eyes for what makes people work, and led to creating Collective 615. She knew she wanted to focus on a sense of support and energy of community.

On Being Role Model to New Business Owners

  • Give yourself a lot of grace.
  • Find a core group who supports you when you’re flat on your face. Your community doesn’t have to look a certain way, it needs to FEEL a certain way.
  • Don’t force relationships that have run their course. Sometimes with growth, you’ll outgrow certain friends. If a relationship brings you down or makes you feel bad, then let it go.
  • Asking for help can sometimes be the hardest thing, especially when help is one-sided. You may not be able to reciprocate right now, but don’t let that stop you asking for the help you need.

For more, visit Collective 615


Alli Mills Lindsey

A Certified Holistic Coach, Alli has a way of blowing your mind with profound nuggets of wisdom, wrapped up in the most accessible delivery. After years of teaching yoga, she looked into coaching as a way to help people become more present mentally and physically.

On Being Present

Our culture is so focused on go go go, and we’re so focused on the future that we can become disconnected from our present. It can take a lot of courage to acknowledge fearful parts of our lives, in fact our minds are programmed to move away from things that cause us fear. If left unchecked, this can lead to stress, lack of sleep, emotional distress and even physical pain.

On Grounding

Use your breath to check in with yourself at least once a day. What you notice will be different from hour to hour, day to day. But, by checking in, you can become aware of your feelings and needs, and your thoughts will remain fluid.

  • Close your eyes and notice your breath. Breath is a really powerful link to our life.
  • Take your breath into your physical body.
  • Take your breath into thoughts. Are they in the future? Are they in the past?
  • Take your breath into your emotions.

On Cultivating Mental Wellness in Young Women

In Alli’s work with young women from all backgrounds, she noticed a common thread: they were all stressed out, and what they needed most was a safe space to be quiet, present, and loved. Giving them space to let go and be themselves was huge.

Her advice to mothers and mother figures wanting to connect with their daughters is to have an easy presence, allowing them to come to you. If you make sure they feel seen, and you give them the space to just be, they’ll be more receptive on the occasions that you do need to tell them what to do.

Another big thing is teaching them grounding breathwork, and to listen to their inner wisdom. During the transition from child to adult, they begin to explore who they are, and can also often feel pressured to be someone else. Parents need to recognize and respect when girls are listening to themselves.

On Getting Unstuck

Patience is key here, it’s a process. Small turns can lead you away from your life’s purpose.

  • First things first, find out where you are. If you think of your life like a map; to get to where you’re going, you first need to understand where you are. Otherwise, no matter how good a map you have, you’ll likely remain lost. Be patient with yourself as you begin this inquiry.
  • Become more present. Focus on your breath – get grounded.
  • Take that first step, no matter how small it is. We often get so distracted by the end goal, that it feels insurmountable. The universe will respond, but you have to take that first step.
  • Think about your purpose. Think about where your path changed – what led you that way? Start to notice the things you do that make you feel like you have purpose.
  • Come into your power. Finding your authenticity and living an authentic life is powerful. That’s not to say there won’t be bumps in the road, but it will give you a better ability to return back to who you are.

“If you make enough right steps, you will eventually get home.”

For more, visit Alli’s website

Koula Callahan

Yogi, Koula Callahan, took over our stories to give us a peek into a day-in-the-life and how she uses mindful movement to set herself up for success.

Koula typically starts her day with a yoga class, whether or not she’s teaching. A key to her mental wellbeing, is a rule she sets for herself – no looking at the phone until after class. This mindful movement helps her to start her day from a place of physical presence, working out any tensions and resistance she might be carrying. It also helps her to start her day from a centered and calm space, keeping her in her limbic brain for longer, and building her up before the stresses of the day weigh her down.

On the Importance of Mindful Movement

Mindful movement helps to develop the mind-body connection, and helps us work through structures in the body that are keeping us stuck. It also increases the activation of your prefrontal cortex, and helps to develop self awareness and self compassion.

People with a mindful movement practice:

  • Experience less stress and anxiety
  • Are less likely to develop cognitive disabilities
  • Sleep better
  • Are less likely to get sick
  • Have an improved mood

On the Brain

The limbic brain is where you process emotions, creativity, and the subconscious self. The prefrontal cortex is where you process higher thought patterns, problem solving, and is essentially the part of the brain activated throughout your workday.

By spending time in your limbic brain before you activate your prefrontal cortex, you help develop your emotional intelligence and process your thoughts through the unconscious thoughts that could be keeping you stuck. This is why it’s key to spend your mornings doing something mindful, (think: movement, walking, or writing) before checking email and moving into the ‘higher thinking’ part of your brain.

“With practice, you can become more integrated with yourself, your emotions, and your physical self.”

Follow Koula on Instagram

Happiness Hacks: Mental Health Month – Week One

We’re celebrating Mental Health Month with a group of incredible folks who are sharing their unique perspectives on Mental Health with us through a series of Instagram Live interviews and account takeovers. Each week, we’ll be sharing a recap of our favorite insights and tips from each of our experts, so without further ado let’s dive into week one!


Liz Devaughn

We kicked off Mental Health Month with a bang, and a really fun and informative interview with Licensed Professional Counselor, Elizabeth Devaughn of Woman Emerging. A little background: Liz grew up in an environment of trauma and addiction, which sparked her interest in mental health for herself, but also a passion for helping others to heal their emotional wounds.

On Fear

Our fear lives in our lower or reptile brain. This lower brain activity is meant as a survival mechanism, which is great if you’re being attacked by a bear. It becomes less beneficial when the fear and stress are less immediate and more constant (hello modern lifestyles!).

You can identify if you’re stuck in a pattern of fear if you are engaging in lower brain activities, like constantly scrolling through your phone, constantly watching the news, and focusing on things out of your control. If you find yourself having more arguments with loved ones than usual, that could be part of the fear cycle too. When you are getting into that lower brain, practice self soothing, such as breathwork.


Your trauma can empower you if you integrate it into your story and grow through it. Here are Liz’s top tips to empower yourself in times of fear:

Watch your language!

  • The brain takes language as truth, so constant negative language or language that makes you feel guilt can actually wire your brain into a negative state.  Pay attention to how often you say the words ‘can’t’ and ‘should’. Remove them from your vocabulary!

Empower yourself:

  • Use “I” language. Start saying ‘I can’. Remember that “the brain that fires together wires together”. Wire your brain into believing that you are capable, and it will automatically start to recognize and maintain a sense of calm.
  • Break your problems down and focus on the things that you can control (Hint: you can control you).
  • Set small, digestible goals.

On Relationships

Liz has a great conflict cheat sheet – she even uses it as a guide when having difficult conversations with her husband!

  • Ask permission. Be aware of others’ boundaries, they might not be able to have a big conversation right this minute. If they can’t talk now, schedule a time when they can give you their undivided attention.
  • State your intention. Explain why this conversation is important to you, and express that you don’t want to lose them by having this conversation.
  • Use eye contact.
  • Speak from a place of ‘I’. “I feel really hurt when xyz happens” vs. “You did xyz.”
  • Take breaks to self soothe through the senses – bringing you back to your upper brain: If either of you feel that you’re getting reactive, ask to take a time out. More is at risk when you’re having a difficult conversation with those closest to you, because there’s more to lose. That’s why it’s so important to take a break before the lower brain kicks in and starts an argument.
    • Put  your hands on your belly or chest and apply gentle, firm pressure while taking a few deep, intentional breaths.
    • Smell essential oils, put your bare feet in the grass, hold a crystal or touchstone.

Check out Woman Emerging’s website for more.


Kim Breese

Next up we spoke to Healing Touch Certified Practitioner, Kim Breese. Kim’s journey started with a successful career in corporate America, that left her body and mind feeling unhappy. She began to take a more holistic approach to her health which led her to Healing Touch, and at once she knew she’d found her calling.

On Healing Touch and Energy Therapy

Energy therapy helps to regulate and move energy throughout the body. It can support anxiety, depression, physical pain, fatigue and spiritual connection. We’re so used to being told by everyone else what we should feel and what we need, and energy therapy allows us to connect with ourselves and tap into our own calling.

Healing Touch is a type of integrative medicine therapy where practitioners use gentle touch or a hovering of hands for a general relaxation and calming effect. The effect can be so relaxing, that practitioners are able to “go into” the body to release things we’ve been holding onto. Think of it like talk therapy for the body – as Kim says, “We hold our issues in our tissues.” The body can often speak louder than our thoughts can, and Healing Touch gives you the space to lean in to that, and peel back the layers.

On Grounding

Kim seems to radiate calm, so we asked her how she stays grounded:

  • Listen to your body.
  • Meditation. Don’t be intimidated by it! It’s okay if thoughts come up while meditating. Meditation also doesn’t have to be sitting still, if you get lost in something, that can also be meditative.
  • Spend time in nature.
  • Get enough rest. Take naps if you need them.
  • Reach out to friends.
  • Having a cup of tea. Or any act of taking care of myself that feels good to me at the time.
  • Talk therapy. Sometimes you just need someone to ask the right questions to help you to tune in to yourself.

“Stop and ask yourself: What’s going to help you continue to feel good today? Part of the healing process can be really uncomfortable, but the other side is so worth it.”

On Spirituality

To Kim, spirituality can be found in anything that brings you joy. She believes that we are greater than our physical bodies, and that there is something larger than us that is stringing us together and along. Spirituality is the ability to rely on that feeling/notion when times are tough.

Kim is a spiritual guide, in that when she is working with someone, she will have an image in her mind, or may start a conversation or bring back a memory for the other person. The message she receives is simply a jumping off point. Much like other therapies, it’s up to you to then take that message and act on it, in order to tap into your deeper self.

She encourages you to lean in to trust and faith. There are things out there that support us in ways that we can’t understand.

“You are doing the work. You are going to have days that are really bad, but there’s something better coming along that you just have to trust.”

For more, visit Kim’s website.


Jessica Smith

A familiar face at The Happy Hour’s workshops and on our Instagram, Licensed Professional Counselor, Jessica Smith took over our stories to give us a peek into what self-care looks like for her while sheltering in place.

On Routine

In times of uncertainty and disruption, we need to create our own stability and consistency. To do this, Jessica suggests keeping a routine. If there’s something you want to make time for each day, write it on a Post It and stick it up somewhere you can see it. Jessica’s Post It says: “Daily Work: Motivation, Movement, Meditation.”

Other top tips for keeping a healthy routine:

  • Start your day by fueling your body with a nourishing meal, just as though you were going out. Take the time to make you meals with love.
  • Create a workspace that feels comfortable.
  • Go for walks in familiar places.

On Motivation

Staying motivated isn’t always easy, that’s actually where a routine can come in handy, because habits tend to be stronger than motivation, especially on those days where you’re feeling particularly “meh”. That being said, creating a motivating environment can help lift your mood and get closer to your goals.

Jessica’s tips for staying motivated:

  • Get an accountability buddy and do virtual workouts together. Keep each other motivated!
  • Make time to catch up with your loved ones to keep your spirits high. FaceTiming with her niece is the highlight of Jessica’s day – and we’d venture a guess that it’s a highlight for her niece too!
  • Fill your space with things that make you happy. This could be photographs of loved ones, candles, flowers – anything goes!

On Movement

Movement is key for both health and mood. Find a way to move every single day. This could look like walking, going for a run, yoga, or a combination of things. Find something you enjoy and you’re more likely to stick with it.

On Meditation

We’re all suffering from anxiety and uncertainty, so it’s key to find ways to control our thoughts, and bring us back into the right here, right now, where we’re safe, and know that everything is going to be okay.

Here are Jessica’s favorite tips to help calm your mind and bring yourself to the present:

  • Create your own calm. Jessica’s favorite affirmation for meditation is “I am peaceful, protected and secure.”
  • Practice gratitude. Ask yourself what you’re grateful for each day.
  • Manage your thoughts by writing them down. Journaling is a great tool for gaining clarity.
  • Let your mind escape into a book.
  • Use scented candles, or essential oils to help ground you.

“Be still. Focus on what you can control. Know and believe that you are okay.”

For more about Jessica, visit her website.

Social Distancing Survival 101

The other morning I walked into my local coffee shop, ordered my usual, plus a bag of beans to make coffee at home. This is a really normal thing to do, but I felt a pang of sadness and fear as I placed my order. You see, every morning, I walk my dog and we end our walk at this little gem of a coffee shop. As someone who lives alone, there’s a sense of family when you see a familiar face every day who knows your name, and just how you like your coffee. I didn’t realize quite how important this daily ritual was to me, until I was faced with placing my last order for the next few weeks.

Asking fellow regulars to please not pet my dog (in case he ends up carrying the virus on his fur) felt like I was rejecting them on his behalf. I felt guilty. But that feeling quickly turned to relief as they elbow bumped me in solidarity, vowing to catch up over coffee and shower extra love on my pup when this is over. Suddenly, that feeling of community I was scared of losing came rushing back, because never before have I felt more like we’re all in this together.

As I walked home, I started panicking again, realizing that I touched the card machine with the same hand that was carrying my bag of coffee beans. I made a mental note to wipe the bag with alcohol when I got home. Shit! I just touched my face… There’s nothing like a viral pandemic to make you realize just how much you touch your face. After running the gamut of emotions, I returned home feeling mentally exhausted… and weirdly dirty. I just wanted to roll around in sanitizer and crawl into bed until this is all over.

Our community has been through a lot lately, and while there’s definitely been some good in between all the bad, I’ve found myself frustratedly yelling to my empty apartment, “Can I just get a break?”. When I’m stressed or scared, I tend to lean in to humor, so I turn to social media and laugh at the memes. Then I see the news and go back to feeling heartbroken and scared. But then I see the videos of Italian neighbors singing together from their windows, working out together on their balconies and my heart swells at how beautiful and resilient the human spirit is.

While watching the Italians rally together in impossible circumstances, I made the decision then and there not to cry myself to sleep in a vat of hand sanitizer, but instead to use the extra time on my hands for good, and to seek new ways to stay positive and connected to my community while social distancing.

Social Distancing Goals. Image source:

Social Distancing Goals.
Image source:

First Things First: Self-Care

Now is not the time to cancel any therapy or coaching sessions. Remember the coffee buying emotional roller coaster that I mentioned? Yeah. Just because it’s very normal to feel sad, scared, and all over the place in this kind of extreme situation, doesn’t mean we won’t benefit a lot by talking it out over the phone. Our team at The Happy Hour has been working hard on bringing you some virtual events over the coming weeks to help you find community and support during this unsettling time. So watch this space!

I contacted my trainer, told him what limited equipment I had at home, and asked if we could do Skype training sessions instead. I’m the kind of person who relies heavily on working out for keeping me sane. I experience stress very physically and I need an outlet – especially now. By keeping my same training time, it keeps me in my usual routine, and the virtual interaction allows me to maintain the social aspect of my training, all of which helps to keep things feeling somewhat normal in these very abnormal times.

Proper nutrition is the foundation of good health, so I made a list of the kind of things known to help with immunity (think berries, citrus, garlic, turmeric, bone broth, lots of leafy greens & colorful veggies) that I could meal prep and freeze in order to limit my trips to the grocery store. I’m a bit of a foodie, and the likes of ramen noodles and canned tuna would get depressing fast, so I got creative. Spoiler alert: there’s a lot of nutritious soups and tagines in my future, and I’m not complaining!

I’ve set limits for the amount of social media and news I’m consuming. Because for every funny meme, there’s a scary news clip, and I don’t need to stress myself out unnecessarily going down the rabbit hole of doom. That’s not to say I’m sticking my head in the sand – I religiously check reputable sources like the WHO and CDC twice a day to make sure I’m up to date. But the rest of the day it’s remote work with my amazing team, and Schitt’s Creek… again.

I took a cue from The Happy Hour’s co-founder, Clara, and decided to channel my emotions into this blog post. And you know what? It feels damn good. If you haven’t written down your feelings over the last few weeks, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Socialize Creatively

As someone who’s moved around a fair bit, I have friends all over the world. Never before have all of our social calendars been clear at the same time, so you bet I’m scheduling FaceTime dates ASAP! Who says our social lives have to suffer? We might be physically distancing ourselves, but with technology, there’s no reason not to connect socially. In fact, it’s crucial not to isolate ourselves in times of stress.

If your gym or yoga studio isn’t holding online classes, why not get a group of friends together over Skype and take turns leading different kinds of workouts? It’ll keep you active, accountable and social (and probably laughing), without needing to leave your home. If you are able to safely do your workout outdoors, even better. A little fresh air is good for the mind, body and soul.


It’s times like these that our small businesses need us more than ever. I’ve made a point of placing orders with local farms that are offering delivery/drop off services. Keep your eyes on social media to see who’s currently open, as it changes daily. Supporting local businesses helps put food on their tables and keeps the economy chugging along. Next on my list is to get a couple of gift cards for things like yoga studios, nail salons and restaurants to help keep them afloat over the next few weeks – and to give myself something to look forward to once social distancing is over.

If you know of any elderly people, or other immune compromised people in your neighborhood, why not call them up and ask if you can pick up their prescriptions, or get them some food next time you do a grocery run? Make it easy for them to stay home and stay safe.

Also, don’t forget local non-profits. So many people (and animals) were displaced during the tornado, and social distancing and perfect hygiene might not be luxuries they can achieve right now. Continued donations of money or wish list items can make a world of difference, especially in areas hit harder by the tornado like North Nashville and Mount Juliet.

Work from Home

No, that’s not an oxymoron! A big part of keeping things feeling normal-ish for me is sticking to my routine as much as I can. It’s so easy to slip into working from bed, which then turns into Netflix over lunch & next thing you know you haven’t left your bed in days & it’s full of crumbs. Ew David! (Have I mentioned I’m watching a lot of Schitt’s Creek?)

I find setting an alarm and making my bed helps me start my day with purpose. Getting dressed is also key. Simply switching from pjs to leggings & a cozy sweater helps signal to your mind that you mean business, comfy business.

I have also created a dedicated work space in the corner of my living room. This space allows me to get in the zone and focus without distractions, but also allows me to “leave the office” at the end of the day. Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean that your work should creep into your down time.


Be thankful for our heroes. Of course that will always include our troops, first responders and doctors, but in these strange times, the people working checkout counters, making deliveries, and taking away your trash are also putting themselves at risk for you. A small gift card could lift their spirits and help their family more than you know. Heck, even a heartfelt “thank you” can go a long way these days.

It can sound trite to suggest gratitude at a time of so much uncertainty, sadness and fear, but if you and your loved ones are healthy, you have a lot to be thankful for right now. I’ve accepted that it is normal to feel ungrounded right now. That it’s okay to be cheerfully catching up with friends one minute and feeling tearful the next. But ultimately, I’m grateful.

I’m grateful for my health. I’m grateful for my sweet dog, Enzo, who’s the best snuggle buddy when I feel scared. I’m grateful to be able to work remotely. And I’m so grateful for the inspiration and hope that has been instilled in me by my own community, and people around the globe who have found connection and moments of joy in this difficult time. Our spirit is stronger than this.

Waves of Gratitude and a Psychic Reading: My Journey to Spirituality

When a mentor of mine first encouraged me to blog about my journey to finding spirituality, I tried to look for reasons to say no. Not only because it had been so long since I had written, but also because I was worried that I wasn’t going to have the time to do these big spiritual activities let alone write about them. I had imagined that the stops along this spiritual path were all going to be huge, time consuming endeavors. It’s so funny to me now how so much of what I was doing was being motivated by saving time (and yes, fear). Nevertheless, I decided to consider it, and did what I did best at the time – made a to-do list, detailing exactly when and how I was going to approach each of these activities. Yes, I made a to-do list of how I was going to find spirituality. ::facepalm::

The things on my list were “big,” meaning time consuming and expensive. I knew a routine like this wasn’t sustainable, but I was so excited and curious about what I might find, that I started off aggressively. Having already whizzed through the first half of my list, I’ve been pleasantly surprised that often the biggest change has come from the small things. The really doable things that I’d been putting off because I didn’t believe something so easy could have such a profound impact.

Before I jump into the power I’ve found in small changes, let’s talk about a “big thing,” because let’s be honest they are super fun and interesting. A Psychic Reading was always something I wanted to try, but had allowed fear to stop me. Fear told me that a psychic may predict something horrible and out of my control. Fear also asked me what would happen if I started to truly believe in this metaphysical stuff? I’ve always felt a deep sense of intuition, but haven’t listened to it. Maybe I was scared to think about what might change in my life if I became a true believer. This time around, curiosity swooped in to save the day…what’s the best that could happen? I set boundaries with myself that for this first reading I would take everything with a grain of salt, and not make it such a big deal. It was a really cool feeling because I was walking into something completely new with pure excitement instead of my usual intense nerves.

I had no idea what to expect, but the psychic was warm and unintimidating, while confident and matter of fact. We started with an astrological reading based on my birthday, and then she pulled out a deck of tarot cards to “see what was coming up” for my family, me, and my business. A lot of what she said resonated, but most importantly brought me into a state of presence and self-reflection.

Some of the concepts she brought up were so specific and spot on that it made me start to trust that everything is more connected than I once thought. I shed some tears when she brought up some things that I too had been feeling so strongly in my gut, but didn’t have the confidence to know for sure. I still don’t know if you can ever know for sure, but it felt good to know that somebody else (and an objective source) felt it too.

When she provided some less specific information, I liked that I could interpret it how I wanted. It brought me closer to self-awareness, and acted as a prompt to get me thinking about some things that were sitting just below the surface. I took the information and used it to coach myself and reflect on what her words meant to me. I left feeling excited, filled with wonder, and proud that I tried something new.

A major takeaway for me though, is that this “big experience” wasn’t the only answer that was going to get me to the peace, calm, connection, and presence I’m looking for. I don’t think any one thing can do that. It was a valuable and fun way to complement my spiritual practice, but the biggest gift on this journey so far has been what I’ve received from making the smallest changes.

It feels a little underwhelming to say, but the most impactful way I’ve uncovered my authentic spirituality is through reading and writing. I know, snore, but daily journaling has been the key to bringing me closer to an authentic and lasting state of gratitude.

If you read the last post you know that I like to journal about how I got over my BS yesterday, or how I’m going to get over it today. I have also found another tool I’m using to help me understand my place in the universe as a whole, and to inspire my journaling practice. It’s called “The Book of Awakening,” by Mark Nepo.

I was introduced to this book by a fellow life coaching trainee. She started each day by reading one page from this book of daily devotionals and profound messages. In my desperation to find a spiritual ritual, I copied this practice from her. Real original, right? But, the thing about spiritual practices is that if they are truly authentic to you, they’ll wind up in your hands one way or another. I no longer look at it as being unoriginal, but rather as the universe putting me right where I was meant to be to discover a practice that has become so meaningful to me.

Here’s an excerpt that spoke to me, particularly as it pertains to this journey, “When we find our spirit on the move when we are pretending otherwise, the tension can be ripping. It leaves us all with the need to learn how to discern between an innocent not-knowing and a willful looking away. This is an inner knowing that can determine whether we will live like a dog at the end of our leash or whether we will run free through the grasses of life.”

The presence that has come from this new daily routine has at times suggested, and other times slapped me in the face with new truths.

One thing I know to be true is that I want to run free through the grasses of life.

I don’t know why I was so apprehensive about getting back into journaling. Maybe because it made me feel like an emo teenager, or maybe because I didn’t think it was deserving of my precious time. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Committing the time to explore my being through journaling, has been an empowering experience that has actually made me more productive.

A beautiful side effect of journaling has been that it has kept my gratitude list top of mind. Not only does this gratitude put things into perspective, but it has physically helped me relax and feel lighter. There’s actual science behind this that says when you think about what you’re grateful for, your brain releases dopamine and serotonin (the feel good neurotransmitters), and the more often you do this, the stronger these feel good neural pathways become, creating a more permanent positive nature. I remember having read that at some point but haven’t actually experienced it until now.

I am now relishing in little things and messages I may have previously raced right by without second thought. These little things now trigger waves of gratitude as I go about my day. It may sound crazy, but I don’t really care because even if it is, it sure feels good.

I feel compelled to note that as much as I’d like to walk around like Buddha all the time, I am human and it’s not always all bliss. The past few days have really tested me, and I didn’t always like the way I reacted to things. The good news is that I now know what tools to use to get me back to being grounded versus continuing to spin out of balance.

It’s hard to put into words the way this “grounding” feels. I’m going to share with you a note from my daily journal that brings to life the gift that this spiritual journey has given me versus trying to rewrite it into some beautiful prose. Here goes:

From Clara’s journal, February 12th: “It’s Tuesday, and I’m writing out an overwhelming to do list. Both kids are still sick, it’s raining outside, and I am dragging ass. In the midst of writing my to do list, I get to item #9, and when I normally would begin to panic, I felt a wave of gratitude. I can’t really explain it other than my chest feeling filled with light and love, and a smile came to my face. Maybe because with a shift in mindset, more gratitude, and a feeling of connection to something bigger, my to do list doesn’t seem like such a daunting task anymore, but rather a collection of all the wonderful things that make up my life.” 

Today I tried something new. I only put one thing on my to-do list: Flow.