Losing the weight

It’s a common theme in therapy. “I don’t like my body.”

But it isn’t quite that simple, is it? What don’t folks like about their bodies? Sometimes it’s dysphoria, sometimes it’s a chronic illness or disability. Most of the time, though? It’s not that someone doesn’t like their body. It’s that they don’t like how they feel about their body. Or they have a specific image in mind as to what their body should look like, instead of learning how to love the body they actually have.

A lot of us get stuck in attaching health to body image and size. From friends and family messages to culture, to media, there are specific ties that we build between thin, muscular, toned bodies and health and attractiveness. And then we compare ourselves against that and assume that because we are not x enough, we somehow have less worth, are less loveable, less attractive, etc.

This can present problems not only in how we feel within our own bodies, but how we relate to our partner’s bodies. Bodies change. They age. At some points, your body might be cushier than normal, and at others, it might be leaner. Heck, as you age you may even lose some of your height! If we have one, fixed view of what is and is not attractive and desirable, we are setting ourselves up for a lifetime of disappointment and self-loathing.

So here I am, here to help you finally lose that weight. Give me twelve weeks of commitment and reach out to a counselor, and you’ll be well on your way.

D’s guide to weight loss:

Step one: Separate the health of your body from the image of it. These are two separate creatures that require different approaches, and one does not equal the other. Far from it! This is an ongoing practice of noticing when your thoughts are unconsciously connecting the two, and then breaking the bond between them and mentally pulling them apart. Over, and over, and over again. Our focus will be on health. At every choice, with every thought, we are asking “Is this a step toward true health or a step away from health?” You can also ask yourself “Does this honor me?” Health can be accomplished at any (and every) size, so don’t cross the health and image beams, got it?

Step two: Pick exercises that you find joy in, and let’s call them joyful moment activities. Not ones that focus on or promise results. Something that you look forward to doing, that you miss if you don’t go, and that you feel good walking out of. Do you love dancing? Swimming? Pickleball? Maybe you’re a runner, but that’s not necessary. Perhaps your joy is in nature on long walks or good hikes. Maybe you love the serenity of yoga or the challenge of pilates. Maybe you like doing this alone in your home, the sound of a busy gym, or the camaraderie in a group workout class. Maybe you just want to feel stronger. It could be that your life is stressful and what you need is a solid kickboxing class. Whatever it is, Marie Kondo that. Does it bring you joy? Great. If it doesn’t, then throw it out.

Step three: Create space for rest. Rest. It is so important. Please honor your body (sound familiar?) by giving it restful sleep each night. Nap when you can and your body asks it of you. Skip a workout if your body is begging for a break. Find ways to relieve stress other than overworking out, binge eating, restricting, or couch potato-ing it. Do things that make you sigh in relief each day. A nice bath, meditation, journaling, reading, an occasional nap, fishing, walking the dog, you name it. If you can’t let go of stress, the weight won’t let go of you, either.

Step four: Let go of tracking size and get off that scale. Whether you think you should lose weight or gain muscle, let it go for now. Instead, we’re going to be tracking compassion, strength, sexiness, and other feel-goods. Pick one for the week, and rate your felt experience day after day. Today, I feel a 4 on sexiness, and yesterday I didn’t move my body much. So today, I’m going to experiment with using my body in ways that feel good, and maybe tomorrow my sexy feelings will be a 5 or 6. Make sense?

Step five: This one is from Emily Nagoski. Every day stand in front of your mirror “as naked as you can stand,” and identify one thing you like about your body. It could be the shape of your nails, your hair, or your eyelashes. It could be your pinky toe. It does not matter what it is, as long as you genuinely – and this is the important part – *genuinely* like it. Can’t find something you love? What about something you don’t mind? We are not doing inauthentic affirmations. We are finding exceptions to the beliefs we hold. For the first two weeks, just find one. It’s okay if it’s the same, or if you find different ones. As the weeks go by, try adding more or switching it up.

Step six: Pay attention to what you put into your body. Not in a controlling or obsessive way. If it brings you anxiety, it’s in the wrong direction. We’re looking at what makes you feel good – not just now, but later today, tomorrow, and later this week. What does your body feel like when you eat more whole foods and step away from the packaged food aisles? What about when you consume less media that encourages unrealistic ideals? If you experiment with a week of eating whole foods, or unfollowing accounts that leave you feeling less than and following a broader array of bodies and people – how does it feel? How can you allow yourself to eat for pleasure, and choose to pause if the motivation to eat (or to not eat), or to drink or smoke comes from boredom, anxiety, or sadness? Is there another activity that would help soothe you? Can you retrain your mind to consume only that which nurtures you?

Step seven: Ask who taught you that. Many of the beliefs that we hold about bodies, attractiveness, and worth come from people and companies who profit off of us not feeling good enough. Want to look like this? Buy this underwear, wear these sunglasses, and dab on this perfume. If you learned negative body feels from your parents, wonder where they learned it. And think about how your life might be different if you were raised with love, health, and acceptance. Ask yourself who you learned your beliefs from, and then check in with your values. Do you want to do what those people said? Or do you want to make your own rules?

Step eight: Look for authentic connections with others. Humans can only thrive when they are in genuine connection with other humans, and sometimes we avoid social settings when we’re uncomfortable in our skin. If you’re low on friends, pick an activity that you would go to for the sake of it. Enjoy the activity, and be open to getting to know who else is there for their own enjoyment, too. Now you have a regular time to see them, less pressure to make friends and a built-in commonality. Art class? Writing workshop? Co-working space?

Step nine: Make a plan. I suggest finding 3-4 days per week that you can do one of the joyful movement activities that you identified. You can switch it up. Personally, I do swim once a week, pilates once a week, and then I try to go on walks, hikes, or do a little yoga. These things bring me joy. But let’s be specific. What days, what times, and where and with whom will you be doing these? Plan also for rest. What days and times of day do you notice your body needing some gentleness from you? When can you squeeze in time with others, or make a commitment to text or call a friend 1-2 times each week, without feeling overwhelmed? Once you make a plan, get to it!

Step ten: Give yourself permission. This is a lot, and what we are talking about is a lifestyle, not a quick diet. You will not be perfect. You will have days, maybe even weeks where you fall off on one or more of these. Be gentle. Tomorrow is a new day. Heck, today, right this moment. This is a new moment. Start again. It may be helpful to take these one step at a time. Get good at the first, then incorporate the next. You can do this.

Have you picked up on it yet? What type of weight are we trying to lose?

  • The weight of other people’s expectations
  • The weight of our own
  • The weight of believing bodies can only look one certain way to be desirable
  • The weight of believing that our bodies will never measure up
  • The weight of striving for perfection
  • The weight of judging ourselves and others
  • The weight of what has been taught to us in order to sell to us

Is that “put down what you are carrying” by Trevor Hall I hear?

You, as you are, are enough. You are beautiful enough, thin enough, curvy enough, tall enough, man enough, woman enough, sexy enough… you are enough. As Terry Real says, there’s nothing that harshness does that loving kindness doesn’t do better. Let’s work on losing the weight and pain that we carry when we forget that we are enough, eh?

Reach out for support if you need us,


The Loss in Love

It’s all too easy. We can get so swept up in the daily rigmarole. Working, keeping house, raising families, trying to maintain relationships, our bodies, our minds. We spend countless years worrying about what could happen, if the right things will happen, and turning away from anything resembling pain or loss.

We get caught up in wishing for today’s suffering to ease. Or we have a good moment in our life, and we shiver for fear of losing it. All of these experiences, either trying to escape suffering or fearing the loss of something good, blind us from our reality.

We cannot be fully in our present moment life and pulled into the past or future at the same time. We cannot enjoy and fully appreciate what we have if we are not in the present moment. We end up missing our lives. Such a circular conundrum we find ourselves in, then. The only way to fully appreciate what is before us is to see it, but to see it we must also allow in the pain of the moment and the potential to lose it.

The truth is all the things in our life are temporary. This might create anxiety, or it could create peace. If we understand that everything is temporary – this job, this relationship, this hard day, this amazing day, this part of our life, this body – then we have an opportunity. We have the freedom to choose whether to live it, fully. Enjoy it, fully.

When we mistakenly believe that something is forever, even subconsciously, we run the risk of taking it for granted. That can be a difficult task, to seek out the dark places we are assuming something will last forever, and bring in the light of awareness. This, too, is temporary.

But Danielle, I don’t want to feel the pain of knowing something I love so much is temporary.

I feel you, there. The pain can be frightening. It can make us live in denial (of impermanence, aka everything is temporary). And, impermanence is life. We can not simply avoid it. To love is to lose. They are one. We cannot avoid the pain of acknowledging the temporary nature of a love we hold. It cannot be undone or avoided.

It can be traded.

Sometimes we choose to trade the pain of today for the pain of tomorrow. I’ll avoid the pain today by tucking, ignoring, or denying it. But since it cannot go away forever, it gets postponed. At some point, likely after the loss of the love occurs, all the pain we’ve been blocking floods in. Only now, there is nothing that can be done about it.

If I feel the loss of love, while I have love, I have opportunities to do something about it. I can love well, relish in that love, and feel gratitude in my bones for it. If I wait to feel the loss of love until I no longer have the object of my love, my options are limited. There is nothing left of them for me to dote on, love well, or relish. I’m left holding all my feelings and having to do something with them. It’s unnatural, and thus suffering arises. We are meant to love what we have while we have it.

If we love well while love exists, then when (not if) the love ends, we are left with the simple grief of loss. To be sure, this is hard all on its own. Simple might feel like the wrong word. But its simplicity comes from the ability to find ease, peace. We think we can avoid grief if we deny and ignore it. But when we haven’t fully shown up when love was still here, we are left, afterward, not only with the grief but also with a heavy cloud of regret. What is regret? A sadness, a disappointment over what we did, or did not do. A missed opportunity. And in this case, one that cannot be remedied.

Grief is tolerable. Regret feels intolerable.

What are we to do when we still have our love here?

  • Relish it. Look at it directly, and choose to enjoy it.
  • Slow down. Time slows down when we become present. We won’t remember the TV show, the video game, the social media scrolling. But we will remember the laughter, the joy, the connection.
  • Strive for moments, not perfection. We are human. We cannot be fully present all of the time. What we can do is grow our awareness and practice stepping into the present moment, into our lives, a few minutes (or seconds) at a time.
  • Remind ourselves often of the reality of impermanence, and be willing to feel the loss of love hand in hand with the love itself.

What are we to do when we have already lost?

  • Keep yourself in behavior, not personhood. When the thoughts come up, the regret, start with keeping it focused on what you did that you would change given the opportunity, and don’t let it turn against who you are. If you behaved regrettably, like not enjoying something while you had it, it’s okay to feel the regret. It is not helpful to then tell yourself you’re a bad person for it.
  • Focus on the physical sensations of regret, and try to come out of your mind when you can.
  • Look for ways to feel compassion for yourself. Understand what led you to behave (or not) the way you did, and offer compassion to that past self for what led them there. They were doing the best they could with what they had and what they knew.
  • Work toward acceptance. This is not being “okay” with something. It is an acknowledgment of what is. It’s pulling yourself out of wishing you could have something you can’t, or not wanting what you have. In the loss I’ve been going through this week, those might sound like “I wish I would have been more loving, more patient.” (not wanting what I have, which was not being loving and patient). Or “I just want to tell her, I just want her to know…” (wanting something I can’t have). Instead, we lean into acceptance. I had a love. Sometimes I did right by that love. There were times I didn’t appreciate, enjoy, and sink into the love the way I would if I could go back and re-do those times, with the knowledge I have now. And now, that love is gone. Acknowledging the what is.

This life and love and loss work is not easy. If you need support, feel free to reach out. We might not know your loss, but we know our own.


Are you doing these three things to improve your mind?


We all know what it sounds like. We wake up, feel a little tickle in our throat and begin to think, “I’m sick. I’m getting sick. Is that…? Yep. I’m sick.” Or we have a rough night of sleep: “Ugh, I’m so tired. Ugh… how am I going to make it through today? There’s no way. Need. Coffee. Do they realize how tired I am? I can barely open my eyes. So tired.”

Each time we circle around with those thoughts a peculiar thing happens: we intensify our physical experience. Rarely do we repeat in our minds how tired we are, and end up feeling more jazzed. Our body becomes heavier, more sore, more weak with each repetition.

If we’re able to think ourselves more tired or sick, what happens when we think things like, “I am an angry person,” “I’m not attractive enough,” or “I’m so anxious.” So why do we do this to ourselves? Well, because we don’t always realize how much power we have over our minds.

That’s right, our minds.  They belong to us, and not the other way around. You are fully capable of turning your mind from unpleasant ruminations to more positive musings. But how? Here are three (not so easy) ways to improve your thinking:

  1. Vent less. When we feel burdened with thought, we often have the urge to vent (i.e. verbally vomit our frustrations). Under the guise that it’ll make us feel better, we seek out a friend or confidant to hear us out. Unfortunately, venting isn’t what helps us feel better. If we are venting just to vent, we’re actually ruminating out loud. We’ll most likely end up more worked up at the end than we did to start with. What helps us feel better is connection. If we seek out a confidant to hear us out, challenge us to take responsibility, and face our feelings without judgement, we can feel more connected and thus less overwhelmed.
  2. Don’t believe your boogers. We walk around all day assuming the thoughts that pulse through our minds are facts. “This sucks, that is awesome.” We believe what we think, and are even sometimes willing to fight to prove it is true. When we believe our thoughts, we end up with more thoughts, which we believe, which lead to more thoughts. I once heard a monk explain that our mind churns out thoughts like our nose churns out boogers. Thoughts are the mind’s job, but we don’t go through life believing our boogers hold the truth. So why do we believe our thoughts do? Don’t believe everything you think. Here are some tips how:
    1. Start by listening to the things you’re telling yourself all day. Awareness comes first.
    2. Work to label them. Whether they’re judgement, wishing, planning, or reminiscing. You can also just label them “thought.” Or better yet, “booger.”
    3. Start questioning whether they’re helpful or unhelpful. Do they make you feel more positive or more negative? If they don’t make you feel warm and fuzzy, look for a thought that counteracts them. Instead of “I can’t do anything right!” Try, “It’s been a rough day – and, I do a lot of things well. For example…” (hint: there are things you do well!)
  3. Step into your life. To get out of your mind, you have to get into your life. There’s even a workbook with a similar title, I recommend it. What does it mean to step into your life? To me, it comes with a few calls to action.
  • First up is accountability. Stop waiting for the motivation fairy to flit in and give you the desire to do things you don’t want to do. Be accountable to yourself, to your actions, and to your impact.
  • Secondly, to pull from Marie Kondo, do more of what sparks joy in your life. Get yourself organized. Love what you have. Do things that connect you to the earth, to yourself, and to your community.
  • Lastly, give it a rest. You don’t have anything to prove or any worth make up. Hold yourself with warm regard and give yourself a rest. Stop trying to berate yourself into improvement. Stop trying to outperform. Just step into the moment and try to enjoy it. It’s all you really have.

This life is hard. And confusing. And overwhelming. And that’s on the outsides of our bodies. Sometimes life is confusing and hard and overwhelming inside our bodies, outside of our control. Our mind, though, doesn’t have to be. That is the one suffering that we can control. Why not release it? Find rest. Enjoy it.

See you soon,


Honoring our power

It’s been going on a lot lately. I feel it coursing through my system. I want women (all women) to feel their power.

Let’s start by saying this has little to do with cis-men and their power. Yes, patriarchy. But we’re not here to talk about taking power from anyone. We all have power within us, and it is our job to keep and harness our own power for good.

There are so many ways we give away our power. Some of them are inherent in relationships, other ways are insidious, some even damaging.

Giving up our power often looks like abandoning ourselves. We give more credence to what others expect of us, what we think society expects of us, what we think relationship requires of us than to what our intuition knows is right.

I’ve been seeing it a lot in my work lately, women reclaiming their power. Women being brave enough to listen to their own instincts and then advocate for what they find there.

Too often we do the opposite. Women who have sacrificed their careers to raise their children, who sacrifice themselves to make sure the house and everyone in it is cared for in every way. Women who allow poor behavior from partners and do what they can to sweep away any consequences their partner might experience. It’s just easier that way. Women who forget or lose touch with who they are, because they’re trying to “have it all.” Women who believe they ought to look a certain way in order to have worth.

Where did we learn this?

Who says this is the way it has to be?

How might our lives change if we choose ourselves, in addition to all the other things we love? What if we thought of ourselves as -same as- not more important, not less important. Equal.

Yes, I will care for you when you’re in COVID isolation for a week, and then I’d like some time to myself this weekend.

Yes, I will pause my career because it’s important to raise these babies we’ve chosen, but I will listen to my inner wisdom and trust when it is time to go back.

I will own and share my feelings without fear of being labeled “sensitive.” I am sensitive. That is part of my power. My feelings belong to me, and I can experience them without reacting from them.

There is no morality in cleanliness, so I will not feel bad if my house feels like it is in shambles. I will not clean up after those who can clean up after themselves, outside of an occasional offering of kindness (infrequent enough that it doesn’t turn into an expectation by the other person).

Yes, I will wear clothes that feel good on my body, and give less care to what I’m supposed to look like these days. I will love this body because it is the body I have.

I am a valuable part of this conversation, and I will not feel shame for using my voice and sharing my ideas. I will not fear retribution and will set my boundaries and hold them with firm kindness.

Who is it that you want to be? What are you doing when you feel the most like yourself? Can you do more of what sends you down the path of authenticity, and less of what leads you astray?

You take that real estate test. It’s what you’ve always wanted. You take a step back from work and care for yourself, you’ve been trying too hard for too long. You speak up in that meeting, you have important things to say. Go to that rally, fight for your rights. You acknowledge those parts of you that you’ve kept hidden for too long, they’re beautiful.

We’ve been taught and it has been reinforced for too long that we should be self-sacrificing. That is not a balanced stance. We can be generous, selfless, and caring. But if we go to a place of giving where we lose ourselves, then we lose our ability to really show up in our lives, let alone for others.

This is where depression creeps in. The cognitive dissonance (or, the discomfort we feel when we live outside of our values) is immobilizing. Overwhelmed by the expectations, burdens, and dissonance, we numb out. We check out. We work harder to show up for others, and wonder why we feel empty at the end of the day.

Perhaps it starts with a willingness to get to know ourselves, truly, without shame. Only through understanding can we properly love. Only through true understanding and love, can we fully show up.

Show up for yourself the way you needed someone to show up for you when you were little. Show up for you the way you show up for others. Believe in your value, and live in a place where you honor it.

I see you working your tail off. You are not alone. You are a powerhouse, and I wish you rest and compassion.

You deserve it.


I might as well eat worms

Can we talk about rejection-sensitive dysphoria (RSD) for ADHD folx?

I was reminded of several things recently. First, that rejection sensitivity within ADHD is a powerful force. Second, it is not often spoken about or understood, even by therapists. And Third, there are plenty of ways we can work with the experience to reduce its impact.

What is rejection sensitivity? ADDitude Magazine sums it up well:

Individuals suffering from rejection sensitive dysphoria may exhibit the following behaviors:

  • Sudden emotional outbursts following real or perceived criticism or rejection
  • Withdrawal from social situations
  • Negative self-talk and thoughts of self-harm
  • Avoidance of social settings in which they might fail or be criticized (for this reason, RSD is often hard to distinguish from Social Anxiety Disorder)
  • Low self-esteem and poor self-perception
  • Constant harsh and negative self-talk that leads them to become “their own worst enemy”
  • Rumination and perseveration
  • Relationship problems, especially feeling constantly attacked and responding defensively

One way that this shows up for me, and many of my clients, is in the aftermath of time with friends, acquaintances, coworkers, etc.

Let’s say I go and spend time with a close friend. We have a lovely time chatting, laughing, drinking tea. In the moment I feel connected (because I’ve learned how to manage the immediate fears and reactions of RSD), and after a few hours we part ways happily. Zero weirdness.

Then it’ll settle in. Maybe it’ll be the car ride home, maybe as I’m trying to fall asleep that night. It’ll sound a little like this, “Did I screw up that entire conversation? I talked way too much. She probably thinks I’m an idiot. She must hate when she is forced to spend time with me. Did I force my way in? How pathetic must she think me? I can’t believe I’ve screwed up yet another friendship. I probably won’t ever hear from her again. I wouldn’t blame her.”

You get the point.

The physical sensation that accompanies this involuntary tirade is a sinking feeling in my chest, a tight nausea in my stomach, a lump in my throat, a smidge of panic, and the distinct urge to crawl under a rock and rot.

Other times, I won’t have this internal monologue, but I’ll notice a nebulous depression or anxiety that hangs over the next couple of days. Almost an RSD hangover.

Sound familiar?

Here’s the thing, those thoughts are trash. When I check back in with my friend, she’ll be surprised that I felt anything other than warm fuzzies, as she did. She can’t fathom why I would feel that way. And when I search my memory, I can’t really locate the specific moment I acted a fool, but can still palpably feel having done so.

The truth? Most people don’t check back in with that friend. Bathing in a soup of shame, misery, and a fear of over-reacting, they stay quiet. Heaven forbid they acknowledge, out loud and outside of their body, that they’re as mentally unstable as they feel. The embarrassment is paralyzing.

TLDR: You are not mentally unstable. RSD is a normal survival reaction of the brain to get you to preserve relationship and community, because humans can’t survive without it.

Now, this example was based on a close, loving friendship. Imagine this, then, with someone you’re still trying to win over like a new acquaintance or coworker. Imagine if it’s not just one person, but a group of people. Or even worse, imagine that the scenario isn’t all kittens and rainbows, but is in fact is riddled with criticism like in a review at work or when your partner is frustrated with you.

Where is a good rock when you need one?!

Relax. We can cope with this. In an upcoming blog, I’ll teach you the three step process to managing emotions. Yes, it is harder than it sounds.

For starters, remember: Name it to Tame it. “Whoa, my body is tight and I’m having anxiety. That’s probably rejection sensitivity. That happens sometimes after I spend time with others.” Or “of course I feel fear and overwhelm, feedback at work is hard.”

Next, check your mind. If you can’t locate a specific whoops moment, then thank that part of you for trying to protect you from social banishment, and let it fall away. It always helps to return to your body. Notice where the feelings are loud and breathe into them. See if you can focus solely on the physical sensations of this, and whether you can relax even a tiny bit during each slow exhale.

If you can locate a specific whoopsie, then reach out to your friend and apologize. If the relationship is too new or the whoops wasn’t egregious, then apologize to yourself in the mirror (and then forgive yourself). We all make mistakes. You can always phone a friend and replay what happened, or even phone the friend you were with and check out your story with them. It helps to start by saying, “I’m telling myself a story that… did you experience the same story?” It helps if they know, in advance, that you might do this.

But what if you really did screw something up or are getting difficult feedback from work or a partner? Well, for starters, welcome to life. You’re a human. Humans are chronic mistake-makers. We’re all basically bumping around in the dark trying to make our way through this life. Some of us make more mistakes, but that has nothing to do with our value. Some people have more freckles. Does that change their value?

The antidote I’ve found most effective for difficult feedback, is to be gentle with myself and take accountability for it. Someone else: “You didn’t do the thing you said you’d do.” *shame spiral swirls – deep breath* Is it true that I struggle to complete some things? Yes. I can do this. “You’re right, I said I would and I didn’t. I can understand how that’d be frustrating for you. This happens for me sometimes, I’ll go take care of it now.”

Ultimately, we have to be willing to acknowledge and work with our shortcomings – while keeping kindness in our hearts. Am I the very best friend who ever existed? No, probably not. Are any of my friends? Well, they’re pretty great, but they’re all imperfect. Just like me.

(and that’s okay)

Subscribe to our blog for more information and techniques of managing emotions, ADHD, relationships, and more.

You got this,


In the wake of loss

2021 ended in a difficult way for so many families in the Front Range. The Marshall Fire was the most devastating on record, and the loss is palpable.

The journey through this grief may be long and come in waves, and with the right support, you can feel your way through this. We’re here to help if you need us.

Additionally, we’ve added some resources below.

A few of the therapists over at Integrating Insights put together a wonderful handout for parents on how to talk to and support their kiddo with navigating the loss. You can read it below.

Not sure what to do next? The Red Cross has a page dedicated to you: What To Do After A Home Fire.

The US Fire Administration has this information packet below:

While we are offering a discounted rate to anyone impacted by the fire, Jewish Family Services also offers free services to those impacted.

You can also access more local resources through the Colorado Sun.

If you’re trying to support a friend through their loss, check out this Sonoma Magazine Article.

Here are some groups offered through Integrating Insights, as well:

Let us know what you need. We’ll keep adding resources as we find them.


I don’t need any help

Unlike many traditional graduate programs, my program required a 14-day backpacking trip into Utah’s
most grueling terrain. My peers and I spent two weeks hiking along the bottom of White Canyon, a deep
canyon marked by labyrinth-like side canyons, thick underbrush, arches, and pictographs. Throughout
these weeks, my peers and I took turns facilitating therapeutic group activities designed to provoke self-
reflection. What I discovered about myself during one activity changed the way I saw myself forever.
As the sun disappeared behind the canyon wall to the West, I shifted my heavy pack off my back and sat
in the sand to listen to the activity instructions my peer was giving. Here is what she said:

“I will be setting up a maze with rope. With one of your hands on the rope, your job is to find the way out
of the maze. You will be blindfolded, so this task will be difficult. You can raise your hand as many times
as you want to ask questions or to ask for help.”

“Okay, pretty straightforward,” I thought as I tied a bandana around my eyes and placed my hand on the

I slowly worked my way around the maze, making a mental map in my head. I could hear my peers
laughing and huffing in frustration as we quickly discovered the exit wasn’t going to be easy to find.
After a while, a few peers excitedly proclaimed their success and exited the maze. As fewer and fewer
people circled the maze with me, I grew frustrated and determined to find the exit.

“Do you need help, Jess?”
“No, I can do it! I don’t need any help.”
“Okay, let me know if you need help, I’m right here.”

Slowly but surely, I was the last one in the maze, circling around in the sand and swearing at my inability
to figure out the game. Finally, in a fit of frustration and anger, I pulled off my blindfold and begged my
peer to tell me the secret for getting out of the maze.

“All you needed to do was ask for help.”

If you relate to this story, it’s possible that at some point in your life, you learned that other people
couldn’t be trusted or relied on. To compensate for this lack of trust in others, you developed a
rebellious streak of independence to cope. Now, don’t get me wrong, independence can be a wonderful
strength, but at what point does it isolate you and leave you feeling alone and helpless?
As we’ve seen from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s difficult for humans to thrive in isolation. As difficult as
it may be, learning to be vulnerable and ask for help when you need it will improve your relationships
and your mental wellbeing. I’ll save you the hassle of backpacking into the Utah wilderness and blindly
following a rope in circles in order to unlearn hyper-independence. Here are a few skills to try to begin
learning how to trust others:

  • Check your ego: Use a beginner’s mindset to view tasks with “fresh” eyes instead of assuming
    you know all the answers.
  • Delegate tasks: Ask your co-workers or family members to help you with something small or
    inconsequential to build your trust in their ability to help you in the future.
  • Allow for imperfection: If you’ve delegated a task, and it’s not done exactly how you would have
    done it, ask yourself if that’s okay?
  • Trust: Think of someone you trust completely. Make a list of qualities which make it easy for you
    to trust them. Work to extend trust to others who hold those qualities

Next time you find yourself saying “I don’t need any help,” challenge yourself by adding: “Actually, I could use a hand.” Remember, this doesn’t make you weak or needy, this makes you brave.

Reach out if you need me,


I Just Want It To Be Over

“I just want it to be over.”

A sentiment I hear on repeat, from all walks of life, from the left as well as the right. From men, women, non-binary, White and POC.

“I just want it to be over” …but it’s not. It’s not going to be for a while.

Wishing for difficult moments in time to be over is natural. It’s human to try to escape suffering. That is what our brains are made for. Itch? Scratch. Uncomfortable? Adjust. Sad? Distract. It’s as if we are addicted to the pursuit of not feeling negative feelings. This addiction blinds us, though, to all the potential joy we could be experiencing. Right now.

Here are two reasons you are robbing yourself of joy when you wish for now to be over and the future, surely full of awesomeness, to be here now.

1. When you wish for something to be different, you are shifting out of acceptance. This is a topic I talk about often, but here is another reminder. Acceptance is essentially acknowledgement. This is what is. When in acceptance, we are not condoning, being “okay with,” or embracing anything. We are simply acknowledging life as it stands. In this space, there are feelings. All the feels, but we’ll get to feelings in a minute.

When you step out of acceptance, you step into either aversion or attachment. Aversion says “I don’t want what I have,” while attachment says “I want what I can’t have.” Can you feel the instant ache? These are the places we experience suffering. “I just want this to be over” is a deeply painful cross between these two points of suffering. I ache to escape what I have and long for something not possible. Oye. Is it any wonder we’re suffering so much?

2. You can’t block out one “type” of feelings. Therapist bias here, but feelings can’t be broken down into types. Feelings are feelings. If you try to block out sadness, you block out joy. If you try to block out anger, you block out peace. You cannot pick and choose. You are either numb to feelings or open to experiencing them. And no matter how long or how much you try to hide from feelings, you can never escape them. They’ll pitch a tent and wait for you to open your door for other moments. This is why grief can snowball. Often, when we lose someone, we lose everyone we’ve lost before them all over again because we’ve mistakenly believed we could shelve our experience.

How much easier would all this feeling stuff be if we just thought feelings were… feelings? Not good. Not bad. Not desirable or undesirable. Just that – a passing emotional experience. Just as waves are not separate from the ocean, our experiences are not separate from ourselves. The ocean never fears that the current wave will last forever. The ocean doesn’t try to block out certain waves or believe it is this current wave. They simply arise, move through, and return to the ocean. You could have embarrassment or jealousy arise and, instead of losing your peace of mind by resisting, believing it is who you are, or falling prey to thoughts about its permanency – you could choose to get curious and lean into the experience. You might find when you do this, feelings are juicy. They’re fascinating. Exciting. You could feel child-like awe about them. Suddenly, all feelings are awe-some.

“I just want this to be over.” Okay. But engage with this intentionally. Finish the thought: “I want this to be over, and I know it isn’t and that I cannot control that. So, instead of sitting in the discomfort and allowing it to be temporary, I’m going to consume, distract, numb, or stuff my feelings and turn this difficult time in my life into a long-lasting suffering that will take me years to unpack. But, that sounds like future me’s problem.”

If it feels ridiculous, you’re doing it right.

Sometimes we have to be a little ridiculous with ourselves to see where we’re getting stuck. 2020 has given us a ride, and from the look of it, we’re only halfway through. We can’t fast forward. Can’t numb out until it’s over (ever seen Click?). 2020 is giving us an opportunity to tune in. To greet the grief and overwhelm – both ours and in our communities. Sit in discomfort. It’s good for you. If you’re comfortable, you’re not changing. We often have to look for opportunities to get uncomfortable to create change.

Not this year.

Lean in. Reach out for help. Try not to wish your life away. If you’re reading this, you’re alive. Look at your family, your friends. Whisper to yourself, “we’re alive.” Breathe it in.


Swirling Minds


There are so many questions – mine, clients, the world. It seems as though we’re walking around our homes and neighborhoods with swirling minds. Wondering. Pondering questions that we may never get answers to. Fearing the answers to others.

There are questions about why, how it started, and why we didn’t do things differently. Fears and frustrations around governments, lack of access to food and medical care, and the perpetual unknown of who is sick and who is not.

There are questions that hit us to our core, too. Our attempts to understand the why and how behind the moment set aside, we wonder how our world will be when it all comes to an end:

Will people be kinder, will they focus more on what matters? Will I?

How is this changing the next generations? Will they fear for safety? Will they come together faster? Will they learn to mourn losses without pushing them aside or numbing them out? Will the littlest of them remember?

What will it feel like to go to the grocery store, concert, airplane, or birthday party after this? Will I ever not feel afraid?

I think we’re seeing a lot of reality all at once these days. We’re being shown our privilege in high definition, and it can be painful. We are usually able to go to a building and purchase food whenever we want regardless of the season. We normally have endless connections, freedom to move about and travel our world, and yet very little contact with the people we live with.

I’ve been amazed by the countless stories of people finding themselves in better positions, emotionally, throughout this process. Reversals in who does the primary parenting, more time together as a family, and gratitude for having work we might otherwise be unsatisfied with.

I’ve also seen a lot of suffering. Most of the suffering I’ve seen have been of broken expectations and plans, fear and anxiety, and guilt around not enjoying this time like so many people post about online.

Whatever your experience, give yourself permission to feel it. It’s okay if you’re enjoying this time while people in the world suffer. It’s okay if you’re suffering during this time while people on Instagram are enjoying the downtime. Give yourself the grace to move through this however you need.

Try writing down the questions that you find swirling around in your mind to get them out, and then spend some time answering them for yourself. It’s okay not to have all the answers but to just think things through clearly. You could also color, draw, or tell a story for yourself. Once you’ve done this, you can keep it for later or release it by safely burning it outside.

Example: What will it feel like to go to the grocery store after this? I might be hesitant. I might wash my hands more, touch my face less, and need to regulate my breathing. I might be more appreciative of the people who work there. I might find myself hesitant to move close to people or stepping back when someone approaches. And I might have a completely different experience – that’s okay too.

The best work we can do right now is to learn to allow our experiences. Focus on how they feel in our bodies. Anxiety is often felt like a shaky, butterfly-wing, pressure in our chest or knots in our stomach. Anger is hot and tight, where sadness might be heavier and feel like choking. Start with just breathing to acknowledge and allow. Then, breathe peace into the physical sensation of the emotion. Breathe out and imagine breathing out the emotion like a dragon breathes out fire. Focus your mind and try not to follow thoughts (when you do, bring yourself back with the next breath).

We still have a few more weeks to go. And we can do this. Reach out for help if you need it.

Be safe out there,


We’re Still Here…

It can feel a bit like the world is spiraling these days. People are struggling with the loss of work, being cooped up at home, or having their regular self-care activities come to a screeching halt. This could feel like the end of the world. This could also feel like an opportunity.

As a therapist working in the world right now (currently, through telehealth), I have to share: I’ve been amazed. I’ve been amazed by how many people have been seeing this as an opportunity. Amidst the loss and uncertainty, I’m hearing stories of gratitude for being required to slow down, spend more time with family, get more creative with self-care.

I’ve seen a lot of tears in the last two weeks, and I undoubtedly will see more. Heck, I’ve had my own. And that’s okay. Let it out, feel your way through it. Uncertainty can feel heavy on your chest, and tears can release some of the tension.

I’ve seen a lot of hope in the last two weeks, and I hope to see more. Maybe the world will get a wake-up call. Maybe we’ll realize what is really important and care more about our people than we do about how pretty our homes look for Instagram pictures. Maybe we’ll put our phones down and look up to the sky or into the eyes of those we love more often. Maybe we’ll Facetime Grandma more than once a never.

Maybe, just maybe, we’ll realize that we don’t have to face a pandemic to appreciate those we love, take good care of ourselves, and slow down.

If you’re struggling, please reach out to a therapist or other trusted person. You don’t have to go it alone.

We’re still here.

All services have been moved to Telehealth through programs like Google, Doxy, Theranest, SimplePractice, and Zoom. But we’re here. Here are a few tips to get the best experience out of your telehealth sessions:

  • Find a quiet, comfortable, private place to engage in therapy (though we never mind meeting your dogs and cats!). If you can’t find a quiet place, plan to stop a few times throughout the session to take a few deep breaths and refocus your energy.
  • Have a few things you’re hoping to touch on in the session. When you feel prepared, sessions feel smoother and you walk away feeling like you got more from them. It also helps you feel like you have power in an otherwise uncertain time.
  • When you’re talking, look at the camera instead of your therapist. While you’re talking, we’ll look at you. Then, when we talk, we’ll look at the camera and you can look at the video of us. This back and forth helps it feel more connected.
  • Be patient. Everyone and their mother is using telehealth services, so sometimes there are blips. Though it can be tough, we’re still here and we can see it as an opportunity to pause and breathe.
  • Relax. The hour is yours. Laugh, cry, be uncertain. Just be you.

Keep an eye out for some at-home self-care things, and check out our Facebook or Instagram for ideas. Get creative!

You can do this. We’re still “here” with you.