One of my core values – as you probably could guess by now if you’ve been following me for a little while – is authenticity. It is important for me to be real and raw with all of you. There are still things I don’t share. I don’t share anything I haven’t fully processed for myself first, anything that I am still feeling pain around, anything that could be damaged by putting it out into the world. But I share a lot, and I’m open about a lot. Most therapists I know are far more guarded in what they share with the world. Obviously, I absolutely respect that and believe everyone should work within what is comfortable for them. But it is also something I was taught throughout my Masters program. I was told to go through my social media and heighten all the privacy levels. I was told to Google search my name and see what comes up and get rid of anything I potentially wouldn’t want clients to know – with the assumption that I wouldn’t want clients to know anything about my life.
Sometimes it does feel a little strange that the person sitting across from me in the therapy room knows a lot about who I am behind the scenes (although I also have clients who aren’t tapped into my social media presence at all). But mostly, I just want my clients to know I am human too. However, there is a lot of stigma around this. I have some therapist friends who make comments about how much I share online, asking questions like, “Are you sure you want your clients to know that?” or telling me it’s unethical for clients to know I’m struggling too because that will get in the way of their capacity to trust my skills and knowledge. Maybe this is true for some people. Maybe some potential clients have looked at my Instagram and shied away because it’s too real and they want a therapist who they can see as a blank slate. But, I want to be a therapist, and a human. And so many elements of my business are outside of that one-on-one therapy scope and require me to be a multi-faceted multi-layered human. So I’m walking that line. And some days it feels like a tiny little tightrope and I’m worried I’ll fall. But all I can do is put one foot in front of the other and hope that my humanness resonates with all of you and still demonstrates my skill as a therapist.
So with that long-winded introduction, I made a plan at the beginning of the year to write one blog post every quarter focused on the past three months and all that I have learned and done in both my personal life and business. While I know this is more a reflection on my own life than anything related to therapy or mental health, I hope it’s insightful for you to read and opens a window into my life, or maybe offers you some takeaway or tidbit of wisdom for your own. I know I love reading quarterly reviews of other business owners and bloggers – like Kayte Ferris – so thought you might like that too. I also believe that sharing ups and downs, and failures, normalizes that as part of our human process. I want you to know you are not alone in those experiences, so I will do my best to be honest about ine.
Planning and reflecting in three month chunks works really well for me. Planning three months ahead doesn’t seem too long to be overwhelming, and also I can be reasonably sure that I’ll still be excited about a project three months from now. Planning a full year ahead is simply too far in the future for me to know what I will want to be working on. Planning in shorter chunks is something I’ve been experimenting with this year and it’s really working well for me. And so, since I plan in these three month sets, I also thought it would be valuable to reflect on the same time period. I know I’m a little late this time, but I was feeling overwhelmed by all things Covid and wasn’t settled enough to sit down in a reflective state to write this until now. So here goes, my first ever quarterly review!
January seems like forever ago. I feel like I have lived half a life-time since then. In January, I experienced a loss in my life that took a huge amount of my emotional energy. My vestibular disorder also flared up, meaning I was forced to minimize my screen time as much as possible, limiting the work I could do. I began to develop my first online course, The Work of Healing Anxiety. Despite the pain and loss I was experiencing at this time, and a rather quiet month in my private practice after the holidays, I was finally feeling grounded in my finances and ability to create income after a long time of feeling scarcity around this. I had a beautiful experience of joining a women’s group that met online weekly and I started an in-person New Moon women’s circle, something I have been craving for a long time. I set an intention this month to focus on cultivating more joy and play and connecting more deeply with my inner child. I also found myself focusing a lot on my desire to simplify, slow down, and find more space for rest in my life. I was trying to listen to the signs I was feeling that I may be leading to burnout if I pushed as hard this year as I have in years past.
In February I really dove into creating and selling my online course with more intensity. I continued on with all of my commitments and intentions from January – connecting with my women’s groups, and finding more joy, play and rest in my own life. My private practice grew a bit more busy and my side business, Extraordinary Workers, which supports frontline staff in homelessness and addictions work, landed a handful of new contracts for in-person workshops. A lot was moving forward. But I was exhausted.
March was the month when everything changed for so many of us. Covid became a collective reality. At a personal level, I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, which really called to my attention at a deeper level the impacts on my body of how hard I have been pushing myself for the last decade. I was forced to take two weeks completely off any movement, and only after that time was able to slowly and carefully integrate mountain biking back into my exercise routine, along with a lot more supplementation than I had engaged in previously. In the middle of March, just before everything with Covid really took off, I spent a weekend in the woods alone – focused on stepping into my power after the losses of this year so far. I spent time alone in the trees and by the ocean, and practiced rituals and healing to help me process the events that had taken place.
And then, over the course of that weekend away, everything in our world changed. I came back from that weekend and closed my office. I stopped seeing private practice clients in-person and moved them all online. In an effort to follow self-isolation orders to the best of our ability my partner and I moved back to the island we grew up in. We settled into our new “home” – the bedroom upstairs in his mum’s house. We have wanted to move back to the island for a long time, but having this change forced upon us felt a lot less in my control that I would normally like. Moving back in with a parent also wasn’t quite the way we hoped for this to happen. I’ve worked through this since then and am now looking ahead with more hope and excitement for what this change could mean for us (more on that later). But March was mostly about adjustment and letting go of control. It was about recognizing that I would lose up to 60% of my income from my business with the loss of all of my in-person workshops and with many private clients no longer being able to afford therapy. It’s meant traversing through a lot of fear and scarcity mindset, and really realigning with what is most important to me. I am learning to hold onto my values as reminders of what actually matters every day, a process which I’m going to share in my newsletter this week. You can sign by scrolling down to the bottom of this page and leaving your email if you’re interested in hearing more.
It has certainly been a journey through these three long months. And now as we enter into April, I’m beginning to come to terms with it all and find enough space to consider new perspectives that will be more helpful for me. Looking back on this year so far, I’m learning that so much of what I have been taught and told about what I “should” do or how “productive” I should be isn’t true. It doesn’t fit any more. I want to take it off, let it go, and see what my life can become if I create more freedom for what actually matters to shine through instead. I’ve resisted that journey every step of the way through these past three months. But now, being forced to confront those old patterns and beliefs in so many ways with what’s going on in our world right now, and with the reminders that we are facing changes collectively, I feel more grounded in my ability to shed the old expectations and write a new story for myself instead.
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