For more than 20 years I have been developing, refining and teaching my Path of the Heart and Wise Woman Rising® programs. I have aimed to empower women and men to reconnect with their hearts, their feeling nature, their most real and authentic Self. The longest eighteen inches in the world is the journey between the head and the heart. Many of us lose our heart connection due to trauma, painful childhood/adult experiences and dysfunctional family, relationship and cultural patterns. The good news is our heart and soul are strong and resilient and can weather many storms. Reclaiming our hearts, our authenticity, our voice and our bodies leads to emotional agility and a renewal of our commitment to life. Through healing the younger selves who live on inside of us, we naturally become more resilient, more adult and easily access what I call our Wise Woman and Wise Man Self. When we live from this part of our being, we find not only insight, but the courage to claim clarity, healing, and transformation.
By definition, I am a Gestalt-Psychodynamic-Mindfulness based counselor and life coach. I have an office in Fort Worth, Texas and offer distance work through video conferencing. Working with me, expect to reclaim your heart and feeling nature, release old wounds around shame, inadequacy, fear, and guilt. Heal codependent and dysfunctional patterns, develop emotional agility (the ability to be aware and understand your own and other’s feelings), foster internal resiliency, learn to set functional boundaries with self and others, and re-engage with the vibrancy of life. Both programs, Path Of the Heart and Wise Woman Rising® Coaching facilitate deep healing and increased self-awareness leading to the ability to reclaim your authentic or True Self, and love your Self deeply.
At the age of 35, I found myself at the end of another relationship where I had given myself away, both figuratively and literally, to someone who was
emotionally unavailable. Heartbroken, I was forced to come face to face with myself, and all of my dysfunction relationship choices. I recall a friend saying “have you heard of the book Codependent No More”? I remember the hair stood up on the back of my neck and I thought “I don’t know what a codependent is, but I’m not one of them.” After all, I was a successful entrepreneur and looked like I had it all together. But the truth was my relationships were a mess, I was a war with my body, and continuously seeking validation through relationships and achievement. So fast forward a few months and I’m standing in the aisle of a popular bookstore, and there is Melody Beattie’s book Codependent No More staring back at me. I remember crying a lot while reading it and desperately wanting it not to be true. I was a codependent. So now what was I going to do about it?
These events started a tidal wave of soul-searching for me which included an expedition to rescue and heal the lonely, shame-filled inner child, adolescent and young woman, who had been waiting a lifetime for me to remember her. I did inner child work and toiled through my family of origin. Eventually, I attended several 12-Step groups for Adult Children of Alcoholics and Alanon, in addition to working weekly with a therapist. I discovered that I had to learn how to be there for myself, how to re-parent myself and how to love myself. What I had endlessly been seeking in relationships with men had to be found within my own heart. I read every book I could find on codependency, dysfunctional family dynamics, adult children of alcoholics, inner child healing and attended conferences and workshops with fantastic teachers Pia Melody, Melody Beattie, John Bradshaw, and Claudia Black.
Through my counseling with a Gestalt, psychodynamically-oriented therapist I came to understand the learned, dysfunctional patterns of thought, feeling and behaviors from childhood and family patterning (emotional abandonment, trauma and betrayal bonds, addiction, disordered eating, codependency and love addiction) that I’d carried into my adult relationships. Over and over these patterns had led to a loss of Self. I realized I didn’t really know who I was, that I’d not fully developed emotionally into a fully functioning adult woman. It was easy to be in denial because most of those around me suffered from the same dilemma. Right now you think I was from a pretty dysfunctional family. Well yes and no. I know today that we were pretty average in our dysfunction. A history of alcohol addiction runs in my family tree, and indeed there were patterns of codependency and shaming parenting styles; however, there was functionality and love as well. We must be willing to look at the parts of our family functioning that didn’t serve us well. For it is there that we will find the roots to our own dysfunctional and toxic patterns. It is not about blaming but rather understanding. You can’t heal what you can’t see. During this period I put the puzzle pieces together, began to have a genuine relationship with myself, and grieved the many losses that come from dysfunctional relationships.
In the early 90’s I read Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ seminal book on women’s psychology Women Who Run With the Wolves and found a previously untapped wellspring of courage and strength. The material touched me, inspired me and changed me; ultimately allowing me to reclaim a part of myself that had been missing for a long time. I found my voice, retrieved my innate feminine power, including my intuition and creativity, and started a Master’s program to become a counselor. In 1994, I facilitated my first Women Who Run With the Wolves study group and in 96, I attended my first training with Dr. Estes in Colorado. Now as a student of Dr. Estes’, I continue to offer groups, retreats, as well as in person and online coaching around this vibrant and empowering material.
In 1999, working as a counselor at Shades of Hope Treatment Center for eating disorders, addictions, trauma, and codependency, I entered what I now call the trial by fire initiation into intense work. It was a transformative time of learning how to dive deep into the marrow of codependent pain and addictive patterns. Through Gestalt and Psychodrama work I learned how to process feelings beyond talk therapy. I developed the skill and resiliency to trust myself, to set boundaries with self and others, and continue healing the shame or sense of inadequacy I had long carried around with me. Additionally, my time at SOH grounded me and seasoned me as a counselor and psychotherapist, ready and able to assist other’s on their healing journey.
This body of work and experience culminated in the creation of Wise Woman Retreats in 2000, and the birth of my Path Of the Heart work for men and women, as well as the Wise Woman Rising® Coaching program.
In Women Who Run With the Wolves, Dr. Estes’ says “If we could only remember that the work is to continue to do the work.” The process of working on ourselves never ends for we are always a work in progress.