The Self Care Boutique

This morning started like mornings that are familiar to me. I woke up with a little bit of anxiety. Not abnormal, somewhat expected since The Self Care Boutique is launching soon, and I launched a full-time psychotherapy private practice eight months ago. I have oblong heating pad (I think it’s filled with buckwheat, not sure) pop it in the microwave drip some peppermint oil on it (it helps me to breathe), and meditate in bed until I feel better. Sometimes I do a guided meditation, or I’ll do a meditation where my focus is simply my breath and breathing. This usually takes anywhere from 10 or 20 minutes. If I fall back to sleep, I’m perfectly okay with that too, because I usually wake up feeling like a million bucks. Today, like some days wasn’t that easy. I began to tackle my task for the day usually that helps, but not today. I don’t like not feeling like myself. So, I began to check in with myself, and realized I needed a little extra attention today.  I called to get a massage and the next available time was hours away.  A massage therapist can get all my money just about any day of the week and right now Thai Massages are my everything!
However, I needed to do something in the meantime. I ran a hot bath, hot water helps to get the blood flowing, added in some bath crystals from The Self Care Boutique that include rose and peppermint oil (I tell you the official name a little later), lit some candles, took a little ashwagandha, lit my favorite incense, and turned off the lights. I know it’s a lot a smell, but I have the nose of hound. It is not uncommon for me to smell a perfume and tell you the oils used to achieve the fragrance. Yeah, it’s that serious. Ok, back to the story! For me, all these scents and experiences equate to relaxation. After my bath, I took a shower and it is something about the initial stings of the cold water that bring you back to reality, but the reality is different once you’ve calmed your mind and body. For me, I feel like myself again!

I am in a profession and field (social/human services) that self care is a key to longevity, yet people in this arena; therapist, social workers, case managers, educators, just to name a few are less likely to practice self care on a routine basis. I love what I do, so I do what I need to do out of respect for the gift that I have been given of being a psychotherapist. With all that being said, The Self Care Boutique isn’t something new to me, it is scents, textures, knowledge and experiences that have been curated over the years through my personal experiences that I want to share with you. We all struggle with mental health at some point or points in our life, but it is how we learn to manage is key! We must build a toolbox of self care options. I know what it’s like to have no tools, and I know what it’s like to build a toolbox. I’ve tried things that weren’t familiar to me until they have become staples in my every day journey. When you experience products from The Self Care Boutique it is my hope that you encounter feeling a calmness, peace, and self-compassion. Through The Self Care Boutique, I am sharing some my most prized possessions in my toolbox with you! I hope they are as helpful to you as they are to me. Be sure to check out The Self Care Boutique at


Hindsight is 2020!

The highly anticipated close of 2020 is hours away. This year has allowed many people to have life changing experiences. Many people have experienced love and loss beyond their wildest dream. We have experience life in ways which no one could ever prepare. As a psychotherapist this is definitely a year, I can say… we rode the wave with you. As an African American female psychotherapist, sistah, I rode the wave with you. My brotha, I rode as much of the wave as I could with you. No book that we have yet to read, paper we have written or supervision hour, lecture, or test we have sat through could have prepared us for a PANDEMIC! Boundaries that we did not know we needed have been set, and our voices have become loud and confident.

While there is always room for growth, this year mental health has been destigmatized in ways that I want to acknowledge. COVID-19 gave many people an opportunity to acknowledge that they are struggling, and they need help without shame. (Oh, the toxicity and negative consequences shame.) This year has been a cohesive struggle and because of this cohesive struggle some people no longer have to suffer with mental health issues in silence. We are openly talking about mental health! We are acknowledging depression, we are acknowledging grief and loss, we are acknowledging poor self-care, we are acknowledging racism and every other “ISM”…OPENLY! We are seeking help and let me tell you…it is a beautiful thing. When I began this journey to becoming a therapist, I blatantly remember telling a friend…mental health is progressing, it is changing, people are going to have no choice at some point, but to speak out. I never imagined it would like look this, and despite what some may think it is beautiful. From a clinically trained perspective it is heart wrenching to watch people suffer with mental health issues. Some, never seeking help.  People are working through their traumas in a positive way, why? Because COVID-19 gave them time and normalized telehealth platforms providing more people access and time for therapy! Laws and rules have changed to accommodate this time. While 2020 has been and introverts dream…it has been a nightmare for some. It has created entrepreneurs and increased the confidence of many. It has tested faith and created anxieties we never thought existed. It has increased and deepened views and thoughts of gratitude. This year, people are genuinely grateful for life itself. People are grateful for family, friends, sources of income (big and small). We are grateful for the people that keep the world moving. This year the world was flipped upside down…or is it really right side up? Peace and Blessing in 2021

Openly Black in America

 For so long black people have tried to be seen and heard in a country that was not built for our voice.  Burdened with finding balance in the workplace, grocery store, and anywhere outside of the confines of our own home.  Constantly concerned if our hair, walk, vocabulary, approach, delivery or attitude was “too black” We didn’t want to be too black even though deep down inside there was a revolution simmering within. The time spent rewriting emails and rehearsing conversations in our heard trying to be direct, but not offensive. Somehow the color of our skin always made it offensive before it could ever be direct.  We would secretly educate ourselves on our black history and would hide what we knew to maintain professionalism. We would sometimes secretly ask or discuss supporting black business or the lack there of amongst each other. For some we couldn’t wait until February to relax our blackness, but never being fully comfortable or educated about our blackness. Often discussing our vacations, but not telling that in our research to determine our destination we had to explore the treatment of black people in a specific area or country.  For so long we have had to pretend being black in public wasn’t anxiety provoking exhausting and sometimes simply frustrating. Trying to pass, wondering if we were being black enough or too black. We were caged by others perception of our blackness. Our feelings aren’t being questioned and now everyone can see their colleague, supervisor and local community Karen for who we’ve been telling everyone she is, and how Karen’s apologies are often wrapped in white fragility. Everyone can finally hear and understand what we’ve been telling them about the dismissive visits to the doctor’s office. The context of our experiences are no longer questioned. For the first time White America is forced to look at the black perspective and it is uncomfortable, anxiety provoking, and shameful.

For the first time in a long time people feel the freedom to be openly black in America. We are wearing paraphernalia to boldly and proudly display the support of the Revolution that is actively happening. People feel the freedom to be openly black in America not concerned if anyone is watching matter of fact, hoping someone is watching. Protest in 50 states and over 18 countries in support of black lives is an overwhelming amount of support.  Black people are openly and publicly able to voice what we’ve being seeing and most importantly feeling when it comes to racism and oppression. We no longer have to pretend not to hear or questions the racial undertones. We are free to call them out and be heard, without question.  It is becoming commonplace to identify and call out racism without the fear of white fragility overshadowing the experience. For the first time we can express that we are tired and not be told, “but I know you can do it”.  Our plea for the same time as our white counterparts for self-care are being heard without question. We are still tip toeing in our blackness, because we have been forced to hide it for centuries. We are slowly coming out and it feels amazing. We are seeing the beauty of our melanin for what it has always been.  We are smart, creative, innovative, leaders, entrepreneurs, and so much more. We are overwhelmed by blackness. Some of us, for the first time in our lives are being openly black in America.

Through the Eyes of a Civilian Psychotherapist

Over the past year and a half I’ve had the privilege to exclusively serve United States Veterans as a civilian psychotherapist. I will purposely make the distinction that I am a civilian, because it is important to understand. Yes, I’m aware that the military has a culture of its own, yes I have close family members and friends who are Veterans, but to serve a Veteran in this capacity goes beyond my training as a psychotherapist and anything I have ever experienced.

I dont know if we truly can ever comprehend someone putting their life in the hands of another person for the sake of a freedom that they themselves may never again experience. Not speaking of death, which is the ultimate sacrifice, but speaking of the life of the service people who return to their loved ones, miles apart from the person they departed. I had a sailor once say to me that to feel the wind blow meaned something completely different to them. They are sometimes fixated on the direction of the wind and the memories associated with, “that one time” versus being able to enjoy the bliss civilians often associate with the blowing of the wind. So many sacrifices are unseen and beyond anything that could ever be imagined. For some, the ability we as civilians have to see the world through the eyes of freedoms we don’t consider as freedoms but as every day life.

As a civilian clinician I often hear the things along the line of a veteran transitioning back to civilian life. How does one transition back from such sacrifice and countless experiences. It is a part of who they are, it’s more than putting a uniform on and taking it off. Enlisting or discharging from the military. I believe their is a new self that is created. One to acknowledge all of who they are and their experiences. Whether they deployed to foreign lands or fought the good fight state side they sacrificed pieces of themselves that we as civilians will never fully understand. Even the things I can grasp as a civilian clinician are a figment of my imagination, a picture I paint through their experiences. A logic that isn’t te logic of civilian life. A picture that will always be made of images in my mind, because of the sacrifices seen and unseen of the brave men and women who offer the imaginable and unimaginable to serve this country.

The Side Effects of Self Care Include…

Self Care Disguised as Training

I recently finished a Professional Training in Mind- Body Medicine by The Center of Mind-Body Medicine at the Institute of Spirituality and Health in Houston, Texas. This training is given around the world in places such as Kosovo, Mozambique, Gaza, Haiti, and Israel to name a few. It is also given with various populations such as Syrian refugees, troops returning from war, or those living in places stricken by natural disaster, war, and poverty. It is a two-part training, and the first part we experience the training while learning foundational pieces of what we are experiencing and then we get to experience what we’ve briefly learned. The second part which will be later I will learn how to facilitate the groups I experienced. The training consists of guided imagery, meditation, biofeedback, autogenic training, exercise, yoga and how they all affect physical, mental, and emotional functioning and wellbeing.

I received the group material prior to the training, but I chose not to look at them or print them out, because I wanted to organically experience the training without developing any chaotic expectations for the training. This training superseded any expectations that I would have set for it anyway. The Mind-Body Medicine training,  which I’ve decided to call a magical retreat, because I can’t recall feeling so emotionally rejuvenated after spending four days with strangers. One may ask, what makes this training so magical? Here we go.

I’m an introvert, meaning, I recharge mentally and emotionally when I’m alone, or around very few people who require nothing of me or I don’t feel the need to give them anything. Simply put, my presence has to be enough, and it might not be in the same room. For four days I was surrounded by strangers, there were a few co workers there but I don’t work with them directly so it’s kind of like they’re strangers too. I spent the most time with 10 strangers I had never met before, from various backgrounds, sharing things I didn’t know where there to share until we had completed an exercise. Being vulnerable with people I had just met…I’m not this vulnerable with people I’ve know my whole life. Through the process of this training we grew to know each other in ways that we didn’t know ourselves before. A quote that resonated with me so well during the training is “We[psychotherapist] fit everywhere, and nowhere.”  Therapist are trained and usually have a natural gift to be able to connect with anyone in any setting, but have a hard time feeling like we fit everywhere or anywhere. We’re the chameleons of social settings. To find a group of people who you don’t know, and everyone feels like they “fit” and connect with each other in a short amount of time can be hard or impossible in any setting.

As a therapist, I am constantly exploring how, if, and when I am bringing my own issues into a therapy session. So, I am familiar and accustomed to checking myself before I project my issues into someone else’s life. I try to be as purposeful as I can be with my words and actions. That is the balance and burden of being a good therapist. I believe a piece of being a good therapist is getting up every day and look at your inner self. The self that we tell very few people, if anyone, about… check it, fix it, tuck it in, or put a band-aide on it before and during the time you sit in the presence of someone who is seeking your  help. Sometimes you don’t know you’re wounded, how deeply you’re wounded, or that you’re wounds are being projected onto the people you help. That’s is why when we look at our inner self we have to do our best to own all of it or what pieces of it you can!  It’s the reality of this journey. It’s not to say that therapist have to be or will ever be perfect, however they should be aware and mindful of how they maneuver situations in the therapy room.

With all that being said, participating in emotional work, coupled with unconsciously holding the issues of the people we see daily is physically exhausting. I often tell my clients after I feel that they have processed a lot of information in one session or a few sessions that they may be physically tired. The reason is, in order to process emotional issues which we often think of as work done by the brain is actually done by both the brain and the body. Example, when you talk about something that may make you nervous or increase anxiety; your heart rate may increase, breathing may become rapid, palms may become sweaty, or you get “butterflies” in your stomach. These are all actions that are performed by the body, hence the reason you may be physically tired after processing emotional issues.

So, long story short, I am exhausted. I worked on issues that I didn’t want to or know how to work through. I was aware of them, but honestly didn’t know how to work through or articulate to anyone to give them a clue on where to start to help me.  The past four days have been a little euphoric and rejuvenating. The training days were 8 hour days or longer when I got up to be there early for yoga. Not including the time I need for my morning routines. Needless to say… I was so tired from that alone! Then I remembered, I am experiencing what I always tell my clients to be mindful and her I am meditating and being mindful for four days straight and forgot to remind myself  that I was going to be tired.

However, this is a welcomed exhaustion. This lets me know that I’ve put in a lot of work on myself over the past few days, and because of that I am better. My friends, family, coworkers and anyone I come in contact with will benefit from this physical tiredness that I feel as a result of emotional and spiritual growth. I’m a little confused on how I will return to work after this because the person I was before this training is not the person that will enter my office Monday morning. The advanced training will take place in February, and I will be there! I know there is a lot more to process, but being physically tired is a part of the process of therapy or “working on yourself” that people may not talk about. I plan to share my experience with others in the form and place that I feel that it will be most beneficial. To be continued….

Women Who Serve

Today, in the state of Texas, on this 12th day of June in 2018 marks the first Women Veterans Day. To all the women who made this happen, Thank you.

In this post my intention isn’t to minimize or demonize military men and their sacrifice and service, however my wish is to simply focus on women. I can also acknowledge that every has their own personal experience.

I didn’t serve in the military, however I have the honor and privilege to serve those and their families who have served and currently serving the United States of America. I have witnessed my own family members, friends, and colleagues who have returned from serving at time of war and at times we thought we were at peace. Remember, maintaining peace is a fight.

We have a national day that we honor all Veterans, so why do we need to set aside a day to honor the women? We have Father’s and Mother’s Day, because their service and roles are different and special in their own way to a family system. I feel the same with Women Veterans. Their service is different, they have different nuances to their fight. Women fight to be women, they fight to serve along side their fellow male Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardmen, and Airmen.

Although the military has been around for many years the women integration into military began 70 years ago to this date. Meaning women were serving before they realized and were being recognized for serving. With gender and racial integration comes changes that some may resist, encourage, attempt to sabotage, or embrace. Changes initiates physical, mental, and emotional scars to those who are the recipients of change. Change is not sudden, it is a process. During this process military women experience the unimaginable trauma. They experience sexual trauma at the hand of their male counterparts, which is known as Military Sexual Trauma (MST), accompanied with the trauma of service, and the trauma of fighting to be in the military and be treated as an equal and not a sexual object that has no place in the military. Then sometimes feeling or being treated that a male dominated profession takes no responsibility for or understands the trauma that they endure. The emotional trauma that is sometimes aggravated by the trauma that Women Veterans sometimes enter the military to escape. All while unconsciously learning that silence is the answer to the trauma. Women sometimes leave their families at home while they serve this country. This means leaving young children at home, missing first steps and words. This means their families having to learn an “a typical” way of functioning. The reason I call it “a typical” is because as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) trained in family systems; I dont recall extensive training on the dynamic of a military family. From my experience their “norm” goes against everything I was taught as a mental health professional.

All the things women veterans endure and continue to serve despite adversity takes an immeasurable amount of courage and strength. So, for this reason they need their own day. For the children that they birth and leave home while they deploy they deserve their own day, for the women who suffer in silence, they deserve their own day, for the women who advocate and are silenced they deserve their own day. For all the women who defy the odds, overcome and stand in for their military sisters they deserve their own day. For the women who complete and attempt suicide, they deserve their own day.

For all your sacrifices and wounds seen and unseen…I thank you for your service and beyond generous sacrifices.


I recently moved to Houston, Texas. Yes, after 12 growthful years in Austin, Texas I’ve relocated. It’s only 2.5 hours apart, what could be so drastic? Right? Let’s just say some days I wonder if I’m in the same state. A little background on Houston and myself: I never thought I would live here! I disliked it from when I was a kid until adulthood! It’s that different. Personally, I think the culture is drastically different! Houston is more hustle and bustle and Austin is a more laid back hustle. I could’ve waited to tell everyone how much I love Houston and how its been a great transition, but that wouldn’t truthful. After three months, I’m still not “feeling it”! A friend told me it took her two years to settle into new places. That was comforting, because I had expected this transition to be a lot smoother. #LIES I’ve questioned and validated my decision numerous times. However, those in between times are hard. Austin was comfortable in many ways. I knew the city, the people, and the overall vibe of the city! I had connections, people I could call or simply meet with them. I had resources for my clients an co workers. In this new city, hmmm, not so much.

Through this transition I’m learning some pretty cool things about myself. I know what I need, but learning where to get it is different, before I just knew where to go and what to do. Now, it’s a task! Let me just get it out…I miss my acupuncturist! WHEW! That feels better! Dr. Tan provided me with an abundance of knowledge in a short amount of time, and changed the way I work with clients. This is also making it difficult for me to find a new acupuncturist.

I also am learning how to stop trying to make Houston into my own little Austin. They’re separate and I have to learn to expect and accept different experiences. It is when we hold on that creates conflict and right now, I’m conflicted! It’s getting better! I can’t say I love Houston, but I’m learning to like it.

Change is hard, yet inevitable and much needed. It produces growth, sometimes in unexpected areas and in unconventional methods. The harder we fight, the harder the transition. Maybe I won’t look at it as learning to love Houston, but learning to change my mind about how to love Houston. I’m learning to be open to the reason I moved, this city has a lot to offer me, and I have a lot to offer this city!

New Year, New You? 

In the world of therapy people typically come because they want change or have made the brave decision to embark on the road of change. I educate people on the characteristics of change. I explain that change is possible, however it may not be as easy to change as it was to arrive at the current space. I’ve discovered that people often think that change is supposed to “feel right”! I explain, No, what “feels right” is the behavior or situation in which you’ve grown accustomed…that you no longer desire.
When you decide to change it will not “feel right” every aspect may feel wrong, and that’s okay! You’re moving in a direction and space you’ve never experienced. You’re letting go of things and experiences that no longer serve the direction you are traveling. You should feel like a fish out of water! One phrase I frequently use with clients in relation to change, “You’re going against the grain.” It doesn’t always feel good. I explain you’re no longer going with the natural flow of your life. You’re creating a new normal. That takes work!
Remember you are your mind and your thoughts. The events, issues, and behaviors are what the mind looks like to the world and yourself. Change requires finding new ways to look at life and events. You can’t be successful at a new journey with an old mind.
Most importantly, change is a process therefore, it is a journey and not a destination. It may not happen in the order you’ve established in your mind. Be open for things to happen out of YOUR order. Just because they’re not in YOUR order doesnt mean they’re out of order, and it doesn’t mean that change isn’t happening. People often forget that CHANGE HURTS! You’re uncomfortable and in a foreign place in your life. This is great! This is an indicator that change is happening. During these times have compassion with yourself. When you feel you’re off your path, regroup and keep going. It took months, sometimes years, and a lot of hard work to get to your current space. It’s going to take just as much hard work to get to your new space!
All of the compassion, understanding, and second chances you give to others, be mindful that you are worthy and deserving of the same. 

Application is Key

Once we gain knowledge there are a two things that can happen. We can accept it or reject it and file it away.

Once a person has been informed they will decide what to do. The decision may not be immediate, but a decision is made. What is meant by “reject it and file it away”? The belief is once we hear information it can resurface when needed. It may require some assistance, but it’s there! Assistance, meaning a sequence of events, smell, or just a simple word can help bring information to a place where it becomes accessible for application.

Accepting in this situation implies application at some point. Change requires a shift in not only thinking, but the way we live our lives and how we view our position in life. Intentional change requires a level of discomfort in the current position, which is personally defined by the individual. Side note: No other personal can determine our level of discomfort for intentional change. One can’t be comfortable in an uncomfortable place and expect change. Yes, we can be comfortable in chaos! Why? Because that’s all we know. We don’t sometimes have knowledge of different; therefore we are unable to do something different, and it’s okay! When we are consciously or unconsciously ready for change we will seek the knowledge to apply to promote change. Intentional change can be as uncomfortable as “natural change”. However, we will accept temporary discomfort for an experience with comfort. When a person acquires knowledge, this doesn’t mean they’ve acquired change. Knowledge is the gateway to change, the repeated application of knowledge is change.

As a therapist I am privileged and humbled to experience others journey to and through intentional change. Any time someone shows up to therapy I believe there is a piece of them; no matter how big or small is wanting knowledge to be awakened for repeated application.

The Perception of Perfection

It’s amazing how issues linger or the residual feelings from them becomes increasingly present. Sometimes we forget that our issues require life long maintenance. The cost and feelings associated may decrease, but it doesn’t always mean they’re gone. They present themselves differently!
In life you can say that the stereotypical idea of perfection is unattainable. Stereotypical in the sense that everything is the way someone (i.e social media, television, society, and again social media) else has consciously or unconsciously told you life is “supposed” to happen to and for you. Including timeframes feelings and emotions associated with the unfolding of life. Although you can conceptualize this isn’t possible; it doesn’t prevent you from striving to attain stereotypical perfection. In turn, often allowing situations to dictate how you feel about your path when something unexpected happens. Problems exist and life happens, it’s about how you handle the maintenance phases is what’s important. Personal versions of perfection accepts what’s is, adjust accordingly, and try not to stay in the sense of perfection that was created for you. Adjust your focus and perception of what is; the issue may always exist in some shape or form, however the shape and form depends heavily on your perception. The role and influence an issue plays in your life can be crucial to your peace and overall happiness.
Are you living your version of perfection or the stereotypical version of perfection? The situation may not be “just the way it is”, it’s may just be your perception. What’s your view of your personal perfection? How do you see you… what’s your reality? Most importantly, it’s about what works for you, and what coincides with your personal goals.