My Vagina Resists Self-Objectification


This year marked the 20th anniversary of The Vagina Monologues, and local activists were invited to speak about what or why their vagina resists as a part of the performance. I was honored to be invited to participate, as the Vagina Monologues has been an important part of my personal grief process, liberation and celebration of my vagina and my feminine power.

The Vagina Monologues gave rise to the V-Day movement, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls (cisgender, transgender and gender non-conforming). The Vagina Monologues performances raise money for this organization, and V-Day activists work around the world to end harassment, rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation and sex slavery.

I very quickly knew the topic for what my vagina resisted, as I have often been perplexed by the way many of us passionately fight for women’s rights, and yet perpetuate violence on ourselves everyday with our thoughts about our bodies.

The theme of self-objectification, along with my fierce love for Wonder Woman, inspired the following thoughts. I look forward to hearing your reflections. And please share with your friends, colleagues, clients, and all the women and girls in your life who you long to be free.

From the radiance of my heart to the radiance of yours,




Wonder Woman, the most popular superhero of all-time, was created as a symbol for the struggle for women’s rights throughout the 20th century. Her only weakness was that she would lose her strength if a man bound her in chains. As a guide for reclaiming beauty and power, I have observed a pattern in which we as women bind ourselves in chains. And this pattern, this self-objectification, my vagina resists.

Objectification comes in many forms and leaves a deep pain and consequence. We are treated as objects and so we learn to treat ourselves as objects. We become hypervigilant of our bodies, paralyzed by distorted thoughts rather than flowing with the embodied experience of being. We learned that in this object body we had power. Yet this power was confusing. Shame and flesh became intertwined.

If seeing a person as an object is the first step in justifying violence towards that person, then seeing ourselves as an object is the first step in justifying violence towards ourselves.

My vagina resists self-objectification, because I betray myself when I spend my precious time violently judging and breaking my body into parts – belly, thighs, butt, breasts. The violence of my thoughts, and sometimes even my actions, perpetuates the violation, and I am again in chains, but this time, from my own mind. Lost in criticism and shame, I forget the truth of who I am is my soul beauty. My power lies not in my physical body, but in the radiance of my heart when I show up in this world with kindness and love as my offering.   

My vagina resists self-objectification, and so I challenge this culture’s toxic message of valuing thinness and youth as chains that continue to bind me. I resist the oppression of weightism and sizeism and bring awareness to thin privilege. I am free from these chains with my lasso of truth – a practice of radical acceptance and self-compassion, embracing all parts of me.

My vagina resists self-objectification, because through this process, I have seen myself in competition with my sisters. I have judged their bodies to measure my own worth and value. I resist objectifying my sisters and choose to connect Soul to Soul.

My vagina resists self-objectification, because in defense, I also objectify you, and as a consequence am unable to see your beauty and the gifts our connection offers one another.

My vagina resists self-objectification.  And so I take the first step in healing….

To my sisters who I have judged, to my lovers who I have also objectified, to my body who bears the sorrow of this self-cruelty, to my Soul that longs to be free… I say to all of you, please forgive me.

I release these self-imposed chains, reclaiming my power, free to share with you the beauty and wonder of this woman.

Celebration, Gratitude and Pomegranates


The Reclaiming Beauty Journal & Wisdom Deck Book Release party was a wild success, and I have been spending some time since eating lots of pomegranates and integrating the positive feelings from the evening. The themes of the night were Celebration and Gratitude, gifts that flow to a person who has the courage to embark on the Reclaiming Beauty journey.

Why pomegranates? Well… they are in season. They are so delicious and juicy and good for you. They have been calling to Joey and myself in the store this week. And they are beautiful symbols of abundance, prosperity, and ripened seeds of growth in our lives. At the book release party, we sold out of the current stock of books, so I have been thinking, what would I like to say to those beautiful Souls who recently bought the Reclaiming Beauty Journal & Wisdom Deck… Here is my message to you… in honor of the pomegranate that will one day be the juicy seeds of abundance, prosperity, celebration & gratitude from your Reclaiming Beauty journey….

It may be hard to imagine now, but there is a possibility, that some day in the future, you may be grateful for the life events that clouded your ability to see your own beauty. This may not be true for everyone, or for all of the life experiences, but for some of them, once you have faced the pain, grieved the losses, walked through the darkness, and come through the other side, you will realize you would have never gained the strength and clarity you feel in your ability to see your own beauty without having to face the trials you had to face. There are unexpected treasures in the hardships of our lives. For me, I have a joyful, enthusiastic son, a strength in who I am, I am in my power more today than I have ever been, I have transformed a self-critical inner dialogue to self-compassion, and I am living in integrity so that when I find myself out of alignment with my message I can compassionately seek support to return to the Reclaiming Beauty values.

So tell me, what experiences in your life have led you to no longer see your own beauty? How can you connect to the courage to face these experiences to embark on your Reclaiming Beauty journey? Remember what Maya Angelou says about courage – “Courage is the most important virtue, because without courage, you cannot practice any other virtue consistently.” Seek out stories of other women who inspire you, who stand in their strength and beauty. Find out what helped them face and get through their challenges. Know that you are not alone, seek support and a compassionate witness. Eat pomegranates. Let those juicy seeds remind you of the abundance, prosperity, gratitude and celebration that is possible on the other side.


Here’s a clip from my short talk from the Book Release party. My favorite part from this clip is getting cheered on from my son, Joey.

With love and gratitude.

Walk in beauty,

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RADICAL ACTS of self-care

The Reclaiming Beauty Journal & Wisdom Deck book release party is this Saturday, November 7th! At the party, I am having a very special Self-Care Raffle. With every purchase of the Reclaiming Beauty Journal & Wisdom Deck at the party, you will get entered into the “RADICAL ACTS OF SELF-CARE RAFFLE.” So let me tell you a little about why this raffle is so special to me…

Reclaiming Beauty started with a spark the summer of 2012, and it was a creative labor of love over the next 3 years as I wrote, collaborated, and figured out the nuts and bolts of turning the manuscript and images into a tangible book and card deck – until the day came in August of 2015 when it finally found it’s way to my door. During this time, I got separated, divorced, transitioned to single parent lifestyle, raised my son from age 3 to 6, transitioned into working a full-time job and experienced my ex-husband get remarried and have another child. Writing this list out now, I have to pause, take a breath, and honor myself.

Reclaiming Beauty was a gift during this time in my life, a message to my own Soul, a way to make meaning of the life experiences I had gone through up until this point on my own journey, and an offering for fellow journeyers. And there was no way I could have made it through those transitions – or grieving those losses – without my self-care team, and what my sister, Katie, coined as RADICAL ACTS OF SELF-CARE.

Chiropractic, massage, yoga, getting my hair-cut, seeing an acupuncturist, facials, reiki, calling my healer friends, intuitive readings… these rituals became my healing balm. These acts of self-care were not a luxury, but an absolute necessity for my healing and peace of mind, to shepherd me safely through this passage in my Reclaiming Beauty journey. I am so grateful for the team of healers and friends I cultivated during this time. They supported me stepping into my strength and beauty everyday. And they became such champions for bringing Reclaiming Beauty into the world.

And so I am honored to share with you these AMAZING, POWERFUL and GORGEOUS women healers. Come meet them at the book release party on Saturday! And enter to win a session with them in the Radical Acts of Self-Care Raffle. You are worthy of healing, to step more fully into your own strength and beauty.


Walk in Beauty,

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Dr. Anya has a beautiful boutique chiropractic practice in downtown Asheville.  She uses a combination of adjustments, muscle work, and Crystalign Energetics for mind, body and soul.  She has 13 years of clinical experience and a background in mind-body science, yoga, nutrition, and wellness coaching.  Visit for more information! Click on the Online Scheduler to make an appointment or to schedule a FREE 10 minute phone consultation.



Amy is a wildly creative, independent, hair artist and owner of Nebula Beauty Lab. She will pamper you and treat you like a Queen.

aradia1-e1439166790690ARADIA OCEAN – ACUPUNCTURIST

Aradia’s healing practices that she has mastered over the past 20 years have led me to the same place: following the Love. Her treatment approach is firmly grounded in acupuncture, but it goes far beyond traditional Chinese medicine to include other powerful practices that help heal and unify the body and spirit. Each healing session is a dynamic response to the Divine wisdom that emerges as the body relaxes and opens to reveal areas of pain, resistance, and holding—all the places that want to receive more love and acceptance. Although many of her sessions include needles, they may also include cupping, gua sha, deep tissue massage, and trigger point therapy. This modality integration supports and heals the nervous system, circulatory system, tissues, organs, and is effective for acute or chronic injuries. She incorporates conscious breathwork, sound healing, intuitive readings and other awakening practices to integrate healing in the mental, emotional and spiritual bodies.


Laura lee has worked as an Ergonomic consultant, massage therapist, and managed and owned a retail store that designed a clothing line called Mystic Eye. The Mystic Eye clothing line was featured in Seventeen Fashion Magazine, marketed at Art shows, and wholesaled around the country. These various professions were all based on movement, structure and innovative visual presentation and have led her to a place of being passionate about promoting health. Eating, movement, and play all supports one’s highest performance. Laura lee views our current culture as being inundated with dietary choices and activities that limit physical movement, which leads to illness and a lack of vitality and well being in adults and children. She loves to physically move and get others to move with her and desires that all people be healthy. She educate individuals and groups  in her home office and professional work spaces on how to have good ergonomic practices while working and playing. She also offers private massage therapy sessions. Laura lee believes that a person who is present and in their body is able to be happy, creative and inspirational.​


Danielle has been practicing massage therapy since 1998.  Since 1995, she became consciously aware of the importance of internal balance and harmony through meditation, thus began her life-long spiritual journey. She became deeply focused on her spiritual growth through the practice of Yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong. In 2000, she was certified as a yoga instructor through Frog Pond Yoga in Massachusetts and Swami Vivekananda Yoga Ashram in Bangalore, India, as well as being graced by her Guru, Dr. VS Rao. In 2012, she was delighted to be certified to teach Primordial Qigong for Enlightened Love through her teacher Michael Winn in Asheville, NC. 

Danielle has studied extensively the ancient Hawaiian healing of Lomi Lomi, Chinese TuiNa and Qigong energy healing, Cranial Sacral Therapy and Somatic Experiencing.  She integrates all the skills she’s learned in 15 years, including Spiritual Guidance and creates the most appropriate treatment for the client in the present moment.  Danielle continues to grow spiritually through her personal practices, in the healing arts through continuing education, learning from humanity every moment in life, and grounding deeper into the core of her being and with Earth in humility so she can continue to share her healing gifts with this world.

Heather PerryHEATHER PERRY – Esthetician & Massage and Bodywork Therapist

Heather Perry is a state certified Esthetician and Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapist. Originally from Southern California, she relocated to the East Coast to explore the Mid-Atlantic and the South. Heather attended James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA where she received a B.S. in Sociology. She later earned her license in esthetics from the Virginia Institute of Esthetics in Virginia Beach and became dual licensed in massage and bodywork therapy from the Center for Massage and Natural Health here in beautiful Asheville, NC.

Navigating the personal stresses of everyday life can be a challenge. These stresses can be physical or emotional from work, family, or traumas you may have experienced. As we put others needs before our own, there becomes a lack of self-care that is sorely needed. Nurturing touch is one of the oldest forms of healing and can help decrease stress, anxiety, pain and soreness, promoting better sleep, and a stronger immune system. Personalized skin care plans address and treat concerns about your skin and use products that are right for uniquely you.

Kendra Gaffney


Kendra Gaffney was sprouted in the dirty south of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and raised in the small town of Makanda, Illinois where she attended college at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. After graduating with a B.S. in Food and Nutrition, specializing in Dietetics, Kendra went on to complete her graduate program/Dietetic Internship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville Tennessee. Following her graduation, she moved to the Emerald Coast of Florida.

After working as a clinical dietitian for 8 years in the Panhandle of Florida Kendra traveled the entire lower 48 searching for a place to open her dream business, Nutritious Thoughts LLC. The sights, sounds, and spirit of Asheville pulled her to the Valley of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Kendra is now the Founder and Nutrition Director of Nutritious Thoughts, LLC, where practitioners provide specialized care for disordered eating, eating disorders, weight management/loss, emotional eating, Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT), compulsive exercise, and sports nutrition.


Christen Rinaldi is a certified Reiki Master-Teacher offering private sessions and Reiki training at her practice, Return To Balance With Reiki, located in Asheville, NC. She enjoys working with a wide variety of clients, from those seeking renewal and stress relief to those who are in active recovery from trauma or addiction.  In addition to private practice, Chris volunteers her Reiki services at Helios Warriors, a non-profit organization offering holistic therapies to veterans and their families. Her healing philosophy is one of meeting you “where you are” with total acceptance.



Not only is Leah an amazing artist and talented musician, she is also a sensitive and intuitive healer and energy worker. For this raffle she is offering a 60 minute phone session to support clearing energetic blocks and free full self-expression.





gdk with camera


Gurudarshan Khalsa provided the graphic layout for the Reclaiming Beauty Wisdom Deck and midwifed the project from card deck vision to tangible reality. Gurudarshan Khalsa’s current series was innovated while she was recovering from a traumatic brain injury. Initially, the creative process was merely a cathartic outlet. Later, she discovered that this visual language of images balanced her brain as a result of the symmetrical compositions. She realized that if the art’s regenerative properties worked for her, then it could heal others as well.

The creative process begins by photographing nature. Then, the artist digitally manipulates these images. They become visual meditations that balance the hemispheres of the brain. This brings a state of harmony and inner peace using sacred geometry. The work captures the divine feminine found in nature, and activates the divine masculine by creating symmetry.


Rob Jacoby tenaciously supported the book layout and self-publishing process of the Reclaiming Beauty Journal & Wisdom Deck, publishing the project with his company, The Master Key Press. Therapist, artist, survival instructor, and author Rob Jacoby draws upon all four areas of his life and experience to offer us The Map to Love: How to Navigate the Art of the Heart, a life-giving perspective on understanding the complexities of the emotional landscape, and most of all how to find love and fulfillment. His twenty year career helping people from all walks of life, from working in maximum security prisons to managing programs in some of the top adolescent psychiatric hospitals in the country counseling those suffering from extreme emotional problems gives this book its lived-in authority. His passion for creation, particularly painting and music, drives the spontaneity and rhythm of its prose and presentation. In between parenting his daughter, Rob currently works in residential therapeutic settings, private practice, and conducts workshops and seminars on Love, The Art of Counseling, Effective Parenting, Relationships, Equine Therapy, and Meditation. 
Rob loves what he does, and spends most of his time trying to understand love.
He still has more questions than answers.

My Body, My Chariot

thoth-chariotMy 40th birthday came and went, and with it I have passed into my Chariot growth cycle. I am a huge fan of following along with my growth cycles in the tarot, as synchronicity is a guiding principle in my life. My love of symbols and meaningful coincidences continue to imbue my day to day with a bit of magic.

The Chariot is a symbol of moving along your path, or being stuck. It is about balancing the flurry of movement with quiet and solitude. It is a growth year where change often happens in alignment towards positive growth in your personal and professional life. The synchronicities abound for me… So much excitement is happening as the Reclaiming Beauty Journal & Wisdom Deck is now a tangible reality.  I’ve started to schedule more speaking engagements and workshops. I’ve made a shift in my career to create more space for Reclaiming Beauty Coaching clients. I completed a room addition on my home and have moved out of my son’s bunk bed where I slept all summer. I can feel the need for balancing this exciting movement forward with self-care and downtime, so my wheels don’t spin out.

Reflecting on this growth symbol, I have also been sitting with the metaphor of my body as my chariot. Reclaiming beauty is a process that connects a person to their true Self, and when you feel that connection, your relationship with your body will transform. Your body becomes the vehicle for your true Self in the world, and when you experience this truth first hand, you will be more likely to treat your body with kindness and compassion. My body will be carrying me through this year of moving along my path, and I will honor it with thoughts and actions that express an understanding of the beautiful treasure it is carrying inside.

One of my favorite ways to honor my body, my chariot is self-care. At the Reclaiming Beauty Book Release Party, I will be featuring many of the healers who are a part of my self-care journey. I can’t wait to share these amazing women with you!

I will be joining one of them, Dr. J. Anya Harris, of Crystalign Chiropractic, for an upcoming workshop. I’d love to see you there. Details below!

How does viewing your body as the chariot for your true Self support you in transforming this precious relationship? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

Walk in beauty,

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shelley rb altar

Reclaiming Beauty Wisdom Deck

Transform Your Relationship with Your Body-

A Workshop for Women

Thursday October 8th 6:30-8pm at Crystalign Chiropractic

 with Dr. J. Anya Harris and Heidi Andersen, MS, LPC, CEDS, author of the Reclaiming Beauty Journal and Wisdom Deck.  Heidi is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and Reclaiming Beauty Coach. In this workshop, Heidi will teach you how to go from body-shaming to self-compassion and heal the relationship between you and your body using practical tools for a positive self image.  Anya will share some fantastic natural health and beauty tips, and there will be a live Demo of Heidi’s empowering book and Wisdom Deck!

Sign up for this fun, practical and life-affirming class today!

$10 at the door.

RSVP by 10/7.  Email to RSVP. 



RB Book Release Party Poster


I’m Bringing Beauty Back

ReclaimFinal-001There is so much to love about Meghan Trainor’s song All About that Bass. The catchy melody, the fun-loving dancing, the theme of breaking free portrayed in the video. When it was released in the summer of 2014, I was one of the first to embrace this body loving anthem, and quickly added this song to my body image playlist. I had my middle school girls singing along, and one very memorable car ride even had my son and 3 of my nephews join me (ages 2, 5, 7, and 11 at the time). Now that would have made some amazing footage…

Once the song sunk in, however, I realized it needed a few tweaks to become a Reclaiming Beauty masterpiece.

To begin, from the perspective of Reclaiming Beauty, we are all about the bass AND the treble. We are all inclusive in our body love. No matter what your particular hang up is about your body, be all about that. I am all about my beautiful belly these days.

Secondly, we don’t endorse stereotyping a person who is a certain body type, including “skinny bitch.” We would be completely offended by any judgments about a fat/overweight person in a song, even if the singer was “just playing.” Size prejudice is not something to joke about.

Third, I understand her mama giving her advice that “boys like a little more booty to hold at night.” A wise woman once gave me similar advice about my hang up around my breast size. I hope her mama would also give her advice to value herself as a subject, rather as an object, so her partners would also learn to do the same.

While pondering my critique of this song, I was struck with a fun idea… rewrite the lyrics, get some of my friends together and shoot a Reclaiming Beauty video!

The Reclaiming Beauty Journal & Wisdom Deck is designed to become a guide on the journey, to support you in being all about that bass, treble and your BEAUTY. And by BEAUTY, I am talking about the essential quality that defines who you are and lights you up from the inside out. When you are in touch with this quality, you will radiate. The surprise is that our relationship with our body can lead us to a relationship with our beauty if we can approach it with curiosity. What may have once been a relationship based on criticism, judgment, or even hatred, can transform and lead you to discover your true Self.

So the essence of Reclaiming Beauty paired down to fit into the CHORUS of All About That Bass:

Reclaim your beauty and learn not to worry about your size

Beauty is so much more than what you see with your eyes

So if you are judging the temple your Spirit calls Home

You’ll learn to embrace and reclaim the gifts of your Soul

I hope you enjoy this video as much as we enjoyed making it for you!

Walk in beauty,

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Special thanks to the beauties that are featured in this video including:

Taisir El-Souessi

Meghan O’Malley

Erin Rice

Crystal Smith-Snover

Melissa Villodas

Jen Worthen

It’s Official!

Announcing the official release of the Reclaiming Beauty Journal & Wisdom Deck!

Bringing Dreams to Life

Reclaiming Beauty Journal and Wisdom Deck Cover

After three years of visioning, dreaming, writing, collaborating, and working on bringing this project to fruition, I am thrilled to share that the Reclaiming Beauty Journal & Wisdom Deck is now available! In my decade of work as a counselor and eating disorder specialist, I have identified the movement from self-criticism to self-compassion as one of the most challenging and transformative journeys a woman can make. With a strong belief in the body-mind-spirit connection and the importance of spirituality in the healing process, I created this beautiful, inviting, and inspiring aid for all women willing to step on the Reclaiming Beauty path.

This unique resource includes an elegant journal and a corresponding deck of colorfully artistic cards, each with an affirmation about beauty and self-love. Also included are engaging ideas for exploring these affirmations, such as writing reflections, making collages, practicing yoga, meditating on memories, and creating healing rituals. Suggestions for its use include working through the cards in order, alone or with a circle of friends, at one’s own pace or throughout a year, or drawing cards at random for inspiration or an intuitive reading.

The Reclaiming Beauty philosophy approaches body image as an externalized reflection of how we feel about ourselves: body image mirrors self-image. My hope is to inspire women of all types, ages, sizes, and shapes to heed the call to their personal Reclaiming Beauty walk and courageously step forward on their journey. I believe inner beauty is the greatest gift we have to offer ourselves, each other, and the world.

Begin your Reclaiming Beauty Journey! ORDER your copy HERE

This month there is much to celebrate!

The Shape of Things:

Reclaiming Beauty will be the beneficiary of a donation from The Different Strokes Performing Arts Collective‘s performance of their upcoming show “The Shape of Things.” I am humbled, honored, and inspired to create a service/giving back aspect to the Reclaiming Beauty business model. I will be there for the performance Friday 9/4! I’d love to see some familiar faces.

Living in the Balance:

Join some of my favorite colleagues and me for a talk on finding balance with your relationship with food, movement, body, mind, and spirit, right in time for the Fall Equinox! This event will happen at the Hendersonville Community Co-Op on September 17th. Register here.

Save the Date:

Reclaiming Beauty Journal & Wisdom Deck Book Release Party November 7th! I’m so excited to share that my dear friend and artist collaborator for the deck, Leah Joy, will join us from California for the celebration!

So what dreams and visions are you carrying within your heart? I would love to know. Be forewarned…  a most likely side effect of taking the Reclaiming Beauty journey is once you clear away obstacles that have prevented you from owning your true beauty, you just may bring your dreams to life.

I honor the beauty in you from the beauty in me.

Delivery Day

IMG_3582August 13, 2015 will go down in my life history as a most memorable day… the delivery day of my “second child.” 990lbs of Reclaiming Beauty Wisdom Decks were delivered to the end of my driveway in a tractor trailer. Luckily, my friend, Kelli, arrived at the same time to celebrate the occasion. And just in time she was – with “birthday” cake and a pick-up truck – so we could transport the 56 boxes down my driveway from the road, and then delight in the celebration complete with birthday cake.

The vision of the Reclaiming Beauty Journal & Wisdom Deck began three years ago, the summer of 2012. I am feeling so satisfied here at the end of the summer 2015, celebrating bringing this vision into tangible form. A long 3 year journey, with many ups and downs through the process. If self-publishing a book and producing an accompanying wisdom deck is comparable to climbing a mountain, I am currently at the summit of a fourteener. I’m going to savor this moment, and the view, here on the top of the mountain, before the hard work of the next stage of the journey begins… taking this message out into the world.

But I don’t want to celebrate alone… In honor of the occasion, the beautiful and incredibly talented artist of the Reclaiming Beauty Wisdom Deck, Leah Joy, has illustrated the Navajo prayer that inspired this whole project inside my heart and Soul so many years ago. I will be sending this “Walk in Beauty” poster out as a FREE GIFT to all of the people on the Reclaiming Beauty mailing list in the next couple of weeks. Make sure to add your name to the mailing list to receive this offering.

Also, what’s a celebration without a PARTY! SAVE THE DATE… I will be hosting a BOOK RELEASE PARTY on SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 7, from 6-9pm… with food, beverages, a raffle and a short inspirational talk. More details to come. You’re invited!

Reclaiming Beauty Journal & Wisdom Deck available for PRE-SALE now… full availability will be in September!

Enjoy these pictures from the beautiful delivery day morning!

And keep climbing towards YOUR dreams.

Walk in beauty,

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Reclaiming Beauty Wisdom Deck pyramid storage in my living room!

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Laying them out to look pretty…

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All fifty images…

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Reclaiming Beauty Journal & Wisdom Deck (2015)



FullSizeRenderHave you seen the new Disney Pixar Film Inside Out yet? If not, I highly recommend adding this movie to the top of your summer adventure list. This movie creatively brings to life the voices we all have in our heads: joy, sadness, fear, disgust, anger – and touches on the important interplay of these emotions. I foresee it supporting me beginning a conversation with many a future client around my approach to therapy: Internal Family Systems.

It also brought some humor to the recent response I had after receiving the Reclaiming Beauty Journal & Wisdom Deck book proof in the mail in the middle of May, which was TOTAL PARTS CHAOS… my inner critic, my not good enough, my nobody loves me, my fear of rejection, my total fraud – all went haywire in my body and my mind. There was a serious uprising inside – one that I could not settle down alone. I did what any strong Reclaiming Beauty Queen would do in such a situation… I reached out for support from my tribe.

My little sister read me quotes from my own book to counter the crazy thoughts (did I write that stuff?) My older sister reflected back some hard truths around the state of things (adrenal system burn out, you might need some more support then you are getting.) My dad and mom came to spend time with Joey and myself, and helped me out with the single-mama-working-on-building-a-dream lifestyle. While the TOTAL PARTS CHAOS uprising began to settle down inside me, I was able to move back in the direction of alignment with my true Self and the Reclaiming Beauty vision. The most important lesson, as I held the proof in my hands, was proving to myself that I could approach this challenge from a place of self-compassion rather than self-criticism – proving to myself that I could walk the path of reclaiming beauty, and be an authentic practitioner of the message I am about to share with the world.

I have been humbly reminded that the Reclaiming Beauty process is a spiral journey. We may feel ourselves standing totally balanced and whole in our beauty one day, but then another layer of life triggers may come and lead us down a path of deepening our Reclaiming Beauty walk. In these moments, I feel so thankful for the hope that comes from the support of a loving community, and the relationship I continue to cultivate between my PARTS and my TRUE SELF.

There will be lots of opportunities to cultivate Reclaiming Beauty community this Summer! See below.



And the Reclaiming Beauty Journal & Wisdom Deck will be coming out Fall 2015!
Stay posted!

Walk in beauty,

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Soul Kindness

JillPeacockWhen it comes down to it, doing the work of Reclaiming Beauty is doing the work of birthing your True Self. And any birthing process requires a tremendous amount of patience and intention to live in alignment with your beauty path.

As I am patiently waiting to give birth to the Reclaiming Beauty Journal & Wisdom Deck, I am constantly aware of the parallel process I am experiencing of the Reclaiming Beauty work itself. In the face of the expected challenges of birthing this project, as well as my own life experiences during this season, I have noticed myself falling into old patterns.

Here’s a snapshot:

During Family Seminar for my work with middle school girls, we were addressing patterns. As a clinical team, we decided to represent patterns that we have worked through by wearing t-shirts of the patterns. I chose “Victim” – proud to share my transformation from victim to Empowered Woman.

Ironically, this week was filled with stress after stress with my life and my project. As a result I was experiencing insomnia, overwhelm, anxiety, mood ups and downs, and very loud voices feeling sorry for myself about being a single mama and having to do it all alone.

On the final day of the seminar, while wearing the “Victim” t-shirt, I arrived with a flat tire. I called for a tow truck. When the driver arrived he told me, “Miss, do you realize you have a spare in your back seat?”

I was horribly embarrassed. I had been waiting with a flat tire for an hour for a tow truck to come and rescue me with a spare tire in the back seat of my car – the whole time wearing a Victim t-shirt! I laughed out loud and shared how this situation really went against my whole Empowered Woman thing. As my mind began to head down the road of self-criticism, a supportive co-worker helped me reframe. He said, “You can be an Empowered Woman and still not know how to change your tire!” Or know it’s in your trunk, I suppose… but I know NOW!

This reframe made the difference in spending an evening in self-compassion rather than self-criticism. I was able to have a sense of humor about the situation, and practice A LOT of self-care that night. With every obstacle I face in the Reclaiming Beauty Journal & Wisdom Deck birthing process, as well as with my own relationship with Self during this precious time, I am asking myself… are you living with Kindness towards your Body, your Mind, and your Soul? It is important to shine a light of awareness to the loud voices of criticism that paralyze our movement forward, and then bring in those actions of Soul Kindness.

Here are some suggestions for SOUL KINDNESS actions steps:

1. SOUL KINDNESS involves noticing the critical thought and bringing in a “YES, and…”

My thought was: “There was a tire in my trunk the whole time which proves I am powerless.” My supportive friend helped reframe the thought in order to recognize the possibility that the situation didn’t negate my truth of being an empowered woman.

2. SOUL KINDNESS involves taking a perspective that invites a sense of humor. Are you able to have a sense of humor about stuck places in your journey to shift from self-criticism to self-compassion?

3. SOUL KINDNESS involves taking self-care actions. When you recognize you are stuck in self-criticism, notice that your Soul is asking for some self-care to move you towards self-compassion.

Join the Reclaiming Beauty conversation! In the comments below, please share an action that supports you in developing SOUL KINDNESS. 

An action step for moving into Soul Kindness would be to join me for the Reclaiming Beauty and Freedom Summer Series in July co-led with Taisir El-Souessi of Taisir Expressive Arts. See details below. And stay tuned for the Reclaiming Beauty Journal & Wisdom Deck release date!

Walk in Beauty,

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Image: Jill Houser

Reclaiming Beauty Summer Flyer (1)



1000 Days to the Perfect Marriage

Self Honeymoon in La Fotuna, Costa Rica

Self Honeymoon in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

This is the story of a courageous journey that began about 1000 days ago, when I realized my husband would never full love me, because I didn’t fully love me. On that day, I stepped onto an unmarked path, hoping to reclaim lost parts of myself from attempting to seek the approval of my husband. I began my Reclaiming Beauty journey.

My older sister told me it took 1000 days to heal from a divorce, and during those 1000 days, I went on a journey from feeling the violent dividing by force from another, to a falling in love with myself. Discovering the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine parts of myself, these parts found balance and harmony, and ultimately, union within myself.

This journey was not easy, and led me through some dark places. One of the scariest places was the realization that I had some inner work to do in order to be fully aligned with the Reclaiming Beauty message of self-love and body love.  Shining a light inside, I realized I carried some buried judgments about my body and myself I had to heal in order to be in full integrity as a messenger of Walking in Beauty.


+ It began with COURAGE, LETTING GO and HEALING. It requires summoning courage over and over again to face life experiences that lead to disconnection from our beauty, to LET GO of these experiences and to HEAL. During this stage, the heart stays opens when you allow yourself to fully grieve the losses.

+ During the next stage I shifted into fearlessly seeking SELF-APPROVAL. In this process, I regained my POWER through self-approval. I learned to notice all the places where I was giving away my power through seeking the approval of others, and began taking this power back. A place where I found the most healing with this skill was in working with Rick Hanson’s, definition of the word VIRTUE:

Virtue simply involves regulating your actions, words, and thoughts to create benefits rather than harms for yourself and others.

+ RECLAIMING MY NAME – When my divorce was finalized, I moved through some anger in the grieving process. Anger is an essential emotion to honor in any grieving process to set boundaries, honor boundary crossings and to support severing the ties. Through the process of changing my name back I nicknamed myself  Heidi Lynn “Hot Lava” Andersen, in honor of the volcano images that supported my anger. Luckily, there was only one or two Jerry Springer worthy episodes in this part of the process between my ex-husband and myself, due to my VIRTUE practice and seeking my own approval through regulating.

+ COOLING DOWN WITH FORGIVENESS – Thanks to the timely discovery of Hóponopono, an ancient Hawaiian practice of forgiveness and reconciliation, I was able to cool down the erupting volcano with FORGIVENESS practices – towards my ex-husband, myself, and my body.  At the end of this season, I wrote my ex-husband a love letter, genuinely thanking him for the lessons the marriage offered me to support my growth process. I also thanked him for the greatest blessing of our marriage, our beautiful son.


In Bikram yoga, a practice that has supported my healing process these 1000 days, the teachers reference “the perfect marriage between the heart and lungs” every time we practice Triangle pose. In this pose, the yogi has a firm foundation with her legs, and stretches her arms from her heart – one towards the Earth and the other towards the Sky. The foundation is strong, the heart is open, and the breath is in full support of the expression of the pose, all working together to create the union of masculine and feminine energies within the practitioner.

During these 1000 days, my Triangle pose became stronger and stronger, this marriage between heart and lungs more solid. I felt the clouds clear in my mind, my body, and my heart. As a result, my understanding of Walking in Beauty became clearer to me…

I always ask my clients in sessions and workshops to answer this question… What does it mean to you to walk in beauty?

For me it means: To allow your True Self to be seen, to be in balance and in flow, to be in harmony with nature, your Self, and your relationships, to be accepting of yourself and free from judgments, to be kind and compassionate, to offer your gifts in service to the world.

Here, as I am beginning my next Reclaiming Beauty journey, my heart is at ease. I feel fully prepared to offer my gifts in service to the world, gifts that come from my own deep, healing journey.

Last week, I celebrated my perfect marriage and took myself on a Self Honeymoon to Costa Rica! This week, the final details are being completed on the book cover and layout for the Reclaiming Beauty Journal and Wisdom Deck by Kudzu Branding in Black Mountain. By the end of the week, I will be placing an order for the first run of this offering! Very soon, I will be planning a party to celebrate the release of this project and YOU ARE ALL INVITED!

So, here I am, on the other side of my 1000 days. I am now invoking the archetype of The Fool, which in the Tarot is the symbol for New Beginnings, the first step on this next Reclaiming Beauty journey, where I offer the gifts of my journey with all who are open to receiving.

Thoth Tarot Ceck

Image: Thoth Tarot Deck

I am in deep gratitude to my family, friends and the community who has supported me on my Reclaiming Beauty journey. We are meant to be walking in community to find our way to our True Selves and our true meaning in this world. If you are feeling a call to your Reclaiming Beauty journey, please consider working with me. It would be my pleasure to serve as a guide on your journey. For more information on Reclaiming Beauty Counseling services, go to the Work With Me page.

I honor the beauty in you from the beauty in me.

Walk in Beauty,

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