A symbol of innocence, a sexual assault, and, finally, a do-over.

Before: I was eighteen years old by no more than a couple months when I got my first back tattoo. I’d gotten my first tattoo about a year before, right after my first boyfriend had dumped me and then my parents had divorced. That tattoo had been a little angel on my “bikini line” in order to “protect me,” or so I had justified. Being tattooed made me feel tough during a time when I was deeply and dysfunctionally wounded. At eighteen-years old, one very rough year later, I signed myself up for a whimsical back piece that felt bold…

image by Samer Daboul — pexels

For the first twelve or so years I spent as an appreciator, student, and practitioner of mindfulness meditation I thought, or should I say, believed that my goal or intention was to have less thoughts. Thoughts obscure my connection with the present moment, the only moment that truly exists, I told myself after devouring Eckart Tolle’s New Earth and then working through Jon Kabat Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living. All these thoughts are interfering with my life, I would fret, as I read through Kabat Zinn’s Wherever You Go There You Are and listened to Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Art of…

image by Bruno Bueno — Pexels

“It’s just one book,” I said when I first started writing. I’d been struck by an idea that I couldn’t refuse. Sure, I have a full-time, very demanding job, plus two young children to raise and a marriage to keep, not to mention my own personhood to maintain. But this one book won’t ruin any of that. It’ll add to my life. How long can one book really take?

I woke up earlier and stayed up later to write while my family was asleep. Instead of taking breaks from work for a brisk walk around the block or to sit…

Trust me when I say I am shocked to find myself inspired to write a positive reflection around a kid’s Disney movie about princesses. I definitely don’t want to like Elsa for several valid reasons. I hate that her oversized eyeballs are twice the size of her grotesquely thin wrists. I scowl at her outfits — more fitting for a fancy gala than for the rugged adventures on which she finds herself. Why are we still imprinting on children these impossible bodily proportions and unrealistic appearances?

Yet every time I watch this movie, I am moved to tears, and I…

Practicing healthy boundaries is crucial

A Closer Look at Boundaries
A Closer Look at Boundaries
Photo by Milan Chudoba from Pexels

As a mental health professional, it has been delightful to see the concept of boundaries becoming more mainstream. I certainly would have benefitted from a healthy understanding of boundaries back when I was a people-pleasing teenaged girl. But alas! I was in the dark around this crucial skill until I stumbled into a career — wherein the comprehension and practice of good boundaries became imperative.

Like other pop-psychology phrases such as narcissist and triggered, the popularity of the word boundaries doesn’t automatically lend to helpful behaviors.

Just last week, a beautiful quote showed up on one of my favorite pages…

Using science-based practices, my self-talk became notably healthier—as did my self-esteem in general

Woman looking at her eye in mirror
Woman looking at her eye in mirror
Image credit: Lisa Vlasenko.

Does your inner dialogue sound something like your most shit-talking nemesis?

You’re not alone. I personally relate to being berated by my own thoughts, and many of the clients with whom I work in a private practice psychotherapy setting also describe this experience.

Studies have shown that the majority of our thoughts are repetitive in nature. We also know from research that the more worried, ruminating, or self-blaming thoughts we have in general, the higher levels of anxiety and depression we can expect to entertain (see “The structure and consequence of repetitive thought”), although tolerating any level of depression or…

“You need to move faster.”

My partner is about 25 yards ahead of me, glaring at me over the handle of his rake. Exasperated, he repeats the same sentiment for at least the fourth time in the last hour. His tone is becoming increasingly annoyed. “I know you want to be thorough but we need to get the layout done. Come on. Keep going.” I stare back him, unsure how to respond. So this is where my practice will take place today, I think to myself. Just recently I’d been gauging his willingness to do some couples counseling sessions with…

I don’t know exactly when this period of uncertainty began. Or if there was ever really a time that was not at least partially uncertain. I’m guessing not. I can trace the current stressors back to the sickening feeling that gripped my stomach when a known con artist, misogynist, and racist was elected as President of the United States. I watched the election results tallied from a dear friend’s house; the mood was festive. She was wearing a beautiful, crisp white business suit to celebrate the first woman president elect. …

As we near the end of an exceptionally dark year, hopefully pausing to relish in whatever version of holiday splendor to which we might have access this time around, I’m aware of the temptation to engage in a popular annual tradition. Tis the season wherein so many folks, myself included, commonly begin to make hopeful resolutions and establish wise or sometimes lofty intentions, presumably to begin on the first day of the New Year. New Year, New Me! Like everything else in our culture, this practice of resolution or intention setting has been shrouded in marketable services and consumable products…

With this incredibly poignant election fast approaching, I’ve been fielding a number of questions, emotions, and spun-out thoughts in response to the state of our world. They come from all sorts of dear friends and from clients in my psychotherapy practice alike. Of course I’m having my own questions, emotions and spun-out thoughts as well. What follows is where I usually wind up. It starts off dark and then gets darker, but if you hang in there, I think there is some light to be found near the end. Metaphorical? Most definitely.

Disclaimer: if you are a Trump supporter or…

Erin Savage Pollaro

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

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