[thirty] + [six]

I am a classic enneagram two, the helper. Focusing on the comfort and needs of others has been my default for as long as I can remember. my birthday has been something that I have used to give myself some sort of permission to focus on myself. it’s the time when my brain tells me that it’s ok to think of myself first. being from a larger family made it hard to stand out. being the “good” kid made it even harder. but I know for sure that there was at least one day a year when it would be about me… my birthday.

my first birthday (1988)

I had several amazing and memorable birthdays as a kid. the year I turned 10, my mom surprised me with a horseback riding birthday party. I had several surprise parties (so terrifying and amazing at the same time). the one year of high school my birthday wasn’t during spring break, my best friend had surprises waiting for me in every class… I carried flowers and balloons around the school all day. I was going to say I was equal parts embarrassed and elated, but that would be a lie… I loved the attention. for my 18th birthday (2004), my parents did a whole “pimp my ride” thing with my car.

I got married about six months before my 21st birthday. When my birthday rolled around and we didn’t have any elaborate plans, I was disappointed. We ended up going to Outback Steakhouse with my husband at the time’s old roomate’s parents. whomp whomp. eventually I was able to communicate that disappointment and share how important birthdays were to me. for the next several years I had pretty great birthdays.

towards the end of my twenties things started getting sour. I had loads of built up resentment, undiagnosed anxiety, and was living in an extremely unhealthy relationship. during those last 2-3 years of my twenties, my birthday became an excuse to drink excessively. it was a really low point in my life. there were some extremely traumatic experiences that occurred in connection with my birthday celebrations.

when I turned 28, I spent the night out partying with my then husband and some of our closest friends.

what you don’t see is the enormous amount of confusion and grief that I was carrying as I convinced myself that becoming more sexually open would help keep us together. If we were exploring together, it was good for us… right? If I was the wife who was “cool with it” there would be no reason to leave, right?

the night we celebrated my 29th birthday was the night that there was no coming back from. when people who have been through divorce talk about it many of them will say things like “I don’t really know, I guess we just drifted apart” … but I can confidently say this was the night the multiple fractures that had been growing for years shattered into a million pieces that would never be put back together again.

again, it was alcohol that was the catalyst. as I drank to celebrate my last year in my twenties, nine years of resentment and self-abandonment bubbled to the surface and spewed out like a volcano of venom.

I would go on to continue to use alcohol to self-medicate my undiagnosed anxiety, insecure attachment, self-abandonment, and the toxic situation it had created. that last year of my twenties was one of the most lonely, painful, and confusing times.

as you can see, what started out as a celebration – as the one day I gave myself permission to put myself first – became an annual reminder of all the ways that I had failed to honor and care for myself.

and then came thirty.

March 23, 2017. another one of those “no turning back” moments. I still vividly remember that morning. as I opened my eyes, panic set in. I scanned the room, trying to figure out where I was. I was in the guest room on the oversized bean bag, alone. and then I remembered… today was the day we were telling our then 7-year-old daughter that her dad was moving out. we told her that morning, she deflected, and we went on with our day, trying to convince her we would still be a family. I’m not sure that I was trying to convince her as much as I was trying to convince myself.

and now, here I am six years later. the 7-year-old is now 13, i’m remarried with another kid, I have an amazing career, and i’m happier than ever. but still I find myself anxious, hypervigilent, and avoidant.

this year, i’m reclaiming my birthday. I’m celebrating my growth. the last six years have been some of the hardest, but most rewarding years of my life. I really think my life truly started six years ago. when I let go of everything I thought I should be, I was able to embrace who I truly am. and I love this version of me.

so, happy [thirty] + [six] to me.


Never Say Never

Never. Again.

I swore up and down that I would never get married again. I had fallen for the “happily ever after” trap once and was not going to make that mistake again. As a very young and naive barely twenty year old, I met a boy that I thought was my white knight. He came riding in on his high horse to rescue me from the chaos and instability of my life in that moment. In my desperation to feel loved and accepted, I lost myself. It wasn’t all at once, but piece by piece I willingly sacrificed nearly everything that made me who I am to gain that love and acceptance I so desired. When my marriage ended I vowed never to give away those sacred parts of myself again… I would never ever get married again.

Spoiler alert: I got married again.

It turns out that it wasn’t marriage itself that suffocated my sense of self, it was THAT marriage. A dangerously toxic combination of insecurity, pride, and wounds of the past created the perfect storm that led to my demise. It took years of healing, countless tears, a few more heartbreaks, and some type of divine intervention from the universe to find the one who would change my mind about marriage.

What I didn’t expect was to find a partner who was capable of changing my mind about having more children. I wasn’t against having more kids because I didn’t want more kids, but because the most traumatic part of my divorce was (and continues to be) navigating custody, co-parenting, and knowing that while the divorce was the best thing for me… My daughter has had to pay a price for that.

You would think I would learn to never say never, but apparently I haven’t. As we worked together to intentionally build a foundation of trust, respect, and love it was overflowing. It was out of that overflow that we chose to expand our family. It wasn’t some socially expected “next step” or some need to have a child to “fix” our relationship, it was because our home and hearts were so full of love that it just made sense to expand that. My, what a different experience this was for me.

It was October of 2020 and we were preparing for a beautiful cottage getaway in Maine with our besties who live in NYC. As we drove from NYC to Maine, I casually asked if we could stop for a pregnancy test. I was only a date late starting my period, but I was curious. We couldn’t find anywhere until the next day. It was the middle of the afternoon in that tiny adorable cottage that we found out we were expecting. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to find out about this gift of life than being surrounded by those who have seen me crumble, fall, and work like hell to find peace. ((Sidebar to say: Find your people, your tribe… and hold tight to them even if it means cross country flights, video calls, and countless texts day after day))


It didn’t seem real. We were too excited to hold it in and video called both of our families from the beautiful backyard in that little cottage.

We were wrapped in so much love before deciding to expand our family and infinitely more love after sharing that we were expecting that it just felt so right.

This baby was going to be one of my favorite life lessons (that I still haven’t learned)…

Never Say Never.

((This post is about when we found out we were pregnant in October of 2020 with our precious Hazel Jean, who is now nearing 9 months old! I wanted to go back and document these moments as I ease back into writing as a creative outlet… We are not expecting another one… not just yet *wink*))



it was hot and humid, the sun danced along my skin illuminating the glitter that had fallen off my dress.

there were people everywhere, but all i could think of was you.

i was late, of course, and you already planned to meet me under the magnolia tree.

i turned the corner and saw you standing there.

“Hiiiiiiiii. Okay, I’m here” i screamed excitedly.

you turned around.

our eyes connected

time stood still.

you, my love, are my rock. my childish, giddy, enthusiastic soul needed your peaceful, consistent, persistent love to anchor me.

that moment, our moment, is one i will cherish forever.

the rest of the night was a blur of family, fun, food, dancing and so many perfect memories.

the beginning of the rest of our forever was perfect.

i have never been so happy, felt so safe, and been so free.

you, my love, are perfect for me.

i love you always, in thickness and in health.


give yourself permission

the way we experience the world relies on many factors… from our race to culture socioeconomic status to attachment styles…. and so many more things. throughout my counseling education I have been extremely reflective and attempting to have a level of insight that allows me to understand how and why I behave I do. I’ve written papers about my cultural identity formation, sexual identity formation, and even a 12 page research paper about how my experience of identity foreclosure in adolescence set the stage for many issues.

all that educational background to say despite how much insight I try to have sometimes I’m blindsided by my own behavior. I struggle with the dichotomy of “impostor syndrome” from this false sense of pride and ego that I should “know better” because of my job and education.

the past several weeks have been hard for me personally in a lot of ways. for the first time in a long time I’ve started to “settle down” with a regular job with office hours. for the first time in forever I am in a happy, healthy relationship… the kind that makes you feel safe to let your guard down and just be. and I was thriving.

and then… seemingly out of nowhere I started experiencing and increase in mental health symptoms. we always talk about how to handle things when life is shit, but we forget that those of us who have lived in chaos for most of our life get realllll uncomfortable when things start to get calm. My irritability was through the roof for no reason. I was stressing about how much I was stressing. Things in my relationship that should have been non-issues were causing me to experience emotions similar to what I have experienced in past relationships and when my body remembers those experiences it goes into high alert. my insomnia flairs up. I am suspicious of everyone and everything. I can’t relax. and in those moments it’s like a Chinese fire drill in my mind. I dissociate, I isolate, and I self destruct. Being passive aggressive to those closest to me is one of my signature moves. Because if I can be enough of a bitch I can prove myself right when they inevitably leave. but that’s just half of it. the other half is the meek, apologetic little girl who tries to make herself smaller to fit into whatever space the people I care for have for me, completely neglecting my own needs – and frankly – my own self respect. I apologize incessently for things that weren’t my fault. I take on ALL the guilt. because if everything is my fault than somehow I’ll be able to fix it.

“I’ll be better next time”
“I’m working on not being so broken”
“I’m sorry I’m so crazy”
“Don’t hate me for my feelings, I know they are irrational”

and on and on and on.

Friday morning I sat with a client who had a son pass away a few weeks ago. He was just 24. As I sat with her I told her that she needed to give herself permission to feel. I told her if she didn’t just sit with her feelings they were a ticking time bomb that would go off and cause a myriad of casualties…. collateral damage as a friend of mine put it. And as I sat in the silence of my office after she left session I began to cry. because I have been stopping myself from feeling lots of things for far too long. So when an unexpected opportunity to have a weekend mostly to myself came up I made a choice. I was going to sit with my feelings.

It was hard. so fucking hard. Old Courtney wanted to drink away my feelings as I’ve done in the past. I even bought a bottle of whiskey. but I turned around as I was leaving to the store and returned it. the next night I got off at the exit where they have a grocery store that sells one of my favorite bourbons on the way home. and I turned around in the parking lot and left. I was uncomfortable. I cried. I wore out my “You are Safe” grounding meditation. I cleaned the house. I dyed my hair. and I wrote and wrote and wrote. and I discovered that I was able to stay with my feelings until they found a natural crest and began to subside. I woke up this morning feeling more peaceful than I have for awhile.

It’s exhausting holding your feelings back. Trying to control/avoid/ignore big feelings feels like the right thing to do in the moment, but it’s like a rubber band. The more you pull it back the harder it hurts when it breaks and snaps you.

Giving yourself permission to feel your feelings in a safe and healthy way with appropriate support is so important. It isn’t always easy, but the more you do it, the better you get at it.

If you need someone to talk to or someone to give you permission to feel your feelings, I’m here. I don’t pretend I have it all together because I just don’t. But you don’t have to be alone as you’re figuring it out.

What big feelings have you been wrestling with?



have been struggling in so many ways. I used to be one who shared every struggle and every success on social media. It was my therapy. It made me feel less alone and was one of the biggest weapons I had to fight my demons. Something about exposing my darkness made it less scary.

But the last few years I’ve struggled, mostly in silence. I’ve shared moments of both struggle and victory, but each have been muted… Filtered… Because I couldn’t bear to face them all at once or in their fullness. Because I felt obligated to “look on the bright side” and “find the silver lining” and some days… Most days… I couldn’t.

Recently I have been grappling with a flood of triggers from past trauma that have been drowning me lately and it creates this cyclone of confusion and frustration. I start to get to a “good” place. I practice gratitude and in many ways I’m happier than I’ve ever been, but as I begin to catch my breath with this inhale of gratitude and begin to relax there always seems to be a dark, cold hand of fear reaching out to cover my nose and mouth. And suddenly I’m not safe anymore. I begin to wonder if I ever was. I’ve felt this suffocation before, much like the frog who doesn’t recognize the simmering water heating up until it’s too late, I didn’t realize I was suffocating until it was too late. I had nothing left to fight with, so I surrendered. But now, oh now… I remember. And so I panic at the smallest things. The loss of any freedom or autonomy sends me into a spiral. I dissociate. I isolate. I assume the worst because that’s been my truth for so long. Sometimes I can catch my breath. But I’m excellent at putting on a show, at being ok. It’s all I’ve ever thought I was allowed to be.

I spend more time than I’d care to admit crying in my car over everything and nothing. I start to feel stuck and that makes me angry. Anger is scary to me because I refused to feel it for so long. I’m angry that I trusted the justice system and it failed me. I’m angry that I felt like I had to choose between the life of Independence I fought to rebuild and my daughter. I chose her, of course. I’ll always choose her. I’m angry that I had to leave a job I loved. I’m angry that nearly three years later, I’m still picking up pieces of a life that was shattered.

And yes, I’m grateful for the lessons learned and freedoms gained and and and…

But I’m still angry. And that’s ok. For the first time I’m letting myself be angry and just sit with it. I can feel just about any feeling and be comfortable with it… But anger has been hard for me. Because being angry, for me, often means acknowledging someone has done something unjust towards me or someone I care about. Which means acknowledging the flaws in those you trusted, those you spent time and effort investing in… Those I chose to see the good in when everyone else saw the not so good. And that is a major challenge to my worldview and personality. It’s a blessing and a curse to always look for the best in even the worst people… I’m working on finding balance in that and today’s step is admitting I’m fucking angry.

human connections

my fractured fairy tale

… and they lived happily ever after. 

as long as I can remember, those words filled my eyes with hearts and my stomach with butterflies. disney movies, romantic comedies, and love songs created a foundation for what I expected from a relationship. add to that the religious teachings of purity culture and I felt like I had my fool proof plan to earn my happily ever after. I just had to put in my time, right? I had to earn it.

at 16, I found myself in my first relationship, it lasted a month or two before I felt “convicted” about the relationship distracting me from my summer missions trips and plans to spend the years after high school at a christian internship. I loved him and he made me feel so very special, but I was filled with guilt and shame because I had “kissed dating goodbye” and my body wanted more from him than my guilt and fear would let me explore. I didn’t want to mess up my chance to earn that happily ever after and I knew if I spent much more time with him I would give him more than just my first kiss. And in the moment, the guilt of wanting that as bad as I did weighed heavier than my teenage hormones and I wrote him a break up letter and left it for him at work. I think I told him I would pray for him or something terribly self righteous. I buried my heart break in bible verses and youth group meetings.

at 20, while at that christian internship, I met a boy. My eyes filled with hearts and my stomach filled with butterflies. this had to be it. i followed all the rules, did everything i was supposed to. this was it, it was time for my happily ever after. i’d earned it. Our long distance dating turned into a quick engagement. because we were so “desperately in love” (or incredibly co-dependent) we cancelled our wedding plans and eloped, less than 6 months after we met. for nearly a decade I clung to the belief that I earned my happily ever after and convinced myself (and everyone else) I was living it. and for awhile, I think I was. I thought that happily ever after was something you reached and then just kept it. I thought those hearty eyes and butterflies were permanent.

and then… at 30, I was divorced… my perfect fairy tale had been fractured and my happily ever after had shattered to pieces. I lost hope that I would ever experience that hearty eye, butterfly filled stomach kind of love again.

Since then I have dated a few different guys, allowing each one to occupy some space in my life while simultaneously suppressing that lifelong desire to find my happily (and healthily) ever after. I made one guy I dated, the pastor with that amazing voice made especially for Disney songs, promise he wouldn’t fall in love with me… we were just going to be casual because he had been heartbroken by divorce as well. of course, we connected over our heartbreak and when our feelings got too big, we ran. And the dapper fellow, with whom I shared a love of bourbon and cozy sweaters. By the time I met him I had done enough healing to be open to catching feelings for him, but due to our life circumstances we had very defined boundaries that my heart struggled to stay within so I knew it had an expiration date. But he made me feel like maybe, just maybe, hearty eyes, butterflies, and good guys could all co-exist.

I had a wonderful long term boyfriend, the viking, who was my rock throughout the hardest times of my life. He too was divorced and older and very much content with the type of relationship we had built over time. and so was I. He was safe and exactly what I needed for that season. I found him when I needed someone to protect me from myself and he was that. But little by little, I realized I wasn’t broken like I used to be. I wondered if I could ever be anything but his little broken girl in need of his fixing and protecting. We also had built a life that was intentionally separate at times and it had become increasingly difficult for me. As the realization that I wasn’t in the same place I was when we met began to stir, that desire to have a life partner that wasn’t so loosely woven into my story was growing within me. but I couldn’t be honest about any of that. Not to him and certainly not to myself. I held on to that relationship, that safety and security, for as long as my terrified soul could muster. I tried every way I knew how to convince myself (and everyone else) that I didn’t want what my heart was asking for.

“I’m not interested.”
” I just need me time.”
“Never again, it’s too much hassle when it inevitably ends”
“I’m an independent woman who don’t need no man.”

And every other reason in the book to deny the fact that I truly desire a partner to share life with. Because I was terrified of the pain… the pain of those shattered pieces of my life crumbling around me. Because I wasn’t sure I could handle another loss. I couldn’t start to get used to sharing life with someone again because when it ended, I’d become even more broken. You see, in all this … I’d chosen what I perceived to be safety. I’d chosen loyalty over my own desires. because I was terrified of change, of loss, of rejection, of abandonment. of not being chosen. and what I didn’t see was my fear of not being chosen by others was keeping me from choosing myself. because I thought I was just too broken for someone to choose.

but isn’t that where my strength blossomed and I found my warrior? in that brokenness. isn’t that where I learned to be honest with myself and those around me and embrace my imperfection? in that pain. Isn’t that where I finally found myself? In that darkness. isn’t that where I learned that happily ever after is really just a bunch of right nows stacked on top of each other? Yes. It was. and isn’t it in the midst of that brokenness that I learned what I was capable of? absolutely, it was. and so, despite my fear, instead of choosing the safe path that had become so familiar – I chose to swipe right on myself and follow my strong, independent heart down it’s own wonderful path.

and in doing so I swiped right on the greatest adventure my heart could have dreamt up.

and now, here I am… nearing 33, finding myself in the healthiest and happiest relationship of my life. it was unexpected… something neither of us were looking for (I used to hate when everyone would tell me you’d find exactly what you needed as soon as you stopped looking for it, but they apparently were right)… It was a fluke really. You see the artist was in one of the busiest seasons of his life and “didn’t really have time for something serious” and I was…. a mess, honestly. I don’t know what I was looking for… maybe I was looking for someone to who saw me as my over the top, messy, broken, and independent but needy self and didn’t try to fix me or try to come to my rescue or change me. He is one of the smartest, kindest, most thoughtful people to ever exist. He didn’t certainly didn’t try to fix me or change me. He has simply just been with me. I don’t feel like a project or someone who needs protected. I just feel like me. Our relationship is truly a give and take. see, in the past I would give and the other party would take. but not with him, he pushes me past my comfort in all the best ways.

and yes, there are hearty eyes and butterflies. and laughing until we cry. and forehead kisses. and all night long conversations that are both refreshing and uncomfortable and exciting and terrifying. and the safest, most home like home I have known. we respect and challenge each other in appropriate ways. we respect each others autonomy while collaboratively creating our beautiful little world. creating those moments of choosing each other and supporting each other and just being present with each other. he absolutely is my happily right now and has been for the last year. and I plan to continue to stack those right nows on top of one another day after day and year after year. together we will create our happily ever after by choosing to live it right now.

I thought my fairy tale was forever fractured and that happily ever after didn’t exist. I guess I just needed to learn that happily ever after isn’t just an ending to a fairy tale, it’s a choice I get to make every day. embracing my brokenness, choosing myself instead of begging others choose me, allowing people to love me where I am, loving others exactly where they are… those are choices I get to make every day. And damn, I feel so lucky to have such a wonderful partner to stand with as we both strive to get better at choosing to live our happily right now 🙂


i did it.

Technically I completed my Master of Arts in Counseling on March 9, 2019. On May 11 I got to dress up in an overpriced robe while sitting in the rain for hours to glide across a stage while someone I didn’t know read my name. But it was more than just a symbol of the completion of academic requirements. It was extremely symbolic for me in ways I haven’t really been ready to process until now.

January 7, 2017 I walked onto the Webster Groves campus as a naive 29 year old. I had been married for 9 years and I had a 7 year old daughter. My then husband was nearing the end of his Masters program and I thought after supporting him through his career change it was my turn. Just over two months later I was all of a sudden a 30 year old single mom. I had emotional whiplash. What began as a way to explore my curiosity of the human mind turned into my lifeline in more ways than I would ever know. I can truly say without a doubt if I was not in the Counseling program when my marriage fell apart, I wouldn’t have dealt with it as well as I did.

I was in class when a text conversation with my ex-husband turned from what are we going to do now to a conversation about a “trial separation” *eyeroll* He was moving out and I was supposed to be learning about the Theories of Counseling. Tears silently rolled down my cheeks as I tried to bury my head in my book. My world crashed that night. Completely crumbled. The foundation I had spent most of my life building was gone in the blink of a text notification.

Not even a full semester into my 2+ year graduate program I was facing the most difficult challenge of my nearly three decades of life. While many people would have given up on school, I did the opposite. I threw myself into it completely. I knew that I wanted a better life for myself and my daughter. I knew I couldn’t just quit. I needed a career to support myself. But mostly, I knew if I didn’t have something I could control – something to distract me from the pain – something to keep me busy…. I would lose it. And so, I stayed busy. I was used to always being busy being mom, but when I only had her half the time i didn’t know what to do with myself. So, when she was gone I focused on school. I wrote papers, read books, and for over a year worked 20 hours a week at an unpaid internship. I had several relationships come and go. But, grad school was always there.

and then suddenly it wasn’t.

it has been 3 months since i completed my last class. and this is the first time i’m really sitting down to process what grad school was for me. see, if i don’t write about it that means it isn’t real. it isn’t over. my safety net isn’t gone. despite all the classes, supervision, and personal counseling i’ve been through the idea of me just sitting with who i was on that January day and who i am now is overwhelming.

so, i deflect and replace. i had a full time position before i even completed my last class. and i have thrown myself into that work so completely. i am a substance abuse counselor at an inpatient rehab facility, working specifically with women – many who have experienced extreme trauma. i’ve worked long hours doing hard work. again, it was a distraction from taking the time to process my feelings. i’ve avoided writing because i know once i begin to open up the flood of feelings will come. i’ve started a million versions of this post in my head, but it wasn’t until I tried to call someone out on avoiding their most prominent and successful coping skill that i realized how much i’ve been avoiding mine. *insert meaningful quote about practicing what you preach* so, here we are.

grad school saved me because it gave me something to focus on when my world wouldn’t stop spinning. my work energizes and challenges me because i have to look at my own shortcomings before pointing out any in others. they have been healthy and useful, but if i don’t find balance now and allow myself to explore other ways of coping with the insanity that is my life it is possible that i could see burnout, a common end to even some of the most prominent names in counseling, far sooner than most would. enough distracting and deflecting. i’m here, right now. processing and letting that shit go.

in the spirit of the adorable marie kondo i will say thank you to my grad school career for serving me well in my time of need. thank you for bringing me structure and balance when i had none. thank you for teaching me that i can do things that may seem impossible. thank you for giving me the opportunity to show my daughter what persistence and passion can add up to.

clearly, it can add up to a really expensive piece of paper you frame and hang on the wall. ha.

cheers to the end of the beginning of the rest of my life!

divorce, writing

recovering perfectionist.

Guys! There are exactly 28 days left until the end of the term. Twenty-eight. Also, this is my LAST TERM of grad school. Coincidentally, in the same month I graduate – I turn 32 AND it marks 2 years since the end of my nearly decade long marriage. WHEW. To say I’m ready for a new season is an understatement. It’s been over 2 years of late night classes, weekends of homework, recordings of sessions… right along side two years of being a newly single mom, recovering from heartbreak I thought would kill me, and getting to know my genuine self for the first time in a long time.

Going to school to get a masters in counseling isn’t just learning how to let someone lay on your couch and tell you their problems… it is about looking at your own issues closer than you ever wanted to. Instead of writing papers about the history of counseling or the theories used I wrote papers detailing my own personal developmental issues like identity foreclosure in adolescence, how I came to understand my race and my sexuality, and my own biases and shortcomings. I understand myself so much more now. But the one thing that has changed the most… I’ve learned it’s ok to be imperfect.

See, the thing about being a “helper” (Enneagram 2, anyone?) is that I am so quick to give love, acceptance, safety, and encouragement to everyone… but myself. Throughout the last two years of school and personal work (ya’ll – GO TO THERAPY. *end rant*) I discovered that somewhere early on in life my brain correlated the idea that perfectionism leads to love, acceptance, and attention and anything less than perfection is unacceptable and will lead to loneliness and disappointment.

I spent 30 years of my life chasing perfection.

I was raised in church and was the textbook church kid… missions trips, small group leader, bible memory verse champion. I never drank, smoked, did drugs and of course “I kissed dating goodbye.”

I went into JROTC in high school and earned every award possible, becoming the Commanding Officer my senior year.

Despite graduating in the top 10 of my class of 400 and having multiple scholarship opportunities and military recruiters offering me amazing opportunities I decided to go to a church internship program after high school. I fundraised an outrageous amount of money because I felt called to this program where I worked insane hours (yes, I PAID to work…) and despite my best efforts felt like I was never “good enough” for their standards. So, of course, I stayed a second year. I travelled the country putting on weekend youth conventions. I made the drama team and was one of the actors on the big stage. I checked all the boxes I was supposed to.

While on the road I met the guy. You know, THE GUY. We dated long distance for a short time and then eloped. We didn’t have sex until our wedding night. Because that was what we were “supposed” to do. I followed the rules.

I then spent the next 10 years attempting to become what I perceived was the “perfect” wife. We had a kid, a few businesses, bought a house, had the dogs and everything but the white picket fence. We were supposedly living the American Dream.

But instead of feeling proud of myself, grateful, content, or accomplished I was constantly terrified. I lived in a cyclone of anxiety. That thing my brain learned at a young age? Perfection is the only thing that leads to love, acceptance, and attention… that core belief sat like an anvil on my chest.

accepting imperfection was nearly impossible in the smallest instances, so when my marriage of almost a decade fell apart almost overnight… i was completely shattered. I had been holding on to the shards of imperfection trying to hide them from everyone, including myself. The tighter I held on to them the deeper they cut me.

When my marriage ended I had no choice but to stop trying to hold it all together. The sound of my world crashing around me was so loud. I simply couldn’t go on living the way I was. I was a tightly wound, insanely anxious, deeply wounded, and completely exhausted shell of a human.

I had to learn (and i’m still learning) that it is ok to simply exist, to just be. Not to try to try to be perfect or good enough or anything enough…. but to embrace myself exactly as I am in this moment. So when it came time to change my online names @imperfectlycourtney was the most authentic, genuine expression of who I have learned to be over the past two years. It also embodied the message I feel inspired to live out and share with my clients, my readers, and ultimately the world. Borrowing the wording from my ultimate career crush and inspiration, Brene Brown… that YOU, in all your imperfections and struggles, are worthy of love and belonging.

so, welcome to imperfectlycourtney.com. Here i’ll be sharing the lessons I am learning on my journey to become a recovering perfectionist. You can also find me on instagram, facebook, and pinterest … I always love connecting with other imperfectionists!



words have been stirring in my soul, blurring lines of ink on a page that are hard to make out as they stay jumbled in my head. they burn with passion and intensity demanding to be set free.

write them 

no, no, no… before i can write them i must first create the perfect space in which to write. it cannot be released until i’ve prepared a sacred place to ground my body and release that which is burning inside me. so, i methodically declutter and simplify the space i have.

please, just write them.

i will, i promise… but not yet. it has to be just right. i obsess over candles, flowers, chairs, and desks. i crave connection. sanctuary. stillness. inspiration. life. so i attempt orchestrate it all. i buy the desk, the chair, the flowers, the candles… i even find a quote that describes this soul on fire feeling of the words brewing within me.


and as i sit down to reflect in this space for the first time, i freeze.

no words.

because what if they are not enough.

and what if they are too much. 

and i realize what i have claimed to be doing to “set the stage” for my soul to open up was really that perfectionist trembling with fear.

fear of failure.

fear of success.

fear of being hurt.

fear of hurting others.

all because of words.


image credit: @noor_unnahar

while i’ve written for a long time now, my words are different.

they are no longer spewing with the joy of naivety, the bliss of ignorance, or prettied up by subconscious denial. for years i penned my inspiring life stories *eye roll* under the blog name journey of a dreamer. and it was all as true and genuine and well intentioned as i knew how to be.

but these words.

they are raw and jagged, dripping with the blood and tears ripped from my very being in the process of my unbecoming.

these are the words that have woken me up, the words that have welcomed me home.

when i said earlier i was craving connection, sanctuary, stillness, inspiration, and life…

i was looking for that in a physical space to create some sort of “holy moment”

….when all along those things were within me. the act of projecting those cravings on to the physical discounted the power that pulses through my heart, soul, and fingertips.

connection. sanctuary. stillness. inspiration. life.

those aren’t found in a place, they are found in me. in my words.

i’ve had them all along.

and now it’s time to set them free.

i’m scared of what will happen when i finally let these words out.

but i’m more scared of what will happen if i don’t.

and so, i write.


Rocks and Feathers

“You’re not the same person you were a year ago, a month ago, or a week ago. You’re always growing. Experiences don’t stop. That’s life. And the very experiences that seem so hard when you’re going through them are the ones you’ll look back on with gratitude for how far you’ve come”


I’d be lying if I said I looked back over the past year and immediately felt grateful for everything I’ve been through. As I sit and reflect on the things I’ve gone through and what they have taught me I am able to intentionally offer gratitude for those experiences, but it isn’t a natural first reaction for me. I haven’t “made it” to some super enlightened place of reflection where I feel gratitude, but I am getting better about intentionally being grateful even for – especially for – the struggles I’ve faced. A year ago I had no idea how I was going to survive a year of 20 hours a week of unpaid internship on top of school, parenting, and working. I pushed the limits of what was logistically possible and scheduled my days in 15 minute windows. I learned the importance of planning and communication, setting realistic goals and expectations, and of being present in the moment.

There were so many moments this year where I didn’t know how I was going to make it through the week – let alone the year or my grad school program. The thing about being in grad school for Counseling is that you can’t just run from your issues… they become the homework. I had to address my personal world view, my wounds, my mindset. If I truly wanted to be helpful as a counselor I had to know my own shit. I have had so many moments of clarity reflecting on sessions I’ve had with clients. My daddy issues were clear when I saw my first older white male and had a hard time asserting myself in session. My relationship issues were easy to spot when I had my first client in a toxic, codependent relationship. I was able to recognize these issues and intentionally set them aside when I walked into the room as the counselor. Compartmentalizing wasn’t something I was good at, but it was something I was forced to learn. I have always worn many hats but before this I tried to wear them all simultaneously. Becoming a counselor has forced me to be mindful and intentional about which hat I wear when. I used to be a major supporter of multitasking, but after seeing how much more present I became in my life when I was intentional about what Courtney showed up I firmly believe that being mindfully intentional allows for a greater depth of experience in life than multitasking would ever allow.

So, here I am right now… sitting in my favorite coffee shop intentionally sipping my black mango tea as I reacquaint myself with Courtney the writer. In the madness that has been my life for the last several years Courtney the writer has been quiet. I’ve churned out my fair share of academic papers and “woe is me” journal entries, but the writer I’ve missed has been the one so passionately communicating the words that burn true in my soul. I used to have a pretty popular blog and after awhile the words became empty because I was writing for a specific audience. I miss writing for the freedom it brings me. I have nothing to prove. I’m not trying to be some eloquent poet. I want to share the words that bring life and freedom. The words that everyone wants to hear but no one will say. I want to give people permission to live and feel and express themselves. I want people to feel seen and heard and understood by my words. If just one person reads the words I write and feels a little less alone, that is completely worth it. Words truly are life to me. A gift. It’s no surprise my love language is “words of affirmation.” Words have the power to inspire or to injure. The words you write, speak, or even just the words you think to yourself – they are either building you up or putting you down. Just like I had to learn intentionality with showing up and focusing on being just one thing at a time, I have had to learn how to intentionally focus on the words I speak and think.

I see speaking or thinking positive things about ourselves and others as feathers. Each thought is just a tiny feather being placed on the balancing scale. The negative things we think and speak about ourselves and others are like rocks. Just one weighs the scale down significantly. Its impact is immediately felt. It takes infinitely more instances of intentional positivity to balance the scale out after one instance of negativity. Make sure you are adding feathers to your scale constantly. It’s a never ending battle that must be fought with mindfulness and intentionality. Carry your feathers with you always. Give them away without hesitation. Leave your rocks, don’t carry them with you. When you are tempted to tip the scales with just a slip of the tongue, stop and weigh the impact it will have before you toss it on the scale – scattering the feathers you’ve fought so hard to accumulate.

Show up today. Be intentionally present. Engage mindfully. You are more powerful than you give yourself credit for.