"We must be willing to let go of the life we planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."
Welcome to my website, and thank you for your interest in my story!
I took my first psychology class at community college when I was sixteen years old. I went on to receive my Bachelor's degree from Frostburg State University in 2008, my Master's degree from Loyola University of Maryland in 2011, and my doctorate from Immaculata University in 2017. I became fascinated with the brain, and much of my clinical training and research was in neuropsychology. I completed year long placements in renowned pediatric hospitals: Kennedy Krieger Institute and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and presented findings at several conferences, most notably; American Psychological Association, International Neuropsychological Association, and National Academy of Neuropsychology. I also worked in adult brain injury rehab, community mental health, school-based therapy, and college counseling. In addition to my focus on neuropsychological assessment and consultation, I found that my rehab and therapy style was most informed by mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and interpersonal therapy.
While my offerings are informed by my academic and clinical expertise, I believe that the wisdom and capacity I have gained through my own healing journey are invaluable, and are a key piece of my work in the world.
My healing journey began June 21st 2015, with the death of my beloved Zeus dog. At the time I was a highly driven (some may say slightly neurotic), very scientifically minded, atheist, who had her whole life planned ahead of her, and was on track to becoming a pediatric neuropsychologist. Losing Zeus was my first deep experience with death, and had a profound impact on me. I often describe that "my heart broke wide open." I began to implement the same mindfulness based coping techniques I so often encouraged my clients to use, and began to question my staunch atheist beliefs. Dr. Sam Harris's Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion was a great starting point for my intellectual mind.
As I began to wake up, it felt as though a veil was lifting, and I began to take a look at my life with newfound perspective. I looked ahead at the plan, and began to wonder why that was the plan. I suddenly realized that I had a choice - in fact I had many choices! Positive psychology at its finest. I began to make a series of courageous decisions, that would gradually shift the course of my life. At this time, October of 2015, I found my first spiritual teacher and community at Baltimore Yoga Village. I discovered the joy and healing power of mantra and devotional song, and delved deeper into the practices of yoga and meditation.
In December of the same year, I had my second experience with death. This loss shook the foundation of how I understood the world - how is it possible that a world exists without this person in it? I found great comfort in Anita Moorjani's audiobook Dying to Be Me, and I vowed to live my life from a place of love rather than fear, which greatly influenced my later decision to embark on a solo backpacking pilgrimage of southeast Asia. This loss was also the catalyst which began the process of honoring and releasing much suppressed grief - a process that would continue over the next several years. Rasha's Oneness supported me to find an understanding of the release of this energy, and find gratitude for the healing it offers.
The following year brought me to New Jersey to complete my doctoral internship. Initially, this had been devastating news, as I had dreamed of completing internship at a pediatric hospital out west. Yet it turned out to be one of the greatest blessings. I am incredibly grateful that I was able to complete my first yoga teacher training, coming to know several inspiring teachers, while also remaining close to my newfound spirit family in Baltimore. Furthermore, my internship was part-time neuropsychology, part-time college counseling, and as my self-awareness continued to grow, I made another courageous choice - to step away from my plan of becoming a pediatric neuropsychologist. During this time, I began to observe relationships/experiences as reflections of self, old wounds, and engrained patterns. I committed to remaining present with my process, explored bodywork and energy healing (later becoming a reiki practitioner), and became interested in plant medicines for healing. Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes's Women Who Run With the Wolves was a huge support during this phase of my journey.
Through a series of synchronistic events, I was offered a position in Asheville for the following spring, and I followed my intuition to accept. After completing my degree, I departed for my pilgrimage of southeast Asia. This experience provided a very special opportunity to cultivate deep knowing and deep healing of self, and to form incredible connections with some truly amazing humans and healers. Forging connection with sacred land, observing my body perform fantastic trekking feats, practicing vipassana meditation at a Buddhist Monastery, and studying Kundalini Yoga at an ashram in India were some of my most poignant experiences. I often describe my travels as "lots of high highs, and lots of low lows." The experience was more challenging than I had expected, and was equally rewarding, yet I was ready to build a home.
I relocated to Asheville in March, 2018 - shortly after returning to the states. I am incredibly grateful to be here, and there is no doubt in my mind that this is exactly where I am meant to be. Yet, the transition to Asheville presented many challenges of its own, which were essentially more opportunities for healing, shifting patterns, and rewriting old stories. Patience and gratitude were my sadhana (spiritual practice) throughout this process. When experiencing fears around forming connections and nourishing new friendships, I found Dr. Brene Brown's TedTalk The Power of Vulnerability to be most helpful, and I embraced these experiences as yet another part of the healing journey. I am so incredibly grateful to have found a very special community here in Asheville, and to have the opportunity to share myself and my gifts.
As I continued to grow and evolve, peeling back the layers of my identity, I found a deep grief and sadness for lost connection with the land, and for the loss of ancestral knowledge about living in interdependence with all of our relations - human and non-human. I believe that this knowledge is our birthright, and I set out on a journey of remembering. This path led me to complete a Permaculture Design Certification and an Earthskills Immersion Program with Wild Abundance, and later to complete an Earth Connection and Gardening Apprenticeship with Soul Gardens. Developing practical, hands on skills for building, growing, and tending the land has been incredibly healing, and beautiful, and fun! I also chose to deepen my relationship with plant medicines, and my understanding of the integration of plant medicine with psychology and meditation, by traveling to Peru to complete a "Mindfulness and the Medicine" retreat at The Temple of the Way of Light, with Australian psychologist Sean Chiddy. Since returning, I've sought to continue my growth on this path of nurturing relationships with the land and all beings, by studying Practical Animism with Daniel Foor, PhD.
Through my personal healing journey, my clinical work, and my yoga and spiritual practices, I have continued to work with deep self-awareness, observation/acceptance, re-patterning, and the healing of trauma. I emphasize a combination of top-down (driven by cognition) and bottom-up (driven by sensory information) processing in the treatment of trauma. To enhance both my personal and professional skills in sensory processing, I have embarked on a three year certification program in Somatic Experiencing. My work with trauma, both personally and professionally, has led me back to the initial catalyst of my healing journey - grief. I have become deeply interested in the the intersection of grief and trauma, and deeply saddened by the lack of connection with, and celebration of, grief in our current western culture. Martin Prechtel's The Smell of Rain on Dust, touched my soul with his exquisite narrative on the beauty, importance, and sacredness of honor grief - for ourselves, those that came before, and those yet to come. I have continued to deepened my relationship with grief tending and ceremonial space-holding by assisting in local community grief rituals, and completing a grief tending training: "Tending the Waters," with Fox Healing.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story.