What is Happy Families Happy Babies?

Happy Families Happy Babies

Happy Families Happy Babies

At my core I am a developmental psychologist, studying the ways people grow towards health and happiness. To really understand the full scope of human development I had to go to the very earliest stages which are conception, gestation, birth, and infancy. This is a field known as pre and perinatal psychology. Discovering this body of knowledge changed my worldview of health and disease and shaped my professional practice.

You can check out the association to learn more about this body of knowledge.

I believe the more babies we can help have a strong start the better chances we have for collective peace. To effect change, parents need to be supported in understanding and giving their babies what they developmentally need. I have dedicated my professional life to learning ways to help families in the prenatal – pre-crawling stages.

The services and education specific to prenatal, pediatric, and parenting health fall under my Happy Families Happy Babies brand, inside of Health Impacts. I provide prenatal education for birth and bonding, couples coaching, and manual therapy for babies. Read more through the learn more tabs.

Happy Families Happy Babies

For those with a rich inner life, this is for you.

My Thai Massage teacher once advised me to take compliments to my work with as much weight as criticism. It was important, he said, in this therapeutic practice to not become attached to the notion that I was a “good” or perhaps even “the best” therapist that an individual had ever been to. Similarly, someone being displeased or never returning for more of the work with me was of no substantial consequence. Be neutral and do the work. That was the best way to show up for the client.

This is more of a burden if I want to hold myself in high regard and be recognized for my talents. It is a more useful practice if I don’t want my ego hurt by an unhappy client.

This is a lesson I have been experimenting with in my emotional life, which is quite rich, to say the least. If I am to remain unattached to an emotion (so I am not controlled by it) this goes for the “good” ones as well as the bad. I can’t pick and choose if I want to practice observation and neutrality- right?

Just to give a glimpse of my emotional life: On any given day I may be full of hope and optimism, creative, inspired and clear; standing in my power and making strides in my personal and professional growth. It is just as likely that I will feel stuck, confused, and doubtful; powerless to make a move beyond the next immediate “to-do” needed to get through the day. From my perspective, the former experience is preferred to the latter. Others I know kind of like the melancholy isolation that comes from anxiety and depression. To each their own, especially if we are not attaching to the experience- then it shouldn’t really matter. Sad or happy is, just what it is.

The first voice says “Jess, you got this! Get out there and be a star!” Should I buy into this notion?

The second voice says “Jess, don’t bother. The pleasure, if it comes at all will be fleeting. Don’t wear yourself out trying. Stop striving for what is never guaranteed.” Should I buy into this notion?

The two seem equally plausible, just as I could very well be a good Thai therapist- or not.

The contemplative point here is that reality always has a veil. We have tinted glasses and see what we choose to see. Objectivity can lead to more questions, whereas holding onto a belief system can leave you blind to alternative perspectives.

Someone struggling with self-doubt may have become attached to the lens of shame and loathing. Someone else, avoiding their feelings with an overscheduled life, may be missing opportunities for developing consciousness. The positive Polly’s of the world may lack the strength it takes to sit with pain.

There is a continuum of choice always available to us if we are able to step back, gain some perspective and selectively attach to notions that propel us in the direction of greatest self potential.

My Dog Moonshine

If you have ever heard my presentation on thought swapping, you will have heard the story of how I became a dog lover through the practice of focusing on rewards to having a dog, rather than the negative associations of dogs I carry from my past.

Try to catch the presentation if you can, but in the meantime, I will just tell you the gist of the story.

I fell in love with a dog.

That was about 3 years ago, and he changed my life. It was the first dog I have ever built a relationship with. As with other relationships, I am learning alot from it…

Well, Moonshine, best friend, has been sick this week and it has really connected me to the compassion that can be felt when another is suffering. It connected me to the value I place in him getting healthy, and my willingness to part with savings in order to restore his health. There has been a small amount of sacrifice needed to meet his acute needs, but my love for him far outweighs any inconvenience. I am connecting to gratitude for his amazing vet Dr. Claire who provides in-home services. Moreover, caring for Moonshine reminded me how often I take my health for granted.

Focusing on gratitude for my health, daily, will be an intention of mine moving forward. I am always aware when something doesn’t feel right. I connect with my pain very easily. It is when I start feeling better that I seem to forget how good it feels to be healthy.

I started drinking black coffee. Here’s what happened…

It’s been 3 weeks since I began a new health experiment- drinking my coffee black.

Lots of people love their coffee black, but I have always been a cream and sugar girl. Then I went to taking it with just the half and half. After going dairy free (from a previous health experiment) I started taste testing creamers.

I was freaked out by all the extra ingredients in your average almond or coconut milk. Soy wasn’t a big part of my diet, plus the soymilk was never very tasty to me. Being a Thai food lover I decided to try something that had been in my pantry all along.

That’s when I discovered my perfect coffee combo!

The canned coconut milk was convenient, affordable, and DELICIOUS!

The problem was I was getting really into this new found delight, and it wasn’t agreeing so well with my body. I will spare you the details, but that particular experiment was paying off. It was clear the coconut milk didn’t fit what my body needed, so I had to change it up (or suffer the consequences).  I took a brief break from alternative milks to try dairy again and found I had lost my taste for that all together. Finding nothing on the market I liked as much as the canned stuff,  I went on a mission to make my own kinds of milk. Here’s my fave:

Homemade Coconut-Almond Milk

Blend the following 3 cups of nut solids:

2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes

1 cup almonds

(purchased in bulk  to reduce plastic waste)

With 6 cups warm water in the vitamix.

Strain through a nut milk bag and store for up to 5 days.

This was more delish than the canned stuff but was kind of a pain to make several times a week. I continued to find this was not a food I was able to easily moderate. If I were going to have milk in my coffee I wanted a lot of milk. My symptoms of irritation began to return.

There was but one option remaining if I wanted to consider myself a bonafide coffee lover. Loving black coffee.

Mission accomplished.

Now that I have made the switch I’d like to report on a few of the outcomes of the experiment:

  1. I love coffee more. This is due to actually tasting the essence of the bean rather than digging the creaminess factor.
  2. I have lost my craving for alcohol. This is due to the preference to be energized, rather than down, as we know alcohol is a depressant.
  3. I am more productive. Obviously, this is the caffeine, but I also think the decrease in alcohol contributes.
  4. I feel clearer. Knowing there is one simple organic, calorie, fat, and sugar-free ingredient in my cup plays into the psychology of this drink for me. My body doesn’t have the extra fat to process. My mind and body feel less junked up.
  5. I am saving money. No need to buy almonds and coconut flakes every week.
  6. My confidence is improving. Each time I trust myself to listen to my body and follow it’s lead my self-awareness increases, leaving me better able to take care of myself.

I am not sure what the next health experiment will be. For now, I think riding these caffeine waves and continuing to monitor my status is good enough.

How do you take your coffee?

Monday blues?

It’s Monday. Many peoples’ most dreaded day. If you’re living for the weekend and feeling low on Mondays it may be due to a lack in one key aspect of life…play.

Play is about joy. In a world of endless responsibilities, it can feel like a waste of time to stop and engage in something that has no practical purpose other than to help you feel connected to joy.

Part of reconnecting to play as an adult is taking notice of how you feel about the notion. Here are a few of the common reactions my clients have when we talk about playing:

“How can I play when I’m the adult taking care of everyone?”

“There is too much to do, I don’t have time to play.”

“Playful people lack responsibility- it’s that attitude that leaves me having to pick up the slack.”

Do any of these statements ring true for you?

Here’s the problem when we forget to play: Life is all too serious and we forget how to nurture our spirit, and ultimately ill health and bad attitudes dominate our sense of self. All we see is work. The tasks pile up and we can never do enough. We are crushed beneath the creation of our own adult-self.

Learning how to play, or making the time for it, doesn’t mean we abandon responsibility. Most people who have forgotten to prioritize joy have the adult-thing down! It will be there when you return from a swim in the sea, a picnic in the grass, an hour in the art studio. Your children will feel more connected to you if you know how to play and wisely maintain your parenting boundaries as needed. Your co-workers will wonder what your secret is. You will no longer have to work for the weekend or dread Mondays because play will be a part of your everyday.

Letting go of taking everything so seriously is part of finding balance. It’s my passion and purpose to help you along the way.

To reconnect with your joy, let’s talk. I’m an e-mail or phone call away.

[email protected]


Whats the difference between a consultant, therapist, and coach?

You have a desire for more, different, better. You have always dreamed big, but lately, it feels like you’ve lost your mojo. You’ve dabbled in this and that but haven’t found your groove. You know life has something big in store for you. Who will support you in living that next dream?

The Role of a Consultant

Many successful people work with consultants to help them jump to that next level of growth. A consultant is brought in to solve a problem. They bring expertise. Due to the nature of the role of a consultant, however, there is also the chance for feeling disempowered. My own experience has been echoed by coaching clients of mine: working with a consultant can leave you feeling unheard. The role of the consultant is to be the expert, not to draw the expertise out of the client. It’s a top down, “here is the plan that is going to work” approach.

When you hire a consultant you are doing so because you assume they have answers. There is nothing wrong with this. I have done my share of consulting. My subject matter expertise is pre and perinatal psychology, a fascinating field exploring how our lifespan development is influenced by our experiences between the point of conception and the first 12 months after birth. I have also hired consultants (thank you IT smarties who make my magic devices work properly) because every time I get a handle on some aspect of technology or social media it changes and I don’t have the passion for continuously learning about this subject. Consultants are great, but not at helping you uncover your magic.

The Role of a Therapist

Engagement with a psychotherapist is another way to uncover blocks and move to the next level of greatness. This involves deep intrapersonal exploration for the purposes of emotional healing, primarily focused on the past. My own experience with counseling, as well as the feedback I get from others, is that the strict professional boundaries put in place to protect the therapist-patient relationship leave a void in transparency, collaboration, and clarification of a plan. Much like with a consultant, there is a power differential within the patient-therapist relationship. The therapist doesn’t disclose their own struggles and triumphs, so the patient will never know exactly how far the therapist has gone in doing their own work. I know these things, in part, because I was trained as a psychotherapist.

Psychotherapy is very important work. I have a therapist because old wounds, like any injury, will flare up if not tended to. I am very clear about why I am there, and that is not to be asked about my big dreams or create action steps to get there. In fact, sometimes after a session, I feel there has been no movement, or I may even feel a regression of emotional health (that’s when I know it’s working).

The Role of a Coach 

Knowing when to hire a coach is still unclear for many. Coaching is for people who want to jump into their own process of change with actionable steps completed through sheer will to be better today than yesterday.

When I was 9 I was given a homework assignment to draw a picture of where I would be in 20 years. I drew a picture of an academy award (well, my brother helped me draw it because he’s a better artist). In my college advisor meeting, my professor looked at me and said: “you’re not going to be one of those people who just gets a job and works. You’re bound for something different.” For my study abroad instead of going to the UK with the rest of my peers I choose a tiny dot in Australia and made the move alone. Time after time I made choices in life that would challenge me, help me grow, enable me to see things in a new way, and allow my spirit to be free. For others like me, a coach may be a good fit.

When it became apparent that my career path was one of an entrepreneur I spent a lot of time and money on consultants and therapists who weren’t really helping me with what I needed. What I needed was the clarification of my ideas, illumination of my expertise, and strategy to harness my gifts to get where I was going. A coach’s job is to believe in the client and tell them that directly with no agenda other than helping them create the life they desire. A coach helps a client slow down and connect with what they really want and to think through logical steps to get it.

A coach is a project manager for people with big dreams, as cleverly stated by The Prosperous Coach. The project is the next big goal held by an extraordinary person.

Coaches help you connect with your own magic, wisdom, and power. There is no “treatment” needed beyond reflecting back the person’s innate brilliance and empowering them to move forward in highly targeted ways.

Having given and received the support of consultant, therapist, and coach I understand the differences between each professional role. This allows me to properly refer my clients when needed, as well as know clearly why between these 3 admirable roles I have chosen to serve as a coach. The work is powerful, empowering, and collaborative. When I work with my coach it is like taking a confidence pill that lasts until the next session. Over time the steps I take build my internal sense of control and competency. My dreams have a voice and rather than being overwhelmed with a plan, I am coached through the small daily steps that bring my dreams to life.


If you are ready for your dreams to take flight, let’s talk…I love hearing from you!

[email protected]


How do you stay inspired?

Fresh Air with Terry Gross is one of my favorite podcasts. I am always inspired by the interviews.

Yesterday was one of those days when I woke up feeling exhausted. I had a big day ahead of me and wasn’t sure how I was going to stay resourced. During my lunch break, I decided to lay on the floor with my feet up on the ottoman and listen to a recent Fresh Air interview. I needed some inspiration.

The guest on the show was David Sedaris. He’s the type of person who would make a remarkable coaching client because he maintains a dream for himself. He has vision with very specific lifestyle features he clearly wants. Driving his actions? The desire to really be somebody.

He is honest about his shadow material- the stuff that is forbidden- like his list of reasons to stay alive when life didn’t seem worth living and the ways he hid behind substance abuse to deny himself his dreams. Casting light on the shadow enables us to gain power over our self-sabotage.

He’s a very successful now, specifically known for his humorous memoirs, and Terry asked him about his life now that he has “made it”. So, is it everything you thought it would be? she asked. The calrity in his answer is what struck me. Yes, he said. It was everything and more.

Working for our dreams does pay off. Holding a vision makes getting there all the more rewarding.

How connected are you to your dreams, your desire to be somebody? How clear are you on exactly what you want your lifestyle to be?

I’d love to hear from you. Getting into these nitty gritty details is my passion. Helping you get there is my purpose.

Call – Text – 336-420-2887

Message me anytime – [email protected]

How are you choosing to grow?

Clients come in. They sit across from me and ask why things are not getting better. Why is their stress overwhelming? Why are they disengaged from achieving their goals? Why can’t they think of anything to do that would make a difference?

Then I begin to share all of the tools I can to help them with their process of change. We talk about the ways that have become routine and what they are ready to shift. I turn the question around and ask them this: How are you choosing to grow?

The responsibility is on all of us as individuals to make the choices

to live healthy lives and grow in the direction of our dreams.

How growth occurs is way beyond the nature verse nurture debate. We know that the expression of our DNA occurs based on experiences. We literally grow through the influences and exposures of our lives. (If you don’t know this, check out epigenetics). There is very little of our health (mind and body) that is predestined. The more we do, think, and feel a thing, the more of that thing we become.

If we want to be really good at something, we can do it more and see ourselves growing in that direction.

If something isn’t working for us, we can grow miserable, tired, depressed, hopeless, and ill. When we become aware that we are growing in a way not well suited to us, we can choose to grow in a different direction.

Novelty goes a long way. Making a change begins with the choice to try, to potentially fail, but to grow through the experience of something new. If we want to reinforce a change, we must repeat the experience, a lot, even when we can’t see or feel a difference right away.

New, however, can be scary. Familiarity feels safe.

The subtleties of change can allude our awareness. Making a choice to grow into more of who we want to be, who we really are at our core, requires trust. If we don’t take the time to stop and think about where we have been, how we are doing, and where we want to go, we will grow without direction. This could be a wonderful journey, or we could live to regret opportunities not taken.

My choice is to grow in the direction of greater ease. I’m tired of trying so hard. One of my action steps to support this intention is to devote more time to meditation. For me this is the art of being easy on myself, letting go of expectations, practicing self-love. Going intentionally for ease is a foreign place for me having tried so hard for so many years. Do it right Jess. Get more skills Jess. Be the best you can be Jess.

The novelty of the experience is a bit scary. How will this play out? Can I find more of myself by taking the pressure off? I am dedicated, despite not knowing the outcome. I am practicing trust.

So, how are you choosing to grow?

My Passion Was A Problem

To begin my blog series focusing on personal and professional development I would like to share a story. It’s about a retreat I attended.

The experience was a 10-day immersive exploration into how our unconscious worldviews contribute to stress. I knew attending would help me better help my clients in their own growth.

My unconscious issues rose to the surface on day one when we were asked to share our name, where we were from, and our passion.

It was my passion that pointed to the problem. While others were chiming in about art, and nature, family and travel, I declared my passion for…wait for it…

Self-care. (Insert lame face).

Self-care!? C’mom what kind of passion is that? 

It dawned on me that my consistent attention towards managing my stress with self-care (hence the passion for it) was evidence that coping had become my way in the world. Then I learned the antidote to coping with stress is to heal the deep down stuff that was driving me and ultimately impacting my ability to be fully present.

This was a little bit of a shock not only because I deserve a P.hD in self-care practicies,  but also because I am the type of person who is always working on myself through reflection, personal therapy, coaching, mentorship, continuing education, and business development. I thought my masterful self-control to shape my life with a balance of health habits was evidence that I was doing ok.

I thought self-care was the best way to cope with my recurring symptoms, symptoms I am sure many of you can relate to: stress, anxiety, overwhelm, depression, racing thoughts, negative self-talk, the need to do-do-do, and a host of limiting beliefs. The trouble was clear. I needed to heal some of the old unconscious wounds in order to free up some of my life-force that would enable me to feel a passion for more than just “getting through” by taking extra good care of myself.

The retreat allowed me to move myself many huge leaps forward. It also changed the way I worked with clients. If you relate to the exhausting nature of non-stop coping with stress, even if you practice good self-care, let’s talk. It could be a life changing move in the direction of your personal and professional dreams.