On July 29, 2015, my first article was published for the, then Clarion, now Hometown Gazette. I remember feeling shocked and inspired that I was going to get to engage with all of you; sharing the lessons, tools, and resources that have allowed for transformation in my own life. What I genuinely love about writing the articles is the space I create for myself to compile my thoughts and from my desk, imagine the impact they might have. I’ve been honored to connect with many readers over the years, either at speaking engagements, via email, or while in Union City visiting, and your words have meant so much to me. It’s through the writing, and through those interactions that I am able to recognize that I have certainly experienced growth. For that, I am truly grateful.

As many of you know, I am a graduate student at Adams State University, completing my Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. At this time, I am currently serving as an intern where I counsel nearly twenty clients per week on a wide range of mental health concerns. I am also still working as a licensed massage therapist for a facility near my home in Colorado Springs, Colorado. As well as, studying for additional courses and preparing to take my comprehensive exit exam and the National Counselor Examination needed for licensure. Needless to say, it’s quite a lot on my plate.

Of huge importance to me is to be living the life I write about each week. I strive to honor the learned tools, my needs, and my own physical and mental health so that I can continue to be of service to others in a valuable way. So, despite my absolute love for reaching out to you through these regular articles, I’ve asked to please serve as a guest writer when my schedule allows. My hope is to continue a connection with all of you, through those occasional articles, but also less formally, through my Balanced Presence website or Facebook page, where i additionally share thoughts and resources. And, as always, you are welcome to connect with me directly via my email, balancedpresence@gmail.com. Please note that every article I have ever written is on my Balanced Presence website, www.balancedpresence.com, in case you want to reread a piece that was powerful to you, or you want to see what you‘ve missed. My newsletter will always be sent on the week’s I am able to guest write for the paper, but otherwise, it’ll fall quiet as I complete my schooling.

When I think of the experiences I have shared over all these years, there has been such a growth. My education includes a Bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University in theater, being a certified life coach, certified health coach, Reiki master, licensed massage therapist, certified canine massage therapist, and soon, a licensed professional counselor with my Master’s degree from Adams State University. My goal is to obtain my doctorate in counselor education to be a professor or department head, as well as conduct research on the key areas of mental health concentration necessary for those with chronic illness and/or physical disabilities, and to maintain a private practice where I integrate massage therapy and counseling services. I, of course, hope to continue to write, but perhaps the focus will shift to encapsulate my research and serve a minority population to ensure better mental health care services. We shall see!

I am grateful for you all being on this journey with me over the past five-plus years. It is such an honor to take my learnings and share them with others, as I consider that part of my service to God and purpose in life. Words cannot really express how profound it feels to be vulnerable with all of you over these many years and hear of the connection that has created between us and within your own lives. This has certainly been one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever been given.

I want to also say that, behind the scenes, I’ve been leaning on my aunt, Anne Southworth, to serve as my editor for all these years to help refine and improve my writing skills. I certainly could not have done this without her input and guidance. What a blessing to develop such a unique relationship with a beautiful spirit.

I’m so humbled by the many years we’ve all shared together on this journey and, please know, your interaction has deeply impacted my life. Truly, thank you.

Until we meet again… take good care.