I’m an Australian-born farm girl, now living part-time in the US with my dear American husband. I studied psychology, philosophy, social work and fitness leadership, and worked a number of jobs in Australia from coaching team members in a government department to picking vegetables on an organic farm, before beginning a life of dual-citizenship and ocean-hopping to be with my beau (you can see my full resume here). I have always been interested in spirituality, personal growth, physical health and fitness, and an ongoing exploration of my inner and outer world. I first tried meditation 30 years ago, and have been returning to that still place ever since.
In 2012 I knew that something was missing in my meditation practice, my relationship with myself, my ability to connect with others, and my commitment to my core values. I’d known it for a while, but didn’t know what to do about it.
Then, because a little voice inside me just wouldn’t let up, I went to my first Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) course. And I wept the whole weekend. I wept for the many years of missing out on the love I yearned for; I wept because something deep and fragile in me was finally being acknowledged; and I wept because I knew I was saying goodbye to an old, familiar way of (not) being with myself.
Self-compassion had been the missing piece. Self-compassion made it safe to feel my feelings, knowing that I would be there for myself. It allowed me to follow a root down into the earth, to where it tapped into the well of my core values and intuition – fonts of strength and nourishment.
And so, I knew what I had to do and I began … I resigned from my full-time job, because I needed space to heal, gather my skirts, pull on my boots, and move forward. In addition to my mindfulness practice, I committed myself to a self-compassion practice, sometimes through formal meditation, but mostly through simply immersing myself in courses, reading, communing with like-minded people, and therapy.
Once I had healed enough, an invisible thread of purpose started to tug at me. I knew that I wanted to move out into the world to support others to benefit from self-compassion and mindfulness.
I lived and worked at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies where I completed the yearlong Integrated Study and Practice Program for dedicated Buddhist practitioners, which showed me the safety possible in a philosophy based on ethics and wisdom. I worked for the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy, where I completed the Certificate in Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, and I discovered how mindfulness and self-compassion could be companions to the therapeutic relationship. I worked for Susan Kaiser-Greenland on her InnerKids Professional Training Program, where I saw how adults can choose to relate to children skillfully with unconditional love, and I started to develop a new way to talk to the child still within me. I attended Internal Family Systems training and Somatic Experiencing training, where I learned that there are places we can speak our whole truth without being abandoned or abandoning ourselves.
I helped out at as many MSC courses as I could, spending precious time with Chris Germer and Kristin Neff, developers of the program, and I eventually created the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion (CMSC) website with them. I became the Administrative Director for CMSC as MSC became more widespread across the world.
In 2014 we rolled out MSC Teacher Training at the place it all began for me, the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies. I’ve been teaching as much as I can ever since then, to learn to really be with the material, to go deeper into my own experience of being compassionate with myself, and to follow the thread of my calling.
In 2017, I felt moved to midwife a new self-compassion program, Somatic Self-Compassion, combining the pioneering work of trauma researchers and thought leaders in somatics with my own emergent self-wisdom and desire to create community. In 2018 this program grew into multiple online and in-person offerings. In 2021, a study with colleagues at Hendrix College into the effectiveness of Somatic Self-Compassion as an intervention to address shame through interoception and sensory modulation, was published.
My studies and practice in social work, psychology, mindfulness, Internal Family Systems and Somatic Experiencing over the years gave me a good foundation for engaging a trauma-informed approach aimed at making my programs more accessible and the communities I moved in more inclusive. As a natural and necessary component of an embodied contemplative practice, I am passionate about trauma awareness and sensitivity, and began teaching trauma-informed contemplative skills to meditators, therapists, and contemplative teachers in 2015. I completed occupational therapist, Tina Champagne’s, Sensory Modulation & Trauma Informed Care program; psychotherapist and meditation teacher, David Treleaven’s, Advanced Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness program; and psychologist and embodiment teacher, Scott Lyon’s, Somatic Stress-Release Level 1 program to further hone my trauma-awareness and related skills. I studied the work of occupational therapist, Kelly Mahler, to learn more about interoception and ways to increase interoceptive awareness.
My trauma-informed mindfulness and self-compassion teaching adventures have taken me to US centers of learning like Esalen Institute, Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center, Joshua Tree Retreat Center, the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, Wonderwell Mountain Refuge, Hendrix College, Washington University, and the Mercy Center in St Louis. I also have teaching relationships with the Insight Timer and Aura meditation apps, Harvard University, The Center for Mindful Eating, Midwest Alliance for Mindfulness, Sounds True, The Embody Lab, and the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion. I’ve been fortunate to travel to Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Singapore, and Bhutan to teach.
When I’m not taking care of my HeartWorks Training business, I’m hanging out with friends and family in St Louis, Missouri and Mylor, South Australia. I walk, nap, stretch, sit on the deck of the Treehouse or the verandah of the Hermitage, sipping coffee and watching the people, animals, and birds go by.
Here I am still following the thread. It’s not always an easy journey, but I can’t imagine going anywhere else in my life right now. I teach so that I can learn, and I learn so that I can teach. The skills of mindfulness and self-compassion are some of my most valued skills, particularly helpful for challenging relationship and health adventures. I am committed to continuing to learn and growing. I hope you and I get to learn together sometime soon.