Karina Chronicles

Frockstar™: Tara Cousineau, PhD

Name: Tara Cousineau, PhD, Clinical Psychologist and Self-Esteem expert
Age: Old enough to have teenage daughters
Location: Boston
Online homes: professional website //twitter // pinterest //  blog // bodimojo
Favorite Karina dress:  The Audrey!

How you know Karina?
I’ve known Karina for over 20 years because I’m married to her brother, Steve!  I’ve watched with awe and inspiration how she began her fledgling dress company from using her mom’s sewing machine over family holidays. It’s fantastic to see Karina Dresses thrive. Two of her dress models are named after my daughters, Sophia and Josie. It’s lovely. Josie recently commented that someday she might like to work in the family business – Karina Dresses. LOL! She forgets that her parents are also entrepreneurs!

What are your every day, must-reads, online or off?
I look at a few threads in my inbox, mostly from inspirational sites such as Brave Girls Club. Each day Brave Girls send out an affirmation in the newsletter “A little birdie told me…”  Sometimes the messages make me cry as they are so beautiful.

I also like to keep updated on the research on positive emotions and the science of positive psychology that comes from Greater Good Science.

Since I’m big on affirmations, I have quite a collection of card decks. Louise Hay’s “Power Thought” set is one of my favorites. I’ll choose a card to reflect on before I start my workday, like “I flow freely and lovingly with life. I love myself. I know that only good awaits me at every turn.”

You’re a clinical psychologist who works with women to turn inspiration into action.  What are a few easy steps that any of us can take to get ‘unstuck’?
I have a personal guide for living a balanced life, know that balance is something to strive for but not necessarily always achievable. So it’s the small steps that matter.  Here are the  things that I try to encompass in my daily life.

Three activities I believe can begin to loosen the feeling of “being stuck” are:

1) Begin the day with 20 minutes of a breath focus meditation.  One needs to create space for new things to enter.  Breathing helps sweep away the psychic cobwebs. One can easily create a simple playlist of meditations if having a guide or music is more comfortable than silence.

2) Write down a few gratitudes or small joys from the previous day in a journal or notebook. This helps to put one in a loving state of mind.

3) Remember to take breaks to eat nourishing snacks or meal, do a yoga stretch or walk (move!), and connect with others in your community.  This is basic self-care that builds good habits from which other new things can emerge.

4) Be comfortable. One thing I have on my list is to wear super comfy clothes. Because if you feel your clothes are tight or scratchy then that is how you will feel and behave. I’m often in a Karina dress and yoga pants, so I can grab a class when I can, usually between shuttling my daughters around after school. And the dresses always help me look like put together even when I’m not!

How do you, personally, stay happy and engaged?
I really try hard to remember to be in a positive state of mind, coming from a loving place, and finding the joy in every day things. This state-of-being is what attracts the same energy from other people. It sometimes takes a couple of go-rounds with loving-kindness meditations. But I’m a big believer that you attract what you are putting out into the universe. So make it positive!  If I’m in a negative place, I just attract more complaints and gripes from others – first and foremost from my kids.  So sometimes it a constant practice of pushing the internal “reset” button to “Be Calm. Be Open”!

If you could give your 16-year-old self advice, what would you say?
I was a super skinny scrawny teenager. Shy, too. I think the biggest lesson I’d impart to girls would be

“Just be yourself” ; “Don’t compare yourself to others” and most importantly: “Have courage. You are a kind and beautiful soul.”

It’s these messages I try to send out to the world of youth. I’m founder of  Bodimojo for teens. It’s a health and wellness site. It’s been shown to improve body confidence in teenage girls. On the site is a girls’ blog section called The Daily Mojo where we try to impart positive stories and messages about mind, body and spirit that teen can relate to.  Most of the contributions are from girls between the ages 15-22.

But the funny thing is, I see women, many of them moms, who are still dealing with feelings that trace back to their teenage years, mostly around self-worth and body confidence. I’m passionate about helping moms build strong relationships with their girls — To help them be role models by finding their own inner strength.  That’s why I have a special coaching program for mothers, called Moxie Moms. It’s a ten session coaching program that helps moms with a daughter (tween through young adults) manage their worry about their girls, look at their own stories about mothering, and work though strategies to build resilience, trust and tenderness. Moms tend to put themselves last the priority list, when really they should be first. Since I’m a mom, too I’m happy to offer Karina fans who are moms a 30-minute free consultation, too! Just visit my website!

Your perfect day.  What would it look like?
My perfect day would be to wake up to a sunny day. Take 30 minutes to ground myself and set intentions.  Then a part of my day is coaching moms and girls to build self-esteem and manage stress or other issues. The other part is working on health communication programs like bodimojo.com or other projects, like Dove’ Self-Esteem Project, where I am an adviser. If the weather is nice, I like to sit out in back yard, pull some weeds, and enjoy the garden. Maybe I take our dog, Leo, for a walk or meet a friend or colleague for tea. The later part of my day is connecting with my daughters, which usually means chatting it up while chauffeuring them to their sport activities. Then I’d like going a hot yoga class, having dinner with family, and reading before bed.

Thanks for sharing, Tara!

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