Melissa Fulgieri: “Mindfulness awareness”

Mindfulness awareness — Joy and happiness are brief moments that we can miss if we don’t practice awareness. You can feel joy and not be aware of it so it passes you by. We tend to lock into only our negative feelings and see them as truth, whereas with positive feelings, they can barely make a dent […]

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Mindfulness awareness — Joy and happiness are brief moments that we can miss if we don’t practice awareness. You can feel joy and not be aware of it so it passes you by. We tend to lock into only our negative feelings and see them as truth, whereas with positive feelings, they can barely make a dent in our worldview if we’re not aware of their existence. Knowing the things that bring you joy is important so you can actively seek them out. Joy, for me now, is putting on my favorite playlist, pouring myself and my husband a glass of wine and cooking a favorite recipe. Joy is a stimulating conversation with a good girlfriend. It’s the feeling of being truly seen by another person.

It sometimes feels like it is so hard to avoid feeling down or depressed these days. Between the sad news coming from world headlines, the impact of the ongoing raging pandemic, and the constant negative messages popping up on social and traditional media, it sometimes feels like the entire world is pulling you down. What do you do to feel happiness and joy during these troubled and turbulent times? In this interview series called “Finding Happiness and Joy During Turbulent Times” we are talking to experts, authors, and mental health professionals who share lessons from their research or experience about “How To Find Happiness and Joy During Troubled & Turbulent Times”.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Melissa Fulgieri.

Melissa Fulgieri, LCSW is a therapist, professor and consultant living and working in New York City. Melissa owns a private practice specializing in helping millennials take control of their depression, anxiety and trauma in order to build their self-worth and emotional well being. Melissa provides clinical supervision to therapists, consulting services to professionals and teaches at Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service. Melissa is an avid traveler and feminist which she combines by hosting wellness retreats for women looking to access their self-worth and unlock their full potential. You can schedule a consult, view her work or reach out to say hi by visiting:

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Absolutely. I was born in Brooklyn, New York but my family moved to Connecticut when I was five. I had a pretty idyllic childhood for my first 12 years in many ways — traveling every summer, going to a great school, close friends, etc. but I was also a pretty depressed kid. There were a number of reasons for that including a family history of depression. I also experienced a considerable amount of trauma early on in life. I was raised by four people pretty equally since birth — my mother and father, my aunt and my grandmother. My grandmother passed away in middle school which was sad but felt natural. In high school however, my aunt became ill after a bout of extreme stress, went into the hospital and came out paralyzed and blind due to a rare autoimmune disease, practically overnight. That was sort of the first event that sent my family reeling. Then, when I was in college, my dad had been undergoing chemo from cancer that had come back. There was some medical negligence with his medication and he had a massive stroke while he and I were sitting down to lunch one day. With the flip of a switch, he no longer had the ability to talk in full sentences, walk short distances without using a cane, and required 24 hour care for the next ten years until he passed away in 2018. My mom became his caretaker during that time. Those years were extremely difficult — frequent hospital visits for both my aunt and dad whose health was rapidly declining. It was touch and go for a very long time. I can’t even count the amount of times my family was told to prepare ourselves to say goodbye to him during a hospitalization. Before all the sickness, my parents had an extremely tumultuous relationship — I don’t remember much affection but I do remember a lot of berating and contempt from my dad. It was extremely tense at home. I didn’t like being there. It was definitely a patriarchal situation — all the women in the home were very much expected to “hop to it” depending on his needs. When my dad got sick, my parents’ power dynamic shifted and it became a different kind of hard. I remember my first month in college, moving into my dorm room in NYC and I suddenly felt like I could breathe. Getting away and being able to create my own life really made the difference for me.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

I think I was always fascinated by what makes people tick because of everything that happened during my childhood. I find the nuance of the human condition really interesting — that I could both love my dad for being my dad but also hate him for being so mean at times. He would tell me I could be anything I wanted to be, something I know he deeply believed and yet, at the same time, communicated with his actions that there was a hierarchy in our home with him at the top. Therapists get really good at noticing patterns, holding space for multiple things at once, seeing the nuance in humans and not putting them into boxes just because it’s easier. My upbringing made me acutely aware of the suffering and resiliency of the human spirit…as well as the limitations of humans when, for whatever reason, they aren’t able to access the right support.

There was a long time that my own depression and anxiety was undiagnosed and untreated. I remember finally going to therapy after my dad got sick. He had never believed in therapy, so it wasn’t something he was willing to allow me to seek out. When he got sick and was no longer calling the shots, the floodgates of possibilities opened for me, in a way. It felt like I could really sit and think about what I wanted out of life, both professionally and personally. I could go to therapy if I wanted, without the worry that it was costing too much money or taking too long for me to feel better. That first experience working with a therapist was incredible. She was the first one who called what I was feeling “depression” and suggested I see a psychiatrist. I learned I had a mild serotonin deficiency and got put on antidepressants. I went on the smallest dosage and remember it being an almost immediate shift for me. I swear, I remember colors being brighter. I have this distinct memory of walking down the street thinking, “Wow, the grass looks so green.” That’s what depression can do, it can mute everything around you. I felt like that little white bean in those old Zoloft commercials. I know it’s not everyone’s experience but, for me, meds took a big part of the struggle out of life. Taking my mental health into my own hands saved my life in so many ways. It felt like a very natural progression to help others do the same.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

My aunt was someone who I would call whenever I had a hard day at work. She became a corporate lawyer in the 80 and 90s, when women were still expected to only marry and have babies. She did neither. She faced an immense amount of adversity at work but never lost her ability to say what needed to be said, even if it was an unpopular opinion, which I always admired about her. I’d like to think I’ve modeled some of that spirit in the way I give therapy today. I say what needs to be said but in a way that people can hear it and still feel accepted by me. That’s what I hope for, at least.

Throughout my life I’ve struggled with confidence. Even though I can come off as confident, I can actually be quite insecure and unsure of myself a lot of the time. My aunt was always someone that believed in my abilities, even when I didn’t. I was terrified of this thing called the “Math Minute” in 1st grade. Every day, the students were expected to come in first thing in the morning and answer whatever math problem was on the board. It straight-up terrified me. I would have nightmares about it. My aunt decided that she was going to sit in the back of the classroom for the first five minutes of class, as moral support. My teacher was not pleased but my aunt didn’t care. I think she told my teacher at one point, “You’re going to have to physically remove me from this classroom.” She always made me feel like support was just within arm’s reach. She taught me that you can be afraid and unsure of yourself and still do the thing you intend to do. Feeling confident is not a prerequisite to getting shit done.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

Oh Jesus, how much time do you have? I’ve made lots of mistakes, some small, some monumental. I wish I could say that mistakes are funny for me but they’re actually quite painful. I think about them years later. I am definitely a perfectionist in many ways. Not in the proofreading way, which I really should do more of. It’s more about putting a shit ton of pressure on myself to do and be my absolute best. I hold myself to an incredibly high, sometimes unrealistic standard, which can be a mistake in and of itself.

Some of the most interesting mistakes I’ve made have to do with tact. I am definitely the person who brings up the elephant in a room in a meeting because I would rather talk about it than pretend it doesn’t exist. Oftentimes, that annoys a lot of people, understandably so. I once had just got promoted and there was a disconnect in communication between my new peer group and my old, lower-ranked peer group. In a meeting with the new peers, I chalked the crux of an issue up to their lack of communication with their staff in a very matter-of-fact, non-diplomatic way. That didn’t earn me a lot of new friends that day. I’m often not thinking about the “secondary-effects” of scenarios, which is my husband’s term for when I leave a glass on the edge of a table. Same thing. I’m in a rush and have tunnel vision for the thing I’m after and sometimes the glass falls and shatters. He’s constantly trying to show me that a little extra care on the front end decreases a mess later on. He’s right, but I’m stubborn.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I just started teaching a class at Fordham University’s graduate school. I’m excited because the class touches on a lot of my favorite topics: self care, vicarious trauma, acknowledging privilege, intersectionality and teaching the basic clinical skills to brand new social workers. Ushering in the next wave of social workers has always been immensely fulfilling for me, whether it was through mentorship, clinical consulting or teaching now. I love to think about what knowledge was bestowed upon me from my leaders that made all the difference as well as the things I wish I had gotten so that I can give these students what they need to be successful.

In the coming year, I’m also super excited to host therapeutic wellness retreats for women that focus on self-worth. I love to travel and I love helping women tap into their power so I’m super excited to blend two of my greatest passions. The retreats will focus on finding balance, challenging self-silencing, identifying needs, practicing boundaries and building authentic relationships with ourselves and others.

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Curiosity — Seeing most ventures as an opportunity to learn something has served me well in my career. I attribute that ability to my curious nature. For me, owning a business isn’t linear. There is very rarely a straight line to my goals so I usually say yes to anything that piques my interest even if I’m not sure where it will lead me. Creating professional content for Instagram has been an example of that. I wasn’t completely sure why or what I was supposed to be doing but I knew it was important for marketing. Instagram has helped me connect with so many people, have opportunities I never thought possible and really satisfies a creative need that had been lacking for me in my work.

Drive — I’m pretty self-motivated and always have been. That’s been immensely helpful as an entrepreneur because no one else is going to kick your ass into high gear but you. It’s also been helpful for me in another sense: when I find that I’m dragging my feet on something, because that is so unlike me, I take it as necessary information that, for whatever the reason, this venture isn’t the right fit or doesn’t feel authentic. It’s either that, or I’m depressed and I need to get some additional support. Which is also good to know.

Self-awareness — I consider myself to be self-aware, sometimes to a fault. There are times where I assume it’s all about me i.e. all my fault, even when it’s not, which is something I’m working on. I think that self-awareness can be immensely helpful because it keeps me focused on my locus of control. What can I control? What do I have to do differently to get what I want? I find whenever I fall into a victim-mentality, it keeps me stuck in place because it’s always about others so there’s no room for self-growth.

For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority about the topic of finding joy?

Finding joy hasn’t always been easy for me. It was immensely hard early on in life and got harder before it got easier. I’m an authority on finding joy because both my upbringing and my life’s work has been centered around finding joy in the midst of painful experiences.

Many of the clients I’ve worked with for the past 10 years are trying to find joy and peace in the midst of pain. Often, it’s because their depression, anxiety, relationships or trauma is making it difficult for them to do so. I’ve worked with folks at all levels of the socioeconomic spectrum and the feelings that come attached to problems are similar across the board. The struggles are vastly different but the feelings are the same — joy, anger, sadness, fear, jealousy. Once our basic needs are met — food, clothing, shelter, safety — what brings joy seems to be a combination of connection and purpose, which are two things I help clients find in authentic ways.

Personally, working with clients who have so little has allowed me to confront, head-on, all the things I take for granted. Working with the women at Rikers Island and seeing they have to live while awaiting trial or meeting a family of 4 in their single room in a homeless shelter has really helped me access immense gratitude over time, on a regular basis. There have been times when I crawl into bed and literally think to myself, ‘these sheets are so comfy and clean and I am so lucky.’ That is a totally different worldview from the lens I had growing up, which was a complete lack of acknowledgment for everything I had.

I also think, because of my upbringing, I know how quickly things can change at the drop of a hat. Tomorrow is not promised. It reminds me of this special set of china that my mom kept in this cabinet just for special occasions. I know she was terrified of it breaking. We used it maybe once my entire childhood. I always just felt like, what’s the point of having it? I think part of accessing joy is to, metaphorically speaking, use the damn china. Take the trip. Have the conversation you’ve been meaning to have. Do it now, even if it breaks, even if it comes out imperfect, there’s no time but the present to live. Living life as freely and authentically as possible sets us up for opportunities to experience true joy.

Ok, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about finding joy. Even before the pandemic hit, the United States was ranked at #19 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low, despite all of the privileges and opportunities that we have in the US?

Inequity is one of them. Research shows that the more inequity there is in an environment, the less happy people are. There isn’t uniformity in this country in terms of privilege and opportunity. Kids are going to bed hungry in the same city where you can hire an Uber helicopter. White people do not get treated the same by the police as Black and Latinx people do. Despite my struggles in my upbringing, I had a list of privileges that outweighed my struggles 5 times over, which is part of the reason why I’m here talking to you today. That’s not the case for everyone which is a simple fact and one that I believe impacts our society’s overall well-being.

Lastly, and maybe this is too zero-ed into our current world and, if this interview was 100 years ago or 100 years in the future, folks would be saying the same thing but, we have a lot to be stressed about right now. COVID is still very much a thing and we don’t exactly have a fool-proof strategy that people are following. Our planet is eroding faster than anyone thought possible. This country refuses to have a true and comprehensive reckoning of the impacts of slavery and the discrimination thereafter. Women just had their basic human rights taken away in Texas. Just to name just a few current issues. Depending on who you are and what you care about, there’s a lot to worry and be sad about.

What are the main myths or misconceptions you’d like to dispel about finding joy and happiness? Can you please share some stories or examples?

I don’t think you can manifest joy necessarily. In the same way that I don’t think if you think positive thoughts, you will get what you want. I also don’t think joy is a final state, nor is happiness. Joy and happiness are just feelings like anger and sadness and feelings come and go. People often say to me, ‘I just wish I could be happy.’ I feel sad sometimes when I hear that because I know their framing is the thing that needs work. Happiness isn’t an end goal. If you charted your feelings throughout the course of a day, chances are you’ve felt the full rainbow of emotions. That’s being human. I think finding joy is more about focusing on what you can control. If being with someone doesn’t make you happy, change that environment or talk to the person and work on the relationship, but there is no *poof* quality to happiness.

During that 15 years of visiting hospitals constantly, I started making a photo album of me posing in front of really terrible hospital artwork. It’s amazing the variety of artwork that’s in the hospitals of the Northeast, at least. A lot of swans and boats and lily pads. Doing something silly like that made my sister and I laugh during times where we would look at one another and say, “You can make this shit up.” Laughter in the midst of pain is healing. It helps us get through. It makes total sense that many stand up comedians struggle with depression. Laughter is a necessity for so many of us who experience intense pain and sadness.

The last myth is the idea that we can only feel one thing at a time: sadness or joy. I wrote a piece about a year ago about finding joy in the midst of sadness when my aunt died suddenly while I was on my honeymoon in Vietnam. I cried for basically the entirety of a 5 hour hike. Those few days were a bit of a blur but I remember feeling joy wrapped up in my sadness. I felt joy knowing that she was no longer in pain after 15 years of being confined in a body that had betrayed her. I felt joy knowing that I was on an international trip, one that she and I planned together, which she got so much joy from living vicariously through me, having once been an avid traveler herself. I felt joy when after 5 hours of hiking, I jumped into a cold, freshwater stream spontaneously and shocked my body into a state of awe. Thich Nhat Hanh wrote, “Most people are afraid of suffering, but suffering is a kind of mud that helps the lotus flower grow. There can be no lotus flower without the mud.” My sister had given me one of his books for the trip. I was immensely grateful to be reading that text in the exact moment I needed to be because it helped me hold all those opposing feelings at once.

In a related, but slightly different question, what are the main mistakes you have seen people make when they try to find happiness? Can you please share some stories or examples?

I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned about joy is that you can’t wait for the thing to come that you think is going to make you happy. If or when you’re lucky enough to get that thing, that desire is going to morph into something else. Joy is in the quiet moments of peace where you can truly be yourself — it’s not in the engagement ring or the house you buy. Or maybe it is for you, but that feeling doesn’t tend to last very long. You can’t live off of it forever. Even though it’s more than cliché at this point to say money doesn’t bring happiness, I think people still get caught in that trap

Folks also get caught in the trap of comparing their situation to others and incorrectly assuming that, because it looks better, it is better. They assume that their own lives contain struggles, anger, jealousy, frustration and sadness and that others’ lives are smooth-sailing, or at least more smooth-sailing than theirs is. I love the saying, “don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.” People often say to me, “But they make it seem so easy.” It’s never easy. So many people actually walk around all day wondering: did everyone notice that I mispronounced that word in the meeting? Is this person mad at me? I wonder if I shouldn’t have said that. I know this, because they come to my office and we talk about all those things. What we post on Instagram is our curated life. We often don’t show the struggles. I think we all know that intellectually, but believing it is a different thing, especially when you’re already feeling badly. I think that’s partially why I try to be an open book. I get viewed as confident or having it “together,” whatever that means, but it’s important for me to show that it takes hard work on my part every single day, sometimes to just get through the day. I’m constantly pulling from my toolbox of skills to soothe myself, cheerleader myself through something or get support where needed. It’s not magic, it’s hard work. And opportunity. And some days, I don’t get through it very well at all.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share with our readers your “5 things you need to live with more Joie De Vivre, more joy and happiness in life, particularly during turbulent times?” (Please share a story or an example for each.)

  1. Gratitude — When we choose to leave our suffering for a moment and tap into what we are grateful for, we are taking a terrifying step to feel something new and different. We are taking a chance to feel better. It’s an immensely brave choice, because we can’t always be sure what’s on the other side of our pain. Sometimes, sitting in our pain is an immense comfort. Those first few days in Vietnam, I worried that if I stayed on my honeymoon and allowed myself to move through my grief, I wouldn’t be properly honoring my aunt’s passing. I stayed anyway and chose to experience gratitude, not only for where I was but my gratitude in her death, knowing that she was no longer in pain. Gratitude is about recognizing what you are grateful for, not what you think you should be grateful for because it sounds good.
  2. Mindfulness awareness — Joy and happiness are brief moments that we can miss if we don’t practice awareness. You can feel joy and not be aware of it so it passes you by. We tend to lock into only our negative feelings and see them as truth, whereas with positive feelings, they can barely make a dent in our worldview if we’re not aware of their existence. Knowing the things that bring you joy is important so you can actively seek them out. Joy, for me now, is putting on my favorite playlist, pouring myself and my husband a glass of wine and cooking a favorite recipe. Joy is a stimulating conversation with a good girlfriend. It’s the feeling of being truly seen by another person.
  3. A consistent self care practice — Doing the things that bring us joy, often, is imperative. I’m lucky that they teach social workers that self-care isn’t an elective, it’s an absolute necessity when working with trauma so I’ve always taken it pretty seriously as an adult. During the hardest months of COVID, self-care was not only necessary for my mental health but it was one of the few things I could control. That looked like ordering a ton of puzzles and staying up late to bake bread.
  4. Curiosity — curiosity goes hand in hand with mindful awareness. When we stop judging our thoughts and feelings and instead come at them from a place of curiosity like, “Huh. I notice that I’m feeling jealous. That’s interesting, I wonder what that’s about.” That’s a totally different experience than when we feel our feelings, judge them and then try to push them down with any number of things that we use to numb or forget. I don’t think it’s always so clear that we do things for a reason and it’s often because of a feeling we don’t want to sit with. We sleep with someone who treats us poorly because we’re lonely, we drive too fast because we’re tired of feeling numb and it makes us feel excited — whatever it is, there is usually a reason or a bunch of reasons for why we behave in the way we do. Being curious about that is an amazing way to stop doing the things that are no longer serving us and replacing them with things that make us feel better, just in a healthier way.
  5. Get perspective — There’s the spontaneous part of self-care that allows us to tap into a sense of wonder and childlike-awe, like walking down a street you’ve never been to before. Experiencing wonder and awe helps us feel our correct size and gain perspective. When I looked out onto the vastness of the Grand Canyon on a hiking trip with my mom, I felt small. That’s sometimes how we have to look at our problems. This is called “right-sizing” our problems, meaning, not giving them more weight than they deserve. There are things larger and more important than us. Asking yourself: “will I care about this issue in 5 years?” is a tangible way to do this.

What can concerned friends, colleagues, and life partners do to effectively help support someone they care about who is feeling down or depressed?

Be there for them in the way you can be there for them. Capacity is important and sometimes we don’t always have the capacity to be there for people in the way they need or want. Sometimes, just sending a text that says “I love you. I’m thinking about you. No need to respond.” is the best thing you can do for someone. Sometimes when people are grieving, they want someone to sit with them in that pain. They want you to ask about their dead loved one. It’s quite the opposite of what people think. It’s similar to suicide prevention. It’s very common to think that bringing up suicide is unhelpful for fear that it gets someone thinking about it. But it’s actually the opposite, people who are thinking of harming themselves are already thinking about it. You bringing it up won’t put the idea in their head. Same thing with grief. I think about my aunt, every day, multiple times a day. I get saddest when I think about her being forgotten and so I love it when someone talks with me about my aunt. The other thing I will say is, support people in getting the right help. There’s a difference between our friends and our therapist. Both cannot be the other thing. Nor should they be.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

It’s funny you ask that because I was just asked this question by a girlfriend recently over dinner. I told her three things:

First, I would reallocate the funds used currently for the police and divert that funding to investing in comprehensive resources for the neighborhood that need them the most. So much of my life would have looked so much worse if I didn’t have outlets and options that were presented to me because of the neighborhood I lived in. I got heavily involved in my school’s theater program and was able to pour every difficult feeling into the roles I was playing. School’s arts programs are often the first to get cut because there’s “not enough money.” There absolutely is enough money in this country, we’re just not spending it wisely using research-proven methods to target the issues this country has. We are treating the problems so far downstream with mass incarceration and pouring billions into the police. In doing so, we’re not treating the actual core problems in this country of inequity and systematic disenfranchisement. That’s why we have things like the school-to-prison pipeline in this country. Kids need prosocial activities, after school programs and actual opportunities in order to thrive. When kids live in deserts of opportunity, poverty cycles continue. We don’t need police in riot gear, we need to utilize the immense amount of money this country has into research-proven strategies that we know work. That’s early-intervention and prevention services. That’s giving people actual options, resources and opportunities.

I would also target rape culture by instituting comprehensive sex education including what consent looks. It’s easy for something abstract like rape culture to fade into the background when you’re not confronted daily with it, but, when you’re a therapist, you notice trends because you’re sometimes seeing 30–40 people at a time. We know the statistic, 1 in 3 women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. That’s staggering and, anecdotally, that statistic rings true in my work. So many women are carrying sexual assault trauma inside them every day and not talking about it sometimes a year into therapy. Sometimes, I am the first person a woman has told about their abuse experience. I think that’s why the Me Too movement was so triggering for so many of us because we had just been quietly dealing with our traumas until it was like a flashing red light saying, no this is actually happening to so many of us and it’s time to start talking about it. The culture cannot be boiled down to a few bad apples, this a societal norm that we are only just starting to shift in certain ways and yet, we also take steps back all the time in our legislation. I would challenge abstinence only education and teach from a harm-reduction approach which has seen great outcomes. Basically with the idea that: people are going to have sex, let’s make sure it’s safe, consensual and give people the knowledge they need so sex doesn’t result in mistakes you can’t take back.

The last thing I would do is, again, preventative in nature. I would teach boys early on how to identify and self-soothe their feelings. I think our world would look different if we did this. I cannot tell you how often I work with adult men on identifying what they are feeling as a first step and then allowing that feeling to exist without judgment or denial as a second step. So many men are carrying around shame, anger, and guilt with no ability to identify those as feelings and so they automatically act on those feelings with little to no awareness about what’s happening in their body or why it’s happening. When boys can identify their feelings, they can see their feelings in another which builds empathy and creates self-awareness. When we teach boys what they are feeling, we can then teach them how to self-soothe in more appropriate ways. Can you imagine if someone, 60 years ago, had told Trump as a young boy that he was worthy and didn’t need his dad’s approval? Our foreign policy might look different.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Can it be dinner so there’s wine? I would love to host a dinner party with a bunch of badass women whose career I have followed and continue to be impressed by from all walks of life. To name a few: Esther Perel, Roxanne Gay, Ina Garten, Lindy West, Christina Tosi, Padma Lakshmi, Alexandria O’Casio Cortez, Rashida Jones, Mindy Kaling…I could go on and on but these ladies came to mind. They are all women who seem to have been told at one point or another that they could only be this one thing and they just said, ‘Nope. I’m also going to be all these other things and I’m going to be great at them, too.” Ina worked at the White House and decided she wasn’t fulfilled and then became who we know her as today, the Barefoot Contessa. I love the flexibility and courage of that, allowing yourself to change your mind.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can reach out to become a client or supervisee of mine by visiting my website, I write a blog and post a monthly self-care list there as well as on my instagram at @melissafulgierillc. And, if you’re interested in going on one of my retreats next year, shoot me an email and check my website for upcoming information!

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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