Inspiring a Healthy Lifestyle Series

Inspiring a Healthy Lifestyle Series

Guest interview with Lauren Spencer

Meet Lauren Spencer, licensed marriage and family therapy associate, who agreed to take part in my Inspiring Healthy Lifestyle Series. Her story is truly inspirational – her desire to help people shows how caring she is.

Lauren Spencer, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy Associate
Lauren Spencer

A healthy lifestyle is only possible when we strive for mental and emotional wellness as well as physical health. That is even more true in today’s world where we are faced with more stress than ever before. Please read Lauren’s interview transcript as follows:

Tell me about yourself. What is your background and how does that impact what you do now?

Hello! I’m a licensed marriage and family therapy associate newly married to my favorite Army Captain. I have always wanted to be a therapist (literally since I was in the 7th grade) and graduated with my masters a year or so ago. Seeing couples is my sweet spot, along with people with anxiety disorders. 

I was born and raised in Gig Harbor, WA, and have been a self-proclaimed homebody my whole life. Marrying an active duty Army officer has changed a lot of that for me as we will be heading to South Korea in the fall to live for 2 years. My beloved dog will be coming with us as we start our journey of exploring the world. 

I am also a Christian, lover of romance, supporter of body positivity, and a Christmas fanatic.

My passions led me to pursue my career as a way to support people on their journeys and to start my own blog as a way of diversifying my time and expanding my reach to those outside of my clients. 

Lauren Spencer and her husband
Lauren and her husband

What drives you? Where do you get your passion?

I believe my passions are God-given, just like spiritual gifts. My motivation comes from inner hope. I became a therapist with the goal of sharing my hope to those who are struggling to hold it for themselves. I have hope that our relationships can heal, that we can heal, and that the world can work toward healing as well. Sometimes we just need help holding onto that hope when life is hard. Seeing clients, loved ones, and my own story experience healing drives me to seek new ways of supporting people on this journey called life. 

What is the defining moment that set you on this course of interest? Who or what inspired you?

I would say I am on 2 courses in life that intersect and diverge from one another all at the same time. What set me on the therapist course was my experience of having a mom who was gravely ill for much of my childhood. I didn’t have the “normal” childhood many have (though what really is normal?), and when I got older, I realized my experience of having support all throughout those hard times was not the norm. I became a therapist so that I could support others and offer them hope.

As for my blogging journey, I had a moment when I realized my life was absolutely wacky. Washington state homebody falls for an Army officer from Texas, he moves away, they do long distance for 6 months, he proposes, she says yes, wedding planning begins, 2 weeks later they find out he’s being stationed in South Korea for 2 years, they get married 2 weeks after the news so that she can get on his orders, COVID-19 happens, she road trips across the country with her dog and college roommate so she can spend 2 months with her husband before he leaves. Pretty crazy, right? That’s where my story is now. I’ll return home when he leaves, prepare for our “big” wedding in November, and then head off to South Korea afterward.

Lauren Taylor and her husband
Lauren and her husband

When I realized how crazy my story had become, I started to think of all the other military spouses out there who have even crazier stories than I do. I also realized that in starting a blog to tell my story, I would also be able to share my therapist tips and wedding know-how (especially for brides in a bind like I was). 

What inspired me? My own experiences honestly, and the hope that my life story could instill hope in someone else.

What are your goals in life?

My goal in life is to help people, which sounds cliche but hear me out. My career is driven by my desire to help restore relationships, between partners, families, with God, and even with ourselves. I want to restore hope to those battling mental health, improve my own relationship with mental health and body image, and then pass those traits on to my future children. Which leads into my eventual goal of being a mom. Right now I’m a doting dog mom, but I cannot wait for the day when there are mini mes running around. And, as I have said prior, my goal for my blog is to extend my reach to more people so that I can strive to help and provide hope to those I wouldn’t have otherwise met.

What message would you like the world to hear?

That there is always hope. The sun always rises. Even on our darkest days, even when life throws major curveballs, even when there is intense grief, there is hope. And, there are also always little joys scattered everywhere–sometimes we just have to open our eyes a little wider to see them.

In your opinion, what does the world need now that would improve it?
Empathy. 100%. Being able to stand in another person’s shoes and honor their emotions is vastly important. Imagine what would happen in social equality movements, marital conflicts, business settings, etc etc if we had empathy. I believe just about every aspect of human life could be improved if we all tapped into empathy even just a tiny bit more than our usual.

Please take a look at Lauren’s website and social media accounts:

I completely agree with Lauren that empathy would help the world become a much better place. Her message of hope is one we all need at the moment in these unprecedented times. If you are finding that you are not coping well as the pandemic continues to affect us in every aspect of our lives, consider therapy as a way of assisting you to get a different perspective, and learn coping strategies. Your first port of call should be your GP, who will be able to refer you to the appropriate services. Here are some phone numbers (Australia) where you can access free phone support:

Mental health services and phone numbers in Australia
Australian support services for Mental Health

If you enjoyed this guest feature, please take a look at the other guests in the Inspiring a Healthy Lifestyle series:

Sevinj Ahmadova, founder of Healthy Recipes Guru

Morgan Fitchett, Vegan Life and Wellness Coach

If you would like to be a guest in the series, contact me via the contact form. I would love to feature other people who have a passion for inspiring others to live a healthy lifestyle.

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Letter to myself – aged 17

Letter to myself – aged 17

I have been thinking of my parents a lot lately, especially when I was writing my last two blog posts. Reflecting on what skills I learned from my parents, I realised that I didn’t appreciate it at that age. I was a bit of a handful for my parents, rebelling against their strict rules. I was able to rebuild my relationship with them in time, but I really wish I’d listened to their advice more.

This isn’t an original idea – I have seen other people write letters to their younger selves. Oprah wrote a powerful one and asked 17 well-known people to write letters as well – they’re on her website. There’s even a Grammy-award winning song by Brad Paisley:

If I could write a letter to me
And send it back in time to myself at seventeen

After reflecting on the things I wish I knew when I was 17, I decided to write a similar letter:

Me at aged 17

Dear Christina,

I am writing to tell you that you need to appreciate your parents more. They really love you and only want what’s best for you. Their rules are there to protect you, even if they are strict and old-fashioned.

Learn as much as you can from your mum. She’s a beautiful person who gives her whole life to you – appreciate her, because she won’t be there when you really need her. She’ll be at your wedding, but 4 months later she’ll pass away from cancer. You will miss her for the rest of your life but you’ll be so grateful that you learnt a lot about cooking and homemaking from her. You’ll draw on your memories of your mother when you have your own children, and you’ll appreciate the advice she give you in her last few weeks about bringing up children. Memories like that will be treasures.

You will grow to appreciate your father, but not until you have your own children. Then you’ll realise how hard it is to give them a private education, holidays overseas and a nice house. You’ll come to terms with the type of man he is and that he was very much a product of the times when men were chauvinistic and had little to do with child rearing. You’ll never want to rely on a man, and you’ll always be strong willed and independent. You’ll eventually be on much better terms with him, but it’s not until his deathbed that he’ll tell you you’re a good daughter.

Don’t drink too much alcohol. It doesn’t agree with your body, and will play havoc with your mood and mental state. It won’t help at all when you’re grieving. You’ll make some pretty awful decisions under the influence, for which you’ll be regretful. Definitely don’t take drugs because the affect they have on family members will be devastating. Keep an eye on your sister – her spiral downwards in mental health will eventually have a diagnosis but not for 10 years. Step in and get her help when she has her first psychotic episode – she needs medical attention so don’t hold back from seeking it.

Learn to walk away from people and situations before they start affecting your mental and physical health. You will try to help so many people who will hate you for it, and it won’t be until years later that you learn boundaries. Find help with being assertive and only let people into your life who are authentic and care for your well-being. Even if that means having fewer friends – quality is better than quantity.

Me with my best friend Paula, aged 17

Don’t try to be a people pleaser. People will walk all over you until you learn to listen to your own inner voice and stand up for what is right. Don’t ever be a doormat. Your shyness will hold you back, and it will become so bad you’ll develop social anxiety. Seek help for it because there is treatment that will help. There will be one person who is strong enough to help you and will always have your back – you won’t meet him till you’re in your 40’s but when you do, there’ll be an instant connection and you’ll know you’re with the right person. Life won’t always be easy, but he’s the one you’ll be able to grow old with.

Protect your back. Back pain will be the defining feature of your later years. Nursing is a wonderful career which you will love, but it will take a toll on your health. Don’t stay in a job that causes too much stress. It’s not worth it and there’s better jobs out there.

Appreciate your healthy body. Look after it and don’t take it for granted. You’re in for a lifetime of health related issues so appreciate your youthful body. Get your teeth fixed while you’re young – your confidence and self esteem will improve. Investigate your migraines and palpitations – the underlying cause will shock you but you’ll be on a better pathway towards a healthier you. Watch out for weight gain – you’ll discover that more of a plant based diet is the answer to maintaining your weight and well-being.

Travel as much as you can when you’re young. The world will change so much and your health will limit how much you can travel.

Myself at 17 – I look so shy and insecure

I don’t need to tell you that motherhood will be the most rewarding role you’ll have in life. You already know you will be a mother, even if it takes you years to have children. You will guide them in the way you wish your parents had guided you – with strong communication, mutual respect, and appreciation of the unique creative people they are. They will give you so much joy and fulfillment.

Don’t ever stop writing and reading. It will give you untold joy and satisfaction. You’ll always want to learn something new, and you’ll throw yourself into new projects with passion – don’t ever stop doing that!

Above all, keep believing that there’s a higher reason for all of this. We’re spiritual beings in human form and our goal is to learn as much as we can in our lifetime. Your life will throw you many curve-balls, and at times you’ll struggle with the weight of so much burden on your shoulders, but you’ll always get through each challenge. Care for yourself, make sure you take time out for yourself. Enjoy your life,

Love Christina, aged 53

I don’t regret much – my life has been a learning curve and I’ve probably dealt with more situations than some people. Some I’ve dealt with well, many not so well. I’ve learnt to accept myself with all the traits, good and bad, that I have. Some inherited, some learnt as I’ve travelled through life.

What would you tell yourself at 17?