Ed Cochard, LPA

Many people can struggle with motivation when trying to initiate changes in their lives.  All of us are familiar with the failure of New Year’s Resolutions where we commit to make a certain change in the coming year-only to lose this energy after a few weeks.

Below are five things to know about Motivation that may help you initiate and maintain motivation with making desired changes in your life:

“What’s your motivation?” by opensourceway is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit


  1. Do not rely upon emotion as a motivator. Emotions are fleeting thus your level of motivation will also be fleeting.
  2. Set specific SMART goals-Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.
  3. Start small to create an “easy-in” and a sense of accomplishment.
  4. Pay attention to rationalizations in your thinking. We often rationalize reasons to not follow through.  Do not talk yourself out of what you know you want to do.
  5. Create motivating thoughts. Remind yourself of why you want to make this change and what you want to accomplish with this change. Imagine success and what that will feel like.

Meghan Shapiro

Sara-Ann Cramer is the newest addition to the Chrysalis Team. I had the privilege to interview her to learn more about her aspirations, her training, and her life outside of Chrysalis. Keep reading to find out more.

Why did you decide to become a dietician?

One day in high school, I stood up feeling frustrated with watching my cheer leading team’s approach to nutrition and gave a lecture about the relationship between nutrition and performance in      sport. At that point, it became clear to my family and myself that I was born to be a dietician. In college, I loved going to my nutrition classes. Nutrition was never hard for me to learn because I loved it.

Tell me more about your training.

I attended The University of Kentucky Honors College and completed an Internship at St. Joseph Hospital. I spent most of my time during my internship in the ICU but also had the opportunity to work in food service and in many other aspects of nutrition in the hospital.

Why did you choose The University of Kentucky?

My dad went there, I was raised for it.

Why did you choose this job at Chrysalis?

I wanted to stick around the Carolinas. When I considered job options, I realized I wanted to make a connection with the people I was working with and make a difference in their lives. I am excited to have the opportunity to add a fresh perspective to the Chrysalis team as I am newly out of school and have a different set of skills.

Have you had any surprises on the job so far?

It’s so much more personal than it was made out to seem in school. I have enjoyed  building rapport and trust with clients.

What should clients expect in sessions with you?

My teaching style is energetic, involved and positive. I am eager to coach you through experiences and find small victories so they can be celebrated.

Is there anything you would like to share about you personally?

I was a group fitness instructor during college. My favorite classes to teach were boot camp style classes. I also taught cheerleading throughout high school. I have always been a teaching/nurturing type.

I love movies my favorites are Disney and Marvel. I also like to paint and spend time with friends and family. I love to cook and bake, try new restaurants and cook for people. I have a kitten but am a dog person – don’t tell my cat that.

Do you like Wilmington so far?

So far, yes. I can’t wait to get to the beach. I enjoy all kinds of exercise and can’t wait to walk on the beach.




National Nutrition Month® is an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. During the month of March, everyone is invited to learn about making informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits.

This year’s theme is “Personalize Your Plate.” There is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition and health. We are all unique with different bodies, goals, backgrounds and tastes! And a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist can tailor a healthful eating plan that is as special as you are.

Week 1: Eat a variety of nutritious foods every day!
 Include healthful foods from all food groups
 Learn how to read Nutrition Facts Panel
 Avoid distractions while eating
 Take time to enjoy your food

Week 2: Plan your meals each week. Use a grocery list to shop for healthful foods
 Be menu-savvy when dining out or ordering takeout
 Choose healthful recipes to make during the week
 Fuel for school or week with a healthful breakfast
 Enjoy healthful snacks

Week 3: Learn skills to create tasty meals!
 Keep healthful ingredient on hand
 Practice proper home food safely
 Share meals with people who live with you or virtually, when possible
 Reduce food waste
 Try new flavors and foods

Week 4: Consult a Registered Dietitian (RD)
 Ask your doctor for a referral to an RD
 Receive personalized nutrition advice to meet your goals
 Meet RD’s in a variety of settings throughout the community
 Find an RD who is specialized to serve your unique needs
 Thrive through the transformative power of food and nutrition

Contact the Chrysalis Center to meet with a dietitian @ 910-790-9500



To honor National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, recovered clinicians from Chrysalis decided to share experiences and stories from our recovery journey. It is our hope that these insights will help clients realize that they are not alone and recovery is possible.


How much did having and recovering from an ED impact your decision to do what you do now?

  • Honestly, almost everything. I definitely would not have become a dietitian, chosen to work with eating disorders, or specialized in sports nutrition if I hadn’t experienced and healed from my own ED.

    “Personal Transformation” by GroggyFroggy is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Not at all but I do think it helps me understand my clients struggles.
  • Dealing with anxiety throughout childhood, and then later anorexia significantly impacted my decision to follow this career path. I never would have pursued this career if I hadn’t walked through it myself.


When was the moment you knew something had to change?

  • There was a solid week during my senior year of college where I didn’t leave my dorm at all…I isolated in my bedroom the whole time except to go into my kitchen and use behaviors. The isolation hit REAL hard and I decided that wasn’t how I wanted to spend the rest of my college experience, and definitely not the rest of my life.
  • When I wasn’t hungry and had a moment of reflection. I realized how mean I had been and how much better I felt. I didn’t want to go back to being hungry and mean.
  • When I looked back at my college years as they were coming to an end and realized this life experience I had looked so forward to had passed right before my eyes. Knowing that my ED had taken the opportunity for me to make deep, authentic meaningful relationships saddened me. I had to come to terms with the fact that this life stage was coming to an end, and I would have no sorority sisters or friends I felt close enough to stand beside me at my wedding one day….it made me realize that my ED had taken so much but given me so little.

What were the top 3 most impactful factors in your recovery and why?

  • Real, authentic connection with others on a human level was definitely the biggest factor because this helped me challenge so many negative thoughts I had about myself, my body, food, and the world in general…it helped cultivate the little bit of hope I had left, and that was really what I needed. Distancing myself from toxic people and my sport was the second biggest factor, because I realized part of the issue wasn’t necessarily me, but the people I surrounded myself with. Unfortunately at the time, this meant many of my own teammates who were also struggling with food and body image – we just had no idea how to talk about any of it in a helpful way or how to get support. Surrounding myself with people who saw me as a human being first, instead of an athlete, was immensely helpful in challenging my identity and growing from it. I also had hip surgery the summer before my senior year which threw me into the pits of my ED, but this was actually a blessing in disguise because it forced me to take a break from exercise and my sport, and explore other aspects of life I had forgotten about that I actually found immensely joyful. Lastly, being surrounded by and immersed in nature had a HUGE impact on my healing!! It allowed me to truly connect to myself, others, and understand what I truly value.
  • Again, recognizing how much better I felt when I wasn’t hungry. Also, realizing that I had been fooled into thinking my body was broken and unacceptable – I began to appreciate my body and see its beauty. Did I mention I didn’t want to go back to being hungry and impatient.
  • Wanting true connections with people 2. Wanting to one day be a healthy mother 3. Being tired of all the work involved in my ED

What is one thing you wish you could tell ALL your clients who are struggling?

  • You do have to be brave to choose recovery because you’re taking a risk. The risk is in giving up patterns and habits that have helped you survive, to try and build different thoughts and behaviors that will take you past barely surviving and allow you to thrive. The first step to being brave is being scared…so be scared and do it anyway.
  • If you can just get to the other side, you will feel so much better and you will never want to go back. Also, you have been fooled into thinking you are broken. You are not.
  • An ED doesn’t have to be forever. It is scary to let go of something that has been a primary coping skill or part of your identity for so long, but life is so much better without it. You can learn to be comfortable in your body. You can learn to appreciate what your body can do and focus less on how it appears. You can learn to love yourself and accept love. You can be happy. Not only is it possible, but you deserve it!

“Journey – First Step” by Melody Campbell is licensed under CC BY 2.0

What is one thing you wish your clients knew about your recovery journey?

  • Some days I felt like my head and my heart were being torn apart. It was so uncomfortable, feeling like I constantly had to fight a part of me that refused to relinquish control. But every time I did, the part of me that wanted to grow, and to truly live, and to become the person I would respect and admire, got stronger. And little by little, things got better – not because they got easier, but because I got stronger. And you will too.
  • It was slow. I had relapses. At the end of the day, I would always choose recovery.
  • It was hard, but it was worth it. Life without an ED is so much brighter…so much fuller…than life with it.

How do you hold hope now for clients?

  • This may sound corny but it’s true, so I don’t care: I see the parts of them that are resilient, creative, kind, funny, and compassionate that they have either been blind to or have kept hidden for so long. When they’re unable to hold hope or fight for that part of themselves, I think it is our job to do that for them. I remember who did that for me when I was in that space and how much I needed it, even though I didn’t see it at the time; so now I’m paying it forward.
  • I love my job because I get to cut through all the shit and see my clients for the strong, creative, amazing souls they are.
  • I tell my clients that I believe in them and will continue to do so until they are able to believe in themselves. I want to be evidence to them that recovery is possible.

How do you talk about EDs all day and not get triggered?

  • All the anxiety I used to feel about everything that comes along with an eating disorder, is now replaced with compassion – for my clients, and for my past self.
  • I don’t ever want to feel that way again.
  • I don’t know, to be honest. It just doesn’t bother me. I think because I know the emotional pain that comes along with an ED, and I don’t want to invite that back into my life. You cant pick and choose which aspects of an ED you want to keep. For me, I don’t want any of it!

How do you think the White thin ideal and/or social media impacted your ED?

  • I’ve always had a love-hate relationship (mostly hate) with social media because I’ve seen how people can be influenced by it and get caught up in unfair comparisons and arbitrary standards that really don’t mean anything. It didn’t impact my body image that much, but it definitely contributed to feelings of being left out, not enough, different, and disconnected…it exacerbated my depressive tendencies for sure.
  • I was tricked into believing if my body did not look a certain way, I was less valuable. That my success depended on my appearance and that I needed acceptance from others to be ok with myself.
  • My ED occurred long before the days of social media! Yikes!! However, I recall being lured in by celebrity images in magazines of woman perfectly airbrushed. These images were not reality, yet the pressure to attain them was ever present.

When or how did you start to make peace with your body, and how do you currently handle body image?

  • I got fed up of hating what I saw in the mirror and realized that hating my body was only going to make me continue hating it, plus people had different reactions to my changing body, so I also realized that not everyone had the same body preferences. I started questioning what I had been taught, largely by my sport and the “powers that be” – aka the patriarchy and capitalism – about what an “ideal” body even was and started focusing instead on what my body did for me and who I wanted to be outside of what I looked like.
  • It was a long process. Body image work took a long time. At some point I realized that we have the ability to create our own reality. I honestly started looking at myself in the mirror and telling myself I was beautiful. I knew my body was the only one I got so I could love it or hate it but it really wasn’t going to change. I chose to love it and suddenly, I saw myself as beautiful.
  • I think I fully began to find peace with my body when I was pregnant for the first time. This changed my view on the purpose of my body. I wanted to be a healthy model for my daughter. As one ages, and wrinkles, sagging, etc… all become a reality, the pressure related to body image remains a reality as well. However, almost losing my life to a medical emergency and having the scars as a reminder of how close I got to losing everything, serves as a constant reminder to me of what truly matters.


What are your thoughts on “full” recovery?

  • I absolutely believe “full” recovery is possible because I and so many others have lived and are currently living it. Everyone’s definition of “recovery” may be specific to them, but there are some general themes they all share. For me, living a fully recovered life means that yes, *technically* I always have the option to return to my eating disorder and disordered behaviors, but they are no longer an option in my mind because I know what they lead to, and I know they do nothing for me anymore. It all comes back to intention and values, and I believe that once you have fully committed to living the life you want to live and becoming the person you want to be, which largely happens by practicing your values, you choose your freedom, yourself, and your life over whatever the heck you did before that almost ruined you. Every time.
  • I think eating disorders are always available coping mechanisms. So are a lot of other less ideal behaviors. I believe full recovery comes when you can look objectively at eating disorder behaviors and recognize them for what they are – self-injurious activities built on a tower of lies.
  • I believe “full” recovery is possible, but that doesn’t mean life becomes easy. Life is filled with hard times…physical and emotional challenges. Some seasons in life seem to feel like one hurdle after another. There is always the potential to choose to slip into old patterns, but we can’t allow our lives to be dictated by this. I love Victor Frankl, and his quotes have served to inspire and guide me during hard times. A favorite is “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Recovery is a choice…a hard one. And when we choose recovery every single day, we are choosing to be free.


Startling Statistics:

  • Cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer of women in the United States, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year.
  • Approximately 1 woman dies every minute from heart disease.
  • Two out of three women who die from heart attacks never experienced chest pain prior to that heart attack.
  • While men are more likely than women to experience a heart attack, women who do have heart attacks are more likely to die from them.

In honor of American Heart Month, I interviewed a female heart attack survivor. Thank you to this client for her willingness to share her story.

Q: Can you describe for me the events surrounding your heart attack and what symptoms you experienced?

A: I was at work when it happened. All of a sudden I had tremendous pressure around my chest. It felt like someone was squeezing me.


Q: Did you have any previous history of cardiac issues or any family history of heart disease?

A: I did not have any previous issues, but both my parents had heart disease.  My father had open heart surgery and a valve was replaced.


Q: What were your aftercare requirements? Any surgery or medication?

A: I was put on blood pressure and cholesterol medication.  I still take it today and will have to for the rest of my like.  It is for preventive measures.


Q: What self-care measures or habit changes did you make following your heart attack?

A: Since I was already walking 3-4 times a week, I did try to improve on that.  I also incorporated more fish in my diet and cut out some of the fat.


Q: What would you want other women to know about heart health or your experience that might help them?

A; Women have different types of pain than men.  We all need to continue eating healthy.  Incorporate as many vegetables as you can and also high fiber foods.   Even though I had weight loss surgery in 2004 and was at my goal weight, I was not taking as much care of myself as I should have.


In doing my research for this blog, I discovered that one reason women have lower heart attack survival rates is that many women may not recognize lesser-known heart attack symptoms such as fatigue, nausea and dizziness. Researchers have also found that women tend to downplay or ignore heart attack symptoms which causes them to delay seeking treatment.

If you are a woman, it is important to know your risk and the status of your heart health, even if you have never experienced any symptoms of heart disease. Coronary calcium scoring (also known as a Heart Score test) is a heart scan that can detect coronary artery disease in patients who do not have symptoms and is recommended for those with a family history of heart disease. For more information about this locally, please see

The good news is that 80% of cardiac events can be prevented! Aside from the typical suggestions about maintaining proper nutrition and regular exercise, not smoking, getting adequate sleep, and keeping your blood pressure in check, there are social and emotional ways to increase your heart health.

Research has long suggested that regular social interaction and social connectedness play an important role in not just overall health, but heart health as well. One theory explaining this effect is that spending time with friends and family lowers stress and fends off depression—both of which are risk factors for heart disease.

Other studies have found that laughing can protect heart health, as it causes blood vessels to relax and expand—again, pointing to the health benefits of spending time with close friends. A psychiatrist at Stanford University School of Medicine actually began studying the effects of laughter on the cardiovascular system four decades ago, hypothesizing that brain chemicals released during laughter (called endorphins) latch onto opiate receptors in the lining of blood vessels. This interaction stimulates blood vessels to release nitric oxide which is known to relax arteries. Relaxed arteries are more flexible and wider, permitting easier blood flow.

For more information about Women’s Heart Health, a good resource is the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women initiative.

Locally, the Cape Fear chapter of the AHA is hosting a virtual heart ball next week as well as a silent auction to raise funds.

I had the pleasure of interviewing our “newest” therapist for the blog this week. Meghan was actually the first therapist Chrysalis hired to expand our practice back in 2005. We are thrilled that after moving away for quite some time, she has returned to re-join our team. In addition to being an experienced psychologist, Meghan also fulfills the role of Outreach Coordinator for our practice. Her warm, relational style and knowledge about eating disorders makes her a perfect fit for both these jobs!


  1. Tell me a little bit about your therapeutic style

I am a client-centered therapist. I believe in creating a safe place for my clients where they are comfortable exploring current and past struggles and triumphs to inform decision making and changes going forward. I tend to lean heavily on mindfulness and cognitive behavioral interventions. At the center of my therapy is the goal to improve clients’ relationships with themselves so they can create a more compassionate and accepting space for themselves in the world. As a therapist, my clients have described me as direct, understanding and funny.

  1. What are your specialty areas?

I have a lot of experience treating people who have experienced trauma as well as people struggling with eating disorders. I enjoy assessment and am excited to be providing bariatric surgery evaluations and support for Chrysalis clients.

  1. What continuing ed or reading have you done for professional development lately?

I read books associated with my practice slowly. Right now, I am making my way through: The Mindful Therapist by Daniel Siegel, Coercive Control by Evan Stark, and The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk

The recent training that sticks out the most to me was an Urban Trauma training with Maysa Akbar. We have so far to go to acknowledge and address race-based trauma and its sequelae!

  1. You are “new” to Chrysalis, but not new to Chrysalis. Tell us about your history with the organization.

Chrysalis provided me the foundation of my career in private practice. I began working at Chrysalis in 2005 following my graduate internship at the Durham VA Medical Center. I met Kelly at my graduate school interview in 2002. I reached out to her when I realized my job in research at the VA was not going to fulfill my professional aspirations and was offered a job. At Chrysalis, I learned how to treat people with eating disorders and so much more about being a therapist. Life and a family took me away from Wilmington in 2007. We are so happy to have returned to the area and I am thrilled to be back at Chrysalis!

  1. What do you like to do for fun when you aren’t at work?

I like to be outside. I love to do anything at the beach. I also enjoy hiking, camping and kayaking. On rainy days, I like cooking and reading.


As an African American we are taught to pray and keep our emotions inside because the only person that can help us is Jesus. We are also taught to trust no one with our business. For me, being a weekly recipient of therapy is always a huge topic of conversation amongst my black family. When my therapist suggested a mindful living support group, I was like okay m’am you’re really pushing it. I thought to myself what will I have in common with these women, no one will look like me, and why do I need to tell them my business? I dodged a few of the groups throwing all of those questions at my therapist who knew that I would benefit from this group.

After attending the group I can honestly say that it was the best experience. No, there weren’t any other women in the group that looked like me physically, but everyone’s heart looked just like mine, everyone’s tears were just like mine, and everyone’s desires were just like mine. I learned something different from each and every woman in that group and also have a special place in my heart for every one of them. We laughed, we cried, and most importantly we healed together. I still use my look book of quotes and inspirations that one of the ladies created as a group ending project and gifted each member with. I look at it when I’m feeling anxious or need to be reminded of the journey to heal my wounds that mindful living support group lead me to.

Three years later here I am still using my mindful living coping mechanisms, my look book, and all of the words of encouragement my mindful living sisters gave me. I have so many people ask me how I do it- how do I remain so peaceful when I have been through so much trauma in my life (some I am still going through)? My response is always the same “Therapy, Mindful Living and Jesus”.

The next Mindful Living group is a 12 week series, starting February 22nd and will be facilitated by Kendra Wilson, LCSW, CEDS-S, dbt-C. For more information about the group or to sign up, please contact us at 910-790-9500 or

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

As we enter the new year, we are all still faced with the realities of a global pandemic. This is a stressful time for so many of us. A new year can be a time to reflect on growth and change. One way to do this is through setting intentions around the new year based on our values and what is important to you. Here are 10 tips for setting some intentions.

  1. Limit and monitor your social media & news intake. Staying connected to people via social media is important. And staying informed about world events is important. But it’s so easy to get caught up in the daily scroll of news feeds and updates that you end up wondering “where’d the time go?” and you walk away feeling heavy, discouraged, and scared. Think about ways to bring more intention to what you’re absorbing from what your viewing. Are there accounts that you might unfollow? You may also try rearranging your home screen to reflect the apps you want to visit.

One the things you have control over right now is how you spend your time.

  1. Create structure and routine. Chances are, your life looks different now… One of the best ways you can stay grounded is to create routines and structure for yourself. It’s important that your routine isn’t too elaborate or intricate. Establish realistic goals and expectations for yourself. Choose 1 thing to try today!




Choose 3-5 things you want to do every morning or throughout the day.

Sit in silent meditation/prayer Stretching Listen to a guided mediation
Journal Listen to a podcast Read a book
Drink coffee/tea Walk the dog Write down a daily gratitude
Shower Sit outside Journal
Go for a walk Listen to music Make your bed
Do gentle yoga Read inspirational text Get dressed for the day
Brush your teeth Watch a TED talk Other:
Drink a glass of water Do a crossword puzzle Other:
  1. Setting boundaries. Working or doing school from home? Try to plan ahead what your working hours will be and stick to them. Find what works best for you and then set boundaries that hold you accountable. You may also want to take a close look at your relationships. Constantly taking in other people’s emotions is exhausting and can harm your own mental health.

Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

4. Find compassion. Although many of us are able to find compassion for others during this time, it might be a little more difficult to practice self-compassion. Find ways to recognize your own struggles and meet yourself with kindness and understanding. We are all in this together.

  1. Develop or grow your mindfulness practice. Pick a mindfulness practice that works for you and start integrating it into your morning, afternoon, or nightly routine. 5-10 minutes a day is all you need to notice a profound impact on your mood, thoughts, and overall wellbeing.

Here are some great mindfulness apps: Insight Timer, Oak, Breathe+, Calm, Mindshift, Headspace

We are living in a stressful time. Stress lowers the immune system, affects your sleep, and creates tension in your body. It is so important for us to keep our mind and body connection. Meditation and mindfulness exercises are one of the most effective (and free!) ways you can decrease your stress levels.

  1. Get creative! This is a perfect time to pick up an old hobby or learn a new skill. A sense of purpose is crucial for staying mentally afloat. Maybe do something you haven’t tried before- take a paint class, go on a camping trip—whatever you might be interested in!
  1. Maintain social connections. Social distancing doesn’t have to equal loneliness. We are social creatures. We are wired for social connection and it is vital for our well-being. There are plenty of ways to stay connected to others while staying inside your home. Phone calls, Facetime, Skype, Marco Polo, Zoom are all ways to connect with people in real-time. Schedule time in your schedule for human connection.

Find other ways to attend social gatherings. Churches are live-streaming their services, studios are offering weekly yoga/art classes via Zoom every week, and businesses are using this opportunity to up their virtual game and many places that didn’t previously have online offerings now do.

  1. Feel your Feelings. It’s okay to feel your feelings… even the uncomfy ones! This is a time to stay connected to our internal experiences.

Observe, name, and notice what arises within you. And then… Let them go. Intense emotions serve as information and as guides. And we must let them pass through our body rather than hold on. Make time and space in your day for thoughtful reflections. Create time for journal, prayer, reflection. Whatever brings you closer to your inner wisdom.

Photo by Josh Hild from Pexels

Emotions are tunnels. You have to go all the way through the darkness to get to the light at the end.

-Emily Nagoski

  1. Joyful movement and rest. Movement can help our physical and mental well-being. Joyful movement is about choice and recognizing that all kinds of movement are valid. Find something that feels good and brings you joy. Listen to your body and what it needs. If it needs rest- rest!
  1. Keep showing up. Keep your therapy and nutrition appointments! Now IS the time to talk openly about your feelings. To get support. To find someone you trust. To lean on a guide.

We are offering sessions virtually and in-person to keep people connected. We are here for you. Keep logging on Recovery Record. Keep showing up in your recovery.

Taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do for the world right now.












Meghan Shapiro


Chrysalis has been lucky to have Ed Cochard as a part of our clinical team for 4 years. Recently our luck grew when he decided to expand his schedule to include more hours. I interviewed him briefly to learn more about him as a therapist. The following is what I learned:

In therapy sessions, you can expect Ed to be easy going. He tries to keep treatment accessible by providing a light environment. Things can get heavy sometimes in therapy and, when appropriate, Ed is quick to add humor to the session to provide some perspective and reprieve.

Validation and collaboration are very important to Ed and he will meet you where you are.  You will not have the experience of being told what to do, though he may provide nudges if needed. Ed will tell you the truth. One of his strengths as a therapist is that he enjoys building relationships and finds rapport building comes naturally (I can confirm. He is super easy to talk to.)

To conclude the interview, I asked him some difficult and very important questions: Cats or Dogs? Though he had both growing up, he prefers dogs. Oceans or Lakes? “Definitely oceans,” he said with confidence, having lived by both.

Thank you, Ed for your service to the Chrysalis Community!

Meghan Shapiro


This time of year, we are reminded to think about the things for which we are thankful. Our family has a Turkey on the Table who comes out in the beginning of November. When we sit down as a family, we write something we are thankful for on the feathers. There are no requirements and no judgement. If my kid wants to write that she is thankful for her electronic devices, we all take time to thank our phones, computers, pods and pads. Honestly, they do a lot for us that we take for granted. It’s a great tradition, supports a good cause, and I’m sure the feathers will be treasured reminders as the years go by.

It is a lovely time of year. But what about Gratitude as a practice? We practice yoga to make our bodies more flexible. How does the practice of Gratitude change things?

Why do we need to practice gratitude?

In Tao Te Ching, Lao Tsu writes “He who knows he has enough is rich.” Why do we have such a hard time realizing we have enough? Well the answer has been hypothesized to be biological and evolutionary. Generally speaking, it is not the things that are going well in our lives that serve as threats and our minds are wired to identify threats. We are much less likely to pay close attention to the kind neighbor who delivers vegetables from her garden than we are to the people driving at high speed throughout the neighborhood. One is a threat to health and safety while the other is not. We naturally pay more attention to threats and sometimes this is beneficial. It can also leave us feeling anxious, on edge, and wary.  What if we paid more attention to the kindness of our neighbor?

What will change if I start a gratitude practice?

Daily gratitude practice retrains our brain to identify the good. Simply put, practitioners of daily gratitude have found that when they hold themselves accountable to identify one thing for which they are grateful at the end of each day, it changes their thoughts and focus throughout the day. They find that they start looking for positive things and focusing less on the negative. They feel less anxious, sleep better, and enjoy better relationships with friends and family. There is so much power in recognizing our ability to choose our focus especially in situations over which we have little control.

Gratitude in the real world…

When our neighborhood was redistricted and we learned the school our daughters would be attending had lower ratings on test scores, I felt frustrated. My daughter quickly pointed out that perhaps the reason for the lower scores was that the curriculum was less focused on testing and more on exploration. What a beautiful example of shifting focus in a situation over which we have no control. Her observation not only made me feel immediately better about the school, but also made me feel proud of my daughter for her awareness that exploration is an academic value we hold and her ability to find a silver lining. Gratitude has a domino effect.

How do you do it?

How does one practice gratitude? Gratitude practice can take many shapes and forms. Some people keep a gratitude journal in which they record one thing for which they are grateful each day. Families can make it a practice at the dinner table each night. Some families have a requirement that each family member text things they feel grateful for during the day. Again, to compare gratitude to yoga, there is no right way to practice. Do what feels right to you and your mind.

If you are interested in learning more about gratitude, I recommend the book, The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan. It is a personal account of a year of looking on the bright side. It is informed by research and conversations with professionals.

In closing, thank you for taking the time to read this blog. As a mental health professional, it feels good to have a venue to write about the things I think about every day.


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