Women

So how’s your self-esteem?

Woman studying reflectionSo how is your self-esteem?

Answering this question feels almost too personal – as if you were being asked your age or weight or about the most embarrassing moment in your life.  Right now your self-esteem could be high, low, fragile or something in between and it might not be something you want to say out loud.

I define self-esteem as the way you feel about yourself combined with your capability to think clearly, make good decisions and create a rewarding life. 

No one has 100% self-esteem all of the time.  Self-esteem is not ‘all or nothing’.  The truth is that it exists on a continuum and it can (and often does) change throughout your life.  However, it should be something that you are aware of, connected to and actively track so you can make adjustments as needed.

Self-esteem is often misunderstood.  Many mistake arrogance and over-confidence for self-esteem.  In reality, an attitude of superiority and exaggerated self-esteem are actually masking low self-esteem.  Healthy, authentic self-esteem is never ego based.  A person with healthy self-esteem never feels the need to brag or make themselves look better than someone else.  Healthy self-esteem (which is what we all should be striving for) is empowering and it is within your reach. 

In order to gain some insight about your self-esteem, listen closely to your self-talk — your internal dialogue.  Is it negative or positive?

  • I’m so tired today; I don’t feel like doing anything. OR Gosh, I’m tired but I know that once I get moving I will feel better.
  • I don’t like going into a room full of people and having to speak to total strangers. OR  I’m uncomfortable entering a room of people I don’t know yet, but I know I will meet two or three people and end up really enjoying myself; I always do!
  • My cup of tea has too much; I hope I don’t spill it! OR  My cup of tea is filled to the rim so I will be careful with it.

If your thoughts tend to be negative, then this is definitely affecting your self-esteem in a harmful way.  And yes, it is possible to change your thinking.  It requires awareness, persistence and a desire to change.

I teach women and girls how to create healthy self-esteem in their lives and how to foster it in their children.  It’s not something you are born with.  It is something you create.

If you would like more information on how to create healthy self-esteem or if you would like to work with me as your personal coach, please contact me via email or phone 703.505.2413. I am here to help!


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Moving on After Divorce

Troubled woman comforted by her friendWhy is it so difficult to move on after divorce?  Well, this may seem obvious but there are many women who feel that the expectation is to move on – and to do it quickly.

However, the separating of two people in a marriage is usually a lengthy process.  The legal aspect takes considerable time and could take longer if there are children involved.  But the emotional side takes significantly more time to heal – long after a divorce is legally final.

The biggest myth is that once a divorce is final, then a woman should be ready to move on.  Not so fast!  The heart takes time to heal and that’s going to be different for everyone.  There are many factors to consider such as the depth of the relationship, support, children, personality type, and the isolation factor.

When I was growing up I remember hearing that people would divorce due to “irreconcilable differences”.  I never really understood that phrase.  As a counselor and after going through my own divorce, I now understand that “irreconcilable differences” is a catch-all phrase which can mean anything from abuse to feeling annoyed with the other person.

What does divorce mean to you?  It is important to explore this question.  Herein lays possible hidden emotional obstacles to ‘moving on’.  Does your marriage ending mean:

  • You failed?
  • You will be seen as a failure?
  • Your children will be permanently scarred and will never forgive you?
  • You have let down your parents or someone else?
  • You have let down yourself because you believe you didn’t try enough?
  • You will be losing your best friend?
  • No one will ever love you again?
  • There was only ONE relationship for you and he just walked out that door?
  • You are doomed to a life of unhappiness?

This is where speaking with a counselor to help you work with your mind (essentially your thoughts) can speed up the healing process to allow you to move on quicker.  It’s especially important to move on if your emotional pain is keeping you from living your life or being a good and present parent.

It’s normal to feel stuck for a while!  However, when these feeling do not leave then you can be headed for more serious issues with anxiety and depression.
If you would like to have a personal counselor/coach through this difficult process, or know someone else who would, then please contact me via email or phone 703.505.2413. I am here to help!

 


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Stop Making the Same Mistake

StopAs a counselor and empowerment coach to women and girls, clients come to me with problems in their relationships. More often than not, these ladies feel as if they are the root cause of difficulties with their partners. They can’t put their finger on it, but hope I’ll be able to point it out.

So I question them to help bring clarity to the situation – to help them find the answers.  I have found during my 25+ years of counseling females, that yes, women and girls both have a tendency to make the same mistake over and over again. Their mom’s did it, their sister’s do it, their best friend’s do it… so most of them assume this is normal and acceptable. However, it’s not!

Once they realize where they have gone astray, I offer advice on how to correct course.

It’s the same advice over and over again, so I created a Special Report aptly titled “The Single Worst Mistake Women Make in Their Relationships… and What to Do NOW to Fix It!”

To get your copy, please click this link.

 


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Relationships are Complicated; So are Divorces

worried womanDivorce is never easy.  It involves a lot of emotional pain.  It exposes hidden insecurities.  It brings up a whole host of questions for which there seem to be no answers.  It stirs up a wide range of negative and scary feelings.

Unfortunately, it also leads to isolation — or at least, perceived isolation.

Countless women are hesitant to reach out for help or to lean on a friend during this difficult time.  I hear this often in my practice “I don’t want to be a burden to my friends”, “They shouldn’t have to hear this”, or “I need to deal with this on my own”.  These statements sadden me because this means that women are choosing isolation when support, guidance and a listening friend are just what they need most.

As a counselor, many women who come to see me are very unclear about the issues disrupting their marriages or they are unsure of how to address them if they have been identified.  I work with my clients to first help them understand and validate their feelings about themselves, their partner and their relationship.  Then we dig deeper to see what’s really causing the discord.

It may be a personal issue, a concern with their spouse or communication breakdown. Once the source is identified, then we come up with a plan on how to proceed.  Relationships are complicated; so are divorces.

I hear a lot of women say that their marriage ending represents the loss of their dreams for the future – their vision of having an intact family or summer vacations at the beach or growing old together.

The end of a relationship is like a death but it’s not a permanent loss of your dreams.  Yet, according to some of my clients, they feel that divorce may be worse than death because they still have to see and interact with the other person but they no longer are with them.

It is important to grieve the end of any relationship.  There are productive ways of grieving and non-productive.

I help women grieve in a healthy way allowing emotions to flow, channeling them in a beneficial manner and escorting those emotions right out of their head.  Grief often comes in waves, but like all waves they swell, come on shore to break, and then they are gone.

If you would like to have a personal counselor/coach through this difficult process, or know someone else who would, then please contact me via email or phone 703.505.2413. I am here to help!

 


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Connecting to Your Intuition

Woman on a dockI’ve heard many people – men and women – say that they don’t believe they have an intuition… but everyone does! The problem is that many have been raised or socialized in a way which did not facilitate a connection to their gut feelings. Plain and simple.

In our society we place a great deal of emphasis on the connection to the mind. This is reinforced in traditional schools. It’s all about how smart we are, instead of HOW we are smart. Some people have a higher level of emotional intelligence. Others are more academic and have more book knowledge. One is not truly better than the other. They are different yet equally important!

Connecting with your intuition is vital to your emotional well-being. If you believe you have lost the ability to distinguish when your intuition is speaking, it is possible to reconnect.

How to Connect to Your Intuition

  • Silence the mental chatter. You will need to quiet your mind — the constant mental chatter that many of us experience. In order to do this, you may need to learn how to quiet it through meditation or a relaxing activity. Silence is golden and it’s also an essential component of connecting to intuition.
  • Distract your mind. Engage in something you really enjoy which will keep you in the present moment and better able to hear your intuition. You should do this anyway as it helps increase creativity as well as productivity.
  • Pay attention – inwardly. Your body is speaking to you. Some aches and pains or upset tummies are not caused by illness.
  • Distinguish fear from intuition. Fear of a new situation or change may simply be your reluctance to come out of your comfort zone.

One last tip: Practice. Practice. Practice. Once you get into the habit of listening to your inner voice (not the voices in your head), intuition will come to you more freely and you’ll find that the choices you make in your life are better ones.

If you would like more help improving your self esteem and connecting to your intuition, or know someone else who does, then please contact me via email or phone 703.505.2413. I would love to help!

 


Michelle Kelley BA, MSW, LCSW Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Intuition is Real, Not Imagined

Beautiful woman thinkingIntuition is the calm, small voice inside of you that speaks up at unexpected times.  It is the ability to “just know” about a person, situation or decision without having to investigate.  We have all experienced a hunch about something or someone; that’s our intuition.

Some people call it “a sixth sense”, but either way, intuition is real, not imagined.  We are born with it and it is our gift to claim.  However, we have become so reliant on facts or logical thinking to make decisions that we often block our quiet, inner voice.  When was the last time you listened to your intuition… or did not?  What was the outcome?

How Your Intuition Speaks to You

  • You had a sense of fear or danger about a situation.
  • You had a nagging sense that you need to do something like go to the doctor or take a different route to work.
  • You felt very uncomfortable around someone you just met but couldn’t pinpoint a reason.
  • You had a “vision” that was reminiscent of déjà vu but you knew it was yet to be.
  • You feel as though you are not doing what you are meant to do in life.

It has been said that women have an edge when it comes to reading people or being a good judge of character. This, in part, may be due to being socialized differently than men.  Women and girls may hear the advice “listen to your gut” more often than men.  Certainly girls and women are asked more frequently how they feel about something (usually by another female) and this encourages them to dig deeper and search for their connection to intuition even if they don’t realize it.

Furthermore, for women, learning to connect with intuition is directly linked to healthy self-esteem.
  See, when a woman ignores her intuition there is an emotional price to pay. Have you ever second-guessed yourself about a decision, didn’t go with your instinct and then regretted it?  Think back to multiple choice questions on an exam and how your first guess was usually the correct one but you changed your mind after over thinking it. Or you had a suspicion your boyfriend or husband was cheating on you, but you “let it go” only to find out later it was true.  We all have had these experiences!  They should be reminding you to stop and think the next time you have a gut feeling about something.

If you would like more help improving your self esteem and connecting to your intuition, or know someone else who does, then please contact me via email or phone 703.505.2413. I would love to help!

 


Michelle Kelley BA, MSW, LCSW Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Are You Too Nice?

If only they knew what you were really thinking, but instead what comes out is:

  • Sure, I’ll be glad to.
  • Yeah, I’ll be there.
  • Yes, that’s fine.

Do you have trouble saying “no” to people and their demands in your life without feeling guilty?  If so, you are not alone.

Women seem to struggle more than men when it comes to people-pleasing and setting firm boundaries.  I realize that many women were raised to be sugar, spice and everything nice.   Unfortunately, when women try to live up to such an unrealistic standard, they can succumb to depression and anxiety as well as a high level of frustration.

But we knew that already, didn’t we?

As a counselor, I teach women and girls how to hold boundaries in their life and relationships.  I also give them permission to do so — without feeling guilty or selfish.

Healthy boundaries are essential for healthy self-esteem.  If you struggle with boundary-setting, there is a good chance your daughter will, too!  Remember, she is looking to you as a role model.

Here are some examples of holding boundaries:

  • •No, I can’t help out this time – maybe next time.
  • •No.  Actually, I have already made plans for next weekend.
  • •No, I’m not comfortable with having a bunch of people over to my house.

Remember, “no” is a complete sentence especially when setting boundaries with difficult people.  You do not owe anyone an explanation for why you say “no” to their request and you are not responsible for someone else’s emotional state.  You are only responsible for your own.

If you need more help setting and maintaining your boundaries, or know someone else who does, then please contact me via email or phone to arrange an appointment.

 


Michelle Kelley BA, MSW, LCSW Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Anxiety is Common and Treatable

Do you suffer from chronic, acute or even mild anxiety? If so, then you might find some comfort in knowing that you have plenty of company. In fact, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America tells us that 40 million Americans age 18 and over suffer from some kind of anxiety issue. That’s about one-fifth of the entire adult population! Unfortunately, only about one-third of sufferers seek help — even though it is a highly treatable condition.

In light of those stats, anxiety is the most common issue that brings a person into counseling. Although seeking help can be embarrassing, it is the first step towards getting better and taking back control of your life. Given the vast number of people who suffer from anxiety in our society, you are clearly not alone and there is no shame in seeking professional help.

One of the ways we make ourselves anxious is with negative self-talk — a habit of telling ourselves the worst will happen. As a counselor I always ask my clients to think about what they are thinking about — a strange concept at first. Our emotions, in part, come from our thoughts. It behooves all of us to be very mindful of what is going on inside of our heads. If you haven’t tried it, I suggest that you keep a journal or somehow track your thoughts. Are they negative, positive or a mixed bag? Negative, destructive or fearful thoughts can affect you emotionally and physically. Fortunately, it is possible to change your thoughts through persistence and dedication which can be powerful and life changing. And it all starts with being mindful.

Now that we have established that anxiety is common and treatable, let’s address some frequently asked questions.

Who can get anxiety?

Anyone at all – even children. With anxiety at epidemic levels among children, it is important that they learn how to push through their fears and worries to build resiliency and independence. Anxiety does not discriminate, but some people are more susceptible and prone to feeling anxious than others. There is also a possible genetic component that comes into play.

What causes anxiety?

Possible causes of anxiety can include but are certainly not limited to:

  • Fearful, intrusive thoughts, negative self-talk
  • Environmental factors
  • Medical factors
  • Genetics
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Substance Abuse

What are some common types of anxiety?

  • Social anxiety — Fear of being scrutinized and judged by others
  • Separation anxiety — Fear of separating from home or loves ones
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) — Unreasonable thoughts and fears that can lead to repetitive behaviors and intrusive thoughts
  • Panic Attacks — Uncontrollable feelings of imminent danger or doom; feeling a need to escape; heart palpitations; sweaty palms; shallow breathing
  • Phobias — Intense, irrational fear or aversion to something (such as germs, spiders, storms)

What are the symptoms of anxiety?

Anxiety symptoms range from mild to severe and can include but, again, are not limited to:

  • Feeling scared
  • Having a sense of impending danger or panic
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating

Who’s in control?

You are! That’s the good news.

Anxiety is not a sign of instability and it does not mean you are crazy. It means you are human and are most likely dealing with an emotional issue!

If you feel as though anxiety or panic attacks are interfering with your life and relationships, you should start by consulting with your doctor or a mental health professional. Anxiety rarely gets better without treatment and it may even intensify if you do not seek help.

Anxiety is very treatable with early intervention. Most of the time it can be treated successfully through talk therapy. This is a process whereby a counselor guides you towards developing an understanding and awareness of the underlying thoughts that trigger anxiety, and then coaches you in relaxation and developing coping strategies.

What are some coping strategies?

  • Identify stressors and possible triggers
  • Replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk
  • Control breathing — take slower, measured breaths
  • Eat healthy and exercise regularly
  • Consult with a doctor or counselor

It is possible to train your brain to stay calm and to learn how to break the worrying habit.

You do not have to struggle with anxiety forever, yet learning to release anxiety does not happen overnight. Like anything worth doing in life, you will need a strong desire to change, a healthy dose of patience, a good teacher and mindfulness practice.

If you or someone you know would benefit from counseling, then please contact me via email or phone 703.505.2413.

 


Michelle Kelley BA, MSW, LCSW Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Happy Singles Awareness Day: It’s All About Perception

When Valentine’s Day Hurts Or Happy Singles Awareness Day: It’s All About Perception

What do you do when you are alone on Valentine’s Day or if you don’t have that someone special to celebrate with?

The temptation might be to feel less than or unloved. Sadly, females fall prey to feeling like this on Valentine’s Day more than males. Does society place more emphasis on women being in a relationship? Possibly. The real question is, how much emphasis do you place on being in a relationship?

The reality is that you will not always be in a romantic relationship on every Valentine’s Day throughout your entire life… and that is okay! Does your relationship status really matter that much in the scale of your happiness level? If so, think about why it matters so much to you.

Valentine’s Day is also known as Singles Awareness Day :-).  It’s true! Some people observe it the day before or the day after to avoid the hype, but they still celebrate being single.

No matter what, I want you to get through Valentine’s Day feeling good about yourself. Here are some tips to help you cope with the possible anxiety of not being in a relationship on that day.

  • Keep the day in perspective.
  • Love your singleness – after all, there are some real benefits to being single if you can allow yourself to see them.
  • Be happy with yourself.  Not only is this good for you but it also makes you more attractive to someone else.
  • Treat yourself.  You don’t have to wait for someone else to buy you something nice!
  • Treat someone else you care about – such as a parent, child or friend.  That way you will take the focus off of you and how you are feeling.

On the other hand, if you are celebrating with a special someone this Valentine’s Day, remember that they (and you) are special every day.  Chocolates, flowers and acknowledging your love for them should not be limited to one day of the year.

Let me know what you are doing to celebrate the one you should love the most–yourself.

 


Michelle Kelley BA, MSW, LCSW Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Are these signs of dating abuse?

Are these signs of dating abuse?

The following is a list of some of the more common signs of dating abuse:

  • Explosive temper
  • Constantly putting you down
  • Making false accusations
  • Severe mood swings
  • Extreme jealousy
  • Checking your cell phone or email without permission
  • Repeatedly pressuring you to have sex
  • Isolating you from family or friends
  • Telling you what to do

Answer: Yes, this is dating abuse. Also known as emotional abuse.

Dating abuse is a pattern of destructive behaviors used to exert power and control over someone. Relationships exist on a spectrum. Sometimes it can be very difficult to detect when a relationship crosses the line — to unhealthy or abusive. The above warning signs will give you an indication if your relationship is heading in the right direction. If you have any concerns, seek out a trusted adult or professional to confide in. This is NOT your fault. It is a personality pattern and the person is UNLIKELY to change, though you may see a temporary change in behavior. Time will tell.

 


Michelle Kelley BA, MSW, LCSW Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

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To say Michelle changed our lives would not be an exaggeration. She was very empathetic and non-judgmental... She didn't make our daughter feel badly... She didn't make my husband and myself feel like incompetent parents.
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