Invest in Yourself: Lessons from Karen Horneffer-Ginter, PhD

Ever since I found the "50 Ways to Take a Break" Poster (see it below), I had to connect with its creator and say thank you! The poster is such a beautiful depiction of how we can incorporate breaks into our lives.  I have it posted on my fridge and use it as a resource for my clients. I'm excited that today, the creator of the poster, Karen Horneffer-Ginter is “Speaking From the Heart” and sharing her experiences with all of us.

Karen Horneffer-Ginter, Ph.D. is the author of “Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit: Nourishing the Soul When Life’s Just Too Much” (Hay House).  She has been practicing psychology and teaching yoga and contemplative practices for more than 16 years. Karen co-founded the Center for Psychotherapy and Wellness in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where she currently offers counseling and other classes and workshops. The aim of Karen's work is to reconnect people with the wisdom of their inner-life by reclaiming what gets lost amidst the busyness of day-to-day life: qualities such as stillness, self-care, creativity, joy, humor, gratitude, and compassion. Her intention is to support people in finding a sense of balance and sacredness in their lives. Her interests in this topic are based on an intersection of her professional and personal life, as a working mother of two children who knows, lives, and attempts to thrive within the busyness of daily life. Read her interview below.

(c) Karen Horneffer-Ginter
(c) Karen Horneffer-Ginter

Why do you believe self-expression (speaking from the heart) is important?

I think that as we practice becoming more and more true and complete in our ways of expressing ourselves, we come to realize who we are more fully in the process. This might seem strange to say, but sometimes I think we can’t fully recognize what we have to express until we actually express it.

How has writing empowered you in other areas of your life?

Probably the most significant way is that it has allowed me to speak about ideas that are very important to me because by writing a book, opportunities have arrived to talk about the book’s themes with others. I’ve also noticed that writing has ignited my sense of creativity in other ways as well, and has deepened my appreciation for the creative expressions of others.


How did you find your authentic voice through writing?

I find that I gain clarity and perspective by writing, which in many ways is how my book, “Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit” came about. When my children were younger and I’d have an overwhelming day (followed by some time to journal), I would write out a narrative about my experience, and then in reading it over, a sense of lightness would emerge. The writing allowed me to find a different way to hold these experiences, and as a result, to feel like I could share them with others in a more truthful and complete way.

How did you develop the courage to stand tall (i.e., get the courage to share your writing)?

I’m not sure that I really did.  A part of me felt ready to put myself out there, but as I was sharing my writing, other parts of me were literally shaking. I don’t know that we always feel fully ready to share ourselves with the world, but if we feel such a pull and decide to take that risk, I think the best we can do is to be compassionate with the parts of us that are wondering what in the world we’re doing!!

When you have a hard time writing, what do you do to work through it?

It helps me to be willing to write “really badly” – at least getting the ideas down, and then knowing I can come back and rework them. Sometimes I’ll decide to take a break and come back to writing when I’m in a better space, or I’ll switch up my surroundings by moving to a different room, typing on my iPad as opposed to my computer, or even writing with colored pencils in a more pictorial way.

(c) Karen Horneffer-Ginter
(c) Karen Horneffer-Ginter

How did you find your support group?

Along the way I’ve participated in writing classes and groups, but most of my support has been from my dear friends and family who aren’t writers, but who have been able to hold space for me and listen and support my process!

Any advice for new writers/authors?

I think the best advice I’d have is to attempt, over and over again, to find ways to have your writing life connect you more deeply with the center and source of who you are and not pull you away from this. Writing, inheritably, has the potential to bring us more deeply into who we are, but I’ve found that a lot of the activity around trying to get published and getting our work out into the world can be a bit crazy-making and pull us out of balance. It’s good to have ways of sensing when this is happening, and practices—such as meditation, yoga, and soulful conversation with others—to help us come back home to ourselves.

Thanks for speaking from your heart and empowering others around the world, Karen! Keep up the fantastic work! If you have any specific questions for Karen about her writing process, please feel free to ask :)

Why do you think it is important to take breaks in our daily lives? When was the last time you took a break that really nourished your soul.  Tell me about it.

Thank you for reading and your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below.

See you at the beach!