2022 Year in Review!
Happy 2023! Reflecting on the number 2023 reminds me of how my son enthusiastically shares with everyone how I was “born in the 1900s”. He makes me feel so old, but he is so funny!
As we turn the page to a new chapter - or perhaps open up a new book - we often think about jumping ahead and the changes we’d like to make to meet new goals. It’s important, however, to spend a moment to reflect on the prior year… not only to use lessons as an opportunity for growth, but also to celebrate growth and successes.
The year 2022 was a special one for me as it was the first year I got to live out the opportunity of being a full time private practice therapist and entrepreneur after taking a big personal and professional risk of leaving behind a secure 18-year career in education. Although it was fun and I appreciated the flexibility (there truly is something about creating your own schedule!), it was also scary and filled with uncertainty. As the old saying goes though, no risk, no reward.
As I sit to write this past year’s reflection, I am taking a look at 2021’s Year in Review. It’s interesting to compare the goals as they were written, and what actually came to be.
Here is my 2022 Year in Review!
Free to Be Mindful continues to focus its services for children, young adults and mothers. Being present in the practice full time allowed me to see more clients and provide more services. In 2022 I held 647 therapy sessions, in addition to holding a 6-week Summer Social Skills Group. For 2023 I am looking forward to continuing to provide high quality therapeutic services to children, young adults and mothers. There will definitely be another Social Skills Group and more to come!
Being an educator at heart, my soul is fulfilled when I share my knowledge and experiences with educators, parents and young adults. This year I had the opportunity to provide 9 professional development workshops to NJ public school districts, colleges & universities, and professional organizations. I look forward to continue to share my knowledge, experience and expertise on the following areas, which all encompass my values of Mindful Living, Mental Health and Personal Growth:
Social Emotional Learning
Strengthening Relationships with our Kids
This year the Free to Be Mindful Podcast turned 2 years old! It continues to focus on my values of Mindful Living, Mental Health and Personal Growth, with bite-sized tips all under 20 minutes. This year the podcast continued with the regular weekly episodes, in addition to the Consult a Counselor series where I answer parenting-related questions, and in the new season, once a month longer interviews were also conducted. All in all, there were 70 podcast episodes published in 2022! I look forward to scheduling the longer once a month interviews to share awesome professionals and topics with podcast listeners!
The mission of Amiga Moms is to empower 21st century mothers through a supportive network and educational events, with informative practices to become more patient and mindful moms. This year there were 9 Amiga Moms events held virtually, with the exception of an amazing in-person collaboration with Spa O located in Secaucus, NJ. Having the passion to share the mission of Amiga Moms with a much wider audience, I have brought on a partner to Amiga Moms to help with sharing the meaningful message and events. The partnership will be effective January 2023. Together we will host:
Real Talk Virtual Conversations
Monthly Mindful Meetups
Quarterly In-Person Events
An Annual Conference
A Live Retreat
Understanding the education alphabet soup of RTI, I&RS, 504s and IEPs can be an overwhelming and complicated process for parents. While the need for these services isn’t as widespread as therapy, they are important for those who need help navigating these processes. They will continue to be an offering for those who need it in 2023.
In 2021 I, alongside two other amazing women, founded a movement made specifically for black and brown communities, which provided education and a space to practice mindfulness. The movement went from small weekly practices, to more widely attended monthly practices, to a monthly subscription beginning in January 2022. While the membership community will not continue in 2023, the monthly guided practices on the first Tuesday of every month will continue, along with content being shared through YouTube videos.
Mindfulness Classes for Kids
The fall prior to the pandemic I began offering mindfulness classes for kids in my Ridgefield, NJ office. In March 2020 I pivoted to offering the classes online. A few months after that the classes were sponsored by Horizon BCBSNJ for almost two years. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to interact live with so many children. The virtual classes came to a sunset in the fall of 2022 to make space for more individual therapy sessions and other projects.
Course for Moms
At the start of 2022 I had set to publish a Mindful Parenting course. I underestimated the time I would need to not only work on the course, but to also provide the level of therapeutic services I set for myself, along with everything else. I hope to release an updated version of this course, along with a mom coaching group program in 2023!
Believe it or not, I started to write a bilingual children’s book about 5 years ago! I still have the original notebook it was written in, but have not done anything with it. If I’m being honest, I think imposter syndrome got in the way! Since then I also created the template for a second book. It is my goal to publish at least one of the two books in 2023!
We have certainly come a long way! As I proofread my writing, I have surprised myself with all that was done and won in 2022! In addition to all of the stated accomplishments, I continue to create educational content on my Instagram and YouTube channels, I was a guest on the Dancing into Parenthood Podcast, and I was on a Spanish-speaking panel televised by Univision. I was also voted in as the President Elect of the Latino Mental Health Association of New Jersey. Super exciting!
We of course can’t experience wins without experiencing slight challenges - as that is life. Free to Be Mindful had 106 canceled therapy sessions throughout the year, mostly due to illnesses which we now take more seriously after 2020. The Amiga Moms events took a slight dip this year, as I didn’t have bandwidth to manage it all on my own. I also resigned from the executive boards of two professional organizations and took a step back from my role in the Mindfulness with People of Color movement.
One thing about having so many passions is the ability to balance them all, and even more importantly, knowing when some have to be the main dish while others become the complimentary side dishes. I will say that while my plate continues to stay full, it is quite colorful, and I continue to work on keeping it all in balance.
I thank you for continuing to support me and my practice, the podcast, the YouTube channel, Amiga Moms, and so much more. I am excited for all of the things 2023 will bring, and all there is to learn and grow from these experiences!
While this blog post was a personal share, the rest of the Free to Be Mindful Counselor Blog is kept strictly educational! If you’d like to keep in touch with me, I encourage you to sign up for my weekly newsletters (signup found at the footer of my website). It is in the newsletter that I share personal stories, not found anywhere else, along with the new podcast episodes announcements, offerings, and special event announcements - in a short format only emailed once a week (because who really has the time for all that).
Again, I thank you for your endless support. I wish you a successful 2023 filled with many blessings and much peace and joy.
Vanessa De Jesus Guzman is an Educator and a Board Certified Licensed Professional Counselor who has worked with children and families for two decades. Vanessa is the owner and CEO of Free to Be Mindful - a private practice located in Ridgefield, New Jersey.
Vanessa is passionate about helping moms, kids and educators with mindful living, mental health and personal growth through efforts including:
Host of the Free to Be Mindful Podcast which provides bite-sized tips and guided meditations to anyone working with kids
Founder of Amiga Moms, a supportive network for 21st century moms offering educational events founded in mindfulness
Public Speaking and Professional Development for parents, educators and young adults on topics such as mindfulness, building healthy relationships with kids, self care, mental health and more.