Story #4 To All of My Previous Clients

Due to HIPAA laws, I am not able to contact any of my previous clients from previously agencies for reasons related to psychotherapy.  If I did, it would be like I was taking information from one agency to another without your consent.  Additionally, I do not have access to any of my previous clients contact information as that would also be a violation of HIPAA.  This is why I have not reached out to you. I have been thinking of each and every one of you.  I have been concerned about your feelings of abandonment and about your mental health. I have been hopeful that all is well.  Please know you can contact me anytime at Storybook Wellness. I am here to answer questions, provide support, closure, referrals to other therapists, or to get you, your family, or your child started back in therapy again at Storybook Wellness.  At Storybook Wellness, all the decisions made about my clients and my practice are my own and I am confident my decisions will be made with your best interests in mind.

“It is our choices….that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” J.K. Rowling

If it feels good to you, please comment and share one of your experiences with a decision that was out of your control or your thoughts on this post.

Love to All


Story #3 FFTs

In the middle of July I took a quick road trip by myself to visit my mom for my birthday.  My favorite thing about solo road trips is that they allow me the time to catch up on podcasts or books that I can listen to as I drive.  I was excited to listen to Brené Brown’s first episode of her podcast Unlocking Us ( ). Brené is a highly respected researcher and speaker on the topics of vulnerability and shame.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to check out any of her work, I highly recommend her ( ).  Anyway, Brené’s first podcast entitled “Brené on FFTs” really hit home with me.  So what are FFTs?  Well, to use the censored version, FFTs stands for “Effing” first times– but personally it hits home better with me when I use the expletive.  You decide.  Or, if we are talking to or teaching our children about FFTs we can call them TFTs, terrible first times.  Listening to this podcast was perfect timing for me as I was about to venture out on my own with Storybook Wellness.  There are so many FFT’s for me everyday here at Storybook.  Receptionist? FFT, Insurance billing? FFT,  Owning a business? FFT… and the list goes on and on.  Actually, the only two things that aren’t FFTs, are providing therapy and teaching yoga.  Not to mention that I launched into all of this in the middle of what Brené calls the “collective FFT” of the global C-19 pandemic as well as the new learning and growing many of us are doing as we expand our understanding of what racism is and what we all hold inside. New is exciting, but it is also scary and hard.  The good news is that we are in this together.  When we allow ourselves to step-out of our comfort zones and try new things, that is where growth happens.  

Here is what Brené shared about how to “embrace the suck of new:”

1. Name the FFT.

Brené explains that naming and owning tough things gives us power over what is going on. Just the act of identifying, naming, and acknowledging the FFT gives us the space to better effect change and achieve purpose. It is important not only to name the FFT for ourselves, but also for our partners, colleagues, teammates, and/or children. 

2. Normalize the FFT.

Allowing ourselves to feel the feelings of being awkward, afraid, stressed, scared, excited… all of the feelings that come along with something new are perfectly normal feelings!  Brené suggests that we remind ourselves “This is uncomfortable because brave is uncomfortable.”  As much as we want to fast forward through those feelings of discomfort we know we cannot.  We, instead, need to acknowledge and normalize those feelings as we gain skills to cope with the distress and discomfort as we press on, rather than avoid the FFTs.

3. Put the FFT in Perspective.

Putting our FFTs in perspective allows us to recognize that the current feelings we are

having are not permanent.  As hard as FFTs are, they do not stay FFTs forever.  Reminding ourselves that we don’t struggle with everything, that we are just in an FFT in regard to one (or two) specific thing(s).  Not everything is hard/new, but this is, and it will pass.  It will get easier if we stick with it.  Brené suggests reminding ourselves something like; “In 5 weeks, 5 months, 5 years from now we will be able to look back on this FFT and say remember when that was so hard?” and “these are the things we did well and these are the things we would do differently now, knowing what we know.”

4. Reality check expectations around the FFT. 

This is one that I have found to be the most helpful.  Brené explains that we as humans are classic for setting expectations too high and then setting ourselves up for shame spirals and disappointment.  When we are full of shame and disappointed we are less likely to try again.  As much as we want to be perfect.   WE ARE NOT.  We will make mistakes and we will not be the best at things when they are FFT’s.  It is amazing how things change when we give ourselves (and others) grace around that.  We will make mistakes and learn from them.  That is where the growth is.  The growth is in the skill building, gaining perspective, knowing what works for us and what doesn’t.  It takes time, vulnerability, courage, and grace to move through it to the other side.  It is important that we reality check expectations with everyone who is involved in our FFT.  Brené also tells us that it is important to put these things out there so that everyone can start on the same page.  Brené suggests that a “universal reality check” for FFTs is “This is a heavier lift than what we thought or expected.”  That heavier lift could be emotional, financial, time, physical effort, or a combination of many things.  

“If the definition of vulnerability is uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.  Then being new is the epitome of vulnerability.”


We have had a wonderful first week here at Storybook Wellness full of FFTs, vulnerability, and new learning.  Thank you all for sharing it with us.   If it feels good to you, please comment and share one of your current FFTs or your thoughts on this post.

Love to All




big day today!

"big day today"
is what my dad would say

Hello I am Dr. Rene Mooney, the owner of Storybook Wellness. Thank you for joining me in my storytelling. I will share many stories here. Stories of resilience, hope, laughter, heartbreak, mis-steps, wellness, and loss. I will share words rich with experiences and metaphors. I will share information and research. I will be real, true, and vulnerable. These stories will not be made up of one particular thing. They cannot be. I am not one thing, and neither is Storybook Wellness.

“Big Day Today” is what my dad would say over and over as he was flashing the lights on and off EVERY DAY as he woke me up when I was a teenager. You can imagine my annoyance as I would grumble and pull the covers over my head. Now that saying “Big Day Today” permeates me, my siblings, and our children’s lives in so many ways. “Big Day Today” has officially reached the Epic Dadism Status –forever ingrained in our family for generations to come. Thanks Dad and Congratulations.

Big Day Today was my dad’s message to his children as they started their ordinary day because he didn’t want us to treat any day as ordinary. He wanted us to walk out into the world everyday with purpose and intention. He wanted us to be true to ourselves and others and to work hard. I also think that he enjoyed annoying us a little bit but maybe that’s just me. Anyway it worked. As an adult I often wake up and say to myself or my husband, “big day today.” It centers and grounds me and, of course, I also say it to my children (maybe even with some flashing lights now and then).

But let’s face it. Some days ARE bigger than others. Today is one of those days!! Today, Storybook Wellness opens to serve clients here in Thief River Falls. I am so excited to share all the hard work we have put into creating beautiful and healing spaces here at the Center and serving our community by forging paths of wellness together.

Everyday is a big day. Grasp it, honor it, make it matter.


Thank you all for reading. If it feels good to you, please comment and share one of your favorite Dadisms or your thoughts on this post.

love to all




i am dr. rene mooney

The owner of Storybook Wellness. Thank you for joining me in my storytelling. I will share many stories here. Stories of resilience, hope, laughter, heartbreak, mis-steps, wellness, and loss. I will share words rich with experiences and metaphors. I will share information and research. I will be real, true, and vulnerable. These stories will not be made up of one particular thing. They cannot be. I am not one thing, and neither is Storybook Wellness.

When I was thinking about what to say in this first story, resilience kept coming to my mind. Storybook Wellness has emerged out of a story of resilience. Let’s face it, 2020 has been dreadful. It has been dreadful for me for reasons in addition to the obvious ones. In January 2020 I left my job of just over 11 years. I didn’t leave because of conflict or big feelings, I just needed to launch and grow and I thought I had found the right place to land and start my next chapter. I was wrong. I don’t like being wrong. I’m terrible at it. But I was and so, I had to stand up, brush myself off and launch again. This time into the unknown. That is scary as hell. I had to stop and look around me and make new choices. I chose Storybook Wellness. Fate is funny that way sometimes. Just when you think you’ve landed on solid ground, you need to leap again, and have faith that you can land and leap and land and leap until you find your footing and can stand strong.

I have always been fascinated by resilience. To me it is like armor, protecting us so our hurts don’t destroy us. As a psychologist, I’ve wanted to know what factors contributed to resilience so I could help my clients build their resiliency. As a parent, I also want to do what I can to help my children grow to be resilient adults. I have been amazed by human resilience as we have traveled down the rapids of racism, injustice, and C-19. We don’t give up. To me that is the beauty of the thing really. That despite all of this pain and suffering we press on and even rise up and fight back. Like the Phoenix rising from the ashes renewed and beautiful, we are ready to face another day.

But some of us do it with more success than others. So what is the magic recipe for resilience? The American Psychological Association notes that one key factor in building resilience is building our connections with others. Humans need connection to be healthy and whole. When we face adversity, we are more resilient if we have strong relationships with others with whom we can share our stories and from whom we can receive support. Sometimes when we are faced with trauma or hardship we isolate ourselves. This isolation does not foster resiliency. This is especially difficult during times of social distancing. It is important for us to find our support systems and reach out to them when in need. Strong family relationships are especially important when building resilience in children. Children who feel loved, supported, listened to, and believed by their parents cope much much better with trauma or adversity than children who do not. Children who have strong sibling relationships also have greater resilience. Family relationships are the foundation of resiliency throughout the lifespan.

We can also build resiliency by taking care of ourselves. By making choices to promote wellness in our lives. Things like getting good sleep, eating healthy food, exercise, or staying away from self-medicating with drugs/alcohol. Modeling and implementing a healthy lifestyle for our children and our families will also build their resiliency. We can make these changes one choice at a time, one day at a time, and give ourselves grace when we slip up.

Practicing mindfulness is another way to build resiliency. What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is intentional, focused, attention. We can practice mindfulness in many ways. Lately, when I feel overwhelmed, I have taken a moment to sit and close my eyes, and repeat- “Everything is OK right now, everyone you love is alive and is safe. Right now, in this moment, everything is OK.” This mantra has helped me so much in the past couple of months. Mindfulness is a big part of the work I do with both psychotherapy and yoga clients here at Storybook Wellness.

Another important part of Resilience is finding purpose. When we have purpose we are better able to put one foot in front of the other–especially on days where we feel we cannot take another step. Purpose drives us forward.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Viktor E. Frankl

When we embrace that change and find purpose and meaning in it, we are the epitome of resilience, we tear ourselves out of the darkness and grow toward the light. I am blessed to have found my purpose in Storybook Wellness.

I have been raised with the privilege of having parents who always believed me and who allowed me to speak my truths. My mom is one of the strongest and most resilient women I know. I am the oldest of five children and am connected with each of my four siblings in different and special ways. My Grandmother is one of the greatest loves of my life and is always there for me. l have an incredibly loving and supportive husband and four great kids. I have a father-in-law with a heart of gold. My friends and family have supported me throughout this journey. Thank you Mom, Dad, Grandma, Sheila, Paul, Carl, Hillary, Keith, Morgan, Joe, Jenn, Olivia, Odin, Ophelia, and Olver for all your love, understanding, and support in 2020 and beyond. I am eternally grateful and love you all so much.

Thank you all for reading. If it feels good to you, please comment below on what you plan to do this week to build you/your family’s resiliency or any other thoughts/comments on this post.

love to all



Frankl, V.E. (1984). Man’s search for meaning: An introduction to logotherapy. New York:
Simon & Schuster.


when we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

-viktor e. frankl