We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Denise Fournier and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. Denise, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
The concept of balance wasn’t something I gave much thought to before starting my own business. I was always a major overachiever who prided myself on being busy all the time. My sense of self-worth was completely wrapped up in how productive or accomplished I was. I regularly pushed myself to the max in all areas of my life, and I felt lazy if I let myself rest. But that all changed when I got diagnosed with cancer a couple of months before opening my practice. Although I was fortunate to have a form of cancer that responded well to surgery and treatment, I was rocked by the experience. It completely blindsided me and forced me to slow down. It led me to reconsider every aspect of my life. Knowing that I was soon going to be a solo business owner, I made a conscious decision to go into that venture with a solid commitment to staying balanced. From the beginning, I created my schedule to include non-negotiable self-care time. I started to practice saying no to things I would have instinctively agreed to before. I started keeping track of my energy levels throughout the day, so that I could make mindful decisions about whether to keep pushing or whether to rest. I worked really hard to uproot and eliminate the beliefs I had about my worthiness being based on my productivity, or about hard, tireless work being the most important ingredient in the recipe for success. What I’ve come to realize through my personal process of changing my relationship with balance is that when it comes to success—in business and in life—rest, self-care, and stillness are just as important as discipline, drive, and hard work. In fact, I’ve accomplished more in the last few balance-focused years than I ever did during the time that I worshipped at the altar of busy. I’ve come to understand that balance isn’t static, it’s dynamic. It looks different every day, and it’s different for everybody. Some days, the scale tips more toward activity than rest; and that’s ok. Other days, the scale tips more toward rest than activity; and that’s ok, too. Balance, for me, means that there is time for both activity and rest, and neither can be truly meaningful or fulfilling without the other. We can’t pour from an empty cup or win the race on an empty tank. We have to take time to rest, replenish, restore, and revive our energy so that we can be who we want to be and do what we want to do.
What should our readers know about your business?
I am the sole owner and operator of my private therapy practice, Evergreen Therapy, located here in Miami, which I started in 2015. Though I have a traditional mental health background, I’ve spent the last several years interweaving my professional knowledge and experience with ancient philosophies and indigenous traditions, in order to help the work I do with clients become a meaningful existential exploration. What I believe sets me apart from other therapists is my emphasis on the principles of mindfulness, clarity, and integrity. My goal is to support people in developing a deeper connection to themselves and a richer experience of their lives, so that they can move through the world with the clarity and confidence that the medicine and guidance they need to manage life’s challenges exists inside themselves. Perhaps another thing that sets me apart from other people who do the work I do is the transparency and authenticity I bring to the process. Although I bring certain experience and expertise to the table, I never lose sight of the fact that I am having a human experience just like everyone I get the privilege of working with in therapy or coaching. I bring an open mind and an open heart to every encounter, and I stay intentional about never losing sight of my humility or curiosity. My journey through life hasn’t been easy, and my professional journey has certainly had its challenges. Around the time that I was starting my practice, I experienced multiple personal tragedies at the same time, and there were moments when I feared I wouldn’t be able to reach my goals. But I stayed connected to the vision of what I was committed to creating, and I sought support from the trusted people in my life, so that they could help me hold on to hope whenever I felt it slipping. I’ve learned a lot of lessons every step of the way. Many of them are the themes and topics I write about in my blog on Psychology Today called Mindfully Present, Fully Alive: Simple Approaches to Life’s Complexities. These lessons I’ve learned have become integrated into my personal philosophy, and I’m hopeful they come across in my work as a therapist, too. The biggest thing I want people to know about my business is that, contrary to once-popular belief, therapy isn’t for the crazy, the sick, the weak, or the defective. Therapy is for anyone who wants to know themselves better, feel more at peace, live more fully, connect with others more deeply, accomplish goals more effectively, and experience life more meaningfully. In short, therapy is for everyone. It’s an extraordinary gift we can give ourselves.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Great question! I’ve lived in Miami for most of my life, and I’m still constantly discovering new places and gems throughout the city. I’d say that no visit to Miami is complete without a drive down our gorgeous causeways and some time at the beach (my favorite spot is anywhere between 64th and 79th). In a weeklong visit, I’d also include a picnic at South Point Park, an early morning bike ride through Wynwood, a jog through the Design District, a trip to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, a ride down to Homestead for Mexican food and a shake at Robert is Here, a stroll through Calle Ocho, and lots of visits to the many, many exceptional restaurants that call Miami home. Any friend who’s staying at my place will be drinking lots of coffee from Vice City Bean and eating many meals from Love Life Cafe and Pura Vida. But there will definitely be some pizza from Mister 01, some Indian food from Bombay Darbar, and some Kush burgers (veggie for me!) in the mix as well.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to the Wild Women in my life—the tribe of powerful, intentional, grounded, gracious, raw, and authentic women who inspire me daily, and who remind me to stand firm, stand tall, speak up, and stay open. Some of these Wild Women include Carrie and Vivi, owners of Agni Miami, an incredible yoga studio in the Morningside neighborhood; Tatiana Meira, the director of daylife and nightlife at the 1 Hotel, who’s recently premiered a gorgeous, high-vibing beach club on the sand; and April Klimkiewicz, a fantastic career coach whom you can find at blissevolution.com.