Self-Care for Creatives with Lillian Dokken | the nashville self-care series

the nashville self-care series | Lillian Dokken

The Nashville Self-Care Series will show how real women practice holistic self-care. Often times you can forget all of the ways you are already taking care of yourself or you may need some new ideas to create your own self-care plan. This series hopes to give you insight into the variety of ways women in Nashville take care of themselves. 

This week's self-care dialogue is with Lillian Dokken, the founder and accessory designer of Lilli Dokken. She is a passionate creative that is bringing beauty into the world. Her thoughts about balancing self-care and a small business are honest and refreshing.  

Lillian Dokken | Self-Care for Creatives | the nashville self-care series

What does a typical workday look like for you?
My workdays are never really consistent… A schedule is one thing I am hoping to do better this year. I typically get up (as of January), do a devotional and write in a prayer journal, and then move to my studio where I check my emails and take on whatever task is at hand that day. This varies based on what is going on. It could be designing, setting stones, filling client or wholesale orders, doing a custom order, water-coloring a commissioned Birthday invitation – haha. It really is whatever is “most important” at that moment.

How have self-care practices impacted your life and work?
I honestly feel like my self-care practices keep me “human.” They keep me sane. If not, I think I’d be a full-blown (burnt out) workaholic:

Exercising: I don’t always want to do it and don’t always do it, but I can tell a huge difference in my energy and mood when I do vs. when I don’t. It gives me mental clarity and often makes me feel more creative. Also, if I’m doing it outside, it makes me aware of God, gets me out of my head, and allows me to focus on Him.

Seeing a therapist: Going to talk to someone every few weeks is so helpful. I am always able to work through any issues I may be having with relationships, myself, or my business. Getting another perspective on things is just so healthy for me. It’s also a scheduled way for me to “leave work” and get out of the house.

Reading / listening to books and podcasts (on my personality type, self-help, or entrepreneurial things): Reading or listening to these things make me more self aware, which helps me grow as a human. For example, reading about my Enneagram type (4 with a 3 wing) allows me to better understand myself. I am more conscious of how I think, feel, and act (or react) now that I know my type. I’m able to try to improve / be aware of any unhealthy things I do. It also helps me give myself a little bit more grace.  

Reading a devotional and keeping a prayer journal: I’ve noticed that doing this in the morning sets my mind in a new perspective before I start my workday.

Eating (mostly) healthy: When I start to eat poorly, I can tell. It often effects my mood, breaks my face out, and makes my confidence go down, so I try to stick to a fairly “healthy” diet.

Hanging out with my husband, family, and friends: I’m on the line of extrovert / introvert, but I lean more towards an introvert. My husband, however, is very extrovert.  Since I work from home, it is VERY healthy for me to interact with people regularly outside of work. If I didn’t have him, I honestly would be very bad at this. Thankfully, he holds me accountable to spending time with others. He gets a healthier and happier wife when we plan time with friends, each other, or family.

Church / small group: Same as above. It holds me accountable to seeing friends, meeting new people, but also growing in my relationship with God.

Taking on something creative - that doesn’t feel like work: Allowing myself to take on something creative that doesn’t feel like work helps me from getting burnt out on my creativity.

Meetings with my brother-in-law: These meetings are for my business. I’ve learned I work better with accountability. He helps me come up with business goals and the next steps to reach them. He has been so helpful in holding me accountable to these things. I honestly don’t think I would be where I am today had he not stepped in and helped push me forward.

Asking for help when I need itWhether it’s asking someone to help me with my business or asking someone to help me clean our house – I’ve learned that asking for help takes a weight off of me.

Keeping my house clean: I can’t stand a mess. If I’m stressed, a messy house literally makes me go nuts. So loving myself by cleaning the house fairly often is key for me.

Literal self-care: This sounds silly, but working from home makes it easy for me to wake up and be in “go mode”. There have been days where I will stay in my comfy clothes, forget to eat, brush my teeth, or wash my face because, for whatever reason, I immediately got up and went into working mode. I tend to wake up with my mind set on getting something accomplished (hello Enneagram 3 wing), and can easily get going. Before I know it, my husband is home from work and I haven’t done the first thing to take care of myself. I’ve found (OBVIOUSLY) that I feel better on the days I actually take the time to get ready and feed myself properly. I’ve also found that taking the time to read a devotional and pray in the morning forces me to set my day differently and not start working as soon as my feet hit the ground.

What are some obstacles in this season of life that make self-care a challenge?
As stated above, working from home can be an obstacle. I tend to not properly take care of myself – or become too invested in working because it is in my home and so easy to do (at any hour I want). This has also made it challenging to hang out with others because I’ve:
A) Made myself too tired by overworking.
B) I didn’t take care of myself that day.
C) I feel I need to work more. (The line of when to stop working is blurry because as a one-woman show, there is A LOT to do in order to keep the business running.)

Are there any practices of self-care that you are implementing in 2018? Why?
Not to repeat myself, but I’m trying to create a loose “schedule.” My first step for this is reading a devotional every morning and doing a prayer journal. This is putting me in God’s presence before I go into my workday. So far, it seems to set my mind in a better place and start my day out on the right foot. I am currently reading New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp and using Kristen Ley’s Thimblepress Prayer Partner to hold me accountable.

·How does your industry/field practice or promote self-care?
I don’t know if I have seen it specifically in the jewelry industry, but I think there are a ton of other great small businesses in various industries that can shed a positive light on self-care. I typically find this in the social media world or listening to podcasts when other entrepreneurs are just vulnerable about the TRUE ups and downs that small business holds and talk about how they handle it. I also find it with other friends that have a small business.

A few good hashtags to look at for some posts that lead to vulnerable business owners: #thedarlingmovement #communityovercompetition #therisingtidesociety. The rising tide society is newer to me, but they focus on bringing entrepreneurs together and creating community locally.

How would your industry/field look different if self-care was a core value?
I think that it would be such a relief to see that other companies HAVE to take the time to have self-care. I think It would show a healthy/realistic view that running a business isn’t only the beautiful things you show on social media.

Are there any books/movies/songs that are currently life-giving for you?

A Little More about Lillian: 

I’m Lillian Dokken – founder and designer of Lilli Dokken. Adorning others is a part of my being. I have always had a zeal for creating. It was my love for tactile things and adornment that led me to my college, Savannah College of Art and Design, where I discovered my passion for designing. After graduating with a B.F.A. in Jewelry and Objects, I designed accessories for Lilly Pulitzer, until I took a leap of faith and decided to start Lilli Dokken.

Growing up with a mother as an interior designer has been a huge influence on my process. It was her love for vintage objects that made me see the value in things from our past. I knew from the start that I wanted to incorporate vintage components in my work as much as possible. When jewelry holds a piece of history, it distinguishes itself and the individual wearing it. Sourcing these materials is almost too fun - I feel like I am digging for treasures. I use a combination of materials that vary between new and old glass stones, foiled and unfoiled Czech & German stones, as well as Swarovski stones with a base metal of plated brass. 

I strive to keep the jewelry process as local as possible. All Lilli Dokken products are assembled by hand here in the USA. I have high standards for my line and check each piece personally before it is shipped off to its new home.

Follow Lillian on Facebook and Instagram

If you are in Nashville and are ready to check in with a professional to create a self-care plan, contact Jessica at to schedule a 15-minute phone consultation. If you are looking for more self-care ideas, then be sure to check back next week for more of the Nashville Self-Care series. 


Five Free Mindfulness Practices to Build Self-Compassion

Five Free Mindfulness Practices to Build Self-Compassion | Nashville Counseling

"I need more coping skills to handle _________." This sentence is the one I hear most often when potential clients call my office. Almost every woman I speak with fills in that blank differently. However, the coping skills I offer to them often look the same because some skills are relevant to a variety of difficult life situations. One of the skills I often offer to clients is Mindful Self-Compassion.

Mindfulness not only makes it possible to survey our internal landscape with compassion and curiosity but can also actively steer us in the right direction for self-care. Bessel van der kolk

This skill is a specific type of mindfulness. If you are unfamiliar with this word, then here is a definition: Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to what is happening around you and within you. It is a proven coping skill to effectively help with stress relief, improve quality of life, become less emotionally reactive, and increase relationship satisfaction. 

If you are looking for a way to get started trying out this practice, then I recommend the FREE Insight Timer app. It offers a variety of guided mindfulness meditations. Did I mention it’s free? 

One of the most popular kinds of mindfulness with researchers and clinicians is Mindful Self-Compassion. Kristin Neff, a self-compassion researcher and author, explains that many people confuse this practice with self-pity, self-indulgence, or self-esteem. These understandings all miss the point. A better definition of Mindful Self-Compassion is: treating yourselves with kindness during moments of difficulty or suffering. I often recommend this practice to clients because it can increase life satisfaction, as well as decreased depression, anxiety and stress

If you are looking for a way to get started with this type of mindfulness practice, then here are a few of my favorite self-compassion meditations that can help you using the Insight Timer App….

Lisa Abramson - Five Minutes of Self-Compassion - 04:15
Kristin Neff - Self-Compassion Break - 05:20
Sharon Salzberg Lovingkindness Meditation · 15:04
Kristin Neff - Working With Emotions in the Body: Soften, Soothe, Allow - 16:01
Kristin Neff - Compassionate Body Scan - 23:55

Any mindful practice you begin to implement will feel new and different. But stay with it and see where it takes you. What I have found with my clients is mindfulness exercises are a great in giving you a new way to handle your "_________."

If you are in Nashville and need more support with handing your "_________" then contact Jessica for a free fifteen-minute phone consultation. 

How to Find The Right Fit with Nashville Therapist or Counselor

Last week I covered four ways to find a therapist, counselor, or life coach in Nashville. This week I want to help you discern which of these helping professionals will best be able to support you in your journey towards health.

There are two reasons why you should take time to reflect on this relationship. First, a good connection between the counselor and client is a proven predictor of good therapy outcomes. When you trust your therapist and feel comfortable with him or her then you are more likely to move towards your goals. This therapeutic alliance is a strong indicator of the potential success of your journey. You should not make this decision without giving it some thought and attention.

In addition, if you find yourself with a therapist or counselor that is not a good fit, then you are more likely to become discouraged and possibly quit therapy altogether.  The process of researching counselors, scheduling an appointment, and being vulnerable with a stranger is a brave and emotionally taxing experience. If you don't connect with the therapist in the first 50 minutes of a session then you may not want to work up the courage to try again with them or anyone else.

To help you in this discernment process I reached out to a handful of trusted Nashville counselors, social workers, and pre-licensed professionals for their wisdom. I asked them to share their perspective on how to know if you have a good therapeutic alliance. Here is what they had to say: 

"I'd say one of the biggest signs you've found the right fit is if you leave therapy each time feeling BOTH accepted/supported AND challenged. These are not mutually exclusive! It's also a great sign if, after a few sessions, you think "wow, I can't believe he/she just gets me so well after only knowing me for such a short period of time". - Jonathan Durham 

“One of the most helpful parts of therapy is the therapist/client relationship. You can usually tell when you have found a good therapist if you feel safe enough to open up. A good therapist also knows how to ask questions that encourage you to go deeper and help look at problems from a different angle. A lot of therapists offer free phone consultations which can be a great way to get a better feel for a potential therapist.” - Andrew Smith

"Investing in therapy is really investing in yourself, so it's important to find a therapist who you feel comfortable with. Since you will be sharing personal information with this person, think about the type of person you typically connect with and the qualities you look for in a friend. This will help you to narrow down what you're looking for. Pay attention to the qualities of the people you trust who challenge you and push you to be your best self, as these are qualities you likely want to look for in a therapist. Ultimately, once you meet a potential therapist, you will be able to feel whether it's a good match or not. If it's not, keep looking, you'll find someone!" - Maggie Hope

"Do they have something to offer you? Do you feel hopeful about the work you can do with this therapist?  To address this, you might ask questions about their modalities, training, experience, etc.  Finding a good therapist is about more than just “connecting” with someone.  I’ve personally done great work (as a client and a therapist) with people that I didn’t feel all warm and fuzzy with. I also think it’s important to find someone that is open and inviting of feedback around progress/how you’re experiencing the therapeutic relationship.  Make sure that you feel like you can honestly express how therapy is going so that you can get the most out of your experience.  Therapists should be proactive about making sure treatment is working: are we meeting your goals?  Are you getting better?  How is this working?  How are you experiencing me?  What is most and least helpful about our work together?  And you should feel safe enough to answer these questions honestly. Lastly, don’t stay with a therapist that isn’t a good fit!  Don’t give up too soon, but don’t stay in a therapeutic relationship that isn’t helping you meet your goals, grow, heal, change. " - Elizabeth Nunley 

"The relationship is primary, so it needs to be someone you feel comfortable with. The approach/technique is secondary. If you don't feel comfortable then nothing they do will be likely to help. If you get 2-3 (or more) sessions in and feel that it's just not going anywhere, then it's time to find a different therapist. Don't give up on therapy just because the first person you work with doesn't work out. The majority of therapist will absolutely understand this (and are probably aware that things aren't progressing too) and will even help you with a referral if you want."  - Jay Tift

"There are a few things that I have seen work in helping clients find the right therapeutic fit for them. First, its about a mutual invested relationship. Both individuals (client & therapist) will collaborate in therapy together. In this process it is important to feel seen, validated and heard as therapy continues. Second, feeling a level of safety is key. One must be able to trust in order to share the deepest parts of oneself. Third, they are growing. Change is actually happening. It may not look like they though but it is happening.  In closing, its a brave move to pursue counseling. At times it feels uncomfortable, silly and scary to seek out a professional to sort through life challenges. Once you feel heard, seen, safe and see growth I believe you have found the right fit. Go for it. Your heart will thank you." - Meg Kandros

Hopefully one of these pieces of perspective can help you in discerning if your therapist is a good fit for you. Remember, if you do not connect well with your counselor it is okay to give it some time to see if the alliance grows over a few sessions. If you do not feel like the connection is improving, then it is okay to ask your therapist to refer you to a colleague that is a better fit for you. You deserve a therapist that is a good fit for you.

Each of the clinicians quoted above practice in Nashville and might be a great fit to help you meet your goals. If you have checked out my website and think that I might be a good fit for your journey towards health, then feel free to contact me at