more on my story & future vision for this blog

Our band "Blood & Sand" performing at our wedding on 7/26. New husband is the drummer!

Note: The photo above doesn't *directly* relate to my post below, but it does show a bit of my personality, and also fits with the theme of Things I've Always Wanted to Do and Am Finally Doing...!

I'm taking my very first e-course right now, Bright-Eyed & Blog-Hearted, from the wildly inspirational Rachel MacDonald of In Spaces Between. As part of the coursework, I've just done a lot of soul-searching about my vision for this website and how I can communicate that via my About page. A perfect assignment for me, since I had been procrastinating writing an About page since I started Waking Up in Wonder!

As I worked through the various questions and prompts and started writing, I determined that all of what I'd written was important, but it was too much for the About page itself. So, this post will live on as an extended introduction to this blog, my mission and philosophy, and my personal journey to this point.

This is a very exciting time for me, as I'm in the process of investing significant time, heart, energy, and dollars into making this the blog and website I envision. My time is here, and I hope you join me in it!

live in light,



I am a therapist, singer, and writer based in Nashville, Tennessee. (Let’s be honest, though—  once a Texan, always a Texan.)

I'm a glitter-loving, tree-hugging fairy-person who’s fueled by movement, fresh air, music, delicious food, laughter, and the love woven throughout the interconnected web of life.

From where I sit today (in a big cozy chair lined with a family heirloom butterfly quilt), I am beyond inspired by the ongoing evolution and expansion of my desire for living my best possible life— physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

The purpose of Waking Up in Wonder is to share that energy with you, my lovely readers, and to help you tap into the passion that’s already inside you.

I know firsthand that we too often forget the brightness of our own light, especially when it gets covered under layer upon layer of self-loathing, comparison, procrastination, and other forms of dis-ease — over-thinking, over-drinking, mindless eating, retail therapy, relationship-hopping, anyone?

I certainly wasn’t always this optimistic about life. The six years I spent enslaved to an eating disorder were an emotional hell, and losing two family members to suicide was both heartbreaking and a call to action in both my personal and professional life. I’ve gone through phases I’m not so proud of, and to say that I have no regrets would be BS. But I am incredibly grateful that the windy path I have taken to this point in my life has landed me here, at this place, heart overflowing.

When I started therapy as a teenager, the light started to come in through the cracks, just a little bit. But it wasn’t until I hit a deeper bottom in my eating disorder and my Mom put me on a plane to a Geneen Roth workshop that something clicked:

Oh, this body here? Turns out it is not the enemy after all.

It is precious and it is my ally, regardless of its current aesthetic. 

And that monster that once compelled me to starve myself and now compels me to eat into oblivion? It, too is not my enemy, and it needs to be loved. What a relief it was to no longer hate even the dark, self-sabotaging parts of me.

All parts of ourselves are sacred.

Even your most insane behaviors (the self-destructive ones that are just a band-aid and leave you feeling like crap afterwards) are just a part of you trying to get your needs met. So, let’s figure out what those needs are and lovingly tell that part, “Ah, I hear ya— but I can take it from here.”

Once I had my life back, I (somehow, thanks to the Gods of Miserable Overachieving) had a degree in communications and some PR internships under my belt, so I went to work at a boutique PR and marketing firm for 3 years before deciding that, while I was pretty good at marketing and I loved my coworkers, I needed to somehow be able to help other people (especially women) experience what I had:


So I went to graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin, where I graduated with my Masters of Science in Social Work and now hold an LMSW certification (just wrapping up my clinical hours for LCSW certification). I have a pretty badass job as a primary therapist at a residential treatment center (think eating disorders, addiction, trauma, and other mental health issues) set on a gorgeous, bucolic 2,000 acre ranch.

And now, I've got not only the wisdom from my own healing experience, but also the experience of the hundreds of brave women I've worked with in the past few years. At the risk of sounding cliché, I learn just as much from them (probably more) as they do from me.

I believe in embracing the messiness, the fear, the inevitable grief and loneliness of life.

Fighting their existence, or believing that you can just try harder and you won’t have any problems — is ultimately one of the greatest causes of human suffering. And even worse, it zaps all the energy you could put toward creating more joy in your life!

So that’s what Waking Up in Wonder is all about: two parts inspiration, one part entertainment (i.e. my occasional sparks of whimsy or goofiness that are destined to show up here). Wellness, spirituality, emotional and mental health, recovery. Whispers to remind you of our connection to each other and the wider world.

Tangible strategies and ideas to help you climb out from under your fear and excuses and live a life that lights you up.

Welcome, and Namaste.

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Valerie Martin

Valerie Martin, LMSW, is a Primary Therapist at The Ranch residential treatment center, where she works with eating disorders, addiction, trauma, and co-occurring mental health issues. Valerie focuses on a holistic treatment approach of mind + body integration, using Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), somatic and bioenergetic therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), psychodrama, 12-step, and shame resilience. She is also a Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist (CSAT) Candidate. Valerie received her Bachelor of Science degree in Communications and Master of Science degree in Clinical Social Work at the University of Texas in Austin. She is an active member of the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Nashville, and emphasizes spiritual exploration in her work with clients.