See that beautiful lady up there?  Her name is Heather Carlson.  Long (and I mean LONG) before she was a Harmonie House Images client, she was my friend.  In fact, she’s been my ride-or-die since 1994. We were immediate friends from the first day we met as freshmen at Ole Miss.  I was thrilled when my husband and I moved to Charlotte in 2005 because she already lived here. Six years ago she and her family started a new adventure and moved to Boulder, CO.  They were thrilled, but it broke my heart. She has begged me to come visit them for 6 yrs now and, until last September, I had not done so because I hate to (*cough cough* am terrified to) fly.  So, I’ve only seen her when she made her way back east…but we’ll come back to that in a minute.

I’m going to brag on her for bit.  She graduated from Ole Miss with a degree in International Business.  She worked successfully in sales for 7-8 yrs before stepping away to be a full-time mom while her kids were little.  Once the kiddos were old enough that they were in school full time she decided it was time for Phase 2 of her career.  She discovered that she had a passion for the field of psychology and counseling and earned her Master Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.  Upon graduation from Regis University she opened her own counseling business – Corner House Family and Relationship Therapy – in Boulder, CO. 

Sometime in 2015, shortly after she decided she wanted to go back to school, described to me a dream of somehow combining counseling services with her love of the outdoors to incorporate the healing and inspirational power of nature and creation.  Last fall she brought that dream to life.  After previously workshopping it with a small group of women, she launched her first women’s retreat on Deep Rest at the exquisite Colorado Chatauqua.  

Miranda, the other half of Harmonie House Images, is a more recent ride-or-die, but no less dear to me. We were immediate friends after singing some harmonies together at church one Sunday 10 yrs ago.  Last July, we went on our own adventure and launched Harmonie House Images together.

Big picture, Heather’s goal, is to ultimately expand the reach of her counseling services by offering regular workshops and retreats.  She needed imagery to be able to market her services and promote future retreats. Because she has always been one of my biggest cheerleaders she was convinced that Harmonie House Images was the team she needed to document her inaugural retreat event. So on September 22, 2022 we got on a plane (me for the first time in 12 yrs, Mir for the first time in 5 years) headed west. It took a little help from some Xanax for me, but I did it.  One friend by my side en route to see and support another friend in the Colorado she loves. 

Before last September, it never occurred to me that these two parts of my life and places in my heart would intersect in such a meaningful way. I knew that these women who mean so much to me would enjoy each other but OH WHAT JOY it gave me to see how deeply they connected as well. It brought me to tears on more than one occasion over the five days we spent with Heather in Boulder.  We laughed, cried, cooked, hiked, picnicked, and had good, heart-felt, meaningful conversations…in addition to leading and photographing the retreat.

The idea for this retreat was born from Heather’s own personal experience as a busy mother dealing with burnout and having to learn how to care for herself.  Through both conversations with her own friends and experience in her clinical practice, Heather realized that her experience with burnout is, unfortunately, all too common among women. She is now passionate about helping women understand what realistic self-care looks like.

She described the retreat as a content rich day away from the responsibility of life, learning about the obstacles that prevent self-care and rest, and developing tools for guilt free self-prioritization in the soothing environment of Chatauqua Park.  While she lives out West now she is a Southern girl at heart,  so every detail of the day was planned to provide a welcoming and calming learning environment down to the gentle yoga and nourishing food.

As you can see from these images – she NAILED it!  And, what a privilege it was for me to do good, important work along side one dear friend while witnessing first hand another dear friend do her good, important work!

Those five days in Boulder felt like an absolute DREAM. Of all the days I’ve lived, those five have been some of my favorites. They were deeply restful for my soul.

I’m proud to say that the retreat was such a success that Heather will be hosting her second retreat, renamed The Balanced Life Workshop for Women, at the Colorado Chatauqua on February 25.  That event is actually full now and registration is closed. But, she will be hosting these retreats at least twice a year.  We highly recommend making the trip to Boulder for this. You can find more information about the retreats and future event dates here

Until you can attend a retreat in person, give Heather a follow on Instagram @heather.carlson.therapy to learn more from this beautiful, wise, and soulful friend of (now) OURS.