Parenting with Perspective: Leanne of Novo Life Counseling

Parenting with Perspective is a blog series featuring working Seattle mothers, highlighting the way their career, personal interests and experiences, extended family, spiritual practices, fostering, gender, and culture shape the lives of their families. The aim of the series is to feature local parents and build a community, but also, in a very very modest way, to do that without portraying mothers as single-mindedly focused on constituting themselves as a certain one kind of person (as social media often seems to do). I focus largely on parents who are either running their own business or work in academia because juggling parenting and work when there are no clear boundaries imposed by fixed work schedules is familiar to me. In the future, this might change.  

Get in touch if you'd like to be featured! 

family session beach

You are co-founder and a mental health counselor at Novo Life Counseling. How did you get here?

I studied Business and Communication and I worked on sales and events for Nordstrom, the Seahawks and the Sounders. I realized that I was passionate about people, their stories, and making them feel valued. Also during my time at the Seahawks, I met my husband. After dating for two years, we both felt a call to pursue a similar passion in helping people and quit our jobs and started on a new career path by pursuing graduate training in counseling psychology. God was stirring up in both of us this desire to help others navigate through their own story to find health and healing. While in graduate school, I worked simultaneously full-time at Northwest University in Development and then as the Director of Alumni and Parent Relations. I was able to create and manage events, another passion of mine, while growing and building my counseling practice. Now, four years into our private practice, Drew and I have a baby girl who is now a one-year old. We love being mental health counselors and running a business together. It’s an amazing feeling to truly love what we do.


What does work-life balance mean to you?

Work-life balance has evolved through different seasons in my life, especially now as a new mom. In the past, there was definitely more work than life, or more in-balance, and learning what to prioritize and have capacity for has been so important for me in maintaining that balance. As an achiever, people-pleasing, type A list maker, sometimes I need to give myself permission to take a breath, because my “do more, try harder” mentality is a great motivator, but it is not sustainable. Right now, I feel I have more of that balance. I make quality time at home with my daughter and spouse a priority. We love to travel in our 1987 Syncro Vanagon. It has enabled an adventurous lifestyle that allows for us to see parts of the backcountry and places we might not ever have explored before. It’s also amazing to meet people along the way. We typically take one month a year to travel to Baja or to explore new places, as well as a lot of weekend getaways in the van, all of which our daughter has joined us on. I will always be able to work more, but I will never get back these first years of my daughter's life. Running a business with my spouse has its challenges, but honestly I can say it has been something we really enjoy doing together. We have our own clients, and our own schedules which helps create some space, and it’s really fun to be in the office together during the days I work. We both love to be creative as well; I am in charge of interiors, event planning and marketing strategy, while Drew heads up the website and visual content. I always prioritize people and family over work, which means that I am always working towards efficiency and time management. 

What are some tricks that you have learned as a counselor that help you? How do you stay mindful as a multitasking business running parent? 

A few things: 1. Having grace for myself when things are challenging or I am not able to accomplish all of my “to-do” list. I have to remind myself that it’s okay. I make self-care a priority in my life, and have set up what I call indicators to alert me when I feel I am not being myself (i.e., I stop listening to music, or spend less time with others, or I feel my mood tends to be more negative and critical). When this happens, I know I need to pause and check-in with myself, assessing my needs. This is often met with permission I need to give myself to take the time for self-care. Whether it’s taking a walk, listening to music, jumping in the lake, spending time at my favorite thinking spot, talking to my spouse or a close friend, taking a mindful pause to check-in with myself is always needed, often times on a weekly or daily basis. It’s a way to re-charge, breathe deep, and spend time with my Creator. It feeds my soul. It is equally important to have grace for my spouse in the same way; 2. It’s okay to say “I’m sorry” first; 3. Mindful breath!!! Pausing to check-in. I like to use this phrase: Breathe in courage, exhale fear, worry, doubt, etc.; 4. Modeling communication, forgiveness, grace, friendship, compassion, discipline, healthy relationships to our daughter and realizing that we are not going to be perfect at it, but it's enough that we do our best; 5. Practicing active listening; 6. Having regular date nights in order to maintain a healthy marriage so that we can stay connected at the times when so much of our attention is directed toward our daughter; 7. Doing family activities.; 8. Asking for help because a strong support system and community has been so life giving for us.


How you cope with demands of parenting? 

The best way I find myself coping with the demands of parenting is to spend time with people I love and feel supported by - my tribe. I think we all need a tribe of people who love and support us and we trust. I go to my support system for encouragement, prayer, and help even when I don’t want to ask for it, but know I need it. I have learned the importance of having a strong support system of family and friends and living life with people who are in the same season as I am. It feels comforting to know that I am not alone in this journey. I also feel it is important to make time for self-care (doing things that fuel my soul) and regular date nights.

family session beach seattle

What are some of your favorite places to visit and hang out in the area?

We love exploring new places, but we do have our favorites. You will always find us stopping at a local coffee shop in any town we visit, eating at our favorite Italian restaurants (Via Tribunali and Tavolata), or enjoying a craft cocktail for date night at any of the new amazing restaurants in town. I would say we also really appreciate good food shared with friends and family. A meal is always best shared with people you love. We also love being by water, so we will hang out at any park or beach in town. On the more adventurous side, some of our favorite places to visit are Hood Canal for Hama Hama oysters, the best camping views, and rest. Westport or the Olympic Peninsula for surfing and beach time. Lake Washington waterfront with a hammock and dock jumping. San Juan Islands or Vancouver Island for a long weekend getaway. We also love to travel in our van to Baja for sun and surfing with friends, and road trips to California and Bend are a must every year.

To book your beach family session in Seattle, get in touch!