After Hours 11.9.22
Discussion 17: Joy, Therapy and Parenthood with Dr. Cassidy Freitas
If you are a San Diego or Southern California local and also happen to be a parent, you have probably heard of Dr. Cassidy Freitas. If not, we are honored to introduce her! Dr. Cassidy, as she is lovingly referred to amongst my group of mom friends and within the community, is a Licensed Marital and Family Therapist living, working, and raising her three children in San Diego. Inspired by her own personal motherhood journey and armed with a Ph.D. in Psychology and a whole lot of humor, she is dedicated to supporting the mental health of parents and breaking generational trauma. Not only is she intelligent and compassionate, but she is funny and stylish, to boot. Join us as we chat about finding joy in the everyday and finding peace at home with your own personal style.
When did you know you wanted to be a therapist? What called you to work with women specifically?
My parents were both public defenders for children and their families, and through them and their stories I witnessed the impact of generational trauma and mental illness. They were both so passionate about their work, but I now realize these were pretty intense conversations for the family dinner table! I’m working myself on breaking the generational cycle of overworking through sturdier work/family life boundaries ;) but alas, these stories were a part of my childhood and became my own muse for wanting to hold space for struggling families.
My second muse for the work I do today, and my muse for working with women specifically, was motherhood. When my first was born, I was already a therapist in training. I thought I was prepared. I took the birth class, read the books, but nothing prepared me for the identity crisis, relationship struggles, anxiety spiral, and physical/mental load of becoming a mother that I experienced. I felt like I was falling apart…and while I felt alone at the time, I started to open up and found that others were struggling too. After feeling like all my parts were shattered on the floor (and eventually starting my own therapy), I pieced myself back together and decided I would dedicate my career to supporting other parents during this vulnerable season.
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Being someone who wears a lot of hats, (mother, wife, business owner, therapist to many, public figure) do you have any rituals or non-negotiables that you do to make sure you are taken care of while also taking care of so many others?
YES. As I shared earlier, I’m doing my own work to break my family’s generational patterns of overworking and also doing the work to unhook myself from the people pleasing, boundary breaking, default parent, depleted, grumpy, guilty cycle that I know all too well ;).
So, as a recovering perfectionist and striving good enough-ist, I’ve been asking for help. I’ve been letting others in to help without jumping in to micro manage ;) and in terms of rituals it’s important for me to schedule nights away from the kids (sometimes with my partner, sometimes with a friend, sometimes alone)! I also have a ritual of doing these quarterly check-ins for myself. I look at two things: my calendar and my bank account. A friend shared this with me awhile back, and every three months I check both to see if these two important resources (time and money) are being spent in alignment with the values I’m hoping to prioritize in this season. I make sure that MY NEEDS get some love in my calendar and bank account too. I’m also a big fan of morning matcha making and fantasy fiction, so margins in my day for both are non-negotiable!
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We really love following you on Instagram and all the insight and humor you share. Laughter & joy really can be the best medicine. What are some ways you bring joy into your everyday life?
I think you’re referring to my Tik Tok Friday ritual on the app we all hate to love ;) INSTAGRAM! I’ve been creating content on there for over a decade now, and during a recent quarterly check-in, I realized that there was something taking up a lot of margins in my day that wasn’t actually showing up on my calendar…and it was that little dang app. So, I re-evaluated, came up with a plan to shift my business marketing goals, and decided to shift gears. Right now I’m only showing up on Fridays to share my favorite recent funny Tik Toks. Tik Tok is an app I’m not a creator on, and just purely enjoy the funny relatable videos on my “for you page.” I was saving them anyway, because shared laughter is my love language and it was a ritual for my husband and I to watch them together Friday nights after the kids go to bed. So, I started sharing them on Instagram on Fridays too and it’s been a wonderful way to stay connected with my community and bring a dose of joy. I hold space for a lot of the hard stuff in my day to day work and on my podcast, but Joy is just as important.
What are a few things that bring you joy lately?
The way my son’s hair has been curling with all this humidity we’ve been getting in San Diego.
Drives with my tween, while listening to the Hamilton soundtrack when our only destination goal is to get spicy chips.
The way my toddler asks to be carried. She tries to say “I’m going to carry you” but it comes out sounding a lot like “I’m going to kill you.” The look on people’s faces is priceless.
My husband is an acts of service kind of guy. He brings me lunch when I’m working almost daily. The boy has been keeping me fed, and I love him so much for it.
You work from home, which we know can be a struggle sometimes. How do you create a space that is both comfortable & calm to work in? What are some of your favorite pieces around your home?
When your photographer came over she said “your house matches your business brand,” and she’s not wrong! I definitely have a style, and I’d call it modern bohemian with an Australian twist (they just do interiors better over there!)
I can get visually overstimulated, so I do my best to keep my work space pretty minimal with soothing colors. I love texture, so you’ll find lots of cane and macrame around the house and my Curious Clay Thread Spun mug is never far from my workspace!
Can you describe your personal style?
Definitely feminine, and pretty minimal (although don’t peek into my garage, the piles there might suggest otherwise haha!) But when it comes to my closet, I’ve definitely gotten it down to a few key pieces that I mix and match. You’ll find a lot of creams, blush, and earthy tones…and comfort is a must!
It can be hard to ask for help, so when I know someone is going through a big transition such as postpartum…I take the first step and offer specific help. “Hey there, I’d love to offer support during this tender time. I could drop off some food this week, hold the baby so you can take a nap, or clean up so you can focus on baby…whatever you need, just tell me the best time for you!”
Also, when I check in on someone I always add the word “really” at the end. So for example, “How are you feeling, really?” I want them to know that I’m here to hold space for all of it.
In terms of community, I think the more truth we can bring to the spaces mothers are showing up, the less likely we are all going to feel alone and better chance we give those who are struggling to feel like maybe they can ask for help. This is part of my mission with Holding Space Podcast and my Instagram account. I aim to talk about the messy parts of parenthood, the tough stuff that happens behind closed doors. The relationship strains, the parenting moments you assume only happen to you, the intrusive thoughts, the simmering rage that spirals into shame. Let’s bring these parts of our human experience into the light and figure out a way to support each other in feeling less alone and breaking the cycles.
You have a podcast which we love, can you share with us what you talk about and where we can find it?
Podcasting is my favorite platform. I see Instagram like walking down a street and everyone is outside their house trying to get your attention with viral trends and quick fix snapshots, and I won’t deny I’ve made so many meaningful connections on that app where folks decide to come into my house and learn more. But once you’re inside, that’s where the podcast comes in. This is where we pour ourselves a cozy drink, take our shoes off, and dive deeper into these important topics.
Through conversations with experts from around the world and parents who have been through it, we talk about everything from being the default parent, severe PPD, tantrums, raising a child with sensory sensitivities, perfectionism, creative blocks, pregnancy loss, and more. You can find the podcast on all streaming platforms, just search up Holding Space!
Where is your happy place? Somewhere you feel safe and inspired and happy and all the good things?
Honestly, home! But, I love space…trees…and fall is my favorite season, so if you find me escaping to a space surrounded by the colors and smells of Fall, oh I’m in my happy place.
Last question: what are your top 5 favorite songs right now?
Ohhhh, love this question, and yet this was the hardest one to answer! But, these are the songs I keep coming back to and get me in my feels:
- Lana Del Rey: Young and Beautiful
- Taylor Swift: All Too Well (Sad Girl Autumn Version)
- Adele: Water Under the Bridge
- Frozen Idina Menzel Let it Go (honestly a classic for our generation’s cycle breaking, and also just because of the dance parties it inspires in the kitchen with our youngest)
- And…the Hamilton soundtrack :)