(and our feral hearts.)
Emily Ballard & The Feral Hearts is a space where we intentionally activate our shame in order to initiate the healing process. Our work is innately and necessarily uncomfortable, and results in the creation of new internal space and understanding. We harness as much inside strength as we can to tap into our innate gifts, and lean heavily on each other when we forget to trust ourselves; the Feral Hearts would be both impossible and hollow without the idiosyncratic gifts we both bring to this work.
We are not for the faint of heart. We will push you in much the same we push ourselves and each other. We will make you angry and we will make you cry. But it's through this stirring of typically undesirable emotion that we will help you come back to a part of yourself you may have never consciously met before.
Our work - whether through the content on this site, or in individual or small group retreat work, will help you know yourself more completely. It will help you navigate your relationships with more grace and less defensiveness. It will help you ask for what you need with clear language and gorgeous boundaries. And it will set you up to be a person with whom others might learn to feel as comfortable being as fully them as you're learning to be fully you.
We believe in what we do because we've watched it transform our own lives from brittle shells of fear into small and sturdy forts of grounded, steady belief in the power of having faith in the truth.
I'm finally finding my way back home to myself thanks to a few patient people, a slow-blooming sense of self-acceptance, and a whole lotta wading through the shitstorm of my formerly-unmet pain.
I'm currently completing graduate-level course work to become a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC). My professional focus is on collaborative cathartic healing work with individuals -- both one-on-one and in small group retreats -- who want to participate fully in their own healing so that they might show up not only for themselves, but for the world. I am specifically interested in the close relationship between feeling (truth) and healing (freedom). My belief is that through a deep investment in personal healing, we can create a collective and lasting global change that moves the needle from one that lands on 'fear' to one that lands on 'love'.
I know - it sounds too woo for words. But even feral hearts can find healing, and I am deeply and forever here for it.
I'm a trained MotherWoman facilitator and certified 200-hour yoga instructor. My writing has appeared regularly on The Huffington Post, as well as in the anthology It's Really 10 Months. I also write less formally and more candidly right here on this website. Check back often for my thoughts on things like: mama-hood, why friendships are both terrifying and holy, and why I keep coming back to being so deeply over hating myself. (I'm also deeply into Instagram, and my captions are often mini blog post-esque.)
A few other things you didn't know you might or might not want to know about me:
- I have lots of tattoos. I love them. I'm nervous about running out of places for them.
- I birthed my babies at home. I’m really happy about that. They seemed good with it, too.
- I like to think about my place in the Universe, and then sometimes get distracted and end up on the People website. I seem unable to control this.
- I get crazy (like legit crazy-crazy) for good food.
- Someday I’ll learn how to properly apply a full face of make-up, and maybe that’ll be the same day I buy myself a super schmancy pair of designer sunglasses.
- I’ve started to believe that we’re all the same. And that me telling my all-the-way truth might make someone else feel safe enough to tell theirs.
- And that maybe the world can shift in increments if we don’t try to change each other's true natures, but instead work hard to hold space – for truth, for fear, for differences, for love.
- I know, I know. Vom. But seriously.
I rarely make a shining first impression. “You’re so nice once I got to know you,” is feedback I’ve been receiving basically since birth, so I don’t really even know what to do in this gross bio space. What can I tell you that will immediately endear you to me, make you look past my RBF and see that I deeply care about what makes you who you are? That’s really what I want you to know…that I really, deeply care. Does it matter to you that I’m technically a social worker? It matters to me, so I guess that’s where I’m starting.
I’ve been working with adolescents/emerging adults for as long as I have been one. (I think that stage of development now goes through, what, age 35?) Through my work at social service agencies I have been trained in the practical application of many fancy-sounding evidenced based techniques - DBT, MI, Open Dialogue, MBSB. I draw from them all in my work and my life as much as I can to find practical solutions to interpersonal and internal problems that come up.
I’m a dabbler. I trained as a birth doula and attended two births before I realized that being on call in the way that birth requires is tough for my system. I took yoga very seriously for 18 months and still move my body in that way from time to time. I fostered kittens for a local shelter one summer. I submitted one piece of writing that was published by A Practical Wedding when I was really attached to the idea of being a writer. (They re-ran it recently, so does that make me twice-published before I accepted that that level of exposure was too much for my delicate sensibilities?) I loved doing all of these things and would do any of them again, honestly, but mostly I just like to talk to people (one-on-one, for limited periods of time, in environments controlled by me) and process big feelings.
Then there are the select things that I have tried on and never want to take off, they feel so much a part of me. I am a newly-minted wife and official stepmom of three and I’m obsessed with my family. Also animals - always have been always will be completely obsessed, make noises when I see them, stop to engage every single one that crosses my path. I feel most at ease when there’s one around me. So far my own menagerie includes two cats and a three-legged dog. I hope to expand into goats, small house-bound pigs, and - is a chicken coop too basic? I'm also an unlikely crystal enthusiast, but that's really neither here nor there.
But really though, I only really ever want to talk about hard feelings, awkward experiences, and hard and confusing thoughts with a cat in my lap or while we walk dogs together.
I’ll bring the coffee and whatever sweet treat I slyly figure out is your favorite.