Holding Hope Services

Julie Fanning LCSW


living well

Transitioned My Blog To…


I’m in the process of transferring my blog posts to my new blog on my website.  Please check me out at

If you want to follow my new blog, get updates on my practice and tips on living your best life, sign up now!


Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  I just want to wish everyone joy and prosperity for the new year!  My wish for you is that you do that one thing you have been wanting to do.  Take that chance, live that dream, believe in yourself.  I want you to remember that you are worthy of love happiness.

I also want to share the link for my MSWonline blog post  – Social Work and Spirituality!

MSW online blog – Social Work Practice and Spirituality


Enjoy each moment!

You are a Tea Pot. (Guide to self-care for Social Workers and Everyone else!)

For my September mswonline post I wrote about self-care.   Imagine you are a tea pot.  It is vital you refill so you can share more tea.  For some tips on self-care click on over and tell me what you think!  I hope fall is treating everyone wonderfully and you are finding moments of joy and peace.


You are a Tea Pot. Self Care for Social Workers and Everyone Else!




My Rant on Being Fat!

I am fat.  I’ve been told this my whole life by both friends and society.  Sometimes I will look at a photo of myself from when I was young and will wonder why everyone thought I was so fat.   Maybe it was a self-fulfilling prophesy but I am fat and that has been part of my identity as long as I can remember.  At times it has determined what risks I have been willing to take and what experiences I participated in.  I would blame it for relationship troubles or truly believe it was one of the reasons for general unhappiness at different times in my life.   As I’ve gotten older I am able to more often recognize that I am not just a fat person and my weight doesn’t determine my happiness.   Also – and this important for people to remember about themselves too – what I weigh does not determine my worthiness as a person.  I am going to repeat that.  Our weight does not determine our worth as a person.  The value I have as a human and my happiness are not dependent on numbers on a scale.   Each of us is worthy of love, happiness and kindness,  regardless of how much or how little we weigh or our physical appearance.

Right now I am doing the whole30 challenge.  I get accolades about how great it is that I am doing this.  If I lose weight, I will get praise for losing weight.  People will say “You look so good.” Or “It is so great you are hanging in there.”  I soak up any praise and it it is a motivator to keep eating healthy. However,  when it comes down to it, if I choose to live healthier, if I lose 40 pounds or if I end up gaining 40 pounds – it makes no difference in who I am.  I am a not better person if I weigh 40 pounds less.  I will not be less worthy if I gain 40 pounds more.

In my private practice both women and men come in and virtually with each and every person there will come a time where there is a discussion about weight and negative feelings surrounding it.  I have worked with so many teenage girls who have issues around their weight.  They tell me “My mom (or my grandma) told me I need to lose weight.”   These are teens who are active and within the norm of weight for their age and they will cry and ask why their parents can’t accept them if they don’t weigh the right amount.

Then I have adult women come in and tell me the same stories of family members and friends telling them they needed to lose weight.  They are told they will be all alone in life because they are fat or if they didn’t lose weight they would never find happiness.  Generally, these messages are well-intended.    You want the people you love to be happy.  Only, the feelings these messages induce don’t go away.   It sends a subtle implication that you are not quite good enough because of your weight.  You might not even notice you are saying these things to others or yourself because it is such a part of our culture.  It is difficult to step away from thoughts about weight because American society is filled with the messages everywhere telling us that thinner is better.

      Julie in first grade   "Too fat to have friends"
Julie in first grade
“Too fat to have friends”

When I started first grade there was a girl who told me she wished she could be my friend but she couldn’t because I was too fat to have friends.  I wasn’t even six years old.  Now, almost 40 years later I remember this and I know it became part of my identity.  I don’t remember the girl’s name or face but I remember the conversation.  Probably one of my brain’s first lessons on starting to believe “don’t be fat or you will be all alone.”     How much more will words about heaviness stay with someone when it is a family or friend saying them.  You might say “I worry about their health, I want them around for the grandkids” or a hundred other very valid reasons why someone would be better off losing weight.  You are just trying to help.  I would argue that if the person is an adult – they are very aware of how much they weigh.  It only amplifies the shame to be reminded that your fat bothers others and you are not quite good enough because you don’t lose it.   There are ways to be encouraging and supportive without adding to pain.  It is up to the person to decide how they want to tackle their weight.  People have very complicated relationships with food and weight.  You can be pithy and say “just don’t put it in your mouth” but there are often many factors at play.  It is not necessary for you to let someone know they need to lose weight.  Even disguising it with “I worry about you” is still saying “you are not good enough because of your weight.”

I’m not saying you shouldn’t help your children be active and maintain a healthy weight.   I would just say consider how you promote it with your children.  Eat healthy and be active yourself.  Don’t hold others to expectations you aren’t able to sustain.  Live by example.  Which also means recognize that each time you put yourself down for your weight or your eating or exercise habits you are teaching your children and others that your importance has something to do with your physical looks.  You are even reinforcing your own beliefs.  “See I’m not good enough because my body isn’t perfect.”  Stop yourself when you find yourself putting yourself down.  Stop comparing yourself to others.  I bet virtually everyone who reads this has thought at one time or another “at least I’m not as fat as that person.”  I have thought it.  Unfortunately it just reinforces the idea that if I weigh less I am better.  Being a little healthier than someone else does not give us the moral high ground.

Not making your weight be such a huge factor in your identity doesn’t mean someone can’t make changes and be healthier.  I want to live healthier.  I want to lose weight.  I want a better relationship with food.  These are reasons why I am doing the Whole30 challenge.  However, this is my journey.  If I don’t succeed I will be disappointed with myself but it doesn’t make me a failure at life.  Conversely, if I complete the challenge it won’t make me a better person.  Happiness, love, money and opportunity won’t just fall out of the sky to me because I shed a few pounds.  My life will still be my life.  If you are working on changing your weight do it for you and not because you think it will make others accept or love you more.

I want to note that it is OK to accept yourself at whatever weight you are.  You don’t owe anyone explanations on how much you weigh.  You are allowed to be happy and enjoy life and it is not dependent on your size.  You are worthy of love and joy and you will find the people who really matter don’t care how much you weigh.

I know as someone who is heavy that it is easy to forget to live life because you are waiting to lose weight.  Just don’t do that.  I am working hard at living the life I choose, embracing opportunities and not letting my weight stop me from living.  Whatever we are on the outside does not determine our happiness unless we let it.  I know that it is easier said than done, but my hope is that instead of focusing on our perceived shortcomings that we instead embrace life.  You are worthy because you are alive.   Instead of feeling shame over your weight focus on embracing experiences, loving those dear to you and being kind to all.

Julie- July 2015 Living Fully Pacific Ocean
Julie- July 2015
Living Fully
Pacific Ocean
With BFF Karen Campbell Embracing Life Accepting Me
With BFF
Karen Campbell
Embracing Life
Accepting Me

Life is meant to be lived not endured…

Hi everyone,Taking My Own Advice

I am a contributor to a blog that is for those entering or in the social work field.  My first post is titled life is meant to be lived – not endured.  I think the tips for living life can be helpful for anyone.  Click on over and check it out!  Thanks.

Oh — And Happy Social Worker month to all of the social workers out there!

Moments of Clarity

It can happen anywhere and at any time.  Driving in my car listening to music, lying in bed waiting for sleep, eating at a restaurant with friends or when taking a walk.   There is a moment where I might have perfect clarity.  Where I know, without doubt what my next step would be.  It could be a major thing like the next step in a relationship or accepting a new job.  It might be a minor thing like calling an old friend.  Most of us have those moments where we absolutely are certain of a course of action.

Only, the moment often doesn’t last.  A few hours or days or sometimes even minutes later that absolutely certain fades.  The decision doesn’t seem so clear cut.  All the barriers and roadblocks- often of my own making – gets in the way.  I can often think of many reasons why something – that felt so perfect – is not what I should be doing after the moment passes.

I think that I am better when I just hold on to the moment of clarity.  I acknowledge it existed.  I acknowledge that in that moment I knew that this was the way to go.  I try to hold on to regardless of what all the extraneous noise is telling me.  I think maybe our moments of clarity our truest voice of our soul and should be listened to.*

Try it.  Next time you have a moment of clarity, cling on to it.  Hold tight.  Maybe even write it down.  Step away from all your doubts and obstacles you put in the way.  Act on that moment of clarity.





*An exception would be if your moment of clarity consists of harming yourself.  In that case I would strongly encourage you to wait and talk to someone else about these feelings immediately.

Shift a Little

I’m not a morning person.  Let me correct that.  I actually like early mornings but I absolutely abhor getting up early in the morning.  I enjoy late night better than early morning so I’d rather sleep in.  Ideally, I’d be able to get up at 7:30 or later each day.  So I started this new job.  Enjoy it.  It is in the city.  I never thought I’d have a job downtown or being one of those commuter train people but here I am.  The thing is, to make it work on time I have to get on the 6:20 am train which means me getting up around 5:20 am.  I really, really hate getting up early Really Hate.  Since I’ve worked on changing my attitude about my transition I’ve been working on being positive about it.  You know what I found?  I found that it is a gift to be able to enjoy the early morning.  I like the quiet.  I like when it is still dark and the day is just starting.  The other day there was a heavy snow fall and I enjoyed cleaning off my car and looking at the beauty.  It was phenomenal.  As much as I hate getting up early – look at all I missed. I wouldn’t choose on my own to get up that early but because it was a necessity I was able to enjoy time I wouldn’t normally have.

If I had griped and complained and let myself be super irritated I would have had trouble enjoying my new time.  Are there things in your life that you are so unhappy about or complaining about that you are missing joy.  Consider stopping yourself if you are in the grumpy mode and seeing what is around you.

Use Your Imagination


My client said “Never” and laughed and laughed and laughed when I asked her “Have you ever pretended you were a spy?” I have.   I wasn’t trying  to get my client to play ‘spy’ with me (although play is important too.)  I was making a point about imagination.  I encourage cultivating imagination in children because children who have an imagination are often more resilient.  Being able to picture a different outcome or a different life can be hopeful.  If a person is bullied or sad but can picture a scenario where that is not the case – this is hopeful.  It bodes well if a child can picture situations where they are cared about and valued.  Kids can even practice social skills and building relationships using imagination.  (What?  Julie you come up  the craziest things you think.)  Think about it as practice like role playing or imagining a situation in your head like adults do all the time.

Unfortunately, I think this is a skill people can lose as they become adults.  People would think I’m stranger than I am if I spoke to an imaginary friend all the time.  However,  the ability to imagine what ifs and the ability to imagine being loved or being happy or achieving your dreams – can be so very beneficial.

My advice to you is to practice using your imagination.  It will be so worth it.

Happy New Year!!!!!!!!

Happy New Year!!!!!

I wish for you to have joy, prosperity and an amazing journey this year.

Forgo those resolutions and decide to accept you for who you are.  If there are things or situations you would like to change – start the process of changing them but don’t set yourself up for failure.  Make the steps you can big or small.  I believe in a well llived life we are always growing, learning, struggling, and experiencing joy, sorrow and laughter.  Ideally, in my world, I believe in lots and lots of laughter.

You are enough.  You are amazing.  You are loveable.  You are worthy.  Repeat this to yourself until you feel it in your bones.

Happy New Year!

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