Hello, friends – I’m Karly, the founder and steward of this labor of love, what my husband named ‘Growing Humankindness’ one afternoon in a flash of inspiration.
I help people who self soothe with food bring compassion and rest into their relationship with themselves, in those places where they feel that they’ve ‘fallen short.’ When we experience trauma, rupture, or loss, we need support and holding to process our fear and pain. Without this holding, our brains and nervous systems move in to protect us.
These protections, rooted in goodness, become the ‘not beautiful’ coping strategies – the overeating, addictions, defenses, compulsions, and obsessions – that fill us with shame and suffering. In my own life, my primary harbors have been food and depression.
I help people understand the wisdom beneath these protections so they can come into a softer, kinder, and congruent relationship with them.
Growing Humankindness arose from two things: from my journey through multiple eating disorders, chronic depression, and anxiety, and from bearing witness to the beauty, courage, and persistent love of others’ journeys through heartbreak and healing.
If I had to describe in a sentence how Growing Humankindness offers her particular medicine to the world, it would be thus: may we soften our hearts towards what we fear, misunderstand, and shame, in ourselves and in one another.
May we hold our human vulnerability within our hearts.
The word that best conveys this softening is respect, a word whose origins are rooted in ‘seeing again, to regard in a new way, or to see with new eyes.’ As the mystic and poet John O’ Donohue so beautifully said, ‘When we approach things with reverence, they have powerful ways of approaching us.’
And so I wonder: what rises to meet us when we offer reverence to those things that we most fear in ourselves, and in each other?
Our hearts are so thirsty for dignity. May we be tender towards our pain, forgiving towards our human stumbling, and open to the ground underneath our feet.
Breath by breath, my wish is that we may embody our wholeness – our deeper story – and live from this knowing.
I believe that listening to each other’s stories and witnessing the vulnerable courage of each other is one of the most powerful ways we can soften what divides us, both within and without. And so I bend my knee towards these stories in many forms.
I write essays and poetry about healing and connection at O Nobly Born, write books and courses, and offer group classes. All of these carry my gratitude for my lineage – my teachers in attachment theory, spirituality, and interpersonal neurobiology – and my yearning for compassion.
My spiritual journey began as a child in Catholicism and Christianity, and has been enjoined these past few decades by the perfume of Sufism, the wisdom of our Indigineous brothers and sisters, Buddhist compassion, and a devotion to the Mother. All of these paths have their way with me, and I am their grateful student.
I offer this home here in service to all who’ve felt the shame of human stumbling and who yearn for wholeness, to a desire for a more just and loving world, and to deepen our shared connectedness. Underneath all my work you’ll find a love for the human heart.
I live in Austin, Texas – the land of the Tonkawa, Apache, and Comanche people, Peace and Blessings be upon them – with my husband Patrick and our family, two dogs, a very frisky cat, and radiantly gnarled oak trees. I love poetry, good stories, good music, good food, good words, lifting heavy things, making as much as possible with my hands, grief and praise, and long walks.
My dreams are rooted in the hearts of my mothers and fathers, my grandmothers and grandfathers, both those of blood and those of kinship who’ve taught me what it means to be human: to grow things in the soil, to make things with my hands, to live in community, to live simply, to serve life, to love fiercely, to offer freely, to receive with gratitude, to protect what is vulnerable, to ask for help, to listen, to write and speak what we care about, to create beauty, to praise, to forgive often, to dream, to laugh, to dance, to grieve, to mourn, and to celebrate life.
Their eldering has helped me through both my darkest hours and my joys, and has helped me reclaim my love of life through many rounds of depression, crippling anxiety and despair. Bless them. Their companionship, love, and wisdom is seeded throughout Growing Humankindness, the soil that feeds us here.
I hope you feel their footfalls.
Connecting with my offerings
If you have a painful relationship with food or sugar, if you care for depression and anxiety, or if you feel shame about the suffering that you experience, please, make yourself at home here at Growing Humankindness. I’ve gathered all our free resources on this page here. It’s a great place to start.
If you feel at home here and want more support, there are several ways you can work with me. I primarily offer group classes as I believe in the power of journeying with others. You can see my upcoming class schedule here.
I offer 2-3 group classes throughout the year, including Listen: Gentle Ways to Support Your Healing with Food, The Book of Love and When Food is Your Mother. These classes are filled with generous, kind, soulful women (and often a few men.)
The best way to learn about new classes is to stay tuned to the newsletter, as I’m not very active on social media. Here’s where you can sign up for the newsletter.
I also have do at home courses that you can take any time, including The Heart of Food, Emerge: Create a New Habit and Align: Heal Your Relationship with Your Inner Rebel.
You can find a list and introduction to all the courses and offerings here.
Many people ask if I work with people 1 on 1 – I offer a wee bit of individual support. Most of these calls are for students who are working their way through a course or for alumni who want extra support. These spots are limited as my primary attention is devoted to our group offerings. You can see my availability and sign up for 1 on 1 calls with me here.
I also write a reader supported newsletter, poems and essays about healing, motherhood, gratitude, grief, and beauty at O Nobly Born: The Letters of Growing Humankindness. You can sign up for these letters here.
Speaking, teaching and training
I am a passionate advocate for empathy – for softening the stigma of human suffering and nurturing a more compassionate understanding of eating disorders, trauma and mental illness – in our communities, institutions, schools, psychological approaches, and spiritual communities.
I offer speaking and training to nurture a more compassionate, connected, and empathetic world and am also available for media and podcast interviews. You can learn more at the link below.
My teachers + the foundation of my approach
I offer a bow of gratitude to my lineage and to those who’ve blessed me with their teaching and wisdom. My approach draws from three primary wells:
- Attachment theory and IPNB (interpersonal neurobiology), including my beloved mentors, Dr. Gordon Neufeld and Bonnie Badenoch
- Self compassion
- And Presence – contemplative practices from many spiritual and wisdom traditions
I’m especially moved by the intermingling, healing waters of interpersonal neurobiology and Divine Love. To my ears, these conjoined rivers speak the same language of loving connection, and come from and lead to the same ocean.
Many have blessed me with their offerings, but a few stand out in how their work has personally impacted me, shaped my thinking and perceiving, and touched me. I honor their great hearts.
- Bonnie Badenoch, trauma trainer, therapist and teacher, author, The Heart of Trauma
- Tara Brach, meditation teacher, therapist, and author, Radical Compassion, True Refuge and Radical Acceptance
- Dr. Gordon Neufeld, theorist, developmental psychologist, man of great wisdom, and all my teachers at the Neufeld Institute
- Abby Seixas, one of my first mentors, therapist, meditation teacher, and author of Finding the Deep River Within
- My Sufi teachers, Mark Silver and Holly Glaser, and my Sufi teacher from afar, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
- My teachers on grief, culture, and human making, Stephen Jenkinson and Francis Weller
- Patty Wipfler, the founder of Hand in Hand Parenting and creator of Listening Partnerships
I’ve also been moved and helped by my daily practice of Centering Prayer, Eugene Gendlin’s work with Focusing, Matt Licata‘s beautiful writing and compassion, Soul Collage and her founder Seena B. Frost, Richard Schwartz and Internal Family Systems, elder Malidoma Somé and his invitation into the ancestors, the gorgeous work of Sarah Peyton and her teachings on resonance, and all the researchers, scientists, and seekers who’ve helped us understand trauma, including Peter Levine, Gabor Maté, Stephen Porges, and Bessel van der Kolk.
Lastly, I offer my endless gratitude to the poets, story tellers, and artists of all forms.
Bless them all.
May you feel their presence, wisdom and guidance here.