Every ending has the potential open up new beginnings. Kendra Miguez, Founder and Director of the Colorado Women’s Center, has learned this–one might say the hard way, and perhaps she would agree; more likely, she would emphasize that a winding path of self-discovery is radiant with challenge, exhausting and empowering.
When she was 28, Kendra Miguez moved out to Colorado seeking a recharge and new beginnings following a stint in New York City. Having earned her bachelor’s in theater, she’d been pursuing a career as an actress. The pursuit was tough, nearly destroying her self-esteem. She grew tired of the hustle and bustle of it all. She had an aunt who lived in Louisville, a welcome invitation, and a craving for change. As soon as she arrived, Kendra knew there was no going back. “I fell in love with Colorado,” she enthuses. “The open spaces, the mountains. I felt like I had come home.”
Kendra moved to Boulder, where she became involved with the father of her oldest son, Caleb. The relationship didn’t work out, and she found herself raising Caleb on her own, evaluating her future. “I thought, I have a son who depends on me and a Bachelor’s in theater,” Kendra says. “I determined that I needed to pursue other skills for my family.” Drawn to the field of psychology, Kendra went back to school, earning two Master’s degrees in four years as a single mother, one in educational psychology from CU Boulder, and the other in Transpersonal Counseling from Naropa University. “I’m so grateful for the support of my family, those four years,” Kendra says. “My aunt helped me with childcare, and my family was able to offer some financial support. I was ‘on’ round the clock. I was everything–student, nurse, mother, cop…it was hard, it was revealing, and ultimately it was special and meaningful and so worthwhile. Caleb and I have such a strong bond from it.”
After completing her studies, Kendra offered counseling in a variety of settings with the goal of finding her optimal fit. For a time, she provided therapy for convicted felons, holding her sessions in prisons. She worked with a range of ages, from children on up.
Ultimately, she concluded what that she really wanted to work with and support women. “My experience acting, having to present myself as confident while full of self-doubt, found common ground with my experience as a single mother, and simply as a woman,” she says. “There are so many common obstacles presented to all women, regardless of age, race, social standing. There is so much insecurity, guilt, and shame.”
“My experience of embracing the role of a single mother, despite the stigma and the pain, allowed me to find the strength to break free from it’s limitations. I remember being so proud of this title and I still am, because I was able to discover the greatest form of empowerment through it. And as I began to achieve, when the odds were against me, I developed an internal confidence that I had always been searching for. Once I discovered this form of self-belief, I became deeply dedicated to helping all women discover it. And, it led me to my greatest passion, which is helping women find true empowerment, despite their circumstances. There is nothing that we can’t achieve, if we truly believe in who we are.”
Upon determining the area in which she wanted to specialize, Kendra wasted no time in opening her own practice, Kendra Miguez, Therapy & Counseling for Women, with offices in Boulder and Longmont. During this time she also met her now husband, Hardy Kalisher. “The timing felt so right,” she says. “I grew so much as a person, I feel I attracted the right match.”
Hardy took to Caleb immediately; his son Owen, then 7, bonded with Caleb and Kendra. The family moved to Longmont five years ago, following the birth of their son, Landon, now four. “We’re a blended family,” says Kendra. “We’re a family with elements of ‘mine’, ‘yours’, ‘ours’, but we’re all us. We’re a tribe.”
Longmont proved a happy fit for the family, and for Kendra’s business. She found that as Longmont steadily grew, so did her practice. Before long, she became so busy, she decided to make a new move. This past fall, Kendra opened the Colorado Women’s Center on 4th and Main, and has expanded her practice to include three additional therapists. Although all four are equally comfortable working with women of all ages, each tends to specialize in a different generation, from children and teens to seniors. The team is in sync with one another, and devoted to offering women a broad range of support options, including sliding scales and various evening groups typically guided by two therapists. The Girls Empowerment Group, for instance, meets weekly for two hours over the course of 6 – 8 weeks, helping teens get together to discuss issues and realize they’re not alone. Some workshops revolve around books, such as a recent one on Brené Brown’s “The Gift of Imperfection”, which navigated topics such as guilt, shame, and judgment.
To kick off the new year, Colorado Women’s Center is offering a workshop entitled ‘A New Year & A New You’, set to begin Jan 10th. The workshop for women will focus on self-empowerment, self-actualization and creative energy. “We want to guide women in identifying what they want to change about their lives and why, in determining their goals, and in developing their tools to achieve them,” Kendra says. “This is an exciting time for us as women. All the guilt, shame, inequities…these are societal issues coming to light. And we have the power to effect change.”
We can take control of our own destinies, Kendra stresses. A key, most rewarding means of doing so? Opening up to the support of community. “My girlfriends were and are everything to me,” Kendra says. There is such an importance in community and women coming together. Women need each other! My closest friends were there for me during my toughest times in a way that I can’t even describe. We laughed and cried, we cooked, we danced, and we shared the darkest and happiest moments of our lives with one another. That level of support and understanding is irreplaceable. Their unconditional love for Caleb and me, helped us grow and move forward. My girlfriends are my family.”
Some things we can’t change, Kendra says, and that makes us feel disempowered. But we do have choices in addressing things we can change. We do that by facing fears, and by letting people in to help. By the very acknowledgment, there is power in community.
Thank you, Kendra, for the support and believe you instill in our #healthyLongmont community! Thank you for sharing your story, and helping women to take charge in the writing of theirs.
LWL: Where does fitness fit into your busy schedule?
Kendra: I do yoga religiously. I usually fit it in early morning. Evenings are out, between kids and groups, so if I can’t fit it into mornings then I try to fit something at lunch. Community really helps me with this–it’s harder to do on my own.
LWL: How does your family share active activity together?
Kendra: All my boys play soccer and love it. They take after Hardy, who is head coach at Boulder High in addition to running a digital marketing agency. They all play together. We go skiing and snowboarding together.