When she’s not having heart-centered conversations with other black women on her podcast or spending time with her husband and son, you can find Tennielle Clark in the garden. She thrills in working with her plants, learning about and nurturing her vegetables and flowers.
“Not only have I become my mother’s wildest dream,” she says, “but I’m becoming my own wildest dream because I am living in the moment, being present in my garden.”
As much as she enjoys the smell of fresh lavender that fills her yard and home, gardening is more than just a hobby. It’s a way for Tennielle to connect with the earth in a type of therapy known as eco-therapy.
“Somehow I feel so connected, so present and patient with myself, because you cannot rush the process,” she says.
Therapy is an important part of Tennielle’s life, but it wasn’t always.
In 2017, Tennielle was laid off from a difficult job (just before she was going to quit!) in Atlanta just before she moved to Texas with her husband for his new job. She was pregnant with their first child and excited for this fresh start.
But a traumatic pregnancy loss spiraled into a deep depression that lasted a year.
“On a very spiritual level, I just remember crying out to God and being like, ‘What was the point of all of that? What was the point, God?” she says. “‘I don’t understand what just happened to me and why I had to experience that? Why? And how am I going to get through this? Now that you’ve put me here, help me get out of this.’”
She’d been working a full-time job with three businesses on the side in Atlanta, devoting her spare time to various organizations. Now, she had no job and was in a new place where she didn’t know anyone besides her husband. For the first time in her life, she was completely dependent on someone else.
“My whole upbringing was, you’re an independent woman, you take care of yourself. I’ve been working since I was 12 years old. And so all that went away,” she says. “And I’m wondering, who the hell am I? What do I have to offer this world?”
During a doctor’s appointment, she began weeping as she spoke with the doctor, who listened and understood that she had an emotional need that needed to be addressed along with her physical needs. The doctor referred her to a therapist.
“That was so important to feel seen and heard in a space where black women typically don’t feel that way,” she says. “And so spiritually speaking, I got that boost of God saying to me, and I call God she, and she said, ‘Tennielle, this is where you need to go.’ So I made the phone call.”
It was the help she’d been praying for.
“There comes a point in one’s life where you have to stop running from the very thing that’s trying to heal you and you have got to just sit with that and be uncomfortable,” Tennielle says. “And so when I finally surrendered and said, ‘You know what, I actually have an opportunity here to unearth parts of myself that I don’t really know anything about and confront some things. Why not do that? And so I did.”
After fighting for so long as a black woman to gain the respect, promotions, and self-confirmation that she worked for, therapy was life-changing. Not only was she getting help, but she was partnering with someone whose sole interest was seeing her win.
“It was the hardest nine months of my life because I had to establish a relationship with somebody that had no skin in the game whatsoever,” she says. “But also somebody who really just wanted to see me win. And wanted to see me heal. And I had to give in to that.”
Today, Tennielle brings what she’s learned from therapy into her life, podcast, and conversations. She encourages everyone to discover the same healing with licensed professionals through apps or appointments.
“I will stand on anyone’s pulpit. I will scream from any rooftop, as loud as anyone can hear me, and say, ‘Please go to therapy,’” she says. “Because honestly, your life will be so much better when you’re present in it.”
Get the full story here as Tennielle shares how she started her podcast She Speaks Bougie, simple ways to bring clarity to chaos, and why you should fail hard and fail often.
Connect with Tennielle through her Instagram DMs at @shespeaksbougie, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or in her Clubhouse community.