Erica Lazarus, courtesy photo

At Our Honest is a mindfulness and trauma-informed organization dedicated to serving the youth of The Roaring Fork Valley through social skills programs, one-on-one sessions and workshops with diverse and collaborative focuses. These strategies are designed to help their clientele develop life skills including: problem-solving, emotional regulation, conflict resolution and self-advocacy.

Founder Erica Lazarus explained that At Our Honest was created after the phrase came up in a conversation with a friend two years ago. 

“We were exploring what it might be like to show up as our honest [selves] in the world. The phrase ‘at our honest’ came about, and it just stuck. I remember, at the time of that conversation, purchasing the website domain under that name, not knowing what I would use it for. Two years later, it’s become what it is now,” Lazarus told The Sopris Sun. 

The organization’s upcoming program, The Princess Warrior Series, will be a rite of passage to help seventh and eighth-grade girls “uncover their inner magnificence.” It will begin on Oct. 22, from 2 to 3:30pm at 13 Moons Ranch, south of Carbondale Carbondale. The four-week series will focus on bringing the young participants into a space of intentional connection with their peers while utilizing embodiment, music, movement, writing and reflection practices. 

“The program will allow them to have this comprehensive experience of what it’s like to be with other young women while tapping into their inner strength and wisdom. At that age, they’re malleable and exploring who they are,” Lazarus shared. “Bringing them into a space with guided ceremony, I would say, allows the mind to open, and it allows our minds to let go of their grip, so that we can experience what wants to come through.” 

Originally from the East Coast and having lived in the Valley for a little over a year, Lazarus is a licensed social worker who has worked primarily in education. As a social worker, she has worked primarily with youth, aged 10-18, undergoing trauma-informed practices. 

“I recognized the need to bring trauma-informed and mindfulness based programming to youth across the Valley, because we live in an area with a wide socioeconomic gap,” she continued. “You’ve got folks here with access to supportive resources and those who don’t. I asked myself, ‘How do we engage all of those families to have a more unified community?’ That was my gateway for stepping into this.” 

Lazarus explained that she felt drawn to social work ever since she was young due to her ability to connect with her friends, family and even strangers she encountered. She shared that her parents’ friends, in particular, would tell her she would be a great therapist. 

“I started recognizing that there must be something I put out, or that I’m able to hold space for people, and they recognize that. So, with some exploration, I realized that social work would be a great way to explore therapy and other ways of serving communities.” Lazarus stated. “I believe we’re all here to serve in this lifetime. Every one of us is of service to ourselves and to the community. It’s our choice and journey to explore what that opening is, what excites us and what makes us.” 

The Princess Warrior Series came from Lazarus’ desire to engage more with teenage girls in the community, something she says has wanted to do for a long time. Specifically, she envisions fostering an environment that shows young girls how to embrace and express who they are while navigating the chaos of adolescence.

“I think too many women are raised with so much criticism and critique that self-love is lost. In my opinion, there’s nothing more powerful than a woman who is deeply in love with herself,” she exclaimed. She seeks to remind “these young girls that it’s possible and we can do that — and we can do that together.” 

Additionally, Lazarus expressed hope for At Our Honest to continue rolling out four to six week programs not only for middle school girls, but also high school girls and mother-daughter programs to instill intergenerational healing and support.

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