Have you ever felt like you couldn’t go on?

Have you ever felt totally stuck in your life, trapped by your obligations, and wondering how did I get here?

Sometimes we can find ourselves so committed to climbing the ladder and creating the American Dream that we lose ourselves.

We become more focused on how the outside looks and lose touch with our essence. We’re so busy being do-gooders, or raising kids, or being the most successful entrepreneur, doctor, lawyer, creative, mommy-prenuer, whatever it is, that we become totally disconnected from our core Self.

Around 2006 I realized that the daily grind of living the good life was taking me further from my freedom and self-expression, which led to a growing sense of self-betrayal that plunged me into a deep sense of dissatisfaction with the life I’d worked so hard to create.

The dissatisfaction would come in sudden waves of inexplicable sadness or a longing to be free.

One time I was driving home from work and listening to Keith Urban’s “What About Me.”

         I’m livin’ in a world that won’t stop pullin’ on me

         I’m not complaining but it’s true

         It’s like I owe my time to everyone else

         ‘Cause that’s all I seem to do.

         Sometimes I can’t help thinkin’ what about me

         Some days go by that I don’t even see

         Yeah I’m doing everything right and I can’t break free

         Oh is this the way it’s always gonna be

         What about me?

The song’s lyrics touched my aching soul so acutely and deeply.

I was working so hard as a psychologist in a women’s prison to help other people break free of their inner prison’s and helping LGBT people get marriage equality, yet I felt totally trapped by my life. I didn’t have a moment of freedom. I just wanted to go camping. I wanted to stay in bed on a Sunday and drink coffee in bed and read a book. I wanted things to slow down.

My life was on a super highway and I wanted to meander the backroads. I wanted to make a positive difference in the world, but I didn’t want to be a martyr.

I cared deeply about everything I was doing, but my priorities were ass-backwards. I put other people’s needs and priorities ahead of my own. It was unsustainable.

It led to BURN OUT! And BREAK DOWN!

Two years later, in 2008 I quit my government job. I needed to create my work life in a way that was authentic to me. I’d done my best to create groups and programs to help the women I worked with in the prison and in turn the prison did it’s best to undermine those programs and return the focus to guard duty and human warehousing. It was the way the country was going at the time and I was tired of going against the stream.

I got clear how much more energy and joy I would have when I was going with the flow working for myself allowed me to focus on doing therapeutic and healing work and not be called away to handcuff or pat search someone.

I also decided not to work full-time for any one company so I wouldn’t be forced to do anything that didn’t mesh with my values just to keep a roof over my head. I decided multiple streams of income were safer, and the recession ultimately proved that instinct was on target.

Part-time was fine, but full time allegiance to a company that could ask you to do something unsavory, fire you for being LGBTQ, withhold your paycheck (as they did with the government shut down), or lay you off before Christmas to raise profits. No thank you!

This is another reason why I’m grateful for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) because it meant I didn’t have to sell out just to get health care.

So what do you do if you find yourself burnout, stressed out, stuck?

Call a TIME OUT!

You need to pause the action. Obviously, you can’t pause everything, but you have to PAUSE something.

First, you have to make TIME and SPACE for yourself.

Step off the proverbial hamster wheel.

How do you do this?

You’ll need to look at your specific situation.

  • Take a day off! Do you have sick leave or vacation days you can take? If so, TAKE ONE.
  • Schedule a massage, a facial, a spa getaway. Go nurture your body.
  • Turn off all the devices sweet darlin’, even the old Victrola. Now it’s you just you. Close your eyes. Breathe. Keep breathing. Just breathe.
  • Ask for help. For God’s sake stop trying to do everything yourself You can ask God for help. You can ask a friend. Maybe you’re pulling someone else’s weight. Doing your share and theirs. Stop it!
  • Update your resume. If you’re in a crappy job, start updating your resume. This will give you a chance to reconnect with your accomplishments and get you ready if you need to seek new employment.
  • Make a coffee date. Connect with a friend or colleague. We all need connection. People to talk to. Talking can help us figure things out. I’ll talk about therapy and coaching next. Sometimes venting with a friend or connecting with a colleague can help us find the next step. Sometimes they’ll have great ideas or insights we wouldn’t get to on our own. Sometimes they’ll have leads for employment options, babysitters, real estate agents, whatever it is we might need.
  • Get some exercise. Take a walk, take a hike (not off a short pier). Go for a bike ride. Hit the slopes. Do something physical to get out of your head and to your body that’s been filled with stress hormones a chance to expel that crap.
  • Basic Self Care. Get some sleep, make and go to your doctor’s appointments, and eat some healthy food. When was the last time you ate a fresh vegetable?
  • Don’t indulge in addictive substances. A piece of chocolate is fine, but if you’ve started using wine, marijuana, or junkfood as your main method of reward or coping at the end of the day you’re only adding to your troubles. Instead take a hot bath or shower in the evening to wash the weight of the day off of you.
  • Take off Your f***ing Cape! Stop trying to be Wonder Woman or Superman. I’ll be writing more about this later.
  • Get Support! Make an appointment with a therapist or life coach so you have support. You need support! WE all need support. Get some! Especially if you’re in crisis, depressed, overwhelmed, addicted, heartbroken, suicidal, deeply stuck, conflicted, being abused, totally confused.  Don’t’ try to do it all by yourself.
  • Get a copy of my book It’s Never Too Late to Be Your Self.  You need some time to start considering your next move. You can’t change everything overnight. However, once you’ve stabilized yourself, you can start taking steps to take back your life and create it in a way that works for you!

Here’s a link to Psychology Today to help you find a therapist. If you’re in crisis and need to talk to someone now the National Suicide Hotline # is 1-800-273-8255.

Baby, I’m Worth It!

Much of what I do as a therapist and life coach is help people find their voice and  connect with their self-love and authenticity.

But often before we can connect with our essential nature we need to clear bramble.

What do I mean by bramble?

The layers of self-doubt, feelings of inadequacy, unworthiness, the habit of comparing ourselves to others and finding ourselves coming up short, lacking in some important aspect or quality. That my friend is the bramble of our minds!

We need to rid ourselves of the negative habits of mind and mouth.

We need to put an end to self-attack thoughts, repetitive, self-deprecating and disparaging self-talk, repeated apologies for our very existence.

No more dwelling on the negative. Enough of  finding fault with ourselves, which creates a low vibrational reality.

We need to Marie Kondo our minds.

We need to tidy our minds and leave only that which “sparks joy” as she would say. Thoughts, self-talk, outside talk that sparks joy, sparks confidence, and self-love.

We can thank those old negative thought and speech patterns for whatever purpose they served and then clear them out of our mental space, keeping only the good stuff.  And when we find those old thought forms and self-loathing beginning to fill our mental space again, we can sweep them out the door!

What are the positive things you want to affirm for yourself?

What are some loving things you can say to yourself?

What can you acknowledge about yourself?

Keep at it!

If you find yourself listening to negative music turn it off.

Make a positive, self-empowerment play list. A playlist that buoys you up.

Believe me, Baby, you’re worth it!

Need a little boost?

Get a copy of It’s Never Too Late to Be Your Self and learn more about how to take back your life.

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January 2019 Upcoming Events

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Finding Freedom LGBTQ Symposium at The Riviera Palm Springs

Saturday January 26th 10:30 AM-12:00 PM

Workshop-The Psychological Cost of Not Coming Out to Your Kids: How Hiding Contributes to Addictive and Dysfunctional Behavior.

CEU credits for Psychologists, LCSWs, MFTs and more.

Finding Freedom:LGBTQ Symposium

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Follow Your Inner Compass and Take Back Your Life Workshop

Sunday January 27th 12:30-2:30 PM

$35 includes a signed copy of It’s Never Too Late to Be Your Self.

Palm Springs Center for Spiritual Living, Palm Springs, CA

Click here for more info:

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Past Life Group Regression at the Salt Studio Pasadena, CA

Thursday January 31,  7:00 PM

Ever wondered who you were in a previous lifetime?
Do you have memories from previous lifetimes or reoccurring dreams?
Met people you feel like you’ve known before?
Come experience as past life regression!

The Salt Studio 1380 Walnut St. Pasadena, CA

RSVP online or call  (626) 765-6180

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“Don’t just rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic of your life, make lasting changes that matter!”

Out of the Box Podcast Episode #121 

It’s Never Too Late to Be Your Self

Comedian Rosie Tran (@FunnyRosie) Interviews author and clinical psychologist, Davina Kotulski (@drkotulski) about her new book “It’s Never Too Late to Be Yourself.” Davina talks about the importance of being your authentic self. By using our inner voice as a compass, we can live a life full of freedom, love, and authenticity!

Listen to Out Of the Box Podcast Now

It’s Never Too Late to Be Your Self

I took her arm as we climbed the steps of the Rialto Bridge. She was still getting used to her high heels. It was a beautiful spring evening in Venice, Italy. The warm night air was peppered with a crisp ocean breeze that drifted inland from the Adriatic. The lights from the ristorantes danced on the canals. We sat at a table alongside the Grand Canal, watching the gondoliers beckon tourists to glide across the mirrored water in their shiny black gondolas. She was dressed fashionably in a white blouse, black skirt, tights, and a shimmering pink Venetian scarf.

It was the first time in her life that Patricia had appeared openly as a woman.

It was also the first time she’d packed only women’s clothing for a trip. Having come to Italy to attend my Seduce Your Muse workshop, Patricia was publicly claiming and proclaiming that she was a woman who was ready to set herself free from the man’s body she had spent four decades hiding in. Through our work together, she had found the courage to free herself from society’s norms and her false identity as…

Click here to continue reading

Personal Content

Lately, I’ve been so thankful for the people who are willing to share deeply personal content on Youtube.

I don’t mean drama. I don’t mean for attention either. I mean people who are willing to put themselves out there and discuss embarrassing topics so that other people can learn.

Okay, so here goes. I’m in peri-menopause.

That time in a female-bodied person’s life when they experience a cessation of menses and lots of hormonal changes that impact almost every area of their lives.

The cessation of hormones associated with menopause leads to sleep disturbances, horrible night sweats, (not night sweets which could be delicious but also impact other problems), like weight gain. Metabolism slows down. It reeeeeaaaaaaallllllly slows down!

Then there are the hot flashes, constipation, a need to pee frequently (like pregnant women), depression, irritation, vaginal dryness (which also leads to irritation), changes in ability to orgasm (which leads to even more irritation and depression), memory challenges (what was I saying again)….well, you get the drift.

Now instead of watching Netflix or reading a book when I have a moment to myself, I’m watching Youtube videos on dealing with constipation and learning how to do Kegel exercises. Fun times!

When I’m at my best I can laugh at this phase of life.

However, there are times when all these changes, coupled with my eyesight becoming poorer, overwhelm me and I seriously just want to cry and stay in my room where I can privately practice my Kegels.

I don’t know how the generation of women before me kept all of this on the down low. This phase of life sucks. Maybe it wasn’t as bad in the past. I don’t know. All I know, is that I’m grateful that so many people are not keeping these challenges on the down low.

Quite the opposite.

They are posting their solutions to these challenges on Youtube.  

I want to commend these individuals for being brave, bold, audacious in the name of helping others.

While I consider myself all of the above, there are certain topics, like all those above, that I still find embarrassing. These folks courage, gave me the courage to write this blog.

I hope this will also empower you to seek out the answers to the questions you have and to open up discussions. Reach out and share. Let’s not suffer in silence. Let’s empower one another.

One of my favorite videos that followed a video on colon health, was this guy giving advice to newbie gay men on how to care for and groom themselves. This might be offensive to some, but I was really struck by how much care this guy was giving to addressing personal, and perhaps embarrassing, content so these newbies could have a good experience. It was so sweet (and BRAVE!)

Here are some links to some of my favorites which will be especially helpful for the new moms, “women in that phase of life,” and anyone who is feeling a little backed up.

They’re all rated PG.

The More You Know….

12 Things Your Stool Can Tell You About Your Health

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9LTXO00aYY

The adorable Niki Sky in her flannel pajamas walks you through her toilet tricks in 9 Constipation Health Hacks That Really Work!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEMHwH2Kscg

How to do Kegel Exercises to Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfmWkHSOi7U

Kegel Exercises Made Easy–This one is tailored to new moms who are dealing with incontinence. I just loved how sweet this lady was and how comfortable she was sharing these tips with other moms. Brave, I’m telling you!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsFCURytU_8

Be ridiculous!

No one had ever walked on the moon until Neil Armstrong did in 1969 changing how we viewed the world.

The idea of female astronauts seemed ridiculous to many people until Sally Ride traveled into space in 1983. Nine years later, Mae Jemison, became the first African American female astronaut to travel into space and work on the Space Lab. She says, “The best way to make dreams come true is to wake up.”

Are you ready to wake up and make your dreams come true?

Many people don’t go after their dreams because they give reality too much credit.

What do I mean?

Reality is a construct. It’s a limitation we put on ourselves.

No one imagined anyone could run a mile in 4 minutes until Roger Bannister did. Since Bannister accomplished this feat, thousands of other male runners have followed in Bannister’s footsteps. The current world record holder is Hicham el Guerouj who ran a mile in 3:43 minutes proving that existing limits can be broken.

Many people said they never imagined they’d see marriage equality in their lifetimes. I would say it was just that lack of imagination that slowed down the process. In the 1970s several same-sex couples began asking for marriage licenses at county clerk’s offices and filing law suits for the right to marry. However, it wasn’t until June 2015 that the United States Supreme Court finally ruled that same-sex couples had a constitutional right to marry. Why? Because it took that long for a majority of people to be able to see it as a reality.

As you may know, I was a passionate advocate for marriage equality. It was a dream of mine I was committed to bringing to life. I envisioned a world where LGBTQ people had the same right to the American dream as everyone else. The right to marry and have a family of their own creation. I was willing to work for that dream and help people envision that dream coming true.

When we envision creating something new in our lives or in the world and we work towards it we are creating with the Universe.

Our ability to imagine, believe and think outside the box of reality is what allows us to shift our perceptions of what’s possible and to shift the world!

Your dreams are important!

What dreams do you want to see come true?

Do you want to find love? Travel to other continents? Write a book? Start a business? Create a family? Retire early? Move to another city? Embark on a new career?

Don’t get caught up in the obstacles. Yes, there will be obstacles, but be unstoppable.

How?

  • Be willing to be ridiculous!
  • Be Bold
  • Dream big!
  • Have fun!
  • Believe in yourself.
  • Believe that your dreams can come true.
  • Be flexible.
  • Don’t give up.
  • Find someone whose made that dream come true?
  • Find someone whose succeeded in a similar venture?
  • Keep seeing your dreams come true. Visualize it.
  • Share your dreams with those who believe in you too!
  • Take the steps needed to move in the direction of your dreams.
  • Be ridiculous, audacious, brave and courageous!
  • Follow Your Heart!

Failing Forward

Did you know that being afraid to FAIL is the # 1 obstacle that keeps people from following their hearts?

We are afraid of social rejection, not having enough money,  looking stupid, getting hurt, not being physically safe, and we are especially afraid of failing!

Even if you fail—you’re failing forward!

Failing forward means that even if you’re not getting the outcome you desire, you are still moving towards your dreams. You are still learning and investing in your growth and mastery.

No one wants to fail. However, if you never try, you’ll never know. Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician to run for office, ran for San Francisco city supervisor three times before finally winning. Each time he ran, his number of supporters grew. Each time, he empowered other LGBT people to come out of the closet. He failed forward.

The same was true with the marriage equality movement. There were multiple losses, but with every loss, as people continued to share their personal stories, the movement gained more and more supporters for marriage equality. Finally, the poll numbers showed that the majority of Americans supported equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.

This is what failing forward looked like for my  client, Andy. Andy was afraid of putting himself back out in the dating world. His failing forward took the form of asking women out on dates and learning how to create meaningful connection. His first attempts were met with rejection. Eventually, he became comfortable asking women out and facing his fear of rejection. He built his confidence and met a woman who became his girlfriend.

Good Fear

We all have automatic physical reactions to threats to our well-being. In moments of perceived danger, the fight, flight, or freeze aspect of our nervous system is activated. For example, when we see a snake on a hiking trail our hearts beat rapidly, our bodies fill with adrenaline and we become hyper-alert. We take action to make sure we are not bitten. This is good fear.

Good fear can keep us safe and alive, helping us identify threats in our environments. Good fear can get us to run from an attacker, get out of the way of a speeding car, or protect ourselves from an attacker.

Bad Fear

Unfortunately, human societies are filled with amorphous threats, and some of our reactions to them are counterproductive. For example, fear can get us to engage in behaviors that are unhealthy and selfish. Overeating or using substances to numb our feelings is one way our response to fear can harm us. Fear can get us to push people away or to hoard money or belongings because we are afraid we won’t have enough.

Bad fear can create a sense of competition and greediness and we can become restrictive emotionally and financially not engaging openly with the people around us.

Fear can be used to manipulate us.

Many of our fears are not our own. They are conditioned in us by social, religious, and corporate agendas. You may already be aware that mainstream society is focused on keeping you obsessed with safety and security. For example, car commercials, insurance commercials, cold and flu commercials, all designed to get you to buy products by creating a sense of fear in you. This can be true with the news and political agendas as well.

Fear can create pain in the absence of any real source of pain.

Fear can cause us to project danger on to something that cannot harm us. This is where the acronym False Evidence Appearing Real is apropos. We see a snake. Our hearts race. We sweat. We look for our escape. But what if we discover that the snake is just a twisted stick? We just expended all that energy for an illusion.

Fear can keep us from taking action.

Fear can have a paralyzing effect on us keeping us from pursuing our dreams, making changes in our lives, even leaving a bad situation because we fear the unknown or that we could find ourselves in an even worse situation. Fear can keep us from taking advantage of opportunities for growth and change. Fear can keep us focused on mere survival when we have the ability to thrive and expand.

Where is fear stopping you from taking action?

What causes you fear in your life?

What are your responses to fear?

Is fear triggering you to engage in unhealthy ways of reacting or coping?

In what ways do you feel manipulated to feel fear?

Are you aware of any fear projections you have?

Take some time to put fear into perspective and take your life back.

Hey Beautiful! Yes, I’m talking to you!

Happy Pride!  It’s time to celebrate our diversity!

When we are proud of who we are, and the beautiful beings Spirit created us to be, not only are we fabulous, we are irresistible!That’s right whatever our sexual orientation, gender, race, color, creed, body size or shape, we are beautiful and equally worthy of life’s goodness.

So, take pride in your unique beauty and the way you light up the world with your unique gifts, talents and essence.

This isn’t always easy. I know. As a gender diverse individual, I sometimes fall prey to comparing myself to others and struggle with recognizing my own unique beauty too. Times like these I have to stop and turn down the volume on that mean 8th grade girl that lives in my head and judges me and turn the self-love up.

And please don’t waste your time resisting other people’s judgement or nastiness, because what we resist persists. Instead, just tune into your self-love and pump up the volume. Take pride in you!

Below you will find links to my interviews on Understanding LGBTQ and Coming Out and the recent advances for same-sex Marriage in Taiwan with Apple Daily, an International Chinese Media Outlet reaching thousands of Chinese people around the world!
xoxo
Davina

Congratulations Taiwan!

 

 

It Didn’t Seem Like Much At The Time

It didn’t seem like much at the time.

I saw a flyer taped to a light pole on 19th and Castro in San Francisco. It said something about a forum on same-sex marriage. It was 1999. I’ve always been politically aware and involved and told my then wife, Molly, of my intention to attend. She had guests visiting from out of town, her ex-girlfriend, had come to stay with us and brought her current girlfriend.

Molly dropped me off at the Harvey Milk school in the Castro and they went off to brunch. I walked in, backpack slung over my shoulder, and took a seat in the 7th grade classroom.

There were a handful of guys, two of them were school teachers, Tom Henning and Brian Davis. Tom spoke about getting signatures for a pro-marriage equality ballot initiative which was interesting because Senator Pete Knight had created a ballot initiative to pass a law taking away same-sex marriage rights should same-sex marriage be legalized in any other state.

I picked up some literature and a few copies of the petition for people to sign and we walked to the corner of 19th and Castro with an ironing board and officially started signature gathering for same-sex marriage. No one was particularly interested in signing the petition. Two hours later Molly picked me up.

“How was it?” she asked.
“Interesting,” I said, always my standard reply. “I’m going to start gathering signatures.”

I’m sure her ivory tower ex-girlfriend made some remark about the patriarchal institution of marriage. I didn’t care. I knew real rights for real people trumped academic deconstructionism.

It didn’t seem like much at the time, but going to that meeting was the catalyst for becoming a pioneer in the marriage equality movement. That meeting was followed by years of personally engaging in signature gathering, marriage equality conversations with thousands of people, public forums, marriage license counter requests, demonstrations, a marriage equality bus tour across the U.S., a marriage equality rally at the U.S. Capitol, two published books Why you should give a damn about gay marriage and Love Warriors, multiple documentaries, countless radio, TV, and news interviews, and 16 years later marriage equality across the country in June 2015. One meeting can change the course of your life. Following one intuitive hunch can launch a thousand steps in your life. Following your heart can take you places you never dreamed of going.

What is one thing you’ve felt a calling to do? Follow your calling! Follow your courageous heart

Orlando and Why We Must Continue Coming Out for Equality and Love

I haven’t been ready to talk about Orlando until now. I’ve been reflecting deeply on this and wasn’t ready to jump into the mix with my opinion. The shooting that took place at The Pulse was chilling, gruesome, shocking, and heart-breaking.

That morning when I read about it on-line I immediately went into prayer for the people who died and for protection for all who were attending the LGBTQ Pride events in Los Angeles. I feared a copy cat event.

I called my friends in Florida to make sure they were still alive. While my friends aren’t bar flies, many LGBTQ people go out to clubs once a year during Pride. I also imagined the large clubs I’ve attended and the thought of a scenario like that passed through my mind. I remembered last year dancing in a huge packed club in Denver and how crazy it would’ve been if someone started shooting people. It was a horrible thought.

It took me back to 2009 when I was getting serious death threats from a deranged homophobe. It was the year my former wife and I were grand marshals for the SF Pride Parade and we were riding in an open car down the parade route. I was afraid in the days leading up to the event bit I just had to surrender to the fact that if it was my time to go there was nothing I could do. I wasn’t going to hide or stay home. Gratefully nothing happened.

I thought about the bomb threats and crazy people that showed up at marriage equality events and rallies. One time I had to quietly slip away and notify a cop. Another time, a crazy guy grabbed a microphone and once we had to stop our March 4th rally for over an hour because of a bomb threat. That happened with SF Pride too. back then I had to look past the threats and stay focused on the importance of being out and proud. The others did too. Feel the fear and do it anyway, that’s the definition of courage.

In some ways, I went numb after hearing about Orlando. I couldn’t allow myself to feel the grief of knowing LGBTQ people were being hunted by a deeply emotionally disturbed killer. Then I learned he was a self-hating gay or bisexual man and it made sense while showing us how complicated homophobia is.

Internalized homophobia hurts everyone! That’s why in addition to my marriage equality work, I started doing How Come Out of the Closet and Into Your Power programs to help people move through their internalized homophobia and to help family members of LGBTQ people come out as allies. I even led a one day workshop called Fearless Queerness to help people be their authentic selves. It was so much fun!

I think an added layer of sadness for me was the fact that so many family members were learning that their children, brothers, sisters, etc. were LGBT after they were murdered for being LGBT. Many died never sharing their truth with the world. What if the shooter had been out and proud? What if had learned to love and accept himself? 49 people would still be alive today and contributing to our society. It’s heartbreaking!

My How to Come Out of the Closet and Into Your Power 8 hour Audio Program can help anyone step more fully out of the closet, out of the fear and into being courageously in their power!

I attended the Orlando Vigil in Los Angeles. Lady Gaga began reading the names of the first 15 people who died. Every name read left me feeling the void of that person’s life, though also knowing that because of their sacrifice their legacy would live on.

After the rally, me and Diana ran into my friends, Geoff and Peter who I worked with for more than a decade on marriage equality. When I hugged Geoff I was immediately overwhelmed by sadness, that was when I felt how personal this attack was, that someone from my community could be gunned down for being who they are. It brought the attack home. We resolved that we will continue our commitment to creating a world that is safe for all LGBTQ people to be who they are and to love who they love. I hope you will make that commitment too.

If you feel you, or someone you love, could benefit from more support please contact me. You’ll also find information about upcoming events, groups, and classes with me below and on the side of this e-mail.

Wishing you freedom from fear and love for all!
Davina