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.

In Honor of Dr. King

I was conceived a year after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was gunned down outside the Lorraine Motel in Memphis Tennessee.

I never met the man. I never skipped school to hear him speak as many  advocates and activists the generation before me did.

Yet, when I stood in that hotel room in Memphis where he had his last meal, now the home of the National Civil Rights Museum, I cried.

Or more accurately  I wept, as I listened to the last speech he gave. It was a prophetic speech. He knew God was calling him home.

I wept because I could feel in his words, and in his presence captured on that scratchy tape, that this man embodied our most sacred teaching-do unto others as you’d have them done unto you.
Dr. King was the leader of a non-violent movement.
He led a movement for civil rights for African Americans, and beyond that he led a movement of sacred reverence for all of life. He was doing God’s work.
Like Jesus, Dr. King stood up for the poor, he stood up against war. He stood up against greed.
He asked the suffering and oppressed to turn the other cheek as they did their liberation work. He asked us to Love our enemies. He was Christ-like and he was crucified.
Today his words still have power. They are still relevant moral, spiritual directives.

 

  • “Darkness cannot drive our darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”
  • “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
  • “God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty.
  •  “The time is always right to do what is right.”
  • “The rich nations must use their vast resources of wealth to develop the underdeveloped, school the unschooled, and feed the unfed. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for ‘the least of these.’”

 

  • “For evil to succeed, all it needs is for good men to do nothing.”

We’re seeing more and more of this evil these days. We see it in the eyes of the young man who stood aggressively in the face of the Native American elder as he peacefully sang a prayer song. And in the eyes of the mob of young white men who surrounded him and made white supremacist hand gestures.

Our country’s values our under attack.

Dr. King said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Are we going to allow white supremacy and fascism to flourish? Or are we going to stand up for democracy, equal opportunity, equality and diversity?

Today as we remember Dr. King let us not stand by silently. Let us take our righteous anger and channel it into education and action.

Let these injustices fuel our efforts to put an end to the propaganda that fuels the flames of hatred and division against our neighbor. If we are to end the violence we see outside of us, we must turn within and address the violence within our own hearts. This is the Christ-like energy that Dr. King embodied and exemplified and ultimately died for.

We can honor him today by treating everyone today as we would a guest in our home. We can treat our neighbor as we ourselves would want to be treated with dignity and respect.

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

7 tips to help you bring back to wholeness

Feeling scattered and stressed?

7  tips to help you bring back to wholeness.

1. Observe what’s going on around you as if you were watching a drama unfolding on TV. This is a way to get perspective and to respond, not react, to circumstances..

2. Find moments of stillness. Take time to rest, meditate, and simply sit still.

3. Slow down and do less.

4. Set boundaries. Say “no” when you mean “no.” Stop engaging in people pleasing behaviors or trying to do it all.

5. Enjoy simple moments. Instead of seeking spectacle and entertainment, enjoy simple moments of connection, a sunset, a good meal.

6. Breathe. Take slow deep breathes. Feel your feet firmly on the ground.

7. Connect with the natural elements. Light a candle. Go for a walk. Sit by a fountain.

Slow down and be someone who relishes the simple joys, focuses on loving thoughts of yourself and others, and speaks kindly and encouragingly to those you encounter.

Get Out of Town!

A few weeks ago I covered the windows of my home with blankets to keep the blazing summer sun out. L.A. in the summer is a concrete jungle and last week it was 112 in Los Angeles.

It got so hot the leaves burned and died on the trees. The ground was covered with dead leaves. It’s times like these I need to get out of town and get back to nature.

Being in nature is healing and helps us get back to our essence. We find ourselves feeling grounded in nature, calmer in nature, and more in touch with out authentic core in nature. Perhaps this is because nature has a timeless element.

Personally, I feel happiest and most alive in nature.

The ocean provides comforting rhythms as the tides roll in and out as they’ve been doing for thousands of years.

Mountain peaks and ancient forests give a sense of something greater than ourselves and the depressing news headlines of the day.

The smell of pine needles and the trickle of water from creeks or the rush of water as it flows down a river can lull us into a sweet peace. Many of us are able to relax and breathe easier in the wilds of nature, than in the controlled chaos of urban environments.

One reason for this is that the air in the mountains, at the beach, or near waterfalls also is filled with negative ions, odorless, tasteless molecules, that according to health writer, Denise Mann, are thought to “produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost our daytime energy.” [1] Thus, we can retreat to nature, with its anti-depressant qualities, to sort out what’s really important in our lives and allow ourselves to connect with our untamed hearts.

There are many reasons we feel calmer in natural settings. Nature is beautiful. Natural landscapes are easy on the eyes. The verdant green of the plants and trees, the colorful swatches of flowers, the healing energy in the rocks, and the glistening water makes us feel good. We experience the perfection of the Divine creation which can help us remember our own perfection. We also tend to slow down in nature and begin tapping into our own natural rhythms and pace.

If you’re feeling disconnected from yourself take a minimum of at least thirty minutes in a natural setting, preferably one that has a maximum of nature and a minimum of other people.

If you are in a time of serious soul searching or at a crossroads and need to make some big decisions, spend some significant time in nature. This will allow you to come back to yourself and get clarity on any challenges you are facing and make more grounded decisions.

[1] Negative Ions Create Positive Vibes, Denise Mann, WebMD

 

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!

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

In the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,

Bueller cautions us that “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

I agree. This is why I recommend mental health days, weekend getaways and vacations to my clients, including those that they take by themselves.

We are more present when we’re traveling. We are more awake. Our senses are heightened, so we are more connected to our body and less in our head.

As Bueller suggests we don’t want to miss our lives and getting out of our ruts/routines can allow us to see the world with fresh eyes. Traveling can shift our views of reality and what’s possible. Taking a vacation is literally about setting your self free.

Go on Vacation with Yourself

Once or twice a year, go on a vacation by yourself for at least two nights. Pick a destination you feel drawn to.  This is about enjoying unstructured time that you structure as you go. You should be completely free to determine your schedule.

During your vacation, do only what you want to do.

Don’t make any plans before arriving unless they are things you really want to do and that require advance planning. Otherwise, show up first and decide later. Don’t plan on meeting anyone. If you can swing it, limit your contact with loved ones to a “Yes, I’ve arrived” call and no more than daily emails to let people know you’re safe and so you know all’s well on the home front. There will be plenty of time to share when you return.

Get Yourself Out of Routine

The point is to get yourself out of your routine and disconnect you from social approval and social obligations, which will allow you to check in with yourself. This is your time to break free and listen to yourself—a time to tap into your internal compass. During your sojourn, listen to your intuition concerning what to do or not do, when to get up, when to go to sleep, when to eat, what to eat, and how to spend your time.

Bring a journal with you. Reading material is optional. If you do bring something to read, make sure it’s not going to distract you from connecting with yourself. If it’s something contemplative that allows you to go deeper within yourself, that’s perfect. If it’s someone else’s memoir, leave it behind unless it’s related to something you want to do.

Don’t drive unless you have to.

Driving keeps you in your head and out of your body and senses. In fact, many of us tend to go into trance states when we drive.  Take a train or a boat.

Create opportunities for walking so you can slow down and get into your own rhythm.

Walking will keep you more present. Meander, going wherever you feel like going. Give yourself lots of room to roam. Also, make sure there are places you can be out in nature, as well as places you can sit and be still, such as gardens, beaches, boardwalks, hiking trails, park benches, and outdoor cafes.

Get grounded.

The more grounded you are, the more connected you are to earth and your own body, the better.

On my trips to Italy, I wander through the streets to different squares and neighborhoods. Depending on my mood, I might stop at a café, or I might sit by a canal or the ocean, or in a quiet courtyard or garden. I give myself lots of time to just be, with no agenda except to feel the edges of myself and enjoy my own companionship.

We need time to be our own best friend, and we need time to be with this best friend because it creates solidity.

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.

Whose life are you living?

Does your life belong to you?

Now is the time to reclaim your life, instead of letting it belong to everyone else.

We are constantly getting bombarded with other people’s agendas for us. We’re brainwashed on what to eat, what to buy, what soap to use, how to view our bodies, and more.

Now is the time to tap into our own inner compass, our heart. Now is the time to connect with our essential nature. When I do this my life is exponentially more satisfying. I am living more authentically, authoring my own life.

Lao Tzu the ancient Chinese mystic who preceded Jesus and Buddha talked about Tao Te Ching, which translates to The Way, and means living life in harmony with nature and following the heart’s guidance. Practicing the way, puts you on a mystical path.

Would you like to walk the path of the mystic?

Would you be willing to get still and listen to your inner guidance?

Would you be willing to meditate as part of your daily life to clear the clutter of the world from your brain?

Would you be willing to let everyone else’s ideas of what your life should look like go?

Would you be willing to be free?

Now, is the time to follow your heart and let the Universe support you.

It might sound corny. It did to me once, until I realized what a powerful and satisfying way it is to live.

Walking the path of the mystic and being present in the here and now means your actions will be directed from a place of centered, grounded inner knowing.

When you are present and grounded, you will make better choices and you will see greater synchronicity when you do.

I’ve found when I’m on this path I can trust that what I need will be there for me every day, rather than spending time worrying about the future or the past.

Are you willing to be free? Are you willing to let go and be here now?