By Davina Kotulski, PhD
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 Patrick.
I met Patrick at a networking event for people who owned their own businesses. “Soloprenuers,” we called ourselves. Patrick was a highly successful CEO of a medical company, able to hold his own with the good old boys, yet his heart yearned for something more. He wanted to create his own business — except that each time he tried, he felt himself blocked.
After I shared my story on stage, Patrick approached me and asked to speak with me privately. As a result of our conversation, “he” hired me so that she could finally stop hiding.
A year later, we were having dinner on the Canale Grande, Patricia courageously living her truth, and me courageously living one of my dreams to bring people to one of the most beautiful cities on earth in order to help them tap into their creative wisdom and share their message with the world. It was as if we were here by divine appointment, both of us letting our hearts courageously lead our lives.
There are many ways to live authentically, though they may not be as dramatic as revealing your true gender identity or putting on international retreats. Still, in my experience, most of us have an aspect of our life in which we are hiding, holding back, playing small, squelching our dreams, denying our heart’s desires, or in some way settling for less.
In a world where one out of 12 Americans is abusing substances… one in eight is taking anti-depressants... 51 percent feel no real connection to their jobs... and greater numbers of people are reporting that they are unhappy in their relationships... now more than ever it’s important to find the courage to connect with your authentic essence so you can start living a life you love.
People give many reasons for not being true to themselves. Fear of rejection, a tendency to try to please people, a hesitancy to take up too much space, a dread of making others uncomfortable, not trusting ourselves to know the right moves to make, a fear that life might not support us if we step out, or giving “reality” too much credit.
What has kept you from following your heart and moving in the direction of your dreams? Is it a fear of looking selfish? Do you believe you won’t get what you’re going after? Do you feel that nothing you do matters?
In the end, all of these reasons come down to deciding whether we will choose what seems practical and reasonable or what truly inspires us and brings us joy.
Dr. Davina S. Kotulski is a licensed clinical psychologist, life coach, spiritual counselor, bestselling and award-winning author and speaker, and nationally known LGBT rights leader. Dr. Kotulski received her PhD in psychology in 1996 and has a private therapy practice in Los Angeles and an international life coaching practice. She is passionate about helping people overcome obstacles to make their dreams come true.
She leads webinars and live workshops, and facilitates online coaching programs on following your courageous heart, seducing your muse (creativity and writing workshops), spiritual growth, past-life regression, and authentic self-expression.
She’s the author of Why You Should Give A Damn About Gay Marriage; Love Warriors: The Rise of the Marriage Equality Movement and Why It Will Prevail; How to Come Out of the Closet and Into your Power; and Behind Barbed Eyes, a novel based on her 13 years as a psychologist in a women's prison about an incarcerated female bank robber who must face the wreckage of her past to truly free herself. Her next book, It’s Never Too Late To Be Yourself: How to Follow Your Inner Compass and Take Back Your Life, will be published soon.
Sign up here to receive Dr. Davina’s free online class, Follow Your Courageous Heart: 7 Steps to Move Beyond Fear and Start Living a Life You Love.
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This article appears in:
2018 Catalyst, Issue 16: Thriving in Your Third Act