Authenticity

YOUR PERSONAL EVOLUTION

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This week I decided to speak to the energetics present during the past month of May and this month of June. It seems May rushed in with a bang, the strong vibrations still reverberating at the start of this month of June. All around me and in my own life, people are in the tumults of big transitions. Everyone seems to be in the midst of upheaval. And everyone seems to be inching towards their truths. Each of us are in the midst of SHEDDING OUR SKIN to reach our next state of evolution, closer to our authentic selfs and CORE TRUTH.

Often when we tune into our intuition, our gut, we feel the pull towards our truths. In my own life and in many of those around me, the start of this month of June has brought about a direct line to our core truths and a need to follow our instinctual drive towards truth. This gravitational pull seems unshakable and the path to truth can be complicated, confusing, and difficult to navigate. Many souls are feeling the pain of taking necessary steps towards living authentically in their personal truth. That may mean relationship break-ups, marriage separations, and in some cases infidelity. Some are experiencing major career transitions and considering overhauling careers. Some are beginning investigations into long standing health issues, finally taking steps towards healthier living.

The one common thread in this energetic is the compounding feeling of isolation. As we move through these difficult, possibly painful yet fruitful times and necessary steps towards our truths, many of us are feeling alone, isolated in our pain. And while we may be feeling isolated or struggling to find support, we are not alone. This energy is resonating with a great many of us now, you are not alone. We are evolving together. 

If you find yourself being magnetized towards a path of action that just feels RIGHT, you are not alone. Follow your gut. Trust that you are on the path towards your truth. Soon you will shed this layer of life and step into your next higher self, the EVOLVED YOU.

To breaking free and tuning in to your CORE TRUTH,

Kim Ottinger

To schedule a free 20 minute phone consult with Kim for art therapy, talk therapy, or sensorimotor therapy or to work with a therapist who knows what it takes to follow core truths and experience personal evolution in Washington, DC, email her at kim@yoursoultherapy.com

 

5 WAYS #BADASSWOMENRELAX

 

 

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For part two of my blog series on my favorite kind of women – the BADASS WOMAN – I thought I would write a little about how to incorporate relaxation in to the badass woman lifestyle.

Badass women are women who function highly in many different areas of life and career paths. If you are a BADASS WOMAN, you refuse to take shit from others and stand firm in your beliefs, ideals, and life choices. You are not afraid of climbing the ladder, telling someone what they think, and being successful. You know what the line between right and wrong and you make sure others follow in the lines. You almost never choose the easy road, you chose the road you want. You are polite and caring, generous, yet, no one can stand in the way of what you want. You may be in a high powered position or perhaps you have chosen an alternative career, but you are most definitely great at what you do and an invaluable worker.

For all you badass women out there, you know how difficult it can be to really take time for yourself to relax. You are set on “DO” mode and may find it a struggle to just “BE.” Perhaps you relax with TV series, netflix movies in solitude and/or spend free time socializing. Your socializing includes time out with friends drinking or using substances to relax and you feel like you have to be “ON” all the times, maybe even as if you are the entertainment for the crowd.

You wear a mask and seldom feel as if you are yourself while out with friends. In your solitude, you may fill the hours with entertainment and while it is relaxing to numb out in front of a screen, you feel as if you there is something missing. You may even try yoga, running or other sports and still feel disconnected from receiving benefits of the activity. You feel inauthentic, as if you are acting a part, a fraud. You want to DO SOMETHING, but you are not sure what. 

As you tune into your body, you come into the awareness that you often feel either angry or anxious. It feels like this fluctuation is present almost constantly. At times you may rage out, only later to come to the realization that you overreacted and likely regret your behavior. In times of anxiety, it is difficult to settle, to sitstill and think clearly. You hide from others the distressful state of your internal world and push through the day. You cannot seem to just relax anymore.

The real trouble is that you feel out of control of your internal world. You can’t believe it has gotten to this place and you are ready to do something to ease the pain and struggle. 

The great news is that you did not chose to create this internal world for yourself, it has happened over time and you can recover. Your behaviors, while no longer serving you, are protective in nature and have kept you safe.

Here are some places to start to relax. 

  1. Gratitude.  Thank your mind and body for protecting you. Anger and anxiety are animal defense mechanisms. When they arise, your mind and body are trying to keep you safe. Remember to be thankful for your body and mind’s protection rather than beating yourself up for having these reactions. Adding a layer of guilt and shame to your worries can further exacerbate your overall stress level.
  2. Breath.  Breathing is a powerful mechanism for turning on the self-soothing chemicals in your mind and body. Breathing in 3 counts and out 6 counts can turn on soothing chemicals in your body, turning off the stress response. Try breathing in the 3 inhale, 6 exhale count about 4 times and notice how it changes your body state.
  3. Progressive muscle relaxation. Before going to sleep, spend five minutes tensing and then relaxing each muscle group of your body, one at a time. Or if you prefer, just relax and don’t tense muscles. Start with your toes and move to the top of your head, relaxing one muscle group at a time with each exhale.
  4. Connection. Humans are wired to connect for survival. It is important to spend time connecting with people while doing calm activities. Yoga, meditation, hiking, making art, and attending religious services all can be very soothing. Spending a few hours of your week participating in these activities can improve your mood and help you feel relaxed throughout your week.
  5. Solitude. Spend some time in soulful activity on your own. Explore meditation, mindful walking, making art, dancing, or any other soul nourishing activity for just one hour a week on your own. Notice how that one hour a week can affect your week.
  6. Reach out. Because connection and relationship is such a large part of our functioning, reaching out for help and receiving help may be the most powerful tool for overall relaxation and mood stability. Often dysregulation of your mood and mind is a result of very old wounds in our relationships. Repairing these wounds with a therapist is powerfully healing. The great thing about this is that it does not necessarily mean sharing traumatic stories, instead the focus is on the limiting beliefs you may have.

Much love and gratitude to you in your journey,

Kim Ottinger

To schedule a free 20 minute phone consult with Kim for art therapy, talk therapy, or sensoriotor therapy or to work with a therapist who knows badass women in Washington, DC, email her at kim@yoursoultherapy.com

STEPPING OUT OF THE STORY

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I know my old story.

It is :: I AM BROKEN.

And even before that it is :: I AM NOT WORTHY.

The stigma of having been divorced, the first of my friends and in my age group to do so, often bites at my heals, begging for me to pick it up and ride the downward spiral of WHAT IFs and SHOULDS. 

What if I tried harder to make the relationship work?
What if I wasn’t tolerant enough of my husband’s behavior?
What if I had staged an intervention?

I should have been able to see it sooner and leave…I wasted so many years.

I should have known, as a therapist, what my husband’s issues and my issues were.

I should have been able to help myself.

I should be married with children now.

And then the WHYs come parading into my brain in an endless stream of existential confusion.

Why have I been given this life?
Why must I go through these trials?
Why can’t I have the family I dreamed of as a child?
Why do they teach us fairy tales as children if that is not the script of reality?
Why didn’t anyone see what was wrong and tell me to leave the relationship?
Why can’t I get it right?

How long have I held this belief of unworthiness? Where did it start? Why is it so hard to shake?

I get lost in the story and forget to breathe. I look at the clock and I see how much precious time I have wasted trying to figure out an answer to the uncertainty of life. The unsolvable.

Then I melt into the embrace of unknowing and uncertainty, gratitude towards my path, trusting that I am headed in the direction I am supposed to be going. The anxiety and groundlessness ends as I sink into my feet, allowing the energy to disperse throughout my limbs and trunk, loosening my grip physically and mentally. I take a few moments to notice the peace I am currently surrounded by, the smell, the image, the sounds. I send an energetic bow of thanks to the universe for giving me the journey I am on, appreciating the highs and lows, the experience as a whole.

To say it no longer hits me would be a lie. I can, with strong conviction, assert that it hits me much less often and for short increments of time before I identify it, kiss it, and say goodbye. I trust my path. Only with time and practice have I learned to tune into this power, my power, my own intuition drawn from my feminine divine energy. 

I invite you to tune into your feminine divine energy to step out of your story when you can. To end the cycle of rumination over the unsolvable and unknowable and instead to tune into and be grateful for what you have now.

To tuning into the Divine Feminine in you, me & us,

Kim Ottinger

To schedule a free 20 minute consultation for art therapy, talk therapy or sensorimotor psychotherapy to begin the process stepping out of the story, email kim@yoursoultherapy.com

LIVING FROM YOUR HEARTSPACE

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I would like to invite you on a journey with me. While it is my journey, it is also yours :: this is our journey. We are the divine feminine, and our collective souls unite in the still frames of our lives through whispers and symbols, images, songs, and energetic vibrations.

Over the last five years of my life I have been called to recognize my soul. I was propelled by a process which I could not stop, something so much bigger than my previous life agenda, that I was unprepared to accept into my life. Over the last five years of my life I have died and have been rebirthed many times. I went through the deepest of lows to encounter a contentment and attunement with life that continues to awe me in every moment that I receive it. While the feeling is not ever constant, the glimpses sustain my contentment throughout my day now.

And yet, I live among the hustle and bustle of the city. An energy chameleon, I shift with the vibrations that surround me, knowing I am unchangeable at my core. I sway with the flow of the creatures I encounter and love openly, spaciously, without limits. I do not presume to believe I have reached some level of enlightenment or have the knowledge necessary to impart lessons upon you. I only seek to live genuinely and connect.

I want to share my experiences with you, what brought me here, my path, and where continue to tread. I want you to share your journey with me and to have a community in which we might open our hearts and soul spaces and resonate with one another. With the new year, I invite you to start to follow your heart and soul into the depth of feminine experience and towards your own freedom.

My intention is to unite weekly to we explore the feminine experience on all levels equally and free from judgement, the superficial of embellishing our bodies to the depth of existential questions. We will touch upon science and spiritual, as well as the intersection of the two. We will listen to the speech of our bodies as a catalyst for discussion and change. We will use image to explore and join with the collective feminine. And we will celebrate and honor both the ups and downs of the journey.

Please begin this journey with me by suggesting what topics you may be interested in exploring.

What does the New Year bring up for you in your heart, how does your heart speak to you with the start of a new journey and cycle?

Connect with me by email kim@yoursoultherapy.com for a free 20 minute phone consult.

In Journeying,

Kimberly Ottinger  MA, LPC, ATR-BC
Your Soul Therapy Associate

Walking My Talk…Dreaming Big

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As a woman, wife, mother, psychotherapist, supervisor, and business owner, practicing self care is a must. Over the past few years, I have worked to align myself with my values with much gratitude to The Daring Way community, the metaphysical teachings of Tosha Silver and my Jungian analyst for this. Cultivating practices that are embedded with vulnerability, courage, connection, integrity, rest, play, awe and wonder keep me honest, grounded, and real. I #walkmytalk and this has changed my personal and professional life beyond my wildest dreams. I live into heart-mind-body-soul wisdom in daily practices and decisions, as well as big huge vulnerable leaps (like writing this blog post). My vulnerability is guided by aligning with my values and a force much larger than me. This way of living and showing up in the world is an imperfect process that I wouldn’t have any other way.

When working with women in psychotherapy, art therapy, sandplay, urban retreats, supervision, consultation, or practice building, I support them through the lens of walking their own talk. My clients learn to source themselves from the inside out into their deep confidence. Each woman’s flow, process and outcomes are unique, but what they have been seeking or felt blocked by (fear, shame, failure, impostor syndrome, heartbreak, loneliness…) dissolves through through this work. Witnessing their transformations is the most profound work of my life and of the deepest honor.

I have taken the leap to share more about how I work today because I’m on the brink of taking one the biggest professional leap’s of my career. Tomorrow, I am headed to Costa Rica for a business retreat filled with all things wanderlust, sisterhood, yoga, big dreaming, horseback riding, surfing, waterfalls, and beyond. My intentions are to recharge, replenish, reconnect, surrender, and be open to receiving. I hope to return to pay forward this experience by offering my own retreat later this year.  I will be fully unplugged for the next week.  I would love to connect with you for a free 20 minute phone consult when I return on 3/10.  Email me amy@amytatsumi.com to schedule your consult.

~In walking my talk & dreaming big,
Amy

4 Ways to Connect with Desire & Let go of Should

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Can you remember a time or a part of your life where you walked your talk, dreamed big, or even believed that things could change for the better?  For some — that sense of hopefulness, longing, or desire is present in one or more parts of our lives.  However, many people have dampened that inner voice that connects us to our values, hopes, and dreams because of insecurities, shoulds, no, or stuckness. We have become disconnected from our fire or desire for living life with meaning or from our soul’s deepest longings.

The voice we hear instead is the clear and sometimes harsh or demeaning sound of the inner critic.  The voice of the inner critic may have been around for years or decades of our lives.  This voice of self-criticism often dictates all of the shoulds in your life and plays off of our biggest insecurities. How you should be: eating, exercising, working, numbing, avoiding, pretending, pleasing, performing, perfecting, changing…the list can go on. The voice of should keeps us small or in perfectionism and doesn’t allow us to take up space in our own life or relationships, keeping us stuck or disconnected from the people or parts of our lives or relationships we care about most.

Many clients that come to see me want to live more fully in their relationships. The desire to be fearless, have clarity, cultivate self-awareness, and to find the one. They want to let go of living in should and are exhausted from having it all together all of the time. They want to not have to care for everyone else but themselves and are tired of putting their wants, needs, and desires last.

So how do you start to connect with desire and let go of living in should? This can feel like a huge leap into the unknown. Here are 5 ways to start living the life that was meant for you.

1. Give yourself permission to savor small decisions in your daily life.
Rather than defaulting to having a non-opinion (e.g., It doesn’t matter to me; You pick; I really don’t care), let yourself be curious about you really want in small moments. Whether it is about what you’re eating for lunch or what shoes you’ll wear for the day, listen to the voice inside you that says, “YES!” in any way shape or form. Give yourself permission to feel grateful, compassionate, joyful, or even giggly about tuning into what works for you in what may have used to have been a shut down space.

2. Tune into your body for directions around what step to take next

Our bodies do not steer us in the wrong direction. It is often the chatter of the inner critic or should that propels us into a catch 22 frame of mind (e.g., we know ourselves, know the problem, but we can’t get past it). Start taking time to listen and feel what sensations are happening in your body when you want something. Notice if your body is giving you feedback without label emotions. Starting places to tune in:
~temperature change
~heart rate pace
~heaviness in heart, throat, or gut
~spaciousness
~wanting to move or walk
~goosebumps

3. Follow the breadcrumb trail
This process reflects learning to trust your intuition or highest self to continually guide you. Trusting this part of you to guide your decision making process, rather than listening to your inner critic or should. This can feel like synchronicity when the world reflects pieces or parts of your hopes, dreams and desires around decision making.

4. Practice Self-Compassion
If opening to desire, longing and/or authenticity feels simple yet radical, you may want to cultivate a practice of self-compassion. Learning to nurture yourself while learning you are worthy of amazing things and relationships can stoke the fire of the inner critic and old ways of living in should can resurface. Practicing self-compassion can allow us to be open to allowing others to give to us and for us to receive. Kristen Neff‘s work on self-compassion and Tosha Silver‘s work on balancing giving and receiving can be wonderful resources, especially if you struggle with boundaries or have codependent patterns or relationships.

If you are ready to let go of living in should or staying small, you can learn to courage to live authentically one decision at a time and stoke your internal fire for deep meaningful soulful connection and living.

To dreaming big and living fully,
Amy

Should We Share Our Relationship Stories?

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Whether you are single in the city, dating, partnered, married, or divorced, you most likely are an expert storyteller about your relationship(s)or lack their of. With friends, some family members, and even choice colleagues, your relationship stories may be sprinkled with a mix of humor, sarcasm, and disbelief. While the laughter or shock factor keeps things light, this level of storytelling doesn’t reveal any fears about relationships, intimacy or you. Part of us holds onto the idea that “this (experience) will make a good story.” This notion protects one from feeling or thinking about why your relationship isn’t working or why you’ve been on endless OKCupid,match.com, Tinder, JDate.com, eHarmony, or speed dates without finding any lasting connections.

At some point during the ups and downs of being single, dating, or partnered, most of us will have had our fears about life, others, or ourselves exposed. Our inner dialogues, banter and stories about our relationships are most likely too painful to share.

Many people tell the story that all of the data points in their life reveal a singular – capitol “T” – TRUTH. The data points show that they are (the only one) not worthy of a being in or having a real relationship. Our inner stories are often not shared because we believe that everyone else around us has it figured out or is doing it better than we are.

When we want to reach out for real support, sometimes we are at a loss. What we are wanting is be met with empathy to be seen for our humanness. However sometimes, we are judged, blamed or shamed for our struggle or story.

Learning who has the right to hear our story is an invaluable skill. Below, I share a few tips of when to share or not share your story.

When Should I Share My Story?

Consider friends or family in your life. Out of this group, who takes you as you are, accepting or loving you for all of your strengths or struggles. Often, there may be 1-2 people in our lives, who fit this description. You trust them. These are the people, who are able to hear your story or your struggle and respond with empathy. When you do choose to reach out to them to check in about the inner story you are telling, you feel more connected because they meet you where you are. They may not know your specific relationship struggle, but they connect with you from a deeper place of knowing a painful struggle in their own life but they don’t make the conversation about themselves. The offer feedback when you request it. Their feedback is nonjudgmental. They are willing to sit with you in your struggle knowing they can’t take the pain away, but they share that they will there for you. Practicing reaching out to this type of person can be helpful to manage the pain and disappointment that comes with relationships. This takes both vulnerability and courage.

When Shouldn’t I Share My Story?

Think about the people in your life you have been sharing either the internal version or external version of your story. If after sharing either version of your story, you were met with unsolicited: feedback, solutions, advice, sympathy, sarcasm, judgement, blame, or shame, you may want to consider not sharing with them in the future. Those responses are disconnecting on many levels. We feel disconnected from the responder, from ourselves and even at times from our sense of worthiness. It often time unsolicited feedback and responses further fuels the data points that detail our inner story, tapping into our worst fears around feeling unlovable or that we will never belong. Learning to set clear and healthy boundaries is essential. This will support you in not sharing your story or struggle with people who judge, blame or shame you.

Between the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we tell others, navigating relationships can be challenging. I highly recommend the following books to support you on your relationship journey.

Beattie, M. (1987). Codependent no more: How to stop controlling others and start caring for yourself.

Brown, B. (2012). Daring greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. New York: Gotham Books.

Chödrön, P. (2000). When things fall apart: Heart advice for difficult times. Boston: Shambhala.

Johnson, S. M. (2008). Hold me tight: Seven conversations for a lifetime of love. New York: Little, Brown & Co.

If you are ready to create a new story around relationships or need help navigating them, call Amy at 202.540.076 or email her at amy@amytatsumi.com for a psychotherapy free 20 minute consultation today.

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

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Not All Who Wander Are Lost – J. R. R. Tolkien

I have always been a wanderer.  From an early age, I wandered in the garden and forest.  By my late teens, I began traveling to many places inside and outside of the US seeking a myriad of things.  Through my 20s and early 30s, I continued to be a seeker of sorts in my personal and professional life.  Throughout that period, I didn’t know what I was seeking (even with lots of amazing adventures or thoughtful sessions with my own therapist), but my heart longed for something I didn’t know how to name or even imagine.  It wasn’t until I started to learn how to wander inside of my life and story (not matter where I geographically lived or worked) that I knew what I was seeking.

So what does belonging look like now for me-professionally? Until 2 years ago, I would have never imagined standing before my colleagues, mentors and well esteemed experts in my field presenting on my perspective because belonging felt so evasive an inaccessible to me.  Last week at the American Art Therapy Conference in San Antonio, I co-presented with Megan Robb and Lisa Thompson-Gibson on Building Relationships with Authenticity and Vulnerability from a theoretical lens (Relational Cultural Theory & Shame Resilience Theory) and in practice with clients and supervisees.  Presenting on vulnerability and sharing a part of my story and perspective with colleagues felt (by no surprise)  incredibly vulnerable for me.   How did I get through this presentation?  I was able to anchor myself to my sense of belonging.  I belong to my professional community even if what I was sharing was different or even radical.  It mattered because I was offering opportunities for relationship building for therapists with clients, supervisors with supervisees, and for therapist outside of the therapy room.

So many of us have a wanderlust or longing for something deep in our souls.  Most of the clients that I see have been wandering for much of their lives – wanting confirmation to know that they matter and are worthy of love and belonging.  Their studies, research, careers, love for travel, or relationships have taken them to many places.  Their intercultural experiences have transformed them, but no matter how much they enjoy the journey – they struggle to know how to really belong.

How do we learn to belong?  Some of the keys to trusting ourselves around  knowing how to love and belong can be found in cultivating practices of vulnerability and authenticity.  As adults and even teens, we have often lost touch with knowing how to trust our selves or what it means to be real, vulnerable and authentic in boundaried and meaningful ways with people that we care about most or even how this might look in our professional world.  Learning to trust ourselves through boundaried vulnerability and authenticity can be taught.  In learning how to trust ourselves, we can also learn how to belong even to our own hearts.

As this time of year lends itself to wandering, you may want to take time while you are wandering or at home relishing in your travels by journaling or making art to notice:
~Where your sense of belonging is (does it live inside or outside of you and your story)?
~How you are trusting yourself on your journey or in your relationships?
~How do your boundaries allow you to be more or less vulnerable and authentic?
~What are small steps you can take  or clearer boundaries can you set to support your sense of belonging?

Whether you are wandering or at home this summer, make time to navigate back to your own heart and sense of belonging no mater where you may be.

P.S.- If you’re looking to dig deeper this summer, I’m offering a 2.5 day weekend intensive on belonging.