Category Archives: Relationship Help

Managing the Holidays – with a Smile!

The holidays are upon us! Maybe that is a happy time , with lovely gatherings, meals, parties and joy. But maybe it means tension, anxiety, depression, even dread. Holidays often mean family gatherings, traditions you may or may not like, encounters with relatives you’re not interested in seeing, expensive travel, a sense of obligation to buy gifts, spend money you’d rather not, maybe even enduring events that feel atrocious.

How do you manage all of this – and still have a smile? Here are some keys you can use right away: 

One – be honest with yourself and don’t blame or shame yourself for any of your feelings. Whatever you are feeling is grounded in some experience from your history that is causing the negative or positive reaction. Many families experience friction and fragmentation as children grow into adults, older adults grow less adaptable or tolerant, or people change and grow apart. It can feel very sad to experience a transition from what you remember in your youth to what presents itself as your family in your adulthood. Be compassionate and loving with yourself. Accept your feelings as your authentic experience. Your feelings do not have to make sense to anyone but you. 

Two – Be like an investigative reporter before you commit to something. Find out who is coming to the gathering, where, when and how it is happening. Assess for your own happiness how much exposure you can handle at a time. It is perfectly all right for you to have limits for how much you can handle or want to try to. 

Three– Say Yes when you mean it, and No when you need to.  Don’t agree to stay at an event for hours if you know you will only be able to be pleasant for and hour or two – even half and hour! Make it a drop-by for a brief appearance if you know you can’t handle more. For whatever the reasons are that you will not feel happy or comfortable, you do not have to endure encounters that make you miserable. 

Fourth – Set reasonable limits for yourself on how much you do, how much you spend, how much you eat, with whom you spend time. This is your life, your time, your happiness. Only you can know what are the ingredients that will add up to a more pleasant, even happier, memorable holiday season.

Five – Make your own “family.” If you don’t have the family you wish you had to spend holidays with, seek out others who are also on their own. Plan your own holiday celebration with your favorite foods, decorations, activities, and invite others whose company you enjoy. You are absolutely not the only one who isn’t going to be with a picture perfect family for the holidays.

Six – Give of yourself to others in need. The best way out of your own troubles or sorrow is to be of service to others. Give of yourself to others. Find local churches, shelters and community organizations that feed the hungry, clothe the homeless, gift children. It is remarkable to feel how meaningful your attention and energy can be to someone who has far less. 

Seven – Practice gratitude. Find anything and everything in your life you have to be grateful for: health, friends, work, hobbies, finances, location, significant other, the Sun and the Moon, your own determination. Start your day with a list “Today I am grateful for” and find five things – no matter how big or small.  What you see becomes more of what you see. When you find things to feel grateful for, more things will come into your life for which you will feel truly grateful!





Reflections on Receiving

Giving And Receiving
How new it feels to learn to receive
After a lifetime of giving,
And in giving believe.

Being celebrated and acknowledged feels foreign indeed
And it’s sad to realize:
I don’t quite know how to receive.

It is so easy to give!
It feels so natural, so real.
It feels like my very nature to give,
Not to receive.

Is it even all right to in turn receive?
I find my head asking my heart
Is it not my part just to give,
And not look to receive?

The Wisdom teaches me I am here to both give and receive.
After all, I cannot only breathe out, I must breathe in.
This is by its very act the beginning of how to receive.
I do it all day and night long without a thought, I believe.

Yet when another tries to love me, perhaps I push it away.
It seems there is a wall I have erected to keep pain out;
When I give I am in control , but to receive I must allow myself to let you in…
That has been frightening, it seems, to the mind that has been in me.

Now I see – and I want to be courageous enough to receive.
I want to be courageous enough to believe that I can let you in
without it costing me more in grief than I can relieve.

Love waits for me, perhaps, until I am more ready to receive?

A woman recently, not knowing me well,
heard me speak very personally of wanting to welcome Love.
“It sounds like it’s all about you,” she said, “about what you want to receive.
What about what you are going to give? First you must give before you can receive.
Flip it around, think of what you can give, and then, I feel sure, you will receive.”

‘Though her words stung me, there was a truth in them to me.
Old wounds and pain hardened my heart, I see.
Perhaps I have, in this case, been very much looking to receive.
Having given so much, and been turned away three times for three,
I have been sad, angry and confused. I think I have felt it is my turn to receive.

Yet on this Mothers Day, surrounded by love from my children,
to whom it is so natural for me to give and not necessarily receive,
I noticed I felt quite awkward just to receive.
With the showers of love, affection and flowers
I actually felt out of place, unaccustomed to receive.

I make you this vow.
I wish to know You more deeply, more personally than ever before.
I wish to open my heart and let You in to the depths of my being.
I want to allow myself to be vulnerable to You.
I want to give and to receive.
So I vow to give You, Love, all I’ve got:
My heart, my soul, my love, my trust.
I vow to give, and give some more.
For, to me, to give is to Be.
I vow to be more and more myself for You.
And so I give , and give some more.
And in the giving, let me learn again to live.
To live with an open heart, so there is even more to give.

Oh, let me live again, Love.
There is so much more to give.
And in the giving so shall I learn to receive.
Breathe in, breathe out,
I must give and I must receive.
I am ready for You, Love.
I shall give. I shall receive.

©Kathryn Tull May 12, 2013

“Our task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within ourselves that We have built against it.” ~ Rumi


Love. That potent word, loaded with promise. For some, it is loaded with pain. And now it’s already February, the month our commercial society especially focuses on to celebrate Love. For some of us, love is a loaded topic. That … Continue reading

What is Independence?

It is good to be back in touch. It has been a very busy time, working diligently to get The Next Bold Step through the last of the publishing process. Hip Hip Hooray, it is complete! I am so excited to share that with you! And now it is Independence Day already, how appropriate.

Independence means different things to different people. This holiday means different things for different people. It has meant so many different things to me over the course of my life that now I have a memory bank just entitled  4th of July I think. So many memories. Many sweet stories. Now Independence looks so different – and I have to consciously choose not to get lost in the “what was” instead of the What Is.  Have you ever felt like that?
Independence has taken on a whole new meaning for me now, living alone for the first period of time in my life. Now independence means getting to do things for myself, sleeping in when I create the time and the context, following my own schedule instead of other people’s, even choosing to spend a day alone. Until pretty recently, these kinds of choices were not even in my thoughts.
When I first awoke at 6:30 this morning I was flooded with memories of holidays from the 1990’s when my children were young and I was married. We would have big parties – 20,30,50 people. Preparing for days, up at the crack of dawn to decorate my kids’ wagon or bikes or outfits to be in the parade. Decorate the house and yard, and get tickets for the local Fireworks show. The Fair in the Park first, hot dogs for lunch. They were sweet days. I love those memories. I loved rollerblading in the parade, keeping up with my kids. One in the Marching Band, one on a Float for the Ballet Company, one on his decorated bike. God, it was sweet.
The memories are sweet, as long as I don’t throw the shadow of the unspoken reality over them: no one saw the personal price that was paid by me and the kids for the gorgeous entertaining we did, the price of their father’s moods, and living up to his expectations. There was nothing sweet about that. That tarnished everything in its path.
Or the years after, when Independence came to mean that we were out on our own, I had finally had enough, I fought our way out, we were safe, we were free. Hometown Parade, red, white and blue clothes, fireworks at the High School where all but one of us graduated.Then unforeseen family friction, no peace to be had in our sweet life, more choices to make, more upheaval, more ripping apart, more pain, more growth.  More change…
Even now, so many years later, I have to work with myself to not let the shadows get me down. So many memories, so many holidays and special days and ordinary days tarnished to remember…I have to choose not to let that destroy all that was wonderful.  As I said earlier, so many memories. Many sweet stories. Now Independence looks so different – and I  consciously choose not to get lost in the “what was” instead of the What Is.
What does Independence mean to you?
And very importantly: What would you like it to mean?
Give yourself a gift today of contemplating that question: What would you like it to mean?
No matter what circumstances and conditions look like on the outside of you, go within. Turn to your own heart. Ask yourself: What would I like Independence to mean?
What would I like Freedom to mean?
What would I like it to feel like?
Then pick one thing, one desire, one vision, one idea, or one goal, large or small to go for. No matter what your vision is, pick one idea to go for. This is Your time. In the smallest way and in the largest way, this is your time. Make it your own. Allow a vision to birth itself to your awareness today, Independence Day. Give it life. Give it attention. Give it care. Give it love. Let it flourish and bloom. That is Freedom. And that is a Bold Step.
I send strength, hope and belief in your Bold Step today.
Mine is now ready for you to share.
With my love,
The Next Bold Step is now ready for order! Get your personally signed copy today at and fine online retailers.

You Matter!

Dear One,
I wish you love this Valentine’s Week. I  wish you love for yourself, the most important love that you can have. Whomever else there may be in your life, whether children, parent, partner, neighbor or friend, today I wish you love for you.
Valentine’s Day is heavily marketed to a particular audience, but they are missing the point. They are missing the most essential love there is: love for yourself, as a perfect expression of Universal love that holds no judgment, needs no gift. You are that expression. You are perfect, whole and complete. You matter! Whether there is anyone else in your daily life that recognizes that right now, it is the truth, today and every day.
You matter! You have a unique and divine purpose here this day.The world is a better place because you are here. You have gifts and talents that no one else brings to the planet in quite the same way. You are a perfect expression of you!  Celebrate yourself today. Celebrate that love begins with you. Loves lives in you, and with you, always.  We have been long taught to understand love when it comes from others. That misses the most important piece in the equation: love comes from within you .
What can you do for yourself today to give yourself that love? Even if it is something that takes just a few minutes, do something special for yourself today. Take a few quiet minutes , make a cup of tea, and sit with yourself to remember who you are. You are not the labels of what you do, of how much you earn, or how much education you have, how many children you do have or do not have, whether you are single or married. You are a precious, perfect expression of the single entity in this Universe that is you!
Take a clean piece of paper and write down two sentences about yourself- who you are – to recognize your own value today. This is very important, your brain needs to captain this thought team. You matter, no matter what any one else says or does not say.
Create in your own thoughts two loving statements to celebrate yourself, and write them down. Read them out loud to yourself. Don’t be surprised if tears come up when you try to do this, or if you find that you stop yourself, or feel embarrassed. Particularly if you have experienced someone that told you otherwise, hurt you, or harmed you ,  it may feel wrong in some way to affirm yourself. But take back your power!  Don’t let them own your ability to love yourself. If you are willing to be a little playful, place a nice kiss right next to those two loving statements.
Place this declaration of your specialness and your love within in a prominent place where you can see it! Read it to yourself today and every day for the next ten days. On the tenth day, add one more statement.  Read these three out loud to yourself. Love and celebrate yourself this way every day for the next twenty-one days.  You matter! You deserve this gift, and it is free!
Take this bold step: love yourself. Value yourself. You are perfect, whole and complete. You are Love.
With my love to you today,

How is the new year so far?

It is the end of the first month of the new decade. I am astonished, to be truthful, at where the time has gone. The holidays were happy and bittersweet. I’ll tell you more about that later. I hope yours were safe, and you had happiness. Even within imperfect circumstances, it is still very possible to find happiness and blessings. That is more important than all the money in the world.
I say my holidays were happy and bittersweet, and they have been every year since my family life blew up. Have you had that kind of feeling?  You may have already heard my history, but if not, I will explain a little:  in 1999 I finally took my children and left my married life to an abusive husband ; later that same year, my mother, who was my greatest fan, role model, and best friend, passed away after a slow decline that had lasted many years. A couple of years later, my father found a new love for his life, and decided I was not to be a part of his life any more. That loss has been very difficult to adapt to, but I am doing it, one day at a time. In the process, I have discovered and gotten to truly know and appreciate me!
That is why I understand how you may feel with the challenges you face. In addition to being a professionally trained clinical psychotherapist, with specific expertise in working with survivors of trauma, I have lived a life rich in experience, happy and sad. Eleven years out from a long-term abusive marriage, I still experience post traumatic stress disorder -PTSD – around loud, sudden noises, people crying or yelling, violence on TV or in movies, keeping a watchful eye in case harm is around the corner. Several years out from a non-understandable rejection by my remaining parent, I understand what it feels like to wake up sometimes with depressed thoughts of complete aloneness, or lack of desire to get on with the day.
One day at a time I have fought back against the efforts of depressive thoughts that tried to run my life and keep me from fulfilling my potential.  Did you know that is what happens?  The thought patterns become embedded and work very hard to keep functioning as they are accustomed to, keeping you depressed, sad, scared, alone, unfulfilled.
I have had it with those thought patterns. I am not willing to live my life afraid any more. I am not willing to cooperate with the bitterness, resentment, and the other angry  emotions I had felt so vividly for a long time. They held me back, and I’m done with tolerating that. We all deserve to live a rich, full life – especially you! I have been working for the past several years to develop and refine techniques that work . You can get your thoughts and feelings to work for you, not against you.
Join me this year to break these old habits and shed the thoughts and feelings that keep depression anchored in your heart and mind. I am forming a bi-coastal group of women that will meet every other week to share their stories and hearts, support each other, learn new strategies and techniques for leaving the sadness behind, and create the brighter life that you deserve!
Space will be limited, so you need to let me know within two weeks if you are interested, to reserve a spot. It will be affordable, important, inspiring, healing and uplifting. All you will need is long-distance service and an open heart. Come heal, grow, expand and create the life you deserve and desire. Get ready to receive !!
With love and blessings,

Daily Acceptance

Have you ever found yourself lost in thought about what’s not working in your life? About what you wish you did have, instead of what you do have?  I think most people do have this experience, although many won’t admit it.  To be perfectly honest, I’ll even let you know that, in spite of the fact that I teach proven, successful, transformational skills to people every day, there are times when my old habits creep up to grab me when I am not paying attention. ( I find it happens particularly when I am tired, just like a little child gets easily overwhelmed when they are tired, or hungry.)

The antidote to self-defeating behavior like that begins with something very simple, and free : daily self-acceptance.

This is a crucial practice. I know it can be hard to do.

When you catch yourself engaging in some self- defeating behavior that sneaks in almost unnoticed, like procrastinating ( which is an avoidance behavior), or finding one more thing you ” have to do” that makes you late for something else ( which is also covering up a deeper message to both yourself and the other party), the most common response to yourself is to shame and blame yourself. ” Oh, no! There I go again! I did it again! I’ll never get it right. What’s the use in trying, anyway?”

Resolve gives way to self-defeat, even disgust. Before you even realize it, you are slipping into more self-sabotaging thinking and behavior.

The truth is that every living human being has some habits that are not the best. Everyone  can slip into  aself-defeating thinking or behavior, if even for a moment. Most of us hate to admit it. Many people do a really good job of hiding it from their awareness. ( By the way, that doesn’t make it go away. I Can guarantee you of that. Denial is only denial, not healing.)

So you need to start with daily self-acceptance. Accepting yourself daily does not mean being complacent about how you are being in life, or how your life looks, if there are things that you want to change. Daily self-acceptance means acknowledging yourself for where you are – not reprimanding yourself for where you are not.  Then, stretch just a little bit more and add daily gratitude. You are the only you on the planet – and no one can take your place. Your place is very important to all the pieces of life fitting together, whether you can see it or not. There are people who need you, and want you, and count on you – whether you are aware of it or not. Like your boss, or your neighbor, or the handyman you smile at on your way to work, or your partner, or your child. You matter – and no one can take your place. And you have a special purpose here on planet Earth that no one else can fulfill.

No matter where you are on your path of personal growth and evolution, take a moment each day to breathe and consciously accept yourself exactly as you are today. Stretch that even a little bit more, and be grateful for being you today. You are exactly where you need to be, for reasons larger than you can see. You are farther along than you were yesterday, even if you can’t tell. It is the law of growth.

A lovely author by the name of Judith R. Smith wrote, “My life might not be perfect, and I might not have achieved the goals I thought I would have by now — I might not be living the kind of life I thought I would be or want to be, but I’m grateful for this day, right now, and the fact that I’ve made a commitment to myself to live a life in which I’m treated with respect and dignity.”

I love that thought, and I hold it dear. No matter what, I have committed to myself to live a life in which I am treated with respect and dignity. I have rebuilt and reshaped my whole life so that it is so. I have learned how to transform relationships, and release those that are not supportive and may be toxic to me. I would love to help you learn to do this, too.

Every day, accept yourself for where and who you are. Commit to yourself to keep growing, even when you can’t tell you are. The universe will move in unforeseen ways to make it so.

Until next time, give yourself the gift of remembering that you are  unique, one of a kind. No one can take your place. Have a lovely moment with you. You deserve it.

With my very best,