Frances Ulman Tiana Karma Choling

The Good News Is We Have Been Lied To

Life Does Not Have To Feel So Hard

We Can Take Back Our Lives

By First Liberating Our Hearts and Minds

Thank you for visiting my website. Here is a bit about me.

I know the universe is kind.  This is true even in moments when our lives feel only difficult and unkind.  This is true even for those of us living in this culture that disconnects us from our natural born ability to rest in the greater kindness of the universe.

I have a doctorate in clinical psychology.  I completed my doctorate in clinical psychology in 2009. Since that time I have worked both as a scientist while on a post-doc at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and as a therapist in private practice in Durham, NC. As a therapist I offered my services to people who were seeking new ways to relate to their minds and bodies, so they could find more contentment in their lives. I specialized in eating disorders and care for people who were transgendered or gender non-comforming.

I am Buddhist.   I am a practicing Bön Buddhist, meaning I take each moment in my life as a moment of practice. I trust that my path will continue to unfold with kindness so long as I stay in my heart and work towards liberating others from suffering. I do not believe my practice protects me from pain or hardship. I do believe that when I experience pain or hardship, these experiences fold into my Buddhist practices and become the fertile soil for further progression on the path.

I combine western psychology and Eastern contemplative practices in my projects. My professional training and personal philosophy about life mix together in interesting ways. As a psychologist, I was trained to measure people and provide therapy within the framework that you can get better. I believe western psychology helps many people find more contentment and meaning in their lives.

As a Buddhist, I believe there are some fundamental aspects of being human that are beyond measurement.  I believe the purpose in life is not to get better and more perfect, but to get better at accepting that you and your life are not perfect.  The purpose of life is to learn how to be at ease with yourself and others – no exceptions, no matter what.  Pain is inevitable.  Suffering is optional.

From a blend of these perspectives, I understand how many people suffer not because of who they are, but because of this culture in which we live.  Our western culture is exquisitely designed to make us feel bad about ourselves.  We are tricked into treating our selves as a never ending to-do list, or a project that must continually get better and more perfect over time – like an app that needs constant updates to fix glitches in programming.  This treadmill of chasing after the illusory Future-Better-You keeps people in cycles of suffering.  I help people find their way out of this cultural pressure.  Through a blend of modern psychology and Buddhist teachings I offer ways you can liberate this corrosive culture, and find more contentment, ease, and fulfillment in your mind, body, and life.

I am a writer. These two world views come together in the form of essays, blog posts, and now a book.  This book, Perfectly Normal Lies, explains why the ideas of “Perfect” and “Normal” do not exist, and why you will be suffering if you believe in either of these ideas. The book is a list of ten lies:  The 5 Perfectly Normal Lies about You and The 5 Perfectly Normal Lies about Others.  Each lies comes with it’s own form of suffering.  I explain how each lie was planted in your mind from our culture, and then explain how to remove the lie from your mind so you can find more contentment and ease in your life.  This book is practical.  After presenting each lie, you are also presented with real world exercises you can do to start removing the lie from your mind immediately.

Might the book be for you? A quick way to know is to ask yourself if you ever compare yourself to someone else. Social comparisons arise from the believe in Perfect or Normal.  If the answer is yes, then you believe in at least one of these Perfectly Normal Lies and you are adding unneeded suffering to your mind.  In my book I explain how to completely remove the habit of comparing yourself to others.  Yes, completely.

I am currently on sabbatical while I am in India with my partner.  Last year I traveled to Kathmandu, Nepal to deepen my connection with my Buddhist practice.  Little did I know, my planned two month visit would turn into over a year of travel between Nepal and India.  In Nepal, I fell in love with a very special person.  We, my now fiance and I, are currently traveling together in India, and hope to return to the US together in 2017.  This unexpected change of circumstances has pushed back the intended publication timeline of my book, but what is life other than unexpected twists and turns?  I’m certainly learning a lot of lessons – not all of them the lessons I wanted! – while here.  To be honest, many of these “lessons” I am “gaining” in the moment feel more like challenges, illnesses, obstacles, and suffering.  I suspect a second book will come from all these experiences once I figure out just what it is that I am learning.  I know I am lucky, even if in this moment India is very difficult for me.  I look forward to being able to look backwards on this magical time!

Here is what I have learned in my practice of combining world views:

When we listen to our fears, life becomes smaller and scarier.

When we listen to our hearts, our lives become full of abundance of love and kindness.

Letting go feels hard and scary.

It is only in letting go that we can learn that life is neither hard nor scary. 

Moments can be very difficult.  It is how we respond to these difficult moments that determine the quality of life we lead.

 Life can be cruel.  Even in the cruelest moments, we are surrounded by a loving energy that can help us connect with feeling whole and loved in our imperfections.