In 1995, when I moved into my old apartment on Bay Street, I was a third-year law student, smoker, heavy drinker and a TV addict.

Eighteen years later I no longer smoke, drink, watch TV in the same way and I have a law practice helping men through the painful process of divorce and child custody. I’ve changed. A lot. It was painful, ugly and loud. Did I mention painful? I’m not a guy that likes change. I like to have certainty in my life. I want to know what I know and stick with it.

But that’s not life. Life is all about change, how we handle it, construct it, ride it and react to it. As a city we are seeing a continental shift in our way of life and some of us are riding it well, and others are fighting it tooth and nail and full of resistance and anger.

Currently I’m in the middle of the road, leaning toward hating the changes. I think the Expo Light Rail Line is creating a giant scar across our city that will be ugly and divisive. But I’m probably wrong. People more in the know and with a larger vision of the way it will be than me are saying it will be wonderful. Time will tell.

Time is crucial in change. It takes time for a new habit to set in, time for an old habit’s cravings to die off and time to see that the change is actually for the better. Time creates the tipping point in change. The longer I go when I am changing something, the easier it becomes. Conversely, it is also easier to discount time in the beginning, which is why so many of us fail at changing our lives.

When I was giving up cigarettes, it took years. Years of thrown away half-packs of cigarettes and half days of being irritable and cranky and people telling me to go have a smoke. Until one day it was more painful to continue smoking than to quit. On that day I made up my mind that I was not going to smoke, no matter what. And 18 years later I’m still smoke free.

Those turning points in our life cause us to change the way we see ourselves. It was Oscar Wilde who said, “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” The recognition that we can change is only the beginning. Taking action and sticking with the action is key.

That’s why motivational speakers like my friend Darren Kavinoky, famous criminal attorney and TV legal analyst, are in so much demand. Darren’s story of personal change is the “American Promise.” Down-and-out attorney with a negative self image, he changes his life for the better. He goes from sweeping floors (as an attorney) to super successful attorney with a staff of dozens; from out of shape and overweight to multi-Ironman athlete.

I’ve known Darren from his early days as a lawyer. We have a similar life story. Both of us come from dysfunctional families, we both wore Husky Jeans as kids, we’ve both battled food issues and business issues and we’ve both made deep and lasting changes in our lives.

I share bits and pieces of my life here, while Darren is doing it on stage. He’s become a highly sought after public speaker. He will be holding an event this coming Sunday called Be The Billboard ( There will be live music by Taps Mugadza, an amazing guitarist with an awe inspiring story. Then Darren will be presenting a keynote address on his personal change and how it can inspire you to make and keep the changes you want. The problem with change is not the deciding, it’s the (un)deciding, the changing our mind back, and Darren will speak to that directly and offer ways to combat it.

The event is being held at the Pacific Design Center Silver Screen Theater, 8687 Melrose Ave. in West Hollywood on Sunday, Oct. 13 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. I’m going to be there and I’d love to see a giant crowd of people who want to be inspired and changed. Tickets are available at Darren has given me a special promotional code to use for a discount if you call or write me.

I’ve made many changes in my life, and have more on the horizon. I’m betting that by the time I leave Darren’s Be The Billboard event I’ll be ready to tackle the next round of personal growth.

Like Wilde said, we all have a past, and we all have a future, the question becomes, when are we willing to let go of the past and embrace the future. Whether we embrace or fight that future is our choice. Darren has embraced his, and Sunday he’ll show us how he did it.



David Pisarra is a Los Angeles divorce and child custody lawyer specializing in father’s and men’s rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at or (310) 664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra

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