Monday, July 21, 2014

Here's to good women

May we know them.
May we be them.
May we raise them.

-- Seen out and about. What a perfect prayer.

Monday, July 07, 2014


I've sought out counseling maybe a handful of times in my life.  Usually, it only lasts about three sessions, when I can tell that the therapist is so into the stories I'm telling, he (almost always a he) has nothing helpful to offer.

This time, I'm pleasantly surprised that throughout our 45-minute sessions, there are usually at least 2 moments of NEW insight or learning FROM the therapist, not just from stream of consciousness conversation.  Totally great.

Last week, she recommended the work of Daniel Siegel, author of Mindsight, Parenting from the Inside Out, and the Mindful Therapist. He offers the "hand model" of the brain: Imagine the base of your palm is the oldest brain - ruled by fight or flight for survival; the thumb curled into the palm is the emotional brain - triggered by old traumas, overwhelmed moment by moment; and your fingers curled over your thumb is your neo-cortex, the newest part of the brain -- logical, reasonable, and intermittently overruled by the older brains.  These also map to the "gut" brain, "heart" brain, and "thinking" brain.

And he also talks about the vertical and horizontal integration of your brain - old/newer/newest brains and the left/right hemispheres.  He recommends meditation, of course, for all of this.  Meditation, the thing I know I should do that I just can't bring myself to do.  The thing that I can recognize would be good medicine for all that ails me.

So until I do that, I'm to notice what path I'm on - how upset I'm getting in any moment, especially when it's disproportionate to the "trigger."  Why so mad so fast? Who am I really angry at?  What does my emotional brain need?  Where is the need coming from?  Even if it's irrational, what part of me needs it?  And then you figure out how to reassure that childish self, like mom never did. Hence the parenting from the inside out.  I like it.

And then this little doozy: I'd heard of "good enough parenting," but did you know they quantified it?  33% of your kid's needs.  Or 1 out of every 3 interactions.  Isn't that ... a pressure-reliever?

My ongoing task is to figure out why I avoid having hard conversations to the point of thinking about divorce, even though I know that in the past, once we have a conversation, everything goes really well. There's the basic fear of confrontation.  Wanting to pace out my criticisms so as not to be a nag. Not trusting my never-ending judgmental nature. (Yes, I judge my judging.) Not believing I'm worth listening to. Not trusting him to want to listen. Not trusting him to stay and change.  Because growing up, I couldn't bother Mom with my needs, since she was overwhelmed and just barely hanging on. And Dad wasn't around long enough to ask.

So there was no modeling of healthy requests.  Just passive aggressiveness everywhere.

I'm doing better than my parents did, and I'm proud of the gains I've made. But oh, so very far to go.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Ego Refinement

A very wise friend talked with me about the dichotomy of ego.

In the negative, we identify with our work and the things we DO.  We assume it's our brilliance and not luck or grace or the wave of right place/right time/right positioning.  We think it's about us, that the universe needs ME to make things happen.

In the positive, we are self-actualized. We understand the balance between effort and grace, practice and luck, positioning and the wave.  We surf.  We glory in meeting the universe in the crest between our skill and its momentum.

Of course, this is also the Tao.  And Toy Story. And Hermes. All who know how to ride the wave of luck and power and momentum toward a goal that's aligned with the way things are, or could be with nudging.

(Hermes the trickster, the companion, the lucky, the guide to the underworld, when you are most who you are because you no longer DO.)

Connection Paradox

Something that I've been turning over in my little brain for a while now...

I believe meaning in this life is all about connection.  It's the push and pull of cosmic forces - the Big Bang blows apart after everything comes together too closely. Then the explosion sends everything speeding outward, yet molecules connect. Matter forms.  Gravity works.

And from the perspective of our perception, time is continuous, yet moments that matter come in chunks.  It's the space between seconds and minutes and hours and days that make up our memories and our decisions, which make us who we are.

And from another vantage point, it's our boundaries that make healthy lives possible - balancing our need to connect with our need to operate as independent, self-motivated agents.

So everything's connected, yet separation makes meaning.

And then you fold in Xeno's Paradox.  If you separate all things by half, close the distance by half, do this over and over, you are infinitely disconnected from all things.  Maybe what he describes is the physics of healthy living.

And there's one more piece that fits somehow.  Complexity happens at the edge of chaos and can generally be described as order that arises as more of the sum of constituent parts.  Maybe complexity is what makes the leap over Xeno's chasm.