Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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You Are Not Broken — A Strategy for Navigating Life With Humans Who Think You Are

“…Spend a life time being called weirdo, freak or crazy for being smarter, more creative and more perceptive…eventually you figure out that it’s not you that’s broken and you can not make your light dimmer to make others more comfortable and be your true self. I got past the anger years ago. I don’t need strategies to cope with accepting what I am or even that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. I think, possibly, that I need strategies navigating a world that doesn’t want smart, perceptive and creative me…”

(photo by Patricia Palma, Unsplash)

Like the blog reader above, you may have been called weirdo, freak, and crazy because you were and are smarter, more creative, and highly perceptive.

But here’s the deal.

These days, they can no longer afford to reject you. They need you, whether they know it or not. It is no longer a question. It is no longer debatable. The planet needs its smart, creative, perceptive, sensitive people. You know this. I know this. It is obvious.

I realize there are still many humans all over the globe who are afraid of the creativity, insight, and innovation you bring. Who may even be afraid of the empathy and intuition you embody. But that is just too bad for them. It must no longer stop you.

YOU can no longer be afraid of yourself. YOU can no longer reject who you are. YOU need to recognize you are a perfect cup of tea, even if some refuse to drink. (If that sounds impossible, read my posts on therapy!)

And then. And then, it will be much easier to find the humans who appreciate and love you and to step away from those who don’t. I understand that stepping away is not easy. These may be family members, coworkers, neighbors, politicians; people you have to interact with. But there are ways to set and maintain boundaries. Ways to limit your exposure to difficult people. Ways to communicate effectively. Ways to vote them out.

And finding the people who get you? I am not saying you will find dozens of adoring fans. Although, even that is possible. I am just saying that there are a lot of shining lights out there. Right? They are reading this blog and buying my books! They are part of the Puttyverse. Members of silent book clubs. Dancing the Argentine tango. Fighting climate change. Running for office. Building a business. Writing books and music. Running nonprofits. Healing the wounded. Demanding justice.

They are scrolling through Instagram looking for you.

So, a strategy for navigating life in a world that may still think you are a weirdo, freak, and crazy? Well. They need you more than you need them. Right? So, find your other weirdos. Join your fellow freaks. Find your purpose(s). And, if all else fails: Break open. Break through. Break dance.

And to quote Pink in her song Just Give Me A Reason, “…we’re not broken, we’re just bent…” and “we can learn to love…”

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To my bloggEEs: So, my little chickadees, how are you learning to love yourself? How are you setting boundaries with the people who do not realize just how amazing you are? What are some strategies you are using to navigate in this world? How are you letting your light shine?


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A Short Guide to Love and Relationships When You are Sensitive and Smart — Part Three

Welcome back to our three part dive into love and relationships! Part One, looked at self-love and the many kinds of love. Part Two, ventured into partnerships. Part Three continues with partnerships, and then provides resources to expand your explorations. Quotes are from you, dear readers. Much gratitude!

Relationships between Two RFMs

Version One: “I reckon I am partnered with an RFM. He and I are different sorts. It is a clash of egos and took a long time to understand sensitivities and trigger points. But also, what he and I will see as an intense debate, people in our life often mistake for a fight. We always have a good laugh every time it happens…Working through communication was really, really hard, and we’ve only now found our own ways to work through that. It has not been the easiest ride being RFMs in an arranged marriage where you’re meant to share an intimate life with a stranger in a strange land. We’ve gotten to a good place though. We discovered really quickly that we agree on some basic values and that helps tide over the differences…There is the tendency my partner describes as my questioning/nit-picking and answering all the questions without letting him get a word in…One thing that was hardest early in our marriage was that he would seem detached and unemotional. It took me a long time to understand that it was, in fact, the opposite.”

Version Two: “It’s complicated…There can often be misunderstandings or other barriers, since we each have so many layers to unpack with even something as simple as loading the dishwasher…With him, I can be my whole complicated enraging ridiculous amazing brilliant self. In all of my relationships before him, there was always something to hide so that I didn’t emasculate or overshadow my partner. He gives me space to brood, to wonder about the universe, and to come back home to him and anchor my rainforest to his.”

Version Three: “…I am very glad for the companionship of my wife but the truth is that a degree of separation remains. Part of the work we have had to do in our marriage is coming to terms with the fact that, despite what Jerry Maguire said in a movie years ago, we do not complete each other. No amount of togetherness can do that. Together or not, we each have to bear our own burdens in this life. We have learned that the best we can do for each other is to listen and lend support, to be together in our loneliness.”

Version Four: “…But the experiment works right now because this person is intensely alive, invested in healing their trauma, empathically patient with mine, and RFM-ly weird in ways that are different from me, but do not preclude mutual celebration. I want to emphasize this last point. Even with other RFMs, difference is guaranteed. What are the chances another RFM will precisely share my enthusiasm for Old Norse, mycology and Bach? The combinatorics is unfavourable. There are some things that as mammals we probably require, like warmth, security and acceptance. As RFMs there will be further addenda, but a shared passion for mycology doesn’t make the cut. I can find other people to talk to mushrooms about! It’s more reasonable to seek someone who can celebrate the intense, often inarticulable richness we carry around in our heads, who loves it, and by virtue of that love gives us joyous permission to expand into the world…”

Version Five: “…As we said in our marriage vows, inspired by Alain de Botton, and which I strive to live up to every day, ‘I promise to remember that we are both – as is all of humanity – deeply imperfect, and instead of being discouraged by this, to celebrate with humour our imperfections, to not expect to be fully understood, and to embark with hope on our journey together to become the best versions of ourselves’:-)…

Version Six (not actually 2 RFMs…this one defies categorization!): “…When I was in love with each of my partners I learned SO much:  how to build from the carpenter, how to cut hair from the hairstylist, sociology from the professor, political science and activism from the other professor, sailing from the boat guy, rock climbing from the climber, skiing from the snow man, hang gliding from the pilot, etc., etc.

Meanwhile, in separate pursuits I engaged in my multiple, serial careers, finally working in landscape architecture and city planning for the final 20 years. These provided such diversity within work that I remained interested and learning.  Paralleling my careers was an interest in art that drew me to learning painting, drawing, silversmithing, batik, glassblowing, ceramics, spinning, weaving, and a few more. Now I’ve landed in botanical printing “eco printing” and natural dyeing, which may last a while because there is so much to learn and explore.

This is just by way of explaining that the same desire to create a learning, growing edge in careers and art has led me through several relationships.  Most have been wonderful, and many are still friends.  Now, at 72, I am single and that’s just fine.  My most recent attempts at partnering (the last with a therapist, a mistake!) have helped me realize that at this stage in my life I have no desire to expend the time and energy required to maintain a close woman-man relationship.  There are too many interesting avenues to pursue – volunteer activities, friendships, always art, growing food, community involvement, children and grandchildren, always art – to feel like it’s worth the effort when I don’t feel I’m lacking anything…My love life was rich with learning and making and exploring, and the partnerships with other RFMs were the best of all – challenging and exciting and stimulating.  But the maintenance, at this time of my life, is more than I wish to do, and I’m finding much intellectual stimulation without partnering to do it.  For me, ‘how to find a partner’ is just the wrong question.”

Resources to explore:

Talks by Alain de Botton. His book, The Course of Love.

Anything by Esther Perel.

John Welwood books. Dr. Sue Johnson. The Gottman Institute.

James Hollis, The Eden Project: In Search of the Magical Other

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To my bloggEEs: So ends the three parter on love and relationships. You see, there really wasn’t enough for a book. I hope you found it helpful. I’m sure I will be adding more on the topic over time. Thank you so much to all of you who sent in your experiences. Now I am working on the guided journal project for my third book. Let us know in the comments what you are thinking, feeling, and wondering. Much love, as always.


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A Short Guide to Love and Relationships When You Are Sensitive and Smart — Part Two

In part one we talked about the importance of self-love and how there are many kinds of love, including: authentic love, higher love, generous love, divine love, music love, book love, tango love, friend love, nature love, doggy love, bloggEE love,...you get the idea. Now, we travel to the wild world of partnerships. The comments below were sent to me from you, dear readers. Thank you!

(photo by Justin Follis, Unsplash)

A few sample dating challenges:

…”It’s harder to reciprocate when you’re so bound up calculating whether you can say this or that without scaring them off. It’s hard to build a meaningful relationship around a fraction of yourself…”

“…let’s pretend like you found someone that said, ‘Huh … I never thought about that,’ less than 15 times through the course of The First Date. This one has potential! And there are bonus points offered if they can spell ‘potential’ correctly!…”

“… I’ve lost track of how many times someone has said, ‘You know, you’re the smartest person I’ve ever met, I’m worried I won’t be able to maintain your interest.’ I find it too easy to manipulate others into doing what I want while thinking it was their idea all along. (I do feel bad about that one, though.) I see trends well before anyone else does and get bored waiting on the sidelines for everyone else to catch up.

“…There are times when my passion for life, learning, and instinctive desire to form deep, meaningful connections freaked out women who thought I was ‘too serious, too soon.’ Wait, what? Too serious, too soon? What’s that? I was just being me…”

What you may be looking for:

“…Someone that can remember to pay our bills on time (one of us probably should?) … but finds the way that I can both forget my birthday and remember the square root of 12 endearing. (It’s 3.464101615137755.)…”

“…I would love to find someone that challenged me intellectually – or, at the very least, just doesn’t tell me that I ‘overthink everything.’ I want to have a reason to learn about something this special human is into that I didn’t even know existed, yet is endlessly fascinating when they tell me about it. I want someone emotionally capable of listening to me reason through the 18 different ways any given situation could resolve. And then, I would love it if they could show me a flaw in my logic that negated 16 of those paths..”

“…What is really important to me in the other is that they are open to engaging in prolonged 1-1 conversations about anything and everything; they are open to changing their worldviews and challenging mine; they see and accept me – and themselves – as different, not special (i.e. moving beyond notions of superiority/inferiority). With my partner, this is all true, and the bonus (as we discovered during extended periods of lockdown in different parts of the world) is that we appear to be compatible in the smallest, everyday things. On conflict, he is naturally more conflict avoidant, I am naturally… not; but, with both of us being aware of our natural tendencies and having a shared goal of how we want to navigate conflict, our disagreements usually turn out to be healthy, robust discussions in which each side airs their point of view, feels genuinely listened to, and we end up dealing with the heart of the matter…”

“…I do still see a reason for her to be with me. My wife is simultaneously a fighter and a lover of humanity. Loves dogs and cats more but still, she loves the beauty of humanity a good bit. In me, she gets a hyperactive smart alec sans filter who loves to poke fun and call out silly things people do. She sees that I view life through the kaleidoscope eyes of a fly so end up picking up subtle clues about people and situations that allow me to infer greatly as to reasons why and the impacts of situations. I do Big Picture well as I absorb and synthesize details to understand and have a truly childish (childlike at times) joy at learning new things which I believe is infectious. I think this part contributes to why she stays…” 

A RFM with nonRFM:

Version One: “… I have been sharing my life with a non-RFM person for 35 years now, and what I have grown to understand is this: the efforts must come from both sides. He needs to understand, respect and accept my differences and limitations just as I need to understand , respect and accept his. Because we ARE different. Being different does not mean that we cannot share life nor love each other. It is crucial for my partner to understand and live with the fact that I am much faster than him and that my brain works differently from his. But as long as this is not clear to myself, I cannot explain this to him. For many many years, I walked around totally blind to my own needs and to my own RFM nature, because I had had no guidance to what a RFM is. I was 48 when I realised I am a RFM, so I can clearly see a “before” and “after” in my relationship with my partner. Things are much clearer now between us. My partner needed me to explain what the RFM means to me, over and over again, until it became a fact, a fact that we now can joke about (oh, the ego is a mighty enemy!!). But he needs my help to understand how I work. So first of all, I needed to figure it out myself, I needed to accept myself as a RFM and also understand how I work, who I really am and what my specific needs are. If I know what I need in my relationship, it’ll be easier to express this and to help the other one understand and respect my needs. And no, my partner does not love everything in me as I don’t love everything in him, but we can talk about it and find compromises – joke about our specificities, and be tolerant. Because what unites us is much stronger than what separates us!..”

Version Two: ..I think the fact that we both chose to enter the relationship with each other at a point in our lives where we were more or less contentedly single and had both done plenty of inner reflection definitely helps. If I had to put my finger on what works in our particular rainforest-coniferous case, it would be that… he accepts me exactly as I am (the reverse is still a work-in-progress for me) and his sense of self-worth isn’t threatened by the way that I am. What enables that (apart obviously from his amazing innate character) is that I do a LOT of explaining about what’s going on in my head, which helps him to understand me better. I ask him for his point of view. And he never fails to respond, helping me to understand – a bit – what’s going on in his head (he reminds me that I have a relatively unusual capacity to articulate my inner workings, and that he and many other people function quite differently). His concern is about not being enough, mine is about being too much. But we’ve talked about this since the beginning of our relationship, and check in often, supporting each other on our own personal growth journeys. Part of accepting me as I am is accepting what he calls my ‘special needs’, which have consequences for our everyday life – regularly going to bed early at around the same time; quiet, low-stimulation evenings; limited background noise (e.g. TV/radio); living more ethically (no meat, no car, a LOT of research into material objects before purchasing, volunteering, donating a percentage of our income, working in the for-purpose sector). What are the challenges? I think they mostly centre around me learning to become less judgmental and more compassionate. My wilful inner moral compass means that I have a LOT of opinions about everything and get so frustrated about ‘people who should know better’. I’ve learnt over the years to be much more diplomatic externally, but not with those in my innermost circle. This means that sometimes I end up saying things that can make my partner feel ‘less than’, for example, when I don’t understand why he is fascinated by football results, or playing video games, or why he is not into reading THIS INCREDIBLE BOOK that I just took pages of notes on. And what makes me feel even worse is that he is so supportive of my idea of fun – taking a multitude of online courses, listening to behavioural science podcasts, reading ‘challenging’ books, writing this email to you 😊. I don’t know why or how he manages to be so understanding of my less-than-ideal character traits, but he is, and I am truly blessed that he came into my life, and decided to stay…”

Version Three: “You have a lot of fights about finishing his sentences because he talks too slow and you know what he’s going to say already anyway.” 

Version Four: “…My partner is emotionally and intuitively very smart but he is more ‘down to earth’ and practical than I am – which helps me a lot as well for example when I am overthinking and in analysis paralysis (this usually happens when I am on vacation and my brain has not had its usual complex problem-solving activities. That’s my theory – when I do not give my mind complex tasks it uses the power elsewhere on its own, creating a lot of mess in my head) So when I get like that, my partner helps me to come back down to earth and just chill. What I absolutely love about our relationship is that my partner treats me like a normal human being. I have had people crushing on me because ‘You are so smart I cannot even be at your level’ -this has created a lot of pressure in my life already since I am a kid (like I have to fit some kind of a smart person role) and behave differently and not like ‘superficial’ things for example. Yes, my partner recognizes my giftedness but to my partner, I feel, it is the same as me having long hair – just a characteristic that is only a part of the whole picture. We share the same core values, the vibe of life and the need for a lot of personal freedom. That, I think, is the glue in our relationship. Our communication also works very well – we talk things through if something is bothering and we analyze our problem together from both points of view…”

And so, these are some glimpses into how some of you rainforest-y types navigate relationships and what you are looking for. Part Three will include examples of RFM with RFM partners, the views of a happily single multipotentialite, and resources for more information! Stay tuned.

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To my bloggEEs: I know this is not a typical post. How was it for you? What was it like to read these examples? Did some of them resonate? What might you add? What are your thoughts, feelings, and questions? Thank you, as always, for being here. Sending you as much love as I can muster. I have Covid right now, but not a terrible case. So there is still a lot of love to muster. And having you to join me, during the Covid-ride, is a blessing for sure!


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A Short Guide to Love and Relationships When You Are Sensitive And Smart — Part One

(photo by Kelly Sikkema)

“…I see patterns everywhere, in everything. I can’t help making connections. It’s like the world speaks to me. Things happen to me that don’t happen to normal people…”

“…To me, love can be felt and lived and seen everywhere, even in darker times and places…”

“…People don’t often understand my sense of humor, because they can’t see the movie playing out in my head (trust me, it’s hilarious). Others have told me they are ‘intimidated’ by my book collection…”

“…I cannot imagine how hard it is to love me as a partner…”

“…Why can’t I just start with the most important information? It seems I cannot, because it is a web of interconnected aspects that spans across space and time. Words tumble in my mind, but as soon as I try to condense them into a concrete sentence to speak or write down, I get blocked and fall silent because I can never do justice to the web and all its nuances. This makes me feel sad and desperate to connect…”  (Comments sent to me by blog readers)

Where do I begin, then, to talk about love? How in the world do I approach this topic when it is so darned complex, you are so darned complicated, and, well, I am intimidated by your book collection?

I will let the psychotherapist in me take the reins. She knows what to say. She has opinions, biases, and years of experience with you people.

This is what she told me to write:

Probably the most important message I can send you today is this: Make time to do the deep inner work that allows you to love yourself. An obvious message. But often misunderstood or dismissed or ridiculed. (This is not about selfishness or self-centeredness or new age mumbo jumbo. Keep reading.) Mind you, you do not have to love yourself perfectly and utterly. You can still have self-doubt and anxieties. But, the thing is, if you have grown up with neglect, abuse, or other types of trauma, or even if you haven’t and are *just* grappling with giftedness, it is very possible, you will have some difficulty with self-love. And, it is even possible you will misinterpret what love is. You might base your understanding of love on what you experienced in your family of origin and then find relationships (friends, partners) that provide that kind of familiar non-love. So, you may even have to figure out what love actually is. And, then, learn the self-love tango.

Sounds kinda daunting, I know. But if I can do it, so can you.

Inner work helps you untangle these intricate sticky vines and gain clarity about what real love might look like, feel like, and be. It allows you to break old family cycles and legacies and find new more nurturing, nourishing pathways. Pathways to love. Pathways to higher love, generous love, divine love.

Here is what one bloggEE wrote about this:

“… a non-understanding parent (mother in my case), as well as a non-understanding and jealous sibling, multiple trauma in my teens and after, as well as a history in the family from the war in Indonesia, second generation trauma. I write this first to explain the background, which became clear to me in my late 40’s. I’m 52 now, and looking back I can understand why some relationships couldn’t make it. Some were ‘doomed’ from the start because I didn’t know who I was, what I was carrying inside me. With the wisdom now of who I am, what I’m capable of… with my realization that I am in fact a RFM, an HSP, gifted (2 or 3E), and what not, I ‘know’ now that I did the right thing to stay single until I had sorted myself out. Came to accept and learned to live with my past experiences…”

I am not saying you need to stay single until you are sorted out. After all, sorting out may take a while. (And, then, in typical rainforest-minded form, you will not stop there. You may go from there to a tiny transformation so that your self-love spills out to family, friends, neighbors, adversaries, people you haven’t met, animals, and plants. You are rainforest-minded after all. And this is the deeper purpose of self-love, in case you wondered.) The more you understand and grieve for the lost, wounded child within, the more love (in various and sundry forms) will find you.

I speak from experience. Not just with clients but with myself. I started as a client in therapy in my 30’s, coming from a cold, avoidant, emotionally and sexually abusive, dysfunctional middle class white Jewish family immersed in lots of barely under the surface fear, rage, shame, and generational trauma. It has been a long journey of therapy, journaling, breath work, guided imagery, energy work, internal family systems, somatic experiencing, soul collage, acupuncture, reading, workshops, and more. I have been in two partnerships that re-enacted my early experiences of so-called love. Over the years, in safe relationships with therapists and other practitioners and in my trusty journal, I began to explore and heal the abandonment, loneliness, invasion, shame, fear, rage, and loss. And I tenderly reparented the lonely little ones inside me. I began to soften, to defrost, to unburden, to release, to grieve, to put the pieces of my broken heart back together.

And authentic love (in various and sundry forms) found me. And is still finding me. Deeply nurturing, intimate friendships. New connections with family. Spiritual community. Argentine tango. Work that feeds my creativity and passions. Meaningful, sweet, close connections with soulful clients and sensitive readers around the world who send me fan mail. Writing. Spiritual guides. A sense of humor. Music. Books. And a powerful, fierce, glowing, pure Light within that appears to be my new identity. Or my original identity, released. And now I freely spread the love around. Hither and yon. With abandon. And even a little glee.

So. The psychotherapist in me recommends it: The self-love tango. Rediscovering your own powerful, fierce, glowing pure Light. And, even in these hard times, especially in these hard times, spreading it around. Hither and yon. With abandon. And even a little glee.

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To my bloggEEs: I have good news and bad news. The bad news is, I have decided not to write the book on rainforest mind love and relationships because, the good news, it can actually be covered in a few blog posts. (Did you see that coming?) I know you were quite enthusiastic about the project and many of you wrote to me. I am sorry to disappoint you but there are some excellent resources that may not be RFM specific but still provide the important information you need. (I will tell you where to find them.)

And, for even more good news, I am working instead on a book that will become a guided journal for rainforest minds. It will guide you in deepening your understanding of yourself through writing and drawing prompts and inspirational quotes/memes that will be fun, deep-diving, and healing. I will include some of my own personal journal entries as examples. This new book will be the third in a trilogy where you acquire self-understanding, self-acceptance, and then discover your path(s) to the future and to finding your particular rainforest-y way to create a better world.

So, my sweetest, dearest rainforesters, this is part one of the Love Posts. There will at least be one more where I write more specifically about relationships and partnerships. (And share more of your quotes.) Let us know what you think so far. I didn’t actually plan to share so much about me! Eek! But I suspect it might be helpful. Yes? Thank you, as always, for commenting. We are doing the love tango here for sure.


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No Better Time To Share Your Complicated Colorful Self With The World

Every day when I wake up and turn on NPR, I hear another disturbing story. I do not need to tell you. You hear it, too. You feel it. You grieve for the people. The animals. The plants. For the planet. Some days you try denial for a while. I know I do. Many days you compartmentalize. Me, too. Some weeks you wear your emotional support sweater. Every day. You sleep in it. Well, OK, I don’t sleep in my emotional support sweater. But, I’m leaving the option open, just in case.

You may be wondering what you can do. How does a highly sensitive, empathetic, emotional, persnickety, somewhat indecisive, seemingly overthinking book lover manage in this world? Where does a rainforest-minded human who is driven to make a difference even start?

Well. I have some ideas.

I’ll begin with the obvious ones. The ones you are probably already doing.

Voting. Financially supporting important causes. Running for office. Supporting BIPOC businesses, writers, and artists. Getting therapy. Paying it forward. Examining your own biases. Following Van Jones on Instagram. Raising compassionate children. Volunteering your time. Setting healthy boundaries with toxic family members. Living more sustainably. Writing influential articles and books. Being kind. Becoming an activist. Starting a silent book club. Housing a refugee family. Starting a nonprofit. Having conversations with people you disagree with. Educating yourself about the climate crisis and what can be done. Following Glennon Doyle on Instagram. Fighting the urge to feel powerless or hopeless. Stopping the legacy of abuse in your family of origin. Maintaining your capacity for optimism and idealism. Developing your intuition and letting your creativity out of the box. Deepening your spiritual practice. Reviving your sense of humor.

That would be a great start.

And here is what I really want to say. This is what I am going to nag you about for the rest of my days.

Step up NOW to who you truly are. Yes, now. No time to waste. It is no longer appropriate to dilly dally. Procrastination is not an option. These times require all of us who are capable to step up and do the work we are here to do.

Open the doors to your destiny and charge on in!

How do you determine your destiny, you may ask. How do you find your purpose? There are ideas in this post and this one. Some great resources for this are here. It is a project for sure. But what could be more important? Honey, you have a rainforest mind. You were born for this. Your sensitivity, creativity, compassionate heart, intelligence. Your passion for justice and love for planet earth. Now is your time.

And if you are still not convinced, there is this:

“…You have worlds inside you — swirling, colorful, mournful, generous, soaring, hopeful, searing, heartbreaking worlds. You cannot offer just a tiny slice of you. You cannot hold back the flood. You want to share those worlds. You are way too big, too complicated, too glorious and infinitely sad and unspeakably divine. You have to share all of it...” Heather Havrilesky

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To my bloggEEs: I know I am obsessed with this topic. (I hope I don’t sound too preachy.) What are you doing to find your purpose and live more of your authentic life? What questions do you have? What resources do you use that help you? These are such challenging times. Sending you so much love and appreciation for your courage.


44 Comments

What Do Rainforest-Minded (Gifted) Humans Want?

Here it is. In a nutshell.

(photo by Ed Robertson, Unsplash)

“I’m drowning in a sea of well meaning phrases like ‘I’m in awe of the scope of your thinking’ … oh do fuck off with your awe, I don’t want it or need it. I’m bored, and sick to death of making myself accessible to other people. I want someone to see me, to understand me, and to leap with me through a wonderland of ideas. You know the conversations where we talk about everything, leaping effortlessly from poetry to feminism, through politics, fact and fiction, and the evolution of language and anthropology, ecology and neuropsychology and aliens. You know those late night conversations when it’s moonlight and crickets and magic and the guards are down and things just flow and words feel electric and it seems inconceivable that 26 letters can catapult you from ecstasy to despair but the combinations seem infinite and that in and of itself is a glorious magic.” (a blog/book reader)

What else is there to say?

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To my bloggEEs: This may be the shortest blog post that ever lived. But it is so well said, don’t you think? Of course, I have written about how to find other humans who leap effortlessly and who catapult you. This post. And this one. On friendships. And this one about your/my quest for partnership. I know there is more that you want. World peace, the end of the climate crisis, no more hate, for example. But some glorious magic would be a good start. (Thank you to the reader quoted above.) In the comments, tell us what you want. And thank you, as always.


9 Comments

Gifted In Serbia

“I can hear and feel with such an intensity. I can understand what people are feeling just by their look or presence. I can very often predict what they are going to say. Bad styling and bad architecture are literally killing me. I am looking for details in stuff that are meaningless for others. I am passionate about learning and thinking. And yes, my worth definitely depends on my achievements and I do feel like a failure…I would looove to find someone with who I could really talk about depth of everything and be able to say what I really mean knowing that the person is going to understand it without calling me crazy…”

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know I am writing about some of the beautiful rainforest-minded souls (RFMs) who contact me from around the world. I have wondered what giftedness looks like in various cultures. What are the similarities? What are the differences? Some of the profiles have been from RFMs in Finland, Spain, Brazil, Malaysia, Belgium, Chile, Lebanon, Netherlands, Canada (via Cameroon), Portugal, Germany, Austria, and India. I would love to hear from those of you in countries not yet on this list, although, of course, anyone is welcome to contact me for a consultation!

(photo by Christopher Campbell, Unsplash)

Today, meet Sara, a 30 year old female, born during the tumultuous years of the break up of Yugoslavia. She contacted me for a consultation after reading my books so she might find her “true voice” and live her “real life.” Like so many of the RFMs I meet, she is struggling to manage her extraordinarily active mind and her many varied interests and abilities. She grapples with the conflict between being practical and realistic, everyday choices of career paths, lifestyles, relationships, and laundry, versus expanding into her “higher vibration” of intuition and spirituality.

Like every multipotentialite I know, Sara’s interests and abilities are vast and varied. When she was in high school, she was skilled in math, physics, chemistry, writing, languages, orchestra, choir, history, poetry, theatre, and volleyball. Because she did not know this was normal for an RFM, she doubted herself and said, “I did everything but I wasn’t great in anything.” And this: “…if they only knew how manipulative, lucky, and unknowing I am. I just calculate what is important, memorize it quickly, and somehow get through…I never went deep enough.” In fact, Sara can not help but dive deep into whatever she does. Her capacity is both wide and deep. Rainforest-y for sure.

There is more. Sara is driven to learn and experience life to the fullest and then some. Presently, she is trying to sort out how to choose among all of her interests and insights. How does she deal with her job at the pharmacy when she has visions of dramatically changing the health care system? When does she find time to learn ten languages, create a clothing line, build sustainable affordable homes, enter a song contest, publish her poems, make movies, and become a mother? How does she explain to others the powerful loneliness and grief she feels trying to shrink herself into a more typical way of being and living?

Sara has a strong spirituality that sustains her. She said, “I do believe we are all one and connected to the source energy. I believe in energy and vibration, parallel realities and that we are all creating our own personal world. Everything out there–it’s me. The term starseed also resonated with me. It helped me understand myself better. I see it as a spiritual equivalent to your term rainforest mind. My soul has probably a lot of different experiences all across the universe right now because there is only this moment in time…

As you can imagine, it has been difficult for Sara to find others who can keep up with her, who love her depth and sensitivity, her intellect and spirituality. Like many RFMs, she wondered, if she was so smart, why was she not “successful.” She was not sure how to organize her day to accomplish basic tasks. She expressed fears of stepping into her true self and leaving everyone she loves behind.

I reassured her that these are indeed the struggles of the rainforest-minded. We agreed, it was time to grasp a more accurate view of herself.

Then we spoke about how she might find a regular time to tune into her spirituality and intuition. She knew her answers were all within if she could just trust herself.

Sara shared another of her spiritual insights, “I believe we are living in a beautiful time of a great awakening and the collapse that we are seeing is just the step before creating a new, wonderful world.”

So, Sara, you are not crazy. You very clearly have a magnificent rainforest mind. And, as you step into your vision of a new, wonderful world, we will be right with you, traveling the vast starry universe. Together.

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To my bloggEEs: Do you have similar experiences? Please let us know about them. Your comments make such a difference. And thank you, Sara, for sharing your story and your heart with us.


49 Comments

It’s Time We Talked About Trauma, Resilience, Intuition, And Spirituality

I was asked on a recent podcast about my work with clients who experienced trauma as children. Are rainforest-minded clients more traumatized than non-rainforest-minded clients when there is abuse in the family? Are they more resilient? Is there a difference between a highly sensitive, intuitive, gifted child and a regular more typical child when it comes to growing up in a seriously dysfunctional family? What about intuition and spirituality? How do they play a part in the life of a rainforest mind experiencing trauma?

(photo by Jeremy Bishop, Unsplash)

Well. As usual, I can only speak anecdotally. But I have worked as a therapist since 1992 so that is quite a few years of anecdotes!

That said, as you might imagine, the answer is not simple. And because I work exclusively with rainforest minds (RFMs), I have no real concrete means of comparison. So, those of you with a more skeptical, analytical bent, bear with me. I am simply sharing what I have seen and I am open to hearing your thoughts.

Another thing. The population of gifted humans I know is also a particular group of folks who want therapy, can afford therapy, and are actively choosing self-examination. So, I will be speaking about a fairly select group.

Yet another thing. I do realize that people write volumes on each of these topics and here I am writing an itty bitty blog post. Apologies.

Eek. One final thing for new readers. Not all gifted folks have rainforest minds. But all rainforest minds are gifted.

Phew. Disclaimers aside. Here ya go.

Over the years, I have worked with many clients who were abused in their families of origin. There are clear impacts that can include: intense anxiety and hypervigilance, depression, safety-trust-control issues, self-doubt, self-hatred, low self-esteem, codependency, boundary problems, relationships that repeat the unhealthy patterns in the family, somatic symptoms, PTSD, and delayed achievement in career paths. And more. Clearly, RFMs are deeply impacted by early trauma.

One might think a highly sensitive child would be more affected in an unsafe environment than someone less aware or less sensitive. And, yes, these kids are likely more vulnerable due to their keen awareness, empathy, and sensitivity. And yet. What has surprised me, even with the greater vulnerability, has been the quality of resilience. In spite of the severe abuse that many of my clients experienced, I have not seen them becoming abusers themselves. They do not develop serious personality disorders. They still maintain their powerful empathy, sensitivity, moral compass, and mental agility.

How is this possible?

I have theories.

Many of my clients tell me that at a very early age, they knew something was wrong with their parents so that they were less likely to fully blame themselves for the abuse. There was a certain capacity for observation or, perhaps, metacognition or intuition. This awareness may have provided some protection from the intense self-hatred and acting out behaviors that many children develop in these circumstances, that can lead to more severe outcomes including serious addictions and deep-seated mental disturbances such as narcissism or psychopathology.

There is more.

The intuition and spirituality that comes with a rainforest mind is a natural resilience builder. RFMs are often quite intuitive. They know things and do not necessarily know where the knowing comes from. They receive ideas, direction, and support from particular intuitive insights or psychic capacities. There is often an unusually strong spirituality including a mystical connection with Spirit or Guidance or Nature or the Universe or God. Clients have told me that when they were quite young, they felt the presence of angels or spiritual guides providing protection, support, and love during those early years.

Many RFMs seek meaning outside of traditional religious circles. Some explore Buddhist practices, earth-centered beliefs, or shamanic influences. They often find peace, a sense of belonging, and wisdom when they spend time in the natural world, communicating with animals, trees, rivers, and plants. One way to think about it is that this intuitive and spiritual circuitry provides a strong safety net when a rainforest-minded human is threatened.

On occasion, I have mused that RFMs might be old souls and all of those lifetimes contributed to their set of unique traits and to their resilience. And, more recently, it has occurred to me, that perhaps these clients are born with a crystalline strength that runs through the center of their body-minds that not even the most horrific abuser can touch, much less break.

Certainly, many rainforest-minded clients have a long, complicated grieving process in therapy to heal from the serious traumas and the devastating losses they have experienced. But they are not broken. At their center remains a powerful, tenacious, enduring, robust, resplendent Light.

And that Light saves them. And just might save us all.

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To my bloggEEs: As you can tell, I am a little anxious about this post (Did the 5 disclaimers give it away???) I am not sure why except that, perhaps, this is an even more complicated and controversial topic than usual. And then, I realized I’ve written about this before. Here. Go figure. Please share your personal stories in the comments. Your insights and experiences are so valuable. If you know of good resources about trauma, resilience, intuition, and spirituality, please tell us about them. Here are a few worth looking into: Spirituality: Tara Brach. Clarissa Pinkola Estes. On Being by Krista Tippett. The Evolutionary Collective. Trauma: Judith Blackstone. Complex PTSD. Healing Trauma. Sending you much love.


39 Comments

What Is Obvious To You Is A Mystery To Them And What Is Obvious To Them Is A Mystery To You

No wonder you have trouble finding friends and partners. This explains so much, does it not? With your rainforest mind, you are always reading, researching, pondering, diving deep into the mental, emotional, educational, imaginative, intuitive, and spiritual caldron. With glee, I might add, when no one is getting in your way. You are enjoying yourself. It comes easily. So, when you share your thrilling findings, your musings, your perplexifications, they can be, well, dense, thick, multi-syllabic, abstruse, unfathomable, and, thus, impossible for the average muggle human to grok. But, you think to yourself, Why don’t they get it when it’s so obvious?

(photo by Afif Kusuma, Unsplash)

But what about the reverse? How is the obvious to them a mystery to you? Have you heard the expression that the simple is complex and the complex is simple when you are gifted? Well, that’s how. Your talent for deep thinking may lead you to make something more complicated than it actually is. Take multiple choice tests. Unless you figure out what the test designer had in mind, you might score poorly because you can explain how all of the choices could be correct, depending on the circumstances. A simple test stumps you because you naturally create connections or layers or intricacies where there are none. Right? This can also happen in conversations where you are flummoxed at the mundanities you hear being bandied about with such sincerity. You think: Surely, this must be code and these people are secret agents inventing a way to rid the world of single-use plastics. They can not actually care about these things. Can they?

Yes. Then can.

Please do not misunderstand me. (How often do you say that?) I am not wanting to create an us versus them situation here. It is just that you need to grow in your self-understanding and self-acceptance for the welfare of yourself, your family, your community, and the whole darned planet, so I am risking using what might be misconstrued as ridiculification. Apologies. (Oh, I love making up words!)

By the way, I was inspired to write about this from an email I received from a 55 year old female who also wrote a few other things you might relate to. So here are her words:

“… I am faced time and time again with the fact that I am fundamentally different from the people that I find myself surrounded by. I can pretend to be “normal” but it’s grueling and SOOO boring. If I am loved, it feels to me like it’s in spite of who I am, and not because of who I am. In recent days, this has really hit me like a brick over the head. Sometimes, I wish I weren’t so aware. Like REALLY aware. And when I find the places within me that I’m NOT aware of — that I hadn’t seen or understood — I tunnel through those as well. I never stop learning and searching. I can identify discrepancy, tension, and misalignment. I began to hunt for truth when things didn’t make sense as a child in a dysfunctional home with an alcoholic (but sensitive) father and an emotionally absent (but very present) mother. It felt impossible to unfurl. It was a debilitating mission for a sensitive kid like me. I’ve had to fight all my life to feel like I exist…”

And this:

“…But in my defense, I’ve spent most of my life trying to bend into the shape of the person that other people need. Because I care so deeply about other people’s feelings and can easily see their talents and strengths, I’ve advocated for and supported them without asking for anything in return. But part of that “brick over the head” I mentioned referred to the sudden realization that no one has ever treated me in kind. In fact, they’ve treated me quite poorly & I’ve let that be ok. But why? Don’t I deserve to be heard? I think I do.

You do, indeed, dear rainforestista. You do, indeed.

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To my bloggEEs: We would love to hear your thoughts. You, too, deserve to be heard. And there is a lot here to respond to, right? Please do. Your comments add so much! Sending all of you much love as we struggle to find our way through these frightening times.

(Note: I was interviewed by Marije Hofland of the Netherlands for her podcast just out today. Here is the link. Thank you, Marije. After the Dutch introduction, the rest is in English!)


36 Comments

What Does Exceptional Giftedness Look Like In A Teen?

If you or your people are still wondering if giftedness exists or if identifying gifted children is only a way to create division and increase inequality, let me introduce you to Judith.

She was a 16-year-old high school senior attending honors classes at a local university. Dark-haired, brown-eyed, fast talking, and extremely intense, she came to see me after her mother, Priya, had called to say she was worried Judith was socially isolated, depressed, and not academically challenged.

(photo by agung pratamah, Unsplash)

At our first meeting, Judith said she felt like a freak. She was driven to learn about, oh, everything and extremely lonely. Her peers did not share her passions. Even while attending college classes, she was disappointed to find much of the coursework unchallenging although there were a few professors who pushed her beyond where she thought she could go and who were deeply enthusiastic about their area of study. She loved those teachers.

Judith told me she was bullied in elementary school. Her enthusiasm for learning was misinterpreted as bossiness or condescension by educators and the other children. She would turn in book reports that were much longer than required and wrote 50 page prologues to highly imaginative novels she wrote in her spare time. She designed complex games at recess that confused the other kids.

Like many gifted humans I have known, Judith needed intellectual stimulation as much as she needed air. Even though she was clear about that need, she resisted the gifted label. She would explain that she was intensely aware of her shortcomings. She was also offended by what she called the “elitism” of the word.

At one session, in her fast-paced, animated style, Judith explained her love of philosophy, sciences, and mathematics. I did the best I could to comprehend the theories and examples and wished I could have provided more feedback on the substance of what she was saying, but her grasp of these topics was beyond me. It was easy to see how lonely her world might be. Many adults, including me, had little or no exposure to this level of intellectual content and complexity. I wondered if I really was capable of helping this young woman, whose Corvette mind could leave my VW bus brain in the dust.

And with whom could she share her excitement about the prospect of taking free MIT classes online? Where could she talk about her intuitive insights and her deep spiritual connection with nature? Where could she disclose her extraordinary fear of failure or her avoidance of activities she could not master quickly? Probably not with the other kids spending hours on TikTok.

Like other gifted kids I have known, Judith’s emotions were explosive at times and she struggled with perfectionism and procrastination. She said, “I don’t want to turn in crappy work that isn’t up to my one hundred percent.” She would also run out of time on assignments when she would get caught up in exploring something intellectually fascinating. Educators and parents often misinterpret these high standards and curiosity as laziness or obstinance. The powerful emotions can be misjudged as immaturity.

In our sessions, we talked about the beauty of and value in exquisite quality and yet we also looked for ways to determine what assignments and projects needed the highest standards, and which ones could just get completed adequately and efficiently. We made lists of ways to self-soothe and manage frustration and anger, including looking at triggers, emotional needs, sensitivities, and hormones. We used her own creativity and intuitive depth to concoct visual and auditory experiences that were both comforting and empowering.

Judith needed self-acceptance and a sense of her own worth and agency to navigate a world that often misunderstood and even rejected her. She was slowly building more resilience. Her love and knowledge of astronomy, physics, language, and philosophy, along with her intuition and spirituality, began to strengthen her sense of self and her place in the world. After meeting with me over a few months, Judith was also able to understand the importance, even necessity, of acknowledging her identity as a gifted human.

In fact, it made all the difference.

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To my bloggEEs: How has knowing you are gifted (have a rainforest mind) helped you navigate the challenges in your life? What was it like before you knew? Thank you so much for being here, for finding me, and for your commitment to self-understanding and creating a more compassionate world. Much love to you.