Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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Your Rainforest Mind — The Book — Released!!

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The Author–That Would Be Me

My book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is available NOW! (June 20, 2016) Here are some highlights:

A few questions from the highly unscientific quiz determining if you, in fact, have a rainforest mind:

  • Do people tell you to lighten up when you are just trying to enlighten them?
  • Are you overwhelmed by breathtaking sunsets, itchy clothes, strong perfumes, clashing colors, bad architecture, buzzing that no one else hears, angry strangers, needy friends, or global hunger?
  • Do you see ecru, beige, and sand where others see only white?
  • Do you spend hours looking for the exact word, precise flavor, smoothest texture, right note, perfect gift, finest color, most meaningful discussion, fairest solution, or deepest connection?
  • Have you ever called yourself ADHD because you are easily distracted by new ideas or intricate cobwebs, or OCD because you alphabetize your home library or color-code your sweaters, or bipolar because you go from ecstasy to despair in 10 minutes?
  • Are you passionate about learning, reading, and research, yet perplexed, perturbed and perspiring about schooling?

From the introduction:

In the following pages, you will meet excessively curious, idealistic, sensitive, highly intelligent humans—individuals with rainforest minds (RFM). You will meet Billy, an adolescent with extraordinary empathy for all beings and a deep desire for precision, ethics, and excellence. His multiple sensitivities and his complicated perfectionism were misunderstood by teachers, peers, family, and himself. As a result, he felt that something was terribly wrong with him, nothing he did was ever good enough. You will also get to know Gina, a twenty-something grad student whose brain ran faster, wider, and deeper than many of her university professors. She overwhelmed and alienated her less effervescent peers, so Gina watched TV and smoked pot to find comfort, procrastinate, and feel normal. 

You will meet Gwen, who at 52 completed an interdisciplinary PhD in anthropology, history, art, and feminism. Lonely since childhood, she had an early awareness of human suffering. Her lifetime of divergent interests led her into many endeavors but she had not found a partner who matched her intellect or emotional range. You will also meet Steven, a 35-year-old single parent who was deeply troubled by his difficulty controlling his anger at his son, Tim. Steven expressed frustration with educators when Tim was acting out in school and feared that he would repeat the patterns of his abusive alcoholic father. Steven longed to find ways to heal his family’s legacy and access the creative and spiritual spark within his heart. 

In this book, you will meet these and other RFMs, clients with whom I have worked in my counseling practice over the last 25 years. Some entered therapy to examine the roots of their depression, despair, or anxiety. Others wanted to understand their frustrations with relationships, schooling, or career paths. Many experienced trauma in childhood. All of them felt the pressures, pleasures, and peculiarities of living inside the highly intense and complicated rainforest mind…

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To my bloggEEs: And that’s just the beginning! You can buy the paperback or ebook on Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon Australia (only ebook) and the Nook version on Barnes and Noble or order it from your favorite independent bookstore. It’ll also be found at the GHF Press website. As you can imagine, I’m excited and nervous about this and having occasional severe bouts of impostor syndrome! The book’s style is different from the blog but I hope that you’ll find it informative and inspiring. (Note: All clients’ names and identities are changed.) Let us know your questions and thoughts in the comments. And thank you, as always.


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Your Child Is Gifted–Let The Worries Begin

photo courtesy of P. Wilkes

photo courtesy of P. Wilkes

You’ve been told that you have a gifted child. You think you ought to be happy. A gifted child. People say parenting this kid should be a breeze. But instead of celebrating, you’re freaking out.

Your What-If-Brain goes wild.

What if I can’t answer all of his questions? What if she hates school? What if he gets bullied? What if she’s OCD, ADHD and HSP? What if he has meltdowns in public? What if she becomes a sociopath? What if I’m the most inept parent who was ever born?  What if I give in too much? What if I’m too rigid? What if I’m too emotional? What if he grows up to hate me? What if she’s not successful? What if he’s too successful? What if she doesn’t do her homework? What if he never learns to tie his shoes? What if she never finds any friends? What if he never learns how to fail? What if I’m always overwhelmed and anxious? What if I’m just like my mother? What if I’m just like my father? What if I’m not enough? What if I’m too much? What if I fail miserably and my kid ends up in therapy for ten years talking about how I failed miserably?

The list goes on.

And on.

Parenting your gifted child. Not a breeze.

What can you do?

In this social-media-internet age, there are easily accessible resources. For starters, you can go here, here and here.

But I wouldn’t be a good therapist, if I didn’t tell you to make time for introspection. Your child will benefit. More than you know.

Let me explain.

I know that you think your kid is gifted because of your partner, not you. Or because of your great-grandfather. Or because of the aliens who landed in your yard years ago. All of that may be true. But consider the possibility that you, too, may have these rainforest-minded traits.

Just look at how you worry. With great depth and creativity. Just like your kid.

Look at how sensitive you are to chemicals, sounds, smells, bad architecture and other people’s sadness.

Look at how darned curious you are and how you ache to learn about everything in this vast amazing universe.

Look at how you’re afraid of both failure and success.

Look at how you have trouble finding friends who aren’t overwhelmed by your enthusiasm.

Just like your kid.

Time to own it.

You have a rainforest mind. You are gifted.

The more you understand who YOU are, the better parent you’ll be.

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To my bloggEEs: If you’re a parent of a child with a rainforest mind, let us know how that’s been for you. What are you learning about yourself? What are the wonderfully rainforest-y things your child is doing and how do you feel about them? What resources do you recommend to other parents? And if you suffer from severe What-If-Brain, read this.

 

 


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Are You A Multipotentialite*?

I am not a multipotentialite. But I’ve known many. Many. I’ve lived with one. Most of my counseling clients fit the bill. Several friends. I suspect that I’m not one so that I can better help all of you who are. If I were one, too, well, things could get messy.

CC Flickr Martin Lambe

CC Flickr Martin Lambe

For those of you who are new to the term, let me explain. In an earlier post, I described how you may be overwhelmed  by your extraordinary curiosity. Not only that. You may, in fact, be as capable in the field of chemistry as you are in philosophy or as skilled in music as you are in literature. And you want to do it all. Depth and diversity are exciting, stimulating and necessary.

You’re afflicted with multipotentiality. Thus, you are a multipotentialite. (a term coined by Emilie Wapnick*, thanks Emilie)

You may be like my client. I’ll call her Rachel. She was interested in writing, sociology, literature, theology, politics, international relations, medicine, parenting, public speaking, feminism and math. For starters. At age 25, she was working in educational consulting at a university. It was a secure job with good benefits. She enjoyed it at first as she learned the ropes, did lots of public speaking and traveled internationally. But after about three years, there was nothing new to learn and she grew frustrated. She came to counseling looking for guidance.

CC Flickr Markus Stöber

CC Flickr Markus Stöber

It became apparent that Rachel was intellectually gifted. (like many multipotentialites) She was highly sensitive, articulate, an avid reader, creative, perfectionistic, passionate about learning, analytical, fast thinking and intense. When I explained multipotentiality, she was distressed and said, “It’s shattering to realize that there’s not the shining beacon of a single path.” She felt lost in “a shadowy empty forest that had too many paths that went off far into the foggy distance.”

Knowing that she was a multipotentialite was not good news.

She had to grieve the notion that she had one particular calling and that all she had to do was find it and do it. Multipotentiality was so much more complicated and frightening.

But as we talked more, she began to accept and appreciate her gifted rainforest mind. And we started planning her next career move. I suggested she read Barbara Sher’s Refuse to Choose, examine other resources and join Emilie’s community. She began to see that being a multipotentialite could work.

But she was torn between being practical and going for her dreams. She was afraid that she was just hoping for some unreachable “pie in the sky.”

I asked her to consider that there was pie available. And she didn’t have to go to the sky to get it.

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To my blogEEs: Thanks, as always, for your sweet attention. If this post speaks to you, click on the links to Emilie Wapnick’s website. She’s bubbling over with practical and creative ideas. (and thanks to the reader who originally told me about Emilie)


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Are We Having Fun Yet?

Have you ever wondered how a rainforest-minded (g-g-g-gifted) adult defines play/fun? Perhaps, you’ve been told that you’re too serious or too studious. That you need to lighten up, relax and have more fun. Be more spontaneous and less OCD. And you respond: “I AM having fun. I’m READING!” Then, you get that doubting or disapproving pat on the head.

9441239472_88f67e4164I suspect that you may need help understanding what’s up with that. And you may need help recognizing what constitutes play/fun for you and others like you.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “But I’m not gifted. If I were gifted, I’d be studying string theory for fun and inventing the next electric car or doing something else that’s terribly amazing.”

I hear you. Keep reading.

Here are examples of play/fun from my rainforest-minded clients and friends:

Build a labyrinth in your backyard, read everything ever written on sacred geometry, follow the NASA channel on your iPhone, read the thesaurus, wander aimlessly in nature, research random curiosities, gasp at an ocean sunset, learn lots of stuff, create, notice how light changes at dusk, solve a perplexing problem, analyze your dreams, watch back-to-back episodes of Dr. Who, study string theory.

To name a few.

Then again, some rainforest-minded adults experience play/fun as– any creative endeavor. Painting, cooking, sewing, singing or flower arranging, for example. Or, play/fun is, in general, creating beauty. Making new connections. Or it may even be gazing at beauty.

8065614670_d5752ac024So what do you think? Does this describe you?

What ever play/fun is for you, I’ll bet it’s deep, analytical, layered or complex. Unique and sensitive. Chances are you look below the surface. You search for back stories and biases. Paradoxes and peculiarities. Your version of play/fun may not match that of your relatives, neighbors or friends.

You may be like my 20-something client who is studying anthropology in grad school. She told me that her mother suggested she take a month off from her studies to play at the beach. Her response: “That would be the worst thing ever. I am playing. It just doesn’t look like it. I need to follow my own rabbit trails. That’s where I find my joy.” She loves learning. That’s her play. That’s her fun.

You, too?

I thought so.

The next time someone tells you to lighten up, play and have more fun: Smile. Pat them on the head. And get back to your books, your beauty and your random curiosities.

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Note to blogEEs:

Have I mentioned how grateful I am that you’re following my blog?

Just so you know, whenever I refer to clients in a post, it’s with permission. I carefully avoid any identifying information. And one more thing. When I mention love of learning, it’s not the same as love of schooling.

Photos via Creative Commons:

https://www.flickr.com/x/t/0098009/photos/martinaphotography/9441239472/

https://www.flickr.com/x/t/0096009/photos/jeffpang/8065614670/

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This blog is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page Blog Hop. To read more blogs in this hop, visit http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/blog_hop_gifted_at_play.htm


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Muddled by Your Musings

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That would be me and the tango.

Do people have difficulty following you?

Are they muddled by your musings about the flaws in our current cultural mythologies? Do they retreat at your ruminations about the future of the planet? Do they get lost in your lectures about quadratic equations?

Well, my geekly one, I have the answer for you. If you want someone to follow you, learn to lead the Argentine tango.

You heard me.

This is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. This dance is made for you. It will stretch your brain in many directions all at once. It will demand that you tap your creative exuberance. It will celebrate your sensitivity and your intuitive powers.

And you will be popular. Yes, indeed. If you learn how to lead the Argentine tango, women and men will wait eagerly to dance with you. You will no longer be the nerd, the outcast, the last-one-picked-for-the-team. No. They will adore you. And you will finally be with people who can follow you.

I’m not making this up.

By the way, I’m speaking to both men and women. Even though only men lead the tango in Argentina, women lead in the US, and in other countries as well. And, in my experience, gender is irrelevant. You become two souls gliding through space connected to music, floor, your hearts, and the Mystery.

But there is one glitch. Just one. You won’t learn it right away. It will take time. Persistence. Failure. You may not have much experience with that. If you’re used to being the fastest learner in the room, think again. But that’s OK. That’s good. Taking the risk to try something where you won’t excel at first will open new doors. And if you’re a parent, it’ll be good modeling for your kids.

And, once you learn it–nirvana.

Not only that. You’ll look around the room, and there will be other geeks there. You might even find one who loves your musings about the flaws in our current cultural mythologies.

And just so you know, at Fermilab, near Chicago, where they study high-energy physics, they hold Argentine tango classes. Pamela Noyes said, in their August 2008 newsletter Fermilab Today, “Physics and tango both require passion to become very good…Physicists follow motion with their equations. Tango dancers follow each others motion with their senses…. If done well, both are extremely gratifying, perhaps one more to the mind and the other to the senses.”

So learn to lead the Argentine tango. And get followed