Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


Do You Have a Rainforest Mind? Why Does it Matter?

What is a rainforest mind? Do you have one? Do you want one? Might it be better to have a meadow mind or a corn field mind? Simpler. Quieter. Predictable. Organized. Productive, but not overwhelmingly so. Beautiful, but not a sensory overload extravaganza.

Think about it. The rainforest. Your jungle mind. Overflowing with intense, lush, teeming life. Noisy. Dense. Diverse. Vibrant. Abundant. Sensitive. Resource-full. Majestic. Flamboyant. Rotting. Always in flux. Providing support for all beings on the planet.

I know that you might not feel majestic. Maybe you’re not obviously flamboyant. Perhaps you have days when dense and rotting are the best descriptors. Maybe you’re not supporting all beings on the planet. Yet.

But the way your mind-heart-body-spirit works, you must admit, feels eerily similar to intense, lush, teeming life. And chances are, your questioning, curious, thinking, imagining mind is flamboyant. Or it was. When you were little. Effervescent and noisy.

Now, maybe you’ve learned to tamp it down.

Maybe people told you that they wished that you had a cornfield mind. And perhaps that sounded good to you, too. You weren’t sure there were many benefits to your constant questing. To your deep analysis of, oh, everything. To the howler monkeys who kept swinging from your branches fomenting havoc.

It’s tricky. To manage so much intensity, creativity, thinking, intuition, empathy, and sensitivity in your mind-heart-body-spirit. To not misdiagnose yourself with ADHD or OCD or bipolar disorder. To not get tangled in your own vines.

But it gets trickier. You also need to figure out how to live in a world that finds you overwhelming. Too curious. Too creative. Too smart. That can want to take your valuable resources from you. That can decide to cut you down.

And yet. That world is in desperate need of its rainforests.

So what do you do? What the heck do you do?

Tamp it back up.

You heard me.

What do I mean?

Well. I don’t mean that you should let the monkeys of your psyche loose on innocent bystanders. Or that you ought to make your sensitive soul vulnerable to the judgment and bizarre-ity of humankind. Or that you need to fix everything that’s wrong with the world.


What I mean is: Rediscover who you were before you tamped yourself down. Before you had to hide your light. Before you learned that you were too much.

Find ways to be that person again. You don’t have to do it all at once or to radically redesign your life. And you certainly shouldn’t let go of your healthy boundaries or your needs for quiet spaces.  But decide to take back your voice, your body, your power, and your flamboyant majestic-ness. Either in your parenting, or teaching, or writing, or art forms, or speaking, or thinking, or activism, or spirituality, or loving. Or all of the above.

Find your particular rainforest-y way to support all beings on the planet.

Now more than ever.

It matters.


To my dearest bloggEEs: This post is part of a collection of writings on underachieving. Underachieving is a term usually applied to gifted kids who aren’t doing well in school or living up to what is perceived as their potential. I include this post in the collection because I’m writing about you hiding or tamping down your authentic self. This can be a type of underachieving, just not in the traditional sense. (Click here or see the link below for access to the other posts.)

What are some ways that you’ve rediscovered your authentic self? What holds you back? What are your fears around finding your true self? What gives you the courage to examine yourself and to heal your broken heart? What types of actions are you taking to create a better world?

Two resources that I’ve found helpful for supporting all beings on the planet are Clarissa Pinkola Estes and Van Jones. What resources have you discovered?








The World Needs More Overthinkers

photo courtesy of Unsplash, Tachina Lee

Thinking has gotten a bad rap. If you do a lot of it, which you know you do, you’re called an overthinker. And that’s something you’re supposed to avoid.

Personally, I know people who are under-thinkers. I bet you do, too. Don’t you just wish those under-thinkers would overthink once in a while? I know I do.

Granted, you can think so much that you get super anxious. You can think so much that you don’t score well on multiple choice tests because you can explain why all of the choices are correct. You can think so much that you never finish painting your bedroom. You can think so much that you don’t have time to sleep. You can think so much that you forget to tie your shoes.

Too much thinking can become a problem. We know this.

But, honey, you’re kinda stuck with it. It’s how your brain works. Your big brain is very very active. All of the time. So, for you, it’s not overthinking. It’s just thinking. Or being. It’s curiosity. Analysis. Wondering. Creating. It’s the quest for the holy grail.

It’s you being you.

And yet, your colleagues, friends, relatives, partners, teachers, therapists and maybe even your children would like you to STOP THINKING SO MUCH.

Yeah. I get it.

And maybe you also tell yourself to stop thinking so much.

I think you need to rethink thinking.

And, of course, find ways to take care of yourself when your thoughts turn into anxiety or paralysis or sleeplessness. Give yourself permission to self-soothe. Whatever that looks like for you. If you need some ideas, try this post on anxiety and this one on worry.

But don’t stop “over”thinking, wondering, creating, and analyzing. Seeking the holy.

Being. You.


To my bloggEEs: Have you been accused of overthinking? When is it a problem for you? How is it beneficial? Do you have a way to explain it to others? Thank you for sharing your feelings, experiences and complexities. All are welcome here.

You can find more posts on this topic from the fabulous bloggers with Click on the graphic.


The Benefits Of Being Gifted

photo courtesy of Rowan Heuvel, Unsplash, CC

photo courtesy of Rowan Heuvel, Unsplash, CC

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m focusing on all of the many challenges that can exist when you have a rainforest mind. What about all of the good stuff, you might ask. Are there benefits to having a rainforest mind and, if there are, can you acknowledge them? And not feel guilty?

I imagine that you experience, on a daily basis, how it’s not easy being green gifted. But many people assume that it’s a perfectly fabulous life of great achievement and private jets that fly you to your second home mansion on your personal island paradise every other weekend. Maybe you also believed that, and so, because your life isn’t perfectly fabulous, you assumed that you weren’t gifted.

And it may be hard to speak about your actual strengths and accomplishments, without being seen as arrogant, conceited or insensitive. Without feeling guilty. That you don’t deserve these abilities and achievements. That it was a fluke that you got that award or that promotion. And it’s weird that people keep asking you how you know so much. When you know how much you don’t know.

How, then, can you identify your strengths, accept them, and be comfortable in your intense, emotional, supersmart, sensitive skin?

For starters: Here’s my handy dandy list of ways your rainforest mind is beneficial:

Sensitivity: Makes you a better parent, healer, therapist, colleague, cook, artist, political activist, dancer, musician, teacher, spouse, medical professional, realtor, electrician, plumber, neighbor, everything. You see? Whatever you do. Being sensitive makes you better at it. You’re perceptive. You notice things others don’t. You have deep emotions. You care. Think of it this way: Would you prefer working with a sensitive dentist or an insensitive one?

Intensity: You’re passionate, mysterious, and fascinating. You can get a lot done in a short amount of time. You scare away people you’d rather not talk to anyway.

Fast, deep, and wide learning; Curiosity: The world needs more people who actually know something, think deeply, ask questions, seek answers and analyze possibilities. When things get dull, you can always captivate yourself.

Sense of humor: You are fun to have around in uncomfortable situations. People will overlook your quirks.

Creativity: Whether it’s art, music, inventing, problem solving, designing, filming, synthesizing, rocket launching, brainstorming, writing, parenting, teaching, knitting or something else, your creating is medicine.

Perfectionism: You have the intrinsic driving need to create beauty, harmony, balance and justice. If you’re a surgeon, you’re very popular.

Empathy: See sensitivity. It makes you a better everything. You understand and feel the hearts of humans, animals and plants. You’ll probably never start a war.

Multipotentiality: You can change jobs easily when things get dull. There are countless ways that you are useful. Your children will appreciate how entertaining you are. Your memoir will be a bestseller.

Social conscience: You need to make the world a better place. And because of your sensitivity, intensity, learning capacity, curiosity, sense of humor, creativity, perfectionism, empathy and multipotentiality, you will make it so.


Thank you to the bloggEE who requested this topic. I’m open to other topic suggestions as well. In what ways do you appreciate your rainforest traits? Make a list of your strengths. How have you and others benefitted from your giftedness? Your comments, questions, and ideas are most welcome!



Will My Gifted Kid Ever Be Truly Happy?

photo courtesy of London Scout, Unsplash

photo courtesy of London Scout, Unsplash

It’s complicated. Your children think, feel, analyze, imagine, worry, debate, empathize and perceive more than average kiddos. That’s life in the rainforest mind. MOREness.

And, with super high standards, high expectations and a tendency to keep raising the bar, there’s not much time to appreciate an accomplishment before they’re onto the next thing. Add to that a tendency toward self-criticism due to an innate desire for excellence and an ability to notice and remember, for all eternity, every tiny mistake. This is not what happiness looks like.

Not to mention, curiosity and interests in, well, everything, so that your children are in constant motion gobbling up every intellectually appealing thing in sight. Is there time for happiness? Maybe not. Too busy gobbling.

Of course, yes, your children will experience happiness. But it’s not that simple. They will likely feel glee and zeal and despair and rage. Maybe all in the same day. The same hour. They can feel excitement, guilt, existential depression, enthusiasm and anxiety. And happiness, yes. But it may not be the simple, peaceful, one-size-fits-all variety of happiness.*

And, that’s OK. The way it should be. Maybe happiness is over-rated. Perhaps we ought to aim for something else. Curiosity. Gratitude. Occasional Irrepressible Glee.


So, next time your in-laws ask you why your children aren’t happy, you can tell them, “We’re not aiming for happiness, doncha know. Pfft. That is soooo 20th century. Curiosity, gratitude and occasional irrepressible glee are the new happiness.”



To my bloggEEs: What do you think about happiness? For your kids? For yourself? Let us know your thoughts, feelings and questions. And thank you, as always, for being here. Just a friendly reminder: MY BOOK will be available around June 27, 2016. Details are here. And I’ll be talking about it online in July at Intergifted.

*Note: If you have a male child or if you are a male, all of this may be even more complicated by the societal rules against sensitivity and emotional expression in boys and men. But that’s a whole other blog post.



Advice for your Sensitive Soul

photo courtesy of Anne Allanketner

photo courtesy of Anne Allanketner

You will never be normal.

And this is good.

You have too much compassion. Too much awareness. Too much curiosity. Too much emotion. Too much thinking. Too much intelligence.

You have an uncontrollable thirst to know. You live with ethical standards that seem excessive to others. You strive for a perfection that only Nature understands.

Your heart breaks when you see others suffering. Your heart sings when beauty sneaks up on you.

You expect yourself to know better. You expect yourself to achieve greatness.

Life is devastating and magnificent. Overwhelming and glorious. Disturbing and transcendent.

You will never be normal.

And this is good.


To my bloggEEs: Please share your thoughts, feelings and reactions. I can not tell you how grateful I am that you are out there.

(Note: On October 6, 2015, I’ll be presenting a webinar If I’m so Smart, then Why am I so Dumb: Understanding the Complicated World of the Gifted Adult. If you go to the SENG website, you will be able to register for it soon. It’s $40, from 4:30-6pm PST. You’ll receive a copy of the talk whether you can attend at that time or not. As of this writing, registration isn’t open yet but keep checking. I’ll post notes on Facebook and Twitter when registration is open. I’d love to “see” you there. There’s also a slim chance that the webinar will be postponed. Contact SENG for details.)


Most Popular Post of 2014 — If I’m So Smart Why Am I So Dumb?

photo from Casey Fyfe, Unsplash

photo from Casey Fyfe, Unsplash

People may have told you that you were smart. But you may not feel smart. Why? Because you graduated from college with a 2.65 grade point average after changing your major 5 times. Why? Because you never finish any of the projects you start. Why? Because you can’t decide what color to paint the bedroom and it’s been three years. Why? Because you still daydream all the time and forget to tie your shoes. Why? Because you haven’t won the Nobel Prize. In fact, you haven’t won anything except the spelling bee in third grade. Why? Because you still cry when you gaze at the stars. Why? Because you know how much you don’t know.


Let me explain. It’s complicated.

• If you have multiple interests and abilities (multipotentiality), you may want to study many topics and not want to narrow yourself down to one field. One day you’re fascinated by marine biology and the next by philosophy. How do you choose?

• Perhaps, college was the first time you were challenged academically. You didn’t know how to study and you couldn’t stop yourself from procrastinating, so your grades suffered.

• You love learning new things and once you learn what you need, it’s time to move on. This may mean that certain projects don’t look complete even though they are complete for you.

• You have very high standards for your work. If you’re feeling pressure to be perfect, you abandon a project because you feel paralyzed.

• You’re very sensitive to color so it really matters what colors you live with. Decisions, in general, are hard because you can think of way too many possibilities.

• Daydreaming still gets a bad rap and you believed what your teachers told you about it. Some of my best friends are daydreamers. And who has time to tie their shoes?

• Winning has never been your objective.

• Crying gets a bad rap, especially if you’re a male. But you see the incredible beauty in the sky and are amazed.

People may have told you that you were smart. You may not feel so smart. That’s OK. Nobody said living with a rainforest mind was going to be easy.


To my bloggEEs: Even though it hasn’t been a full year yet (I started this blog in March 2014), it still feels like a good time to thank you for finding me, reading, sharing, commenting, liking and being with me, here, in this astonishing blogworld. Thank you! I look forward to joining you in 2015 and beyond. Please continue to read and share your thoughts, feelings, questions and insights. And remember to LOVE that sensitive, complicated, creative, and curious rainforest mind of yours.


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.


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.




Gifted Shmifted–The Sequel

After thirty+ years hanging around with gifted kids and adults, first as a teacher, now as a counselor and consultant, I still stutter when I try to define g-g-giftedness.There’s so much confusion, complexity and controversy over what giftedness actually is. It’s pretty overwhelming.

People often talk about it in terms of achievement, talent or “paths to greatness.”

I’m not going there.

Instead, I’m talking about it in terms of traits.

I dreamed up this analogy that describes a certain type of giftedness. The Rainforest Mind.IMG_0519

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know what I’m talking about. If not, I’ll explain briefly. (Don’t want to bore the rest of you.) The rainforest mind type is intense, highly sensitive, extremely complex, smart, colorful, deep, lush, empathetic, analytical, creative, intuitive and misunderstood. In the rain forest, there’s so much vibrant life, so much impassioned activity. It can be overwhelming. Does this sound like you?

I thought so.

Granted, not all gifted folks are like this. Some aren’t as sensitive or empathetic. Some aren’t so creative or intuitive. Some don’t have multiple interests and abilities. But I’m not going to worry about them.

I’m just here for you.

Let me give you some examples from my counseling practice. (names changed, privacy respected)

Max, 16, couldn’t handle public school. Didn’t perform well in class due to time pressures, sensitivity, depth and anxiety about quality. Few friends. Massive concern for the well-being of other humans and for all animals and plants. Taught himself coding, guitar, bike building, music theory, blacksmithing, auto mechanics, piano, drawing, electronics, physics–basically anything he was interested in, which was a lot. A. Lot.

Susan, 53, deep appreciation for beauty. Incredibly perceptive about people and their needs. Ability to understand and synthesize complex concepts from anthropology, mythology, art, philosophy, feminism and much more. Great enthusiasm for life. Serious loneliness because her intellectual musings were not understood by peers. Felt urgency to take action to save the planet. In dialogue with redwood trees.

Roberto, 44, struggled in school to memorize multiplication facts, in and out of college for years without graduating. Extreme self-doubt. Emotional. Self-employed self-taught IT guru, soft-open-heart. Told he had too much zeal. Despairing about wasteful use of natural resources.

Maggie, 14, loved debating and chemistry. Wrote lengthy stories about mythological creatures when she was eight. Reading like a maniac at age 4. Thrilled by philosophy but told by teachers “no one likes a know-it-all.” Preferred mathematics to the mall. Lonely. Severely curious. Felt a spiritual connection to the ocean.

Carmen, 24, talked and thought at warp speed. Searched for a mentor but consistently disappointed. Had extremely high standards she never met, although others were in awe. Rejected repeatedly by friends who couldn’t keep up. Misunderstood by parents who wanted her to stay on one career path forever.

These are examples of humans I’ve known with rainforest minds. Humans who are gifted.

If you are one, remember:

Whatever you call it, don’t let the chainsaws cut you down.


This post is part of the blog hop. Click on the image to read other posts on this topic.

This post is part of the blog hop. Click on the link below to read other posts on this topic–


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.


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:




This blog is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page Blog Hop. To read more blogs in this hop, visit


Exuberance and Unending Curiosity

Do people tell you to lighten up when you’re just trying to enlighten them?

Individuals with rainforest minds are often intense and quite bright. They love learning new things and sharing what they learn with others. But you may run into trouble when your cohorts don’t appreciate your long detailed descriptions or your esoteric musings. Perhaps you interpret this to mean that something is wrong with you. That you need to tone it down, slow it down, and quiet it down because of your lousy communication skills. Or your mental inadequacy. One of my clients said that she felt shame for years because of her exuberance and her unending curiosity. As a child she was a voracious reader. She loved poetry, art, mythology and anthropology. She was touched by the light reflecting off the trees in her yard. Her parents told her not to take everything so seriously and to stop being so emotional and sensitive. But she was enraptured by the beauty she saw.

What is actually true, is that she has a gifted mind. You, too?