Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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Tips for Aging Well When You Have a Rainforest Mind (And Overexcitable Hair)

Me and my overexcitable hair

I am in my sixties. That sounds OLD to me. AARP. Medicare. Senior discounts. Golf. Geezerville.

But I don’t feel OLD. In fact, other than some possible hidden creeping potential decrepitude (!), I think 60-something is kind of fine. Pretty great, actually.

You, too, can have a pretty-great-actually time into your 60s and beyond. Here’s how:

~ Get plenty of psychotherapy. (You knew that was coming.) You will need to address the old family patterns and beliefs that were handed down to you, especially if there was abuse or neglect. This will not stop your skin from sagging. But it will reduce your anxieties and build your self-confidence. At its best, it will heal any shame that you have carried for years and allow you to live more as your true Self. To find meaning and purpose in your life. Maybe even to explore several career paths that are extremely satisfying. Maybe even to find love and sweet intimacy with a partner. (I’m still waiting for that last one. Even though I’ve had fulfilling partnerships over the years, I am now prepared for the deepest most lovingest one yet.) I have been a client in various therapies since my 30s. It has made a huge difference.

~ Create a strong network of friends. You may need to work at this because your rainforest mind makes friend-finding complicated. Start by doing activities that you enjoy and look for potential friends there. Initiate contact. Nourish the connections, even if the people you find are busy. (which they probably are) Eventually, they will realize that you have done them a huge favor and they will love you forever for all of the effort you made to woo them. Don’t believe me? Ask my friends. They will tell you that they will love me forever.

~ Dance the Argentine tango. (If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you also saw that one coming.) The tango appeals to smart people because it is complicated and creative. It requires sensitivity and depth. It might be the first time you experience someone following you. But also, and most important, you can be approaching geezerhood and still attract attention. People will watch you with admiration. They will think that you are beautiful. They will ask to embrace you. Here is a sample of me dancing so you can watch…with admiration!

~ Let your free range, overexcitable, out-of-control, expressive, wild hair be itself. (You may want to buy expensive hair products before trying this.) I am finally much more appreciative of my curls. Not only do other people envy their boldness but folks also wish for the excessive quantity that people with thinner less boisterous hair are losing as they age. If you start to love your overexcitable hair, you, too, will find more self-acceptance for the you-ness that has always felt like tooooo much.

~ Give yourself permission to constantly be working on yourself in various ways. This is not narcissism. Your purpose is to be a more loving, compassionate, contributing human, right? In addition to the years of psychotherapy, experiment with other healing modalities. Acupuncture, energy medicine, 12-Steps, bodywork, time in nature, meditation, yoga, spiritual practices, massage, journal writing, visual art, music, dance, reading, martial arts, running, astrology, biking…and more. I have experienced many of these and can enthusiastically vouch for their effectiveness.

~ Avoid mirrors when you have your reading glasses on.

~ Pay attention to your posture. Seriously. Learn about Katy Bowman’s “nutritious movement.”

~ Find people from all over the planet who are creating a better world. Connect with some of them. Support them. Speak out about injustice. Find your particular way to step up.

~ Find a career path(s) that allows you to age gracefully. One where you don’t have to move much and where the older you are, the more in demand you will be. Being a psychotherapist, blogger, consultant, and author, I’ve realized that I managed to find work that I love and that will take me into old age with ease. People don’t mind that I am older or that my knees are creaking. In fact, they think I am wise.

~ Build a spiritual practice that soothes your nervous system, guides your intuition, and connects you beyond the visible world to a larger, loving, spiritual energy field that is all about Love. This is particularly important as you age and begin to think about your legacy. Many RFMs find Spirit through connecting to Nature. I am still developing my spirituality. I find dancing, singing, and journaling to be my way into the invisible spiritual realms. 

~ Maintain your sense of humor.

~ Don’t run out of hair products.

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To my bloggEEs: What are you doing as you grow older to age gracefully? Which of these ideas appeal to you? What questions do you have? Thank you, as always, for being here.

And don’t forget that you can help me age even more gracefully, if you buy my books! (and write reviews) Ahem. Thank you.


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Loving the Wounded Gifted Child Within

photo courtesy of chinh le duc, Unsplash

When you were a little tyke, you probably had passions, curiosities, quirks, and quests.

You may have corrected the adults who didn’t know the difference between crimson and red. You may have wondered why the other kids wanted to be bunny rabbits for Halloween when they could be Richard Feynman. You may have corrected your teacher’s spelling. You may have cried when you heard a Bach concerto. You may have read every Ray Bradbury book you could find. You may have preferred BBC documentaries to Mickey Mouse. You may have questioned why the other five-year-olds were so immature and what it was about birthday parties that they loved so much. You may have organized a fund drive for the homeless kids in your town.

If you grew up in a dysfunctional or abusive home, you may have protected your siblings from harm. You may have hidden your sensitivities while fine-tuning your capacity for vigilance.  You may have been the most responsible one in the family. You may have become an expert nurturer of others and a lousy self-carer. You may have become a super-achiever. You may have been lost in a swamp of depression, anxiety, too-many-decisions, troubled relationships, and convoluted potential. You may have expected yourself to heal your parent’s addictions single-handedly; To be perfectly perfect at all times.

That little tyke? Needs your love.

You might think that it should be easy to love that child.

It’s not that simple.

Sure, you have lots of empathy. For others. But when it comes to yourself, you may feel judgment, criticism, doubt, and despair. You may feel that your child self is too emotional, too needy, too scared, too bossy. Too noisy. Too powerful. Maybe you will be overwhelmed with grief or anger if you acknowledge that little one. Or you will get stuck in the past when you think you should be letting go and moving on. Or you will be too vulnerable.

What you need to know is that the wounded gifted child in you is waiting. For your attention. Validation. Company. The wounded child doesn’t need much really. From you. Your understanding of what they have been through. Of why they get frightened or feel out of control or want to hide. Of why they need security and predictability now. Your empathy. Your patience. Your acceptance.

But that may be hard for you until you have been in therapy for a while and experienced what healthy validation feels like. From a loving, reliable adult who knows the journey. Who has rescued their own lost gifted child self. A therapist who knows that the road to heal a family legacy of abuse and neglect, generations of trauma, takes courage and time.

A therapist who loves your passions, curiosities, quirks, and quests.

Who loves you.

And their own little tyke.

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To my bloggEEs: I understand that it might take time to find the right therapist. Here are some places to look. In the meantime, there are some things you can do. Look for articles and books about Internal Family Systems Therapy. Or books about inner child work or Jungian active imagination. Keep a journal where you start a relationship with the many parts of yourself. Gather photos and special objects and build a small altar to your younger self.

In the comments, let us know if you have done any inner child work and what that has been like. We all benefit from your sweet sharing.

And, your inner child might like my latest book. Find it here. My first book has examples of inner child work in therapy in the case studies, if you’d like to learn more. And hugs and love to you and your sensitive, passionate, curious, smart, quirky little ones.

 


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What Might Exceptional Giftedness Look Like in Kids and Adults?

photo courtesy of Graham Hunt, Unsplash

When Carol was three years old, she taught herself to read. At age six, she gave her Barbie a lobotomy. At seven, she picked Rembrandt as the person she respected most, because of his use of light. When she was eight, she refused to say the pledge of allegiance in school because she didn’t agree that all people were united under God. And who was God, anyway? At nine, she was reading Ray Bradbury. At ten, she insisted that she volunteer at a home for the elderly.

Growing up in an abusive environment, Carol worked out elaborate plans to calm her fears, including siding with the “bad guys” to ease their loneliness. In sixth grade, OMNI magazines were her entertainment. Her dreams were often vivid and at age 12, she taught herself to lucid dream. She thought often about the effects and influences of patterns and cycles in life and in nature and philosophized with Sartre and Nietzsche. She explained, “I didn’t want to be another person endlessly repeating cycles of suffering in a world where truth and beauty were so mangled and abused.”

Carol won many contests in school and her work was held up as an example for others. But that didn’t matter to her as much as standing with the children who were bullied or ignored. She was curious about religion and the paranormal and, at a young age, took a bus to church on her own. Her empathy and intuition were finely tuned. She would pick up accurate information about people that they didn’t openly share with her but would confirm later.

In high school, Carol experimented with goth/punk, poetry, art, tarot, photography, philosophy, sexual identity, and LSD. One of her favorite books was Ideas and Opinions by Einstein and her preoccupation was with finding true meaning. She always had a strong sense of spirituality. Recently, she said, “I believe no goal is higher than manifesting ultimate love and compassion. All I have done in my life has been ultimately in the name of opening my heart…It’s important to me to keep pushing the boundary, exploring my connection to the unseen and the energy that connects all things.”

Carol has a rainforest mind. She’s managed to continue to be compassionate, sensitive, intuitive, and productive in spite of growing up with serious abuse and neglect. Carol will tell you that she’s not special; that she’s not particularly unusual.

But she is. Unusual. Gifted. Exceptionally so.

Carol, now in her late 30’s, is beginning to understand that her quirks, her obsessions, and her constant questioning of the status quo, is not pathological. Not something to hide. She’s starting to use her talents to design a unique career path. To fulfill her long-time desire to create a better world.

Shall we join with Carol?  Open our hearts? Manifest ultimate love and compassion? Explore our connection with the unseen and the energy that connects all things?

How could we not.

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To my bloggEEs: Do you resonate with Carol’s profile? How are you like her? How are you different? There is a spectrum when it comes to giftedness. And, of course, great variety and complexity. Where might you be on the spectrum? (You will notice that Carol hasn’t won a Nobel prize or invented the newest electric car. And, yet, she is still exceptionally gifted.) What’s your experience with “the unseen and the energy that connects all things?” Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. Thank you to the client who inspired this post.

(Note: My book publisher may be closing its doors so my plan is to take back my rights and become an Indie Press! This is not absolutely confirmed yet but is most likely. The book won’t be available soon while I figure out the logistics but I’m hoping that won’t take too long. I’m going to redo the cover, which I’ve never been crazy about, but not make many other changes. If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll see the updates.)

(Book update: The publisher is trying to stay afloat so nothing is changing right now. This could be a good time to stock up! 🙂 )


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Life is Calling You to Embrace Your Intense, Insightful, Introspective Path(s)

photo courtesy of Jeremy Thomas, Unsplash

“Your unusual life path is a summon from Life.  Intense people are positioned to be the game-changers, the truth-tellers, and the fierce lovers of the world. By nature, you are the pioneers and the questioners and the progressives whose role in the world is to bring forth the realities which others do not yet see or understand.  You can deny it, fight it, but in the end, you would not be able to deny or suppress your unique insights and perspectives. Although you might not have chosen this path, it is your path.”  Imi Lo* 

It is not a mistake that you are here now. You with your glowing rainforest mind. You may think that you don’t belong here. That you’re a great pretender. Certainly not a “game-changer” or “truth teller.” You may feel small, insignificant, not particularly super intelligent. Overpowered by what looks like reality. Unable to trust your heart. To express what’s obscured by your fears.

But, my darling, Life is calling you to stop hiding. Life wants you to shine your light. Life says, what have you got to lose? 

Easy for Life to say.

You may feel that you have a lot to lose. I understand. Losing control comes to mind. Safety. Financial stability. Hair products. You may be anxious. There’s a lot of that going around these days. Fear of ridicule. Of loneliness. Of failure. Of success. Of politicians. Did I mention loss of control?

And, if you’ve grown up in a chainsaw family, well, you might not even know that you have “unique insights and perspectives” to suppress. You might think you’re just a freak, a weirdo, or a lost cause. You might have to battle depression, disabling anxiety, or chronic pain. You might need safety and control because you had neither growing up.

But Life has a plan for you.

And there is no better time to open to it than right now. Because you are needed. Your compassion. Your questions. Your sensitivities. Your curly free-range hair. Your vision. Your sense of humor.

And even though you might feel an urgency to act, it’s OK to take it slow. To be cautious. This is not about retraumatization. This is beyond time. This is about knowing the Truth of who you are. Feeling into that knowing. Becoming yourself. Being on your particular path(s). Not the path of your parents. Or their parents. Not the path of your Facebook friends. Or the uncurious. Or the surface-skimmers.

Your path(s). Your you-ness. The deep dive track. The intensely introspective route. The I’m-going-in-and-not-sure-if-I’ll-survive-it road.

Because whether you know it or not, “you are positioned to be [one of] the game-changers, the truth-tellers, and the fierce lovers of the world.” You are designed “to bring forth the realities which others do not yet see or understand.” 

Time to answer LIfe’s call.

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*Imi Lo is a writer and psychotherapist in the UK. Her insightful book, Emotional Sensitivity and Intensity, was published in May 2018. Thank you, Imi.

To my bloggEEs: Just so you know, I wrote this post for myself as well as for you! What do you think? What were your thoughts and feelings as you read this? As always, thank you for being here. Just a little reminder, my book is a good resource for you and your teenage children to help you celebrate and facilitate your deep-diving, intense, introspective, truth-telling, game-changer lives.

 


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Creative, Sensitive, Deep Thinkers in the Workplace — A Tricky Proposition

photo courtesy of Easton Oliver, Unsplash

“…Your high-strung nature, your baggage, your achievements, your defenses, even your garrulous, confident nature — all of these things are often interpreted as a selfish inability to play nicely with others…Your complexity makes you untrustworthy. Your sharp mind makes you suspicious. Your separateness makes you unlikable. And even a supernatural effort to be friendlier, better, simpler, sweeter, quieter, and more agreeable will only make it worse. You will only seem fake. You will try too hard…” Heather Havrilesky,  Ask Polly

Having a rainforest mind at work. It’s a tricky proposition. More questions than answers. Here are some.

When do you speak up? When do you stay quiet? How do you deal with boring, repetitive tasks? How do you tell your boss that there’s a better way? What do you do with the extra time when you’ve finished an assignment but are tired of fixing your co-workers’ mistakes? How do you get your boss to trust you with the tasks you find more stimulating? What about colleagues who don’t like you because the answers come easily to you and they think that you’re arrogant? What about employees who complain that you’re overly demanding and unrealistic? When do you let your perfectionism run wild and when do you rein it in?

How do you cope when you do all of the work and someone else gets all of the credit? What do you do when no one wants to implement your creative, forward-thinking ideas? What about the colleagues who steal your suggestions? How do you cope with unethical behaviors? What if you’re sincerely interested in doing a thorough job and your co-workers just care about the paycheck? How do you deal with a narcissistic, charismatic boss who everyone loves but you? What happens when your co-workers and boss act an awful lot like your dysfunctional siblings and parents?

What if you’ve been labeled Troublemaker? Renegade? Rebel? How do you change the system when you’re overwhelmed? What if you want to fit in with colleagues and be invited to their Fridays-at-4 but are conflicted because you also feel frustrated, impatient, and annoyed by them?

Lots of questions.

But you knew that.

For now, let’s sit together in the questions. You’re not alone if you’ve been accused of “a selfish inability to play nicely with others.”

You can play here with us. We love your sharp mind.

“…Because you have so much energy, so much emotion, so many wild, brilliant thoughts in your great big head, and you can achieve anything you set your mind to. You are focused, and you don’t mind working hard, and underneath all of this people-pleasing, you really don’t give a fuck. You are a raccoon with hearts bursting over your head, but your claws are ready to strike. They should be envious, and they should also be afraid. Forgive them for not caring that much. Forgive them for not knowing how formidable you are…”  Heather Havrilesky, Ask Polly

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To my bloggEEs:  Tell us about your experiences at work. Share your thoughts, feelings, answers to these questions or more questions. Thank you to the reader who sent me this Ask Polly article. It’s worth reading the entire piece. A great resource, especially if you want support making changes within your workplace, is Rebels At Work. Check it out!


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“…Your Fierce and Unbreakable Light…”

If you’ve been raised in a seriously dysfunctional family or your compassionate, smart, sensitive, rainforest mind has experienced other chainsaws over the years, or both, it’ll be important for you to mend your broken heart.

The mending takes time, patience, and care.

You will likely need help on the journey. Let yourself get help. Granted, because you have a rainforest mind, you’ll have to select your helpers carefully. If you try psychotherapy, (which would be a great idea, by the way), you’ll want to find someone who is sensitive and smart, and who is on their own healing path. There will be things your therapist will need to know. Such as:

The rainforest mind is complicated. Like the jungle, it’s breathtaking in its capacity to create: Thoughts, emotions, questions, dreams, equations, mosquitoes,  theories, visions, stories, inventions, worries, beauty, more worries, and poetry. It’s intense, lush, and vast.

The rainforest mind, in counseling, needs deep, empathetic, authentic understanding of its fascinating and convoluted intricacies.

You will be learning to grieve your losses, build self-confidence, appreciate your courage and resilience, set better boundaries, choose appropriate friends and partners, raise healthy kids, take back your power, speak your truth, stop the legacy of abuse in your family line. Trust your intuition. Discover your creativity. Love yourself. Find your path(s) to creating a better world.

There are more ways to mend: Build a spiritual/meditation practice. Design a multi-dimensional approach that could include: coaching, bodywork, acupuncture, energy work, martial arts, functional medicine, binge reading, and support groups. Give yourself permission to try things and leave if they’re not right for you. (except we all know that binge reading is always right…)

There are books that will help with your healing process: Soul Collage by Seena Frost for a creative, visual, and intuitive approach. Self Therapy by Jay Earley for an Internal Family Systems approach. My book for guidance in understanding and appreciating your rainforest mind.

And, there is poetry~ this one by Anne Allanketner, poet and therapist in Portland, Oregon, USA.

The No-Fault Insurance of Love 

photo courtesy of Dawid Soboleski, Unsplash

I am writing you a policy
which covers everything,
no matter what happened to you.
You have all rights and privileges:
to receive help, to rest, to correct damage
to heal loss.

In time, you must re-member yourself
to be One with The Holy

I have experienced
your fierce and unbreakable light
which never leaves you,
even on the worst day

You are not at fault.
That old idea is a red herring
swimming towards you
to distract you
from the cluster of pearls
hidden under and behind
this recent fiasco.

Feeling completely innocent
as you dive towards beauty and truth,
piercing confusion’s thick waters and
calling loudly for help-
That is your sacred work.

In clever self-examination you may find
clues that cannot be seen
without the eyes of kindness and thus
you cannot afford to swim around
in the cloudy murk of shame.

If you did make mistakes, that too
is covered by the policy
for your heart was always true to love
and being loved.
Honor that and know
that you will be protected
from the world’s
dissonant judgments, that have rattled and echoed,
too near your exquisite, tender soul.

This journey is harrowing,
which is always the case in matters of arising
and sacred repair.
Somehow amidst the smoke and brokenness
your soul has hidden pieces of Herself
which she is even now
(and despite all seductive illusions)
retrieving from crevasses and underground caves.

You, beloved, are the sparkling gem
pressed between the rocks
your story began before, Before.
Now, we can begin to see
that what is courageous in you, and what is ever pure,
is only becoming more beautiful, more condensed and potent
under this terrible pressure
where diamonds are made.

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To my bloggEEs: Does this poem speak to you? Can you recognize your “fierce and unbreakable light?” What have you done to heal from your chainsaw experiences? Are there any resources that you recommend? And, dears, if you’re feeling despair about events here on earth, here’s a gathering of poets that will inspire and uplift you, from Maria Popova.

This month marks four years since the birth of my blog. Thank you for sharing the journey with me. I’m sending you all hugs, kisses, and much gratitude! And thank you to Anne Allanketner for her beautiful poetry and radiant soul. If you want to hear the poet read this poem along with original music from musician Ron Gordon, click here.


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I’m Not Gifted, I’m Just Weird

photo courtesy of Eugenio Mazzone, Unsplash

You’d think that gifted people would know how smart they are. You’d think that gifted individuals would find life to be smooth and easy. You’d think that gifted folks would feel superior and judgmental of all non-gifted humans everywhere.

Nope. No way. Not the ones I know. And I’ve known a lot of them. I’m that old. (My former middle school students are turning 50. Yeah. Old. OK. Old-ish.)

Granted, I work with a particular variety of gifted souls. The rainforest-minded (RFM). Not all gifted folks are the RFM type. Some can be cognitively advanced but not highly sensitive or empathetic. Some can be very academic and scholarly, but not have multipotentiality. So, yes. Maybe some of the non-RFM-gifted know how smart they are, find life to be easy, and are judgmental. Maybe.

But, they weren’t in my classroom when I was a teacher in the mid-’70s and ’80s. They haven’t been in my counseling office for the past 25+ years. The RFMs I’ve known will tell you: I’m not gifted. I’m just weird. And they will struggle. With: Sensitivities. Injustice. Decisions. Choices. Achievement. School. Relationships. Communication. Emotions. Careers. Belonging. Parenting. Anxiety. Depression. Perfectionism. Guilt. Politics. Climate change deniers. Conspicuous consumption. Not enough time to read all of the books ever written.

And that’s if they grew up in a healthy family.

If you throw dysfunctional family into the mix, it gets even more complicated. I’ve written about that here and here. With more to come.

So, if you have a rainforest mind or if you love someone who does or if you work with them or teach them, it’s time to get out of denial.

It matters.

Why?

It matters because everyone will benefit if our rainforest-minded humans understand why they struggle and what to do about it. It matters because RFMs are raising RFM kids. If the parents know who they are, they’ll be better able to support their children. It matters because educators, psychotherapists, doctors and other professionals will stop misdiagnosing their clients and will be more effective practitioners.

It matters because we all need the intelligence, compassion, creativity, and sensitivity that our rainforest-minded beings share with us. Like we all need our tropical rain forests.

We won’t survive without them.

We won’t survive without you.

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To my bloggEEs: Do you recognize your giftedness? How do you struggle? Have you just felt weird much of your life? What would it be like if you accepted yourself as a gifted soul? Thank you, as always, for being here.