Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


23 Comments

My Life as an Introverted Psychotherapy Nerd

photo courtesy of Jan Traid, Unsplash

I’m an introverted psychotherapy nerd.

I know there are other ways to live. But I don’t care.

I’ve been a client in some type of therapy since I turned 31. I’ve tried it all. Rebirthing. Holotropic breath work. Support groups. 12 Steps. Talk. Journaling. Polarity. Attachment theory. Jungian analysis. Enneagram. CBT. EMDR. EFT. HRT. Tango. Bodywork. Reading. Acupressure. Energywork. Process work. Hakomi. Fly fishing. Shamanic journeying. Grief work. Reiki. Bioenergetics. Art. Nature. Naturopathy. Psychodrama. Astrology. Couples counseling. Somatic experiencing. Massage. Soul collage. Meditation. Mindfulness. Yoga. Dreamwork. Diving into the abyss. Blogging.

Well, maybe not all. I haven’t tried antidepressants. Or ayahuasca.*

And, OK, blogging isn’t therapy. Per se. Although, it’s therapeutic. For me. If you must know.

I used to think that I was deficient because I spent all most of my time introspecting. I didn’t have much of an outer life. I didn’t join a bowling league. Or get season tickets to the opera. I didn’t follow the Grateful Dead around the country. (Hey. I live in Oregon.) I didn’t own a blender or a table cloth. I didn’t send my nonexistent kids to college. I almost didn’t have partners.

OK. I’m exaggerating. A little. I did take breaks from introspection. I was a teacher of gifted children for a number of years. An actress in community theatre for about a decade. Danced the Argentine tango in Paris. Wrote angst-y emails to attentive girlfriends. Married. Divorced. Watched my niece and nephew grow up.

I have loved. I’ve been loved.

See. I’ve done stuff.

But I can’t deny the truth. When it comes down to it, I am excessively, undeniably, inner focused. And it can appear a little weird. But, hey. There is a heck of a lot going on in my psyche. It’s really lively in there. Very entertaining.

And now that I’m a psychotherapist, I have a good reason to continue to be obsessed living this lifestyle. I get to put my experience as a client to good use. I get to guide brave souls into their abyss and show them around. So they see what they need to see. Feel what they need to feel. Find out who they really are. Then I guide them out of their abyss to live their authentic life and find their purpose(s).

Not only that. Now that I have my blog and book, I get to meet fabulous humans living all over the world who want to understand their own nerdly-ness. And I don’t have to leave my living room.

What could be better?

But why am I writing this, you ask? Am I justifying my somewhat unconventional life to you? Am I a teensy weensy defensive because I still don’t have a table cloth?

And what does this have to do with being gifted? Are all rainforest-minded souls introverted, introspective, abyss divers?

No. Some of you are extraverted, introspective, abyss divers.

The rainforest-minded are complex thinkers. Deep feelers. Analytical. Seeking self-understanding. Questioning. Empathetic. Highly sensitive. Striving to live meaningful lives. Wanting to create a better world.

But I understand. You aren’t necessarily in therapy. You may have very active, even conventional, outer lives. Kids. Opera tickets. Blenders.

But still.

If you’re introverted. If you have one nerd-like obsession or many. If you feel weird and deficient. If you’re leading an unconventional life.

And if you never get that table cloth or that blender.

Meet me in Oregon. We’ll go bowling.

_________________________________________________

(*Note: Ayahuasca is not actually therapy. I wrote that for the humor factor. I don’t recommend it. Ayahuasca. I do recommend humor.)

(Another note: If you want to know more about psychotherapy and giftedness, click on this link. If you want to read a great description of why therapy matters, not written by me but by Heather Havrilesky, click here.)

(Last note: In case you’re wondering, I’m not writing this to surreptitiously influence you to see me for therapy. I actually am only licensed to practice in Oregon. I can, however, meet you for a consultation that would be focused on questions around your giftedness. OK? No surreptitiousness here, my darlings.)

To my bloggEEs: So happy to have you here. Your comments provide so much depth and beauty. I’m so appreciative. Are you introverted? What’s that been like for you? How have you created a life that respects your introverted needs? If you’re extraverted, how do you grapple with your needs for human contact? And: Having a rainforest mind can feel weird no matter what. That’s why we’re here. What are you feeling nerd-ly about these days?

 

Advertisements


41 Comments

So, You’re Gifted. Who Cares and Why Does it Matter?

photo courtesy of Jeremy Thomas, Unsplash

It matters. Even if no one else cares. It matters that you know. And that you care.

Why? you ask with that quizzical oh-so-disarming look of yours. (Yes, I know that look.)

Because, my darling:

You will understand that what you imagined were your poor communication skills, was actually your inability to slow your super-speedy thoughts. Not to mention your assumption that everyone thinks as deeply, as quickly, and as multi-dimensionally as you do. They don’t. (This does not make them terrible people. I know. It just means that they might not comprehend your perturbations.)

You will give yourself permission to be the voracious learner that you are. To let yourself dive into the esoteric, obscure, mysterious, complex topics that other people can’t possibly grok and wouldn’t want to.

You will allow yourself to be obsessed with beauty, balance, harmony, precision, and justice. (Your healthy perfectionism.) Even if it means that you don’t get as much done because you’re crying over the majesty of the night sky.

You will have compassion and appreciation for your ridiculously high standards and expectations and your need to ruminate over the exact wording of your email to the plumber.

You will understand why you’ve been lonely all of these years and stop thinking it’s because you don’t smile enough, don’t make small talk, or because you suck at sports.

You’ll find an appropriate career path or two or ten.

You’ll protect your sensitivity and empathy from the assault of perfumes, ragers, leaf blowers, chemicals, clamoring hoards, noisy chewers, creepy humans, nasty Facebook messages, boring lectures, and houses that are painted orange.

You will understand that what looks quirky, eccentric, weird, and geeky to others is what makes you fascinating.

You will stop misdiagnosing yourself with labels such as OCD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, Aspergers, slacker, weird, or just-plain-crazy. (And, sure, you may be twice-exceptional, 2e, and have a particular diagnosis along with your rainforest mind, but there’s a whole lot of misdiagnosing goin’ on, too. So you’re gonna stop that now.)

You will appreciate your curiosity and your questioning of everything. And you’ll continue to search for meaning, purpose(s), and justice. This will result in benefits to your children, neighbors, relatives, friends, animals, plants, ancestors, the planet, and humanity at large.

Let me say that again in a different way.

Knowing that you are gifted, matters. It will explain what might otherwise create confusion, self-doubt, anxiety, depression, angst, or despair. It will allow you to blossom into the best human that you can be.

And this will result in benefits to your children, neighbors, relatives, friends, animals, plants, ancestors, the planet, and humanity at large.

Even if they don’t know that they care.

____________________________________________

To my bloggEEs: This is for those of you who may actually accept that you have a rainforest mind but are still wondering why it’s important that you know it. What’s your reaction to this post? What else do you need to know that will help with your self-acceptance? Thank you, as always, for being here. And, I have a request. If you’ve read my book, can you take a moment and write a review on Amazon? It doesn’t have to be long or perfect. 🙂 (And if you haven’t read it, well, now would be the optimal time, doncha know…)

 

 

 


12 Comments

Educators: What To Do About The G Word (#Gifted)

logo courtesy of The G Word film

You don’t have to use the G Word.

Even though, let’s face it, you use it for athletes, artists and your quirky Aunt Millie.

But you do have to recognize that gifted children exist in your school.

Because they do.

I’m talking about the kids you know who, from a very early age, are faster learners, deeper thinkers and more sensitive feelers. Who ask questions you can’t answer. Who correct your spelling. Who know more than you do about black holes. Who cry when other children are hurt on the playground. Who are overwhelmed at birthday parties. Who annoyingly hang out at your desk because they’d rather talk to you about Darwin than talk to the other six-year-olds about the letter A.

You know who I’m talking about.

This is not about loving these kids more or singling them out as superstars. They don’t want that. That doesn’t help them.

If they’re told things like: You’re so smart. You can do anything. You’re so lucky. Or Why did you get that B? Learning should always be easy for you. Or Stop asking so many questions. Nobody likes a know-it-all. Or No, you can’t read ahead. They’ll get anxious.

They’ll feel like they can’t ask for help. Like they can’t make mistakes. Like they have to know everything before they learn it. Like they’ll disappoint you if they don’t live up to your expectations. Like they have to hide their abilities and their enthusiasm.

But, still.

You don’t have to use the G Word.

But you do have to find ways to meet their academic needs and to understand their extra-sensitivities. Some of those ways are described in this post and this one. It’s not as hard as it seems. In fact, these kids will love you if you make the time to listen to them. Start an after school club for philosophers or mathematicians. Nourish their interests and let them read ahead! Don’t assume that they aren’t doing the homework because they’re lazy or defiant. Get creative with your curriculum. Use Carol Dweck’s work on mindsets to reduce the pressure on your (gifted) students. Explore Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences model if you want to help all of your students understand learning differences and abilities.

And one more thing.

I’m not saying that you can’t use the G Word.

In fact, it could help.

One of my students, years ago, was relieved to hear that he was gifted. His response, Oh, that’s what’s wrong with me. He had his own label. Several of them: weirdo, alien, nerd, crybaby, loner, freak, crazy.

But. You don’t have to use the G Word.

_________________________________

(Note: Whether you label or not, gifted kids will need help understanding their complexities. Their perfectionism, sensitivities/ empathy, loneliness, existential depression and anxieties. Their rainforest minds. Send them or their parents to this blog, for a place to start. And thank you, dear teachers, for your caring hearts.)

Thank you to my niece, Alicia, for inspiring this post and for being an extraordinary teacher and human.

Speaking of The G Word, a powerful documentary on that topic will be released in 2019. Here’s some information about it.

To my bloggEEs: My niece sent me this video from Stanford professor, Jo Boaler. It inspired this post. Let us know what you think. Thank you, as always, for being here.


73 Comments

Time To Embrace Your Geekly Bookwormish Not-Normal Self

photo courtesy Gaelle Marcel, Unsplash

You just want to be normal.

But do you really?

Sure, you have trouble in relationships. Your intensity is misinterpreted as arrogance or criticism or drama. Your emotions overwhelm you and the people you love. Your only friend is really tired of hearing your perturbations about string theory. You’re frustrated by what you experience as mediocrity or superficiality. Your empathy gives you migraines.

Sure, you wonder why happiness, contentment and simplicity seem out of reach.  Your multidimensional worries keep you up nights. Your highest standards and speedy thought processes create anxiety at your job. Your fears that you’ll screw up your children forever turn you into a shrieking maniac, not unlike your mother. On your good days.

Sure, you feel like a failure because you haven’t achieved “greatness,” just like everyone expected since you were six, when your favorite book was the dictionary which you slept with every night without fail.

But what is normal and why is it so appealing?

Here’s what I tell my clients (with apologies to normal people):

You will never be normal. Let go of normal. Normal is watching The Bachelorette on TV. Normal is thinking one thought at a time. Normal is reading one book at a time. Normal is reading one book a month. Normal is asking one question a day. Normal is going along with the crowd. Normal is having one career your whole life. Normal is accepting the status quo. Normal is certainty that you know all of the answers. Normal is becoming prom king/queen.

See?

Time to rethink your desire for normal.

And, well, OK.

Maybe someday you can still be prom king/queen.

___________________________

To my dearest bloggEEs: Have you ever wished that you could be normal? Tell us about it.


26 Comments

They Say You’re a Geek

P1050374They say, get realistic, your standards are excessive. You say, I need to raise the bar.

They say, slow down and calm down. You say, I pump my brakes but they still don’t keep up.

They say, you’re too sensitive. You say, doesn’t everyone cry at an orange-fuchsia-purple-mauve sunset?

They say, you’re obsessive-compulsive. You say, I need to do more research.

They say, you’re a know-it-all. You say I’m an impostor.

They say, you read too much. You say, so many books, so little time.

They say, you need to pick one career. You say, so many careers, so little time.

They say, they don’t follow your reasoning. You say, they just aren’t trying hard enough.

They say, you shouldn’t take things so seriously. You say, they need to get out of denial.

They say, you’re naive for being so optimistic and idealistic. You say, they need to dig more deeply.

They say you aren’t having any fun. You say, it’s complicated.

6150842447_b40355b4ddThey say you don’t finish anything. You say, I learned it. I don’t need to finish it.

They say you’re weird. You say, yes.

They say you’re a geek. You say, you betcha.

_______________________

To my favorite bloggEEs: I just want to mention that I’ll be presenting at the SENG conference in San Jose, CA the weekend of July 18-20. If you can attend, please come say ‘hello.’ I may be blogging less these next 2 weeks as I prepare my talk and attend the event. But don’t worry. I’ll be thinking about you.

And one more thing. It just occurred to me that you may not be commenting because if you did, you’d be openly admitting that you may, in fact, relate to what I’m saying which, might, in fact, imply that you actually might have a rainforest mind which would then have to mean that you would be g-g-gifted. Ahem. Write a comment anyway. OK? Let me know how I can help you.

Photo #2: CC  https://www.flickr.com/x/t/0097009/photos/hada_del_lago/6150842447/


26 Comments

Gifted Shmifted

Time to address the elephant. The one in the room. You know what I’m talkin’ about.

5261389796_bcb6270ff0

I’m starting to hyperventilate. I really don’t want to do this.

But it was going to come up sooner or later.

OK. Sigh. Just do it.

You may identify with the label geek, nerd, bookworm, or brainiac.

If you’re following this blog, you probably know now that you’re a person with a rainforest mind. You’re excessively: sensitive, curious, creative, complex, emotional, smart and analytical.

Perhaps, you’ve noticed that I’ll occasionally use the word gifted in place of rainforest mind. This might be where you frown or pause or look at me quizzically.

You may not relate to being gifted. For many reasons:

1. You haven’t created the iPhone or sent your own private rocket ship to dock with the international space station. You haven’t played your violin at Carnegie Hall.

2. You know many people who are smarter than you.

3. You didn’t get straight A’s in school. In fact, you failed a few classes in high school because you didn’t do the homework or you couldn’t hand in work that wasn’t up to your standards.

4. You have ten books on your nightstand that you’ll never finish. In fact, there are a lot of things you’ll never finish.

5. You feel that it’s not fair to label someone gifted. No one really knows what it means. You’re offended by the label because it implies that some people are not gifted. You often fight for justice and equality for all. Calling anyone gifted feels unjust.

6. When schools identify children as gifted, you wonder if they’re just picking the high achievers or the children who fit the stereotype of the smart kid. It seems elitist to you. You believe that all children have gifts. How do the kids feel who aren’t selected?

Does any of the above ring true?

Is there an answer?

We’ll see.

You may have heard the argument that all people have gifts but not all are gifted if, by gifted, we mean advanced developmentally. We all can agree that Michael Jordan is a gifted athlete. He has abilities the rest of us don’t have. That doesn’t make us bad or inferior humans. It just makes us less competent at basketball. No big deal. We admire Michael for his giftedness.

But if we apply that argument to intelligence, we start to sweat. And we can’t measure intelligence by number of successful free throws. We get all mucked up in the details. What about talent? What about achievement? What about multiple intelligences? What about IQ tests? How do we make sure all kids get an appropriate education? What happens to gifted kids when they become adults?

Maybe there are more questions than answers.

But, perhaps, we can agree on one thing. What if humans are like ecosystems. What if some are like meadows, some deserts, some tundra, some rain forest. All are unique, beautiful and necessary. All contribute to the well-being of the planet. The rain forest just contains more species than any other. It’s more intense, sensitive and abundant. Not better. Just more.

And what are we doing to our rain forests? And our rainforest minds?

IMG_0519

We’re clear cutting them because we don’t recognize their value. We want to turn them into something that they aren’t and use them for our purposes.

What’s the alternative?

Let’s  appreciate  them and allow them to flourish. In all of their intensity, sensitivity and abundance.

Maybe even in all of their giftedness.

 ________________________________

photo of elephant from flickr.com: brittanyhock; creative commons https://www.flickr.com/photos/thelivelygirl/5261389796/; photo of rain forest from Gary Higbee, hubby.

This blog is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page inaugural Blog Hop on The “G” Word (“Gifted”). To read more blogs in this hop, visit this Blog Hop at http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/blog_hop_the_g_word.htm

blog_hop_may14_gword_small

 


15 Comments

Muddled by Your Musings

DSC_0251

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