Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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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.

 

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Most Popular Posts of 2016 — Plus A Special Podcast Interview

Thank you, dear bloggEEs, for another year of rainforest-minded escapades. Here are the two most popular posts of 2016. Plus a bonus! A 35 minute podcast interview that will give you some insight into my background, my neuroses, my control issues and my journey to blogworld and published authorville. Sending you all much love, appreciation, hope and strength for the coming year. 

You’re Not Crazy. You’re Gifted

photo courtesy of pixabay CC

photo courtesy of pixabay CC

Your Kids Are Gifted. Should You Tell Them?

photo courtesy of London Scout, Unsplash, CC

photo courtesy of London Scout, Unsplash, CC

Podcast Interview

Recent photo of yours truly

Recent photo of yours truly

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To my bloggEEs: Let me know what topics you’d like to see here in 2017. What are your questions? Worries? Hopes and dreams? And remember. It’s not too late to buy copies of my book for your favorite geeks, nerds, bookworms, and brainiacs and for the people who love and/or misunderstand them. (Face it, darlings, I’m gonna nag you until you do it!)


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If I Can Do It, So Can You — Finding Your Purpose(s)

photo courtesy of Chaz Harding, Flickr, CC

photo courtesy of Chaz Harding, Flickr, CC

I have the best job ever. I love deep meaningful conversations with one person at a time. The human psyche is fascinating to me. I’m an introvert. I believe that healing is possible when humans embark on the courageous journey of deep introspection. I want to make a difference in the world. I’m a psychotherapist. It’s the best job ever. For me.

Not only that. I specialize in working with highly sensitive, insightful,  empathetic, super-smart humans. I spend my days with them. It never gets dull.

I get paid to do this.

Today, was a typical day. For example: (Details changed to protect privacy.)

Jenny, in her 40s, is a musician/composer. She’s courageously grieving a history of abuse in childhood, the traumatic death of her mother and a divorce while raising a gifted teen. She’s sensitive, compassionate and determined. Today, she was sharing her experiences of fragility and vulnerability and wondering how to navigate through such unstable terrain. In a moment of insight, she realized that she was finding her voice through her art; that her pain was turning into beauty through the music. And this would empower her and touch everyone who experienced her sound.

Then, I met with the parents of a highly gifted twelve-year-old. These parents, Mary and Craig, are the parents you wish you had. They’re sweet, articulate, smart, devoted to their kids, and kind. Since their daughter entered school, they’ve had to stay involved in her education to be sure her academic needs were met. It hasn’t been easy. Their girl, Stacy, is extremely intense and emotional. A perfectionist. Highly creative. A voracious learner with extraordinary empathy. When I met her parents, they were frustrated and sad. Stacy is highly verbal, full of ideas and worries. She tends to feel overly responsible and has a highly developed social conscience. She’s way ahead of her peers in every subject area. Some teachers love her. Others don’t.

Mary and Craig sympathize with the challenges the educators face, and yet, all they want is for Stacy to be intellectually stimulated and to maintain her motivation to achieve. Arrangements were made to allow Stacy to read advanced material in an independent study program. Not ideal, but a beginning. Stacy was excited and enthusiastically began reading. Sadly, administrators changed their minds and put Stacy back in the torture chamber uninspiring class. Mary and Craig were struggling with what to do next. I was able to encourage them and to remind them that Stacy has a right to an education that meets her needs.

This is what I do all day. (Oh, yes, and I blog, too.) If I can find my purpose in life, so can you. And there’s no better time than the present. We can no longer wait for the perfect moment or for the kids to grow up or for the next iPhone. We can no longer wait for lightening to strike. The planet needs its rainforest minds. Now.

No pressure. Well, maybe a little pressure. OK. A lot of pressure.

If you’re wondering how to begin or how you’ll know you’ve found it, here are some ideas. Remember it’s a process. (In my case, there were years of psychotherapy and other types of inner work.) I write about accepting and showing your rainforestness here and here. I write about how psychotherapy works here and here.  Career paths here and here. Parenting, here. And I suggest some books here. Maybe you spend time in Nature or you read Pema Chodron or you start a mindfulness practice. Maybe you influence educators at your child’s school. Maybe you turn your pain into art.

Make the time to quiet yourself and listen to your heart.

When your heart sings.

You’ve found it.

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To my blogEEs: I mention “purpose(s)” because you might have more than one purpose over your lifetime. Share your thoughts, feelings and questions here. What makes your heart sing? Let me know how I can help. Thank you for reading and sharing.


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“…Complicated, Confounded, and Chaoticized…” — Living With Gifted Minds

photo from Tom Clynes, author

photo from Tom Clynes, author

“Since the first moment of his existence, Taylor has complicated, confounded, and chaoticized nearly every detail of his family’s lives.”

This is one of my favorite sentences from Tom Clynes’ book, The Boy Who Played with Fusion: Extreme Science, Extreme Parenting, and How to Make a Star.

My favorite paragraph from Clynes’ book is: “Waiting was the most common response when Tracy Cross of the College of William and Mary asked thirteen thousand kids in seven states to describe in one word their experience as gifted children. ‘ They said they were always waiting for teachers to move ahead, waiting for classmates to catch up, waiting to learn something new –always waiting.’ ”

The Boy Who Played With Fusion is not only a captivating true story about a profoundly gifted boy but also an important book if you’re an advocate for gifted children. You can find out more about Tom’s book in my review here. And, in case you haven’t seen it, my popular post about gifted kids and waiting, is here.

Whether you’re a parent of a gifted child or dealing with your own rainforest-minded soul, there are lots of complications, confoundations and chaotizations. Am I right?

And just in the nick of time, before you’re chaoticized beyond all hope, my book will be out at the end of this month, June 2016. And, if my delightful blogginess hasn’t convinced you to buy it, here is the assessment from the aforementioned Tom Clynes, who has seen a prepublication copy:

“The rainforest is Paula Prober’s fresh and apt metaphor for the abundant internal ecosystem of the gifted child or adult. Like tropical forests around the world, the gifted are both fragile and powerful, surrounded by threats but full of world-changing potential.

Prober does not settle for shallow or simplistic answers; she explores and finds inspiration in places that other researchers and practitioners haven’t considered. Drawing on examples from her clinical practice, she presents straightforward strategies for encouraging not just accomplishment, but also the capacity for happiness and fulfillment. The result is an intensely readable and useful book that will resonate with anyone concerned with understanding and nurturing the extraordinary abundance within ourselves and the gifted people in our lives.”

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To my patient bloggEEs: I hope you’re tolerating my book promotion enthusiasm. I promise to continue to provide important content here on my blog as we continue on this journey together. Thank you so much for your support and encouragement.

And speaking of promotion, the lovely Linda K. Silverman of the Gifted Development Center in Denver wrote this review.

And one more thing: I’m giving a talk through the Intergifted site on July 12 (2016). It’s free and you’ll be able to see what I look like and sound like after all of this time wondering how old I really am and if I’m as funny “in person.” The details are here.

 


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Intense Kids, Intense Parents — Tips for Managing the Mayhem

photo courtesy of London Scout, Unsplash, CC

photo courtesy of London Scout, Unsplash, CC

How do you manage your emotions and your sensitivities while raising your super intense super smart children? How do you raise your children without unconsciously repeating the patterns set down by your own parents?

I’m guessing that you think about this a lot. Especially at 3am when you’re desperately trying to sleep. Or when you hear your mother’s criticism spewing out of your own mouth directed at your 4-year-old. Or when you notice your father’s rage lurking behind your eyes.

Living with rainforest-minded kids when you yourself have those same traits can be overwhelming and even a tad frightening. All of that energy and sensitivity roiling around. All of your kids’ questions, curiosities and meltdowns flying hither and thither. Not to mention the less-than-ideal parenting you may have received. Or the judgment from other parents who think you have it easy. Or the judgment from yourself that you aren’t the perfect parent. That’s a lot to handle.

Let me give you a hug right now. For starters. You are not alone. This is not easy. Hug.

Here are some thoughts:

  1. There’s a lot of empathy for you online from parents who are right there with you. You can read their experiences, guidance and resources here and here. Read a sampling of their blogs and bookmark your favorites. There’s also a psychologist online who has raised gifted kids. Find her blog here.
  2. Make a list of ways to soothe yourself, to relax, and to find nourishment. Then DO THEM. Your kids will benefit. You know this but you still don’t do it. Am I right? Remind yourself that your self-care will be good modeling for your kids. When you feel guilty, tell yourself that you’re doing it for your them.
  3. When you lose your cool, which you will, apologize. Your children will not be damaged irrevocably when you blow it. The apology allows your children to see that they don’t have to be perfect and that they can apologize when they’re not perfect. Imagine how your life would be different if your parents had apologized to you for their mistakes.
  4. When it comes to not repeating the patterns of your parents, well, it’s complicated. And depending on how dysfunctional things were, it can feel overwhelming or impossible. As you can imagine, there’s no quick fix. But you can change the patterns. You probably already have to some extent. Of course, you know I’m going to recommend good therapy if you were raised with any kind of abuse. That said, there are many creative self-help tools for you to explore. Some are: Seena Frost’s Soul Collage, journaling, yoga and other body therapies, mindfulness techniques, making art/ playing music, spiritual practices, and treks into nature.
  5. To get coaching support for your giftedness and to find like-minded adults, join this growing international community.
  6. And, finally, read my bookYour Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth to be released mid-June 2016. Along with untangling the complexities of the rainforest mind, I describe client cases from my counseling practice and explain how we addressed both their childhood issues and their giftedness. There are many self-help strategies and resources included. Buy copies for your therapist, relatives, kids, teachers, neighbors, physician, ex-partner, mail carrier and anyone else who might need help understanding you.

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To my dear bloggEEs: Let us know about your parenting challenges and successes. What resources would you suggest to help with parenting and with breaking patterns from childhood trauma? And thank you, as always, for reading, commenting and sharing.


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Your Rainforest Mind — The Book — Released!!

Image - Version 2

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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Gifted or Impostor — Living With Asynchrony In Your Kids and Yourself

photo from Krista Mangulsone, Unsplash, CC

photo from Krista Mangulsone, Unsplash, CC

If you’re gifted, does that mean that you’re always smart? And everything comes easily? All of the time?

Naaah.

But, that can be the expectation. Yours. Your parents. Friends. Teachers. Your dog, Earl. Well, OK. Earl just loves you. No pressure.

Does it mean that you’re a genius and if you’re not, then you’re not gifted? Instead, you’re a fake, a phony, an impostor?

Nope.

But that can be the belief. Yours. Your parents. Friends. Teachers. Your cat, Eloise. Well, OK. Eloise knows that she’s the genius.

And so, as with most things in your rainforest mind, it’s complicated.

You may have heard of asynchrony. Simply stated, it means that you may be advanced in some areas and not in others. You may learn some things quickly and some things slowly. This can be confusing, especially if you’ve felt pressure to be the stereotypical super-smart person. Brilliant at all times at everything. (Note: The term “asynchronous development” is also used to define giftedness, in general. For more on this, look for articles by Silverman and Tolan.)

When applied to your kids, it can mean the following:

Let’s say her (or his) chronological age is six but her mental age is twelve or thereabouts. This means that her body does what any typical six year old body does but her thinking is more like that of a twelve-year-old (and a curious, sensitive, empathetic twelve-year-old at that). Can you imagine the havoc that might ensue?

She adores Beethoven but can only play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on her violin. He admires Van Gogh but can only draw stick figures. She understands advanced math concepts but can’t remember her multiplication facts. He worries about climate change but can’t convince friends to conserve water. She wins chess tournaments but melts down when her sister gets to sit in the front seat of the car. He loves Shakespeare but hates handwriting. She’s designing intricate imaginative games for her friends but they just want to play dodgeball. He excels at learning new languages but can never find his homework or tie his shoes.

This might be disconcerting. OK, terribly frustrating and annoying. For you and your child. Not to mention, fertile ground for the seeds of impostor syndrome.

But what can you do, other than head out to a deserted island with Earl and Eloise?

Read all about it: From Caitlin Curley’s blog post via Raising Lifelong Learners.  And in the book, Off the Charts: Asynchrony and the Gifted Child.

Validate your child’s feelings: You understand that he’s frustrated and upset right now. You can see that she’s confused and angry. Validate your own feelings: No wonder I feel crazy sometimes.

Then, explain to your child and yourself what asynchrony is. It’s the nature of your rainforest mind to be intense, sensitive and out-of-sync. And make time to nurture yourself.

Earl and, even Eloise, will approve.

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To my bloggEEs: When do you feel out-of-sync? Have you felt pressure to be super-smart in multiple areas? How do you deal with abilities/topics where you aren’t advanced? Maybe you actually are gifted in several different domains. What’s that like? How do you deal with uneven development in your kids? And, if you’re looking for an online place to find other rainforest minds, check out intergifted.com. Thank you for reading and sharing!