Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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The Gifted Human’s Guide To Normal

photo courtesy of Dan Price, Unsplash

You may think that you’re normal because you’ve always been the way that you are. It feels normal to be you. You may not spend much time comparing yourself to others. At the same time, you may often feel weird, left out, and misunderstood. Different. It’s a paradox. You can feel normal and abnormal at the same time.

Let me clear this up right now. You are not normal.

Sorry.

You’ll never be normal.

You may be OK with this now. You may even celebrate it. But I bet when you were a child, this was hard. I hear it from kids. I just want to be normal. Yeah. You wanted to fit in and be one of the gang. It was painful to be an outcast, to be excluded, to be rejected.

But normal for you?

Not gonna happen.

You’ll need to prepare your kids.

And, just for the record, normal isn’t particularly good or bad. It’s just one way to describe what we might see as typical or average or middle-of-the-road or majority or consensus reality. I mean, I must admit, I do wonder if our world would be a more peaceful place if more humans had rainforest minds. But that’s a topic for another day.

My clients struggle with feeling excluded and outcast. Desperate to be embraced by others, to belong, to not be rejected for living beyond normal.

Just this week a client told me about how she felt deeply touched and in wonder, moved to tears, by a moment when she saw light coming through clouds and hitting trees in such an indescribably beautiful way. She was crying at nature’s gorgeousness. Deeply appreciating life in that moment. Moved by a spiritual connection to beauty.

This is not normal.

Chances are, most humans would not notice the light, the clouds, the trees and be awestruck by the wonder of it all. You, on the other hand, see more, feel more, and perceive more than normal. It could be how you’re wired. Or it could be that you’re an old soul. Or both. It could be that humans are evolving to develop the more-ness that you have. To evolve to be less normal.

I’m counting on that.

What do you do in the meantime?

You embrace abnormal! Find your peeps. The ones who also cry when the light comes through the clouds. Use your perceptive and intuitive powers to feel connected to the Force, to your spirituality, to Nature. Use your creativity to discover your next project or path or purpose.

Let go of the belief that you need to be normal.

Normal got us into this mess.

Abnormal can get us out.

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To my bloggEEs: How have you felt rejected because of your rainforest mind? Have you felt the desire to be normal? Are you able to connect with Nature or a spirituality that gives you some of the deep connection that you yearn for? Have you found some peeps who love you just as you are? Well, I’m sending you love right now for all of your rainforest-y abnormality! And if the holiday season is getting you down, this one’s for you.

 

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Surviving The Hectic, Harrowing, Holiday Season Hoopla

photo courtesy of Nathan Lemon, Unsplash

The holiday season has arrived. It’s a busy time for psychotherapists. Or it will be: In January when all of the retraumatized, triggered, overwhelmed, lonely, exhausted, disappointed humans reach out for help.

No one is immune to the hectic harrowing holiday season hoopla. You may think that you’re the only one bewildered, lonely or sad. You aren’t. And if you’re super sensitive and if you have high ethical standards and a social conscience, this may be a particularly tough time. It’s a crazy world right now. And if you’re like me, single and childfree, you might have mixed feelings while you watch the frenetic humans running hither and  yon.

But whether you’re single and childfree or not, here are my recommendations:

• If this is a difficult, anxious time of the year for you, know that you’re not alone. Even those people with the big seemingly-happy families that you see on Facebook, are probably actually not that perky. They most likely have one or two or ten obnoxious relatives who dominate the conversation, drink too much, bully the children and bring an orange jello mold to every event.

• Now is a great time to rethink your holiday traditions, habits or expectations. What is it that you really want to do? Who do you really want to be with? What if this were your last holiday season? How would you spend it? Don’t wait until next year.

• Design a spiritual practice that supports your particular quirky connection to the Force. Maybe it includes a tree with ornaments. Maybe it includes the score to the musical Hamilton. Maybe it includes candles and wine. Perhaps you sit with the oak in your yard or you do tai chi by the lake. Whatever it is, make it yours. Let the Force be with you.

• Appreciate the quiet and peace in your home. Notice your exquisite woodwork.

• Order takeout for your holiday meal. Do not feel guilty.

• Start a blog. It’s a great way to express yourself and to feel loved. Ahem.

• Move your body in ways that work for you. This can include exercise. It’s not a great idea to spend the holiday season curled up under blankets eating pie. I recently discovered Katy Bowman’s Nutritious Movement. You might also find it a good alternative to sitting through too many episodes of Longmire.

• If you’re single, get the book Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics. The author, Sasha Cagen must have a rainforest mind. She’s sensitive, funny and she dances the Argentine tango. Sasha created a movement for single folks who cherish their solitude, want to find a mate, but who would rather be alone than settle for just anyone.

• Find some young, deeply cared-for children. They might be family members or friends’ or neighbors’ kids. Watch them as they unselfconsciously sing and dance to the songs from Moana. It will give you hope for the future. This is what love looks like.

Chances are, you won’t be able to avoid the hectic, harrowing holiday season hoopla. But you can use it as an opportunity to reassess your life. Your choices. The meaning you want to make. The influence you want to have. Instead of being among the frenetic and the retraumatized, use this time to find your voice. To build your path to a better world.

With or without the orange jello mold.

(Note: If you need ideas on building your path and haven’t read my book yet, that would be a good place to start!)

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Thank you to little dancers Sydney, Shane and Bodhi and their fabulous parents for their sweetness and light.

To my bloggEEs: What are the holidays like for you? What are some ways that you’ve managed to celebrate that have been sweet or peaceful? What are ways that you might make changes? And if you’re lonely this holiday season, I’m sending you an extra hug. Thank you commenters for taking the time to share your thoughts, especially if you’re a perfectionist and it takes you an hour to write two sentences. Ha! I know you. And if you’re not commenting because it takes you an hour to write two sentences, I understand. Just keep reading.

 

 


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When People Find Your Intellect Intimidating — A Guide For Gifted Women

photo courtesy of Sabrina May, Unsplash

You don’t do it on purpose.

Intimidate people.

You’re just being you.

In fact, you’re holding back. Slowing down. Smiling. Being gracious. Stifling your curiosity and your perceptions. Carefully selecting from the scores of effervescent thoughts that continuously swirl around in your brain.

If they only knew how much you’re NOT showing.

Oh, boy.

And yet, you still scare them.

If they only knew that you just love to learn. You just love reading and research. You’re a pacifist, for heaven’s sake. You slept with the dictionary when you were five. (Unless, of course, your dictionary was on your phone. Then, you slept with Charlotte’s Web and Darwin’s Origin of the Species. But I digress.) How is that scary?

You’re not out to humiliate anyone or prove that you’re a superior being.

It’s just your nature to think a lot, to feel a lot, and to know a lot.

It’s not your fault.

So, you want to know how to be less intimidating?

That’s tricky.

It may not be in your control. It may not actually be necessary. But here are some suggestions, just in case. See if any fit for you.

If you’re interrupting folks with your creative ideas, let them finish before you share your thoughts; imagine designing the next electric car while you’re waiting. If you’re showing how bored you are at meetings when no one can agree on the obvious solution that you shared at the beginning of the meeting, bring your knitting or the New York Times crossword to stay occupied. Let people have their bad grammar and their mixed metaphors; the world will probably not end. Explore various ways to communicate with individuals based on their capacity to receive your insights and view it as a playful intellectual puzzle; there will be some people who won’t be reachable no matter what you do. Exercise your love of debate by running for office. Look for the humor in any situation as a way to entertain yourself and plan your memoir.

If you’ve grown up thinking that you need to be perfect, begin to unravel that belief; your vulnerability will be appealing to others. Feed relatives your terrible cooking. Invite friends to your messy house. Play games that you can’t win. Don’t hide your klutziness. Ask for help from people you trust.

Know that your rainforest-y peeps are out there and they will not be intimidated; they will be thrilled. Keep looking for them.

What I really want to tell you is that as you experience humans finding you scary and intimidating, you may need to accept that not everyone can handle life in the jungle. It’s pretty intense in there with all of those 2,500 different species of vines and 10,000 species of ants. It can be kind of scary, intimidating and overwhelming.

Even to you.

But, remember.

The rainforest also keeps everyone breathing. You are needed and wondrous just as you are. 

(Note: Just in case some of you might be inclined to misinterpret me, I’m not saying that you should change who you are for people who are intimidated. Noooooo. I’m just giving you some suggestions that might help make life easier for you in particular situations where you need them. As you know, I support you in being the fabulous radiant rainforest-y darling that you are. That’s what my blog is all about!!)

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To my dear bloggEEs: Are people intimidated by your intelligence? Have you found any good solutions? How would this post be different if it were the smart man’s guide? How would it be the same? I think gifted men also scare people, but differently. I wonder if the issue for gifted men is more that they can’t show their sensitivity. What do you say, dear readers? Thank you to the bloggEEs who inspired this post. And men, I promise a post just for you, soon.

 

 


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Communicating — When Your Mind Travels At Warp Speed

photo courtesy Mubariz Mehdizadeh, Unsplash

You have a lot to say. A gazillion ideas run through your head. Insight. Analysis. Book reviews. Strong opinions. Inventions. Songs. Stories. Responsibilities. Poems. To Do Lists. Intuitions. Worries. Self-criticism. Images of catastrophes yet to unfold.

You may have trouble communicating these ideas. Being heard. Feeling understood.

For several possible reasons:

How do you choose which of the gazillion to share? It’s hard to grab onto any one idea when they’re flying so fast. You don’t know anyone who cares about dark matter. You could pontificate excitedly for hours about your latest research but even your dog falls asleep after ten minutes. You can’t control your urge to correct people’s errors. You were told girls shouldn’t look too smart. You were seen as the trouble-maker in your family. Teachers ignored you when you raised your hand for the 50th time that day. You were told boys shouldn’t have so many feelings. You’re an introvert. You’re an extravert. You’re not speaking your native language. You’ve been bullied for your smartness. You talk really, really fast.

So what do you do?

Well, first, darlings, depending on your interests and your depth and who you’re trying to communicate with, you may have to practice limiting your sharing and slowing your speech. I’m so sorry to tell you this. What you need to understand, though, is that it’s not because you are flawed in some despicable way. Quite the opposite. It’s more likely because you’re ahead of your time. I’m hoping that more humans are being born every day whose minds travel at warp speed. You just might be a trail blazer. And that can be a lonely place.

What else? Practice active listening with people you care about. Listening deeply is a great way to reach someone and it’s more likely that they’ll reciprocate.  And if you’re a better writer than speaker, try writing a note to get your message across. And, remember: Don’t waste your time with the toxic people.

Then, look for activities where you can nourish yourself and let your mind fly.

Here’s a partial list:

Start a blog. Keep a journal. Write a book. Get another degree. Become a researcher for wikipedia. Learn to meditate. Study a martial art. Become an indexer. Learn NVC. (nonviolent communication) Become an entrepreneur. Get involved in activities you love and use your intuition to find other RFMs. Learn the Argentine tango. Become a college professor. Talk to trees and rivers. Paint. Read and contact your favorite authors. Find a therapist who loves smart people. Write comments on a blog for rainforest minds.

You have a lot to say.

And the world needs to hear it.

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To my bloggEEs: Have I told you that I love you? I feel so honored to be able to help you see what amazing beings you are. Tell us your experiences with communication and what you’ve found that helps. And thank you to the bloggEEs who suggested this topic.


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The Gifted Adult’s Guide to Finding Friends

photo courtesy of Brooke Cagle, Unsplash, CC

photo courtesy of Brooke Cagle, Unsplash, CC

You’re sensitive. Empathetic. Funny. Generous. Smart. Adorable. And yet, you have trouble finding friends.

I’m here to help.

I’ve gathered my five favorite posts on relationships here so that you don’t need to go searching for them. I’d suggest that you read them all to get my comprehensive take on this topic. You’ll be able to pick and choose from the many suggestions and you’ll see that the reason you’re lonely is not because you’re a hopeless weirdo slacker ne’er-do-well. But because you’re gifted.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started:

If I’m So Smart, Why Am I So Lonely  (This one has a link at the end to more posts on relationships written by parents of gifted children.)

Gifted? Lonely? Learn The Argentine Tango  (You won’t want to miss the quote from Maria Popova.)

Lonely? Find Your Pips  (This one has a link at the end by a different group of parents of gifted kids, also on this topic.)

Lonely? Find Your Pips–Part Two  (This is where I get all spiritual on you.)

Single? Lonely? Gifted? Listen Up  (I’m not saying here that you shouldn’t be happy if you’re single!! Nooooo. I’m just saying that if you’re single and want a partner, here are some ideas. And this post also includes ideas for finding friends, too, so don’t skip over it.)

One more thing: When you’re clearer about who you are, you’ll be better able to spot other rainforest minds. If you’re doing something you love, at work or at play, and you spot one who has potential, be brave and initiate a conversation. Ask them questions about themselves. They will thank you! If they lead a busy life, don’t let that stop you. You may have to do the work to build the relationship at first. But if your intuition says they’re a good one, keep at it. Eventually the person will reciprocate and the relationship will be more balanced. I know that this works because it’s how I created my lovely circle of dear rainforest-y friends. But you have to be patient and persistent. OK?

One last thing: Don’t forget the online groups. Also, my book has a chapter on loneliness with even more suggestions. And, if you want to hang out with rainforest minds on a daily basis, well, become a counselor/consultant for the gifted. Start a blog. Write a book.

You’ll be so glad you did.

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To my bloggEEs: How have you found other rainforest minds? How do you deal with loneliness? Thank you for being here and for opening your hearts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Single? Lonely? Gifted? Listen Up.

photo courtesy of STSci NASA

photo courtesy of STSci NASA

If you’re single and feeling lonely, listen up.

Because I know what you’re thinking. You’ve tried. Tinder. Plenty of Fish. Match. E-Harmony. The Church Barbecue.

Nothing works. You must be too much. Too much for love.

After all, you overwhelm your friends with your intensity. You’re too sensitive to shoot-’em-up-movies, to screeching leaf blowers, to wafting perfumes and to commas in the wrong place. You’re too curious about dark matter and too obsessed with how Americans waste water on golf courses.

You must be too much. Too much for love.

But what if that’s not true?

I can hear you now. “Well, obviously, Paula, you’re dead wrong. I’m single. SINGLE. There’s your proof. Obvious. Geez, Paula, you aren’t as smart as I thought you were.”

Let me explain. Think about it. When it comes to too muchness, where real love is concerned: You can never be too much. If your capacity to love is as large as your capacity to worry about the time when you were in 6th grade and you were mean to Mary Sweeney, your future partner has won the jackpot. Seriously.

Now, I realize that it’s not that simple. I’m going to give you a few tips so that you can truly embrace what I’m saying and then find your significant other (or s/he can find you) without further ado. Well, with some ado. A little ado.

I know that it could take some work for you to believe in yourself. And maybe you’ve closed off your enormous capacity to love. It could take some time to open that back up again. And you may need some suggestions about where to look for that lucky person. So, here are the tips:

• You all know that I suggest therapy every chance I get. I recommend it if you feel despair, powerlessness or terrified of intimacy. There are also support groups, journaling and mindfulness practices that can strengthen your sense of self. Journaling, in particular, can be useful for getting in touch with your fears and befriending them.

• Practice expressing yourself in your friendships: Tell the truth. Ask for what you really need. Show your quirkiness and your vulnerability. Geek out.

• Find ways to get intellectual stimulation that involve other smart humans. Take classes at a university, join a Facebook group of like-minds, create or join a meetup group in your town (you might be surprised at what’s already out there), learn a new language and travel, follow bloggers you find intriguing (ahem) and write to them, attend conferences on topics of interest. (Then, when you spot another rainforest mind, be brave and ask him/her to coffee, literally or virtually.)

• Embody gratitude whenever you can. It will improve your health, your confidence and your sense of well-being. (I know you hear this everywhere, but it works!)

And finally, my favorite tip:

Use your creativity to tap the Magic that’s in you and around you. One way to do this: Write a letter to your future mate telling him or her about yourself. Show who you really are through your letter. Be funny or serious or tender or weird. (Poems, stories, drawings, or collages are also possible formats.) Perhaps, you’ll sense that you need to write a series of letters. Trust your intuition. Then, feel deeply into the experience of knowing this person. Use all of your senses to imagine his/her presence. Be patient. Tell the multiverse that you’re ready and that you mean it. Give the letter(s) to your person when s/he shows up.

Note: Thanks to Anne Allanketner and Anne Gordon for their help with this post.

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To my bloggEEs: If you’re single, are you seeking a partner? What do you think of these ideas? And for those of you already in intimate relationships, how did you find him/her? What do you suggest to someone looking for a partner?

 


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Loneliness — Guest Post — by Anne Allanketner

courtesy of Judith Manning, Eugene OR

courtesy of Judith Manning, Eugene OR

Because your rainforest mind is vast and deep and because it moves quickly through its awarenesses and insights, it can be hard to find humans who “get you.” My dear colleague, Anne Allanketner, describes that loneliness here, as only she can.

 

The Lost Circle

Loneliness, full of dry sticks and howling dogs
can be felt by anyone; the shrunken, the beautiful, the shamed.

Remember- our tribe is dispersed,
wandering, gathering pieces of faded silk
and unraveled thread and lost buttons
mending ourselves with music, with hidden pools of color
hoping, not yet believing, that the others
look for us, also, few as they are,
few as we are.

Each one full of cold lake water from the distant mountains
Each one distracted by the catcalls and accusations
of strangeness, each one alone, lost in the dry ache
of separation.

Only a wild trust can help us find ourselves now
from the burst star of our beginnings.
Make your odd sounds, your curative movements.
Call up the light into your eyes.

Sorting and sorting our bright collections and treasures will not help.
Go out into the foreign city, among the shuffling millions.

One precious stone awaits you, caught in the hands
of the Other who is brave enough to truly sing
her own name.

We are coming towards you
one by one, a tribe dispersed
like a seed pod, each of us carrying
a little flame, a little bell
and looking for the heart
of a shared music.

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To my bloggEEs: To read more poems by the wonderful Anne Allanketner,

Anne Allanketner

Anne Allanketner

go to her website. To buy her books of poetry, go here. Let us know if you’ve experienced this loneliness and what your “wild trust” might look like.