Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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Young, Male, Gifted, And Black In Canada

Thomas is 24. Born in Canada, his parents emigrated from Cameroon. He wrote to me while reading my first book. I suggested he write and tell me about his rainforest mind. His words speak for themselves. (Note: English is not his first language.)

photo courtesy Taylor Grote, Unsplash

Intensity, Sensitivity

“…From what I’ve been told all my life, I am somehow very intense, which I don’t realize at all…I am really sensitive, but I’ve learned how and when to express it…sometimes I feel things when I should think about it a bit more and sometimes I think about it when I should feel it. So it makes my love life and friendships quite complicated…”

“I am really sensitive to sounds, noises, and touch. I am very aware of my environment. It can be very overwhelming…”

“As I was growing up, I never really thought I was different. I still don’t really think I am that much different…but one thing I remember clearly from a young age, it’s the firm belief of being an alien.”

Perfectionism, Empathy, Racism

“I have been a perfectionist for multiple reasons throughout my life…Since I was young it was a struggle for my parents. I needed the proper clothes, it needed to fit perfectly with everything. The colors, the patterns…Also perfectionism became part of proving myself to be worthy to others based on my race. I’ve always felt that if I wasn’t perfect, I wouldn’t be heard or loved…Also for my parents, it was part of what they learned from their experience as immigrants. They couldn’t be less than irreproachable all the time…It was really heavy, draining, and felt like I was wearing a mask all the time. I didn’t really know who I was anymore. I was just the perfect reflection of what people expected from me… I was able to use my empathy in order to feel and understand others and reflect what they needed…”

“…what I am trying to say is that most people don’t believe Black giftedness actually exists or that it is possible. I’ve been confronted many times by people that were blatantly shocked by who I was. Although younger it felt like a compliment, now it just makes me horribly sad. I gave up long ago about being recognized, praised, or proving myself… All I want is to raise awareness to all kinds of giftedness that Black people possess…”

I Just Get It, Schooling

“…When I asked my mother why I skipped a year in school, she explained that since I was a kid, I was always kind of too fast for my age. A bit too mature and very kind. My kindness and empathy was shut down by my father who saw it as a weakness for a man…There was a lot of bullying. I thought in my head, well, everyone must be racist, probably there were some, but I now think that a lot of people were rather intimidated by me because everything has always been easy. That is the difficulty of my life I guess. Whether in school or sports or with people, I just get it. Although school is a different challenge. I haven’t finished my undergrad degree and it’s my fifth year, lol. To my defense, I’ve been working full-time…”

Social Responsibility, Psychotherapy

“…I do believe I have a part to play in the world…I’ve learned to stay still. Accept that I can’t do everything, I can’t fight everything. I will lose some. I will win some. I will fail. I will succeed. I will be wrong. I will be right. However, most of the time, it doesn’t really matter...Luckily for me, most of the time, I want to smile, have fun, create, write, discover, read, help, pray, love, and be loved. It’s OK for me to not be perfect. I don’t believe perfection exists anymore. I do believe that there is such a thing as the truth…living by the feeling, by intuition, or by what is right at the time…”

“I believe that therapy really helped me have a more humorous perspective on perfectionism and on life. Which greatly helped. Seeing the humor, the absurdity, sometimes dropped a lot of pressure. I was able to figure out what I really wanted, without all the real or false expectations of me. I was finally seeking the truth, which is what I was idealizing since I was young, not a better world, not change the world. Rather I want people to liberate themselves, to be more themselves. I am tired of people being lost. I am tired of people who don’t dream or give up on dreaming. I am tired of seeing people miserable. I want people to be free, happy, to believe and feel love, joy, and happiness. I would like to see people less angry, hungry, or as tired as me! I really do want to contribute to a better world, a better society, the best way I can…”

Thank you, Thomas, for sharing your beautiful rainforest mind with us. I am quite certain you shall create a better world as you continue to liberate yourself to dream, to feel love, to find truth, and to be more and more yourself.

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To my bloggEEs: What parts of what Thomas is saying do you relate to? Have you had to deal with racism? What is it like to be gifted in your country? Thank you for sharing. Your comments add so much, as you know! Oh, and, did you know I have an Instagram account? I don’t post often but I’m thinking I may start to make short videos and post them there. Check it out! There is a video there now. And thank you so very much to Thomas.


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Why Care About Gifted Children?

photo courtesy of eye-for-ebony, Unsplash

Talking about giftedness is tricky. It can sound like discrimination or elitism. And it is discrimination when kids of color are ignored and excluded from gifted programs in schools, which, sadly, they still are in many places. In my mind, it is a no-brainer to understand that giftedness comes in all races, religions, cultures, and ethnic groups. But not everyone agrees. 

And even when I talk about giftedness in children, including kids of color, it might still be said that I am creating an elite group of smart people and discriminating against the children who are not as intellectually advanced. That I am saying that the gifted are better humans, somehow superior to others.

Nooooooo. Puleeze. I am not saying that. 

So, what am I saying? 

Some background: This misunderstanding has existed as long as I have been in this field. Which is a long time. I started teaching gifted children in the mid-’70s. Yes, that long. And, yes, it is surely awkward to say that some children are more intelligent, faster learners, and more complex, deeper thinkers and feelers. But it is not unlike saying that some children are naturally much more talented at athletics. Most of us will never be a Michael Jordan or a Serena Williams, no matter how many hours we practice. And we are fine with that. 

But when it comes to intellectual giftedness we are not so fine. 

In my experience, all 35-ish years of it, gifted children are naturally passionate about learning, thinking, feeling, arguing, creating, perceiving, and empathizing. At an early age, they ask probing questions, feel for others’ suffering, and grasp complex ideas. Their favorite places are often the library, the bookstore, and their vivid imaginations. Of course, these kids are also all different and unique based on multiple factors, but, they often have many of these characteristics in common. Even with differences in race, religion, and culture, many of these gifted traits are still apparent. 

OK, then, some people say. Sounds like these gifted kids have so many advantages. Why bother? There are more important issues out there that need our attention. 

Well, yes, there are so many important issues. So many.

But, I don’t have to convince you, dear blog readers. You understand why I bother.

I do not need to remind you of the years of serious bullying in school because you were super enthusiastic about learning and wanted to answer all the questions. Because you spent every recess hiding in the library, your only safe place. Because some of your teachers were annoyed by your relentless curiosity. Because your passions for classical music, paleontology, Richard Feynman, BBC documentaries, Van Gogh, and brain specimen coasters were not understood by the other eight-year-olds. Because you spent weeks waiting to learn something new

Because the loneliness and rejection you felt then, is still with you. It shows up in the workplace when you are waiting for your coworkers to grasp what you are saying. For a supervisor to be a faster thinker and better leader than you are. For colleagues to have more integrity. It shows up in your sensitivity to injustice and your compassion for suffering humans and for a planet in crisis.

You feel it when the pressure to be smart means you are paralyzed by a fear of failure, of disappointing others, of never living up to your potential. You feel it when you can’t find a partner who knows how to listen or who is willing to dive into the depths with you. You feel it when your intuition and spirituality are dismissed as irrational and irrelevant. You feel it when you have to slow your thoughts, limit your vocabulary, numb your sensitivities, and hide your true self.

That is why I bother.

And if you are part of a marginalized group, if you are a person of color, there is more. There is racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and sexism. Socio-economic disparities. Climate injustice. It is a long list. It can be quite discouraging and overwhelming.

So, here is a thought.

What if, then, what if we could agree that this is the perfect time to embrace our gifted children. Because if there ever was a time to let them flourish, it would be now. To encourage their curiosity, creativity, and sensitivities. To nourish their capacity to seek answers to complicated questions. To appreciate their intuition and larger spirituality. To support their quest for justice for all. 

Let us deepen our understanding of giftedness in ourselves and our kids. And together, we will build a more just and peaceful world.

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To my bloggEEs: If you are looking for resources on giftedness and people of color, here are a few that I know of. Thank you, as always, for being here. We would love to hear from you. 

The G Word Film  due for release in 2021

“Defying popular myths that assume most gifted people are wealthy, white, and will do fine on their own, THE G WORD reveals the economic, cultural and gender diversity of our nation’s gifted and talented population at every stage of life, highlighting their educational challenges, social isolation, and deep emotional sensitivities…It also reveals a large and lively community of people around them working hard to meet their needs while challenging the prejudice that comes with being labeled “smart” in the 21st century.”  from the website

Bright, Talented, & Black: A Guide for Families of African American Gifted Learners by Joy Lawson Davis

“Being gifted and talented and also African American makes children double minorities, and the issues they face can be different from those faced by most other gifted children. This book provides helpful insights and guidelines for the parenting and education of Black gifted children. In addition to the challenges that are frequently experienced by many gifted children, …Black gifted children often must also deal with issues like discrimination and low expectations of them…”  from the publisher

Running the Long Race in Gifted Education edited by Joy M. Scott-Carrol and Anthony Sparks

“The editors have assembled authors representing a range of racial, ethnic, regional and cultural backgrounds. Their narratives reveal a wealth of successes, challenges, inspirations. Speaking in their unique voices, these culturally diverse and gifted adults describe…:  from Amazon


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When Your Heart Is Breaking…Open

photo courtesy of john koliogiannis, Unsplash

“Sometimes the nearly unbearable beauty of the world overwhelms me, and I tremble with a felt-sense that the magnificence that saturates the cosmos surely reflects the possibility, even now, of human magnificence. And then, as if I’ve crossed an invisible bridge to a waypoint of despair, I wonder how the mysterious, self-organizing wild Earth can peacefully co-exist with the absurdities and catastrophes of human invention…” Geneen Marie Haugen

We are definitely seeing “the absurdities and catastrophes of human invention” these days. It can be hard to not be discouraged, fearful, angry, or despairing. It is likely your emotions and empathy have been strained to the max. Your heart is breaking.

What can you possibly do when it is all so complex, disturbing, and overwhelming? 

As you know, I come from a psycho-spiritual perspective, so I will share my thoughts from my worldview. 

Your sensitivity, empathy, intuition, and spirituality are your strengths. Your deep-thinking, persnickety, perfectionistic, analytical mind is your ally. Your curious, creative, multipotentiality serves you well. Your desire for justice and social responsibility is essential. Your sense of humor and access to joy is vital. There is no better time to understand who you are and what you have to offer. And to offer it.

From that place of self-understanding and self-acceptance, then, you find your true voice and your particular way to contribute. When you are facing your fears, you are less likely to project them onto others. When you are becoming conscious of your rage and grief, you find a path to peace for yourself and those around you. When you embrace the lonely child within, you step into your self-confidence and your generosity. When you trust your intuition and tune into your spirituality, you access insight, humor, and joy to guide your direction and your actions. 

Your deep inner work has the power to heal the legacy of your family line for past and future generations. It allows you to “co-exist with the absurdities and catastrophes” and to help transform them. 

None of this is easy, by the way. I should know. I have been working on myself for thirty+ years and I am not done yet! Deep personal and planetary transformation is a lifelong journey. That said, everything you do on the road, makes a difference. Everything. Do not dismiss the power of the healing path. 

The power of your vision. 

“…Yet the mysterious human imagination itself may be our best resource for experiential recovery of a vibrant, participatory, and wildly sacred Earth…” Geneen Marie Haugen

The power of your Love.

“Revolutions do not happen only in grand moments in public view but also in small pockets of people coming together to inhabit a new way of being. We birth the beloved community by becoming the beloved community.”   Valarie Kaur

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To my bloggEEs: These are challenging times as we all deal with the pandemic, climate change, and here in North America, on-going and unrelenting racism. I have found Valarie Kaur and Van Jones to be inspirational resources. In the comments, let us know how you are doing. How are you finding ways to have an impact?  What is it like in your part of the world?  Sending so much love. Thank you, as always, for being here.