Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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Help Me Write the Book on Partnership Love and Rainforest Minds

I have looked all over the planet for a book specifically for rainforest minds on how to find partnership love and how, once you find it, how to nourish, grow, expand, and deepen it. Sure, there are many books on manifesting the love of your life and on mastering relationship skills. They are helpful. But I have not found the one that explains the particular jungle-ish issues that come when you live a rainforest-y life and you want to share it with a mate.

(photo courtesy of Michelle, Unsplash)

So I am writing that book.

Will you help?

What should be in this book? I want to know what you want to know. What are your questions, thoughts, feelings, ruminations, and experiences on this topic? If you are in a partnership, how did you meet? What are the challenges you are facing? What are the blessings? What is your advice for others? How are your rainforest traits impacting the relationship? Are you partnered with another RFM or not? What is that like?

If you are single and wanting to be partnered, (You may be happily, contentedly, relievedly single. I have actually been there for many years so I appreciate that choice. There can be great love in your life for sure. Being partnered is only one track, of many, to love.) tell us about that. What do you think is in the way of finding someone? How has having a rainforest mind been challenging or an advantage? Do you prefer being single to being matched with someone who doesn’t have similar depth, sensitivity, and intellect? Have you been partnered in the past and unable to navigate the stresses or discovered too much incompatibility? Have patterns and behaviors in your family of origin or self-critical beliefs made it difficult?

You are welcome to write your responses in the comments below but if you would like to write a lot, which I encourage, please send me an email. paula@rainforestmind.com. What you write need not be perfectly expressed or particularly eloquent. A quick list of thoughts, questions, and experiences would be lovely. Just jotting a few ideas or writing a long diatribe (email please) are both most welcome. Your ideas will help me get a sense of direction for the book and also provide some content. I may quote you but will not reveal your identity. (Or you can ask me not to quote you.) I would love to have diverse views from many different cultures, races, religions, sexual orientations, genders, and ages.

As you know, people often write books not because they already know the thing, but because they need to figure something out. They write to understand or gain the insight they are seeking.

That would be me. And this book. Join me in figuring this shit stuff out.

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To my bloggEEs: Thank you!!! If you have a lot to tell me but do not want to write it all down and would rather have a conversation, email me and we can set up a time to talk. Here are a couple of posts on the topic that are places to begin this journey. This one and this one.


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Letters to My Future Boyfriend – A Journaling Technique

(To my bloggEEs: I want to share another personal musing along with a journaling technique you can use. As you may know, I have been single for a while. I am living a beautifully full life in my childfree singlehood. That said, I believe it is time for me to explore deep, meaningful, loving partnership in this, my last act. So, I started a journal, writing letters to my future person. My future mate. My future sweetie.  In the letters, I sort out what I want, what I fear, what I don’t want, what inner work I still need to do, who I am, and who he is. On occasion, he writes back. If you are looking for partnership, you might want to write your own collection of letters!  *Let us know if you do.* And if, dear bloggEEs, my future boyfriend is cavorting in your neighborhood, please send him my way. You know where to find me.)

This is one of my first letters:

Dear Future Boyfriend,

You will need to know some things about me before you venture into my world, into the lush jungle that is my rainforest mind.

I’ll start with my head. I have a lot of hair. Massive amounts of exuberant, overexcitable, ridiculous hair. I try to control it. But I am unsuccessful. You might think that this is a wonderful thing. But I’m warning you. Wildly untamed aspects of my psyche live in my curls.

Next. I am sensitive. Very sensitive. This is good if you need me to be perceptive, insightful, generous, loving, and kind. This is not good if you want to avoid dealing with the effects of your dysfunctional family of origin. And if you like emotions, I’m your gal. Deep, intense, rich emotions. But you will be happy to know I have been in therapy for many years, so the rage is, well, negligible. It only surfaces in times of extreme stress or when I feel trapped. Or when I run out of estrogen. Or hair products.

Like many of the rainforest-minded, I am on a spiritual quest. I’m obsessed with living into a heart-centered, purposeful, magical life. (You, too?)  I want to contribute something meaningful to our troubled planet and connect to a spirituality that I suspect is both inside me and around me. Unlike those who find their spirituality in religion or nature, however, my quest takes me other places.

I find my connection to the Mystery in more unusual ways. Once, while dancing the Argentine tango, I felt a spiritual message coming from under the dance floor. Yes, under the dance floor. It was a message of support and sweetness from what I imagine as The Big Love or, since you are probably a Star Wars fan, as The Force.

And if that isn’t odd enough, I also sing. But it’s not what you think. Although I used to have a penchant for Broadway musicals, I now seem to be singing soothing, sometimes amusing, melodies channeled from distant galaxies. When we meet, I will demonstrate. Because you are my mate, it will all make sense. It will make sense, in a compelling, metaphysical, rainforest-y way.

Oh, did I mention I am a psychotherapist seeking to change the world one dysfunctional family at a time?

There are normal things about me I could share. And I will in future letters. I just thought I would get some of the weirder stuff my more unique traits out of the way. Just to be sure you know what you are getting into.

So that’s me, Future Boyfriend. I would like you to show up soon. I am not getting any younger. And we have things to do. Dances to dance. Songs to sing. Hair to control. Magic to make.

May The Big Love be with you,

Paula


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You Agree, You Are Gifted — Now What?

I rant a lot about how you need to recognize you have a rainforest mind so you can find greater self-acceptance, self-confidence, and move ahead into your fulfilling, meaningful, creative life. Right? But what if you already know you are gifted? What then?

A blog reader put it this way:

(photo from Unsplash)

“…NOW WHAT? What do I do with that knowledge? How do I find more/others (friends?)? How do I honor this part of myself without making other people feel awkward (without making myself feel awkward)? How do I trust that my perspective is wanted/needed when the messages I often got were that I was too much? How do I stay open to my gifts when they don’t result in actual success, but are often a source of pain and indecision and overwhelm?…”

What a great bunch of questions. Here are my answers:

What do I do with that knowledge?

You use it to finally make sense of and love the complicated jungle of fabuliciousness that is you.

How do I find more/others (friends)?

Gifted folks are hard to find. And even when you find one, they may not be quite right for you. I have written about it here. And here. One basic strategy: Take what you know about rainforest-mindedness and look for others while doing things you love. Use your intuition to sniff out the gifted souls. Then take the brave step of introducing yourself and asking them to coffee or tea or to the library. If they look at you like you are out of your mind, then move on, giving yourself credit for your courage and knowing it is sad for them that they will never know the amazing you, and they must be a muggle disguised as a wizard. If they say, yes, you still may need to court them for a while if they have busy lives. But it will be worth it if they are a good catch. Eventually, they will thank you for it. One way to improve the odds of finding someone is to start or join a Silent Book Club. Reading, of course, is likely to attract many RFMs which will make your job much easier. It is never too late to find your besties.

How do I honor this part of myself without making other people (and myself) feel awkward?

You honor yourself by learning to trust yourself, no matter what others think, and regardless of any looming imaginary or real failures. Or potential successes. That said, you will need to be cautious when talking about giftedness. Using the G word could trigger resentment, ridicule, or rejection. Using the rainforest metaphor when explaining who you are, might make it easier, especially if you use my quiz as a way to add some humor. But even that requires some finesse. One approach would be to avoid using any label and just talk about your traits. In other words, talk about how you are super analytical, a divergent thinker, a lover of learning so many things, and so on. Sharing who you truly are with close friends and caring family is important. It just takes some delicate navigation. Then again, when you find like minds, little or no finesse is required.

How do I trust that my perspective is wanted/needed when the messages I often got were that I was too much?

It depends on the circumstances. You will probably need to evaluate each particular situation for the other person’s readiness for your perspective. The reality is, with advanced intelligence, others may not be able to keep up with you or even understand the depth or the complexity of what you are sharing. This may be the too muchness they are referring to. It is not your fault. You may need to ask if they want to hear your thoughts. Use your intuition to decide if the timing is right. Then again, if you were told you were too much by dysfunctional family members and you are now living with people who know and appreciate you, it is likely you can be yourself with abandon.

How do I stay open to my gifts when they don’t result in actual success, but are often a source of pain and indecision and overwhelm?

Take plenty of time for introspection to examine and heal the pain. Journaling and therapy might help, along with time in nature and a spiritual practice. With indecision, you may need to work on perfectionism and self-doubt but also give yourself credit for your creative mind that comes up with so many possibilities. Learning to trust your intuition helps with indecision. For the overwhelm, start a regular self-soothing or meditation practice. Recognize your sensitivities as strengths, because they are.

And, well. I will embrace your giftedness, your complicated jungle of fabuliciousness, until you can. OK?

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To my bloggEEs: Please share your thoughts, feelings, and questions. You know how much your comments enrich this blog. Much love to you all. And thank you to the bloggEE who posed these questions!

(Note: If you are feeling anxious about the upcoming holiday season, here and here are my favorite posts. Read them and know you are not alone!)


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Why Bother Understanding Giftedness — Won’t They All Be Fine Because They Are So Smart?

No. Not really. Nah. Nope. It’s complicated. The gifted kids and adults I have known over the years have much more going on than just “smartness” — smartness, that is often defined as excelling in school, getting high grades, winning academic awards, attending Ivy League college, or becoming the wealthy corporate CEO. And that is where the problem often begins. We need to get more specific about what being smart, or better yet, what being gifted, actually is. (Note: It may or may not include those academic, achievement-oriented things and, yet, it is so much more.)

The gifted humans I have known are clearly intellectually advanced, deep thinking, extra-perceptive, quite analytical, creative problem solvers, highly sensitive, and intuitive. There is no doubt they crave learning new ideas, are introspective, compassionate, and make unusual connections between, oh, all the things. Being academic, achieving in a school setting, may not be where they show themselves, if the school environment is not keeping up with their capacity to think, understand, interpret, evaluate, synthesize, create, question, intuit, laugh, and reflect on concepts, ideas, philosophies, theories, emotions, insights, and facts.

Another way to describe these folks, other than by the rainforest mind analogy that we all know and love, is with a hyperlink model. The more gifted, the more hyperlinks. Making multiple connections between what seem to be unrelated ideas. Constant analysis, synthesis, and revelations. Hyperlinks within hyperlinks.

So. How might that feel to them? To you?

Exhilarating. Exhausting. Fascinating. Isolating. Stimulating. Starving. Energizing. Confusing.

Am I right?

I will focus on the challenges here because, well, that is the part where you, and others, need convincing.

Some examples come to mind, in no particular order: Sitting in meetings, day after day, month after month, waiting for coworkers to come to consensus on the conclusion you drew last year, waiting for colleagues to finish debating irrelevant information, waiting for someone to appreciate the nuance you bring to the discussion. Sharing only portions of your vast knowledge and talents in many areas for fear of judgment, rejection, or misunderstanding. Showing only small parts of yourself for fear of overwhelming others with your energy, enthusiasm, and curiosity. Constantly adapting to your environment so you can be understood and accepted. Smelling someone who needs a root canal. Enduring criticism for needing multiple career paths and for doing more than one project at a time. Grappling with learning disabilities that confuse and frustrate your intense appetite for knowledge. Never finding a mentor or guide who knows more than you do. Settling for friendships that are limited in depth and range. Being bullied in school because you want to spend recess in the library. Terrified to make a mistake because in your mind errors mean you actually are not gifted. Listening to audio books and podcasts at faster speeds to avoid boredom. Despairing over the suffering on the planet and being called dramatic by family members. Diagnosing your illness when the doctors can’t. Unable to turn off your thinking and worrying to fall asleep or just relax. Pressured to live up to others’ expectations. Pressured to not disappoint your parents and teachers who rely on you. Achieving mastery in your field(s), winning those awards, and still feeling like you are not enough. Desperate to find even one person for meaningful dialogue and open-hearted relationship.

And, finally:

Considerable self-doubt, self-criticism, and anxiety for many reasons but also because you imagine all of the REAL gifted people are high achieving, valedictorian, Ivy League, confident, super star CEOs who are all fine because, well, they are so darned smart.

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To my bloggEEs: What do you think? Am I describing you? How? What other examples do you have? Is there someone you know who needs to read this? Thank you for sharing your feelings, thoughts, and questions. As you know, my blog wins the prize for best comments ever. Much love to you.


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When The Tango Dancing Therapist Loved The Nature Obsessed Neighbor-From-Hell

(Note: This is another of my personal musings written so that you might get to know more about me. Enjoy!)

            He was a die-hard camping, hiking, nature-loving Oregon hippie. He parked his truck on his overgrown lawn. Paraphernalia from long gone construction projects was piled along the side of his house and scattered hither and thither just in case he might need them in a year or five. I remember thinking the first time I drove up to his house that he was your typical neighbor-from-hell.  

            What was I doing with the neighbor-from-hell?

            We met online. Even though his photos made him look kind of dorky, I liked what he had to say. He read Annie Dillard. He was going to Idaho to take care of his mom after her hip replacement surgery. He was self-employed in the renewable energy field. Had raised two kids who made it to adulthood. Drove a Prius. In our first email exchanges, he asked smart, complex questions. He told fascinating stories about his adventures in the Arctic. These were all signs the man might be worth meeting.

(photo from Vasilios Muselimis, Unsplash)

            And the first meeting went well. He was much cuter than the photo. Tall. Well-built. Articulate, smart, and sensitive. He did not smell like garlic. On our second date, he watched me dance. I had started taking Argentine tango lessons five years earlier. Craig was impressed, even though it was an unusual second date, with me dancing the tango with handsome men who were not him. He was a good sport about it, appreciating my talent.

            I introduced him to my girlfriends, looking for their assessments.

            Me: I don’t know. He’s kinda hippie dippy. His house is super messy. I don’t know if I’m ready for another relationship and, anyway, he’s probably a serial killer or a codependent pothead with siblings who are in prison for insider trading.

            Girlfriends: He has great social skills and a sense of humor. This could be fun. C’mon, there’s no harm in trying. A serial killer probably wouldn’t have a good relationship with his mother.

            So I decided to give it a try.

            And it was sweet.

            But I was not a die-hard camping, hiking, nature-loving Oregon hippie. I thought I might become one with the right guy. Maybe not die-hard. Maybe not camping where there might be bears, cougars, raccoons, and no internet. But I am an ardent environmentalist so I thought I just needed a safe, kind soul to introduce me to the wonders of a rushing river, the mysteries of hiking in the forest, and the thrills of outdoor plumbing.

            And Craig tried. I remember one weekend in a comfortable yurt by a lake. He brought a solar cell thingy so we could have music. He supplied several flashlights, delicious snacks, and a kayak built for two. I tried to enjoy myself. 

            He did not give up. Months later, he bought a small trailer so we could stay at campgrounds with showers and restrooms. He cooked gourmet-ish meals and was upbeat and generous.

            Sadly, it did not work. I just could not love it like he did. I could not even like it much. I was a failure at nature-loving.

            But there were other strengths I brought to the relationship.

            For example, I was a success at psychotherapy-loving.

            You see, I am a counselor working with people healing from childhood trauma. I love my job. It is such a privilege to guide people on their journeys to self-acceptance and self-actualization. I have also been a client in therapy. It is really one of my core values: introspection and facing one’s fears to heal yourself and create a better world. So, I was able to be bring a good bit of self-awareness and compassion to the relationship. This would make up for my nature-loving deficit.

             And as I got to know Craig, it became clear that he had his own childhood trauma. But psychotherapy was not his thing. When it came to introspection, or as I called it, diving into the abyss, or even just looking under the rug, he would decline. Change the subject. Or play the nature card.

            I would say: “Honey. I’m so sorry your father was so critical. And it sounds like he may have been an alcoholic. Therapy has been so helpful for me. I’m much more confident and self-accepting. I can give you a few names of therapists you can try. OK?  It’s so worth it.”

            He would say: “Nature is my therapist.

            Now, I know there are many ways to self-actualize. Psychotherapy isn’t the answer for everyone. And nature can be such a healing place. Many of my clients find solace and even spirituality when they are connecting with the natural world. But for Craig, it was his solace. And his excuse.

            I would say: “Sweetie. If you don’t want to do traditional therapy, how about meeting with my medical intuitive energy worker? Or my acupuncturist? “

            He would say: “Nature is my therapist.

            He was adamant, in a nice guy passive-aggressive kind of way. But I have to admit, he did try therapy a couple of times. He went to a weekend workshop. Spent a week at a nature-based vision quest program. He even saw my medical intuitive energy worker once. He tried. But he did not love it like I did. Could not even like it much. He was a failure at psychotherapy-loving.

            As time passed, I started to see signs of trouble. Serious anxiety. Problems with his adult children. Unpaid taxes. Toxic friends. Vodka. Rooms in his house filled with old magazines, tools, gadgets, papers, and moth-eaten suits from his days in the tech world.

            But, like any good therapist, I ignored the signs. We bought a house together and planned a small remodel that turned into a big remodel. He was a very capable self-made contractor so wanted to do it all himself. Which took a lot of time. But I stayed in my own house until it was mostly complete, then, let my home, my little sanctuary, go. He didn’t sell his own house and, lucky for me, left most of his clutter there. But not his anxiety, his unpaid taxes, or his vodka.

            Once we were living together, I noticed the garlic. He loved it. I have a thing about food smells on breath. Especially garlic. If someone smells like garlic, I immediately despise them. My therapist self knows that this is a bit of an over-reaction. Likely a bad memory from the past. But those olfactory triggers are hard to control. I started to eat garlic myself as a way to reduce the odor and manage my despising. It helped and I tried not to hold it against him.

            And we grew closer, in spite of our failures and our differences. He kept his chaos contained to his office and the garage. I ate more garlic and bought gifts for his grandkids. He was my bodyguard when we’d visit my family. I befriended his mother when she needed a careful listener.

            We were creating a good tango. We’d step on each others’ toes occasionally but our hearts were in sync.

            And then the music stopped.

            One day he told me it was over. He said he needed a partner who loved the outdoors as much as he did. Who could walk the beach for days. Who was intensely curious about the ocean floor and eager to spend weeks lost in the Oregon forest.

            I was in shock. I had thought he was the one. This was going to be my last and best relationship. I thought it was going well. He would take his trailer to the coast for a few days and enjoy nature on his own while I would stay home, see clients, and blog. I had started a blog (this blog!) about three months before the break up. It was surprisingly satisfying, meaningful, and fun. I thought we had worked out a good compromise.

            But apparently, we had not.

            It was not easy for him to break up with me. I cried. He cried. He offered to move back to his old house until I found a place and we sold ours. Move out? Back to your old house? It took me some months to believe it was really over. That I was being left. Not for another woman, but because he loved mother nature more than he loved me. That is just weird, if you ask me. But he was not asking.

            He moved back to his house and I was alone.

            But I had support. Over the years, I had built a reliable family of friends. My friends and my blog (this blog!) would get me through my grief.

            But, for a long time, I felt lost and lonely. No one tracking me anymore. No one asking me annoyingly what my schedule was for the day. No funny stories of polar bears. No bodyguard for family visits.

            And so I did what I had to do. I went to therapy— to continue to examine, process, and release old complex patterns and beliefs that were underneath my choice to be with Craig. I found an excellent book to work through, too. And it occurred to me, Craig and I had very different basic needs. His: Finding peace (and denial) in the beauty of the natural world. Mine: Doing deep inner psycho-spiritual work to heal my past and live a life of meaning and purpose. Interestingly, we were both fairly inept at participating in the other’s greatest priority.

            I began to wonder how we had lasted as long as we had. I began to wonder why I did not run the other way when I first saw his neighbor-from-hell yard. Why he did not run the other way when he heard I was a therapist.  And yet, in spite of it all, I knew our partnering had not been a mistake.

             And as I continue to examine the beautiful layers of my psyche, one thing is clear: I am now certain I want a partner who is willing to look under the rug. Who is not afraid to do the deep dive into his abyss. Who has done the inner psycho-spiritual work to heal the past and live a courageous life of meaning and purpose.

            To keep the music playing, our hearts in sync.

            To tango, fearlessly. With me.

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To my bloggEEs: Let me know your thoughts, feelings, and questions. Thank you, as always for being here. And just remember, relationship “failures” make great material for your blog, memoir, or TED talk!


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Depressed? Anxious? Gifted? Get Yourself Some Intellectual And Creative Stimulation Pronto!

There might be many reasons you are feeling depressed or anxious. So many reasons. From trauma in your childhood to racism, pandemics, losses of loved ones, homophobia, climate change, illness, poverty, corrupt politicians, antisemitism, all of the other isms, and more.

So many reasons. 

I might even include some lesser but occasionally significant depression and anxiety influencers like hormones, food sensitivities, allergies, and bad hair days. (OK. That last one is very lesser.)

(photo courtesy of Drew Graham, Unsplash)

Because you are the sensitive, perceptive human that you are, your awareness of these factors is pretty much somewhere in your brain at all times, unless you have mastered the art of denial, which, in some cases, can come in handy. Denial can be a useful coping strategy in these tumultuous times as long as it is not used excessively. Or when your curious toddler is wandering out into the street. Therapists do not usually recommend denial. And, I don’t either. Most of the time. But I have found it has come in handy recently.

That said, for you, my little chickadees, there is another reason you might feel depressed and anxious. And this one, I am happy to say, is more easily resolvable. 

Having a rainforest mind means you want intellectual and creative stimulation like others want pizza and ice cream. You NEED it. You may not realize it but if you don’t have enough, you might feel depressed or anxious. Regular people might not care so much about learning new stuff or creating cool solutions to problems or composing a new tune on the ukelele or analyzing impact ionization or creating a better world. But you, well, it is your bread and butter. Or your kale and quinoa, as it were.

The remedy is clear. Where can you find intellectual and creative excitement? If it is not readily available, here are some options for starters: You can browse your independent bookstore, take the online class, do that internet search, buy those paints, join the dance troupe, start a podcast or a blog, get another degree, volunteer at a nonprofit that needs your direction, get lost in Wikipedia, learn a new musical instrument, study your next language, start a business, deepen your spiritual practice, initiate a conversation with the magical creatures in your garden, read and research with abandon, get therapy, and/or try that thing that makes you feel weird but you’ve always wanted to do. And, this is important, in all of these activities, look for the other rainforest-minded humans that might be lurking. Sweetly draw them into your web.

Granted, there will still be many daunting challenges in your inner and outer worlds. But, getting your intellectual and creative needs met will not only lift some of your depression and ease some of your anxiety. It might also become the foundation and inspiration for your paths to your greater Self, your stronger voice, more cool solutions, and, perhaps even creating a better world.

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To my bloggEEs: Can you relate to a lack of intellectual and creative stimulation? Tell us about it. Where have you found some? One source for creative inspiration, particularly in the arts, is this podcast/website called Art Church. It is just getting started but promises to become a unique community for spiritually inclined artist-types. And this SoundCloud link is my newest project. (Song Memes for Your Rainforest Mind) It is the weird thing I mention above.


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Gifted Adults Around The World — What Do They Have In Common? Meet Alice In Brazil

The more rainforest-minded souls I meet, the more hope I have for humanity. No matter where in the world they happen to be, I see similar traits. Big-hearted, creative, deep-thinking, sensitive souls. Humans who are so darned smart and who are driven to use their superpowers for good.

In case you missed them, profiles so far come from:

Brazil, Finland, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Malaysia, India, Chile, Canada (via Cameroon) (If you are from a country not yet represented and would like to be profiled, email me!) Of course, most of my experiences are with N. Americans. I feel so grateful to be able to learn and share this expanded view.

Today we are meeting Alice, a 25 year old Brazilian female. She came across my quiz and gifted information after searching for “people who don’t fit at school.” She ordered and quickly read my first book and The Gifted Adult, then she contacted me. Like so many of you, Alice was struggling with intensity, being misunderstood, passions for learning everything, depression, anxiety, and loneliness. The restrictions imposed by COVID-19 and the political tensions in her country, made it even harder for her to find direction for her future and the relief she would normally feel in the natural world.

(photo courtesy of Bruno Dias, Unsplash)

Alice described her experience this way: “I just want to follow my multiple and endless passions. I just want to be FREE to create and to travel the world. It feels like I’ve spent my whole life being a dormant volcano, without knowing what’s been going on inside of me. My anxiety and depression feel like lava. It seems to burn me inside and it hurts. I internalized that being the way that I am is a terrible flaw…When I was identified gifted, all of my traits seem to have erupted. The hidden, real, and even more intense Alice came out. I’ve been dealing with a kind of new me.

“…Oh, how unfair this world is! I hate this world! But, how can I love this world the way I do? I love the Nature SO MUCH that it hurts. I love you Planet Earth! I love Jupiter and its moons. I wanted to be a National Geographic photographer, a solo traveler, a documentarist, a multi-instrumentalist, a singer, an author, a visual artist and paint maker, a polyglot, a dancer, an athlete, I wanted to help people, wild animals and plants, etc. etc…I wanted to learn more about history, geology, archaeology, biology, astronomy…I wanted to do hundreds of things, I also wanted to live in many different places and experience diverse cultures.

Like most (all?) of you, Alice is a multipotentialite but she could not tell anyone for fear of criticism and rejection:

“…I can’t let them know my interests. I can’t let them know that I want to speak 10 languages one day, without being judged, without them thinking I am arrogant, without them telling me to be less, to question less, without them telling me not to share my interests, my vulnerabilities, my sense of justice…’keep that just for you, Alice, otherwise they won’t like you’…They’ve been treating me differently and I can feel it. But I just love learning 8,459,238 things at the same time. And also because I have no time to dedicate specially to one thing, and I always struggle with choices and procrastination, I often think I’m incapable, incompetent, and very unlikely to succeed…”

So many of you can relate to being called arrogant or being told you are too much, too sensitive, too intense. You’ve heard the complaints of others: Why can’t you focus? Why can’t you be happy with one language, one job, one book!?!

Alice was working so hard to understand where she might fit and who she actually is. She wondered where she stood on the gifted spectrum and how she might move forward in her life.

“…I just don’t want to be so afraid of being myself. I just don’t want to feel so much need for others’ approval. I just don’t want to be so afraid of the critics…I don’t want to be so afraid of success, too. I want to find at least a balance between my natural optimism and pessimism. I’ve written a lot about my pains, but I’ve had the opportunity to experience many, many beautiful moments, too…”

Like many of you, in spite of the challenges and pressures that would often overwhelm her, she could see the beauty in life and appreciate the little things, love them so much that it hurt.

As Alice and I talked, she was able to get a better understanding of how her struggles were not based in her own inadequacies but rather connected to her gifted traits. Because I had already written about two Brazilian young women, I suggested she try and reach them and the other Brazilian commenters through my blog, as a way to reduce her isolation.

Because she had experienced traumatic events in addition to the struggles of being gifted, I recommended she look for a therapist where she might get regular support and work through the traumas. Believe it or not, around the time I was speaking with Alice, I was contacted by Giovanna Strobel, a psychotherapist in Brazil who specializes in giftedness! How amazing is that?! (For those of you who speak Portuguese, check her out!.)

So, now, Alice is reaching out to Giovanna and her team. She is starting to understand more about the beauty and power of her rainforest mind. And I hope, one day, loving herself so much that it hurts.

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To my bloggEEs: Do you relate to Alice’s experiences? How are your feelings similar? Different? Remember in the comments not to give advice to others but rather to speak about your own experiences and insights. Thank you so much for being here. Much love to you all. And thank you to Alice for sharing your big-hearted, sensitive, creative, deep-thinking, rainforest mind with us.

(Note: Giovanna and I will be doing a live interview on July 3, 2021, 1pm PT. I’m not sure if it is on Instagram or somewhere else. If you follow her on Instagram or me, you will hear about it. Join us!)

(Another note: I was reviewing my first article on Brazilians and was reminded of another practitioner in Brazil who shared in the comments. Adriana Vazzoler-Mendoca. Sounds like she would be another good resource for Brazilians looking for a mentor or coach!)


38 Comments

Single, Childfree, And Petless In A Pandemic — Then And Now

(Dear BloggEEs. This is the first of a new addition to my blog. I am going to occasionally add personal essays and journal entries for your reading pleasure. I am a little nervous about this. Please continue to like, comment, and share, as usual. Let me know what you think. Enjoy! And thank you. They will be compiled on my new Musings page.)

Single, Childfree, and Petless in a Pandemic – Part One

(Wearing my emotional support sweater)

March 2020 – The Beginning

            This forced isolation has me rattled. And a little faklempt. Maybe a lot faklempt. 

            I think it is because of all of the unknowns. How long will this last? Is this the beginning of a series of traumatic climate change events? Will I get sick? Will the internet go down and I’ll no longer be able to see my clients online and my income will dry up?  Will I run out of hair gel? Will my computer die so I will have to stop blogging?  Will human beings never become enlightened? Will I fall and break some important bone, not be able to reach the phone, die and not be found for weeks? Will my acupuncturist move to Portland? Will I lose the opportunity to finally find the love of my life because dating sites are forced to shut down and tango dancing is banned forever? 

            Did I mention that I have ruminating tendencies?

            I am single, childfree, and petless. In my 60’s. I have lived pretty contentedly alone for much of my adult life with two breaks for short-ish but significant relationships. I am an introvert through and through. Solitude is my friend. I have always been driven to build a meaningful career path and to create a better world. I am less in need of a traditional family. And so, I have created a fulfilling work life, loving friendships, and a sweet, comfortable nest for myself. 

            But still. I was not prepared for lockdown.

            I am coping by using a combination of approaches. (I am a psychotherapist so I know a lot of them.) I am ramping up my spiritual practice. Reading trusted news sources. Zooming with family members and friends. But, actually, I am mostly using one tactic. 

            Denial. Denial is not something psychotherapists usually recommend to clients but pandemic disorder is not found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual either. So, I use denial and try not to think about all of those ruminated possibilities. (Denial, as in, not thinking about it. Not denial, as in, touching and breathing on people.)

            But, lately, denial is not working so well.  I am worried about the future. Even though solitude is still my friend, and I have acquired an emotional support animal in the form of a cozy chenille sweater that I wear almost every day, I am wondering if it is time to invite someone, a male partner, to join me in my nest. Virtually, of course, for now.     

            Truth is, back in the day when nuclear war was the threat we all prepared for, I would think, “I want a person who thinks of me first, who finds me first, when the bomb drops.”

            I still want that person. And now would be a great time for you to show up. I want a person who thinks of me first, when the pandemic hits. 

            Oh, wait. The pandemic has hit. 

            Text me. 

            I will be at home.

Single, Childfree, and Petless in a Pandemic – Part Two

March 2021 – A Year Later

            It has been a year. I am no longer so rattled, or faklempt. At least no more than I was during the years before the pandemic. Turns out if you are a psychotherapist during a pandemic, you have job security and human (online) contact.  In fact, if you are a highly sensitive introverted therapist like me, working online is kinda fine. I can still reach my clients through the screen. (My empathy, it turns out, is teleportable.) Some of my clients even prefer staying home in their own cozy chairs with their blankets and tea. It seems that, for some, the safety of their own nest allows them to be more vulnerable than they might be sitting across from me, in real life, face to face, bodies in the room, together. So, when it comes to work, income, and continuing to feel connected to a larger purpose, Covid-19 did not get the best of me.

(still wearing my emotional support sweater)

            And because I had even more time than usual, because I was not going to the gym, socializing at the café, traveling to visit relatives, or tango dancing into the night, my blog was more of a priority and I was more open to expanding my practice into international consulting. In fact, the switch to online conferencing made it possible for me to accept offers to speak I would have otherwise declined. To audiences in the Netherlands and France. To clients in Cyprus and Belgium and beyond. 

            Of course, I would not have survived so well if this had happened in, say, 1985. No Internet. No cell phone. No Instagram. No Skype. No Zoom. No Voxer. No Venmo. I would have been a wreck in a 1985 pandemic. If there had to be a pandemic, well, 2020 was a good year. 

            So, I am grateful. 

            And so far, even my 2020 ruminations have not come to pass. I did not get sick. No one I know died. I did not break any bones and die a slow death until I was found three weeks later. My internet kept working so I could see clients and keep blogging. My acupuncturist did not move to Portland. I did not run out of hair gel. 

            It is kind of a miracle. 

            I do understand that a couple of my ruminations are still alive and well. The ones about climate change and humanity never becoming enlightened. There is still that. When I look beyond my smallish comfortable world, I could easily start rattling or faklempting again. But, instead, I take a breath, and remember my assignment. I am here on planet Earth to help smart, sensitive souls self-actualize and create a better world.

            Oh, and there is one more rumination: Will I lose the opportunity to finally find the love of my life because dating sites are forced to shut down and tango dancing is banned forever? 

            Well. Dating sites are going strong. Tango is just on hold for now. So. The opportunity is not lost. I will be vaccinated next week. The invitation stands. Join me now, love of my life. My hair gel won’t last forever.


73 Comments

The Loneliness Of The Highly Gifted

Does this remind you of you? At age 4, you made a plan to help the starving children in Mogadishu. At 5, you made a book about deforestation and the poaching of animals. At age 11, you petitioned to save the elephants of Thailand and at age 15, you won a contest with your essay on human trafficking. People told you, you worried too much. They mocked your passion, and told you to go and have fun like the other kids. But you were determined to speak out and you did not understand why your drive was seen as so unusual.

image courtesy of Greg Rakozy, Unsplash

At 29, you are still struggling with being an outspoken outlier and with how to take action in a world that feels so broken. You have long wished there were more than 24 hours in a day. Your family continues to dismiss your striving as unrealistic or unnecessary. These days you avoid talking with them but you have yet to find a place to belong or a clan of like minds.

You may have found one or more career paths that fed some of your intellectual curiosity for a while or provided for your financial security but did not nourish your soul. Or when you mastered a job’s requirements in the first week, you found your coworkers do not respond with appreciation; while you remained frustrated and unfulfilled.

What is often the experience of the highly (exceptionally, profoundly) gifted is that you can be successful and high achieving in a variety of fields.

Dare I say, at everything you try.

Perhaps you learned to play several musical instruments without the usual hours of practice. And you are now fluent in your fifth language. You remodeled your home without any training or schooling. And you diagnosed your own chronic illness when all of the doctors were stymied. You taught yourself quilting, gourmet cooking, fly tying, stock trading, and chess, in your spare time. Not only that. You may have been like Chris who “took up target shooting at the age of 50, took my brand new air pistol out of its box, fired. Had someone ask me if I’d been in the army, I said no, then they asked how long I’d been shooting, and I replied ‘about 5 minutes since I took this out of its box’.”

You are likely really good at pretending you are not so good at things. Or apologizing for your abilities and accomplishments. Or finding a way to build up the other person and minimize your capacities. I wonder if you have memories of teachers telling you to “put your hand down and let others have a turn.” Then, feeling hurt, because your enthusiasm was misinterpreted, you experienced bullying, jealousy, and spiteful comments from peers. You were told to spend your time helping your classmates and you felt guilty because you wanted to be kind but it was torture, day after day after day.

All you ever wanted was to share your fascination with Escher and the latest episode of Planet Earth with someone. Anyone. And have them get it. And love it, too. And love you, too.

“I want to fly. And I want so very much for someone to think that’s really cool when they see me fly…. instead of being angry or jealous or feeling like they’re beneath me. I just want someone some day to love me just for me just the way I am.”

And yet, this is such a tricky topic. Who is going to commiserate with you? Who can you talk with about this struggle? I am not even sure how to write about it without sounding whine-y, complain-y, and ungrateful. Right? Gratitude, of course, is important. And, if you had narcissistic parents, you might be extra cautious about acknowledging your strengths and talents.

But this is a thing. A big thing. You and I know it. And, if nothing else, we can talk about it here. You can be yourself here. You can practice sharing your accomplishments, capacities, and wins here.

You can fly.

And we will all cheer as we watch you soar to greater and greater heights. And even if no one else notices or cares, at first, you will find someone, another rainforest mind, or two or three. I know it. And, as your passion to make a difference still shines, as you still ache for the elephants, know that your flight nourishes us all.

You being you is what this planet needs.

Welcome to your clan.

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To my dearest bloggEEs: Tell us about your many accomplishments and abilities! Have you experienced frustration and rejection? Do you worry that acknowledging your strengths might be a kind of grandiosity? Please share your stories. They add so much. Thank you to the bloggEEs who shared the above examples. Much love and appreciation to you all.


47 Comments

Holiday Season Confessions From A Tango Dancing Geek Psychotherapist

For the past 6 years, I have spent the holidays alone.* Thanksgiving. Christmas. Hanukkah. Halloween. All of it. Solitude City. Introvert Overkill.

(photo courtesy of Sherise, Unsplash)

I am guessing you are surprised. Here I am. Popular blogger to the gifted. Geek therapist extraordinaire. Surely, there are people clamoring to invite me to their celebrations. Family? Children? Inlaws? Outlaws? Boyfriend? Girlfriends? Acupuncturist?

Well, as many of you already know, I am childfree. And single. Extended family members live in other cities. Girlfriends have their various commitments with children, grandchildren, inlaws, and outlaws. Or they live in Colorado. (That would be Tina.) And my acupuncturist, well, she has good boundaries.

Of course, now that we have a pandemic, more of you may be solitary, too. But there was no Corona in 2014. 2015. 2016. 2017. 2018. 2019.

I am telling you this because I have heard how lonely many of you are. And, if you are alone (even if you are with people, I might add) on days when most everyone in the world says you ought to be HAPPY and FULL OF HOLIDAY CHEER, I am here to say, I get you. I am with you.

And, yet, it could be worse.

You could have to listen to your smelly drunk Uncle Craig while he tells you all about his latest hunting expeditions. You might be expected to explain to your grandmother yet again why you never went to Harvard and why you still haven’t cut or straightened your hair. You might be appalled at all of the wasted gift wrap and plastic that your nieces and nephews carelessly throw hither and yon. You could be forced to eat your cousin Sue’s orange carrot marshmallow jello salad. And let us not even mention the potential political perturbations.

Of course, this year, it will all likely take place with your buddy Zoom. (Cousin Sue sent her jello salad via UPS.) But still.

Seriously, though. This year, you may be struggling with the corona virus or you may have lost someone to the illness. You may have been laid off from your job. You may be teaching your kids at home. If there is trauma in your past, the restrictions and fears that come with the virus may be triggering your PTSD symptoms or you may have had to limit family interactions because of past abuse. Being the rainforest-minded soul that you are, you may be upset about the mythology around Thanksgiving and anxious over the consumer culture of the Christmas season. You may be thinking about the climate crisis and wondering if the world is about to implode.

It is is a tough time to be living in Solitude City. (even harder if you are an extravert)

Which brings me to another confession. Even though I cherish my status as the eccentric yet accomplished single auntie and the blogging tango dancing geek psychotherapist, even though I deeply value and need my alone time, there is a part of me who would not mind a holiday season with a little less introvert overkill. More specifically, since I am not getting any younger, as you may know, I would like a life, a last act you might say, with a (male) partner, a mate, a soul’s companion.

Gulp.

This is hard for me to admit. I want to be your role model for independent, successful, fulfilled, childfree, blogging, single womanhood. I do not want to disappoint you, my lovelies.

But we are all about authenticity here, right? So, this is me. Being me.

And you know, of course, I am not idealizing this so-called partner, mate, soul’s companion. I am a psychotherapist, after all. I know a thing or two about partnerships. I have even had a couple.

I am just confessing.

And, um, accepting applications.

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To my bloggEEs: How are you doing with the holiday season? The pandemic? How do you feel about being single? Partnered? What would you like to confess? Your comments add so much! Thank you for being here. If you didn’t watch this short video yet, it is a beautiful story about the loneliness due to the pandemic and how we are all connected.

*( Full disclosure: I will not usually be totally solitary. I started a tradition where I meet with my therapy clients who are also alone on the holiday. We have therapy with a side of pumpkin pie.)