Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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The Holiday Season Blues — Rainforest Mind Edition

I spent time rereading my old blog posts this week. I was pretty impressed, if I do say so myself! (including the thoughtful, sensitive, insightful, lyrical comments) I wasn’t sure what to write next. But considering the holiday season, it seemed appropriate to gather up some posts that might be worth revisiting, particularly those that would be relevant to the holiday season blues–posts about the particular challenges for RFMs getting through these times and facing the usual familiar loneliness, intensified, along with the pressures of being highly sensitive and socially conscious in a pandemic, climate crisis, and increasingly divisive world.

As much as I hate to admit it, I succumb to the blues this time of year. Even with my trusty blog, adoring fans, thriving practice, emotional support animal sweater, and kind-hearted friends, I can still lose sight of how privileged I am and, instead, head down the luge into the psychic swamp where old therapists go to eat their pumpkin pie alone and reread Carl Jung’s greatest hits for the tenth time. It isn’t pretty.

(photo by yogendra singh, unsplash)

So, I am with you, my sweetest rainforesters. Join me in the psychic swamp. We shall eat our pumpkin pie alone together.

Surviving the Hectic, Harrowing, Holiday Season Hoopla

“…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…”

Fifteen Quick Reminders To Help You Make It Through the Holidaze

“…2  You’re not a failure as a human being if your siblings went to Stanford and are all doctors and have two and a half kids and you’re still wondering what to do when you grow up because you took a detour into drug treatment and psychotherapy because your soft heart and gentle spirit needed to heal…”

Finding Meaningful Friendships When You Are (Annoyingly) Perceptive And (Excrutiatingly) Sensitive

“…Of course, you can always start a blog or write a book. I have found some of my favorite humans through my writing. One of them, Tina, would win the girlfriend of the year contest, if such a thing existed. She lives 1,254.1 miles away from me. Is 18 years younger. (OMG. I could be her mother.) Has two teenage kids and a hubby. But that doesn’t stop her. Or me. You see? You can think outside the box when it comes to friendships. You will need to. Because of the wonders of technology, though, it is possible to experience a deeply satisfying, sweet, loving, even daily connection. The daily part has been important to me. Being single, I have longed for a person who checks in every day. And so, it seems, does Tina. It is a long-distance-but-that-doesn’t-matter girlfriend love fest…”

Super Sensitive? Super Smart? Super Lonely

“…It’s hard to find other beings with rainforest minds. Maybe you get frustrated by your relatives who dismiss your insights and take your kindness for granted. Perhaps you long for deep conversation and exuberant debate but end up with small talk and platitudes. Maybe you think it’s your job to save everyone so you befriend all comers, willy nilly. Maybe you meet someone who looks like a prospect but when they find out that you speak 4 languages, write music, paint, read books obsessively, and adore quantum physics, they remember that they have a dying uncle in Idaho who needs them. Right away. Maybe you’ve never found a soul who has the same capacity for sorrow and joy…”

If I’m So Smart, Why Am I So Lonely?

“…You think you’re explaining your ideas quite thoroughly and clearly. But your listeners aren’t listening. They’re lost in your creative leaps and poetic language. Or they don’t really care about the future of the electric car. Or they think your enthusiasm for mycelium is weird…”

Lonely? Find your Pips

“…You were too excited by Jane Austen. You were too curious about black holes and sea anemones. You were too emotional when you were teased. You were too incensed when teachers were unfair. You were too disappointed when the world let you down. You still are…”

“Beam Me Up Scotty” Social Responsibility And Your Super Smart, Sensitive Soul

“…Get in touch with the activities and skills that bring you joy, meaning, and fulfillment. Then, use your creativity to turn one or more of them into a community building or global-oriented service project that will change minds and hearts. Design a project that will spread more love. That will soften the divide and reduce the fear. It doesn’t have to grow into a global phenomenon. But it can. You may hesitate because you feel that whatever you do won’t be grand enough. Won’t be perfect enough. Don’t let that stop you…” 

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To my bloggEEs: You know that writing to you sustains me, right? How is your holiday season? What is challenging for you? What do you do to create peace or to find others? And, if your holidays are joyful, tell us about it. Share the joy! And keep writing those thoughtful, sensitive, insightful, lyrical comments. Much love and gratitude to you all.


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There Is No Better Time To Step Fully Into Your Rainforest-Mindedness

Some of you may know I have been experimenting with video and going a little wild on Instagram. If you haven’t found me there yet, here is the link. I am learning all about memes and having a fine time extracting them from my blog posts. It seems contraindicated that a rainforest-y person would appreciate a good meme since you are all so lovey-dovey with complexity. But, so far, so good. I am a little impressed with my technological skills, if I do say so myself, seeing as I might be the oldest video-maker and meme queen that you will ever find on IG.

The video you see here, from IG, restates a theme I have written about before. (It is a really good post. And don’t miss the amazing comments!) It is never too late to be your gifted self, yes? There is still time to understand and clarify what you have misinterpreted about your giftedness all these years. There is still time to find yet another career path. There is still time to dive into the abyss of your past trauma and find the buried treasure that is you. There is still time to learn how to make Instagram videos! And yet. I have been told by clients that one of the reasons you are reluctant to embrace your rainforest-mindedness fully is because it feels like a daunting responsibility. To acknowledge your actual capacity for knowing, feeling, perceiving, analyzing, creating, observing, loving, and intuiting means you have to do something about it. Preferably something monumental. And that paralyzes you. I even say it in the video. “It’s not too late to do great things.”

You were fine until I said that. Right?

I am so sorry. I should know better.

One of you explained it this way:

“…And then as a gifted person the expectations are at least twice as high. When all throughout high school you are top of the class and at the end you receive an award for ‘most promising student’ and people keep telling you you must have a great calling to be blessed with so many talents, it creates this HUGE burden of responsibility. You are not allowed to ‘waste’ your amazing potential.

But what if I’m not that great in reality? Then I’ll spend my whole life disappointing myself and feeling like I’m not measuring up to what everyone expected.”

Sound familiar?

Maybe we need to define what is meant by “great things.” What, after all, constitutes a great thing?

Or perhaps that is the wrong question.

What if, instead, we asked, how do you step fully into your rainforest-mindedness?

What does your particular rainforest mind look like, feel like, taste like, smell like, sing like, dance like? What directions do you need to go to find meaning and purpose? What are you here on this planet to do? What pulls at your heart and opens your throat? What actions and relationships does your intuition say YES to and what actions and relationships does your intuition say NO to? How do you get greater access to your intuition? When will you set up a regular spiritual practice that will connect you to a Source of love and guidance? What does your flavor of spiritual practice look like? What does your future Self want to tell you? Is there a reality beyond what we see every day that is all about Love?

These are questions to ponder. If you have a journal, write/draw your thoughts. If you don’t have a journal, get one. (I am getting pushier in my old age.)

Why?

We are living in very challenging times. I don’t need to tell you that.

I was talking with a friend this morning about these challenges and she suggested it is not a mistake that you and I are here on the planet now. All of us with rainforest minds. We are here because of these times. We came here for this, she said.

Between you and me, I am not thrilled with that news. There have been many occasions when I have wanted to get outta here and head back to my home planet where there are no politicians, pandemics, prejudices, or polluters. So, I am trying to wrap my head around this notion. Then I remembered that Clarissa Pinkola Estes wrote about this in Do not lose heart, We were made for these times.

She said, “Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.” CPE

And: “Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it.” CPE

So, what do you say, my sweetest rainforesters? Time to step more fully into yourself?

I will show my light, if you will show yours.

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To my bloggEEs: Let us know your thoughts, feelings, and questions. Your comments make such a difference. Sending you all much love, light, and a few clever IG memes.


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Two Remedies For Your Existential Angst

When I feel overwhelmed by the local and international news and anxious over the climate crisis, one of my solutions is to buy more books. And get more therapies. (And write another blog post.) I spend money on books and therapy like others spend their bucks on sailboats, jewelry, and mansions in Beverly Hills. In fact, because I did not have children, I can afford to spend my non-kids’ Harvard educations on books and therapies. That is a heck of a lot of books. And a lot of acupuncture, psychotherapy, massage, astrology, and energy intuitive work (aka: therapies). Right?

Just today, I received a new stack.

They came from my favorite Oregon independent bookstore. Under the Sky We Make by Kimberly Nicholas is subtitled How to Be Human in a Warming World. The author is “a leading global sustainability scientist.” Then there is Sensitive is the New Strong: The Power of Empaths in an Increasingly Harsh World by Anita Moorjani. Self-explanatory. My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem is described as “…a call to action for Americans to recognize that racism is not only about the head, but also about the body…” Whole Brain Living: The Anatomy of Choice and the Four Characters That Drive Our Life by Jill Bolte Taylor, recommended by a client. And finally, Love After 50, by journalist Francine Russo.

(photo by joelvalve, Unsplash)

Mind you, I haven’t read these books yet, so I am not recommending them. Just letting you know these are my latest angst reducers. (not to mention the satisfaction of supporting my independent bookstore) You might notice there are no novels listed. I do love a good novel or a great memoir like Suleika Jaouad’s Between Two Kingdoms. It is just that I read quite a bit more nonfiction and these are my most recent acquisitions.

Of course, if you actually have kids and you need to save for their actual college educations, you can still soothe yourself with trips to your library. And if you are lonely in your angstification, join a Silent Book Club and read with other existential angsters, otherwise known as rainforest-minders. I hear some of these groups are starting to meet again in person.

What about therapies?

When it comes to therapies, there really ought to be a library, too. Right? You could go to your library and borrow a therapist for three weeks for free. But then, how would I earn a living? (Note: There are often lower cost psychotherapies at agencies and universities. Many good therapists have sliding scales and they ought to all provide some pro bono services. It doesn’t hurt to ask. You could tell them I said it would be an easy way for them to contribute to improving life on planet earth.) Anyway, my point is that working on yourself via various therapies will not only soothe your worried soul, but it can also give you the healing, confidence, hope, and direction you need to take action around the existential issues we are all facing today and that are angsting you out.

Isn’t that handy?

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To my bloggEEs: Tell us what books you are reading these days. What therapies are you trying? What soothes your existential angst? Thank you for being here and being part of my existential solution. Much love to you.

(Another note: I just wrote an article on gifted clients in therapy for an online website for therapists. So when you do find the right psychotherapist or acupuncturist or bodyworker or healer or astrologer, hand them this article. And speaking of books, if you haven’t read mine yet, whatcha waitin’ fer?)


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“If I Admit I Am Gifted, I Will Have To Do Something Great” (A Rainforest Mind In Austria)

Has this crossed your mind? If you are gifted, you need to do something great? Create a better world? Well. I am here to tell you that it is sort of true. Sorry. But it does not have to be insanely great. It can just be kinda great. Or somewhat great. Or relatively great. Or great-ish.

Before you get all freaked out on me, let me explain.

I was talking with a wonderful woman in Austria the other day. She was having a hard time acknowledging her giftedness. Like many of you, she kind of garbled the word when she said it. Mggifffttd. Even though she found my quiz to be incredibly revealing and she scored extremely high on the test in the book The Gifted Adult, she was still not sure.

(photo courtesy of Alina Sofia, Unsplash)

But I saw so many signs. Here they are:

~ Ava is an electrical engineer and teaches engineering students. Her students do not always appreciate her. She is assuming they are as capable as she is. She doesn’t realize that what is common sense to her, may actually be confusing to them. They may need her to slow down and repeat her explanations more than once.

~ Ava spends extra time giving her students detailed feedback about assignments. She is particularly conscientious and empathetic.

~ She is an avid reader and researcher and has so many interests, she is often overwhelmed. Ava found me through an article I wrote on Emilie Wapnick’s site, the Puttyverse. She has since joined their community of multipotentialites to get support for managing her interests and choosing directions.

~ One of Ava’s favorite things to do is explore AI. On her own. For fun. To reassure her, I told her that the definition of fun for an RFM is not the same as for the masses. She was also learning Sanskrit in her spare time and had an emotional response to the beauty of robotic theory.

Have I convinced you yet that Ava is Mggiffttd? Have I convinced Ava?

There’s more.

~ Ava does not like small talk. She told me she is so relieved that when she is at the hair dresser, she can read instead of chatting about the latest neighborhood scandal.

~ Off and on throughout her life, she has been called arrogant.

~ Ava loved her seventh grade math teacher who appreciated her advanced abilities and helped her enroll at the university for math classes.

~ Colleagues talk to her and repeat themselves because they think she is not understanding them. Sure they are speaking in her non-native tongue but what is actually happening is she is thinking ahead of them and of the implications of what they are saying.

~ Ava finishes an assignment at work that is supposed to last 8 hours in 6. She feels guilty if she spends the rest of the time doing something for herself.

There is plenty of evidence, then, that Ava has a rainforest mind. Right?

But then, in our latest conversation, Ava shared her dilemma. She admitted she might still be denying her giftedness because she believes she would have to achieve eminence or win a Pulitzer or change the world if she was so smart. And that pressure to achieve would be just too much to bear.

Oh.

Of course.

Pressure to achieve. Pressure to live up to your potential. Pressure to win, to be the smartest one, to know it all. To make a difference on the planet.

The pressure is real. If you are so smart, they say, why aren’t you rich, famous, inventing the next iPhone, and solving homelessness, pandemics, racism, and the climate crisis?

No wonder Ava is not sure she is gifted.

So here is what I think.

You were born with a rainforest mind for a reason. Your job is to figure out what that reason is. And then live out that purpose in the best way you can.

How? What activities, skills, and topics open your heart and bring your life meaning, fulfillment, and maybe even joy? You may need to experiment and explore to answer this. It could take some time because there are so many things. That’s OK. Maybe environmental law? Climate science? AI Ethics? Medical intuition? ArtPoetryMusic? Dance therapy? Energy healing? Politics? Use that super creative brain of yours to turn them into a career path(s) or hobbies or nonprofits or podcasts or books or a political campaign or blog or parenthood or food cart or a unique-to-your-quirky-self side hustle.

Be sure to include ‘spread more love’ in your mission statement.

And maybe it is as simple as that. You were born to spread more love.

So do it. And be gifted.

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To my bloggEEs: What thoughts, feelings, questions, and inspirations does this post stir up? I so appreciate all of you. And thank you to Ava for sharing herself with us.

(Note: In case you missed it, I am linking here to a new experimental project of mine. I call it Sound Memes for Your Rainforest Mind. You might say this project is a glimpse into my exploration of singing and spirituality. The description on the site will tell you more. This project also might inspire you to take your own leap into that thing you have been avoiding for years for fear of being seen as a teensy weensy bit beyond the pale. Or extremely outlier-ish. Or even weirder than everyone thought. OK? Do it. Be gifted.)


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Are You Ready To Admit You Are Gifted? Yes? What, Then, Are The Benefits?

Many of my clients are still not sure they are gifted. Truth be told, neither am I. So, I am wondering if I explain the reasons you ought to identify as gifted, maybe more of you would be able to accept it. Or believe it. Or even celebrate it. Maybe I would, too. And then we could move on from there. To living our meaningful, purposeful, authentic lives. To using our gifted traits for good!

The Benefits of Admitting You Are Gifted

~ You stop pathologizing your gifted traits.

(photo courtesy of Diego Rosa, Unsplash)

~ You get clearer about your deep, wide, unending, analytical thinking that comes naturally and is beneficial and that people, including you, call overthinking. It is not over. It is not under. It is just your style of thinking. You will distinguish this from rumination, your tendency to worry, because your very active, creative mind can think of multiple catastrophic scenarios, especially if you are a parent. This distinction will help you know when you need to chill (apply self-soothing techniques) versus when you are free to dive (research the hell out of something).

~ It will get easier to make decisions because you will understand how your mind easily conjures up complexities and variables within variables. Not to mention your sense of social responsibility that can complicate your choices. Knowing these tendencies will help you move ahead a bit sooner. Decisions will be a little less fraught.

~ You will realize that your random, divergent, nonlinear thinking style is not ADHD. Your visually sensitive desire for clean surfaces and color-coded sweaters and alphabetized books is not OCD. Your emotionally intense moods are not bipolar disorder. Your sensitivity to clothing textures, food tastes, loud sounds, and violent images, and your desire to tell everyone about your obsession with brain specimen coasters is not autism spectrum disorder. (OK. This is not to say that you can’t be gifted and any one of these other things, too. You certainly can be. That would make you twice-exceptional or 2e. And that is fine, too. But a topic for another post.)

~ You will be better able to find appropriate friends because you will not try to fit in where you do not belong. You will let go of forcing yourself to make small talk. You will not get irritated when people say “how are you” and just want you to say “fine.” You will know how to spot other rainforest minds because you will know what to look for.

~ You will not force yourself to finish one book before you start the next one.

~ You will sort out what traits are the result of giftedness and what traits come from losses and/or traumas in childhood. You might need a therapist to guide you. Asking for help is not a weakness. Smart people need guidance, too.

~ You will set clearer boundaries with people because you know you can be compassionate while at the same time not take on burdens that are not yours. You will acknowledge that your giftedness does carry responsibility but it does not mean you have to rescue people who are obviously not asking to be saved, or people who have their different paths to walk. You will be clearer about what you can control and what you can not control.

~ You will relax your fears around disappointing others because you will apply all of that love, compassion, and acceptance you give to family, friends, and suffering humans everywhere, to yourself as well.

~ You will not freak out when your intuition is accurate and when you feel your connection to a powerful Source of Love and Light.

When you finally admit to yourself that you have a rainforest mind, that you are, indeed, gifted, then, you will be freer to follow your true paths because you will be better able to know where you need to go. You will feel more connected to yourself and what you are here to do and you will look for the right resources for support. You will be more open to receiving love and the sweetness of the larger Universe, of the invisible world. You will be more able to live your meaningful, purposeful, authentic life and to use your gifted traits for the benefit of yourself, your family, your community, and your world.

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To my bloggEEs: I will believe it if you will! Let us know your thoughts, feelings, and questions. Much love and gratitude! (And thank you to the client who inspired this post.)


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Do Not Stop Caring — Fifteen Reminders For Tender-Hearted Smart People

Do not stop caring. No matter if your co-workers scoff at you for your idealistic enthusiasm.

(photo courtesy of Kevin Quezada, Unsplash)

Do not stop caring. Ignore the cynics and pessimists who say all is lost.

Do not stop caring. Remind yourself that the truly intelligent ones are the optimists-with-ideas

Do not stop caring. Even when your colleagues and family members suggest that smart people do not love so indiscriminately.

Do not stop caring. When your empathy has you exhausted, take breaks and fill yourself back up.

Do not stop caring. If you have been told that the masculine thing to do is to toughen up. (Are we still saying that in 2021?) Give that little child in you a big hug and tell them tenderness is the real strength.

Do not stop caring. If you have been told that the feminine thing to do is to be quiet and look pretty. (Are we still saying that in 2021?) Give that little child in you a big hug and tell them to start singing their songs, loudly and with abandon.

Do not stop caring. Even if you are the only one you know who sees deeply into the complexity of the situation. Even if humans are always disappointing you.

Do not stop caring. You are an art-work-in-progress. You do not need to be perfect. You can not please everyone; you are not supposed to.

Do not stop caring. Remember that song? Measure your life in love.

Do not stop caring. Even when you are ready to quit because everyone is depending on you and you are so tired of it. Remember that setting boundaries and having limits are both very healthy and necessary behaviors. Even if you are able to do the thing, that does not mean you have to do the thing.

Do not stop caring. Remember to let your spiritual practice, Nature, your Aunt Gretchen, and your trusty puppy Fido nourish you.

Do not stop caring. Even if you still haven’t found the right therapist and you are having a bad hair day.

Do not stop caring. You may be on the leading edge of exploring higher consciousness with your awareness, intuition, perception, and longing for justice for all races, religions, genders, sexual orientations, cultures, and ethnicities. Keep seeking other rainforest minds to join you in your vision.

Do not stop caring. Even if ordinary reality looks kinda bleak at times. Remember that non-ordinary reality also exists and it is quite amazing.

Do not stop caring. When you are not sure what actions to take to create a better world, ask your Heart what it wants to say and do. Trust your Heart.

And, if you need to get a boost for your overwhelmed, aching, languishing, tender heart, watch this powerful short video from the international kids video troupe, the World Hope Project. It will lift you up. (And for you Spanish speakers, here is Dear Mother Earth in Spanish!)

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To my dearest bloggEEs: Are you tired? Overwhelmed? Wondering what to do next? Let us know how you are doing. What are you thinking, feeling, and doing that helps you care when others don’t? Sending much love to you.


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Awareness, Awe, and Your Wild Rainforest Mind

(This post was inspired by the writer, visionary, and extraordinarily rainforest-minded Geneen Marie Haugen*)

…I grieve and wonder why so many of our human kin don’t seem to recognize the astonishing miracle of our mutual existence on this precious, exquisite, watery planet that we share not only with fantastically diverse cultures, but also with our companion communities of humpback whales, hummingbirds, giraffes. Is such experiential awareness and awe not available to all of us?…” Geneen Marie Haugen

(photo courtesy of Dev Asangbam, Unsplash)

Maybe not. Awareness and awe seem to exist at different levels and intensities for each of us. Our capacity for awareness and awe might be related to how curious, sensitive, intuitive, empathetic, and perceptive we are.

When you have a rainforest mind, though, you are guaranteed to be living with high levels of both.

Let me explain.

~ Awareness ~

There are many things you see, feel, know, and intuit that others don’t. You may not even realize this. You are normal to you. But when you run into a conflict with someone, it might be because something is obvious to you but not apparent to them. You may think they are lazy or just not paying attention. But it could be they are not seeing what you see. My example from the RFM quiz applies here: Do you see ecru, beige, sand, and eggshell when others see only white? You experience multiple layers and several subtleties. Complexities. Maybe you hear the buzzing florescent lights no one else hears. Or the chewing person in the theatre drives you crazy. Perhaps you grok the solution to the architectural design flaw before anyone else realizes there is a flaw. Or maybe you can tell by the way someone smells that they need a root canal.

These types of awarenesses may seem odd to the non-rainforest-minded among us. They may seem odd to you, too. But they actually come naturally with your larger capacity for being. For knowing.

~ Awe ~

Because of your deeper perceptions and your capacity to appreciate beauty and wonder, chances are you do not take life’s opportunities for granted. Of course, you get irritable, frustrated, despairing, fearful, and angry. You are not always grateful or spiritually in tune. But there may be a sense of awe that always lives in your heart. Geneen Marie Haugen‘s connection with Nature is such a prime example. Here she is describing water.

“…am still in a mad love trance with water, still dripping, still sensing the body of that muscular river: clear, deep, sinuous, insisting on a mutual embrace. A wild adoration of water…” GMH

See what I mean?

This is the intense experience of the rainforest-minded life.

Can you relate?

And yet. You may be exhausted by all of the intensity. You may feel terribly lonely if you are the only one you know who is in a “mad love trance with water.”

But your awareness, your capacity for awe, can also bring you visions of possibilities:

“…I can see a possible world where human ventures are created in accordance with living systems, where (bio)diversity is cherished, where all voices and pretenses are honored, where individual human beings are nourished and encouraged by their communities and by elders to bring forth their unique expressions and offerings. This world is so near that I can even smell and taste it. Millions–maybe even billions–of others have seen and felt the shimmers of a possible world, too…” GMH

Not only that:

“…The circumstances or places in which we find ourselves most radiantly alive almost certainly nourish the wild soul who inhabits the depths far below the surface of our ordinary, everyday consciousness. Tending and cultivating the emergences of the wild soul may be a primary way toward revitalizing human existence on this great planet.” GMH

So, dear rainforesters, keep noticing those shimmers.

And do not forget to carefully tend and cultivate your deeply radiant rainforest-y wild soul.

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To my bloggEEs: Can you relate to being aware and in awe? Let us know how this fits or does not fit in your life. What are the shimmers you are noticing? What are your thoughts? Feelings? Experiences? Questions? And, thank you so much to Geneen for sharing your wild soul with us!

*Geneen Marie Haugen, PhD, grew up as a free-range wildish kid with a run amok imagination.  She is a guide to the experiential, intertwined mysteries of nature and psyche with the Animas Valley Institute (www.animas.org) and has been on the faculty of the Esalen Institute, Schumacher College, and the Fox Institute for Creation Spirituality.  Her writing has appeared many publications including Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth; Thomas Berry: Dreamer of the Earth; Parabola; Kosmos Journal; Ecopsychology; The Artist’s Field Guide to Yellowstone, and others.  


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“The Problem, Officer, Is That My Sister Is An Intellectual…”* –A Quick Guide To Your Rainforest Mind

(*quote adapted from the inspiring talk Surviving as an Organizational Heretic ; by Carmen Medina TEDx talk)

(photo courtesy of Fabio Fistarol, Unsplash)

Have you been identified as the problem in your family? Is your finely tuned sensitivity, unending research, probing curiosity, exquisite empathy, passionate creativity, accurate intuition, in-depth analysis, sweet optimism, and driven social conscience, misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and mystifying?

Do your parents, siblings, teachers, therapists, friends, neighbors, and pets, look at you with wonder, or confusion, or anger, or fear, or jealousy, or awe? (OK. Maybe your pets look at you with, well, unconditional love. Unless they are cats. Cats may look at you with disdain. Not because you are gifted, though. But just because.) Do you reject the notion you are gifted because you know how much you don’t know or because you were not a straight-A student or because it feels arrogant, elitist, and unfair?

I thought so.

Then, of course, there is the pressure. Oh, the pressure. If you are so smart, then, well, you better reach your potential. Wasted potential is not an option. You ought to be great at everything you try at all times. Maybe even “insanely great.” Mistakes, then, become failures and failures are unbearable.  

No wonder you would like to hide out rather than shine too brightly. No wonder. But honestly? You can not really hide. Not really. You can try. But at some point, your rainforest mind will sneak out from under your cloak. The truth of who you are will be revealed. How? Well, for starters, it could be that any one or more of the following occur:

The foundation of your house finally cracks under the weight of all of those darn books. You can’t stop crying over nature’s fecundity.  It takes you 11 years to get through college because you keep changing your major, start two businesses, learn the Argentine tango, join the board of an arts organzation, travel to Nepal to lead treks, teach yourself watercolor painting, and write a screenplay. You still reread Jane Austen, Ursula LeGuin, and Toni Morrison, again and again. You raise a gifted child. You start a nonprofit, or three. You become an overworked, underpaid, and adored-by-your-students middle school teacher. You swoon over your fascination with fungi. You dive deeply into psychotherapy to heal from your traumatic childhood. (Yeah, I know. You thought I’d say, you win a Nobel prize. And, perhaps, you do that, too. But prizes are not required for rainforest mind membership.)

In other words, because you have a rainforest mind, you have an extra large, perhaps enormous, capacity to think, feel, know, perceive, analyze, evaluate, discern, observe, empathize, intuit, create, imagine, and love. All humans have these abilities to greater and lesser degrees, of course. Your capacities are just much deeper, wider, and multi-faceted. You experience layers and levels and complexities and controversies and visions and worries and energies and influences that others may not. 

This is not arrogant, elitist, or unfair.

It is just you.

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To my bloggEEs: Do you need to find more self-acceptance and understanding? If you experience conflict in your family or in other relationships, it could be, at least in part, because of these differences. Let us hear from you. Thank you for sharing your comments, feelings, thoughts, and questions. They add so much. Love to you! (Note: If you get a chance, watch Carmen Medina‘s TED talk. She explains how to create change in an organization and you can hear the whole story from her about what her brother said!)


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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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Face Your Demons. Slay Your Dragons. Mend Your Broken Heart.

“We all have the dark, ignorant shadow inside us. I have worked endlessly to reveal it and heal it in me.” ~ Anne Lamott

Psychotherapy has been described as the opportunity to explore with a compassionate, experienced guide what is often called the dark night of the soul. It is the journey to face your demons. Slay your dragons. Mend your broken heart.

photo courtesy of Timo Volz, Unsplash

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

Well, OK, maybe not fun. But necessary. Courageous. A way to unravel your family legacy of, say, abandonment, loss, abuse, trauma, and/or denial, and to make an actual contribution to world peace (I’m serious.) because you are no longer unconsciously re-enacting patterns set up by your crazy (not a technical term) or neurotic or abusive or delusional ancestors and projecting them onto innocent bystanders, including your children. In fact, you will, instead, be repairing the damage, disrupting the legacy, soothing your worn out nervous system, learning self-compassion, and discovering your particular path(s) to love and to creating a better world.

Granted, I am a psychotherapist, so I see most things through this lens. But I am guessing you will agree, we have a whole lot of unconscious, delusional, re-enactment going on these days. Some might say, we always have; it is just more obvious now. I would have to agree. And I recognize there are a lot of different opinions about how best to address the shadow side of humanity mayhem. In my view, there is no one particular right path or one answer for everyone. And yet. For those of you who see your own demons and dragons running amok, those of you who are brave enough to notice you do, in fact, have a broken heart to mend, this might be a journey you are ready to take.

What I have seen in myself and my clients as we dig ourselves out from under the rubble of our early lives (oh so many therapy metaphors!), is that you build a new foundation. You build a safe home where you can learn to trust and love yourself so you can trust and love others. Gradually, your outer life improves as your inner life is healed. And then, your rainforest mind is free to express itself in its fullest, overexcitable-est, idealistic-est, creative-est ways. I mean it.

Your ancestors will thank you. Your children will thank you. Your demons and dragons will run amok marathons for charitable causes.

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To my dearest bloggEEs: Just so you know, this is not an advertisement for my therapy services! I am only licensed to provide therapy in Oregon. (I do consult worldwide but that is not therapy.) Here is a short list of therapists to start your search. And, if you are not interested in therapy at this time (or if you have lost your job due to COVID), there are other ways to do inner work. Several of those resources are described in my first book. (If you want therapy but can not afford it, find a good person and ask for a sliding scale.)

If you have been particularly distressed by recent events in N. America, here are some encouraging words from Van Jones: “Breakdowns can lead to breakthroughs if you use them right. Maybe, just maybe, this much disunity can open the door for unity.” Here is an uplifting song: The Keep Going Song by the Bengsons. And here is an organization working to heal the divisions.

Let us know in the comments how you are doing (avoiding specific political rants–those are not really helpful here–but I surely understand the need to rant). Have you found a good therapist? What else do you do for self-healing? Have you found a furry friend? Do you wear your emotional support sweater? Do you let yourself cry? I am sending love to all of you to help you mend your broken hearts and to give you courage during these difficult times. Thank you for being here. Your love sustains me.