Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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What’s Joy Got To Do With It?

Photo by Preslie Hirsch on Unsplash

My 29-year-old, almost-too-pretty, super smart acupuncturist told me I need to find joy.

Joy shmoy,” I said. Not to her. She’s so young.

But, really. Joy? When California is burning? Polar ice caps are melting?  Birds are disappearing?

Maybe especially because of these events.

I was telling my almost-too-pretty super smart acupuncturist, let’s call her Kat, that I am interested in finding a male companion, a partner, a mate. I have been single for about 5 years now and am enjoying my sweet life. I have no complaints. In fact, I am mastering the art of gratitude. Being older, it is easy to be grateful for what is NOT happening. No slipped discs. No auto-immune illnesses. No artificial hips. No hearing loss. Well, maybe a little hearing loss. So, I feel a little guilty that I am asking for more. (But not too guilty. Guilty shmilty.)

And, being a psychotherapist, I am quite clear that partnering is not some ideal, smooth, romantic ride into the sunset. Quite clear.

And yet.

I was telling Kat that I missed the deep intimacy that partnership can provide. The tracking that your person does of your whereabouts. The thrilling adventure of loving another human in particularly dynamic, vulnerable, and fascinating ways. The comfort of having your mate with you during tumultuous times.

And yet.

I know that I have been a role model for some of you. Those of you who are looking for a single, childfree, older, somewhat-accomplished female. And if that is who I continue to be into my elderhood, well, that will be fine. Excellent, really. After all, there is love in my life. Great love. Friends. Family. Clients. Blog followers. (You know who you are.) Fans of my books. Spiritual energies. Acupuncturists.

But wait. What does all of this have to do with my rainforest mind? you ask. Has this blog become something else while I wasn’t looking? Is Paula using her blog for her very own Match.com? 

Well, hey. It is my blog, doncha know.

So, maybe. A little.

But here’s the thing.

I think Kat was saying that if I go deeply enough into my own soulfulness. Below the loneliness, the anxiety, the distress about the planet. Deep into the center of my center. I will find the Love and the Unity. Of the Universe and Everything. And joy. Joy will be lurking there, too. Waiting for me to find it. And to spread it around. I think Kat believes that the joy-spreading may be the energetic call that my man needs to show up. And who am I to argue with a 29-year-old almost-too-pretty super smart acupuncturist? I mean really. Anything is possible.

Carolyn North, writer and visionary describes her take on joy:

“…It is about knowing in our whole beings the deep joy of the Mystery that underlies all phenomena of our physical world, the Mystery that is love itself. It is an energy, a vibration, a consciousness, a gratitude, a feeling that we all have intuitive access to…Once we recognize the high frequency ‘feel’ of this joy, we can find our way back to it easily when those who are threatened by it try to regain control by shaming us…All we need is fifty-one percent of the people accessing the higher vibrations of authentic joy to save us all from going over the brink…Just fifty-one percent of us who know how to love can save the world.”

So, let us all find joy. It lurks in the center of your center, too. Trust me on this one.

And if you run into my soul’s companion while you are spreading joy, well, you know where to find me.

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To my bloggEEs: Are there ways you tap into joy? Nature? Laughing children? Music? Researching obscure topics for wikipedia entries? Martial arts? Meditating? Blogging? Playing matchmaker? Let us know in the comments. Your contributions make this blog so much better. Thank you, as always, for being here.

(Note: If you are having a lot of trouble finding joy because of the climate crisis, I just started reading Terry Patten’s book A New Republic of the Heart: An Ethos for Revolutionaries. It looks good.)

(Another note: If you are having trouble finding joy because you are grappling with trauma from your past, read this post and check out the.holistic.psychologist on Instagram.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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

photo courtesy of Dino Reichmuth, Unsplash

Remember this from Star Trek? “Beam me up, Scotty.” Sometimes don’t you just want to be beamed up?

Me, too.

Why?

Super Sensitivity. Extreme Empathy. Pressure. Expectations. Overthinking. Perfectionism. Intuition. Loneliness. Social responsibility. Bad Hair Days.

Not to mention childhood trauma. Anxiety. Depression. Despair. Climate change. Ignorance. Racism. anti-Semitism. Sexism. Poverty. Narcissistic politicians. And more.

It can be overwhelming. You can feel powerless.

What can one person do? Even one super smart, sensitive, empathetic person?

Here’s an idea. Something you can do.

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. 

Here are some examples. Places to start:

~ Have you heard of the Craftivist Collective? They describe themselves this way: “Our gentle protest approach to craftivism aims to change the world with deliberate, thoughtful actions that provoke reflection and respectful conversation instead of aggression and division.” A similar group is called Badass Herstory. Check them out. I had no idea that craftivism was a thing until a client told me about it. Join them or start a different collective. Maybe a Solar Power Collective or a Gleaners Group. (You just might meet other RFMs there!)

~ I’m guessing that you know about Maria Popova and Brain Pickings. Imagine making a living researching and writing about everything you are curious about with no limits on depth and complexity. She has almost 5 million followers on Facebook. Who says there aren’t any super smart people out there?? Is she influential? You betcha.

~ Start a Silent Book Club in your town. Here’s their description. “We started Silent Book Club because reading with friends is awesome. We love hearing about what people are reading (often in their other book clubs) and we think it’s important to put down our phones and be social. Real, live, breathing-the-same-air social, not hearting-you-on-Instagram social.” Maybe this doesn’t sound like a service project but you never know who you might be saving from despair or desperation. Spreading the love of reading has got to be a good thing.

~ Start a mentorship program in your local middle school. Then let it spread throughout your school district.

~ Get involved with an organization helping refugees around the world.

~ Use art as a way to influence others. Explore organizations that promote the power of art such as this one: … persuade by creating moving experiences that prompt people to question the world as it is, imagine a world as it could be, and join together to make that new world real…”

~ Join with climate activists in your state to find out how to take action that will influence policy and promote real change. Read DeMocker’s book for many suggestions on how to begin.

~ Choose to do some deep psychotherapy around family of origin behaviors, patterns, and beliefs. Stop the cycle of abuse in your family line. Find your strength and your voice so that you can relate to others from your own self-compassionate place.

~ Start a blog and write a book. Become a psychotherapist and work with rainforest-minded souls.

And, remember.

You’ll need nourishment and nurturing so that you can build your social responsibility plan. Here is some good advice from Maria Popova.

Seek out what magnifies your spirit. Patti Smith, in discussing William Blake and her creative influences, talks about writers and artists who magnified her spirit — it’s a beautiful phrase and a beautiful notion. Who are the people, ideas, and books that magnify your spirit? Find them, hold on to them, and visit them often. Use them not only as a remedy once spiritual malaise has already infected your vitality but as a vaccine administered while you are healthy to protect your radiance.”   Maria Popova

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To my dearest bloggEEs: What people, ideas, and books “magnify your spirit?” Let us know your feelings around social responsibility and if you have project ideas that you want to explore. (Note: I will be deleting any comments that are rants, even though there is a lot to rant about, or that call out specific individuals or political parties. Thank you for understanding.) Sending you all much love and spirit magnification.

 


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Life is Calling You to Embrace Your Intense, Insightful, Introspective Path(s)

photo courtesy of Jeremy Thomas, Unsplash

“Your unusual life path is a summon from Life.  Intense people are positioned to be the game-changers, the truth-tellers, and the fierce lovers of the world. By nature, you are the pioneers and the questioners and the progressives whose role in the world is to bring forth the realities which others do not yet see or understand.  You can deny it, fight it, but in the end, you would not be able to deny or suppress your unique insights and perspectives. Although you might not have chosen this path, it is your path.”  Imi Lo* 

It is not a mistake that you are here now. You with your glowing rainforest mind. You may think that you don’t belong here. That you’re a great pretender. Certainly not a “game-changer” or “truth teller.” You may feel small, insignificant, not particularly super intelligent. Overpowered by what looks like reality. Unable to trust your heart. To express what’s obscured by your fears.

But, my darling, Life is calling you to stop hiding. Life wants you to shine your light. Life says, what have you got to lose? 

Easy for Life to say.

You may feel that you have a lot to lose. I understand. Losing control comes to mind. Safety. Financial stability. Hair products. You may be anxious. There’s a lot of that going around these days. Fear of ridicule. Of loneliness. Of failure. Of success. Of politicians. Did I mention loss of control?

And, if you’ve grown up in a chainsaw family, well, you might not even know that you have “unique insights and perspectives” to suppress. You might think you’re just a freak, a weirdo, or a lost cause. You might have to battle depression, disabling anxiety, or chronic pain. You might need safety and control because you had neither growing up.

But Life has a plan for you.

And there is no better time to open to it than right now. Because you are needed. Your compassion. Your questions. Your sensitivities. Your curly free-range hair. Your vision. Your sense of humor.

And even though you might feel an urgency to act, it’s OK to take it slow. To be cautious. This is not about retraumatization. This is beyond time. This is about knowing the Truth of who you are. Feeling into that knowing. Becoming yourself. Being on your particular path(s). Not the path of your parents. Or their parents. Not the path of your Facebook friends. Or the uncurious. Or the surface-skimmers.

Your path(s). Your you-ness. The deep dive track. The intensely introspective route. The I’m-going-in-and-not-sure-if-I’ll-survive-it road.

Because whether you know it or not, “you are positioned to be [one of] the game-changers, the truth-tellers, and the fierce lovers of the world.” You are designed “to bring forth the realities which others do not yet see or understand.” 

Time to answer LIfe’s call.

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*Imi Lo is a writer and psychotherapist in the UK. Her insightful book, Emotional Sensitivity and Intensity, was published in May 2018. Thank you, Imi.

To my bloggEEs: Just so you know, I wrote this post for myself as well as for you! What do you think? What were your thoughts and feelings as you read this? As always, thank you for being here. Just a little reminder, my book is a good resource for you and your teenage children to help you celebrate and facilitate your deep-diving, intense, introspective, truth-telling, game-changer lives.

 


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If I’m So Smart, Why Do I Feel So Lost and Alone?

photo courtesy of Morgan Basham

There are times when you just want to scream.

Even though you’re a pacifist. Even though your instinct is to be compassionate and understanding. Even though you have empathy that overwhelms you. There are those days when you just want to say, “Why are there so many f—ed up, insensitive, clueless, exasperating people in the world?”

Am I right?

But this is not something that you can say to your cousin Randy, your neighbor Millie, or your friendly plumber, Rupert. Even if you’ve been unsure of your intelligence. Even if you think you’re also insensitive, clueless, and exasperating. You wonder how your coworkers can take so much time solving a problem when the answer is obvious to you. You don’t understand how your relatives can be satisfied watching mindless TV all afternoon or reading one book every few months. You question why your friends stay in one job for thirty years. You don’t grok why introspection isn’t as important as football.

Some of you may have known all along that you were gifted. You may have been frustrated since you were five with the kids who still couldn’t read Harry Potter or who didn’t know the earth’s distance from the sun. You may have had a hard time not throwing a chair when your teacher told you that you must wait for the others to catch up, again. You may have wondered why teachers didn’t appreciate your corrections of their spelling or why they ignored your raised hand. Perhaps, you felt that it was your duty to explain to the other kids how they weren’t playing the games correctly. You were sure they’d appreciate your direction.

They didn’t.

And now, as an adult, you’re still frustrated and lonely. Because you have high standards for accuracy, justice, and quality, you are enraged irritated by the shoddy workmanship of your contractor, by the irresponsibility of your supervisors, or by the petty arguments among your colleagues and relatives. How could they not know what is so obvious to you? How could they miss all of those details? How could they not care about the environmental impact of their actions? How could they be lacking in empathy, awareness, and sensitivity? How could they not consider the multiple many-faceted implications of life, the universe, and everything instead of their ridiculously simplistic, narrow-minded assumptions?

Perhaps, you have felt lost and alone for a long, long time.

I hear you.

What can you do?

  • Use that vast capacity you have for knowing, thinking, and feeling to expand your connection to sensation in your body-mind-heart. You might find great pleasure just by sinking into yourself and your connection to peace and beauty within and around you. If you need guidance, try a mindfulness app, a spiritual practice, Judith Blackstone’s Realization Process, or hikes in the forest or by the ocean. Feel your connection to Everything. Let your intuitive, empathic abilities expand.
  • Get enough psychotherapy so that you calm the fears of your traumatized inner child. Then, imagine that you have one year to live. What do you just have to do? What do you have to create? What is your purpose here on earth? What do you want to leave for the next generations?

We humans can be extraordinarily frustrating, irritating, fearful, narrow-minded, and confusing. You may still want to throw a chair.

I get it.

Let us scream together. Then, take a moment. Breathe. Feel your connection to rainforest minds around the world.

To the Universe.

To Everything.

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To my bloggEEs:  What are some ways that you take care of yourself when you experience exasperating humans and difficult events? In what ways are you developing your intuition? How are you building your self-confidence so that you can take action in the world? Do you have a spiritual practice where you feel a connection to Everything?

Thank you to the reader and client who inspired this.

I’ve started experimenting with recording my posts. If you’d like to listen, click here. But don’t worry. I won’t stop writing. I love it too much. And, I love you too much.

 

 


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A Love Letter to You and Your Rainforest Mind

Me in Paris airport 2005 throwing you a kiss

Dear One.

Yes, you. With that dazzlingly intense rainforest mind.

You have so much Courage.

To be here, on this planet, during such tumultuous times. To stay sensitive, empathetic, and compassionate. To perceive and feel the human layers of suffering, despair, rage, fear, and sorrow. To stay open to your deepest emotions. To speak out against injustice. To develop your intuitive abilities even when not-knowing might make your life easier.

You have so much Strength.

To be willing to face your own demons. To persistently uncover the painful patterns of shame, depression, and anxiety handed down to you from your parents and their parents before them. To unravel the legacy of abuse within your ancestral line so that the generations after you experience greater self-acceptance and inner peace. To understand and process your own fear and rage. To choose the extraordinarily long hard road of introspection and analysis so that you might live authentically and compassionately and so that all children might have better lives.

You have so much Intellect.

To allow your curiosity to run free through the multiple pathways of your effervescent layers. To gobble up as much learning as you can manage. To know that “you think too much” translates into “you breathe too much” and, no, there can never be too much air thinking. To use your capacity to problem solve for healing yourself, your family, and your community while maintaining healthy boundaries and limits and time for the seventeen books piled next to your bed.

You have so much Sensitivity.

To appreciate and trust the intricate beauty and power of the natural world. To maintain your idealism and optimism in spite of the evidence. To let your awarenesses enhance your creativity. To persist in finding your particular art form as a way to express and soothe your sweet soul and the soul of the world.

You have so much Spirit.

To keep looking for Love in spite of the bullies, in spite of your difficulty communicating with the multitudes of slower, simpler thinkers. In spite of your lonely heart. To expand your awareness into the invisible world. To receive the powerful Love and guidance from the Universe. To build your particularly rainforest-y spiritual practice. To allow yourself to become all that you can be; More than you ever thought possible.

More than you ever thought possible.

Dear One. Yes, you. With that dazzlingly intense rainforest mind.

We. Love. You.

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To my bloggEEs: I am so moved by each of you as I read your comments and your emails and as I meet you online and in my practice. I’m so honored to be able to provide you with support. This love letter comes from me with a little help from my own spiritual network of Guides. I have a sense that there are loving Beings in the Universe who are cheering us on. They’re saying thank you, right now, as we speak.

And for a little treat, I want to show you one of my “art forms.” I found an old video of me taking a tango lesson from 2004. As you know, I recommend the Argentine tango for RFMs looking to find each other and connect. Here’s a chance to see what it’s like! Enjoy!

 


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Dealing with Anxiety When You Are a Highly Sensitive Overthinker*

photo courtesy of Toa Heftiba, Unsplash

There are so many reasons to be anxious these days. So many reasons. What’s a sensitive, empathetic, intuitive, analytical person to do?

I don’t need to tell you what there is to be anxious about. You are quite aware of the little things and the big things and all of the things in between. You could create a very long list. Your capacity for super-thinking and your vast imagination, enormous empathy, and non-stop brain has already added 14 items to your list since you started reading this post.

And, that’s not even taking into consideration that you might be a parent. A person with children. You can just double and triple and quadruple your list of reasons if you made the choice to bring a little vulnerable being into the world. Not that I’m judging you. But, really. What were you thinking? And you thought you were a worrier before you had kids.

I’ve written about this before here and here because it’s such a real phenomenon for people with finely tuned nervous systems, which you know you have. Not to mention, your capacity to feel the suffering of neighbors, trees, children everywhere, and your lonely Aunt Lucille.

Not only that. If you had to start worrying when you were two years old because your mother was screaming obscenities at you and your father was unreliable and self-absorbed, for example, well then, you likely have developed a remarkable ability to become anxious at a moment’s notice. Or to remain anxious all of the time on all occasions (called hypervigilance**) Just in case. You never know. You need to be prepared for the worst.

So, my darlings, you see?  Stop berating yourself for your worrying ways. Stop pressuring yourself to be cool, calm, and collected because you’re so smart. There are reasons for your extraordinary capacity to worry.

I have a suggestion.

In addition to all of the tools and techniques listed in the many articles out there, here’s another that I’ve recently started to practice more regularly. That I’ve found surprisingly helpful.

Here it is.

You know how fear tends to make you want to freeze or shrink or hide or push it away? Instead, notice it and be with it. Where do you feel it in your body? Hello, anxiety. Then, remember that it’s just a part of you. And you are bigger than it. Imagine yourself expanding. Breathe and expand. As odd as it sounds, welcome the anxiety. Bring it on, baby! And keep expanding. You will begin to feel your higher Self and the Love that is in you and around you. Breathe. You might start to notice that you feel lighter and more peaceful. The fear may still be there but you’ve become so large that it becomes insignificant. Imagine that!

The more you practice this, the easier it will be to get into this more peaceful state. And if you want to take it one step further, turn it into a tonglen practice (from Pema Chodron) where you breathe in all of the anxiety all over the world (Seriously!), and you breathe out Love to everyone, including yourself.

Including yourself.

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To my bloggEEs: I’m breathing Love to you right now, my little chickadees. Tell us about your anxiety and your worries. What do you do that is helpful? If you try this technique, let us know how it goes. There may be other, more concrete things, to try first. Sometimes, you need to address the basics first and get spiritual later. Trust yourself. If you grew up with chainsaws, give yourself time to heal via many paths.

*For the perfectionists among us: Is overthinker one word? Should it be hyphenated? Is it two words? I hyphenated it in another post so  should I be consistent? Am I over-thinking over thinking? Oh, brother.

** If you have an extreme case of anxiety, due to early trauma, medication may be an option as well. Sometimes the bio-chemical help is needed so that you can manage your life enough to be able to benefit from the other techniques.

 

 

 

 


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Finding Your *Wild Self* and Living Your Deeper Life

photo courtesy of Caique Silva, Unsplash

“The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.”
Clarissa Pinkola Estés

What is your door to your “wild Self?”

Now would be a good time to find that door and walk through it. Don’t you agree?

But first, you might need to understand who your wild Self is.

Get your journal and your imagination and write/draw. Your wild Self is your Essence, your Authenticity, your Wisdom. Some people call it your higher Self.

I know.

How in heaven’s name are you supposed to describe that? Much less feel it. Or be it.

And if you’re anything like me, there may be fear involved.

Strange as it sounds, I think we can be afraid to be our Big Selves. Even though we know that it’s where our Wisdom lives, there’s something scary about that much expansion. Maybe it’s fear of the unknown. Or: Fear of the loss of our small ego self. Fear of going crazy. Fear of loneliness. Fear of loss of control. Fear of being seen. Fear of being overwhelmed by all of the suffering on the planet. Fear of too much love.

So many opportunities for fear.

Here’s an idea: What if you talk to your fear and see what it has to say. Write a conversation in your journal. Ask your fear to tell you about itself and to tell you what it needs so that you can grow bigger and wilder. Bigger and wilder in your particular unique way. Not what everyone says you’re supposed to be. Not who everyone else is. But who you know in your heart is the real you. The real, sensitive, smart, curious, intense, rainforest-y you.

This process may take time. Examining your fear requires patience and courage. Maybe you’ll need a guide: A psychotherapist. A good book. A meditation practice. A hot fudge sundae.

Take your time. This may be some of your most important work. When you expand into Authenticity, you tap into a larger level of awareness. What Dr. Larry Dossey calls One Mind. The place where he says we are more than our human selves, where we are transcendent, where we experience our spiritual intelligence. The place where we open to our life’s purpose.

See what I mean?

Take a breath. And another.

When the timing feels right, come back to your journal and your imagination. Feel into your heart. Do you see a door? Describe the door.

Are you ready to open it?

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To my bloggEEs: You may have noticed that I’m spending some time with these complex questions of spirituality and deep inner work. I feel drawn here because of my own process and because of the tumultuous events on the planet. Let us know what you think and how you understand Self and spirituality. Are you feeling pressure to “use your gifts?” Are you wondering how you might have a larger impact? Do you feel fear about expanding into a more wild Self? Thank you for sharing your feelings, thoughts, and questions. Thank you for being here.

(Note: If the idea of the Self intrigues you, there’s a model of therapy you might want to explore called Internal Family Systems. Find out more about it here. One resource for finding your life’s purpose would be Martha Beck.)