Deeper Dimensions Blog

Finding the center of strength within ourselves is in the long run the best contribution we can make to our fellow [humans]. ... One person with indigenous inner strength exercises a great calming effect on panic among people around him. This is what our society needs — not new ideas and inventions; important as these are, and not geniuses and super[humans], but persons who can "be", that is, persons who have a center of strength within themselves.
— Rollo May, in Man's Search for Himself

There is no authentic inner freedom that does not, sooner or later, also affect and change human history.
— Rollo May, in Freedom and Destiny

Welcome to my bloga blend of psychology, spirituality, literature, and life experience that explores the deeper dimensions of life, so that you can find the "center of strength within yourself" that leads you to experience "authentic inner freedom."

Because sometimes? Finding that one sentence that speaks to you at just the right time can make you feel the dawn of connection to your deepest self, and thus to the world. And our world needs you.

So whether you're looking for words to inspire, console, comfort, challenge, or teach, sit back and make yourself at home. I bet you'll find something that fits...

What Makes Us Real? Being Loved

I flick on the lamps in my waiting room and sweep the entryway doormats for the first time in two weeks. In the still quiet before my first client arrives, I plop down into my orange leather counseling chair and watch as the morning sunlight glows and shimmers on the moss-green walls. Breathing in, breathing out, I gather momentum for the long, full day ahead. Just before I rev into motion for the day, a wave of emotion surges through me. An ache in the center of my chest. An ache? Now? As I begin my first day back from […]

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Can Small Sadnesses Make the World a Better Place?

My adult son just visited us for a couple of weeks. He grocery-shopped for us. He cooked his own breakfast when he awoke later than we did. He picked up the pooch from doggie-daycare. During the day when I was seeing clients in my home office, the only way I could tell he existed was by hearing an occasional padded footstep or two as he gently moved about upstairs. When I did see him, he greeted me with a smile and a hug. Three days ago, he loaded up his van with his quirky possessions, including his newly purchased used […]

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Mother’s Day Grief and Gratitude: Notice and Remember to Make a Difference

Part of the “Strong People Grieve” Series   I recall my first Mother’s Day with tenderness. My baby boy was six weeks old, still waking to nurse throughout the night. I squealed with gratitude when my husband sent me back to bed for a nap. Later I woke to the smell of sizzling bacon, and discovered flowers next to my plate when I walked into the kitchen. My husband beamed with pride as he served breakfast with one arm and held the baby in the other.   Mother’s Day calls to mind scenes like this one. We imagine bouquets of […]

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Resilience—A New Grief Myth? Offering Fortitude as an Alternative to Sheryl Sandberg’s “Option B” Perspective on Grief

Part of the “Strong People Grieve” Series (This blog post is much longer than usual. The nature of the material warranted the length. Future posts will be shorter.) I had a hard time sleeping last week. I jolted awake with my heart pounding two or three times every night. Lying with eyes wide open in the dark, images of resilience tapped into a deep, old trauma. Resilience was setting off trauma? Isn’t that weird? Let me explain. All over the media last week, Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant splashed their message of resilience as an effective response to grief and […]

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I Want to Take Action, But I Don’t Know How: How Can I Make A Difference If I Haven’t Yet Found My Cause?

Our society is tumultuous right now. I’ve been conversing with a lot of clients, colleagues, and friends who share my distress about the fever-pitch levels of discord, disharmony, hatred, suspicion, and negativity that are swirling through our communities right now. In the middle of such painful uncertainty, I’m touched and inspired by the fact that so many people I know are refusing to succumb to the paralysis-inducing fear that this kind of societal negativity naturally evokes. They march, make phone calls, host postcard-writing parties, offer aid to immigrants, facilitate healing, examine their own biases, and lead idea-generating discussion groups. Yet […]

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Intrepid Explorations / Absent Feelings: Is it Possible to be Both Adventurous AND Emotionally Engaged?

Anyone who’s spent time with me has heard my strong opinions about how cruel American culture can be to people who are living through painful situations. Every day I witness how people whose circumstances force them to face death, illness, disability, accidents, violence, discrimination, etc. are hurt by our society’s relentless positive platitudes and fierce attachment to productivity. When grief or pain won’t pass quickly, our friends and coworkers are banished to back room support groups, or ushered toward medications and “treatments” for their “emotional problems.” Distorted American values—that insist on positive attitudes, achieving as much as possible as often […]

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Everybody Eventually Loses a Loved One: Do We All Grieve in the Same Way?

Part of the “Strong People Grieve” Series   Recently our family was hit by a series of losses. In quick succession, we lost three uncles—three different men who lived and loved and died within three unique worlds. Two of the uncles died at age 90 from causes related to aging—one died suddenly; one lingered. The third uncle was only 61 when he died of pancreatic cancer. Being intimately close to so many different loved ones who are grieving the deaths of these three incomparable men makes it particularly fitting for me to write about aspects of grief that are close […]

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HOW We Focus Attention Shapes Everything: Can We Learn to Pay Attention in New Ways?

Back in November, I had a special treat: I got to visit my brother- and sister-in-law’s tiny infant twins! I spent an entire day doing nothing but holding babies. My own kid is 23, so it had been a long time since I’d gotten to spend that much time with babies. And never before had I gotten to be so close to tiny baby twins. Since I’m no longer young and inexperienced (like I was with my own baby), and since I’m not the actual mother tasked with keeping these babies alive, and since I’ve spent some decades now reading […]

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Deep Learning Requires Struggle: So Where Does Play Fit In?

In my last blog post, I wrote about how much more fun I’ve had re-learning to play the piano by fooling around with the notes until they feel right, instead of trying to play all the notes perfectly(according to some external standard) the first time and every time. I’m excited about this discovery not only because I’m enjoying the learning process itself. But also because, according to current stuff we’re learning about the brain, the kind of deep practice where I make mistakes and correct them over and over again, makes learning itself deeper and more integrated. In his enlightening book […]

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Learning How To Learn: Who Knew That Learning A New Skill Could Be FUN?!

I discovered something amazing this morning: I discovered that I have finally–after more than half a century–learned how to learn. I discovered that learning is about, well, discovery! I grew up in a house where playing music was a deeply held value. My parents bought a grand piano before they had the money to buy living room furniture. I have fond little-kid memories of playing “campout” with my sister beneath the big black piano that held court at the end of a long, empty room. But my memories become less fond when I recall learning how to play that darn […]

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