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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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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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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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Honoring Our Questions: Can Curiosity, Turned Inward, Be a Guide?

The whole purpose of this blog is to explore the questions of life. For a couple of decades now, I’ve drawn inspiration from the Rainer Maria Rilke quote that spawned the title of this blog, the quote that graces the landing page: Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. . . . Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, . . . you will […]

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