Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Category: Book Quote Commentary Page 2 of 37

History – The Awareness of Yesterday

Have you ever finished reading a book and you’re lost in thought, so much so that you don’t know where to start talking about how it affected you or what it even said? That’s where I am right now with The Opening of the American Mind by Lawrence W. Levine. There was so much that made sense, so much that I didn’t realize, that I’m sitting here staring at my notes thinking, “Now what?”

I typically don’t summarize a book at all, so why am I trying to do it with this one? Maybe because there was so much in it that I want other people to know, and I know no one else is going to read it. THAT’S what’s bothering me. I’m trying to get all the details about this book through to you, just in case my posts are all you ever read of it. That’s not going to work.

In hindsight, the moment I realized how much I was highlighting and making notes in this book, I should have slowed down and written something about each hour I had read, instead of powering through and scarfing it all up. Smaller bites mean better digestion, right? But I was in a mood to just read over the weekend though, so here we are.

Sigh…this is what happens when you love a book’s contents too much. We live and learn.

I’ll just go through the book, start throwing down some quotes, and see where we end up. Ok?

The first part of the book established his confusion about people’s feelings about changes in university curriculum.

Part I: A Historian in Wonderland – Through the Looking Glass

“Finding evidence of radicalism in the very title of books whose substance is not examined has become standard practice.”

This was true in 1996 when the book was written, and true now, maybe more so since the invention and proliferation of social media. Now we ban the content of books by our assumptions based on the title, and we condemn an idea based on the headline of an article or the party affiliation of the person who wrote it.

“Should their education include the lives and culture of everyday people? A traditional liberal arts education, Roger Kimball has asserted, ‘is unquestionably elitist in the sense that it focuses on the pinnacle of human cultural and intellectual achievement,’”

The next chapter goes into this more, but I had no idea that curriculum had changed that much over the last 100 years. The books and histories that we use in our education systems were all based on the winners of our society, the wealthy and powerful. Before the 60’s, we didn’t study anyone else. Why? This book will tell you.

“The current emphasis on social and cultural history which so troubles contemporary critics is no more permanent than were past emphases on political, intellectual, economic, or diplomatic history. Neither is it any more – or less – politically motivated. It reflects, as earlier historiographies have reflected, the questions, problems, issues that touch our time and help us make sense of the world. It also reflects the fact that history today is written, as it has always been written, by human beings who are part of their own societies and cultures.”

Until the early 20th century, a Bachelor of Science was not popular, looked down on, and not every school allowed it. Study new ideas and thought? Why? All those ideas were based on the ancient texts. Study those. And there were nasty terrible debates and arguments about that then.

Here’s an idea I thought was fascinating: history isn’t written by the people living at the time. When I write about what’s happening around me right now, I’m not writing history. I’m writing memoir. It’s one point of view. Someone in the future may read my memoir, among other documents, and put them all together from their point of view and that would be called a history. A hundred years later, someone else would read those documents and write another history from their vantage point. History changes.

“To understand where the university is we have to understand where it has been and how its present state was constructed. There is no quicker or easier way to proceed; to fathom today requires some awareness of yesterday. In the process we will learn not only about higher education, we will discover truths about our culture and, hopefully, about ourselves as well.”

I would like to create a billboard campaign with the words “to fathom today requires some awareness of yesterday” and place them along every freeway in the United States.

The next part goes into that history and I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.

Anxious Attachment and Self-Love

I finished reading (but am in no way DONE with) The Anxious Hearts Guide by Rikki Cloos and I’m assigning it to my “Required Reading for Everyone” list. If you are alive today, you need to read this book. It’s life changing. You may not be an anxious attachment style person, but you may know and love one, and this book will help you both relate better!

anxious attachment

Can we talk about Kindle books for a moment first? I am NOT a fan. Why? I don’t know.

Everyone I know loves them and they have so many great qualities: portable library, instant books, searchable. The list goes on and on, but I still don’t like them. There are a couple of reasons and the first is that I like to physically flip through pages. It comforts me. Then there is the smell of a book, and the look of it on my shelf like an award. And I love to write in my books, and I love to write on paper. I can’t be alone here. Right? I mean, I have a paper calendar, journals, shopping lists. I love to write with a pen or a pencil. It’s the physical-ness of it. So awesome. Yes, I’m aware that I’m a tad strange.

Speaking of writing things down, I made pages and pages of journal entries about this book. I actually got a comment about it, like, “What the heck are you scribbling? Are you angry?” I don’t always do this. Typically, I make notes in the margins and maybe write a few blog posts about things that I’m learning or what’s coming up while I read and then leave it there. But this book was different. It demanded more attention and action.

I have had a hard time relating to people since high school, and it’s only been getting steadily worse lately. And the crazy part is that if you asked anyone that knows me, ex-coworkers, family, friends from community things, they’d all say I’m outgoing and friendly. Everyone loves me! Except those few miserable people. They hate everything.

But I feel like I just can’t figure people out. I make friends, get close, and then run away. They frustrate me and I throw my hands up and decide maybe I’m just an introverted person that should keep to myself.

I’m not. When I’m alone too much I go crazy. And by “alone too much” I mean alone for more than a day at a time, and by “alone” I mean here at home with my husband while he works. I need the people! But they bug me to the point of tears!

And then, by some crazy coincidence, call it the magic of the universe, I started seeing posts on Instagram about adult attachment theory. Holy…this sounds just like me! Seeing Rikki Cloos’ posts struck a chord and I had to know more…so I bought her book! Of course, I did! I’m a book lover! But I wanted it NOW, so I got the Kindle version.

You know…if you get the Kindle version of a book, you should be able to get a print version for a few bucks more. I think it’s messed up that I have to buy it all over again, but I will, because I love her!

I took it slow through this book, writing in my journal all the things I wanted to remember, adding a few books to my TBR list. The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook by Neff and Germer is what I’m working on next, because while I was reading, I realized how badly I treat myself. It’s sad. If I heard someone talk to someone else the way I talk to myself…I’d punch them in the nose. No bueno, man!

What will you find in this book? You’ll find out what anxious attachment is and how to take steps to get closer to a secure attachment style, which means you’ll have closer and more satisfying relationships with other humans. And here’s the crazier part: You won’t feel bad about yourself while you read this. You’ll feel seen and heard and think, “Hey! Yeah! I am a pretty cool person. My needs and wants are valid. I’m just trying get them fulfilled in some unhealthy ways.”

There is so much self-work going on over here lately and it feels so good.

One more thing before I go: “self-help” books. Love them or hate them? I hear so many people (or rather see posts or read about) bashing self-help. What’s so terrible about trying to solve your own problems? And why would I not share every bit of help I find in the hopes that maybe one other person out there might find peace as well? I don’t get the criticism. Let’s talk about that in the comments, huh?

Influenced? Yes, But That Can be a Good Thing

It’s me, folks, here to ring my own bell and say…

One hundred posts!

Wow. Who would have thunk it?!

Yesterday almost didn’t happen. I know numbers don’t mean anything specifically. Ninety-nine posts in a row is just as awesome, but there’s something about round numbers. You know?

Why did yesterday’s post almost not make an appearance? Because I started to get caught up in the idea that every post needed to mean something or be something great. That wasn’t my goal when I started. My goal was only to create the habit of posting every day and that’s what I’m succeeding at.

Now I’m wondering… What if I posted every day for a whole YEAR?!

And then I started to get a bit inside my head. I mean, it’s great that I’ve come this far. One hundred posts in a row IS an accomplishment, but when will I start writing better posts, ones that take more time and effort, ones that MEAN something?

I don’t know. Maybe this is all there is. And then this crazy feeling came over me…

That’s ok. I like this just as it is.

…sigh…

That felt so good.

Does that mean I’ll never do more than write posts about the books I’m reading and what they bring up each day? Not at all. I might submit an article to a magazine. I might write a book. I might even try to get the one I’ve written published, or at least posted here for download. And I’m moving steadily toward those things every day, but I’m completely happy with where I am right now, not sitting here brooding about what else I could have and do.

And THAT feels amazing.

Guess what else!

I finished reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell this morning and it was every bit as great as I had hoped. But here’s my problem. The book is listed as Non-Fiction/Current Affairs/Business, but that’s not what I was reading it for. To me, it feels more like sociology, and I’ve listed it as such in my book stats file because…I do what I want!

Some words from “Conclusion” are what made the book sociology and not business, in my opinion.

“The world – much as we want it to – does not accord with our intuition.”

“To make sense of social epidemics, we must first understand that human communication has its own set of very unusual and counterintuitive rules.”

“We like to think of ourselves as autonomous and inner-directed, that we are who we are and how we act is something permanently set by our genes and our temperament.”

“We are actually powerfully influenced by out surroundings, our immediate context, and the personalities of those around us.”

“That is why social change is so volatile and so often inexplicable, because it is the nature of all of us to be volatile and inexplicable.”

And here’s my favorite part:

“In the end, Tipping Points are a reaffirmation of the potential for change and the power of intelligent action. Look at the world around you. It may seem like an immovable, implacable place. It is not. With the slightest push – in just the right place – it can be tipped.”

Doesn’t that make you feel powerful? You, your behavior or product or idea, could be the very thing that tips the world toward something better.

The whole book goes through examples of ideas, products, and activities that have caught fire and spread, and why. It’s not a book about how to market your product and get rich. It’s about understanding human nature better.

This book was originally written in 2000 and my edition was put out with an additional “Afterword” chapter in 2002. In it, he starts to reflect on our coming “word of mouth” age, where we can all communicate with each other freely and at no cost. He was talking about email but, of course, it made me think of social media.

“The fact that anyone can e-mail us for free, if they have our address, means that people frequently and persistently email us. But that quickly creates immunity, and simply makes us value face-to-face communications – and the communications of those we already know and trust – all the more.”

Remember when we first discovered Facebook? I do. It was just as I moved away from my hometown for the first time in my life. There I was in a new place, close enough to go visit home regularly, but far enough to make me look for new friends. And I open my computer and there were all the old faces and names for as far back as I wanted to go.

I spent hours scrolling through other people’s feeds, commenting, and sharing my new world with them. It was fun.

Why is it not fun anymore?

Malcolm Gladwell might say, “Immunity.” There’s so much that we can’t keep up, so we shut it down and move on. But we haven’t, have we? It’s all so complicated, but I closed the book thinking about it. I made some quick notes and wondering if I could write a better post about it. Put that in the idea file!

Product Epidemic Example Real Time?

I’m halfway through The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell and I’m loving it as much as I thought I would. But things got weird today and think it’s one of these (smaller) epidemics like he’s describing.

“Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do.”

“The point of all of this is to answer two simple questions that lie at the heart of what we would all like to accomplish as educators, parents, marketers, business people, and policymakers. Why is it that some ideas or behaviors or products start epidemics and others don’t? And why can we do to deliberately start and control positive epidemics of our own?”

“…when the epidemic tips, when it is jolted out of equilibrium, it tips because something has happened, some change has occurred in one (or two or three) of those areas. These three agents of change I call the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context.”

Here’s the weird thing. Are you ready?

As you know, over the weekend I finished reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K. Dick. Why did I start reading that book? Because I was at Barnes & Noble and saw the book on the shelf, remembered that it was on my TBR list, and picked up. An impulse buy, really. Not a planned read.

I jump in and start reading, remember that I watched the movie, look online for it, don’t remember the specifics. Oh yes! There was a sequel recently and we had to watch the old one again before we watched the new one when it came out. I remember looking for the original to watch, but I don’t remember the specifics of the new one, Blade Runner 2049 other than it was good.

Late last night, my son texts me to ask if I had seen 2049 yet. What? Why would he ask me that? He doesn’t read my blog, so he doesn’t know I was reading the book. We talked about it this morning and I told him I had plans to watch it again.

This afternoon, I bring up Facebook on my laptop and an acquaintance of mine had posted that he watched the movie over the weekend because it had just been put up on Netflix.

How weird is that? Some change occurred somewhere to lead us all to be watching that movie or talking about it over the same weekend. Malcolm Gladwell wrote this book twenty years ago, I’m pretty sure the people he mentioned in the above quote know about these laws and were using them to lead our attention.

You can also bet that “policymakers,” aka politicians, also know these rules and are using them to direct your attention where they want it to be.

And I’ve been using some of these ideas on my blog and my social media accounts as well. I call it putting some positive vibes into the world, sharing the love of books and great movies and tv, but really I’m only directing your attention where I would want it as best I can.

It’s crazy when things like this all come together for me. The Tipping Point is a used book I’ve had on my TBR shelf for over a year. Why did I pick it up now and not one of the other thirty books staring up at me with those big pleading eyes? I don’t know!

The Empathy Box

What’s on the menu today? Something delicious. I finished reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K. Dick this morning and I am aching to tell you about it. But how do I do so without spoiling it for you? Hmm…

I’ll start by saying that I loved this book more than I thought I would. I LIKE science-fiction, but I’m not a die-hard fan (not the movie, the adjective). I am starting to get a good picture of what kind of sci-fi I enjoy most, the kind that deals with people and what they will do with technology in the future. Sci-fi that is more focused on technological advances, getting deep into what things will look like and how it might change how we live, isn’t my thing. I get bored.

In fact, I get bored with technology today. People and how they interact is where my interest lies. I’m starting to see a pattern in my reading…cool.

And that’s exactly what this book was about, what it means to be human. That doesn’t change over time, not really. What we define as human may change. I mean, we used to think anyone that lives outside our borders, people that don’t live the way we do or look like us, weren’t actually human in the same way were. That has evolved quite a bit and continues to do so.

The way we treat animals has also changed and will probably keep changing. But what about our machines? Interesting idea, isn’t it?

In the interest of not giving too much of the story away, I’ll leave you with one quote and a few thoughts about it as it relates to today.

This book was set in 2021 and written in 1968, and the internet and social media were not invented yet. It’s always fun to read science fiction set in our own time. Where is my flying car?!

“But an empathy box,” he said, stammering in his excitement, “is the most personal possession you have! It’s an extension of your body; it’s the way you touch other humans, it’s the way you stop being alone.”

And then again later in the book, “It would be immoral not to fuse with Mercer in gratitude,” Iran said. “I had hold of the handles of the box today and it overcame my depression a little – just a little, not like this.” “You hardly ever undergo fusion; I want you to transmit the mood you’re in now to everyone else; you owe it to them. It would be immoral to keep it to ourselves.”

The empathy box sounds like social media, doesn’t it? When you put your hands on it, you’re connected to all other humans. You feel what they feel and a sense of connection with others lifts your spirits, supposedly. In the story, it’s not always true, but they think it is and keep going back to it. It’s a religious experience. What’s really going on, I’m not sure. It’s part of the story that left me a little confused.

But relating it to now and my own life, I see social media in the same way. I’m in a bad mood, so I share my sadness, hoping another human will reach out and soothe my heart. Something wonderful has happened, so I share that in the hopes that someone out there will be lifted in my joy. See? We’re all connected. Isn’t this great?

Sometimes. My mind keeps going back to something that happened earlier this week. I went hiking with my sons and it was outrageously fun and the scenery…wow. I never imagined that I lived in such a beautiful place. We came around a corner and the valley below, the cliffs ahead, the clouds hiding the tops of the mountains spread out before us. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

And I didn’t stop, breathless, and stare. I didn’t take it all in and feel it. I took a picture and moved on. I had to have that to share with those who can’t make this trip, those that can’t walk or climb, those that are busy with their own lives in their own towns.

Empathy. See? I want to share my joy so that others may have some. Connection, with practical strangers. But at what cost?

Taking a picture to remember the spot isn’t the problem, neither is wanting to put it in my virtual scrapbook. It’s that I was more preoccupied with making sure I had something to share with others than taking the whole moment in and actually being there.

Something needs to change. The empathy box isn’t making me feel connected, it’s taking me away from now. I’m missing the whole thing and I have been for a long time.

I took it, I may as well share it, right?
Near Lake Jennings in San Diego, California.

You guys! Guess what! It’s April and that means I have written and posted something every day for three whole months! Milestones, man…they’re important!

Where am I going? I have no idea, but I’m enjoying the ride. Are you?

A Humanity Test: One of Us

A “humanity” test? There’s something to think about. What makes something “human?” Is it empathy or something else?

In 2022, most of us have thought about androids, machines that look and act as humans, maybe not in our daily lives, but frequently. Some of our favorite characters are androids. Data, in Star Trek Next Generation, for instance. We’ve explored his humanity quite a bit. I know there are many others, but this one is the one I like best.

Could you kill Data? Could you say he’s not human, or even really alive, and end him? Turn him off? I couldn’t. I have a hard time killing off anything on purpose, though, even plants I don’t want in my yard. I’m an odd ball. I know that. Weeds are different though. They are in my way and causing problems, so out they go. No problem.

This book was written in 1968, and the idea of androids was fairly new. Machines, created to serve mankind (not for dinner, DAD!) in much the same way as our dishwasher or vehicle, become sentient. They want their own lives, apart from serving humans, and escape back to earth, where humans can’t survive due to radiation.

The whole story (so far, I’m only halfway through) is about that. My questions: Why are we hunting them? What did they do? Humans can’t live on earth long anyway, why not let them have it? How can you kill something that looks at you and says, “Please don’t!”

Oh, yes. If we’re protecting ourselves, we can justify it. We can’t have a “species” living out its life nearby. What if they decide to invade us, take our things, rule over us? Does this sound familiar?

“What if machines became sentient?” is a great question. But what if another animal on our planet could communicate in a way that led us to believe it was also sentient? And then, my rolls around to, “What if people in other countries, other races, on other continents…?”

Yeah, get it? Humanity rules over other species, and our own. It is our nature to make our way, stake a claim, and defend it. All animals do. We just do it in more creative and efficient ways. The only way to stop us from destroying each other is for humanity to recognize others as our own.

I can’t say much more about the story (don’t want to ruin it) but now I’m thinking…

What if we created a test to show us whether or not another being is “one of us?”

Go back to my first post about Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick for more.

Thank the Maker for Marketing!

The universe moves in mysterious ways…and most of them are due to marketing. How did I end up with Will Smith’s memoir bumped up the TBR list to #1 and landing in my mailbox? I thought it was because a friend was loving the book so much and because I also happen to be a big Will Smith fan, like my first post mentioned. But…alas…

marketing
The pile grows.

Over the last few days, I’ve noticed the book prominently placed on a shelf at Target, and several blog posts, interviews, and podcasts talking about it. The man is the master of promotion, and it has trickled its way down to me. And I am 100% happy that it did.

Everyone is at least some level of a fan of Will Smith. Why? He’s a magnet, not only as a rapper and an actor, but as a person. If you want to read about a life lived by real human being, read this. I’ve never read a memoir from an actor that didn’t make me cringe, and this one had its moments. Creatives have a certain “look at me” that makes me uncomfortable…probably why I have such a hard time moving forward and promoting my blog posts and submitting my own book. But most of those moments were followed up by beautiful insight and growth.

It didn’t make me feel like I wasted my life by not being famous. It only opened my eyes to another world, another way of life. We have a lot in common, including a similar life-changing reading list. And you know that’s enough to make me fall in love with a person.

Just a few quotes and some thoughts before I shelve this beauty.

“The human mind is a story telling machine. The creation of narrative is hard-wired into us. What we call “memory” and “imagination” are essentially just stories that we program into our minds as a survival mechanism to protect ourselves and help us thrive. We need our lives to mean something. It is a kind of mental illness if we cannot shape our experiences into a story that gives our existence a sense of purpose.”

The first part, yes, I agree. That brain of ours is amazing. It takes everything we experience around us and turns it into magic. The problem is that none of it is really true. Our imaginative re-telling of what it means isn’t the reality of what is going here. And yes, we need our lives to mean something, but we can make them mean anything we want. The great part is that we can shape our experience into a story, and then change that story as much as we need to get where we want to go.

That can also be a negative. We can believe our story, hold onto it so tightly, that we hurt ourselves and those around us. The story Will Smith tells about his life is his version of his life. It isn’t the whole story, the reality of his life. It’s a narrative woven together in his mind for our benefit and his. And I loved reading every page.

“Purpose and desire can seem similar, but they are very different, sometimes even opposing forces. Desire is what you want; purpose is the flowering of what you are.”

If only more of us understood the difference, learned to see it young and actively choose which to follow and when.

“Feelings are extremely valuable tools for maneuvering and manifesting in the world. They are like fire – they can be used to cook and heat and cleanse. But when extreme emotions go unchecked, my experience has been that they will incinerate your dreams.”

Another experience we share. I’ve always been a “feelings” person and I’ve let my emotions run my life for far longer than I should. I should have (cringy word, maybe I wish I had) learned far earlier how to harness them and use them to my benefit, not control and suppress them.

“To place responsibility for your happiness on anybody other than yourself is a recipe for misery.”

This one gets my usual response of “sure, maybe, and in some cases.” Maybe to place sole responsibility for your happiness is something you shouldn’t try, but assuming that the person you are attached to would do things and act in ways to an attempt to make you happy isn’t crazy. Ultimately, it is my responsibility to accept people’s behavior or move away from them so that I can be happy. So, yeah, I agree.

One more thing before I let you go. Will Smith mentions several times that all he wanted was to build a financially and emotionally stable home for his family. Family was important. But I don’t see that in his actions. If that’s all he wanted, he could have done one or two big movies and then walked away with the cash, bought a nice house, invested the rest and lived a life in peace with his wife and children. He clearly wanted more and was able to get it and that’s awesome.

If I could read a follow up to this memoir, I’d love to read ones from Jada, his first wife Sheree, and his children. I’d like to see what they saw and experienced.

I loved this book so much. I’m so glad it came into my path the way it did. Wow.

Mindfulness and Concentration Balance

Each morning, before I sit in meditation for twenty minutes, I read one chapter of Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat Zinn. Remember? I said I would go back and do this after I read the book straight through, and here I am crushing it.

Ok, maybe not crushing it, but at least I am getting to it most days.

This morning was something special. I read this:

“Without calmness, the mirror of mindfulness will have an agitated and choppy surface, and will not be able to reflect things with any accuracy.” Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat Zinn

I am great at mindfulness. I am hyper-aware of everything around me; the people, their moods, the air, objects, what needs to be done, etc. It’s my superpower and it comes naturally to me. It also drives me bonkers much of the time, especially when I come face to face with the fact that not everyone shares my awareness. What do you mean, “When did we move that trash can to the other side of the room?!”

With that tidbit of knowledge about me, you would think I would have an eye for minding the details, but…nope. I’m a big picture person. I take it all in at once, all the time, which leads to some pretty overwhelming thoughts and feelings that I have only begun to understand and accept.

What’s missing? Calmness and focus, concentration. Which is what this chapter was about. Concentration leads to calmness, and calmness is addictive. We can throw ourselves into it like an escape pod and stay there forever. It’s another form of attachment, a refusal to accept and move in the world around us.

Single-minded pursuit, complete focus on one thing, is a wonderful way to get things done, but it has its drawbacks. Have you ever known someone with that superpower? I’m in awe of them, and then I’m frustrated and angry with them because they will not look at me when I’m talking to them. They don’t notice that I’m there wanting to connect.

Where is the balance? Practicing focus and concentration alongside mindfulness. Being still allows the water around you to be still or flow quietly around you, while mindfulness allows us to see what’s beneath the surface and move.

I have typically fallen asleep during my meditation practice. I’m still sitting, sometimes nodding my head, but I’m dreaming. I’m talking to someone, holding my pencil, turning a page, or planning what I’ll do later. I’m never quiet for long.

Today, I put my mind on my breath and thought, “Calm the water.” I imagined standing hip deep in a warm river (I hate cold water) and running my hands in the water. When I moved my feet, the silt at the bottom floated up and mixed with the rushing water, obscuring my view. I stood still and let the water run and waited. Soon, the silt and leaves settled, and I could see the rocks beneath my feet, the fish swimming in the deep, and the sticks that might poke me if I moved too quickly.

It worked. I want to bring this feeling with me all day long and I’ll try. Every time I start to feel overwhelmed, I’ll take a breath and think, “Calm the water,” so I can see more clearly and make kinder decisions, respond in more helpful ways.

In the past (like this past week kind of past), I’ve struggled with trying to do everything. I’ve actually cried out loud, “Everyone says slow down, do one thing at a time, but when I do, I lose something, forget something, or fail!”

Just typing that made me think, “Yeah, Michelle, that’s attachment. You need to let things go.”

No one on the planet can do EVERYTHING. I’m getting more done, but not well, and in the process of doing I’m failing at the most important thing, being present and loving to the people around me. I’ve got lots of thinking to do, but first…stillness. Calm the water, so I can see beneath.  

Inspired by a Magical Universe

I’m off playing in the world today, instead of waking up and doing my regular morning routine, so this will be short and sweet. I’m still devouring Will by Will Smith with Mark Manson like there’s no tomorrow. The man has me riveted. This morning, I found myself crying my eyes out, gasping in fear, and then laughing out loud at his antics, all within the same two hours.

But this quote is what I want to share with you most right now.

“The universe is not logical, it’s magical.

A major aspect of the pain and mental anguish we experience as humans is that our minds seek, and often demand, logic and order from an illogical universe. Our minds desperately want shit to add up, but the rules of logic do not apply to the laws of possibility. The universe functions under the laws of magic.”

When I read it, I thought, “Oh yes…this world is something else, isn’t it?” But when I went back later to quote it here, I thought, “I don’t know.” It’s certainly not what Mr. Spock would say, but it would be something Captain Kirk would spout on about over some Andorian Ale. It’s one of those things about humans that confuses the hell out of Spock. We know magic isn’t real, yet we insist on believing in it.

But isn’t that what being human is all about? That massively creative imagination inspires us to be more than the sum of our parts, do more than what logic predicts is possible?

“Quincy Jones understands magic.

He sees the universe as an infinite playground of magical possibilities. He recognizes miraculous potential in every moment and every thing and everyone around him. His superpower is that he has learned to present himself to the universe as a lightning rod, placing himself perfectly to capture and conduct the ever-present, ever-recurring magical flashes of brilliance surrounding us all.”

Can you imagine the possibilities your life would present to you if you had people around you like this? It makes me envious just thinking about it. Where’s my lightning rod?

I’ll be thinking about that all afternoon; the possibilities and how to achieve them. If these guys can do it by sheer willpower, so can I.

Looking For Love: Anxious Attachment

I’m back on track, ladies and gentlemen, and here to give you some of my thoughts on the book Attached by Levine and Heller. This will be a longer post, but I hope you’ll stick with me. There was so much I wanted to say, and I cut it down A LOT. Yes, it was that good! And these are just MY personal takeaways. The book is so much more.


Applause! Applause! I have conquered the day. That ugly, procrastination self-talk has lost the battle, but the war does still rage on. I’m feeling confident today, not because I’m a bad ass, but because my husband loved on me yesterday when I was feeling low. Get your mind out of the gutter and I’ll tell you the story.

Remember that focus issue I brought up (again) yesterday? Well, it got worse. My husband was working on a project out in the garage, and I thought, “It’s Thursday! I’ll take the trash down for him!” I got the recycle out, then thought, “Hold on. I’ll get this dinner started and THEN take the trash out because then I won’t have food scraps in the trash overnight.”

I started the potatoes, turned on the radio and then started washing the dishes, forgetting all about the trash. That’s when my husband came in the from the garage and started taking out the trash, thanking me for helping with the recycle.

And I started raving and crying because I realized at that moment that I had forgotten…again.

That’s when he did something amazing. He stopped, pulled me to him and held me while I cried. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me!” Yes, I’m dramatic. Get used to it.

A minute later, I was safe again. I finished the dishes. He took the trash cans down to the road. We had dinner together. I had one of his delicious new beers. And we watched a new TV show, which I highly suggest you see, “Minx.” Yes, there’s nudity! There’s nothing wrong with naked people! Trust me. This is good stuff.

How does this relate to the book Attached? Well, this is what a secure person can do for an anxious one if they’re both interested in walking this path of life together. Through books like this, we’ve learned more effective communication skills that have saved our relationship more than once.

Let’s get into that book a bit, shall we?

“Attachment principles teach us that most people are only as needy as their unmet needs. When their emotional needs are met, and the earlier the better, they usually turn their attention outward. This is sometimes referred to in attachment literature as the “dependency paradox”: The more effectively dependent people are on one another, the more independent and daring they become.”

“…we live in a culture that seems to scorn basic needs for intimacy, closeness, and especially dependency, while exalting independence.”

Like I said in my first post about this book, I discovered this paradox when my children were very small and fought with my culture while I raised them quite differently. This attachment is biological and starts from infancy. This book moves on to apply it to any intimate/close relationship. The principles have changed my parenting, family, and married life for the better.

“Numerous studies show that once we become attached to someone, the two of us form one physiological unit. Our partner regulates our blood pressure, our heart rate, our breathing, and the levels of hormones in our blood.”

“Dependency is a fact; it is not a choice or a preference.”

When I feel the threat of detachment, I feel physically ill. My head and hands ache as if they are filling with blood. My heart races, my breathing shallows. I feel like throwing up. But one text from my loved one, a quick note, a hug, or a squeeze of my hand, and my anxiety eases. Oxytocin win!

Humans have evolved depending on each other for safety, security, and happiness. Our survival has depended on it. Yes, we have a better chance at staying alive independently in modern times, but our biology does not know the difference. Besides, why do we want to get rid of a bonding/attachment system that can bring so much joy?

“…when our partners are thoroughly dependable and make us feel safe, and especially if they know how to reassure us during the hard times, we can turn our attention to all the other aspects of life that make our existence meaningful.”

There you go. We can be the rock under each other’s feet, that secure base to jump from. It’s a mutual dependence that gives us the courage to be out in the world doing big (and small) things independently.

“Chapter 5: Living with a Sixth Sense for Danger: The Anxious Attachment Style”

This is where we will dwell…because it’s about me. I know it best.

“…you possess a unique ability to sense when your relationship is threatened. Even a slight hint that something may be wrong will activate your attachment system, and once it’s activated, you are unable to calm down until you get a clear indication from your partner that he or she is truly there for you and that the relationship is safe.”

Do you have any idea how good it feels to hear “You have a super-power!” instead of “Here’s your problem!”? The best part of this book is that it shows you how to USE your super-power for good!

“The study showed that people with an anxious attachment style tend to jump to conclusions very quickly, and when they do, they tend to misinterpret people’s emotional state.”

“If you just wait a little longer before reacting and jumping to conclusions, you will have an uncanny ability to decipher the world around you and use it to your advantage.”

What study? One that asked people to push a button when they started to see a change in a facial expression on video. Anxious types (like me) saw it a fraction of a second earlier than others. We see it and then rush to identify the emotion, often incorrectly. When they changed the test so that we had to wait a moment longer before responding, we were able to identify the emotion more correctly.

Another hint to stay aware, learn to breathe and pause, before reacting to the world around you, my anxious friend. Not everything is a threat to your survival.

“…the brains of people with an anxious attachment style react more strongly to thoughts of loss and at the same time under-recruit regions normally used to down-regulate negative emotions.”

…sigh… Validation. Do you feel it?

I just need to be more aware of my style and adjust my communication skills. There’s nothing wrong with me. I have a superpower I need to learn to use correctly. Remember “Frozen?” Nothing made my heart smile more than when my son stopped the movie and said, “So…they found out she had a power and locked her away by herself instead of teaching her to use it? Oh, yeah, that will be great. Nothing bad can happen here.”

“Expressing your needs and expectations to your partner in a direct, nonaccusatory manner is an incredibly powerful tool.”

“Nooooo! It’s too hard! Too dangerous!” were my notes in the margin. First of all, you have to know what your needs ARE. Then you have to become vulnerable to express then. What if they say no and you have to leave the relationship? What if they accuse you of being silly, over-thinking, over-communicating, reading into a situation, etc.?

So what?!  Do we really want to stay in a relationship like that and not even try to repair it? Life alone isn’t that dangerous anymore, not so much that we need to wrap ourselves around anyone that will stick with us a while.

“Often, insecure people cannot get in touch with what is really bothering them. They get overwhelmed by emotions and lash out.”

One thing I have learned lately is to simply admit that I’m feeling yuck and I’m not sure why or where it’s coming from. Instead of scrambling to find any source of pain and eradicate it quickly (like the study I mentioned above), I sit in that feeling and allow it some space to move around. Buddhism and meditation, non-doing and trust, are helping in that pursuit.

I’m printing out these two lists and putting them on the fridge!

The Five Principles of Effective Communication

Wear You Heart on Your Sleeve
Focus on Your Needs
Be Specific
Don’t Blame
Be assertive and nonapologetic


Five Secure Principles for Resolving Conflict

Show basic concern for the other person’s well-being.
Maintain focus on the problem at hand.
Refrain from generalizing the conflict.
Be willing to engage.
Effectively communicate feelings and needs.

One more word: Oxytocin! “The next time you decide to skip the Sunday morning cuddle in bed for a chance to catch up on work – think again. This small act might be enough to immunize your relationship against conflict for the next few days.”

We (our culture) do not spend enough time in close physical contact with each other. Don’t say COVID, because it started LONG before that. Oxytocin (the love and bonding chemical) is created when we touch. Feeling low? Ask for a hug! In fact, I think I’ll start asking my friends and family if I can hug them more often!

And there you have it. Attached by Levine and Heller…in a nutshell!

What’s next? I was going to jump into an intriguing (but silly) novel but a friend is reading Will by Will Smith and Mark Manson and I cannot skip over the chance to do a read along!

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