Studio30

Stay optimistic. Be brave. Communicate. I believe in you.

 

It’s you I like,
It’s not the things you wear,
It’s not the way you do your hair–
But it’s you I like
The way you are right now,
The way down deep inside you–
Not the things that hide you,
Not your toys–
They’re just beside you.

But it’s you I like–
Every part of you,
Your skin, your eyes, your feelings
Whether old or new.
I hope that you’ll remember
Even when you’re feeling blue
That it’s you I like,
It’s you yourself,
It’s you, it’s you I like.

– Fred Rogers

 

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I don’t believe Chakras are the literal mystical energy centers believed in by new age people. I also don’t believe they are the nonsensical-fantasy-things-that-don’t-really-exist, as believed by nearly everyone else.

Chakras are symbolic foci for real aspects of our selves, our sub-selves, the parts of your overall whole being. They are defined as 7 modular aspects of self that come on-line by stages as we grow and experience life. They absolutely can be blocked and out of balance, under or overactive. Below is the traditional list though it can vary a bit, they work upward from the bottom of the spine to the top of the head and each is associated with specific areas of our lives, feelings, and personalities. They are distinct color-coded points on the spectrum. But ultimately their functions blend into a healthy, unified self.

  1. Root – Base of the spine; red; governs survival instincts, grounding.
  2. Sacral — Lower abdomen; orange; governs sexuality, intuition, self-worth/-esteem.
  3. Solar Plexus — Upper abdomen; yellow; governs impulse control, ego.
  4. Heart — Center of the chest; green; governs compassion, spirituality.
  5. Throat — Throat; blue; governs communication, emotion.
  6. Third Eye — Between the eyes; purple; governs rationality, wisdom, imagination.
  7. Crown — Top of the head; indigo; governs connection with the Divine

The Chakras rather neatly mirror Abraham Maslow’s almost universally accepted hierarchy of needs. Notice how the artist used defining colors for different levels.

Compare the Hierarchy of Needs:

  1. Physiological needs
  2. Safety needs
  3. Social belonging
  4. Self-esteem
  5. Self-actualization
  6. Transcendence

(There are somewhat alternative versions as well.) If a sub-self is broken at the physical safety level, of the self-confidence level, for example, self-actualization is blocked. The person experiences various psychological symptoms expressing the fears and frustrations of lack and instability in those areas of life. The chakras and the H of N chop up the human pieces a little differently and each one tilts a bit toward the surrounding belief system that hatched it. Still, it is the same invention, spontaneously cropping up to fill the same need for vastly different communities.

The invention is a simple map of the human soul and what it needs to thrive. It describes the places we can break down and suggests a course of treatment.

The Chakras and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs also dovetail nicely with Carl Jung’s Individuation, the challenging synthesis of becoming a complete, integrated person.

I’ll be writing here soon about some original and creative ways I’ve recently found to work with this material but I think this overall idea is interesting enough to consider on its own.

 

 

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“The Brain tunes itself to criticality, maximizing information processing”

Our brains are clearly amazing at processing the “blooming, buzzing1” world around us.  A recent experiment supports the theory that when neurons work together they actively cooperate to achieve their maximum processing capacity. They seek the urgent, intense edge of their ability. Picture them as the human runners in an Amazon “fulfillment center” except happy in their work.

The entire brain appears to seek this set point or default working state at the maximum of its abilities: “Where it is as excitable as it can be, without tipping into disorder, similar to a phase transition.” A phase transition is where matter transitions from one state, liquid, solid, or gaseous, to a different state.

In other words, our brains are balanced about one millimeter from chaos and disorder. That’s all of us, all the time. Returning from sleep or other off duty moments the brain tunes and retunes itself seeking this point.

While the study neither reveals nor claims anything else about our neurology, I think it points a bright red arrow at possible organic causes of ADHD (as well as ASD, schizophrenia, etc). If the default human phenome, the standard, mass-produced person has this edge-of-chaos set-point, then genetic variation (known to be the prime cause of ADHD) could easily generate a different set point. This variation might generate the quirky, out of step processing that makes us so valuable in the modern workforce, wait, strike that…

It also seems logical that anything that alters this point results in behavioral instability.

More and other interesting details in the reports:

Link to study results 

 

 

1 William James, writing about sensory processing. : “The baby, assailèd by eyes, ears, nose, skin, and entrails at once, feels it all as one great blooming, buzzing confusion; “

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I haven’t shared much of my fiction here. Elsewhere on the site is “The Poor But Honest Princess“. The brief introduction to a Fairytale. I’ve agreed to complete it when a magical unicorn appears so stay tuned. There are also a couple of chapters of my frankly weird psychedelic novel, “Instead of Sleep“. Those chapters aren’t exactly representative of the rest of the book but they volunteered to go first. There’s a good bit of sex, if you’re in the mood for it, some of it quite nice and some rather lonely and horrible. Anyway, here’s Wonderwall. No, I mean the first two chapters of MY magical goddamn teenagers book.

 

Badger

Chapter 1

At the base of the mountains where the river flattens out is a town called Narrowsford. In that town is a boy that everyone calls Badger although the name his mother gave him was Anton. Badger was the son of a wandering magician who kept wandering and a local girl who stayed put. She lasted four years before dying of river flu and loneliness. She had loved Badger in her way, but her way had a lot of sadness and sighing attached to it. Badger’s mother had a wild romantic streak that had gone about as badly for her as it could. Of her countless hopes and dreams, perhaps one had come true.
When she died, Badger was left to grow up with her brother. Her brother was a simpler man with two emotions for all occasions, smug or angry. Smug as he watched others work and angry when he had to do something himself. Badger learned to cook and clean and do farm chores one step ahead of a cuffed ear or a night without dinner. When he was still very young he would sneak off to the little hut where he had lived with his mother to remember her. He would sit awhile and play with the rocks and twigs as if they were horses and carriages going over the big hills he’d never seen the other side of.

As he grew he became a solid, strong boy with little talk in him. His hair and eyes were black and his skin pale in winter and farmhand brown in summer. He wore the shabby clothes his uncle had worn to rags cut down to Badger’s size. He was a wary boy because he’d rarely heard a question that didn’t contain some sort of trouble or a joke at his expense. As a child with no allies, the local children had tried to make him a scapegoat and teased him without mercy until he’d taken to hitting any one of them who came within reach, fighting low and dirty and without respect for feelings. They now left him alone but it increased his isolation until he often heard only his Uncle’s voice for days at a time. When he ran his Uncle’s errands in the village, grown-up conversations would falter as he approached and but for the words needed for this many or that much all was quiet. He would stand there silently and if he looked up and around he met the eyes of the grownups watching him with a look he couldn’t quite figure out. As he pulled the cart home he thought about it. They were looking at him as they might look at a broken cartwheel or dog with foaming lips or a fire grown bigger than expected.

This Winter had been long and dark and cold. Locked up with Uncle and with little to do while the fields lay deep in snow, Badger carved wood, stayed out of Uncle’s way and pined for something better, for friends and excitement: For hope.
A little hope returned to him in Spring simply because that is what spring does. Nothing really changed outwardly except the return of grueling work as planting began in the still icy village. But the sun shone and leaves appeared on trees that had looked dead all winter. Spring deepened and warmed: The ice disappeared even from deeply shadowed places. The air sang with life and as he worked he could feel the sweetness of simply breathing or drinking water.
Uncle was determined to “catch a bride” as he called it and the best time for this was the Longdays festival as Spring ended and Summer began. Longdays was as close as Narrowsford came to a real celebration. There were contests and dances and treats for the children. Girls and women were a bit flirty and boys and men were a bit showy. There was a picnic feast where everyone had to drink at least one glass of ale. There were always fights and arguments but more happiness than was seen in town for the rest of the year put together. Continue reading

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My mother was sunshine,
not the heat and glare of Summer
or the chill minimum of Winter.
My mother was effortless sunshine,
Slantindicular from the bright window
Across the couch and the low table;

Contrasting clean bright colors,
Highlighting details of
Old vacation seashells
Or a tiny golden Buddha,
and a bookmarked book.

My mother was sunshine,
Warming the room to cozy and
Blessing the cat in his joyful sleep

Hugh Miller

 

 

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“We are so convinced that past evils must repeat themselves that we make them repeat themselves. We dare not risk a new life in which the evils of the past are totally forgotten; a new life seems to imply new evils, and we would rather face evils that are already familiar… Hence we cling to the evil that has already become ours, and renew it from day-to-day, until we become identified with it and change is no longer thinkable.”
 
–Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation 

Introduction

I need to say that if this article feels like a gloomy confession for the sake of confessing, it isn’t. I’ve had crazy wonderful breakthroughs since ~April of 2019. I’m happy and hopeful in a way that isn’t much like the old me. I’m cheery, for god’s sake. What made me so much happier was persevering in some godawful codependent bs …with such intensity…that I broke through to something I find rather hard to explain. It tore a membrane between me and a brand new level of spiritual perception and energy. It has quietly transformed my world from the inside out. This isn’t wisdom gleaned forensically from the crash site of a bad relationship. I’m not “Sadder but wiser” and I didn’t gather bitterness or resentment but rather trapped them between a cup and some cardboard then released them into the yard.
This was like the elevator doors opening on a floor with a number you’ve never heard of before and it’s so nice that you are a better person for even knowing about it. There’s a mysterious sweetness to be followed, and you follow it. There’s no dogma attached, and no cliches, it’s fresh unknown territory. Perhaps somehow you have believed in NO your whole life. Suddenly, irrefutably, YES.
Here’s the key thing. Stop holding all the sad, cracked pieces together with sorrowful dignity. Break the fuck open, you can’t get there with your story intact. For me, that meant trying with almost superhuman intensity and tenacity to make a bad, hopeless story come true. Apply yourselves!

When longing is unbearable it becomes a prayer. When that prayer is intense enough, help arrives. 

Lizard Boy

Long ago, for me, love was being smugly avoidant and entitled. I was an arrogant little sexual aristocrat totally certain of my hotness. I wanted “love” but I only understood it as desire, satiation, and friendship. I was unaware of any lack of perception in myself and felt that mostly, I was always right about everything. Getting whatever I wanted seemed like the universe functioning correctly. I was as contentedly self-involved and selfish as a cat and almost as innocent and guileless about it. I didn’t lie about who I was or sneak around, I legitimately believed I was a special exemption. All the men in my family are on the ADHD/ASD axis and we all begin life with an emotional astigmatism about the meaning and value of other people’s feelings. We aren’t narcissists who don’t care, we are shortsighted moles who don’t notice it. We lack emotional depth perception.

This is not an excuse, just background. I’m no less culpable for this impediment.

I asked relatively little of love and received more than that in return. At this superficial level, I was loveable and did deserve it because I was handsome, sexy, smart and funny. I was of high value in a low-value economy. Love at this level is better written as “love” and better understood as a consumable experience like cocaine or a carnival ride. If it was a planet, the gravity would be low and bouncy. We would only have first names.

When my first marriage (11 years of the “selfish innocent” phase) failed, the concept of deeper and truer love formed in me and my soul walked in that direction as if it smelled food cooking. I entered a different economy of love where the person I really am was small change. I could be high value again if all I wanted was a thrill, but down here everything cost more and demanded more true value, more purity of essence. This was the only coin accepted for anything worthwhile. True value meant possessing the ability to love with natural reciprocity, belief in a bright future, alone or together, and honest faithfulness.

Faithfulness isn’t a promise to never change, or silently bear some misery to the end of time, no person can or should make those promises. It is recognizing the heart of your person as deserving of respect and truth and kindness above your need to play any other game. If you decide to play the game you disclose the truth before you begin and allow them to leave you to your play without being made into fools for your convenience.

Sneaking and lying to have an affair is exhilarating fun, sometimes tortured and desperate, sure, but it’s a thrill. It’s a goddamn suspense movie…with lots of fucking! You experience hair’s breadth escapes, clever gambits, desire and tension, tension, tension.

Faithfulness in its smallest, most basic expression means not choosing that exciting fun over the dignity of your person’s heart. The minimum standard means not dragging them behind you in a gaslit fogbank while you see if you prefer being with someone else. Two directions are one more than you can walk and hiding your betrayal till all the details are comfortably settled is way colder than deciding you have to leave.


Hellscape, a Place for Learning

In place of that coin of true value in me, there was scorched earth unworthiness. My capital was counterfeit. In my center was a shadow of self-loathing. It may have formed in me during the early childhood bouts of severe depression that tortured my little boy soul with the acid of self-hatred. Maybe it was a function of the neurology I inherited. Certain quick-fire, critical thinking mental styles lean toward self-hatred. Either way, I was a perfect storm of these traits as a child, beginning at age 7. I had no defense against full-on hate-yourself depression. I was one with it. That blistering radiation did things to me I can’t fully comprehend even today. I did not have the kind of traumatic or abusive childhood typically assumed for that kind of depression. I had defensive pride and self-value but deep internal damage shaped the path of my waking life from down in the unconscious darkness. There was a massive, solid black, radioactive moon inside me. It was so overwhelming that my conscious mind refused to know anything about it.

Following that path now I had objectively failed at love with someone who adored me and who I had loved with every bit of what depth I did have. I broke her heart and ruined everything by being my honest self. I had endless confidence in my selfish vision and pursued it all the way to the ground. There, my grief was a firey, smoking, bomb crater.

I was shocked into awareness of the depth and value of love for literally the first time. I became aware of my personal guilt in a disaster that murdered love. You know those dreams where you’ve killed someone or committed a terrible crime and the dawning horror and shame at the weight of your crime build to a scream like a factory whistle? That was my inner life in the aftermath, an inner emotional Chernobyl, month after month.

And that is how I finally learned a thing I needed to know, that is what it took.

The truly intransigent, and the super naive, must observe the nuclear immolation of their conceits to recognize their errors.

I now understood what things cost, and how terribly much there was to lose but I didn’t grasp why this had happened. From here I left to seek out true love and happiness while carrying this unworthiness inside. I carried the inevitable defeat of my dearest hope with me everywhere. I didn’t understand that being loved can’t fix the belief that you don’t deserve love.

If you meet your ideal love and you can’t accept what they are offering, that’s a tragedy, not a dream come true. Find the antidote, heal the wound, then seek love (elsewhere I’ll suggest some possible antidotes).

If you don’t heal yourself, you’ll merely be bringing your true love a pretty basket of thorns. Worse yet, you’ll be convinced they are beautiful flowers and that she was selfish or mean not to take them. Why did I do it? Why didn’t I do the right thing? Because I had no clue what the real problem was. If someone had mentioned it to me I would have said: “No, that’s not it…”

The problem is that we assume we know enough. We glance around inside our hearts and minds like lazy night watchmen and don’t see anything to worry about.  Continue reading

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(explaining our family background to my son)

I said I know I lot more about Mom’s side and that’s because she loved her family and became a curator of warm memories. (BTW, Mom actually wrote a full autobiography, I’ll be happy to share it with you if you ever want.) Dad disliked his family and lacked curiosity about them overall.

My Dad was Richard Bruce Miller. He was born in New York in 1925 and died in Florida in 2005.

The two branches of the river that flow through Dad to me and to you, are the Eckermanns and the Muellers. The other two lines joining with them in the previous generation Were Berman and Vanderbeck. Supposedly we are part Jewish on the Berman side. I hope so. Vanderbeck was Dutch and apparently ran an ocean crossing steamboat company. Here they depart our story.

Your two great grandparents from this side were James Mueller (soon after known as Jim Miller) and Dorothy (Dot) Eckermann.

Oddly enough, you may want to take a minute to read up on the German author/philosopher/human dynamo, Goethe (pronounced like ger-teh) Continue reading

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(My son asked me to explain our family background)

Our Family, the side that comes to you through me, has two parts: My Dad’s side and my Mom’s side.

They are very different. I’ll start with my Mom’s side because I know more about them. Also, they were nicer.

My Mom was Irene Dorothea Lundstrom. Born in 1929 on long Island, in New York and died in 2001 in Florida. She was a gem, by the way.

Her Parents were Hjalmar Georg Lundstrom and Aina Helena Sundberg. Both born in the 1880s in Finland and died both at 95 years old, on Long Island.

This is the hardy and competent (yet quirky) peasant side of the family.

Grandpa was born in the southwestern Houtskär region of Finland, a group of wild and thinly populated islands. (Wiki help included here) Continue reading

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