¡Quinoachos!

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Marilyn demonstrating electric stove, 1949A meal with loads of protein, a superfood, fresh veggies, and Mexican twist? Yes, please! Earlier this year I realized I was missing out on significant amounts of protein in my diet. This simple recipe has become a staple because of its high nutrient value, quick prep time, deliciousness, and reheatability. Continue reading

How my time and energy speak for me

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Watching the World Cup never ceases to inspire me. Seeing athletes laying everything on the line, giving everything to the game is goosebumps worthy. Of course, mixing this immense show of passion with a couple pints of beer only magnifies the wonderful soccer feelings. This current revelation, however, was not Guinness-induced. It came after watching Spain and Iran battle out 90+ minutes of emotional roller coaster soccer.

I always like to watch how the players move off of the ball. You see how each player allocates his extra effort. Who does he move to defend or to combine with? Where he works the hardest gives a clue as to which players he sees as most valuable and to where he sees his own value. For instance, Spain’s Iniesta always moves to support players on the ball for a short pass to connect two teammates; he rarely looks to position himself for the shot on goal. Pique will rush to support developing play from the back and instinctively looks to get the ball off of his feet; though he offers his height as a target for corners and free kicks, he gives most of his effort to his role as defender. In today’s game, Australia’s Arvani seemed to move everywhere, undiscerning and unlimited in where he would spend his energy. He took chances like no one had ever told him it wasn’t his place to do so (and he’s 19, so, maybe he has that luxury).

The games go so quickly, no player stops to weigh the pros and cons of moving one way or another. No one questions the meaning of their instinctive reactions. It is reflection and review, the slow motion replay that reveals those hidden messages.  Continue reading

Guys in General Miss the Point


Striking Seamen Leaders to Meet Commerce Secretary: 1937

Last night in the movie theater, a dear guy friend of mine leaned over to whispersplain the nuance of Meryl Streep’s acting to me. Leaving aside the fact that I hate talking during movies, I was pissed off that he took me out of the apex of the movie to tell me nonchalantly that this was the turning point for her character (p.s. that’s not a spoiler). Before his interruption, I was really feeling the gravity of the moment, relating to her experience as a woman, and it also kind of irked me that he didn’t seem moved by it.

When it comes to gender equality issues, men don’t quite get what the hullabaloo is about. Given the culture and structure of society and the fact that they have not felt negative effects of gender inequality, no one should blame them for this innate gap in knowledge. The trouble is that they think they understand it, and they won’t shut up long enough to learn about the ridiculous burdens they place on women by being unaware of the power disparities they benefit from and contribute to, knowingly or not.

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The time and place for athletes to speak

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        One day last year I was training a client in the gym and a news story about healthcare flashed on the television. My client, a very wealthy business owner, commented that Obamacare was killing small business and that if he had to pay healthcare for his employees, soon enough, he wouldn’t be able to afford personal training, and he pondered, where would that leave me, his trainer.
        After he finished a slew of burpees and planks, I redirected his question. If my healthcare costs weren’t covered by my employer, if I couldn’t receive healthcare when I needed it, soon I wouldn’t be able to afford to be his trainer, and where would that leave him?

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My Father’s Mother’s Great Uncle

Fun in the Trees ... May 1936

Who’s hanging out in your family tree, and what have they done to you??

As grown adults on a family therapy kick, my sister and I asked our dad about our family lineage.  He first tried to pass the buck on to my grandma, laughing it off and telling us to ask her because she loves that stuff.  When we kept prodding, he finally said, ‘What if I told you that your great great grandfather was the mayor of their town and ran for president?’ Jules and I both responded with excited grins and an instant barrage of follow up questions. My dad, surprised, laughed with confusion and answered, ‘No, not really, but what does it matter?  You could say anything and it doesn’t make a difference. You are who you are.’

We did not see it the same way. My grandma has long reported that among other things our great great great uncle by marriage was the real Uncle Sam and that we had a distant relative who lived in a cave in Oklahoma during the dust bowl.  Along with those rather intriguing bits of history, we loved hearing about our ancestors and their farms and charms. It was easy to see the origin of some of our family traits, the good obviously highlighted more than the bad.

It turns out my sister and I were right and Dad was wrong (so, ha ha ha)!  Neuroscientists and psychologists are finding more and more support for the theory that family trauma is passed down from generation to generation. Everything from hormone levels, to language, to phobias can be and commonly are inherited.  The amount of stress a mother is experiencing while she is pregnant imprints itself on her baby’s DNA, and as a result via the reproductive cells already in that child’s body, she also creates a ripple effect that will last for three generations to come.

Check out some of the research:

  • Neurobiology research on PTSD in Holocaust survivors and their descendants shows effects of PTSD in survivors’ children, including similar predispositions to depression and anxiety.
  • Similar findings were found in 9-11 survivors’ and war veterans’ children with an increase in their number of activated genes that were related to PTSD.
  • One mice study found that when mothers were shocked in the presence of a cherry blossom scent, they increased the number of receptor cells in the brain dedicated to detecting cherry blossom scent.  When they later became pregnant and gave birth, their babies were born with the same high number of receptors for cherry blossom and without the mother’s influence jumped when introduced to the scent.  The first mother’s effects continued for 3 generations.

In his book, It Didn’t Start With You, Mark Wolynn methodically presents the research showing how families pass down trauma from one generation to the next both biologically and behaviorally.  He says, “Unresolved traumas from our family history spill into successive generations, blending into our emotions, reactions, and choices in ways we never think to question.”  Uncovering the mysteries that live in our family history reveal answers to the world we live in today. He talks about the opportunity that this understanding holds for us. “The traumas we inherit or experience firsthand can not only create a legacy of distress, but also forge a legacy of strength and resilience that can be felt for generations to come.”

Wolynn’s prompts incited me to recall a proud history of my family overcoming adversity and showing strong character.  From a bounce back from the dust bowl and the depression to bringing or keeping orphaned siblings together, my family heritage has plenty to imply that tenacity and character are a part of my backbone.

But I know there is so much more. I want to know the how, when and why behind the branches on the family tree.  I want to know how I’m continuing the family tradition and why I am doing it.  This book is a pure treasure chest of family introspection, and I suspect it may be an instrument of torture for some of my less enthused relatives when I get to my deeper digging.

The powerful takeaway with this relatively new-to-psychology and brand new-to-me knowledge is that our world is way bigger than it seems.  There is an energy that connects us and continues beyond us in every direction, and we are all a part of it.

Word of the Week: Ilk

Ilk (rhymes with silk)

(noun) a type of something similar to those already referred to.  Often used in phrase “of that ilk” meaning of that kind, origin, designation, or name.

Examples:

Though she adored the designer clothing worn by Kate Middleton and her ilk, June’s budget demanded a less glamorous wardrobe.

Scott Pruitt and his ilk claim that leading the world in energy innovation is a disadvantage to the U.S., but June knew that position was based on their selfish interests.

 

How to shift a reality trick #3: Brain teasers and moral dilemmas

A DC Streetcar Woman: 1943

Trolley dilemma takes your beliefs and morality for a test drive

We define ourselves by the hard lines that we will not cross.  As we encounter new challenges and new environments, those lines may shift, reshaping our beliefs right along with them. These lines, these attitudes and morals, build our perception of how the world should be and who we should be while we are in it. So what better way to challenge a reality than to test it with new dilemmas that create some tension on those lines?

This method of reality shifting is more of a warm up for bigger changes and new ideas.  Offering no right or wrong answers, it simply asks questions, begs for discussion, and according to some solid research published in Science, activates areas of the brain used specifically in emotional reasoning.  This type of reasoning slows down thought processes, lessens working memory (as is typically activated in reasoning), and activates three areas of the brain associated with emotion. Continue reading

How to Shift a Reality Trick #2: Put a Face to a Name

Marian Anderson Sings at Lincoln Memorial: 1939 # 4

Singer Marion Anderson shakes hands with Secretary of the Interior Ickes during the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial.  Interactions like this make a big difference in shaping peoples’ views.

One way that we hold our own identities intact is by surrounding ourselves with like minded people and influences.  This tactic is becoming progressively easier to carry out because the online world gives us more opportunity to connect with people of our specific choosing and to reinforce our deeply held assumptions about the world and the people who inhabit it.  We give ourselves the benefit of distance from opposing viewpoints. While we cannot talk someone out of this reality he’s created, we can introduce them to people whose stories and presence may lead him to his own change of heart.

The key to today’s reality shifting trick is to disrupt a previously held belief by introducing a flesh and blood person who challenges that belief, or who that belief harms. Recent research shows that compassion is an integral part of human nature.  Encounters with those in need or those who need help trigger a compassionate response and build our compassionate nature. Continue reading

How to Shift a Reality Trick #1: Reverse Argument

153 Tyndall Field, Florida WWII

A thoughtful little conversation can lead to big viewpoint changes if you let go of controlling the dialogue and winning arguments.

The beauty of this method for changing minds is that it lets you sit back and guide your target audience through their own thought process.  As we previously mentioned, you cannot talk someone out of their reality or into a new one.  We can, however, provide environments where someone encounters a new situation that offers an opportunity for them to experience a different reality, therefore shifting theirs.  Today’s strategy is based on numerous experiments which asked students to write an essay that disagrees with their personal beliefs.  The results of these studies show that after writing the essays, the students were more favorable to the position they supported in the essay than they previously were.

So, let’s translate these results into something we can use in our daily life.  Finding a way to get your audience to play devil’s advocate to themselves is the key goal. They need to reason through the information in their own brain, no one can do it for them.  You may need to employ some creativity getting them to the point where this can happen, but we have a few suggestions to get you started. Continue reading

Why You Cannot Talk Someone Out of Their Reality

We have all been there, desperately trying to convince the dummy next to us that they have things figured out incorrectly. We lay out our facts and tell them why their rationale does not add up. We do or see this everyday, whether it is on the internet, at the coffee shop, at the family dinner table or on the news. It is really frustrating and both sides leave thinking the other is an idiot for not being able to see things the way they really are.  There are two big reasons that verbal persuasion often fails to change hearts and minds, no matter how overwhelming the material presented may be.  They are also two scientifically based phenomena that every speaker, politician, or organization should consider before they strategize their message delivery.

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