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Your Trigger is NOT Your Truth: The Murder in My Eyes

Why I work with violent people:

 

In 2008 I was en route to a child’s birthday party via taxi when I heard a loud voice in my head say, “This is a gift.” In the next millisecond, the cab driver screeched to a halt shouting, “He’s killing her!” I looked to my left and saw a man holding a woman in a fur coat by the hair with one hand and stabbing her repeatedly with the other.

 

“Call 911,” I yelled as I jumped from the taxi.

 

“STOP!” I screamed as I instinctively ran towards the stabber.

 

He paused and looked in my direction. We were about six feet apart as he raised the oversized knife towards me. I would say we locked eyes but, in fact, he seemed not to have eyes that could lock. He did look at me and me at him. But his eyes had a lack of color similar to someone in the middle of a seizure. He looked at me, the moving target, and shuffled forward. It wasn’t the knife he brandished that terrified me. It was the eyes.

 

I ran back to the safety of the cab and he resumed his vigilant stabbing, trying to pierce the fur coat and even to remove the woman’s head.

 

I would like to say I was the hero that day but, actually, I was the girl hiding and screaming, “make it stop,”  while occasionally peeking to see if it had. There were many people standing frozen in a state of traumatization.  None of us had access to our frontal lobes.

 

Eventually, the man was shot. He stumbled back a bit letting go of the barely living elderly woman. Police arrived and both the woman and the man were removed from the scene.

I gave my card to the police in case they wanted a witness. I offered to do neurotherapy for free for anyone connected to the incident and continued on my journey to the birthday party.

 

There is so much I could share about this incident and all the learnings it brought me but I have a focus for this article so let me just make the pertinent points.

 

1- I knew how to help myself not get PTSD. I looked for all the wonderful things around me minute by minute, making a point to see, hear, taste and smell beauty. I couldn’t talk about what I had seen, though and knew I had to. I could feel the incident shrinking into a fragment of my brain like an unexploded mine buried in a forgotten field waiting to be triggered. So I forced myself to share. One slowly spoken word at a time I described what I saw. Then, since I had shared it once, I could share it everywhere, on the streets, from the stage, in my writings. I told everyone, family, friends, strangers. I gave myself neurofeedback and, ready for a little direct exposure, google searched the incident.

 

2- It took a while to locate since it happened in New York City and, as my search made plainly obvious, an attempted murder by stabbing on the streets of NYC was anything but uncommon. While looking through the many articles my head swam with the vivid memory of this tall, thin, underfed, barefoot, ragged jeaned, shirtless, knife-wielding black man with tightly woven hair. In my mind’s eye he stood on one leg in the middle of the road after being shot. Someone approached him, gun outstretched. He looked slowly around still in a stupor and dropped the knife now heavy with blood. This is a memory that I can see clearly even today.

 

Even though I now know that memory is a lie, whenever I re-envision that day, I see what I thought I saw.

 

When I located the article and saw the image of the actual man though, when I read what he was wearing and took note of where he was shot I was surprised to discover how wrong I had been. Had I been called to point out the perpetrator or describe him to an artist we might have arrested a bit player from the movie Hotel Rwanda.

 

You see at the time of the attack my brain and its association network had nothing to associate this type of action with. It was beyond my understanding and since in trauma a person’s problem-solving skills from the frontal lobes shut down I could not think creatively or make memories accurately. Thus, my brain ‘filled in the blank’ by superimposing something I had seen before, something similar, something equal in its level of shock. While watching Hotel Rwanda I was safe in a theater and while watching this man stab this woman I was safe in a car. And though what I was feeling was many times more horrible than what I had felt before, I still saw something similar to what I had seen before. My brain did this to protect me from the true story of the moment. This is a common trauma response.

 

3- As mentioned, fear and trauma shut down the frontal lobes. What we are left with is instinct and habits. That is why the armed forces has soldiers do so many drills and exercises during training: to make fighting a habitual response. When traumatized, people act out what they know and cannot come up with anything new. So “Call 911” made sense. As did “STOP!” Both have been ingrained since childhood. But, “hit him with the car,” was beyond my ability to imagine. As a child I hid from abuse, so hiding was a habit and, acting on impulse, I hid. I understood this because I understand the brain. But I still had difficulty forgiving myself for being so ineffective, And that is why I dedicated myself to understanding violent people and responding in ways that would change their behavioral course.

 

Yes, this is an extreme example. But, the fact is, fear does this to you. It makes you stupid. It destroys your ability to assess rationally. Destroys logic and leaves people vulnerable to manipulation. Our life experiences shape us, they cannot be ignored. Even knowing how to prevent myself from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, even though I acted on everything I knew, I still was not invincible and had trouble visiting New York comfortably for several years after the stabbing.

 

You may not be experiencing a stabbing but if you are watching the news about Covid-19, Black Lives Matter, Political rhetoric on the subject of statues and immigrants, actual murders and projected assaults  etc., you are definitely experiencing trauma.

 

I have been thinking about this a lot lately because even as we are being manipulated by ugliness we are also being shown some heretofore unlistened to truths, globally.

 

The question is: “How do we drop the fear and hang on to our intelligence while paying attention?”

 

The thought brings me to my Asian son in law.

 

He hated me so much he orchestrated having me disconnected from my daughter and her son.

 

It was an extremely difficult situation because I love my daughter and totally adore my grandson. In fact, we were so close he begged to live with me on several occasions. I often cared for him and always found him delightful. However, his mother, my daughter (saved from a nest of sexual abuse when I adopted her at age 13), gave birth before she was married. She ran from her would-be husband with me in tow and spent several years living a life without him in it. Then they reunited and, to be honest, they were (and are) great together. She didn’t want him to know her truth though, so the stories she made up blamed me rather than her own frightened youth. Their son loved me with gusto and didn’t know his dad. Hence, my daughter’s Asian husband saw me as a threat and fought to have me removed from their lives. At one point I realized that my stepping away would be healthier for my grandson than my staying in the picture. So I did. This trauma cut deeper than the man with the knife. This trauma left me with a touch of Asian based racism. I felt a gentle hatred stir in me every time I saw his particular look on a plane or in a store, in a park or at a sporting event, anywhere at all. I also felt at risk of harm, vulnerable and avoided chatting or making eye contact. I noticed myself. I knew where the feelings were coming from and sometimes I just let myself feel because fighting it was too difficult.

 

I knew it was illogical. I knew I was experiencing triggers from trauma but it still happened. I still felt that way. I also knew that his actions were based on misinformation stemming from my daughter’s lies. I knew that he was not wholly to blame. And still, that particular Asian type stirred anger inside of me. I knew I could get over it but I almost didn’t want to. They had disowned me and there was no one to throw my feelings at but strangers.

 

Fortunately, I also know that hate hurts the hater. Fortunately, I want to live a life of happiness and ease so that I can teach my children to do the same. Fortunately, I know that everyone comes back if you don’t drive them away. So I did the work of smiling, listening, helping, visiting until the pain faded away. I laid the groundwork for a happy reunion. Now, whether they embrace me or not, I am embraceable. I do not hate. I am not racist.

 

Except: When I am.

 

A mere four weeks ago I was flying back from Florida on a surprisingly crowded plane full of mask wearers and the smell of hand sanitizer. I had the middle seat and was sandwiched between an Indian woman on my right and a black man on my left. MyTV wasn’t working and the six-hour flight loomed before me with no reading material as back up. I asked to be moved and was lucky enough that I ended up in an aisle seat near the bulkhead, next to a white male pilot on his way to work.

 

I made myself comfortable. Turned on the TV and tried to watch a movie. But something was bothering me. My bag was still under the seat in front of my old spot. Normally I wouldn’t worry about it at all. It was better there anyway because the bulkhead has no floor storage. But the black lives matter protests were in full swing at the time and my awareness of racially driven angst had me nervous.

 

I was not worried about the Indian woman, even though I have had more negative experiences in India than at the hands of black people. I was worried about the young adult black male. He was lovely, by the way. He exuded no anger, just sweetness. There was no reason other than the awareness created by the protests. I tried to stop my thoughts by imagining him as a white man, then as a black woman, then as an Asian. In every case the fear subsided but only as long as I held the thought. The lesson wouldn’t generalize. My bag was filled with medical equipment and I couldn’t stop the idea that he might rifle through it from passing across my mind. It didn’t make sense. It had no basis in fact and yet, there it was, warning me to act.

 

I believe in listening to my instincts and thoughts at least enough to quell their fearmongering, so I went up and got my bag. Once done I was free to analyze the situation.

 

This time I imagined him as an old black man and realized it wasn’t just about race it was also age. Because when I imagined him as old I also, imagined him over the impetuousness of youth.

 

Then I thought about his clothes and recognized his attire as indicative of movie-made bad boys with darker skin. The point is, I wasn’t worried about him, I was worried about his package.

 

The world has trained me, taught me to fear, and in some ways that has been beneficial. But in many more ways it has stepped up and controlled my feelings, inhibited my intelligence, and shaped my beliefs.

 

It is only my determination to be happy and mentally healthy that has changed the course of these presets. That is what I wanted to share. What we grow up looking at matters, especially if we don’t know we have the power to change. And even more so if we don’t have that power in the first place. I never really understood how the names of your street, the flags over your head, and the statues in your park could traumatize a person’s youth and cripple their future. Until I imagined that man on the plane as white. Because it gave me an idea.

 

I imagined Christopher Columbus as a native in full headdress and the reservations stocked with white people. I imagined Lincoln as black and the slave he owned as white. I imagined Franklin Roosevelt as an Asian and the internment camps filled with white people. I imagine Trump as a Mexican filling detainment camps with white children.

 

Then I imagined myself as a little white girl growing up surrounded by these stories and statues.

 

And suddenly I wasn’t able to believe in mental health or happiness or the power of change. I was broken. I felt the color drain from my face and wondered if my eyes were also colorless like the man with the knife trying to carve away his pain in a white woman’s hide. It occurred to me that these statues, street/fort/team names and flags, are the trauma and the trigger. Because that is how traumas work. They become the unexploded mine buried deep in the psyche and shaped into a trigger when something similar comes along.

 

This is a sad time in America, my chosen country of twenty years. When the concept of wearing masks to protect others was introduced I was excited. Reminded me of putting the mask on me first before helping others on the airplane. The point was to do the right thing for my body so I could do the right thing for others. I hoped it would sow the seeds of unity and brotherly/sisterly love. That is not what has happened. But I am still hoping.

 

Maybe that is the point of this new surge of infections. To give us another chance to do what is right, choose solidarity and neighborly love.

 

Or perhaps it is just fueling the fire for the end of days.

 

That is up to us. I choose dismantling the triggers and recreating health.

 

The Immigrant Advantage – #BlackLivesMatter

David

At the request of a friend I was attending an editing workshop located in the back of a museum-like cult video and mainstream VHS rental store, buried deep in the older section of Hollywood. I was planning to create and host a docu-series on autism and comorbid conditions. So, learning to edit seemed like a good idea. Presently, this series on the journey of families around the world dealing with disability is an award-winning webshow with two seasons. Fix it in Five with the Brain Broad is available on The Autism Channel, Youtube, and Vimeo. I am still doing the paper edits on season three because hands-on editing didn’t turn out to be one of my skills.

Regardless of the fact that I did not become the show’s editor, this editing class actually did mark the beginning of my series. During this class I made professional contacts, learned the possibilities of the editor, improved my director’s eye, comprehended the value of good lighting as well as sound, and indirectly connected with both family one (Uganda) and family two (USA).

I also met David.

The 30 plus students were from all over the world, a testament to the marketing of this one-man show instructor, newsman, editor, and cameraman. I was impressed by the quality of the teaching and the reputation of the instructor as well as the talent of the students. Being in Hollywood working on film with people from around the world felt like the perfect kickoff for what I hoped would be a globally shot series. I looked around the room in a state of awe and noticed something familiar. I noticed a young man eying his hidden bag and wearing a look of hunger. I have often overstepped my pocketbook in the search for life-changing skills and opportunities, and this young man appeared to be doing the same. In this way, he looked like me. I asked him where he was from and if he needed a place to stay. He said, “Uganda” and “Yes please ma’am,” so I took him home.

I suspect he regretted that choice on the way home. California roads are very different from the roads in Uganda. A sustained 70 mph 45 minute drive was likely experienced as a death-defying ride in a NASCAR stock car. As evidenced by the fact that David hid in the backseat of my Volkswagen Beetle refusing to look at the road, pretending to sleep. I don’t remember if I warned David about my adult son with autism. Most likely I just said, “I live with lots of family. We are fun. You will enjoy it.” Because that is how I see us. A collection of caricatures clowning around and making life lovely. Besides, I probably wouldn’t have thought of it because we were tired from the class and had to get up early to do it all again the next morning. None of us (me, the grandson I brought with me to class, David) were really that talkative. So I don’t know what I told him but I do know that David was scared when he met my oversized grunting, jumping, pacing and laughing manchild. I also know he was polite about it.

David came to be a friend in my home, came to love my son, hung out with my grandkids, returned often, confided in me and shared his country and his network of friends with my series. I am not going to tell you this very long story of a very sweet friendship. I am going to share some highlights and awakenings it presented me with.

America began as the place to travel to for freedom. It was advertised as such. In order to fill the fields America was marketed as open-armed and asking people to come. So they did. They came, in wide-eyed wonder, determined to earn their place.

In that first year of friendship, I watched David grow savvy. Initially, he was surprised to discover that Rodeo Drive was not literally paved in gold. He knew all Americans were rich so he didn’t even notice that the room I let him occupy was filled with broken thrift store furniture and a mattress on the floor. He just thought of it as American and worried over his own lack of resources. One day, standing in front of me on the stairs clad in brand new bright colored fashionable clothes, he said, “Mum I don’t think you see how I live?” I returned with, “I don’t think you see how I live either, David.” I stood in my place at the bottom of the stairs pointing out things like my lack of wardrobe, jewelry, hairstyles or house maintenance.

It was a good talk full of mutual awakenings.

David had simply expected generosity from Americans because he had been trained to expect their help. Growing up in Uganda his only white woman experience was of a nun who walked to work every morning handing out candy. (I am personally infuriated by this type of false help and nutritional miseducation.)

David had many adjustments to make as he traversed the immigration system legally and well. For example, at one point I sent him to stay with friends of mine who needed a cameraman/editor and David is extremely talented at both. My friends are a married gay senior citizen couple with three enormous dogs. In Uganda being a homosexual was, at that time, punishable by death, and house pets were unusual. David hid in the bedroom and called me for emotional support. He was afraid and hadn’t yet developed the kind of crass American humor that would have helped him ferret out the jokes from the propositions.

Over time life and opportunity educated David, and me.

Though we were both speaking English we often miscommunicated. David learned english at school while I learned it at home, in Canada. One day we were working on subtitles together and he kept using the term full stop which I didn’t understand at all. I used the term period which he thought only referred to a woman’s menstrual cycle. Our confusion led to an argument because he was so sure he knew english better than I did. I was a little incensed until I looked it up and realized he was using Old English. In this way he was right, his english was better than mine, mine was just more current.

Together we learned about each other’s countries. David was still wide-eyed and wanting to stay. He said he felt more and more at home in America, an emotion made even stronger because the president of the time was an educated black man, like him.

David wanted Hollywood and all the opportunities he believed it would bring him. America was still being touted as great and, until recently, had not changed its marketing plan to shore up the population by inviting immigrants into its arms.

I have two strong memories of realizing how out of place David was. (Three if you count hiding in a bedroom afraid of gay people and house pets.)

#1 We were wandering the parking lot outside the theater and I saw his skin in comparison to ours. The parking lot and theater line were full of white people, only white people. Most of us wore demure colors and he was in bright yellow and pink with dark black skin. He seemed comfortable with us and I wondered if I would be as confident in a similar setting.

#2 We were driving through Hollywood in the early days of his visits when he saw other black men walking in the streets. On impulse, he brightened and greeted them out the window. “Hi Brothers!” he smiled. This was met with a silent somewhat sullen non-response. David verbally processed the rebuke for several miles trying to understand the difference between these blacks and his countrymen.

That day we both noticed his color. We also noticed that color wasn’t his only differentiating feature. He was an immigrant as well.

Most of the time, though, David wasn’t a black immigrant in my house. He was just David.

Because it takes time to change a reputation immigrants still flow into the USA. Because most Americans are wonderful people this reputation of opportunity and freedom is largely upheld and America actually is greater than what the homegrown folks actually see. Even with the newly encouraged hatred toward immigrants immigrating. This inability to see the beauty in one’s own country is a commonplace occurrence mainly because the people from here, the ones who have not traveled, have no comparisons in their experience bank. Instead, their knowledge bank is filled with propaganda and the lies of their lives.

Reality is a moving target. It is invented by each person via their brain capacity, sensory system, life experience, and education. It is rewritten individual to individual and blinds each and every one of us. The world we see reflects the world we expect to see until a huge flash of exploding light calls everyone’s attention to the same thing at the same moment. In that brief flash of attention getting brilliance, and for only a sizzling second of time, we have the opportunity to be the same. This paradigm-shifting experience allows us to grow better, more similar, even as we later rewrite the experience individual to individual.

* * *

Black is the only color I see.

David introduced me to a woman in need of help for her seizure ridden autistic daughter so I brought my neurotherapy equipment and my Fix It In Five film series team to Uganda.

Other than us, everyone is black. I find myself figuratively wearing David’s shoes as my eyes look around in search of sister white women. I see none.

One night my white cameraman talks me into heading for the bar across the street from us. We cross the street and see all the dark faces and white-toothed smiles listening to ethnic music. Feeling as obvious as the belly of a white whale stuck upside down in a bed of mud we simultaneously slow our pace and then stop. We are afraid. We go back to the hotel.

There is no reason for our fear. No reason other than being white people surrounded by black people. The folks here treasure white people, treat us carefully, hope for attention from us and call me queen. There is no reason for our fear. It is an emotion we brought with us from our upbringing. At this moment I admire David and his courage to live in my white neighborhood. I also understand the degree to which his life experience has shaped his expectation just as mine has shaped me.

Everywhere I go I am white. I can’t get away from myself and I draw attention everywhere. It feels worse in the evening when their skin melds into the background and mine is illuminated by the moonlight. My comfort is with my crew. And since David and his friends are part of my crew when I am with them I stop seeing the white and black, see the smiles and open arms instead. Most of the time I feel like one of them and, immersed in that comfort, I am good at my job, capable again. Until the night falls and the day wraps.

Afraid to walk about town I stood on my balcony and searched the night for white sisters. I spotted one riding a motorbike. For some reason I hoped she hadn’t seen me, felt less connected to her than to my new friends. I remembered being in Korea and feeling comforted by the sight of other caucasians wandering about and wondered if this emotionally different response was due to the black and white contrasting racism I have been unfortunate enough to witness in America. I was certain the roots of my fear came from these experiences so why not my lack of connection to other white people as well?

David showed me the way around in Uganda, educated me to local customs and protected me from harm. I did the same for him in America.

In fact, when I asked him to read this article and give me permission to use his name, this was his response:

“I’m so amazed of how good your memory is. From the color of the clothes I wore to the details of my experience and conversation with you. However, you forgot one thing: when I opened a Bank of America account and then overdrawn it thinking the bank had given me free money. You took me to the bank and you explained to them that I was new here and that I didn’t know what I had just done. You paid some of the money and asked the bank employee to forgive the rest of it, which she did .Everything is up to the point. I love the article, I wouldn’t ask you to change a thing. And you can use my name because it’s my story.”

David Kabogoza, this beautiful black immigrant friend, brought something special to my world, to my family’s world. He brought a belief in racial equality into my experience. I grew up watching my brother, the adopted native, treated with racial inequality. Seeing a different possibility through David’s eyes was a blessing.

* * *

Before the truth of this new country leads the immigrant to disappointment it also grants the opportunity for dream fruition.

David supersedes seeing everything as racially divided because he is a strong Christian who feels similarities through faith. White people brought Christianity to his country and back people embraced it. A brotherhood of faith was born. Religion, more than racial brothers, is what David responded to and knows. He connected with churches, joined congregations, and forgave abuses. While seeking status he went back and forth between countries. He worked with me on my series, ran workshops in Uganda and traveled Internationally as a cameraman for his church’s TV station. He worked hard and stayed the course.

Presently David has a green card, a wife, a house, children of mixed heritage, and a job working with his camera in hand. He made his dreams come true.

And then George Floyd was killed and the protests began.

I wondered if David was sorry now? Should I regret helping him relocate? Has his skin color brought abuse into his life without my knowing?

I am not one to sit and wonder without taking action. So I asked him.

Sometimes misinformation and the presumption of kindness make it grow. Thus being from somewhere else, with different stories and history lessons create an advantage:

Q: How are the protests affecting you?

A: It’s so sad that this is happening in America. I feel this country has changed a lot from what I knew and admired. I feel that all of this is being fueled by the president. He’s not been up to the task.

Q: Did you deal with Racism much?

A: Not really, because I put a deaf ear to it. I don’t let it bother me and that’s because I know I’m not from here. I might be wrong but i don’t feel it’s my battle to fight. I always say to myself that if racism ever gets to me, I have an option to go back home. I have a second home. I don’t expect much from this country, I’m grateful for what America has been to me so far. I Have achieved a lot in a small time I’ve been here, probably better than people who have lived here their entire life.
I agree. Being from somewhere else. I am writing a piece about that related to you. I will send it to you.
Q: What do you feel you accomplished?

A: Becoming a homeowner, financial freedom and getting promoted at work. Also, can’t believe I have a son, and a family of course. Glad you’re writing something about me.And thanks. You always held my hand.

* * *

By the way David is not my “one black friend” but he is black and he is my friend. So why could this black man succeed here while so many others can’t?

As David said, he had the emotional advantage of having another country to go to but I think it is more than that.

His life is overall better due to coming here with misinformation. That lie taught him to expect justice and be white. Since he wasn’t looking over his shoulder he didn’t appear shifty and didn’t draw suspicion. Thus, there was no one following him.

I know this from personal experience because I too am an immigrant. Our history lessons are different from yours. And so is the life experience created blueprint for our emotional reactions.

True, coming from Canada doesn’t feel like immigrating really. It is more like going to a friend’s house in search of good weather and then settling down because it feels warm and free. However, it is more than that. I came to the States to get away from Canada. In Canada I am easily made uncomfortable around police. My brother was an indian and my children disabled so we saw too many racially driven incidences of abuse. My brother ended up in jail for desperation and murdered for homelessness. My adopted disabled children were commonly petitioned out of neighborhoods. While my partying teenage daughters and all their mischievousness drew any attention that wasn’t already aimed in our direction. In Canada I experienced way too many police and social services driven altercations in defense of my multicolored multiabilitied family. I was often driven to feel anger or shame, often in the same moment. Coming to the United States of America was, for me, a breath of fresh (albeit polluted) air. Once I came here I felt better, less afraid of persecution. I was also able to see clearly the right and wrong inherent in a situation because I wasn’t already brainwashed by nationalism.

This was an unexpected perk.

The country you grow up in fills your child head with rules and regulations that reflect the time you are in. You have not matured enough to prune, sort, and filter them into their correct baskets and you are frightened into compliance by various methods of punishment. So you eat it all. Even the beliefs that are at war with each other in your head and cause stress. By the time you are an adult you just echo what you were taught and are extremely challenged to correctly assess anything without these lessons telegraphing your truth to you.

When you travel into a new country as an adult you arrive with comparisons, sophisticated thinking, and the assumed right to assess regulations. This is because the regulations that surround you are not already ingrained. This ability to look about and decide for yourself is empowering and made even stronger by a country that advertises freedom of speech and the right to protest. This is especially true when you cross cultures and integrate rather than settle into a community cradled with the people from your homeland. Luckily for me Canadians don’t cluster so the temptation to avoid seeing anew didn’t exist. Luckily for David his journey into our culture began with my invitation and initiated the integration.

David and I both came to America for the freedom and possibilities. And that is what we both got. Personally, I think everyone should have this experience, should have the right to live in whatever world brings out the best in them.

Warring against immigrants is like warring against fresh thought, self-limiting. As an immigrant it was easier for me to stay focused on getting my dream while reshaping my expectations. As an immigrant I became a better person, a better example to others, a better contributor to society. So did David.

In this way immigrants make a country stronger and are largely why this country was as strong as it used to be. It is a country of immigrants turned nationals.

And all this brings me to the argument I want to present: It is a show of faith and love to take the knee during the anthem. I am impressed by civil disobedience without violence, especially when it puts a person at risk of losing their career and reducing personal power. I admire the (wo)man that loves themself enough to take that risk and is clear headed enough to outdistance the beliefs of their upbringing and embrace a new repurposed, more accurate truth, I embrace anyone with enough faith in humankind to think such an act could actually influence the thoughts and actions of others. I believe in believing in change for the better.

Such a simple, nonviolent, visually representative thing to do: take a knee.

Honoring George Floyd and every human that George Floyd represents by taking a knee makes it even more powerful, loving, and faith inspiring.

As an immigrant I see clearly the value. I don’t believe I could have understood with so much positivity in my first country. I needed to leave home to clear my head and examine the evidence with naive eyes.

I believe that was also true of David.

He didn’t recognize the confederate wallpaper or buy into the myths and expectations of black men so he wrote a success story for himself. True, he worked hard but it was also easier for him than for the black men here in the USA.

* * *

The Davids of the world are an example of what an easier life can become.

There is a fallacy commonly embraced among the older generation (and then sold to the younger generation) that an easy life leads to a weakness of character. I do believe it is often necessary to work hard and tough it out. But that does not mean it is ever healthy to live in chaos, fear, and persecution. “Toughing it out,” is often confused with accepting abuse. It is even sold as being beneficial just because some people manage to make the best of it. I admire the people who survive and thrive after chaos. But their best would have been better had they not had to spend so much time getting over the traumas of their past. Simply put, easy is better. So if you want better people, make their life easy; don’t squash them, lift them up.

I am an old thin-skinned white woman who stands eye to eye with danger on a regular basis in my position helping violent mental health patients. I am used to being spat on, screamed at, and attacked. Fighting back and/or restraints is seldom needed. I am rarely harmed and when I do sustain an injury it is mild enough to shrug off. When my clients throw horrible words at me I recognize their adjectives and their behavior as coming from a lifetime of disorganized thought. I see the panic and forgive the lack of self-control while helping them attain it again. You would think that, with all that experience, I would be impervious to name-calling. But I am not.

If a supposedly normal person calls me out for something I actually am or did, if they misunderstand my meaning and/or throw expletives at me, I circle think, cry, yell, or go to sleep to dream of better times. I am negatively affected for hours – sometimes in a big way, sometimes in a small way – but always in a way.

Being badly treated is damaging and leaves a shadow of pain in the brain that is hard to shake. Too much shadow and it all goes dark. Once it is dark, accountability disappears and violence is often the result.

* * *

Yes, Black Lives Matter.

David’s life matters.

Not just because he is human and has a family and sires children, though those are reason enough. His black life matters because he makes our life better. He contributes to the vision of what black can be when there are fewer horrors in one’s head.

When we embrace others and ease their burdens we all get to achieve our dreams.

So take a knee. Brush away the misinformation and clear the path for success

Red, White, and Black

I was on Facebook, moved by what I saw, so I clicked share.

It was that picture of Mr. Rogers and a black man soaking their feet. On it was the caption “In 1969 when black citizens were still not allowed to swim in community pools alongside white people Mr. Rogers invited a black police officer on the show and asked him to join in and cool his feet in a small plastic pool, breaking a well-known color barrier.”

It was a touching gesture, an inspiring bit of history, a beautiful picture but the part that stuck with me was the date. 1969. I was twelve that year. I had always thought that this degree of racism was from way before I was born.

1969. That was the year I saw my first real live black man. I am Canadian born. Our country’s racism was centered on ‘Indians’ as we called them back then. Black people were no issue at all as far as I knew. I came from a small town with only a couple of TV channels and no Mr. Rogers. It was easy to be naive, unavoidable really. In fact, I wouldn’t even have known about the hatred towards ‘Indians’ if my parents hadn’t adopted one.

I want to speak about our present-day riots in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, but first you should know a few things about me.

1- I have a strange relationship with color and often don’t know how to differentiate one race from another. This is physiological. As a child I had synesthesia and though I could hear sound I also saw it. Sound was represented by my brain as rays of color. This developed into a racial color blindness I thought everyone had.

2- At the age of twelve I saw my first black man when he came to teach music in our elementary school. It seemed like the whole town gathered out front that first day of sixth grade just to see him come out and ring the bell. He fascinated me because his tongue looked so red. I wrote a story about his watermelon red tongue and the way the spit flew at us from the gap in his teeth. I got the strap and a two-day suspension for that. I was 43 years old before I understood why. Though I was strapped and suspended nobody explained that watermelon and negroes, as we called them then, were a negative association.

3- My adopted ‘Indian’ brother was brought to us because we were a white family. I did not know that. I just thought he was a kid that needed a home and we wanted another boy. My mother showed him off and got him to dance like a native around the living room before cleaning him up and dressing him in fortrell suits. My parents were abusive in very different ways so it wasn’t until I was 16 and had left home that I started to get an inkling of the fact that my brother being an ‘Indian’ meant he was intrinsically despised by my parents. They kicked him out at a young age. Since this story isn’t his story I will leave out all the in-between happenings and tell you that his life ended at 24 when he was murdered for the second time. He was beaten to death and thrown off a balcony. Two years before that he was gutted and his throat slit twice. During both incidences he was homeless and vulnerable. And before you think I didn’t try to save him, trust me I did, and did, and did, and did, until he was gone.

When someone you love is murdered the anger, hatred, pain, is so white hot there isn’t even sadness just rage, rage, rage. I will not do this pain the injustice of trying to put it into words. The only way for you to understand it is to experience it, and I don’t want that for you.

Eventually I healed enough to adopt racially and ability diverse children who sired some more racially, ability and gender diverse children. Our lives are a testament to our integrative style.

Oh, there is one more thing you should know about me. I started speaking out against prejudice at the age of eight when I gave my first sermon on lay sunday. Prejudice has always hurt me, even before I knew that anyone in my life was.

There, those are the relevant parts of my history as they relate to what is happening today.

Now for the story I wanted to share:

One day I was headed to a leadership event. The traffic was so jammed up that the me who would have been an hour early was already running thirty minutes late. I had to pee so bad I was considering just peeing between the cars and risking the humiliation. (Interestingly, and likely because I am white, getting arrested for public urination wasn’t something I worried over.) Suddenly I saw a break in the exit ramp traffic and was able to bolt into position. As I came down the exit ramp I saw an abandoned porta potty that was waiting for the not yet arrived construction men to use. I slammed into the shoulder, grabbed my purse, and ran across the ramp into the potty. The minute I sat down I had an anxious feeling and realized the window of my car was open and I had my property on the passenger seat. An easy grab. I forced urine from my body at hyper speed and, almost finished, heard a car horn honking.

I knew it was for me.

I jumped half-dressed from the potty and a black woman (I think she was black, in passing I get color wrong a lot) was yelling, “He is stealing your computer.” I saw a young light-skinned black early adult male ducking at the side of my car. He was trying to bring his hand back out from inside with my charging cord. I crossed the ramp as the woman yelled, “I can call the police.” I said, “No, it’s ok. Thank you though. Thank you.”

I didn’t really look at the women because I was keeping my eyes on the man. He looked like my grandson.

She seemed irritated with me and sped away. Meanwhile, the young man had run about forty feet away from me.

I put love and acceptance into my voice, my eyes, my body language. (I work with autism so I am used to careful signaling.) I told him I needed the computer. He said he needed it more. I said, “I know”. I was walking steadily toward him. He was shuffling from foot to foot. “I just, I just need the money for school,” he said. Me too, I said. (The car I was driving was missing a window.) I pointed to my car and said, “As you can see, we are both struggling. It’s ok, I understand. But it is mine.” I reached my hands for him to give me the computer. I had crossed the divide between us. He placed it in my hands and I held his in the gesture. “I am sorry you are struggling too.” He let me hug him. “Can I drive you somewhere?” I asked. He shook his head no and wandered away. He seemed ashamed. He was so gentle and, well, beautiful, that I cried while he began to run and increase the distance between us.

I got in my car and went to the leadership event..

I was working on my dissertation for a PhD at the time and losing the computer would have been devastating. Still, even though I had been given a scare, I didn’t back up the files. I was busy. Unfortunately, the cloud sharing function wasn’t working. I felt safe, as if I had narrowly escaped, handled it beautifully, and that this was the end of the dissertation danger story. It was an expensive mac, a bright and shiny object of monetary value, and there was no way at this point in my studenting life I could replace it.

Four weeks later two of my grandson’s white meth addict friends who professed to love me in spades snuck into my house and stole the computer for a fix. It was a crazy time at my house as my grand daughter in law’s mom had just been killed in a car accident. I was being supportive, allowing a flow of grief-stricken friends through the house while also doing a 24/7 stint assisting my in-house patient/friend get off his addiction to prescription meds, not to mention counseling the other four people in transition in my home. I had had stomach surgery three days before and was also caring for my adult special needs son. It was a busy time, an opportunity.

Again, the catalyst was an unlocked door.

Having my computer stolen was easy to recover from. Having my unbacked up dissertation disappear, much harder. But it gave me a life pause, a chance to ask myself, “How do I want to finish this education story? What am I willing to put up with to get off this professor driven control wheel? If it is to be different how do I want to rebuild the story?” I had been dealing with a lot of academic abuse and hypocrisy. These are things I stand up against. Perhaps these opportunistic crimes were opportunities for me as well? How did I want this to play out?

Understand, in my opinion education means more than schooling. It means: “Learning How To Live and Flourish While Helping Others Do The Same.”

In the end I chose to graduate from a lesser school but with a better education.

Turned out that, like the black man, I was an opportunist, while the white man and his friend were opportunistic planners. All of the thieves were desperate and acting on impulse.

Nobody acted out because of their color. They were ‘looting’ because of their poverty, difficult life and lack of workable options. They were behaving as they did because of the ideas in their head, the ones that life had planted there.

So the white robbers stole my computer and the black one gave it back. That doesn’t make one better than the other. It could just have easily gone the other way.

My brother was an Indian raised by white people and the man who killed him was an Indian raised by a family I know nothing about. I do know he didn’t kill my brother because of his skin, or my brother’s skin, or my skin. He killed my brother because he was drunk and in a rage over his perceived romantic rival. He killed my brother because he was a mess, because he was angry, because he was without any knowledge of doable options for problem-solving his life.

The problem has never been skin deep. The problem is on the inside. The problem is hatred. Because hatred breeds hatred and desperation breeds rash behavior and mindless acting out.

I would like to say it doesn’t matter where the hatred started but it does. You cannot rewrite history if you don’t begin at the beginning. I would like to say we don’t know where the hatred started but we do know. It started with the whites. It started with us. It started when we invaded this land and yanked Indian children from their loving parents in order to raise them as white people. It started when we invaded their land to yank black people from their homes and enslaved them in order to increase productivity and ease the burdens of the white society. It started when we made them desperate.

Of course desperate people loot and destroy, they are desperate. Of course, desperate people lose sight of the long term goal and grab onto the short term opportunity, they are desperate, afraid and certain that their life will be short. Of course hungry people steal, they need to eat.

Making people’s lives hard makes them hard. Keeping people poor leads to unhealthy eating and makes them unable to think clearly. Keeping people persecuted creates a constant state of anxiety until instead of taking flight, they fight.

Black people are beautiful. Incredible, really. They rise up despite being held down. They reach for spirituality despite having their spirits broken. They sing out so we can hear them despite having their song fall on deaf ears.

Instead of making their lives hard, let’s make their lives easy. What a thought. An easier life so they can become exactly that, soft and easy-going while they walk easily down the upper-class street they have always deserved to live on. Let’s reward them for their patience and persistence so that we can stop being so married to convenience and learn to be patient and persistent too.

And then, let’s do that for all the other colors as well.

When The Black is Missing

My son in law is black. During a visit to my California house (he lives in Texas) I got my comeuppance. This is a story that led to me being quoted, “When you are white you don’t notice that the black is missing.” Here is what happened:

My son in law had never left his state, seldom had he even left his county and we are almost the same age. I am a traveler and have touched down or driven over almost every rock left unturned. In other words, to quote the amazing Johnny Cash, “I’ve been (almost) everywhere man.”

I have also lived in many places. If I counted right they number 27, plus about a year on the road in an RV. Through it all I have been white, I have never been brown, yellow, red or black. I have always been white.

The home I purchased was (and is) in California. In my area of California (unlike his area of Texas) I never heard the police having coffee and laughing about ni….s. I never went for a walk and had a man stroll alongside complaining about blackies. From this place of California safety I feared for my grandson’s life because he is also black (apparently white isn’t strong enough to change a racially designated color when you commingle and make babies) and was in Texas when Obama got elected. In his town, the white people blamed the blacks for the “rise of the Antichrist” something they firmly believed Obama to be. When the riots in Dallas led to injuries and the “Black Lives Matter” movement began to grow, I worried again. Watching the news I bit my nails and worried for my son-in-law and grandson. I worried for their lives. I asked them to come to California and stay with me. “There is no racism here,” I said.

Then I grew up. Turns out I am naive Canadian who relocated into the same town that held the Rodney King Trials. By not checking though, I never knew. Even when my black friend from Uganda stayed with me I never really noticed. Then one day we were out at the park and I saw it. He was the only black man. Apparently being white means not noticing the black is missing. I saw that, finally. But that is also all I saw.

Because I am not racist I assume you aren’t either.

But you might be, even if you live here. In fact, the racism runs deep. We are just more polite about it.

My son-in-law did visit. He was in awe of the beauty as he and my daughter drove cross country. He is a back yard mechanic and though he felt out of his element in my neighborhood he felt comfortable fixing my car. So that is what he did. He tinkered. Until …

My grandson said, “Some guy is out there yelling at dad.” And I said, while barreling toward the door, “Like Hell He is.” If you have ever wondered why people call me the Brain Broad you may have understood the Broad part that day.

This big old burly typical white-haired white man with a beer belly was yelling about how my son-in-law rolled (to avoid stalling) at the stop sign (in our area they call that the California Roll so it isn’t unique to black people). I simply put my finger in his face and said, “You will back off my property!!” as the word “Ni….” came out of his mouth. I spun on my flabbergasted (tall white and round neighbor) “Are you in on this?!!” He closed his gaping mouth and ran inside. I then continued to back the raving lunatic down the street. (He literally yelled while looking terrified of me and walking backward to avoid my finger.) Meanwhile with steady forward momentum and a strong pointing index finger I whisper yelled (much more intimidating) that he had no right to come anywhere near us with that kind of talk and attitude. I didn’t think about any of this, by the way. I just reacted and prevented and interceded. Because I should.

My son-in-law cried quietly on the couch. Gratitude can bring anyone to their knees. He cried because in his over 60 years no white person had ever stuck up for him like that.

How horrible.

And there you have it. The solution to the riots. If you see an act of racism and you are white remember your power. Step in the way and back it down the street. It is your duty to act. You have privilege and that is what it is meant to be used for.

On Leaving Childhood

I was asked to write something about the moment when I knew I had left childhood behind. The question lead to an interesting discovery.

When I look back over my childhood I see myself playing: hiding in bushes, climbing trees, selling catfish, and running away from home a lot. So when I look back I see a childhood.

And still, I can honestly say I don’t recall ever being a child.

I always felt as if I had something special to share and spoke out at the most inappropriate times: in Sunday school, in grade school, amongst my friends and to my parents.

This lead to me feeling I was a little adult constantly getting in trouble. And always counting the days when I could be the adult I already was.

In regards to the original question, I can say I don’t remember leaving childhood behind. However, I clearly recall the day that lead to my independence.

It was in October, my grade ten school year. For clarity, I didn’t really pass grade nine but my father talked them into moving me forward. He didn’t want the embarrassment of a child who failed even though the reason I failed was I never attended class.

And the reason I never attended class, in hindsight I know, falls squarely on the shoulders of the adults in my home.

So here it was, October, grade ten, I had just won the honor of being voted grade ten social rep for the school and attended my first school council meeting. I sat in the meeting, volunteered for everything, and had many opinions knowing full well I didn’t have the ability to pull off any of them.

I walked out of that meeting and was met by some gossiping teenagers. Apparently, one of the “bad girls” in school had run away from home.

It was the same bad girl that used to spit on me as I walked by her in grade seven. Who made a witch on Halloween, named it Lynette-y and placed it in the intersection of all the hallways in grade eight. The same girl who in grade nine had started a physical altercation with me in the girls’ room because she had a crush on the boy I had kissed at the dance. (By the way I won that fight, even though she said I didn’t.)

So I was getting ahead in the world, I was in grade ten on student council and she was a runaway.

Come to find out years later she had been abused at home and was newly pregnant. Afraid to face her family, she ran away.

Not knowing that part of the story didn’t change the fact that she went from being my nemesis to being my hero the moment she was brave enough to run away, farther than a few blocks.

That was the day I gained my independence. I never went home, I just got on the bus; changed my name and made new friends.

Of course there’s much more to the story and my independence had to be fought for repeatedly.
But that isn’t the question.

There are moments that take you across a line into a new trajectory and no matter how difficult the new path you’re walking is, it’s less difficult than the path you walked before.

This was my moment.

*By the way, I have a doctorate now, even though I never finished grade ten.

A Timely Death

This article has been inspired by the culmination of three events:

Kenny Rogers passing.

My Mother’s death.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick remarks.

Kenny Rogers, country music hall of fame awardee, singer, songwriter, actor, died on March 20, 2020 just as the USA was locking down to a period of social distancing due to the COVID-19 outbreak. In the words of my daughter (and from one of his hit songs), “He really knew when to fold ’em.” I agree with her, he really did. For many people now is the time to be fighting for your life. But for others life is already over.

Others like my mother who recently passed. She was 83 and suffering from dementia. Her dementia was a gift to us as she was quite a cruel mother. That is, until she forgot all her invented slights and grudges. She no longer pitted us against each other. She was too frail to hurt us with her fists and her legs required a wheelchair. Having a mother with dementia was wonderful. She was delighted every time I came around the corner. She couldn’t remember much, so instead she spoke of invented memories that were comforting to us all. She assumed we were happy and so we were.

Having her love me was a dream come true and I soaked up every minute of the last three years. However, as I already mentioned, in the end – as with all of us – she died. We were lucky to have had her live as long as she did. Even her end was a blessing. We all gathered as often as possible around her deathbed. She clapped with glee like a little girl when folks came to visit. She sang, she smiled, she enjoyed her circle of love even as she suffered. She was feisty and lasted much longer than made sense, surviving many many days without food or drink. We were fortunate to be able to say goodbye to this brand new mom. She was fortunate to be able to say goodby to the children she now loved. Her story ended just before traveling and sick room visiting was to become unsafe due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Today, due to the contagious nature of the outbreak, seniors die alone. Families mourn without gathering and loneliness prevails over the deathbed experience.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick recently stated that he believes most seniors would agree with him and prioritize opening up the country to business as usual despite the risk of their own demise. He shared that if in order to keep America running for the younger generation he would have to die he is okay with it. Next week I turn 63 and so I believe I am qualified to respond. I am not okay with it.

Don’t get me wrong, I have said similar things. But similar is not the same as agreement.

If you were to eavesdrop on my conversations you may hear something akin to, “I am okay with dying. Ever since I turned sixty I got comfortable with it. In fact, I think every year is gravy from here on it. I did all the have to’s already. Now it is just want to’s and that can end anytime.”

I mean this, by the way. I am okay with dying, theoretically. However, I am not in a rush. I am actually more valuable now than ever for the future generations. They are why I want to stay. I have published five books, written, directed and starred in one award winning movie, as well as ten episodes of a docu-series meant to help families with autism and other disorders as well as two CD projects and tons of podcasts. I work internationally to heal brain dysfunctions and share my knowledge from the stage. I raised eight children, most of them adopted and multiply challenged. I do a lot. Yes, it is okay if I die from COVID-19 but it is better for you if I don’t.

Because the purpose behind everything I create is “Healing Humans.”

I teach you how to embrace your strengths and live the life you love, every moment of the day. I teach how to be a great leader by leading you to self love and joyous action. I DO NOT teach you how to get rich, unless getting rich is what makes you happy in the moments that you are working towards it. I don’t directly teach that because I am not money motivated. I am service motivated. I do not do any of these projects in order to enrich myself with cash. Yes I pay my bills, but I keep it simple. I am too busy creating to be busy selling and that is on purpose. I do what I like, and I don’t like marketing. Still, people buy because I come from the heart and do excellent work. It is a quality versus quantity kind of thing.

I have a lot of answers to share. Because I have lived a long, very interesting life. No one has lived my life but me. So only I can gift you with the knowledge I so uniquely hold. This is true of everyone.

My future project list is long. And in fact, to get it all done I calculate that I will have to live to be 132 years old. Of course, some things will remain unfinished. That is always true. Everyone dies with a list of things to do beside the bed. So obviously I am also okay with not crossing out every item on the list. In fact, I am okay with not getting a single other thing done. But you shouldn’t be. Because you or someone you know will directly benefit from my continued existence.

And all this can be said of every elderly person alive today. Even the ones with dementia. I miss my mom. I miss Kenny Rogers. I miss my social freedom to hug and kiss. But more than all that I miss an imagined time when young people gathered to learn from old people. We have value and we want to pass it on.

When I was young I was gathering experience. I was not really ready to teach others the how of life. Though to be honest it has always been in my nature to try. I (along with many other baby boomers) am ready now.

Dying during social isolation means dying alone and unheard. Social isolation means I have a greater chance of living. Yes, it is okay if I die. But the next generation won’t be better for it, it will be less.

Please stay inside and wash your hands.

Choosing a Counselor

The weather is changing, family-oriented holidays are around the corner, our atmosphere and environment are charged with an assumption of happiness and supportive gatherings.

Yet for far too many this time of year, infused as it is with manipulative marketing campaigns and shifting weather patterns, can exacerbate or even create exactly the opposite feelings in generally comfortable people.

It can be even far worse for people who struggle at the best of times.

Truth be told, where my promise to clients of free phone calls and emails for life is concerned, this is my busiest time of the year. Also, where emergency appointments for clients and their close friends or family are concerned, again, this is my busiest time.

For those of you who are not my clients (or their close friends and family) and who are without a trustworthy and helpful therapist or counselor to call when things take a shift for the worse, I would like to offer a few tips for finding that perfect counselor. One who will help you not need them but also be available when you require a tune-up.

I suggest:

1) Pick a counselor that believes in firing their clients because they have grown healthy.

2) Go to a counselor for the purpose of becoming healthy, NOT for the purpose of coping or venting or being validated in your suffering.

3) Know that feeling better is better but that you need a little help in understanding how to do that.

4) NEVER see a counselor you do not like.

5) Imagine yourself happy, healthy and enjoying life. Make it believable by putting it in a context that matches you. If you are a waitress, imagine yourself as a happy comfortable waitress; not a movie star.

6) Choose a counselor you can afford.

7) Decide in advance how many sessions you will need. This can be revamped, but without believing in an endpoint you may never choose to be well.

I retired a few years ago from accepting new clients, but if you are struggling and want to reach out for a consult, don’t hesitate to use my contact info. Message me on social media or email me here: crazy2sane@gmail.com

Though I’m not accepting new clients, I always take time to help people.

This season is filled with joy for many.

I’d love for that to be true for you.

We all have a right and the ability to own that joy.

~Lynette

About the author:

Dr. Lynette Louise (aka The Brain Broad) is an International Brain Change and Behavior expert. She is a speaker, award-winning author and filmmaker, performer, recognized humanitarian, neurofeedback & autism expert, and creator/host/therapist for the international docu-series series FIX IT IN FIVE with LYNETTE LOUISE aka THE BRAIN BROAD, airing on The Autism Channel. Her one-woman show, Crazy to Sane, about mental health and abuse, invites laughter, learning, and toe-tapping fun globally FREE every year in April (Autism Awareness Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month). She is also the single mother of eight now grown children; Six were adopted and four were on the autism spectrum. Only one of her sons retains his label and remains dependent.

Contact Lynette Louise, D.Sc.,Ph.D. ABD, previously Doubly Board Certified in Neurofeedback, http://www.lynettelouise.com / www.brainbody.net / 713-213-7682 / crazy2sane@gmail.com
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Blind Spots, Billionaires, Freedom See-ers, and The Circle of Life

Introduction aka My Justification:

 

Fears and limitations, hopes and dreams, love and hate are all driven by the beliefs you’ve embraced throughout your life. These beliefs shape the world you live in by creating blind spots in your ability to perceive anything other than what you expect, insist on, or wish to be true.

 

Like the blind spot in your side and rear view mirrors, the truth is erased from view for as long as things remain in that blinded position.

 

Now, replace the word “position” with “belief” and you will understand yourself (and others) a little better.

 

However, unlike a driver’s one or two blind spots (depending on the vehicle), humans experience (or rather don’t experience) a limitless number of invisible events. These blind spots are used to reinforce a person’s world view and block out any evidence to the contrary .

 

Under the right circumstances, with the perfect storm of external influences and the right (or wrong) ideas engaged, these blind spots can merge into one huge invisibility cloak used to obscure all logic, and make you completely blind.

 

This is called delusion.

 

It functions like a magician’s mirror trick. All the action is happening behind the mirror but you can only see the reflection you were designed to see.

 

This “being blind to what so many others deem as obvious” is often one of the first states you find yourself in when “falling in love”.

 

This blog is a story of unrequited, make believe, love. Of wrapping the blindfold around one’s eyes and making up truth. This is a story of stupidity – mine.

 

Let me begin by telling you that I have a type. It is not male or female. It is not symmetrically balanced faces with taught bodies, not tall or handsome, buxom or beautiful.

 

It is people who love children, a man or a woman who sees the value in humans and wants to make the world a better place. Not because humanity is broken but because the state of being alive requires growth in one direction or another, expansion or contraction, regenerative or degenerative, but never never never stagnation. Since we have to move in one direction or another – in my opinion-  better is better than worse.

 

Whenever I meet someone who fits the criteria I fall in love.

 

But since I seldom meet someone who meets the criteria sometimes I just pretend I did.

 

Pretending is not better, it’s worse.

 

The Story of my Stupidity

 

I was enraptured as I watched a smallish overweight balding man speak with humor and passion on a midsized stage. He told the story of how he had gained his wealth and the many ways in which he used it to enrich the world. That is why my “interested antennae” had begun to tip in his direction. He cared about the global community of (wo)man. The final sell in that multilayered motivational story came when, with a warm twinkle in his eye, he spoke of how much his life improved the day he came to value the opinion of a five year old.

 

I wrote down his email address.

 

He was introduced as a billionaire trying to improve the lives of people around the globe. His stories confirmed this assumption while adding an epiphany moment that matched my life’s purpose. I am old now, so I never really think about connecting in a romantic way anymore. However, I had a special project that was meant to change the future lives of people with autism around the world. I believed he was the kind of man who would be interested in my project and even- that possibly- we could be friends.

 

I sent him a message requesting a mentor. I asked him to help me get my show Fix It In Five (a docu-series about helping families around the world coping with autism and other disorders) into the right hands for mainstream distribution.

 

He responded right away. He connected on LinkedIn. He set up times for us to talk. He told me to create a treatment  that he would take it to his people in Hollywood. He wrote a testimonial for my new book and accepted a reduced speaking fee for my event. He said we needed to spend time together and wrote an affectionate letter on my book cover.

 

He texted a lot and called me sweetheart.

 

I am a busy woman with a passion project. He was a busy man looking for people to support. He seemed to have chosen me and yet, nothing ever really happened. All our dates were cancelled and often I wondered if he was confusing me with someone else.

 

He definitely promised a lot. But he only really did the things that drew the limelight in his direction. I wanted the promises to be real so as the red flags kept coming my blind spots got bigger and bigger until they merged into one huge state of ridiculousness..

 

He grew silent. Withdrew into the darkness. I signed up for one of his workshops,  a mere $695.00. He said he was delighted that I was coming and BAM we were texting again.

 

The story gets a little crazy and though I could tell you every little word and feeling it would probably bore you because you are not in the myopic state pretend love creates. (Or are you?)

 

The gist of it is that I discovered he was playing a number of the people I introduced him to and that no one could prove his wealth. He wrote an almost identical letter of affection on several people’s books and balked at refunding people who wanted to withdraw from his workshops.

 

He also cancelled the workshop I was to attend and pretended to mail out refund checks. He was always in crisis (people dying or his health, etc) when it was time to meet up or pay me back. He was clearly not someone that matched my criteria. And I was definitely wasting time and would not be seeing my project in the hands of his “Hollywood” guys.

 

I gathered the evidence and outed him with all the women.

 

He was furious and did the usual manipulations, via text, of course.

 

I asked for my refund and he ALL CAPS SHOUTED that he wouldn’t want me at his workshop anyway. The check is in the mail he promised…

 

That was over a year ago. I am still waiting, walking to my mailbox and wondering why he couldn’t just refund it on paypal since that is how I paid. I send the occasional reminder text and email but never hear back anymore. Even the excuses have stopped.

 

I have heard of others who had trouble getting their money and still… on a day when it feels hard to help humanity I dream up excuses for him… wishing it could be real and making a difference could be made easier.

 

I justify his behavior with mental gymnastics. I tell myself dumb things like if he really is a billionaire then six hundred and ninety five dollars is about as important to him as 25 cents is to me.  Maybe I wouldn’t pay that back either, I tell myself.

 

But then I hear it.

 

The lie that makes the blind spots dissolve and become transparent.

 

Because I would pay it back.

 

My other belief, the one that drives me in innumerable ways, my need to be fair screams, “YES YOU WOULD!” I test the inner voice and imagine taking 25 cents from people to run a web series. One of them asks for a refund. And I immediately know, what I already know. I would not only pay it back but I would add something for their trouble.

 

And everytime I almost blind myself, again, I end up in this scenario.

 

Knowing that words are wonderful but actions make the difference.

 

If I want to make things better, words alone are not enough.

 

Not enough for me or the people I choose to partner with.

 

What is that old saying? “Never mind what they say, watch what their feet are doing.”

 

This man said he was disgusted by President Trump and wanted his term to end quickly. But then a few months later told stories of being at the President’s side. True or not, one thing was certain, he was duplicitous. These were the red flags I tried to ignore.

 

Red flags are red for a reason. They are meant to get your attention, so let them.

 

At this point in my life I have met (and worked with) several billionaires (both real and not).  I have heard many stories of naive people (especially artists) wasting time and money waiting for the fruition of promised help and support. I know I will see these events and people according to my own beliefs and wishes. That is unavoidable.

 

But implanting a belief that I will be better if I see clearly and respond quickly to any and all red flags, well, that could clear up the blind spots.

 

Perhaps you could try that belief as well. We could start a movement. Call ourselves, “the freedom see-ers.”

 

One thing is certain, if I want to help people see clearly, remove their blinders and grow in strength and kindness, I must do that too. I must stand by my beliefs or toss them aside with intention and opened eyed reasoning.

 

And I do want to help you, so I choose to help myself.

 

And that, more than the birth and death of each generation, is the circle of life.

A Valentine’s Letter of Love

My mom moved to a care home (well, a few actually) in the past two years.

While the family was removing her belongings from the old condo and putting them into storage, my sister came across this Valentine’s letter from me to my dad.

My father passed away many years ago and I wrote this letter when he was still alive. I was eight. I’m sixty-one and three quarters now.

“Dear Dad,

I do not know what Valentine’s Day is. I do not know if it is a day of love or a day of giving cards without a real reason. Or maybe it’s a day of giving cards with a very good reason. Whatever it is it will always be a day of love to me.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Love your daughter,

Lynette”

This letter has been carted from place to place by my mother. It has come up often in my conversations with her, always for different reasons and not all of them nice.

But when I see the letter I just see me. A young girl, loving her daddy.

I know that’s as it should be because I understand how my brain function creates my reality.

I understand how the brain creates and recreates memories depending on the perceptions and emotions of the moment.

My childhood has a lot of abuse in it. Most of it from my mom, some of it from my dad.

But it also had a lot of love and hard work, a lot of homemade dresses and homework support, a lot of friends and tons (by today’s standards) of freedom.

I am not deluding myself into thinking it was easy for any of us, my parents included.

Instead, I am sharing what I learned and focusing on what I gained.

I love my parents and I’m glad to see that Valentine’s Day served a beautiful purpose in my life.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. It is not just about romance. It is about FEELING the softness and warm flow of neurochemicals that accompany LOVE.

Focus on the love,

whenever you can.

Because love heals,

everything!

*To learn more about my history of focusing on the love and healing from abuse, please read my book Sever The Cycle of Abuse with The Sub Shop Savior.

 

Dirty Girl In The Bathroom and Top Of Mind Marketing

Many people invest in little fridge magnets, pens, and notepads with their business name stamped on them, hoping to imprint their name upon you so that when you need their expertise they are top of mind. They hope to be the first business you think of; the one you call. This does not work on me. Possibly it seldom works on most people but it is likely a good tax write off for the company even if they don’t get customers from it. And, of course, they’re giving their business to the companies that are personalizing the products. Even if it doesn’t work they are benefiting someone. However, it does require a budget for all that bric-a-brac. The calendars and pens and mouse pads. So it would be best if it helped their sales, I am sure. And, like I said, whether it works on anyone else or not it doesn’t work on me.

On the other hand, I do use the pens, notepads, flashlights, and magnets. I do use the bric-a-brac. It just doesn’t lead to my being converted from gadget gatherer to customer.

BUT! I have discovered that…

When the gadget solves a problem it just might convert someone else.

You see, I am the dirty girl in the bathroom that doesn’t wash her hands.

Let me explain, aka justify.

Soap hurts my hands.

And before you roll your eyes, understand that carrying soap and/or lotion in my handbag has proven difficult in the airports (and I am in the airports a lot). For example, certain lotions make your hands read on the security instruments as if you have been playing with explosives. (If you didn’t know that already word of advice: Do not use hotel lotion before flying.) I fly almost weekly. Thus I am efficient in my arrival times and often do not have time for the third degree security shake down.

Additionally, since I am a last minute pack and run kind of girl and moisturizing soap isn’t top of mind, I often forget it. I wanted something I could always have at the ready without setting off security alarms and so sanitizer became my go to solution.

Except it wasn’t. It hurt my hands.

As do baby wipes, makeup remover wipes, and several oils.

I finally found a pen sanitizer that worked. Or rather, it found me by hanging out in a financial expert’s grab bag at an event for women.

Fortunately, Marilyn Suey (the money expert) had enough to share with the speakers at the event, of which I was one. While sitting on the toilet I found myself going through the grab bag and trying the special pen sanitizer. Not only were my hands clean, they were also comfortable. I felt as if I had won the lottery! I then noted that it would have been better to use it after I went to the washroom and I established my future habit.

And that is how I became the dirty girl that doesn’t wash her hands.

Habits are established fairly quickly but they are shaped and reshaped over time.

Initially I just looked like the dirty girl that voided and then left the room without washing her hands.

Then one day I overheard someone say I was disgusting and considered caring more about what they thought than the truth of the situation. Perhaps, instead of cleaning after leaving the bathroom, I should use the sanitizer in an obvious fashion as I exited?

Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t.

Sometimes, I get a certain satisfaction out of the uninformed judgments of others. After all, I am in the airport and there is not a lot of fun to be had while waiting to board a plane.

I either do not go to the wash basin after eliminating in a public restroom and use my fancy pen after I leave (especially if people are staring and seem judgmental) or, if there are children watching, I fake wash with water only and then use the pen while sitting at the gate.

One day, as I  pretended to wash my hands, a young girl of about five or six who was watching the adults surrounding her (possibly in search of the reasons behind the fluctuating rules), told her mom that I had not used soap.

OOPS!

My little game of rebelling against the judgments of others had backfired. I care about children. I work with children. I model for children. A lot.

Truth is, I believe in hand washing and want children to have it as a healthy habit.

In that moment I realized that this little girl may have the same problem as me and need the same solution. Perhaps she was watching the adults in search of a way NOT to use soap. And there it was. My opportunity to help. I love that.

I pulled out the pen and told her mom the story. We used the sanitizer together and the little girl said it helped her hands. Mom asked who Marilyn Suey was and I shared that she was a wonderful new friend with great financial advice. The mom wrote her name and number down and we parted ways, rushing to catch our respective planes.

I have now repeated this advertisement dance countless times and whether Marilyn gets clients from it or not, I got an important lesson. And so, too, do many of the bathroom patrons.

We chat and share tips. Sometimes we share cultural differences over sanitation and often refer experts in various fields. The pen has truly written a different story in my life even though it contains no ink. And though I still don’t invest in bric-a-brac in order to spread my name I am doubly convinced of the importance of testimonials. But even more than testimonials I am reinvested in people. My life has grown better from the power of intimate bathroom chatter and all the connections made, in this, the unlikeliest of places. We connect over explanations and the sharing of ideas rather than separate over assumptions and preexisting prejudices. We connect even though, or rather because, I pass through life not washing my hands right in front of them.

I stopped behaving like a shock jock and drawing their stares in order to entertain myself. I also stopped deluding myself into thinking they deserved it, that it was their fault for judging me, when they were only thinking what I set them up to believe in the first place.

Thank you, Marilyn. Without my ever hiring you, you improved my life just by being you.

And that is my lesson to hold on to. Be myself but do it out loud. Use the pen in front of them. Talk about it. Use it again after I leave and talk about that, too.

Do this, and every behavior I believe in, with comfort.

That way I will not be to blame for the misunderstandings that come my way. But will, instead, get the credit for the truth I represent.

Five Reasons You Should Spend Five Days at our Neurofeedback & Nutrition Retreat this October: Change Your Mindset To Change Your Life with Dr. Lynette Louise (The Brain Broad), Dianne Kosto, and Dana James

Apparently, I like the number five when inspiring people to grow. For example, I have a show called Fix It In Five and I wrote Five Steps To Self Discovery in my new book Inspire Yourself To Greatness Change Your Brain Change the World. I even rewrote the number five in The Seven Senses of Leadership: The Brain Broad’s Guide To Leadership Sensibilities by shifting the normally believed in sensory system senses from five to seven. (When you tell people there are seven they automatically think of the number five.)

When it comes to numbers and being heard by the populace there is an actual science. Five, seven, nine, ten, and eleven top the list depending on the purpose of the list. Generally speaking, lower numbers are better in to-do/not-to-do and “why” lists, whereas higher numbers are better for accomplishments like the top ten charities, etc. For me, the number five seems most compelling because it implies enough work to make a difference and not so much work that you can’t remember all the steps or risk getting overwhelmed just reading the list. When it comes to “reasons why” this is even more true. Too few reasons won’t get me to reduce my bank account by more than a few dollars and too many reasons has an implied message that tells me I am super broken and need way more than five days for the fix (and, oh ya, the retreat is five days long).

What retreat you ask?

Why, the one in Mexico of course 🙂

My last five days this October will be spent rejuvenating brains and bodies at a beachfront luxury villa located in the exclusive neighborhood of Punta Mita on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Alongside Dianne Kosto (founder of SYMMETRY Neuro-Pathway Training) and Dana James (founder of the Archetype Diet), we’ll be using our expertise and passion to give you the tools and experiences needed to Change Your Mindset To Change Your Life. I invite you to join us. You see, to really become better, more you, happier, and healthier, your psychology AND your physiology must shift in unison. And THAT is easiest done away from home in a soothing environment.

Whether you are facing anxiety, burn-out, overwhelm, sleep problems, health issues or a few stubborn extra pounds; this experience will prove that changing the way you think really can change everything.

Enjoy accommodation in a luxury, beachfront villa in paradise.

So, here you go. Five Reasons You Should Spend Five Days at our Neurofeedback & Nutrition Retreat this October:

1- The price of the retreat is cheaper than the two QEEG tests and various sessions you will receive would be if you bought them individually. So if you have been wanting to test neurofeedback this is an amazing opportunity! Normally, to get neurofeedback the provider requires these tests AND a minimum number of pre-purchased sessions. This is a huge commitment for the person just deciding if the therapy is right for them.

2- An unfamiliar yet supportive environment removes the usual habit forming behavioral cues and allows you to dig deep and rewrite old beliefs that are causing barriers to your development. Having neurofeedback sessions at the same time enables you to balance your physiology and correct for minor functional issues that have been impeding your growth and challenging your focus. For example, for some people feeling stressed results in a type of targeting behavior that means the person will look for who to attack. Removing that stress without balancing the brain leaves them feeling frightened as if they were in a stranger’s body. People who are like this find it hard to enjoy relaxing. However, with both neurofeedback and a supportive environment – away from the usual triggers – relaxing becomes rejuvenating

3- As mentioned, change can be stressful. But with neurofeedback that stress is reduced. And then living in a state of comfort helps solidify the desired feelings and behaviors. Thus, being surrounded by balancing techniques and activities (beaches, boats, yoga, infra-red sauna, massage, etc) facilitates the changes while allowing you to eliminate the difficulties.

4- The setting is beautiful yet separate from the town. It is secure and operates like an oasis for you and the other participants to recreate themselves in. This, and the neurofeedback accompanied by teaching and testing, magnifies the possibilities and enables people to accomplish for themselves in five days what it would normally require months to do.

5– The participant list will remain small to allow for intimacy and full access to experts. Though intentional change is possible in large gatherings the potential for emotional damage is high. In smaller groups, we can assist you as you choose and even attain your own personal self-discovery goals. We have small groups in order to ensure your success.

Of course, there are many more than five reasons to join us. And many of those reasons will be of a more personalized nature. So I encourage you to imagine yourself there, check out our itinerary, the menu, the photos of the villa, and picture how you might personally benefit. What you may want to work on or examine.

Feel free to make your own list of all the reasons you should spend five days at our neurofeedback and nutrition retreat this October. May I offer a fun suggestion?

Make it a list of five. 😉

Visit: Change Your Mindset to Change Your Life

The True Story That Isn’t True: A Tale of Autism, Adoption, and Abuse, with Important Advice for Parents

On April 2, 2018, a Strive Story was published about me. It is always an honor to share my story, but it is always a little uncomfortable, too. The story is never actually true, even though it is the truth. In telling our tales in snippets, with a theme, a reason, a moral, a specific audience, etc, we tell the version of our truth that is relevant. It is a true story, but it also isn’t. And when people write a story about you, well, they change it more, getting it right and wrong all at once.

As we near the end of Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month, I thought it might be a timely opportunity to share this true tale of me with you. It is just the story of one girl. A bit about her childhood, her diagnosis, her journey into parenthood, and her international career as a Brain Change expert.

(These bits are mostly taken from correspondence with the Strive reporters. It would add another dimension again if you chose to visit the story they wrote built out of these pieces they read. Feel free to have a look at their story here: Enabling Kids With Autism to Flourish)

Here is a story of me:

I grew up “different” and was abused both in and out of the home. As a small child, I promised to make the world a better place by becoming a caring and fair mom of many. Later, after having two live daughters born to me, I had to have a hysterectomy and so I adopted six more children, four boys and two more girls. All from abused homes and with various brain dysfunctions, most prevalent in the boys was autism.

After raising my family successfully against impossible odds (although I’ve been married five times I was mostly a single mom) and healing myself, along with most of my children, I took my knowledge, my love of challenged people, and my quirky style into the world to help others. I am now an international brain and behavior expert, helping families around the globe by working personally with them, writing books, hosting shows, and creating programs.

Growing up I was never properly diagnosed (labels such as bipolar, schizophrenia, and clinically depressed were considered but none quite fit). I did eventually, as an adult, receive a diagnosis of “Historically Asperger’s” which, in my opinion and in the opinion of my children, fits just fine.

Here is a longer, more detailed, and hence a more REAL story of me:

What I meant by abused both in and out of the home:  As a child I was an extrovert that was uncomfortable around people. But since my mom had a volatile temper I kept choosing to be in the company of my peers. There were other types of abuse in my home, and then outside of it, as well. My dad molested me, my uncle molested me, my grandfather sexually humiliated me, and I had sex with my teachers. This kind of abuse creates a nest. Whenever all this was overwhelming I would hide in bushes, closets, and cubbyholes. I had little meals and clothing packed in six or seven places around my house in case I was ever having to stay safe for longer than two hours, or if I got up the gumption to run away. I tried to kill myself five times but was too young to truly know how. And I gave sermons at church on layperson Sundays. I was different.

What I refer to when I say that I raised my family successfully against impossible odds: I feel like I understood my adopted daughter’s better because of my abuse, and I understood my adopted son’s better because of my brain. I understood you could be stupid and smart at the same time. Understanding all of that made it possible for me to believe that they could become more than anyone else believed they could.

However, my challenges at doing things in a socially appropriate way – for example, choosing to have my children walk to school together, rather than having two walk while the other two who were more afflicted take the severely special-needs bus, led to having them attached to each other with a scarf, which was brilliant and increased their independence – but caused the neighbors and educational administrators to attack us. This constant barrage of negativity made helping my children and myself pretty much impossible.

I was also blind to seeing sexual predators accurately and a couple of my children ended up molested – one of them by a school employee. I solved all of this in another unique and different way. I took everyone out of school and we lived in an RV going from resort to resort where everyone was treated with kindness and holiday smiles. All of my children improved, socially and academically, and I relaxed.

My ability think outside the box, because I wasn’t ever in it, was both a blessing and a curse; enabling me to solve funding problems, social issues, and other challenges while also creating a few problems of its own.

At this point in my life I do not have Asperger’s. However, I still get stuck on the occasional literal thought and think outside the box. Lucky for me and my patients my savant is in behavioral cause and effect.

Married five times but mostly a single mom, how I felt about that: Being a single mom was much easier than being a married mom. The ability to cooperate with somebody who disagrees with your unusual technique is too draining. When you understand the disability you’re dealing with, as I did, it takes a willingness to go into the disability, to join the person in their challenged place, and hold their hand as together you slowly shape behaviors toward a more normal presentation. Healing is messy. Most spouses don’t like it. It’s too much work and way to different. I do not have the skill – if it even exists – to blend that thinking with a neurotypical married life. PS: I was too busy to give my spouses enough attention.

Diagnosed as an adult, how and why that happened: I was fortunate and unfortunate in that a diagnosis for something like Asperger’s wasn’t even happening until the decade in which I became a parent. At that point, the abuse of my home and the difference of me had already created many emotional episodes. I spent my life living out of step and, particularly during adolescence, being suicidal. Once I had children I not only had something to live for but something to learn for, and so I began to self-help and heal in a very circuitous and somewhat problematic way. I became great at being a mom and matured well in that arena but, like many people with special brains, I had areas of complete inability. A couple examples of those inabilities were in basic math and in picking a good mate.

After many years of helping my children and myself I looked back over the landscape of my life and wondered what it would have been called. Even though I was very informed medically at this point, I thought it would be a good idea to get another opinion. I sat with a psychiatrist for five long sessions while we tried to tease apart whether it was just abuse as a child that caused my emotional behaviors and mental blind spots or if I actually should have been diagnosed with something. At the end of this process, she sent me what I didn’t know was a test email. She said she finally figured me out by looking in a very old manual. She diagnosed me with “Odducktoralis.” Even though this doctor had introduced herself to me as “The Odd Doc that Treats Odd Ducks” still, my literal mind sent me flipping through diagnostic manuals and looking all over the internet for research papers with this diagnosis. When I finally begged her for its meaning she said: “It’s official, you have Asperger’s.”

And I was relieved.

The good news is I specialized in autism and my children had lived with my difference for years. We didn’t feel a need for the diagnosis, yet we all felt better, it made sense, and my clients began to listen to me with greater interest.

Both are stories of me, both are true, and both are such a small piece of my puzzle that they are also a lie.

I tell this tale as a reminder for all of us this Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month. We are reading and hearing stories of people around the world who are on the spectrum. Hopefully, we are stepping up and making changes in our lives and the lives of others by being open and willing to learn something new.

But also, it’s of use to remember that we are being offered true lies.

This is at first confusing, of course. How can we learn from the stories of others if they are, by necessity, both true and not true? But then it is no longer confusing and is instead empowering. We ARE learning from the stories of others, which are both true and not true, and so we must always keep in mind that we are learning to empathize and grow great, not to come to concrete conclusions.

This is the story of one girl. It is her true story that isn’t telling you all the truth. I hope you are able to learn and grow from it.

An Actionable Piece of Advice for you This Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month: Okay, okay, fine, I get it. You want a specific concrete answer anyway. Well, I’ve got you covered. Instead of a concrete answer, I’m going to give you advice. I love giving advice! And I have lots to give! I help people all over the world become healthier and happier. Boy, do I have advice! ;D

So, at the moment, because of a patient I’m working with, what comes to mind as advice I want to give today is to point out with as much clarity as possible that a socially uncomfortable child is not made more comfortable by being forced into social circumstances. Putting these kinds of children into school settings surrounded by peers is a recipe for personality destruction, suicide, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar, all manner of disorders can find their roots in the well-intentioned forcing of social exposure via the school system on the hearts and minds of children who simply react to their pain by shrinking inwardly or exploding out.

How to solve that is to shore up their confidence away from their peers when working on their deficit areas. Simultaneously pair them with other likeminded children for fun events and activities. The artist can go to art class, the ruff and tumble kid can join a soccer team, the child who doesn’t have a strong hold on fantasy and reality can join a theatre group and learn how to storytell with flair. In this way, when they compare themselves to others (and they will) they are successful and part of the group and they’ll learn to enjoy being social. And while away from the group they’re working on their challenges and getting comfortable with making mistakes.

At some point this will all blend together and they will want to go to school in a more neuro-typical fashion.

To sum up: You help children by helping children, not by forcing them through.

Brain Changes That Lead To Depression And Addiction Can Be Harnessed For Healing

There is an important thing happening in the world. Mental Illness is slowly becoming less of a hidden secret while more and more people speak up and out, insisting on being heard and on erasing the cruel stigma around most invisible brain dysfunctions. This is good. But we must be careful. Keep an eye on cultivating answer-oriented frames of mind rather than encourage the present trend of creating fame that celebrates and accommodates each diagnosis for its challenges. A limelight of pity creates value in being broken and increases the person’s problems rather than diminishing them.

Let me offer some answers.

For comprehension more detailed, let me focus on depression in women for a minute.

The two most challenging yet effective times to treat depression (particularly in women and girls) is during the teenage years and menopause. This is largely due to the immense amount of reorganizing your body and brain (and, hence, your hormones) are already engaged in. This is a time when the brain ( even more than the body) seeks to be shown how to grow healthier. This is a time when help is desired and more easily accepted when presented in the right light. But it is also a time when greater damage is easy to inflict via misinformation from propaganda via marketing, social sharing, political programs, religions etc. These lead to unhelpful expectations and beliefs.

During these periods – again, the teen years and menopause – the company of other women, medical professionals, group therapy, news, media marketing etc. tends to reinforce the misery descending upon bodies and brains that are reorganizing themselves for the next stage of life.

Nothing magnifies pain like public opinion. Especially when at the same time that women are being told they will suffer, they are also being treated as if this depression is irritating and they should just get over it. This catch 22 is the crux of the complication in helping women stabilize.

I travel the globe working effectively with people who have depression (along with all kinds of other mental health challenges) and I also raised eight children – four girls and four boys, six adopted and all with varying degrees of abuse and mental health challenges as part of their story – and so I am uniquely qualified to understand the problem of depression regardless of culture.

Around the world depression is prevalent. Often people want to know why. Well, given the degree to which movement offsets depression and the present day rise in sedentary behavior amongst young people, given the changes in brain wave behavior caused by screen usage and social network addiction, given the vulnerable nature of teens to social opinions and the immediacy and reach of social network bullying worldwide, given the high levels of state-change medicinal usage in elementary students effectively preventing the natural maturation of the brain, widespread depression is more than an overdiagnosis, it is inevitable.

However, I don’t want to paint a bleak picture, though I do want to point out the bleak and dangerous nature of current trends in order to help us change things for the better.

That is my job. Changing things for the better. That is my job and I am good at it. Not only because of my own personal history with mental health and abuse, and not only because of my history as a mom, but because it has been my passion and motivator from the day my memories begin.

As a professional, I work with teens and their families all around the world, and as a mom I helped guide eight children into adulthood, navigating depression and avoiding addictions for my high-risk teens.

Every story is different. Every culture carries its own tools and pitfalls. Every family has a unique history. Every person is genuinely alone with their thoughts. BUT we all have brains and bodies that work in pretty much the same way. So I have learned a few things that, when taken home and tailored to fit your unique goals and abilities, work for everyone.

As you know I share these things everywhere and often. I write books, articles, and shows. I speak, perform, and invent new ways to give this information away.

I want to share one of those things here with you now. Specific information for anyone with depression, avoiding addiction or suicide. This is something I see families worldwide struggle to accept and yet it is monumentally important. It is a lifesaving understanding, every time.

To help: There is really no replacing a change of environment and a restructuring of the roles everyone in the family is playing.

Too often people want to hang onto the life they are living and “fix” their children’s problems, or the person with the diagnosis, without having their own lives derailed. However, the life you are living led to, or is feeding, this problem in some complicit way. So change is the answer.

If you live with an addict: The first step to really helping an addict is an acceptance that the job ahead is huge and requires an absolute nonjudgmental commitment from everyone in the support network. Step two is to approach healing from the concerns of the addict, not the wishes of those around the addict. Addicts don’t stop using because we want them to. They stop using because they want to stop more than they want to use. This ‘thinking with the mind of an addict’ requires some very challenging re-balancing of motivators but once it’s done you can speak the same language and head for the same goals, you are on the same team.

So, where depression and addiction are concerned, change, the right change, motivated by a desire for health, is the answer. Always.

However, if you step in and change the environment, if you attack all the pleasures and don’t replace them with greater ones, you will fail so big the problems become stronger, even more resistant to change.

So yes, restructure the roles everyone in the family is playing. Make less screen time and movement that is fun for the mover a rule, examine the beliefs of your home and your culture with a willingness to shift, adjust, rewrite, and then, if you allow for a life that isn’t perfect in appearances but is mostly a joy to experience, you will likely avoid addiction and depression altogether.

True these issues often originate (as in adolescence and menopause) from genuine physiological imbalances. However, one’s psychology becomes their physiology and vice versa. Thus you can still use psychological change to re-balance physiological shifts. That was always a good idea. It just needs to be done with the right mindset and supportive environment.

For example, the person who fears the world often does so to balance feelings of depression. Depression is a mentally slowed down, body heavy experience. Fear is a quick thinking, anxiously vibrating, heart fluttering one. The two can actually balance each other out. This technique, however, has a deleterious effect on health and emotional well being.

The depression driven fearful person is often advised to take self-defense classes in order to remit their feelings of fear. This action does help them feel stronger but the need for self-defense also vindicates their feelings of fear and causes them to believe more fully that the world is dangerous. Sometimes people in this scenario then unconsciously seek to prove themselves right and invite danger through unfocused action. Thus, they discover that they were right, the danger is real. They discover this without seeing their own complicit behavior in the circumstance. Generally, this commonly used approach simply causes the fear to shift position.

However, having a purpose and being active may have remedied the originating cause: depression. Thus some people will actually heal this way.

A better approach might be to have that same person take Tai Chi with a focus on health and longevity. This would also improve strength and preparedness. However, without an increase in the focus on danger. Fear distracted, used, and dissolved. In the course of making these changes, the previously fearful person would also alleviate any symptoms of depression but this time without behavioral side effects.

I do not mean to make this sound easy peasy.

To be honest, before I started using neurofeedback sometimes these changes required herculean efforts and were just not enough to maintain the improvements they instilled. Neurofeedback became my tool for reaching deeper into the brain and creating behavioral change from within. The combination was so powerful, so easy peasy, I changed my life trajectory and became a medical professional sharing what I had learned for the benefits of others.

So add a little (okay, maybe a lot) of neurofeedback and you can say goodbye to depression altogether. Particularly in younger brains. As for addiction, in my experience addiction is usually caused by a desire to feel better. When you feel better it dissolves quite easily.

So help yourself and your people feel better, and let joy do the rest.

When I Was Easy To Rape, It Was Still Rape

Originally published on OpEdNews Nov. 6, 2012: When I Was Easy To Rape, It Was Still Rape

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I usually ignore politicians during election years because they say such stupid things.  More than at any other time.

So while politicians give the media juicy phrases to fry them with … phrases like ‘forcible rape’  ‘false rape’, ‘legitimate rape’, and my own personal favorite ‘rape so easy’ I find myself pondering the question “How often have I been Easy to Rape?”

The answer was, repeatedly!

Apparently, I have been my version (which is slightly different than State Rep. Roger Rivard’s version) of easy to rape countless times in my colorful life.

Let’s go through them:

At five years old when my father took me into the cubby hole to stroke his penis I was EASY TO RAPE though fortunately I never actually was… raped.

At eight years old when my grandfather and all his drunken friends laughed at me as I chugged beer in the beer tent at the county fair and then had me drop my panties so they could all get a good look, I was EASY TO RAPE, but fortunately I never actually was … for it was only show and tell.

At twelve when my uncle barricaded me in the barn and dry humped me while squeezing my breasts and saying, “You’ve been asking for this all night!” I was EASY TO RAPE, though luckily I never actually was … it was only a full body massage.

At age thirteen when the class bully ripped my jacket off behind the school and forced his fingers in my crotch I was EASY TO RAPE, but ironically my dad showed up just in time to interrupt the tussling.

At age 15 by the time our local gym teacher took me into the sick room and told me I was beautiful I actually was EASY TO RAPE.

Finally raped I could follow the local police advice and just give in to anyone that felt intimidating. This became especially true after I ran away from home and found myself in need of rides; spare change, a place to sleep.

So I ‘gave in by complying’ over and over again. In fact, I’d comply if I even thought they might become intimidating. I complied before I was even asked because that felt like I had some measure of control over my life. I think they call this promiscuous.

Eventually I pulled it together. I even married a few times. My third marriage was to a man I loved in a hero-worshipping dreamy sort of way.  He was obsessed with sex offenders and wanted to be a vigilante, so we had a pact that we would go on an offender-killing rampage when the kids were grown and gone. It was – to me– a harmless fantasy that proved I had finally found someone safe to be around. Until I found out that he wasn’t anymore.

One day my 13 year old told me that my husband had crawled into her bed while she was asleep and touched her underneath her undies. My safety net vanished. The world crashed down around us.

I put one metaphorical foot in front of the other as my husband, who tried to kill himself, was arrested. I was lost in confusion and knew only that I had to believe my child. Eventually we ended up in group therapy. That group therapy saved me, saved my children and all the other children that I would later save. That group therapy began the healing, but not for the reasons you might expect.

During therapy all the moms whose daughters had been sexually mistreated talked about themselves. The intention of therapy was to teach everyone how to recognize a predator. But the intention wasn’t being realized. I looked around the table and noticed something I hadn’t previously known: Every one of those moms had a history of being sexually and physically abused. Me too.

In that moment I understood the nest of predators I was laying in. In that moment I came to understand that I didn’t have to do anything bad for bad to happen because somehow my past had magnetized me to it. I would attract predators or become one myself. Slowly I started to grasp the degree to which sexually damaged people cluster together to protect each other even as the victims gather together and become easy targets. They do this because they are blind to the attractions of dissimilar nests, and see only the value in the pheremonally familiar.

The desire to hurt people surged through my body. I wanted to retroactively report every one of the molesters in my life as a way of wiping my future clean. But as I listened to the other women whine, I realized that I couldn’t help my daughter by talking about myself. I was certain of it. So I took this new understanding– that I might unknowingly attract molesters– and decided to keep men away from my children… unless I got married to one. Which I did – two more times – but that didn’t work either because it was a husband who had molested my child. Thus husbands were the most dangerous of all. So – since I still didn’t trust men – my next two marriages didn’t even lead to cohabitation.

Hence it is that I raised my many kids, adopted, and biological, alone.

The daughter whom my husband had molested repeated some of my steps and found herself having sex she didn’t want to have with a young boy who thought that no coerced into yes was consensual sex. Later she told me about it and I called the police. Finally one of us had been State Rep. Roger Rivard’s version of rape so easy: consensual sex turned against the boy. Unless of course, you have a more romantic version of consent.

That boys definition was push till she plays and the police advice in such a situation is always ‘comply’. So how does a young woman stay safe AND virtuous in such a situation? I had no real manual for what to do other than to not do it the way it had been done to me. (This was before the Internet … now the answers are easier to get, and they have changed. From comply, to fight and refuse.

So I wasn’t going to blame my daughter for the behavior of the man. I wasn’t going to not support her. And I WASN’T going to let my pain contaminate her life for the rest of her life. We were going to break the chain of abuse one link at a time.

My daughter and I went to court, which was traumatizing but necessary. She was called ‘coy’ and even now, 20 years later, when she uses the word she seems to want to spit it out with vehemence. I think if they’d had the phrase back then the defense probably would have called her EASY TO RAPE. I am glad he didn’t. She was hurt enough.

Since people who are sexually deviant, desperate, controlling, cruel, gather together and find each other through intuitive silent signals, they end up in tight little clusters of protective power. I know I mentioned this but it’s worth repeating. All important warnings are.

Imagine a ripe blackberry, with its little clusters clinging tightly to the core. Now, imagine being a microscopic insect burrowing through the mass of gelatinous flesh, and swimming in the sticky fluid of syrupy sex in an attempt to make it out of the rotting ooze. Imagine making it out covered in jizz but free. And now imagine that as you escape, you begin to see the light while the fruit behind you swarms with wasps and bees and flies and maggots. Then suddenly you feel a shadow and realize there is yet more fruit to be conquered and burrowed through.

And so it is as you find yourself constantly unveiling layer upon layer of nesting material, comprising nest upon nest of residents lunging for you with lecherous arms. Every time I found a new nest I dragged myself and my children though it. We persevered in our journey towards cleanliness of spirit, even as they screamed ‘everybody can’t be a molester’. Their resistance to my insistence. My response was simple and constant, “At the moment, most every body in our world is.” I knew this because – once I got the gravity of not helping my family get free of the cluster – I was tireless in my resolve to take action and recreate us again and again and again … until the day when no family, spouse, colleague, teacher, friend or enemy could touch my kids.

One thing I can honestly say is that when it comes to accepting or being defeated by the sexual status quo, I have NEVER BEEN EASY TO RAPE, regardless of words like legitimate, or false, or forcible to sugar coat the pain, rape hurts … each and every kind.  In fact every one of these rapes hurt as bad as any other. Even the rapes that were mostly made of words, where poorly thought out commentary by political buffoons went blazoning through the media loud enough for me – the person with no TV – to hear them. The question remains: does being sensitive make me vulnerable and EASY TO RAPE or am I just asking for it?

Author’s Note: Helping my children – to not have to experience this for them selves – has required healing me.  Unfortunately healing me came a little late for one of them. For me healing requires sharing with others so that I can hear myself. Thus it is that I have become my own teacher so that what I now know, I can immediately know it better.  That is why I am a speaker for RAINN. That is why I reason, I speak out, I teach and I share. If you wish to hear more about the nesting effect in sexual abuse I would be delighted to speak at your event. ~Lynette

 

 

Three Tips for Harnessing Envy

For a variety of reasons, many people today are unaware of the subtle differences in their emotions. So they drop everything into either the negative or positive emotional category.

 

Envy is an emotion with subtleties.

Very often a person sees someone else’s acquisitions and thinks to themselves: “Wow, I’m motivated by the acquisitions of that person. I sure wish I had what they have.” The first statement leads to proactive responding and an increase in desire that has no downside. The second response leads to negativity and blaming.
 
So, when you think in terms of beliefs creating emotions, and envy being the problem you’re having, my tips are:
 
1) Look at all the things that you envy people for and try to put as many as possible into the category of, “Wow, this window shopping for ‘what everyone else has’ is great for me as far as motivation goes! Let’s see what I want.” With this attitude and activity, you’ll immediately have less envy.
 
2) Now that you’ve got those acquisition-envy beliefs out of the mix, you can look at the ones where you have true, strong, envy and ask yourself, “Do I actually want what they have or am I thinking I want it simply to avoid something else?” This is an important piece because often negative emotions are just our way of avoiding what we actually want, and we’re often taught to want more than we can even possibly have.
 
3) Tip three is the most important but it won’t be as useful till you’ve done one and two. So number three: You make your list. Your list is what you actually want. It’s like setting a goal and when a person sets a goal they are less susceptible to getting sidetracked. An example: “Even though I’d like to do every job in the world my first goal is to be an accountant, so I won’t do guitar lessons right now.” It’s the same with acquisitions and accomplishments. When you have a goal then you know that other people’s acquisitions and accomplishments don’t fit into your goal and you can just admire them for it. As well as partner with them. So that you’re now able to have access to even more. It becomes not, “I wish I had what they had,” and instead, “Thank goodness they have what they have, now I don’t have to.” 

 

There are many other tips and ideas for harnessing your envy; personalize them. Create them for yourself. Find and impliment all the ways that you are best at taking advantage of this emotion.

 

How much fun I’ll have envying your ability to do so!

;D

Simple Suggestions For Parents Struggling To Bond With Baby

Dear parents struggling to bond with baby,

Allow me to give you this gift.

Let go of whatever you imagined it would be like to bond, you were wrong.

A lot of this feeling, this feeling of not being able to bond, is due to reality not matching imagination. Also, you’re tired and hormonal, which leads to emotions that cause you to be easily worried and overly observant in self-sabotaging ways.

Just take the time to get to know this new creature. There’s no reason why you would be bonded until you do that.

The difference between the parent who bonds right away and the parent who doesn’t is the belief that they will bond, without the imagined idea of what that should look like or feel like in advance.

Stay in the present and you will be fine.

When you’re in the present you’ll be able to tell if your baby is pulling away and/or refusing to feed because of a problem (maybe a sensory issue or pain) and then you will seek the correct counsel rather than take it personally.

Please Know: The act of reaching out to help your child is the act of bonding.

If you find yourself with more questions or concerns, please feel comfortable reaching out to me.

Bonding with baby is a gift I would love to help you unwrap.

~Lynette Louise,

aka The Brain Broad

 

 

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Weaker (Unless You Use It To Pole Vault Into Greater Horizons Of Understanding)

My son likes to play the same radio station all day and night.

Hence, I keep hearing the hook line: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” After enough repetitions, wherein I nodded in agreement, I thought again.

The concept is wrong. And somewhat damaging.

It is a propagated myth that assists people in their attempts to feel proud when they struggle. Since pride is a desirable emotion this response contains the possibility of cementing us into the role of ‘overcomer’. Thus we must seek things to struggle against and overcome. It is like treading water in the story of your life.

In truth, anything that almost kills you leaves you needing to heal, which is a weaker state than being healthy already. Thus, challenges big enough to bring you close to death (or wishing for it) make you weaker than you would have been without this painful interruption in your life story.

True, if you are able to overcome without becoming habituated to overcoming, if you were already strong before the near death disabling incident happened, and you choose to embrace the unexpected information your experience presented you with, you may indeed appear stronger. This is because you are choosing to grow more perspective and, hence, sophistication as a result of the incident.

Understand, though, that is because you are already strong; strong enough to make the most of it.

Therefore, I would like to rewrite the hook line into: “What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker, unless you use the new experiential knowledge to pole vault yourself into awe-inspiring greater horizons of understanding.” But it probably won’t catch on. Truth is seldom as catchy as propaganda.

I’m saying it anyway:)

Before You React, Read On

My son likes to pretend he is Retarded!

Before you get angry at him, read on:

When he was young he was diagnosed as globally retarded with fetal alcohol syndrome and autistic-like mannerisms.

Before you get angry at me, read on:

I did NOT drink during pregnancy. I adopted him with these diagnoses.

Before you get impressed by me put your focus back on him and, read on:

My son is 35 this year. He has accomplished much in this life. He has been fully independent since he was 19 and worked a steady job since he was 17. That is more than most men without a diagnosis, let alone three.

Before you forget to see the miracle in this, read on:

My son likes to pretend he is retarded because he used to be and isn’t anymore. And even though most people would find that to be in very bad taste, I think it’s brilliant.

Before you get judgmental, read on:

I think that playing with the mannerisms of a special needs man feels funny to him, and maybe even a little fun, because of the feeling of familiarity. He has always been a bit of a clown; both in school and around the house. So this silliness makes sense, matches him in more ways than one.

Before you decide it’s time for him to STOP IT, reconsider:

I think the juxtaposition of dropping in and out of this special needs character helps him feel his own progress, helps him continue to grow and distance himself from the old slow moving style, resets the speed at which he must function and operates like a break in the pattern that prevents him from getting overwhelmed.

The truth is people do things for a reason. Understanding the reason helps us appreciate and see all people in all their multi-layered glory.

My son likes to pretend he is retarded!

And I love that about him. Because he has used it to solve his own problem and also because he is my son who likes to do this; loving him requires loving everything about him. Pretending to be retarded is just a part of his shtick, his story, and his overcoming.

My son is no longer retarded. He is a miracle of overcoming and before you forget to be impressed, read on:

My fetal alcohol syndromed, no longer globally retarded, no longer on the spectrum of autism man/son is a hard working, sweet, funny without-being-mean adult with honorable intentions. He has owned homes, travel-trailers, trucks, and equipment, etc. He has had several intimate relationships, some good and some bad. He is training for his second career while working to maintain this pattern of paying his own way. My son never graduated high school, or even managed to get a GED. Instead, he learned as he went along, only what he needed to know. He didn’t lean on drugs (prescribed or otherwise) or systems of assistance. He just worked, overcame, worked, overcame, worked overcame.

And because he is focused on working at being a success he is one.

My son is impressive and he likes to pretend he is retarded.

My son is a lesson in what really matters and I thank him for teaching me.

“Begin Your Sentence Before Thinking” & Other Tips For Assertiveness

“Above all, know what you want to accomplish in every interaction,”was the immediate response I had when asked how to be more assertive in the workplace.The question came from a reporter who was working on a story that intended to help people who are challenged in this area. Folks who are shy or afraid to assert themselves for fear of seeming pushy yet know that they want to assert themselves in order to move forward and showcase their potential. I get it. And I have some tips.

As an international behavior specialist, a leadership mentor / author / speaker, and as a single mom of eight grown children – six adopted, five with cognitive challenges – I am consistently assertive and clear. In this way, I have been able to lead my children and my clients to believe in themselves and to acquire unprecedented skills, abilities, and futures.

These are a few tips I would love to give you as well. They are useful in the workplace; any workplace. Even if it is your home.

Healthy Helpful Assertiveness Tips:

1) Begin your sentence before thinking. Too often people freeze up while they are trying to think up the right answer and then they get trapped into merely agreeing to what’s being asked of them. Also, when you immediately begin speaking your brain proactively seeks the best response. Tip: It can help to give yourself a ‘go to’ phrase to start with. ‘What are we hoping to accomplish’ or ‘I like that you thought to ask me.’

2) Conversely, think about how you responded immediately after the interaction. Be sure to quickly clear up any misdirection or anything that may have been left unclear.

3) When you choose to say no, use the word don’t rather than can’t. Not only will it give the person you’re speaking to less room to try and change your mind, but it gives you a feeling of confidence that subtly shifts your thinking and body language.

These are only a few simple tips, yet with practice and consistency they can make all the difference.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like more ideas.

Don’t be shy. ;D