Context Matters (Matter is Contextual)

From our July Newsletter Tips & Comments Section:

When I think about selling our home and office of thirty plus years, finding property, finding temporary housing for a year while we build a new home, and moving everything we own, not once but twice, besides feeling overwhelmed I become acutely aware of context. Our homes and offices are the context in which much of our daily lives unfold. They frame and contain the activities, and the relationships, that take place within them. Context is what imparts meaning to the activities of our lives. Just as you wouldn’t expect to have surgery in a restaurant, or to order a meal at the teller’s window of your bank, you don’t expect to have certain kinds of conversations (for example, “pillow talk”) at work, nor negotiate over who is responsible for getting a big [work report written by the boss’s deadline while tucking the kids in for the night. (Unless you have a home office, but more on that later.)

Read more: Context Matters (Matter is Contextual)

Anger! Why not saying what you feel might be dangerous to your health.

“I never get angry,” a Woody Allen character says in one of his movies, “I grow a tumour instead.” (1)

In his book, When the Body Says No, physician Gabor Maté presents a clear case for a strong relationship between serious illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), and other slow killers that strike in mid-life, and the dynamics that shape our behavioral patterns as small children. Being the smallest and most dependent members of the family system, we shape ourselves to fit the needs of our older siblings, parents, grandparents. For instance, take the case of a mother who suffers the loss of her own parent while still in the hospital giving birth to her child. This child learns not to challenge or threaten an already stressed and depressed mother in order to stay close to her mother. The child learns to stifle her own desires and needs, in this case, finding freedom of expression only through her music. The young musician in this case was the famous cellist, Jacqueline du Pré who died of MS at age 42.

Read more: Anger! Why not saying what you feel might be dangerous to your health.

Found or Made? Biological vs. Social Systems

How shall we understand ourselves? Especially the complexity of our minds and brains? Here is author Ian McGilchrist’s answer:

“We answer with the model we understand – the only kind of thing we can fully understand, for the simple reason that we made it: the machine.”
–The Master and His Emissary. (2010. Kindle edition, location 826.]

Read more: Found or Made? Biological vs. Social Systems

The Liminal Zone Is a Creative, Playful Space

February in Portland is that awkward month between winter and spring when the daffodils are poking up green shoots but very little is blooming. The weather gives both glimpses of sun and plenty of clouds, rainy alternates with short dry spells.  It’s a between time, a liminal zone between seasons, not really full winter and certainly not spring.

Read more: The Liminal Zone Is a Creative, Playful Space

Where’s my place? Status and your well-being?

I recently read David Rock’s latest book, Your Brain at Work. While a perfect example of one of the dominant conceptual metaphors I found in my own research, BRAINS R US, Rock’s work shines a light on an often under appreciated motivator for human behavior. Status.

We are intrinsically social beings, depending on each other for almost every aspect of our lives. Consequently, we’re also sensitive to the status of those around us. So, what is status?

Read more: Where’s my place? Status and your well-being?

What has inspired YOU this year?

This time of the year, I like to reflect on what has inspired me during the past year, what has given me courage, helped me grow, brought me new insights. I’d like to share with you a few of the discoveries that have inspired me this year, in hopes that it might inspire you to reflect on YOUR inspiration sources this year, so that these may carry you into the new year with a smile on your face and joy in your heart.

Read more: What has inspired YOU this year?

Helping During the Holidays

The holidays in the U.S. are a time when we are often called upon to help the “less fortunate.” While many of these efforts do indeed alleviate suffering and misery during the cold, difficult winter months, helping can have a sinister underbelly – control. In the guise of being helpful to others, we can really be trying to control their behavior to manage our own needs. Not surprisingly, this kind of helping often has unintended consequences or brings a different response from the “helpee” than the “helper” expects. Remember the last time you received unwanted advice, an unwelcome “gift” (sometimes with strings attached), or someone corrected your way of doing something? Could you feel their need for you or the situation to be different than it was? How did that feel? And, how can you be sure you are truly coming from a place of service if you answer the call of the season to reach out and help someone?

Read more: Helping During the Holidays

Trick or Treat! This year go as something really scary.

Considering your costume for this year’s Halloween party? We have a suggestion!

This June, the prestigious journal, Nature, published an article by several scientists expressing concern that we have tipped the planet’s biosphere past a point of equilibrium. Positive feedback loops (explained simply and brilliantly in Leo Murray’s little animated short) are driving climate change faster than scientists anticipated. For the first time, scientists involved in this field are daring to step out from behind their mask of technical reserve and sound an alarm. We should listen.

Read more: Trick or Treat! This year go as something really scary.

Are You All In?

One of the things we see quickly in constellations is whether one partner is available to the other, or whether a parent was available to a child. What do I mean by “available?” Ah, now that’s an interesting question.

Read more: Are You All In?