My Notes, Thoughts, Resources and Recommendations for “Trauma-Informed” Education/Care and ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences)

My Notes, Thoughts, Resources and Recommendations
for “Trauma-Informed” Education/Care
and ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences)

For those of us old enough to remember or who have studied sociology, psychology and/or education prior to 2000, there were precursors to this research: Risk Factors, which ACEs are a subset of, as well as Protective Factors and Resilience. For more about this important research, go here or https://youth.gov/youth-topics/youth-mental-health/risk-and-protective-factors-youth:

Relevant to ACEs are the Common Risk Factors for Childhood and Adolescent Problems, by Level of Influence


image from Devereux Center for Resilient Children

  • Environmental Risk Factors Factors
    —Laws and norms favorable to antisocial behavior
    —Poverty and economic deprivation
    —Low economic opportunity
    —Neighborhood disorganization
    —Low neighborhood attachment
  • Interpersonal and Social Risk Factors Factors
    —Family communication and conflict
    —Poor parent–child bonding
    —Poor family management practices
    —Family alcohol and drug use
    —School failure
    —Low commitment to school
    —Rejection by conforming peer groups
    —Association with antisocial peers
  • Individual Risk Factors Factors
    —Family history of alcoholism
    —Sensation-seeking orientation
    —Poor impulse control
    —Attention deficits
    —Hyperactivity
  • Adapted from Fraser et al., 2004; Jenson & Howard, 1999; and Hawkins et al., 1998
    from https://us.corwin.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/5975_Chapter_1_Jenson_Fraser__I_Proof.pdf

    Some heart-wrenching causation connections between childhood stress and adult medical problems have already been made:
    —“…[M]ost adult women with fibromyalgia [emphasis mine]… have had stressful childhoods as reported by the journal, Stress and Health in 2009….The early chronic experience of stress appears to exert a much larger influence in contributing to the pain of fibromyalgia than any current stressful life event, as a 2006 study reported in the journal, Psychoneuroendocrinolgy. from http://medicalhealthnews.info/fibromyalgia-linked-childhood-stress-unprocessed-negative-emotions-2/

    The relationships between childhood experiences (“nurture”) and adult health have long been the subject of research. One precursor to ACEs research, for almost thirty years, the information derived from the biannual Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBSS) has been instrumental in determining what communities’ needs were, what prevention areas to focus upon, and how prevalent certain risky behaviors were over time because the USA government, in conjunction with state and municipal authories and school systems, began administering the YRBSS in 1990 and continues to this day, in odd years. Much of the data from the YRBSS overlaps with data needed and gathered about ACEs. See below.

    The YRBSS (https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/overview.htm) was developed in 1990 to monitor priority health risk behaviors that contribute markedly to the leading causes of death, disability, and social problems among youth and adults in the United States. These behaviors, often established during childhood and early adolescence, include

    • Behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence.
    • Sexual behaviors related to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV infection.
    • Alcohol and other drug use.
    • Tobacco use.
    • Unhealthy dietary behaviors.
    • Inadequate physical activity.

    In addition, the YRBSS monitors the prevalence of obesity and asthma and other priority health-related behaviors plus sexual identity and sex of sexual contacts.

    From 1991 through 2015, the YRBSS has collected data from more than 3.8 million high school students in more than 1,700 separate surveys.

    ACEs research and subsequent work are building on all of these studies their data to help us advance in our understands, prevention, intervention and mitigation of trauma. The ACEs researchers began with this survey and its 10 categories (see below).

    The 10 ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) are, in summary form:


    image from https://cdv.org/what-is-cdv/adverse-childhood-experiences/

    If you want to have each category be more fully defined (and some of them do include aspects you might not usually consider, so I recommend reviewing these if you haven’t, yet), go here, where you can actually “fill out” the survey at the same time:
    https://www.ncjfcj.org/sites/default/files/Finding%20Your%20ACE%20Score.pdf

    However, if you find all this obvious, so is your score: you get one point for each of the ACEs that occurred in your childhood (before age 18 years old). The total of these = your ACEs score.

    This ACEs number is important for examining the likelihood (statiscally speaking) of your having adverse consequences later in life (see below). The stats have three sections:
    —> 0, 1 or 2 ACEs
    —> 3 – 7 ACEs
    —> more than 7 ACEs

    The statistics tended to group in these ways in recognition of what types and how many negative consequences were most likely to occur for those with those ACEs numbers. Below is a description of the original study.

    The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Original Research:

    “From 1995 to 1997, Kaiser Permanente’s Health Appraisal Clinic, in collaboration with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, implemented one of the largest studies ever conducted on the origins of risk factors that have negative health and social consequences and the cumulative incidence and influence of psychological and physical abuse including: neglect, sexual abuse, witnessing violence, exposure to substance abuse, mental illness, suicidal behavior, and imprisonment of a family member (independent variables) on dependent variables that were measures of both mental health (depression, suicidality) and physical health (heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, skeletal fractures, liver disease, obesity) and health-related behaviors (alcoholism, drug abuse, smoking, high numbers of sexual partners) and poor self-rated health (Felitti et al. 1998).

    “The ACE questionnaire was constructed using selected questions from published surveys (American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2017). Prior to the survey there had been little study of the relationship between early childhood adverse experiences and adult medical problems and behaviors (Felitti et al. 1998).

    “The ACE survey data was collected by mail from two waves of a sample of 17,000 adult members of Kaiser’s Health Maintenance Organization in San Diego, California between 1995 and 1997. The sample size itself was impressive. The release of the study findings was shocking to many when they showed the extent to which adverse childhood events negatively shaped future social and physical health outcomes, including life expectancy.

    “Perhaps less surprising, the findings showed that the more negative events a child experienced the higher the likelihood s/he had as an adult of suffering an array of health and behavior problems including alcoholism, chronic pulmonary disease, depression, illicit drug use, liver disease, adolescent pregnancy and many more (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2014a, b). Further, adults with the highest level of ACEs had a life expectancy 20 years less than those without high levels of ACEs. The study sample did not consist primarily of low-income minority adults, a demographic often found to be “at risk.” It was mainly comprised of white, middle and upper income employed people; people who might be expected to have had more stable childhood environments because of parents’ employment and income.

    “The original ACE study has generated more than 70 scientific articles, scores of conference presentations, and has shaped the design of research and as well as social programs. It is beyond the scope of this article to present a comprehensive review of the studies of the ACE survey, but ACEs Too High (2017) provides a list of ACE studies by year.

    “Studies using the ACE questionnaire have expanded beyond Kaiser’s sample of white, HMO patients to include, for example, special populations such as children of alcoholics (Dube et al. 2001), and children with an incarcerated parent (Geller et al. 2009) and have found higher prevalences of ACEs than in the original Kaiser sample.

    “ACE Studies of justice-involved populations (Baglivio et al. 2014; Messina and Grella 2006; Miller and Najavits 2012; Reavis et al. 2013) including juvenile justice-involved youth (Dierkhising et al. 2013) are raising awareness of the association of early childhood trauma and offender behaviors and needs, as are studies of justice-involved samples that include a focus on childhood trauma without using the ACE questionnaire (Wolff and Shi 2012). The studies consistently find elevated rates of childhood trauma in incarcerated populations and offender groups. For example, the Reavis et al. study (2013) of incarcerated males found ACE scores above 4 to be four times higher than in a normative male population.

    “By bringing attention to the powerful impact that negative childhood experiences have on future health and functioning, the ACE study demonstrates the importance of gathering information early in the lives of children and their families and designing early intervention programs that target violence and neglect. It also points to the importance of collecting trauma histories from clients and highlights the essential role of prevention in program design. A particularly important contribution the Ace survey has made to offender and incarcerated groups is to emphasize the importance of trauma-targeted interventions in jails and prisons as well as in diversion programs.”

    FMI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5409906/

    More about How ACEs Operate in Our Lives

    This is a depiction of ACEs and their impacts in the form of a “pyramid of bad consequences”: if 3 or more ACEs form our lives’ “foundation,” we are much more likely to have a lot of other problems, including physical and mental health issues, suicidal ideation, criminal tendencies to the point of incarceration, and possible early death in our futures.

    Even having 1 or 2 ACEs can wreck a person’s life and/or health if enough mitigating factors aren’t present, especially when the adverse experience was
    —horrific,
    —happened at a formative time, and/or
    —was prolonged/repeated.


    image from https://www.communitycommons.org/2014/08/aces-adverse-childhood-experiences/

    This excellent 2014 TEDMED talk on ACEs from a health care perspective
    is on video, with presenter, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, MD

    Burke offers the best summary of the study, its origins and findings, and their immediate and long-term applications for health care and other professionals as well as anyone affected by multiple ACEs.

    “Childhood trauma isn’t something you just get over as you grow up. Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explains that the repeated stress of abuse, neglect and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on the development of the brain.

    “This unfolds across a lifetime, to the point where those who’ve experienced high levels of trauma are at triple the risk for heart disease and lung cancer. An impassioned plea for pediatric medicine to confront the prevention and treatment of trauma, head-on.”

    Worth your time to watch: https://www.ted.com/talks/nadine_burke_harris_how_childhood_trauma_affects_health_across_a_lifetime

    ACEs High Scores Linked
    to Adult Emotional and Physical Health Problems

    There is a cycle regarding ACEs that usually occurs. Learning about how this cycle works is first. Then, figuring out how to intervene, interrupt and contravene the impacts can occur next.


    image from https://dribbble.com/shots/2214296-Adverse-Childhood-Experiences-infographic

    Know that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are common

    In case you were wondering about the prevalence of ACEs, here are some recent statistics from a small but supposedly representative sample and their source.

    Of the 17,337 individuals surveyed, here is the prevalence of each possible adverse experience, from most to least, represented as a percentage:

    —Physical abuse towards the child – 28.3%
    —Substance abuse in the household – 26.9%
    —Parental separation/divorce – 23.3%
    —Sexual abuse toward the child – 20.7%
    —Mental Illness in the household – 19.4%
    —Emotional neglect towards the child – 14.8%
    —Domestic violence in the household – 12.7%
    —Emotional abuse towards the child – 10.6%
    —Physical neglect towards the child – 9.9%
    —Imprisoned household member – 4.7%

    ACEs are linked with a greater risk
    of many problems in later life

    These include:

    • Alcohol abuse and dependence
    • Early smoking initiation and current smoking status
    • Illicit drug use
    • IV drug abuse
    • Obesity
    • Suicide attempts
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Hyperactivity
    • Sleep Disturbances
    • Hallucinations
    • Eating disorders
    • Suicide attempts
    • Post-traumatic stress disorder
    • Conduct disorder
    • Teen or unintended pregnancies
    • Intimate partner violence
    • Improper brain development
    • Impaired learning ability and general cognitive difficulties
    • Attention and memory difficulties
    • Visual and/or motor impairment
    • Lower language development
    • Impaired social and emotional skills
    • Poorer quality of life

    Nikki Gratix offers more links and stats about ACEs and long-term effects, with our first glimmers of hope (link is below the text, here):
    “Another long-term study indicated that approximately 80% of young adults who had previously been abused qualified for at least one psychiatric diagnosis at the age of 21 (Silverman, Reinherz & Gianconia, 1996).

    “Neglected or abused children are also
    —59% more likely to be arrested during their childhood,
    —28% more likely to engage in criminal behaviour as adults, and
    —30% more likely to engage in violent crime as an adult (Widom & Maxfield, 2001).

    “Abuse and neglect during childhood can also negatively impact the ability of individuals to effectively establish and maintain healthy romantic adult relationships (Colman & Widom, 2004). As relationship warmth and social connection are key protective factors for long-term health and happiness, many of these greater risks could at least be partially explained by the greater risk of interpersonal conflict, disconnection and isolation.

    “Individuals who have had negative experiences during their childhood can still grow and flourish as adults, and can also be more resilient as a result of learning how to overcome significant challenges when they are younger.

    This diagram, below, depicts the Risk Factors, Protective Factors and Resilience interactive model clearly:


    image from https://www.slideshare.net/PreventionWorks/bc-pc-december-13-2012, The InterdisciplinaryScience of Prevention Bernalillo County DWI Program Planning Council Meeting December 13, 2012 Frank G. Magourilos, MPS, CPS, ICPS Prevention Works

    “A major longitudinal study even found that what goes right during childhood is often more important than what goes wrong [emphasis mine], and having even one safe, stable and nurturing figure in a child’s life can reduce the later risk of psychological and physical health problems [emphasis mine] (Vaillant, 2015).

    “Creating safe, stable and nurturing environments (SSNREs) is the key to having a positive impact on reducing ACEs going forward.”

    LINK to the above: https://www.nikigratrix.com/silent-aces-epidemic-attachment-developmental-trauma/

    FMI: “Steps to Create Safe, Stable, Nurturing Relationships and Environments,” 2014, https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/essentials_for_childhood_framework.pdf

    4 Quadrants/Types of Attachment:

    I found this set of connections (below) to be a very helpful rubric for understanding the ways trauma impacts our ability to choose appropriate partners/friends, even colleagues and form positive relationships when we suffer from many ACEs because it brings in the main principles of John Bowlby‘s attachment theory quite intelligently.

    • secure = consistent, responsive early care
      = low anxiety, low avoidance
      = positive views of self and others; comfortable relying on others, easily comforted
    • preoccupied = inconsistent early care
      = high anxiety, low avoidance
      negative view of selves but positive views of others; emotionally dependent, negative affects, hyper vigilance, low self-esteem
    • dismissive = early unresponsive care
      = low anxiety, high avoidance
      positive view of selves (see selves as resilient and not needing others), but negative views of others; uncomfortable with closeness, denial of attachment needs, avoidance of closeness, intimacy, dependency or close relationships; high self-reliance and independence
    • fearful = frequent rejection/abandonment by early caregivers
      = high anxiety, high avoidance
      seek social contact but inhibited by fear of rejection; approach/avoidance behavior in relationships; high negative affects and poor self-esteem

    INTERVENTIONS & SOLUTIONS:
    Trauma-Informed Care vs. Ordinary Care

    As mentioned previously in this post, Protective Factors contribute to Resilience, and both are great predictors of how well a child or adult will do when affected by ACEs (or any other Risk Factors). The basic formula is that when any of the Risk Factors is present (and the higher the number, the worse the situation is for that person), increasing the number and types of Protective Factors for that person is very likely to increase their Resilience, which, in turn, decreases the likelihood that the person will succumb to peer pressure or inner motivation to engage in risky behaviors or fall victim to other risks and those consequences.

    Similarly to Risk Factors (see above), researchers have divided Protective Factors into three categories: Individual, Family and Community

    Researchers are also discovering that these same Protective Factors, particularly those that arise from within the Community and Individual (since Family is presumed to be the source/cause of the ACEs) can increase that person’s tendency toward Resilience, which then can mitigate the effects of ACEs as well.

    Individual Protective Factors include:
    —Positive physical development
    —Academic achievement/intellectual development
    —High self-esteem
    —Emotional self-regulation
    —Good coping skills and problem-solving skills
    —Engagement and connections in two or more of the following contexts: school, with peers, in athletics, employment, religion, culture

    Family Protective Factors include:
    —Family provides structure, limits, rules, monitoring, and predictability
    —Supportive relationships with family members
    —Clear expectations for behavior and values

    Community (School, Neighborhood, and Community) Protective Factors include:
    —Presence of mentors and support for development of skills and interests
    —Opportunities for engagement within school and community
    —Positive norms
    —Clear expectations for behavior
    —Physical and psychological safety
    from: https://youth.gov/youth-topics/youth-mental-health/risk-and-protective-factors-youth

    Some researchers have further divided these Factors into three age groupings: Early Childhood (ages newborn – 5 or 6 [school-age]), Childhood (ages 5 or 6 – 11 or 12 [ending before middle school or junior high school age]), and Adolescence (middle/junior high school and high school ages, 11 or 12 – 18). This classification is used to study each sector and period of a youth’s life more closely.


    image from http://buncombeaces.org/

    “Once you know your ACEs score and its impact, there are personal strategies and community resources that exist to help you. Asking for help, developing trusting relationships, forming a positive attitude, and paying attention to your instincts and feelings are ways to improve your life. These can assist in breaking the cycle of ACEs in your family.

    Reaching out to a trusted member of your community such as a doctor, a counselor, a teacher, or a church or spiritual leader is another way to get help [emphsis mine]….Using these suggestions, both early in a child’s life and as an adult, can lessen the impact of ACEs on you and your family.”

    10 Key Components of Trauma-Informed Care:


    image from https://www.chcs.org/resource/10-key-ingredients-trauma-informed-care/

    “Trauma-Informed” (for educational settings, care, caregivers, institutions, youth programs, prisons, juvenile detention centers, court and police officers, etc.) is the newest way to describe what we MUST create and strengthen given our understanding of ACEs and the impacts of trauma throughout one’s lifetime. When society has better methods for prevention, we hope this won’t be as necessary. Until then, we are in dire need of more training, better programs, and more awareness.
    https://www.rchc.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Trauma-Informed-Care-slides.pdf

    Research confirms that a person’s ability to Cope with trauma (and the neurodevelopmental effects) is rooted in the presence or absence of these circumstances and factors:

    Frequency – Single vs. repeated trauma (obviously, even one trauma is terrible, but more often is worse)
    Age when trauma occurred or began (the younger a person is, the worse off the person is likely to be)
    Agent – natural vs. human (weather disasters, earthquakes and fires are horribly traumatic, but war, interpersonal and domestic violence (being the victim OR the witness), and other human-inflicted harm are WORSE than “natural” causes of trauma when it comes to effects on the victims)
    Nature of the trauma – accidental vs. purposeful (particularly when the perpetrator was supposed to have been trustworthy and purported to “love” the victim, intentional harm is the worst type of trauma for a child)
    Environmental supports – Innate Resilience (there is some evidence in the fairly new field of epigenetics that some of us are “naturally” more resilient, particularly when it comes to resisting or lessening the effects of ACEs in the forms of bad health/diseases. Let’s find out WHY!)

    A lot of research on what contributes to resilience is happening NOW and recently.

    From 2017, we can read: “Epigenetic Embedding of Early Adversity and Developmental Risk,” from Marla B. Sokolowski, PhD, F.R.S.C., W. Thomas Boyce, MD, Co-Directors of the Child and Brain Development Program, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), Canada, who discovered: “[T]he embedding of adversity-related epigenetic marks is associated with increased susceptibility to compromised development and mental health….

    “[A]dverse conditions in early childhood affect the number and placement of epigenetic marks on the DNA sequence. The developmental and health effects of early exposures to adversity and stress are socioeconomically partitioned, with children from the lower ranks of social class sustaining greater and more severe threats to normative development. Epigenetic processes that affect gene expression almost certainly have an impact on adversity-related, maladaptive outcomes….

    “Adverse early childhood experiences can leave lasting marks on genes that are involved with stress responses, immunity and mental health, underscoring the importance of creating an optimal early childhood environment for each and every child.”

    Other researchers created two categories of children to show the differences in fragility, “‘orchid children’…are more sensitive to both negative and positive environmental factors than their more resilient counterparts, called ‘dandelion children,'” which the above researchers utilized in their studies.
    http://www.child-encyclopedia.com/epigenetics/according-experts/epigenetic-embedding-early-adversity-and-developmental-risk

    A great podcast/radio show, On Being, with host, Krista Tippett, provides many informative, entertaining and important audio experiences. This one is very relevant, here: RACHEL YEHUDA talks about “How Trauma and Resilience Cross Generations.”

    “The new field of epigenetics sees that genes can be turned on and off and expressed differently through changes in environment and behavior. Rachel Yehuda is a pioneer in understanding how the effects of stress and trauma can transmit biologically, beyond cataclysmic events, to the next generation. She has studied the children of Holocaust survivors and of pregnant women who survived the 9/11 attacks.

    “But her science is a form of power for flourishing beyond the traumas large and small that mark each of our lives and those of our families and communities [emphasis mine].”

    Read the transcript and/or listen to podcast: https://onbeing.org/programs/rachel-yehuda-how-trauma-and-resilience-cross-generations-nov2017/

    If you have more time and prefer the video format, Bruce McEwen, Ph.D., talks about “The Resilient Brain: Epigenetics, Stress and the Lifecourse,” at Cornell University in 2017.

    For science geeks, this study is awesome! “Epigenetic modulation of inflammation and synaptic plasticity promotes resilience against stress in mice”: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-017-02794-5

    “Three key neuroscience concepts are recommended for inclusion in Trauma-Informed Care programs and practices in ways that can enrich program design and guide the development of practical, Resilience -oriented interventions that can be evaluated for outcomes.

    “A Resilience -oriented approach to TIC is recommended that moves from trauma information to neuroscience-based action with practical skills to build greater capacity for self-regulation and self-care in both service providers and clients.”

    Another source of info about ACEs comes from this report, below (audio-only, with some text), from my former home-town public radio station, KRCB, in the North Bay, San Francisco Bay Area, California:


    image from http://radio.krcb.org/post/educating-fellows-counter-adverse-childhood-experiences#stream/0

    Individual Protective Factors and Professional Training and Environmental Factors that Assist with Coping with ACEs are:
    —Social support
    —Supervision and consultation
    —Resolution of one’s personal issues
    —Strong ethical principles of practice
    —Knowledge of theory
    —On-going training
    —Emotional intelligence/regulation
    —Awareness of the potential and impact of Violent Trauma (VT).

    https://damonashworthpsychology.com/2017/09/14/the-10-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-adverse-childhood-experiences-study/

    Then, of course, we have Oprah weighing in (finally) a few weeks ago:

    Oprah’s 60 Minutes segment on ACES, 3/11/18

    image from https://www.chcs.org/project/advancing-trauma-informed-care/

    Oprah (and others) talk about how we need to shift our focus from “What is wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?” with all traumatized individuals.
    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/oprah-winfrey-treating-childhood-trauma/

    This video also mentions two important area of research about the brain and mental health related to ACEs or positive experiences. Good to know, but I’m still wanting more about what HELPS post-ACEs. Here we go!

    “Winfrey speaks to Dr. Bruce Perry, a psychiatristand neuroscientist who authorities have consulted on high-profile events, such as school shootings. She also visits two organizations that treat their clients with the so-called “trauma-informed care” approach shaped by Dr. Perry. Both the agencies, SaintA and the Nia Imani Family Center, are in Milwaukee, where Winfrey spent part of her youth and experienced her own instances of childhood trauma.”

    So, we know that chaos, threats, inconsistency, uncertainty, neglect, violence each constitutes a kind of traumas for children, and experiencing even one of these increases vulnerability in later life to many types of issues (academic, physical and mental health, interpersonal difficulties, employment problems).

    That is the reason we need to move from focusing on consequences to preventing/mitigating early traumas/wounds.

    One main “movement” is to bring in more institutions that provide “trauma-informed care.” Installing these changes is the best way to transform education, social and human services programming and treatment.

    ACEs and I

    I have written about ACEs before, disclosing that I have a very high ACEs score (9.5 out of 10). By the statistics reported since the early 1990s (see below), I should be in prison, institutionalized, or already dead. But, I’m not. Why is that?

    Again, we need to ask “what happened?” rather than “what’s wrong?” to/with a child. Then, we need to build on strengths rather than focus on deficiencies or problems.

    Why do some of us not have PTSD after many ACEs? Our reactions seem to be proportional to the numbers and frequency of whatever positive, protective, nurturing relationships we have had in early life. I am an example of an unusual case. See below.

    I decided to look more deeply into this topic: what fosters Resilience? How do children and youth with high trauma scores not be completely unhealthy or miserable as adults? My discoveries are in this post and will keep coming.

    Please comment on my site, on this post, regardless of where you’re reading this. The post is available starting 4/11/18: http://www.sallyember.com/blog or https://wp.me/p2bP0n-27w

    Other Resources

    Alice Miller‘s work = relevant because her main recommendation and research evidence are in alignment with ACEs’ researchers and therapists: it only takes ONE significant adult in a traumatized child’s life to greatly mitigate and even ameliorate the effects and later consequences of the trauma. I can attest to that truth.


    Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller

    Here is a great post about this book and Miller‘s work: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/suffer-the-children/201206/the-drama-the-gifted-child

    Some local/regional resources (near both USA coasts), and more on their site, from CHCS (Center for Healthcare Strategies):

    Center for Youth Wellness, San Francisco, CA, will implement adverse childhood experiences (ACE) screening, care coordination, and data management strategies to further its integrated care approach for addressing the physical and behavioral health needs of families with ACE exposure.

    Greater Newark Healthcare Coalition, Newark, NJ, will establish care coordination, trauma screening and treatment, professional development, and data integration practices.

    Montefiore Medical Group, Bronx, NY, will train all staff within its 22-practice outpatient ambulatory care network in trauma-informed approaches to care using a multi-disciplinary train-the-trainer model including patient representatives.

    San Francisco Department of Public Health, San Francisco, CA, will develop a leadership model, learning community, and collaborative work group that will infuse trauma-informed systems’ principles and practices into public health and other child-, youth-, and family-serving agencies.

    Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services, Philadelphia, PA, will train all staff to adopt a standard approach to collective mindfulness practice and use an integrated mind-body treatment model in working with patients who have experienced trauma.

    Women’s HIV Program at the University of California, San Francisco, CA, will develop a formal service integration partnership with the Trauma Recovery Center at San Francisco General Hospital to address the effects of lifetime trauma on adults.

Advertisements

Why do I Torment Myself with Sappy Movies in December?

Why do I Torment Myself with Sappy Movies in December?

  • These movies make no sense. The internal logic falls apart almost immediately, or at least within the first quarter hour. There are wizardly Santas, wish-granting entities or objects, time-travel, alternate realities, magic spells and “coincidences” galore in these movies. I don’t only have to “suspend my disbelief”: I have to turn off my brain almost entirely.
  • The characters are two-dimensional, predictable and ridiculously simplistic. No one can possibly be that shallow, that stupid, that naive, that obvious. Yet, there they are, in film after film, on USA, TNT, TBS, Hallmark, AMC and other movie channels and network television stations.

    romantic movies ruin relationships
    image from http://memegenerator.net

  • These plots and characters are idiotic. The stories are anti-feminist or anti-intelligence or both. The messages, especially for women, include such tropes as: “Don’t have an interesting career or meet anyone ‘new’: go ‘home’ and be with someone from high school so that you can live within your family’s sphere because that’s the only way to ‘be happy.'” For those with successful careers or high-powered jobs, the messages are: “Being a successful person can’t possibly make you ‘happy’; only ‘love’ can do that.”

    Repeated favorites are also the usual “beginning” in which they have the “meet-cute between some ‘ordinary’ person and someone ‘royal/wealthy.'” Next, we “hear” these messages: “Despite your complete unsuitability, s/he will want to be with you. Even if you’re a hotel maid or other ‘peon’ with nothing in common regarding backgrounds or experiences, don’t worry: you’ll live ‘happily ever after.’ So, everyone should aspire/expect to be swept up by someone rich and powerful at any moment. Never mind if that person is your employer, your subject, your client/patient or your nemesis: ‘it’s all good.'”

  • The endings and beginnings are unsatisfying and incomplete: inevitably, these movies end with the main characters’ having their first (and sometimes only) kiss, or their wedding ceremony, or their engagement/proposal and response, or some other “beginning.” However, this event occurs after about 90 minutes’ worth of false starts, wrong turns, disrespect and/or disregard. How could they trust each other (or themselves, for that matter) after one or both of them has ignored the signs and/or the other person, misread them or misunderstood them for their entire relationship up to that point?
  • These characters lie and cheat their way to “happiness.” Often, one or both has been about to begin with /marry someone else entirely. Then, at almost the last minute, one or both of the main characters changes his/her mind and breaks that relationship off in order to be with the other main character instead. There is also usually no honesty from the deceiver regarding how long s/he has harbored feelings for the other protagonist, either. Yet, somehow, all lying and liars (if they are the protagonists, that is) are forgiven.

    hallmark-christmas movies
    image from http://smilingldsgirl.com

  • The protagonists hurt others. Let’s talk about the person whose heart s/he just broke by calling off the engagement/wedding, ending the ongoing relationship. Usually, the filmmakers/writers make that person seem “deserving” of being rejected by showing him/her to be unreliable, like being a cheater or a liar, or being secretly (not-so-secretly) a jerk or insincere, just in it for the money or status, for example. But what about when that person is actually great, but has the misfortune to be suddenly “wrong” for the protagonist? We don’t see how the rejected ones cope with the ending of their dreams, do we?
  • The romantic couple starts with a shaky foundation. How can there be any trust in the person who just betrayed their beloved? How can the new love, the family, the friends, support this change of heart so readily?
  • How can these people trust their own judgment? One or both of them was about to be committed to one person, then, after very little stimulation or information, they make a decision to end that and commit to someone else, all in a very short span of time while relying on very little “real-life” experience of being involved with the new person. Of course, this new “love interest” or “best friend-turned-lover” is conventionally beautiful/handsome. That doesn’t hurt, eh?
  • Then, there is the issue of questionable compatibility. Seriously: these two main characters have not spent much time together, never been intimate or even kissed, and suddenly, they decide they are perfect for each other and decide to get married? Unless they are acknowledging that many marriages head into divorce quite quickly, how can anyone be glad that these two people are starting a long-term commitment without sufficient information and experience about each other?
  • How do they live with the way they started? I try to imagine the moments after that kiss, or on the honeymoon, or about a month or so into their new relationship. Wouldn’t one or both of them ask: “Honey? How is it that you love me/want me now, but you didn’t for x number of weeks/months/years? What exactly was your problem then and how do I know you won’t develop that problem again?” or something like that.

    romance movie pack
    image from http://www.amazon.com

  • Why do I do this to myself? Why do I watch so many of these movies each year? It’s as if I’ve been ensorceled, doomed to watch helplessly while believing uselessly in these “happy endings,” time after time, even though I know how false they are.

I admit it: I get weepy when they “find” each other. I still enjoy the seemingly “happy ending.”

Maybe I’m always hoping for a “happy ending” to a romantic story of my own.

Wish me good luck with that.

hopeless-romantic_design
image from http://everydaylifewithmo.wordpress.com

#Buddhism and Intimate #Relationships: What’s the Deal?

#Buddhism and Intimate #Relationships: What’s the Deal?

staying in love
image from http://indulgy.com

I went on an online hunt for the latest in advice, opinions, experiences and perspectives on this topic, intimate relationships and/or #love, from a #Buddhist perspective, restricting myself to postings from the last twelve months.

NOTE: Buddhists use this definition of “love”: the wish for the one you love to be happy. So, if you love someone, you will do everything you are capable of to help that person achieve temporary and long-lasting happiness—regardless of what loving that person requires of you—unselfishly, unstintingly, the way a parent would strive for a child.

Dalai Lama Love is wanting others to be happy
image from http://peacelovepotager.blogspot.com

Here are what I found and some of my comments and questions about how to be a Buddhist in close relationships.

Next? Your comments!


From the Buddhism Stack Exchange (“a question and answer site for people practicing or interested in Buddhist philosophy, teaching, and practice. It’s built and run by you as part of the Stack Exchange network of Q&A sites. With your help, we’re working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about Buddhist philosophy, teaching, and practice”), which has a page on Buddhism, marked Beta, with the subtitle from September 2, 2015: “Do buddhists fall in love?”
http://buddhism.stackexchange.com/questions/11266/do-buddhists-fall-in-love

This site provides a lot of info on the various subdivisions of Buddhism, including Theravada, Mahayana and Zen, and Vajrayana. Since I practice Tibetan Vajrayana Nyingma Buddhism, I focused on the responses that seem to be from the Vajrayana point of view.

Several responses were posted, but my favorites are these two, excerpted below.

One writer, Andrei Volkov (“Non-sectarian practitioner in the tradition of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, heavily influenced by Korean Zazen and studies of Pali Canon. Dedicated to serious practice since 1995, and independent of others with regard to the Buddha’s message since 2012”), posted his response to the question posed (with a lot of explanatory material from the questioner that accompanied this question), “Do buddhists fall in love?”

In Vajrayana schools…emotions, including romantic love, are considered a form of energy that can be put to use… Vajrayana would still appreciate the inherent fakeness of love, the mechanical nature of which comes from a match of partners’ stereotypes and preconceptions.

[E]ven if a Vajrayana practitioner could play with the fire both in context of its ego-melting properties as well as for pleasure, they would not take it one-sidedly as an untrained run-of-the-mill person would do….Vajrayana view includes both sacred and illusory aspects of love. In Vajrayana we are trained to see things from all the sides at the same time. Love is both sacred and a giant trick, as far as Vajrayana is concerned.

The predominant Buddhist sentiment here is that being disappointed/disenchanted (= “sober”) is a …healthier state than the state of intoxication by an object of mind. While Vajrayana is 100% aligned with this most fundamental of Buddhist principles, we do allow ourselves to get drunk, both metaphorically with love, and occasionally even literally—–while staying fully accountable for the consequences—–a trait of the universal adult.

I also appreciated this perspective, posted by “Buddho” (gave no bio info):

Modern neuroscience is catching up with Buddhism in this department it appears. Scientists have found romantic love activates the same addictive parts of the brain as cocaine….

…Buddhism likens romantic love to an addiction, an attachment, and a danger.

…However, love…can also be about selflessness, … sacrifice and … self improvement…. This is the raison d’être for the Vajrayana school of romance as a valid path to enlightenment….


Another point of view comes from Bkikshuni Thupten Chödron, teacher, author and Abbess. Ani [Buddhist honorific for a nun] Chödron is a Western white woman who was one of the first to take Buddhist nun’s vows. http://thubtenchodron.org/biography/

Ani Chödron posted a marriage ceremony prayer that she asks the partners say to each other and to their friends and family, which I excerpt, below:
http://thubtenchodron.org/1995/06/wedding-readings-dharma/

…We aspire to make our spiritual path the core of our life together. We will help each other on the path to enlightenment, watering the seeds of love, compassion, generosity, ethics, patience, joyous effort, concentration and wisdom in each other. As we age and undergo the various ups and downs of cyclic existence, we aspire to transform them into the path of love, compassion, joy and equanimity.

…We recognize that external conditions in life will not always be smooth, and that internally, our own minds and emotions sometimes get stuck in negative ways of thinking. When this happens, we aspire to see all these circumstances as a challenge to help us grow, to open our hearts, to accept ourselves, others and life itself; and to generate compassion for all others who are also unhappy or suffering at that moment. We aspire to avoid becoming narrow, closed or opinionated, and will help each other see all the various sides of a situation and to bring acceptance, flexibility and equanimity to it.

…We aspire to remember the disadvantages of ignorance, anger and clinging attachment and to apply Dharma antidotes when these arise in our minds and to help each other do so, also.

…Day to day, as we progress along the path, we aspire to be patient with ourselves and others, knowing that change comes slowly and gradually…

I have attended a few Buddhist wedding ceremonies and heard about others. They usually include a portion of the vows that ends with “until impermanence intervenes” instead of the more traditional and secular “until death do we part.”


I’ve also heard and read Buddhist teachings that indicate one great reason to be in intimate relationships, whether platonic or sexual: when we are in relationship, we see our own minds better and face our challenges daily with ourselves.

I can attest to the experiences I have had with this exact situation from times I have been on individual, silent retreats: as long as I do not interact with anyone (no eye contact, no conversations, no communication of any kind) and, better yet, don’t even encounter anyone else in a significant way, I believe that I am doing “great” with my practice. I am so patient, so generous, so kind, so loving, so compassionate, so able to rejoice in others’ successes and happiness, so calm and so earnest about wanting to alleviate suffering for all beings. Oh, yes. Ahhhh.

On retreat, I am practically a saint….until I am thwarted or confronted with someone’s saying or doing something I don’t want or preventing me from getting what I do want.

Could be that someone puts their shoes where I usually put mine. Sometimes, I have to wait longer than usual for a meal. Perhaps someone stands where I want to stand, preventing me from seeing something I want to see. Maybe someone “takes” “my” parking space.

parkingspot
image from http://www.smilesforall.com

Provoked by the smallest of infractions or distractions, my ordinary mind and all its selfishness, attachment, pride, jealousy, anger and ignorance rear all their heads at once. There go my delusions of equanimity and of Bodhisattva grandeur: shattered!

The only “realization” I can honestly claim to have is this: I am so far from liberated, I can’t even read the sign for “enlightenment, this way —>.”

It seems to be true that the main spiritual advantage to being in an intimate relationship is that we get our spiritual comeuppance every day, many times a day, and can harbor no such illusions about our proximity to “enlightenment.” When we are engaged in intense, personal relationships with others and paying attention to our own minds, whether that occurs with colleagues, a lover/partner or with friends, our tasks are to be grateful for the challenges, to be glad of the opportunities to grow and improve.

Buddhist teachings exhort us to continue focusing our criticisms on ourselves and our generosity on our partners. We learn to see every interpersonal encounter as a chance to “look in the mirror” and see ourselves better rather than “look out the window” and point at or blame others for our confusions, hurts and complaints. We consider our sangha, the other members of our spiritual community, to be our “guide,” which means they show us the nature of our minds merely by being in our lives.

Lao Tsu knowing others knowing ourselves

This does not mean we shouldn’t remove ourselves from an abusive relationship or ignore people who harm us or others. That is a misconstruction of these instructions. Buddhism also doesn’t encourage “co-dependency” while inspiring unselfishness: fine lines, always.

We simply try to maintain our focus on our own minds when we are feeling angry, resentful, proud, jealous, or afraid. We are attempting to see clearly the nature of our emotions as empty—having no substance—and to discover the source of our own suffering as ignorance, on the path to becoming more patient and spontaneously compassionate toward others.

CONCLUSIONS

If we aren’t interacting in any serious way with others, if we have no “skin in the game,” if all our relationships are superficial, short-term, and insignificant, we won’t be inspired to improve ourselves because, as I believe about myself when I’m alone on retreat, we’ll mistakenly conclude that we are “just fine the way we are.”

Are you in any relationships in which you are “all in,” allowing yourself to be completely vulnerable, exposed, authentic? Or, do you hold yourself back, keep some in reserve, never fully commit or reveal yourself? Only by immersing ourselves in an intense human relationship of some kind can we fully learn to understand our own minds and emotions honestly.

Why hold back? None of us lives all that long….

I am not in a close relationship with a lover right now, but I wish I were. I am in close contact with family members and a few friends, but none of those relationships brings the challenges right to my heart/mind that a lover does. Maybe some day, again…

Trouble is, I am very picky and I have a lot of experience, so I am not inclined to be in a relationship just to be in one. Not now.

My personal ads (when I ran them) did not get many relevant “hits.” Could be because these are my criteria and descriptions: “Serious meditators, only. People my age (61) or thereabouts, only. Kind, intelligent, humorous, interesting people only. No drinkers or smokers. One or no pets. No kids at home.”

I’m willing to be with either a woman or man, which opens up the field considerably, but my chosen categories otherwise make my acceptable potentials (and those who might find me appealing) very small. Also, I’m a Buddhist who was raised Jewish, a feminist and a radical, politically. Unless the other person is, also, or has experience with people similar to me, they probably won’t understand or respect me properly, nor I, them.

Then, add in these facts and you’ll see the pool shrinks into one that holds almost zero candidates: I don’t like to shop except for food that we’ll eat, and I prefer organic and food farmers’ markets, when possible. I don’t wear make-up or perfume or dress up readily. I don’t shave. I don’t wear bras. I’m honest. I’m somewhat psychic. I’m short, but people tell me I’m intimidating even when I don’t say a word. I’m a writer, a blogger, and a talk show host who likes to spend a lot of time alone to accomplish these things. I swim a lot, but I can’t hike (bad leg and back). I don’t have much money (yet). I eschew most sports, don’t like gambling, am not pleased with or want to go to most movies.

I get up at 3 AM and go to bed at about 8 PM, although, with naps, I can push the bedtime back a bit. I’m extremely intelligent and highly educated (doctorate), and I’m not as patient as I ought to be with potential partners who are not well-educated, don’t read much, and/or don’t know how to express themselves and/or don’t talk much. I’m very funny and I appreciate humor, but not if it’s disrespectful or implies derogatory opinions of groups or individuals.

I don’t like most movies or TV programs and won’t watch them. I fall asleep at classical concerts (although I like some of that music) and detest opera. I don’t want to attend most plays or public performances, but there are some I really would like to see.

I’m also not a “Barbie doll.” Therefore, I don’t want to be with someone whose main criteria for a lover start with or center on appearance and “fitness.” I appreciate certain physical qualities, but those aren’t my “screen” and I am not interested in people who screen that way.

I want friendship and interest first, love to have a chance and time to evolve, and for sex to occur as we get to know each other, not as the way to get to know each other. I haven’t had sex for over five years. I can wait.

You see the problems, yes?

subset almost nil
image from http://www.cs.uni.edu

If there is anyone at all left in my subset, what are the odds that this person is alive and living within 15 – 20 miles of me in St. Louis, Missouri USA, right now, AND that I would meet up with him/her by chance and s/he would recognize me and I, him/her?

Let me know when you find such a person(s).

The truth is, because I have had dozens of relationships in my life, from those lasting one-night to twenty+ years, and I have an adult child I am close to and love dearly, as I do his partner, and I have many friends around the country and connections around the world, and relational experiences from dozens of years of living collectively, working closely with and living with people, I have the grounds for being choosy. I’d rather be “alone” than be in a relationship that isn’t healthy or spiritually nourishing.


Love isn’t easy. Love doesn’t always offer fun and sex. Love doesn’t usually include roses or violins.

Is love worthwhile? How should a practicing Buddhist (or anyone conscious) best engage in close relationships?

You tell me. http://www.sallyember.com/blog

Although she won’t listen, I’m giving my 16-year-old self advice: Guest Post on Krysten Lindsay Hager’s blog

Although she won’t listen, I’m giving my 16-year-old self advice: Guest Post originally on Krysten Lindsay Hager’s blog

I turn 61 today, so in a great age inversion, I’m again sending advice to my 16-year-old self: this was originally posted on May 7, 2015, on http://www.krystenlindsay.com/blog/although-she-wont-listen-im-giving-my-16-year-old-self-advice-by-sally-ember-edd. Thanks, Krysten!

Maybe she’ll listen THIS time…?


Dear 16-year-old Sally,

Sally 1971
Sally at 16

From the impossibly ripe old age of 61, I send you/me advice, based on knowing how things turn out for us and recognizing choice points we could decide differently about, if we are so inclined.

If so, given the simultaneous nature of time and quantum physics’ declaration that anything that CAN happen DOES happen, we will make millions of different choices, rendering some of this advice moot. Even so, here we go.

1) Friends
The “cool” kids aren’t better friends. In fact, they’re usually so intent on keeping their “cool” status (which is always precarious) that they can be deceitful, mean-spirited, unfaithful, disloyal and unreliable in every way. Cultivate and BE the type of friend who cares more about being a good friend than anyone’s perceived (and quite temporary) status. Keeping good friends is a lot more important than attaining “cool” status.

Status in high school will be long-forgotten and completely irrelevant as soon as you graduate. Decades after high school is over, you’ll still be friends with the people worth befriending. You won’t even remember the names of those you were so keen to impress at 16 or why you (or anyone) thought they were so “cool.”

Do you still like graphs and diagrams? Here are four quadrants explaining the four types of friendships people can have and where one’s distribution of friends are likely to fall.
—Quadrant 1 (Q1) is in the TOP RIGHT = IDEAL, which are friendships that are Healthy and Enjoyable, both. If you’re lucky, most of your friendships belong here.
—Quadrant 2 (Q2) is in the BOTTOM RIGHT = PROBLEMATIC, which are friendships that are Healthy but Not Enjoyable You can change what you think is “enjoyable,” but you can’t create “healthy” so easily. Change your point of view.
—Quadrant 3 (Q3) is in the TOP LEFT = PROBLEMATIC, which are friendships that are Enjoyable but Not Healthy What makes these “enjoyable”? Really? Cut it out. Get out.
—Quadrant 4 (Q4) is in the BOTTOM LEFT = “COME ON,” which are friendships that are Neither Health NOR Enjoyable if your’re smart, NONE of your friendships belongs here.

Friendship quadrant
image from http://waitbutwhy.com

2) Relationships with Boys (and Girls)
You will mostly be infatuated and not in love. Feelings of attraction, interest, lust, even love are not the same as being “in love,” but they SEEM to be and can fool you. These other feelings can be very strong and important, but they aren’t meant to help you choose a life partner, just a date or a relationship for a few months. Plan accordingly.

Never blow off a good friend (male or female) to go on a date or spend more time with your date or sex partner. Sex partners/dates will change frequently; friends can last a lifetime, if you’re careful and sincere. Be a good friend and you’ll HAVE good friends.

Great litmus test for whether or not your feelings are deep and/or significant for a date/sex partner: imagine that one of you is in a serious car accident and left with injuries that cause that person to become a quadriplegic. Would either of you be loyal and devoted enough to the other to take care of the paralyzed partner for the rest of your lives? You might never have sex again with that person (or, if you’re monogamous, with anyone else, either). You might never be touched again by/touch that person (paralyzed: remember?). You might never sleep in the same bed, never dance together upright, never take walks next to each other holding hands.

NOW: are you still convinced that you’re “in love”? That’s okay. Have a good time, but don’t make life-long promises.

young-couple-man-wheelchair-11763960
image from http://www.dreamstime.com

3) Sex, Birth Control, Sexuality, STDs, Sexual Identity
You don’t need to be in love to have sex. You don’t need to be having sex to purchase/acquire birth control and STDs protection (condoms, pills, IUDs, etc.), and, in fact, DON’T WAIT! If you are even considering having intercourse or fluids-exchanging sex with ANYONE, go to Planned Parenthood or a free clinic or your doctor and find out what your best choices are. BE PREPARED.

It is not romantic, fun, easy or worthwhile to become pregnant at 16 or contract an STD, ever. Get educated. Find out what is contagious, how easy it is to get pregnant even before or without having actual heterosexual intercourse, how quickly and easily fluids can be exchanged that carry diseases between sex partners and be SMART and PREVENTIVE.

If you can’t talk about these things with your potential sex partner, if you can’t take off your clothes and touch each other with some lights on, if you can’t talk about what you like and don’t like regarding sexual touching, YOU ARE NOT READY TO HAVE SEX and/or YOU ARE WITH THE WRONG PERSON. For real. Don’t do it.

90% of sexual pleasure is in your BRAIN. So, if you’re not feeling safe, cared about, respected, listened to, wanted, known, you won’t climax (come; have an orgasm) AND you won’t feel good afterwards about what you’re doing with that person.

Consent must be given and received before having sex, but it is NOT an obligation to give (or get) consent.

Sex WON’T “fix” a relationship, “bring you closer” or make a tentative connection “better.” It’s just sex. You might temporarily feel more connected after having some sexual contact, but when your clothes are back on, you’re back to being yourselves and you’re stuck with whatever relationship you already have.

Having sex doesn’t cause you to become more mature, smart, “cool,” or ready for responsibility. You’re still YOU; you’ve just added sex to the mix and that is usually NOT a good idea at your age. TRULY.

Be honest with yourself. What turns you on? What/which kinds of people? Are you attracted only to certain types of people? One or more genders?

Here are some clues: “Nice” is NOT boring. Meanness doesn’t signify someone with higher intelligence, just a facility with sarcasm. Humor that is unkind reveals a person using it who is not kind. Pretty eyes, a great voice, fascinating hands or other body parts do NOT lead to having a good relationship: a PERSON has to be attached to these features whom you actually like.

Sex aids
image from http://www.nydailynews.com

4) School, Science and Writing You will have some horrible science teachers and some excellent English/writing teachers. Your math teachers will mostly be all right, but not great. Same with social studies and other subjects: good, but not great. Don’t let the qualities of your teacher determine what YOU are interested in pursuing.

You will use writing throughout your life, for almost everything related to education and work. So, continue to improve your writing/editing skills. You will never regret becoming a good writer.

If you love science (or anything else), stick with it, even if the teachers are awful in high school. It gets better in college and beyond. You can also learn on your own throughout your life, so learn how to learn: that is key.

High school is only 4 years of your life: don’t let it define you or your future choices overly much. Right now, high school is one-fourth of your years on earth, but the older you get, the smaller that percentage becomes. By the time you’re thirty, these four years aren’t even one-eighth of your life. See?

Dr. Seuss quote
quote from The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss.

5) Meditation and Religion You won’t feel connected to Judaism, regardless of how many years you are forced to attend religious education classes and how many of your friends and family members are Jewish. That’s all right.

You will find meditation, then Buddhism to be spiritual “home” for you. Say “yes” when your friends offer to bring you to meditation classes. Say “no” when people try to push you into anything that doesn’t feel right to you.

You will have to pave your own way, even though you’re the only one in your family to travel this spiritual path. You’ll be happy with yourself and you don’t harm anyone else, so go for it.

Buddhist meditation pose
image from http://www.opendharma.org

I hope you’ll take these pieces of advice to heart and follow them. If not, you’ll not be any worse off, at least.

Love,

Older Sally


Sci-fi/romance author, former writing teacher and editor and LIVE talk show host of the almost weekly G+ HOA/Youtube videochat, CHANGES conversations between authors, Sally Ember, Ed.D., is my guest blogger today.

Profile pic fewer distractions 2015

“I have been passionate about writing since I was nine years old, when I wrote and published my first story, a fairy tale about an inquisitive princess (see? I started out autobiographical). Always competitive, I’m absurdly proud that I won prizes for my poetry, stories, songs and plays early in life. Did I use up my creativity good karma too soon?

“I was born Jewish on the cusp of Leo and Virgo, which seems to mean that my life has been infused with change. Currently, I meditate, write, swim, read and host CHANGES most Wednesdays, 10 – 11 AM Eastern time, USA, in St. Louis, Missouri. I have one older brother and two younger sisters (none lives in St. Louis but we’re in close contact) and I used to have seven step-sisters and two step-brothers (we’re not in touch).

“I began meditating at age 17 with Transcendental Meditation (T.M., like the Beatles) and have been meditating for over 40 years. I became a Buddhist in 1996 (in this lifetime, anyway).

“In my ‘other’ professional life, I have worked as an educator and upper-level, nonprofit manager in colleges, universities and private nonprofits for over thirty-five years in New England (every state), New Mexico and the San Francisco Bay Area before returning to live in St. Louis, MO, in August, 2014. I have a BA in Elementary Education, a Master’s (M.Ed.) and a doctorate in education (Ed.D.).

“I enjoy blurring the lines between fact and fiction in a multiverse of multiple timelines, often including exciting elements of utopian science fiction and Buddhism. My sci-fi /romance/ speculative fiction/ paranormal/ multiverse/ utopian/Buddhist-infused, Jewish-themed ebooks for New Adult/adult/YA audiences, The Spanners Series, which are unique, uplifting, intriguing and challenging, according to readers. Vol I, This Changes Everything, is now FREE everywhere since Vol II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, released June, 2014. Look for Vol III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, in 2015, and Vol IV – X in subsequent years; about two per year is the plan.

“I have one son, Merlyn, who is a computer network engineer and musician. Merlyn, my sisters, my mom and several friends serve as my beta readers and sounding boards for much of my writing and also contribute ideas and characters for my books, as do others in my family and friendship circles (voluntarily or not). The stories in The Spanners Series are completely true and all these characters and situations exist in some timeline or another.

“Since I alternate the POVs and focus on characters and situations to feature those who are younger/YA/NA for even-numbered Volumes of The Spanners Series and feature older adults (primarily) in odd-numbered Volumes, I plan to ‘crowdcreate’ Volume VIII with younger writers and Volume IX with those closer to my age (older adults). I invite readers to submit to me your ideas and suggestions and/or volunteer to collaborate in other ways for either of these Volumes (your choice) no later than January 31, 2016. sallyember AT yahoo DOT com

logoAuthorsDen

“I am also a some-time editor/proofreader, infrequent reviewer (but PLEASE do not send me your books or requests; I choose what to review and I rarely do it since I focus on writing and hosting), frequent blogger and talk-show host, so I geared the ‘rewards’ for my Patreon Crowdfunding campaign to be useful to those who choose to donate (as little as $4 gets a donor something). The Patreon page features videos of me singing (a capella; be nice) an original song about my campaign and describing the campaign goals and rewards. Link is below.

“I blog regularly on a wide range of topics and I also include reviews, interviews, guest blog posts, and excerpts from my ebooks. Visit and comment, follow, ‘like,’ and share.” http://www.sallyember.com/blog

BOOK BLURBS:

Volume I, This Changes Everything, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D., PERMAFREE

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks
Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, 58, begins having secret visits from holographic representations of  beings from the Many Worlds Collective, a consortium of planet and star systems in the multiverse.  When Earth is invited to join the consortium, the secret visits are made public. Now Earthers must adjust their beliefs and ideas about life, religion, culture, identity and everything they think and are. The MWC selects Clara to be the liaison between Earth and the Many Worlds Collective and she chooses Esperanza Enlaces to be the Media Contact. They team up to provide information to stave off riots and uncertainty. The Many Worlds Collective holos train Clara and the Psi-Warriors for the Psi Wars with the rebelling Psi-Defiers, communicate effectively with many species on Earth and off-planet, eliminate ordinary, elected governments and political boundaries, convene a new group of Global Leaders, and deal with family’s and friends’ reactions. In what multiple timelines of the ever-expanding multiverse do Clara and her long-time love, Epifanio Dang, get to be together and which leave Clara alone and lonely as the leader of Earth? This Changes Everything spans the 30-year story of Clara’s term as Earth’s first Chief Communicator, continuing in nine more Volumes of The Spanners Series. Are YOU ready for the changes?

Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series $3.99

51-N7O96ZSL._UY250_
Intrigued by multiple timelines, aliens, psi skills, romance and planetary change? Clara and the alien “Band” are back in Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever. Now as Chief Communicator, Clara leads the way for interspecies communication on- and off-planet. Fighting these changes are the Psi-Defiers, led by one of the oldest friends of the Chief of the Psi-Warriors, its reluctant leader, Rabbi Moran Ackerman. Stories from younger Spanners about the first five years of The Transition fill Volume II. How would YOU do with the changes?

LINKS:
WordPress Blog and main Website: http://www.sallyember.com
Tumblr: http://sallyember.tumblr.com/
Twitter: @sallyemberedd
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/sallyember
FB Spanners Seriespage: https://www.facebook.com/TheSpannersSeriesbySallyEmber
Personal Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sally.ember (Sally Sue Fleischmann Ember)
Google+ Spanners Series page: http://goo.gl/tZKQpv
Personal G+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SallySueEmber
Youtube Channel: The Spanners Series books’ trailers, author readings, CHANGES shows and more:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqnZuobf0YTCiP6silDDL2w/videos?view_as=public
Patreon Crowdfunding Campaign: http://www.patreon.com/sallyember
Amazon Author Central: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Ember/e/B00HEV2UEW/
Amazon ebooks’ pages:
Vol I: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HFELTG8
Vol II: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KU5Q7KC
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyEmber
Vol I: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376197
Vol II: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/424969
Kobo:
Vol I: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/this-changes-everything-3
Vol II: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/this-changes-my-family-and-my-life-forever
Barnes & Noble nook:
Vol I: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/this-changes-everything-sally-ember-edd/1117444256?ean=2940045417921
Vol II: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/this-changes-my-family-and-my-life-forever-sally-ember-edd/1119080804?ean=2940045805957
iBooks/iTunes:
Vol I: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/this-changes-everything/id746840776?mt=11&ls=1
Vol II: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/this-changes-my-family-my/id853674553?mt=11
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7237845.Sally_Ember
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/sallyemberedd/en
Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/myworks
Library Thing: http://www.librarything.com/profile/sallyember
BookLikes: http://sallyember.booklikes.com/
Shelfari: http://www.shelfari.com/authors/a1002726320/Sally-Ember-Ed-D-/books
Authors’ Database: http://authorsdb.com/authors-directory/5338-sally-ember-ed-d

Covers and Logo Art by Aidana Willowraven: http://www.willowraven-illustration.blogspot.com/

Archived CHANGES conversations between authors LIVE shows: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPbfKicwk4dFdeVSAY1tfhtjaEY_clmfq 
Authors can learn more about and get yourselves scheduled on as guests:  https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/ 

#Love According to #Psychology and #Biology

I was going to write an entire post on the biology and psychology of love, but I realized many have already done so and several have collected/written great books on the subjects. There are even videos. So, instead of adding my less-than-expert two cents’ worth, I compiled what I believe to be the best of these and guide you to them, here.

If you, as I do, feel mystified, bamboozled, defeated and enraptured in our lives by love, you WILL find answers, explanations, reasons and perhaps excuses in these researchers’ contributions to the subject. You can find ideas that help you choose better (or refrain from choosing) when deciding how to proceed in your relationship life.

You will not, however, get that person to love you, find a way to get over a broken heart any faster, or make yourself more lovable by reading these books. In fact, if you do read/review all of this material, you’ll probably be a royal pain in most people’s behinds as you quote from them. But, so what? Would you rather be informed or falsely loved?

Okay, okay: that’s a false choice. So, read away, but don’t spout too much from your research.

falling in love sign

image from http://twistales.com

Here is the selection, numbered but not in any priority order:

1. Molecules of Emotion:The Scientific Basis Behind Mind-Body Medicine, the late Candace Pert, Ph.D., pharmacologist and biologist

2. A General Theory of Love, Thomas Lewis, Ph.D., Fari Amini, Ph.D. and Richard Lannon, Ph.D., psychologists

3. Falling in Love: Why We Choose the Lovers We Choose, social psychologist and researcher, Ayala Malach Pines

4. Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love, biological anthropologist, Helen Fisher

5. Biology of the Mind: Helen Fisher, Ph.D., biologist, video from TEDxEast

http://youtu.be/fW6AndSUByo

6. Why We Love: 5 Books on the Psychology of Love by Maria Popova, including some of the above with more info about them, on:
http://www.brainpickings.org/2011/04/18/5-must-read-books-on-love/

7. The Science of Love, from Your Amazing Brain‘s site
http://www.youramazingbrain.org/lovesex/sciencelove.htm

In case you thought falling in love was so special, check this out, from the above article: “York psychologist, Professor Arthur Arun, has been studying why people fall in love. He asked his subjects to carry out the[se] 3 steps and found that many of his couples felt deeply attracted after the 34-minute experiment [below]. Two of his subjects later got married.”

how to fall in love:

  • Find a complete stranger.
  • Reveal to each other intimate details about your lives for half an hour.
  • Then, stare deeply into each other’s eyes without talking for four minutes.

And, this:

Dr Donatella Marazziti, a psychiatrist at the University of Pisa advertised for twenty couples who’d been madly in love for less than six months. She wanted to see if the brain mechanisms that cause you to constantly think about your lover, were related to the brain mechanisms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

By analysing blood samples from the lovers, Dr Marazitti discovered that serotonin levels of new lovers were equivalent to the low serotonin levels of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder [OCD] patients.

8. What Is Romantic Love? on The Anatomy of Love site:
http://theanatomyoflove.com/what-is-love/what-is-love/

Providing this list of usual “symptoms” of “falling in love” makes one wonder why ANYONE would want to do so and why, once we do, we aren’t immediately taking psychotropic medications to help us get over it!

Behavioral traits of early stage romantic love:

  • Special meaning: the romantic partner is the center of the world, and you like anything they like
  • Intense energy and it’s hard to sleep
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Separation anxiety
  • Craving
  • Intense motivation for emotional union
  • Possessive[ness]
  • Intrusive thinking

Sure; fall in love. Just don’t get too attached….