Friday, July 28, 2006
The Magic Land
Ireland, and particularly Sligo, is beautiful - pictures don't do it justice, and everything you have heard about the magic and power of the place is true. There are rainbows daily and surprises around every corner. I climbed up lots of hills to meditate and felt the history of the place. I could have spent the whole week simply being there.
As it was, this intense sense of place was vital to my ability to really connect with my mum. Making sure I supported myself with meditation, connection, and walking in such inspiring scenery gave me a new and limitless strength. It was great to really listen to her, to offer her all my love and vulnerability - and it had the most surprising effect of taking the emotional charge out of my reactions to her. Previously, I would spiral away from her into an old pattern of making up what she meant by what she said. This time, I checked in with her whenever her words or actions might have led me to create distance between us. Or, I simply heard her words and was able to choose not to react, but to come back to her with love.
I feel as if I actually got to know my mother better, even though I feel certain that there is a whole part of her walled off, not just from me, but even from herself. I rediscovered that it is impossible to really love someone and wish that they would change; I knew this about romantic partners, but hadn't made the connection to family or the wider world. Accepting her just as she is, loving her madly and offering her everything I have, has changed our relationship and changed me. Standing in a place of unconditional love gives me unlimited strength and capacity. It is the key to everything! This is an ancient spiritual concept that I understand in a new, deeper, active way.
I am in awe of the power of being open and paying attention and holding an intention. What an incredible gift this week was.
Technorati tags: love Ireland Sligo
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Off to Dublin
Saturday, July 15, 2006
SENG Conference - Part 2
Anyway, to tell you a bit more about the conference - there was a vast amount of information-passing and data-sharing going on. I was surprised, because I assumed that the whole point of having the researcher right there in front of a room was to give interpretation of their findings. I wanted to know, OK, what might this mean, how can we apply that extrapolation in the real world, what else might we want to study about it? I wanted to debate, disagree, create, imagine, and dream with the expert and the other people in the room. Most people had a lot of slides and not much time for questions. We could all read the research, offline, in our own time. So just giving us the data again seems a bit pointless. But perhaps that's how they do it in academia.
However, some data I simply had a hard time swallowing. I'm a coach; my training has taught me that no-one gets to be wrong. This principle that I hold so strongly was tested to the max at this conference. I heard a very well-respected keynote speaker say that there was no greater incidence of social or emotional problems among the gifted teenagers she studied than in the general population. All I can say is that gifted teenagers are masters at telling adults the answers they know they want to hear, and hiding their true feelings to protect the ones they love. This is also because they have been misunderstood or "helped" inappropriately so many times in the past that they no longer trust that any adult really knows what they are talking about. Their logical conclusion is that they must deal with their pain alone. It's sad, it's scary, and it's one reason why I do what I do - to reinforce their self-concept and to give them more tools to keep searching for what they need.
Generally I felt that this minimization of emotional problems was inappropriate and unhelpful at a conference specifically dedicated to supporting the emotional needs of the gifted. I am confused about it and wonder why it happened. There were other sessions that were great, some that spoke to the reality of being gifted. However there were many that gave lists of things to do with gifted people to help them fit in better. I find the lists to be terribly dangerous. Gifted people are vibrantly unique and deserve to be treated that way. The reductionist approach is particularly damaging for people who are constantly in a process of growth and change. My guess is that it would not be tolerated for any other group of people, grouped racially, ethnically, or even those at the other end of the IQ scale.
The mos surprising thing is, why is this happening at all? Why aren't the researchers and dedicated workers in the gifted world creating new and better ways to look at this population that can encompass their wholeness and individuality? Those taking a phenomenological approach are a tiny minority, one I wholeheartedly respect. I assumed that all the people drawn to this area are themselves gifted, but perhaps I am wrong. For me, working with gifted people means I need to remain constantly alert, flexible, and open to modifying any and all of my operating principles at any moment. It's the thing that makes it fun and keeps me engaged. I don't want to reduce it to a set of understandable "facts", ever. Part of the beauty of gifted people is their ability to see the big picture - the enormous, infinite picture. Let's use that as a starting point and see where it gets us.
Stay tuned for part 3....
Technorati tags: SENG conference gifted phenomenology
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
SENG Conference - Part 1
This was my first academic conference as a presenter, and my first gifted conference - I have attended many software junkets before. It was a highly ironic experience and I'm still giggling about it at random moments. Despite this conference being specifically about Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG), the environment and program of the conference was the antithesis of everything the presenters were talking about!
It was held in the Hilton Irvine, which while very nice, is right across the street from the airport (read: NOISY) and surrounded by other hotels. Lots of concrete and pavement and plants manicured within an inch of their lives. I was on foot and couldn't find any interesting restaurants or shops or museums anywhere nearby. I was almost in a state of sensory deprivation by the time I left - certainly cultural deprivation.
In addition, the conference structure did not seem to take into account the increased sensitivity and predominantly introverted nature of the gifted population. There were several large meetings over meals that were very loud and confusing, as well as regular hotel lighting and the type of room where the temperature is difficult to moderate. I took a couple of long breaks to regain energy alone in my hotel room, but that also meant I had to miss something.
I will be opening a discussion on this on the SENG message boards, as well as sharing my impressions here. The hope is that my perspective can add to the impact of this volunteer organization. There's a lot more to say....to be continued....
Technorati tags: SENG conference gifted
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
I am a Genius
Then she said it needed major reorganization and .... offered to help! I'm just thrilled beyond belief. This is major. Part of me was thinking that no-one would be interested in it, it would probably never see the light of day, even though the whole point of writing it was to spread my ideas and experience in my field. When I was writing it and banging my head against the wall on regular occassions, publication day seemed like an impossible dream. I had some lovely fantasies that people would seize on it with huge enthusiasm, but I found it quite easy to dismiss them as unrealistic. After all, I'm a brand new author.
Having my erudite friend give it such a strong acknowledgement was quite overwhelming. To be validated like this is truly indescribable. If she likes it so much, I'm more inclined to think that I've really done something valuable here. I couldn't stop crying with happiness. So I went out and bought champagne and spent a whole day celebrating!
Technorati tags: book editor celebration
Sunday, July 02, 2006
The first time is always the hardest. The first time I do it with a new social group, I'm always wondering, what will the reaction be? I'm often told that I'm just too much, and I don't think it's just because of the gifted piece. I'm sure this happens to lots of people, because of the rarity of real emotional behaviour. What is the big deal about being who we really are?
I wish we could create a society that allowed everyone to just let it all hang out. On some level, I think we already have. People are rarely jailed for expressing themselves. Yet the old restrictions and conventions remain. Let's fight them with realness!
Technorati tags: society gifted emotion