Reading: Daniel Siegel’s ‘Brainstorm’

I have always been troubled by our cultural notion that teenagers are inherently difficult people and that there is no way to avoid having a miserable time with your child during those years.

I mean, I understand that going through all that change in a few short years is challenging, and that there are a lot of misunderstandings that can (and do) occur.

I’m not naive, I’m just hopeful.

I can’t help but wonder if some of the problems that crop up have to do with the cultural expectation described above. You know,  the way that, if you expect trouble, you often find it?*

DrDanSiegel_Brainstorm_Cover_Small 3D AT

Anyway, as usual when I start wondering about something, I started researching, and that led me to Daniel. J. Siegel’s book ‘Brainstorm.’ I’m reading it right now and I’ll let you know how it goes. So far, I like what what he has to say and I’ll be writing more about it when I’m done.

If this topic intrigues you, too, you might want to check out Brainstorm.


*Please know that if you are struggling to communicate with your teenager, I’m NOT saying that you are the cause of the trouble. I’m not thinking of individual cases here, I’m wondering about our cultural approach. This stuff is just hard all around. For everyone.


Interesting things: Nia Dance

A couple of weeks ago, I took a Nia Dance class taught by my friend, Elaine and it was a joyous experience.

I especially liked Elaine’s attitude about how to get into the movements.  And I really liked that Nia didn’t require me to be especially coordinated nor did I have to be swift with distinguishing my left from my right.*

It was glorious!

One of the things I most enjoyed was the part where Elaine gave us scarves to dance with and told us to  just move to the music. I thought I would feel ridiculous but instead, I felt like a little kid dancing for the joy of it.

Seriously, I could have been my 8 year old self in the backyard trying out dance moves with my friends.

I highly recommend Nia, especially with Elaine, and I highly recommend dancing around with a scarf.

Here’s a song to try your scarf dance with:


*I know my left from my right and I can be coordinated, it’s just not my natural automatic state. It’s a reaction time issue with my ADD, I have a slightly slower body-brain processing time, is all.


A Train Of Thought: On Clothing, Part One – Why are they wearing that?

One of my friends chooses her outfits like they are a piece of art. She goes in for composition of colour and fabric rather than using the criteria that we are more used to – ‘modern’ style, ‘dressing up’ for the occasion, colour coordination. I love the way she dresses, even more so now that I know why.

Another friend of mine told me that, in some parts of the world, people judge photographs based on the spirit they were taken in, rather than on whether the individuals pictured look ‘good’ or not. I found that intriguing and it tied nicely into the idea of how my other friend dresses.

That, in turn, led me to back to an old train of thought – noticing how I look at other people’s outfits.

Just like any other dame raised in this patriarchal culture, I have been well-trained* to judge what other people are wearing and whether I look ‘better’ than them. I am well versed, at least mentally, in deciding whether someone ‘should’ wear a particular type of clothing, whether it flatters them or whether they look ‘ridiculous.’

However, since I started paying attention to how I think and how my thinking has been influenced (thanks, Feminism!), I have been increasingly annoyed with that automatic internal commentary on other people. I got tired of the waste of time and energy involved in assessing other people – and for no good reason. It doesn’t go with the general empathy with which I try to live my life, and it’s no fun.

So, since I can’t stop noticing what other people are wearing, I decided to start using different criteria to judge it. Now, instead of looking at whether they meet some sort of moving target of standards of appropriateness, I look for their intent.

Were they aiming for comfort? Attention? Moveability? Colour? Excitement? Were they trying to highlight one specific item? Do they look like they are happy in what they have on?

In this photo, for instance, Sharon and I are dressed to kick some ass. Our intentions are clear. (She won, by the way. I need to up my skills.)

In this photo, for instance, Sharon and I are dressed to kick some ass. Our intentions are clear. (She won, by the way. I need to up my skills.)

Now, I’m not spending a lot of effort on this, I’m just channelling an automatic train of thought down a different track. And I’m not generally thinking harsh thoughts about anyone’s outfits, I don’t care that much.

I am a people watcher, though, it’s my inclination as a writer, a storyteller, a coach, and someone with anthropology training, and I am much more comfortable thinking in these terms than in any other ones I learned.

What kind of intentions do you use for choosing what to wear?

Tune in next Thursday for Part Two of this series – ‘But How Do You Feel?’

*Note: I am not referring to my parents’ training me here, just the kind of training you get from living in this society

Here's one from a few years ago!

Artsy Fun: Zentangles

For the longest time, I didn’t think I was an artist.*

Here's one from a few years ago!

Here’s one from a few years ago! I really like making those round things.

I knew I was a performer – I can act, tell stories, do monologues, read my writing, give a talk, whatever, but I didn’t do any visual art. About 8-10 years ago, I happened upon Zentangles and discovered that I could, indeed, draw some things.

I’ve expanded into all kinds of visual art territory now – art journaling, sketchnotes, index-card-a-day challenges, (I’m doing a DIY postcard swap & Inktober this year) but it all started with Zentangles and a lot of my other artwork includes Zentangle-type patterns.

If you like doodling, you might like Zentangling, too.

I dare you to try it!

*Note: Still not an *ARTIST* artist but I do like to draw things. 🙂 You can see some of them on Instagram.

Signal Boost: St. John’s Storytelling Festival

Graham Blair created this spectacular poster for us. He's AMAZING!

Graham Blair created this spectacular poster for us. He’s AMAZING!

As you may know, I’m the President of the St. John’s Storytelling Festival and this year’s fun is less than a week away!

I’m hosting the Story Circle at The Crows’ Nest on the first night of the festival and I will pop up here and their throughout the event.

I hope you’ll come out and hear or share a few tales.

It’s going to be a grand time!

See the whole schedule here.