[Reading is Sexy] Understand Your Emotional Intelligence with ‘The Highly Sensitive Person’

“All virtues have a shadow.”

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For millennia, humans traded information by speech or song – imbuing tradition, history and knowledge with the tone of their voice. It wasn’t until 1440 when German inventor Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press; in less than half that time we now have temporal, instant gratification reinforcing social media channels from Facebook and Instagram to Snapchat, TikTok, and the like. Where the world once ebbed and flowed at a nominal rate, it’s now gaining unparalleled speed and momentum. Many of us dance with overwhelmed feelings at one point or another – and the world’s recent stage has only catalyzed these feelings. From COVID and quarantine, to the reckoning of the ‘The Great Resignation’ and job wage inequity, not to mention race relations and the growing chasm of political divide – it really isn’t any wonder that feelings of anxiety and depression have run rampant these last few years (and let’s be honest, my heart rate just went up typing all that!). A society that’s overwhelmed means that we’re living in a constant state of over-arousal, that we’re all sitting on hairpin triggers waiting for the next emotional hurdle to be thrust into our path; it reinforces timid, introverted behavior and takes us out of being our ‘best selves’ while pulling us out of the collective human condition and isolating us within our minds. Continually ingraining ourselves within this hyper-stimulated, instant gratification, ‘go-go-go’ natured world – it’s no surprise that many of us have become, or always have been, highly sensitive individuals.

“Whatever the times, suffering eventually touches every life. How we live with it, and help others to, is one of the great creative and ethical opportunities”

― Elaine N. Aron

As it turns out, the more aware one becomes – the more deeply one feels. I was blessed with a good childhood for the most part, less my parents divorce when I was two, and grew up highly anxious for seemingly “no reason” (…according to therapists, family and friends). I had stomach ulcers in elementary school, and was in therapy from the age of 11 well into my adult life, and understand implicitly what it means to exist within a hypervigilant state and the want to feel “normal”.

“I am deeply moved by things. I’d hate to miss the intense joy of that.”

― Elaine N. Aron

I’ve discovered myself to be dichotomous: I enjoy moments of extroversion and love feeling like part of a large group, I equally find disdain fitting into a societal mold. I cry, easily; I laugh easily, too. I’m reactive, to a fault. I have a lot of feelings, not recognize that not all of them feel like my own – almost as if they’re at the heart of human nature’s cosmic collective, and it’s my emotional duty to experience all of them. It’s easy to become trapped in that feedback cycle, and I give a lot of credit to my family, friends and many, many therapists over the years for always being there for me to pull me out of it. But truth be told, it’s never easy to ask for help – and there have been times where I haven’t been as lucky; times when I haven’t wanted to ‘burden’ others with my thoughts, felt that I wasn’t important enough to find solutions to my feelings, or have existed outside of myself in a prolonged moment of dissociation, eventually discovering that I’m severely out of touch with my authentic nature. It’s these type of emotions that seem to reinforce the feelings of isolation, of introversion, of withdrawl – and within those feelings, very rarely does one choose to reach back out to the world for help. So thank goodness I stumbled across esteemed author Dr. Elaine N Aron and her book ‘The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When The World Overwhelms You’.

Part retrospective on an emotionally intelligent life, and part explorative into the nature of Highly Sensitive People – this book put me directly in touch with my true self, and made me understand that though I have felt burdened by my feelings – it’s beautiful to feel the world so deeply, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I found a lot of myself within Aron’s anecdotes, and felt an odd sense of calm wash away cobwebs of mental chaos and calamity. As it turns out, one in five people fits in the category of being ‘Highly Sensitive’ – so even if it doesn’t describe you, having this knowledge in your back pocket will enhance your connections with others – in addition to parts of yourself. From reframing childhood events, understanding close relationships and bringing your emotional ‘A Game’ to the table – ‘The Highly Sensitive Person’ takes us on an emotional adventure to uncover our true nature, and give it a healthier spin. Plus, each chapter features a ‘self help’ section at the end so you, too, can do the work.

Want to connect with others like you? There’s a Facebook Group that I think you’ll love!

Are you curious if you’re a Highly Sensitive Person? Sure, maybe you’re absolutely aware of yourself – but in case you’re unsure, Aron has a self test on her website so you can understand more. Additionally, Aron has penned several other books on the topic – including a book for children and a workbook to go along with ‘The Highly Sensitive Person’.

Here are a few other tangentially related reads worth adding to your book list if Aron’s ‘The Highly Sensitive Person‘ piqued your interest,:

For more on the author and her series of books, check out…

Website | GoodReads

[Reading is Sexy] Savor the Adventure of Peter Heller’s ‘The Dog Stars’

“Life is tenacious if you give it one little bit of encouragement”

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

Last year, I descended into the world of “Station Eleven” the brainchild from the esteemed Emily St. John Mandel and I felt myself come alive while understanding why ‘survival is insufficient’. Now, fast forwarded a year in time but in time alone due to the nature of our world struck down by COVID, and I’ve been moved to pieces by yet another post-apocalyptic tale with “The Dog Stars”, the debut fictional tale from Peter Heller.

“…it felt like my heart might burst. Bursting is different than breaking. Like there is no way to contain how beautiful. Not it either, not just beauty. Something about how I fit.”

It’s fantastic the life one can live between the covers and letters of a good novel. Similar to Station Eleven, we meet our main character, Hig, in sickness and in mourning, within a world turned upside down by a flu pandemic. In the pages that follow, the reader descends into awe inspiring adventure where over and over again, we discover ourselves as Hig rediscovers himself: through loss and through grief, through love and through the persistent longing for something greater than himself.

Peter Heller, The Dog Stars Quotes: "To multiply the years and divide by the desire to live is a kind of false accounting."

The first thing you’ll notice, and either happily engross yourself in or either have to get through – or – is the literary syntax. Heller effectually pulls the reader into the world of ‘The Dog Stars’ with the language, form and function based upon living inside Hig’s memory for the duration of the book – almost like a kite string, holding the novel together. You feel you, too, have had to deal with sickness from the flu, you too, have had to get your wits back about you and carry on in this new world: this new world without convention mirrored in analogy by the degradation of language and dissolution of formal conversation. Initially taken back, I quickly became enamored by it and found myself playing out the scenes vividly within my imagination.

Maybe it’s not the meek who inherit, maybe it is the simple. Not will inherit the earth, they already own it.”

Right after finishing the novel, I started scouring the internet – hoping that a film adaptation would be on the way. Which led to a good news, bad news scenario. Back in 2012, ‘The Dog Stars’ was optioned by the company that brought us the Resident Evil movies, German based Constantin Films. Unfortunately, there’s been literally no movement since. All things considered, with a year and a half of an international health crisis still lingering over us – could be an excellent time to toss that project into high gear.

Is it possible to love so desperately that life is unbearable? I don’t mean unrequited, I mean being in love. In the midst of it and desperate. Because knowing it will end, because everything does. End.

With his first fictional tale in the books, Heller has gone on to write two more novels – Celine and The Painter, as well as a handful of pieces of non-fiction including The Whale Warriors. A longtime contributor to NPR, as well as a writer for National Geographic, Peter Heller has an exceptional knack for weaving inspiring tales of adventure and resilience, and is sure to make you yearn for the romance of the great outdoors.

For more on Peter Heller, and “The Dog Stars” – head to his social media channels or simply head down to your favorite small book store and snag a copy yourself.

Website

Peter Heller on Good Reads | ‘The Dog Stars’ on Good Reads

Support a Small Bookstore with a purchase on Book Shop.

What’s the best post-apocalyptic book you’ve ever read? Let me know in the comments below!

Peter Heller, The Dog Stars Quotes: "Grief is an element. It has its own cycle like the carbon cycle, the nitrogen. It never diminishes not ever. It passes in and out of everything."

[Reading is Sexy] Wind a Whimsical Web Between Mathematics and Mysticism with Pickover’s ‘The Loom of God’

the man cave: The Mandelbrot Set & Fractals

“Mathematics is the loom upon which God weaves the fabric of the universe. The fact that reality can be described or approximated by simple mathematical expressions suggests to me that nature has mathematics at its core.”

― Clifford A. Pickover, The Loom Of God

With quarantine still pushing on, and Summer officially coming to a close without anyone getting a real vacation in – it’s important to me to at the very least, explore those things we can still explore. If we can’t adventure outwards, I firmly believe it’s our duty to venture inwards – with all physical and celestial frontiers conquered, to me this is the last sort of true exploration still out there; a sort of ‘manifest destiny’ of the mind, and a conquering of the ego and self as our final frontiers, if you will.

Growing up, I was all about a good detective story a la Lilian Jackson Braun; as I flowed out of high school and into myself, I started finding strength in characters in Danzy Senna’s coming of age tales, the seductive mysteries of Lauren Henderson, or a twisted dystopian view of reality from the likes of Jerry Stahl or Arthur Nersesian. Maybe it’s a symptom of age, or want of information – but now that I’m firmly in my thirties, I’ve noticed a mental shift – I ebb and flow towards books on science, mathematics, religion and philosophy, and haven’t picked up a work of fiction since powering through Richard K Morgan’s impressive Altered Carbon series. After finally making it through Livio’s impressive read on the ‘The Golden Ratio’, I got turned on to (and by) some of the quips that Livio proposed from Pickover.


The Loom of God: Tapestries of Mathematics and Mysticism: Pickover,  Clifford A.: 9781402764004: Amazon.com: Books

The Loom of God is part science fiction adventure as you traverse through the history of the world with your partner in curiosities Mr. Plex, part love story as Theano and last but certainly not least – part mathematical and mystical history of the world, and part philosophical conjecture. Throughout, Pickover’s passion for all topics is palpable and oozes through his writing style, as he poetically propels the reader on a journey befit with companions, pesky antagonists in the form of transfinites and a plethora of knowledge on the history of mathematics.

From Mandelbrot Fractals to Vampire Numbers, Logarthimic Spirals to Stonehenge, the history and philosphy of the multiple cultures, and a lovely marriage within the chapters between the science behind the fiction – this is a fantastic read, that’s difficult to put down and easy to digest.

The Edges of Nature | EcoTone: News and Views on Ecological Science

If this Pickover classic piques your interest, take the following books for a spin. Each weaves a unique, and beautifully explained web on the rich and diverse history and culture surrounding mathematics.

Whether you’re remotely into or completely enchanted by either Mathematics, Mysticism or the magical relationships between their two worlds – I couldn’t recommend this book enough. Find the book on Good Reads, snag yourself a copy from Amazon – or simply head down to your local libraries to see if they have a copy to get your mind into. Before I head on my next literary journey, if anyone has any fantastic pieces of fiction to share, please leave some recommendations in the comments below

The Loom of God: Good Reads | Amazon | Local Library

What are some examples of fractal patterns in nature? - Quora
Earth's Most Stunning Natural Fractal Patterns | WIRED
Fractals – Mathigon

[Self Discovery] Put the Social in ‘Social Distancing’

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re well aware of the way that the Coronavirus – also known as COVID-19 has been making it’s way across the globe in an international emergency event that most generations simply have never been part of. And if you have been living under a rock, I hope you’re keeping your rock 6 feet apart from other rocks.

First things first, let’s all admit – these past few weeks have been eye opening, scary, anxiety inducing, etc. Please remember to reach out and check in on each other. HOW ARE YA! How are your family and friends holding up? Have you been remembering to try and get outside, and hold your head up high? We’ll get through this, but we need to remember – the human condition is the necessity to connect, – so let’s connect! Any new books, hobbies, shows you’ve discovered? Any questions or anxieties other people can help answer? Anyone learned a new joke or got a funny meme to share?

Up in Seattle, we are under a Stay at Home order until at LEAST May 5th. It’s a ghost town, traffic is non existent and I’m anxious. But I’m reminding myself: I am healthy, I am okay. My friends are healthy. My family is healthy. We are okay. We will be okay.

But please remember: This is GLOBAL. As a people so are we – we are the human organism, the human condition. Are you healthy? AWESOME. Do you know anyone over 60, with a medical condition or pregnant? Then do your best to keep THEM safe. What is happening does not discriminate based on age, sex, religion or location. Everyone is panicking in their own way. Be kind. Wash your hands. Don’t cough on things.

This is not an excuse to not vote in the upcoming election, if anything this is why we need to mobilize and unite as a nation. The current administration seems to be doing their best to delay testing, from NPR’s reporting – if they can prove our numbers remain low (even if they’re low from lack of testing) they believe it can boost a re-election campaign.

With the decimation of vital industries with hourly workers and a reduction in both business and working hours – there’s a chance for unemployment to balloon again. We need economic safeguards in our communities and states that prevent families and small business on having to default on their loans, mortgages or their rent. We need legislation that prevents utilities from being shut off for non payment. We need UBI, Universal Basic Income, because the economy will essentially tip on its head once the only people who can afford ANYTHING are only the 1%. We need Universal Health Care. There are people, homeless, immigrant, that do not have access to healthcare currently – Washington has reopened their health care election coverage and I hope other states have; but many people still can’t afford THAT version of health care and the only way to truly stop this pandemic is to both test and treat everyone. If you’re for those points above, let me tell you about this guy, Bernie….but we’ll do that in a latest post.

For me: I got a “flu”-like bug twice in three weeks in in January, one time three days after getting the flu shot, I had a fever of 102, body chills, a headache and nausea, it lasted for 4 days; that was when this was all starting – I’m starting to think I had and then got over COVID-19, but without proper access to testing I will not know. I finally finished Walden. I stated a cool book on The Golden Ratio. I started making essential oil perfumes. I tried my best to not freak out.

Now, in the midst of all the ‘Stay at Home’, ‘Shelter in Place’ and ‘Safer in Place’ orders around the country – it’s becoming more imperative than ever that even though we maintain a safe physical distance, that our social nature – our human nature, stays in tact. Thankfully, living in the digital age there are an infinite amount of resources available that make it feel like you’re not so alone.

Keep Your Head Up with These Tips and Tricks

Join a Book Club: Even though reading is a singular activity, that doesn’t mean you can’t make reading social, get a profile on Good Reads. My latest – Walden, by Thoreau, was something I’d been trying to get through for over a year – but by it’s simple nature, and being written by the most famed Transcendentalist, I thought it would be weird to attempt to rush through it and I’m so glad I didn’t. It’s honestly the perfect pick for anyone who is negotiating with any sort of physical isolation from others, and ways we can dive into our own minds.

Step 2: Get your box

Create a Collaborative Playlist: Music is one of those things that has the ability to bring people together in a million ways, from when times are good to when times are hard. I’m a self proclaimed Audiophile, and I’m sure most of my friends are, too. I’ve been digging on Spotify for a million different reasons, whether is their end of year analytical roundup, their new artist discovery or the ability to dive steadfast into a band’s discography. Lately, one of my favorite functions in Spotify is the ability to make a collaborative playlist. A few years ago for my wedding, we had our guests get down in a collaborative playlist before the big day and let me tell you – it made our wedding party just that much more fun. In light of everything currently happening, I thought it would be a fun way for my friends to share their latest favorites – so go ahead, jam out and add one or two of your favorites, too!

Go To a Digital Festival: Sign up for Youtube and Twitch and watch a live stream of a concert, Insomniac Event’s had to forgo their fabled Beyond Wonderland festival this year due to current circumstances; and as always, they turned a negative into the most positive of pictures by hosting ‘Virtual Raves’ for both Beyond Wonderland last weekend then Hard Summer Staycation this weekend. From the Brownie’s and Lemonade Squad, we’ve been treated to amazing sets from world renowned and up and coming artists through their Desert Mirage series and last but certainly not least, big big love to both Mad Decent, Beatport and the infinite amount of artists out there that are filling our spirits, warming our hearts, and letting us shake our groove thangs. Some of my favorites from this weekend have already been posted – check’em out!

Proximity x Brownies & Lemonade: Digital Mirage
Kaskade
Seven Lions
Gryffin
Insomniac: HARD Summer Staycation – Beyond Wonderland Virtual Rave-a-Thon
Valentino Kahn
Dr. Fresch
Jack Beats

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Foster a Floof: If you’re without a furry friend, or looking to add to your collection – this is a great time to try fostering a pet! It’s proven that having animals around can lower your anxiety while providing adorable stress relief, and plus, being altruistic and caring for others is one of the quickest ways to get out of your own head and into a healthy mental space. The pros at Petfinder have a great web-tool to find local shelters, or simply jump into Yelp or Google Maps and find your closest one. If you happen to have any free time, and aren’t under a ‘SIP’ order, volunteering at the shelter’s is also a great feel good activity!

Be Social with Social Media: In my personal opinion, as a society we are incredibly lucky that what we are going through with the Coronavirus has come at a time where we are vastly, deeply interconnected within our communities. With the Internet, streaming media and social media – we can maintain some semblance of normalcy while going through this strange transitory phase by reaching out to each other. I’ve never been much of a fan of FaceTime, or of Video Conferencing, but I’ve vastly changed by tune over the last few weeks. It’s been lovely to see my friends, cheers them over the phone, and really see them smile – even if we’re miles away.

Sprinkle Some Joy: The biggest takeaway for me is this – you can get through anything with a good spirit, so do things that bring joy, do things that make you happy and do things that make those around you in a better mood. Share a joke, hold back criticism, be gracious, ask questions, engage, laugh, and then maybe – just maybe, share a few memes, they’re honestly great ice breakers if there’s someone you haven’t chatted with in forever. I have a small collection that have been helping me through – maybe they can be just as useful for you!




How are you holding up during this chaotic moment? Any surprising ways you’ve found to be social even in light of being self quarantined? Let me know in the comments below and let’s get through this together ❤

[Reading is Sexy] Ground Yourself in the Moment with ‘The Power of Now’

Image result for The Power of Now

As the digital age seems to exponentially evolve the world around it, whether it be through cell phones and social media or the internet of everything, it gets harder and harder to feel like you’re truly present for your life. Not the one that you’re busy posting to Instagram or Snapchat, but the only you’re physically, tangibly living; the one that you devote your emotional and mental energy to.

Inundated with high res digital images, high octane music and a high frequency world that keeps going at a faster and faster pace, I understand why so many of us are disconnected in one way or another from the biggest picture of life. Not “a” big picture, or their big picture – but the biggest picture of our reality, the cosmic unconsciousness which all living beings are an important part of.

Whenever I’m finding it hard to truly be, I can always pull myself out of my feedback cycles by opening a good book. It’s been a while since I’ve really gotten behind a self-professed ‘self-help’ book but far be it for anyone to believe they’re beyond needing a bit of enlightenment – especially me. Typically, I can sit in a corner and lock myself in my mental for hours while marinating in a good book, but due to the content and wanting to put my learning into action – I took this one in digestible partitions that were chalk full with potential energy. Two months later I can confirm: I’m so thrilled I did it this way.

For most of my life, I’ve proudly embodied the definition of being a multitask er but what ‘The Power of Now” made me realize was that I’m never truly present for any of it, if I’m trying to do all of it. I’ve found myself giving space and presence to my feelings instead of running from them, avoiding them or ushering them away. I have found ways to ground myself in the now. Instead of giving into negative feedback cycles, I give into and acknowledge my current state. Instead of anxiety about the future or pain from a past event, I’m content to purely exist as I am. It’s a beautiful chrysalis, and I feel like a new found butterfly that just discovered their wings.

On that note, I leave you with a few of my favorite quotes from the book.


“Your task is not to search for love but to find a portal through which love can enter.”

“The light is too painful for someone who wants to remain in darkness.”

“I have lived with several zen masters – all of them cats.”

“ As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love – even the most simple action. ” 

“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.” 

“The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special abilities, relationships, person and family history, belief systems, and often nationalistic, racial, religious, and other collective identifications. None of these is you.”

“When you are on a journey, it is certainly helpful to know where you are going or at least the general direction in which you are moving, but don’t forget: The only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment. That’s all there ever is.” 

“Give your fullest attention to whatever the moment presents. This implies that you also completely accept what is, because you cannot give your full attention to something and at the same time resist it.” 

“Resistance to the Now as a collective dysfunction is intrinsically connected to loss of awareness of Being and forms the basis of our dehumanized industrial civilization .”


For more on rooted in marinating in mindfulness – including a short list of books for a spiritual way of being – head here. Have you read ‘The Power of Now’? What were some of your biggest takeaways? Any book recommendations from y’all??


To learn more about ‘The Power of Now” or Eckhart Tolle, peep the links:

[Eckhart Tolle] Website | Facebook | Goodreads Profile

[The Power of Now] Amazon | Goodreads