You do not have to be good.

With the weather turning (finally) toward spring, and with everything reaching toward the light, I felt it was as good a time as any to share one of my favorite poems of all time.

I love Mary Oliver, and I love “Wild Geese” because it expresses so much about what so many of us go through every day: feeling like we have to strive, to suffer, to be busier, better, more stressed out than everybody else. The way we push ourselves rather than being ourselves, and the loneliness and lack of belonging we can feel as a result.

Oliver asks us to return to our bodies, and to the things that bring us joy, hope, and fulfillment. And per usual, she does it in a way that is never cloying, sentimental, or precious. Nevertheless, it makes me cry every time. It is what makes her one of the greats, and what makes me share it with you.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.

Ian Greig [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

-Mary Oliver, from New & Selected Poems (Harcourt Brace)

Infants are sensitive to pleasant touch

The latest from the “but we knew that, right?” department: a study showing how infants process the sensation of “pleasant” touch – and how young they learn it.

Touch is critical to human development, and in fact, as my friend Christine Kraemer pointed out, most baby mammals will die without it. Much writing has been done on the topic of the crucial role of touch in bonding, healthy development, and general emotional and social health. But it’s always nice to see more detailed studies like these, that begin to examine the mechanisms by which these things work.

Of greatest interest to me was the following quote. For context, the researchers were brushing the infants’ skin with a paintbrush:

Interestingly, infants’ slower heart rate during medium-velocity brushstrokes was uniquely correlated with the primary caregivers’ own self-reported sensitivity to touch. That is, the more sensitive the caregiver was to touch, the more the infant’s heart rate slowed in response to medium-velocity touch.

This brings powerfully to mind the relationship between the synergist and the client in an RSM session, and how the energy and mood of the synergist communicates through to the client through touch, and vice versa. It’s also remarkable to me that this happened in the research even though the caregivers weren’t touching the infants directly.

Think about what it’s like to be near someone who is warm and calm and welcoming, and then think about what it’s like to be around someone high-strung, nervous, or angry. Mood is contagious, and touch amplifies it. This research seems to show, at least by correlation, that sensitivity can also be contagious.

Read it here.

 

"Watch quietly and observe."

Inspiration from an unlikely place this morning: a teenager who decided that enough was enough, and developed a line of bras for young developing girls that are not hypersexualized and inappropriate. I was touched both by this girl’s passion and drive, and by the messages embedded in the marketing.

Yellowberry espouses six ‘mantras’ that are printed on its hangtags, and which were written years ago following the tragic death at age 5 of Megan’s youngest sister Caroline, who fell from moving float during a parade.

Those mantras, written by Caroline’s godparents as a tribute to the little girl’s bright spirit, encourage people to celebrate their youth in a loving and natural way… and not feel so rushed. ‘Water the flowers everyday’‘Watch quietly and observe’‘Find a hug when you need one’‘Go barefoot’. And finally, ‘Campfires are rare; eat as many marshmallows as you can’.

Megan has taken those truths and applied them to Yellowberry‘s business plan and its broader purpose of supporting young girls.

I love that we are living in an age when crowdsourcing is making it possible for young girls to do things that are so positive for healthy body image. In a time when the world seems bent on making girls grow up faster and faster, and when the beauty and wholeness of the human body is being undermined by marketing messages at every turn, this kind of thing is inspiring.

Check out the full article here: http://www.lingerietalk.com/2014/04/08/lingerie-news/yellowberry-meet-the-teen-titan-who-is-taking-on-the-youth-bra-industry.html

“Watch quietly and observe.”

Inspiration from an unlikely place this morning: a teenager who decided that enough was enough, and developed a line of bras for young developing girls that are not hypersexualized and inappropriate. I was touched both by this girl’s passion and drive, and by the messages embedded in the marketing.

Yellowberry espouses six ‘mantras’ that are printed on its hangtags, and which were written years ago following the tragic death at age 5 of Megan’s youngest sister Caroline, who fell from moving float during a parade.

Those mantras, written by Caroline’s godparents as a tribute to the little girl’s bright spirit, encourage people to celebrate their youth in a loving and natural way… and not feel so rushed. ‘Water the flowers everyday’‘Watch quietly and observe’‘Find a hug when you need one’‘Go barefoot’. And finally, ‘Campfires are rare; eat as many marshmallows as you can’.

Megan has taken those truths and applied them to Yellowberry‘s business plan and its broader purpose of supporting young girls.

I love that we are living in an age when crowdsourcing is making it possible for young girls to do things that are so positive for healthy body image. In a time when the world seems bent on making girls grow up faster and faster, and when the beauty and wholeness of the human body is being undermined by marketing messages at every turn, this kind of thing is inspiring.

Check out the full article here: http://www.lingerietalk.com/2014/04/08/lingerie-news/yellowberry-meet-the-teen-titan-who-is-taking-on-the-youth-bra-industry.html

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can cause brain damage

Sticks and Stones – Hurtful Words Damage the Brain – from Psychology Today

A column describing how verbal taunting or abuse, whether from parents or other kids, can hinder development of critical structures in the brain, causing greater risks for future depression, anxiety, drug abuse, and other psychological issues.

What you say matters.

 

The Power of April Fool's

Carnival in Venice

Today, in the US at least, we celebrate that divine silliness which is April Fool’s Day.  The Internet brings us its usual bevy of pranks, your office manager might have swapped out the salt for the sugar in the break room, and weird Uncle Larry, who never quite got the whole April Fool thing, is sending you selfies with his underwear on his head per usual.

But the real power of April Fool’s derives from a deeper tradition of fooling, of topsy-turviness, of Carnivalia, if you like, that is about rule-breaking, role-shifting, and speaking truth to power.

For centuries, the time of Carnival in many Western nations has been about turning power structures upside-down for a time, allowing people’s more animal natures to run wild in the streets, crowning commoners as temporary royalty, and letting the masses, as it were, “get it out of their systems.”

Court jesters, those fools so celebrated in Shakespeare’s plays, were often the only people allowed to speak truly in a critical way about a sovereign’s policies (though at times they risked hanging anyway). Great comics like Pieter-Dirk Uys of South Africa and our own Stephen Colbert are stellar examples of jesters working in the modern court, skewering the corrupt power-mongers by showing them a distorted mirror.

And so in some way, today is a day for all of us to look at ourselves, at our place, at our sources of power and persecution, and to laugh at the absurdity of it all.

That may sound like a serious call of duty for a day that’s supposed to be about Whoopee cushions and fake dog poo.  But there’s a reason the blog’s called Power In Your Hands.

What are you doing with your power, with your humor, and with your mischief today?

The Power of April Fool’s

Carnival in Venice

Today, in the US at least, we celebrate that divine silliness which is April Fool’s Day.  The Internet brings us its usual bevy of pranks, your office manager might have swapped out the salt for the sugar in the break room, and weird Uncle Larry, who never quite got the whole April Fool thing, is sending you selfies with his underwear on his head per usual.

But the real power of April Fool’s derives from a deeper tradition of fooling, of topsy-turviness, of Carnivalia, if you like, that is about rule-breaking, role-shifting, and speaking truth to power.

For centuries, the time of Carnival in many Western nations has been about turning power structures upside-down for a time, allowing people’s more animal natures to run wild in the streets, crowning commoners as temporary royalty, and letting the masses, as it were, “get it out of their systems.”

Court jesters, those fools so celebrated in Shakespeare’s plays, were often the only people allowed to speak truly in a critical way about a sovereign’s policies (though at times they risked hanging anyway). Great comics like Pieter-Dirk Uys of South Africa and our own Stephen Colbert are stellar examples of jesters working in the modern court, skewering the corrupt power-mongers by showing them a distorted mirror.

And so in some way, today is a day for all of us to look at ourselves, at our place, at our sources of power and persecution, and to laugh at the absurdity of it all.

That may sound like a serious call of duty for a day that’s supposed to be about Whoopee cushions and fake dog poo.  But there’s a reason the blog’s called Power In Your Hands.

What are you doing with your power, with your humor, and with your mischief today?