The Dragonfly Forest

They have been given names such as devil’s darning needle, ear sewer, horse stinger, skeeter hawk, and the snake’s servant. Actually, Dragonflies are beneficial, peaceful, and stunning. You are a Dragonfly if you are: ADD/ADHD, dyslexic, dysgraphic, Asperger’s, NLVD, autistic…

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

We all have Bias - learn to stop being so judgmental

Re-sharing - a post I wrote back in June 2013 but think it needs to be addressed again!  

There has been a lot of discussion in the media about racism, sexism, homophobia, equality… (There is no need to identify these stories because they could be any story; even your own story of being oppressed, discriminated against, of judged).   I will address these issues because they are vital to making the world a better place; so we can do better now that we will know better!  To do this we must first understand implicit bias and confirmation bias.  EVERYONE makes judgments based on both of these biases.  They are rooted in our upbringing and may be so deep you are not aware they exist.  But do not think that you are not prejudice or bias because we all are; it’s human nature. 
Understanding Bias:
Implicit bias is the unconscious attitudes and beliefs that can be expressed overtly or covertly.  These implicit biases develop early in our lives and can occur even if we believe we have no biases toward others.  Implicit bias can be measured (Harvard has done some great research in this area).  These biases are not only about race but also about: age, disabilities, religion, gender, and so on. 
Watch this video of Alan Alda taking this test and explain implicit bias.

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Here’s the link to check your own implicit bias: Implicit Bias Test 
People do not base their decisions and opinions on fact but instead on confirmation bias.  Confirmation bias is the process of paying attention to information about a person/topic/issue that confirms (validates) your belief/opinion and ignoring, minimizing, or rationalizing the information that does not support your belief/opinion.  The more emotionally charged an issue or topic is the more this bias occurs.  The recent political race is a perfect example of confirmation bias.   If a person liked one presidential candidate then most of the things that candidate said or did was spun in a positive light.  The other candidate could have done or said the exact same things but these would have been seen in a negative light. 
 Here’s a quick video that explains confirmation bias:

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Our brains automatically engage in low-effort information processing which consists of stereotyping and judgments (implicit bias).   We then look for information that validates these beliefs and opinions while we ignore or minimize information that disproves these beliefs and opinions (confirmation bias).  This happens with EVERYONE!  
This can change only if we do a few things:  First, we need to acknowledge and accept that we have biases.  We need to be openly admit these to ourselves.  Second, we need to willingly look at all the evidence and use our OWN critical thinking skills.  Decisions need to be made based on evidence (not only the evidence you want to look at - that's confirmation bias).  This is not easy because your biases will get in the way.  We expect others to be emphatic  to understand us, our points of view, and accept our values and beliefs but we often don’t practice empathy to others. 
Remember that empathy is NOT feeling what another person feels it is UNDERSTANDING the other person’s emotions, experiences, situations…  It does not mean that you have to agree with the person but that you understand why they believe what they believe and feel what they feel.  When you have empathy you don’t try to change another person’s belief to your belief.  You don’t judge others because empathy is the antidote to bias, bigotry, and bullying!
When people become aware (conscious) of the potential for prejudice, they often attempt to correct for it and are less likely to exhibit bias behaviors (overt and covert).  Nevertheless, just understanding implicit bias and confirmation bias is not enough.  Actions, with the intent to do better, must occur on a daily basis.
Please watch the final video of Oprah speaking about Maya Angelou words “when you know better, you do better.”  (If you have not watched any of the other videos than please watch this one.)

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Motivational Monday - Things I learned from Randy Pausch

Randy Pausch touched my heart and changed my life.  Although he was on my list of people I admire and people I wanted to meet so I can learn from, I never had that opportunity because he passed away July 25, 2008.  I still visit with Randy frequently from re-reading his books, re-watching his videos, and talking to him in the universe usually asking, “Randy, what would you do here?” or “Randy, what advice do you have for me today?”  

Things I learned from Randy:

1.    “It is important to have specific dreams.”  The key to this isn’t knowing your dream but knowing what precisely you want from your dream.   Sometimes what you think is the dream is not the real dream and people achieve this dream and are disappointed or people can’t reach this dream and therefore they quit all together.  So it is vital to know exactly what it is you are really dreaming of achieving!

2.    “Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted.”  This is sometimes a hard one but I have to remind myself that I didn’t get what I wanted and my expectations did not occur but I sure did learn a lot of lessons.  Life is about lessons.  When I have events that are disappointing because I did not get what I want I often ask Randy, “what was I supposed to learn from that?”
  
3.    “When it comes to men who are romantically interested in you, it's really simple. Just ignore everything they say and only pay attention to what they do.”  This was advice to his daughter and he's right; actions really do speak louder than words so you must remember to watch the behaviors of others --they are very telling.  Also, pay attention to your own behaviors because others are watching your actions and that is how you are being judged – they are not judging you by your words! 

4.    “Proper apologies have three parts:
1) What I did was wrong.
2) I feel badly that I hurt you.
3) How do I make this better?”
I work hard to practice this and want my children to own their mistakes and practice this apology as well.  The world would be such a better place if everyone had the courage to say they were sorry.  (Previous blog post on saying sorry).

There are many more quotes I love (some added as picture quotes for my Facebook pages  – see below).

Watch Randy’s video of The Last Lecture!  I promise you will not be disappointed and your life will be impacted!






























(Image: photo of a metal sculptured dragonfly on a brick wall and a quote from Randy Pausch's book 'The Last Lecture' - “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.  Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.  They’re there to stop the other people.” "





















(Image: photo of a sun rising or setting and a quote from Randy Pausch's 'The Last Lecture' - “When you see yourself doing something badly and nobody’s bothering to tell you anymore, that’s a bad place to be.  You may not want to hear it, but your critics are often the ones telling you they still love you and care about you, and want to make you better.” )




















(Image: clipart of a group of multi-racial children playing cards and a quote from Randy Pausch's book 'The Last Lecture' - “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” )





















(Image: photo of a Caucasian child wearing a cape and mask with his/her fist in the air and a quote from Randy Pausch's book 'The Last Lecture' - “There’s a lot of talk these days about giving a child self-esteem.  It is not something you give; it’s something you have to build.” )

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Be uniquely you!

Today is a day to be strong!  Look at yourself and appreciate all your wonderful qualities!  If you are saying "What wonderful qualities?  I don't have any wonderful qualities."  Then tell yourself to stop it!  Stop putting yourself down because you do have wonderful qualities.  You are an individual.  You are unique.  Take some time today focusing on all the things that make you - uniquely you!  

Sure some of these things will be external but I want you to look deeper - dig deeper!  You have distinct ways you perceive the world, you have your own feelings & experiences, and you have exceptional gifts and talents. Don't allow yourself to say things like - "But others do better than me in ...."  This is wrong because you are comparing yourself to someone else - be your unique self!   

Embrace yourself!  Love yourself!  Enjoy what you have to offer this world!  Finally, don't hide yourself but live your life being uniquely you!



Thursday, January 12, 2017

What the brain looks like for ADHD, OCD, PTSD & DEPRESSION


So sad that people just don't understand that the brain is connected to all these things - ADHD, OCD, PTSD, DEPRESSION, & even ANXIETY.  Many people think that it is made up and we don't have a disability.  There is actually a problem in the brain.  Yes, we can make changes to the brain through our thoughts and learning ways to control our bodies reactions but it take a lot of time and practice.    

Sunday, January 8, 2017

10 Spiritual Resolutions for a better 2017 on Spiritual Sunday

Spiritual Sunday:

The New Year has begun.  Have you made a list of your spiritual resolutions?  Often we make resolutions that are based on material things or changing ourselves physically here’s a list to help you get started on making your own Spiritual Resolutions!

1.   Make a special place in your home for your own spiritual retreat.  This can be a special chair or a corner of a room.  A place where you go to just relax and get into touch with yourself.  A place to develop mindfulness and let go of all your stress.

2.   Practice Mindfulness on a daily basis.  Mindfulness is more than meditation.  Mindfulness is getting into touch with the inner you: your body, mind, emotions, and soul.  Stop what you are doing a few times a day and reflect on what you are thinking, how you feel, and what is going on in your life.

3.   Make a gratitude journal and put notes of gratitude in it every day!  If you like writing then you can make a journal using a notebook or just notebook paper (it doesn’t have to be fancy but if you want it to then go ahead).  If you prefer to use the computer then type out your gratitude in a word document each day and save it in a file folder.  For those of you who don’t like to type or write you can use your phone and make notes into it each day voice texting.  You can use an app like Color Notes, Evernotes, or any that work for you. 

4.   Pay it forward.  Once a day do something where you pay it forward.  Pay for the person’s order behind you in the drive-thru, drop off flowers or treats at a nursing home or hospital, or let someone go ahead of you in a long line. 

5.   Clean up your house and closets and donate items that are in very good condition.  If you have not used/worn the item in the past year then it needs to go! 

6.   Appreciate the service of others!  Give an extra large tip with a quick note saying “Thanks for all you do!” 

7.   Make a dream journal (see #3 on different ways to do this).  We get to really understand ourselves, fears, and desires if we take some time to review our own dreams.

8.   Be open about your challenges, obstacles, and disability.  Sharing these will help others be comforted, know they are not alone, and give them strength.  Others will see that you are a survivor.  Sharing is not about venting or “woe is me” talk; it is being open without shame. 

9.   Find a motivational Mantra and recite it daily.  This can be a spiritual scripture or even a quote from a movie but something you can say to yourself when times are tough and you are losing strength.


10.  Finally, practice empathy!  Remember the Platinum Rule!


Friday, January 6, 2017

My story is not ending - Project Semicolon & my tattoo

I know that tattoos are not for everyone but I have wanted one for a while & yesterday I finally got my tattoo.  I am thrilled to finally get this tattoo because it has so much meaning for me!  

I have shared openly about my disabilities in a past post- Who I Am. BTW, I am not ashamed to use the word 'disability' because to not use the word disability I would be denying the problems I experience with depression, anxiety, dyslexia, dysgraphia, & ADD.  Here's a better post on Why it is better to use the word disability instead of difference.  Society needs to stop making it shameful to use the words disability & mental illness!  

This is why my tattoo is so important to me!  I got my tattoo to own my struggles with depression & anxiety.  I also want to openly show my support for others who have these battles. Being open will hopefully reduce the shame & stigma around mental illnesses.  As a therapist people often think that we are the ones that have it all together and never experience depression & anxiety but that is not true. The professions of psychology & counseling often have some of the highest suicide rates.  I believe one of the reasons is because we are told it is not okay to disclose our own challenges.  Well, I am for full disclosure & I am open with my clients - I let them know that I have these as well & I can assure them that life is worth living when we have support & learn to accept exactly who we are.  

So, let me explain my tattoo to you!  This tattoo is my Dragonfly Forest (visit my FB page at The Dragonfly Forest & my private therapy practice FB page at Forest Alliance Coaching).  For those of you who don't know my married name is LAM and it means Forest in Chinese - these are the Chinese Characters for Lam/Forest. The Forest (woods) is also my escape & the place I go for inner salvation. The Dragonfly is the symbol of who I am & I'm proud to be a unique amazing Dragonfly!  The body of my Dragonfly is a Semicolon.  It is to represent that my story isn't over! It stems from Project Semicolon.  Project Semicolon is a nonprofit movement started by Amy Bleuel to honor her father, who took his own life.  It is to bring awareness & shame reduction to those who battle depression, suicide, addiction, anxiety, & other mental illnesses.  Here's the reason a semicolon is used - "A semicolon is used with an author could've chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to.  The author is you, and the sentence is your life." 

My goal is to continue to openly discuss the topics that people would rather keep hidden - learning disabilities & mental illnesses. We have nothing to be ashamed of because we have more battles to fight than others. We will have less battles to fight when there is no longer discrimination and negative stigmas about having a disability and/or mental illness.  

Be strong & Be proud!  

(Image description: photo of my left arm wearing a heart linked gold & silver watch & a bracelet that says "Just Keep Going" and my tattoo of a dragonfly with a semicolon body & the Chinese Character for Lam (my last name) which means Forest. On the right side of the picture is my own quote "Be a warrior! Be a survivor! Just keep going! Don't let your story end! Proud to be a Dragonfly!")



Thursday, January 5, 2017

Empathy is the Key!!


Empathy is being able to see another person’s point of view even if you have no specific frame of reference or similar experience.  Unfortunately, most people do not have empathy because they just cannot put themselves in another person’s shoes unless they have direct experience.  A great example of this is when Senator Rob Portman reversed his stance on gay marriage after learning about his own son being gay.  Geez, only when his own life was affected by the ban on gay marriages did he see the light and understand.  The world would be a much better place if everyone focused on empathy instead of their own egocentric point of view. 

Empathy is being conscious and fully aware of the experiences of others!  Here are some ways you can step outside of your own frame of reference and become more empathetic:


  • Truly listen to what another person is saying – listening is not waiting for your turn to talk and tell your own opinion/story/experience.  Listening is also not making judgments.

  •  Really think about your advice before you offer it to someone.  Your own advice is much more about what YOU would do in situation. 

  •  In fact, do not give advice or opinions unless the person directly asks for this information.  Your advice and opinions are about YOU not the other person.  It also demonstrates that you are NOT really listening. 

  •  When creating things such as presentations, papers, books, movies… you must really understand your target audience.  You must be able to put yourself in their shoes and view the experience through their eyes if you hope to make a difference. 

  • When experiencing an event such as a movie, play, sporting event… think about it from many different perspectives.  Think about the perspective of a variety of people (blind, deaf, specific race or ethnicity, physically handicapped, dyslexic, ADHD, homosexual, old, young…).  What might they think and feel?  By being open to other perspectives you become less egocentric. 

As a Dyslexic Dragonfly I am a very slow reader but I love to escape in books via audiobooks (ear-reading).  One of my favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis is:  “My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through the eyes of others.”   So remember to take some time to think outside of yourself today to help make the world a better place.  Let the focus be on empathy!  

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

7 things to do for a positive 2017

2016 is now over and it is time to reflect back on the year... 

1.)  Overall did you have a good year?  

2.)  Would you do it all the same if you could do it over?

3.) Did you answer no to either of the top two questions?  

If so then you need to really think about what you need to change in yourself, attitude, beliefs, environment, situation.... for 2017.

You need to look at the lessons you have learned over the last year and how to work not repeating any mistakes.  We all make mistakes.  In fact, mistakes are great, they help us learn who we really are and what we really like and dislike.  We learn more from the mistakes we make than the things we do right.  

So here's what you can do to prepare for the next year:

1.) Appreciate all the mistakes you have made over the last year because these things taught you a lot about yourself and the world around you.

2.) Focus not on the negative things that happened to you but the positive things that occurred - this includes our lessons learned.  

3.) Focus on the positive things you want to bring into your life in the year 2017.  Write down a list of these positive things you want in your life.  Remember what we focus on we expand.

4.) Don't make a list of resolutions such as, "I will lose 10 pounds."  Instead make a list of aspects of life you want to  improve in yourself - "I will be loving to others,"  "I will accept myself for who I am," and "I will focus on the positive."  

5.) Remember when you focus on the negative or stress over things that are happening in your life you are bringing in negative energy.  Negative begets negative and no one deserves to live a negative life (if you just thought of someone you think deserves a negative life than you just brought negative energy on yourself - not the other person - you are only harming yourself!).

6.) Let go of expectations.  You will not have a perfect life - shit happens all the time.  If you expect things to be a certain way you will become disappointed and this is negative energy.  Don't expect things to go wrong but don't expect them to be perfect either.  Just enjoy the moments as they are occurring.  So what the dog just pooped in the closet -clean it up and move on- don't let it ruin your whole day.  So what you were late to the meeting - let it go - you finally got there right?  If others are upset with you because you are late that's their negative energy don't allow it to make you negative.  Don't allow another person's negative energy to make you have negative self-talk.  

7.) Finally, want to know how to stop that negative self-talk?  We all do it from time to time and some do it more than others so here's how to stop it from controlling you.   Every time you catch yourself having negative self-talk fight back.  Yep, fight back - argue back with yourself!  Shout it out loud if you have to - say the opposite the negative self-talk is saying.   For example, if the negative self-talk is saying that you are "no good and worthless" than fight back by strongly saying "Heck no, I am good and I do have worth."  You may not believe it at first but don't stop because eventually you will change that negative self-talk! 

So take some time to reflect over the last year and make positive plans for 2017!