A few months ago, my department announced that it was having to cut some positions.  The Federal government has always been THE place to work if you were looking for stability.  You couldn’t get fired unless you killed someone; and even then.. But times they are-a-changing, and governments they are a-laying off people.  Those affected in my area were offered the opportunity to volunteer to leave.  They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.  It came at a perfect time for me.   I wasn’t quite ready to leave but the generous offer lured me towards the exit.  I have six more days to work and then my life is mine to do with whatever I choose.  I am in a good place, financially and mentally.  I have many options and opportunities from which to choose.  It’s almost too good.  I worry that something bad is lurking, just around the corner.  That’s just how my mind works.  I’m not generally superstitious, but sometimes I can be.  It seems to me there’s a balance in life that must be respected.  Like an unwritten law that says you can’t have it all.  Something has to give.

Whenever things have been too good in the past, something has come along and thrown dirt in my face.  Abruptly.  And nastily.  Six years ago, all was good.  Then out of the blue my happy, full-of-life and much-loved mother got sick and died within weeks.  A couple of years later, just as I was beginning to catch my breath, I had a serious car accident from which I narrowly escaped dire consequences.  Payback time.  So, I’m not trusting in the good, because I worry that something bad needs to happen in order to maintain the equilibrium.  Will one of my loved ones suddenly become ill?  Will I suddenly become ill?  Probably not.  But maybe.

Despite all of my anguished ruminations, I can’t help but feel hopeful right now.  At this moment, in the here and the now, I am determined to keep my fingers crossed and continue to hope that maybe, this one time, I can rejoice in life and be happy.

Posted in Authenticity, Existentialism, Happiness, Meaning of Life | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

Matters of the Mind

I’ve recently been contemplating the birth and evolution of psychology; the fascinating science that delves into the behaviour and inner processes of the mind of humans – and animals.. Yes, animals.  Think Pavlov and Seligman for example.  Pavlov, the Russian physiologist from the mid 1800s who’s experiments on the digestive process in dogs unexpectedly took a turn, leading to new and highly relevant conclusions about the conditioned response.  His findings were monumental in helping us to understand how to deal with and control unhealthy human behaviour.  And Seligman, the American psychologist who’s experimentation with dogs led to the groundbreaking and utterly fascinating notion of learned helplessness.  Learned helplessness is huge in psychology.  Many of the obstacles we seem to think will prevent us from doing what we want to do are simply false perceptions, gleaned – from a psychological perspective – from repetitive negative stimuli from which there appears to be no escape. Seligman’s dogs showed that  when there is a “perception” of hopelessness in a situation, some of us, (dogs and humans alike), decide it’s not worth trying.  So we give up.  Learned helplessness.

Like all sciences, psychology has evolved in leaps and bounds since its humble beginnings when philosophers like René Descartes, Plato and Socrates spent their lives trying to figure out what spirit and soul were all about.  They struggled to reconcile the physical brain with the concept of soul and spirit – what we now refer to as the conscious mind.  Their dualistic approach with respect to the physical brain and the spirit/soul remained a thorn in the side of those who sought to study and understand man’s thoughts.  This dualism remained a controversial discrepancy for centuries.

When psychology finally took a scientific turn, thanks to German psychologist Wilhelm Wundt, and the many others who followed, the study of the soul and spirit became the study of the mind.  Then later, the notion of “mind” was dropped and it became the study of internal processes.   But that wasn’t enough.  The behaviourists argued that there was more to man’s actions then simply what went on inside his head – and the study of behaviour was born.  In fact, some of the Behaviourists believed that you could only study what you could see, ie: behaviour.

Nowadays, psychology is known as the study of behaviour and internal processes.  We now investigate both the overt behaviour of humans, and the inner processes of thought.

For example, Sigmund Freud posited that there was an entire component of the psyche that was hidden and inaccessible to us in any conscious way.  Through his Psychoanalytical Model, he delved into men’s deep unconscious thoughts and categorized these into separate entities; the id, ego and superego.  These parts of our unconscious minds, he said, ruled our thoughts and behaviours, behind our very backs.

Many psychological theories have evolved since the days of Freud.  The Cognitive Model of the likes of Albert Ellis showed us that what we think has a huge impact on our behaviour.  In fact, if we can learn to lead our thoughts towards the positive spectrum, we will in turn be rewarded with a more positive outlook.  Positive, rational thinking according to Ellis, leads to a sunnier and more importantly, healthier disposition.

The Humanists theorized that we all have an intrinsic drive towards self-actualization.  We have it in us to pursue the best in ourselves.  We are built for it.  And through proper emotional nourishment, ie: unconditional positive regard, we can and will reach our highest potentials.  Thank you Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow.  And there are so many others who have made invaluabe contributions towards the understanding of the human psyche.

More recently, with the onset of advanced technology in the field of neuroscience, we are able to see and to map the inner workings of the human brain.  Yet, the discrepancy between mind and body persists.

Are we simply human machines whose thoughts, behaviours and actions are created and orchestrated by neural connections taking place in the deep recesses of the cerebral cortex?  Is the subconscious mind simply a deeper, hidden layer of neural synapses, not openly accessible to the everyday conscious activity of our brains?  Do our nightly dreams simply represent a resetting and disposal of extraneous and useless neural activity?

Are complex neural patterns in our brains responsible for all that we are and all that we do?

My brain says most definately yes, but my heart begs to differ.  As much as I am intrigued and unspeakably impressed by the physiological makings of our thinking brains, I remain desperately attached to the concept of human volition and individual uniqueness.  I will hold fast to that belief until I no longer have a choice in the matter.

Posted in Abraham Maslow, Humanistic Psychology, Meaning of Life, Personal Growth, Psychology, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Should I Have a Cup of Coffee, Or Kill Myself?

The title of this blog is meant to be humourous; I feel I should say that right off the bat.  It has nothing to do with a dark state of mind, or a morose desire to end it all.  Despite some challenging moments in my life, the idea of exiting by my own hand never found its way into my psyche in any way, shape or form.  I much prefer to be alive, than not.

Having said that, I so enjoy that quote.   I love the depth and complexity of its meaning, and I am attracted to the obvious absurdity of the words.  The dark humour that comes attached has me grinning from ear to ear every time I read it.  It is clever.

For those who aren’t familiar with this quote, it was written by French writer/journalist/philosopher and Nobel Prize winner, Albert Camus.

All my life, as far back as my memory allows, I have pondered the idea of existence.  As a child I often wondered where I came from – what I was before I was, and what I would be, when I wasn’t anymore..  Heavy thoughts for a kid!  As I grew older, my ruminations evolved into questioning humanity’s collective existence, and then of course, existence in its purest form.

It didn’t take long for me to come to a realization about life and existence.  My personal truth is that we can never know the answers to those questions.  We can try to make sense of it as much as we like, but we will always hit the wall.  What is the wall?  The wall, in my view, is the concept of nothingness.   At this point in human evolution, we do not have close the cognitive capacity to understand the notion of nothingness, assuming such a thing exists.  Some thing had to start somewhere and we can decide to believe, in our naive human kind of way, that there was simply a beginning.  But we conveniently ignore the question of what was before the beginning.  Nothing?  What is nothing?  It has to be something.  The questions never end, and you can’t win.  Even if you believe in a higher power, that higher power had to come from somewhere.  It all leads back to the concept of nothingness – the wall.  And that’s a disturbing thought, if you really sink your teeth into it.

While we strive to find a meaningful purpose for our existence as a human race, some of us believe there is no more than meets the eye.  It’s a full-fledged paradox for us.  There is nothing we want more than to understand why we occupy space in the universe for a time, yet we absolutely don’t believe an answer exists.

When faced with the thought that our existence is essentially meaningless in the infinite scheme of things, we may begin to see the absurdity of it all.  We are forced to accept the logic of what we have uncovered, while at the same time find meaning in life.   I have come to accept this truth for what it is.  The only option is to make meaning for ourselves.  To find a purpose of our own.  And the options are unlimited; there is something for each of us if we take the time to search for it.

The reality of our existence is that we are free to make our own choices.  But this unbridled freedom comes with a hefty responsibility.   What stops you from running in front of an oncoming bus or jumping off of a bridge should you get the notion?  There is no physical barrier; there is no one to stop you.  It’s not a question of being depressed and suicidal.  It is a question of choosing to do or not to do.  You have the choice.  It’s slightly disturbing to realize that we are completely responsible for our existence or non-existence, guided only by our own inner truths, beliefs, and ethics.  We have created laws and regulations as a society, but in the end, we alone must choose.

The quote “Should I Have a Cup of Coffee, or Kill Myself?” speaks clearly to the existential notion of choice, freedom and responsibility.  It is humourous in its dark juxtaposition of the dramatic and the banal, and profound enough to have ignited my inspiration for this post on a dark and rainy afternoon.

I choose to believe that life is precious, despite it all 🙂

Photo Link :  http://microstockinsider.com/files/imceimages/contemplation.jpg

Posted in Existentialism, Happiness, Meaning of Life, Personal Growth, Positive Thinking, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Introverted and Inspired

I chose the beautiful Chateau picture above because it beckons me to step inside and walk it’s wide open halls. I can feel the grandness of the space, imagine its history, sense its coolness. I don’t live in any such place of course, at least not in any physical reality. I have however often visited such places from another perspective, in a different kind of dimension. Being a fairly extreme introvert, I spend a significant amount of time in my head, wandering around spaces such as these. Sometimes it’s a Chateau, sometimes it’s a beautiful peaceful garden, sometimes it’s a place nowhere to be found in this world. I have many places and spaces. My inspiration for writing about the trait of introversion comes from my belief that it is sadly undervalued in a world that idolizes the extraverted – the out-spoken social butterflies, the showy peacocks, and the vocal leaders of this world. It’s not fair, and its not right.

What most may not realize is that the mental acuity of the introvert has been honed to perfection through years of introspection, vivid imagination, and endless daydreaming. It is the well-nourished creative mind of the introvert that peers inward and envisions the possibilities in things that others may ignore or cannot see. I am here to say that introversion is a grand thing, and that it should be embraced; applauded even. I am here to lend a voice and speak for the introverts of the world; it’s time we made our mark. It’s time that we start to not only accept, but love and value the sensitive, insightful, deep thinking, creative and imaginative souls that we are.

I feel inspired and driven to sensitize and educate others about the challenges of owning a personality trait that rides the outer fringes of the norm in our society. I want to unlock the door to the inner world and mind of an extreme introvert. The days in and the days out. The good, the bad, and sometimes even, the ugly. I’d like to welcome you to my world.

Posted in Authenticity, Extroversion and Introversion, Introversion, Personal Growth, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 4 Comments

I`m On My Way (Sitting, by Cat Stevens)

I recently posted the lyrics to the song “Sitting”, by Cat Stevens.  One of my readers asked the question : what is the meaning for you in these words?  Thank you “irishkatie” for asking the question.

When I was just a young thing.. I became enthralled by Cat Stevens; thanks to my older sister who played guitar, listened to, and played Cat all day long.  She influenced my choice of music to a huge extent.  She would strum on her guitar and sing “Wild World”, “Where Do The Children Play”, “My Lady D’Arbanville, “How Can I Tell You”, and so many more.  For many years, she would sit at the end of my bed and play her guitar and sing to me and my sister.  We loved it.  There were never any complaints.  But the sound and words of Cat Stevens grew and grew in my mind.  Especially, the words.  I don’t think Cat Stevens could have had a better fan.

Later, when I became a teenager, Cat became the love of my life.  His images were posted all over my bedroom walls.  I dreamed of him and lived and breathed his very essence.  I felt that I knew who and what he was all about.  But the love didn’t stop there.  It continued as I matured.  The song “Sitting” remains one of my favourites to this day, although I have many.

Many years ago I attended two of his concents, one in Ottawa and one in Montreal, and the moment he sat at his black baby grand piano and played “Sitting” was always the best moment for me.  I always loved the song, but I don’t think I fully appreciated it until now.

I now think I truly understand the meaning of that song, and why it has such an impact on me at this point in my life.

I have come such a long way over the last few years due to various challenges in my life.   I have grown by leaps and bounds.  I feel the power growing in my hair, as Cat would say.  And it`s a good thing.  A great thing, actually.  Cat Stevens chose a different route in his personal growth.  Something different from what he referred to in this song.  But he’s allowed.  We all have the right to choose our own path in life and choice is the one thing that we truly own.   I may be an agnostic in my beliefs, but I nonetheless respect the religious values of others.  He was seeking something that he needed and when he found it, he embraced it.  I can respect that.

Still, the words to that song ring true and meaningful to me.  They remind me that we have to find our own way, no matter how difficult or how lonely the journey may be.  And that we will see the light, not when we are fighting tooth and nail for it, but when we are able to open ourselves up and allow it to shine through us.

We all only have one life to live, and we better find a way to make our occupation of that bit of space in time worth it.  Whatever that might mean for each of us.

Posted in Abraham Maslow, Personal Growth, Psychology, Self-Actualization, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments


Oh I’m on my way I know I am,
Somewhere not so far from here
All I know is all I feel right now,
I feel the power growing in my hair

Sitting on my own not by myself,
Everybody’s here with me
I don’t need to touch your
face to know,
And I don’t need to use my eyes to see

I keep on  wondering if I sleep too long,
Will I always wake up the same (or so)?
I  keep on wondering if I sleep too long,
Will I even wake up the same or something

Oh I’m on my way I know I am,
But times there were when I
thought not
Bleeding half my soul in bad company,
I thank the moon I had
the strength to stop

I’m not making love to anyone’s wishes,
Only for  that light I see
‘Cause when I’m dead and lowered low in my grave,
That’s gonna be the only thing that’s left of me

And if I make it to the waterside,
Will I even find me a boat (or so)?
And I if I make it to the waterside,
I’ll be sure to write you note or something

Oh I’m on my way I know I am,
Somewhere not so far from here
All I know is all I feel right now,
I feel the power growing in my hair

Oh life is like a maze of doors
and they all open from the side you’re on
Just keep on pushing hard boy, try as you may
You’re going to wind up where you started from,
You’re going to wind up where you started from


I wish I could take credit for these inspiring words but I can’t.  They were written by the amazing and incomparable Cat Stevens.  He knew how to use simple yet beautiful words to inspire and create deep meaning about life and love.


Posted in Meaning of Life, Personal Growth, Self-Actualization | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

All That Glitters

There are two particularly diametric personalities in this world – each having its own unique worth, and each providing a life experience very different from the other; the inward-focussed, (aka introverts), and the outward-focussed (aka extraverts).  I am not here to insinuate that one is superior to the other; each occupies a different location on Carl Jung’s personality scale, and each offers the world its own special gifts. How boring would the world be if we were all the same?

Most people fall somewhere in the middle between introversion and extraversion on the continuum.  A small minority inhabits the higher spectrum of the introversion side, while another small minority sits on the extreme side of extraversion. I can always immediately tell the difference between the two.

If you have ever sat in a meeting with the colorful, verbose, and gregarious peacock, you will know you are in the midst of the extraverted personality. Possibly even, the extreme extravert. You will recognize him or her by their love and ease of the gab, their flamboyant and colorful style, and their theatrical presence in the room. They will look alive, energized and pumped. They will look like they are loving the limelight because they likely are loving the limelight. And they will shine and glitter and stand out amongst the crowd. It will be hard not to notice the extreme extravert.

Way on the other hand, you might or might not notice the introvert, depending if you care and are paying attention, as the one who will make sure to find a seat on the outer fringes of the room, closest to the door. He or she will be eye balling their surroundings and constantly glancing at their watch. Their entire body will be pointed toward the exit, and they will look in that direction with longing.. Their body language will be screaming their discomfort and their desire to escape. Or, they may simply look aloof, uninterested, or distracted.

The extreme introvert is definitely not comfortable in the midst of a boisterous crowd and as a result, they may retreat into their bubble in order to escape their nerve wracking and over-stimulating environment. From an outside perspective, this leaves them appearing uninterested and bored. This is not necessarily the case, although it may well be… What the outside eye does not see is that they are likely to be deeply processing what others may not have even noticed. They may appear aloof but within their own world, inside their bubble, they are already making connections on a deep and concentrated level about things the shiny, sparkly extrovert may have totally ignored in exchange for being engaged, in the moment, and in the limelight. Give the introvert some time to process though, and he or she may repay you with surprisingly in-depth observations and insight.

So, I suppose the moral of my story is that although some may shine and glitter and sparkle on the surface for all to see, there are others whose life-light comes from within, subdued by depth. It may be the ones with the softer sheen that will surprise you with their gifts in the end. You just need to look more closely to catch the light that glows from beneath.

Posted in Extroversion and Introversion, Introversion, Personality Type, Psychology, Self-Concept | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Something About The Rain

As I sit on my window seat watching and listening to the rain fall I am completely overcome by a sense of utter peacefulness.   A serene calmness of the purest form that wraps itself around me without fail, without expectations and without comparison.  I adore the rain; I always have.

And I don’t discriminate.  I love all of the different types of rain; each one having it’s own personality and it’s own mood.   And it really is so much about mood isn’t it?   A soft morning rain falling gently prolongs the cover of night and beckons me to linger in my dreams.   It lets me enjoy my cup of coffee with no strings attached, no obligations to run off somewhere.  It allows me to just be, here and now.

And then there is the rain that comes at night, rapping against my window, lulling me into a sublime sense of peace and comfort, taking me effortlessly to that place where I can evaporate into another dimension until the morning light nudges me back to life..

I also love those hot and humid evening summer nights when I can hear the thunder approaching from a distance.  There is a calm and strange electricity in the air just before the wind picks up.  It’s exhilirating and exciting to me.  Usually there is a hope that the rain will bring cooler weather, but it’s hit and miss.  Sometimes it does, and sometimes the rain only brings more humidity.  Either way, the anticipation is always great.

I often wonder why it is that I have such a love for the moodier side of nature.  The rain, the mists, the early morning fog over a tranquil lake, the crazy lightening and thunder storms, I love all of it.  Anything that provokes a mood, I’m there.

I have thought much about this and I realize that my father has much to do with it.  My father, like me, loves the rain.   Sometimes when I was a child, we would be camping and of course, it would rain..  Instead of being upset about the rain, my father would wax philosophically about the beauty of nature, à la Voltaire.  If a rain storm was heading our way, he would remind us to listen to the thunder coming from a distance; listen to it..  and I would..  He would remind us of the replenishing value of rain, the beauty of nature, the calmness that came with the sound of the rain falling on the roof.  I was paying attention!  I got it and still do to this day.  As I write and listen to the rain, I am reminded of all of the things my father told me.  I understand what he was talking about.

I have another theory about my love of the rain.  I think it is related to my personality trait of introversion.  When it’s sunny out, there is an expectation of happiness and energy, and getting stuff done that needs to be done.  A sunny day gives you no excuse; there is an obligation to get out there and do what needs to get done.  You must be happy and you must have fun.  There’s alot of pressure..

It is easy to love life when the sun is shining down on you, but it is even more fullfilling, I think, when you can find peace and comfort on a solitary rainy day.  If you can dance in the rain, nothing will get in your way.  You can do anything.

Posted in Happiness, Introversion, Joy, Meaning of Life, Psychology | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments

I Am An Introvert – Read My Mind

I, like most introverts, love to write.   Give me any subject and I`ll research it and write about it.  Easy peasy.  When I was in school, I used to love english composition class because on Fridays the teacher would give everyone a different title and ask that we build a composition around it.  I thrived on these assignments and always looked forward to them.  Not so for the rest of the class.  It seemed everyone but me despised those writing assignments.   Although I enjoy writing about many things, I am especially compelled to, and find deep fulfillment in, simply expressing my thoughts.

When I was a highly sensitive, introverted and shy seven-year old, my french-speaking family moved to Monterey California where I was put into english school in the middle of the school year.  I may as well have been shipped to another planet in another galaxy, such was the vastness of my alienation.  My outer landscape was suddenly so incredibly foreign to me that I simply withdrew from it entirely.  Into my head I went.  It was simply easier and less frightening than trying to scale the language barrier, aka, “the wall”, that was preventing me from connecting with my environment.

Then came a moment in time that I believe to this day drastically changed the course of my life.  One day when I struggled to understand what my teacher was saying to me from beyond “the wall”, she angrily jabbed at my head with her long yellow nails, repeating ever more loudly whatever it was she was trying to say.   My highly sensitive self burned with indignation and humiliation that day and I was forever robbed of any confidence to speak publicly without fear of rejection.  That incident marked the beginning of a life-long mute period, and an evermore deepening of my introversion.

Our introverted personalities are designed to some extent for us by genetics but I believe where we fall on the introversion/extraversion continuum is determined by environmental factors.  I was already an introvert, but that nasty experience ensured that I would occupy a spot at the more extreme end of Jung`s scale.

Many introverts experience mute moments or periods in their lives – sometimes by choice, sometimes not.  Verbal self-expression doesn’t always come easy for some of us.  In certain circumstances, it takes monumental effort.  I suspect this is the reason why most introverts love to write.  If we can’t speak our minds, then at least we can have you read our minds.

The bottom line is we all have something to say and we all have a need and a right to express it.  Writing is the perfect vehicle for the introvert to be heard.

Photo Link :  http://www.newgrounds.com/art/view/bluehippo/inside-the-mind-of-sbc

Posted in Extroversion and Introversion, Introversion, Meaning of Life, Personality Type, The Highly Sensitive Person | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

Paying Attention To The Here and Now

My sister N


My sister and I decided to go for a hike in the Gatineau Park this morning.  We are very lucky to live so close to the Park with its rich ecosystems, wild life, and truly amazing vistas.  We ended up at Luskville Falls, a pretty tough climb depending on what kind of shape you are in.  It’s rated as “very challenging”, and I think I have to agree 🙂

Both of us are in decent shape, but being a number of years younger than I, she beats me in that regard.  She has also had many more opportunities to climb recently than I have.  Plus, she has all the latest hiking gear making her look, not only adept, but awfully cool.

I, on the other hand, decided that all I needed was a pair of solid, hard-soled running shoes, sunglasses, and a bottle of Gatorade, and I’d be fine.  And I was, for a while.   Climbing up 300 meters over the Eardley Escarpment has its challenges; it’s steep, and it’s rocky, and there are all kinds of obstacles to scramble over.  You are essentially lifting your body weight at every step upwards, non stop, for at least an hour.  But, aside from a thumping heart, it was fine.

My sister N, (how sweet is she), knows how to cajole me into doing things I don’t necessarily want to do.  Every time I thought I had reached my limit, she would slyly suggest that we were “almost” there, not knowing that I could see her averting her eyes, putting me on.  All that was missing was a carrot…  “Just a few more feet L”, she would say.  “You didn’t come all this way to turn around now; we’re almost there!!!  You can do it!!!”  And she was right, I could do it; we only had a few more feet to go; a little push and there we were.   Huff and puff. 😉

The beautiful Ottawa valley

And, holey moley, we were rewarded by the most amazing view of the Ottawa River Valley.  Spectacular!

Coming back down was more problematic.  Although easier on the thumper, it is extremely steep in some areas, and absolute focus is necessary to avoid disaster.  Each step must be measured and considered carefully.  Focus, focus, focus.  However, me and my sister N always have plenty to talk about, and it’s easy to get submerged in a conversation and forget to pay attention to what we, ahem, (I), am doing.   It only took a second but down I went, sliding on some loose stones, onto my.. posterior, spraining my hands as I tried to grasp something to hold onto.  Not a big deal.  I will survive.  But, ouch did that hurt!

My sister N was beside herself with concern that I had hurt myself.  She always has my back, that one, and it’s an awesome feeling.  But although she may not know it, I have her back as well.  I did after all change her diapers and rock her to sleep when she was little..

On our way back home my sister, who is an old soul but doesn’t know it, talked about the importance of living in the here and now.  She talked about how things might be 10 years from now; how things could be so different, and who knows what might happen.  We all had a rude awakening about that when our much-loved mother passed away so suddenly.  As we busily go about our lives, we tend to forget that things evolve around us, people age, circumstances change.  Perhaps deluding ourselves that life is a constant protects us from fearing the future.   But the hard truth is that things do change.  And it usually happens when you least expect it.  Nothing ever stays the same.

So, lesson learned on the climb to our mini summit : enjoy the time you have with loved ones today, because who knows what tomorrow will bring.  She’s a smart one, that little sister of mine.  I am learning much from her.

Posted in Flow, Happiness, Meaning of Life, Personal Growth | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments