Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Adolescent Brain

One of the (many) interesting aspects of adolescents is the developing brain - especially the prefrontal cortex. This portion of our brain regulates all of the seething energy of adolescence, sending impulses to other parts of the brain having to do with motivation and emotion. It encourages delayed gratification, long-term planning, and most of all, impulse control.

New research on the adolescent brain suggests that this area of the brain actually benefits from learning. Not necessarily book-learning, but actual hands-on learning. In the past, young people were taught skills while growing up - cooking, child care, mechanics, etc. They began their internship in childhood as opposed to their late twenties. Today's children go to school, but have very limited opportunities to be able to learn through trial and error within the safe confines of childhood. In other words, the ability to make mistakes, and learn from them, while being watched over by an adult. This has helped create a very long adolescence. Many parents are finding their children still children well into their twenties or early thirties. Why is this? Could it be because the developing brain actually needs to stretch and expand through experience? Researchers believe this to be the case.

They have found that young people respond much more to the reward systems in the brain than do adults, and what they want most of all is social rewards, and the respect of their peers. They also have a more deliberate response when they think other adolescents are watching. This explains why your normally sweet teen goes off the deep end and does something really stupid with their friends.

But beyond that, researchers now believe that the experience of actually delaying gratification affects the prefrontal cortex as much as the prefrontal cortex affects the ability to delay gratification. In other words, it is a symbiotic relationship. The brain develops as it is needed. In years past this portion of the brain was needed much earlier than it is now. People married, started careers and families much earlier in the lifespan. Now we have incredibly bright young adults that appear to be directionless, unable to commit to relationships or career choices.

So what is the bottom line from all of this? Give your children opportunities to learn through experience. Encourage them to cook, clean, fix things, go to summer camp, go to work with you, donate their time to nonprofits that are building homes, cleaning beaches, etc. In other words, allow them the opportunity to fail and learn from their experiences within the protected environment of childhood and adolescence. Their brain will thank you.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Ahh, the world works in mysterious ways! My last post was about the young man with autistic tendencies that just happened to be a mathematical genius. Some of our discussion in the comment section revolved around the possibility of these children actually being in the fourth dimension, a step up from our current third dimension, and therefore could not communicate with us past infancy. (If you watch the Carl Sagan video from the last post you will understand why we cannot relate to other dimensions.)

Voila! A new television series - about this very premise. The new series Touch is about:

A drama that blends science and spirituality to explore the hidden connections which bind together all of humanity. At the center of this distinctive new series is a widower and single father whose quest to reach his emotionally challenged 11-year-old son will shape the destiny of the entire planet. Written by Fox Publicity 

You can catch up with the pilot here. The series begins Monday, March 19th, at 9:00 p.m., PST.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

700th Post & Fourth Dimension

This is my 700th post! I'm happy to bring good news.

60 minutes did a segment on child prodigy, Jake Barnett. Jake is one in 10,000,000. Diagnosed with autism at age two, it was questionable whether or not he would ever go to college - let alone be a college honors sophomore at age 13! At age ten he taught himself high school math in just two weeks.

His gift is mathematics and science, and he has been attending college-level courses since age 8. What amazed me, from a developmental point of view, is that he came out of his autistic shell when given the opportunity to learn. It was age eight when he came home from school and asked his mother when would he learn something? That is when she started taking him to audit college courses where he would often join the conversations. It wasn't long before his genius became known to the professors and his life changed forever.

It was when he started talking about the Fourth Dimension, (which is what many believe is humanity's evolution - from third dimension to fourth dimension), that I sat up and took notice. Unfortunately, that part of the conversation was short.

The entire episode made me happy. I actually had tears in my eyes watching this beautiful young man get excited about helping people become less fearful of math. He is so fresh and sweet.

He, and others like him, are gifts to mankind.

If you would like to read the entire transcript go here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Newest Shared-Living Idea!

I'm currently exploring a new shared living idea. There are many churches on the market as participation in religious services is down. So what about converting a church into condos with community space? The parking areas could be converted to garden space, there would be a shared workout room, maybe a community kitchen, shared outdoor areas, etc.

Churches are found in all kinds of neighborhoods and urban areas. They are often large and have interesting architecture. I watched a Selling New York segment where someone had done this very thing. It was an interesting and beautiful conversion.

On the negative side - my husband. He says I need to find investors up front. That's what I get for marrying a man in finance. Always looking for ways to pop my bubble with the pinprick of reality.

So just as an informal poll - how many of you would be interested in living like this? I'm not asking ANYONE to invest! This is just a beginning point. It may not be a church - it could be some other kind of building. But I'm just curious to know if any of you have ever thought you would like to live with others in a shared-living environment of like-minded people.

I'll put a poll up on the sidebar for a couple of weeks, just for fun.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Galactic Center

One of the interesting aspects of this year is the fact that our planet is aligning with the center of our galaxy. In fact, it is supposed to be in perfect alignment on December 21, 2012. This happens every 26,000 years. William James gives his interpretation on what that means. After listening to this first chapter of his new DVD, I had to order it. I'll let you know if it is worthy of the sidebar. Thanks to CMN for posting this interesting video:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Duality Shift

My cosmology of evolution is that we are learning to shift from thinking through our brains, which are really just antennas, to thinking through our hearts, which is where we are actually connected to each other and to the the field of possibility. This field of possibility, which is my way of explaining the space between matter, is where all thoughts begin to take shape. It is where thoughts and intention begin to morph into reality. It is the fabric that connects us with each other and to all other manifestations in our reality. But it is our hearts that are the actual connectors. That's why our hearts synchronize with those we sleep next to, and why they can be detected in the brain waves of those with whom we are standing near.

We live in a world based on duality. Right - wrong. Good - bad. Love - hate. We judge everything. Our brains are designed to do this in order to help us survive. If we didn't have the mechanism to avoid things that could hurt us, we simply could not survive. So in many ways, we should be grateful for our dualistic view of life. Tiger chasing us - bad. Sweet tasting fruit - good. Cruelty - bad. Forgiveness - good. All of this comes from information our (antenna) brain brings to us. It is the radio that transmits messages to the body.

Now, what if we decide we are good with knowing right from wrong and good from bad and wish to evolve beyond a dualistic view of the world? How can we do this? After all, thinking from the heart is not anything we have been taught to do.

It is pretty basic, actually. It means you have to learn to suspend judgement. How, you say, can we learn to suspend judgement, and why would we want to do that if it is detrimental to survival?

It is because we are evolving beyond mere survival. Maybe we are even in the process of utilizing those other strands of "junk" DNA. Maybe, just maybe, we are in the process of evolution. Not Darwin's view of evolution, where it is survival of the fittest, but a new view of evolution that actually incorporates those "leaps" we don't know what to do with in Darwin's Theory.

Here is an example: Most of us have heard the story about the ship captain that abandoned ship before all the passengers were safely removed from the cruise ship that he was responsible for running aground near Tuscany, Italy. Our antennas are taking in information provided by the media, and we want to jump right into condemnation. After all, he was responsible and then he acted cowardly. Innocent people died. A pristine ecological environment is at risk - dolphins, whales, all at risk because of this man. All true if we are just using our brains to evaluate the situation. We feel anger, frustration, maybe even hate.

Now how would that look if we evaluated the situation through our heart? Maybe we see a man whose life has been shattered. A man full of fear, hurt, shame. He will never be a ship captain again. He will never have the prestige he once enjoyed as a captain of a cruise ship. But most of all - he knows that when put the test - he was unable to deliver as a captain under duress - to make good decisions based on sound judgement and to always put his passengers before his own well being. Not only has he been confronted with his own flaws - but the whole world knows them. Most of us will never have our flaws paraded before the entire world. Most of us will never screw up that badly. Most of us will not be responsible for the deaths of innocent people.

How does he look now? Does it change how you see this man? Do you still hate him? Or do you see a flawed human being, and feel some empathy?

It doesn't change what this man did. It changes you. And that is the only person you are responsible for changing. Suspending judgement is not easy. It takes practice. Last night I was watching Nightline and they had a segment on Casey Anthony - the young woman who was exonerated from killing her two-year-old daughter. It literally took all I had not to judge this woman and have all the corresponding feelings that go with that judgement. In fact, it is the emotions that are projected from feelings of judgement that go out into the world and create duality.

So try it for yourself. See how often you judge, then try to suspend it just once. Just let it be. Take in the information, then let it go. Don't attach emotion to what you are reading, hearing, watching, etc. Don't be manipulated by the media, advertising, politicians, etc.

It's a process, and it's not easy. But the outcome could be worth it.

Monday, January 16, 2012


(Winnie 1994-2006)

I realize that term dates me, but it just seemed to fit here. After having two golden retrievers for their lifespans, this video made me want to go right out and get another one. Thanks to Jayne, for making my day.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Beautiful Hana

We were fortunate enough to spend a night in beautiful Hana this week. For those of you familiar with the infamous Road to Hana on Maui, you know it is breathtaking scenery and very dramatic driving. It is constant switchbacks reduced to one lane in some parts. Couple that with often impatient, or extremely slow, tourists, and you can see why a relaxing night in Hana might be just the ticket. No need to do that road twice in one day!

We booked spa treatments at the Travass Hotel and proceeded to take our time getting there. It is about a 2.5 hour drive from Paia Town to the little hamlet of Hana. It certainly is reminiscent of "old Hawaii." It is small and sleepy, warm-hearted, and welcoming. The only place to eat, however, is at the hotel or one of the many vendors along the highway that may serve fruit smoothies or BBQ from their little road-side stands. The only restaurant in town was closed for renovation. 

Not to worry, the hotel had everything we needed - and then some. The Travel Channel was there filming the hotel, so watch for it to come up if you're interested in Hana.

I came away with three little shell and gemstone necklaces, two of which will make perfect gifts, and my husband was able to have his first lesson on his new ukulele that was his Christmas gift from Santa. I had a wonderful deep moisturizing facial (to help prepare me for my trip home to the "land of dry" on Saturday.) My husband had a massage, and came away happy as a clam, and relaxed for the next leg of our journey.

We proceeded around the back side of the island and found the most beautiful pools and waterfalls right next to the road! The journey ended in very dry country covered in lava. From desert to rain forest - that's Maui.

It was the perfect little get-a-way. We'll miss the ocean and the warm gentle breezes, that's for sure. My husband will miss the kayack.

But Lucy's sweet little furry face has been missed, so there's reason to go home. That is the only bad part about coming to Maui - we can't stuff our lab under the seat to bring along with us.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Thrive's Foster Gamble

Lilou interviewed Foster Gamble on his movie THRIVE, for those of you that are interested. I slipped the DVD into my husband's stocking this year. Apparently, the film is doing well all over the world.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Downton Abbey

After reading about the finale of Season Two, on a blog I simply cannot find to give credit, I started watching Season One of Downtown Abbey. It is a Masterpiece Classic series on PBS. I found the first season on Netflix and needless to say - I'm bewitched!

Set in the early part of the century it is about an aristocratic family and the castle-full of servants that keep everything running. The set is stunning and the characters are both endearing and loathsome - the prime ingredients to keep you up late watching reruns.

I have felt for many years an "affinity" for England - particularly the Tudor period. I know I must have had at least one lifetime, if not many, living and dying on the English island. I do know that my family originated in England, with my great-great Grandfather leaving his children in a poorhouse after his wife died in order to come to America. After arriving and making enough money he went back to England to collect his children, marrying again,  only to die shortly thereafter. His children were dispersed to other families to be raised. A sad story, I thought. All that effort to keep them together, only to have them raised by strangers.

Anyway, you must do yourself a favor and catch up on this series, if not already a fan.

And a great big thank you to the blogger who posted on Season Two. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


My husband has a goofy job that finally allowed for vacation back in November. (His first for the year.) You may remember my posts during that time. Well, we are now back in Hawaii for his 2012 vacation. Only one month apart! Yes, two trips - one month apart.

Not only that, but just as we were leaving I started getting sick again - same thing - upper respiratory, etc. I was well just before Christmas when my darling grandson arrived with a temp of around 104. After a visit to the emergency room, he bounced back and had a nice Christmas. I, on the other hand, was a bit worried I hadn't regained enough immunities to fight off another virus. (Of course I could have caught something else while shopping, etc.)

It seems to be so - as I hit the emergency room the second day I arrived on Maui. This is my third visit in one year - all three times I have been sick with a virus. I wonder what that means? Is the Universe trying to tell me something about Maui? (My husband answers that question with a resounding NO, as if you haven't yet surmised - he loves Maui.)

Anyway, the worst part is the VOG! Yep, I was just starting to feel better and we're socked in with VOG.  The water is clear, the weather is gorgeous, the Trade Winds are gentle. We have spied numerous sea turtles right off of our lanai. Perfect for having fun. Except we can barely see our hands in front of us. Okay, well maybe it's not that bad, but we can't see some of the neighboring islands that are usually clearly visible.

In Hawaii, the gas plumes of Kīlauea rise up from three locations: Halemaʻumaʻu CraterPuʻu ʻŌʻō vent, and from along the coastline where lava flows from the East Rift zone enter the ocean. The plumes create a blanket of vog that can envelop the island. Vog mostly affects the Kona coast on the west side of the Island of Hawaiʻi, where the prevailing trade winds blow the vog to the southwest and southern winds then blow it north up the Kohala coast.

Prolonged periods of southerly Kona winds, however, can cause vog to affect the eastern side of the Island on rare occasions, and affect islands across the entire state as well.[3] By the time the vog reaches other islands, the sulfur dioxide has largely dissipated, leaving behind ash, smoke, sulfates, and ammonia.[4] (Wikipedia)

I know if you are currently under a foot of snow it's hard to feel sorry for me, but believe me when I say VOG is not good for a respiratory system that has been under attack. I never thought I would be praying for a huge gusting wind - but I am.

I hope you are all having a good start to your new year. I know many people are dealing with this same respiratory infection that seems to go on for months, but I hope it isn't you!