Let's start with the (sensitive) elephant in the room, shall we? 🐘
Three visually-impaired people were each dared to describe an elephant through touch.
The first reached out, felt the elephant's TAIL, and said: "The elephant is like a mouse!"
The second reached out, felt the elephant's SIDE, and said: "No, the elephant is like a wall!"
The third reached out, felt the elephant's TRUNK, and said: "You are both wrong. The elephant is like a snake!"
I have found many conversations about heightened sensitivity and perception resemble the above exchange. It seems situational and nearly random... depending on where you happened to be standing, when you reached out to touch and explore the elephant of sensitivity.
If you are a curious, lifelong learner-type, you may even move around the elephant, and experience the different aspects and emphasis of each third.
Course participants get access to
the world's first Neural Lounge!
What would happen if we played around with our tendency to:
- develop clustered abilities
We are often doing these things, without even knowing that we are doing them. With awareness, we could become a 3-way mirror for each other, and learn more about ourselves from curiosity, rather than pathology. Doesn't that sound refreshing?
This is the description of the private Facebook group you'll be invited to join, shortly after you enroll in the course:
Many of us know what it is to (try to) adapt to typicality, even though we are far from typical. So the Neural Lounge is a place to just be you, and practice socializing, mask-free. <--- In the right and healthy circumstances, that is not an unnerving endeavor.
My qualifications to create this Course and Lounge are biological.
Below is a 3-part metaphorical 'legend.' (Pardon the directness of the first pic.) It goes with the opening story, and chronicles my sensory journey thus far. Do you identify with one, two, or all of them??
1. Elephant TAIL = Mistaken for a MOUSE = Can represent Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS), Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). Community emphasis is on building PHYSIOLOGICAL + RELATIONAL skills.
In 2008, from the work of research psychologist, Elaine Aron, I learned about an inherited neural trait, called "Sensory Processing Sensitivity." It affects 20-25% of people (and animals, too!)
I was so impacted by discovering that biological truth, I started a MeetUp group in Chicago for Highly Sensitive People (HSP is the lay-term used for Sensory Processing Sensitivity). Its membership quickly grew from 0-200, because they could not resist this 3-word headline I placed in the Reader a decade ago:
"Sensitive? Join us."
For two years, we met (at least) monthly, and dove deeply into each chapter of Dr. Aron's flagship book. I rented spaces in galleries, coffee shops, yoga studios, and libraries... and hosted the kind of meaningful, revelatory conversations I longed for.
When we first started meeting together, crying was common. Release, man. And lots of it. Many of us had never really felt understood, or "gotten" so deeply before. And here we were, facing a room FULL of people who not only got us, they were us. We reflected each other. Shades and flavors from all over the world. Musicians. Math-heads (mAth, not meth). Mommies. Engineers. Artists. Lawyers. Students. From 22 to 72.
Socio-economics and demographics finally got in the back-seat, where they belong. The neural trait we shared, sparked the deeper connection that mattered to us. It was a special and immediate kinship. Beyond blood. Neural.
2. Elephant TRUNK = Mistaken for a SNAKE = Can represent Empaths, Intuitives, Lightworkers, and Healers. Community emphasis is on building ENERGETIC + VIBRATIONAL skills.
I have always felt deeply, with others. That is the essence of empathy -- to feel with another.
I trained to be an end-of-life/hospice chaplain, because I thought it'd be an authentic way to use my devotional temperament in good service, while also establishing a livelihood.
Instead, this third of the sensitivity elephant gave me an URGENCY TO LIVE. Freely. And as I naturally am. Wild-haired. Sun-catching. Peace-making. Up-lifting. And often, needing a nap.
Ironically, I have the least amount to say about this third because I have been conscious of it the longest, and it's now very well integrated.
Being an empowered empath helps me see and understand beneath what's seen.
3. Elephant SIDE = Mistaken for a WALL = Can represent Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) + Aspberger's. Community emphasis is on building SOCIAL + COMMUNICATION skills.
One of my long-time, 'special interests' is etymology. Since childhood, I have enjoyed learning the root origin of words. Granted, the contemporary meaning of words certainly change over time, but you can still learn so much by just considering the mindset and motive of the time and context from which the word arose. (Once that pineal thaws, you want to know things like this! lol)
For example, did you know the word 'autistic' comes from the root origin 'morbidly self-absorbed'?
Does that make Instagram an autistic platform? Or meditation an autistic practice?
As I acknowledged, word-meanings change. But considering how they got started, reveals a lot.
Why does the world RUSH TO FORCE any fraction of us to speak and verbalize? Why is the world so afraid of quiet?
If a baby -- or even an adult -- is slow to talk, look for the other ways it expresses.
A diagnosis is "the recognition of a disease from its symptoms."
I have never been doctor-diagnosed with autism, but I recognize some symptomatic behavior:
- I stim (self-stimulate/self-soothe), by pulling on, and playing with my curls. I rarely do this publicly, because nothing looks more stereotypically flakey, than a girl twirling curls.
- FOR 10 YEARS I HAVE WRITTEN THE SAME THING, OVER AND OVER AND OVER... which is that we all have a right to be who and how we are... regardless of which elephant-part we may have gotten stuck describing. Older women often remain undiagnosed because there is such strong pressure to mask and blend in with mainstream ways. And also because most autistic support is focused on children, not adults. Finally, a DSM-5 diagnosis is expensive, and doesn't even run bloodwork, because it is purely observational.
- I was so bad with the social shenanigans in the United States, I left. And I stayed left! Even as an expat, I would not consider myself socially savvy. For as long as I can remember, I either hid or justified, my need for lots of solitude. I enjoy people, but also need to recover from the significant drain of following erratic and inauthentic social cues from others. I ran away to a tiny Caribbean village, and guess what? Social expectations are everywhere, regardless of where or how you try to hide, and invisible yourself. So, you may as well just be you, wherever you are.
- What the autistic community refers to as 'special interests' I always called 'my devotional nature.' I am devoted to etymology. I am devoted to cannabis/hemp. I am devoted to permaculture/regenerative design. I am devoted to personal liberation. My online footprint (and offline choices) shows my consistent devotion to these things, as well as to helping myself and others practice self-acceptance. Because that is a prerequisite to accepting others.
- I am immobilized by choice! This is why it's a more enjoyable experience for me to shop in a tiny store with fewer options, than a metropolitan mega-mart that always melts my brain after one toothpaste selection. Why are there so many colors and dental promises to filter?! Anyone else get brain-fatigue from shopping? It is dreadful to do alone, and downright excruciating to attempt with others. Talking and making buying decisions at the same time is damn hard! So I don't even try.
- It was relatively easy for me to lose all of my life's possessions (the consequence of an unplanned decision). I ONLY keep things that I love, or use regularly. Minimalism is my favorite, ongoing form of self-soothing.
- And there are a boat-load of other socially-impairing quirks I have lived with all my life -- like TIME, and my complicated relationship with it. I can only say that flow-time and Greenwich-time are not the same.
I've never written about the autistic spectrum before, because despite me having several strong 'signs,' I've got just as many strong counter-signs... like loving metaphor, and (sometimes too) easily being able to read others.
But the struggle with social customs has been lifelong for me. I dislike all of the insincere ones. (Which is many of 'em.) And over the years, I have become less and less able to make room in my life for B.S. And so much B.S. abounds in the social games we play, that I've drifted into the safe and reliable arms of Nature and Art. And a few choice people, sprinkled here and there :-)
I feel so blessed to have caring, smart, talented, creative friends in my life. I love you all. And I love digital communication! It's definitely not to avoid in-person time together, but to enhance it.
Sometimes, texts and emails help conserve the energy of those of us who have less social fuel, and tons of creative or intellectual fuel. Or, you could just think of it as a step-ladder for short people. (I say that as a step-ladder-loving short person!)
Many months ago, I shared with two friends (and now all of you) the idea that my social challenges might be related to the autism spectrum. The first friend said nothing. The second friend said, "You? No way!"
I shared so much personal detail because it was the bravely shared personal details of others that helped me better understand myself. And based on a lot of the private feedback I receive, others are also helped by my regular risks of over-sharing. :-)
It is PAINFUL to feel certain that you don't belong anywhere.
It is HEALING to find you have been wrong about that.
By enrolling in this course, you begin an 8-week journey connecting internal data points with external data points in a way you may have never done before.
We're not learning to get a job in a pickle factory.
We're learning to mend our roots (our nerves).
This is the first, best, and most efficient thing we can do to have a more stable and positive connection with our own self, and with others.
The purpose of this course is to help:
(1) establish Order + Ease in our bodies, minds, and lives;
(2) create a more sensory-informed, neurally-aware world; and
(3) encourage those born with more sensitive nervous systems, to see their (potential) role in the evolutionary strategies of Longevity and Wholeness.
As someone who has been mindfully managing depression, and heightened perception for a very long time, I want you to know that as you age, those traits and tendencies may intensify and amplify. Mine have been. Greatly.
I used to joke about it feeling like a Marvel movie... sensing the world within and around you, with so much increasing information coming in!
Experiential data of magenta. Or silk. Or cinnamon. Gnostic downloads.
The histories and hearts of a certain time and space sift through your hands of understanding, like sand that was once the bed of primal waters.
All because you looked up a word.
And then its origin revealed itself to you, like a movie.
And then you stacked that on top of yesterday's revelations, which have been sitting on top of the previous days. And this has been going on forever.
But UNlike the Tower of Babel, this totem unites and strengthens.
Which is just the flip of 'divide and conquer.'
We should rub down any elephant that can carry us there.
You're still reading, all the way down this far? Wow. And, thank you!
That is statistically improbable, given the shortage of attention these days.
What were you hoping to learn or feel by visiting this course page? Did you learn or feel it?
While I'm asking you stuff, and since you are still reading (hooray for that!), may I run a hypothesis by you? Do you think it's possible that:
Socialization (the way we learn to be human together) DERAILED. Jumped on to fake tracks, leading nowhere. So evolution tweaked a gene or two... refined one-quarter of the nervous systems... and dispatched some sensitive weirdos who will be so can't-help-it-honest that, over time, they will restore depth and honesty to relations.
I don't believe that. I experience that.
The root origin of SOCIAL is FRIEND.
The root origin of FRIEND is LOVE.
A lot of the socializing we do does not even lead to genuine friendship, let alone to love. (Which is why I call traditional socializing a de-railed train.)
Friend-less socializing is as common -- and as bland -- as seedless fruit.
Much of it is a time-sucking farce, and some brains are, LITERALLY, just not wired to farce!
Why is that even problematic?? 🌺
Check out the curriculum. If those topics, this page, or the promo video spoke to you, I encourage you to enroll in this course!!
And please share it with someone it reminds you of ;-)
I HAD SOME HELPING HANDS
This course is dedicated to,
and wouldn't have been possible without,
the generous support -- past and current -- of:
Christie Day-Gee, Eunice Harris, Chris Henry,
Dan Lucas, Steven Lytle, Starr O'Hara
THANK YOU FOR BELIEVING IN ME! 💜
"Verbs + herbs," said the cannabis-loving writer. 🌿
She also said we shouldn't chop elephants,
and we shouldn't chop ourselves.
More fullness. Fewer fragments.
Erika doesn't always speak in third person.