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Gina Fiedel
Web Design & Development since 1998 ~ Google+ Create Member
Web Design & Development since 1998 ~ Google+ Create Member


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We're Celebrating Our Anniversary! Fat Eyes Web Development is 20 Years Strong!

I hope you read our story. It’s not like we didn’t see it coming, but it’s still a startling realization.

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Mindsight And Tribal Dynamics Online & Offline

I learned a new word this week in conversation with a dear friend who knows a lot of stuff and was teaching me something. Actually, it’s not merely a word. It’s a term, a concept that when uttered unleashes lot of power for me. It can be wildly useful for any of us to think about and it fuels an excitement. The concept is called “mindsight”. It was conceived by Daniel Siegal, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute.

When I approached David Amerland’s Sunday Read today, titled, “Connections” subtitled, “Tribes”, I immediately perked up with no contrived prompting to the warmth it reminds me of in my own life. The warmth, comfort and safety of being relational with others in my life’s orbit. It makes no significant difference in my depth of feeling whether they are in my physical world breathing the same air I am or if I only know them through the screens of my laptop or phone. Along with that warmth, though, it reminded me of a wariness. The sometimes perceived and sometimes real dangers of tribal mentality.

We have a natural tendency to gravitate to those people who bear some familiarity. People that we sense get us, understand our gifts and forgive us for our challenges. People with whom we feel a certain spark of inspiration and an ability to trust.

Or it may simply be that even though we have seemingly nothing in common we can feel a recognition together of what it’s like to be human here, now in this time, on this planet. That might simply come in the shape of a nod, a glance, a single utterance of sound. I experienced it Friday evening at dinner in the home of a couple of friends I feel particularly safe and comfortable with, yesterday with an unknown man that worked at the car wash and a few days ago on the phone with a customer service representative at the credit card company.

"Mindsight" is a term coined by Dr. Dan Siegel to describe our human capacity to perceive the mind of the self and others. It is a powerful lens through which we can understand our inner lives with more clarity, integrate the brain, and enhance our relationships with others. Mindsight is a kind of focused attention that allows us to see the internal workings of our own minds. It helps us get ourselves off of the autopilot of ingrained behaviors and habitual responses. It lets us “name and tame” the emotions we are experiencing, rather than being overwhelmed by them.” (
”Mindsight is a learnable skill. It is the basic skill that underlies what we mean when we speak of having emotional and social intelligence." Dr. Dan Siegel

Within the context of the conversation with my friend, there was a focus on a skill that embodies perception of “others” and the potential to self-integrate a willingness and ability to see others for who they are as whole people with all the details a life might contain.

I believe mindsight is organically grown from a certain amount of introspection and self-awareness. That breeds empathy and an ability to see ourselves and increasingly to see ourselves in relation to others but also, hopefully, an ability to see the others autonomously. Just for themselves.

Cultivating the nuances of mindsight might help us to widen the human resources in our lives. It might bring us more in alignment. Closer together in hearts and minds. Nourishing broader acceptance and curiosity.

When Daniel Siegal questions how to help minds develop, he suggests that we help people “see energy information flow with more clarity and stability and then modify it with more strength and agility”.

”The “brave new world” we find ourselves in now demands more of us, faster than ever before. The answer to most of our questions and the solution to most of our problems can be found through collective, organized, structured activity – tribal dynamics in other words. But for that to happen we need to rethink the scale, make up and even reason behind the tribes we form (

We are changing. The world is making us change because itself it is undergoing change. Traditionally we do not handle change well ( Here’s the rub, none of the things we need to do moving forward and none of the solutions we need to apply, are going to be easy or come naturally.” +David Amerland

Daniel Siegel, “What is Mindsight?”



In “The Tribe That Discovered Trust” ( inadvertently I touched upon tribe dynamics and tribal relationships ( The connections we form as people and the physical laws that govern them ( is something that is of direct interest to me. Not only does it help inform some of my work (and thinking) but it also enables me to see the touchpoints between human laws and physical laws, human behavior and the limitations imposed by physics and biology.

The reason behind this is that as the digital medium expands we invest more and more of our work into behaviors that express our humanity in this more nuanced, intentional domain. ( Because everything we do in the digital landscape is by design, we owe it to ourselves to be aware of the mechanisms behind it and the way these mechanisms drive our digital development.

Digital tribalism ( is governed by the same need for connectivity and knowledge, cooperation and comprehension that drives its non-digital counterpart. We use the digital medium to find out who we are and what we are supposed to do the same way we have used the real world to try and understand the answer to the basic question: why are we? -

In this, we seek a purpose ( that’s bigger than us and a mission that can help us make sense of our activities ( Psychologists identity mental health as a by-product of being social and connected ( and sociologists cite homophily ( as the means through which we connect and stay connected (

We look to marketing (and marketers) to help us make sense of tribalism ( in the hope that by understanding the small, we can get our head around the bigger issues involved. (

Tribalism, we believe, is part of the problem not the solution, certainly in politics and its post-truth landscape: But that is not entirely true. For every problem we create through generally thoughtless behavior, there is a studied, intentional solution we can apply ( Our brain may not be able to adapt naturally to the demands and complexities of 21st century living ( but it is nevertheless quite capable of helping us find the solutions we seek (

The “brave new world” we find ourselves in now demands more of us, faster than ever before. The answer to most of our questions and the solution to most of our problems can be found through collective, organized, structured activity – tribal dynamics in other words. But for that to happen we need to rethink the scale, make up and even reason behind the tribes we form (

We are changing. The world is making us change because itself it is undergoing change. Traditionally we do not handle change well ( Here’s the rub, none of the things we need to do moving forward and none of the solutions we need to apply, are going to be easy or come naturally.

We are the architects of our own future. We need to truly start acting like it. We can no longer behave like children, pass on responsibility and hope that things, somehow, will work out. In taking responsibility for ourselves ( we also take responsibility for each other as our actions impact upon those around us ( Growing up is a hard thing to do. But the days when this was a choice we could choose not to make just yet, are now behind us.

I know you’ve done the grown-up, responsible thing here. You have coffee. You have donuts. You have croissants. There is chocolate cake. There are cookies. Have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are.
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Why Your Website Can Be Functional, Effective & Beautiful

Because having a functional, effective and beautiful website makes the most sense.

Form follows function and having that awareness can free you up and create more possibilities for your website and online presence. The freedom and power of that knowledge will encourage you to have all the things you want: a functional, effective and beautiful website all at once. But what does that design, marketing and advertising world jargon actually mean? In simple terms, it means that how something works takes priority over how pretty it looks. It also means we should know how something needs to perform and deliver and ensure it will do those things before designing it.

A website that is visually compelling and dynamic in its message to your customers will be more effective and when it functions well your customers will be happy to visit and keep coming back.

That sounds so straightforward.

Form and function are like a one-two step, a dance that is in perfect harmony. When taken carefully into consideration, there is a seamless relationship between the two steps. It seems perfectly logical but far too often businesses believe they need to give up one for the other.

There is no reason not to wrap all the things you want into one terrific package.
There’s nothing keeping you from having a website that’s:

• sensitive to the needs of your customers
• is effective in terms of giving them just what they are looking for
• has a stellar user experience
• clear and concise content
• intuitive navigation
• helpful functionality
• and is beautiful too!

You define beautiful- it’s particular to your business identity, style, culture and who you are serving.

When your website is up-to-date and meeting current web standards there is no deterrent to a compelling look and feel. While you’re at it, don’t leave out making sure your identity is communicated accurately, the website feels like it’s really you and your business is represented appropriately within your industry.

Each of these considerations must be taken into account for a successful website. A website that will serve you well for years.

Pre-Remixed Photo by Keenan Constance on Unsplash

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Pain Is A Really Weird Thing We Can Change Our Relationship With

There’s this counter-intuitive thing about pain. Our instinct is to pull away, avoid, chasten, admonish the pain we feel. When we’re able to regard pain as simply sensation, it has the uncanny ability to morph. Or at the least, become easier to cope with, even live with chronically. Of course, its intensity varies, being sometimes quiet, sometimes harsh and terrifyingly loud, but to some degree, and admittedly sometimes only minutely, we often have a surprising ability to meet it, make its acquaintance on more friendly terms, find acceptance for it in some way. This ability is more attainable than we give ourselves credit for.

When we succeed in relaxing into pain, it can be almost like releasing it from its constraints and allowing it to have its own evolution. Removing its menace, our characterization of its nasty personality and our idea about it seems to give it a way to exist in healthy companionship with us. Befriending as opposed to fighting. A curiosity and ability to remain present with it often replaces fear and resistance. Occasionally, the pain dissipates and dissolves. Or becomes measurably more tolerable. At the least, we’ve discovered a way to exist with it when we’re forced to.

It was when I began practicing yoga in 2001 that I learned that I could have alternative responses to pain than those I’d habituated. I showed up for my first class as an absolute beginner armed with an explanation to the teacher about the chronic low back pain I had been experiencing since around 1989. My hope was that she could guide me safely into a practice that might even, one day, help my pain fade into the past. It was no longer quite so debilitating, but it had been early on and I was frightened about re-stimulating its power. I didn’t know what I could do but I wanted to find out. And I’d injured my shoulder swimming so I needed a new love.

Naturally, because yoga is strength-building, flexibility enhancing, requires stamina and endurance, there were countless moments of challenge with discomfort and what could be interpreted as pain. That’s not unfamiliar to any yogi or yogini. I learned about altering the conversation I could have with myself in those moments not only with my back but my legs, arms, hips, shoulders, hands, you name it.

I learned about breathing through unpleasant sensation, even if it was sometimes quite intense. I learned that intensity isn’t necessarily something to shy from, I learned not to fear the things my body felt as I moved through challenging postures or got tired. Or tried something new.

Sensation is not always dangerous or bad. I’m not talking about the acute pain that presents as a welcome warning signal. (In yoga, sharp sudden pain is always a signal to back off.) I am also not in any way disparaging the wide variety of diminishing extreme pain that people live with. I am also not at all averse to seeking whatever kind of other help is available.

The pain I had was theoretically brought on by various things. Physical activities such as growing up doing Martha Graham technique which is notorious nowadays for low back curvature lessening due to constantly tucking the tailbone, mopping huge expanses of office flooring and too much vacuuming when I was cleaning houses to support my young artist life, standing at huge canvases for long days and nights of painting, mixed with a dose of pretty widespread genetic trait. It runs in my family. And the pictures of my lumbar spine indicate numerous conditions, most degenerative.

By the time of my first yoga class, I’d tried various things to relieve the pain and each of them helped some. But over time, some also escalated into a level of devotion and commitment (my personality tends towards that) that may have escalated the stress to my low back. It depends on how you look at it and the trade-offs. What began as gentle, therapeutic swimming evolved to intensive swim training with an eye to competition, walking became hiking and trail running, and yes, my yoga practice remained intelligent with modifications but also became intensive and advanced taking me beyond my wildest dreams. After a couple of painful car accidents, I ventured into the somewhat treacherous world of allopathic pain relief with rhizotomies and injections.

But that didn’t alter what I’d learned. Pain and I can circle each other as enemies doing battle or we can co-exist and think of our co-existence as a learning, growing edge that like all relationships has its highs and its lows. I learned on my mat about cozying up to sensation. Practicing that off my mat has given me a deeper sense of being alive. It has removed a layer of emotional pain that seems to live in tandem with physical pain. Because even within pain, there is the stuff of being in this life fully and I choose that.

+David Amerland's Sunday Read Titled, "Pain", Subtitled, "Sensations".
#DavidAmerlandSundayRead #t

I discovered pain on a hot Summer’s day when there was not much else to do. I was 14 and running on my own through an uneven wooded trail (now marked as Gertrude Petty Pl Track on the map - and there was a part of it about 250 meters long that would take me to the top of the Mt Gravatt lookout so I could then drop down the other side and follow it all the way back, completing a 5km uneven climb run. The part I was looking at has a 10% incline. So for every ten meters forward I climbed one. An incline like that takes the elasticity out of your leg muscles and then, as you dig in and tackle it, it works on your lungs until every step you try and run sucks out the oxygen from you. You get blackspots dancing in front of your eyes around the halfway mark. You have two choices then: stop and walk. Keep running and feel the pain, every single step of the way to the top.

It wasn’t the first time I’d run the track. Being part of the High School training curriculum I started every day of the year with a run on the track. But that summer the 45-degree Centigrade heat, the fatigue and the track combined to reach a new peak of physical demand and as I the wall of fatigue hit me, I looked down on the sharply inclined ground, pumped my arms and grimly forced my legs to work.

Pain is an emotion. ( It’s the way the brain interprets sensory signals supplied by the body which is why pain is a subjective experience of an objective neural signal. This makes it unique to each individual and, sometimes, each moment with each individual with some mindfulness practitioners, having greater tolerance to pain - (

When it comes to pain tolerance the popular notion that biology has equipped women to bear more of it better is actually not true at all. This is reflected in the way men and women handle chronic as well as temporary pain and the coping strategies they are advised to develop to deal with it better - Chronic pain is a little bit of a mystery ( but as begin to understand it better we also begin to see just how complex our cultural awareness of pain actually is:

Not only does culture play a role in how we define pain, so does, apparently, memory with women, maybe, better at forgetting painful experiences ( than men (which helps explain why we are not all the sole offspring of our mother).

Not all pain is physical. ( The neural circuits ( that process pain are always the same however. Psychologists suggest we should embrace pain ( instead of seeking to avoid it (

From experience we can all agree that pain, whether physical, psychological or emotional is very much part of life, or at the very least, our interpretation of some of the sensory signals we receive from the world and which directly impact upon us. How intense it is and how well we cope may well depend upon how afraid we are of it in the first instance ( and how well prepared we are to deal with pain’s inherent uncertainty ( Memory (again), clearly plays a part -

There is another aspect here. Of all the emotions we can feel, pain can help us define ourselves ( It helps us feel the boundaries of our existence and the realness of our situation. The pain we experience helps make us unique in ways we can both directly feel and understand ( As the choice faced in Star Trek explains: should you be given the chance to have your pain taken away, would you agree? (

Does pain anchor us in the world the way nothing else does? Does it make us face our limitations as the Bene Gesserit posit in the fictional Dune universe? - Would we, without any adequate experience of pain, be lesser human beings, incapable of true change and growth?

I don’t know. These are questions that are at the very root of our neurobiology. Just like ageing and death. I suspect changing them, change us. Fundamentally. From that early day back in Brisbane, I’ve, in a sense, learned to measure my own development through my capacity to accept and then overcome pain. We could argue that in the absence of pain I would have found some other measure; some other means to explore what I can and cannot do.

The argument is moot. I am still a biological being and pain is real enough. There’s no way not to feel it. We are as united by this as separated by our own very individual sense of the intensity of what it is we are actually feeling. And that makes the journey of our humanity both instructive and exciting.

I know there was no pain involved in your decision to get plenty of coffee, some cookies, chocolate cake, croissants and maybe some donuts. Have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are.
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Making Sense

Shoot through to the heart of the matter. There is no doubt that this will be a fascinating conversation.

In about an hour, my dear friends, +Teodora Petkova and +David Amerland will be talking about #connections #connectivity #semantics and #sensemaking. Come watch on YouTube:

These two are really quite good at making sense of things. They each have a unique talent of both demystifying and adding poetry and beauty to a world that embodies more of that then we often remember to realize.

"Thinking and talking through textuality on the Web from the perspective of digital communication with author and speaker +David Amerland. This is the first episode of the series called "The Intertextual Animal" in which you will find conversations about content writing, textuality and the power of linked words, thoughts, people and data." +Teodora Petkova

Read more at about the content of the series, its intent and its scheduled events here:
In about three hours I will be talking to
+David Amerland about digital communication, content writing, textuality and the power of linked words, thoughts, people and data. Join us! (link: Or leave questions in the live chat. :)
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Amplify your message differently.

We know what “amplify” generally means. The common definition is to magnify, escalate or increase. Basically, turn up the sound. When people say “amplify your message” or they talk about amplification in business or the amplification of a business brand message for marketing, the discussion and strategies tend to be about visibility, influence, repetition, widening coverage.

These are all essentially external mechanisms. The process can also be like bits of buckshot spraying in many directions but often, diffused and dissipated. It’s less potent than the original whole it derives from.

Especially if the original is over-focused outwardly, leap-frogging internal awareness.
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A Conversation Between +David Amerland and +Teodora Petkova

What could be better? It's a fascination-guarantee. Tune in or save to watch later, but it's one of those things that really shouldn't be missed. The first in this new monthly series.
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Whatever It Takes

Our diets are an intimate fact of life. What we ingest will make a difference to how we feel and how we function. The decisions we make will affect our thinking, our daily routine, and our well-being. To make it even more of a big deal, it takes discipline to continually make choices over what we’ll eat or not. There’s a commitment and some self-trust that take place in order to give up and even to re-introduce a food into something as intimate as one’s diet. Because of that, it becomes a practice. And like any practice, it’s not always automatic or easy. It takes intention and paying attention, resolve.

I know it might seem odd for me to be so serious when talking about something as ordinary as coffee. But there’s a reason for that. Almost two decades ago, along with some other specific dietary measures, I took myself off coffee and as an alternative became a green tea drinker. So I’ve kind of earned the right. Because giving up caffeine utterly horrified me and didn’t even seem plausible, the green tea option appealed to me. It worked out really well and accomplished what I needed it to. But then, about two and a half years ago, for reasons I won’t go into here, I re-introduced coffee into my routine and think of it now as medicine.

Powerful although not always consistent, more times than not, it delivers on its promise.

Like any medicine, though, there are things we gain and things we compromise on or even lose when we use. I appreciate the education I just received reading +David Amerland's Sunday Read titled “Coffee”, subtitled “Stimulants” and it looks like coffee wins. Right there in the title, we are presented with the undeniable reality. Coffee holds a place high on the hierarchy of human awe and pleasure. How else could it have earned such an esteemed titled position?

Here’s something I know for sure- take away a girl’s coffee for that long and give it back to her and she’ll be like a kid given candy for the first time. Excited, energized. Inevitably, a new-found, never-take-it-for-granted again appreciation for that once-forbidden elixir will have developed. That’s me. I’m like a kid in a candy shop and I will never again minimize the place coffee has in my life.


If you’re anything like me you most probably started your day with a strong jolt of joe ( Coffee became the center around which revolved the ebb and flow of information, ideas, gossip and opinions ( as London’s 17th and 18th century coffee houses became the engine of the Enlightenment (

But coffee does more than just wake us up and make us social. It becomes the acceptably social stimulant of choice through which we take our brain and body to the next level ( At times it becomes the building block we use to bridge seemingly irreconcilable chasms between people ( Plus it makes us feel good ( and, as Balzac said: “…the mind is aroused, and ideas pour forth…”

Today it is hard to imagine coffee sparking such intense social adversity and adverse reaction from the church that Pope Clement VIII was actually asked to intervene to settle it ( While the accepted history of coffee places its discovery around the 9th century ( and it requires a goatherd and some goats, the real question that is begged because of coffee goes much deeper.

Essentially coffee works not because of the stimulation ( it provides to the brain but its inhibitory action to adenosine ( which makes us feel tired and sleepy, which then allows the body’s own feel-good neurotransmitters ( to be released which accounts for our relatively complex behavior (

Coffee’s imitative adenosine action ( has many additional benefits that actually make it a great drink to have ( Its effectiveness and widespread use ( also make it transformative in many other different ways ( The real question however, the deeper one that needs to be asked; that begs to be asked, is probably ones that has not real answer which is why it requires a degree of inference from what we already know.

The question? If coffee is relatively new to us how is it that we are affected by it? From an evolutionary point of view, a trait takes a very long time to form and stick. Around a million years in fact ( Which means that coffee and caffeine must have been around for some time as, indeed, plant research proves (

The very long relationship that humans have with caffeine and coffee ( then suggests another, deeper need. One that is genetically linked with some people being hardwired for coffee ( which, as every evolutionary trait that survives, confers a genetic, competitive advantage that ensures their long term survival long enough for them to pass on the gene ( The way coffee affects us then might indeed be genetic ( and different for everyone ( and the evolutionary journey of caffeine is also now beginning to be better understood (

The deeper need? Well, that one is obvious to all of us this morning. The need to somehow be smarter, push our brain to work faster, think more clearly and be more efficient. We drink coffee to disperse the brain fog of the morning and hit the ground running. We are driven by a sense that somehow we can be better, faster, smarter and have always looked for ways to achieve that ( You’d argue that evolution would take care of that for us, but that is not always so straightforward as it may seem.

Every evolutionary gain we make is a trade-off ( Coffee may provide the better answer ( So, selectively, with a little effort we can learn to be more focused, clearer, more effective ( It is collectively however that we actually thrive ( Intelligence, focus, clarity in thinking, commitment and drive, on their own, are never enough. What truly augments our capabilities, what makes us smarter, more creative, able to leapfrog ideas is the connection with others. Coffee helps bring us together. And the culture that develops from that is truly transformative.

I know this day started for you, as it did for me, with coffee and donuts, cookies and croissants, pancakes and chocolate cake. They form the common backdrop to our shared connection that makes this column possible and the conversation that takes place around it so valuable. Have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are.
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Creative Listening In Your Business Will Help You Hear Something New And Unexpected

Creative Listening is a skill.

It's not always easy. Yet it's one of the coolest practices we can always keep practicing and improving. Truly listening takes muscles. Undivided attention is something we have to put effort towards in part due to the stimuli constantly bombarding us from all directions.

Add to that- pretty much everyone makes assumptions about pretty much everything and we usually also have expectations about most things. We aren’t even aware of it most of the time. It’s natural and it’s automatic. It’s human.
But in order to listen well, expectations and assumptions need to be put aside and attention needs to be paid.

Here’s some of what happens.

We might think we already know what someone is about to say to us. It gets said and if we’re lucky, we hear it or we tuck it away to be retrieved when needed. But we usually just get busy and excited rehearsing in our minds what we want to say in response. The result is that we don’t even really hear what's being said. So many things are competing inside around our heads when, alternatively, we could relax into just simply listening. Accommodating those distractions damages our listening skills and our ability to hear. We end up missing precious moments and material.

Not only that.

We are disabling a relationship.

Because good relationships require an open exchange of communication. Listening creatively and without bias improves relationships with customers, clients, friends, partners, family and strangers. It helps us work together better.
Use your innate creativity when you listen.

What is creativity if not maintaining an open mind, making something new out of the (possibly) familiar? Listening for inspiration, possibility, opportunity.
Making a conscious effort to switch it up, surprise ourselves and build a fresh openness to how we listen might keep us from being stuck treading water while we bide time, bored and dissatisfied. It's so much more interesting to allow ourselves the "luxury" and the discipline of listening well. And it will enable better relationships.

Clear your mind of the clutter when someone is speaking to you. Pay attention. Practice hearing in a way that feels different and fresh.

Think of it this way. Listening will help your business and even your business website.

Every single time we meet someone new we begin again.

There's a brand new opportunity with each conversation we have.

In business, the ability to listen well, creatively and openly will make a huge difference in your success or failure. This is completely relevant to website design and web development which, in so many ways is about an ability to listen. Every business or non-profit entity needs to be listening carefully to the people they engage with. This ability will translate to the content that will appear on your website and be apparent in your web presence.

A thoughtful website designer and developer has the ability to listen to you, the client. A good website has the ability to listen to its visitors: your clients, and customers.

#ns #thesnipermind
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I Cry Easily & It's A Good Sign

I cry easily and I’ve basically cried my way through many of the links in +David Amerland's Sunday Read today. Tears streaming, I saw myself over and over. Tears streaming, I felt wakened up over and over. Tissues dampened, I knew over and over that this was exactly what I needed this morning.

It’s probably not because today, January 20th, is my long-deceased father’s birthday. It’s probably not because on January 20th, 1982-ish, the home I grew up in, the place that my parents transformed from an abandoned, dilapidated estate into a vibrant school, a laboratory for the creative experience of many hundreds (more likely thousands) of children and after twenty-five years and soon after it closed and they’d moved out, it was torched and burned by the subsequent owner. It took hundreds of firefighters to put out that fire. In the photos I saw later, it was remarkable to see the trees from the front of the house and the trees that were once in back all showing themselves in one single frame with only rubble between them.

These may or may not be part of the soupy mess my emotions are making this morning.

It’s probably not even because I finished reading a pretty amazing book last night called, “Lab Girl” about a geo-biologist named Hope Jahren. Parts of that book touched me to my core. They contribute to my sense of mystery of the world and the magical ways that plants, as well as humans, matter to each other. That there are communities in the plant world that are as powerful as any in the animal world.

These markers that I mention are each a part of who I am and how I regard myself. Each time tears welled up for me this morning, I was aware of the connections occurring in my emotional body. I was aware that David was somehow touching into something deeply important to me. He was standing in front of me with reminders about what really matters. Ringing a bell.

I know myself well enough to know that tears are a kind of barometer for me. They act as a signal that something important is happening. That there are deep feelings and that whatever it is that’s happening is true. Tears equal truth for me. You may think that’s odd but that’s been a real thing for me for as long as I can remember.

I’ve been taught also, that tears are often a signal of a kind of reunion with myself. A re-finding of something lost. A recognition and a stirring of something I’ve either forgotten or lost touch with. They are phenomena that is attached to waking up in my heart, in my psyche, in my mind, in my body. They say, “I am here.”. “I am.”. They help me know myself.

And so, contrary to what someone might think, tears are welcome in my life. I gladly invite them.

I’m familiar with mirror neurons. We humans have a mechanism that is engaged from our very early experiences that teach us, through the responses and behaviors of others, what it is we’re feeling, how to name those feelings and put them in context and ultimately, I believe, who we are. Who we will become as we mature.

All of this is just another in a seemingly endless list of examples of how much we depend on each other for our survival. But not just our survival. For a healthy existence and a thriving ability to be truly alive. Awake.

Self-reflection may occur internally but it’s not an autonomous activity. We reflect relationally. You help me to be me and I help you to be you. We create each other bit by bit over time and every single interaction, glance, word, body expression adds into the repository of the countless parts that make us.

Looking Back

Most of us start each day looking at a reflection looking back at us from a bathroom mirror. Without many of us even realizing it something incredible happens next. In that moment when the agency that resides behind our eyes meets the stare of the flat image on the pane of glass ( in front of us we recognize ourselves, understand we are part of humanity and feel our sense of self-awareness ( which is underpinned by an intimate, if mostly unarticulated, understanding of self-esteem (

Just in case you’re starting to feel special, all this is something we share, in most part, with monkeys (, pigeons ( and crows ( In psychology this is known as the mirror test ( and many higher-functioning animals seem to pass it (

Self-awareness is a action that involves the construction of mental models of representation that are, to some extent at least, constructed out of our understanding of others’ understanding of us ( – and I pause here to let you think about that for a moment.

Reflections, it would appear, are an integral part of how the brain sees the world and then sees itself seeing the world. ( So, our morning ritual, mundane as it may at first seem, is part of a more complex process of waking up and relocating our sense of who we are, what we want and how we will get it, back within our body.

Self-esteem ( is a sense of the value we place on ourself. That value then determines the effort we are willing to make to protect that self from harm and possible loss, cultivate it further, help it develop and take steps that lead to a journey that is meaningful.

Self-reflection ( is a process. Self-awareness still ambiguous ( as far as definitions go. Yet, bit by bit we are chipping away at the mystery of our selfhood ( We are beginning to understand the limits of self-awareness and selfhood, particularly in cases of damaged brains (

Awareness ( is more than consciousness. It is the application of cognitive processes in the analysis of situational context ( in an intentional capacity that can lead to further growth ( In The Sniper Mind ( self-knowledge is revealed to be a cornerstone of the identity we create for ourselves.

Our morning ritual in the bathroom mirror is a multi-faceted process that forces us to construct complex answers to the simple question of “who is looking back at us?” It precipitates a process of self-reflection which demands us to define everything that we think and feel is real.

You have coffee. You should also have donuts, cookies, croissants and chocolate cake. It is the weekend. So, have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are.
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