Right now I’m taking a Psych Assessment class, one small and important step on my journey toward getting my professional counseling license. For the class, we had to conduct a handful of assessments on ourselves. Knowing my professor, one of his primary goals was to teach us what it’s like to be in our clients’ shoes by experiencing the testing process ourselves. It worked. I got appropriately frustrated by being pigeon-holed. This gamut of pretty narrow results are constructed by a stressfully small number of leading questions. I’ve never in my life wanted to cheat on a test… until this. So I guess it worked. I felt the stress of the testing-storm as if I were a client being assessed in a clinical environment. And it also further exposed a part of myself that wants to be perceived by others as extra wonderful – a part of myself which I find to be quite ugly.
But when I researched how some of the tests were created and what they really measured, I found something interesting. One of the common denominators among the personality tests was correlated to biodiversity. Some of the test results were related to the measurement of genetic polymorphism and there was some “serotonin transporter gene” language thrown in here and there. I find it endlessly fascinating to think about how genes morph to create further biodiversity. (I am, after all, married to a man who majored in Evolutionary Biology at Harvard! He’s now a pastor, just so you know…which really adds icing to the cake that is this blog post.)
But what I love about biodiversity is that it’s never just biological.
I don’t believe any diversity is single-faceted!
I find God to be a very creative Artist. He is so un-boring. I can’t believe the amount of diversity that exists in my group of loved ones alone, let alone the entire earth. It’s why I’m so intrigued by studies of trauma & resilience around the globe. It’s why I love art & music. It’s why I love love l o v e people.
It’s all just so un-boring.
Last week my 6-year-old daughter went back to school. First grade. She loves her school as much as any little girl ever could love a school. But she cries every day at school – even if just for a minute – because she misses us. I appreciate being missed, but it breaks my heart knowing she cries e v e r y d a y at school. She is my tender little soul.
Yesterday, however, was was a new day. She came home from school and the first thing she said to me when she hopped in the door was, “Mommy, I didn’t cry today! I had such a super good day that I didn’t cry!”
"I am so happy you had such a super good day. And I’m so happy you’re home now so we can snuggle."
But then there’s more to the story, sort of.
On Saturday my best friend/honorary little sister moved to France (for the time being). Today I walked into the coffee shop where she worked all summer for the first time since she’s been gone. And I cried. Just for a minute.
I miss her.
I guess some things stay the same, whether you’re 6 or 31.
One of my favorite professors and mentors, Phil Monroe, posted this to his own blog this morning. But it’s a topic I’ve been rolling around in my head since I got here to the AACC conference. (A few of us have been here since Wednesday.) Here are his thoughts. What are yours?
One of my clients was talking about brownies today so I, of course, thought about them for the rest of the day. I came home and started making them immediately. Except when I got to the egg part, there were no eggs! GASP!
I googled “egg substitute for brownies” and found some ideas. Apparently if you run 1Tbl (per egg called for) of flax seeds in a coffee grinder until it’s a powder, then add 3Tbl (per egg called for) of water into that flax powder, it’s egg substitute!
Now my kids are eating the world’s healthiest brownies. And they have no idea. MWA HA HA HA HAAA!
One of my little sweeties is sick today – with some weird summer sickness that’s causing a 102 fever. While I was pouring her some orange juice this morning, I chose a special glass with stars on it for her that I knew would make her smile and feel loved, instead of just picking the same old glass as usual. When I handed it to her she said, “Ooo! A star cup! Thank you, mommy!” then closed her eyes and sighed with joy. The thought immediately popped into my mind: Love is the best placebo…but is it really a placebo?
Last summer I listened to a fascinating (as usual) Radio Lab podcast called “Placebo" that talked about the facts and myths surrounding "the placebo affect." (If you’ve never listened to Radio Lab, please go their website immediately after reading this post and listen to the first thing you see.)
In the first segment, they discussed how a parent kissing a child’s boo-boo is the very first placebo most humans ever encounter, but that technically it is not a placebo given what happens when people touch. I remember learning in my birth doula clinical training that the oxytocin levels in a mother and child who are skin-to-skin are more reparative than any man-made antidepressant.
So now I am sitting on my couch reading books with my little sick girl, holding her tight (despite the horribly high temperatures in Philadelphia AND her body), giving her lots of kisses because I know it’s the best medicine I can offer her right now.
This also makes me re-ponder the long time question: if a “placebo” actually works, can we call it a placebo? One of my friends always makes fun of me for taking Melatonin every night before bed to help with my insomnia, saying it’s a waste of money and hope. But since I started taking it, I sleep much better. Is it biological? Psychological? Wishful-thinking? To be honest, I don’t even care because I’m a holistic being for whom Melatonin works.
So next time you’re sick, have a headache, can’t sleep – what will you do that works? And to what degree does it bother or encourage you that it’s not traditional medicine?