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Yesterday the Moon in Capricorn was conjunct Pluto. You may be surprised by some vestige of the past that you have been trying to control or be adult about. Luckily, this aspect is well supported with Mercury in Taurus and Jupiter in Virgo.  It doesn’t have to feel like a bite in the backside.  If you utilize these earth energy vibrations, you can bring patience and problem-solving to some old issue that previously may have exploded. In other words, you might just notice you have evolved past some aspects of the past.

Noticing your growth is paramount when it comes to easy access to your confidence. And your confidence is a stones throw to your competence. And your competence is at the center of your resilience. And your resilience is the foundation of your ability to trust. And trust is the key to taking risk. And risk is necessary to remain alive.

That might seem odd to you. You might think that playing it safe is how you remain alive. But you know how that thinking goes. Playing it safe as a way of living often leads to over thinking it. And if you live your life in your head and not in your body, sooner of later the body suffers from lack of loving attention and opportunity to move and shake things up.

So this weekend, go ahead and back up into the yardstick tacked in the old door jamb. Stand tall, you know you want ALL the credit for how much you have grown. Take your hand and level it over the top of your head. Feel the anticipation of measuring your growth. Let it be exciting to consider that you have been growing wiser. No matter the amount, wiser is as wiser does.

In the midst of what you see as problematic, it can be difficult to recognize the opportunities. I can help you discover a new way of thinking that will assist you in managing and negotiating life’s obstacles. You will find that this new way of thinking provides you opportunities that you hadn’t previously noticed as well as affords you the confidence and desire to live your life in the driver’s seat.

Tami Satterfield, MSW, LCSW-C, NBCCH, HTP is a licensed psychotherapist who practices solution-oriented healing from a deep ecological perspective. Her specialities include hypnosis for anxiety, performance, and creativity. Sessions on-line or in Boulder, Colorado include cutting edge brain therapies that will change the way you think. Learn more at attentiontoliving.com

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How do you write about something that people are afraid to see? How to you expose an undermining, but insidious, practice? How do you change peoples’ minds? How does a civilization heal from the wounds of abuse?

The following is courtesy of David Baldwin , licensed Psychologist practicing in Eugene, Oregon.

“Traumatizing experiences shake the foundations of our beliefs about safety, and shatter our assumptions of trust. Because they are so far outside what we would expect, these events provoke reactions that feel strange and “crazy”. Perhaps the most helpful thing I can say here is that even though these reactions are unusual and disturbing, they are typical and expectable. By and large, these are normal responses to abnormal events.

Trauma symptoms are probably adaptive, and originally evolved to help us recognize and avoid other dangerous situations quickly — before it was too late. Sometimes these symptoms resolve within a few days or weeks of a disturbing experience: Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop PTSD. It is when many symptoms persist for weeks or months, or when they are extreme, that professional help may be indicated. On the other hand, if symptoms persist for several months without treatment, then avoidance can become the best available method to cope with the trauma — and this strategy interferes with seeking professional help. Postponing needed intervention for a year or more, and allowing avoidance defenses to develop, could make this work much more difficult.

We create meaning out of the context in which events occur. Consequently, there is always a strong subjective component in people’s responses to traumatic events. This can be seen most clearly in disasters, where a broad cross-section of the population is exposed to objectively the same traumatic experience. Some of the individual differences in susceptibility to PTSD following trauma probably stem from temperament, others from prior history and its effect on this subjectivity.

In the “purest” sense, trauma involves exposure to a life-threatening experience. This fits with its phylogenetic roots in life-or-death issues of survival, and with the involvement of older brain structures (e.g., reptilian or limbic system) in responses to stress and terror. Yet, many individuals exposed to violations by people or institutions they must depend on or trust also show PTSD-like symptoms — even if their abuse was not directly life-threatening. Although the mechanisms of this connection to traumatic symptoms are not well understood, it appears that betrayal by someone on whom you depend for survival (as a child on a parent) may produce consequences similar to those from more obviously life-threatening traumas. Examples include some physically or sexually abused children as well as Vietnam veterans, but monkeys also show a sense of fairness, so our sensitivity to betrayal may not be limited to humans. Experience of betrayal trauma may increase the likelihood of psychogenic amnesia, as compared to fear-based trauma. Forgetting may help maintain necessary attachments (e.g., during childhood), improving chances for survival; if so, this has far-reaching theoretical implications for psychological research. Of course, some traumas include elements of betrayal and fear; perhaps all involve feelings of helplessness.”

Tami Boehle-Satterfield, MSW, LCSW-C, NBBCH, HTP, a licensed psychotherapist in Boulder Colorado at attentiontoliving.com has challenged herself in 2016 to post weekly about the unpopular topic of abuse. Learn more about Tami at attentiontoliving.com

 

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I hope you did your best to relax and enjoy over the last few days, because you are about to take the frontlines. The work is upon us a bit faster than I anticipated, and I am writing this morning to tell you, “It’s here!” This energy is akin to the sound of bamboo in a fire. It sounds a definite “BAM!” and without any warning.

The new moon in Leo is a firecracker of a new moon. The coming pace will be fast and will make no time for the wishy-washy. This is all about you, your creativity, and your power. Remember that creativity has little to do with the fundamentals of scrap booking (not that there is anything wrong with scrap booking) and more to do with the desire to create. Translation: make your own life. Or as someone once may have said to you, “It’s time to get your butt in gear.”

Over the next few days, stay grounded in the trust that you have purpose here. Let that trust motivate you to discover how to act in your purpose. Let that trust help you “see” the “work” you are here to do. It is okay in the next few days to see yourself at the center of the universe, as long as you remember that at the center you have tremendous pull.

Get clear about what you are doing in the next few days. It will make doing all the easier. There is no sitting this one out.

As always be guided by the words “respect the space, you are a steward of the universe.”

Want to know more about how to do this? Schedule an appointment at attentiontoliving.com

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LONDON — SIX years ago I was struck down with a mystery illness. My weight dropped by 30 pounds in three months. I experienced searing stomach pain, felt utterly exhausted and no matter how much I ate, I couldn’t gain an ounce.

I went from slim to thin to emaciated. The pain got worse, a white heat in my belly that made me double up unexpectedly in public and in private. Delivering on my academic and professional commitments became increasingly challenging.

It was terrifying. I did not know whether I had an illness that would kill me or stay with me for the rest of my life or whether what was wrong with me was something that could be cured if I could just find out what on earth it was.

Trying to find the answer, I saw doctors in London, New York, Minnesota and Chicago.

I was offered a vast range of potential diagnoses. Cancer was quickly and thankfully ruled out. But many other possibilities remained on the table, from autoimmune diseases to rare viruses to spinal conditions to debilitating neural illnesses.

Treatments suggested ranged from a five-hour, high-risk surgery to remove a portion of my stomach, to lumbar spine injections to numb nerve paths, to a prescription of antidepressants.

Faced with all these confusing and conflicting opinions, I had to work out which expert to trust, whom to believe and whose advice to follow. As an economist specializing in the global economy, international trade and debt, I have spent most of my career helping others make big decisions — prime ministers, presidents and chief executives — and so I’m all too aware of the risks and dangers of poor choices in the public as well as the private sphere. But up until then I hadn’t thought much about the process of decision making. So in between M.R.I.’s, CT scans and spinal taps, I dove into the academic literature on decision making. Not just in my field but also in neuroscience, psychology, sociology, information science, political science and history.

What did I learn?

Physicians do get things wrong, remarkably often. Studies have shown that up to one in five patients are misdiagnosed. In the United States and Canada it is estimated that 50,000 hospital deaths each year could have been prevented if the real cause of illness had been correctly identified.

Yet people are loath to challenge experts. In a 2009 experiment carried out at Emory University, a group of adults was asked to make a decision while contemplating an expert’s claims, in this case, a financial expert. A functional M.R.I. scanner gauged their brain activity as they did so. The results were extraordinary: when confronted with the expert, it was as if the independent decision-making parts of many subjects’ brains pretty much switched off. They simply ceded their power to decide to the expert.

If we are to control our own destinies, we have to switch our brains back on and come to our medical consultations with plenty of research done, able to use the relevant jargon. If we can’t do this ourselves we need to identify someone in our social or family network who can do so on our behalf.

Anxiety, stress and fear — emotions that are part and parcel of serious illness — can distort our choices. Stress makes us prone to tunnel vision, less likely to take in the information we need. Anxiety makes us more risk-averse than we would be regularly and more deferential.

We need to know how we are feeling. Mindfully acknowledging our feelings serves as an “emotional thermostat” that recalibrates our decision making. It’s not that we can’t be anxious, it’s that we need to acknowledge to ourselves that we are.

It is also crucial to ask probing questions not only of the experts but of ourselves. This is because we bring into our decision-making process flaws and errors of our own. All of us show bias when it comes to what information we take in. We typically focus on anything that agrees with the outcome we want.

We need to be aware of our natural born optimism, for that harms good decision making, too. The neuroscientist Tali Sharot conducted a study in which she asked volunteers what they believed the chances were of various unpleasant events’ occurring — events like being robbed or developing Parkinson’s disease. She then told them what the real chances of such an event happening actually were. What she discovered was fascinating. When the volunteers were given information that was better than they hoped or expected — say, for example, that the risk of complications in surgery was only 10 percent when they thought it was 30 percent — they adjusted closer to the new risk percentages presented. But if it was worse, they tended to ignore this new information.

This could explain why smokers often persist with smoking despite the overwhelming evidence that it’s bad for them. If their unconscious belief is that they won’t get lung cancer, for every warning from an antismoking campaigner, their brain is giving a lot more weight to that story of the 99-year-old lady who smokes 50 cigarettes a day but is still going strong.

We need to acknowledge our tendency to incorrectly process challenging news and actively push ourselves to hear the bad as well as the good. It felt great when I stumbled across information that implied I didn’t need any serious treatment at all. When we find data that supports our hopes we appear to get a dopamine rush similar to the one we get if we eat chocolate, have sex or fall in love. But it’s often information that challenges our existing opinions or wishful desires that yields the greatest insights. I was lucky that my boyfriend alerted me to my most dopamine-drugged moments. The dangerous allure of the information we want to hear is something we need to be more vigilant about, in the medical consulting room and beyond.

My own health story had a happy ending. I was finally given a diagnosis of a rare lymphatic vessel condition, and decided that surgery made sense. Not the five-hour surgical intervention that would have left me in bed recovering for more than three months, but a much less intrusive keyhole surgery with a quick recovery. I chose a surgeon who wasn’t overly confident. I’d learned in my research that the super-confident, doctor-as-god types did not always perform well. One study of radiologists, for example, reveals that those who perform poorly on diagnostic tests are also those most confident in their diagnostic prowess.

My surgery went well. The pain subsided, the pounds gradually came back on. I am now cured.

With brain switched on and eyes wide open, we can’t always guarantee a positive outcome when it comes to a medical decision, but we can at least stack the odds in our favor.

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Wooden Sculpture by Dan Webb

A block of hard wood,
Dense,
Unable to fit in,
Toe stubbing and dull,
A heavy reminder,
A loathsome remainder –
No longer welcome and
Cast out on an unknown sea.

Adrift on the cold, dark water
Obtuse, deadwood turned stupidly with the earth.

Then,

S e r e n d i p i t o u s l y,
Pulled in by a mothering tide.
Rolled playfully in a salty, green-gray swell and
Rocked in a lustrous, silky emerald ocean.
Water thinned celadon lapped
The straight-grained, reddish-brown timber,
Washed it smooth,
Gently persuaded, and perfected its inherent qualities,
Its hard and sturdy truth.
Turning hardship into a handsome beauty,
A dark mahogany heart buoyant with love.

Moonbeams cast a light and pulled the trusting heart to shore.
At dawn, the sun took the moon’s place.
Shone brightly, the polished, red mahogany heart glistened,
Beating in the gentle lap of a warm turquoise pool,
Lulled in a lullaby of
Shishh hhhaaaa,
Shishh hhhaaaa
And dutifully prepared to be treasured.

September 2013