February 21, 2010
Daniel Siegel on Consciousness: Part IIIRigidity versus fluidity versus integration of the mind and what constitutes a healthy mind. What moves us towards consciousness? What can we do? Daniel Siegel continues to talk about what he learned from writing his book Mindsight, which just came out.
Daniel Siegel on Consciousness: Part IIHow do you define the mind? What is a healthy mind? A healthy mind comes from something he refers to as integration. Hear Daniel Siegel's perspective.
Daniel Siegel on Consciousness: Relational Nature of our Minds, our Brains: Part IDr. Daniel Siegel meets with a small group of us for lunch in Santa Monica last week to discuss the relational nature of our minds and our brains.....body/relational and how all of it connects to consciousness. His new book Mindsight explores it in further depth.
Continue to scroll down for part I of the interactive video.
December 29, 2009
The Beijing of PossibilitiesI finally finished reading The Beijing of Possibilities which literally showed up on my doorstep one day - no note.
It's a collection of dreamlike short stories out of the lives of Beijing's residents, from crime-fighting, gorilla-costumed messengers to thieves, buskers and composers. The stories form an impression of Beijing on the eve of the 2008 Olympics, weaving in the culture, history and present reality of a city undergoing rapid change.
Each surreal-like story had me engaged, particularly because of its visual energy throughout. For example: "A busker plays the happiest of sad tunes on his erhu, and the sweet-potato seller has sweet potatoes for everyone. Glorious cars glide past, a flock of brilliant bicycles, buses filled with contented souls. Thousands of fascinating conversations cross each other in the chill air...."
And then, "vehicles nose forward. Everyone on foot waits by the curb, as at the starting line of a race. And now, the lights change. From north and south, east and west, pedestrians advance."
Later on, another favorite in the last short story of the book: The Most Beautiful Woman in China, "she contemplated him tucking into the goose head and the duck feet and the frog with peppers and the blood tofu and a stir-fry of chicken with potato and the braised cauliflower. He ate as if he would never eat again; and she quietly drank a little soup and dipped her chopsticks in several dishes, taking just enough as not to seem ungrateful."
Alas, a taste of Jonathan Tel's style. In addition to writing short stories, he has worked as a physicist and an opera librettist.
July 26, 2009
Harry Potter Fandom in Action
If you set foot in the Parc55 Hotel last week looking for a bunch of geeks participating in a mobile event, you would have been surprised to see a lobby full of young women and girls and hundreds of others dressed to the nines in whatever Harry Potter character they most resonated with.
The Harry Potter annual gathering, know as the AZKATRAZ convention drew people in from New Zealand, Canada, Germany, England and our Orlando, Washington, New York and Dallas.
The woman I first started talking to was interrupted when a woman in full garb came rushing over and said to her, "you look familiar." She asked for her Harry Potter handle and then there was immediate recognition followed by a hug. And then, a lot of chatter as if they were long lost cousins who had not seen each other since a childhood family reunion.
I was so drawn in that I couldn't leave and the attendees didn't want me to. Do you know the difference between an Anapneo and Animagus? Do you know enough to be the smartest quizzard in Hogwarts?
There was a quiz later night for the die hards, hosted by Wes Kauble from Ten Dollar Trivia, the most original gameshow on YouTube.com
Also promoted to Harry Potter fans was ArtInsights new "Witches and Wizards of Harry Potter" limited edition sets with specially selected images of actors featured in the movie series.
The schedule is intense I learn from several sources. In addition to more serious sessions on issues that come up in everyday life, they held at Merlin's Circle Reception, had a pajama party, and a Prison Break Ball.
Other notable sessions included how to podcast; roleplaying games; the Art of Azkaban; Making and modifying patterns for costuming; Queers in the Wizarding World and...; Harry Potter in communities of color; Making money through fandom; Feminism & Romance; Fighting the Slytherin Stereotype (the Slytherins stood on one side of the lobby socializing while the others stood on the opposite end and there was a notable separation); Harry Potter and social justice; Harry & Tarot; A Wrock Opera and the Phenomenon of Wizard Rock.
I shot some video which you should definitely tune into for more insight into the way Potter fans think. It's a whole new world, I found myself thinking again and again. Below are some shots I took of fandom in action at AZKATRAZ 2009.
Wizardry at its Best: AZKATRAZ 2009
Harry Potter fans gathered this past week for networking, sharing and learning about everything related to Harry Potter and his world.
In the below video, they talk about the reasons they join forces once or more a year. They also talk about the content that ranges from homosexuality in and out of the wizarding world to family dynamics.
Harry Potter Fandom Part I:
Harry Potter Fans Part II:
June 30, 2009
BRAND YOU Book Signing in Dorking
David Royston-Lee will be at Waterstone’s in Dorking, England on Thursday July 2, 2009 at 5pm for the launch of his new book: BRAND YOU. He will be speaking for 40 minutes before answering questions and signing books.
June 26, 2009
My Stroke of Insight Makes NY Times Bestseller List
I first heard Jill Bolte Taylor's remarkable story about her stroke when she spoke at the TED Conference. Her talk blew the audience away, not surprising given her remarkable tale, one which has both inspired people and provided incredible insights for the world of medicine.
For more about what she went through, the Q&A below recounts her story and some of the feelings she went through while she was going through the stroke, as well as a deeper look into the left and right hemispheres of the brain.
Q: You describe the series of strange sensations your body was going through the morning of the stroke. At what point did you realize how serious the situation was?
A: From the moment I woke up with a pulsating headache, I was aware that something was not right. While in the shower, when the sound of the water surging into the tub knocked me over, I was aware that I was having a major neurological phenomenon. However, I did not realize that I was l was experiencing a stroke until my right arm went totally paralyzed by my side.
Q: What was your immediate reaction?
A: When I first realized that I was having a stroke my left hemisphere brain chatter said to me, “Oh my gosh, I’m having a stroke!” Immediately following that, it exclaimed, “Wow, this is so cool!” You have to understand that I had spent my entire life studying the brain from the outside in. On that morning, I had an opportunity few scientists will ever have – the ability to study their own brain from the inside out! It was a fascinating experience…through the eyes of a trained scientist.
Q: As a neuroanatomist, you're an expert on the brain. What was the most unexpected thing you learned from actually having a stroke?
A: I did not realize that I was capable of experiencing bliss and deep inner peace. When my left hemisphere and its ongoing brain chatter became completely non-functional, I shifted into an incredible state of euphoria. It was a really beautiful experience that I was not aware of ever experiencing before.
Q: What helped you the most during your decade of recovery?
A: I owe my entire ability to recover to my mother GG Taylor. She came to my side immediately, and recognized that I was now an infant in a woman’s body. Even in this completely debilitated condition, she treated me with respect and together we embarked upon trying to figure out what my brain cells needed in order to recover health and function.
One of the most important things we did was that we focused on my abilities rather than my disabilities and we gave my brain the sleep it desperately needed in order for the cells to recover. In addition, we did what we needed to do to take care of my brain, realizing that if my brain cells were happy and functional, then I could be happy and functional.
Q: Now that you've experienced living in your right brain, can you go back to that euphoric place at will?
A: Yes, the beauty of our brain is that both of the hemispheres are always active so the bliss of my right hemisphere is always a circuitry that I can tap into. I believe we all have this ability.
We have the ability to choose to pay attention to the circuitry of our chattering left hemispheres and attend to the details in our lives, or we have the cognitive ability to change what we are thinking about, choose to take a pause, take a breath, step back and look at the big picture of who we are and what are we doing here as a magnificent life force power in physical form.
We are always using both halves of our brains and we make choices thousands of times a day about how we want to perceive something. An easy example of this is listening to a piece of music. You can choose to listen to the piece as a whole creation or you can choose to focus on each of the instruments playing its line. You can choose to listen and think with language, or choose to think and interact with the ongoing kinesthetic stimulation your body is receiving.
Q: You're still a neuroanatomist, and you remain affiliated with the Indiana University School of Medicine. How has the stroke changed your approach to studying and teaching about the brain?
A: I have a very different perspective of myself in relationship to the external world and I am no longer worried about or focused on my own personal gain or value.
As a result, I have shifted my concern to the students and the quality of their education. I teach them about the value of compassion and about the choices they are consciously or unconsciously making day by day. I try to instill in them an awareness of their responsibility for how they present themselves to their patients with the hope that they will become more caring physicians.
My interests in research have also shifted away from choosing to work in a lab environment where I spend endless hours in isolation, to working with helping others find the resources they need to recover. I have become much more of a humanitarian.
Q: And what can your readers learn from your experience?
A: I believe that this book is of tremendous value to anyone who has a brain that they would like to create a better relationship with. Caregivers of anyone who is ill will walk away with a shifted perception of what the brain needs in order to recover and a toolbox of recommendations to help someone in need.
Anyone who has experienced a brain trauma of any sort will also be armed with real strategies to help them help themselves during the process of neurological recovery. Spiritual seekers will better understand the neurocircuitry underlying the ability of our brains to have a spiritual experience, and how they can work with themselves to shift their own perceptions.
People who are extremely right hemisphere dominant find validation as to why “they are the way they are” and that it is healthy to celebrate that. Also, anyone interested in learning more about how to “get their brain to do what they want it to do” will rejoice in the cacophony of practical information.
June 15, 2009
A Chat with Author Susan Rebecca White
Susan Rebecca White, who recently launched her book Bound South recently came to our San Francisco book group. Afterwards, we decided to sit down and do a little Q&A about her book, her writing and her thoughts about blogging.
Publisher's Weekly on Bound Sound: "White's wit and graceful prose yield sharp insights about family, friendship and faith."
Q: What is the impact of blogging on book marketing?
A: I am never sure how effective my blog is in helping spread the word about Bound South. With so many blogs out there-how does mine get noticed? And who notices it? Maybe the stars will align and one day some big influential source will pick up an entry I write, but maybe not. I don't think you can count on it, but I do send out little messages and hope somewhere out there other people are noticing.
On that note, I've had a number of readers I've met at book festivals and signings tell me that they do visit my blog, that they like seeing pics of my front yard garden, that they wonder whether or not I named my dog (Raney) after Clyde Edgerton's title character. (I did.) And I love being able to give readers a little more about me-to chat about my garden, my animals, what I'm cooking that day.
Another thing that I love about blogging is that I can choose to promote whomever I want. My endorsement doesn't have the same impact as, say, Oprah's, but I can decide, hey, I love this author, or this movie, or whatever, and I can blog about it. I don't have to ask for anyone's permission. I don't have to pitch the story. I just do it.
Q: What are other things you have done to promote your book? Do you have a publicist? How much of publicity does your publishing house handle, and how much do you handle?
A: I have a great publicist and she pitches stories to different media folk, and sets up my big ol' tour schedule. She gets the book attention that I could never garner. And then I take what she gives me and try to squeeze all I can out of it.
For example, she helped me set up my launch event at the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta. This is one of the premier event centers in the city, centrally located, historic, beautiful, classy (I can't say "classy" without thinking of Donald Trump!) But knowing that even I, an author, resist going to book readings (on week nights I tend to want to nest at home), I decided to put a lot of energy into "selling" the event to people.
Q: Let's talk some about the book itself. One thing that really stood out to me about Bound South is how you managed to portray such different women from such different backgrounds, all from the first person point of view. Can you talk a little about how you think you were able to do that?
A: I once had a teacher tell me that I was always going to be someone who could cross borders, and kind-of-sort-of fit into all different sorts of cultures than my own. (And maybe that's because I'd be hard pressed to say what my own culture is, exactly.)
This probably has a lot to do with the fact that I grew up in a really strange family.
Though my parents were hometown sweethearts, they each married other people before marrying each other. My dad had three kids in his first marriage; my mom had two kids in hers. Then they married each other and had me. So I had five siblings, two of who lived in the same house with me (my mom's biological kids), and the other three who lived primarily with their mom.
Those siblings grew up way more religious than we did, going to a church where the Bible was believed to be inerrant and people sometimes spoke in tongues. They lived in the suburbs, while we lived in this very ritzy "intown" neighborhood. They went to public school while we went to private.
My parents pretty much always voted Democrat, where their mom and stepdad were very conservative. So just within my immediate family there was practically a red state/ blue state divide. I guess this is all to say it's hard to develop an "us vs. them" mentality when your immediate family is composed of "us vs. thems."
Q: Bound South is primarily set in Atlanta, where you grew up and where you now live. But you wrote most of the novel while in graduate school in Roanoke, VA, and then later while living in San Francisco. How do you think living away from Atlanta affected how you wrote about Atlanta? Do you think you would portray Atlanta in the same way if you were to write about it now, while you are living there?
A: Distance helped me write about Atlanta, definitely. It's easier to encapsulate a place when you aren't right up in it. It's the difference between taking a picture of Earth from the sky versus trying to take it on the ground.
I was actively missing Atlanta when I wrote about it, and some of my yearning and deep affection for the city came across in the writing. But now that I live here-in some ways I'm harder on the city. I love it-but I'm now intimately aware of its limitations and weaknesses. It's kind of like the difference between pining for an old boyfriend and actually marrying that boyfriend and living with him day to day.
Q: Have you encountered any nice surprises about Atlanta since you've returned?
A: Absolutely! The food here rivals San Francisco's. I am not kidding. There is this new restaurant, Cakes and Ale, which makes me glad to be in Atlanta every time I go to it. (The restaurant is actually in Decatur, Atlanta's sister city. Decatur is to Atlanta what Berkeley is to San Francisco.)
And I love spring in Atlanta. Everything is so green, so flagrant, you feel as if you are in the Garden of Eden, except you have to weed.
May 15, 2009
Ariane on the First 30 Days
Ariane de Bonvoisin's new book First 30 Days is for people who are going through a significant life change, whether its personal or professional.
They're having a special offer as part of your purchase of the book that includes a dozen free gifts from top experts in every area of life and the opportunity to win a month of free coaching with Ariane. Check it out.