May I take a moment to open wide my heart and share with you why I do what I do?
What I actually do isn’t easily explained with descriptors like Coach, Lecturer, Author, Philosopher, Shaman, Scholar, or even eccentric Old Lady. I’m exceptionally multi-layered and multidimensional.
I was born in the mid-40s, 1946 to be exact. Yup, that puts me on the front lines of the infamous Baby Boomers. By the mid-50s, when real women were the perfect little housewives for their WWII vet-husbands, my mother got divorced, kept the VA-loan house, and created a way to support her two daughters on her own, hell-bent not to take a penny from my father no matter what.
My sister and I were raised to believe we’d grow up to be a Queen like our mother, to stand up for who we are not matter what, find a worthy partner, have brilliantly beautiful children, and live a American life of abundance.
I know now imagining being a Queen wasn’t as easy for her to live as it was for her to say. But in the end, she majestically appeared to be the Hatshepsut of Los Angeles County. Seriously, my mother was such a force of nature, no less than nine ministers officiated at her funeral! She received gilded condolences from the California State Legislature, the Congresswoman from the 35th District, California, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and the Los Angeles City Council. She was the Queen!
And a hard act to follow, yes?
Well, the secret is, though a great part of me knows that sense of queen-ness still reigns in my DNA; there is another major part of me that knows I’m an adult survivor of ACEs.
Living with a dyed-in-the-wool-southern-born-African-American woman who was birthed in the mid-20s, survived the Jim Crow 30s and 40s, managed to raise her daughters in a house she bought, brought in enough income to own a car, sent us to parochial school, and ultimately sent me off to college before I opted for getting married and starting my own family, was in no way shape or form an un-traumatic experience on multiple layers and levels.
I’ve spent the majority of my life hunting down ways, teachings, practices, methods, techniques, religions, philosophies, astrological explanations, the occult, nature retreats, and on and on to discover how to get out from under my psychological and emotional suffering, to slay the demons in my deeply buried basement, and finally transform what was a deep sense of sadness.
I’m a highly intelligent being who is fortunately ruled by my emotions. But emotions weren’t what were at the root of my suffering even though jumbled and chaotic emotions are supposedly ALWAYS the source of suffering. Emotions are an amazing matrix worthy of much deeper understandings, appreciation, and integration.
I now know what IS at the root of suffering, not just my suffering, human suffering. And if you think there is just one source of suffering. . . Well of course you don’t! You know psychological and emotional suffering is a many-layered Thing.
To better understand suffering, let’s begin with Chaos Theory.
You know the theory, but probably not as well as you know what chaos looks and feels like personally.
The most well-known image reflecting Chaos Theory is that of the butterfly effect, referring to the idea that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil can affect the course of a tornado in Texas. Or the phenomenon in how a few grains of pollen set offs an attack of hay fever, a rumor causes the stock market to fall, or a fast-spreading grievance ignites a prison riot.
In chaos lingo, this has become known as “sensitive dependence on initial conditions” which basically says that even minute differences in input can quickly manifest as an overwhelming difference in output. Critical turning points exist everywhere in natural systems.
Most systems considered to be chaotic aren’t really chaotic at all; they’re just not as predictable as the cause-and-effect kind of ideas associated with linear dynamics, i.e., linear thinking, linear planning, linear upbringing, linear education, linear health, or even linear behaviors.
Linear systems work within clear, definable limits and things “add up” to form a predictable outcome. Consider the ideas of what a clock is and how the universe is like a clock including the people in it. If we can just discover all the rules for clocks, we will also have all the rules for people. And if we can figure out how to control clocks, we can probably discover not only how to control the weather but how to control people as well.
Does that bother you as much as it should?
Living systems and forces of nature are nonlinear regardless of whether we talk about the weather, planetary systems, a cell, or a therapy group.
A nonlinear system means you cannot quantify outcome based on additive equations. Cause and effect are not necessarily functionally related. In linear systems, output is proportional to input. In nonlinear systems this is not the case – a little bit of input can produce an enormous change in output – or not.
In linear systems change can be predicted by what has happened in the past. In nonlinear systems, change is discontinuous, with sudden unpredictable jumps; sudden transitions resulting from dramatic reorganization. All kinds of unpredictable things happen when you get joint interactions between systems. These things that happen, although unpredictable, are not chaotic at all, but well organized. For an example there is none better than the exceedingly complex human brain.
Back the 80s people had begun to see the flaws in pharmacological approaches, based on a linear model, to psychological and emotional suffering. We now know to recognize the brain as a chaotic system. The brain is designed in seemingly chaotic multidimensional levels to comprehend the multidimensionality of reality.
In the past 20 years or so, researchers in psychology have found increasing examples of fractal patterns across domains of psychology.
It has been found that interpersonal relationships are organized as fractals and most recently that the self-concept is a fractal, with complexity being associated with health in both the psychological and social domains. Furthermore, it appears that fractal complexity is routinely exchanged among biological, psychological and social processes.
Fractal personality structure helps us to grow and connect, as do fractal relationships, and each has direct influences on physical health by encouraging integration and flexibility among circulatory, respiratory, and immune systems.
Some psychologists and social scientists propose that “chaos and complexity” are the basis for a postmodern self. In stark contrast to the modern individual who could objectively discover the machine-like workings of the universe, a self-contained individual able to uncover the one Truth, the post-modern self is an open system, dependent on context, always in a state of becoming, actively integrating new information and exchanging that information with a changing environment.
Are you consciously living your Post-Modern Self?
Stop and consider your life for a moment. Is it so chaotic that it offers you’re an opportunity for tremendous change and complexity; or do you finally have your life so organized, so predictable, so mapped out that you’re at risk of any number of complexities all of which you’re hoping your insurance will cover?
Okay, let’s take “chaos and complexity” to another level; let’s talk about fractals.
A fractal is a never-ending pattern. Fractals are infinitely complex patterns that are “self-similar” across different scales. They are created by repeating a simple process over and over in an ongoing feedback loop. Driven by recursion, fractals are images of dynamic systems – the pictures of Chaos. Fractals are called "fractals" because they exist in fractional dimensions. Fractals fit in between a line and a plane, or in the real world between two and three dimensions.
Fractal patterns are extremely familiar, since nature is full of fractals. For instance: trees, rivers, coastlines, mountains, clouds, seashells, hurricanes, etc. Many other natural structures besides trees are fractals: neurons, rivers, the respiratory system, the circulatory system, geological fault lines, snow-flakes, as mentioned above, the brain, and so on.
Natural systems also produce fractal behavior over time or in dynamics. Earthquakes are a common example. There are many more small earthquakes than large ones.
Why do systems do this?
Essentially, fractal systems have many more opportunities for growth, change and re-organization than linear systems. Fractals also are very robust. They maintain their coherence; they hold together well, even under tough circumstances. They are balanced in this respect, between order and chaos.
They are simple, yet very complex. And the term "self-organized" is included because systems tend to become fractal on their own simply by putting a lot of system components together and allowing them to exchange information.
Think of a party. All you need to do is come up with enough people at the same place and time and they will start to form complex patterns of connection with one another.
Everything about your life is a natural Fractal, a miracle by design, beautiful beyond your current imagination!
Are you beginning to see that you have been living your life as if the linear systems offer you the most happiness and success? Let’s consider a magnificent non-linear approach to understanding the depth of your multidimensionality. Let’s consider the Mandelbrot Set as the best approach to witnessing the real you, the potentially Post Modern You.
The Mandelbrot Set is an abstract fractal generated by a computer calculating a simple equation over and over. Features associated with the Mandelbrot Set offer templates for innovative thinking in response to highly divisive linear dilemmas which take into consideration that the brain is uniquely capable of undertaking operations that explore the features of complex spaces such as those associated with the Mandelbrot Set.
The reality we are persistently trying to make static and “traditional” is continuously changing, and its changes perturb our psychological and emotional functioning which is also continuously changing. A small perturbation of our brains produces waves upon waves of neuronal response. What’s key here is that small changes in reality can result in very large changes in our experience because our reaction depends on the initial conditions our brains bring to those changes in reality, and those initial conditions are constantly changing.
Behaviorally, we are here or there, happy or unhappy, worried or secure, alert or drowsy, and so on. Each of us responds differently even to medications, to say nothing of foods, novels, movies, politicians, or any of the myriad things that our culture and environment bring us. Our brains respond differently because they not only differ from person to person but their states vary from moment to moment.
You have been educated and socially programmed to view yourself with a linear perspective therefore judging you and the behaviors of others based on an erroneous “cause-and-effect”, “good or bad” mentality locked into a dual-dimension. You have established an outward identity based on that perspective; and you’ve designed your hopes, aspirations, and the effort to achieve your goals based on that linear perspective which usually holds the unconscious fear that what you’ve planned for your future is at risk of some chaotic (out of your control) occurrence.
The Mandelbrot Set offers the opportunity to see the beauty hidden within external chaos.
Question: Are you a genuinely Happy Camper in your adventure in Life, or are you drowning in what feels like tsunami waves Chaos?
Adult survivors of ACEs or PTSD understand the seemingly endless inundation of chaos on multiple layers and levels. But they aren’t the only ones experiencing periods of overwhelmingly temporary or chronic chaos; you know who you are.
If you understand what I’m saying about your life experiences as viewed from a linear perspective, you hear me telling you - adversity hides a massively major gift if you view it from the more appropriate perspective, when you view your challenges, ups and downfalls, addictions, despondencies, rejections, sudden turns in fate, life-altering diseases, abusive relationships, abandonments, violent loss of a family member, imprisonment, and all the chaos we humans unconsciously create because we’re just a bit stuck on linearity.
And we hadn’t been prepared to discover we, humans have evolved and literally create our own realities by our beliefs, hopes, and fears all based on linear reasoning. We pray for miracles and stand dumbfounded when the miracles manifest.
You can easily imagine expanding your awareness of Nature and Life once you open your consciousness by experience to functionally from a decidedly more non-linear perspective.
Can you begin to see why understanding experientially the reality of fractals could change your entire perspective on life?
You can also understand why pretending any of the titles attached to my name in an attempt to describe what I do is much too linear a perspective.
Whether you prefer a “show and tell” talk or lecture or the Experiential Event, I take groups on journeys into their own Personal Matrix where they explore their own Mandelbrot Set, and soar within their own unique fractals.
That’s the best I can do to explain what is unique each and every time I take a group adventuring. I guide you through your linear perceptions, what you might consider the out of control chaos rushing rampant in your “reality”, down the proverbial rabbit-hole to allow you to experience your innate “self-organization”.
It’s particularly fulfilling to witness folks who thought they were drowning realize they control subliminally the movement and power of their internal waves.
The internal shift from a chaotic perspective to an utter sense of awe at the beauty that is actually you, the potential seeing beyond what appears to be limitations, is what my work is about.
Don’t try to be linear as you consider the possibilities of bringing what I do to your business, corporate department, classroom, community, club, fraternity, and etc. You can see how exciting exploring the layers and levels of your own fractal self-organization could pull everything you’ve done so far in your life into a coherent whole.
My work is to open you to being your Post Modern Self, an open system, dependent on context, always in a state of becoming, actively integrating new information and exchanging that information with a changing environment.