Part of Nature by Stuart Mcmillen

Posted on Updated on

Part of Nature cartoon

This cartoon is heavily influenced by the books Natural CapitalismPaul Hawken, Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins (1999) and Mid-Course CorrectionRay Anderson (1998). It is also in the same vein as the flash animation “The Story of Stuff” by Annie Leonard, which I watched when I was about 90% of the way through the drawing process.

Feet of Baggage

Posted on Updated on

Reblog from Magic Behind the Morning

Let’s talk about baggage. No, not emotional baggage. Physical baggage. When my grandmother died, all of her belongings and her mother’s belongings, including several rooms’ worth of large pieces of furniture and boxes and boxes of glass and china, went to my mother. When my mother died and my father moved, all of that stuff, along with many of my mother’s belongings, were divvied out between my sister and me, which meant that I ended up with half of four generations of belongings.

What I’ve discovered about myself is that I am the master of manipulating myself into keeping things that I don’t want or need, much of which have no emotional or monetary value for me (insert dramatic Hoarders soundtrack here). Here is my logic: “Oh, but there is a label on this handkerchief that says it came from my grandmother’s friend’s mother; I can’t get rid of that!” Or “Well, I don’t actually like this sweater, but my mom wore it at some point in time so I should keep it,” or “This doesn’t hold any fond memories for me, but I feel like I need to keep it anyway.”

have gotten rid of things here and there, so it never felt like this was a serious emotional problem deeply affecting my quality of life, but at some point I looked around my home and realized that almost none of my belongings were actually things that I picked out. Truthfully, I have accumulated the type of belongings that many people don’t have until their late fifties, and even then have had much more time and emotional space to cull through them. Most of my furniture was willed to me. Most of my clothes to this day are hand-me-downs from someone.

On the one hand, my gratefulness for having been given these items far overpowers any frustration that I have with it, and truly, there are many things that I have that I absolutely love. Still, the strange thing is that at it has taken me until my late twenties to stop and ask what my personal style truly is, and what I want my belongings to look like, or even what kinds of belongings I want and need in my life. I used to believe that having these items was saving me money as well, and I’m sure the smaller items were, but the thing is, items that take up physical space mean more cost in moving and storing those items, especially for someone who has moved several times like I have.

I recently read a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. I won’t go into everything the book says (you can read it if you want to) but there were four pieces that I took away that were the most helpful for this type of baggage:

1. Only keep things in your life if they “spark joy” in you.

2. When you get rid of belongings, thank them for the place they have had in your life and the things they have taught you. Sometimes an item’s purpose is to teach you what you don’t like.

3. A gift’s purpose is to show the gratitude and love of the giver. Once the gift has been given, it’s purpose has been filled. 

4. If you are keeping something purely for sentimental reasons, consider taking a picture of the item instead. 

I am now immersed in a deep process of tidying up. And here is where I have created a method that Marie Kondo may possibly hate: the guilt box. It’s label literally says “Stuff I Feel Guilty Getting Rid Of.” Everything in that box are things I am keeping not because I love them, or because I find them to be useful, or because they have great sentimental value, but simply because I feel guilty getting rid of them.

What’s the point, you say? Well, the point is that everything outside of that 2x3x1 box in my life brings me joy. I’m allowing myself that much baggage, that much guilt, that much “but what if I need thing X?” or “but so-and-so really loved thing Y.”  In allowing just a little bit, I can quell any anxiety, guilt, or fear I have about getting rid of other belongings; if I can fit it in the guilt box, I can keep it. And, I’m hoping that by being brutally honest about the reason I’m keeping things, I can become more discerning about what I keep and what I discard.

What I have found through this is that I have a true love for many of the things I have in my life that were given to me, like my grandma’s beautiful quilts, much of my mom’s jewelry, and some absolutely beautiful dresses and cardigans that I was given by my in-laws. I hadn’t noticed how much I appreciated those things before because I hadn’t had the physical and emotional space to savor their beautiful history and fine craftsmanship. Now that I am starting to identify the types of things that bring me joy in life, I am hoping to truly savor my home, and to discerningly bring only things into my space that truly enchant me.

Ten ways to feel better when depressed

Posted on

Depression is like a heavy, black blanket where no light comes in. It is hard to breathe, as if someone put a candle inside a glass-jar with no oxygen. It is even hard to see any light, any hope as the blackness surrounding you hides what could have been positive and uplifting. Luckily, there are ways to throw the blanket away, even if it`s heavy and you feel like the energy to lift it just isn`t there. Here are ten things you can do if you feel depressed or hopeless.

  1. Try to figure out what used to make it happy. Write it down and read it when you feel sad. Try to do some of the things that were good for you before you got depressed. This can be small things, like eating something you like. For someone it can be meeting a trusted friend, or playing your favorite music
  2. Find or make a box that is only yours. Feel free to decorate it any way you want. In it you can put things that remind you of the good things in life. It can be pictures from times you felt happy, emails or letters from someone who care about you, or objects from your past that you loved, and that remind you of happier times.


  1. Talk with people who care about you.
  2. Get out of bed. No matter how tired or lethargic you feel, try to get up and do SOMETHING. If you are seriously depressed, everything is an effort, so remind yourself that it is a real accomplishment if you manage to do small things. Depression is a serious condition, almost like having cancer or another disease. It`s not your fault, and you deserve to give yourself positive feedback like you would to a friend who suffers.
  3. Try to exercise. Research shows that only five minutes of intense exercise is enough to produce results. Your mood will life and your brain will be flooded with nutrients and oxygen that might contribute to feeling better. If you can`t manage to get a pulse, try to at least take a walk or do something else that involves moving your body.
  4. Take a warm shower, and feel every drop on your skin. Feel the warmth, if possible close your eyes to intensify the experience.
  5. Register what you think. Depression have a profound effect on your thinking, so it`s important to notice what you say to yourself, especially if you start to harass yourself. You would`t verbally abuse someone else, so why do it to yourself?
  6. Eat healthy. Some types of food are known to lift your spirits. It might be diary products like cottage cheese or warm milk with honey, or types of food with tryptofan, the precursor to serotonin. Serotonin if often lacking in depressed brain, so try to enhance the level of it by being conscious about what you eat.
  7. Read good books with tips, or stories from others who have been depressed and managed to get out of it. In this way, you won`t feel so alone. I highly recommend books from David Burns, they are easy to read and full of practical tips.
  8. Protect yourself. When depressed, you don`t need to put yourself down by being self-destructive. A lot of depressed people, feel they don`t deserve anything good. But isn`t it the other way around? When you feel so bad, you actually need to be taken care of, either by others or yourself. Self-soothing and self-compassion are two of the most important skills you need to get better.
  9. For some it might help to write down happy memories you`ve had. Read it when you feel like nothing good happens, because our brains are biased to search for mood-congruent information and this might get you out of the rut. If we are sad, sad memories pop up like balloons eager to burst. For that reason, reminders might be necessary to drag yourself out of the negativity spiral.

These are just some tips, what matters the most is finding your own ways to fight depression. These tips might ignite some ideas that might help you remember what to do when you feel like everything is hopless. Depression is like your enemy in a war, so be sure to be well equipped when you have to defend yourself from lethal attacks.

How to make a Blessings Box |


Protected: Sing karaoke with me

Posted on Updated on

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Empaths and narcissists

Posted on Updated on


As a HSP myself, my high sensitivity wasn’t always easy and it still isn’t. As a child and even into my 50s, it seemed like a horrible curse. But since I went No Contact with my narc ex, I’m realizing that high sensitivity is one of the greatest blessings God can bestow on a person.

Narcissists and HSPs seem to form a trauma bond with each other. We are either bullied by them or pursued by them as friends, lovers, bosses and spouses (who ultimately do much worse than just bully us). HSPs can be destroyed by their narcissistic abusers–OR they can learn to use their high sensitivity which is more powerful than ANY of the narcissists’ tricks. Narcs are afraid of what we HSPs have and envy us for it. We are stronger than they are, and we can overpower them and break free from their attempts to keep us under their thrall.

In retrospect, I realized (with somewhat of a shock) my narcissists proved to be among my greatest teachers. Without them, I would not have been able to develop my gifts for “seeing through the bullshit” we HSPs possess. To my delight, I’m finding my sensitivity saved my life and my soul, and is now slowly changing my life and bringing me closer to God.

I’m of the somewhat unpopular opinion (but am certainly far from alone!) that most narcissists began life as HSPs and even possible empaths. They continue to be highly sensitive to criticism and are easily hurt. But tragically, they retained any empathy only as “cold empathy”–the detached, cognitive “empathy” used by malignant narcissists to manipulate and destroy their prey. They have shut out their ability to feel behind an elaborate self-imposed prison of their own making, much like The Wizard of Oz pretended to be a tyrant–but hiding behind the curtain was a weak and insecure “humbug.”

Narcissists see in HSPs what they deep down know they might have become had they not adopted their narcissistic structure as a way to cope–and perhaps that was the only way they knew how to cope with a world that was so unkind to them. We were lucky that we didn’t have to resort to such a soul-murdering (both to themselves and others) defense mechanism that all but cancels out any ability they would have had to feel deeply and to love deeply.

If the narcissist’s mask ever was to come down, the earth itself could probably not contain the upwelling of pain and terror the narcissist would experience as their True Self breaks free of its prison of narcissism. This is the concept that intensive therapies such as Reparenting use when they attempt to cure NPD. Shattering the mask (False Self), no matter how much it hurts, is imperative for such therapies to work.

I hope you take something away from these articles that can help you (or the HSP in your life), especially in regards to their interactions and trauma bonds with narcissists.

Lauren Bennett “Lucky Otter”

Malignant Narcissists: HSPs Gone Bad?

“The Survival of the Fittest” (poetry by Audrey Michelle, Spoken word artist)

My Son’s Father Turned from a Loving Dad into a Monster

Empathic Joy

“The Sensitive Gene: Why Some People Are Born to Feel Emotions Harder” (article from Alexia LaFata of Elite Daily)

Who’s Too Sensitive?

The Feels

Can Narcissists Feel Empathy for Fictional Characters?

Can Narcissists Feel Empathy for a Pet?

More on Empathy: This Baby Knows Best

The Real Reason Highly Sensitive People Get Bullied

The Post That Scared Me So Much I Almost Deleted It

Nobody Knew Who I Was

Are You an Empath/HSP Who Was Almost Destroyed by a Narcissist? (video)

Test Driving Narcissism: How I Almost Became A Narcissist

Relearning How to Cry

I’m Not Ready to Be Clear About This Yet… 

Am I That Annoying or Am I Just Paranoid?

People With Autism Do Not Lack Empathy!

It’s All About Image: The Skewed Values of Narcissistic Families

Do Narcissists Have a Spiritual Purpose We Can’t Understand?

Yikes! Does This Mean I’m a Narcissist?

A Match Made In Hell: Narcissists and HSPs

Survivor Hypervigilance and the Danger of False Labeling

The Man You Love to Hate…or Hate to Love (Sam Vaknin may be a raging, narcissistic bully, but he also may have been an empath as a young child)

Malignant Narcissism and the Supernatural: A Connection? (while not about HSPs per se, the relationship between them and MN’s is explored in this article)

Tears of Beauty (photographic celebration)

“The Hug Seen Round the World: The Antidote to Evil” (reblogged from Dog Dharma’s blog)

“How Highly Sensitive People Interact with the World Differently” (article from Huffington Post)

“The Power of Vulnerability” (video–Dr. Brene Brown)

Healing Narcissism: Stephen’s Story (includes a detailed discussion and fictional account of a therapy called Reparenting, the most empathic form of therapy and possibly the most effective treatment used to heal (not just treat) garden variety (non-malignant) NPD.

Embracing Vulnerability (This post is currently set to private. I’m not courageous enough yet to make it public).

What is your taste?

Posted on

cropped-2014-04-17-22-39-11.jpgI have just eaten an ice-cream. Ice-cream is, and will always be, my band-aid for all ailments. If I feel tired, my energy level rises to impressive levels, and if I feel nauseated, I immediately feel better. People usually look at me like I`m an alien when I confess my unhealthy sin. They tell me that ice-cream actually make them nauseous and deplete their energy levels, but ice-cream is for me what coffee is for others. My taste buds and neural chemistry has often been at odds with what others like. For example, I have never understood why pizza and strawberries are so popular. For me strawberries have a bitter and sour taste, while pizza is tasteless. If no one puts pizza on my plate, with expectant looks, I avoid it. I also can`t stand coriander, because to me it taste like soup.

We all have different preferences, and that reflects our  personalities and genetic make-up. This is actually what makes the world wonderful. Without us liking different things, there would be little variation in the world. Imagine the chaos if everyone ate pizza and nothing else? The queues to the pizza-places while other restaurant-owners stare wistfully at the crowd? Or what if everybody wanted to have the same jobs? How long would it take before society as we know it, broke down? How would be get food on our plates, the garbage emptied or electricity if everyone wanted to work with the same things?

So if you ever feel like a freak because your friends are different from you, remember how this might be an advantage. When we are not enmeshed in group-thinking, we are able to see clearer that there are so many ways to approach a problem, and that there might be several ways to live a meaningful life. Who am I to demand that restaurants only should serve ice-cream for dessert?

Appreciate your own taste, because following your preferences and being satisfied with them, might be just what you need.

So, what is your taste?

Festival in Førde

Posted on Updated on

Tomorrow there will be a great festival in Førde where I live. It is one of the big events here, with over 300 concerts from varied artists that have arrived from places like Madagascar, Vietnam and Russia. The music will be traditional, with artists playing string instruments and singing in unusual ways. There will also be a lot of other events, like going to a mountain to watch local singers who will sing and produce unusual songs. I have lived here for 4 years now, but this is the first time I will attend the festival. I will also do some volunteer work, and see it as a wonderful opportunity to meet new people and contribute to an important cultural event. I will probably not have time to attend many of the concerts as I will be working, but since the festival is from tomorrow until Sunday, I will surely have time to see at least two or three concert. The only problem is that there are so many interesting performances to choose from, and I have never been good at choosing between many appealing alternatives. But I know, no matter what I decide on, it will be five interesting days, and I`m sure the concerts and meetings with people from all over the world, will create new memories that I can file into my drawer of cherished moments.

The “Førdefestival” has been ranked as one of the best festivals in Norway. It has also gotten international attention. This is the front page of the festival magazine
There will be a Vietnamese puppet show at the festival
The festival is known for traditional music from several countries. The picture is from a group playing string instruments (called hardingfele in Norway)
There will be many dancers performing at the festival, this is some of the Norwegian dancers

The mummy at the dining room table

Posted on Updated on

At the moment I`m reading The Mummy at the Dining Room Table.

In the book well known practitioners recount the most memorable case histories of their illustrious careers. Engaging and surprising stories of human behavior are dramatically and often humorously portrayed. Each chapter gives a behind-the-scenes look at how therapists work with clients whose problems and behaviors aren’t found in standard psychology textbooks. The book also shows how these eminent therapists often cure these apparently intractable problems and learn something about themselves in the process. I was especially moved By Robert A. Neimeyer`s case history “Reconstructing the Jigsaw Puzzle of a Meter Man`s Memory”, and wanted to learn more about this fascinating therapist. I found this interview, where he talks about grief. What follow is the interview, and a description of him and his thoughts about grief.

Even though grief and grieving are a natural aspect of life, it can be overwhelming physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  Robert A. Neimeyer, Ph.D. has dedicated his life to the field of thanatology through his extensive research on the topics of death, grief, loss, and suicide intervention.

Dr. Neimeyer is a professor and director of psychotherapy research in the Department of Psychology at the University of Memphis, where he also maintains an active clinical practice.  Additionally, he is the editor of two respected international journals, Death Studies and the Journal of Constructivist Psychology. He has published 24 books and over 300 articles and book chapters.  The Art of Longing, a book of contemporary poetry is his latest creative endeavor.

This interview is the first segment in a two part interview.  In this introduction, Dr. Neimeyer portrays how grief rocks the foundation of our world and how through a newer model of grief therapy called “Meaning Reconstruction”, we can explore and integrate our loss into our life.  Meaning Reconstruction is a process of healing grief through the telling and re-telling of our life stories; seeking new meanings to re-affirm and re-build our life in a world without our loved one.  Dr. Neimeyer is advancing this model of grief in his research, counseling practice and life’s work.

In the second segment of the interview Dr. Neimeyer explains a deeper understanding of meaning reconstruction grief theory and shares more of his personal and professional insights.  The second segment concludes with a reading of  his poem entitled,  The Art of Longing.

The man in an inspiration for therapists and clients who need to find meaning in their work and life.


Posted on Updated on

On Tuesday i arranged a day with barbecue and face-painting. Here is one of the girls that was painted-

Right now I’m sitting in the sunshine. It’s Sunday and I still have the whole day ahead of me. I got up early after 9 hours of sleep and felt ready for the day. I made a cup of tea, had breakfast and put on an audiobook. This one is not a book where I’ll learn something, it’s a simple, but funny story. It’s good to not do something not serious for a change, as I have organized and worked a lot the past weeks. No I have time to relax, and know I need it. Summer has finally started, after many weeks with rain. I still have some weeks left before my holiday, but time flies so I’m already in holiday-mood. For now, it’s just lovely to feel the sun warming my skin.

IMG_6069 2
The sun is shining

Same same but different.

Posted on Updated on

Used a lot in Thailand, especially in an attempts to sell something but can mean just about anything depending on what the user is trying to achieve

Q “Is this a real rolex?” 

A ” Yes Sir, same same but different

When I was in Thailand I learnt that something can look like something, but still be different. That is a lesson I’ve learnt many times, in different situation. Today I want to write about health policy. I have written about my thoughts when it comes to treatment at psychiatric wards before. I know that we all try our best, but sometimes what we think is best for others, is just assumptions that we need to be aware of. This week, I got the chance to see how something can be so alike, but completely different. 

I had the chance to work one day at another psychiatric ward one hour away from the ward I’m in now. It is still in the same organization with the same leaders, and even have many of the same patients, but the treatment and attitudes are completely different. It’s hard to describe what the difference consists of, but I know they have worked hard with letting patients decide more. We have a psychiatric ward where the patients have different forms of addictions, and I know they include patients in every decision they make. The patients are even included in meetings! It is given that the patients will be heard and included in their own treatments, as it should be. 

Another thing that strikes me as different, is the mood on the ward. There is more open space, and the nurses and assistants sits in groups talking peacefully. I sat there, too, discussing politics while patients sat there, playing board-games, reading the papers or simply listening to the conversations. It is so good to see that by giving people freedom and the chance to be heard, the same can be very different. For all the therapists who think that patients are ‘resistant’ or with no ‘insight’ in their own illnesses, they should see those patients. When they are given space and a listening ear, they are finally free to explore their ‘resistances’. They are more ready to take in everything they’ve been through, because the environment around them is safer. Only when safe, people are ready to explore reality. Safety in a place where people can shape their surroundings, is what a psychiatric ward should offer. So, I hope we can embrace new thoughts and transform the same old story. We need something different.

Photo credit