Neural Pathways

I’m following my thoughts, or they are following me.  Paved neural pathways carry me down trails of self-doubt, I don’t even notice.  Thoughts are chasing me into corners, but it’s my own voice speaking, so I am not alarmed.  It happens every day, this predictable demise of self-love.

Sometimes it is the small thoughts that wake me up.  Small, repetitive, tedious thoughts.  Nagging, list-making, flaw-finding thoughts.  Insidious thoughts – they take over and I don’t stop them.  They sound like the voice of reason, driving down these neural pathways that are more like neural ruts.  I am beginning to catch them before hours go by, before my whole day has been shadowed by doubt and dissatisfaction.

More and more, these life-sucking thoughts are being caught by the light of my own inner awareness.  They are becoming more noticeable, like red flags.  More and more, I bring myself to back away from the abyss of self-loathing….for that is exactly where the neural ruts lead me.  They all tell me I am garbage, in so many words.  Even (and sometimes especially) the “self-improvement” thoughts also lead me to that trashy feeling.  These thoughts are tricky, like I said!

They often present as subtle, grating, fear-based reasons for pervasive, fear-based questions.


“What is wrong with me?”

“Why am I fucked up?”

“Why do I do everything wrong?”

“Why do I suck at ______________?” (parenting, relationships, adulting, etc.)

“Why am I a horrible_______________?” (insert noun)


When I look behind these thoughts – that are actually narrow, self-absorbed and self-loathing fantasies – I see where they are coming from.

I see the scared me.

The exhausted me.

The hurting me.

I see the me that has almost given up, but not quite, and if I could just have a hug and some love and some grounding energy, then maybe I’d be okay.

But I am alone.

It is up to me.

“It’s okay, baby” I say.

I stroke my own arm.

“You’re all good, kid” I whisper, hugging myself.

“This life shit is hard sometimes.  You are human.  You are on a spiritual quest with all the trappings of the body: Pleasure, Pain, Duality.  Joy, Loss, Grief.  Anger, Hate, Jealousy, Despair.  Fear and Desire.  Empathy.  Love.”

And with this quiet reminder, my tears are flowing and my heart is bursting with forgiveness – for this struggle, for the precarious nature of life, for myself, my friends, and for those who would be my enemies.

My neural pathways are being weeded and plowed.  The farmer of my mind is not my thoughts.

The Farmer tills the soil of my very heart.

My mind gives up resistance, in glimpses, here and there.  New neural pathways are explored.

This is more pleasure than I thought possible!  Are you sure this is allowed?

“Yes,” says the Farmer, “It’s your life.”





How To Talk To Your Salty Teenager #1


When you have a salty teenager, it’s important to get on his or her level.  You need to be quick with the comebacks.  You need to know the lingo.  You gotta get hip with the vibe.  You GOTTA maintain a silent trickery, otherwise – what fun is it?

This is your chance.  Most teenagers walk a fine line between crazy and self-obsessed.  Their brains are weird, but still somewhat moldable.  The world is beginning to look and feel more and more cut-throat.  It is your job to provide the comic relief.  This will also stave off your own temptation to have a nervous breakdown and wind up in a padded room.  Laugh or cry, baby!

One thing I like to do is let them know I’m onto the drug lingo.

As I’m walking out the door, I like to say things like “I love you, buddy!  Do your homework!  Please do all of your chores perfectly!  And don’t smoke crack!”  Say it nonchalantly, and shut the door quickly.

I also like to leave notes.  Such as: “Help yourself to the beans, cheese & tortillas available to be made into simple burritos.  Also — NO METH, NO KUSH & NO LEAN. love, mom.”

Whenever you can, casually walk around pretending to talk to someone on your cell phone, saying things like “Yeah, I was CRUNK the other night!  Woo!  What a party!”

I think “crunk” means drunk plus crank?

The teenagers realize that you are full of shit, but they also have less to prove.

On another note, definitely DO play favorites with your children regarding their music choices.

I have one son who is super into Duke Ellington these days.  Another who is into Tyga.  I clearly have a favorite, and I am not shy about re-iterating who that favorite is when it is time to choose what we listen to collectively as a family.  Feel free to judge me.  Then listen to a song (any song) by Tyga, and judge me again.  That’s right – playing favorites with my children is totally legit.

It’s important to express your favoritism in a reasonable way – such as “Thank you *ustin, my favorite son, for playing music that is chill and classy, not totally shitty and degrading.”

That’s all for now, folks.  I’ll try to keep you posted with my amazing parenting skills — as the epiphanies come to me, I will share them.


hang in there.