Here are some of my favorite things I imbibed and ingested in February, some at home and others at San Francisco restaurants.
I’ve been on a bacon kick here at home but I also still eat healthier oatmeal and fruit on a lot of days. The other two pictures are from Stable Cafe; mine was the egg, bacon, cheese wrap and the other is the Nona (eggs, tomato, cheese, toast and ham).
I recently read this special book that is a teen’s educational memoir about what it’s like to live with autism.
The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism was written by Naoki Higashida. He’s a Japanese writer who worked with a teacher using a system of pointing out what he wanted to say on alphabet cards, answering questions about what it is like to be inside the body of autism.
The book has been translated by KA Yoshida and David Mitchell and an introduction has been added by David Mitchell. They have an autistic child and explain how reading this book finally helped them to understand a lot about their child and gain more patience, compassion and communication with their kid.
The book is mostly Q&A format. The teen author highlights that this is just his personal experience and that he can’t say for sure what it is like for anyone else to be autistic. But he explains a lot about his experience in a way that might answer questions for others wondering what an autistic child is thinking or why they behave the way that they do.
For example, he addresses the question: “why do you ask the same questions over and over?” He explains that whereas other people seem to have their information stored in chronological order or clear files in their brain, his memory is more like a pool with dots of information. He says, “I’m always picking up these dots – by asking my questions – so I can arrive back at the memory that the dots represent.” And he goes on to explain that repeatedly asking the same question also offers the benefit of allowing him to play with spoken language because words or phrases he’s familiar with are easiest for him for conversations.
In addition to the Q&A there are some short stories/ essays integrated into the writing. It’s a quick read and one that I found really powerful. It helps remind me that people experience every single thing differently from others – not just autistic people but all people. We don’t all remember the same, perceive the same, experience the same. It makes me want to be more curious about what others are experiencing and why they do what they do, rather than sitting in my experience and judging what’s happening from the outside.
I shared this (and other books I read) on Instagram. Follow me there.
I was excited to see that Huffington Post had linked to an article of mine recently. They did a slideshow of Coffee Pot Cooking ideas in which they linked to my article on HubPages, written quite a long time ago but still popular there, of 12 Foods That You Can Cook in a Coffee Pot.
They specifically highlighted my info on how to make instant ramen noodles in a coffee pot. I shared:
“Basically you put the noodles into the coffee pot itself, you put the spice in the filter where your coffee is supposed to go and you run the water through the machine just as if you were making a pot of coffee. Let the noodles sit long enough to become soft and you’ve got Ramen noodle soup that is no different than if you made it on a stovetop or in a microwave.”
In my article I also talk about how you can use a coffee pot to cook other broth-based soups, oatmeal and grits, vegetables including broccoli, poached chicken and fish, couscous and rice, pasta, beans, eggs and chocolate sauce.
The Huffington Post slideshow includes some of these (and not others) and adds info on using your coffee pot to make hard boiled eggs, lemon pepper chicken and chicken pesto pasta, a grilled cheese sandwich, quesadillas, and corn on the cob.
Did you know your coffee pot was so versatile?! Of course this isn’t going to work for all of those trendy coffee people who have given up the old-fashioned coffee pot in favor of French Presses, Keurigs, etc.
Have you ever cooked anything in your coffee pot?
I’ve been inspired by the daily lovingkindness practice emails I’ve been getting since I joined the 100 days of lovingkindness from Wildmind. It’s a daily email with tips, thoughts, reminders, inspiration, etc. There’s also a related G+ community group.
The 100 days started about two weeks ago. It happens in four sections of 25 days each so we’re about two weeks into the first section.
As described in their first email:
We’ll explore four traditional, related practices called “the immeasurables” or “divine abodes” (Brahma-viharas) for 25 days each. These are:
- Lovingkindness (metta): a basic attitude of wanting beings (ourselves included) to be happy.
- Compassion (karuna): the desire that beings be free of suffering, so that they can be happy.
- Joyful appreciation (mudita): the desire that beings develop the skillful qualities that lead to the experience of joy and peace.
- Loving with wisdom (upekkha): the desire that beings develop the qualities of insight that lead to permanent peace and joy.
Some of these descriptions may sound rather different from what you’re used to, but we’ll cross those conceptual bridges when we come to them.
Right now I’m working with Lovingkindness in particular as it relates to self-compassion.
Recently enjoyed food and drinks, mostly from San Francisco restaurants:
Okay, actually I’m cheating on this one because all I had at Caffe Dolci was a coffee and I took a picture of this gelato cupcake because it looked amazing.
Lunches and Dinners
The first few are from a place in the mall in Japantown. You order meat and veg that you cook yourself at the table on a built-in grill. And I got a sake cocktail with fresh grapefruit juice, which you juice yourself at the table:
This week I’ve shared a little bit about my T-group experience in grad school including what I learned about holding space and what my initial goals were. Today I just want to wrap that up by sharing the summary that I wrote in my final paper for that grad school course.
In the beginning, I thought that my experience was somehow separate from “the group” experience. I learned in a very deep internal way that it was not. This has taught me a lot about myself, stuff that I think I will be processing for months or even years to come. Now that the group has come to an end, I’m able to look back on the experience with a more objective eye. What I see is that in the beginning of this group I was excited to throw myself into the group experience but I did/ said some things that I can see now were a way of sort of distancing myself from the group. In our early sessions I disclosed that I was having trouble focusing because of medication, which was true and I think it was fine to say that but I can also see that it had the potential of having a distancing impact in that I was admitting to being unable to be fully present in this group at that time.
Additionally, my early stages of self-disclosure were really, I can see now, related to a story I was telling myself about myself and how I don’t really fit into groups or am different from other people. On one of the first days I talked about how I don’t really care what other people think about me. It was a neat experience to hear someone else in the group verbalize that differently for me (adding that I do seem to care about other people’s feelings) and so it was valuable for me to have brought that up. That said, I think that it again could have had the potential of distancing myself from the group. I admitted in a later session that I really do hope that the group is there for me during difficult times and that I do want to be a part of this group but I can see where I continued to have a battle with how much emotional investment I wanted to put into the group. I believe that I did my best to show up and be as present as possible in each session, so I did the work, but it’s interesting to look back and see some of the defense mechanisms that I put in place in those early stages of the group to help protect myself in that way.
I think even towards the end of the group I was doing something similar when I shared that I was having doubts about whether or not I belong in this program. Again, this is also true and was valid and probably important self-disclosure. But in sharing this I do think that what I was doing was in some way saying to the group, “I’m still not sure that I want to be here” and looking for additional confirmation from the group that they do want me to be a part of the group (which I got.)
So what I learned, basically, was that I function well in groups and become an important part of groups but that I sometimes tell myself a story that I don’t quite fit in and therefore implement many different devices that I skillfully hide even from myself to make sure that I don’t get over-invested in a group in a way that might cause me emotional harm. I’m not sure how I could have invested more emotionally into this particular group but I think now that would have been the riskiest thing I could have done. When I was talking about risk-taking, someone else gave me the feedback that he felt that I had taken risks and gave some examples. I agreed that this was a form of that type of emotional risk and getting more involved with the group in that way, which is positive to look back on. In thinking about all of this, it reminds me of the reading we had by Jourard, where it talks about the ways in which we are known and the fourth way is through “the self that is seen through actions in our present-time interactions”, which is of course what T-group was all about. Whether I wanted to or not (though I did), my true self was going to come through in this group setting in some way or another although there is value in being conscious of how that is happening both in that moment and in reflection.
Finally, I learned from this group that there is so much value for me in seeing how other people process their lives, experiences and relationships. One of the other (related) stories that I have been telling myself about myself for too long is that I am somehow broken. I have always felt that I don’t quite do things right or well enough. It was so immensely powerful to me to watch each and every member of the group share how hard various emotional things are for them and how they have “meltdowns” and “breakdowns” and to see them describe these things in ways that are very similar to my own coping mechanisms. Although there are a lot of things about myself that I can solve in my own head, I can’t mirror my own experience. Only others can do that for me. In watching people I respect and admire and can view as role models share their difficulties and their ups and downs I was taught in a very deep way that the things that I am doing in life are just fine the way that I’m doing them. I learned in a deep way through this group experience that I may be unique but that I am not different from others in some broken or maladaptive way. Wow!
Reference: Jourard, S. Being Known – Issues in Self-Disclosure.
This week I’ve shared a little bit about my T-group experience in grad school including what I learned about holding space. Today I wanted to add to that what I originally set as my four goals or intentions for the group as the group began. To give you some context we met several times for several hours each day over the course of a week, then we had a few weeks break and met again several times also for several hours. These were the goals I initially set.
Goal One: Thoughts and Feelings
The first goal I set was to practice associating the feelings in my body with the thoughts in my head, a practice I’ve been working on personally for a couple of years but want to increasingly develop. This relates directly to the T-group goal that says it is “important always to distinguish feelings from thoughts” (Krober and Kahn).
Goal Two: Loving-Kindness
The second was to practice loving-kindness in terms of acceptance of others and to own that when I get irritated with people it tends to be because of something going on in my own mind, not their actions.
Goal Three: Think Before Speaking
To that end, my third goal was to think before speaking, meaning that I really wanted to get fully in touch with myself (both thoughts and feelings) to be sure that I knew where each was coming from before I interjected feedback towards others.
Goal Four: Spontaneity
My final goal, which was to allow myself to be spontaneous, seemed a little at odds with my third goal of thinking-before-speaking but it seemed important to practice spontaneous authenticity while still being generally aware of where most thoughts and feelings arose from as I shared them.
In my initial paper where I shared these goals I got this insightful and helpful comment back from the teacher:
“What the T-Group gives is an opportunity to practice in a deep way being “spontaneously authentic” while still being clear about what we are sharing. This ties into your second goal. As you get better at recognizing your feelings, it is possible to share them spontaneously without directing them “at” someone else, even though you are giving them some feedback (that is to say, sharing with them the impact their behavior had on you.)”
Reference: Krober, T. and Kahn, M. What the T-Group Teaches.
Yesterday I shared a little bit about my T-group experience in grad school and what that was all about for me. Today I thought I’d share another excerpt from my final paper for that course. It highlights the lesson I learned about the value of holding space for others and bearing witness for others.
“I spent a lot of the time during this group process trying to figure out what the group was all about and what I thought it meant for me. I really wanted to get as much as possible out of the T-group experience but was feeling frustrated because the leaps and bounds that I observed other people making in their risk-taking didn’t seem to be what was happening for me. A few different issues came up in the process as I worked with this. For example, it arose that I don’t really find self-disclosure to be risky at all, (as I agree with Krober and Kahn when the say “I cannot know what is going on inside of you unless you tell me” and feel comfortable letting people into what’s in my mind) which provoked the question of what then do I find risky and how can I incorporate those risks into my group experience? Towards the end of our sessions together, I shared with the group that I still didn’t have an answer to those questions or to what the group means to me. This provoked a discussion from many of the members about what the group was meaning for them.
For the most part, they were saying that there was value in self-disclosure for them as they were taking risks in ways that they hadn’t before. At first this seemed to be irrelevant, then, since it didn’t seem to match my own experience. However, then someone else said something that clicked for me. She said that the difference in this group as compared to our cohort or other groups is that she has had the opportunity to witness deep exchanges between others. There was more to what she said but that was the part that really clicked for me. I realized after mulling it over for some days that I feel very confident in my skills of one-on-one conversation in almost any setting but that I don’t often get the opportunity to witness how other people conduct their emotional exchanges with one another. T-group offered me the chance to watch exchanges that I sometimes didn’t understand, thought were trivial or was even a little bored by. In doing this again and again with people I had grown to respect I was able to be witness to a true range of human experiences and emotions in a way that simply can’t happen when you’re having a single one-on-one exchange of which you are always a player. It turned out that what ended up defining my experience in the group more than anything wasn’t what I was specifically doing or not doing in the group but rather what I was witnessing and being a part of without even actively trying to do so. Understanding this, I felt able to let go of trying so hard to define what the group needed to be for me and was more capable of just letting the group unfold and trusting my role in that process without over-thinking it so much.
Although I was familiar with the idea of holding space for others, it was something I really experienced in a unique way in this group. I was able to do this through watching others work out their various issues and thoughts in language but it was facilitated by doing this in a more visceral way through these group body movement experiences. Feeling the energetic power of doing that through a non-verbal means made it make more sense when I was doing it in a verbal setting so that I could sit there and just be present while others were talking and just listen without feeling like I had to make sure to say that right thing or take a specific experience away from what I was hearing.”
Reference: Krober, T. and Kahn, M. What the T-Group Teaches.
I wanted to share the intro to the final paper that I wrote for the Group Dynamics class that I took last fall. It’s a reflection paper on the experience and readings around T-Groups.
What’s a T-Group?
A T-group is basically a group that forms for no other purpose than to examine what they are like as a group. There is no task. There are no goals. There is no agenda. There’s just a framework of when you’re meeting and for how long. And there are a few norms (like speaking in I statements). Other than that, you just meet as a group and see what develops naturally as the group member’s personalities emerge.
My Experience (Paper Intro)
Having had this experience with a T-group, I can now say that I agree with Kroeber and Kahn when they say that the T-group “is an opportunity for the members to examine their own internal processes when in a social situation and also to examine the processes of the group.” Being a member of a group that has no task other than to learn about itself is a unique experience, although it took me until almost the very end of the group to really see this and begin to understand what makes it different from other types of groups and social relating. What I found was that there was something subtly magical about the energy field of the group itself that made it unique from any other group that could possibly form at any other point or place in time. I found that there was an ability to access that energy and utilize it for greater self-understanding, a means of tapping into the Tao of it all as described by Heider. Most powerful was that I learned the true value of “holding space” for others while they were processing their own experiences and the way that this actually gave me insight into different ways of viewing life that I could then apply to better understanding and broadening my own approach.
Heider, J. The Tao of Leadership (1985). Humanics New Age. Atlanta, GA.
Krober, T. and Kahn, M. What the T-Group Teaches.
Various pretty meals I’ve eaten recently: