The Mindsoak Essays
Welcome to the Mindsoak essays. These essays are a collective of contributors sharing their unique perspectives surrounding the topics of psychology, philosophy, technology and everything in between. A new essay is released every day, Monday through Thursday. To read more about the idea of these essays, read my post titled Mindsoak 2.0.
For me, feeling alive is usually connected to a new experience and to the appreciation of the present moment.read more
The walk begins with a steep ascent to the campsite. The grass pathway beneath my feet is still worn from the winter’s snow, barely waking from its long slumber.read more
When I first started lecturing in Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State, I would literally shake before each class.read more
I feel most alive right after I feel quite dead. Dead trapped in what I believe is being stuck in a circumstance. That feeling of overwhelm or fear that feels like I have swallowed a glob of glue down my throat into my belly.read more
I don’t think there is a better time to reflect on what makes me feel most alive then on my birthday.read more
When we think about what makes us feel most alive, many of us will immediately think of our personal passions. But what if you don’t have a passion?read more
When do I feel most alive? The first thing that popped into my mind when Jon asked this question was ~when I am in Italy. There’s a raw energy that captivates my spirit the moment my feet touch the dry, cracked earth in Valanidi – the town in which my father was born.read more
So as we approached this new month on the essay side of Mindsoak we discussed wanting to take the essays in a slightly different direction. We want to push a little deeper. To experience the diversity of thought from a variety of authors. To achieve this goal we’re going to start aligning the essays more closely with the questions in the podcast. Starting this month all the authors will start by answering the same question.read more
Nothing in life comes without patience. I should have learned that by now, but sometimes, in my 30s, I still feel like the impatient little girl I used to be. I recently came back after a trip around the world of six months and I knew it would be hard to start a new chapter: new place to live, new house, new job, new friends.read more
No pain, no gain. We have heard this tired, old cliché a million times. The thing is it’s true. There is no renewal without some degree of pain. This is true for each of us as individuals, for communities, and even for whole nations.read more
It’s almost Spring, and my thoughts turn to my local Brookside Gardens’ annual butterfly exhibit. There, hordes of people come to watch thousands butterflies graduate from larva, to caterpillar, to pupa, to mosaic-colored butterflies. This year, I feel at one with the butterflies. Huge transformation is afoot in my life once again.read more
March, in my opinion, is the perfect month for baking. It’s still cold enough that heating up your kitchen isn’t a burden, but the weather outside also gives you sneak peeks of Spring, leaving you anxious to experiment with colors and flavors that invite renewal after a dark and cold winter.read more
“Finish what you’re writing,” famed author Neil Gaiman once said. “Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.”
Easier said than done, Neil.
Humans are funny. Sometimes, some of us resist change as though evolution is not at the core of our daily existence. Renewal envelopes us like a blanket. Change of seasons, new moons, sunrise and sunsets- all reminders that life gives us constant opportunity to start anew with rediscovered fervor.read more
Renewals don’t have to occur yearly. It should be daily.read more
I hope that helps you in your own challenges with the variables in life.
Don’t get discouraged.
There’s no need to.
Renew your goals.
Renew your determination.
Renew your focus on succeeding and be the example for those around you.
You’re bigger than these challenges.
Martin Luther King had something important to say about the difference between love and hate:
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
Stick to Love. Always.read more
In this month of Valentine’s Day, love takes center stage. We turn to those we love and remind them of that love with cards, chocolate, and dinners in crowded restaurants packed with other lovers. This month normally finds us contemplating our love for those right next to us—those we love every other day of the year. This year, though, another kind of love has been on my mind.read more
Love for another is not the point. Sexual love, and the expression of it, is lovely but not the point. The point is to love ourselves, and we all know this, and yet we all make fun of this idea.read more
Attachment is an important topic in my field of developmental psychology. The term refers, in its most traditional sense, to the emotional bond that develops between a caregiver and an infant. There is strong evidence to indicate that our first relationships with our caregivers lead us to form an attachment style, which serves as our model for later relationships, including friendships and romantic partnerships.read more
If you are a fiction writer and have had your work critiqued by others, it is inevitable at one time or another you have heard the words, “Show don’t tell.” So what does this phrase actually mean and how does it pertain to a piece of writing?...read more
There are many things that I would love to do – and some I attempt and fail. Others I start but end up never finishing. Creating, however, is perpetually unfinished and I love that. There is something here to always add or improve upon, an ever-expanding horizon with every new creation.read more
I don’t think a successful marriage has anything to do with falling into love. I think it has everything to do with deciding to do love, even when you aren’t into it. A decision, not a feeling. An action, regardless of emotion. It requires deep repression of ego – a feat that sometimes seems completely impossible.read more
We’re about to experience one of the most annoying holidays I can imagine.
I know. I know.
The ladies are gasping right now, but I truly hate this holiday for ONE (count that, ladies….”one”) reason only:
The commercial side.
I DO love the kindness, the romance…I just hate it being shoved down my throat at every turn, that’s all.
“I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.” This is how the late Carrie Fisher wanted her obit to read. As Fisher tells it in her memoir, Wishful Drinking, during the filming of Star Wars, George Lucas had told her that it wasn't...read more
Love is all about appreciation. Appreciation to a person for being present with us, enjoying our company, forgiving us and accepting us for who we are. Appreciation to creativity as we channel it into our favorite project. Appreciation to the gifts and talents we’ve cultivated and spread throughout our lives.read more
The beginning of the new year doesn’t have a special meaning for me because I’ve changed my life many times in different moments. I’ve closed and opened more than doors, I’ve left home and moved to different cities and countries.read more
One thing I learned growing up is things are the way they are. It isn’t worth yours or anyone else’s time to try to change that. There is a certain way you act, a certain way you speak, and certain expectations you should have of everyone you meet.read more
New Year’s Eve has always been my favorite day of the year, and the subsequent weeks always find me on a particularly nefarious high. I feel emboldened and exhilarated- in the way only true change can make you feel. The turning of a new chapter is always something to be celebrated, and the dawn of a new year gives us the chance to do so right alongside our comrades in arms, accompanied by all the sparkle, glitter, and kisses we can find.read more
But, you know what I don’t see much of? I don’t see many resolutions or a focus to take care of our minds and our emotional well-being. From a personal standpoint, I think this is a huge issue because taking care of ourselves should include our whole selves and doing things with a purpose.read more
This ability to persevere despite obstacles has been linked to a variety of positive outcomes, particularly when it is paired with a passionate approach to the goal.read more
When people I ask me what I do, I’m hesitant to say I’m a writer. Because writing is my passion, and because it’s not a huge source of income for my family (yet,) I sometimes feel like it isn’t really a job, like I am playacting in the career I thought I could only dream of having.read more
Have you pondered about this year, or what it will bring?
I’ve never thought about it deeper than now.
That happens when you have a stroke.
No, that’s not a joke.
I’m writing this from my hospital bed, because I want to stay in the moment.
It’s amazing the perspective you get when you’re life could end.
"We need to work on procrastinating more this year." My kids look back at me like I've lost my mind. These words were actually coming out of my mouth. The mouth of a self-described, organizational freak. My children know I love jumping right into a project that isn't...read more
A new year allows us to reflect on the last 12 months so we can plan how we’ll live intentionally this year. And yes, I intentionally wrote the word intentionally.read more
The way this year has gone, we all could use some holiday cheer and well wishes, but, more importantly, we all could benefit from spreading a little kindness.read more
The first meeting with the third world can be a tough experience, especially if you find it where you don’t expect it.read more
Not too long ago I pitched an article to a very well-known magazine and said to the illustrious Editor-in-Chief that I wanted to talk about how far I’ve come after having being raised by a truly crazy mother.read more
It’s that time of year again where we find ourselves sitting across the table from family members we love, but perhaps don’t like, and whose views on the world are (without exaggeration) diametrically opposed to our own.read more
I would like my children back.
My real children.
Not the phantom girl with the dark circles beneath her eyes and the pout that has blossomed on her lips.read more
When I walk across the campus of Penn State, I encounter a variety of permanent gifts from previous senior classes. Lampposts, emblems, clocks, and parks are all adorned at University Park with placards reading something akin to “Gift of the Class of. . .”read more
As a writer, I have a running tally in my head about topics that I can develop and comment on. However, I think the only appropriate thing to talk about at the moment is the recent U.S. Presidential Election that will probably go down in history books as simply “2016”.read more
The confused look on my face prompted my then soon-to-be-but-now-ex-husband to repeat himself sweetly, “I would save you first.” Was I the “someone who required assistance” in this scenario? Hungover and feeling rebellious, I gave him my signature, left-wing half-smirk, and said, “Every child for themselves, babe.” As I immersed myself back into my “Hunter S. Thompson narrowly escapes Vegas” bit, I heard his chuckle and the word “spoiled” and I smiled.read more
The U.S Immigration policy is designed for both men and women, but there is a gender bias hidden behind the laws creating many barriers for immigrant women. There is still a long path to go to reach gender equality in today’s society. Women struggle to be heard and recent data shows that the issue touches many different fields, but not many people talk about the gender gap that exists in immigration.read more
I took a deep breath and braced myself…I might have even said a little prayer. It was time to help my daughter make a mistake. Maybe even fail a little.read more
After hearing all of this conflicting advice I was left with one question… When did being happy become so complicated?read more
It’s not just your daughter. Sadly, it’s my daughter, the majority of girls, actually, and many women too.read more
So, I was riding in the car this week, listening to the pop music station with my teen girls in tow as we ran errands. Driving along, a new song came on the radio—Daya’s Sit Still, Look Pretty—and I have to admit, I was maddened and disappointed by the lyrics.read more
Halloween will be here in less than a week and in the rush to grab some last minute costumes or decorations, you may have passed a teal pumpkin or two on the shelves.read more
I am a mother of 3 teenagers, which means my household is bustling with lots of energy. I joke with my family that each day is literally a foray into the Game of Hormones, full of intrigue, heartache, and a quest for (intrafamilial) power.read more
For those of us who have daughters, especially ones who are tween-age and older, we’ve probably at least thought about having the “no-means-no” conversation. Recent media coverage of some horrific sexual assault cases has perhaps spurred some discussion on the difficult-to-broach subject.read more
Have you ever found yourself thinking, I really should write a book about that, and then never do it and follow through? Here are some tips that I would like to call the “Who, What, Where, When, How, and Why Plan to Publication”. Hopefully these tips can help you along your writing journey and help you decide if publishing your work is right for you.read more
My daughter didn’t make the soccer team. It wouldn’t have been such a big deal except this was the team she tried out for and made last year. Even worse, all her teammates from last year made it. All of them.read more
I feel like I missed something. I am a fairly recent father. My son is two years old and my daughter is four months. When did Darth Vader become a children’s teddy bear?read more
I do believe that FREEDOM is the most important human right. The first time I had to deal with the U.S border, as a girlfriend of an American, I realized that my love feeling was seen as a potential threat for the country. You can find the description of the episode in my first book “2 Years 4 Months 2 Hours.” The short recap is that, being in love with an American, made me a potential “criminal” willing to stay in the country illegally.read more
Start doing. An easy thing to say, not as easy to do. There exists a feeling that if we talk about ideas and goals before we start them, that we have accomplished something. If we say, “I have this really great book idea” and talk about the plot and characters, that we have, essentially, written the book. “I’m going to start a blog and write about helping people,” “I just bought this great new fitness program and in eight weeks I’m going to be able to do…” These are examples of plans in thought, not action.read more
To live with intent- what a glorious thing- such power behind a single word. My passion for intentional living has multiplied amply over the past few months, changing my way of thinking, feeling, and acting. What does it feel like to live with intention?read more
We have hit that time of year again when the kids are back in school and the germs are thoroughly passed around from child to child and transported from school to home.read more
One of the main foundations of healthy development is learning self-regulation or self-control. To function in society, we need to be proficient at delaying or inhibiting our impulses. Living with, learning around, and loving others requires us to regularly put our own desires and needs behind the needs of the group. This is true in school as a student, in any family, however composed, and in any relationship. To get along with others, we need to get over ourselves.read more
My daughter doesn’t want to be seen as “bossy”. Heck, who does? If you are a woman, think back to when you were in elementary or middle school. Did anyone ever call you bossy and how did you feel? Did you ever call someone bossy?read more
Why are moms so hard on themselves today? Why is there so much comparison and competition, so much pressure to be perfect? I’ve talked to my own mother about this phenomenon, and she has told me that it wasn’t as hard when she was a young mom.read more
Procrastination is a secretly celebrated coping skill for those who create. The reason it’s a secret is because we have bought into the notion that procrastination is poor decision-making, so we can’t let on that we aren’t productive 100% of the time.read more
Spending time on the road I realized important things related to the side effects of a round the world trip. I hope these tips can be useful to people who decide to travel long-term for the first time, and especially to those who will travel with their better half.read more
While I was parenting on my own for a week I had a lot of help from friends and family but while I was out in the world on my own, I can’t tell you how often I was asked if I was “Ok?” or told, “You’ve got a handful.” Indeed I do but they are my handful and my responsibility as a parent.read more
I’m excited to tell all my Mindsoak friends about a new tech product that allows you to stay connected but in a very subtle and elegant way. The Glance Clock is a new take on the old wall clock. But instead of just telling you the time and date it connects to all the important information you need throughout your day.read more
I love quoting the Great Green Philosopher. The greatest science fiction philosopher of all time. The one and only, Yoda.read more
Well, if you didn’t know already, there’s been some debate about the term ‘feminist’, with definitions in the popular media ranging from vapid ‘girl power’ to unapologetic ‘man-hatred’ and everything around and in-between.read more
For me, September is a month of transition. Summer vacation has officially ended and now we must be able to adapt back into a school schedule complete with sports and extracurricular activities. As I was preparing for my son’s first week of school, one question kept popping into my mind: Are we ready?read more
Calling a story ‘formulaic’ is usually an insult. The more a work conforms to a known formula, goes the logic, the less skill and originality it shows. Formula, in the end, becomes the opposite of artistry. But I have a nagging belief that good formulas are at the heart of good art.read more
Girls (and women!) need to take a long hard look at not only their ability to accept and be honest with their own feelings, but also to learn how to be honest with others. That’s because effective (read: non-hurtful) honesty is a crucial leadership, not to mention life skill.read more
Fire is the totem element for passion and desire. It’s what people refer to when discussing a great person or one who can push through adversity.read more
When I self-published my first book I thought it was a one time shot. I didn’t want to become a writer. I just wanted to share the story that took me to the U.S. to inspire and empower people to follow their heart against all odds.read more
As a kid, I was curious about my grandmother’s penchant for growing fruits and vegetables. Her row house in downtown Pittsburgh had a tiny backyard with no grass. Instead, practically every inch was devoted to growing tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, green beans, zucchini, basil, and rose bushes.read more
“What is right for me is not merely what I want or wish to be right, but what I honestly think is right, after I have carefully weighed and considered the matter.”read more
The image of a Syrian boy with his face caked with blood and dirt, the result of an air strike on the rebel-held neighborhood of Aleppo that destroyed his home, has haunted my thoughts in the last few days.read more
I am bewildered and saddened by the growing number of teen suicides in our community. Why does this keep happening? Why must these bright lights be snuffed out when they are just beginning to shine?read more
In order to stop the sexism we also need to pay attention to the messages we are sending boys. Take for instance the whole “dust it off and be a man” phrase. What does being a “man” entail exactly? Why is showing emotion such a bad thing? I hope that as my sons grow older, they will be able to relate emotionally to other people and that they will be compassionate towards others as well.read more
I treat my children differently. I know you shouldn’t do that. If you do, you’re certainly not supposed to admit it! Even my son and daughter know that I consciously do this…because I’ve told them.read more
And for those who say that one word here, one word there won’t make a difference, I have to differ. Cultivation theory argues that we form our reality based on the media that surrounds us, and if that’s the case, our reality is one where males are empowered and females are reduced.read more
This past July my husband and I packed 3 years of life in Berkeley, California. We will leave all our stuff in the house of my in-laws for 6 months while we will travel around the world.read more
It was a few years ago on a typical Tuesday morning. Kisses and hugs had been given to Daddy on his way out the door to work and I was rushing around feeding the kids, getting them dressed, playing with them, and struggling to pack up to get them in the car to bring my oldest son to preschool.read more
A week ago I was talking to a friend of mine about a story from the 80’s. I had just heard What’s the Frequency, Kenneth? on Spotify and mentioned in passing the strange origin of the title.read more
Failing to failed. There is a lot of ground to cover and different paths to take from the first word to the second.read more
Imaginative Memory: Using our imagination to create, not re-create, events from our past in order to make sure the story fits our narrative.read more
So I have to start this flying word experiment with a caveat: I used to be super depressed and super anxious, and I’m not anymore. Okay, that’s a lie. I’m not entirely not, but I’m not a hot mess like I used to be, how’s that?read more
“I have to write an essay on Beyonce’s video, Formation, for tonight’s homework on perseverance and self-esteem,” my son said as he strolled into the kitchen straight off the bus from high school.read more
As a parent and a behavioral psychologist, I often find myself applying my training in my daily life. Naturally, though, I also regularly find myself forgetting my training as well in my moment-to-moment interactions with my three children.read more
My husband and I have always had the travel bug. When we started to get to know each other we connected by talking about our travel dreams and sharing our experiences around the world.read more
There’s a very quiet struggle that my daughter faces. It’s a struggle that affects her every day, some days more than others. It’s a struggle that other parents have some trouble grasping. It’s heartbreaking and life-altering and just plain annoying sometimes.read more
I’m going to start this post with a question for you. When was the last time you read something and what was it?read more
The 5 “W” questions “Who? What? Where? When? Why?” have been a staple of life and advice for ages. We learn them from parents, teachers, and television cop shows.read more
As I’ve said ad nauseam, Mindsoak is a project. An experiment. A way to spread my wings and scratch the curiosity itch. A way to learn and connect with fascinating people. A way to explore my limits. To find my comfort zone and expand into the unknown.read more
Mindsoak is a project. Nothing more. Nothing less. And now that I'm ten episodes in, I thought I'd take some time for a little public reflection. I've always said I will do this until the 20th episode for sure, just to see where it goes and how I feel about my...read more
Last night I opened up a notebook I hadn't opened in over a year. I have ton's of notebooks, most unfinished/unused, filled with a variety of notes for projects, stories and ideas I've been working on. I'm starting a mind dump routine at night so I pulled out a half...read more
And here we go... Today is the day I launch the Mindsoak podcast to the world. I'm both excited and a little nervous. If you've ever thrown out anything creative in to the world (you have, trust me) you know it's a little intimidating to say "Go!" In my case, to hit...read more