Archive for the ‘Analysis’ category

Define and Attain Happiness

June 26, 2013
~The Joker is a perfect symbol of both happiness and sadness.~

~The Joker is a perfect symbol of both happiness and sadness.~

Have you ever thought about what makes you really happy? As humans, we need to be happy sometimes. We deserve to feel genuine happiness, but what is happiness? Is it a smile? A thought? Laughter? Can it be bottled or made? Defined? Extracted? Invented? Analyzed? These are tough questions to answer.

New Webster’s Dictionary defines happiness as a “feeling of joy or pleasure.” According to the dictionary, the word happiness is a noun. So in that case, is happiness a thing? If happiness is a thing, maybe we can just buy some? I think not. How does the word “feeling” come into play in that definition? The word feeling is a verb tied to an emotional state. That kind of washes up the noun right?

Another online source says “happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.” That seems like a better, still not perfect definition. Can we even define the word happiness? Maybe it’s something we just can’t explain. Maybe it is something we can only feel?

For years psychologists, biologists, philosophers, and religious groups have attempted to understand what allows us to attain happiness. Maybe this is why we have such an ambiguous definition and understanding of happiness? In my humble opinion, the study of happiness should actually be cross-discipline. I believe happiness comes from the mind, heart and spirit. There should be a Doctrine of Happiness which incorporates all three.

For about 15 years, “positive psychologists” have been striving to understand happiness. Positive psychologists believe happiness is fundamentally important, and this contemporary branch of psychology has made efforts to understand the science of happiness. The psychological theory behind positive psychology includes things like pleasure, strength and talents. These are then tied to positive experiences and relationships. These psychologists also recognize that there are two sides to every coin with regard to the human condition. Maybe harnessing negative thoughts and emotions in useful ways works best? For instance, I write what I see as some my best poetry when I am upset.

So what makes me happy? Things that feed or replenish my mind, heart, and spirit make me happy. Intellectual, intimate and spiritual connection to humans who care to connect with me brings me happiness. I like to give of myself and help others. Seeing my son and those I care about smile because of my actions makes me happy. Making others feel good, brings me feelings of warmth, purpose, and happiness.

Maybe you should think about what makes you really happy? Each of us deserves and needs to be happy. It is possible that all the dissertations in the world will never pinpoint a definition of happiness. It does include smiling, pleasure and good thoughts. If it could be extracted and bottled, I would be rich. What it comes down to is simple. Happiness is a choice. When it rains, we can be riddled with misery or we can choose to be happy even in the face of adversity. We must choose to take control and understand that we all deserve to be happy.


April 26, 2013

Blu is awesome! She is right!
Great minds think alike! 😉

Of Kisses: The Story of Tongues

February 13, 2013

Of Kisses by Felicia Lujan
Kissing has been an essential part of relationships further back than many can remember. I am interested in how the passionate kiss and views on kissing have changed roughly over the last century. After being inundated with Valentine’s Day imagery, the timing for writing such a piece seemed appropriate. Is kissing a necessary part of falling in love? Can you love someone you have never kissed? What happens if couples stop kissing? Those are just a few of the questions which came to mind when I began to write this piece.

I believe that kissing is an important human need. I was able to identify several scientific and psychological studies which officially confirm this, but it isn’t really necessary to use these to agree with something all of us can simply feel. I’m not sure how many people would agree with me when I say that I find a kiss more erotic than sex itself. The mouth is a fascinating orifice. When we kiss we are face to face. There is no hiding. We are physically and psychologically connected in ways which uniquely identify us.

Over the last 100+ years the kiss and views on kissing have changed in thought-provoking ways. For the last couple of weeks my mind has been flooded with things romance marketing experts think will make me feel wanted and loved. The real question is what do I think makes me feel wanted and loved? I think that all the candy, jewelry, cards, gifts, and dinners are bizarre when it comes to romance. Why aren’t there more classes on the art of kissing? Why don’t we see ads encouraging lovers to make love? It’s because there is little money to be made by marketing those things. We have started to indulge more and more on chocolate and we are beginning to forget about psychological and fleshly indulgence.

Soldier Kissing Girlfriend Goodbye_Washington DC

“Washington, D.C.~ A soldier kissing his girl goodbye at Union Station” 1942~
Image No. LC-USW3- 011367-C
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

A kiss can indeed be integral to falling in love, especially when we are young. It’s not merely for physical reasons, it’s just that young people tend to have idealistic and preconceived notions about love and romance. Mature adults develop a deeper understanding of intellectual and carnal pleasures. The older I get the more my perception of these things changes, thus affecting my understanding of the kiss, love, sex, and that which I find sexy. At one time I did believe that you needed to kiss someone to fall in love with them. I can say without a doubt that education has stimulated my appreciation of that which is platonic. Not that I think those with platonic relationships should never or would never kiss, but my thoughts on that would only complicate this piece.

Between 1895 and 2012, the kiss has gone from conservative to liberal on the “osculating” rate scale. The Eau Claire Evening Telegram called kissing “osculation” in an 1895 article titled “Art of Kissing.” How many of you have heard that word before? My guess is not many! I prefer the word “frenching” myself. That 1895 news article claimed that the “kiss plays an important part in history.” A kiss was considered “commingled feelings of lovers,” or “a seal on the union of souls,” or “a signature to the contract of hearts.” I did find that the 1895 article confirmed my thoughts on the eroticism of the kiss. The author said that “on the whole, poets have been more enthusiastic over kisses than oven love itself.”

The Daily Iowa Capital newspaper published “The Delight of the Kiss” in 1896 and called “osculation a theme of the great poets and writers.” One writer goes as far to say that kissing isn’t really kissing at all. Dr. Taylor “declares” that tribes “rub noses” and he says that the “prevailing salute” used by “over half the world” is actually “smelling” or “sniffing.” I find it funny that after quoting Dr. Taylor and discussing the “prevailing salute,” the author quotes Aristanetus the ancient Greek epistolographer. Aristanetus once said that a kiss was “the sweet mingling of souls.” Here we can again see the deeper connection which surpasses that which is physical.

In the 1940s, journalists were still referencing the kiss with that mechanical word. In 1941, Walter Winchell speculated that there were “still people who” didn’t “know the joys of osculation” in the Daily Mirror. At this point I had to wonder if most didn’t know the joy because they were straight scared of that word? It doesn’t exactly push my mind into romance mode. What about you? He then goes on to talk about how a “Chicago gent once sued his wife for divorce because she kissed another man over the telephone.” Hum? Maybe it was actually a connection of minds that man was more troubled by? I’m sure Winchell didn’t exactly encourage others to kiss by saying that people were in legal trouble for kissing in parked cars, on doorsteps, or God forbid in “broad daylight!”

By 1962 the “public” paranoia about kissing was peaking. Gazette Mail ran an article which was simply titled “Public” and the headline was followed by a big question mark. It would be interesting to look at intimacy issues of the time period to see if there is any correlation to anything other than “how people are brought up.” This makes me wonder if the roots of candy and all the other Valentine’s Day junk got their start here? Dr. Robert O. Blood was questioned for this gem. The article says that “some people who might otherwise be disposed to show affectionate regard in public have learned not to do so through bitter experience.” The article features a large image with a caption which reads “Hello Kiss at airport between JFK and Jackie on her arrival home from Greece embarrassed him.” Really?

She Gets The Kiss

“She Gets the Kiss”
c1898~ Image No. LC-USZ62-66319
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

It wasn’t until 1978 that I was able to see that the views on kissing had really transformed. The Winnipeg Free Press ran an article titled “A kiss is just a kiss…or is it? Kissing customs changing.” I was happy to see the change, though that damn mechanical word was still there. The article read “kissing has gone through several metamorphoses through the years. The on-screen style of smooching has progressed from proper, closed mouth kisses and a let-your-imagination-be-your-guide fade-out to today’s erotic open-mouthed osculation, which leaves little to your imagination.” But isn’t this what everyone needed? In this piece we can even see a few pointers~ one of which recommends that we kiss with our eyes by “giving the object of your affection a loving, longing look across a crowded room.” There is that mind connection again.

The Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph published “The Kiss” in 1994. This is where it gets interesting because we start to see references to psychology. A quote in this article would seem superficial to most, but we must remember we are talking about a master of the mind. The “uniquely Freudian thought” which is quoted says “the kiss between the mucous membrane of the lips of two people is held in high esteem among many nations, in spite of the fact that the parts of the body involved do not form part of the sexual apparatus but constitute the entrance to the digestive tract.” Here we see Freud separate sex from the kiss and the mind. In the articles I found between 1895 and 1978, this had not been done.

Meet Me at the Fountain

“Meet Me at the Fountain”
c1908~ Image No. LC-USZ62-58857
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Today kissing and the connection of love, sex, and pleasure has been studied by neurologists and psychologists worldwide. In 2012 an article by William Loeffler was published in the Monessen Valley Independent. The article had the words science, psychologist, scientific, biologists, anthropologists, and historians. I loved this one! The word osculation is only in the dictionary now! It has been replaced by scientific or psychological terms, which I am ok with. Loeffler interviewed a woman who wrote a book on the science of kissing for this piece. Her name was Mary Kirshenbaum. He asked her “but does all this scientific analysis take all the romance out of the kiss?” She responded to Loeffler by saying “it really doesn’t take the magic away at all, but it gives us a better understanding of ourselves.”

When it comes to a holiday which is intended for romance and “magic,” we should remember what is really essential to our happiness. The mind is what is actually behind the art of a kiss and the “seal on the union of souls.” If our minds are not in it a kiss is indeed just a kiss, sex is just sex, candy is just candy, and we lose the face to face intimacy that makes us feel wanted and loved. A kiss~ even if it is only in the mind can be more sensual and satisfying than the most expensive box of chocolates~ so indulge.

Scientific Seven

February 5, 2013

Well it’s done! Daryn worked and worked since the weekend on his science project which is due tomorrow. We built, burned, tested, recorded, charted, and concluded LoL! The Science Fair will be on the 7th.

Last year he didn’t enter a project and I felt bad for not encouraging him to participate. At his age he is not required to do so, but it’s always good to foster a love of things right? I love science, so I hope he will as well.

D did enjoy conducting the experiment itself, but the written part was a bit of a challenge. We went through the 8 steps of the scientific method. It was an interesting journey for lil man and I.

At 7, he is the youngest kid in his class for the rest of the year (most are already 8). I am proud of him. Now let’s see if he can stand a whole day of questions from students, teachers, and judges. Who doesn’t need to know how long a flame lasts with no oxygen?

Eye 2 Eye

January 29, 2013

Eye 2 Eye by Felicia Lujan
Why does the eye see a thing
more clearly in dreams than
the imagination when awake?”

~~~Leonardo da Vinci

When Leonardo da Vinci contemplated the clarity of his visions he must have wished he was always asleep. Surely the genius of the Italian Renaissance was afforded the luxury of unrestricted creativity in his dreams. There he could perceive alternate realities. There he could understand complexity. Why? I believe that Leonardo was able to open his third eye of knowledge through his dreams. In a spiritual dream state his ideas were clear.

Sometimes we don’t see eye to eye with others. It can be difficult to understand when seeing eye to eye is so desired. In college I took many traditional courses in psychology, philosophy, and religion. Today I was reminded of the three eyes of knowledge, as well as the information that they are able to capture and convey. If we take a look at the eyes of knowledge, each level, each function, we can get a better understanding of why people disconnect or lose eye contact if you will.

In the thirteenth-century there was a religious philosopher named St. Bonaventure. By all accounts, Bonaventure was a great man. He was respected by the church and became one of our greatest philosophers. The Western mystic developed the concept of “three eyes.” The “eyes” were the three methods that men and women utilized to attain knowledge. In his book Breviloquium, St. Bonaventure discusses knowledge and wisdom at length.

The first eye is associated with physical phenomena. The second eye with mental phenomena, and the third eye with spiritual phenomena. Numerous individuals within the humanities believe that we do not only see with our eyes. The larger part of that which we are able to see derives from the mind’s eye. Philosophers, psychologists, and theologists also believe that many may never see with the third eye of knowledge. I myself feel that I see regularly with the Eye of Reason, which is also called the mind’s eye.

1st Eye… Eye of Flesh is the eye we use to see the outside world. Here we actually employ physical sight to see material objects and gain knowledge from those objects.

2nd Eye… Eye of Reason or the mind’s eye is used to attain knowledge associated with the flesh. We also use this eye to analyze abstract thoughts and ideas. This eye includes, but transcends the Eye of Flesh so it is a combination of physical and intellectual knowledge. This has also been referred to as intellectual sight.

3rd Eye… Eye of Contemplation or the Eye of the Spirit is only open when we become fully illuminated with spiritual insight. Most people still have this eye closed. It is said that only true mystics see with this eye.

It is hard to understand why seeing eye to eye in a world of knowledge is difficult. Maybe it is simply that your eye is closed while my eye is open or vice versa? Maybe like Leonardo da Vinci, we should rely on our dreams? Maybe doing so would allow us to open each eye and perceive alternate realities or even reconnect? Why? Because in our dreams, ideas are clear.

In the Marriage of Heaven and Hell, William Blake said “if the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.” Apparently Blake also contemplated translucent eye lids.

The Unreal Perfectionist

January 23, 2013

Last night when I got home from work, I was inundated with Beyoncé news just like the rest of the world. At first, I thought about how the media turns anything into news and makes something small into a national scandal. What a waste of time, money, and air waves! I will say that I am a Beyoncé fan, still I was a bit disappointed in her decision.

After my initial thoughts about the music and pop culture anthem fiasco, I was left feeling rather sad for B. Frankly I could care less if the woman moves her lips to the music. The real story here is not that she faked the performance, but rather why she faked it. By now we all know the story is most likely true because a gazillion people have combed through her footage and photos looking for clues. Again an utter waste! If we look deeper than well trained lips, why did she really do it?

Humans are in a constant fight in the illusive quest for perfection. There is so much pressure not only for the rich and famous to be perfect, but even for us normal folks. Since “perfect” is basically an impossible goal, we are doomed to failure. Honestly I didn’t even care to research the excuses B would likely give for the facade. If her voice cracked, if her tongue had frost bite— it would have all been news right? So who really cares? Her performance would have been just as beautiful with any of the glitches.

It drives me nuts that we are slowly being consumed by plastic. Why do we need to have perfect voices, perfect bodies, perfect hair, perfect partners, perfect friends, perfect jobs, and perfect lives? Is there no one out there who still believes that flaws, scars, tears, and mistakes can be beautiful? Imperfection should not be a crutch. It is just a confirmation of the human condition. Until we can accept that we will never be perfect no matter how hard we try, we will never find true happiness.

I do feel rather sad for Beyoncé. Who cares what people think? No one will stop buying her music. No one will stop thinking she is beautiful on the outside. I wonder if the perfectionist is really happy though? Does she have inner beauty? She is such a lovely woman. If only she could see that. In the end, her quest for perfectionism could crucify her happiness. B will risk becoming yet another needless casualty in a world of plastic.


January 18, 2013

I am flawed. Deeply flawed.
I think we all have our flaws.

~~~~Lance Armstrong
(2013 Interview with Oprah)

Tonight I watched Oprah’s special interview with a fallen hero. Lance Armstrong didn’t flinch while answering tough questions. Part of me felt sorry for him. Seeing a man who was once seemingly unstoppable simply crumble was rather heartbreaking. He used the word flaw in several forms. He used the word several times exposing his humanness. At one point Oprah asked him “what was the flaw or flaws that made you decide to risk it all?”

His interview reminded me of some comments recently posted on my web site. The comments were made on “Lace: My New Theme.” I made my own quote to accompany my theme which reads “lace is intricate like a beating heart. There are always hidden flaws in flawless designs.” After publishing that post, I had a very thoughtful comment by Fay Moore. I appreciate those people who do not look at everything superficially. I wanted to share her comment and my comment back as I feel they shed light on the human condition.

Fay Moore Says:
January 18, 2013

Lovely, haunting visual. The black and white palette suggests examination of two sides of an issue: truth versus falsehood, dark versus light, fluff versus heft. Just an observation: it feels a bit sad at first glance. That may or may not be purposeful.

Felicia Says:
January 18, 2013

Hello Fay— I absolutely loved your thoughtful observations and comment. The symbolism in this theme is there for people to interpret as they see fit.

The black and white, two sides, dark vs light, is an awesome interpretation. It was not intended to seem sad visually, however I can see how you came to that conclusion given the fact the I used a web site screen shot which features a previous post. My poem “Sea of Tears” had an eye releasing tears, but not out of sadness. The tears were to create an ocean at the request of a loved one.

The quote that I authored can also be interpreted as a bit sad, but really I wanted to convey lace as a symbol of our humanness. We are perfect beings, yet we are flawed (just like lace). We are also intricate creatures.

Thanks for a closer look at my seemingly superficial theme. With a closer look, we can learn so much more if we are awake!

Have a good weekend my friend!


Pain: A Writer’s Inspiration

January 1, 2013

~Nora Arnezeder and Ben Barnes portray Celia and the Young Man in “The Words.”~

My tragedy was that I
loved words more than
the woman who inspired
me to write them.

~~The Old Man
(a character in “The Words”)


At some point, you have
to choose between life
and fiction. The two are
very close but they never
actually touch. They are
two very, very different

~~Clay Hammond
(a character in “The Words”)

Tonight I watched the movie “The Words.” The film is based on a screenplay by Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal. Rory (played by Bradley Cooper) is a tormented writer lead by fate to another tormented writer (the old man played by Jeremy Irons). The story of these two writers is told by a famous author named Clay Hammond. Hammond (played by Dennis Quaid) is yet another tormented writer. Zoë Saldana (Dora) and Olivia Wilde (Daniella) are also in this film.

Once again, I liked something that none of the critics liked. I thought that the movie had a lot of symbolism which I would love to explore at some point. It also made me think. As writers we often second guess ourselves or try to write what we believe others will like or what we hope will sell. To describe the surface of the film in short, it is a tragic story about a desperate writer who resorts to plagiarism. The deeper story confirms that the extremities of pleasure, but mostly pain can inspire us to write our very best.

“The Words” are those of a young military man inspired by pleasure, but driven to write by his pain. He starts the first page of a manuscript on the back of a goodbye note from his wife. The writing is later lost in Paris, thus it is never published by the original author. Years later, the manuscript is discovered by Rory in an old briefcase. Out of desperation the struggling writer successfully sells it as his own. His secret is inevitably discovered by the old man who is the real author of the manuscript.

One of the most powerful moments in the story was when the young writer hits rock bottom. While he is on his knees he looks up at Ernest Hemingway’s novel “The Sun Also Rises” (1926) and rips it from his bookshelf while thrashing all of his books and typewriter. The essence of Hemingway is a major symbol in the movie. That novel has been called one of Hemingway’s greatest works. It was a tragedy and was not favored by literary critics when he first published the work.

~The Young Man is driven to write his best and only work when Celia leaves him.~

~The Young Man is driven to write his best and only work when Celia leaves him.~

I assume that “The Sun Also Rises” was in the original screenplay for this movie. There were so many connections to the story of each writer in “The Words.” Hemingway’s book included; an American journalist living in Paris; a café; a tragic love story; pain; a soldier; and it was based on real people and real life. I find it interesting that Klugman and Sternthal (the writers of the original screenplay) must have known that Hemingway completed that novel when he was separated from his first wife, Hadley Richardson.

For a moment I wondered if Klugman and Sternthal loosely based all three characters on Hemingway? Even Rory is silenced by a Hemingway plaque on a wall in Paris at one point. The writers of the screenplay for “The Words” must have planned a Hemingway connection into their characters? Some have said that Hemingway “unraveled” after his divorce from his first wife. It was during the couple’s initial separation that Hemingway completed his work on the infamous novel. The book was dedicated to his former wife and his son.

This movie is a must see for all writers. I was left pondering the fact that some of the most famous pieces of literature were written with a broken heart. Feelings of pleasure can insure that we put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. What is more intriguing is the fact that extreme pain is what makes a writer thrive. It is deep pain which inspires us to bleed out and leave a permanent stain.

Consciousness and Brain Waves

November 27, 2012

I really liked this article. Of course it was published online by my favorite~ Psychology Today. Dr. Brogaard and the researchers at MIT and Boston University ​ are exploring the intersection of the mind and consciousness.
I love this!

Brain Waves as Neural Correlates of Consciousness

by Berit Brogaard, D.M.Sci., Ph.D
November 23, 2012

When we are thinking, thoughts flicker in and out of our minds. What does that mean on the level of the brain? Recent research, conducted by researchers at MIT and Boston University, suggests that when thoughts are in our minds, corresponding groups of neurons are oscillating in synchrony in a high frequency range, around 30 or higher, whereas thoughts that are no longer in our minds oscillate at lower frequencies. When several, distinct thoughts are held in mind simultaneously, several oscillating bundles are out of sync with each other.

The normal waken brain has brain activity that fluctuates between 8 and 100 Hz. An alert and active brain will tend to have neural oscillations, roughly, in the 40 Hz range in at least some parts of the brain. These brain waves are also known as gamma waves. Alpha waves—oscillations in the 8 to 12 Hz frequency range—and beta waves—oscillations in the 12 to 30 Hz range—become more prominent when you are inactive, for example, when you are passively watching television. Brain dead people and coma patients can have oscillations that approach zero. And in seizure patients the brain oscillates even faster and more regions of the brain vacillate in the same frequency range. In a grand mal seizure large areas of the brain flicker in synchrony at extremely high frequencies.

To find out how neurons oscillate when we think or perform tasks, the research team, led by Earl Miller, the Picower Professor of Neuroscience at MIT​, first identified two groups of neurons in monkeys that encode specific behavioral rules by oscillating in synchrony with each other. The research animals were trained to respond to objects based on either their color or orientation. When the animals switched between the tasks encoded by the rues, the researcher measured brain activity in the prefrontal cortex, where working memory is located. The researchers found that the neurons associated with orientation oscillated in synchrony at higher frequencies when the monkeys were completing the orientation task, whereas the neurons associated with the color took over when the animals switched from thinking about orientation to thinking about color.

The team also found that the brain uses lower-frequency brain waves to inhibit neurons when they are not needed. For example, when the monkeys engaged in the color task, the neuron group corresponding to the orientation task would oscillate at a lower frequency, in the lower alpha range. This would inhibit these neurons sufficiently to enable the moneys to engage consciously in the color task.

It appears, then, that consciousness associated with working memory, the ability to keep a few pieces of information in mind at a time, correlates with groups of neurons oscillating at a high frequency but out of sync with each other. Its the brain’s ability to keep bundles of neurons simultaneously oscillating at 40 Hz that determines how much information you can hold in mind at any given time.

The findings, published in the November 2012 issue of Neuron​, are consistent with the so-called 40 Hz theory of consciousness. British molecular biologist and neuroscientist Francis Crick​, better known for his co-discovery of the structure of DNA, argued that consciousness arises when certain brain regions fire in synchrony in the 40 Hz frequency range. The researchers didn’t locate gamma-range activity in the moneys during task completion, but this could be because different frequencies are required for consciousness in humans and monkeys.

This 40 Hz theory of consciousness explains some of our findings in the St. Louis Syn Lab​. In our lab we have worked with several people who developed special abilities as well as obsession as a result of traumatic brain injury​ (TBI). TBI occurs when the brain is injured by an external force. TBI can occur either as a result of blunt force trauma or shock waves from a blast. In both situations, the inside of the accelerated skull comes into contact with one side of the brain, generating a secondary shock wave throughout the soft tissue. If the force is strong enough, it can cause the brain to “bounce” off the other side of the skull, resulting in another shock wave. The waves emanating through the brain twist and pull on the connections between neurons, tearing them apart, causing damage to different areas. Depending on the severity of the shock wave, TBI can be very extensive, and multiple TBI incidents can have compounding effects. It is a particularly devastating problem for soldiers who repeatedly sustain mortar shell attacks at close to mid range. Many of them report memory coordination problems years later.

Physical force to the head triggers a centralization of brain activity in local areas, causing a concussion. During a concussion the nerve function of several distinct brain regions become paralyzed as a result of the brain bumping into the skull as it shakes inside the head. When this happens, positively charged potassium ions inside the nerve cells rush outside the nerve cells and calcium ions replace them inside the cells. This shuts down the neuron’s internal engine preventing the nerve cells from burning energy sources (primarily glucose) and giving rise to huge uncontrolled release of neurotransmitters, which bombard or “frag” neighboring neurons. This neuronal fragging causes the affected neurons to die off, leading to scar tissue, whereas other affected neurons gradually regain normal function.

Though we don’t yet fully know the long-term effects of traumatic brain injury, it is possible that the uncontrolled release of neurotransmitters from dying neurons massively enhances brain activity in neighboring brain regions, giving rise to syncronized brain oscillations in the gamma frequency range, and that the brain activity in these regions remains abnormally high on a more permanent basis.

Visual imagery is far the most common way for the brain to represent the world. So it is unsurprising if brain waves in the high frequency range were to yield visual images corresponding to the hyperactivity. After being beaten up Jason Padgett experienced visual images are complex mathematical patterns, and Derek Amato experienced visual images of black and white musical notes after the impact with the pool floor. The visual images appear to make it possible for the two unschooled geniuses to act on excessive brain activity in ways that would not otherwise be possible.

Creativity and Wandering Minds

October 31, 2012

I absolutely love Psychology Today— definitely one of my favorites. This is such a great article by Dr. Beilock, which features a very interesting study.
Want To Be Creative? Let Your Mind Wander
by Sian Beilock, Ph.D.
October 2012

There is no denying it, whether at work, school, or in everyday life, we often encounter situations where thinking outside-the-box is necessary. It’s also true that sparks of insight can be somewhat hard to pin down. You just never know when creative thought will arise.

Fortunately, new research published in the journal Psychological Science changes this. Psychologists at the University of California, Santa Barbara have uncovered the very conditions that give rise to creative thought. As the researchers point out, there are countless anecdotal accounts of creativity happening when people take a break from whatever they are working on. The question, however, is whether any sort of break sparks creative thought or whether there is a certain type of activity that is best to perform during the break period. The answer, it turns out, is the latter. When stuck on a problem that needs a creative solution, turning your attention to another task that requires just a little bit of focus (but not too much) is the best way to jump start the creative process.

The UC Santa Barbara researchers began by having university undergraduate volunteers solve the Unusual Uses Task (UUT). The goal of the UUT is to generate as many unusual uses for a common object, say a brick, in a few minutes time. People are graded on the number of unique uses they generate and the originality of response – an index of creativity thinking.

Next, volunteers were randomly assigned to one of three incubation conditions where, during a 12 minute break period, they did something unrelated to the UUT. People either (1) performed a demanding memory task requiring them to juggle multiple items in their head at once – demanding group; (2) did an undemanding task where they were simply asked to respond to a signal that popped up on the computer screen every so often – undemanding group; or (3) sat and rested – rest group. Then everyone tried their hand at the UUT again. A fourth group (no break group) went straight into the second round of the Unusual Uses Task.

So what did the researchers find? Volunteers in the undemanding group showed a significant improvement in their ability to generate new uses for the objects from their first to second UUT attempt – improving in their generation by about 40%. In contrast, people the demanding group, the rest and no rest groups showed no improvement in their creative thinking.

But, here’s where the results get really interesting. Everyone filled out a self-report measure of mind wandering during the incubation period. The researchers wanted to know how often volunteers engaged in thoughts unrelated to the creativity task, like personal worries or future and past events. And, what they found was that people’s thoughts were much more likely to wonder off-task when they were doing something that required just a little bit of focus (this means that the minds of folks in the undemanding group wandered the most). Moreover, the more people had a propensity to mind wander in general, the more creative they were.

The legendary Greek philosopher, Archimedes, may have been the first to demonstrate the power of taking a break. Asked to determine whether or not a new crown made for the King was solid gold, Archimedes was stumped. He couldn’t melt down the crown or break it open to determine its contents because that would destroy it. And because the crown was in the irregular shape of a laurel wreath, there was no object of a similar shape to which to compare it. Interestingly, as legend goes, Archimedes didn’t come up with the answer until he stepped back from his task and stopped thinking about it altogether. As Archimedes was getting into the bath one day, he noticed that the level of water rose as he got in. He figured out that he could use the amount of water displaced by an object (either himself or the crown) to determine its volume and, with a little math, it’s density (whether the crown had dense gold or a less-dense silver inside). According to tradition, Archimedes was so excited by his “ah-hah” moment that he forgot to get dressed after he got out of the bath and ran through the streets naked yelling, “Eureka!”

Now we know that it’s not just any break that gets our creative juices flowing. Rather, when we are stuck on a problem and need an outside-the-box solution, turning to an activity that engages our attention just slightly so that mind wandering is maximized is the answer. Maybe it’s a walk in the woods (as I have blogged about before), surfing the sports scores, or even a bath that does it. Regardless, uncovering the conditions under which our most creative ideas will arise can help us function at our best.

Baird et al. (2012). Inspired by Distraction: Mind Wandering Facilitates Creative Incubation. Psychological Science.

11*****Posted using WordPress for BlackBerry*****11

A Look at the Symbols in Bless Me Ultima

October 29, 2012

On Sunday my sister and I took our mom to the movies. This week is her birthday and she has been wanting to see the new movie Bless Me Ultima. The movie is based on a book written by Rudolfo Anaya. The novel took the writer many years to finish, and he is said to have employed spirit guides and his subconscious mind to complete this work. It was published in 1972. The book has been used in classrooms for many years because it is well respected in the world of Chicano literature. I was also very anxious to see the film because I knew it featured a curandera and that it would be filled with love, magic, history, land, nature, herbs, and witches. What’s not to love? A curandera is a female folk healer who uses faith as a weapon. She also employs good magic using herbs, spirit guides, and the power of the natural world around her. The story is not that of Ultima’s. It is the story of a young boy named Antonio Márez y Luna, an outside spectator who is contemplative of many things.

Our Tickets to Bless Me Ultima on 10.28.2012

Photo I took of Ultima “La Grande”
and Antonio in the movie Bless Me Ultima

At first I was surprised to learn that the movie was two hours long. I must say that there was not one moment of the movie that didn’t capture me completely. We laughed and we cried as a New Mexico story graced the big screen in a way that I have never seen. I have one of the original runs of Anaya’s book. When I was a girl I remember reading the book in school, and in college we did chapter studies. I felt that the film flawlessly embodied and conveyed the heart of the original story. We all loved the film. I always feel so blessed to have people in my life who understand me. As we left the theater, I explained to my mom and my sister that I was taking notes on my phone. My mom said “I know,” and my sister said “I figured.” In some movies I have attempted to take in a notebook, but it is hard to see what you are writing in the dark and have found it much easier to jot down thoughts in draft form on my phone. One day I aspire to complete a full literary analysis of this novel, but for tonight I will deliver the symbols I derived from the film.

Photo I took of the funeral procession
of a Trementina witch sister
in the movie Bless Me Ultima

When we were leaving I told my mom that I saw so many symbols in this film. I adore my mature and intense mind. My mom was very curious about the symbols I saw, so I dedicate this to her. Maybe with any luck I will make her and my sister just as crazy as I am! If you have or haven’t seen the film, or even if you have only read the book, look deeper. In my mind, symbolism is about connection. A symbol is a connection~ usually from sight to an object or idea (with the mind)~ to a feeling (with the heart)~ and then ultimately to a person, place or thing. Following are the symbols I ascertained from Bless Me Ultima. This was not Ultima’s story, however, she embraced symbolism like no other character in Anaya’s novel does. The end of the movie brings the strongest and most poignant quote. When “La Grande” dies, Antonio laid her to rest and said “I did not cry~ her voice is everywhere.” The quote confirms a connection of all symbols in the book and film.

Symbols in the Movie

Ultima or “La Grande”~ was a symbol of love, sacrifice, life, death, land, faith, respect, acceptance, forgiveness, nature, power, protection, knowledge, tradition, and healing

Ultima’s Owl~ was a symbol of protection and sacrifice

The Moon~ was a symbol of mystery, land, time, magic, and knowledge

The River, Rain and Water~ were symbols of life, death, healing, abundance, and the seasons

The Land, Herbs, and Farming~ were symbols of home, family, tradition, knowledge, continuity, and healing

The War~ was a symbol of evil, change, vice, and sin

Death~ was a symbol of fear, evil, mortality, and immortality

Religion~ was a symbol of connection and disconnection

A Study of Ancient Minds

August 11, 2012

There is a Community Lecture on September 12, 2012. The lecture starts at 7:30pm and will take place at the James A. Little Theater in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The lecture is titled Reading Ancient Minds: Metaphor, Culture, and History Making. Scott Ortman, an Omidyar Fellow with the Santa Fe Institute and a Lightfoot Fellow with the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center will likely deliver a powerful presentation. Following is the abstract for this lecture.

How much does culture influence the fates of human societies? Our experiences with contemporary politics suggest that the varying ways humans construe the world do make a difference, but the traditional view in many fields is that, in the big picture, material forces trump human conceptualizations. Ortman argues that we don’t actually know the answer yet, but that new approaches in archaeology may suggest an answer. Cognitive science suggests that conceptual metaphors are the building blocks of human conceptual systems; Ortman illustrates how one can discover these metaphors through archaeological and linguistic analysis and discusses how these methods enable one to see the role of culture in history using examples drawn from his research on ancestral Pueblo societies of the U.S. Southwest.

Sounds super interesting doesn’t it? I love the study of metaphors, symbols, signs, imagery, and other elusive forms of communication. If I go, I will go alone with just a thinking cap and a notepad- oh and of course my crow sign!

Hint of Sex: Allusion in Music Videos

August 1, 2012

**Screen shot from Miguel’s music video Girls Like You**
The video is about a woman. In this shot, I see four “cups” or triangles. Three are positive and one is negative. The image of the woman is red which is also highly symbolic.

I am really into music (audio and video). I usually don’t just listen and watch, but I try to grasp deeper meanings and absorb what I perceive as symbols. I could really write a book on this topic because it is just so interesting to me, but I will spare you the novel! Over the last few years, I started to notice that several of the music videos I loved were using positive and negative space in ways that maybe others didn’t notice? There is often a mirror technique rendered in these videos which functions as an allusion to sex. I had to pull out some specific screen shots to show you what I mean, but underneath each shot I will explain what I see and the symbolism.

**Acoma Clay Dish**
This is the dish which was studied by Dorr Bothwell for her book Notan: The Dark-Light Principle of Design. Here I see two “cups” or triangles. One positive and one negative.

An American artist and designer from California named Dorr Bothwell wrote a book about design along these lines. Bothwell died in 2000, but in the late 60s she published a book titled Notan: The Dark-Light Principle of Design. This book was about the interaction of positive and negative space in works of art. I like to connect my ideas to other evidence to support my thoughts. This will offer my readers a chance to see for themselves that there is substance to my pop culture analysis of music videos. I selected two music videos to demonstrate what I mean. I love them both and they are contemporary videos. I have selected Miguel’s music video Girls Like You, and Madonna’s music video Girl Gone Wild. In these videos there are numerous frames capturing male and female symbols. Of course they are both about women. Hopefully when you see the shots, you can connect imagery to the music. To give you an idea of how far back these symbols reach I did some minor research.

**Kantharos Cup from
Athens National Museum**
The artist of this literal “cup” depicted connection. Hands are reaching out. Here I see two “cups” or triangles. One positive and one negative.

We could start our historical journey into this symbolism with Athens and the Kantharos Wine Cup. This cup was formed using a “male-and-female combination.” What was the artist alluding to? Let’s skip on to Bothwell’s book. In one part of her book, the author studies the design of a black and white clay dish. The dish was a piece of pottery created by a Pueblo Indian from Acoma Pueblo here in New Mexico. This area “is built atop a sheer-walled, 367-foot sandstone bluff in a valley studded with sacred, towering monoliths.” The same type of symbolism I can see in these music videos was also conveyed in ancient pottery of the Acoma people. Acoma Pueblo has been part of our history “since 1150 AD,” and the pueblo “has earned the reputation as the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America.” Eons later, Lord Byron, an English poet in the Romantic Movement would say “life’s enchanted cup sparkles near the brim.” Life’s enchanted cup? It is sparkly near the brim? Would you say that the right sparkly thing would attract you regardless of sexual preference? What could Lord Byron have been alluding to?

**Screen shot from Madonna’s
music video Girl Gone Wild**
The video is about a woman. In this shot, I see six “cups” or triangles. Some are positive and some are negative. The image also represents connection.

**Screen shot from Miguel’s music video Girls Like You**
The video is about a woman. In this shot, I see four “cups” or triangles. Three are positive and one is negative. The image of the woman is red which is also highly symbolic.

People with Jewish roots often reference “the cup of living waters.” What is that? Living water? I would say a symbol of life and fertility. Even the ancient Celts celebrated women through symbolism. “In Paganism, the cup symbolizes water, which is a feminine element. The cup resembles a woman’s womb and is therefore considered to be the symbol of the Goddess of the Womb and the female reproductive function in general. It is an all-encompassing symbol for fertility, a woman’s gift for gestation and the creation of life; a woman’s intuition and psychic abilities; and the subconscious. In Christianity, the chalice is the symbol of the Holy Communion as it was the vessel which held the wine which symbolizes the blood of Christ. Recent symbolisms however hold the chalice as a symbol for the womb of a woman, not unlike the beliefs held by non-Christian practitioners.”

**Screen shot from Miguel’s music video Girls Like You**
The video is about a woman. In this shot, I see three “cups” or triangles. Two are positive and one is negative. The dark large images to the left and right are actually the separated legs of a woman.

**Screen shot from Madonna’s music video Girl Gone Wild**
The video is about a woman. In this shot, I see three “cups” or triangles.
Two are positive and one is negative.
The image also represents connection and seduction.

If you look at entertainment and popular culture, we have the movie the Da Vinci Code. The famous line from this movie is “and the chalice resembles a cup or vessel, or more importantly the shape of the woman’s womb. The Grail has never been a cup. It is quite literally this ancient symbol of womanhood.” What about the Cups in Tarot? The cup cards are said to represent: heart; psyche; emotions; illusion; opening; sensuality; and temptation among other things. I am sure I could find many, many more things to connect my thoughts to, but I am tired. This topic may call for a closer analysis in the future.

When We Are Disfigured

July 13, 2012

“You” by James Montgomery F. (c1906)
Halftone Photomechanical Print
Illustration in Folio NC1075.F7
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
Washington, D.C. 20540 USA


“As any action or posture long continued will
distort and disfigure the limbs; so the mind likewise
is crippled and contracted by perpetual
application to the same set of ideas.”
~~~~~~~~~Samuel Johnson


Today at work I helped a man, his wife, and their young son. They were looking for help locating an accident report from the 60s. The man had been injured while serving in the New Mexico National Guard. He walked in with a bullet in his forehead, pieces of shrapnel scattered in his head, and a broken spirit. His nails were long, as was his silver hair. For a brief moment, I was frightened. I am not sure of what? Maybe it was my fear of the unknown, or maybe it was coming face to face with tragedy? For a few moments, we exchanged direct eye contact while he began spilling his heartbreak out for my analysis. Though one side of his face was severely disfigured, there was gentleness in his eyes. In that moment I realized that there was nothing to be afraid of. He was harmless. He and his family needed my help. The old me would have stayed scared. I am so proud of the woman I have become. If I judge, it is only momentarily. All of my fear now falls away when I can see deeper into someone. I focused back in on his story when the fear subsided. While in a small New Mexico town, the man was seriously injured while preparing to leave for Vietnam to fight in the war. While his company was preparing their weapons to make the journey, he was shot through the head when a bullet accidentally ricocheted. With every word slipping from his shaky, ashy lips I couldn’t help but wonder how painful it was for him to rehash this story for me. It takes the guts of a real man or woman to speak of pain. The man I helped today, never made it to Vietnam. Instead he began the battle of his life. It was his battle with the emotional and physical pain of disfigurement. Unfortunately, his war will not end until he and his family members are all gone. I took the time to thank him for his service to our country. I also told him that my father-in-law was stationed in Cam Ranh Bay during the Vietnam War. He seemed to find some comfort in that. We are all disfigured in one way or another. Samuel Johnson had it right when he said that our thoughts can disfigure us just like physical injuries can. I believe Johnson was referring to negative, egotistic, and empty acts. It is important to see beyond what is on the surface physically and mentally. By the time the man had finished telling me his sorrowful tale, I could only see the uninjured side of his face. Slowly he had turned away from me. I could tell he felt more comfortable when I couldn’t see that which he wanted to hide. I wanted to tell him it was alright. I understood his pain. I didn’t mind his flaws. Our scars, our pain, they make us beautiful. These things confirm that we are human and that we are not invincible. When our mind or our body is disfigured, we must remain optimistic. The imperfections of that man reminded me that it is so important to use my psyche and my spirit to extend a hand to those in need.

Finding the Beauty Within

July 8, 2012

*****Finding the Beauty Within*****
Digital composite by Felicia Lujan. Includes two images- one of a Roman statue of a woman (using a colored pencil artistic filter), and an abstract spiral design.

Following is my overdue look at beauty for analysis
by Sahm of the Arkside of Thought

Beauty… What is my interpretation? I have never been asked. Beauty can be many things. It can be shallow. It can be deep. It can inspire. It can cause pain. Maybe you will spend your whole life looking for beauty because you are asleep? If you look up the definition of beauty, you will find definitions which say “a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses (especially the sight)” or “a combination of qualities that pleases the intellect.”

The first question I asked myself when I started to write this was— when you think of beauty what do you feel? So I had already decided that beauty begins with a feeling. Feelings come from our psyche and our soul. Yes we all have eyes, and beauty can be superficial, but I think real beauty is so much deeper. It may also depend on: our professions; how we were nurtured; how we dream; or even what we care about or value. Like what about the book by Gary William Flake titled The Computational Beauty of Nature: Computer Explorations of Fractals, Chaos, Complex Systems, Adaptation? Or what about the article by Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz and Aristid Lindenmayer titled The Algorithmic Beauty of Plants: The Virtual Laboratory? Are computers and plants beautiful? I think they are!

If I were writing my very own dictionary, beauty would need to be defined using multiple facets. For instance- I believe that the word beauty can be defined at least three ways. The hierarchy would start on the most basic level and would then work down to the most complex. I would also note that beauty does not simply apply to people. The most complex level would include those people and things which can be deemed beautiful because they touch us in profound ways. There is a great piece by Percy Bysshe Shelley titled Hymn to Intellectual Beauty. In this hymn, the writer mentions “unseen power” and the “spirit of beauty.” The most complex definition of the word beauty would include things which touch us to the very core. These are the things which will melt your mind. I must admit I have grown tired of the simple ways of looking at beauty. When you are truly awake, you will see all the beauty around you. It may be beauty you have never noticed or maybe the beautiful things you have missed.

My first definition would be superficial beauty. This would include the eyes or sight, and a symmetrical look at other people or things. I mean— how perfect are things visually? A second definition would be inner beauty or an asymmetrical look at people or things. That would be the beauty within ourselves or the beauty within another person or thing regardless of looks. What can I say? You know the third definition is my favorite and is also all encompassing. My third definition of beauty would be conscious beauty. This would be the ultimate form of beauty. This form of recognizing beauty involves all of our senses- sight, touch, scent, and listening. It is more than superficial beauty, and it is more than inner beauty. This type of beauty is something that moves you in a way that you have never been moved. When are you awake?? Now, when you think of something beautiful, what do you feel? When you experience conscious beauty you will tap your most intimate, and deepest feelings. Your spirit will be touched. That is true beauty.

betsyrandolph's Blog

4 out of 5 dentists recommend this site Or so I've been told.

Ebony and Crows

A dark spill of worlds and words

Dr. Eric Perry

Psychology to Motivate | Inspire | Uplift

Krivs Studio Blog

Profiles, Features, Interviews, Contest News and more from the Studio

Premier Performance

Become Your Best

Discover WordPress

A daily selection of the best content published on WordPress, collected for you by humans who love to read.

Matiuadex Gallery

Movies, Music, Celebrity, Gists, life style and many more


Fitness Without The Fluff

Taylor Network of Podcasts

Podcast, News and Articles

Build the best version of you!



I didn't have my glasses on....

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

%d bloggers like this: