Sunday, March 29, 2009

Some light watching

I admit, 40 minutes is a long time to spend watching a show on the internet, but I think this one is worth it. Morgan Spurlock, of Super Size Me fame, did a show where he spent 30 days on a Navajo reservation. 

I would love to know what you all think.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Buckle Up. No Don't.

Struggling for web log material, I began surfing the archives of my other web log for relevant, if not moderately interesting, material. I wrote this entry about 10 months ago.


My wife and I recently visited South Haven, Michigan as a sort of "last hoorah" before our son is born. While there, we visited a charming used book store called Hidden Room Book Shoppe.

It is owned and operated by a married couple, who by appearance, I place in their early 70s. In recent years, I've begun to really enjoy reading. It is no longer the chore it once was. But, what drew me to this store were the aesthetics.

I had the inescapable sense, "this is how a book store should look and feel." Upon entering, on my left was a wall filled with early edition classics. The wall, as high as it was wide, was filled with a stunning selection of books which served as a billboard for "all the best books money can buy that I can't actually afford." The books all cost at least 300 dollars. The reality of not having enough money has never stopped me from taking a closer look, so I crept in.

There they were, most of the classics I've never actually read. I saw the complete Mark Twain collection with beautifully sewn binding, the titles and cover illustrations stamped in foil on colorful fabric book covers. The collective smell of these books left me feeling nostalgic for anything old. For clarity's sake, old is anything from my childhood or earlier.

This bookstore was aisle after aisle of books higher than my longer than average arms could reach.

Sarah and I decided that we would each get a book. We determined a couple years ago that we would no longer buy greeting cards for one another for special occasions. Instead, we buy one another a book and scrawl a loving message on the inside cover.

I owed her one, because we were celebrating our anniversary and for a number of reasons, (all pretty poor excuses, I might add) I hadn't gotten her a book. She agreed to allow me to get a book as well, out of the goodness of her heart, or my incessant begging.

I never knew what a tall task it was to find a book when I had no reason to get a book, aside from me wanting a book. I went blank. I asked myself, "What do I like to read?" Blank. "What authors do I like?" Blank. It's quite a commitment for me to read a book. The relationship usually lasts a long time (I'm not the fastest reader in the world). The pressure was getting to me.

Sarah had long since chosen her book and was applying more non-verbal pressure in a way that only she can. She offers to help me find a book, which I perceive as her way of saying, "Hurry it up, I want to get out of here." Then she stops offering her help and just gives it.

"What authors do you like? What about this," as she pulls books off of the shelf. "I think you'd like this." Then she stated in a stroke of brilliance, "You like John Knowles." Well, yes I do, in fact. A Separate Peace is one of my all time favorites. I think it makes my "All-Time Favorite Books" list because I wasn't made to read it in school. I read it on my own terms, on a beach in Maui. Reading a book on a beach in Maui makes it nearly impossible to not love that book. I digress. Focus, Ryan. Focus.

That was it. I needed to find a John Knowles book. I was pleased as punch to see a hard back copy of Indian Summer, by John Knowles for four dollars. This book was last owned by Mary Lou Slentz, who signed the first page and dated it "Jan – 1967." I printed my name right below hers in my weird upper case/lower case combo I write with:

RyaN DAviD NoeL
May – 2008

Over the course of our get-a-way, I didn't read Indian Summer much. I read 10, 12 pages at the most.

Fast forward to June 15th, please. The weekend of June 15 had lived up to all a Summer weekend should be, in my estimation. I bought a tin robot, I had a Father's Day dinner with my parents, I went for a bike ride, I had a pint of Bell's Oberon on the back patio with some friends and I had a great meal with my very pregnant wife. On Sunday morning, Sarah suggested we go to the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) and spend the morning surrounded by the most beautiful fauna Indianapolis had to offer.

We often use the IMA gardens as our "third space" as compensation for our unusually small lawn. Sarah reminded me, "Don't you want to take your book?" Of course I did. I'd like to say Sarah reads my mind, but she doesn't. She predicts whatever I might get around to thinking, if I remember. She's an astounding woman. I digress again. FOCUS!

I ran upstairs and grabbed my book.

Now, I am a pacer. Anyone who knows me, knows that I pace. If I'm watching a game, I pace. If I have friends over, I pace. Truth be told, I'd eat every meal standing up if Sarah, my astounding wife, would have it. What's great about the IMA gardens is the wide open lawns and spaces are quite conducive to pacing. So, while Sarah found a nice shady spot under an apple tree, I picked up my book and paced, and read, and paced.

I don't know if this is common, but I began reading a passage in Indian Summer and thought, "If stop reading this book, and put it down forever, I've gotten my 4 dollars worth." This passage reached a place so deep in me, I found it impossible to explain. The details seemed so vivid, the message so powerful. My pace quickened as I read. I could hardly wait to re-read these words to Sarah. So, I did just that.

Before I key in this entire passage I want to give a little back story on the main character, Cleet. Cleet is a former Air Force man, who wanted to be a pilot but failed his test. He has since left the military and is pursuing a job as a crop duster. He sees this as the ideal situation. Cleet could fly while spending time in the idyllic rural midwest. The problem is, Alex, the head of the crop dusting operation, hasn't conceded to allow Cleet to actually fly the plane.

Looking across at the airfield, Cleet, suddenly tempted, reminded himself that he did not have his pilot's license, although Alex had given him several lessons in flying the biplane. Also, the one pilot whom he had served under and liked in the Air Force had let him take the controls of the bomber several times; and of course there was the unforgettable day when he had first handled an airplane, the Reardons' family plane, when he had been fifteen.

Therefore, having a free Sunday afternoon, suddenly not able to control himself, he walked across the highway, unlocked the little hanger, lifted the tail of the tiny biplane and pulled it out onto the grass, got into the cockpit, started teh engine, and began bouncing faster and faster across the field until the plane kind of jumped into the air and continued lifting, above the meadows and the roads he had just been hiking along. The plane's wide expanse of wing surface sailed him up into the air in a really beautiful way; it seemed to Cleet that a biplane was less a plane that a kite, a giant box kite, and he was riding in the middle of it, sailing along not very far above the tree tops, in the clean midwestern air, the silent and empty Sunday fields stretching away close below him in all directions, and this was his idea of how to spend a Sunday afternoon.

The plane glided along over the trees like a big, if not bright, bird, sending its shadow, undulating swiftly across fields and hedges and haystacks. The engine clattered along in front of him–in some ways it was the funniest sensation in the world, riding this motorized kite–and he wondered just what the plane could do. He gently moved the stick over and the plane banked majestically to the right; he gently moved it the other way and banked a little jerkily to the left; he pulled the stick back and the plane began to climb rather slowly into what the Air Force described as the wild blue yonder. He pushed the stick forward and the biplane nosed over and began rapidly descending. Slowly and smoothly he leveled off at about fifty feet and swept along over the trees. Below him now he saw Milly's Road House; he made a pass at that, and climbed away from it and was immediately confronted by a silo which he was just able to bank around, which came and went so fast that he didn't feel the slightest apprehension, only noticing that the plane after all was moving very rapidly in relation to the ground and therefore he would have to stay alert.
He would have to stay alert, especially since he hadn't exactly asked Alex for permission to fly the plane, hadn't asked for permission at all, to be perfectly accurate, and was a matter of fact probably breaking some kind of law—"flying with out a license" seemed a peculiar law but it probably existed—and he had better be careful. Nothing as wondering as this could be wrong, he understood that, but still, it might be awkward if he got into any kind of trouble. Alex might not understand, and probably the Air Police or whoever arrested someone for Flying Without a License might not understand either. He pulled back the stick a little to lift over an especially tall row of trees and noticed horses scattering in all directions and a man in a field dropped and axe to gape at him; he was probably flying a little low for complete security so he climbed a little higher; he passed over the macabam highway, where a car slowed down and a man stuck his head out the window to stare at him—people didn't seem to have anything better to look at around here—and then he missed a church steeple by an adequate number of feet, it seemed to him; life was marvelous, he began to climb again, and finally he reached such a safe altitude that he asked himself whether a biplane could do a loop. There was only one way to find out and so he dived the plane and then he pulled the stick back steadily and the nose went higher and higher, he was looking straight up into the deeply blue sky and then his back was pressing heavily against the seat. The plane was nearing upside down position and he suddenly realized that he had not fastened the seat belt and was about to fall out of the plane.
He was not at all frightened but instead supernaturally alert and he knew if he let go of the stick to hold himself in the cockpit the plane might crash and as he began to slide head first out of the cockpit he held onto the stick and at the same time spread his legs, which were extremely strong, wide apart like an open pair of scissors and these wedged him part way out of the cockpit. He suddenly found himself shouting at the top of his lungs, a wild cry of despair or joy; his cry rang through the open empty sky and away into space, on and on further and higher, going forever; the nose of the plane slowly and deliberately began dropping back toward the farms and then Cleet abruptly slid back into his seat and pulled back on the throttle. The biplane at last leveled off, and dizzy with conquered fear, he headed back to the little airfield, thinking that this was his idea of what God intended Sundays to be: Keep holy the Sabbath day.*

Oh man, I was overwhelmed having read it aloud. I was thinking, this is how life should be lived. I want to live a life where I am making wild cries of "despair or joy." I want to avoid pit falls by an "adequate number of feet." I want to be "dizzy with conquered fear." I think of my good friend, Steve. He says, do your job in a way that you don't know whether you're going to be fired or get promoted. That is what I aspire to, but often fall short.

I was thinking of the confluence of events that led to me reading these pages, from this book, on this Sabbath, in this park.

I was thinking of the book, The Failure of Nerve, by Edwin Friedman, which explores how the spirit of adventure is lost in our "seatbelt society."

Conversely, in my life I am faced with domestication that comes with having a first born, whom I anxiously await.

All of this very intricate inner dialogue was taking place as I was reading and in the span of time it took for me to look to Sarah and see if she would join in my passion and externalize my inner dialogue.

Sarah's response to the passage, "I can't believe he didn't wear his seatbelt."

*-I apologize if I've misrepresented John Knowles words in the course of re-typing them. I take full responsibility for any misspelling or mutilation that may have occured.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Friedman on Leadership

Notes from our Open Hand processes meeting 3-9-09

Agent of change = is our "Being" (Presence) rather than specific roles
1.) engage without being reactive
2.) teach a new way of thinking
3.) stimulate without rescuing
4.) observe without willing the other's head to change
5.) the nature of one's Being - becomes transitive

Coaching people to be more self-defined
Teaching people to be more objective about themselves (in their environment)
Tutoring people about principles of relationships (triangles)
Encouraging people to learn about their multi-generational emotional histories
Helping people go back and face issues they have fled
Networking family cutoffs
Teasing out and challenging or encouraging the emergence of self

Challenge - is the way to promote growth without increasing dependency and subjectivity

"Emotional process is what actually creates problems - not the actual content of the issues...and to the extent that a leader can contain their own reactiveness to the reactivity of the followers, principally by focusing on their own self-functioning, rather than by trying to change the functioning of others, intensity tends to wane, and polarization or a cutoff that, like a tango, always takes two, is less likely to result." Ed Friedman

Process of change = we don't promote catharsis, because it often times is merely manipulation, and takes away an important stimulus for change - PAIN, catharsis can be a very manipulative way of preserving the status guo....

Summary of differentiated leadership:
1.) fosters independence without encouraging polarization
2.) allows interdependence without promoting cults
3.) promotes togetherness but not at the cost of progress
4.) normalizes transitions, less susceptible to cutoffs.
5.) reverses the pull and drain of dependents who normally gain power from the expectation (indeed belief) that their demand to be included at their price and pace will always be satisfied
6.) focus is on the leaders own being - giving them more leverage
7.) reduces conflicts of will and triangles
8.) fosters less guilt among followers because it does not go in the direction of increasing dependency
9.) primarily focused on leaders own positions, it automatically answers questions about the distance a leader should try to maintain
10.) less load-bearing and more self-expressive, it minimizes the influence of the factors that contribute to burnout

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Beautiful Women

Steve - Hey Hey Scott, check out the highlights on the chemistry of attraction and love...shame! Enjoy the challenge,

Scott - Beautiful women make men stupid!!!! What was the Creator thinking....

Steve - What a brilliant solution to embed an all powerful chemically driven gravitational force field in the biology of the sexes to insure multiplication. What puzzles me then is the condemnation that Jesus articulates for those of us who would naturally cooperate with this instinctual magnetism..

Scott - Yea, I hate it when I have to use other parts of my brain...

Steve - There you have it Scott, you have just summarized the Law, the Gospel and Bowen Theory in a few short words!!! Love the Lord with....Seek first the Kingdom and...manage emotional (instinctual) behavior....Amen.

Godiva Chocolates for (Almost) Everybody!

...On the lighter side, I was encouraged to add this humorous letter that I sent to Godiva Chocolates to the blog...This answers the question, "How do I get $200 worth of Godiva Chocolates for free?"

Richard C. Starkey
5269 Roland Drive
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204

February 23, 2009

Ms. Jenny L. Bultman
Store Manager
Godiva Chocolatier, Inc.
Circle Centre Mall
49 W. Maryland Street
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204

Re: Truffles Purchase on February 14, 2009

Dear Ms. Bultman:

I am writing to you to convey my disappointment over what turned out to be an unpleasant and rather bizarre experience I recently had at your Circle Centre store. I have frequented your store over the many years it has been open in Circle Centre, often collecting treats for my children and wife as “unexpected” gifts throughout the year. They are always a big hit, as your packaging and quality puts you above the rest. Further, I always purchase truffles for my wife, children and niece for Valentine’s Day, and it has become the standard treat to which everyone in my family awaits…it’s “Godiva” truffles for Valentine’s Day!

Not anymore.

On this year’s Valentine’s Day, as I have in the past, I purchased five boxes of four hand-picked truffles (in each box). As I was leaving the store, I realized that the boxes had not been wrapped with the usual red ribbon. Thinking it was an oversight, I asked the gentlemen behind the counter if I could get five red bows on the boxes. I later found out his name was Kyle, and that he was the Associate Manager. Our conversation went, literally, like this:

“Oh…I just realized that the boxes don’t have your usual red bows. Can I get bows put on the boxes?”

“No, not today,” he replied.

“Not today?” I responded, thinking he was joking (this is Valentine’s Day, I’m thinking…of course of all days of the year you would want a red bow is Valentine’s Day!)

“No, not today” (no explanation).

“You mean just today? Or you don’t put bows on boxes at any time?”

“No, we’re just not putting on bows today” (still no explanation as to why this might be)

“You mean if I come back tomorrow, and buy five boxes of truffles, you will put bows on them?”

“Yes.” (still no explanation)

“Okay” (now I’m getting frustrated and wondering if I’m on Candid Camera. I theorize in my mind that this “no bow today” policy is because they had a team meeting and decided that they would be slammed on Valentine’s Day and wouldn’t have time to put on bows…but there’s only one other person in the store, and he came in after all of this conversation started!).

“I’ve bought boxes of chocolates here for years and they’ve always put on bows on the boxes.”

“I understand,” Kyle says. “But we’re not putting on bows today.”

Kyle walks over to the wall where boxes of chocolate are stacked and points to one of the four piece boxes with a red bow. “If you buy these, you can have a red bow.”

“But I don’t want those…I’ve already bought these and picked out which truffles I wanted.”

By now, I was clearly agitated and realized that I had entered into some sort of twilight zone. I was half expecting Rod Serling to be standing in the corner saying in his melodramatic tone, “He thought he was just buying chocolates for his family…but he had entered a different dimension, one in which nothing is as it seems…one in which reality can only be found by searching for that which is not there…he had entered the twilight zone…”

“Okay,” I finally said. “Could you please give me five bows and I’ll put them on myself,” thinking that surely would end this ridiculous conversation.

“Yes, I can do that. But you have to buy the bows.”

“What??????” I exclaimed! Now this really was too much. “You’re kidding, right? Nobody has ever charged me before for the red bows. I get these boxes all of the time!”

“The bows are fifty cents a piece.”

“Oh, come on. You can’t be serious.”

He was. He was serious with a smile. “If people in the past sold you boxes with bows and didn’t charge you, they would have been cheating the Company.”

I stormed out of the store, walked three stores down, and thought, “Did this just happen? In this economy where people are probably not going to continue to pay $47.50 for twenty chocolates anyway? Where you think retailers would be bending over backwards to accommodate the dwindling number of customers that they have?”

So I turned around, and went back to ask for your name so that I could relay to you what had happened. As I walked back in, I couldn’t help noticing Kyle quietly snickering with a fellow employee, and couldn’t help but thinking that he was snickering at me.

Fast forward five days, where I have a meeting with a non-profit board of which I am a member. The director suggests that we have it at the South Bend Chocolate Factory on the Circle. “Okay, I thought. I don’t go there often, but it’ll be worth checking out.” As I walk up to the store, there is a middle aged gentlemen in a suit sweeping the salt (from the previous night’s ice) out from the front sidewalk of the store. When he sees me approach the store, he quickly puts down the broom, and rushes to open the door for me. “Welcome to my store, and thank you so much for choosing us for your business.” I thought that was nice, but didn’t give it too much further consideration.

Near the end of our meeting, I order small hot chocolates for everyone. Once delivered, I see that they are medium hot chocolates, and when I ask about this, they tell me the owner upgraded us to mediums. The gentlemen who opened the door for me comes into our room (which is in the store) and introduces himself as the owner from South Bend and again tells us how much he appreciates our patronage. When I thank him for his upgrade, he says, “In these times, everyone needs a little extra, and we need to show how much we appreciate our customers.”

Wow. He’s made a customer for life.

And Godiva has lost one for life.

However, I would be curious as to what Godiva management is thinking in deciding not to accommodate requests of customers…especially on a special holiday like Valentine’s Day. Was I correct that you thought you would be slammed on that day so there could be no consideration of any kind of accommodation? Have you removed the frontal lobe of Associate Managers like Kyle so that they have no leeway in making decisions? There were so many opportunities for Kyle to make the correct judgment and say, “Look, we’re not supposed to put on bows today…but I clearly see that this is important to you…so I’ll make an accommodation.” That clearly was not an option for Kyle. To his credit, he kept smiling when we were in this argument, but I wasn’t sure how to take this either. It was like his training to be pleasant to the customer had overridden all sense of his reality. He was the twilight zone zombie reciting the rules of the store…with a smile.

The good news in all of this is that I have a great story for all of my friends. At first, I was reluctant to share it, thinking that perhaps I was foolish in making such a big deal about five red bows. But once I told it to my initial group of five friends, and seeing their mouths drop open as I shared the conversation, I realized that they too were outraged. This has continued with the forty or fifty other people I have shared the story with, and we have all had a good laugh. With each group, the universal question that is asked after I have finished is, “What is a luxury retailer like Godiva thinking when they intentionally turn away customers in an economy like this?”

Perhaps you can tell us.

Very truly yours,

Richard C. Starkey

Thursday, March 5, 2009

powerful women

Hey Hey Tribe:

I have recently been amazed by Ann as she has faced several random 16,000 Volt jolts of REACTIVITY out the blue....and with a classic non-anxious PRESENCE, let it run through (without shocking her) and exiting at a more manageable 110 Volts. She has more balls than most professional bull fighters.

Friedman would be proud...and I can only hope that I would respond like Martin Luther or Ben Franklin (both great at self-definition and self-regulation and connection for their time and cultural context)...instead of merely cooperating with the mindless reactivity and essentially amplifying it by throwing punches or wrestling about on the ground with fire brands.

She does appear to have more golden/blonde highlights in her gray mane recently - probably a combination of grace and harnessing of quantum amounts of energy absorbed from the process of transforming so much emotional radiation / reactivity.

What was it that Friedman said about our response being more powerful than the pathogen / trauma that strikes us from time to time???

My socks have been knocked off, and I stand amazed at the power of our women in the Open Hand tribe....amen!

Still trying to enjoy the challenge,

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sex on the Brain

By Daniel G. Amen, M.D.
Highlighted by O’Steven

Lesson 3
The Chemistry of Love
Ingredients of Attraction, Infatuation, Commitment, and Detachment

“Don’t copulate with people you don’t want to fall in love with, because indeed you may do just that.” - Anthropologist Helen Fisher

You Dopamine fiend! – seeing the object of our desire, the neurotransmitter dopamine lights up areas deep in the brain – creating feelings of pleasure, motivation, and reward (much like cocaine)

Attraction – is a powerful drug…..with the brain stem also getting into it, releasing phenylethylamine (PEA), that speeds up the flow of communication between nerve cells….no wonder eyeballs track her movements..

Men – key into beauty, shape, fantasy and obsession – wired often for shockingly short term fulfillment

Female – at some unconscious biological level she is looking for a mate who will sire healthy children, protect and provide for the family unit….her goals are wired for long range

Chemical Symphony – sexual relationship is like a well-conducted symphony – the synergy of many hormones and chemicals that are released at different seasons of the love relationship

Out of balance – when hormone or brain chemical is out of balance, compared to others – over or under produced, the entire sexual experience can be ruined….

Primary phases of love:

  1. Attraction – craving for sexual gratification, driven by male and female hormones, testosterone and estrogen, the chemical nitric oxide, and potentially a group of chemicals called pheromones…
  2. Infatuation – intense, passionate love that includes extreme happiness, depression (when things go wrong), focused attention – obsessive thinking and craving for the new love – controlled by a mixture of neurotransmitters including epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, and phenylethylamine 
  3. Commitment – deeper connectedness, longer term joy, stability, peace with long term partner, created by the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin…
  4. Detachment – losing love through breakup or death – often leading to deficiencies of serotonin and endorphins…

Attraction Chemical – “You turn me on”
(Testosterone, Estrogen, Nitric Oxide, and Pheromones)

Sexual attraction – brain is programmed for attraction, one of the most powerfully rewarding reactions in the brain – a chemical factory looking for love – to active the erector sets that live in us all

50% of brain – devoted to vision – how people look is critical part of the process of attraction – attractive people spark the brain almost like a powerful drug….

Men – the amygdale, an area that controls emotions and motivation – is much more activated in men than women when looking at sexually provocative material (much more interest in porn than women)

Women – no mistake why women spend more time caring for their physical appearances…how they look has much more impact on a man’s brain than the other way around…

Symmetrical – men are more attracted to good looking, fertile, healthy, younger-looking women, unconsciously looking for signs of women that can carry on his genes….

Asymmetrical features – give off clues of underlying health problems, thus more troubled off-spring

Beautiful women make men stupid!!!!

Beautiful women – cause a man’s limbic system to fire up (emotional charge) while his prefrontal cortex (PFC) shuts down, leaving him often with poor judgment (Las Vegas knows this principle well as Casinos have beautiful waitresses dressed in low-cut, short dresses serving free alcohol – a recipe for disaster…

Women – more interested in how man thinks and acts…

Turned on – testosterone and estrogen are the fuel for lust

Hormone – a chemical produced by one organ (endocrine gland) that has a specific effect on the activities of other organs in the body – the major sex hormones are classified as androgens or estrogens – and both are present in males and females alike

Men – produce 6-8 mg of testosterone (an androgen) per day, compared to most women who produce 0.5 mg daily….estrogens are present in both, but in much larger amounts for women.

Androgens/Testosterone – androgens mainly produced by male’s testicles, but also small amounts by the female’s ovaries and adrenal glands.  Androgens help trigger development of testicle and penis in male fetus…and jump start the process of puberty and influence secondary sex characteristics.

Age – as we age testosterone levels begin to decrease…hypogonadism – abnormally low levels

Estrogens – sex hormones produced primarily by a female’s ovaries – is thought to play a synergistic role with testosterone in increasing lustful desires….

Nitric Oxide – a chemical released by the genitals when you are “turned on” that causes blood vessels to dilate and increase blood flow especially to the penis…(Viagra, Cialis – stimulate the release of nitric oxide)

Pheromones – are scented hormones secreted by sweat glands primarily in the armpits…thought to attract the opposite sex…love at first sniff, because there is a direct connection between the olfactory bulb at the top of the nose and the septal nucleus of the brain, the erection center…sexual arousal is also associated with engorgement of the erectile tissue in the nose  

Sexy smells = arousal in men is enhanced by the smells of lavender and pumpkin pie, doughnuts, licorice and cinnamon….

Infatuation Chemicals 
"I can’t get you out of my head”
(Epinephrine, Norepinephrine, Dopamine, Serotonin, and Phenylethylamine)

Powerful concotion – mother nature created a perfect storm – a forceful surge of chemicals, that create powerful motivational drives – activating the brain’s reward system…compelling lovers to seek mating partners….PFC at the same time is assembling information, putting the pieces of data into patterns, coming up with strategies, and monitoring progress toward life’s greatest prize…

Chemicals that drive the system – neurotransmitters epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, and phenylethylamine (PEA) = all play a role in the initial phase of attraction, but it is really in the second phase of infatuation where their release becomes more active and predominant

Neurotransmitters – chemicals that help regulate the electrical signals between nerve cells in the brain – all the time the brain is seeking to keep itself balanced through increasing and decreasing amounts of these substances…some of which excite the body, and some of which calm the system…so we can “smell the roses” and have “warm, fuzzy” feelings associated with new relationships

Epinephrine and Norepinephrine – produced in the adrenal glands, spinal cord, and brain are considered excitatory neurotransmitters because they cause the “adrenaline rush” feeling when the heart beats faster, blood pressure goes up, and the body is prepared to take action…

Zest – and excitement comes from these chemicals as they help to facilitate both sexual arousal and orgasm…High levels of these chemicals are associated with anxiety and low levels with depression

Laws of attraction – can be shut down by chronic stress, low levels of the sex hormone estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone, a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, and genetics…all leading to low levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine…

Dopamine – most important neurotransmitter associated with infatuation…also associated with pleasure, motivation and concentration….we feel sexy when we have proper amounts of this chemical..

Brain in love – increased activity in the right ventral-tegmental area, part of the brain where dopamine cells project into other areas of the brain…including the basal ganglia, part of the brains system for reward and motivation – in addition several parts of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) that are highly wired in the dopamine pathways are used, while the amygdale in the temporal lobes, associated with fear, is temporarily put out of commission….

High levels of dopamine – associated with attraction, low levels with depression, ADHD and high-risk taking behavior…Both cocaine and stimulant medications, like Ritalin have been shown to enhance its production…

Wellbutrin – an antidepressant that enhances dopamine availability to the brain as well as enhancing sexual function…(also amino acid supplements like tyrosine can be used to increase dopamine levels and potential sexual functioning as well…

Serotonin – known as the “feel good” neurotransmitter and is produced in the midbrain and brain stem.. satisfaction with a partner and positive feelings after orgasm are largely controlled by serotonin… normal levels of serotonin help people feel good and motivated – serotonin is involved with mood regulation and emotional flexibility…low levels are associated with depression, anxiety, OCD, impulsivity, and excessive activity in the brain’s anterior cingulated gyrus (ACG)

Low levels – are associated with new love, making lovers vulnerable to high anxiety levels and moodiness, common in the initial stages of a relationship – low levels of serotonin makes the ACG work too hard, causing people to get stuck on certain thoughts or behaviors…

High levels – can also be a problem and are associated with lowered motivation…medications that enhance serotonin like SSRIs – selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (Prozac and Lexapro) are notorious for decreasing sexual drive and function in part because recipients of these meds can lose interest if there is too much serotonin circulating in the brain.. but also because these meds can decrease sensation in the genital areas, making it harder to achieve orgasm…

Dopamine and serotonin – tend to counterbalance each other in the brain… when dopamine levels are high such as in new love, people tend to be motivated and driven toward dating behaviors that bring people closer together…higher levels of dopamine cause lower levels of serotonin, which have been associated with obsessive thinking, hence the feeling of falling in love…when serotonin levels are too high, people tend to have lowered motivation and an almost “I don’t care” attitude.

Phenylethylamine – (PEA), and adrenalinelike substance, chemical found in chocolate – speeds us the flow of information between nerve cells and is triggered in the process of attraction to help us pay attention to the love feelings…PEA – is known as the “love molecule” because it initiates the flood of chemicals into the brain along with norephinephrine and dopamine to create the feelings of euphoria and infatuation – when we are highly attracted to someone…

Commitment Chemicals – “I love you”
(Oxytocin and Vasopressin)

Bliss – doesn’t last forever…we either progress into deeper love and commitment, or make the decision to break apart and detach..

6 months – 2 years – brain downshifts its response and the production of stimulating chemicals and levels of neurotransmitters like PEA start to drop off…the body’s innate wisdom to turn down the volume because it can’t maintain the lust-crazed state forever …(lots of unnecessary divorces and relationship breakups can occur during this time…as people mistake the lack of intensity and euphoria as a sign that they have fallen out of love)

Next phase – commitment is usually harder for men than for women…even though our goals are the same (offspring, pleasure, connection)  There is not one human society where men are the primary caretakers for kids.  Men and women are wired differently and women have a larger limbic or emotional brain….

Men – can be more frightened by responsibilities involved in having kids and being faithful to one woman, which is easier for men who have lower levels of testosterone…

Higher testosterone levels – men are 43% more likely to get divorced and 38% more likely to have
Extramarital affairs than men with lower levels…

50% - less likely to get married at all…men with the least amount of testosterone are more likely to get married and stay married

Bonding – desire to commit to someone is strongly linked to two other hormones of emotional bonding, oxytocin and vasopressin

Oxytocin – released by the pituitary gland and acts on the ovaries and testes to regulate reproduction.. this hormone is important for forming close social bonds…levels rise during romance…and blocking oxytocin prevents bonding in normal ways…this is why we are attracted to the same type of person repeatedly

Oxytocin – lower in men, except after orgasm, where they are raised more than 500%, and why men often feel sleepy after sex…..same hormone released in babies during breast-feeding, which makes them sleepy as well..

Peaks – at orgasm and stays elevated for a period of time after orgasm…also related to feelings of closeness and being “in love” when you have regular sex over time – the skin is sensitized by oxytocin, encouraging affection and touching behavior…

Amnesic effect – created by oxytocin during sex and orgasm that can block negative memories people have about each other for a period of time…

Higher levels – also associated with increased feelings of trust and well being…Oxytocin specifically affects an individual’s willingness to accept social risks arising through interpersonal interactions.  It adds trust to the mix, and there is no love without trust…bonding chemicals also enhance fertility.  Increased levels are also associated with decreased stress levels and increased trust, both of which are likely to enhance conception

Vasopressin – chemical involved in regulating sexual persistence, assertriveness, dominance, and territorial markings…higher levels in the male brain…may make the difference between stay-at-home dads and one-night-stand artists…

High levels – of oxytocin and vasopressin may interfere with dopamine and norepinephrine pathways, which explains why attachment grows as mad, passionate love fades…  If a man holds a baby, levels of testosterone go down, perhaps, in part because of oxytocin and vasopressin going up..

Trust and bonding – and persistence created by oxytocin and vasopressin are critical for a partnership to succeed…however the release of these hormones is not enough by itself to keep two people compatible sexually and romantically…it is at this time when it is critical for partners to communicate their desires and needs to each other, to listen attentively and be mutually supportive of the bond that has been formed from attraction to commitment…

Detachment Chemicals: Why It Hurts
(Serotonin and Endorphins)

Why the deep pain – when we lose someone – they have come to live in the emotional or limbic centers of our brains and actually occupy nerve-cell pathways and physically live in the neurons and synapses of the brain….the person actually is present in our biology…the brain centers where the person lived becomes inflamed looking and longing for the lost partner…

Overactivity – in the limbic brain has been associate with depression and low serotonin levels, which is why we have trouble sleeping, feel obsessed, lose our appetites, want to isolate ourselves and lose the joy we have in life…

Deficit – in endorphins (which modulate pain and pleasure pathways) also occurs, and may be responsible for the physical pain we experience during a breakup..

Getting a Loved One out of Your Head and the Fishhooks out of Your Heart

Deep wounds – we feel like breakups leave lasting scars and being left is definitely harder than leaving someone…pictures, songs, friends, cars, names, cities, restaurants all remind us of the one that is no longer at our side…we can be neurochemical messfor nearly six months after breakup

Grief in the brain – can show excessive anterior cingulated gyrus activity

Survival includes:

  1. Above all stay healthy – stop mediating the pain with drink or isolation…watch what you eat, exercise more (as that is as effective at times as the antidepressant Zoloft for depression) and spend lots of time with your friends.. get enough sleep and the supplement kava kava may be helpful on a short-term basis…
  2. Do not idealize the other person – when we focus on the their good qualities, the pain increases; when we focus on their bad qualities, the pain decreases as we are glad to be rid of them… spend time to write out the bad times, and don’t idealize the persons…be more balanced and realize the aspects of them that were difficult… and that you are glad to do without
  3. Cry, then hide the pictures – crying can be a wonderful release of built up tension in your limbic brain…after that eliminate the constant triggers to your nervous system – go through the house etc, and hide all reminders….(don’t initially throw everything away – you may get back later with this person)  Time will tell, but in the short term get them out of sight.
  4. Love must be tough – when you act weak, needy or demanding during a breakup, you literally push the other person away…you are no longer attractive or appealing.. you seem like a victim…being well is not only the best revenge; it is the best way to heal.
  5. Do “The Work” – ask yourself four questions while doing a turn around….
Question #1:  Is it true?  You bet.  I miss the person terribly.
Question #2:  Is it absolutely true?  Not absolutely.  I do not miss our ambivalence, their resentment, and their disappointment.
Question #3:  How do you feel when you have the thought, “I miss this person”  Miserable, remorseful, stupid, ashamed – which means my thoughts were what was torturing me, not the other person.
Question #4:  Who would I be without the thought “I miss this person”?  I would be my usual happy self.

Turn around – from I miss this person to “I miss me” – my normal, happy, sound-sleeping, wake-up-singing, healthy, driven, successful self…

Open Hand Indy has a web log

Alright peeps, we're gonna try and take Open Hand cyber in a meaningful way. The hope is that people in our community — from all over the World — can post updates on what we're reading, thinking, doing and God's influence on all those things. This can also be a place to keep updated on upcoming gatherings. 

That's all for now.