Here is a very good article on marriage and ASD.

As usual, my clients bring a lot of great topics and resources from their own lives and internet searches. This very compelling article highlights the emotional toll of being in a relationship with someone who has undiagnosed Aspergers. I found it harrowing, perhaps because I have worked with so many people who had had similar experiences. What do you think?

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2020 and a new post to an article I didn’t write, but i think you should read

Hello and Happy New Year.

To start the new year off I wanted to share an article that was shared with me last year that I think is excellent.

I hope to spend more time blogging this year. I have started a new training regimen in Somatic/Reichian therapy which is my very late explanation for why there have not been more posts made in 2019. So, fingers crossed!

Thank you for being part of my practice and reading these posts.

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I have a new blog post in mind. I seriously need to get back into the habit of posting. Apologies for being MIA the second half of 2018. Business has been keeping me busy and life in general had a lot to send my way. I want to make regular new posts a priority again.

The next post will be called: The Venn diagram of emotional responsibility (yours and the other person).

I think you will really like it. Look for it next week.

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Everyone likes Stages

Hello Internet People,

I hope the weather where ever you are is bursting forth with life and is very Spring-like. Portland feels delightful today. So of course I decide to go back inside and finish a post I have been thinking about for over a month.

I had received some feedback regarding self-care, self compassion, kindness and being overwhelmed—all the topics of recent posts and the request was for some more details.

What I have come up with looks a lot like a stages of stress response. So, let’s go with that.

I wanted to incorporate some graphics, or at least a flow chart, but the options online looked horrid so I reluctantly gave up on that idea. If any of you regularly use flowcharts maybe you can suggest a site or product that is fantastic.

The stages:

  1. Baseline. This is your starting position. Whatever that looks like for you.
  1. Challenged. This is a step up in intensity. But manageable. Without adequate self-care or self compassion, this stage can escalate into the next one.
  1. Triggered. We know what this. Most of tend to default to self protective, reactionary behaviors here. The only way to get better at managing how you handle being triggered is to do the work. Explore your history of acting out while triggered and then use self awareness to avoid the trap of acting defensively by reflex.
  1. Overwhelmed is one of 2 options that you have when Triggered.

The second option, actually is an option that is available all the time. I call it:

  1. Regenerating/Recuperative. This is where we take space, this is where we remember how to access the parasympathetic nervous system as the “brake” for our Fight or Flight or Freeze response that pushed us over the limit in 3 and moved us into Overwhelmed.

I numbered this stage 0 because ideally we can access it wherever we are in the previous four stages.

So, represented in a visual way, you get something like this. Apologies for the low tech approach here! I have no time to watch a tutorial about flow charts on YouTube.

1–>2 (or 0) –> 3 (or 0 ) –>4 (or 0)

With Easter weekend upon us, many of you with family may definitely be dealing with a lot of 2 and 3 scenarios. Please keep in mind what relaxes and replenishes you. If it happens to be small chocolates shaped as bunnies, you are going to do great.

I want to explore these stages more. So, let’s do that next time. Any questions?

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Articles for your consideration. February 2018


Here are a couple articles I think are thought provoking and have nothing to do with each other. Unless you want to argue how our government is failing at being a representative democracy–shocking suggestion, right?

First up is a very good video courtesy of Samatha Bee on Guns in America and gun violence.

Here it is.

The second, perhaps a treat for longtime  readers, is a list of criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I dare you to read this article and to try not to think of Donald Trump. For every single criteria.

Here that is.

Next post will be original content. And should be up in a week or 2. After hearing feedback about the topics of vulnerability, awareness, and self care, I think I can offer some specific stages to consider in our own journey of self compassion and acceptance.

Will be sharing with you all in a couple weeks.

Take care,



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Articles to read and consider. January 2018


I used to repost articles I would find or were shown by others on the Facebook page. Now, I want to do that here. It keeps me posting more often, and hypothetically gives me something to consider for the next post of my own.

I hope you have time to read these and consider them.

Take a look here and here.

Be Kind out there.



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End of 2017

Hey stranger, it’s me. Thank you for still reading. I know it has been way too long. I will explain.

Let’s talk about social media first. I am going to be shutting down the Facebook page for my website today. That’s due to me shutting down Facebook in general.

If you didn’t need any more indication that social media is harming all of us, go read this article here.

This year for the first time in my practice my schedule is completely booked. Overbooked as a matter of fact. As in I have a waitlist for clients who want to be seen because my weekly schedule has no more availability.

That is part of the explanation on why there have been no posts since the Spring.

The other part of the explanation goes back to what I was posting about regarding vulnerability, self compassion, negative self talk, and increasing our awareness of our negative self talk and attributions.

Again and again with clients I seem to be coming back to the same message.

Be kind to yourself.

It is a decidedly difficult choice for many of us to make.

Being kind to myself means no more social media. Being kind to myself means knowing that when I am provoked to feel angry the most important thing I can do is remember to be kind to myself.

My central nervous system (and yours) is being overwhelmed, threatened, or attacked by something in the environment. It could be from watching the news, looking at your acquaintance’s vacation photos, an argument with your significant other, a phone call from your parents, traffic, or just too much damn noise.

The bottom line is the same: the environment is overwhelming you. Expecting the environment (most likely other people) to course correct in most situations is both a mistake and usually absurd. You have to practice extending kindness to yourself first

That could be taking some deep breaths. It could be feeling the soles of your feet on the ground. It could be taking space. It could be going for a walk or asking to stop the conversation until you are feeling less overwhelmed.

You have to do these things. You know what you need better than the environment does. Stop expecting the environment to read your mind. Yes, you can share what you need. But only after you have first acted with kindness to yourself.

Self regulate before listing your demands.

That’s what 2018 is going to be for me. Self regulate first. Then engage with the environment from a far better position of awareness.

I hope you try it too.

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Shame and Patience

Picking right up with the last post on the Shame Sandwich, I just wanted to leave a brief note about shame and patience.

I have been thinking about patience a lot and noticing our collective lack of patience pretty much everywhere.

I want to blame technology. Anyone who knows me knows I am the furthest thing from a Luddite, but I wonder if there is something there about our learned expectation to getting all of our needs meet fucking instantaneously thanks to technology that wrecks havoc on our internal self talk.

We get our movies and shows streamed to all of our devices. We pay our bills instantaneously. We order food, clothes, books, boots, every goddamn thing you could want and it will arrive in less than 2 days time.

We hook up online. We break up online. We can get married through drive thru chapels in Las Vegas.

And yet, and yet, we lose our minds when we are in traffic for 30 seconds longer than we want to be. We have fits of rage when a significant other doesn’t text us back within a minute. We even want peace, world peace in the same impatient way. PEACE, man, PEACE, but we want it fucking now. No debates, no negotiations. We want PEACE. We want everything NOW.

Our emotional processes don’t work that way.

Tell someone who just lost a parent or loved one that they need to hurry up with their grieving process. Go ahead, I will wait.

Not gonna do it, are you?

How about telling a recovering addict that they have 12 hours to reconcile that their broken childhood, early age traumas and attachment disruptions are the cause for all their self harm and addictive behavior?

Not going to do that one either?

Okay, but somebody already is.

Every pharmaceutical company currently selling psychiatric medications. Whether you wanted to believe it or not, they are convincing everyone that your mood disorder can be resolved with a pill. And everyone is buying.

Thanks to all of this technology and all of this speed, the human psyche is apt to look at all of this and find itself lacking. Seriously lacking. The human psyche is going to look at that ridiculous and amazing cellphone that was probably built with slave like wages and compare itself to it and the human psyche is going to be embarrassed. It is going to feel ashamed.

Not good enough. Not fucking fast enough. Not efficient enough. Not enough energy Not perfect. Not streamlined. Not enough excitement.

And then we are going to keep thinking those negative self-talk memes because we are bombarded with the messages every day. And our negative self talk is going to keep us in bed one morning. Our negative self talk is going to cancel plans with a friend. Negative self talk is going to tell you to you sleep, eat, medicate and repeat.

Which is why it is really important to identify our triggers, right?

Yes, you know that. Help spread the word.

Thank you for being my audience. More soon.

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Avoiding the Shame Sandwich

I agree with you, that is a terrible name for a post. But it makes great snarky sense if you recall that way back in 2013 I wrote the original post, The Shame Sandwich.

This time we will be revisiting the topic. Maybe reheating would be more accurate.

If all this does is make you hungry for a sandwich, then I will accept that as a win.


What an awful topic, Jesus.

And believe me, I picked an item of food for a good reason, since we all can have shameful reactions to foods and the complicated things we can do and feel about food. But this post is not just about food shame.

If you Google shame, you will find a relative dearth of useful information. There are other people and works that can be helpful around shame, such as Bessel Van der Kolk and Janina Fischer, but for this post, and this search, the most useful things I found were all related to Brene Brown and her work. Which is all really good, and I have recommended her in the past and still recommend that you get to know her work.

Reading the original post again, I am (1) glad that I still like it (yeah, for self-acceptance) and (2) see it was mostly framed around working with narcissists, as was my focus back then.

Shame is not just for those of us recovering from relationships with narcissists, or just really invalidating environments/people. Shame is potentially everywhere.

Thinking about shame and how it works in 2017, the first word that comes to mind is EMBEDDED. As in, our thoughts, feelings, actions can all be embedded in a layer of shame.

According to Brown’s book, I Thought It Was Just Me, the first step is getting to know our triggers. In the original post, the obvious trigger was the narcissist in your life. This is a more personally focused perspective. Who or what or how do you experience shame? It could be certain thoughts. It could be certain things about yourself: your body, aspects of your history, your secrets, all of the above.

Brown has a great concept she calls “unwanted identities.” As in, these ways of seeing ourselves, or the fear of being seen as this or that unwanted identity is what can trigger our shame. For example someone might be operating under the impression of: “I always have to know the answers. I can’t look weak.” The unwanted identity would then be something like, a weak, indecisive person. When that person experiences themselves, or fears others experience them in that way—bam! Shame.

The next step Brown describes is critical awareness. Put simply, critical awareness is the ability and awareness to scan your environment and to not make the mistake of feeling solely responsible for any number of bad or unfortunate things that could happen in that environment. Anytime you automatically assume a person’s reaction is somehow your doing is an example of not using critical awareness. You also risk becoming the equivalent of a human punching bag. It also suggests you are far too focused on your inner (and most likely negative) self talk than what is actually going on around you (spatial awareness). Critical Awareness from this perspective is the way to counter and defend against some kinds of negative self-talk and judgment.

Some more examples of not using critical awareness are: Assuming people are laughing at you as you walk by them instead of realizing they are focused and laughing at what is playing on their smart phones; becoming mad and aggravated at a presentation you are giving in front of peers while some of them are not paying attention, but not acknowledging it is lunch time and everyone is actually quite hungry; snapping at your partner for not responding to a question you asked them when they are in another room and didn’t even hear you speak.

Critical Awareness is a wonderful skill to build on. It is perhaps the skill that prevents us from biting into that shame sandwich in the first place.

There are 2 more steps in Brown’s book, but let’s talk more about critical awareness before moving on. But that will have to wait.

Until next time.

Thank your for still reading.

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2017 The year we didn’t really want.

Back in the blog seat after a very long holiday season. I hope you all are feeling warm and cozy.

2017 seems to be the year that is starting off in a way that can’t help but have a profound impact on our lives. Coming off of 2016, we in the United States have a very divisive new president about to be inaugurated into office, and there is a very new kind of daily stress. I will just call it Trump Stress. It is real and it isn’t going away anytime soon. Locally here in Portland more snow has fallen and at a faster rate than ever in my lifetime. It was a mess. Parts of Portland are still a mess. Winter is coming indeed.

So that leads to my question on this first blog of the year:

Who or what has left the biggest imprint on you?

This may be a very easy question to answer depending on how much insight and experience you have examining your own life. Or maybe it will jumpstart your own personal exploration. I hope that it does.

What (or who) you think has the most impact might surprise a family member or loved one if you share it—that’s okay. There is potentially a big difference between what looks like it could leave a big impact from the outside and what actually leaves a tremendous impact on you internally. Some people like to keep this sort of thing private even. They may even lie about it. To themselves or to others. Even if you might be overselling one issue versus another your attitude about the thing you pick probably suggests a lot about your experience to it.

If you don’t know exactly what the answer is—or if you do and want to go deeper—the next step is to think about how this thing shaped your emotional life.

I feel like I can self disclose here a little bit. It is no new piece of information for long term readers that I am a son of a Croatian mother who immigrated to the US after meeting my American father. Being the son of an immigrant leaves a pretty big imprint. Language, culture, norms, expectations, manners of dress, communication, all of that got affected by my experience of very different parents.

What imprinted on you probably happened quite early as well. Even if, like in my example, the consequences of my multicultural family were not necessarily felt, experienced or understood until much later in my life. Sometimes the impact can be delayed, as mine was. I didn’t know right away that my family was any different than those of my friends or neighbors. I learned though, sometimes casually, sometimes traumatically, that it was not.

Quite a big impact indeed.

Later impacts are certainly possible. Going to war, marriage, a death. These possibilities can always leave their mark.

What makes you the way you are? And then, how do you feel about your answer?

I recently watched the (late and missed) Carrie Fisher documentary, Wishful Drinking, and she was recalling a conversation she had with her then teenage daughter, Billy Lourd.

“If you want to be a comic, you have to be a writer. But don’t worry you got tons of material. Your mother is a manic depressive drug addict, your father is gay. Your grandmother tap dances and your grandfather eats hearing aids.

And my daughter laughs and laughs and laughs. And I said Billy, the fact that you know that’s funny is going to save your whole life.”

The point being: we can’t change what happened to us. But we can change how we let those things affect us. We can laugh, we can let go, we can forgive, we can learn to give ourselves what others could not, we can move on in ways that let us live lives worth having despite the scars and the painful memories.

It is my hope that we all can get better at that in 2017 and beyond.


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