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toddler in toga

Toddlers in togas: The examined life starts early

How to recognize a little thinker, and encourage insights in kids under the age of five

BY AMY LEASK — When I thought she was just coloring, a five-year old on the floor decided to pipe up and state “What makes us human is love.”

Confident, even matter-of-fact, it seemed as though she’d been mulling the question “What makes us different from other species?” over in her little brain for years, and had long since figured it all out.

She went back to her crayons, but the rest of us observed a good ten or fifteen seconds of silent awe.

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Why I became a foster parent

Why I became a foster parent

A gift I gave myself that keeps on giving: Opening our home and souls to our foster children

BY RICK LEED — Everyone understands the concept of ‘giving’ to a child in need by opening your home as a foster parent and potentially (though not necessarily) proceeding to adopt that child. The most common and simplest way to view this metamorphosis is that you are doing good by helping someone else — by sharing your safe, warm personal, family home with a child who might otherwise live in a ‘group home’ (the word that has replaced the word Dickens made famous, “orphanage”) .

It is true: you are doing good by helping another.  But the good you are doing is hardly one-sided.  There are many studies, much research, and a long social and spiritual history that shows that the biggest beneficiary is the giver of this gift.

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How to raise a “Dakota Fanning”

A child psychologist and mother of seven uses a method called, “show, remind and tell” to raise an ‘indigo child’

BY DR. CHRISTINE JAX-CASTILLO — If you are a parent, you probably question if you are making all the right moves to ensure that your children find their own spiritual paths, and reach their full potential.  You wonder how you can help your children to follow their soul’s code, while encouraging them to follow your rules.

How can you can teach them right from wrong, while teaching them to see the good in all things?  How can you keep them safe in a country where congresswomen and movie-goers are shot at malls, while relaying to them that fear is an illusion of the ego?

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How Oprah fixed my mom

How Oprah fixed my mom

Is it possible that the TV icon somehow succeeded where God and psychotherapy had failed?

BY TIPPI STRACHAN — I don’t watch Oprah. I have no real justification for this, but whether it’s her mega-sprayed hair or the adoring throngs of “go-girl” women in her audience, the show brings a lump of bile in my gut.

How do I know? It’s always on whenever I visit my mom. The same mom who raised us to watch minimal TV now quotes Oprah like the Bible, and brings her up in every conversation. But I put up with this because — and I genuinely believe it to be true — Oprah fixed my mom.

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The Ice Storm still

Living in fear: We appeared to be the perfect family

My mother’s first hospitalization for attempting suicide came before I even knew what the word meant

BY SUEANN JACKSON-LAND — I can close my eyes and see myself at around 8 or 9 years old, sitting with my knees scrunched under me on the floorboard of a 1974 Dodge Coronet. The first poem I wrote was a prayer. Rounding the corner in that same old big brown boat that disguised its ugliness as a car, I can also clearly remember hanging on to the interior door handle as the door swung open and I looked at the pavement racing past me.

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The King’s Speech? We analyze the King’s pain

The King’s Speech? We analyze the King’s pain

Loving someone hurts when we can’t slay their monsters. The King’s Speech is about coming through the worst of it alone.

BY MICHELLE MORRA-CARLISLE – Movies want audiences to sympathize for their characters, and I usually oblige. My heart sank right along with Leonardo DiCaprio in the Titanic. I ached for Jamie Foxx as his character battled schizophrenia and homelessness in The Soloist. I even mustered some emotion for Angelina Jolie as she screeched about her stolen son in The Changeling. Pretty heavy subject matter compared to public speaking – yet I have never felt such agony for a character as I did for Colin Firth in The King’s Speech.

The actor reportedly had a similar response when he watched a newsreel of the real King George VI stammering through a speech. Though the King did a good job of making his stutters sound like dramatic pauses, his obvious struggle brought tears to the eyes of Firth and director Tom Hooper.

This isn’t a story about someone being mocked for his impediment. The King had support. The British masses in stadiums and in their livingrooms sat with bated breath, respectfully rooting for the King. Yet all of their collective good will and that of his loving wife and daughters could not help His Majesty get those words out smoothly and painlessly. For me, it’s a story of not only the King but those who loved him.

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Humbug to Dickens

Humbug to Dickens

Multiple divorces don’t doom everyone to Britneyhood. At Christmas time broken homes, too, can be merry.

BY MICHELLE MORRA-CARLISLE – I wonder how many people feel cheated every Christmas because there is no fluffy snow outside, no cozy fireplace and no Tiny Tim. I must confess that I was down on my own family for years. If ‘A Christmas Carol’ had starred us, Tim and his siblings would have lived with Mrs. Cratchet and only visited Mr. Cratchit on weekends.

This is by no means a sob story. I am, in fact, about to brag about the Christmas I’m about to spend with my mother, husband, sister, stepsister, half-brother and his girlfriend, stepfather and stepfather’s first wife (stepsister’s mother). As my sister puts it, “all three of our parents are twice divorced.” Yet I challenge any nuclear family out there to have a more fun, more loving time than we will have.

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Guilt, shame and the whole chakra thing

Guilt, shame and the whole chakra thing

We all know guilt. And some of us understand first chakras. Both are about our primal sense of safety: acceptance

BY DAVID RICKEY — All of us have experienced guilt, and some of us are plagued with feelings of shame. These are very primitive emotions tied to tribal issues embedded in the first chakra.

The need to belong and be accepted by the tribe/family provides the fundamental sense of safety and well-being.

The threat of being abandoned by the tribe is experienced as the threat of death.

When we live at the level of the first chakra — in the ancient Eastern tradition, the chakra hierarchy assigns this energy to your genital awareness, and the hegemony of survival and material needs over your psyche.

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How to say goodbye to an animal you’ve loved

An animal communicator talks about the complexities surrounding the decision to let your friend pass on

GUEST COLUMN: KAREN ANDERSON — One of the most difficult decisions we will ever make is when to say goodbye to our beloved animal companions.

Those of you who have struggled with this painful decision know the ups and downs of your emotions, the guilt, the uncertainty and the sadness of it all.

You are not alone in your pain. I receive many calls from distraught humans in the same situation who just want to be sure the time is right.  Although their situations are each different and unique, the ultimate result is the same.

They have made the decision to end their animal’s life. . .

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Living in fear: Being raised by a mentally ill mom was like walking on eggshells

Part 1 of 4: It was when her voice was devoid of emotion that I feared her the most

BY SUEANN JACKSON-LAND — I didn’t know when it started. I still don’t, and probably never will know. My mother changed. Around other people she was cheery, always a bubbly personality. Being the offspring of a master chameleon, I’ve adapted that same mask. I can smile at you with bright blue-gray eyes twinkling, when inside, my heart is in night terrors.

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