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Counselor Morgan Randall's blog, bookstore and more. A place to explore the paradigm shift to systems thinking that views body and mind as one

What’s in a name?

Names are important to ones sense of identity. When I think of myself, I think of Morgan Randall. But that was not always who I was. Randall was my dad’s last name which I kept it instead of taking my husband’s when I married at age 37. I was a professional business writer and did not want to start over with the branding process of name recognition. Clients hired PJ Randall. Why mess with success? When I became a mental health counselor at age 55, I changed my first name to Morgan. Would you hire a counselor called PJ or one named Morgan? But more importantly, by taking the name Morgan, I honored my mother’s Welsh family. All the men in her family bore the first name Morgan going back for hundreds of years. When I identified as Morgan, I felt more balanced, professional and connected to wonderful things I learned from Mom. No matter your gender, if you want to a new life, a name change can help as much on the inside world as the outside.–MR

What’s in a surname? The female artists lost to history because they got married

A new biography of the painter Isabel Rawsthorne highlights how talented women have often missed out on the recognition they deserved.

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February 19th, 2021 | Permalink

Turn it off to get it up

Lots of guys struggle with obtaining or maintaining an erection during sex for various reasons, but one big reason is often overlooked as it is in the below article—the use of pornography. Chemicals in the brain are responsible for triggering an erection. It’s pretty simple really. If those chemicals are overused with highly explicit porn, their ability to fire up in the face of the real deal diminishes. If you don’t believe me, prove it to yourself. Stop using porn and watch yourself rise to new heights!—MR

I have never struggled to get an erection – until now. What’s going on?

By Pamela Stephenson Connolly, The US Guardian, February 17, 2021

“My partner and I have a great relationship, but my inability to perform makes her think I am not attracted to her.”

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February 17th, 2021 | Permalink

What do you really need?

Yesterday, I spent an hour searching for a new (well, pre-owned) camel hair coat at online resale sites. Then, I reminded myself I already own two. I asked myself, Morgan, what do you really need? The answers I wrote down were: calling a friend, exercising, reading a good book, writing a poem to help with emotional processing. Lookin over my list, I decided to do qi gong with an online teacher for 20 minutes allowing the craving for a coat to subside. How about you? What do you really need?—MR

I thought buying things would make me feel better. It didn’t: The rise of emotional spending

Many of us are living for the buzz of the doorbell – spending billions we can’t afford on stuff we don’t need. Here is how to recognize the problem and regain control.

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February 11th, 2021 | Permalink

Warning: biochemically addictive!

Social media should come with a warning label, “May be hazardous to your health.” There are two kinds of opioids, exogenous (outer) and endogenous (inner.) An inner opioid is triggered in your brain by a modern behavior that mimics a natural one. In this case, one that enhanced species survival back in caveman days. You get this reward, because we are social animals who survived better in social groups. The problem is the hit is bigger than normal, because you can socialize with more people than when our brains evolved and social media pros enhance the experience to suck you in. Your brain is overstimulated. Consequently, you actually may get addicted with the same consequences to your health. Tolerance is created causing you to use more and more just like any opioid. Real people become less interesting, social and family interaction sags because you don’t get a big enough hit. Some folks are biologically or emotionally more vulnerable to this kind of addiction than others, so try not using social media a day and see how it goes. If you find you can’t put it down easily, you’ve got a problem.—MR

I get better sleep: the people who quit social media

by Soo Youn, The Guardian US, February 10, 2021

The author is considering giving up the apps. She speaks to those who have already taken the plunge – with liberating results.

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February 10th, 2021 | Permalink

How about a hug?

This may come as a surprise, but you are a mammal. That’s right, a warm fuzzy animal. And mammals are wired to crave touch arising from the fact we must nurse for the first little bit of our lives to survive. Hugging, holding and petting stimulate feel-good chemicals in the brain that all of us could really use right now to feel sane and safe. Even a foot massage given by a masked massage therapist or a manicure may help. If you can’t find someone willing to hug, consider adopting a puppy or a kitten. Even hugging yourself, saying some kind words to yourself in the mirror is better than nothing in a hugless world. And check out the charming photo article below. Just looking at people hugging made me feel better!—MR

“Hugging is like medicine, it gives us hope”: friends and lovers on the joy of touch

by Deborah Linton, US Guardian, February 6, 2021

Longing for a cuddle? Newlyweds, siblings and housemates hug the people they can – and look forward to being close with those they miss.

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February 6th, 2021 | Permalink

It’s not love

One in four women have been, are or will be domestically abused. If you are not sure whether you are or not, you quite possibly are. Please go to a mental health counselor for a chat to find out. If you must go secretly, go secretly, but go now. Abusive or controlling behavior is not love. It’s a psychological problem for both people and a behavior pattern that grows worse over time. Most women who are murdered are murdered by significant others. This IS a matter of life and death. —MR

The prevalence of domestic violence is staggering. It’s time to bring it out of the shadows

By Moira Donegan, The US Guardian, February 5, 2021

The issue remains deeply misunderstood, shrouded in shame and judgment of the victims, enabled by excuse-making for the perpetrators.

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February 5th, 2021 | Permalink

Break on through to the other side

Below is a list of things to do during a lockdown from Great Britain. It also works as a list of things to do if you have decided to kick an addiction to alcohol, cigarettes or cannabis. One of the reasons addictions are hard to kick is because they are not only biological, but behavioral illnesses, i.e. really bad habits. Smoking a cigarette or having a beer everyday after work is a behavior that must be replaced with some other activity if you are going to achieve mental, emotional and physical wellbeing in your life. If nothing on this list interests you, create your own to replace the one that is hurting you, your family and your friends.—MR

Lockdown cabin fever? 56 tried, tested and terrific ways to beat the boredom

Shaun Ryder keeps chickens, while Mel Giedroyc organizes chutney tastings. These small, affordable suggestions won’t end lockdown misery – but they might help.

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January 27th, 2021 | Permalink

Put on a happy face

This is real tricky stuff. If you have a friend, coworker or relative who is chronically unhappy it can really bring you down. True, this helps the down person feel better as she spreads around the weight in her bad-feelings backpack, but what about you? It can bum you out and ultimately ruin your mental and physical health. One way to handle this situation is to let your friend know you think a counselor may help, because counselors know how to deal with sad vibes and you don’t. Inviting the person for a walk in fresh air is another angle. If she won’t go, go yourself. Maybe next time she will and if she does, she WILL feel better from the uptake of endorphins. At least you’ll feel better and that may rub off on her.—MR

The five: emotional contagion

by Ian Tucker, The Guardian US, January 24, 2021

The idea that emotions can spread from one person to another seems to be taking hold in the psychological world. Studies have apparently found that women are more vulnerable to emotional contagion than men.

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January 24th, 2021 | Permalink

Who’s in charge of your thoughts?

You aren’t crazy. It’s normal to have a voice or three in your head. Since human beings are children longer than most mammals, to keep us safe we evolved a way to always have Mommy and Daddy with us when they are out of sight. Their voices get stuck in our heads, i.e. “parental introjects” in psychological terms. It may sound like your voice, but it’s not. “Look both ways before you cross the street,” exhorts Mom. “You should be ashamed of yourself,” says Dad. It’s not god. It’s not the truth. It’s your parents. Now that you are an adult taking care of yourself, it’s time to decide whether their advice is something you wish to keep or something to which to say, “Thanks for sharing. Now beat it.”—MR

Silence your inner critic: a guide to self-compassion in the toughest times

By Elle Hunt, The Guardian US, January 6, 2021

Is your internal monologue friendly, calm and encouraging – or critical and bullying? Here is how to change it for the better.

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January 6th, 2021 | Permalink

What do you want to do?

One of the most effective ways to find happiness is to find your unique niche. For Ms. Thunberg, it’s working tirelessly to combat climate change. For my best friend, it’s sewing patchwork coats from recycled material. For another friend, it’s volunteering to help developmentally-disabled children have an experience riding ponies. For another, it’s walking her three poodles everyday in a beautiful place. One patient decided to become expert at harvesting and cooking wild-growing food. A 75-year-old neighbor gives private Spanish classes and vows never to retire! Since we are social animals, the trick is to help others by being who YOU are. First you differentiate, then you connect. You grow more satisfied with life and have more solid self esteem. Working with a counselor can help you figure out who you are and what would make you feel whole. It’s called “having a purpose in life.”—MR

Greta Thunberg at 18: “I’m not telling anyone what to do”

By Haroon Siddique, The Guardian US, January 3, 2021

Greta Thunberg says she has stopped buying new clothes but does not sit in judgment on others whose lifestyle choices are less environmentally friendly than her own, in an interview to mark her 18th birthday. Thunberg, whose solo school strike in 2018 snowballed into a global youth movement stopped flying several years ago, traveling instead by boat. She is vegan and said she had stopped consuming “things.”

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January 3rd, 2021 | Permalink

Stick it!

Get a sturdy walking stick and stick that step counter in a drawer. It doesn’t measure how long your heart rate is up or the benefit of being outside breathing fresh air. There is NOTHING you can do, no medicine better for your mental health than taking a walk for at least 20 minutes at least three times a week. Think bodymind. If your body feels better, your mind feels better and vice versa. The longer the walk and the more times per week, the better you will feel! A counselor cannot do this for you. You are the one who will decide to take the first step toward good health and inner peace. Step counters are a gadget someone sold to make money. Walking is nature’s free remedy. You can begin to walk toward good mental and physical health today!—MR

How 2020 became the year of the walker

by Alan Franks, The Guardian US, December 18, 2020

First we could only go out for an hour a day, so relished that escape. As the year wore on, walking came to represent life, liberty and health, both physical and mental.

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December 28th, 2020 | Permalink

Need some good advice?

Growing old ain’t for sissies,” actress Bette Davis famously quipped in her eighties. Aches and pains, forgetting names, being ignored by your family members are things that are hard to suffer. A scientific fact many don’t know is that the human brain moves into its final developmental stage around 60. Neurologically, while the brain has become smaller, it becomes more integrated. The myriad brain parts become more and more connected via neural pathways over a lifetime—the neurological hallmark of wisdom. Nature intended the grandmothers to care for children and guide the tribe. While, due to isolation, early retirement and poor lifestyle habits (sugary diet, little exercise, drugs and alcohol) some modern elders have succumbed to dementia, many elders are wiser and more compassionate just as nature intended. We are here to give open-hearted caring and good advice. All you have to do is ask.—MR

The age of wisdom: why our elders were the best of us in 2020

By Andrew Anthony, The Guardian US Edition, December 20, 2020

Among the many effects of the pandemic is the attention that has been given to senior citizens, who have been disproportionately affected by death and illness from Covid-19. Broadly speaking, the focus has revealed two opposing impulses: to protect and to abandon. But neither reaction necessarily involves respect for the older population.

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December 20th, 2020 | Permalink

Write for your life!

Natalie Goldberg, famous author and writing teacher, once said, “Keep writing. You are swimming across a deep blue lake with a soul of your own making.” Writing is certainly not for everyone but, for those inclined a life long habit of journaling, keeping a diary, blogging, writing poetry or prose or even emails to friends, it can be profoundly therapeutic. Writing helps connect the two hemispheres of the brain by metabolizing emotion, i.e. bringing your feelings into the light of day (right hemisphere) and dealing with them on paper through written expression (left hemisphere). Kind of like a therapy session with yourself, but you end up with a beautiful work of art—one called a poem and one called you!—MR

How writing saved my life – twice

by Chris Whitaker, The Guardian US Edition, December 11, 2020

I’ve always struggled with the concept of asking for help. To me it seems like acknowledging a failure, raising a hand and declaring myself inadequate. Mental health is in the news every day; in theory it’s never been more acceptable to talk about it, yet I still feel nervous as I write this. On the surface I am eternally positive. I’m someone who likes making people laugh. I joke around a lot. That’s the me I like people to see, and to remember. But I also have the ability to self-destruct in spectacular style.

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December 13th, 2020 | Permalink

Think systems

There are almost eight billion people alive today. Plus trillions of other plants and animals. Together, we constitute only one percent of life on the planet, the rest of which are microbial. Together, we all are one system out of which subsystems of consciousness emerge. So sit back, relax and enjoy the show. We’ll never be in control of anything, but an individual can learn to regulate its emotional reaction to what emerges out of “the system.” That’s how a counseling can help. Contentment is a state of mind.—MR

A Brief History Of “The System”

by Jackson Arn, 3Quarks Daily, October 19, 2020

Slurs have a way of mellowing into labels. History is full of Yankees and Cockneys, Methodists and Jesuits, Whigs and Tories, who steal a term of abuse and apply it to themselves as an act of sardonic revenge. Sometimes the tactic works too well, and people forget that the word was ever tainted. And sometimes the definition changes so many times people lose count, and the word is left to drag a muddle of meanings behind it.

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December 11th, 2020 | Permalink

Grow good mental health

Any living thing that is not growing is dying. One way to grow your mind, heart and soul is to learn to grow a garden–a natural healthy thing for a human being to do. Community gardens, called allotments in the UK, are a great way to be able to get outdoors in the fresh air, have fresh organic vegetables for your table and connect with others while maintaining social distance. It’s win–win–win–win!—MR

It’s official: allotments are good for you – and for your mental health

Tending your own patch boosts wellbeing and connects you with others, study finds. Jen Anderson managed to grow five “small but tasty” melons in Glasgow this summer, and she is not alone in finding her allotment a godsend during the pandemic. For the four years she has owned it, she says, it has “absolutely 100%” made her happier.

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November 12th, 2020 | Permalink

Silent night

Good sleep is one of the four foundations of good mental health. Along with sufficient oxygen, water and exercise you can ensure a restful night’s sleep and your depression or anxiety will likely abate. Adding white noise is just noisy and keeps you from truly relaxing to obtain the deep rest your brain needs and the dreams your mind requires. I recommend using ear plugs when there is ANY noise in the sleep environment to not risk a poor night’s sleep. They may seem uncomfortable at first, but you’ll get used to them. A separate bedroom may be necessary if you have a snoring spouse. Don’t worry! You can see your honey in the morning. Sleeping in separate rooms has been shown to improve relationships too!—MR

White noise as sleep aid may do more harm than good

Whether it is nature sounds, the whine of a hairdryer or the incessant hum of a ceiling fan, white noise apps have been downloaded by millions of people around the world in the hope of getting a better night’s sleep. However, research suggests there is no good evidence that they work, and may even be making things worse.

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October 18th, 2020 | Permalink

Drink up!

You can still hang out with alcohol-drinking friends, enjoy yourself and enhance your mental and physical health by not using alcohol with these cool drinks!—MR

Good Drinks: non-alcoholic cocktails get their moment on the craft scene

By Stephanie Gravalese, The Guardian US Edition, October 5, 2020

Julia Bainbridge was very thoughtful when selecting the title of her upcoming book, Good Drinks: Alcohol-Free Recipes for When You’re Not Drinking for Whatever Reason. Cocktails without alcohol go by many names – mocktails, zero-proof or spirit-free drinks – and stakeholders are unable to agree on a name for the category. Bainbridge, a former Bon Appétit editor, simply wanted for her book to be a resource to anyone interested in the topic while shining a light on a category neglected in the craft cocktail scene.

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October 6th, 2020 | Permalink

Challenge yourself

Sober October is a great way to determine if you are an alcoholic or just a habitual drinker. Alcohol stays in your system for four days, so if on the fourth or fifth day you find yourself reaching for a glass or bottle, look squarely in the mirror and say, “Hi. My name is (your name here) and I am an alcoholic.”—MR

Sober October: 17 ways to unwind after a stressful day – without hitting the booze

By Tim Dowling, The Guardian US Edition, September 30, 2020

Thousands of people will attempt to give up alcohol next month and for many it will be the hour after work that ruins their plans. Here’s how to relax without reaching for alcohol.

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September 30th, 2020 | Permalink

Ocean of emotion

Emotion is the body’s reaction to stress in the environment that gets its person to do something. I think of it as an ocean that sometimes is calm, sometimes stormy, and sometimes has big swells. Sometimes the tide is in, sometimes out. If I’m standing on the beach and a big wave is about to crash, if I rigidly try to push it away, I might get smooshed. If I move toward it and dive into it, I’ll feel it move past. I’ll come out on the other side in calmer water. It’s all about learning to swim. Below is a link to a book review about a new way of looking at emotion that talks about cultural and familial interpretations of them. In your family, does a heightened stress response mean “Smoke some pot and ignore it?” or “Blow up and scream at the kid for having a different point of view?” Or does it mean “here’s a communication challenge to be worked out so we can move forward with love?” Or something else altogether? Good question to explore!—MR

‘I’m extremely controversial’: the psychologist rethinking human emotion

How we interpret our feelings depends on where and how we’re brought up, says professor Lisa Feldman Barrett. Not understanding this is making our lives harder.

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September 27th, 2020 | Permalink

Relational healing

Attaining mental health is rarely achieved by ingesting a pharmaceutical to “rebalance imbalanced brain chemistry.” A balanced contented mind is created over time by reshaping the system of your being into a healthy wholeness—one that sleeps more easily and awakens smiling in the morning. To do that requires making healthier lifestyle choices. For example, by adding exercise or refusing addictive substances like cannabis or alcohol, you’ll feel better. By looking at your thoughts and rejecting voices that echo untruths such as, “You’re not good enough,” you’ll feel better. Cherish your psyche by attending church, symphony concerts or art museums that inspire you, and you’ll feel better. By taking up photography, poetry or gardening, or whatever soothes your soul, you’ll feel better. But most importantly, feeling better requires healing relationships. Getting to know and love yourself, your family, your neighborhood or Nature will definitely make you feel better. Because we are social mammals, healing oneself means healing ones relationships. Granted, this takes time and attention, but what else better to do with your one sweet life?—MR

Bringing beaches back to life: the First Nations restoring ancient clam gardens

By Adrienne Matel, The Guardian US Edition,

In the Pacific Northwest, local people work the shoreline, creating conditions for useful species to thrive.

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September 23rd, 2020 | Permalink

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