Friday, November 11th, 2011

In The Beginning…

In every phenomenon the beginning remains always the most notable moment.Thomas Carlyle•

One thing I’ve learned, through both painful and positive experience, is that the successful flourishing of any project, product, event… or person, is seeded right at the beginning. Imagine setting off in a boat with the intention of sailing to a distant island, but having miscalculated your route by even just a tiny degree: everything will seem fine and dandy for awhile, maybe even for days. But as those tiny degrees of misdirection exponentially add up over many miles, you will at some point realize you are ending up far from where you wanted to be.

A mantra from chaos theory goes, “Sensitive dependence on initial conditions.”

This applies whenever something new is brought into being: cookies, crops, houses, stories, songs, sweaters, people. Read the rest of this entry »

Monday, August 13th, 2018

Crisis Pregnancy Is Age-Old: Adoption’s Beginnings

 

Adoption Insight by Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

I published two Adoption Insight booklets exactly twenty years ago, and how happy I would be if the contents of those booklets had become obsolete in that time. Oh how I wish they were relics of an outdated, reformed adoption system. Alas, that isn’t the case. Women facing crisis pregnancy is a situation as old as human history.

Volume III of Adoption Insight was going to be titled, Nurturing This Untimely Miracle ~ Insights for the Mother with a Crisis Pregnancy. It was going to dispel common myths, like the misguided one that says,  if you are planning or even considering adoption for your baby, it is your “job” to begin the process of detaching now, while you’re pregnant… that it will make it easier to separate when the time comes. Read the rest of this entry »

Thursday, July 26th, 2018

It Matters to Adoptees How We Got Here!

Adoption Insight by Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

I had a great run of success in the 90s getting Letters to the Editor about adoption published: Harper’s Bazaar and Time magazine and USA Today, Los Angeles Times and various smaller regional newspapers. (Newspapers—how quaint!)

I came to hold that particular genre in high regard. I dubbed it “micro-journalism”: a way for readers to get small but potent doses of new awareness about important issues like adoption. Mind you, this was in the 90s, long before the epidemic shrinking of attention span that plagues us writers in today’s impatient, “just-give-me-a-listicle” era. Read the rest of this entry »

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

The Primal Wound: Separation Trauma IS Trauma…At Any Age

Adoption Insight by Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

As a society we are rightly outraged by the separation of immigrant parents and children. That these children will suffer emotional wounds due to this separation, amidst such chaotic circumstances, is collectively, instinctively assumed. But where is the outrage—or even a drip of compassion—over the separation of mothers and babies in the case of adoption?

This glaring double standard regarding separation trauma was one of the forces that impelled Nancy Verrier to begin writing about this elephant in the room. You see, by the 1980s it was increasingly accepted by many progressive doctors and theorists that separation of mother and newborn was best avoided in general. But there was a cultural blind spot when it came to adoption!

[In case you’re new to this Adoption Insight 25th Anniversary situation, all year I’m reissuing my trove of adoption articles I wrote in the 90s. Usually I include a brief introduction and/or a bit of never-before-shared behind-the-scenes scoop on how it came to be. Today’s introduction is an article in itself… but you will in fact come to the original article below, “In Appreciation of The Primal Wound.”]

Honesty in adoption—the last American taboo?

Read the rest of this entry »

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

The Reunion with my Birthmother

 

Adoption Insight by Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for PeaceThis article was published in the adoption magazine Roots & Wings in 1993 about my adoption reunion with my birthmother. (I know, “adoption reunion” is an oddly over-descriptive term to use in an article in an adoption series. Blame the tyranny of SEO!)

In the spirit of truth and authenticity, I’m reissuing this cache of 90s articles as I wrote them them, with minimal changes. If there’s some embarrassing punctuation or a cringingly awful mistake, I will make those corrections. If there is a glaringly obsolete reference or fact, I will either update it or clarify it [with a bracketed comment like this.] And I may bend a wee bit to the aforementioned tyranny of SEO, so that as many people will find this article online as possible.

Hmm, what “inside scoop” can I give you on this one? Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

Adoption Slogans or Honest Talk About Adoption?

Adoption Insight by Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

Of all the articles I wrote about adoption, this remained one of my favorites. In a short piece it touches upon many essentials related to adoption’s psychological issues. It was published in the California Association of Social Workers quarterly publication.

The impetus for this piece was a cover article in the L.A. Times Sunday Magazine about hopeful prospective parents’ experiences with (then far less advanced) reproductive technologies—some successful, some not. An adoptive father (that is, someone for whom reproductive technologies were unsuccessful) was quoted as saying that he had wanted to try absolutely everything they could before adopting… and once they had done that, then he was willing to adopt.

The implication came through loud and clear: for him, as for a vast majority of parents, adoption is <gasp> second choice. On the one hand, I found it sort of refreshing that he was so honest. On the other, I thought of the perky adoption slogans that I grew up with and in my characteristic (mostly private) black humor I thought, “I wonder if that’s what he’ll tell his adopted child: We did everything else possible before we agreed to adopt you.

Of course it was a rhetorical question. But there was something there to explore and share.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

Adoption Issues & Me: It Began 25 Years Ago

Adoption Insight by Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

Adoption is cool again. Talking about adoption, I mean. Adoption issues. And writing about adoption issues. Speaking the truth about adoption. So in this, the 25th anniversary of my baptism into the world of adoption reform, I’m circling back to do it again in this new century.

The most interesting part of it now, at least for me, about revisiting and reissuing my articles? It’s that I bring (what’s called in the research world) a longitudinal perspective to the adoption issues I once wrote about so prolifically. In English, that means simply due to the fact that I’ve continued to live with and navigate adoption issues over the years since first plumbing them in my writing and speaking, I have gained a perspective that only comes with the passage of time and living life with abiding curiosity (plus intermittent bouts of therapy, natch). Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

Wired Wednesdays: Protecting Children from Device Addiction

Digital-Dependence-Parenting-for-Peace

Adoption Insight by Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for PeaceOf the many aspects of our digital dependence I’ve been writing about for over a year now, the most troubling by far is device addiction. The entire online machinery is designed to foster device addiction in us, and–more troubling–in our children, whose developing neural landscapes are more vulnerable to being fundamentally shaped by engineered device addiction.

If you’ve been following Wired Wednesdays, you already know this. But for folks who haven’t been looped in with me on that, I’ve put together a sort of Cliffs Notes blog post that pulls together threads from several installments over the past year.

I wrote it for New Earth Nation, where I’m on faculty in the School of Health & Wellness at their university. Ryan, the cool millennial who maintains the blog, included this message after he published it: “Yet another truth bomb from Dr. Marcy Axness! This one really caused me to look at my own device use and I’m already seeing a difference in my usage and self awareness around this. 🙂 Thank you so much.”

If you’re looking for a quick, to-the-point read to print out and share with friends, family, teachers, etc. on the topic of children and device addiction, here you go!

Protecting Children from Device Addiction

 

Whether you’re curious, captivated or concerned about our digital dependence and device devotion, join me on (most) Wednesdays so we can explore it together. (Sign up here if you want to be sure not to miss anything!) ….. …..

Stay in the Wired Wednesdays Loop:

I’ll Notify You About New Posts

Mom & daughter photo by London Scout on Unsplash

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

Wired Wednesdays: Curses, My Phone Won’t Wink

Digital-Dependence-Parenting-for-Peace

My ex-husband*, our two grown kids and I recently switched from AT&T to Verizon for our cell service. [*A marriage may end, but a family cellular plan goes on!] In the process I got a new free LG smartphone.

As I was familiarizing myself with my new phone—blessedly similar to my former Android—I was bummed to discover that it doesn’t have a notification light. You know, that little blinker that alerts you that you have notifications? Even from across the room?

I couldn’t believe it. I went online to read reviews of my smartphone, and sure enough, I saw that this was other folks’ main (and mostly only) complaint about this phone: no notification light.

Well, it only took a day or so for me to realize I was relieved to have suffered this kind of personal tech “regression.” My device would no longer be winking and blinking at me, beckoning me to “Pick me up, light me up. Press my buttons. Let me manipulate your brain chemicals!”

And as timing would have it, I stumbled upon this article that same week.

Wired Wednesdays | Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

Huzzah! Now I had expert corroboration that my missing blinking smartphone light is a GOOD thing:

Endocrinologist Robert Lustig tells Business Insider that notifications from our phones are training our brains to be in a nearly constant state of stress and fear by establishing a stress-fear memory pathway.

As someone who wrestles with lifelong PTSD from childhood trauma, I don’t need any extra stress-fear pathways! Or, anything to make me jumpy or jittery:

Brand new research on dozens of smartphone users in Switzerland also suggests that staring at our screens could be making both our brains and our fingers more jittery.

And I always love reading about research findings that surprise scientists, like this:

In research published this month, psychologists and computer scientists have found an unusual and potentially troubling connection: the more tapping, clicking and social media posting and scrolling people do, the “noisier” their brain signals become. That finding took the researchers by surprise. Usually, when we do something more often, we get better, faster and more efficient at the task.

If you’re curious—and be curious, be very curious—read on.

Business Insider: This is what your smartphone
is doing to your brain…and it isn’t good

Whether you’re curious, captivated or concerned about our digital dependence and device devotion, join me on (most) Wednesdays so we can explore it together. (Sign up here if you want to be sure not to miss anything!) ….. …..

Stay in the Wired Wednesdays Loop:

I’ll Notify You About New Posts

Monday, March 19th, 2018

The Missing Vagina Monologue: Own Your Super-Power!

The Missing Vagina Monologue | Marcy Axness, PhDI’ve been burying the lead, as they say, for some months now: I have joined the faculty of New Earth University, an international community that brings together creative curriculum, conscious collaboration and meaningful resources into a gorgeous, paradigm-shifting learning model.

This development really deserves its own post, and life has simply been too busy to attend to that. For now I’ll just share my latest blog at NEU–a deeply personal reflection on my disappointment 16 years ago upon seeing The Vagina Monologues, and my opportunity, finally, to put it in writing and perform it as a “Spotlight” monologue during our community’s recent V-Day run of performances. (We closed just last night!)

My thoughts clearly plucked a chord within many women in our audiences, as you can see in these Facebook comments. Their desire to pass it on to future generations is the best praise I could ever hope for! Here it is, for you:

Claiming Our Super-Power

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

Master of Your iDomain: Who Controls Your Attention?

Wired Wednesdays | Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace At the end of each issue of my favorite weekly news digest The Week is a 2-page section called “The last word.” It features a substantive (polite word for “long”) piece of extraordinary writing. In the final issue of last year they ran this article on digital life and attention by Craig Mod, a must-read for folks mindful enough to wonder about the effects digital dependence has on something as intangible as your attention.

Neuroplasticity (the ability–nay, propensity–of our brains to change in response to experience) has been one of the most exciting scientific revelations of the past generation. It is what allows for some of our most inspiring human capacities, like emotional healing and personal reinvention.

And now, neuroplasticity is leveraged by digital engineers to guide your handheld device behavior by manipulating your neurochemistry. Think I’m being dramatic or leaning on hyperbole? Check out “Brain Hacking: Hijacking You From the Inside” featuring Anderson Cooper’s sobering 60 Minutes segment. (And if you tend toward conspiracy thinking, you might want to skip Mod’s section discussing his awareness of cunningly shifting algorithms during his Clash of Clans experience. Omg.)

I offer you this beautifully expressed article (originally from BackChannel/Wired) as a New Year’s gift — a palette-cleanser after a rough past year, and some inspiration (if even just vicarious) toward reclaiming sovereignty over something we’ve always taken for granted,  something unspeakably valuable: our attention.

How I Got My Attention Back

Read the rest of this entry »