This past week alone, I have been asked by 3 different people..... IF and or HOW my research on the brain relates to addiction. When I have something occur multiple times within a short span, I always feel like it is the Universe speaking to me. This topic hits very close to home with me personally, and I would dare to say that almost everyone I know has at least 1 friend or family member who is affected by addiction.
Photo by Kimberlea Bass.... celebration of "Letting Go"
So.... I started with what I have learned about neuronal patterns and Brain LOOPS, and began digging further into scientific studies on how these loops are related to addictions. Addictions work in the brain in much the same manner whether it is drugs, pornography, eating, gambling, shopping, sex, or alcohol. They are all habitual patterns running circuitry in the brain which create both chemical and electrical signals. These brain signals or (synapses) as they are referred to by neuroscience, create connections AND any connection repeated over time builds a pathway in your mind that forms a brain HABIT. Some of these habits, as with drugs like heroine, create such a strong chemical signal in the brain that they block off the parts of the brain that are needed to make rational decisions and use one's best judgment. These signals in the brain alter the chemical makeup which creates an addiction.
Think of your BRAIN CONNECTIONS like a road through a pasture.
Your brain has approximately 100 BILLION neurons.... yes BILLION
and it is making connections with EVERY SINGLE THOUGHT you have.
So, the thoughts that are repeated, particularly those of addiction, create pathways
(like a road) in your brain. Once that pathway is created and used several times,
the brain automatically uses it rather than looking for a new one.
Repeated THOUGHTS create repeated PATHWAYS!
This is incredibly important for people with addictions, even in cases of less harmful addictions like complaining, habitual anger, or even procrastination.
The INSTANT your brain starts its LOOP whether it's...
( I just NEED a little drink to take the edge off, or I just NEED to watch one more porn video so I won't cheat on my wife, or even I just NEED one more pair of shoes
and then I won't buy any more)...
from that point forward, your brain goes into AUTO-drive
releasing the chemical/electrical synaptic signals it already knows
so it can complete its LOOP without you having to do another thing.
The brain works on a basis of efficiency
and it's following previously connected patterns any time they are available.
This is why habits are so hard to break!
So sorry I did not get a BLOG post out today. I have been in bed sick the last couple of days. I will post as soon as I get up and moving around again.
Bliss and Blessings,
Gratitude Project: Day 10
There's no bed quite like your own bed. When I was a little girl I used to hear people say "It's always nice to go, but it's always better to get back home." I never really understood what that meant, or how in the world they could be glad to be coming back to BORING ole' home.... but now I do!
Today I am grateful for my own comfy bed.
1. Last night I slept like I was floating in a bowl of pudding. I snuggled into my sleep # hole and never moved a muscle. Man.... I forgot how much I love my side of the bed, with my (barely a pillow) pillow, and my loud fan.
2. I had my favorite fuzzy covers that I can curl up in because my feet are ALWAYS cold. No matter where I seem to travel, my feet never feel the same without that layer of special fuzzy blanket.
3. A little white dog was snuggled in his little blue bed right next to mine, and my precious little 10 year old boy was in the room down the hall...... and now I know exactly what those people meant by "It's always good to get back home." All is right in my world and today I cherished a random MONDAY in a whole new way.
Today was the end of my 10 day photo-gratitude journey and I must say, I feel like I looked harder to see the joy of GRATITUDE knowing I was going to photograph and post it. Maybe there is a way after all to use social media to do ourselves some good in this world. For someone who has focused for the last 2 years on virtually nothing but gratitude.... I saw it in a whole new light these 10 days. I saw it as an extension to a feeling and genuine way of life. I truly believe I understand like never before... SEEK AND YOU WILL FIND...
Gratitude Project: Day 9
There's no place like home..... but unpacking all the stuff you brought home from vacation is NOT one of my favorite things. As, I caught myself falling into the DREAD of an approaching Monday, the final moments of spring break, and the end of our anniversary vacation- I had to stop and take a minute (actually several) to remember that there is still so much I have to be grateful for... even on a Smonday (the realization on Sunday that Monday is coming).
Today I am grateful for my OWN home, and the new treasures I added to my LIVINGroom.
1. I do genuinely love my house. Each time I walk in our home, I see myself and all the quirky, artsy stuff I treasure, in every single room.
2. We hung the new cowhide from Santa Fe on a big wall in the living room, and I am so excited that each time I see it I will get to relive the incredible week we spent on our 1st anniversary vacation.
3. I love the colors in the Navajo blanket that sits in my chair (I bought many years ago at a garage sale for 20$). It is the most comfy glider in the world, and the one I rocked my precious boy in and the one I sat in as I made myself a promise to rebuild my life.
SO.... tonight as I am getting ready for bed, I had to stop and alter my thinking from one of DREAD and Smonday frustration.... to that of a home that's filled with the people and things I cherish!
Gratitude Project: Day 8
After a week of anniversary vacation fun, we stopped on the way home to reminisce about where it began just 1 year ago.... in a 125 year old little church on the side of the road. Last March we were walking into this chapel with our families and friends full of excitement and anticipation to start a new life together in our 50's; and today we sat on those same steps realizing God's enormous puzzle that put our pieces together.
Today I am grateful for a little white church on the side of the road.
1. I am still in love with the beaten and battered allure of this 125 year old church on the side of the road in Thurbur, Texas. It reminds me of the truth in our human existence. We too carry life's battle scars and bruises to our structure, BUT.... underneath the brokenness is a charm that's glowing with the lessons only time can teach.
2. This precious little church was an almost exact halfway point between where we first met, and where we met again after 35 years. It was like some magical symbolism representing the merging of old and new.
3. St. Barbara's Church is everything I love in an old building. I get a giddy glow at the thought of exploring an old structure. I get chill bumps as I touch every doorknob, and feel the wood on the aged walls. I adore the creak of weathered floors and the views through broken windows. My creativity runs wild as I imagine the stories these walls may hold; and I smile and soak in the moment. St. Barbara's Church now holds a new precious love story within its walls... and this one is ours!
Gratitude Project: Day 7
We spent ALL day (in the car) driving back from Santa Fe; and as we were leaving I stood in the street to stop and take one last picture of this building. Never before has it really dawned on me to such an immense degree as to how "NORMAL" is so very different for people in the world. While I stood there taking this photo, a local woman turned around to see what I was photographing. She looked at me, shook her head, gave a little chuckle, then crossed the street and kept walking. To me this was spectacular architecture I don't see in Fort Worth, but to the people who live in New Mexico... this is their normal.
Today I am grateful for SEEING someone else's NORMAL with eyes of amazement.
1. The beautiful red adobe building resting underneath the brilliant blue skies of Santa Fe was the very essence of God's color wheel in action. I was thankful for the eyes that allowed me to see this and so very grateful that the Creator chose to give us hues beyond mere black and white. STOP today and realize ALL color is a gift NOT required but GIVEN for us to appreciate.
2. Viewing the world with awe gives you a fresh perspective to the one-and-only life you have been given. It's so easy to get in a rut of just " going through the motions" of daily life and forgetting someone out there is looking at your NORMAL with the eyes of WOW.... how great would it be if we could do that too.
3. While we drove out of this beautiful town, I was so thankful for the ability to take a week's Anniversary Vacation with someone who loves me. Being away from chores, yard work, jobs, animals, dishes, dinner, and most technology gave us a chance to appreciate the person we chose to walk these steps of "LIFE" with.
Gratitude Project: Day 6
Tonight we had our BIG Anniversary celebration dinner at Santa Fe's world famous Geronimo Restaurant..... and as we sat in our candle-light corner booth, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of thankfulness for every moment in our lives (even the bad) because they led us to THIS MOMENT!
Today I am grateful for a Champagne toast with my husband.
1. We were given a special table because I actually did something in advance for once, and called ahead and made reservations to tell them we were celebrating our anniversary.
2. We reminisced about all the beautiful memories of our 1st year and discussed the big dreams that lay ahead for our 2nd.
3. We ate the most incredible meal (mushroom bisque, jalapeño cheese bread, elk steak and salmon, smothered Santa Fe potatoes, German chocolate loaf and vanilla creme brûlée) and felt truly blessed to be not only in this amazing restaurant, but also in the presence of someone we trust with our future.
Gratitude Project: Day 5
Today was an afternoon filled with churches and chimes. My husband and I spent the day going through old missions and cathedrals. It was such a moving experience to see not only the genuine beauty of each one, but also the genuine sense of Spirit within the walls of these incredible places. My favorite one was The Loretto Chapel.
If you ever get a chance to see it, you won't be disappointed!
Today I am Grateful for the opportunity to see The Loretto Chapel.
1. I got to see the spiral staircase with my engineer husband who stood and stared at it for a long time (as all the engineers who look at it have) realizing that it defies all engineering logic. It has no center support or outside support. YET.... it has been standing since 1887.
2. I listened to the story of how the nuns prayed for a way to get into the choir loft since the former architect died, when a stranger appeared at the church and told the nuns he would build the staircase. He locked himself inside for several months and WOW... this is what he created. Then, as quickly as he came... he disappeared, never receiving a dime, or the nuns even knowing his name.
3. I witnessed people from all over the world kneeling and praying in this chapel today and saw several tears rolling down gentle faces. I felt like (because I was taking the time to notice) I recognized everyone in that chapel was in the presence of a true MIRACLE, one the world has yet to explain.
Gratitude Project: Day 4
Another day of finding a zillion things to be grateful for. I took at least 30 pictures and had the best time walking the studio streets of Santa Fe taking "gratitude project" pictures.... BUT, todays winner was a special find by my amazing husband Butch Motley!
Today I am Grateful for my one-of-a kind Turquoise Ring.
1. Butch found it, (and I totally missed it) sitting in an old locked case in the corner of one of the galleries we went in today.
2. He knew I'd like it because I LOVE LOVE LOVE most anything Turquoise and I tried it on and it fit perfectly.... NO SIZING required, so..... he offered to buy it for me as my Anniversary gift.
3. Turns out it was a custom made, one-of-a-kind piece, that a woman was selling on consignment because she was down sizing and moving to California. Yippie for her and a double, super, duper, yippie for me!!!
Gratitude Project: Day 3
What a fun filled 1st Anniversary Day at a Santa Fe (side of the road) Flea-Market in the snow.
Today I am Grateful for finding the perfect Cowhide for my house.
1. I have been looking for a the right cowhide for almost 2 years. Waiting to get one that had the colors I liked, the texture I wanted, and was just the right size.....
and today I FOUND IT!
2. We were so grateful to have had almost the entire "Flea-Market" to ourselves because of the snow and cold winds..... so we definitely got the BEST possible price and one-on-one customer service.
3. This rug reminds me of the cows I used to watch out in our pasture as a girl. I know its sounds a little crazy, but one of my favorite things in all the world is to see cows grazing in a pasture. It always reminds me of home. And now I can have that feeling right in my living room!
Gratitude Project: Day 2
OMG... I can not even tell you how many things I took pictures of today knowing that I was going to write about one of them.
I can tell you first hand that it definitely created MORE GRATITUDE in my DAY!
The scripture "Seek and Ye Shall Find" brought on a whole new meaning today. I was seeking things to be grateful for and finding them EVERYWHERE.
Today I am Grateful for my West Texas roots. Tomorrow is our 1 year anniversary and we left this morning to drive to Santa Fe, New Mexico for our 1 year Honeymoonaversary. As we were passing through the Caprock near Post, Texas I felt an overwhelming smile creep over my face.
1. When I was a little girl, my brother and I would go spend some long weekends with my Granny & Grandad in Levelland, Tx, and we always met at my grandparents at the Post rest-stop. I loved the feeling of seeing Granny waving at us all the way until we parked.
2. I was thankful for ugly "tumbleweeds" and the many childhood memories I have running from them calling them "Sticker Monsters".
3. And my favorite memory of ALL... is the story my mom would always tell us about this exact little mountain (hill) as we drove past EVERY single time saying "Do you see me up there at the very top riding my horse in the wind with my ponytail blowing in the back behind me?" haha and we would always stop and giggle knowing she never had a horse or a ponytail.
So.... next time I feel frustrated at the dirt blowing and the wind messing up my hair... I will remember that being a country girl from West Texas has given me roots strong enough to forever ground my tree!
Gratitude Project: Day 1
Today I am Grateful for my dirty, white dog- Buzzer. Though he sometimes gets on my nerves because he is NOT the most well behaved little friend....
1. He loves me like no other pet I have ever had.
2. He is ALWAYS happy to see me, and nearly jumps his furry feet off trying to greet me when I get home. (even if I've only been gone 10 minutes)
3. He wants to be near me at all times of the day just to show me his loyalty and love... NOW who could ask for more.
So... The next time I get annoyed at his wanting to sit in my lap and scratching my legs so I wil pet him... I need to remember this moment; and look into that dirty little face and those BIG BROWN eyes and know that I am unconditionally loved!
With my GRADUATION only 64 days away and my son's WEDDING only 73 days away, I have been so caught up in the MILLION things that have "got to be done" ... that I forgot to stop and enjoy the process! Never again will I have these moments to "GET TO" help plan his WEDDING, and never again will I "GET TO" finish a degree that I pushed myself to go back to school at 50 to receive......
So.... I took a few moments this morning to just sit in my chair with my cup of coffee and look at this "frenzy to FINISH" list as something to cherish rather than something to panic over. Literally within minutes I was overwhelmed at how a change in perspective created a flood of things I have to hold dear
during these final days, instead of the pity party I was rounding up in my mind......
OMG.....This WAS what I'd spent the last 2 years researching,
and today I saw it more clearly than ever.
The Brain is a very powerful thing.....
and if you don't TALK to it, then it will always TALK TO YOU!
It's so easy to get caught up in the busy, frenzy, drama of life. Our brains are wired to focus on the negative to help protect us. BUT.... when you feel yourself being caught in the net of anxious thoughts... STOP them and
take a moment to change your perspective!
Anyone who had the privilege of knowing my Granny Rube, will smile today and know that she is grinning from ear to ear in Heaven too. After last week's LESS THAN LOVELY bombardment of YUCK.... this week has been an equal bombardment..... of WONDERFUL.
I could almost hear Granny saying...
I told you,
"This too shall pass!"
I am not sure why I remember her saying that particular phrase, but every time I hear it, I always think of her. Of all the people in the world I have ever known, my Granny Rube is without a doubt, the kindest, most genuinely giving human being I have ever known. She loved everyone, fed everyone, hugged everyone, and always made you feel like you were the most important person in the world to her. She LOVED like no one else, and smiled so big your heart would almost burst with JOY knowing that smile was directed at you.
Staci is a one-of-a-kind mix of JOY and Neuroscience who is teaching people all over the world to BUILD a BETTER BRAIN by using Gratitude to create a BRIGHTER future. She has a Master's Degree in Educational NEUROSCIENCE and 25 years of teaching experience where she developed a reputation for being able to uncover potential in others like no one else could. Let her teach you how to live a HAPPIER Life by using the neuroscience of GRATITUDE to rewire your brain and build a better future!