Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lit Review on the Brain

I go to bed thinking about the Lit Review . . .
and wake up thinking about the Lit Review . . .

Building "Heart"

"Another esoteric aspect of developing resiliency is referred to as 'building heart' or developing an 'indomitable fighting spirit.' 'Heart' creates a goal to live for and helps develop the conviction of one’s right to survive. 
The concept is a simple one. By encouraging individuals to 'go the extra mile,' a person can practice calling up emotional reserves until they trust that they have a stockpile of conviction and resiliency. 
Building 'heart' in individuals is a preventive public health strategy designed to inoculate against the potentially negative effects of stress and trauma. 'Heart' can be built in sports or other spiritual endeavors."
From:  Carl C. Bell, M.D., "Cultivating Resiliency in Youth" in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

When I read this, I think of Alan Iverson shouting, "Come to Philly!  Come to Philly!"  His team didn't win that year but, oh, did he impress me with the heart he put into that basketball.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dissertation Proposal Process

The dissertation proposal has many chapters, including:

1)  Introduction & Statement of the Problem
2)  Critical Review of the Literature
3)  Theoretical Framework
4)  Hypotheses & Research Questions
5)  Methodology
6)  Data Collection & Analysis
7)  Timeline

I am on my seventh iteration of the statement of problem (I decided to stop counting when I completely re-wrote it again last night).

The familiar inspiration process is re-occurring.  I, an avowed non-morning person, find myself rising at the ungodly hour of 5 or 6 am (on a weekend!) to write something that has occurred to me upon barely waking.   When I described these experiences to Dr. Crimmins, she referred to them as "downloads."  The metaphor resonates for me. Sometimes I go back to bed as soon as I have transcribed the download.

I have amassed hundreds of articles in probably the last five years or so.  So I have been diligently organizing and filing them in electronic folders (for each chapter of the proposal) and sub-folders (sub-categories in each chapter).  For instance, the Methods folder has the following sub-folders:  Community-Based Participatory Research, Mediators/Moderators, Outcome Studies, Measures, Qualitative Research, and so on.

As I do this, I come across articles that represent the nexus of three or more of the concepts that I am addressing in my proposal.  I put these in a separate folder called the "Smoking Gun" articles.  Sometimes I come across these articles when I am searching for other articles, purely by serendipity. ;)
Anyway, there are 50 articles in my smoking gun collection.  I have about a week to read these so I can write a draft of my lit review for Zeke's class due the following week.  I am taking notes on the abstracts of these 50 to prioritize them for reading and labeling them for chapter relevance and use.  I am about a third of the way done and came across theeeeee smoking gun article of all smoking gun articles.  It will serve as a template for what I am trying to do.  Thanks, Beardslee et al, for your scholarship! 

Logging the hours, doing the work, and I have never been happier.

Here are some cool quotes that introduce one of the articles in my pile:

Imagination is more important than knowledge.
Albert Einstein

Fools act on imagination without knowledge, pedants on knowledge without imagination.
Alfred North Whitehead

It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our heart, than to put on a cloak of non-violence to cover impotence.
M. K. Gandhi

One can only see what one observes, and one observes only things which are already in the mind.
Alphonse Bertillon

A Personal Account of Lessons About the Relationship Between Violent Hope, Hopeful Violence and the Development of Therapeutic Imagination: The Legacy of Bruno Bettelheim
Leslie A. Cleaver, L.C.S.W.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Almost There
Long Road Ahead

This is the Fun Part

A shift has occurred.
I have jumped over a broomstick.
I am in the midst of writing a dissertation proposal and publishable paper.
And the universe is conspiring to help.
I have reached out to every professor, scholar and professional that has informed my thinking and they are reaching back.
I have a dream team of brilliant minds reading my work and offering feedback: Dr. Aurora Jackson, Dr. Sheryl Kataoka, Dr. Stuart Kirk, Dr. Hector Myers, Dr. Ken Wells, Dr. Deborah Glik, Dr. Karin Elliot Brown, Dr. Zeke Hasenfeld, Pia Escudero, LCSW, Reevah Simon, LCSW.
Thank you, Yesus - Thank you, Yesus - Thank you, Yesus.

Everything I read now is within my research interests - fascinating - and stimulating ideas.
It does get better.
Last year kicked my behind.
This year, I am having fun.

Today, I read the following and just have to share:

From Eamon, M.K. (2001). The Effects of Poverty on Children's Socioemotional Development:  An Ecological Systems Analysis.  Social Work, 46(3), 256-266:
". . . The relation between parenting practices and child behavior may be stronger in later childhood because of the cumulative and reciprocal influences between the parents and child over time...the association between the quality of parenting and externalizing behaviors was stronger for older children and adolescents compared with toddlers and preschoolers . . . Rothbaum and Weisz's analysis emphasizes the importance of parent-child interactions throughout childhood (p. 262)."

From the best chapter ever written!!! :  
CHAPTER 6:  Protective Factors and Individual Resilience by Theee Emmy E. Werner in J.P. Shonkoff & S.J. Meisels, eds., Handbook of early childhood interventions (2 ed.) (pp. 115-132):
"A lively debate has taken place over conceptual issues, centering on whether resilience is a state or trait, whether successful coping in the face of adversity is domain specific, and what the psychic costs are for at-risk children who manage to grow into competent, confident, and caring adults."
"...One can begin to discern a common core of individual dispositions and sources of support that contribute to resilience in individual development.  These protective buffers appear to transcend ethnic, social class, and geographic boundaries.  They also appear to make a more profound impact on the life course of children who grow up in adversity than do specific risk factors or stressful life events."
"The 'vulnerable, but invincible' 10-year-olds in the Kaui Longitudinal Study were neither unusually talented nor intellectually gifted.  They did, however, possess well-developed problem solving and communication skills that they put to good use.  Their teachers noted that they were not only sociable but also remarkably independent.  They were able to control their impulses and concentrate on their schoolwork, even if they grew up in homes marred by chronic discord, parental alcoholism, or psychosis.  Parental and self-reports indicated that these resilient children displayed a healthy androgyny in their interests and activities and engaged in hobbies that were not narrowly sex-typed.  Such activities gave them solace in adversity and provided them with a sense of mastery and pride.  This was especially true for the resilient children of parents with alcoholism."
Ahh, food of the gods.  Thank you, Emmy, and God bless you for your incredible scholarship.  Now go and tell someone about resilience.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Over the past two decades, an increasing number of studies have shown that family-centered interventions:
  • alter risky family processes
  • prevent youth problem behaviors
  • promote healthy youth behaviors 
(Coatsworth, 2006; Weist, 2009; Prinz, 2007).

Kemp (2009) notes that parent participation is a hallmark of gold standard child mental health interventions. 

Santisteban (2006) points out the strong family orientation found in research in Latinos and reports high family engagement rates in addressing behavior problems and substance abuse among Latino adolescents.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Notes on the Journey

A curious thing happens on the journey to making the impossible happen. Once you get out of your own way, that is, once you press the mute button on internal dialogue related to fear and negativity, it becomes external - meaning, others take up the talk and try to get in your own way. Reevah always said that in a system, everything equals 100%. So if I refuse to entertain thoughts of fear and negativity, then someone has got to try to rain on my parade.  They are just holding up their end of the see-saw we are all on together, I suppose. Fortunately, the universe has other plans and "will conspire to help you" (Paolo Coelho).

Progress is made by attempting to do what has never been done before. Vanguards in any field or discipline go where none have gone before with results that inspire and delight the rest of us, although sometimes only eventually.

My adviser has supported my goals from day one.  We are, what you would call, "a good fit."  God Bless him.  When I asked him about the possibility of completing the four-year program in three years, he said it was possible.  He said it was less about intelligence and more about focus.  Although not the norm, he gave me examples of who and how it had been done before.

I have a vision for my dissertation proposal.  I believe it is possible (I'm looking right at it when I dream).  I have laser-like focus.  I am committed to logging the hours that it takes, treating obstacles as stop signs and not dead ends. I have brilliant mentors and angels aiding me every step of the way because I feel no shame to ask for help along the way.  I'd be foolish not to ask for help, there are some incredibly brilliant people at UCLA!  In the words of my mother, "thank you, Yesus" and amen.

What we feed our brain, in terms of reading and listening matters, I think.  When I first started taking art classes with a mentor, I went for the art making.  But I stuck around 13 years because of his nurturing and encouragement.  One day, I asked him how he managed to be so positive and he said that he listened to positive visualization tapes on his commute.  What are you reading and listening to?  Tune out the negative inner critic.  Here are more quotes from Paolo Coelho that I blame for some of my optimistic thoughts and out-of-this-world dreams (found on fr.steven: blogging about life)...
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
“If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”
“Everything tells me that I am about to make a wrong decision, but making mistakes is just part of life. What does the world want of me? Does it want me to take no risks, to go back to where I came from because I didn’t have the courage to say “yes” to life?”
“‘My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer,’ the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky. ‘Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.’”
“Love is an untamed force. When we try to control it, it destroys us. When we try to imprison it, it enslaves us. When we try to understand it, it leaves us feeling lost and confused.”
When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”
“There was a language in the world that everyone understood, a language the boy had used throughout the time that he was trying to improve things at the shop. It was the language of enthusiasm, of things accomplished with love and purpose, and as part of a search for something believed in and desired.”
“What you still need to know is this: before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream. That’s the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one “dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.”

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Compiling and organizing ideas for writing
A little beauty, even in the midst of chaos

Pendulum Swings

I distinctly remember that in college, my attitude about speaking up was: "it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt." I was firmly entrenched in what sociologists call "the silent ghetto" in the "back row of class".

I often say that, back then I was an amoeba of who I am today. It feels like the last couple of decades have been devoted to finding my voice and using it.

Different people, books, jobs and personal experiences helped nurture and shape the voice that I project today. And just as I espouse and advocate the value of open communication, including confrontation, I am discovering the literature about topic avoidance and concealment.

In the book, Chinese Conflict Management and Resolution by Ringo Ma, the author writes:
"Research on language difference also found that people in a culture where direct communication style is emphasized are more likely to adopt a confrontational style in conflict. In contrast, people in cultures where an indirect communication style is emphasized tend to be more silent and avoid saying no in conflict situations in order to maintain a harmonious relationship."
This has personal, professional and organizational implications! How do I raise my daughter? Speak up, use your voice, challenge discrimination and social injustice? Or "go along to get along" lest you become an outsider of the in-group that prefers indirect communication styles? I feel like I worked my way out of the old world ideas about a woman's place and voice. Yet, in some circles, old world ideas predominate. I love harmony and balance, but not at the risk of stifling my voice or your voice or her voice.

Truth Opened

Freud presented a paper in April, 1896 to the Society for Psychiatry and Neurology in Vienna on the sexual abuse of his female patients by t...