Sunday, June 11, 2017

Free Adult

we have a natural thrust to grow and develop.
unless we get in our way.
what usually gets in our way is fear.
but fears are learned and may be unlearned.
the hardest part of growing up is not the growing part but the conquering of fears.
fears can be a motherfu#@er (and not in a good way).
it may seem easier and less scary to play the child and victim forever.
but the freedom of adulthood far outweighs the responsibilities and the work to overcome fears.
the woman in me remembers the good times past and the lessons learned.
it's a beautiful life.

our choices, our consequences.
cause and effect.
sow, reap.
truth and freedom.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Deep Dialogue

"Founding itself upon love, humility, and faith, dialogue becomes a horizontal relationship of which mutual trust between the dialoguers is the logical consequence (Freire, 2007, p. 91)"

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Stories, Narratives, Medicine, Paradise

"Stories are habitations. We live in and through stories. They conjure worlds. We do not know the world other than as a story world. Stories inform life. They hold us together and keep us apart. We inhabit the great stories of our culture." (Mair, 1998, p. 127 via Platt, 2012). "The shared stories of a culture greatly influence the thinking and behaviors of its inhabitants. Many cultural conflicts in the world arise from a lack of understanding of the stories held outside one's own culture (Platt, 2012, p. 355)."

Monday, June 5, 2017


"One of the primary values across Hispanic American groups is the value of familism (as opposed to the European American value of autonomy), which carries the expectation and sense of obligation among family members that the family will be the primary source of support, both instrumental and emotional, as well as the center of loyalty and solidarity (Negy & Woods, 1992; Staples & Mirandé 1980; Vega, 1990)."

Lindahl, K.L., & Malik, N.M. (1999). Marital Conflict, Family Processes, and Boys’ Externalizing Behavior in Hispanic American and European American Families. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 28(1), 12-24.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Sunday Morning Affirmations

"Self-affirmations invoke what has been termed--the Whispering Self (Purkey, 2000; Shaw, Siegel, & Schoenlein, 2013)... Self-affirmations are a brief psychological intervention based on the idea that 'people are motivated to maintain self-integrity' (Cohen & Sherman, 2014, p. 336)... the three principles of Self-Affirmation Theory as the need for children and adults to:
a) perceive themselves as 'good persons;'
b) feel that they are adequate enough to be considered moral and adaptive within a given domain, and;
c) 'act in ways worthy of esteem or praise' (p. 336)." 
From "A Case Study of Self-Affirmations in Teacher Education" by Scott Robinson in the Journal of Invitational Theory & Practice, January 1, 2014

Self-affirmations are the things that we tell ourselves about ourselves, others and the world.
Trauma can distort these messages from, "I am good, competent, worthy" to "I am bad, incompetent, helpless."
But what is learned can be unlearned and transformed.
We have the power to return home to our wholeness, integrity and worth - to the birthright of our worth.

Sunday morning has always been a sacred time for me. On this fine late-Spring Sunday morning, I leave you with some of my favorite affirmations.

  • "I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
  • If God is for us, then who can be against us?
  • El respeto a los derechos ajenos es la paz.
  • Continuously contemplate yourself as being surrounded by conditions you wish to produce.
  • Make a shift and catch yourself when you're focusing on what has already been and move your inner speech to what you intend to manifest. 
  • Become conscious of the energy levels of your acquaintances, friends and extended family. 
  • For as you think, so are you.
  • Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.
  • Let go of everything you fear to lose.
  • Optimistic visualization combined with prayer and faith will inevitably actualize achievement.
  • I'll act on my inner intuition impulses to create the work and relationships of my dreams.
  • Believe and succeed. 
  • A great idea and great faith.
  • Put it in God's hands.
  • Shift your mind from fear to faith - stop creating the object of your fear and instead actualize the object of your faith.
  • Fill the mind with thoughts of faith, hope, courage, expectancy.
  • God is now filling my mind with courage, peace and calm assurance.
  • God is now protecting me and my loved ones from all harm. 
  • God is now guiding me to right decisions.
  • God will see me through this situation.
  • I believe I am always divinely guided. 
  • I believe I will always take the right turn of the road.
  • I believe God will always make a way where there is no way.
  • If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, nothing will be impossible to you.
  • Fill the mind with thoughts of God's power, God's protection, and God's goodness.
  • Body, mind, and spirit work harmoniously for continuous energy.
  • Ask for what you want - be willing to take what God gives you. It may be better than what you ask for.
  • Throw your heart over the bar and your body will follow.
  • Attitudes are more important than facts.
  • Remember that God is with you and nothing can defeat you.
  • Muddied water. Let stand. Will become clear.
  • Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.
  • Spiritual joy will release charm and loveliness in you.
  • Ask for the ability to do your best and to leave the results confidently to God.
  • To become a happy person, have a clean soul, eyes that see romance in the commonplace and a child's heart

My First

The benchmark for scholars and a requirement for tenure is the accumulation of peer-reviewed journals - that is, evidence that you are adding to the knowledge base in your academic discipline. Check out the abstract of my first at the link below:

I'm working on five more manuscripts with colleagues this summer:
  1. Pilot Evaluation of the Back to Basics Parenting Training in Urban Schools (Acuña & Martinez)
  2. Trauma Informed School Systems (Kataoka, Acuña, Vona & Escudero)
  3. Minority Male Mentoring (M3) Multi-Tiered Intervention Model for College Success (Acuña, Martinez, Ricks & Swain)
  4. UNAM-CSUN joint MSW degree (Acuña & Bartle)
  5. Housing Instability among Transgender Women (Ross & Acuña)
It. is. happening. 
Thank you, Yesus!!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Reading is my Elixir

Summertime, and the livin' is easy...
One of these mornings you're gonna rise up singing
And you'll spread your wings and you'll take to the sky...
So hush, little baby, don't you cry

Every summer I get to indulge in lots of reading.
There are usually a stack of books on my nightstand.
They aren't just an escape. They don't just teach me everything I know.
My mom used to say that my mother was my books (tu madre, los libros).
That sounds about accurate.
For most of us, the go-to mother/drug/soother in good times and in bad is alcohol (or sex, porn, shopping, food, work, social media, and so on) because it's there when you need it and the results are reliable and consistent, until you need more and more to get the same high.

My high from reading is pretty intense. I get vivid visions and make connections that solve problems big and small. I get transported and lose track of time. Summer reading is when I am likely to stay up all night to finish the novel I just can't put down. Summer is also when I tend to read novels, because normally I'm a non-fiction kinda gal. 

Right now, I am engrossed in a book called, "The World Until Yesterday." Here are some excerpts:
  • All human societies have been traditional for far longer than any society has been modern.
  • Traditional societies in effect represent thousands of natural experiments in how to construct a human society. They have come up with thousands of solutions to human problems, solutions different from those adopted by our own WEIRD (Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic) modern societies...some of those solutions - for instance, some of the ways in which traditional societies raise their children, treat their elderly, remain healthy, talk, spend their leisure time, and settle disputes - may strike you, as they do me, as superior to normal practices in the First World. Perhaps we could benefit by selectively adopting some of those traditional practices. Some of us already do so, with demonstrated benefits to our health and happiness. In some respects we moderns are misfits; our bodies and our practices now face conditions different from those under which they evolved, and to which they became adapted. 
  • ...changes among societies can be reversed.
  • Within a generation or two, and within the individual lives of many people...New Guinea Highlanders learned to write, use computers, and fly airplanes...the New Guinea Highlands of 1931 lacked writing, metal, money, schools and centralized government. If we hadn't actually had recent history to tell us the result, we might have wondered: could a society without writing really master it within a single generation?...All of those differences between the 2006 and 1931 crowds can be summed up by saying that, in the last 75 years, the New Guinea Highland population has raced through changes that took thousands of years to unfold in much of the rest of the world...Thus, New Guinea is in some respects a window onto the human world as it was until a mere yesterday, measured against a time scale of the 6,000,000 years of human evolution...All those changes that came to the Highlands in the last 75 years have also come to other societies throughout the world, but in much of the rest of the world those changes appeared earlier and much more gradually than in New Guinea. 'Gradual,' however, is relative: even in those societies where the changes appeared first, their time depth of less than 11,000 years is still minuscule in comparison with 6,000,000 years. Basically, our human societies have undergone profound changes recently and rapidly.

What's cool about this blog is that I started it in 2009 and it contains most of the important lecture notes, article and book excerpts that have made an impact on my thinking. When I have to write something and think, "where is that article about this thing I'm trying to write about?" all I gotta do is search this blog. It's like a back up and extension of my brain. So handy. 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Friday, May 26, 2017

Graduations in the Spring

These personalized graduation caps inspire me and make me smile. 

In the Spring, we reap what we sow. Enjoying the fruits of our years-long labor is a sweet reward.

The students that I met on their first day of school in my class nearly two years ago, are now my colleagues. Some of them were in my classes every semester for the last two years, others I guided through their capstone project all year.

Like any significant relationship, there were days I was in love. I made myself vulnerable, I told my most personal stories in an effort to connect, model, teach, inspire and assuage their fears.

Like any significant relationship, there were days they got on my nerves. Sometimes I told them collectively and other times I walked over and whispered to them in their faces about putting their phones away while in class. I even bought them play-do to occupy their hands while they were jonesing to text.

I cried as I drove in to work on their last day. The souls and cast of characters that I had hung out with for the last two years were now leaving and I was sad (and on my period). I learned a lot from them. Now they can friend me on Facebook and my unsolicited advice-giving can continue. It turns out that constantly reading is even more fun when you share widely what you learn. The student surpasses the teacher so I look forward to hearing about their milestones and achievements in the field. Watch out world, CSUN MSWs are going to make a dent in the Universe.

Daring to start my PhD journey has lead me to a new and beautiful life, full of little deaths and re-births daily. Grades are in and I am staring down the barrel of a long summer. You will find me reading a book, poolside. Feeling lucky and smiling about it. Thank you, Yesus.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Minority Male Mentoring (M3)

In my first year as a tenure-track professor, I attended meetings with the Dean and Provost. I heard them talk about the "achievement gap" and "graduation rates." It was a deja-vu. I had heard all this before as a school social worker. What struck me the most was the discrepancy in graduation rates between women and men, particularly men of color. I thought about all the risk and protective factors involved and began to hatch a plan.

It turns out the disparities in graduation rates occur nationwide. For example, compare the differences in graduation rates between Asian females and Black males...

The University has a 2025 Graduation Initiative to increase graduation rates. As a social work scholar, I can't help but want to increase opportunities for the most vulnerable and oppressed. That's how we do. 

I wrote a small grant to start a Minority Male Mentoring (M3) program. It would confront the disparities using multiple levels of interventions:

I pulled together a dream team of professors and faculty members. Now we end our first year of program development with several upcoming national conference presentations and a manuscript in the works. We also got these cool polos with the M3 logo:

I feel like Wonder Woman in the Saturday morning cartoon TV show, Super Friends.
The (invisible) plane has been built and is flying. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Recent qualitative study on sex work and students in higher education

I was schooled by Andrea Dworkin on the impact of pornography on women: violence and exploitation.

When I talked about this in class, two students had a different take on things. We listened to each other and eventually these two students approached me about doing their master's graduate project about students in higher education involved in sex work.

It is an elegant qualitative study that explores many intersecting identities. My students presented in New York and have been interviewed for a couple of articles. This summer, I hope that we draft a manuscript for publication.

This is what I do now. I read, think and write for a living. Lucky lady.

Check out this interview in Psychology Today by clicking the link below...

Sex work and higher education mix disparate identities?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Notes on Heuristics

Notes from the brilliant book, Methods of Discovery: Heuristics for the Social Sciences, by Andrew Abbot, "an introduction to the workings of imagination in social science" and "all struggling to imagine the social world anew."
What then does it take to have something to say?
It takes two things.
The first is a puzzle, something about the social world that is odd, unusual, unexpected, or novel.
The second is a clever idea that responds to or interprets or solves that puzzle.
Everything else - the methods, the literature, the description of data - is really just window dressing.
The heart of good work is a puzzle and an idea.

  • Steal the best ideas from another discipline and put them to better use.
  • Narration seems persuasive precisely because telling stories is how we explain most things in daily life.
  • Narration is the syntax of everyday understanding.

  • Social science aims to explain social life. There are three things that make a particular argument an explanation:
    • 1. when it allows us to intervene in whatever it is we are explaining (for example, managing the economy, eradicating poverty).
    • 2. when we stop looking for further accounts of that something - an explanation is an account that suffices. it frees us to go on to the next problem by bringing our current problem into a commonsense world where it becomes immediately comprehensible (what is self-evident needs no explanation).
    • 3. when we have made a certain kind of argument about it: an argument that is simple, exclusive, perhaps elegant or even counterintuitive. Thus, we may think that Freudian psychology is better than folk psychology because it is better worked out, more complex, and more surprising. An account is an explanation because it takes a certain pleasing form, because it somehow marries simplicity and complexity.
  • That people took so long to recognize the creativity of these works perhaps tells us something important about the nature of creativity. Much of it has to do with how one's ideas fit with others' current beliefs. Creativity is relational. Coase's work went unappreciated until the rest of the economics community came around to the broad conception of economic thinking that Coase took for granted. Fleck's book was completely ignored until Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions prepared people for it. Often a mainstream cannot see new ideas as creative. Often they cannot see them at all.

  • The aim of social science is to say something interesting - perhaps even true - about social reality.
  • The first and in many ways most important of the general heuristics is making an analogy: saying that an X is really a G...applying ecological models to humans...cities...organizations...applying economic models to family planning...they may seem like far-fetched analogies, but they were very productive...Becker's analogy must have seemed shattering at the time...but the analogy was powerful, and when Becker began to analyze more mainstream topics, like family-planning decisions, his work began to be regarded as truly revolutionary...Analogy is fundamentally different from addition. It means truly changing the terms of analysis, not simply adding something to them. It has a risk to it: there will be naysayers. At the same time, it can be very productive...One of the useful aspects of analogy is that most often the ideas you borrow will be quite well worked out. When you forage in other disciplines and sub disciplines, you will find the intellectual supplies plentiful and well kept, ripe for the taking.
  • Analogy is the queen of heuristics...Analogizers and borrowers must always be reading and learning

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Truth's Reward

The truth will not hurt for long if you are willing to accept it. Acceptance takes both vulnerability and strength. Recovery, health and growth are on the other side. Come on. It's worth it. Honest.

Friday, April 28, 2017

MSW Student Research

And when it is your job to teach graduate students to conduct social work research - that is, to ask research questions with social work relevance, to deeply understand phenomena as well as vulnerable and invisible populations, and to use scientifically rigorous methods to explore curiosity - sometimes really beautiful things happen.

Here is a link to an interview with MSW students talking about what inspired their study:

This photo is from the study and was used in the article above...

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


She was a force of nature.
She made friends everywhere – the doctor’s waiting room, la carniceria, at church on Tuesdays, Fridays and twice on Sundays.  
She was always feeding someone, helping someone, flirting with someone, driving someone, taking care of someone, teasing someone and praying for someone.
She liked bagre from Siete Mares, mangos, Hershey’s chocolate bars, bananas, esponjas de chocolate, and café con leche in a glass measuring cup.
She was my best friend, the thorn in my side, mi corazon, mi bruja y mujer (she loved it when I called her those names because of the deep meaning of those identities), and madre de mi alma.
Unless you met her, these words might appear like puro hyperbole and exaggeration. If you knew her, you know that my words are la pura neta.

Do you realize that you have the most beautiful face
Do you realize we're floating in space,
Do you realize that happiness makes you cry
Do you realize that everyone you know someday will die
And instead of saying all of your goodbyes, let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It's hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun don't go down
It's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round

Songwriters: Dave Fridmann / Michael Ivins / Steven Drozd / Wayne Coyne

Monday, April 17, 2017

Dissemination of Dissertation Research

After the research is done, it's time to disseminate it far and wide.

I'm presenting about "Family Communication Styles, PTSD and Resilience" at this UCLA (my alma mater) conference next month...


Here's a conference where I spread the good news about family communication at another alma mater...

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!

Love is in the details.

My daughter baked this carrot cake from scratch. She finely ground the carrots because she says there is nothing worse than biting into carrot cake and getting a chunk of carrot in your mouth. She asserts, "It takes away from the cake moment."

She then shaped the cake into the form of a carrot using marshmallow fondant, which she made from scratch.

From concept to execution, there is a lot of love in every detail. That's my girl.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Clear to Negotiate

The cool thing about vision boards is that you get vividly clear about exactly what you want.
This is handy when you are negotiating with an individual, organization or the Universe.

Negotiation is any communication in which you are attempting to achieve...
...the approval
...the acquiescence (the reluctant acceptance of something without protest)
...or the action of someone else.

Negotiation has been described as a conversation in which positions are stated in order to find one that everyone can accept (think, "I can live with that.").

Some posit that you are unlikely to get everything that you want so prioritize, that is, know what is more important and what is less important. In this way, it is easier to choose which outcomes to give up in order to achieve the more important ones.

Now this is important: Know your Limit.
What would be the worst possible offer made by the other side that would still be acceptable to you?
When the other side in a negotiation offers less than your limit and sticks to that as the final offer, you know that it is better to walk away than to accept the offer.
Decide on your limit before beginning to negotiate.
All I gotta do is glance at my vision board to know what this is.
Keep walking away from the table until the right offer shows up.
It will show up and you will know it when it does because it will match the vivid and detailed picture of the brighter future you have been conjuring up with your vision board.

Have fun visioning and negotiating.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Making Peace with Maturity

Learning lessons is a little like reaching maturity. 
You're not suddenly more happy, wealthy, or powerful, 
but you understand the world around you better, and you're at peace.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross 

 I believe that maturity is not an outgrowing, but a growing up: 
that an adult is not a dead child, but a child who survived. 
Ursula K. Le Guin

I like saying that at age 20, I was an amoeba of who I am today. I have grown by leaps and bounds in mind, body and spirit since then. I have come such a long way.

And yet, who I am has been there all along - it has just taken me this long to uncover her. It's like we are born whole and spend the rest of our lives trying to remember that - returning home to wholeness. 

I see my younger self and I am grateful for what I know now. I wish I had known it then, of course. So I take full advantage of every bit of wisdom. 

For me, growing into wholeness has meant relaxing my parent part - the part that drove me to be responsible and disciplined - and encouraging the baby part to come out to play more. 

My relentless parent part helped me to achieve important goals but if allowed to reign supreme indefinitely, then my life would certainly become joyless.

My neglected baby part was highly restrained. The only indulgence allowed was in the area of food consumption. That took a toll on my body.

I am old enough (thankfully) to live a life in greater balance, to become as I was meant to be.

I feel like I have always been 65 inside and chronologically catching up to that age. Most of my life I have been overly responsible - even taking on problems that weren't mine. That took a toll.  For me, growing up has meant taking on less responsibility for others and more responsibility for myself.

Aging is a series of gains and losses. I grieve and mourn what has been lost. I appreciate what I am gaining. 

I play more. 
I accept myself more. 
I'm more honest with myself.
I take responsibility and pay more attention to my feelings and needs.
I take less and less responsibility for others.
I am more and more loving to myself.
I take baby steps followed by naps.
I am intuitive and trust my instincts. 
I am not as naive but I am not cynical. I ask myself, "What's their angle and what's in my best interest?"
I see the good and the bad - because both exist side by side.
I empathize.
I follow the green lights and go with the flow more.
I take chances within limits.
I trust that things tend to work out.

Thursday, March 23, 2017


Indigenize everything.

Indigenize the way we eat, the way we move, the way we live, what we believe...

We have 50,000 years of ancestor wisdom and it is not just "old-wives tales" or superstitious or "unscientific." It is time-tested and hard-won knowledge that is our birthright - ours to claim.

Bringing our whole selves and honoring our ancestors in everything we do - love, work, and play.
It's all sacred and powerful.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Happy Spring Equinox

Spring Equinox

Night and day stand in perfect balance.
Ying and Yang.
Complementary forces.
Shadow cannot exist without light.
Life in balance.

Saturday, March 18, 2017


I have no need for lies because I am not ashamed of anything (anymore).

I'm not ashamed of who I am.
I'm not ashamed of anything I do.

If I do something, I refuse to be ashamed.
If I think I will be ashamed after doing something, then I refuse to do it.

We are light and shadow.
I accept & love my whole self now.

The adult part regularly decides how to manage and express the sexual and aggressive baby part impulses with the principles and rules of the parent part.

Put simply, I'm an adult making choices - it's a terribly beautiful freedom.

I'm thankful that after a lifetime, I have learned to manage impulses and soothe my distress in ways that don't hurt me or the people I care about.

Both the baby and the parent parts need time in the sun. That's what makes us whole, real, integrated, mature, and sexy.

Without lies, life is peaceful.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

NASW Legislative Lobby Days in Sacramento, 2017

"In service - in relationship - to achieve higher levels of justice." Assembly member Susan Talamantes Eggman

CSUN MSW students on the road to Lobby Days, 2017

This is the largest Lobby Days ever: nearly 1,400 participants from 26 schools:

Assembly member, Susan Talamantes Engman, MSW, LCSW, PhD, encouraged us to practice as integrated as possible (micro, mezzo, macro) and address the larger issues that are producing pain among the vulnerable and oppressed. As social workers, she urges us to amplify the stories of our clients in order to influence policies. She warns us to not be addicted to our outrage, but to use our outrage for something good. People are afraid and worried about scarcity ("there's not enough for everybody") so we need to preach the gospel that there's enough for all of us.

NASW (National Association of Social Workers), National Vice-President, Mildred C. Joyner, MSW, LCSW told us that when we come across something beautiful and rare, we ought to take a moment and look at it - then she took a picture of all of us. She reminded us that "we are America's conscience and we must be vocal" and that we "can't heal our frustrations by blaming others."

There are 680,000 social workers in the U.S.
There are 130,000 NASW members.
There are 25,000 social work students.
That's a lot of power ready to be unleashed.

Monday morning we will be meeting with California assembly members and senators to lobby for three bills:

Senate Bill (SB) 219 (Wiener) - LGBT Senior Bill of Rights

  • This bill aims to combat the discrimination of LGBT Seniors in long-term care facilities.

SB 8 (Beall) - Mental Health: Pre-Trial Diversion

  • Diversion options result in extremely low recidivism rates among participants and significant cost saving to counties. Community based treatment for a mentally ill defendant costs $20,000 and greatly reduces recidivism, while jailing the same defendant (with a greater risk of recidivism) costs the community more than $50,000 a year.

SB 54 (De León) The California Values Act

  • The purpose of this bill is to protect the safety and well-being of all Californians by ensuring that state and local resources are not used to fuel mass deportations, separate families, and ultimately hurt California's economy.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Hunches Essential in Science

I believe that scientists tap into the transcendental force for inspiration much like artists, musicians, writers and mystics.

In Approaches to Social Enquiry, Blaikie quotes, "The transition from data to theory requires creative imagination. Scientific hypotheses and theories are not derived from observed facts, but invented in order to account for them."

When you get results in a study, the results don't come out and tell you what they mean. They are very Joe Friday - just the facts, ma'am. The researcher has to make sense of them, usually based on their lens, experiences, background, knowledge base and theory.

And, "...there can be no set of rules given for the procedure of scientific discovery - a hypothesis is not produced by a deductive machine by feeding experimental observations into it: It is a product of creative imagination, of a mind which absorbs the experimental data until it sees them fall into a pattern, giving the scientific theorist the sense that he [sic] is penetrating beneath the flux of phenomena to the real structure of nature."
Sometimes I get my hunches in the shower or driving or in the early morning upon waking or (my favorite) when I'm out for a long walk.

And, "...every discovery contains an 'irrational element' or a 'creative intuition.' "

Srinivasa Ramanujan was a mathematician who produced math formulas that came to him in dreams from a Hindu goddess. He had very little math training but wound up at Cambridge thanks to those dreams and goddess.

And, "Hesse...stressed the role of creative imagination, as well as logic, in the process of scientific discovery."
Hunches are essential and integral to discovery. Hypotheses and logic are like yin and yang, the forest and the trees, left and right brain working together.
And, "In all these cases, because causal structures and/or mechanisms had never been observed, it was necessary first to imagine what they might be like, and then to formulate these ideas into some image or model."
You step back from the painting or the study and let the a-ha moment of inspiration guide you, if you trust enough to listen and wait for it.
Also, in describing the deductive process used by a clinician, Blaikie quotes: "Here there is a rapid reciprocation between an imaginative and critical process."

Daniel Gilbert in Stumbling Upon Happiness notes that imagination is what separates humans from the rest of the animal kingdom.

Albert Einstein said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."

I see a lovely pattern here.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Deep Sea Fishing with TM

David Lynch has been practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM) for over 30 years. This practice has inspired him to write:

"If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. 
But if you want to catch the big fish, you've got to go deeper.
Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. 
They're huge and abstract. 
And they're very beautiful...
For me it has been the way to dive deeper in search of the big fish." 

He meditates twice a day - morning and afternoon - for twenty minutes each time. He describes his results:

"I find that the joy of doing increases. Intuition increases. The pleasure of life grows. And negativity recedes."

I can't borrow books from the library or other people because I write all over them when I read. In my book, "Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity" by David Lynch, the quotes above are each followed by a big 💗drawn in black pen. This book is full of them.

"Anger and depression and sorrow are beautiful things in a story, but they're like poison to the filmmaker or artist. They're like a vise grip on creativity...You must have clarity to create. You have to be able to catch ideas."💕

Saturday, March 4, 2017


Before falling in love for the second time in your life, you wonder if it will feel the same as the first time. You wonder if falling in love again is even possible.

Spending time, eating, eye gazing, smiling, dimple gazing, listening, understanding, talking, silliness and full-throated laughter, reading each other's minds - in a good way, marveling at beautiful things, dancing, reading aloud at brunch, holding hands, and having fun is a recipe for attachment.

I tend to rationalize that I can walk away at any time - which is true but in various degrees of painful.
I'm warned that I'm playing with fire but proceed cavalierly.
"I won't fire until I see the whites of their eyes," I reasoned.
Not everything that is logical is true.
Sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants (el corazón no se manda) and reason is powerless.
It's all fun and games until someone gets hopelessly attached.

I fell with naïve abandon.
The feelings bubbled up and made me smile from my brown eyes to my painted-red toes.
I covered my face from embarrassment.
I bit my knuckled fists with overwhelmed exasperation.
I smiled at the thought of it while doing the most mundane of things, like sitting up super straight at work or copying and pasting.
I still register the feeling in my cells.

We have a right to all of our thoughts and feelings.
All feelings are normal and natural.
The thing to do when you have a feeling is to notice it and accept it, without judgement.
Feelings are ephemeral and transient - they will pass.
This too shall pass.

I fell hard and it didn’t work out.
I don’t push away the feelings anymore.
I accept I will feel this way for however long it takes.
Just because you fall doesn’t mean you have to stay.
You can love yourself and expect things like honesty and commitment.

I fell.
I feel lucky to have fallen, no matter how painful.
Relationships come with risks and there are no guarantees.
Risking heartbreak is the price of admission to any relationship, without which, life has no color.
Whether it lasts twenty years or one year, the gains and losses are bittersweet.
Relationships are the point of this life so I'm gonna take my chances, again.
Wiser now but not cynical and no longer so naïve.
They say the third time's a charm.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Leading with Love vs. Breaking Spirits

There is an old-school philosophy summarized in the saying, “We need to break them down so we can build them back up.” It's common in the military and law enforcement and was common among horse trainers.  I've also seen it attempted by professors and romantic interests. The intention is to force the horse or individual to become "submissive" through heavy force, intimidation, fear, and punishment.

Fear vs. Love.

Rosbeth Moss Kanter is credited with saying, "Power may be defined as the ability to get things done," but I first heard it from one of my mentors, Mr. Cordova, a community organizing elementary school Principal. The quote resonated and helped me to de-stigmatize and de-mystify power. Zygmunt Bauman elaborated, "Power, in a nutshell, is the ability to get things done, and politics is the ability to decide which things need to be done."

As the rightful leader of your life, what's your go-to super-power - fear or love?

From Matthew 26:51-53: "But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest's slave, slashing off his ear. "Put away your sword," Jesus told him. "Those who use the sword will die by the sword. Don't you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly?

I believe that love is our greatest power. I have faith in our protection. I am full of power and I choose love over fear.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Publications, publications, publications

I love to investigate phenomena and write - it is one of the main reasons that I pursued a PhD and accepted an academic job. 

During the 5+ years that I worked on a PhD, I did not publish a single paper. I got close with one manuscript, which received a couple of "revise and resubmit" requests from a peer-reviewed journal. 

To be fair, in those five years I juggled co-parenting a teen as head of household, multiple part-time jobs, a separation and divorce, being a full-time student, and self-care. So I am not surprised that publications were not a priority. This limited options in my academic job search.

Now, I am making the time and creating the space to write - it is both a privilege and a pleasure.

Here is my productivity scorecard:

Acuña. A & Escudero, P. (2015). Helping those who come here alone. Phi Delta Kappan, 97, 42-45.

In press
Acuña, A. & Kataoka, S. (2017). Family Communication Styles and Resilience among Adolescents. Accepted by Social Work. 

Under review
Acuña, A. (2017). Back to Basics® Parenting Program in Urban Schools. 

In progress = 4+
Lessons Learned: Trauma Screening in Schools
The Challenges and Motivations for Academic Success Among Minority Male College Students
College Male Minority Mentoring: Interventions and Outcomes
Trauma-Informed Schools
Other papers in collaboration with mentors, colleagues or students

The milestones and expectations never end but I am lucky to be on this trajectory. I write to reflect on my goals and what I've accomplished. I write to de-mystify the process for anyone interested in pursuing this path. I write to inspire myself and others continually that it is possible - in fact, it is already happening.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Day 14!!

The 10-day sugar detox came and went and I am still going.

If it feels good, then why stop now?

I paired the detox with transcendental meditation (TM) twice a day for 20 minutes each. It was a one-two punch in my life. I feel clear, energized, focused, efficient, healthy, calm, creative and productive.

I am burning through my dream list of things to do. Things are falling into place everywhere - mind, body, spirit, work, home and relationships.

The research showing the impact of TM is compelling. It is deep rest that releases stress - both old and new - and rewires the brain. In this way, it is healing and makes space for incredible insights and creativity and energy.

Every year has a theme and this year my theme is a commitment to deep acts of self-love. Yes, life is supposed to feel this good.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Day 6!

Today is Day 6 of my transcendental meditation practice (twice a day for 20 minutes) and of my sugar detox.

The two practices are complementing each other very well. While others in my sugar detox group complained about headaches and fatigue, I felt clear and energized. I think the TM helped.

I also think that paying attention to what I put in my body - not just sugar but what type of oils and other stuff - is helping my mind work better too.

Now I count the days but later I will lose track because I don't plan on quitting this good feeling.

Self-care is all about love. As babies, our caregivers took care of us and made sure we were safe, warm, fed and comfortable - that's how we survived. As adults, we are our own caregivers. And maybe we have to practice taking as good or better care of ourselves as our caregivers did.

I am committed to these acts of deep love - for myself and my daughter.

This week I gave my daughter the following rules:
1. Sleep at least 8 hours every night.
2. Eat breakfast everyday and take your supplements.
3. Do all your classwork and homework.
4. Feed the dog.
5. Clean up after you bake and pick up all your clothes from the floor.

I told her that I would take her phone away for the day (they are very attached) if she broke any of the rules. I also told her to make a list of possible rewards if she followed these rules for a month, six months and a year. She got very motivated.

My job is to love myself with my actions. I am her role model. My job is to teach her how to love herself with her actions. I do it because I love her. It is my joy to love her.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Sugar Detox

The more I learn about refined sugar - the more convinced I am that it is the white devil.

Here are some of my notes from a Sugar Detox workshop by Luz Chacón:

  • Dementia and impotence can be called Type 3 Diabetes because they are complications of diabetes
  • Wheat acts like sugar in our bodies.
  • Sugar is 8 times more addictive than cocaine.
  • It is recommended that women have no more than 6 tsp of sugar per day.
  • We are being manipulated for profit by the food industry.
  • Sugar is linked to heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, dementia, impotence, depression/mood swings, anxiety, acne, infertility, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, hyperactivity, acid reflux/heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue, migraines, rashes, premature aging.
  • Lower insulin levels by reducing or eliminating sugar and flour.
  • A sugar detox can reset your brain and body and minimize cravings.
  • Satisfy sugar or carb cravings with sweet veggies like beets, yams, sweet potatoes.
  • Have fruit for dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth.
  • Replace sugar in recipes with dates or Stevia.
  • Replace white flour in recipes with rolled oats or almond flour.
  • Avoid food with any type of sugar in the first 4 ingredients.

Sugar Addiction Quiz (True or False)
  1. I don't eat refined sugar every day
  2. I can go more than a day without eating some kind of sugar-containing food.
  3. I never have cravings for sugar, coffee, chocolate, peanut butter or alcohol.
  4. I've never hidden sweets around the house so I can eat them later.
  5. I can stop after eating one bite of pastry or one piece of candy.
  6. There are times when I have no sugar around the house.
  7. I can have sweets in the house without eating them.
  8. I can go at least 3 hours without eating without shakes, fatigue or bad moods.
  9. I do not eat something sweet after every meal.
  10. I rarely drink coffee or eat donuts or sweet rolls for breakfast.
  11. I can go more than an hour after waking without eating.
  12. I don't drink sweetened soft drinks every day.
Four or more "False" responses and you're in the danger zone.

Stars Aligning

Day 1 of 10-day sugar detox, joined by my sister and thanks to my health coach. I made huevos a la mexicana for breakfast and packed my green drink for lunch later. I even made veggie soup for my daughters' lunches this week.

Day 1 of Transcendental Meditation (TM) training, thanks to the David Lynch Foundation, which trains students in schools, veterans and women/girl survivors of assault.

This is the start of a great 2017. Feeling motivated and clean.

Here are my notes about TM:
  • It takes 20 minutes/twice per day to recharge, develop stillness and wholeness. 
  • You release stress 2 times a day so it doesn't build up.
  • Over time, the benefits accumulate - you feel clear and energized.
  • It's a preparation for activity (for example, students might do it before doing their homework).
  • It helps you to connect to your inner silence - the silent part of you. Like the part of the ocean that is miles deep.
  • It is a basic technology that anyone can use. If you can think a thought, you can learn TM. It's a technology - not a belief system. It is not a cult - there is no leader telling you how to live.
  • TM is about waking up your consciousness.
  • Rest is how the body heals. Your body's natural intelligence takes over and knows what to do to heal. The body is healing from within.
  • The mind and body is less active - TM is profound/deep rest. It is 2 times deeper than sleep. It is more efficient.
  • It is a reboot or re-set for your brain.
  • TM helps you function in a calmer way.
  • TM is like shock absorbers on a car - it provides cushion and resilience on the bumpy road of life.
  • TM is getting rid of the blocks to become more of who you are.
  • Resting is how the body heals stress.
  • TM is an ancient indigenous knowledge from India. Indigenous knowledge can be lost in one generation. It is a cultural/traditional practice vs. religious.
  • TM is waking up all of our potential/creativity.
  • TM is training the brain to function in a different way. The brain begins to act as a whole. TM boosts IQ and creativity. There is more blood flow to the pre-frontal cortex with TM - to think more clearly. 
  • Transcending - Peter's (DLF TM teacher) description of "transcending" reminded me of the feeling I have when I get a gifted massage, or when I do yoga or when I've had hypnotherapy, acupuncture or reiki - I go to a different place where I'm like asleep but I'm not. I call it a meditative state - it feels really deep and restful.  He gave me the book, "Transcendence" by Norman E. Rosenthal. I'll post notes on it as I read it, I'm sure.

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Light of Truth

For those at risk of manipulation by fake promises and empty threats in micro- and macro-relationships...
So do not be afraid of them. For nothing is concealed that will not be uncovered, or hidden that will not be made known. Matthew 10:26 
For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all. Luke 8:17 
Not only will the truth come out to set you free but it will be made known to all!

The smear campaign will backfire.

There is nothing more frightening to the manipulator than being exposed to public humiliation.

Let his undoing be his own doing.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Feminist AF

Sometimes, in a glorious twist of fate, the manipulative tactics of the lying-wounded-bullies actually backfire in a really big way.

Eventually all will come to light - the truth will come out. The people will see the truth and become galvanized.

This is true on a micro-level (in one-on-one relationships) and on a macro-level (in national & international politics).

Fear vs. Love.

When we fear that our only power is control and manipulation, then we weave a tenuous and tangled web of lies (promises and threats - plata o plomo), which make us vulnerable (to the risk of exposure) instead of strong.

When we trust in ourselves, others, the Universe/Creator/God/Higher Power/the god of your understanding, then we choose love. And love means taking good care of ourselves and wanting the best for others. Living simply and standing in truth, like a tree with really deep roots - shaken but never toppled.

Nobody grabs my pussy without my consent ;)

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Mother of Efficiency

Efficient: When you are feeling lazy and would love to take a nap but you also really want to get $hit done. The call of the nap motivates my creativity to find the quickest route to getting it done.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Paradigm Shift

Paradigm shift: a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions.

Zero to 45 was all about working my a$$ off and taking care of others first.

Forty-five to 90 is all about having fun and taking very good care of myself.

If it's not fun & juicy, then what's the point?


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Just Right

Water seeks its own level.

Like attracts like.

What you seek is seeking you. --Rumi

A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior. --wikipedia based on the research of sociologist Robert K. Merton.

  1. Spiritual
  2. Secure
  3. Smart
  4. Passionate
  5. Integrated
Seeking same for partnerships & tribe.