Monday, February 25, 2013

An Essential Motto to Live By

My dad the reptile, or more specifically the tortoise, is a pretty wise little guy. He told me once, after I came home terrified from a nasty encounter with a mean creature at school, that there was an essential rule to life by. I thought that it was pretty profound and damned brilliant, so I want to share it with you here.

Each day, be less afraid than you were the day before. Each week, be less fearful than the week before. Each month and year and decade, be more brazen than the time before. Forgive yourself when you fail, because fear is basic to every creature on earth, and you’ll never be completely free of it. Ninety nine times out of a hundred- a stick in the grass is just a stick - but one time, it’s a rattlesnake ready to strike.”

You see, dad the tortoise was born with a major league fear factor and a lightening quick withdrawal reflex. So he’s had to practice this motto of his very diligently. And as far as I can tell –except when mom the tiger confronts him about one of his idiot-syncracies (as she calls them) – he’s a pretty serene and cool about life.

I fail the fear test often and have to forgive myself about my anxieties at least once a week. But I keep pushing my limits of tolerance and keep taking risks. So I’m getting better. Bravo, bravo to me, and to you as well for trying to live gracefully in this sometimes cruel and insensitive world.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Paris, Diversity and the Sorbonne

I’ve been contemplating the idea of college lately, and when I thought about my options, one stuck out as the obvious choice - the Sorbonne in Paris.

A few years ago, my parents took me on a trip to the marvelous City of Lights. I’ll tell you what, that’s one incredible, lively and, yes, friendly city. Somehow the French got a rep for being haughty, aloof and rude. That must be a truth from a distant past because they treated us like royalty. And remember, we weren’t exactly the most typical tourists - a tiger, turtle and their hybrid kid.

They say that the Eifel Tower is the number one tourist attraction in Paris, but don’t believe it. As far as I could tell from walking miles around the big city and taking the metro, the number one attraction has to be, well, cleavage. Everybody seemed to have it. Not the men of course, but young, middle and aging women showed their stuff and were proud to do it. Mom even got in on the action and displayed some major tiger cleavage. Unfortunately, I’m very limited in that department so I just enjoyed the sightseeing.   
Speaking of the Eifel Tower, you can see a thousand pictures of that mammoth structure, but when you experience it in person, believe me, you will cry. I was rather blasé about visiting the iconic structure, but when I saw it for the first time - the lights sparkling over  that magnificent city - my tears flowed like the Seine.

Tortue, my dad, had one request for our visit to Paris: “We must walk through the campus of the Sorbonne”, he pleaded. Tortue had an American friend who studied French at the University who had recently passed away. She was a Francophile if there ever was one, a true lover of all things French, a teacher of the language and culture. Dad’s wish was to place a bouquet of flowers in the campus courtyard in her honor. And with the help of some gracious French students who showed us the way, that’s exactly what we did. Yet another episode of flowing tears among all of us.

That cinched it for me, along with the vastly diverse culture I experienced in Paris. Here’s the way I  wrote about myself in the e book, Lessons of the Wounded Warrior.

The city has dealt with the likes of Toulouse Lautrec, Van Gogh, Hemingway and Gertrude Stein, not to mention Mr. Bonaparte. And the Moulin Rouge is there as well. Really, Parisians have seen it all, if you know what I mean. I should be just a tiny bleep on their emotional radar, which is perfectly fine with me.

For more about embracing diversity and coping with prejudice, intolerance and bullying, visit and check out his free e book on these issues. And for a bonus, you get a more in depth look at moi.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Life’s a Bitch and Then You Have to See a Shrink

Eventually, I had to look at myself in the mirror and admit: “Face it kid! You’re a hybrid – and a good looking one at that. Yet, you need some help coping with the minuscule minds and habits of ‘the mean ones’.”
“Here’s the deal,” I continued talking to moi. “As long as they make you miserable, they will keep on trying…damned them!”
So it was time to check out Dr. G, the towering guru who helped my parents, Cat and Tortue. He turned out to be a pretty cool guy – not the stereotypical flat, unemotional shrink who sits back, rubs his chiny -chin-chin and repeats that nauseating query, “And how does that make you feel?”
Nope, Dr. G was more irate than me about these bullies. Here’s a sample of his tirades from Dr. Parrino’s e book, Lessons of the Wounded Warrior.  
“Disgusting!” he spewed. “Those cruel ones, they create emotional havoc throughout the animal kingdom. Some say it’s the devil’s work, and evil in the world. I say evil, smevil to that. They are a bunch of cowards…yes? Always picking on the tall, short, yellow, green, fat or lean.”  
“And further, my tender child, they crave and achieve great joy from chastising the anxious, melancholy, OCD, ADHD, PTSD and many other vulnerable animals. Those who are coping with bad memories, emotional or physical challenges, or creatures who are just plain introverted. Yes, the cowards choose to prey on the sensitive ones.”
“Ask yourself why? Why would they want to do this?...I could scream at the top of my very long lungs, but that might rile Siggy, so I will just explain their pernicious motives.”
(Siggy is his able assistant, a mynah bird that reminds him of his perfectionist tendencies.) 
“You must understand, my little student, they are full of fear - the darkest, deepest terror known to animals. Yes, fear that if they lose control and power over others, they will be abandoned. Excuse my jungle tongue, but when those who follow their dictates stop caressing their hairy buttocks, they always disintegrate. The cruel ones then regress into a puddle of poop.”
There you go, a super regular creature just like the rest of us. So if you need help (and who doesn’t these days), don’t be afraid to give the ‘shrink job’ a try. It’s a gift to your ‘self’, and a kick in the you-know-whats to your nemeses. And don’t be shy about further inquiries at

Monday, January 21, 2013

Raine’s Psychological Profile: Not Dangerous to Self or Others

When you grow up with a billboard on your back that says “I’m different”, creatures of all types get a kick out of making you miserable. At first, when you’re young and vulnerable and new to the game of bullying and intolerance, you don’t have much of a choice, except to duck and cover your wounds and tolerate these misery-seekers. Later, with a few years and sore spots under your belly, you develop the Big D attitude. That is, you get very defensive. The vulnerable underbelly is still there but covered up by a crusty outer layer of toughness. A necessary evil for dealing with the mean ones of the world. 
Every wounded creature chooses a slightly different strategy for emotional and physical protection. Some learn to be brainiacs and try to outsmart everyone else. Others get bigger and stronger than the neighborhood bullies so no one with f*** with them ever again. Many make the big bucks so they can always buy their way out of trouble.
I chose to, well, let me just show you what the School Psychologist wrote about me. 
Raine is a vulnerable animal that has developed a defensive, cynical attitude to protect her considerable wounds. This creative, intelligent creature has been at the precipice of a nervous breakdown and unconsciously chooses to be persistently vigilant to avert emotional threats from her environment. Prone to use humor to deflect uncomfortable feelings. Edgy, with a sarcastic wit. Should be considered fragile, but not dangerous to self or others. (I love that part.) Needs considerable therapeutic help, when she is ready. 
In layman’s terms, I’d rather be edgy, defensive and cynical than go completely bonkers. And just in case you’re wondering, I wasn’t quite ready for that shrink job. 
Yea, at first that Big D attitude was directed at my parents for the nerve of getting together in the first place: What the heck were they thinking? Didn’t they know what all three of us would be up against? But it was hard to stay mad at them since I wouldn’t exactly be here if they hadn’t made that impulsive decision. And anyway, didn’t they have the right – regardless of their interspecies diversity – to do whatever in the heck they wanted to. Lest we forget, the last time I checked, this was a free country made of a vast diversity of creatures from all over the world. That ‘huddled masses’ stuff, if you know what I mean.
So you see, my attitude is all over the place: at various times hostile, angry, serene and accepting. It just goes with the territory of growing up with unique challenges. More about that later. The School Psychologist quote was taken from Dr. P’s latest free e book, Prejudice and the Progeny. Check it out at

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Miniscule Minds Have a Tough Time Embracing Diversity

Raine again, here to answer Dr. Parrino’s question: Why is it so tough to embrace our differences? He may be right about stress, fight-flight, bad memories and all of that scientific stuff. For me, it comes down to one fairly obvious fact: small brains.

Yea…it takes a rather miniscule mind to engage in prejudice, intolerance of differences and especially bullying. Think about it! When one uses his/her big brain to think, let’s say, about chastising the chunky kid at school, you might say to yourself: “Hey that kid has enough problems dealing with a weight problem without having to stress-out over a bunch of smart-assed, skinny peers that want to get a kick from poking at somebody’s sore spot.”

On the other hand, the small brainers don’t put common sense into the formula for bad behavior, but think more like this: “Battering someone else can sure make me feel better about my ‘self’ and I get the added bonus of looking cool with my little groupies.”

Maybe Dr. P was right after all, you know, about bad memories unconsciously provoking bad habits. Of course, those bad habits for some kids reduce the stress of fitting in with the in-crowd. And remember what he said about the brain mistaking a stick for a rattlesnake: That chunky kid is minding his own tough, emotional business, but the bully – because of his/her own fears – sees a rattler that’s about to strike. Sounds a little bonkers, I know, but that’s the way the miniscule mind works under stress.

Anyway, I’ve got my own problems dealing with the small brainers. Here’s an excerpt from Dr. P’s new e book, Prejudice and the Progeny (that’s moi), to help you understand my unique plight and challenges.
Raine's Picture

“Cat and Tort were angst-provoking, but to tell you the truth, my biggest challenge was at school. You humanoids worry about your kids being pushed around by bullies, and rightfully so. But think about this: We had bona fide bulls at my school. Yea, monstrous creatures with huge torsos, gargantuan horns - and when they were pissed - gross stuff oozed out of their gigantic noses.

If the burly bulls didn’t like your particular look, or your smell - or the way you moved your little fanny - you had big problems. A walk around the schoolyard was an invitation for trouble. At times, I felt like one of those Spanish matadors, side-stepping angry, dangerous toros at every turn. And nobody came to my rescue or screamed “olay” when I executed a cool escape.

My school was pretty much a disaster, with gangs of mammals and reptiles fighting for dominance over the campus. Not a great environment for learning. It’s not easy listening to teachers with reptiles crawling around, and bullshit tossed from one side of the classroom to the other. If you’ve ever been slammed on the side of the head with a flying disc of manure, you understand my pain.”

More “Raine rants” upcoming. For now, go to for his free e book about yours truly. Prejudice and the Progeny

Monday, January 7, 2013

Prejudice and the Progeny

Hello, I’m Raine, the main character in Dr. Parrino’s new e book, Prejudice and the Progeny: A Love Story and Lessons for Embracing Our Differences.    He has kindly agreed to allow my unique voice – at times hostile, often erudite and perennially sensitive – to emerge in some of his blogs. You see, I’m the voice of all of us different and sometimes downtrodden beings. 
I am the progeny of a mammal and reptile, a hybrid offspring. Here’s an excerpt from the book to give you an idea of what I look like and perhaps a bit about my character. 
Okay, so here’s the deal about my looks.  I’m a cross between a tiger and a turtle, a mélange if you will.  So what would you expect?  A muscular, hairy, low-to-the-ground, volatile creature that can break your neck with a sudden life-ending lunge.
Not really. That’s just to create a little drama. I’m pretty mild-mannered like dad, and rather unique looking, some say in a good way.  Not as large and hairy as mom, or as short as dad.  I have cat-like features and a tortoise’s hard shell, the best of both animals. The down side is that I’m bullied by creeps that don’t get my unique looks and divergent view of the world.  That’s when I want more of mom’s personality.”
As Dr. Parrino stated in an earlier blog, it’s tough to embrace our differences. Mom and Dad, Cat and Tortue, started off in a state of bliss (Early Relationship Brain Dysfunction according to Dr. G, their therapist), but soon after their offbeat wedding, reality set in, and they began to struggle with a minor fact that somehow eluded them: tigers and turtles are from different species. Seems like a no brainer, doesn’t it?
Then they had moi, the off-spring, which made the three of us the perfect target for prejudice, intolerance, and especially for me, a bad case of bullying. So that’s what I want to write about in future blogs. If you want to read more about mom, dad and me, check out Dr. P’s free e book at

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Use of Eye Movement Therapy to Tackle Intolerance

Here are the major points I’ve made in previous blogs:

… The early learning experiences from parents and significant others that teach us to overuse “the suspicious eye” – the brain’s survival reflex that mistakes a stick for a rattlesnake - can add fuel to the fire of an aversion to differences.

… If we took ten people who stated openly - “I just don’t particularly care for people from that country” – and measured their brain-body reactions when talking about “those people”, we would find that their fight-flight response was activated at some level, from mild to extreme arousal.

… Stressful events are stored in the emotional centers of the brain, and influence unconscious feelings and automatic reactions in adulthood. It helps answer the question: Why is it so tough to embrace our differences?

… When a negative memory and focused attention to eye movements occur together, the dual stimulation seems to weaken the negative memory. This neural pathway to therapeutic success is one of several theories that are currently being investigated to help explain the rapid success of eye movement therapy.

Can the information summarized above help in the fight to reduce intolerance and embrace diversity? If we transfer the positive results in the last 20 years in stress and trauma reduction (scientifically validated in the EMDR journal) to the areas of bullying, ethnic and sexual intolerance, the possibilities become exciting, particularly for a stress expert like me. Let’s take the example of bullying.

Consider these alarming facts.

…Children and youth in the U.S. are teased and tormented by bullies to the extent that 160,000 students skip school each day (Olweus, 1993).

…86 % of children and youth ages 12-15 said they get teased or bullied at school, making bullying more prevalent than smoking, alcohol, drugs and sex among this age group (Kaiser Foundation, Nickelodeon TV Network and Children Now, 2001).

…The most common forms of bullying are related to physical appearance, disabilities, perceived sexual orientation or gender expression (Survey, 2008). 31 % of gay youth get threatened or injured at school in one year (Bart, 1998).

Bullying is not limited to the U.S. but occurs in countries throughout the world. The most disturbing fact is provided by the course authors who reviewed the studies cited above: “…the common thread in all countries is that children are relentlessly and repeatedly bullied without significant objections or outrage from responsible adults.” (Elite Continuing Education)

Clearly, we need to help children and youth who have been victims of intimidation with every therapy method available. To make a dramatic inroad into this problem, we need to treat the children and youth who are the perpetrators of bullying. And we need to get to them as early as possible. My expertise is primarily with adults, but many EMDR trained therapists, thousands of them, are child experts. They have used their technology very effectively to work with child trauma, stress and anxiety issues, and a host of other problems. The technology is available to apply an eye movement desensitization approach in an early intervention program for children and youth who show bullying and intimidation tendencies.

In order to accomplish this goal, we need a bit of “outrage from responsible adults”: teacher, parents, administrators, government officials, physicians and mental health workers.

This is just one example of how we can get started in making inroads to the rampant problem of intolerance. I hope to discuss other ways in future blogs. Visit for more on EMDR and other relaxation and desensitization technologies.